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Top Flying Aces of World War I – 17

Ernst Udet

Ernst Udet (26 April 1896 – 17 November 1941) joined the Imperial German Air Service at age 19, eventually becoming a notable flying ace of World War I, scoring 62 confirmed victories by the end of his life.

The highest scoring German fighter pilot to survive that war, and the second-highest scoring after Manfred von Richthofen (The Red Baron), his commander in the Flying Circus.

Udet rose through the ranks to become a squadron commander under Richthofen, and later under Hermann Göring.

He spent the 1920s and early 1930s as a stunt pilot, international barnstormer, light aircraft manufacturer, and playboy.

Udet was instrumental in developing dive-bomb tactics prior to World War II as director of research and development for the Luftwaffe, as well as the Stuka dive bomber.

He committed suicide in 1941 after the launch of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, after a falling out with the Nazi Party and inability to keep the Luftwaffe equipped.

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