The Pilot With The Strangest Kill Rate In History

The Pilot With The Strangest Kill Rate In History | World War Wings Videos

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Cementing His Reputation

In 1941, Louis Edward Curdes from Fort Wayne, Indiana, left his studies behind and enlisted in the military. In March 1943, he was assigned to the 95th Fighter Squadron of the 82nd Fighter Group in North Africa. 

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As the summer of ’43 unfolded, Curdes cemented his reputation in the USAF as a feared adversary. That summer, he received his first Distinguished Flying Cross, a recognition few pilots were able to achieve in just a short time span

Prisoner of War

Curde’s luck soon ran out, and due to a critical fuel shortage, he was forced to make a risky landing on a beach south of Salerno and was taken in by Italian authorities as a POW. 

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In September 1945, Italy capitulated to the Allied powers. During the confusion, Curdes and other POWs managed to escape, disappearing before the Germans arrived. 

Return To The Frontlines

After getting a Hero’s Welcome in his hometown, Curdes returned to combat in the Pacific Theater – this time, flying the P-51 Mustang he called “Bad Angel.”

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In February 1945, he had a confirmed kill on a Japanese Mitsubishi Ki-46 Reconnaissance plane, making him one of only three men to ever shoot down a plane from Germany, Italy, and Japan. 

Shooting Down a Friendly

On February 10, 1945, on a return trip after a sortie, they noticed a nearby Japanese airstrip over Bataan Island. Curdes saw a transport plane approaching an airfield, realizing it was an American C-47 intending to land on a Japanese base. 

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Curdes radioed the plane to no avail and even moved his fighter in front to stop it from continuing its course. Because there wasn’t any response despite its attempts, he thought it was better to shoot the plane to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Japanese.

So, he shot down the C-47’s engines, and the crew managed to board life rafts. He then flew over the survivors and dropped a note warning them to stay away from the enemy shoreline.

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Aftermath

Curdes led a rescue mission in the area and found the C-47’s crew. To his surprise, the crew included two nurses, one of whom he recently had a date with.

He later found that the crew was lost and short on fuel so they didn’t realize they were landing on a Japanese airstrip. Curdes ended up as a hero for saving the crew from such a nightmare fate.

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After the war, Lieutenant Louis Curdes married Svetlana Valeria, the nurse he saved from being captured. 

This incident also led him to distinguish himself even more, marking German, Italian, Japanese, and in such extraordinary circumstances, an American plane.  

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