Hans-Ulrich Rudel Flew 2,530 Missions-Here’s His Astonishing Kill List
web.archive.org (foreground) / Bundesarchiv, Bild (background)
It’s not like we’re trying to glorify a Nazi pilot but as aviation enthusiasts, we do have to appreciate his skills. Before some of you jump on the “he was not a Nazi pilot but a German pilot” bandwagon, let’s make one thing clear. We get and appreciate the distinction, but Rudel was a hardcore Nazi even after the war. He established the Kaeradenwerk when he escaped to Argentina for crying out loud. It was a “relief organization” which helped Nazi war criminals.
Now that we put that to rest, let’s talk about Rudel the pilot. He was a great one, to say the least.
He started his service as a kid in the Hitler Youth and when he was old enough, joined the Luftwaffe. After a short stint as a reconnaissance pilot, he started flying a Stuka bomber which earned him most of the statistics you’ll see below. He also flew a ground attack variant of the Fw 190, but most of his kills were in the Stuka.
Here’s a list of what his 2,530 missions produced:
- 519 tanks destroyed
- 1 battleship, Marat, heavily damaged
- 1 cruiser type vessel sunk
- 1 destroyer type vessel sunk
- 70 landing aircraft destroyed
- 4 armored trains destroyed
- 11 planes shot down in aerial combat
- more than 150 gun heavy gun positions destroyed
- more than 800 vehicles destroyed
- numerous bridges and strategic targets destroyed
That’s a pretty solid list of accomplishments for one pilot. Amid all that, however, Redel was shot down 30 times, one of his injuries costing him his leg which had to be amputated. He still flew after that, however.
Here’s a short clip about Rudel and some gun camera footage of Stukas dive bombing.