Who was the best fighter pilot in World War 2?

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,538
#3
A boring answer perhaps but there is no real way to measure it.

You could rank them by the number of kills but such a ranking would be flawed in that it would not account for the varying lengths of service, the varying time that the aces flew in combat (Allied aces were often rotated into training roles, while Axis aces continued flying until either the war ended or they were captured or killed), the quality of their opposition, how target rich their environment, ect.

A person who finished the war with 10 kills (Allied or Axis) is not necessarily a lesser pilot or marksman than someone who finished with 30.
 
Nov 2015
1,757
Kyiv
#4
Hartman or Kogedub?
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Hartmann. 352 victories (incl. 345 in Eastern front) in 825 air fights.
And Soviet ace Kozhedub (the Ukrainian by ethnicity) - 64 victories in 120 air fights in 1943-1945 - plus 2 American P-51 he shot down by mistake in spring 1945 when they attacked him by their own.

At the same time Hartmann lost 14 aircraft he flew. There is no information that Kozhedub lost at least one of his aircraft. But if even he had lost several planes - he would not have received the gold star of the Hero of the Soviet Union - and at the end of the war he had 3 such stars.

It must be said that the demand from the pilot for the lost plane from the Russians was very tough, and many Soviet pilots died trying to land a wrecked plane in order to save the state-owned materiel (спасти казенную матчасть).

And as far as I know, the German leadership believed that their pilot had the right to jump in time with a parachute from a seriousely damaged airplane to save his life.
 
May 2019
26
Northern and Western hemispheres
#6
CDR David McCampbell, USN; 34 credited shoot downs, 5 probable shoot downs, 1 damaged, from a total of 14 sorties. And never had to go for a swim.
The highest scoring U.S. Navy ace and he flew the Hellcat. I remember hearing about him on Dogfights. In the Pacific Theater I believe most flying aces came from the U.S.A., but weren't there some from the RAF/RAAF/RNZAF/Fleet Air Arm?
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,538
#7
I'm not saying he was the best -see my earlier post on the subject - but Hiromichi Shinohara is one of the more interesting aces from the Second World War, and at least worthy of discussion in this thread. His career was very brief (three months) but in that time he racked up an astounding 58 victories, 11 of which were achieved in a single day. He was in fact Ace in a Day three times over (5, 11, 5). The Soviets (who all of his his victories were against, during Khalkhin Gol) called him the Richthofen of the Orient.
 
Likes: xander.XVII
Jun 2011
304
The Old Dominion
#8
And, goodness, my father was an ace . . . two F1Ms at Tulagi in May '42, a D3A at Coral Sea, a B5N at Midway, and 2 A6Ms on a June 1943 afternoon in the Solomons. 6 planes in 4 engagements. And he never claimed or counted still another B5N at Midway because he could never tell if he got it or if the destroyer that was shooting at both of them did the deed, but the plane went in.
 
Last edited:
Jul 2016
9,320
USA
#9
A person who finished the war with 10 kills (Allied or Axis) is not necessarily a lesser pilot or marksman than someone who finished with 30.
Especially if 10 kill pilot is removed from an operational unit and made a flight instructor, to impart the fundamentals of combat training that made him successful. (USAAF and USN System)

While 30 kills racks those up because he's stuck flying nonstop combat missions indefinitely, where it gets to the point he's made a propaganda hero, kept flying, while stealing kills from other squadron mates, per policy. Which means he's actually helping create worse pilots. (Luftwaffe system)
 
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botully

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
3,527
Amelia, Virginia, USA
#10
And, goodness, my father was an ace . . . two F1Ms at Tulagi in May '42, a D3A at Coral Sea, a B5N at Midway, and 2 A6Ms on a June 1943 afternoon in the Solomons. 6 planes in 4 engagements. And he never claimed or counted still another B5N at Midway because he could never tell if he got it or if the destroyer that was shooting at both of them did the deed, but the plane went in.
Yorktown or Lexington at Coral Sea? Could be either one if he flew from Yorktown at Midway, if I'm not mistaken.
Yorktown Air Group performance at Midway was superb...as you would expect from solid veterans.