Helmit Mahlke

Average rating: 3.92 · 25 ratings · 1 review · 1 distinct work
Memoirs of a Stuka Pilot

3.92 avg rating — 25 ratings — published 2013
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“For unlike many of our previous opponents, Russian troops tended to stand firm when under air attack. Rather than dive for cover, most would blaze away at us with whatever weapons they had to hand. And as infantry weapons did not use tracer bullets, we were often unaware of the volume of enemy fire that was being directed at us. It was only when we returned to base and saw the enormous number of bullet holes in our machines that we realized just how much lead we had been flying through.”
Helmit Mahlke, Memoirs of a Stuka Pilot

“The next topic of conversation was the question of fighter escorts for the Stuka units. Our Kommandeur had already raised this matter on numerous occasions during his discussions with higher authority. He argued that our machines, being slow and poorly armed for air combat, needed to be provided with at least a small force of fighters to fly close escort. He was fully supported in this by all the other Stuka Kommandeure. But the fighter pilots rejected the suggestion out of hand, and for very good reason – from their point of view. They were convinced that their freie Jagd tactics of free-ranging offensive sweeps would clear the airspace around us so effectively and so completely that no enemy machine would ever get anywhere near our formations.”
Helmit Mahlke, Memoirs of a Stuka Pilot

“Here on the Eastern Front, whenever we carried out our low-level attacks immediately in front of our comrades on the ground – dropping our bombs singly on the gun emplacements and machine-gun nests that were holding up their advance, and then strafing the enemy’s trenches until our ammunition was exhausted – we could actually see the results. We saw our troops getting to their feet and dashing forwards, often waving up at us as they did so, to storm the Soviet lines that we had been attacking only moments earlier. That was it! Here we had finally come to understand what our close-support missions really meant to our comrades on the ground. Without our help, how much more blood would those troops have had to shed in order to achieve their objectives? We were needed here like we had never been needed before. This knowledge made us all the more determined to give of our best. It also made it that little bit easier to accept our inevitable losses.”
Helmit Mahlke, Memoirs of a Stuka Pilot

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