Gunther Rall has been accredited with being the third highest scoring fighter ace in history… He flew more than 600 combat missions, scored 275 victories (mostly against Soviet aircraft), and was shot down eight times….
Utilizing all available sources, Rall has 70 verifiable victory claims. 42 of them are confirmed victories through Official Allied loss listings, with 28 over-claims.
This gives Rall a very disappointing claim accuracy of 60.0%…
I’ve met Herr Rall a couple times back in the late 70’s and he was a very sincere and kind man…
The son of a merchant, Rall was born in Gaggenau in the Black Forest… When he was three, his family moved to Stuttgart, where he completed high school in 1936 and then joined the army… He later successfully applied to be a pilot…
During the 1930s, Rall had viewed the rise of Hitler with no particular enthusiasm but, like many soldiers, approved of the way in which Hitler and the National Socialists had ended decades of humiliation for German-speaking people….
In 1939, he trained as a fighter pilot before joining JG-52….
He had his first inconclusive air combat in a Bf-109 on May 12, 1940 during the Battle of France…
Six days later, he shot down a French Air Force Curtis Hawk fighter flown by a Czech sergeant. With the fall of France, Rall’s unit moved to Calais…
It was during this particular campaign that he began his personal victory score when on 18 May he shot down a Curtiss Hawk 75A from GC II/5, piloted by Czech pilot Sgt.Chef Otto Hanzlicek (which saved his life with chute).
Three French Curtiss H75-C1 fighters were attacking a German reconnaissance aircraft at a height of 26,000 feet (7,900 m). Rall attacked them and shot down one, stating: “I was lucky in my first dogfight, but it did give me a hell of a lot of self-confidence…and a scaring, because I was also hit by many bullets.”
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18.5.40/1840 Curtiss Hawk 75A S of Metz No. 27 of GC II/5. Sgt-Chef Otto Hanzlicek baled out safely (Lothar Ehrlich also claimed this one: slight overclaim)
He then flew throughout the Battle of Britain, escorting Junkers Ju-87 Stukas, and gained rapid promotion to squadron leader as the group lost all its top commanders….
Shortly after beginning operations, he was given command of 8./JG 52 on 25th July 1940, and on 1st August he was promoted to Oberleutnant.
Rall replaced Oberleutnant Lothar Ehrlich, who was killed in action with No. 610 Squadron RAF the previous day during the convoy battles; he was one of three pilots killed that day.
Rall said of the battle, “probably no one even had time to shout a warning. Suddenly a flock of Spitfires were on us like hawks on a bunch of chickens.”
On the day he was appointed, JG 52 lost another four pilots, including two men of Staffelkapitän rank. Rall’s staffel lost one pilot missing in action with No. 65 Squadron RAF over Dover in the early afternoon.
Rall and his unit achieved little.
Several of the highest claiming pilots of JG 52, Gerhard Barkhorn, Alfred Grislawski and Adolf Dickfeld were not successful over England.
Were most of your losses during fighter missions or bomber escort missions?
We had unfortunately been assigned to escort Junkers Ju-87B Stukas (dive bombers), very slow-flying aircraft. We had to fly close escort (in Messerschmitt Bf-109Es), which was wrong. We had to stick with them, giving up all of our superiority and speed. So we escorted them over the Channel where the Spitfires and Hurricanes waited upstairs for us, and we had tremendous losses. I lost my group commander. The adjutant and all three squadron commanders were killed in a time span of about two weeks. I, as a young lieutenant, had to take over my 8th Staffel (squadron) as commander at the age of 22. I did this for three years.
By October 1940, though, the Staffel had been withdrawn from combat operations in order to rebuild the losses suffered.
After being brought back up to strength, the unit was sent to Rumania to defend the oil refinaries and bridges over the Danube during the German occupation of that country in the spring of 1941.
In late May 8./JG 52 took part in Operation Merkur, the airborne assault on Crete, providing support for the German parachute and mountain troops.
By this time Germany and the Soviet Union were at war and so once the Creten operation was over 8./JG 52 was hurried back to Rumania, where Russian bombers were attacking the refinaries.
In five days, Rall and his men destroyed some 50 Soviet bombers and were next sent to the southern sector of the Eastern Front.
24.6.41/0725 DB-3 or SB (all 11 claims made in this engagement were identified as DB-3s) E of Constanza @ 6000m DB-3Fs of 2 MTAP, VVS ChF (3 losses) and SBs of 40 SBAP, VVS ChF (7 losses)
26.6.41/0510 SB (misidentified as a “DB-3”) NE of Constanza @ 4000m 40 BAP, VVS ChF. Overclaiming, only nine losses (versus 18 claims in total)
While providing escort for Sturzkampfgeschwader 77 (StG 77—77th Dive Bomber Wing) on 13 August 1941, with Jagdgeschwader 3 (JG 3—3rd Fighter Wing), Rall claimed a Polikarpov I-16 as did JG 3’s Günther Lützow.
The Soviet pilots were from the 88 IAP and identified as Lieutenants Yakov Kozlov and Ivan Novikov.
13.8.41/1052 I-16 “Rata” NW of Kanev @ 1500m 88 IAP. Includes Mladshiy Leytenants Ivan Novikov and Yakov Kozlov, both KIA (Guenther Luetzow of JG 3 also claimed 2 x Ratas)
The unit was withdrawn in September 1941 to regroup before be sent to Romania…
Posted to the Eastern Front in October 1941 after a stint in Romania, Rall participated in Operation Barbarossa, Operation Typhoon, the Battle of Kursk, and many others before the Germans retreated from Russia….
Rall claimed 12 victories in October 1941 as III./JG 52 fought for air superiority during the First Battle of Kharkov; an autumn offensive to seize the industrialised regions of Eastern Ukraine.
On 14 October 1941, there was heavy air fighting. Rall claimed an Ilyushin Il-2 over his group’s Poltava airfield after being scrambled in the midst of a Soviet air attack.
N of Poltava @ 700m
285 ShAP. St.Lt. V M Kaganovich failed to return, attributed to Flak by Soviet sources
On 23 October III./JG 52 moved to Chaplinka in the Crimea. With II./JG 3 and JG 77 it was ordered to clear the skies. The Crimean Campaign lasted into the following year.
The German fighter units claimed 140 aircraft from 18 to 24 October over Perekop.
