The Greatest Fighter Pilot in WW II???

The Best Ace???

  • Ivan Kozhedub

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Erich Hartmann

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Constantine Cantacuzine

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Richard Bong

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters

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There are many many names that can be included here...

What is the criteria for this list???

Kills??? Ability??? Reputation??? Tactical Pioneers??? Calibre of Enemy???

Ivan Kozhedub
Alexandr Pokryshkin
David McCampbell
Richard Bong
Francis Gabreski
Thomas McGuire
Greg Boyington
James Johnson
Brendan Finucane
Marmaduke Pattle
Adolph Malan
Tetsuzo Iwamoto
Hiroyoshi Nishizawa
Shoichi Sugita
Eino Juutilainen
Hans Wind
Prince Constantine Cantacuzine
Erich Hartmann
Gerhard Barkhorn
Guenther Rall
Otto Kittel

Those are just some of the names i can think of... There may be others u guys have in mind...

The 4 that stand out for me are Ivan Kozhedub, Prince Constantine Cantacuzine, Erich Hartmann, and Richard Bong...

The Best??? Probably Kozhedub... Tough call...
Russian Ace of WW11, Ivan Kozhedub (62 Confirmed Kills )was the leading Soviet and Allied Ace of WWII. Flying mainly the Lavochkin La-7 fighter aircraft, he carried out 330 sorries, was involved in 120 aerial combats and was credited with 62 confirmed victories. Earning the nickname "Ivan the Terrible", he was the only Soviet pilot to shoot down a Messerschmitt Me-262 jet fighter. Ivan was one of only two Soviet fighter pilots to be awarded the Gold Star(Hero of the Soviet Union) three times during World War II...

It is particularly noteworthy that he required only 27 encounters to pile up his kills during the course of 146 sorties, 90 of which were escorts, 39 ground force cover, 9 armed reconnaissance and 8 scrambles...

On September 22 he took off with Lejtenant Sharapov on a patrol and engaged two gaggles of Fw 190 fighter-bombers comprising of 4-8 aircraft each and shot down two of them in quick succession opening fire at 150 meters. He added another of these on January 16, 1945 while victory number 50 came on February 10...

On this day Kozhedub was carrying out a free hunt with Major Titarenko as his number two in the vicinity of the Oder River, two German fighters being seen, and Kozhedub shot down one of these. The enemy pilot made a forced landing in his crippled aircraft in a pasture and became a prisoner. It was discovered that he was an ace with eight victories but his identity has unfortunately not been established. Two days later he was off on another free hunt with Lejtenant Gromakovskij flying wing to him and while sweeping over the Konitz area they spotted 18 Fw 190s fighter bombers flying at 400 meters. They immediately swept down and Kozhedub opened fire on "tail end Charlie," seeing hits exploding all over him and pieces flying off in all directions whereupon he spun into the ground in a solid sheet of flame. He then destroyed two more in quick succession which crashed 10-12 km southwest of Konitz. Gromakovskij shot another off Kozhedub's tail for his second kill of the day...

Kozhedub is believed to have shot down one of the first Messerschmitt Me-262 jets to be encountered on Eastern Front during February but the date for this remains dubious. The date given by Kozhedub himself is the 19th while others are suggesting the 15th or 24th of February....
That's my vote as well. 352 and you don't have to say any more.
But I am, over 300 is amazing. Just to have the mental durability to go through that alone is enough for me to call him the best pilot.
He was a crap pilot, he just scored 350+ by complete luck. :lol:
No one has mentioned the best. Hans-Joachim Marseille, the Star of Africa. 158 kills - all against the Western Allies (considerably tougher than the Russian opponents Hartmann faced) and the highest of any pilot against the Western Allies. 154 of those kills were against fighter aircraft. At the time of his death, Erich Hartmann had exactly 0 kills. How many would this guy have ended up with if his 'chute had openned?
Marseille was a very good pilot. He took all these Tomahawks, Hurricanes Spitfires out of these so easily!
Here's some more interesting facts about Marseille.
He once scored 17 victories in one day (3 missions scoring 4, 8, and 5 kills). One time he managed to shot down 6 fighters in a mere 7 minutes. Perhaps most impressive, on one mission his cannon jammed on the opening burst. He went on to down 5 fighters with just the two machine guns (he was flying a 109F meaning two 7.92mm weapons). Upon returning to base, his armorers found must of the ammo unused. This guy could shoot!
Marseille was able to shot down these Tomahawks with his machine guns only, because they have set up a "defensive-ring". RAF pilots thought that their opponents won't attack (if you get behind someone's tail, the next guy in the ring will be behing your tail as well). But Marseille was smarter than British expected. He attacked only from below and shoot straight into the bellys of circling Tomahawks till his ammo ended.
I found this inteview with Kozehdub... Here are some parts of it that make interesting readin... Kinda long, but worth the read...

AH: Your first week of combat was over the Kharkov sector, during the last great Soviet defeat prior to the decisive battle of Kursk. Allegedly, you yourself were badly shot-up during your first combat by German fighters. What was the state of morale among you and your comrades at this time?

