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Erich Hartmann

Erich Hartmann German officer and fighter pilot during World War II

German officer and fighter pilot during World War II
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro German officer and fighter pilot during World War II
A.K.A. Bubi Hartmann, Erich Alfred "Bubi" Hartmann
Was Aviator Pilot Aircraft pilot Military officer
From Germany
Type Military
Gender male
Birth 19 April 1922, Weissach, Germany
Death 20 September 1993, Weil im Schönbuch, Germany (aged 71 years)
Star sign AriesAries
Erich Hartmann
The details
Biography

Erich Alfred Hartmann (19 April 1922 – 20 September 1993) was a German fighter pilot during World War II and the most successful fighter ace in the history of aerial warfare. He flew 1,404 combat missions and participated in aerial combat on 825 separate occasions. He was credited with shooting down 352 Allied aircraft—350 Soviet and two American—while serving with the Luftwaffe. During the course of his career, Hartmann was forced to crash-land his fighter 16 times due to either damage received from parts of enemy aircraft he had just shot down or mechanical failure.

Hartmann, a pre-war glider pilot, joined the Luftwaffe in 1940 and completed his fighter pilot training in 1942. He was posted to the veteran Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52) on the Eastern Front and was fortunate to be placed under the supervision of some of the Luftwaffe's most experienced fighter pilots. Under their guidance, Hartmann steadily developed his tactics.

On 29 October 1943 he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for 148 enemy aircraft destroyed and the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross for 202 enemy aircraft on 2 March 1944, followed by the Swords to the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves exactly four months later for 268 enemy aircraft shot down. Ultimately, Hartmann earned the coveted Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds on 25 August 1944 for claiming 301 aerial victories. At the time of its presentation to Hartmann, this was Germany's highest military decoration.

Hartmann achieved his 352nd and last aerial victory at midday on 8 May 1945, hours before the German surrender. Along with the remainder of JG 52, he surrendered to United States Army forces and was turned over to the Red Army. In an attempt to pressure him into service with the Soviet-friendly East German National People's Army, he was tried on war crimes charges and convicted. He was initially sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment, later increased to 25 years, and spent 10 years in various Soviet prison camps and gulags until he was released in 1955. In 1997, the Russian Federation (posthumously) relieved him of all charges.

In 1956, Hartmann joined the newly established West German Air Force in the Bundeswehr, and became the first Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 71 "Richthofen". He was retired in 1970, due to his opposition to the procurement of the F-104 Starfighter. In his later years, after his military career had ended, he became a civilian flight instructor. Erich Hartmann died on 20 September 1993 aged 71.

Early life and career

Erich Hartmann was born on 19 April 1922 in Weissach, Württemberg, to Doctor Alfred Erich Hartmann and his wife, Elisabeth Wilhelmine Machtholf. The economic depression that followed World War I in Germany prompted Doctor Hartmann to find work in China, and Erich spent his early childhood there. The family was forced to return to Germany in 1928, when the Chinese Civil War broke out. During World War II, Hartmann's younger brother, Alfred, also joined the Luftwaffe, serving as a gunner on a Junkers Ju 87 in North Africa. Alfred Hartmann was captured by the British and spent four years as a prisoner of war.

Hartmann was educated at the Volksschule in Weil im Schönbuch (April 1928–April 1932), the Gymnasium in Böblingen (April 1932–April 1936), the National Political Institutes of Education (Nazi Secondary Education School) in Rottweil (April 1936–April 1937), and the Gymnasium in Korntal (April 1937–April 1940), from which he received his Abitur.It was at Korntal that he met his wife-to-be, Ursula "Usch" Paetsch.

Hartmann's flying career began when he joined the glider training program of the fledgling Luftwaffe and was taught to fly by his mother, one of the first female glider pilots in Germany. The Hartmanns also owned a light aircraft but were forced to sell it in 1932 as the German economy collapsed. The rise to power of the Nazi Party in 1933 resulted in government support for gliding, and, in 1936, Elisabeth Hartmann established the glider club in Weil im Schönbuch for locals and served as instructress. The 14-year-old Hartmann became a gliding instructor in the Hitler Youth. In 1937, he gained his pilot's license, allowing him to fly powered aircraft.

Hartmann began his military training on 1 October 1940 at the 10th Flying Regiment in Neukuhren. On 1 March 1941, he progressed to the Luftkriegsschule 2 (Air War School 2) in Berlin-Gatow, making his first flight with an instructor four days later, followed in just under three weeks by his first solo flight. He completed his basic flying training in October 1941 and began advanced flight training at pre-fighter school 2 in Lachen-Speyerdorf on 1 November 1941. There, Hartmann learned combat techniques and gunnery skills. His advanced pilot training was completed on 31 January 1942, and, between 1 March 1942 and 20 August 1942, he learned to fly the Messerschmitt Bf 109 at the Jagdfliegerschule 2 (Fighter Pilot School 2).

Hartmann's time as a trainee pilot did not always go smoothly. On 31 March 1942, during a gunnery training flight, he ignored regulations and performed some aerobatics in his Bf 109 over the Zerbst airfield. His punishment was a week of confinement to quarters with the loss of ⅔ of his pay in fines. Hartmann later recalled that the incident saved his life:

That week confined to my room actually saved my life. I had been scheduled to go up on a gunnery flight the afternoon that I was confined. My roommate took the flight instead of me, in an aircraft I had been scheduled to fly. Shortly after he took off, while on his way to the gunnery range, he developed engine trouble and had to crash-land near the Hindenburg-Kattowitz railroad. He was killed in the crash.

Afterward, Hartmann practised diligently and adopted a new credo which he passed on to other young pilots: "Fly with your head, not with your muscles." During a gunnery practice session in June 1942, he hit a target drogue with 24 of the allotted 50 rounds of machine-gun fire, a feat that was considered difficult to achieve. His training had qualified him to fly 17 different types of powered aircraft, and, following his graduation, he was posted on 21 August 1942 to Ergänzungs-Jagdgruppe Ost (Supplementary Fighter Group, East) in Kraków, Upper Silesia, where he remained until 10 October 1942.

World War II

In October 1942, Hartmann was assigned to fighter wing Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52), based at Maykop on the Eastern Front in the Soviet Union. The wing was equipped with the Messerschmitt Bf 109G, but Hartmann and several other pilots were initially given the task of ferrying Junkers Ju 87 Stukas down to Mariupol. His first flight ended with brake failure, causing the Stuka to crash into and destroy the controller's hut. Hartmann was assigned to III./JG 52, led by Gruppenkommandeur Major Hubertus von Bonin, and placed under the experienced Oberfeldwebel Edmund "Paule" Roßmann, although he also flew with such experienced pilots as Alfred Grislawski, Hans Dammers and Josef Zwernemann. After a few days of intensive mock combats and practice flights, Grislawski conceded that, although Hartmann had much to learn regarding combat tactics, he was quite a talented pilot.

Hartmann was placed as wingman to Paule Roßmann, who acted as his teacher, and one of the factors that enabled Hartmann's success. Grislawski also gave Hartmann pointers on where to aim. Hartmann eventually adopted the tactic "See – Decide – Attack – Break". The tactics were learned from Roßmann who had been injured in one arm and was not able to fly in physically demanding dogfights. Roßmann's solution was to "stand off", evaluate the situation, then select a target that was not taking evasive action and destroy it at close range.

Early aerial combat

Hartmann flew his first combat mission on 14 October 1942 as Roßmann's wingman. When they encountered 10 enemy aircraft below, an impatient Hartmann opened full throttle and separated from Roßmann. He engaged an enemy fighter, but failed to score any hits and nearly collided with it. He then ran for cover in low cloud, and his mission subsequently ended with a crash landing after his aircraft ran out of fuel. Hartmann had violated almost every rule of air-to-air combat, and von Bonin sentenced him to three days of working with the ground crew. Twenty-two days later, Hartmann claimed his first victory, an Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik of the 7th Guards Ground Attack Aviation Regiment, but by the end of 1942, he had added only one more victory to his tally. As with many high-claiming aces, it took him some time to establish himself as a consistently successful fighter pilot. On 5 November 1942, an Il-2 shot up his Bf 109 G-2 engine resulting in a forced landing at Digora.