Rall had reached 26 victories by this date.
Rall makes his 26th claim on 23 October 1941 with a victory over a Yak-1 fighter near Aleksandrowka.
23.10.41/1332 Yak-1 (claimed as an “I-61”) S of Aleksandrowka 5 AE, 32 IAP, VVS-ChF. One loss (Koeppen and Steffen also claimed)
A month later, on 22 November 1941, he makes his 32nd claim over a Mig fighter near Agrafenowka.
22.11.41/1350 MiG-3 (claimed as an “I-61”) SE of Agrafenowka @ 1200m Possibly 55 IAP, Serzhant Leonid Mitrofanovich Stashevskij KIA (Wachowiak also claimed)
The next day, Rall claims an Il-2 Sturmovik ground attack aircraft for his 33rd confirmed victory.
23.11.41/1335 IL-2 Sturmovik SE of Rostov @ 100m 4 ShAP. No further details known
On November 28, 1941, he was involved in a big dogfight near Rostov and shot down his 35th and 36th aircraft, but made the mistake of watching his last victim go down….
In no time at all, a Soviet fighter hit his airplane… He nursed his Messerschmitt back to the German-held area where he bellied in roughly, injuring himself severely….
28.11.41/1027 and 1505 MiG-3 plus I-16 Rostov sector. Were these from 8 IAP? They lost Mudarakshe Sabirovich Saberzyanov KIA plus Aleksandr Petrovich Shcheglov shot down, returned later (several other pilots claimed…)
A German tank crew rescued him from the wreck. His Bf 109 F-4 (Werknummer 7308—factory number) came down in the vicinity of Rostov.
He broke his back in three places and could not walk for months… He was told he would never fly again… A woman doctor named Hertha in Vienna took an interest in him and helped him recover; she even married him later in 1942…
His achievements earned him the German Cross in Gold in December 1941.
When Austria was annexed in 1938, Rall’s future wife Hertha had helped Jewish friends flee to London to escape the Nazis, anti-Semitic policies…. Indeed, while Rall was a devoted soldier in the service of his country, when the facts of the Holocaust were presented to him he came to look on them as ”the greatest madness of this insane war”.
”We knew about Dachau, the concentration camps, but not exactly what happened there,” he later said. ”During the war I was hardly in Germany. The airfields were on the front, we had no idea of what was happening … When I heard of Auschwitz, I did not believe it. We said clearly, ‘That’s propaganda’.”
Having been paralysed for months and treated by Hertha, Rall returned to operational duty in August 1942….
In Rall’s absence third group claimed 90 of the 135 aircraft claimed shot down by Luftflotte 4 in December. This was achieved without loss; making it the most successful of the German fighter groups. The VVS Southern Front admitted the loss of 44 aircraft from 1 to 22 December. The losses for the remaining nine days are not stated.
It was not until August 1942 that he was back in action, but in the first three months after returning to oparational duty, he raised his score to over 100 victories.
From 2 to 30 August 1941, Rall claimed victories 37 through to 62; a run of 26 aerial victories in a four-week period.
Finally back in action, Rall claims his 37th victory over an I-153 fighter South of Ssalsk.
2.8.42/0935 I-153 S of Ssalsk (PQ 17791) @ 1000m Could this actually have been Serzhant Synbulat Buranbaevich Synbulatov of 657 ShAP KIA?
Over the next 12 days, Rall claims an additional 12 enemy aircraft destroyed…
German forces reached the Terek River in late August 1942 and erected pontoon bridges. The Soviets began air attacks on the crossings, and Rall’s III./JG 52 claimed 32 aerial victories in their defence
SW of Kurgannaya (PQ 05194) @ 50m
08.08.42 pilot 518 IAP st. s-nt Berezovsky Ivan Pavlovich, died in an air battle (burned up in the air in the district of Kurgannaya station);
On 14 August 1942, Rall registers his 49th victory.
14.8.42/0952 DB-7 Boston N of Karagach 219 BAD. 859 BAP lost several Bostons this date, crews of Sergey Mikhailovich Lukaszewicz, Starshina Gavriil Nikolayevich Bryukhanov, Okinf Afanasovich Kuznetsov, Aleksandr Fedorovich Lushin
2 days later, on 16 August 1942, Rall scores a double LaGG kill, bringing his total of confirmed victories to 52.
16.8.42/1004 and 1007 LaGG-3s N of Kuba (PQ 34134) 805 IAP, 4 VA. Seeking further details…
He makes another fighter claim the very next day against 84 IAP, bringing down the I-153 fighter of Leytenant Nikolay Litovchenko.
17.8.42/0723 I-153 W of Altud (PQ 34433) @ 200m 84 IAP, Leytenant Nikolay Litovchenko KIA
Rall scores 9 more victories in the next two weeks, bringing his score to 62 confirmed victories.
On 1 September 1942, Rall claims his 63rd and 64th victories with a pair of LaGG-3 fighters in Chechnya.
Claims 63 and 64
3 claims total, 1 loss
(63) LaGG-3 (09h35) [PQ 44 Ost 54533] (at 2500m) (just N of Raduzhnoye, about 25km WNW of Grozny, Chechnya)
(64) LaGG-3 (15h02) [PQ 44 Ost 54511] (at 200m) (just N of Komarovo, about 30km NW of Raduzhnoye, Chechnya)
(Maj. Hubertus von Bonin [Stab III/JG 52] 1x LaGG-3 (15h30) [PQ 44 Ost 54343] (at 5000m) (about 12km N of Komarovo, Chechnya)
926 IAP (LaGG-3) lost Starshiy Leytenant Nikolay Ivanovich Kozlovskiy, to fighters, in the Ken’-Yurt area (about 20km NW of Grozny), Chechnya. (about 80km E of Malgobek).
The next day, 2 September 1942, Rall claims another LaGG-3 near Mozdok, registering his 65th victory.
2 claims total, NO losses
(Uffz. Berthold Korts [Stab III/JG 52] LaGG-3 (12h10) [PQ 44 Ost 44450] (at 2500m) (some 15km SSE of Mozdok, North Ossetia)
(65) LaGG-3 (15h50) [PQ 44 Ost 54611] (at 1500m) (halfway between Ken’-yurt and Pervomayskaya (some 15km south), about 20km NW of Grozny, Chechnya)
Losses: till now, found no LaGG (or any single inline-engined fighter) losses (there was a I-16 lost in a crash)
On September 3 1942, after his 65th victory, he was decorated with the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross…
The pilots of JG 52 opposed the Soviet 4th Air Army (4 VA) effectively; and with pilots such as Rall, Dickfeld and Grislawski, they dominated the air space whenever they appeared in strength. The 4 VA reported the loss of 149 aircraft in September 1942.
