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Old 10-24-2009, 06:21 AM   #1  
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Default Gunther Rall RIP

Just learned the passing of Gunther Rall - the third best fighter pilot of all time with 275 victories. A great warrior - a great man! RIP.
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Old 10-25-2009, 05:37 AM   #2  
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Default re: Gunther Rall RIP

Rall may or may not have been third-best. He is considered the third-highest scoring, WRT air-to-air victories.

Nonetheless, RIP.
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Old 10-25-2009, 06:06 AM   #3  
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What an era! So many great names. Most of those Luftwaffe guys loathed the Nazis and what they stood for. I raise a glass to these warriors; you will never see the likes of Johnson, Bong, Hartmann, Bader, Graf, McCampbell etc etc again!
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Old 10-25-2009, 07:45 AM   #4  
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Default Tailwinds

RIP. He was also former Luftwaffe Commander. Saw him speak with Chuck Yeager at Air University. They told stories of their WWII exploits. He came across as good old fashioned, down to earth fighter pilot. Fair skies and tailwinds.
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Old 10-25-2009, 08:39 AM   #5  
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RIP. He was also former Luftwaffe Commander. Saw him speak with Chuck Yeager at Air University. They told stories of their WWII exploits. He came across as good old fashioned, down to earth fighter pilot. Fair skies and tailwinds.
Just curious, how'd Chuck come across? Don't think I've heard him reviewed with same words.
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Old 10-26-2009, 06:49 AM   #6  
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Just curious, how'd Chuck come across? Don't think I've heard him reviewed with same words.
I was talking about how Gunther Rall came across in that post, but since you asked...

That was the only time I personally was ever around Chuck Yeager. I've never really heard a "good review" about him either, so I know what you are getting at. However, on that stage in that company, he came off like "one of the boys telling war stories around the bar." It was back and forth with Gunther Rall recalling their experiences as WWII fighter pilots over Europe. He also talked of getting shot down and how the resistance helped him get back to friendly lines. As their discussion developed they came to the conclusion that Gunter was in the same aerial battle that Chuck was shot down in, but Gunther wasn't the one to shoot him down. It was very interesting to hear their stories from their perspective of being on opposite sides of the conflict. I thoroughly enjoyed that presentation and feel lucky to have been able to attend. Living legends telling war stories is hard to come by and tough to pass up.
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Old 10-26-2009, 01:01 PM   #7  
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It was very interesting to hear their stories from their perspective of being on opposite sides of the conflict. I thoroughly enjoyed that presentation and feel lucky to have been able to attend. Living legends telling war stories is hard to come by and tough to pass up.
I'll agree 100% though my experience was a little different. There was no sharing of war stories as I stood behind the line of former USN/USMC WWII aces from the Pacific theater and across from thier Japanese counterparts. Rough words were spoken even 50 years after the fact!
Some feelings/memories die hard no doubt.

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Old 10-26-2009, 02:14 PM   #8  
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Default Polar Opposites

USMC:

While the ferorcity of the aerial battles was the same in the Pacific and Europe, the similarities ended if you found yourself a POW.

While camp conditions were harsh, the Germans generally followed the Geneva Conventions for the "civilized" conduct of war. The chivalry displayed there allows former adversaries to become friends.

However, the Japanese hadn't yet embraced a Western-mindset. Forced labor, death marches, or just shooting POWs because jailing and feeding them were an inconvenience......commonplace, whether the prisoners were flyers or not.

The Germans only used that in the concentration camps.

Here's an excerpt from Ernest Hermmingway, based on his observations of fighter pilots in the Spanish civil war of the late 1930s:

From Colliers Magazine, Aug, 1944

You love a lot of things if you live around them, but there isn't any woman, and there isn't any horse, not any before, nor any after, that is as lovely as a great airplane. The men who love them are faithful to them even though they leave them for others. A man has one virginity to lose in fighters, and if it is a lovely airplane he loses it to, there is where his heart will forever be.

Politics aside, fighter pilots are usually very similar, and the brotherhood can reach across borders, language, and even idiology.
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Old 10-26-2009, 02:43 PM   #9  
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It's amazing what these pilots have done. Can you imagine having 352 aerial victories (Erich Hartmann) under your belt at the age of 23 and this using guns only? I have listened to stories from Gunther Rall and read Erich Hartmann's book: The Blond Knight of Germany. I am not a military pilot but this one is a must read. His discipline and tactics are truly remarkable.
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Old 10-26-2009, 04:07 PM   #10  
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It's amazing what these pilots have done. Can you imagine having 352 aerial victories (Erich Hartmann) under your belt at the age of 23 and this using guns only? I have listened to stories from Gunther Rall and read Erich Hartmann's book: The Blond Knight of Germany. I am not a military pilot but this one is a must read. His discipline and tactics are truly remarkable.
Read the book and one thing I found kind of disconcerning was the author's insistence that the German's standard of accounting for kills was the most accurate and thus his kill record must be accepted. Fine but in reality, the German's overclaimed just at much as the allies. Not to the extent as the Japanese (the Japanese seemingly claimed whatever they shot at) but overclaimed just the same. It was the nature of combat back in the day. Even with the advent of the gun camera, over claiming was big. For example, in 1945, a dozen or so Hellcats took on a dozen or so Ki-100's (we thought they were Ki-84 Franks) and the Navy pilots claimed 8 while the Japanese claimed 9 Hellcats. Actual score was 1 Ki-100 shot down, 1 Hellcat shot down and 1 Ki-100/1 Hellcat destroyed in a mid-air collision. Navy ace Cornelius Nooy had 15 kills at the time and claimed 4 in this battle to raise his score to 19. Obviously he didn't score 4, it was 1 at the most.

I read a good book on Pappy Boyington before I came to Korea. Some folks gave it a bad review because the author shed some light on the man, meaning made him out to be human. His score of first 28, then 26 (official) is not even that. Looking at the Japanese records and AVG, he scored probably 2 air to air with the AVG and though listed as 22 with the Blacksheep, it's more half that. Probably 11 or 12 kills plus 2 in the AVG gives him 13 or 14 (which in itself is highly respectable). Regardless of that, it doesn't take away that he was a natural leader, an outstanding pilot, a fierce warrior who led his men in battle during difficult times. It wasn't always take-off, fly through cavu sky and engage. The Corsair's of the time had all sorts of maint issues, the weather in the south pacific can be dog**** (I've been there done that), disease and sickness, constant boredom followed by intense combat, takes its toll. I had more respect for the man after I read that book than I ever did. Because he didn't have 22 or 26 or 28 kills and was a leading ace means nothing. It was the man that was a legend. Same with Rall, Barkhorn or Hartman. No doubt they don't have their "official" kills but they were leaders of men, during horrible times and came through as respected warriors. That's what counts in my book.
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