Erich Hartmann was a fighter pilot in the German Luftwaffe (air force) and the most successful fighter ace in history. During World War II he flew 14,004 missions and shot down 352 Allied aircraft – mostly Russian. Ivan Kohzedub was the best fighter on the Allied side, and he brought down 64 planes. In the Royal Air Force (United Kingdom), Squadron Leader Marmaduke Thomas St John Pattle shot down 41 aircraft. Major Richard Ira Bong held the record for the United States, shooting down at least 40 Japanese planes.
Hartmann’s record is impressive, considering that conditions on the Eastern Front were very different from those in the West. There was snow, blizzards, hail, ice and freezing rains.
Hartmann was called the ‘Black Devil’ by his Russian enemies.