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Flying Ace facts

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The top flying ace for the United States during World War II was Dick Bong, who shot down 40 Japanese aircraft.

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Flying ace Erich Hartmann. Destroyed 352 enemy planes. Crashed 14 times due to mechanical or debris damage from planes he killed. Never once shot down.

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  1. German WWI ace German pilot Oswald Boelcke was so respected by his peers that the British Royal Flying Corps dispatched an aircraft to drop a wreath over his home airfield. He was so influential that his dogfighting tactics are still used today in modern aerial warfare.

  2. Nazi Germany's best flying ace (Erich Hartmann) had over 350 confirmed air victories and the United States best flying ace "only" had 40 confirmed air victories in WWII. 371 out of 400 flying aces are from Nazi Germany as well.

  3. The Red Baron's brother, Lothar, and his cousin, Wolfram, both enlisted in the Imperial German Air Service and were flying aces. Total aerial victories for the Richthofen family amounted to 128, including at least 12 British Aces.

  4. Adolph Malan, a South African flying ace, led the No. 74 Squadron RAF during the battle of Briton, known for sending bomber pilots home with dead crews as a warning to other German crews. When he returned home, he considered apartheid a Nazi ideal, and got involved in anti-apartheid movements.

  5. The top U.S. ace pilot of World War 2 got his kills by flying his aircraft as close to his targets as possible before firing, often getting hit by their exploding remains and on one occasion colliding with his target.

  6. Gp. Capt. Sir Douglas Bader, the legless WWII RAF flying ace, was known for his uncensored and often humorous opinions. Once on a visit to Munich some years after the war, he walked into a room full of ex-Luftwaffe pilots and said, "My God, I had no idea we left so many of you bastards alive!"

  7. Douglas Bader was a legless flying ace (RAF) in WW2 . His success was partly because of his having no legs; pilots pulling high "g-forces" in combat often "blacked out" as the flow of blood from the brain to other body parts, usually the legs. As he had no legs he could remain conscious longer.

  8. The top flying ace for Canada during WW1 was Billy Bishop, who shot down 72 German aircraft

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Albert Ball, a British WW1 flying ace, who died at 20 with 44 victories. The Red Baron considered him "by far the best English flying man". The centenary of his death will be on the 7th May. - source

Josef František, a Czech and one of the highest scoring aces in the Battle of Britain was considered an ill-disciplined pilot. Seen by his commanding officers as a danger to his colleagues when flying in formation, he fought his own private war flying over Kent. He shot down 17 German aircraft. - source

German WW2 flying ace Adolf Galland served as a technical advisor on the film "Battle of Britain" and British WW2 flying ace, Robert Tuck (who also served as a technical advisor on the film), was the godfather of Galland's son Andreas Hubertus.

Alexey Maresyev was a Soviet fighter ace during WWII shot down behind enemy lines on 4 April 1942. It took him 18 days to get back to Soviet-controlled territory, and his injuries had become so bad he lost both legs. He spent a year mastering his prostheses and returned to flying in June 1943. - source

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About Captain Henry Meintjes, a South African WWI flying ace, who was shot in the wrist and lost copious amounts of blood over enemy lines, but still brought the airplane back and made a perfect landing.

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Lothar Richthofen, Manfred's brother, joined him and several other young German aces to form the group informally known as the "Flying Circus," but officially known as Jasta 11.

WW2 Flying Ace Art Chin survived first a plane crash, then ramming an enemy plane with his, and finally bailing out of an plane while on fire. During his recovery, the hospital was bombed and his wife shielded his body, dying in his arms. After recovery, he flew transports over the Himalayas.

In 2003 some Israeli pilots wrote a letter explaining their refusal to fly assassination missions over the occupied territories. Among the pilots was Brig. Gen. Yiftah Spector a figher ace 15 kills.

Terry Spencer, a British WW2 Spitfire pilot who destroyed a V-1 flying bomb by tipping it up with his wing, shot down a German Ace and holds the world record for the lowest authenticated survived bail-out: 30 feet (9.1 m). In the 60's he became a photo biographer of the Beatles.

The Red Baron's younger brother Lothar was also a flying ace, with 40 victories. Shot down 4 times during the war, he died in a crash 4 years later when his commercial plane's engine failed.

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Russian pilot Alexander Pokryshkin is the most succesful fighter ace flying an American plane (47 victories)

Hans-Ulrich Rudel, a Nazi ace pilot credited with 519 tank, 800 vehicle, and several battleship kills, who continued to fly in the war even after losing his leg

A Soviet WWII ace was shot down and captured by the Germans. He made his way back to Soviet territory, but lost both his legs in the process. After a year of training, he returned to flying and shot down 11 further planes.

Children's author Roald Dahl (Charlie and The Chocolate Factory) was also a poet, screenwriter, WW2 flying ace, intelligence officer, diplomat, and an adult macabre short story writer (with comparable success to his stories for children).

Gottfried Freiherr von Banfield, the only pilot to achieve ace status in flying boats.

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Adrian Warburton, a WWII RAF reconnaissance pilot, became an ace while flying the Martin Maryland, a light bomber.

Muhammad Mahmood Alam, a Pakistani pilot who became a flying ace (shot down 5 enemy planes) in less than one minute, 4 of which occurred in 30 seconds

John Herbert Hedley, a World War I British flying ace credited with eleven aerial victories. He survived a bizarre flying mishap which earned him the moniker "The Luckiest Man Alive." Hedley also survived uninjured after his plane was shot down in 1918.

Charles Older was the third highest scoring ace of the American Volunteer Group (the "Flying Tigers") and later the judge in the Charles Manson murder trial, the Manson girls attempted to murder him. He served in both World War II and the Korean War, shooting down 18 enemy planes.

Lt Col Louis E. Curdes is one of the few WWII aces to have kills against all 3 Axis countries, got a distingushed flying cross for shooting down an American C-47, and married one of the C-47's passengers

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