Profile Photo
david leigh-smith
283 articles

On This Day...March 10th

March 10, 2019 · in Photo Collections · · 18 · 2.3K

An M4A1 Sherman of 1st Armored Division on the road to Lucca, Italy, 10th March 1945.

Gunther Rall, the third most ‘successful’ wartime fighter pilot (after Barkhorn and Hartmann) was born today one hundred and one years ago. His victories massed despite a year long hiatus from fighting after being shot down and badly wounded at the Eastern Front in 1941. This was the first of three wounds received, having been shot down five times. Some people just don’t learn.

For most of WWII he flew with JG-52, and toward the end of the war he had command of Jagdgeschwader 11 and served in the Defence of the Reich.

In November 1944 Rall was appointed as an instructor and flew captured Allied fighter aircraft (in the ‘LuftRAF’) in order to prepare crib notes to Luftwaffe pilots about enemy aircraft performance.

Rall ended the war with an unsuccessful stint commanding Jagdgeschwader 300 near Salzburg, Austria, where he surrendered in May 1945.

During World War II Rall was credited with the destruction of 275 enemy aircraft in a combined 621 combat missions. He claimed all of his victories in a Messerschmitt Bf 109, (though he also flew the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 - see opening painting, ‘Swansong’ of Rall in a ‘Dora’). All but three of his claims were against Russian aircraft.

Rall met Adolf Hitler three times, and was quoted - at the time, repeated later several times, - as saying, "It was clear to me that this man was a little out of his mind" when they met for the last time, in 1944.

In the process of being shot down multiple times (some records say eight) during the war he sustained serious injuries. The last time was in 1944, when he had his left thumb shot off and his plane shot down during a dogfight with U.S. forces over Germany. He parachuted to safety, landing in a field near Berlin. His glove from this mission is in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

In recent decades, he was a popular presence at gatherings of World War II fighter pilots in the U.S., the U.K. and Russia. He became good friends with the American pilot Col. Hubert ‘the Hub’ Zemke, whose wingman had shot off Rall's thumb.

Last word to Zemke; “To fighter pilots, politics didn't matter. They just got together and got drunk."

Fall in a test flight in the United States, 1971...

Well known photo of US Army soldiers T/5 William E. Thomas and Private First Class Joseph Jackson having fun marking artillery shells as Easter presents for Adolf Hitler, 10 March, 1945.

More ‘diorama bait’ - never seen a winter depiction of a battleship before...

Finnish coastal defense ship ‘Ilmarinen’ anchored at Turku harbor in Finland toward the end of the ‘Winter War’ - 10th March, 1940.

March 1943 ad for a model airplane competition.

IJN Battleship ‘Kirishima’ at Kure, Japan, 10th March, 1940.

A Junkers Ju 52 transport is prepared for take-off on an airfield on the Eastern Front, March 10th, 1944.

Reconnaissance squads head the German advance into Luxembourg, on May 10, 1940.

Vought F4U 1D Corsairs VMF 222 line up Samar Philippines 10th March 1945

Reader reactions:
10  Awesome

18 responses

  1. Man! I think you hit almost every genre of military always, great job and thank you, David. Love the can never complain about anybody's weathering job after seeing that pic.

  2. Thank you, Gary. Yep, that Sherman is the epitome of, “rode hard and put away wet”. And when you really look at that photo, you realise how much the saying applies even more to the tankers.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Well said Gary the photo of the Sherman is my favourite.
    Corsairs are great also another nice set David!

  4. Appreciated, as always, David.

    One interesting observation about weathering, if you zoom in on that Corsair photo you’ll see just how how much of a beating these planes took. They are almost ‘micro-weathered’ to the extent that each individual cowling flap is uniquely (and pretty severely) worn.

    Have to include this shot (nothing to do with March 10th)...

    If only I had the time to get my scratchmaking figures into shape enough for this...

    • Coral, if you've ever stepped on it wrong (Ouch)... when ground up and used for runways is like coarse grit sand. Add some sun,heat and prop wash, while operating in South Pacific islands creates that Corsair patina and grunge.

      • A man can only take so much of all this Corsair stuff. Sooner or later he will have to give in and start posting some "in progress" photos.

        Thanks again for these magnificent pictures.

  5. Good to see some "Culture" when it comes to Aviation Art and the painting showing Gunther Rall's Fw-190 D flying with his wing man. It adds another dimension to the column. The comment about; "Rall ended the war with an unsuccessful stint commanding Jagdgeschwader 300 near Salzburg, Austria, where he surrendered in May 1945." Unsuccessful and a live makes him a winner. Rall had the "Green Glow" a term they used in "Apocalypse Now"...someone who always managed to come out alive of a bad situation.

    Keep up the good work David.

  6. Thanks David for yet another well done piece on military history and I always look forward to reading your daily history report. I just wanted to pass along some additional info on the shot of the F4U-1A Corsairs from VMF-222 seen at the bottom of today's post. The emblem seen on the noses of those Corsairs belonged to the Navy Seabee construction battalion who were responsible for carving out those airfields. VMF-222 wanted to show their appreciation for all that hard work and did so by carrying that emblem on the nose of their Corsairs.

  7. I agree 100% with the glowing comments, David. Excellent photos for modelers. Someday I'm building a Ju 52. Someday...

    • Someday. Ah, someday. Someday my hair will grow back, my tinnitus will stop, the government will ask me to stop paying taxes, and I’ll live to be world’s heartiest 120 year old.


  8. Another excellent posting David. Lots of tempting materials here. Lots of it ...especially the Corsair and Sherman photos for me.

    Again you have made my day buddy.

    Thanks a million.

  9. Ha, another Corsair in today’s edition...go on, know you want to...

  10. Of all the WW2 fighter pilots I've been privileged to meet, Gunther Rall is high on the list of "nice guys" (actually not a common description of these guys). Met him, along with Adolf Galland and Walter Krupinski, at the 1984 AFAA convetion. Was at the bar talking to Robert L. Scott Jr. when this "hail fellow well met" showed up on my right side. Spotted his name tag and was sure to engage him. You would never have known he was "General Gunther Rall" if you didn't know he was General Gunther Rall, if you know what I mean. And he was just retired the year before as commander of the Bundesluftwaffe. American Generals exude "generalness" no matter their civvie get up. It was quite an experience later that night at the table with Jimmy Goodson, Hub Zemke, Rall, Galland, Krupinski and Bob Stanford-Tuck. Great company. (That long weekend is still the all-time highlight of my life as an aviation historian) Zemke and Rall really were good friends, and it was funny to watch them joking about shooting Rall's thumb off (he nearly bled to death before he got down - Zemke was shooting down his airplane and just as he climbed out of the cockpit to bail out, the wingman shot a burst that got the thumb). That earlier injury involved him breaking his back, and during the treatment he met his future wife, Herta, the doctor who saved him.

  11. Fantastic addition, Tom. I have to say, doing a little research on Rall I’m not surprised at your description of him. That weekend sounds like a real highlight of an already interesting life. Really appreciate you sharing this, Tom.

Leave a Reply