Sunday 2014-06-08

Stuka Pilot by Hans Rudel

Man pilots over 2000 missions flying planes that scared the hell out of infantry in trucks and tanks. Never once does he talk about the sound those planes made.

Nothing comes off -- except what you have practiced

The Russians do not even need these American tanks, for their own are better adapted to the fighting conditions in Russia and their production is fabulous. These enormous quantities of material bewilder and often depress us. We often encounter American types of aircraft, especially Aircobras, King Cobras and Bostons. The Americans are aiding their ally tremendously with motor vehicles, but also particularly in the air. Is it in their own interest to give the Russians so much help? We often argue this question
In many cases the tank will blow up as the fire catches the ammunition normally always carried in every tank. It is very uncomfortable for us if the explosion is instantaneous and our aircraft is flying at an altitude of 15-30 feet above the tank. This happens to me twice in the first few days when I suddenly fly through a curtain of fire and think: "This time you are for it"
The hitherto accepted military axioms, the English superiority at sea, are being wiped out by Stuka bombs. I sit in my tent "... that until further orders you are not to fly with my squadron!" A thousand times a day this sentence riles me, mocking, contemptuous, derisive. Outside I listen to the returning crews excitedly chatting of their experiences and of the effective landings of our airborne troops. Sometimes I try to persuade one of them to let me fly in his place. It is useless. Even friendly bribes avail me nothing. Occasionally I fancy I can read something like sympathy in the faces of my colleagues, and then my throat goes dry with bitter fury. Whenever the aircraft take off on a sortie I feel like stuffing my fists into my ears so as not to hear the music of the engines. But I cannot. I have to listen. I cannot help myself! The Stukas go out on sortie after sortie. They are making history out there in the battle for Crete; I sit in my tent and weep with rage.
few days later in the northern area, west of Bolchow, I get a direct hit in my engine. I receive a full burst of splinters in the face. I think first of bailing out, but who can tell where the wind will carry the parachute? There is very little hope of coming down safely, especially as Jaks are in this area. I succeed, however, in making a forced landing in the very front German line positions with my engine cut off. The infantry unit occupying this part of the line takes me back to my base in a couple of hours. I take off at once on a fresh sortie and in the same region, too. It is a peculiar feeling to return a little later to the same place where one has been shot down a short while before. It stops one from becoming hesitant and brooding over the risks one is running
The thought occurs to many of us: "Now when one after the other of the old-timers goes, I can almost reckon by the calendar when my own number will be up." Every jinx must come to an end sooner or later; we have long been waiting for our bad luck to change. To live in constant danger induces fatalism and a certain callousness. None of us any longer gets out of bed when the bombs are dropping at night. Dead tired from being in the air without intermission all day and every day we hear, half awake and half asleep, the bombs bursting close at hand
A wireless signal on the 19th April summons me once again to the Reichskanzlei. To reach Berlin from Czechoslovakia in an unescorted aircraft is at this time no longer a simple matter; at more than one place the Russian and the American fronts are very close to one another. The air space is alive with aircraft, but none of them are German.