Hartmann's youthful appearance earned him the nickname "Bubi" (the hypocoristic form of "young boy" in the German language), and Walter Krupinski, to whom Hartmann was assigned as wingman, would constantly urge him: "Hey, Bubi, get in closer" or chastise him with "What was that Bubi"? The danger of this method was evident on 25 May 1943 when he collided with a Soviet fighter instead of shooting it down. Nevertheless, Hartmann steadily improved. In Krupinski's absence, from the third week of May to the first week of August, Hartmann's number of claims rose from 17 to 60.

On 5 July Hartmann claimed four victories during the large dogfights that took place during the Battle of Kursk. The day ended badly when Hartmann was unable to prevent Krupinski from being shot down and wounded over Ugrim airfield. Hartmann remarked; "the departure of Krupinski was a severe strike against the Staffel, and particularly against me." Hartmann began to score successes regularly in a target rich environment. On 7 July he claimed five, including two Il-2s from the 1 ShAK regiment.

On 8 and 9 July 1943 he claimed four on each day. On the former date, Hartmann claimed two aircraft on each mission he flew. In the first, Soviet records show at least one La-5 was lost. Major Tokarev of the 40 IAP was killed. In the afternoon, a two-man patrol with Günther Rall resulted in two claims, and a third for Rall. A Soviet after-battle analysis mentioned this specific engagement;

"Eight Yak-1s in the Provorot region observed two Me 109s off their flight path. Paying no attention to the enemy aircraft our fighters continued. Seizing a convenient moment, the German fighters attacked our aircraft and shot down three Yak-1s."

At the start of August 1943, his tally stood at 42, but Hartmann's tally had more than doubled by the end. The Red Army began a counteroffensive in the region to contain the German operation and destroy its forces (Operation Kutuzov and Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev). JG 52 was engaged in defensive operations throughout the month. On 1 August 1943 Hartmann became an ace-in-a day by claiming five victories. Another four followed on 3 August and five on the 4 August. Another five were claimed destroyed on the 5 August, a single on the 6 August, and a further five on 7 August. On 8 and 9 August he claimed another four Soviet fighters. Hartmann's last claim of the month came on the 20th, when he accounted for an IL-2 for his 90th victory. The next month, on 2 September, he was appointed Staffelkapitän of 9./JG 52. He replaced Leutnant Berthold Korts in this capacity who had been reported missing in action on 29 August.

In his first year of operational service, Hartmann felt a distinct lack of respect towards Soviet pilots. Most Soviet fighters did not even have effective gunsights and their pilots, some cases in the early weeks, were forced to draw one on the windscreen by hand: "In the early days, incredible as it may seem, there was no reason for you to feel fear if the Russian fighter was behind you. With their hand-painted gunsights they couldn't pull the lead properly (deflection shooting) or hit you." Hartmann also considered the Bell P-39 Airacobra, the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, and the Hawker Hurricane to be inferior to the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 and Bf 109, although they did provide the Soviets with valuable gunsight technology.

Hartmann said the German pilots themselves still learned from their enemy. Oil freezing in the DB 605 engines of the Bf 109G-6s made them difficult to start in the extreme cold of the Russian winter. A captured Soviet airman showed them how pouring fuel into the aircraft's oil sump would thaw the oil and enable the engine to start on the first try. Another solution, also learned from the Soviets, was to ignite fuel under the engine.

Fighting techniques

In contrast to Hans-Joachim Marseille, who was a marksman and expert in the art of deflection shooting, Hartmann was a master of stalk-and-ambush tactics, preferring to ambush and fire at close range rather than dogfight.

When the decorated British test pilot Captain Eric Brown asked Hartmann how he had accomplished his total, Hartmann remarked, that along with firing at close range, inadequate Soviet defensive armament and manoeuvre tactics allowed him to claim a victim in every attack.

His preferred method of attack was to hold fire until extremely close (20 m (66 ft) or less), then unleash a short burst at point-blank range—a technique he learned while flying as wingman of his former commander, Walter Krupinski, who favoured this approach. This technique, as opposed to long-range shooting, allowed him to:

  • Reveal his position only at the last possible moment
  • Compensate for the low muzzle velocity of the slower-firing 30 mm MK 108 equipping some of the later Bf 109 models (though most of his victories were claimed with Messerschmitts equipped with the high-velocity 20mm MG 151 cannon)
  • Place his shots accurately with minimum waste of ammunition
  • Prevent the adversary from taking evasive action
" The amazing thing about Erich Hartmann's achievements is that they are not based on a single exceptional talent. He is a very good flyer, certainly, but not a virtuoso like Hans-Joachim Marseille, who was killed after 158 aerial victories in North Africa and is regarded as an unrivaled marksman by his friends and foes. Hartmann is not an intelligent tactical innovator like Werner Mölders. It seems to me that he controls his flying talent, his good eyesight and his aggressiveness with an extremely cool mind as soon as he engages the enemy. He does not risk too much, but attacks his opponents from a superior position, mostly from behind, shoots from close range and immediately disengages."

Günther Rall

Hartmann's guidance amplified the need to detect while remaining undetected. His approach was described by himself by the motto: "See–Decide–Attack–Reverse"; observe the enemy, decide how to proceed with the attack, make the attack, and then disengage to re-evaluate the situation. Hartmann's instinct was to select an easy target or withdraw and seek a more favorable situation. Once the attack was over, the rule was to vacate the area; survival was paramount. Another attack could be executed if the pilot could re-enter the combat zone with the advantage.

If attacked in-kind Hartmann flew straight and used the rudder [yaw] to point the Bf 109 in a slightly different direction to mislead the attacker in the amount of deflection needed. Hartmann then forced the column into the corner of the cockpit beginning the outside rotation of an oblique loop. It was an emergency measure if ambushed and it saved his life several times.

These tactics inflated Hartmann's successes over the summer of 1943. By 7 July he had claimed 21 Soviet aircraft destroyed and by 20 September he had claimed over 100.

Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

The demands on fighter pilots increased after Kursk. In early August Hartmann flew 20 missions totalling 18 hours and 29 minutes in six days. By late August 1943, Hartmann had 90 aerial victories. On 20 August, in combat with Il-2s, his Bf 109 G-6 (Werknummer 20485—factory number) was damaged by debris, and he was forced to land behind Soviet lines at 06:20 in the vicinity of Artemivsk. Hartmann's Geschwaderkommodore, Dietrich Hrabak, had given orders to Hartmann's unit to support the dive bombers of Sturzkampfgeschwader 2, led by Hans-Ulrich Rudel in a counter-attack. The flight of eight German fighters engaged a mass of Soviet Yakovlev Yak-9 and Lavochkin La-5 fighter aircraft. Hartmann claimed two enemy aircraft before his fighter was hit by debris and he was forced to make an emergency landing.

In accordance with regulations, he attempted to recover the precision board clock. As he was doing so, Soviet soldiers approached. Realising that capture was unavoidable, he faked internal injuries. Hartmann's acting so convinced the Soviets that they put him on a stretcher and placed him on a truck. When Hartmann's Crew Chief, Heinz Mertens, heard what had happened, he took a rifle and went to search for Hartmann. Mertens was another important factor behind Hartmann's success, ensuring the aircraft was reliable. Hartmann subsequently escaped, and returned to his unit on 23 August. At least one sources suggests the cause of the crash-landing was enemy fire. Lieutenant P. Yevdokimov, flying an IL-2, from the 232 ShAP, may have hit Hartmann. This period was very successful; during five days of August 1943, Hartmann claimed 24 Soviet aircraft in 20 missions.

Karaya-Staffel emblem

On 18 September, Hartmann downed two Yaks from the 812 IAP regiment for claims 92 and 93. On 20 September 1943, Hartmann was credited with his 100th aerial victory—he claimed four this day to end it on 101. He was the 54th Luftwaffe pilot to achieve the century mark. Nine days later, Hartmann downed the Soviet ace Major Vladimir Semenishin of the 104 GIAP while protecting bombers from Kampfgeschwader 27 for his 112th victory.

In October 1943, Hartmann claimed another 33 aerial victories. On 2 and 12 October he accounted for four victories and achieved a treble on 14, 15 and 20 October and double claims on 24, 25 and 29 October. On 29 October, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes), at which point his tally stood at 148. By the end of the year, this had risen to 159. On 14 November 1943, his Bf 109 G-6 (Werknummer 20499) suffered engine failure resulting in a forced landing at Kirovohrad airfield.

