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Major Erich Hartmann (autographed by Erich Hartmann) ~ 35% Off ~ Free Shipping

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FRAME SIZE: 16" x 20" ---- cut-signature adhered to an ace playing card ~ autographed signed in Ink by Colonel Erich Hartmann. Comes with a COA.

Major Erich “Bubi” Hartmann

Ace of Aces (352 victories)

Erich Alfred Hartmann (19 April 1922 – 20 September 1993) was a German fighter pilot during World War II and the most successful fighter ace in the history of aerial warfare. He flew 1,404 combat missions and participated in aerial combat on 825 separate occasions. He was credited with shooting down a total of 352 Allied aircraft, those being 345 Soviet planes and seven American while serving with the Luftwaffe. During the course of his career, Hartmann was forced to crash-land his fighter 16 times due to either damage received from parts of enemy aircraft he had just shot down or mechanical failure; he was never shot down from direct enemy action.

Hartmann, a pre-war glider pilot, joined the Luftwaffe in 1940 and completed his fighter pilot training in 1942. He was posted to the veteran Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52) on the Eastern Front and was fortunate to be placed under the supervision of some of the Luftwaffe's most experienced fighter pilots. Under their guidance, Hartmann steadily developed his tactics.

On 29 October 1943 he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for 148 enemy aircraft destroyed and the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross for 202 enemy aircraft on 2 March 1944, followed by the Swords to the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves exactly four months later for 268 enemy aircraft shot down. Ultimately, Hartmann earned the coveted Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds on 25 August 1944 for claiming 301 aerial victories. At the time of its presentation to Hartmann, this was Germany's highest military decoration.

Hartmann achieved his 352nd and last aerial victory at midday on 8 May 1945, hours before the German surrender. Along with the remainder of JG 52, he surrendered to United States Army forces and was turned over to the Red Army. In an attempt to pressure him into service with the Soviet-friendly East German National People's Army, he was tried on war crimes charges and convicted. He was initially sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment, later increased to 25 years, and spent 10 years in various Soviet prison camps and gulags until he was released in 1955. In 1997, the Russian Federation (posthumously) relieved him of all charges.

In 1956, Hartmann joined the newly established West German Air Force in the Bundeswehr, and became the first Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 71 "Richthofen". He was retired in 1970, due to his opposition to the procurement of the F-104 Starfighter. In his later years, after his military career had ended, he became a civilian flight instructor. Erich Hartmann died on 20 September 1993 aged 71.


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