Franz Stigler

Oberleutnant Franz Stigler (21 August 1915 - 22 March 2008) was a German fighter pilot in World War II. He was born August 21, 1915 in Regensburg, Bavaria. His father, also named Franz, was a World War I pilot/observer. Franz started flying in 1927 at the age of twelve. In the 1930s he flew for Lufthansa and was an instructor pilot. One of his most famous students was Gerhard Barkhorn. Stigler said of him that "he could barely fly the plane and I almost failed him".

As a member of Jagdgeschwader (JG) 27 in North Africa as well as Europe, and of the Jagdverband (JV) 44 jet fighter squadron, the only aircraft he flew in combat were the Bf 109 and Me 262.

Ludwig Franz Stigler
AllegianceNazi Germany Nazi Germany (to 1945)
Service/branchBalkenkreuz.svg Luftwaffe (Wehrmacht)
Years of service1933–1945
RankOberleutnant (Wehrmacht)
UnitJG 27, and JV 44
Commands heldGruppenkommandeur 12./JG 27
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsIron Cross 1st class
Other workLufthansa Transport Pilot / Flight Instructor / Lead Mechanic Hertz Rental Car

Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler incident

See also: Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler incident

On 20 December 1943, Franz met the B-17 bomber named "Ye Olde Pub" and its pilot Charles "Charlie" Brown for the first time. Franz had shot down two B-17s earlier that day and he soon caught up to a wounded B-17 flown by Charles Brown. Lining up to finish the bomber and shoot it down, he noticed the tail gunner never moved the guns. Upon further inspection of the airplane, he saw through large holes in the fuselage a frantic crew trying to save the lives of their fellow airmen. Franz is quoted as saying "and for me it would have been the same as shooting at a parachute". Stigler motioned to Brown to land his airplane because of the extensive damage. However, Brown decided to keep flying towards England. Stigler escorted the B-17 and its crew to the North Sea coast, where he then saluted Brown and broke formation to return to base.

Stigler never spoke of this incident as he could have been court-martialed. Charles Brown told his commanding officers, who chose to keep the incident secret. Years later, Charles Brown searched for the German pilot who let them live that day, and eventually the two pilots met face to face, half a century later.[1]


Me 262 "White 3" of JV.44 is commonly believed to be Adolf Galland's aircraft. This is a misconception, as White 3 was the aircraft of Franz Stigler and Galland had a photo taken by it; this led to the confusion.


  1. ^ Based on "A Higher Call" by John D. Shaw, quoted in

Amberg (German pronunciation: [ˈambɛrk] (listen)) is a town in Bavaria, Germany. It is located in the Upper Palatinate, roughly halfway between Regensburg and Bayreuth. In 2013, over 41,000 people lived in the town.

Attacks on parachutists

Attacks on parachutists, as defined by the law of war, is when pilots, aircrews, and passengers are attacked while descending by parachute from disabled aircraft during wartime. This practice is considered by most militaries around the world to be inhumane, as the attacked personnel would eventually become POWs if parachuted over enemy territory. Attacking parachutists from aircraft in distress is a war crime under the Protocol I addition to the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Firing on airborne forces who are descending by parachute is not prohibited.

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is a four-engined heavy bomber developed in the 1930s for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC). Competing against Douglas and Martin for a contract to build 200 bombers, the Boeing entry (prototype Model 299/XB-17) outperformed both competitors and exceeded the air corps' performance specifications. Although Boeing lost the contract (to the Douglas B-18 Bolo) because the prototype crashed, the air corps ordered 13 more B-17s for further evaluation. From its introduction in 1938, the B-17 Flying Fortress evolved through numerous design advances, becoming the third-most produced bomber of all time, behind the four-engined B-24 and the multirole, twin-engined Ju 88.

The B-17 was primarily employed by the USAAF in the daylight strategic bombing campaign of World War II against German industrial and military targets. The United States Eighth Air Force, based at many airfields in central, eastern and southern England, and the Fifteenth Air Force, based in Italy, complemented the RAF Bomber Command's nighttime area bombing in the Combined Bomber Offensive to help secure air superiority over the cities, factories and battlefields of Western Europe in preparation for the invasion of France in 1944. The B-17 also participated to a lesser extent in the War in the Pacific, early in World War II, where it conducted raids against Japanese shipping and airfields.From its prewar inception, the USAAC (by June 1941, the USAAF) promoted the aircraft as a strategic weapon; it was a relatively fast, high-flying, long-range bomber with heavy defensive armament at the expense of bombload. It developed a reputation for toughness based upon stories and photos of badly damaged B-17s safely returning to base. The B-17 dropped more bombs than any other U.S. aircraft in World War II. Of approximately 1.5 million tons of bombs dropped on Nazi Germany and its occupied territories by U.S. aircraft, over 640,000 tons were dropped from B-17s. In addition to its role as a bomber, the B-17 was also employed as a transport, antisubmarine aircraft, drone controller, and search-and-rescue aircraft.