He scores his 66th confirmed victory the very next day. He claims over 20 aircraft shot down during the month of September, 1942.
4.9.42/1349 MiG-1 S of Mozdok One of these was likely Serzhant Sergey Mikhailovich Bassov of 805 IAP KIA, the other Nikolai Radionovich Bakhirev of 926 IAP KIA 6km S of Mozdok (ties in with two claims by Karl Gratz)
3 claims total, 2 losses
(Uffz. Karl Gratz [8/JG 52] MiG-1 (13h43) [PQ 44 Ost 44442] (at 300m) (some 8km S of Mozdok, North Ossetia)
(66) MiG-1 (13h49) [PQ 44 Ost 44442] (at 800m) (about 8km S of Mozdok, North Ossetia)
(Oblt . Adolf Dickfeld [Stab III/JG 52] 1x LaGG-3 (16h43) [PQ 44 Ost 44472] (at 1400m) (about 6km N of Malgobek, Ingushetia)
805 IAP (LaGG-3) lost Serzhant Sergey Mikhaylovich Basov, to fighters, near Malgobek, Ingushetia.
926 IAP (LaGG-3) lost Mladshiy Leytenant Nikolay Rodionovich Bakhirev, to fighters, 6km from Mozdok, North Ossetia.
6.9.42/0955 and 1035 LaGG-3s S of Mozdok Confirmed in Soviet loss reports (were escorting 219 BAD). Believe it was 926 IAP, they lost Alexey Grigoryevich Buldakov definitely in combat with fighters
3 claims total, 2 losses
(67) LaGG-3 (09h55) [PQ 44 Ost 44621] (at 2000m) (about 12km ESE of Malgobek, Ingushetia)
(68) LaGG-3 (10h35) [PQ 44 Ost 44471] (at 1000m) (about 6km NW of Malgobek, Ingushetia)
(Oblt . Adolf Dickfeld [Stab III/JG 52] LaGG-3 (16h43) [PQ 44 Ost 44472] (at 1400m) (about 6km N of Malgobek, Ingushetia)
926 IAP (LaGG-3) Starshiy Serzhant Alexey Grigor’yevich Buldakov (KIA), to fighters, near Lukovskaya (just SW of Mozdok), North Ossetia.
926 IAP (LaGG-3) Starshiy Serzhant Andrey Efimovich Malyshev (KIA), to fighters, near Lukovskaya (just SW of Mozdok), North Ossetia.
7.9.42/0842 LaGG-3 S of Mozdok (PQ 44452) 790 IAP, 219 BAD. Believed to be Batalyonnyy Komissar Fedosiy Dubkovskiy KIA, but there were seven other losses
7.9.42/0846 Pe-2 S of Mozdok (PQ 44454) 366 BAP, 219 BAD. Three losses, includes crew of Starshina Nikolay Ivanovich Pyanikh all KIA
11 claims total, 6 losses
(69) LaGG-3 (08h42) [PQ 44 Ost 44452] (at ?? m) (4km S of Oktyabrskoye, about 17km SE of Mozdok, North Ossetia)
(70) Pe-2 (08h46) [PQ 44 Ost 44454] (at ?? m)
[NOTE : in Tony Wood’s list there are only 7./JG 52 claims. There may have been more claims made by 8./JG 52 (as in Rall’s case)]
366 BAP (Pe-2) Starshina Nikolay Ivanovich P’yanykh’s crew (2 KIA), to fighters.
926 IAP (LaGG-3) Mladshiy Leytenant Konstantin Aleksandrovich Safronov (KIA), to fighters, Mozdok area, North Ossetia.
926 IAP (LaGG-3) Leytenant Aleksandr Ivanovich Klimov (KIA), to fighters, Mozdok area, North Ossetia.
926 IAP (LaGG-3) Leytenant Aleksey Ivanovich Volkov (Mia), did no return after combat against fighters, near Lukovskaya (just SW of Mozdok), North Ossetia.
926 IAP (LaGG-3) Starshiy Leytenant Mikhail Ivanovich Medvedev (KIA), to fighters, near Makovkin A/f (??), ??.
862 IAP (LaGG-3) Starshiy Serzhant Aleksandr Iosifovich Tarasov (KIA), to fighters, near Sredniye Achaluki (about 18km SE of Malgobek), Ingushetia.
Claims 71 and 72
13 claims total, ONLY 3 losses
(71) LaGG-3 (12h43) [PQ 44 Ost 44472] (at 2000m) (about 6km N of Malgobek, Ingushetia)
(72) I-180 (12h45) [PQ 44 Ost 44442] (at 2000m) (about 8km S of Mozdok, North Ossetia)
862 IAP (LaGG-3) Starshiy Serzhant Aleksandr Nikolaevich Kobelev (Mia), did not return from mission.
862 IAP (LaGG-3) Starshiy Serzhant Georgiy Efimovich Burdin (KIA), to fighters, near Sredniye Achaluki (about 18km SE of Malgobek), Ingushetia.
131 IAP (LaGG-3) Starshiy Politruk Vasiliy Mikhailovich Sergeev (KIA), to fighters, near Mozdok, North Ossetia.
9.9.42/1648 LaGG-3 SE of Mozdok (PQ 44461) @ 1700m 4 VA. One of these was Starshina Sergei Semenovich Bespalov of 131 IAP KIA near Malgobek this date. 790 IAP, 219 BAD lost Yakov Maksimovich Skubickij and Dmitry Maximovich Fedorenko both KIA by fighters in LaGG-3s (several other claiming pilots…)
12 claims total, 4 losses
(73) LaGG-3 (16h48) [PQ 44 Ost 44461] (at 1700m) (about 4km S of Bratskoye, about 28km SE of Mozdok, North Ossetia)
790 IAP (LaGG-3) Serzhant Dmitriy Maksimovich Fedorenko (Mia), did not return from mission in the Terskaya area (about 70km N of Vladikavkaz, 7km ESE of Mozdok), North Ossetia.
