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The Andrei Tupolev Design Bureau, received its name after the death of it’s designer, founded on October 22nd, 1922, they created aircraft that left a major mark in the history of aviation of the Soviet Union and Russia. Until today, the basis of strategic aviation for the Russian Federation were the bombers that were born within the walls of this design office: the Tu-22M, the Tu-95 and the Tu-160. More than a hundred aircraft had been created during the lifetime of A.N. Tupolev: more than half of them entered production. His influence was key in pre and post Cold War Russian aviation.
The Tupolev Tu-2 was a twin-engine Soviet high speed daylight bomber (SDB) forward bomber (FB) aircraft. The Tu-2 was designed to meet a requirement for a high speed bomber or dive-bomber, with a large internal bomb load, with speeds similar to that of a single seat fighter. Created to challenge the German Junkers Ju 88, the Tu-2 proved equal. The Tu-2 was one of the outstanding combat aircraft of World War II and it played a key role in the Red Army's final offensives.
The War Thunder Team
After a brief period with II./JG52, Marseille was posted to I./JG27, which took its battle weary Bf109Es out to North Africa in April 1941 to support the Afrika Korps against the British and Commonwealth forces. Marseille, obsessed with his own personal victory tally, saw his score rising sharply but with it a continued hostility from his peers and seniors alike, not helped by his propensity to play practical jokes on any and all members of his squadron. He was grounded on many occasions due to his indiscipline in the air and on the ground, which led to delays in his promotions.
From May 2nd through to June 16th, Marseille not only failed to shoot down a single enemy aircraft but also regularly returned home with his own fighter severely shot up. His reputation as an immature prankster and risk taker became more set in stone, and his plummeting moral brought about by his drought of kills was only worsened by regular bouts of dysentery and ill health. However, after shooting down two Hurricanes on June 17th, Marseille was back on form: on September 24th he shot down four Hurricanes in 15 minutes near Buq Buq in Libya. By the end of 1941, Marseille had shot down 36 aircraft and had been awarded the German Cross in Gold.
At the end of the year, ravaged by malaria, jaundice, dysentery and gastroenteritis, the waif like Marseille was ordered back to Berlin to recover. Whilst on route home, he received a telegram from his mother: Marseille’s sister had been murdered. A quieter, angry Marseille returned to North Africa. Upon finding that his latest promotion had been denied on the recommendation of his CO, he took off and strafed the sand in front of his CO’s tent. Only his Group Commander stepping in averted the court martial.
Marseille still found his revenge: on February 8th 1942 he shot down four P40s in two flights to beat his CO to 40 victories and earn the coveted Knights’ Cross first. Only four days later he shot down four fighters in six minutes. A more mature Marseille was now emerging; a dependable wingman and calculating pilot in the air, he was fast earning the respect and admiration of his comrades.
His chivalrous nature was also apparent; on one occasion he flew in formation with a heavily damaged P40 to assist the wounded pilot in landing. Upon landing he immediately called to a medic and drove him out into the desert to find the P40’s crash site. He helped the wounded pilot out and over to the medic. Wherever possible, Marseille would visit the pilots he had shot down in hospital. He also flew over enemy airfields to drop messages to inform allied squadrons of the condition of their downed comrades.
Marseille became a legend in Germany. As his rising tally approached 100, he received sacks of fan mail from women all over the country. He boasted of his female conquests even more than his aerial victories. He was never afraid to speak his mind; when awarded a medal by Benito Mussolini, he remarked dryly to the Duce’s aide: “he thinks a lot of himself, doesn’t he?” When Hitler heard of this, he said that he thought Marseille to be a good judge of character.
Even with Hitler’s approval, Marseille was anything but a party member. Openly and vocally anti-Nazi, he even insulted Hitler personally when asked to play piano at an evening event in front of the upper echelons of the Nazi party. After behaving himself for some time, he then broke out into raucous American jazz music, prompting Hitler to cancel the party and leave the room in a rage. Marseille even made a point of keeping a black South African POW as a personal servant, knowing full well the fate that would befall him if he fell into the hands of the Nazis. The two became the best of friends.
Marseille’s crowning achievement came on September 1st 1942, when he claimed a staggering eight kills in ten minutes. Flying several missions on this date, he claimed a record breaking 17 kills in one day. Controversy still exists as to whether these kills can be confirmed, but more than one historian has backed his claims. Marseille had 158 victories accredited when he was killed on September 30th, 1942. After suffering engine problems, smoke filled the cockpit of Marseille’s Bf109G -2 whilst returning from an escort mission. Chocking, escorted by his wingmen, he stayed with the fighter long enough to cross German lines before jumping out. His body impacted with the 109’s tailfin, and he was probably killed instantly.
Hauptmann Hans-Joachim Marseille was the most successful fighter pilot who fought against the western allies during the Second World War. He was posthumously awarded diamonds to his Knight’s Cross. His grave is inscribed with a simple epitaph: “undefeated”.