A Brief History
On August 16, 1940, Flight Lieutenant Nicolson of the British Royal Air Force flew his Hawker Hurricane fighter into history during combat over England against the German Luftwaffe when he continued to fight an aerial battle despite his plane being on fire from 4 cannon shells and multiple machine gun bullets striking it from an enemy Me-110. Only after shooting down the enemy fighter despite being wounded and suffering severe burns, did Nicolson bail out, and was later awarded the Victoria Cross.
Air to air combat is a demanding and tricky business, and one of the greatest feats accomplished during such combat was done by Erich Rudorffer, a German pilot, credited with shooting down the most aircraft ever in a single mission, shooting down thirteen Soviet aircraft on 11 October 1943. A remarkable pilot for the German Luftwaffe during World War II, Rudorffer managed to survive the war despite flying over 1000 missions and being shot down an incredible 16 times, forced to parachute from his stricken fighter planes 9 of those times. In his historic mission while flying an Fw-190, Rudorffer downed eight Yak-7s and five Yak-9s of the Soviet Air Force. He shot down 222 enemy aircraft and also flew the Messerschmitt Me-262, the first operational jet fighter. Not just a Soviet killer, Rudorffer also shot down 86 aircraft operated by Western Allied air forces. He became a commercial pilot after World War II.
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For more information, please see…
Hampton, Dan. Lords of the Sky: Fighter Pilots and Air Combat, from the Red Baron to the F-16. HarperAudio, 2014.
Khazanov, Dmitriy, et al. Air Combat: Dogfights of World War II. Osprey Publishing, 2019.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Kogo of an Fw190 A8/N reproduction by Flug Werk GmbH Germany, is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.
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