Top Gun, World War II Style: The Shocking Dogfight between Russia and Nazi Germany

    Warfare History Network

    History, Europe

    As the Wermacht tightened the ring around Sevastopol in 1942, German and Soviet fighter aces blazed away at one another day after day.

    In June 1942, the Black Sea port of Sevastopol on the Crimea was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of World War II. Commanded by Generaloberst Erich von Manstein, the German Eleventh Army was dispatched in a powerful attack to seize this important stronghold. Throughout the battle, a stiff but uneven air war raged between German Messerschmitt Me-109 fighters and a handful of determined Soviet airmen based inside Sevastopol. Due to the limited geographic area, the same fighter aces on both sides met in combat each day. Hauptmann Gordon Gollob, Oberleutnants Anton Hackl, Heinrich Setz, and Feldwebel Ernst-Wilhelm Reinert were among the most prominent protagonists in German Fighter Wing 77 (JG 77), as were Kapitans Mikhail Avdeyev, Konstantin Alekseyev, and Boris Babayev in the Soviet naval 6th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment—6 GIAP/VVS-ChF.

    A Mutual Respect

    Both sides learned to pay great respect to their adversaries. Heinrich Setz, commanding the fourth Staffel (squadron) of JG 77, described the air combat with “most experienced” Soviet fighter pilots over Sevastopol as “extremely hard,” and Hauptmann Gollob was compelled to instruct his fighter pilots to avoid “turning combats at low flight altitude.”

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