As of October 2019, 9 aircraft remain airworthy, though none of them were ever flown in combat. Dozens more are in storage or on static display. The oldest of these is a D-series flown in combat in the Pacific and the Caribbean.

Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler incident

The Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler incident occurred on 20 December 1943, when, after a successful bomb run on Bremen, 2nd Lt Charles "Charlie" Brown's B-17 Flying Fortress (named "Ye Olde Pub") was severely damaged by German fighters. Luftwaffe pilot Franz Stigler had the opportunity to shoot down the crippled bomber but did not do so. After an extensive search by Brown, the two pilots met each other 40 years later and developed a friendship that lasted until Stigler's death in March 2008.

Ernst-Wilhelm Reinert

Ernst-Wilhelm Reinert (2 February 1919 – 5 September 2007) was a German Luftwaffe military aviator during World War II, a fighter ace credited with 174 enemy aircraft shot down in 715 combat missions. The majority of his victories were claimed over the Eastern Front, with 51 in the Mediterranean theatre and 20 over the Western Front.

Born in Cologne-Lindenthal, Reinert volunteered for military service in the National Socialist Luftwaffe in 1938. Following flight training, he was posted to Jagdgeschwader 77 (JG 77—77th Fighter Wing). He fought in Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, and claimed his first aerial victory on 8 August 1941. He received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross following his 53rd aerial victory. Accumulating further victories, he surpassed the century mark in October 1942 for which he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. In November 1942, his unit was transferred to the Mediterranean theatre in support of the Afrika Korps. There, Reinert claimed 51 victories against the Western Allies. In August 1943, he was appointed Staffelkapitän (squadron leader) of 1. Staffel (1st squadron) of JG 77, and in February 1944 the 8. Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 27 (JG 27—27th Fighter Wing) based in France. Reinert was then appointed Gruppenkommandeur (group commander) of IV. Gruppe (4th group) of JG 27 and, credited with 174 aerial victories, received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords on 30 January 1945. He then received conversion training to the then new Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter and was posted to Jagdgeschwader 7 (JG 7—7th Fighter Wing), an all-jet fighter wing.

In 1956, Reinert joined the newly established German Air Force of West Germany. He retired in 1972, his final rank was Oberstleutnant (lieutenant colonel), and died on 5 September 2007 in Bad Pyrmont.

Gerhard Barkhorn

Gerhard "Gerd" Barkhorn (20 March 1919 – 8 January 1983) was the second most successful fighter ace of all time after fellow Luftwaffe pilot Erich Hartmann. Other than Hartmann, Barkhorn is the only fighter ace to ever exceed 300 claimed victories.

Born in the Weimar Republic in 1919, Barkhorn joined the Luftwaffe in 1937 and completed his training in 1939.

Barkhorn flew his first combat missions in May 1940, during the Battle of France and then the Battle of Britain without shooting down any aircraft. His first "victory" came in July 1941 and his total rose steadily against Soviet opposition. In March 1944 he was awarded the second highest decoration in the Wehrmacht when he received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords for 250 aerial victories. Despite being the second-highest scoring pilot in aviation history, Barkhorn was not awarded the Diamonds to his Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords after achieving his 300th victory on 5 January 1945.

Barkhorn flew 1,104 combat sorties and was credited with 301 victories on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Red Air Force piloting the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Focke-Wulf Fw 190D-9. He flew with the famed Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52—52nd Fighter Wing), alongside fellow aces Hartmann and Günther Rall, and Jagdgeschwader 2 (JG 2—2nd Fighter Wing). Less than two weeks later he left JG 52 on the Eastern Front and joined Jagdgeschwader 3 (JG 3—3rd Fighter Wing), defending Germany from Western Allied air attack.

Barkhorn surrendered to the Western Allies in May 1945 and was released later that year. After the war Barkhorn joined the German Air Force of the Bundeswehr, serving until 1975. On 6 January 1983, Barkhorn was involved in a car crash with his wife Christl. She died instantly and Gerhard died two days later on 8 January 1983.

