A product of Silesia, German, Rudel was an utterly unstoppable Stuka bomber pilot who received more medals for bravery than any other German soldier of World War II. This guy was so hardcore that even to this day he remains the most decorated combat pilot of any nation in the history of warfare. He was issued his country’s highest award for military valour on five separate occasions, which is an utter mind-hump considering that he was serving in a war where successfully flying five combat missions in a row without exploding was pretty much considered a noteworthy achievement. His record of killing over five hundred enemy tanks in combat is a feat that will likely never be duplicated.
During the invasion of Poland, Rudel worked as a forward observer, flying recon missions over enemy territory and sending back reports to help coordinate the Blitzkrieg. After realizing that being on the front line of a war is far less terrifying when you are sitting in the cockpit of an aircraft that actually comes equipped with some sort of weaponry, Rudel transferred to dive-bomber training in 1940, where he learned the ins and outs of the notorious Ju-87 Stuka Dive Bomber. Now the Ju-87 wasn’t exactly a glamorous aircraft. It was slow, ugly, hard to manoeuvre, and the landing gear was premanently in the “down” position, but it was also one of the deadliest pieces of machinery in the entire war, when flown by the right pilot. Equipped with a few hundred pounds of heavy bombs and sporting two under-wing mounted 37mm anti-tank cannons, this thing was the predecessor of the A-10 Warthog. At the controls of a Stuka, Rudel was a maestro of bomb-humping the living daylights out of any piece of equipment larger than an outboard speedboat motor. Flying in the 1st Squadron of Dive Bomber Group 2, Rudel spent a solid five years of his life turning any and all vehicles with a Soviet Red Star into busted, melted-down hunks of twisted steel and corpse-parts. It got to be to the point where you seriously couldn’t ride your bike through the Ukraine without this psychotic dive-bomber air-mailing a bomb into your eye socket.
Rudel flew 500 missions on the Eastern Front between 1940 and 1942, which is pretty impressive, especially when you consider that U.S. bomber pilots were usually allowed to go home after completing 25 missions without dying (an incredibly rare achievement in its own right). The German hurricane of bombicide was awarded the Knight’s Cross a couple more times (including once when he was given the award by The Red Baron’s cousin), and returned home with enough awards and honours to snap a camel in half. He was made an instructor at a German flight school, and asked to train new recruits in how to be awesome at flying Stukas. Rudel got bored of this pretty quickly and requested to return to the battlefield. He was made squadron commander, flew 500 more missions between 1942 and ’43, killed twelve T-34 tanks in one day during the Battle of Kursk, and made such a name for himself as a destroyer of Russian armour that Stalin himself put a huge bounty out on Rudel’s head.
All in all, Hans-Ulrich Rudel flew 2,500 combat missions, more than any pilot ever for any country, in any period of time before or since. His stats speak for themselves,11 airplanes, 519 tanks, 4 trains, 70 landing craft, two cruisers, a destroyer, a battleship, and over 1,000 enemy trucks and transport vehicles met their end at his hands. He received the Knight’s Cross (Germany’s answer to the Victoria Cross or the Medal of Honor) five times, they seriously had to invent awards to add to his Knight’s Cross, because there wasn’t anything in the book for what you give a guy who already has the Cross with oak leaves, swords, diamonds, bells, whistles, etc.
Rudel flew to the west and surrendered to the Americans who refused to hand him over to the Russians. He moved to Argentina as his right wing views were not welcome in the new Germany and over the course of time married 3 women (not at the same time), all by coincidence called Ursula!
He did eventually return to Germany and died in 1982, stating he would fight the whole war all over again given the chance. Needless to say Rudel is still hated to this day by just about everybody in Russia.
Thanks to Ben Thompson for the above review, I had to abridge and edit some of the original wording but his style of writing is entertaining to say the least. Ben says himself he hates to glorify the Nazis but he gives credit wherever its due and Rudel was an epic pilot, unfortunately its a shame he was not fighting for the Allies!
We have a limited edition of 100 pieces of this 2 man set featuring Rudel resting his arm on his chair after 1 glass too many and his rear gunner Doctor Gaddermann enjoying a drop of ‘something’ whilst taking some down time away from the front line.
Includes the 2 figures, table and chairs plus the other goodies shown in the photos.