What Are Some Facts About World War II Pilots?


Quick Answer

According to the World War II Foundation, early in the war, many fighter pilots went into battle with limited experience flying their assigned aircraft. While this led to a high casualty rate, it also allowed many cadets to rise quickly through the ranks.

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Full Answer

While the most successful American fighter pilot in World War II was Richard Ira Bong, who shot down 40 planes in the Pacific theater, the war's top pilot was Erich Hartmann of the German Luftwaffe, with 352 aerial kills. In addition to the fighter pilots from the United States Army Air Forces, a group of volunteer American pilots known as the "Flying Tigers" fought against Japan on China's behalf.

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