In the first two months of 1944, Hartmann claimed over 50 Soviet aircraft. The successes included four on 17 January 1944 and on 26 February, a further 10 fighters were claimed shot down; all of them Soviet-flown P-39s to reach 202. His spectacular rate of success raised a few eyebrows even in the Luftwaffe High Command; his claims were double and triple-checked, and his performance closely monitored by an observer flying in his formation.

By this time, the Soviet pilots were familiar with Hartmann's radio call sign of Karaya 1, and the Soviet Command had put a price of 10,000 rubles on the German pilot's head. Hartmann was nicknamed the Cherniy Chort ("Black Devil") because of his skill and paint scheme of his aircraft. This scheme was in the shape of a black tulip on the engine cowling; though this became synonymous with Hartmann in reality he flew with the insignia on only five or six occasions. Hartmann's opponents were often reluctant to stay and fight if they noticed his personal design. As a result, this aircraft was often allocated to novices, who could fly it in relative safety. On 21 March, it was Hartmann who claimed JG 52's 3,500th victory of the war. Adversely, the supposed reluctance of the Soviet airmen to fight caused Hartmann's kill rate to drop. Hartmann then had the tulip design removed, and his aircraft painted just like the rest of his unit. Consequently, in the following two months, Hartmann claimed over 50 victories.

In March 1944, Hartmann, Gerhard Barkhorn, Walter Krupinski and Johannes Wiese were summoned to Adolf Hitler's Berghof in Berchtesgaden. Barkhorn was to be honoured with the Swords, while Hartmann, Krupinski and Wiese were to receive the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). According to Hartmann, all four of them got drunk on cognac and champagne. On arrival at Berchtesgarden, Hartmann was reprimanded by Hitler's adjutant for intoxication and for handling Hitler's hat.

Diamonds to the Knight's Cross

In April and May 1944, 9./JG 52 resisted the Soviet Crimean Offensive. In April Hartmann claimed five victories. In May, Hartmann filed claims number 208 to 231 which included six on the 6 May. On 8 May 1944, JG 52 fled the region as the German defence collapsed. JG 52 subsequently took part in the fighting on the Romanian border.

On 21 May 1944, Hartmann engaged United States Army Air Forces aircraft in Reichsverteidigung for the first time in defence of the Ploiești oilfields and engaging P-51 Mustangs for the first time over Romania. Research of German archives show Hartmann made one claim against a P-51 on 24 June 1944. Only one other claim against this type was made by Hartmann in 1945.

Later that month, P-51s ran his Messerschmitt out of fuel. During the intense manoeuvring, Hartmann ran out of ammunition. One of the P-51Bs flown by Lt. Robert J. Goebel of the 308th Squadron, 31st Fighter Group, broke away and headed straight for Hartmann while he hung in his parachute. Goebel was making a camera pass to record the bailout and banked away from him only at the last moment, waving at Hartmann as he went by.

On 17 August, Hartmann became the top scoring fighter ace, surpassing fellow JG 52 pilot Gerhard Barkhorn, with his 274th victory. On 23 August, Hartmann claimed eight victories in three combat missions, an ace-in-a-day achievement, bringing his score to 290 victories. He passed the 300-mark on 24 August 1944, a day on which he shot down 11 aircraft in two combat missions, representing his greatest ever victories-per-day ratio (a double-ace-in-a-day) and bringing the number of aerial victories to an unprecedented 301.

Hartmann became one of only 27 German soldiers in World War II to receive the Diamonds to his Knight's Cross. Hartmann was summoned to the Führerhauptquartier Wolfsschanze, Adolf Hitler's military headquarters near Rastenburg, to receive the coveted award from Hitler personally. Hartmann was asked to surrender his side arm — a security measure heightened by the aftermath of the failed assassination attempt on 20 July 1944. According to one account, Hartmann refused and threatened to decline the Diamonds if he were not trusted to carry his pistol. During Hartmann's meeting with Hitler, Hartmann discussed at length the shortcomings of fighter pilot training. Allegedly, Hitler admitted to Hartmann that he believed that, "militarily, the war is lost," and that he wished the Luftwaffe had "more like him and Rudel."

The Diamonds to the Knight's Cross also earned Hartmann a 10-day leave. On his way to his vacation, he was ordered by General der Jagdflieger Adolf Galland to attend a meeting in Berlin-Gatow. Galland wanted to transfer Hartmann to the Messerschmitt Me 262 test program but, at Hartmann's request, the transfer was cancelled on the grounds of his professed attachment to JG 52. Hartmann argued to Göring that he best served the war effort on the Eastern Front. On 10 September, Hartmann married his long-time teenage love, Ursula "Usch" Paetsch. Witnesses to the wedding included his friends Gerhard Barkhorn and Wilhelm Batz.

Last combat missions

From 1–14 February 1945, Hartmann briefly led I. Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 53 as acting Gruppenkommandeur until he was replaced by Helmut Lipfert. In March 1945, Hartmann, his score now standing at 336 aerial victories, was asked a second time by General Adolf Galland to join the Me 262 units forming to fly the new jet fighter.

Hartmann attended the jet conversion program led by Heinrich Bär. Galland also intended Hartmann to fly with Jagdverband 44. Hartmann declined the offer, preferring to remain with JG 52. Some sources report that Hartmann's decision to stay with his unit was due to a request via telegram made by Oberstleutnant Hermann Graf.

Now Gruppenkommandeur of I./JG 52, Erich Hartmann claimed his 350th aerial victory on 17 April, in the vicinity of Chrudim. The last wartime photograph of Hartmann known was taken in connection with this victory. Hartmann's last aerial victory occurred over Brno, Czechoslovakia, on 8 May, the last day of the war in Europe. Early that morning, he was ordered to fly a reconnaissance mission and report the position of Soviet forces. Hartmann took off with his wingman at 08:30 and spotted the first Soviet units just 40 kilometres (25 miles) away. Passing over the area, Hartmann saw a Yak-9, ambushed it from his vantage point at 12,000 ft (3,700 m) and shot it down.

When he landed, Hartmann learned that the Soviet forces were within artillery range of the airfield, so JG 52 destroyed Karaya One, 24 other Bf 109s, and large quantities of ammunition. Hartmann and Hermann Graf were ordered to fly to the British sector to avoid capture by Soviet forces while the remainder of JG 52 was ordered to surrender to the approaching Soviets. As Gruppenkommandeur of I./JG 52, Hartmann chose to surrender his unit to members of the US 90th Infantry Division.

Prisoner of war

After his capture, the U.S. Army handed Hartmann, his pilots, and ground crew over to the Soviet Union on 14 May, where he was imprisoned in accordance with the Yalta Agreements, which stated that airmen and soldiers fighting Soviet forces had to surrender directly to them. Hartmann and his unit were led by the Americans to a large open-air compound to await the transfer.

In Hartmann's account, the Soviets attempted to convince him to cooperate with them. He was asked to spy on fellow officers, but refused and was given ten days' solitary confinement in a four-by-nine-by-six-foot chamber. He slept on a concrete floor and was given only bread and water. On another occasion, according to Hartmann, the Soviets threatened to kidnap and murder his wife (the death of his son was kept from Hartmann). During similar interrogations about his knowledge of the Me 262, Hartmann was struck by a Soviet officer using a cane, prompting Hartmann to hit the assailant with a chair, knocking him out. Expecting to be shot, he was transferred back to the small bunker.

Hartmann, not ashamed of his war service, opted to go on a hunger strike and starve rather than fold to "Soviet will", as he called it. The Soviets allowed the hunger strike to go on for four days before force-feeding him. More subtle efforts by the Soviet authorities to convert Hartmann to communism also failed. He was offered a post in the East German Air Force, which he refused:

If, after I am home in the West, you make me a normal contract offer, a business deal such as people sign every day all over the world, and I like your offer, then I will come back and work with you in accordance with the contract. But if you try to put me to work under coercion of any kind, then I will resist to my dying gasp.

