May 08, 1945

Maj. Erich Hartmann, flying a Messerschmitt Me-109 in his last combat mission, records one final aerial “kill,” bringing his total to 352 aircraft, the most in history by any pilot in any country. He lands, and with his airfield under artillery fire by advancing Soviet troops, he orders the men of his squadron to destroy their aircraft and he leads them in the opposite direction to the American lines, where Jagdgeshwader 52 surrenders en masse. The Americans turn Hartmann over to the Russians and he is imprisoned in a Soviet gulag for 10 years. He retires from the re-formed German Air Force in 1973.