Adolf Galland

Adolf Galland

Infobox Military Person
name=Adolf Galland
born=birth date|1912|3|19|df=y
died=death date and age|1996|2|9|1912|3|19|df=y

nickname = Dolfo
allegiance=flagicon|Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
rank=Lieutenant General
commands=JG 26, JV 44
unit=Condor Legion, LG 2, JG 27, JG 26, JV 44
awards=Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillianten
relations=Wilhelm-Ferdinand Galland
laterwork=Aircraft consultant

Adolf "Dolfo" Joseph Ferdinand Galland [Taylor and Walker 2000, p. 72.] (19 March 1912ndash 9 February 1996) was a World War II German fighter pilot and commander of Germany's fighter force ("General der Jagdflieger") from 1941 to 1945. Galland joined the "Luftwaffe" in 1933, and despite suffering injuries, including a damaged eye, in two crashes, he continued his military career.In 1937 he was one of 20,000 German military personnel to see action in the Condor Legion, providing Galland with valuable combat experience. Galland transferred to a fighter unit in 1940 and quickly reached Ace status during the Battle of France. In November 1941, with his score standing at 94 Galland became "General der Jagdflieger" at the age of 29.Galland continued to test fly many types of German aircraft, occasionally flying combat missions when he could.In January 1945, Galland, along with other "Luftwaffe" officers, was sent back to operational units after questioning the competence of Hermann Göring. Galland surrendered to United States Army forces in May 1945.He claimed a total of 104 victories in 705 missions and was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross ("Ritterkreuz") with oak leaves, swords and diamonds, one of only 27 recipients of the highest German military decoration. His victory claims were all against the Western Allies.

Early life

Born in Westerholt, Westphalia, Galland was the second of four sons of a land manager. Two of his brothers also became fighter pilots and aces. Paul Galland scored 17 victories and was shot down and killed by a RAF Supermarine Spitfire on 31 October 1942, [ [ Aces of the Luftwaffe: Paul Galland] ] and Wilhelm-Ferdinand Galland, a 54 victory ace, shot down on 17 August 1943. [ [ Aces of the Luftwaffe: Wilhelm Galland] ] He developed an early interest in aviation, flying home-built gliders (at the time the only type of aircraft allowed in Germany under the terms of the Versailles Treaty) from an improvised field near his hometown. Galland graduated from "Hindenburg Gymnasium" (high school) in Buer in 1932 and was among 20 who were accepted to the aviation school of Germany's national airline, Lufthansa.Kaplan 2007, p. 2.]

Galland transferred to the new and technically illegal air force ("Luftwaffe") in 1933. During his training Galland crashed his aircraft and was in a coma for three days, suffering from a damaged eye, fractured skull and broken nose. A year later he crashed an Arado Ar 68 and was hospitalised again, aggravating his injured eye. Galland was allowed to continue his training after passing an eye test (which he memorised) he completed his training in Italy in 1935 and was posted to Jagdgeschwader 2 "Richthofen", then based at Döberitz airfield near Berlin.

Condor Legion and Spanish Civil War

During the Spanish Civil War, Galland was appointed "Staffelkapitän" of a "Legion Condor" squadron, 3. Staffel J/88, [Jagdgruppe 88, a four Staffel Gruppe] on the Nationalist side at Ferrol from mid-1937, flying ground attack missions in Heinkel He 51s.In Spain, Galland first displayed his dashing style, flying in swimming trunks with a cigar between his teeth, in an aircraft decorated with a Mickey Mouse figure. [Feist 1993, p. 104.] When asked why he developed this style he replied:

I like Micky Mouse. I always have. And I like cigars, but I had to give them up after the war.Kaplan 2007, p. 3.]

He flew over 300 missions in Spain, developed early gasoline and oil bombs, suggested the quartering of personnel on trains to aid in relocation, and was awarded the Spanish Cross in Gold with Diamonds following the Nationalist victory.