War crimes charges

During his captivity Hartmann was first arrested on 24 December 1949, and three days later, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The sentence was carried out by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the district Ivanovo. The preliminary criminal investigation was carried out only formally. He was condemned for atrocities against Soviet citizens, the attack on military objects and the destruction of Soviet aircraft and thus having significantly damaged the Soviet economy. Hartmann protested multiple times against this judgement. In June 1951, he was charged for a second time as an alleged member of an anti-Soviet group. This tribunal was carried out under military authority in the military district of Rostov-on-Don. Hartmann was charged with war crimes, specifically the "deliberate shooting of 780 Soviet civilians" in the village of Briansk, attacking a "bread factory" on 23 May 1943, and destroying 345 "expensive" Soviet aircraft. He refused to confess to these charges and conducted his own defence, which, according to Hartmann, the presiding judge denounced as a "waste of time".

Sentenced to 25 years of hard labour, he refused to work, and was put into solitary confinement, which led to a riot by some of his fellow detainees, who overpowered the guards, and temporarily freed him. He made a complaint to the Kommandant's office, asking for a representative from Moscow and an international inspection, as well as a new trial hearing to overturn his sentence. This was refused, and he was transferred to a camp in Novocherkassk, where he spent five more months in solitary confinement. He was later put before a new tribunal, which upheld the original sentence. He was subsequently sent to another camp, this time at Diaterka in the Ural Mountains. In late 1955 Hartmann was released as a part of the last Heimkehrer.

In January 1997, more than three years after his death, Hartmann's case was reviewed by the Chief Military Prosecutor in Moscow of the Russian Federation, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and he was acquitted of all historical charges against him in Russian Law. The government agency stating that he had been wrongly convicted.

Post-war years

German Air Force Canadair Sabre in the Hartmann "black tulip" color scheme at the Bundeswehr Museum of Military History

During his long imprisonment, Hartmann's son, Erich-Peter, was born in 1945 and died as a three-year-old in 1948, without his father ever having seen him. Hartmann later had a daughter, Ursula Isabel, born on 23 February 1957.

When Hartmann returned to West Germany, he reentered military service in the Bundeswehr and became an officer in the West German Air Force, where he commanded West Germany's first all-jet unit from 6 June 1959 to 29 May 1962, Jagdgeschwader 71 "Richthofen". This unit was equipped initially with Canadair Sabres and later with Lockheed F-104 Starfighters.

A German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon displaying the Hartmann "black tulip" color scheme.

Hartmann also made several trips to the United States, where he was trained on U.S. Air Force equipment. In 1957 Hartmann began training with American instructors. The German pilots were trained at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. The Republic F-84 Thunderjet fighter course lasted 60 days and consisted of 33 hours of flight time in the Lockheed T-33 and 47 hours in the Republic F-84F Thunderstreak. Hartmann and the former Luftwaffe pilots needed only familiarisation training.

Hartmann considered the F-104 a fundamentally flawed and unsafe aircraft and strongly opposed its adoption by the air force. Already in 1957, Hartmann had recommended to Kammhuber to first buy and evaluate a few new and unfamiliar aircraft before committing the air force to a new aircraft type. Although events subsequently validated his low opinion of the aircraft (269 crashes and 116 German pilots killed on the F-104 in non-combat missions, along with allegations of bribes culminating in the Lockheed scandal), Hartmann's outspoken criticism proved unpopular with his superiors, and he was put into early retirement in 1970.

From 1971–74, Hartmann worked as a flight instructor in Hangelar, near Bonn, and also flew in fly-ins with other wartime pilots.

Hartmann died on 20 September 1993, at the age of 71 in Weil im Schönbuch.

In 2016, Hartmann's former unit, JG 71, honoured him by applying his tulip colour scheme to their current aircraft.

In popular culture

Hartmann was the subject of a biography by the American authors Trevor J. Constable and Raymond F. Toliver, under the title The Blond Knight of Germany. Originally released in the United States in 1970, it was published in Germany the next year, as Holt Hartmann vom Himmel! ("Shoot Hartmann down!").

The Blond Knight was a commercial success and enjoyed a wide readership among both the American and the German public. The book has been criticised as ahistorical and misleading in recent American and German historiography. Ronald Smelser and Edward J. Davies, in their work The Myth of the Eastern Front, describe it as one of the key works that promoted the myth of the "clean Wehrmacht".

The historian Jens Wehner notes that the German-language version of the book was immensely popular in Germany, but contained serious flaws in its presentation of historical realities. These included uncritical borrowing from the Nazi propaganda elements of the Fliegerasse ("aces") and stereotypes about the Soviet Union. According to Wehner, the latter could be traced to the prevailing attitudes during the Cold War. Further, the political and social consequences of World War II were completely ignored.

Summary of career

Aerial victory claims

Matthews and Foreman, authors of Luftwaffe Aces – Biographies and Victory Claims, researched the German Federal Archives and found records for 352 aerial victory claims, plus two further unconfirmed claims. This number includes two claims over United States Army Air Forces flown P-51 Mustangs, and 350 Soviet Air Forces piloted aircraft on the Eastern Front.

Victory claims were logged to a map-reference (PQ = Planquadrat), for example "PQ 44793". The Luftwaffe grid map (Jägermeldenetz) covered all of Europe, western Russia and North Africa and was composed of rectangles measuring 15 minutes of latitude by 30 minutes of longitude, an area of about 360 square miles (930 km). These sectors were then subdivided into 36 smaller units to give a location area 3 × 4 km in size.

Chronicle of aerial victories

  This and the ♠ (Ace of spades) indicates those aerial victories which made Hartmann an "ace-in-a-day", a term which designates a fighter pilot who has shot down five or more airplanes in a single day.
  This and the – (dash) indicates unconfirmed aerial victory claims for which Hartmann did not receive credit.
  This and the ? (question mark) indicates information discrepancies listed by Prien, Stemmer, Rodeike, Bock, Matthews and Foreman.
  This and the ! (exclamation mark) indicates that according to Matthews and Foreman the aircraft in question was claimed as a Lavochkin La-5.

