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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Hartmann, Erich, 1922-1993



  • Existence: 1922-1993

Biographical Note: Erich Hartmann

Erich Hartmann was a German fighter pilot during World War II and the most successfully flying ace of all time.

Erich Alfred Hartmann was born on April 19, 1922 in Weissach, Württemberg, Germany. While Hartmann was still a child the family moved to China to escape the economic depression in Germany, but returned when the Chinese Civil War began. His mother was one of Germany’s first female glider pilots, and she encouraged her son learn to fly. In 1941 at the age of 19 he enlisted in the Luftwaffe, where he became the most successful fighter ace in the history of aerial warfare. He flew 1,404 combat missions and was credited with shooting down 345 Soviet aircraft and 7 American, earning him the nickname “the Black Devil” by the Soviets. He was also known as “Bubi” (The Kid). Although he was and still is the fighter ace with the highest number of downed aircraft and was highly decorated by the Third Reich, Hartmann said his greatest achievement was never losing a wingman.

He was married to Ursula Paetsch and they had two children, Erich-Peter (1945-1948) and Ursula Isabel (born 1957).

At the end of the war he was captured by American forces. He was sentenced to 25 years hard labor in a Soviet prison before being returned to Germany in 1955 after serving 10 years.

Erich Hartmann died on September 20, 1993 in Weil im Schönbuch, Germany.

Biographical note derived from online sources.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

German Aces Photograph

 Collection — Box: Small Collections oversize materials 2019-, oversize: folder
Identifier: 2019-07-18
Content Description The German Aces Photograph is one photographic print featuring two images. The larger image shows top fighter ace Erich Hartmann examining a chart with fellow fighter ace Gerhard “Gerd” Barkhorn. The two are wearing official Nazi Luftwaffe uniforms. The smaller, insert photograph is a formal portrait of General Adolf Galland in dress uniform. The print is signed by Erich Hartmann and Adolf Galland.

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