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Ernst Udet

Ernst Udet was born in Frankfurt, Germany, on 26th April 1896. He joined the German Army Air Service in 1915. Flying a Fokker D-III , he scored his first victory on 18th March 1916 in a lone attack on 22 French aircraft. By the end of the First World War Udet had 62 victories. This made him the second highest German war ace of the war.

After the war Udet appeared with Leni Riefenstahl in the film SOS Eisberg. He was also active in the Richthofen Veterans' Association and caused great controversy when he campaigned to have Hermann Goering rejected for for making false claims of air victories during the First World War.

Udet joined the Luftwaffe in June 1935 as a colonel and a year later was appointed head of the Technical Office of the Air Ministry. In this post Udet was responsible for the introduction of the Junkers Stuka and the Messerschmitt Bf109.

During the Second World War he rose to the rank of colonel general and Director of Air Armaments. In 1940 pilots began to complain that the Spitfire was superior to German aircraft. Later Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering both accused him of being responsible for the defeat of the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. He was also criticized for neglecting the development of new heavy bombers.

Udet became depressed by the performance of the Luftwaffe during Operation Barbarossa and the decision by Erhard Miltch to overrule his plans to develop the Focke Wulf FW 190. On 17th November, 1941, Udet shot himself in the head while on the phone to his mistress.

Adolf Hitler was embarrassed by Udet's death and the Nazi Government issued a statement that Udet had been accidentally killed while testing out a new weapon. The award-winning play, The Devil's General by Carl Zuckmayer, was based on Udet's life.




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