131 IAP (LaGG-3) Mladshiy Leytenant Mitrofan Markovich Karpun (Mia), did not return from mission.
131 IAP (LaGG-3) Starshina Sergey Semenovich Bespalov (KIA), to fighters, near Balashev (??, Malgobek area), Ingushetia.
862 IAP (LaGG-3) Leytenant Ivan Panteleevich Gordeev (KIA), to fighters, 15km NE of Malgobek), Ingushetia.
10.9.42/1635 and 1642 LaGG-3s Mozdok sector 4 VA. Day’s losses include 862 IAP lost Serzhant Yuri Anatolievich Serebryakov KIA. 962 IAP lost Serzhant Yuri Anatolievich Serebryakov and St.Serzhant Timofei Vasilievich Tretyakov (definitely to fighters) both over Mozdok Also lost over Mozdok was 790 IAP’s Ml.Lt. Evgenii Efimovich Harol′skij KIA by fighters. 926 IAP lost Valentin Allakhiyarovich Emirov KIA in alleged taran (many claims this date, very hard to track…)
4 claims total, 2 losses
(76) LaGG-3 (13h07) [PQ 44 Ost 44441] (at 50m) (about 7km S of Razdolnoye, some 15km SW of Mozdok, North Ossetia)
(Ltn. Gustav Denk [Stab II/JG 52] LaGG-3 (14h14) [PQ 44 Ost 44453] (at 0m) (some 15km SSE of Mozdok, North Ossetia)
(Ofw. Franz Gilhaus [5/JG 52] LaGG (16h45) [PQ 44 Ost 44624] (at 0m) (about 5km SW of Novy Redant, some 15km SE of Malgobek, Ingushetia)
(Hptm. Rudolf Resch [6/JG 52] LaGG-3 (16h45) [PQ 44 Ost 44613] (at 1200m) (some 8km SE of Malgobek, Ingushetia)
131 IAP (La-5) Starshiy Politruk Filipp Stepanovich Yarovoy (KIA), against fighters, Mikhailovskoe (9km N of Vladikavkaz), North Ossetia.
131 IAP (LaGG-3) Serzhant Mitrofan Markovich Kravchenko (Mia), did not return from mission.
10 claims total, ONLY 2 losses
(Uffz. Adalbert Schindler [Stab III/JG 52] LaGG-3 (06h25) [PQ 44 Ost 54381] (at 3000m) (about 6km SW of Lakkha-Nevre (Verkhniy Naur), some 40km NW of Grozny, Chechnya)
(Oblt. Adolf Dickfeld [Stab III/JG 52] LaGG-3 (06h26) [PQ 44 Ost 54382] (at 3000m) (about 6km SE of Lakkha-Nevre (Verkhniy Naur), some 40km NW of Grozny, Chechnya)
(Ltn. Heinz Schmidt [5/JG 52] LaGG-3 (09h19) [PQ 44 Ost 54391] (at 1800m) (some 5km E of Podgornoye, about 35km NW of Grozny, Chechnya)
(Ltn. Heinz Schmidt [5/JG 52] LaGG-3 (09h25) [PQ 44 Ost 54411] (at 500m) (some 40km NNE of Podgornoye, Chechnya)
(77) LaGG-3 (10h22) [PQ 44 Ost 54371] (at 900m) (about 5km N of Komarovo, Chechnya)
(Ltn. Heinz Schmidt [5/JG 52] LaGG (13h44) [PQ 44 Ost 54543] (at 1500m) (some 4km NE of Sunzha, about 49km NE of Vladikavkaz, Ingushetia)
(Ltn. Heinz Schmidt [5/JG 52] LaGG (16h39) [PQ 44 Ost 54362] (at 1800m) (just N of Savel’yevskaya, about 6km N of Podgornoye, Chechnya)
(Ltn. Heinz Schmidt [5/JG 52] LaGG (16h41) [PQ 44 Ost 54474] (at 1000m) (some 10km ESE of Ken’-Yurt, about 30km NW of Grozny, Chechnya)
(Hptm. Johannes Steinhoff [Stab II/JG 52] LaGG (16h40) [PQ 44 Ost 54381] (at 800m) (about 6km SW of Lakkha-Nevre (Verkhniy Naur), some 40km NW of Grozny, Chechnya)
(Ltn. Helmut Haberda [Stab II/JG 52] LaGG (16h41) [PQ 44 Ost 54381] (at 800m) (about 6km SW of Lakkha-Nevre (Verkhniy Naur), some 40km NW of Grozny, Chechnya)
790 IAP (LaGG-3) Leytenant Andrey Danilovich Levchenko (KIA), against fighters, in the Malgobek area (about 45km NW of Madas), Ingushetia.
821 IAP (LaGG-3) Mladshiy Leytenant Fedor Grigor’yevich Vaziyanov (KIA), against fighters, near Ordzhonikidzevskaya (Sunzha (since 2016), some 45km SE of Malgobek), Ingushetia.
4 claims total, 1 loss
(78) MiG-3 (16h22) [PQ 44 Ost 44504] (at 1200m) (just E of El’khotovo, about 45km NW of Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia)
(Fw. Friedrich Wachowiak [8/JG 52] MiG-3 (16h25) [PQ 44 Ost 44554] (at 1200m) (about 7km E of El’khotovo, about 40km NW of Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia)
(Fw. Friedrich Wachowiak [8/JG 52] MiG-3 (16h28) [PQ 44 Ost 44524] (at 1300m) (about 14km NE of El’khotovo, about 50km NW of Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia)
(Uffz. Karl-Heinz Meltzer [8/JG 52] MiG-3 (16h28) [PQ 44 Ost 44524] (at 1300m) (about 14km NE of El’khotovo, about 50km NW of Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia)
