Franz Stigler; Jet Fighter Pilot JV-44
Artwork and Research by;
Sir Ernie Hamilton Boyette
German, Me 262 Jet Pilot, Franz Stigler, 12x18"
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Oberleutnant Franz Stigler
By Sir Ernie Hamilton Boyette
Stigler was born on August 21 1915, near the ancient Danube River city of
Regensberg, Bavaria, Germany. He initially studied to become a Monk, although he
later trained as an aeronautical engineer. Franz
became a glider pilot in 1927 at the age of 12. He upgraded to powered aircraft
in 1933. He joined Lufthansa and flew an extensive number of single and
multi-engine aircraft between 1933 and 1939.
officially trained pilots for the Luftwaffe starting in 1939. He first
taught multi-engine aircraft and later fighter aircraft. Franz was a very effective
instructor, with many of his students becoming aces like Gerhard Barkhorn, who
was credited with 301 confirmed aerial victories. Franz
him self had been instructed by Ritter Von Greim. Von Greim later became Field Marshal
Ritter Von Greim, replacing Herman Goering as the last Luftwaffe commander.
Franz served as an instructor until February 1942 when he officially joined the Luftwaffe. After finishing his training he was assigned to Squadron 4/II, JG-27, flying the Bf 109F fighter in combat in North Africa. During the next eighteen months in North Africa and the Mediterranean, Franz scored fifteen aerial victories. All of his victories were against allied fighters, mainly the American P-40, the English Hawker Hurricane and the elite Spitfire.
and his Squadron were transferred to Sicily from Africa, then to Italy, as the Allies
advanced in the Mediterranean. Franz
served briefly in Germany and then in Bulgaria. Franz was pulled back to Austria to defend against the American
bomber formations. The
heavy bombers were targeting German industrial and transportation centers. On
one raid to Schweinfurt, Germany, sixty American bombers were shot down with Franz claiming
two of them for himself. While Franz was attacking a third bomber that day he was shot down by the tail
gunner of the Fortress. Franz always described his Messerschmitt when it was hit
by enemy bullets like being hit with a hammer. It was when the bullets were
passing through the cockpit, then it was personal. Franz would be injured by the
tail gun of a Flying Fortress several times in his fighter pilot career. Franz was injured in the forehead
by a fifty caliber bullet and once in his legs.
Franz learned to fly the new Messerschmitt Me-262 jet fighter at the newly formed EJG-1 which was the first Pre-Jet Training Squadron/Wing. Here Stigler became a trainer and helped elite Luftwaffe pilots in learning to fly the jet and the different flight characteristics of the new jet fighter. Twice he briefly served as a wing commander and finished the war as Technical Officer of General Adolph Galland’s famed JV-44 "Squadron of Experts", flying the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter against the American bombers.
At the end of the war while serving with JV-44, their squadron was moved constantly from one makeshift airfield to another. The Allied fighters were locating and strafing every German airfield they found. The American fighters would also circle the German jet airfields and dive on the jets as they were taking off or landing. This is how most victories were scored against the German jets. During the last week of the war, while flying the Messerschmitt 262 Jet, Franz shot down two more American bombers. At this time however, the Luftwaffe was scattered and disorganized, so Franz did not receive credit for these aircraft.
The Me 262 jet that Stigler flew, which is shown above, was fresh from the factory and painted RLM gray primer with basic black crosses and a white 3 on the fuselage. They did not have the paint or the time to camouflage his aircraft like the others in the unit. Franz flew the Me 262 for his last sixteen combat missions of the war. During his three years of combat with JG-27 Stigler served with Squadrons 4/II and 6/II, commanding Squadrons 8/III and 12/IV.
Stigler was credited with 28 aerial victories. Franz knows that he has more victories than the 28 but you must have a witness to claim a victory. Included in his 28 victories were eleven four engine bombers. Franz was also credited with over thirty probable enemy aircraft as well. Which means that Franz shot the hell out of thirty other aircraft but there is no evidence the damaged caused the aircraft to crash. The two B-24's that Franz shot down in the Me-262 were never given credit to him because the paperwork was destroyed as the Luftwaffe collapsed. I personally believe that Franz was a Jet-Ace.
Franz was shot down seventeen times, including eleven times by American bombers. Franz bailed out using his parachute six times and rode his aircraft down the other eleven. Once Franz had to bail out because a wing from an American P-47 fighter he shot down tore his fighter in half! The American fighter lost one of its wings, which came back and struck his aircraft behind the canopy, tearing the tail off his fighter!
was in the right place at the right time to be able to fly bi-wing trainers to
jet fighters in one's life time. One of his elementary school teachers was a
World War I Ace but he never thought that he would become an Ace.
During his six plus years of combat flying with the Luftwaffe, Franz flew 487 missions. His decorations include the Iron Cross 2nd Class, the Iron Cross 1st Class, and the German Cross in Gold. Franz was nominated for the "Knight’s Cross", but the war ended before he received it.
Photo of Franz Stigler
Read more about Luftwaffe Ace Franz Stigler
To read more exciting stories of this Luftwaffe Ace go to the links below.
Franz Stigler; North African Ace, Messerschmitt Bf-109F
Read how Franz became an Ace in the skies over North Africa. While Montgomery and Rommel were fighting on the ground, Franz Stigler and other famous Luftwaffe pilots like Hans-Joachim Marseille were fighting against British and American pilots in the air. It was a gruesome war in North Africa both on the ground and in the air.
Palm Sunday Massacre
This is an incredible story of the German withdrawal from North Africa and one mission that almost ended the life of this young fighter pilot.
Chivalry in the Air
A true story of an encounter by Luftwaffe Ace Franz Stigler and a shot up B-17 bomber named "Yea old Pub" piloted by an inexperienced and wounded American Captain named Charlie Brown. Read how instead of shooting down this crippled bomber Franz actually showed compassion and escorted the bomber and crew back to the safety of the English Channel.
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All research, writings and artwork are by Sir Ernie Hamilton Boyette.
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