Claim Date Time Type Location Claim Date Time Type Location
– 7. Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 52 –
1 5 November 1942 12:05 Il-2 PQ 44793 45♠ 1 August 1943 17:05 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 53491
2 27 January 1943 11:30 MiG-1 PQ 15102 46♠ 1 August 1943 19:21 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 53131
vicinity of Shanlykino
3 9 February 1943 10:20 LaGG-3 PQ 34 Ost 86722
northeast of Tikhovskiy
47♠ 1 August 1943 19:40 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 54584
4 10 February 1943 06:15 Boston PQ 34 Ost 86671
northeast of Ivanovskaja
48 3 August 1943 11:17 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 61334
10 km (6.2 mi) north of Tomarovka
5 24 March 1943 13:00 U-2 PQ 34 Ost 86712
vicinity of Slavyansk-na-Kubani
49 3 August 1943 11:22 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 61412
15 km (9.3 mi) north of Belgorod
6 27 March 1943 11:50 I-16 PQ 34 Ost 85171, east of Krymsk
vicinity of Usun
50 3 August 1943 11:45 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 61192, northwest of Belgorod
10 km (6.2 mi) east of Krasny-Liman
7 15 April 1943 15:33 P-39 PQ 34 Ost 85192, east of Krymsk
north Mertschanskaja
51 3 August 1943 18:05 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 61193
10 km (6.2 mi) east of Krasny-Liman
8 26 April 1943 11:35 R-5 PQ 34 Ost 86722
northeast of Tikhovskiy
52♠ 4 August 1943 10:19 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 61391
10 km (6.2 mi) southwest of Belgorod
9 28 April 1943 09:30 LaGG-3 PQ 34 Ost 85122
Sswobodnyj
53♠ 4 August 1943 10:30 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 61331
10 km (6.2 mi) north of Tomarovka
10 30 April 1943 16:00 LaGG-3 PQ 34 Ost 85712
north of Mertschanskaja
54♠ 4 August 1943 10:50 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 61334
10 km (6.2 mi) north of Tomarovka
11 30 April 1943 16:20 LaGG-3 PQ 34 Ost 85752
east of Sorin
55♠ 4 August 1943 13:43 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 61343
25 km (16 mi) west of Tomarovka
12 7 May 1943 08:05 LaGG-3 PQ 34 Ost 75262
south of Krymsk
56♠ 4 August 1943 15:40 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 51462
25 km (16 mi) northeast of Graiworon
13 7 May 1943 16:43 LaGG-3 PQ 34 Ost 85171, southwest of Abinsk
vicinity of Usun
57♠ 5 August 1943 09:00 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 61351
15 km (9.3 mi) west of Tomarovka
14 11 May 1943 05:45 LaGG-3 PQ 34 Ost 75234
vicinity of Krymsk
58♠ 5 August 1943 11:50 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 61323
10 km (6.2 mi) south of Krasny-Liman
15 11 May 1943 05:55 LaGG-3 PQ 34 Ost 85144
vicinity of Abinsk
59♠ 5 August 1943 12:00 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 61314
15 km (9.3 mi) southwest of Krasny-Liman
16 15 May 1943 12:10 U-2 PQ 34 Ost 86544
west of Krasnoarmeysky
60♠ 5 August 1943 17:04 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 61333
10 km (6.2 mi) north of Tomarovka
17 23 May 1943 05:45 LaGG-3 PQ 34 Ost 85253
east of Severskaya
61♠ 5 August 1943 17:24 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 61441
10 km (6.2 mi) north of Belgorod
18 5 July 1943 03:40 Il-2 m.H. PQ 35 Ost 61663
10 km (6.2 mi) north of Vovchansk
62 6 August 1943 16:08 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 61393
10 km (6.2 mi) southwest of Belgorod
19 5 July 1943 07:10 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 61151
10 km (6.2 mi) north of Krasny-Liman
63 7 August 1943 08:30 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 61391
10 km (6.2 mi) southwest of Belgorod
20 5 July 1943 14:00 IL-2 m.H. PQ 35 Ost 61333
10 km (6.2 mi) north Tomarovka
64 7 August 1943 08:35 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 61384
vicinity of Orlowka
21 5 July 1943 18:15 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 61124
Bogatoje
65 7 August 1943 11:55 Pe-2 PQ 35 Ost 61561
20 km (12 mi) south-southwest of Belgorod
22♠ 7 July 1943 03:50 Il-2 m.H. PQ 35 Ost 61183
Krasny-Liman
66 7 August 1943 12:00 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 61551
20 km (12 mi) northeast of Zolochev
23♠ 7 July 1943 03:52 Il-2 m.H. PQ 35 Ost 61154
10 km (6.2 mi) north of Krasny-Liman
67 7 August 1943 12:20 Pe-2 PQ 35 Ost 61373
25 km (16 mi) west-southwest of Tomarovka
24♠ 7 July 1943 06:05 Il-2 m.H. PQ 35 Ost 61331
10 km (6.2 mi) north of Tomarovka
68 8 August 1943 07:15 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 61572
10 km (6.2 mi) east of Zolochev
25♠ 7 July 1943 06:10 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 61182
vicinity of Krasny-Liman
69 8 August 1943 09:53 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 61632
15 km (9.3 mi) north of Vovchansk
26♠ 7 July 1943 17:15 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 61214
southwest of Prokhorovka
70 8 August 1943 10:15? LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 61612
15 km (9.3 mi) south of Belgorod
27♠ 7 July 1943 17:20 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 62872
10 km (6.2 mi) northwest of Prokhorovka
71 8 August 1943 12:54 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 60253
30 km (19 mi) east-southeast of Kharkov
28♠ 7 July 1943 17:30 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 62792
15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Prokhorovka
72 9 August 1943 06:14 La-5 PQ 35 Ost 61821
15 km (9.3 mi) southwest of Vovchansk
29 8 July 1943 09:05 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 61223
10 km (6.2 mi) east of Prokhorovka
73 9 August 1943 09:30 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 61581
20 km (12 mi) east of Zolochev
30 8 July 1943 09:10 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 61221
10 km (6.2 mi) south of Prokhorovka
74 9 August 1943 16:30 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 61561
20 km (12 mi) south-southwest of Belgorod
31 8 July 1943 18:05 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 62872
10 km (6.2 mi) north of Prokhorovka
75 9 August 1943 16:40 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 61814
25 km (16 mi) west-southwest of Vovchansk
32 8 July 1943 18:25 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 61134
10 km (6.2 mi) northwest of Prokhorovka
76 12 August 1943 08:55 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 61772
15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Kharkov
33 9 July 1943 07:25 IL-2 m.H. PQ 35 Ost 61272 77 15 August 1943 09:14 Pe-2 PQ 35 Ost 60214
25 km (16 mi) east of Kharkov
34 9 July 1943 09:10 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 62871, Wesselij
10 km (6.2 mi) north of Prokhorovka
78 15 August 1943 18:10 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 70762
15 km (9.3 mi) southeast of Izium
35 9 July 1943 09:20 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 62844
20 km (12 mi) north of Prokhorovka
79 17 August 1943 05:20 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 70841
20 km (12 mi) northwest of Krasny-Liman
36 10 July 1943 07:05 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 62872
10 km (6.2 mi) north of Prokhorovka
80 17 August 1943 12:30 P-39 PQ 35 Ost 70791, Tichocki
20 km (12 mi) southeast of Izium
37 11 July 1943 16:55 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 62883
20 km (12 mi) northeast of Prokhorovka
81 17 August 1943 13:05 P-39? PQ 35 Ost 70842, Korowin-Jar
20 km (12 mi) northwest of Krasny-Liman
38 15 July 1943 17:20 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 54562
southwest of Bolkhov
82 17 August 1943 17:40 P-39 PQ 35 Ost 70871
15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Krasny-Liman
39 16 July 1943 14:15 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 54661
west of Bolkhov
83 18 August 1943 10:00 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 60193
20 km (12 mi) southeast of Kharkov
40 17 July 1943 19:25 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 54497
west of Zubkovo
84 18 August 1943 12:45 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 61792
15 km (9.3 mi) northeast of Kharkov
21 July 1943
La-5 east of Oryol 85 18 August 1943 12:55 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 60134
10 km (6.2 mi) east of Kharkov
21 July 1943
La-5 east of Oryol 86 19 August 1943 10:35 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 88263
10 km (6.2 mi) east of Marinowka
41 31 July 1943 10:00 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 54623 87 19 August 1943 10:50 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 98132
15 km (9.3 mi) south of Rovenki
42 31 July 1943 16:55 LaGG-3! PQ 35 Ost 64541
vicinity of Telchje
88 19 August 1943 16:25 P-39 PQ 34 Ost 88281
5 km (3.1 mi) southwest of Jalisawehino
43♠ 1 August 1943 11:40 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 64523 89 20 August 1943 06:07 Il-2 PQ 34 Ost 88263
east Marinowka
44♠ 1 August 1943 14:40 LaGG-3 PQ 35 Ost 54663
west of Bolkhov
90 20 August 1943 06:08 Il-2 PQ 34 Ost 88263
10 km (6.2 mi) east Marinowka
– 9. Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 52 –
91 15 September 1943 12:20 Yak-9? PQ 34 Ost 68314
5 km (3.1 mi) north of Polohy
198♠ 26 February 1944 11:58 P-39 20 km (12 mi) south-southwest of Kirovograd
92 18 September 1943 07:35 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 69563
