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WORLD WAR I: Oberleutnant Ernst Udet, born 1896 at Frankfurt am Main, was the second highest scoring ace of World War I, the leading surviving ace, and the youngest ace, age 22, when the war ended in 1918.
He joined the German Army in 1914 and started his flying career as a  Private in the units FA 68 & FAA 206 flying Observation aircraft. He was later promoted to Officer, and started his rise to fame flying fighters with Jasta (
Jagdstaffel) 15, and later went on to Command Jasta 15 & Jasta 37.
Udet was later invited by Manfred Von Richthofen to join his famous "Flying Circus" - Jagdgeschwader 1
(comprising Jastas 4, 6, 10, & 11). He eventually went on to Command of  Jasta 11 & 4 finishing the war with 62 Kills - second only to the legendary Manfred Von Richthofen - The Red Barron. He was awarded Germany's highest military honor, the Ordre pour le Merite, the "Blue Max."
BETWEEN THE WARS: Udet struggled to make a living in the early 1920's as most people did in inflation starved Germany. He started an aircraft company, Udet-Flugzeugbau, building light sport planes. He raced automobiles, formed a Flying Circus & traveled to the United States and Argentina stunt flying in air shows. He helped make exotic movies, traveling to Africa and the Artic, piloting camera planes. During an African wildlife filming expedition, his low flying aircraft was damaged by a leaping lion! Although Udet's airplane company ran into money problems and folded, his love of airplanes did not.
A selection of aircraft flown by Ernst Udet during World War I. Udet flew almost every German Fighter during the war. These included the Fokker E.111 Eindecker, all of the Albatros D series, the Fokker DR.1 Triplane and at the end of the war, the Fokker D.VII.
Almost all the aircraft he flew had his girlfriend's name, "LO," painted on the fuselage. His Fokker D.VII had the words
"Du doch nicht!!" painted on the tail - translated as "Not You," but more literally translated as a challenge to any pilot trying to shoot him down as "YOU AND WHO ELSE!"
At the National Air Races in Cleveland, Ohio in 1931, he saw US Navy Curtiss Helldivers demonstrate nearly verticle dive-bombing runs with unbelievable accuracy. He was imediately hooked on dive-bombing. Udet talked to Goering about investing in the purchase of one of the Curtiss planes. Goering agreed provided Udet join the new Luftwaffe. Udet then went to the Curtiss factory in Buffalo, NY on Sept. 27, 1933, where he test flew and bought two Curtiss Hawk II's with Third Reich funds. In December, useing one of the Curtiss Hawks, he demonstrated dive-bombing to the Luftwaffe High Command influencing them heavily into building dive bombers. Thus the idea for the JU-87 STUKA was born.
THE LUFTWAFFE: In 1935, Udet, at age 39, joined the Luftwaffe and was appointed Chief Inspector of Fighter & Dive-Bomber pilots with the rank of Oberst (Colonel) in Jan. 1936 At this post he furthered the development of the HE-51 fighter and conducted tests on aircraft built for dive-bombing.
In June of 1936 he became Chief of the Development Section of the RLM's Technische Armament. Udet did not believe in close support aircraft. With his appointment, the dive-bomber became the main offensive weapon of the Luftwaffe. Goering eventually appointed Udet Direct General of Equipment and then Head of the Office of Air Armament in February 1939, the latter with the rank of General-Major. Ernst Udet was instrumental in building the Luftwaffe to the force it was to become during World War II.
WORLD WAR II: With Germany's need for "Blitzkrieg to conguer her neighbors Udet designed a bomber fleet of medium sized Tactical fast  bombers & dive-bombers pefect for supporting the Army on the battlefield to the detriment of strategic heavy bombers. Early success during the Invasion of Poland and the Battle for France seemed to validate Udet's work. On June 21, 1940 Udet was among the few people who wittnessed the French surrender to the Germans. Only one month later he was promoted to Generaloberst and was awarded the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross.
However, as the war progressed the  short sightedness of the decission not to build heavy bombers  became evident during the Battle of Britain where Hitler tried to defeat England by a strategic bombing  war with tactical bombers.
THE END: Udet's wartime success came to an abrupt end in 1941. Many of the Luftwaffe's failings during the Battle of Britian were laid directly upon Udet by Goering - he needing a scapegoat to preserve his own position with Hitler. Accused directly by General Erhard Milch of bringing about the Luftwaffe's shotcomings that  caused the loss of the Battle of Britian and under fire from Goering himself, sick in body and spirit, on November 17, 1941, he committed suicide by a pistol shot to the head.
The Nazi propaganda machine would not admit that one of it's heroes had committed suicide. The German people were told that Ernst Udet was killed testing a new air weapon. There was a large state funeral ordered by Hitler which Goering presided over. Ernst Udet is buried in the Invalidenfriedhof, Berlin.
JAGDGESCHWADER 3: In the wake of the tragic death of the great WW I ace and Luftwaffe General Ernst Udet, the Luftwaffe Fighter Wing, Jagdgeschwader 3, was ordered to add the Honor Title "UDET" to it's name thus becoming JAGDGESCHWADER 3 "UDET." All Officers & Men of the geschwader were ordered to wear the cuff-title on the right arm of their uniform in honor of the famous ace.