World War II

Front line service: 1939–1941

Just before the outbreak of World War II, Galland was promoted to "Hauptmann" and took part in 50 ground-attack missions during the Invasion of Poland. He flew with 4.(S)/LG 2, [For an explanation of the meaning of Luftwaffe unit designation see Organization of the Luftwaffe during World War II] equipped with the Henschel Hs 123, a "biplane Stuka", from 1 September 1939 onwards.Galland flew an average of four daily sorties in Poland and received the Iron Cross Second Class; however, he wanted to join the fighter arm.After the Polish Campaign Galland falsely claimed he was suffering from rheumatism and, on medical grounds, was removed from his post as a direct ground support pilot.Kaplan 2007, p. 4.] He was transferred to the fighter unit "Jagdgeschwader 27" in February 1940, as adjudant, restricting him from flying. Galland had to sneak away to fly combat missions using various tricks and ruses.On 12 May 1940, near Liege, Galland scored his first three aerial victories, over RAF Hawker Hurricanes. His wingman on his first mission was Gustav Rödel. [Ring 1994, p. 27.] By the end of the French campaign, Galland had achieved 14 victories. On 1 August 1940, Galland became the third fighter pilot to receive the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.From June 1940 on, Galland flew as a "Gruppenkommandeur" of III./JG 26, fighting in the Battle of Britain with Messerschmitt Bf 109 "Emils" from bases in the Pas de Calais.In July, Galland was promoted to major. By mid-August, Luftwaffe commander Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring's dissatisfaction with the performance of the fighter arm led him to replace several of his pre-war "Jagdgeschwader" commanders with the current wave of younger high-achievers. [Deighton 1977, p. 182.] Thus on 22 August Galland replaced Major Gotthard Handrick and became "Geschwaderkommodore" of JG 26. A month later, on 25 September, Galland was awarded the "Eichenlaub" to the Ritterkreuz for 40 kills.

During the Battle of Britain, in a legendary front line General Officer briefing on Luftwaffe tactics, the Reichsmarshall asked what his pilots needed to win the battle. Werner Mölders replied that he would like the Bf 109 to be fitted with more powerful engines. Galland replied: "I should like an outfit of Spitfires for my squadron." Göring was speechless with rage. [Kaplan 2007, p. 10.]

During the Battle of Britain the question of killing enemy pilots while in their parachutes was raised. In another confrontation with Göring, Galland recalled:

Göring wanted to know if we had ever thought about this. " Jawohl, Herr Reichsmarschall!" He looked me straight in the eyes and said, "What would you think of an order to shoot down pilots who were bailing out? "I should regard it as murder, Herr Reichsmarschall", I told him, "I should do everything in my power to disobey such an order". "That is just the reply I had expected from you, Galland". [Kaplan 2007, p. 15.]

By the end of 1940, Galland had 58 victories. Promoted to Oberstleutnant, he continued to lead JG 26 through 1941 against RAF fighter sweeps across northern Europe. In early 1941 most of the fighter units of the Luftwaffe were sent to the Eastern Front, or south to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, thus leaving JG 26 and Jagdgeschwader 2 "Richthofen" as the sole single-engine fighter "Geschwader" in France.

By this time, JG 26 were starting to re-equip with the new Bf 109 F, normally equipped with a 15 mm (or later a 20 mm) cannon firing through the propeller hub and two cowl mounted 7,9 mm MG 17. Galland felt the model was grossly under-armed and so tested a series of 109 "specials;" one with a unique armament of an MG 151/20 cannon and two cowl-mounted 13 mm MG 131 machine guns, and another with integral wing-mounted 20 mm MG-FF cannons.

For the next two years, these two "Geschwader" were the main adversaries to the RAF’s day offensives over occupied Europe. Galland's careful husbanding of his resources and astute tactical awareness meant JG 26 kept their losses to a minimum while inflicting maximum damage on the RAF's tactical fighters through 1941. This became even more evident with the arrival of the potent Focke-Wulf Fw 190A to units in late 1941 - early 1942, which completely outclassed the current Spitfire Mark Vb in service with the RAF.