Heroes (Sabaton album)

Heroes is the seventh studio album by Swedish power metal band Sabaton. It was released on 6 May 2014. It is the first album to feature the new Sabaton line-up with guitarists Chris Rörland and Thobbe Englund, as well as new drummer Hannes van Dahl. It was produced by Peter Tägtgren in Abyss Studios. The artwork was made by Péter Sallai and the photos were created by Ryan Garrison. The first single To Hell and Back from their album was released digitally on 14 March 2014 and available on iTunes, Nuclear Blast, Amazon and Google Play. The second single Resist And Bite was also released digitally on 2 May 2014, available on iTunes, Nuclear Blast and Amazon.Pär Sundström said about the album's concept: "Well, I think this is a perfect concept for Sabaton. We decided to go for the idea to write about individuals instead of bigger battles. Individuals who we think basically went beyond their call of duty, put themselves into harm's way for the good of others".In an interview to the Brazilian Army's official blog, Sundström explained that the idea for the track "Smoking Snakes" came when he was doing some research for the album: "I tried searching for the word 'Helden', which means heroes in German. I then came across the story of the Drei Brasilianischen Helden (Three Brazilian Heroes) and, from that point on, we deepened our research and decided to write the track." On 17 April 2015, the Brazilian 14th Motorized Infantry Brigade Orchestra covered the song as a thanksgiving.

List of World War II aces from Germany

This is a list of fighter aces in World War II from Germany. A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during aerial combat. It is relatively certain that 2,500 German fighter pilots attained ace status, having achieved at least 5 aerial victories. This article lists 890 (updated as of October 2017) of these aces.

German day and night fighter pilots claimed roughly 70,000 aerial victories during World War II, 25,000 over British or American and 45,000 over Russian flown aircraft. 103 German fighter pilots shot down 100 or more enemy aircraft for a total of approximately 15,400 victories. Approximately 360 German fighter pilots shot down from 40 to 99 enemy aircraft for a total of approximately 21,000 victories. Approximately 500 German fighter pilots shot down from 20 to 39 enemy aircraft for a total of approximately 15,000 victories. These achievements were honored with 453 German day fighter pilots and Zerstörer (destroyer) fighter pilots and 85 German night fighter pilots (including 14 crew members), for a total of 538 German fighter pilots, receiving the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.German losses on the other hand were very high as well. Roughly 12,000 German day fighter pilots were killed or are still missing in action with a further 6,000 being wounded. The Zerstörer (destroyer) pilots suffered about 2,800 casualties, either killed or missing in action, plus another 900 wounded in action. German night fighter losses were in the magnitude of 3,800 pilots or crew members killed or missing and 1,400 wounded. Hans-Ulrich Rudel was the most decorated bomber pilot in the Luftwaffe.

List of World War II flying aces

This is a list of World War II flying aces. Fighter aces in World War II had tremendously varying kill scores, affected as they were by many factors: the pilot's skill level, the performance of the airplane he flew and those he flew against, how long he served, his opportunity to meet the enemy in the air (Allied to Axis disproportion), whether he was the formation's leader or a wingman, the standards his air service brought to the awarding of victory credits, et cetera.

Towards the end of the war, the Axis powers had largely exhausted their supply of skilled pilots and the replacements did not have as much opportunity to gain enough experience to be successful. Additionally, national policies differed; German, Italian, and Japanese pilots tended to return to the cockpit over and over again until they were killed.It is not clear what impact each nation's rules for score crediting have on the counts listed below. Germans credited a shared victory to only one pilot, while the French credited full victory to all participants. British, Finnish and US air forces credited fractional shares of aerial victories, resulting in fractions, such as 11½, which might be for example 10 aircraft and three shares with the second pilot. Some U.S. commands also credited aircraft destroyed on the ground. The Soviets counted only solo kills, while group kills were counted separately, as did the Japanese. The Italian Air Force did not officially credit victories to individual pilots, but to their unit as a whole. Probable kills are usually left out of the list.

It is necessary to emphasize, that the question of assessing and comparing the success rate of fighters by number of victories is one of the more problematic, there are disputes about what is "shot down" and what is "air victory", but the most problematic seems to be credibility of reports and reliability of its confirmation, which was substantially different in particular air forces. As the most reliable is considered the confirmation of the victories in RAF, using comparison of testimonials of participants and—if possible—film material.


Stigler is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Barry Stigler (1948–2005), American voice actor

Franz Stigler (1915–2008, Luftwaffe pilot who escorted an American bomber back to safety in 1943

George Stigler (1911–1991), Nobel Prize–winning U.S. economist

Michael Stigler (born 1992), track and field athlete

Stephen Stigler (born 1941), professor at the University of Chicago

William G. Stigler (1891–1952), American politician

James W. Stigler, American psychologist, researcher, entrepreneur and author

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