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Erich Hartmann Career in a Chart

Erich Hartmann is the most successful WWII pilot of any country based on the number of victories. The infographic summarizes his career from training to his last victory.
A victory is a confirmed “claim”, not necessarily a “kill” (a/c destroyed). Documentary research shows that kills are almost always less than claims. Several air forces accepted pilot reports w/o confirming claims.
It took a long time to train a fighter pilot and a long time to make him successful as seen in the chart.
From September 1939 to September 1942, (well after the Battle of Britain which officially ended in Oct 1940) the Luftwaffe did not change its training methods since losses were within acceptable limits.
Initially, a future pilot started with basic military training that lasted (using Hartmann as a benchmark) about 5 months.
The purpose of the basic military training was to transform a civilian into a warrior, capable of killing, enduring hardship, and obeying orders.
The next phase was Flight Training where the warrior was converted to a pilot. This phase consisted of Primary, Basic, and Advanced single-engine training sub-phases. It started with elementary aircraft and ended with more complex retracting landing gear fighters. It lasted 8 months.
Then, Pre-fighter Training came. AAF called it transition and gunnery training because pilots were taught to fly in the fighters they would use in combat (4 months).
Finally, Fighter Training (Operational Training in the AAF) where the pilot learned to fight within elements and flights. At this stage, the pilot had the skill to fly and the rudiments to fight but not the experience to survive.
Once in the front, he started as a wingman. An experienced leader was assigned to the green pilot to transmit to his wingman tactics to emulate. The first 10 missions or so were the most perilous since it took this time for the green pilot to acquire the vision necessary to detect enemy aircraft in the air at long distance. Initially, the pilot was ‘blind’. Hartmann obtained his sharp vision before his first victory after 19 sorties during the second month at the front.

He remained a wingman until April of 1943, (7 months in combat) until he obtained his 8th victory after 113 sorties. At that time, he was given the command of an element (Rotte) and he started to achieve victories more rapidly. Between the end of April and the end of May he ‘bagged’ 9 enemy aircraft. At this time, he was a 17-victory ace with 158 sorties.
An RAF and USAAF fighter pilot had a tour of duty of about 150 sorties (one of the reasons their scores were lower), but Luftwaffe pilots continued in action until they got the Diamonds to the Knight’s Cross (although they could opt for continuing fighting as Hartman and others did).
After his 17th victory, Hartmann crashed in mid-air with a Soviet fighter and was lucky to escape alive. It was his 5th crash landing of the war. If he had not been so lucky, he would have ended his career with less than 20 victories.
The crash affected his nerves (combat fatigue) and he was sent to Germany for one month to recuperate.
After his rest and seeing firsthand the bombing of German cities by the Anglo-Saxons he returned highly motivated to continue the fight.
He got 24 victories in a single month and was promoted to command a flight (Schwarm). Within the next month, he got another 49 victories. He ended Aug 1943 with 90 victories after 295 sorties.
At that point, he was already more successful than any Soviet, British, or American ace during the whole war and was promoted to Squadron leader (of 9/JG52)
He continued adding victories during the war and eventually, he commanded a full wing (Gruppe) becoming one of the most decorated pilots in the Luftwaffe.

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