40 km (25 mi) east-northeast of Pavlohrad
199♠ 26 February 1944 12:03 P-39 vicinity of Alexandrovka
93 18 September 1943 10:35 LaGG-3 PQ 34 Ost 68391
15 km (9.3 mi) northeast of Polohy
200♠ 26 February 1944 14:40 P-39 vicinity of Alexandrovka
94 18 September 1943 13:50 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 68392
15 km (9.3 mi) west-northwest of Polohy
201♠ 26 February 1944 14:45 P-39 10 km (6.2 mi) east of Alexandrovka
95 18 September 1943 13:55 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 68332
25 km (16 mi) southwest of Pokrovskoye
202♠ 26 February 1944 14:50 P-39 10 km (6.2 mi) west of Alexandrovka
96 19 September 1943 14:40 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58614
25 km (16 mi) south-southwest of Bolshoy Tokmak
203 23 April 1944 15:45 La-5 over the Black Sea, 20 km (12 mi) west of Sevastopol
97 19 September 1943 15:10 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 56599
20 km (12 mi) west of Bolshoy Tokmak
204 24 April 1944 11:55 LaGG 10 km (6.2 mi) south of Sevastopol
98 20 September 1943 13:30 LaGG-3 PQ 34 Ost 59394
30 km (19 mi) southeast of Dnepropetrovsk
205 24 April 1944 12:15 P-39 10 km (6.2 mi) south of Sevastopol
99 20 September 1943 13:40 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 59474
20 km (12 mi) west of Pavlohrad
206 26 April 1944 14:15 P-39 10 km (6.2 mi) south of Sevastopol
100 20 September 1943 15:35 P-39 PQ 34 Ost 58682
5 km (3.1 mi) north of Bolshoy Tokmak
207 26 April 1944 14:20 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) southeast of Sevastopol
101 20 September 1943 15:50 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58334
15 km (9.3 mi) southeast of Zaporizhia
208 3 May 1944 15:45 La-5 20 km (12 mi) north-northeast of Sevastopol
102 25 September 1943 07:55 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58532
vicinity of Vasylivka
209 4 May 1944 16:10 LaGG over the Black Sea, 45 km (28 mi) south-southwest of Sevastopol
103 25 September 1943 12:43 LaGG-3 PQ 34 Ost 58831
15 km (9.3 mi) east of Bolshoy Tokmak
210 4 May 1944 17:35 LaGG 20 km (12 mi) northeast of Sevastopol
104 25 September 1943 16:35 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58611
25 km (16 mi) south-southwest of Bolshoy Tokmak
211 4 May 1944 17:50 LaGG over the Black Sea, 20 km (12 mi) south of Saky
105 26 September 1943 06:55 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58631
15 km (9.3 mi) west-northwest of Bolshoy Tokmak
212♠ 5 May 1944 08:20 La-7 20 km (12 mi) north/northeast of Sevastopol
106 26 September 1943 07:05 P-39 PQ 34 Ost 58554
southeast of Vasylivka
213♠ 5 May 1944 10:45 La-5 over the Black Sea, 10 km (6.2 mi) south of Sevastopol
107 26 September 1943 09:55 P-39 PQ 34 Ost 58592
20 km (12 mi) west of Bolshoy Tokmak
214♠ 5 May 1944 10:48 La-5 over the Black Sea, 10 km (6.2 mi) south of Sevastopol
108 27 September 1943 11:15 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58611
25 km (16 mi) south-southwest of Bolshoy Tokmak
215♠ 5 May 1944 10:54 LaGG over the Black Sea, 20 km (12 mi) south-southwest of Sevastopol
109 27 September 1943 11:25 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58643
15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Bolshoy Tokmak
216♠ 5 May 1944 14:05 La-7 20 km (12 mi) north-northeast of Sevastopol
110 28 September 1943 16:30 La-5! PQ 34 Ost 58641
15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Bolshoy Tokmak
217♠ 5 May 1944 14:15 La-7 20 km (12 mi) northeast of Sevastopol
111 29 September 1943 06:50 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58644
15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Bolshoy Tokmak
218 6 May 1944 10:45 LaGG Sevastopol
112 29 September 1943 08:55 P-39 PQ 34 Ost 58682
5 km (3.1 mi) north of Bolshoy Tokmak
219 7 May 1944 09:22 P-39 over the Black Sea, 25 km (16 mi) south of Sevastopol
113 30 September 1943 06:55 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58681
5 km (3.1 mi) north of Bolshoy Tokmak
220 7 May 1944 09:30 P-39 over the Black Sea, 25 km (16 mi) south of Sevastopol
114 30 September 1943 14:30 P-39 PQ 34 Ost 58732
20 km (12 mi) west of Bolshoy Tokmak
221 7 May 1944 09:40 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) southeast of Sevastopol
115 30 September 1943 16:40 P-39 PQ 34 Ost 58583
20 km (12 mi) northwest of Bilozirka
222 8 May 1944 09:25 LaGG over the Black Sea, 10 km (6.2 mi) south of Sevastopol
116 1 October 1943 12:20 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58641
15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Bolshoy Tokmak
223 8 May 1944 13:45 LaGG over the Black Sea, 10 km (6.2 mi) west of Sevastopol
117 1 October 1943 12:30 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58762
20 km (12 mi) north-northeast of Fedorivka
224 20 May 1944 12:24 LaGG 5 km (3.1 mi) south of Grigoriopol
118 2 October 1943 08:40 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58833
15 km (9.3 mi) east of Bolshoy Tokmak
225 20 May 1944 18:35 La-5 10 km (6.2 mi) southeast of Grigoriopol
119 2 October 1943 08:50 Pe-2 PQ 34 Ost 58762
20 km (12 mi) north-northeast of Fedorivka
226 29 May 1944 15:35 P-39 10 km (6.2 mi) west of Iași
120 2 October 1943 11:40 P-39 PQ 34 Ost 58851
10 km (6.2 mi) south of Bolshoy Tokmak
227 30 May 1944 11:25 P-39 10 km (6.2 mi) south of Țuțora
121 2 October 1943 13:55 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58672
10 km (6.2 mi) northwest of Bolshoy Tokmak
228 30 May 1944 14:38 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) north of Iași
122 3 October 1943 10:10 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58592?
229 31 May 1944 18:05 P-39 10 km (6.2 mi) south of Țuțora
123 3 October 1943 16:05 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58591
20 km (12 mi) west of Bolshoy Tokmak
230 31 May 1944 18:08 P-39 8 km (5.0 mi) north of Iași
124 4 October 1943 07:25 P-39 PQ 34 Ost 58614
25 km (16 mi) south-southwest of Bolshoy Tokmak
231 31 May 1944 18:13 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) north of Iași
125 11 October 1943 13:10? LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58123
15 km (9.3 mi) north-northeast of Zaporizhia
232 1 June 1944 11:31 LaGG 15 km (9.3 mi) north of Iași
126 12 October 1943 07:00 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58134
20 km (12 mi) northeast of Zaporizhia
233♠ 1 June 1944 11:38 LaGG 15 km (9.3 mi) south of Iași
127 12 October 1943 07:15 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58241
25 km (16 mi) east-northeast of Zaporizhia
234♠ 1 June 1944 14:20 LaGG 10 km (6.2 mi) south of Țuțora
128 12 October 1943 07:35 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58211
30 km (19 mi) northeast of Zaporizhia
235♠ 1 June 1944 14:30 LaGG 15 km (9.3 mi) north of Iași
129 12 October 1943 15:00 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58161
20 km (12 mi) east of Zaporizhia
236♠ 1 June 1944 14:32 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) north of Iași
130 13 October 1943 10:35 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58181
5 km (3.1 mi) southeast of Zaporizhia
237♠ 1 June 1944 14:35 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) north of Iași
131 14 October 1943 08:20 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58184
5 km (3.1 mi) southeast of Zaporizhia
238 2 June 1944 17:10 P-39 20 km (12 mi) northeast of Iași
132 14 October 1943 08:25 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58151
northeast of Zaporizhia
239 2 June 1944 17:15 P-39 10 km (6.2 mi) south of Țuțora
133 14 October 1943 15:20 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58125
northeast of Zaporizhia
240 3 June 1944 13:30 P-39 10 km (6.2 mi) south of Iași
134 15 October 1943 08:59 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58153
northeast of Zaporizhia
241 3 June 1944 13:33 P-39 40 km (25 mi) west of Țuțora
135 15 October 1943 09:05 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58154
northeast of Zaporizhia
242 3 June 1944 14:00 LaGG 15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Iași
136 15 October 1943 11:50 LaGG-3! PQ 34 Ost 58181
5 km (3.1 mi) southeast of Zaporizhia
243 3 June 1944 16:17 LaGG 15 km (9.3 mi) southwest of Țuțora
137 20 October 1943 07:15 P-39 PQ 34 Ost 39472
20 km (12 mi) southeast of Mironovka
244♠ 4 June 1944 15:10 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Iași
138 20 October 1943 07:20 P-39 PQ 34 Ost 39393
10 km (6.2 mi) east of Stschastliwaja
245♠ 4 June 1944 15:25 LaGG 15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Iași
139 20 October 1943 14:42 P-39 PQ 34 Ost 39534
20 km (12 mi) southwest of Stschastliwaja
246♠ 4 June 1944 17:13 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Iași
140 21 October 1943 07:40 La-7 PQ 34 Ost 39481
vicinity of Piatykhatky
247♠ 4 June 1944 17:23 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Iași
141 24 October 1943 14:10 LaGG-3 PQ 34 Ost 57753
30 km (19 mi) north of Zaporizhia
248♠ 4 June 1944 17:53 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Iași
142 24 October 1943 14:35 P-39 PQ 34 Ost 58534, Gadkij
vicinity of Vasylivka
249♠ 4 June 1944 18:15 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) southwest of Țuțora
143 25 October 1943 10:00 Pe-2 PQ 34 Ost 49523
60 km (37 mi) west of Dnipropetrovsk
250♠ 4 June 1944 18:18 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) southwest of Țuțora