On the morning of 21 June 1941, Galland was shot up by Polish No. 303 Squadron Spitfire and had to crash land. In the afternoon, he was shot down by a No. 145 Squadron Spitfire, bailing out and suffering slight injuries. The "Schwerter" (Swords) award to the Ritterkreuz followed the same month.

On 2 July 1941, Galland led JG 26 into combat against a formation of Blenheims. A Spitfire of the bomber escort (probably from Polish 308 Squadron) managed to hit Galland's plane with a 20 mm shell. The armour plate mounted on the fighter just days earlier saved Galland's life. Galland landed at base, where he was hospitalised for the second time in a few days. Experiences like this taught Galland to respect his opponents.

High command

In November 1941, following his 94th official victory, he was chosen by Hermann Göring to command Germany's fighter force as "General der Jagdflieger", succeeding renowned ace Oberst Werner Mölders who had just died in an air crash (having himself just succeeded another German aviation legend, Ernst Udet, and ironically died en route to Udet's funeral). Galland was not enthusiastic about his promotion, seeing himself as a combat leader and not wanting to be "tied to a desk job" [Kaplan 2007, pp. 9, 30.] In November 1942 a promotion to "Generalmajor" made Galland the youngest officer to attain General rank in Germany. Galland was now responsible for deciding the ongoing tactical and operational doctrine of the Luftwaffe's fighter strategies. No longer flying operationally, one of his first tasks was organising the successful air protection for the Channel Dash of the German battle cruisers "Scharnhorst" and "Gneisenau", and the cruiser "Prinz Eugen".

On 23 May 1943, Galland flew an early prototype of the Messerschmitt Me 262, the world's first operational jet fighter. After the flight, he described his experience:

For the first time I was flying by Jet propulsion! No engine vibrations. No torque and no lashing sound of the engine propeller. Accompanied by a whistling sound, my jet shot through the air. Later when asked what it felt like, I said, "It was as though angels were pushing." [Kaplan 2007, p. 41.]

He became an enthusiastic supporter of this aircraft, realising its potential to be that of a fighter rather than a "Blitzbomber". [Kaplan 2007, p. 43.] However due to Hitler's determination the Me 262 was not developed as a fighter fast enough. Galland hoped that the Me 262 would compensate for the numerical superiority of the Allies:

In the last four months [January - April 1944] our day fighters have lost 1,000 pilots...we are numerically inferior and will always remain so...I believe that a great deal can be achieved with a small number of technically and far superior aircraft such as the [Me] 262 and [Me] 163...I would at this moment rather have one Me 262 in action rather than five Bf 109s. I used to say three 109s, but the situation develops and changes. [Caldwell and Muller 2007, p. 189.]

During 1943, Galland became more involved with the organization of the air defence of the Reich against the increasing USAAF day bombing offensive. As "General der Jagdflieger", he had at his disposal a small staff flight operating Fw 190s. Galland was a supporter of attempts to develop heavily armed versions of the Fw 190, and add one to each of the nine "Geschwader" defending the Reich.In order to experience the operational conditions under which his pilots flew, Galland flew a dozen or so combat missions through 1942–44 [Kaplan 2007, p. 39.] and probably gained two more victories over USAAF B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers sometime during early 1944, although on one occasion, flying with Hannes Trautloft, he narrowly avoided being shot down by the USAAF escort fighters.

By mid 1944, the catastrophic aircrew losses suffered by the Luftwaffe prompted Galland to carefully husband a last reserve of 1,000 pilots and fighter planes in order to strike a potentially decisive single blow at the Allied bomber streams. However the daring operation, planned for late 1944, never came about, as the reserves were squandered in the ill-fated Operation Bodenplatte.

