Günther Rall

GŁnther Rall

    The son of a merchant, Günther Rall was born in Gaggenau on 10 March, 1918. He entered military service as an Fähnrich in the Army in 1936. The following year, he entered the War Collage at Dresden where he was influenced to transfer to the Luftwaffe. He qualified as a fighter pilot in 1938, and was sent to JG 52 which at the time was based near Stuttgart. He saw his first combat during the Battle of France, and 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 live with chute). Shortly afterward, his unit was transfered to Calais to take part in the Battle of Britain. Shortly after beginning operations, he was given command of 8./JG 52 on 25th July and on 1st August he was promoted to Oberleutnant. By October, though, the Staffel had been withdrawn from combat operations in order to rebuild the losses suffered.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. Here, however, Rall suffered a severe setback - after destroying his 36th enemy aircraft he himself was shot down by an I-16 and in the resulting belly-landing in a gully he broke his back in three places. He was paralyzed for a long time on the right side and the right leg. 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, being awarded by Hitler on November 26th the Oak Leaves. In April of 1943 he was promoted to Hauptmann and given command of III./JG 52 on 6th July. He scored his 200th victory on 29th August 1943 during his 555th mission, and on 12th September 1943, the Führer awarded him the Swords to his Knight's Cross. In October 1943 alone, he downed over 40 Soviet planes.

From left: Karl Gratz, GŁnther Rall and Friedrich Wachowiak.
Knight's Cross holders of JG 52 during a mission break in late 1942 in front of Rall`s Bf 109 G-2 "Black 13". From left: Uffz. Karl Gratz (138 victories, RK), Oblt. Günther Rall and Uffz. Friedrich Wachowiak (about 120 v. RK).
    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. On 12th May 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 two Thunderbolts of this unit. However, he
himself was attacked by another pair of P-47s from this same unit and was shot down and forced to bail out over Frankfurt / Main, in the process having his left
thumb shot off. In the operating room he suffered a severe infection that kept him hospitalized until November. His last command was JG 300 oparting out of Salzburg from 20th February 1945 until the end of the war. There he was taken prisoner by the Americans at the end of the war. He flew a total of 621 missions, and was shot down no less than 8 times, being wounded 3 times during which he shot down a total of 275 enemy aircraft, including 3 on the Western Front to become the third highest scoring fighter pilot in history.

Victories : 275
Awards : Knight`s Cross with Swords
Units : JG 52, JG 11, JG 300