144 25 October 1943 15:30 La-7 PQ 34 Ost 57182
10 km (6.2 mi) southwest of Melitopol
251♠ 5 June 1944 13:12 P-39 23 km (14 mi) northwest of Iași
145 26 October 1943 08:08 P-39 PQ 34 Ost 57181
10 km (6.2 mi) southwest of Melitopol
252♠ 5 June 1944 13:19 P-39 vicinity of Iași
146 26 October 1943 08:15 P-39 PQ 34 Ost 57153
5 km (3.1 mi) northwest of Melitopol
253♠ 5 June 1944 15:20 LaGG 15 km (9.3 mi) southwest of Țuțora
147 29 October 1943 08:50 La-7 PQ 34 Ost 38151
10 km (6.2 mi) southwest of Kryvyi Rih
254♠ 5 June 1944 18:07 LaGG 15 km (9.3 mi) southwest of Țuțora
148 29 October 1943 11:05 P-39 PQ 34 Ost 39499
vicinity of Nowa Praha
255♠ 5 June 1944 18:35 P-39 8 km (5.0 mi) north of Iași
149 7 December 1943 13:46 LaGG-3 south-southeast of Dnjeprovka 256♠ 5 June 1944 18:40 P-39 25 km (16 mi) northwest of Iași
150 13 December 1943 10:10 LaGG-3 south of Jsnigirevka 257♠ 6 June 1944 15:25 La-5 15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Iași
151 15 December 1943 12:32 LaGG-3 northwest of Chervonovershka 258♠ 6 June 1944 15:30 La-5 15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Iași
152 15 December 1943 12:45 LaGG-3 north of Werbljushka 259♠ 6 June 1944 19:15 P-39 20 km (12 mi) north of Silistra
153 15 December 1943 14:16 LaGG-3 north-northeast of Chervonovershka 260♠ 6 June 1944 19:25 P-39 40 km (25 mi) west-northwest of Iași
154 17 December 1943 14:10 LaGG-3 east of Novgorotka 261♠ 6 June 1944 19:35 P-39 20 km (12 mi) west-northwest of Iași
155 17 December 1943 14:20 P-39 northeast of Novgorotka 262 12 June 1944 14:00 P-39 25 km (16 mi) east of Iași
156 17 December 1943 14:24 P-39 south of Werbljushka 263 12 June 1944 14:05 P-39 25 km (16 mi) east-northeast of Iași
157 20 December 1943 09:02 LaGG-3 northeast of Verkhniy 264 24 June 1944 09:50 P-51 Over the sea, south of Cape-Takhil
158 20 December 1943 12:13 LaGG-3 west of Tomakivka 265 27 June 1944 18:10 LaGG vicinity of Krepostnaya
159 20 December 1943 12:15 LaGG-3 northwest of Verkhniy 266 27 June 1944 18:15 LaGG vicinity of Krasny
160 3 January 1944 12:10 LaGG 40 km (25 mi) northeast of Beryslav 267 1 July 1944 17:30 LaGG vicinity of Parafyanovo
161 7 January 1944 14:20 LaGG vicinity of Nowa Praha 268 1 July 1944 17:32 LaGG vicinity of Parafyanovo
162 7 January 1944 14:25 La-5 15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Kirovograd 269 15 August 1944 11:43 La-5
163 8 January 1944 14:15 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) west of Kirovograd 270 15 August 1944 11:45 LaGG
164 8 January 1944 14:20 P-39 10 km (6.2 mi) north of Kirovograd 271 17 August 1944 12:25 P-39 40 km (25 mi) east-southeast of Ostrowiec
165 8 January 1944 14:30 P-39 20 km (12 mi) south of Kirovograd 272 17 August 1944 12:30 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) east-southeast of Opatów
166 16 January 1944 10:15 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Kirovograd 273 17 August 1944 15:17 LaGG 15 km (9.3 mi) east-southeast of Opatów
167 16 January 1944 10:26 La-7 25 km (16 mi) west-northwest of Kirovograd 274 18 August 1944 16:27 LaGG 15 km (9.3 mi) east-southeast of Opatów
168 16 January 1944 10:47 La-7 25 km (16 mi) west of Kirovograd 275 20 August 1944 12:00 La-5 10 km (6.2 mi) east of Tarnów
169 17 January 1944 09:44 LaGG 10 km (6.2 mi) west of Alexandrovka 276 20 August 1944 12:03 La-5 20 km (12 mi) south-southwest of Mielec
170 17 January 1944 12:19 LaGG vicinity of Alexandrovka 277 20 August 1944 12:10 La-5 15 km (9.3 mi) southwest of Mielec
171 17 January 1944 12:24 Pe-2 25 km (16 mi) west of Kirovograd 278♠ 22 August 1944 12:20 P-39 5 km (3.1 mi) southwest of Sobótka
172 17 January 1944 14:06 LaGG 15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Kirovograd 279♠ 22 August 1944 12:30 P-39 20 km (12 mi) south of Opatów
173 23 January 1944 11:30 La-7 15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Kirovograd 280♠ 22 August 1944 12:31 P-39 20 km (12 mi) south of Opatów
174 23 January 1944 13:20 La-7 20 km (12 mi) southwest of Alexandrovka 281♠ 22 August 1944 15:17 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) west of Sandomierz
175 23 January 1944 13:25 La-7 20 km (12 mi) southwest of Alexandrovka 282♠ 22 August 1944 15:22 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) east-southeast of Opatów
176 23 January 1944 13:45 La-7 25 km (16 mi) south-southwest of Alexandrovka 283♠ 23 August 1944 14:15 LaGG 15 km (9.3 mi) west of Sandomierz
177 24 January 1944 10:25 La-7 20 km (12 mi) southwest of Alexandrovka 284♠ 23 August 1944 14:18 LaGG 15 km (9.3 mi) west of Sandomierz
178♠ 30 January 1944 10:05 LaGG 25 km (16 mi) south-southeast of Signajewka 285♠ 23 August 1944 14:20 LaGG 15 km (9.3 mi) east-southeast of Opatów
179♠ 30 January 1944 10:10 La-7 40 km (25 mi) southwest of Alexandrovka 286♠ 23 August 1944 17:10 LaGG 20 km (12 mi) south of Opatów
180♠ 30 January 1944 12:25 LaGG 20 km (12 mi) south-southeast of Signajewka 287♠ 23 August 1944 17:12 LaGG 15 km (9.3 mi) south of Opatów
181♠ 30 January 1944 12:30 LaGG 20 km (12 mi) south-southeast of Signajewka 288♠ 23 August 1944 17:15 LaGG 15 km (9.3 mi) west of Sandomierz
182♠ 30 January 1944 14:25 LaGG 20 km (12 mi) southwest of Alexandrovka 289♠ 23 August 1944 17:17 LaGG vicinity of Sandomierz
183♠ 30 January 1944 14:30 La-7 25 km (16 mi) northwest of Kirovograd 290♠ 23 August 1944 17:30 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) southwest of Sandomierz
184 31 January 1944 11:10 La-7 20 km (12 mi) south-southeast of Signajewka 291♠ 24 August 1944 13:15 LaGG 15 km (9.3 mi) west of Sandomierz
185 31 January 1944 11:15 La-7 10 km (6.2 mi) south-southwest of Signajewka 292♠ 24 August 1944 13:18 LaGG 15 km (9.3 mi) west of Sandomierz
186♠ 1 February 1944 08:10 LaGG 40 km (25 mi) southwest of Alexandrovka 293♠ 24 August 1944 13:19 LaGG vicinity of Sandomierz
187♠ 1 February 1944 10:00 LaGG 25 km (16 mi) south of Signajewka 294♠ 24 August 1944 13:25 LaGG vicinity of Sandomierz
188♠ 1 February 1944 10:05 LaGG 20 km (12 mi) south-southeast of Signajewka 295♠ 24 August 1944 13:27 LaGG 15 km (9.3 mi) west of Sandomierz
189♠ 1 February 1944 12:00 LaGG 20 km (12 mi) southwest of Signajewka 296♠ 24 August 1944 13:40 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) southwest of Sandomierz
190♠ 1 February 1944 12:02 LaGG 10 km (6.2 mi) south-southwest of Signajewka 297♠ 24 August 1944 16:00 La-5 15 km (9.3 mi) south of Opatów
191 3 February 1944 13:40 La-7 25 km (16 mi) south-southwest of Signajewka 298♠ 24 August 1944 16:03 La-5 20 km (12 mi) south of Opatów
192 4 February 1944 11:40 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) west of Signajewka 299♠ 24 August 1944 16:06 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) southwest of Sandomierz
193♠ 26 February 1944 09:08 P-39 vicinity of Kirovograd 300♠ 24 August 1944 16:10 P-39 15 km (9.3 mi) southwest of Sandomierz
194♠ 26 February 1944 09:16 P-39 vicinity of Kirovograd 301♠ 24 August 1944 16:20 LaGG vicinity of Sandomierz
195♠ 26 February 1944 11:45 P-39 vicinity of Alexandrovka 302 25 August 1944 13:27 LaGG
196♠ 26 February 1944 11:48 P-39 vicinity of Alexandrovka 303 27 August 1944 18:00 P-39 20 km (12 mi) south-southwest of Opatów
197♠ 26 February 1944 11:53 P-39 10 km (6.2 mi) west of Alexandrovka
– 7. Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 52 –
304 27 October 1944 10:16 Yak-9 vicinity of Nyíregyháza 321♠ 22 November 1944 11:45 La-5 20 km (12 mi) southwest of Gyöngyös
305 31 October 1944 15:30 Yak-7 30 km (19 mi) west-northwest of Nagykőrös 322♠ 22 November 1944
Il-2
306 1 November 1944 14:35 La-5 25 km (16 mi) northwest of Szolnok 323♠ 22 November 1944
Il-2
307 7 November 1944 13:35 Yak-7 30 km (19 mi) east of Budapest 324♠ 23 November 1944
Yak-3
308 13 November 1944 14:10 Yak-9 325♠ 23 November 1944
Yak-9
309 13 November 1944 14:15 Yak-9 326♠ 23 November 1944
Yak-9
310 13 November 1944 14:25 Yak-9 327♠ 23 November 1944
Yak-9
311 13 November 1944 14:30 Yak-9 southeast of Jászberény 328♠ 23 November 1944
Yak-9
312 14 November 1944 11:35 La-5 southeast of Jászberény 329 24 November 1944
Yak-9
313 14 November 1944 11:45 LaGG-5 35 km (22 mi) south-southwest of Szolnok 330 24 November 1944
Il-2
314 16 November 1944 08:45 Yak-9 331 24 November 1944
Yak-9
315 16 November 1944 08:50 Yak-9 vicinity of Jászberény 332 24 November 1944
Yak-9
316 17 November 1944 14:25 Boston 25 km (16 mi) southeast of Budapest 333 5 December 1944 13:20 La-5 southeast of Hatvan
321 21 November 1944
La-5 334 5 December 1944 13:25 La-5
318♠ 22 November 1944
Il-2 335 9 December 1944 13:10 Yak-9 30 km (19 mi) southwest of Budapest
319♠ 22 November 1944
Il-2 336 9 December 1944 13:20 Yak-9 20 km (12 mi) southwest of Budapest
320♠ 22 November 1944 11:40 Yak-9 20 km (12 mi) southwest of Gyöngyös 9 December 1944
– I. Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 53 –
337 4 February 1945
Yak-9
– I. Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 52 –
338 20 February 1945
P-39 346 16 March 1945
unknown
339 20 February 1945
La-5 347 18+ March 1945
P-51
340 6 March 1945
La-5 348 10 April 1945
B-25
341 6 March 1945
Yak-9 349 11 April 1945
Yak-3
342 7 March 1945
Yak-9 350 17 April 1945
Yak-9
343 7 March 1945
Yak-9 351 25 April 1945
P-39
344 9 March 1945
Yak-9 352 8 May 1945 08:30–09:20 Yak-9 city center of Brno
345 11 March 1945
Yak-9

