* 24.10.1912 Engen/Baden
+ 04.11.1988 Engen
Awarded Knights Cross: 24.01.1942
as: Leutnant Flugzeugführer 9./Jagdgeschwader 52
Awarded Oakleaves as the 93rd Recipient: 17.05.1942 as Leutnant Staffelkapitän 9./JG 52
Awarded Swords as the 11th Recipient: 19.05.1942 as Leutnant der Reserve Staffelkapitän 9./JG 52
Awarded Diamonds as the 5th Recipient : 16.09.1942 as Oberleutnant der Reserve
Staffelkapitän 9./JG 52
Graf served on both the Eastern and Western Fronts. He became the first pilot in aviation history to claim 200 aerial victories—that is, 200 aerial combat encounters resulting in the destruction of the enemy aircraft. In about 830 combat missions, he claimed a total of 212 aerial victories, almost all of which were achieved on the Eastern Front.
Graf, a pre-war football player and glider pilot, he joined the Luftwaffe and started flight training in 1936. He was initially selected for transport aviation but was subsequently posted to Jagdgeschwader 51 in May 1939. At the outbreak of war he was stationed on the Franco–German border flying uneventful patrols. He was then posted as a flight instructor stationed in Romania as part of a German military mission training Romanian pilots. Graf flew a few ground support missions in the closing days of the German invasion of Crete.
Following the start of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Graf claimed his first aerial victory on 4 August 1941. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross after 45 victories on 24 January 1942. It was during the second summer of the eastern campaign; however, that his success rate dramatically increased. By 16 September 1942 his number of victories had increased to 172 for which he was honored with the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. At the time of its presentation to Graf it was Germany's highest military decoration. On 26 September 1942 he shot down his 200th enemy aircraft.
By then a national hero, Graf was withdrawn from combat operations and posted to a fighter pilot training school in France before being tasked with the setting up of a new special unit: Jagdgeschwader 50 . Its mission was as a high-altitude unit to intercept the de Havilland Mosquito intruders. In November 1943 Graf returned to combat operations. He was appointed Geschwaderkommodore (Wing Commander) of Jagdgeschwader 11 and claimed his last and 212th aerial victory on 29 March 1944. He was severely injured during that encounter and, after a period of convalescence, became Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 52 . He and the remainder of JG 52 surrendered to units of the United States Army on 8 May 1945, but were turned over to the Red Army. Graf was held in Soviet captivity until 1949. Graf was to be heavily criticised by his peers for collaborating with his captors during his five years of imprisonment. Graf became a salesman for an electronics manufacturer and rose to become a Branch Manager in Baden and later Head of Sales. He took up flying becoming a member of the Swiss Aeroclub. From 1965, Graf was afflicted with Parkinson’s disease and he died on 4 November 1988 in his hometown of Engen.
Herman Graf is credited with 212 victories in over 830 missions. He recorded 202 victories over the Eastern Front. Of his 10 victories recorded over the Western front, six were four-engine bombers.
Postwar signed photo signed front and back measuring 4" x 6"
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