131 IAP (LaGG-3) Starshiy Serzhant Efim Denisovich Andreev (Mia), did not return from mission.
Claims 79 and 80
2 claims total, 2 losses
(79) Il-2 (08h34) [PQ 44 Ost 44592] (at 400m) (just W of Tsalyk , about 15km NW of Beslan, North Ossetia)
(80) Il-2 (08h36) [PQ 44 Ost 44541] (at 50m) (just E of Ozrek, about 12km SW of Terek, Kabardino-Balkaria)
47 ShAP VVS VMF (Il-2) Starshiy Leytenant Pavel Isaevich Matyushin (KIA), to Flak, near Deyskoye (just E of Terek), Kabardino-Balkaria. (about 50km SW of Mozdok)
47 ShAP VVS VMF (Il-2) Serzhant Vasiliy Evdokimovich Ryabchenko (CL, Wia, hij in combat, makes heavy CL, gets thrown ouv of the aircraft btu survives with minor injuries, near Deyskoye (just E of Terek), Kabardino-Balkaria. (about 50km SW of Mozdok)
1 claim, no losses
(81) LaGG-3 (15h39) [PQ 44 Ost 54531] (at 1600m) (some 6km NNW of Raduzhnoye, about 25km NW of Grozny, Chechnya)
(Apparently no fighter pilots lost)
Claims 82 and 83
6 total claims, 1 loss
(Uffz. Adalbert Schindler [Stab III/JG 52] MiG-1 (12h35) [PQ 44 Ost 44535] (at 500m) (S of Khurikau, North Ossetia (some 10km SW of Malgobek))
(82) LaGG-3 (16h02) [PQ 44 Ost 44552] (at 1500m) (N of Komsomol’skoye, about 9km E of El’khotovo, about 40km NW of Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia)
(83) LaGG-3 (16h07) [PQ 44 Ost 44539] (at 1000m) (S of Khurikau, North Ossetia (some 10km SW of Malgobek))
(Uffz. Karl Gratz [8/JG 52] LaGG-3 (16h03) [PQ 44 Ost 44563] (at 1800m) (N of Zamankul, about 15km E of El’khotovo, about 40km NW of Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia)
(Uffz. Karl-Heinz Meltzer [8/JG 52] LaGG-3 (16h03) [PQ 44 Ost 44393] (at 1500m) (about 4km SW of Nizhniy Kurp, Kabardino-Balkaria, some 15km E of Malgobek)
(Uffz. Karl-Heinz Meltzer [8/JG 52] LaGG-3 (16h05) [PQ 44 Ost 44533] (at 1000m) (about 4km SW of Verkhniy Kurp, Kabardino-Balkaria, some 20km ESE of Malgobek)
131 IAP (LaGG-3) Leytenant Ivan Fedorovich Sushko (Mia), did not return from mission.
Claims 84, 85, 86 and 87
(Uffz. Karl Gratz [8/JG 52] LaGG-3 (07h58) [PQ 44 Ost 44614] (at 2000m) (some 9km SSE of Malgobek, Ingushetia)
(Uffz. Karl Gratz [8/JG 52] LaGG-3 (08h04) [PQ 44 Ost 44563] (at 1200m) (N of Zamankul, about 15km E of El’khotovo, about 40km NW of Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia)
(84) Il-2 (09h28) [PQ 44 Ost 44611] (at 400m) (some 6km SW of Malgobek, Ingushetia)
(85) LaGG-3 (09h31) [PQ 44 Ost 44614] (at 1000m) (some 9km SSE of Malgobek, Ingushetia)
(Uffz. Viktor Petermann [Stab/JG 52] MiG-1 (15h48) [PQ 44 Ost 44391] (at 2000m) (about 4km NW of Nizhniy Kurp, Kabardino-Balkaria, some 15km ENE of Malgobek)
(86) Il-2 (16h02) [PQ 44 Ost 44533] (at 200m) (about 4km SW of Verkhniy Kurp, Kabardino-Balkaria, some 20km ESE of Malgobek)
(87) LaGG-3 (16h04) [PQ 44 Ost 44629] (at 600m) (about 5km SW of Novy Redant, some 15km SE of Malgobek, Ingushetia)
(Uffz. Karl-Heinz Meltzer [8/JG 52] Il-2 (16h03) [PQ 44 Ost 44561] (at 200m) (6km N of Zamankul, about 15km E of El’khotovo, about 40km NW of Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia)
805 ShAP (Il-2) Mladshiy Leytenant Vladimir Pavlovich Pavlov (KIA), to Flak, 3km SW of Ozerny (??, probably somewhere near Malgobek, Ingushetia ??). (Further details pending)
743 IAP (LaGG-3) Leytenant Vladimir Sergeevich Kozlov (Mia), did not return from mission.
On 30 September 1942, Rall claimed his 88th, 89th and 90th aerial victim, bringing his total for the month to 28.
Claims 88, 89 and 90
(Fw. Berthold Korts [Stab III/JG 52] MiG-1 (16h02) [PQ 44 Ost 44613] (at 2000m) (some 9km SSE of Malgobek, Ingushetia)
(88) Il-2 (16h02) [PQ 44 Ost 44473] (at 800m) (about 5km NW of Malgobek, Ingushetia)
(89) LaGG-3 (16h03) [PQ 44 Ost 44621] (at 1500m) (about 10km ESE Malgobek, Ingushetia)
(90) LaGG-3 (16h05) [PQ 44 Ost 44694] (at 800m) (SE of Yandare (Yandyri), abouv 15km NE of Magas, Ingushetia)
(Uffz. Adalbert Schindler [Stab III/JG 52] La-5 (16h03) [PQ 44 Ost 44611] (at 1500m) (some 6km SW of Malgobek, Ingushetia)
(Uffz. Karl Gratz [8/JG 52] LaGG-3 (16h03) [PQ 44 Ost 44614] (at 1300m) (some 9km SSE of Malgobek, Ingushetia)
(Uffz. Karl Gratz [8/JG 52] LaGG-3 (16h05) [PQ 44 Ost 44644] (at 1200m) (some 6km W of Verkhniye Achaluki,20km SSE of Malgobek, Ingushetia)
(Uffz. Karl Gratz [8/JG 52] LaGG-3 (16h09) [PQ 44 Ost 44651] (at 1000m) (some 4km W of Nizhniye Achaluki, about 18km SE of Malgobek, Ingushetia)
(Uffz. Friedrich Heeg [7/JG 52] LaGG-3 (16h07) [PQ 44 Ost 44613] (at 2200m) (some 9km SSE of Malgobek, Ingushetia)
(Uffz. Klaus Dadd [7/JG 52] LaGG-3 (16h08) [PQ 44 Ost 44614] (at 2000m) (some 9km SSE of Malgobek, Ingushetia)
(Till now, found no fighter pilots lost)
On 19 October 1942, Rall registered his 96th and 97th victories with a pair of I-16 Rata fighter, approaching the mythical Century mark…
19.10.42/1301 and 1303 I-16 “Ratas” Elchotowo sector 88 IAP. Slight overclaiming, only one loss: Serzhant Viktor Illich Shakhov KIA
On 22 October 1942, Rall scores a triple kill when he claims 2 x LaGGs and an La-5 fighter, surpassing the Century Mark and forever etching himself into the history books.