Decorations

  • Front Flying Clasp of the Luftwaffe in Gold with Pennant "1300"
  • Pilot/Observer Badge in Gold with Diamonds (25 August 1944)
  • Iron Cross (1939)
    • 2nd Class (17 December 1942)
    • 1st Class (7 March 1943)
  • Honour Goblet of the Luftwaffe on 13 September 1943 as Leutnant and pilot
  • German Cross in Gold on 17 October 1943 as Leutnant in the III./Jagdgeschwader 52
  • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds
    • Knight's Cross on 29 October 1943 as Leutnant and pilot in the 9./Jagdgeschwader 52
    • 420th Oak Leaves on 2 March 1944 as Leutnant and Staffelführer of the 9./Jagdgeschwader 52
    • 75th Swords on 2 July 1944 as Oberleutnant and Staffelkapitän of the 9./Jagdgeschwader 52
    • 18th Diamonds on 25 August 1944 as Oberleutnant and Staffelkapitän of the 9./Jagdgeschwader 52

Hartmann had kept the whereabouts of his Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross secret from his captors during his time as a prisoner of war, claiming that he had thrown it away. The hiding place was in a small stream. His comrade Hans "Assi" Hahn managed to hide the Knight's Cross in a double bottom cigar box and smuggled it back to Germany when he was released from captivity.

Dates of rank

Hartmann joined the military service in Wehrmacht on 1 October 1940. His first station was Neukuhren in East Prussia, where he received his military basic training as a Luftwaffe recruit.

Wehrmacht
1 April 1942: Leutnant (second lieutenant)
1 May 1944: Oberleutnant (first lieutenant)
1 September 1944: Hauptmann (captain)
8 May 1945: Major (major)
Bundeswehr
12 December 1960: Oberstleutnant (lieutenant colonel)
26 July 1967: Oberst (colonel)
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Reference sources
References
https://migflug.com/jetflights/final-interview-with-erich-hartmann/
http://www.bergstrombooks.elknet.pl/bc-rs/planquadrat.htm
https://archive.org/details/airfighters0000unse
http://www.hsozkult.de/conferencereport/id/tagungsberichte-6959?language=en
https://archive.org/details/acefactoraircomb00spic
//www.worldcat.org/oclc/76072662
http://library.fes.de/fulltext/historiker/00700toc.htm
https://books.google.com/books?id=IzJUlCpm4zMC&printsec=frontcover
http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-14349673.html
https://www.geschichte.luftwaffe.de/portal/a/geschlw/start/vde/jagdvd/jg71/!ut/p/z1/04_Sj9CPykssy0xPLMnMz0vMAfIjo8zinSx8QnyMLI2MfMIsXQw8DX29TS0tnYyCvQ31wwkpiAJKG-AAjgb6wSmp-pFAM8xxmuEMVKQfpR-VlViWWKFXkF9UkpNaopeYDHKhfmRGYl5KTmpAfrIjRKAgN6LcoNxREQCnrra3/dz/d5/L2dBISEvZ0FBIS9nQSEh/#Z7_B8LTL2922LV9D0I1MK599B2SC0
https://www.luftwaffe.de/portal/a/luftwaffe/start/archivneu/2016/okt/!ut/p/z1/hY_RC4IwEMb_I29qLnucqBGYRGrmXmLoMMM2GUt66I9vI_BNuocP7vvufscBhStQweahZ3qQgo2mbyi-RWFWZt7O87JgjxE5bkiVuhlCiQ8XqP-NUBOjlSIIio5DYxjbVUaFoQAKtONOKwXXVjUXejDaK6alciap9GiTl1ImcYYOGuTGEcLLKfdDkjolpe-78SE6W-CDzey97LLWPg3NnYlu5CfZkp8xPdMwz4P-C3mM49k!/dz/d5/L2dBISEvZ0FBIS9nQSEh/#Z7_B8LTL2922L5G60AM4AUF1L00U6
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