Who Were Some Famous Pilots From World War II?

Erich Hartmann, Josef Frantisek, Johnnie Johnson, Richard Bong and Hiroyoshi Nishizawa are some famous World War II fighter pilots. These pilots were made famous by their flying techniques or by the sheer number of planes shot down.

Erich Hartmann is the most successful fighter pilot in aviation history. Hartmann shot down 352 enemy planes while flying for the Germans. Hartmann was never shot down but was captured when he made a crash landing after a collision. He spent 10 years as a POW.

Josef Frantisek was a Czech-born fighter who fled Nazi occupation in Romania and joined the Royal Air Force in Britain. He was such an independent pilot that the Royal Air Force simply loaned him a plane, and he flew his own missions. With 17 kills, Frantisek was the top allied pilot in the Battle of Britain. Frantisek was not shot down, but did crash his plane in 1940.

Johnnie Johnson was the top-scoring Royal Air Force pilot, with 34 kills. Johnson specialized in aggressive attacks that would disrupt formations, then shooting down the planes one by one. Johnson flew a Supermarine Spitfire and remained in the military from 1938 until his retirement in 1966.

Richard Bong was a U.S. Air Force pilot and the top twin-engine plane pilot in history. Bong shot down 40 planes in the war with Japan, by flying extremely close to enemy planes before opening fire. Bong survived the war but died in a plane crash in 1945.

Japanese pilot Hiroyoshi Nisizawa used unusual flying maneuvers and acrobatics to catch enemies off guard. During his four years of combat, he shot down 87 planes. He was never shot down, but died when his transport plane was shot down.