Johannes Steinhoff (15 September 1913 – 21 February 1994 – age 80) was one of Germany’s most well known aces to survive the war. He reached the rank of Colonel in the Luftwaffe in Nazi Germany and later became a Luftwaffe General in the Bundeswehr. He was a handsome man yet in one of his last flights during World War Two he suffered terribly disfiguring burns to his face.
General Steinhoff is credited with shooting down 176 enemy planes. (Like all German pilots in World War Two who ran up huge “scores” in planes shot down. Steinhoff achieved most of these victories on the Eastern Front against the Russian air force whose pilots were badly trained and whose aircraft were much inferior to Germany’s. This changed as the war went on.)
Steinhoff himself was shot down twelve times. In the following, Steinhoff tells the story of shooting down an American pilot then getting knee walking drunk with the guy. (Having drinks with pilots one shot down on the Western front was practiced by both sides.)
Steinhoff (2nd from right) as a Luftwaffe general circa 1958
Johannes Steinhoff (right with dark glasses) Luftwaffe Generalleutnant, Inspekteur der Luftwaffe, Bundesrepublik Deutschland
(German Federal Archive)