He achieved 104 victories and was one of the first jet fighter pilots

Adolf Galland, a great WWII German aviator who earned the respect of his enemies

One of the most famous and daring German pilots of World War II was Adolf Galland, a man whose story is book-worthy.

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He was born in Westerholt in 1912 and started to show an interest in aviation at a very young age. He was initially a civilian pilot for the German airline Lufthansa, but in 1934 he joined the Luftwaffe, the German air force. His first combat action took place in Spain on the occasion of the Civil War (1936-1939), in which he participated as a volunteer for the Condor Legion, a unit of German aviators sent to help to the national side One of the places he flew from was the Calamocha aerodrome, which I already talked about here. During World War II he participated in the invasion of Poland in 1939 piloting an attack plane, after which he asked to be transferred to fighter aviation.

Adolf Galland in September 1940, when he was a Lieutenant Colonel (Photo: Bundesarchiv).

During the Battle of Britain (1940) he expressed his discrepancies with the Supreme Commander of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Göring , due to his use of fighter planes, which caused a high number of casualties. These differences continued throughout the war, to the point that at the beginning of 1945 Galland and other German pilots, some of them famous aces, staged a revolt against Göring , due to the clumsy strategy they used. He kept up with the fighters. That riot might have cost Galland and his companions an execution, but he was already a very famous man by then. Having achieved 104 victories, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant General and had become a commander of German fighter aircraft, being one of the first to be awarded the Iron Cross in his rank of Knight's Cross with oak leaves, swords and diamonds.

The Messerschmitt Bf-109E fighter that Adolf Galland flew with (Image: Vladimir Kamsky).

Galland was a man who fought without hatred, inheriting the tradition of the "knights of the air" of the First World War. Although he became a great ace, the fact that he had caused death to others was something that did not make him happy. He fought for patriotism and to serve his country , and he continued to do so until the end of the war, when he had the opportunity to fly Messerschmitt Me-262 Schwalbe jet fighters against the allied bombers that They attacked German territory. He was a professional soldier and is not known to have any Nazi sympathies. In fact, in the postwar period, Galland became friends with British RAF ace and aviator Robert Stanford Tuck, who was Jewish, and even made him an honorary member of his squad of veterans.

At the end of the war, Galland was captured by the Americans and, curiously, after his captivity, the first thing he did was give a lecture for the Royal Air Force (RAF). In the years that followed, Galland worked as an adviser for the Argentine Air Force. The US blocked an attempt to reinstate him into the Luftwaffe. However, it must be said that the German ace earned the respect of his former enemies, being invited with honors to RAF and US Air Force (USAF) events.

Artist's rendering of the Me-262 jet fighter with the number 3, flown by Adolf Galland at the end of World War II (Image: Mark Postlethwaite).

As a curiosity, among other Luftwaffe pilots, one of Galland's best friends was Franz Stigler, the famous German aviator who did not want to shoot the B- 17 Ye Olde Pub, out of compassion, seeing the wrecked plane and its occupants dead or badly injured. Galland thought that Stigler had breached his duty as a soldier, but that he had done the right thing as a human being. The two remained good friends until Galland's death in 1996.

El canal Yarnhub publicó ayer un interesante vídeo sobre la vida de Galland (está en inglés pero dispone de subtítulos en español, puedes activarlos en la barra inferior del reproductor):

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