"Stuka Pilot" by Hans-Ulrich Rudel

"Stuka Pilot", a fascinating book, may be of interest to anyone who enjoys the subject of World War Two or aviation.

Hans-Ulrich Rudel was the most successful pilot of conventional weapons in human history, in my opinion.

Wikipedia article echoes what other sources confirm:
"Rudel flew 2,530 combat missions claiming a total of 2,000 targets destroyed; including 800 vehicles, 519 tanks, 150 artillery pieces, a destroyer, two cruisers, one Soviet battleship, 70 landing craft, 4 armored trains, several bridges and nine aircraft which he shot down." ( One aircraft short of the ten needed to be a German Ace. Thousands of enemy soldiers and sailors were killed or wounded by his hand. Thousands of weapons not claimed by Rudel were destroyed or damaged.)

Adding to our amazement, he survived the war - having been in it practically from start to the finish of World War Two for Germany.

The copy of "Stuka Pilot" which I read was a western, edited English version. The original publication was deemed too controversial because of nationalistic comments made by Rudel in the books original form. Versions afterward were strictly edited for content, as was one that I read.

Almost all the original content was preserved in this very interesting and exciting book to read. Rudel gives his account of the combat tour with the viewpoint of a dedicated and patriotic combat pilot. He includes shortfalls and mistakes, as well as triumph which astonished even himself.

"Anywhere we looked over the enemy line as far as the eye could see, from the start of the war until the end, there were masses of Soviet men and material. They were in huge columns, formations, or assembly areas. One need not go far to find a target. Our constant struggle was to prioritize our targets so as to have the largest impact on the battle raging below us."

"... As my sight returned, I was amazed that I was still alive!"

"It seemed as though every Russian soldier on the ground was firing his weapon at our Stukas. The sound was terrifying as the smaller caliber bullets hit our aircraft, sometimes sounding on the aircraft structure like a hail storm on a tin roof."

"The Russian Ace was on our tail as I put my trusty Stuka through the craziest meneuvers. 'He's still on our tail and close!,' my gunner told me - terrified. 'Shoot him! Shoot him!,' I yelled into the intercom. I pulled the stick back fast with all my strength and my sight immediately went black. Once some sight returned, I twisted my head over my shoulder to look for the enemy..."

"I found it hard to believe that so many American planes would attack such a little airstrip as the one where I was stationed. It was obvious to me that my position had been betrayed and they were here to kill me."

"In all these accounts in this book, these are only some of the many things which I encountered and survived."

( Paraphrased from the reviewer's memory )

Rudel had harsh criticism of Romanian forces which I will not repeat here - reader beware. Rudel was unapologetically a German nationalist.

The reading of this book is not for the faint of heart, but history and aviation readers who are determined will find this book to be surprising, interesting, and entertaining.

After the war, Rudel helped to rebuild the German airforce. He also consulted NATO forces and advised in the design of the A-10 attack aircraft.

It was an astonishing career for a pilot who nearly washed out of flight training, called a poor student and slow to learn.

"One is only lost who gives himself up as lost," Hans-Ulrich Rudel, the greatest pilot in history.

This book can be found with diligent searching online, such as AmazonDotCOM. It is likely out of print but can be found through private sources. Keep trying and you will get it. It is worth the reading.


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