Erich Hartmann is the undisputed world's greatest fighter ace
at 352 kills
. He was dubbed the "Black Devil of the Ukraine
" by Russian fighter pilots
, a name earned by way of the unique black markings on the nose
of his Luftwaffe Bf-109
, and his uncanny ability to shoot down lots and lots o' planes.
Yet it wasn't that he was such a great shot--in fact he wasn't the best shot in the world--it's just that he was one of the few pilots crazy enough to fly incredibly close to his targets. It is said that once he flew in such close proximity
to his target that he downed it with a single cannon
shot; often, the explosion from the downed aircraft
resulted in his plane getting damaged by flying so close to the enemy
aircraft, that he lost a number of planes for this reason alone.
After the war, he was captured by the British
and was imprisoned for over a decade in a Soviet
concentration camp for war prisoners and political dissidents
. After 10 1/2 years of imprisonment he was commissioned in the West German Airforce and served until the early 1970's.