Conflict with the Luftwaffe leadership

Typically open, blunt and a consistent critic of his superiors, as the war progressed, Galland soon became distanced from the Nazi hierarchy, who no longer tolerated his outspoken views. While patriotic, he increasingly found himself at odds with them over how they ran the war as it began to turn against Germany. In January 1945, he was finally relieved of his command and put under house arrest following the "Fighter Pilots Revolt". Galland's high standing with his fighter pilot peers led to a group of the most decorated Luftwaffe leaders loyal to Galland (including Johannes Steinhoff and Günther Lützow) confronting Göring with a list of demands for the survival of their service, coupled with their concern over the Reichsmarschall's lack of understanding and unwillingness to support his pilots against accusations of cowardice and treason.
Heinrich Himmler had wanted to put Galland on trial for treason himself. The Schutzstaffel (SS) and Gestapo had already began investigations into who he associated with. [Caldwell and Muller 2007, p. 262.]

The Oberkommando der Luftwaffe appointed the more politically acceptable Gordon Gollob to succeed him as "General der Jagdflieger". Although professional contemporaries, Gollob and Galland had a mutual dislike, and after Galland had removed the Austrian from his personal staff earlier in the war Gollob started to gather evidence to use against Galland, detailing false accusations of his gambling, womanizing and his alleged private use of "Luftwaffe" transport aircraft. [Caldwell and Muller 2007, p. 264.]

Return to front line service with JV 44

Galland was returned to front line duties in disgrace, and was initially assigned to command a "Staffel" of JG 54, at that time stranded behind Soviet lines in the Courland pocket. He never took up this command, however, but was tasked to form JV 44 ("Jagdverband") in March 1945. He was allowed to handpick a number of formidable "experten" for the unit, including such highly-decorated men as Johannes Steinhoff, Heinrich Bär and Gerhard Barkhorn. Achieving seven kills over the USAAF, Galland led JV 44 until his last mission on 26 April 1945, when he was wounded in a dogfight with an American P-47 Thunderbolt and sustained a knee injury crash-landing his Me 262. It appears the Me 262 was not destroyed, despite an attack by two P-47s on the airfield. Galland managed a "wheels up" landing. The engagement resulted in five American aircraft shot down. [Kaplan 2007, pp. 49–50.]

Command was transferred to Bär, but Galland was concerned about his men and tried to negotiate a separate surrender for the JV 44 pilots to Allied forces in early May.

Galland's 104 victory claims included seven with the Me 262. [For a list of Luftwaffe Jet aces see "List of German World War II jet aces"] His claims for aircraft destroyed include 55 Spitfires, 30 Hurricanes, and five French Armee de L'air aircraft. All seven of his Me 262 kills were against American aircraft, two of them heavy bombers.

In the 1970s a Japanese-American student from San Jose State University came across Galland's memoirs the "First and the Last", while researching records of United States Army Air Force records and matching them to Japanese victory claims.After contacting Galland, the Graduate asked if Galland would like to know which pilot shot him down on 26 April 1945.It was found that James Finnegan, a P-47 Thunderbolt pilot of the 50th Fighter Group, Ninth US Army Air Force had made a "probable" claim that day. The details of the engagement matched. Galland and Finnegan met for the first time at an Air Force Association meeting in San Francisco in 1979. [Kaplan 2007, p. 49.]


Galland was captured by the US Army on 14 May 1945 and remained a prisoner of war until 1947. His first job after captivity was to lecture on tactics for Britain's Royal Air Force. From 1948 to 1955, he and other ex-"Luftwaffe" experts worked as consultants to the Argentine Air Force and the nascent Argentine aircraft industry. Following the termination of Argentina's attempt to establish an indigenous aeronautical industry, Galland returned to Germany and had a successful career running his own aviation firm and consultancy. Through the postwar years Galland built up lasting respect and friendship with many of his former adversaries, particularly Robert Stanford Tuck, Johnnie Johnson and Douglas Bader. [ [ Interview with World War II Luftwaffe General and Ace Pilot Adolf Galland] ]

Galland married Sylvinia von Dönhoff in February 1954. In 1984, he married his second wife, Heidi Horn, who remained with him until his death.