As they sat together by a fire, Rall asked Hitler: ”Fuehrer, how long will this war take?”
Hitler replied: ”My dear Rall, I don’t know.” That surprised the ace.
“I thought our leaders knew everything,” Rall recalled, ”and suddenly I realised they didn’t know anything.”
In April 1943, Rall was promoted to Hauptmann, and on 21 April 1943, he registered his 117th and 118th victories…
21.4.43/0604 and 0701 La-5s (“LaGGs”) Kabardinka – Gelendzhik 229 IAD. Losses include 13 IAP’s Starshina Nikolay Grinko baled out but KIA (parachute was burnt and failed) and 437 IAP’s pilot Ivan Norin baled out safely (3 other claims by different pilots)
Two days later, he makes his next claim over another LaGG fighter aircraft during a large dogfight that had pilots claiming a ridiculous amount of kills compared to actual Soviet losses.
23.4.43/0732 LaGG Into the sea, 10km W of Gelendzhik (PQ 75492) @ 2000m Massive overclaiming this day, 30 claims for 10 Fighters lost by 4 VA. Includes all damaged machines and two P-39s lost in a collision. 40 IAP La-5s were in action and suffered no losses.
On 28 April 1943, Rall registered his 120th and 121st victories with a lend-lease Spitfire shot down NW of Krimskaya, piloted by Soviet Ace Gv.St.Lt. Viktor Radkevich, who had 5 personal and 4 shared kills to his credit, and another LaGG piloted by St.Lt. Shirobokov…
28.4.43/1215 Lend-lease Spitfire V NW of Krimskaya (PQ 75231) @ 500m 57 GIAP. Gv.St.Lt. Viktor Radkevich (5 personal and 4 shared kills) KIA
28.4.43/1225 LaGG E of Krimskaya (PQ 85113) @ 3500m 291 IAP. This one said to be St.Lt. Shirobokov, baled out safely
The very next day, he claims yet another Spitfire shot down 10km N of Novo Cherkassk.
29.4.43/0759 Lend-lease Spitfire V 10km N of Novo Cherkassk (PQ 85151) @ 400m 57 GIAP. Gv Lt. Semenov
On 3 May 1943, Rall claims his 126th enemy aircraft destroyed when he shoots down an Aircobra in the Abinskaya area.
3.5.43/0758 P-39 Airacobra Abinskaya area (PQ 85144) @ 4000m 298 IAP, 229 IAD, 4 VA lost Kapt. Vasiliy Mikhaylovich Drygin baled out to Bf109s escorting Stukas this date (several other claiming pilots…)
On 5 May 1943, Rall makes a double claim for two Soviet aircraft, registering his 133rd and 134th victories.
5.5.43/1009 Yak-7 (claimed as a “LaGG”) SE of Krimskaya (PQ 85141) @ 1500m 15 IAP, 278 IAD. Ml. Lt. Pavel Vlasovich Podmogil’ny
5.5.43/1209 P-39D-2 Airacobra E of Krimskaya (PQ 85113) @ 2000m 16 GIAP, St.Lt. or Kapt. Vadim Ivanovich “Boroda” Fadeyev KIA – bellylanded safely but found DOW
Rall is then given command of III./JG 52 on 6 July 1943.
Rall registers his 150th victory on 8 July, 1943 whilst flying with Hartmann, 20km N of Prokhorovka… Hartmann claims 2 x LaGG fighters during this engagement.
A Soviet after-battle analysis mentioned this specific engagement;
“Eight Yak-1s in the Provorot region observed two Me 109s off their flight path. Paying no attention to the enemy aircraft our fighters continued. Seizing a convenient moment, the German fighters attacked our aircraft and shot down three Yak-1s.”
8.7.43/1835 Yak-1? (claimed as a “LaGG”) 20km N of Prokhorovka (PQ 61132) @ 800m. Soviet report mentions the loss of three Yak-1s to fighters around this time (very likely legitimate victory therefore, Hartmann claimed the other two)
The next day, Rall claims another double victory, both within 2 minutes, for his 152nd and 153rd victories…
9.7.43/1533 and 1543 N of Prokhorovka 27 IAP. Four losses: Mayor Aleksandr Volkov (Eskadrilya commander), Mladhsiy Leytenant Ivan Shpak, Mladshiy Leytenant Nikolay Shapkin and Leytenant Khopan Zabrodskiy all KIA (Melzer claimed the other two)
On 9 July, following combat with Soviet fighters, Rall made a forced landing in his Bf 109 G-6 (Werknummer 20019) near Petrovka, north of Belgorod.
Four days later, a mid-air collision with a Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov LaGG-3 fighter resulted in another forced landing at Ugrim airfield.
On 17 July 1943, Rall claims 2 LaGG fighters shot down whilst in combat with
Normandie Niemen Eskadrilya for his 159th and 160th victories, killing both unit CO Maj. Jean Tulasne and Lt. Firmin Vermiel…
17.7.43/1908 and 1916 2 x Yak-7Bs (claimed as “LaGGs”) Bolkhov-Orel sector Normandie Niemen Eskadrilya. Losses include unit CO, Maj. Jean Tulasne and Lt. Firmin Vermiel (name also given as Vermeil) both KIA plus Lt. Didier Beguin returned (other claim by Rudolf Trepte who claimed an IL-2 though none of those being escorted were actually lost so he must have misidentified…)
Rall claimed 21 air victories in July but the German offensive rapidly bogged down. The Red Army began a counteroffensive in the region to contain the German operation and destroy its forces (Operation Kutuzov and Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev).
Rall stated that after Kursk his pilots no longer believed the endsieg, though the German army managed to stabilise the front somewhat over the following weeks.
The 2nd Air Army, responsible for defending the airspace opposite Stab. I. and III./JG 52 at the start of the battle, lost 153 fighters from 5 to 10 July 1943, representing 40 percent of initial strength.