Kozhedub: In my first combat, I did not get a single scratch, but my plane was badly damaged. My commander said, with good reason, "Make haste only when catching fleas." I did not heed his advice. It seemed to me I could down at least two or three enemy planes at one go. Carried away by the attack, I did not notice an umbrella of Messerschmitt Bf-110s approaching me from behind. Of course, that was a bitter experience and a serious lesson for me.

Despite general failures, our morale was quite high. Many, like myself, had their families in Nazi-occupied territory. We were all thirsting for revenge.

AH: What was your impression of the skill and courage of your Luftwaffe opponents at this time--and later? Did you perceive any changes in their skill and élan between 1943 and 1945?

Kozhedub: The sinister colors of the German Messerschmitt Bf-109s and Focke-Wulf Fw-190s with the drawings of cats, aces, arrows and skulls on their sides, were designed to scare Soviet pilots witless. But I didnt pay much attention to them, trying to guess as soon as possible the plans and methods of my enemy, and find weak spots in his tactics. However, I always respected the courage of the German aces. It would have been stupid to underrate the enemy, especially at the start of the war.

After August 1943, the supremacy in the air finally went over to the Soviet pilots and, by the end of the war, we were locking horns with hastily trained youths more and more often. The onetime conceit of invincibility claimed by Göring's aces had gone up in smoke.

AH: How did Soviet and German aircraft compare throughout the war? What type of enemy aircraft did you have a particular respect for?

Kozhedub: In combat potential, the Yak-3, La-7 and La-9 fighters were indisputably superior to the Bf-109s and Fw-190s. But, as they say, no matter how good the violin may be, much depends on the violinist. I always felt respect for an enemy pilot whose plane I failed to down.

AH: Describe a typical "day's work" for a Soviet fighter pilot. How many sorties did you normally fly per day?

Kozhedub: The phrase "day's work" does not fit in here, for we had to fly all day long. I myself was surprised at the potential endurance of the human body in an emergency. Three to four sorties a day during an offensive was quite routine. True, one sortie would be very different from the next.

AH: Your first success was over Kursk on July 6, 1943. What were the circumstances of that victory'?

Kozhedub: We were ordered to attack a group of Junkers Ju-87 dive bombers. I chose a "victim" and came in quite close to it. The main thing was to fire in time. Everything happened in a twinkling. It was only on the ground, among my friends, that I recalled the details of this battle. Caution is all-important and you have to turn your head 360 degrees all the time. The victory belonged to those who knew their planes and weapons inside out and had the initiative. On July 7, I downed a second plane and, on July 8, I destroyed another two Bf-109 fighters.

AH: The Battle of Kursk involved thousands of aircraft in a mammoth struggle for tactical control over the battlefield. What role did you and your comrades play toward the Soviet victory?

Kozhedub: In actual fact, I had my true baptism of fire near Kursk. We escorted bombers, fought enemy fighters and neutralized air defense batteries. The battle for Kursk was a landmark in the development of the forms and methods for operational and tactical use of Soviet aviation in the war years. In its first defensive stage, our airmen flew 70,219 sorties. Tactical aviation accounted for 76 percent of the total, long-range aviation for 18 percent, and air defense fighters for six percent. During that period, they destroyed 1,500 enemy planes. Our losses were 1,000 aircraft. During the counteroffensive, our flyers made 90,000 sorties, about 50 percent of which were designed to support attacking troops, and 31 percent to achieve supremacy in the air. The enemy lost up to 2,200 planes in that time.

AH: On May 2, 1944, you received an La-5FN specially dedicated "In the name of Hero of the Soviet Union Lt.Col. N. Koniyev." You allegedly scored eight victories in seven days flying this aircraft. How much of an improvement over the La-5 was that La-5FN?

Kozhedub: It was, practically speaking, a simplified version of the La-5 developed in the same year, 1942. It had a boosted engine with direct fuel injection But it was important to me for different reasons. Vasily Koniyev, a beekeeper from the Bolshevik collective farm (Budarin district, Stalingrad region), bought it with his own money and asked that it be named after the nephew of the famous Marshal Vasily Konev, killed at the beginning of the war. Indeed, this plane was a lucky one for me. Out of the eight Nazi aircraft I destroyed while flying it, five were the much-vaunted Fw-190s.

AH: How did the La-7 compare with its La-5-series predecessors?

Kozhedub: The La-7 had top-notch flying characteristics. It was a very obedient plane, which attained a high speed by the standards of those days. I must say that the La-7, the La-9 and Yak-3 were perfect planes. Their characteristics virtually reached the ceiling for piston-engine planes.

AH: For a wooden airplane, La-7 No. 27 must have been a sturdy and reliable airplane to serve you faithfully over 10 months of combat. What was the key to the robustness of these aircraft?

