The last Luftwaffe pilot, Erich Rudorffer.

With 222 confirmed victories, 58 of them over the flying tank IL-2 “Sturmovik”, he served with the Luftwaffe during the whole WWII, becoming the 7th top scoring ace in the process.
He flew 1000 times, engaged 300 times on dogfights, and was shot down 16 times between flak and enemy pilots. He managed to bail out 9 out of 16 with his parachutte.
He´s the most successful ace still living, and the only one with more than 100 kills, due to the death of Walter Schuck on 2015.

He joined the Luftwaffe on 1936, and was posted to the 61st Pilot Replacement Unit ( Flieger-Ersatz-Abteilung 61), and was transferred to other units throughout the years. He was trained first as a bomber and then heavy fighter pilot on the 51stPilot Replacement Unit (Flieger-Ersatz-Abteilung 51)
On October 1 1939, he was sent to the Jagdwaffe (Fighter Force) and was trained on the 2nd Fighter Pilot Training School (Jagdfliegerschule 2) at Schleißheim.
On 6 December 1939, he was sent to the Supplementary Fighter Squadron “Döberitz”, stationed at Döberitz.
He was sent to the Supplementary Fighter Squadron “Merseburg” the 28 of the same month and year. There, veteran pilots would instruct the fresh ones.
He was sent from there to the 2nd Squadron (2 Staffel) of Jagdgeschwader 2 “Richtofen” (Fighter Wing 2)
on January 8 1940. Rudorffer was now an Oberfeldwebel (Staff Sargeant).

  • First victory: Curtiss Hawk 75. May 14 1940.

  • He got 8 more victories before France surrendered.

  • Achieved his 19th victory on May 1 1941. He was awarded the Knight´s Cross for the Iron Cross.

*** May 19 1941:** he and his wingman attacked a diving submarine near the Isle of Portland. Bombs struck near the submarine and it was seen to be diving vertically. Royal Navy didn´t report the destruction of the submarine, and the Luftwaffe credited him with the damage of it.

  • End of December 1941: 40 victories.

  • 1942: Participation in “Operation Cerberus”/“Channel Dash”. Flew over the Allied landing on Dieppe (August).

*** November 1942:** 45 victories. He was transferred, alongside his unit, to Siciliy, and later, Tunisia.

  • February 9 1943: He defeated 8 British pilots in a 32 minute aerial battle. 7 days later he would shot down 7 more Allied aircrafts. He shot down 10 Allied bombers while being in the North of Africa.

  • July 1943: He was given command of the 2nd Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 54 “Grünherz” on the Eastern Front. Rudorffer shot down his first Soviet aircraft on August 7.

  • August 24 1943: Rudorffer downed 5 Soviet aircrafts under 5 minutes.

*** October 11 1943:** He shot down 13 aircrafts in 17 minutes. He achieved his 100th victory, and was the 55th Luftwaffe pilot to achieve that mark.

  • October 28 1944: while in approach for landing, he spotted 60 Soviet ground support aircrafts, which were flying to the Libau airfields. He stopped his landing sequence and engaged the enemy, without help, and shot down 9 within 10 minutes. He was nicknamed “the Fighter of Libau”.

  • Winter 1944: Rudorffer is trained to fly Germany´s newest aircraft, the Messerschmitt Me 262.

*** February 1945:** He´s ordered to command I/JG7 (an all Me 262 fighter unit). Rudorffer claimed 12 victories on the Me 262, his total being of 222 (126 on the West, 26 on North Africa and 60 on the East).

After the war, he flew DC-2s and DC-3s in Australia, worked on Pan Am, on the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt, Germany’s civil aviation authority, and was one of the characters in the Finnish film “Tali-Ihantala 1944”. There, a Focke Wulf Fw 190A-8 with his markings, was shown.

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Bibliography:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Rudorffer
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