The Soviets admitted the loss of 1,000 aircraft in their “defensive” phase of the battle.
In the first three days, to 8 July, Soviet records admit the loss of 566 aircraft while the Germans claimed 923; not all of the German claims were confirmed by their own side. The 17th Air Army, opposite II./JG 52, were reduced to 706 aircraft from 1,052.
During August 1943, Rall claimed 33 aircraft shot down as JG 52 fought over Central Ukraine through the late summer.
On August 29 1943, he recorded his 200th victory on his 555th mission, and on September 12 1943, Hitler awarded Rall the Swords to his Knight’s Cross, only the 34th German and fourth flyer to be so honoured…
Three other Luftwaffe officers were presented with awards that day by Hitler, Major Hartmann Grasser and Hauptmann Heinrich Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein were awarded the Oak Leaves, and Hauptmann Walter Nowotny also received the Swords to his Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves.
Following Hermann Graf and Hans Philipp, Rall was the third fighter pilot to reach the double century mark. This achievement earned him a named reference in the Wehrmachtbericht that day.
Following the award ceremony, Rall went on vacation until the end of September.
Rall returned to operations, and over the course of October 1943, he claimed exactly 40 aircraft; his first coming on the 1 October. The majority were claimed in the Southern Ukraine. With few exceptions, the enemy aircraft claimed were fighters, with Rall reaching 250 victories by December, 1943…
After almost a month of prolonged operations, Rall scores his 230th and 231st confirmed victories on 22 October 1943 with a pair of P-39 Aircobras over the Mironovka sector.
He claims another P-39 destroyed on 24 October 1943 for his 233rd enemy aircraft destroyed in combat.
24.10.43/1520 P-39 Airacobra Kalinowka area (PQ 58562) @ 5000m M.Lt. Aleksandr Samsonov of 16 GIAP
On 1 November 1943, Rall was promoted to the rank of Major, a rank he retained until the end of the war. In November 1943, Rall claimed 12 aircraft destroyed, and on the twenty-eighth day became the second fighter pilot after Nowotny to reach 250 aerial victories mark.
On 28 November 1943, Rall gets confirmation for his 249th and 250th aircraft shot down, a pair of Yak-1 fighters from 15 IAP.
28.11.43/0827 Yak-1 (claimed as a “LaGG”) S of Zaparozhe (Lagoroshje?) @ 2000m 15 IAP, no further details known to me at present
Rall filed his last claim of the year on 30 November. It was credited as his 252nd aerial victory.
After a lull in Soviet activity and a brief spell of leave, Rall gets confirmation for his 253rd victory, another P-39 Aircobra shot down over the Aleksandrovka area…
26.2.44/1437 P-39 Airacobra Aleksandrovka area (PQ 29522) @ 2500m 438 IAP. Rall and Bachnick are believed to have claimed against Mladshiy Leytenant Vodolazhskiy, who baled out safely.
As the war progressed, the obsolete Soviet fighters were steadily replaced by others with far superior performance. Nevertheless, the great majority of Rall’s successes were in fighter-to-fighter combat.
During his time on the eastern front, Rall came up against many excellent Soviet pilots and was shot down seven times.
On 11 January 1944, Rall received the certification for the Oak Leaves and Swords, along with the medals from Hitler.
In 1944 Rall continued to claim but at a slower rate. The Soviet Crimean Offensive opened on 8 April and five weeks later ended the German occupation in the Crimea.
Rall claimed his 273rd and last aerial victory on the Eastern Front on 16 April 1944 over a Lavochkin La-5 fighter aircraft in the vicinity of Sevastopol.
Finally, in April 1944, he returned to Germany.
In the spring (19th April) of 1944, Rall took over command as the Gruppenkommadeur of II./JG 11 which was at the time on Home Defense (Reichsverteidigung) duties against the 8th Air Force, flying Bf-109s against the high-flying daylight bomber forces and their escorting fighters of the USAAF 8th Air Force….
Rall claims his 274th victory over a P-38 Lightning on 29 April 1944, near Hannover, against the 384th Fighrer Squadron.
That day the USAAF targeted Berlin with 679 heavy-bombers escorted by 814 fighter aircraft.
29.4.44/1115 P-38J-10-LO Lightning N of Hannover (PQ 05 Ost S/FU) @ 8000m Known to be against 364th FG. Their 384th FS had 3 losses: 42-67417/5Y-D of Lt. Shorndin D McCloud (fate unknown), 42-67438/5Y-I of Lt. Kenneth M Shaffer POW and 42-67447/5Y- of Lt. Eugene L Smith POW
The German day fighter force was beginning to falter under the pressure. General der Jagdflieger (General of Fighters) Adolf Galland reported that from January–April 1944, that 1,000 German pilots had been killed or wounded; Rall would soon become one of them.
On May 12, 1944, he shot down a 56th FG USAAF P-47 Thunderbolt, his 274th and last victory claim, but was then in turn himself shot down while flying Bf 109 G-5 “Schwarz << +”, W.Nr.110 089, of Stab II./JG 11.
He nearly succeeded in downing the commander of the famed 56th FG, Lt Col Hubert Zemke (17 3/4 v., POW 30/10/44), and did succeed in destroying a Thunderbolt of this unit.
Severely wounded in the hand, he managed to bail out over Frankfurt…. His wound became badly infected and he was in hospital for six months….
On 12 May 1944, Rall was leading a Staffel of Bf 109s and bounced a flight of three P-47 Thunderbolts led by Colonel Hubert Zemke. Zemke was experimenting with a new tactic, the “Zemke fan”, in which independent flights scattered in front of the bombers in order to cover as much sky as possible, thereby maximising the chance of intercepting German fighters.
Rall’s unit succeeded in this battle, but at high cost. Besides Rall’s claim of one P-47, two P-51 Mustang’s were also claimed by other pilots.
The group lost 11 Bf 109s, with two pilots killed and five wounded—all of the stabschwarm were shot down.
“I am very close friends now with Colonel Hub Zemke; and it was his wing that shot off my thumb (5th Fighter Group), and we know exactly who got me…….
12.5.44/1220 P-47D Thunderbolt Frankfurt-Main area Said to be from the 56th FG but their loss locations match much better with JG 5’s claims. Overclaiming?