Kozhedub: The Lavochkins were simple, reliable aircraft. I met with their designer, Semyon Lavochkin, and visited plants where they were built. He always listened attentively to all remarks. The margin of safety was so great that, while pursuing the enemy, I exceeded the estimated loads without thinking twice. I was certain that the plane wouldn't let me down. I reached speeds of 700 kilometers per hour (434 mph) and even more on it. The La-7 was an upgraded version of the quite good La-5FN, which had the M-82FN engine. Lavochkin modified the design of the airfoil, changed the locations of the aircooling intakes, and upgraded the design of the central part of the wings.

AH: What were the circumstances of your success over the Me-262?

Kozhedub: On February 19, 1945, 1 was on a lone-wolf operation together with Dmitry Titorenko to the north of Frankfurt. I noticed a plane at an altitude of 350 meters (2,170 feet). It was flying along the Oder at a speed that was marginal for my plane. I made a quick about-face and started pursuing it at full throttle, coming down so as to approach it from under the "belly." My wingman opened fire, and the Me-262 (which was a jet, as I had already realized) began turning left, over to my side, losing speed in the process. That was the end of it. I would never have overtaken it if it had flown in a straight line. The main thing was to attack enemy planes during turns, ascents or descents, and not to lose precious seconds.

AH: What of your last combat, with Lieutenant Titorenko on April 19, 1945?

Kozhedub: On the evening of April 17, we went on a lone-wolf operation over the suburbs of Berlin. All of a sudden we saw a group of 40 Fw-190s with bomb loads, flying at an altitude of 3,500 meters in our direction. We climbed to the left and flew behind them under the cover of clouds. The odds were obviously not in our favor, but we still decided to attack since the enemy aircraft were heading for our troops. At maximum speed, we approached the tail of the formation, out of the sun. I opened fire almost point-blank at the wingman of the last pair of aircraft. The first Fw-190 fell into the suburbs of the city. Several planes turned to the west, while others continued their flight.

We decided to drive a wedge into the combat formation and break it up. Making a steep dive, we swept past enemy planes. As often happened in such cases, the Nazis thought that there were a lot of us. Confused, they started jettisoning bombs. Then they formed a defensive circle--each fighter covering the tail of the one in front of him--and began to attack us. Titorenko skillfully downed the plane that followed me. At that point, we saw our fighters and we turned for home. But suddenly, we saw yet another Fw-190 with a bomb. Apparently, the pilot had received a warning, for he made a quick dive and jettisoned his bomb over the suburbs of Berlin. But I still reached him on the recovery from his dive. The plane literally burst in the air. We made a good landing but our fuel tanks were completely empty. After that battle, I brought my personal score of downed Nazi planes to a total of 62.

AH: In retrospect, which did you consider the better Soviet fighter design--the La-5 series or the Yak9 series?

Kozhedub: I always preferred the La-5s and always considered them the best ones. When I was a bit younger, I often went to Monino, about 25 miles northeast of Moscow, where my La-7 is on display at the National Air Museum. I would sit in its cabin, and life would seem more cheerful. For me, it is the time machine that takes me back to my youth, to the formidable '40s.

AH: What do you consider to have been the best fighter airplane--regardless of nationality--of World War II?

Kozhedub: The La-7. I hope you understand why.
Date Type
6 July 1943 1 Ju 87
7 July 1943 1 Ju 87
9 July 1943 2 Bf 109 (in 2 sorties)
9 Aug 1943 1 Bf 109
14 Aug 1943 2 Bf 109
16 Aug 1943 1 Ju 87
22 Aug 1943 1 Fw 190
9 Sept 1943 1 Bf 109
30 Sept 1943 1 Ju 87
1 Oct 1943 2 Ju 87
2 Oct 1943 3 Ju 87
4 Oct 1943 1 Bf 109
5 Oct 1943 2 Bf 109 (in 2 sorties)
6 Oct 1943 1 Bf 109
10 Oct 1943 1 Bf 109
12 Oct 1943 2 Ju 87, 1 Bf 109
29 Oct 1943 1 He 111, 1 Ju 87
16 Jan 1944 1 Bf 109
30 Jan 1944 1 Ju 87, 1 Bf 109
14 March 1944 1 Ju 87
21 March 1944 1 Ju 87
11 April 1944 1 Bf 109
19 April 1944 1 He 111
28 April 1944 1 Ju 87
29 April 1944 2 Hs 129
3 May 1944 1 Ju 87
31 May 1944 1 Fw 190
1 June 1944 1 Ju 87
2 June 1944 1 Hs 129
3 June 1944 3 Fw 190 (in 2 sorties)
7 June 1944 1 Bf 109
22 Sept 1944 2 Fw 190
25 Sept 1944 1 Fw 190
16 Jan 1945 1 Fw 190
10 Feb 1945 1 Fw 190
12 Feb 1945 3 Fw 190
19 Feb 1945 1 Me 262
11 March 1945 1 Fw 190
18 March 1945 2 Fw 190
22 March 1945 2 Fw 190
23 March 1945 1 Fw 190
17 April 1945 2 Fw 190

Apart from these 62 victories, Ivan Kozhedub also was forced to shoot down two U.S. P-51 Mustangs that mistakenly attacked his La-7 on one occasion. Both these P-51 losses have been verified by USAAF sources.
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