Ernst Udet, born 26-04-1896 in Frankfurt am Main, joined the German Army Air Service in 1915. Flying a Fokker D-III (see Fokker), he scored his first victory on 18-03-1916 in a lone attack on 22 French aircraft. Udet arrived at Richthofen's group at 10 AM on 27-03-1918. At noon he flew his first sortie with them, also his first in a Fokker Dr.1 triplane and he shot down his first plane as a Jasta 11 pilot, a British R.E. 8 reconnaissance plane. In the same patrol, they pounced on a flight of Sopwith Camels, Richthofen (see Richthofen) knocking down one of them. Then they strafed a column of British infantry. Evidently impressed with Udet's head-on attack on the observation plane, Richthofen gave him command of Jasta 11. He continued to fly almost every day. On March 28, he got into a heroic duel with a Sopwith Camel over Albert.
After repeated head-on passes and manoeuvres, Udet finally managed to deliver a lethal burst. He hadn't ever thought about his downed opponents, but this time he wanted to know. He went to a nearby field hospital, where he found his victim's body: Lieutenant Maasdorp, Ontario RFC 47.
He downed his 23rd
plane on April 6, another Sopwith Camel. After this mission, he went home to Munich, to be treated for an ear infection and then for recuperative leave. He married Elenora Lo Zink "Lo"
on 25-02-1920; however, the marriage lasted less than three years. They divorced on 16-02-1923. It has been said that Udet had many lovers on the side. His talents were numerous -juggling, drawing cartoons, party entertainment, he also received his Ordre pour le Mérite while on leave.
He read in the newspaper that on April 21, von Richthofen was killed. By the end of the First World War Udet had 62 victories. This made him the second highest German war ace of the war. After the war Udet appeared with Leni Riefenstahl (see Riefenstahl
) in the film SOS Eisberg. He was also active in the Richthofen Veterans' Association and caused great controversy when he campaigned to have Hermann Goering (see Herman Goering
) (see Goering Peter
) rejected for making false claims of air victories during the First World War. Udet joined the Luftwaffe in June 1935 as a colonel and a year later was appointed head of the Technical Office of the Air Ministry. In this post Udet was responsible for the introduction of the Junkers Stuka and the Messerschmitt Bf 109. (see Messerschmitt
During World War II he rose to the rank of Generaloberst and Director of Air Armaments. In 1940 pilots began to complain that the Spitfire was superior to German aircraft. Later Adolf Hitler (see Adolf Hitler
) and Hermann Goering (see Sonnemann
) both accused him of being responsible for the defeat of the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain (see Bomber Harris
He was also criticized for neglecting the development of new heavy bombers. Udet became depressed by the performance of the Luftwaffe during Operation Barbarossa and the decision by Erhard Milch, Milch died age 79, on 25-01-1972, (see Milch
) to overrule his plans to develop the Focke Wulf FW 190. When World War II began, his internal conflicts grew more intense. Aircraft production requirements were much more than the German industry could supply, given limited access to raw materials such as aluminium. Goering responded to this problem by simply lying about it, which further upset Udet. After the Luftwaffe's defeat in the Battle of Britain. Goering tried to deflect Hitler’s ire by blaming it on Udet. Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union drove Udet further into despair.
On 17-11-1941, Udet shot himself in the head while on the phone to his mistress. According to Udet's biography, "the Fall of an Eagle", he wrote a suicide note in red pencil which included: "Ingelein, why have you left me?" and "Iron One, you are responsible for my death" . Ingelein referred to hids girlfriend, Inge Beyle and "Iron One" to Hermann Goering. The book "The Luftwaffe Diaries"states something similar, that Udet wrote"Reichsmarschall, why have you deserted me ?" in red on the headboard of his bed. It is possible that an affair Udet had with Marta Dodd,
daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Germany and Soviet sympathizer, during the 1930s might have had some importance in these events. Marta who had also a relation with the first Gestapo head Rudolf Diels (see Diels
) died on 10-10-1990, age 81, in Praque. Records made public in the 1990s confirm Soviet involvement with Dodd's activities. Adolf
Hitler was embarrassed by Udet's death and the Nazi Government issued a statement that Udet had been accidentally killed while testing out a new weapon. General Adolf Galland (see Galland
) was a meber of the guard of honour during the service.
Ernst Udet was buried next to the WWI fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen (see Richthofen
) and Werner Moelders (see Moelders
) the flyer ace, on the Invaliden cemetery in Berlin. Werner Moelders crashed ironicly on his way to Udet's funeral, also General Wilberg (see Wilberg
) crashed on his way to the same Udet funeral ???. Von Richthofen was reburied in Wiesbaden next to his brother Lothar (see Lothar
). Only steps away the graves of the head of the Gestapo, Reinhard Heydrich (see Heydrich
), Fritz Todt (see Todt
) Armaments Minister, Generaloberst Werner Fritsch (see Fritsch
), General Carl Gablenz (see Gablenz
), Lothar von Arnaud de la Perèire (see Arnaud
), Wolfgang Fürstner (see Fürstner
) the commander of the Olympic village in 1936, General Hans Hube (see Hube
), Rudolf Schmundt (see Schmundt
) Hitler’s Adjutant who was killed with the bomb attack, on 29th
July 1940 and General Wilhelm Staehle (see Staehle