* 02.07.1916 Konradswaldau, Krs. Landshut
+ 18.12.1982 Rosenheim/Oberbayern
Awarded Knights Cross: 06.01.1942
as: Oberleutnant Staffelkapitän 9./StukaG 2 "Immelmann"
Awarded Oakleaves as the 229th Recipient: 14.04.1943 as Oberleutnant
Staffelkapitän 1./StukaG 2 "Immelmann"
Awarded Swords as the 42nd Recipient: 25.11.1943 as Hauptmann
Kommandeur III./StukaG 2 "Immelmann"
Awarded Diamonds as the 10th Recipient : 29.03.1944 as Major
Kommandeur III./StukaG 2 "Immelmann"
Awarded the Golden Oakleaves as the 1st and only Recipient 29.12.44 as Oberstleutnant
Hans-Ulrich Rudel (2 July 1916 – 18 December 1982) was a Stuka dive-bomber pilot . The most highly decorated German serviceman of the war, Rudel was one of only 27 military men to be awarded the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, and the only one to be awarded the Knight's Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds.
According to official Luftwaffe figures, Rudel flew some 2,530 combat missions (a world record),[Notes 2] during which he destroyed almost 2,000 ground targets (among them 519 tanks, 70 assault craft/landing boats, 150 self-propelled guns, 4 armored trains, and 800 other vehicles) as well as 9 planes (2 Il-2's and 7 fighters). He was also responsible for the sinking of the Soviet battleship Marat, two cruisers and a destroyer. He was never shot down by another pilot, only by anti-aircraft artillery. He was shot down or forced to land 32 times, several times behind enemy lines.
“ Only he is lost who gives himself up for lost ”
Rudel flew his first four combat missions on 23 June 1941, during the German invasion of the Soviet Union. His demonstrated piloting skills earned him the Iron Cross 1st Class on 18 July 1941. On 23 September 1941, he and another Stuka pilot sank the Soviet battleship Marat, during an air attack on Kronstadt harbor in the Leningrad area, with hits to the bow using 1,000 kg bombs. By the end of December, he had flown his 400th mission and in January 1942 received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. On 10 February 1943, he became the first pilot in history to fly 1,000 sorties. Around this time he also started flying anti-tank operations with the 'Kanonenvogel', or G, version of the Ju-87, through the Battle of Kursk, and into the autumn of 1943, claiming 100 tanks destroyed.
By March 1944, he was already Gruppenkommandeur (commander) of III./StG 2 (appointed on 19 July 1943) and had reached 1,800 operations. At that time he claimed 202 tanks destroyed.
In November 1944, he was wounded in the thigh and flew subsequent missions with his leg in a plaster cast.
On 8 February 1945, a 40 mm shell hit his aircraft. He was badly wounded in the right foot and crash landed inside German lines. His life was saved by his observer Dr.med. Ernst Gadermann who stemmed the bleeding, but Rudel's leg was amputated below the knee. He returned to operations on 25 March 1945, claiming 26 more tanks destroyed before the end of the war. Determined not to fall into Soviet hands, he led three Ju 87s and four FW 190s westward from Bohemia in a 2-hour flight and surrendered to U.S. forces on 8 May 1945, after landing at Kitzingen airfield, home to the 405th Fighter Group. He had his men lock the brakes and collapse the landing gear to make the aircraft useless to the Americans.
Eleven months in a hospital followed. Released by the Americans, he moved to Argentina in 1948.
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Postwar 4' x 6" signed photo nice dated example.
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