In his private home museum, Galland had many souvenirs of his dogfights (such as pieces of American aircraft he shot down) and his service in the war, including German newsreels from that time. He also had two almost identical oil painting portraits that were made of him during the war. They feature Galland in his "Luftwaffe" uniform, but in the first painting he was holding one of his ubiquitous cigars. Hitler was adamantly opposed to smoking and ordered the second portrait made without the cigar.

Galland's autobiography, "The First and the Last" ("Die Ersten und die Letzten"), was published in 1954. In 1969 he served as technical adviser for the film "Battle of Britain". [ [ Galland At the Internet Movie Database] ]


* Spanish "Medalla de la Campaña"
* Spanish "Medalla Militar"
* Spanish Cross in Gold with Swords and Diamonds (7 June 1939)
* Front Flying Clasp of the Luftwaffe in Gold with Pennant "400"
* Wound Badge in Black
* Combined Pilots-Observation Badge in Gold with Diamonds
* Iron Cross
** 2nd Class (15 September 1939)
** 1st Class (22 May 1940)
* Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds
** Knight's Cross (29 July 1940)
** 3. Oak Leaves (24 September 1940)
** 1. Swords (21 June 1941)
** 2. Diamonds (28 January 1942)
* Mentioned seven times in the Wehrmachtbericht (16 August 1940; 25 September 1940; 2 November 1940; 18 April 1941; 22 June 1941; 30 October 1941; 15 February 1942)


* Baker, David. "Adolf Galland: The Authorised Biography". London: Windrow and Green, 1996. ISBN 978-1859150177.
* Berger, Florian, "Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges" (in German). Selbstverlag Florian Berger, 2006. ISBN 3-9501307-0-5.
* Caldwell, Donald and Richard Muller. "The Luftwaffe over Germany: Defense of the Reich". London: Greenhill Books, 2007. ISBN 978-1-85367-712-0.
* Deighton, Len. "". London: Pimlico, 1977. ISBN 0-7126-7423-3.
* Feist, Uwe. "The Fighting Me 109". London: Arms & Armour Press, 1993. ISBN 1-85409-209-X.
* Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer. "Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945" (in German). Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas, 2000. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
* Galland, Adolf. "The First and the Last: Germany's Fighter Force in WWII" (Fortunes of War). South Miami, Florida: Cerberus Press, 2005. ISBN 1-84145-020-0.
* Kaplan, Philip. "Fighter Aces of the Luftwaffe in World War WWII". Auldgirth, Dumfriesshire, UK: Pen & Sword Aviation, 2007. ISBN 1-84415-460-2.
* Ring, Hans and Girbig, Werner. "Jagdgeschwader 27 Die Dokumentation über den Einsatz an allen Fronten 1939-1945" (in German). Stuttgart, Germany: Motorbuch Verlag, 1994. ISBN 3-87943-215-5.
* Spick, Mike. "Aces of the Reich: The Making of a Luftwaffe Fighter Pilot". London: Greenhill Books. 2006. ISBN 978-1853676758.
* Taylor, Robert and Charles Walker. "Air Combat Paintings Volume IV". Newton Abbot, Devon, UK: David & Charles, 2000. ISBN 0-7153-1623-0.
* Toliver, Raymond F. and Trevor J. Constable. "Fighter General: The Life of Adolf Galland The Official Biography". Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1999. ISBN 0-7643-0678-2.

External links

* [ Adolf Galland - Fighter General]
* [ Adolf Galland (1912-1996)]
* [ Adolf "Dolfo" Galland Generalleutnant]
* [ Adolf Galland German fighter ace (b.1912, d.1996)]
* [ (Adolf Galland and Peter Ledger with the Stormbird aviation print)]
* [ - Neil Page's web site - translated German pilot accounts]
* [ Adolf Galland]
* [ Interview with Adolf Galland] by Colin D. Heaton for World War II magazine

NAME=Galland, Adolf
SHORT DESCRIPTION=German World War II fighter pilot
DATE OF BIRTH=19 March 1912
PLACE OF BIRTH=Westerholt, Germany
DATE OF DEATH=9 February 1996
PLACE OF DEATH=Remagen, Germany

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