Rall was flying at 36,000 ft (11,000 metres) without cabin heating or pressurisation, and 10,000 ft above the Fw 190s. Rall attacked claiming a Thunderbolt. His staffel were then ambushed by other P-47s. Rall dived to escape, but his Bf 109 could not out-dive the Thunderbolts, which were attacking in line-abreast, preventing him from turning left or right. Rall was near to 620 mph, but took hits in the engine and radiator by pilots of the 56th Fighter Group.
Rall’s left thumb was hit, and after he cleared the ice from his windshield with his remaining good hand, he decided there was no escape, and bailed out. He landed in a tree on a steep slope, then rolled down it into a gully after releasing his parachute harness.
Deemed too precious for the morale of the people, and because he could not fire his guns after losing a thumb, Rall was kept from combat….
He became an instructor, and flew several captured American planes, including the P-51 Mustang, to find their strengths and weaknesses and to develop better tactics to teach his students….
Rall flew in mock-combat with Bf 109s; specifically, he flew the Supermarine Spitfire, Lockheed P-38 Lightning, P-47 Thunderbolt, and the P-51 Mustang.
Rall from an interview;
“I was wounded three times, but I was shot down about eight times. I bellied in between the front lines, I jumped out and was picked up by Germans in tanks and so on. I was always lucky, except I was seriously wounded three times. The first time it was my back. I was then shot and hit right in the face and in my hand, and the third time I jumped out and a P-47 Thunderbolt shot my left thumb off.”
Rall said of the campaign of 1943–1945:
“In my experience, the Royal Air Force pilot was the most aggressive and capable fighter pilot during the Second World War. This is nothing against the Americans, because they came in late and in such large numbers that we don’t have an accurate comparison. We were totally outnumbered when the Americans engaged, whereas at the time of the Battle of Britain the fight was more even and you could compare. The British were extremely good.”
In November 1944, Rall was appointed as an instructor and flew captured Allied fighter aircraft in order to prepare instruction notes on their performance to German fighter pilots.
Rall’s final command was as wing commander of Jagdgeschwader 300….
What was it like commanding JG300?
“I came to the unit in late February or early March 1945. This was no longer a wing, just a ruin of the former wing because one group was in the North. As you know, a wing has three groups. In the meantime, the Americans got to the Elbe River, cutting this group off, and some managed to escape to the south.
I had only two rudimentary groups, and I will tell you something that was typical: when I arrived at the wing to take over, I came by jeep because I had no aircraft. While I was commander of the Fighter Leaders School, they sent me a jeep and said, ‘You are going up to Plattling in Bavaria to take over as commander of JG300,’ and when I approached the base I saw that some airplanes were standing out on the apron, and my driver said, ‘Oops, we are being attacked!’
We stopped and ran off the road. It was an attack by P-38 Lightnings, and when I finally arrived there were 15 of our aircraft in flames.”
What types of aircraft did you fly?
“I flew the Messerschmitt Bf-109 in all of the different marks (variants), the E, F, G and the K model, and of course the Focke-Wulf Fw-190, but I liked the 109 most because I was familiar with it.
Certainly I flew the 190, but only the D model long-nosed version, toward the end of the war in some missions.”
By the war’s end Rall had scored 275 victories, all but two on the Russian front, and had been awarded the Knight’s Cross with Oak leaves and Swords….
Rall was captured by the Americans in Bavaria and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in France…. After being freed he returned to Germany and worked as a salesman….
In 1954 Rall was invited by NATO to help establish a new air force in West Germany…. He trained in the United States in the new F-84 jet aircraft before returning to Germany to train his own student pilots….
In 1970 Rall was appointed chief of air staff of the new German air force, and in 1974 he was appointed NATO’s German military representative…..
Rall retired in 1975, but he continued to serve as a board member for a number of corporations and as a defense adviser to several foreign governments….
“I have a daughter who lives in Paris, France, and is married to a Frenchman. She is a great restorer at the Louvre. She has a good career, and she has two children. Clement is 14 and Anna Louise is 12. My (other) daughter is married and lives in Munich with her husband. My son-in-law is a designer with BMW, and my daughter is also a designer. They also have two children, girls. One is 7 years old and the other is 4 years old. My second daughter, Felicita, and my son-in-law studied for one year in Pasadena, California.”
Lieutenant-General Gunther Rall, the third-highest-scoring fighter ace of all time and one of the few outstanding Luftwaffe fighter leaders to survive World War II, died at his home in Germany following a heart attack. He was 91.
Rall once more:
“I flew the Messerschmitt Bf-109 in all of the different marks (variants), the E, F, G and the K model, and of course the Focke-Wulf Fw-190, but I liked the 109 most because I was familiar with it. Certainly I flew the 190, but only the D model long-nosed version, toward the end of the war in some missions.”
Rall’s statistics are astonishing by Allied standards. He flew 621 combat missions in Messerschmitt Bf-109s and shot down 275 Allied planes. All but three of his aerial ”kills” were on the eastern front, and of these 241 were Soviet fighters. In turn, he was shot down eight times – seven times by Soviet pilots and once by an American – and was wounded three times.
Rall’s amazing scoring spree began in the spring of 1941 when he was with Jagdgeschwader (fighter wing) JG52 based in Romania. In a five-day period Rall and his men destroyed about 50 Soviet bombers that attacked the crucial oil refineries in Romania. They also flew sorties in support of the German airborne assault on Crete, before being sent to the southern sector of the eastern front. There, his aerial ”kills” mounted rapidly against the initially inferior Soviet fighters and bombers.
Question to Herr Rall;
It has been said that Hans-Ulrich Rudel, the great Stuka pilot, was something of a maniac. Did you know him?
“Absolutely, he was a bit of a maniac. I flew with him as his fighter escort for his group several times. They were flying normal Ju-87 missions, and we escorted them. This was in Russia, of course.
He was a great Stuka pilot, no doubt–after all, he shot up 519 tanks among other things, which is quite something. After the war I was a fellow prisoner with him in France, as guests of the Americans. Rudel and I were in the same camp, and later we were borrowed by the Royal Air Force.
I was sent to the British Fighter Leaders School at Tangmere. This was for interrogation, which lasted three weeks.
I was there with Rudel as well, and we slept in the same room. Living very close together you get acquainted, and you come to understand the thinking of such a man, but I had known him before that.
Anyhow, I was really surprised at this egocentric man; he was the greatest in his own mind, that sort. It was a little disgusting to me.”