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Entrevue de Franz Stigler réalisé par Michael Fuller (retranscrit ici pour ne pas le perdre)

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Entrevue de Franz Stigler réalisé par Michael Fuller (retranscrit ici pour ne pas le perdre)

Message par McFly le Mar 22 Déc 2015 - 10:41

Interview and narrative © Michael Fuller 2003 exclusively for The 109 Lair.

 

Luftwaffe pilot Franz Stigler getting out of his Bf 109 in Sicily after returning from Africa.

We have all heard the term “Ace”, and along with that spark the names, Hartmann, Galland, Rall.  All pilots who had missions in the hundred and kill scores to match.  We rank them based on kills and determine, “yes, he was the greatest pilot”…

Throughout the Messerschmitt control panel/cockpit restoration I am working on, I have met numerous people in the collecting community; enthusiasts, Messerschmitt fans, collectors and restorers.  In early June while searching for information on the Oxygen Regulator I was restoring, I ran into an ex-Mosquito pilot by the name of Ken, who suggesting I speak with his friend, Luftwaffe Ace, Franz Stigler.  At that point I wasn’t familiar with the name…didn’t know who he was…his name didn’t mean anything nor come up on the Ace list.  He passed on his number and said, “give him a call…he’s always pretty open talking about things.  He’s the Luftwaffe pilot that let that B-17 go, and escorted him halfway home…” I must say after hearing that, a lump formed in my throat…I was excited, intrigued and scared…all at the same time.

My grandfather never talked about the war…only thing I ever knew was that he was a Bren Gunner for the Canadian Military and eventually a Sniper.  Talking about the war was something that almost seemed forbidden in the family.  Watching such great films as Saving Private Ryan, and the Band of Brothers…I realized in the next decade…those first-hand stories and experiences are eventually going to be gone.  Talking with Franz was something I HAD to do…it was the first, and probably only opportunity I would ever have to talk to a Luftwaffe pilot…just picturing him escorting a B-17 halfway home instead of shooting it down to this day still brings tears to my eyes.

I called up Franz in late June, and through his lovely wife, made arrangements to meet.  I told him I was writing a film about the Luftwaffe (which is true), but for the most part, just wanted to “talk”…something I was never able to do with my grandfather.  Franz was quite polite and friendly…and 2 weeks later we eventually met.

I arrived at Franz Stigler’s house around 10:00 am.  Behind a forest of large Spruce trees was a small picturesque house on the outskirts of Surrey, BC.  Looking at it from the outside, it wasn’t what I expected, and at the same time exactly what I expected…quite…peaceful, serene.  A small sign on the gate displaying, “The Stigler’s” was a welcoming presence.  Old Christmas decorations still were displayed in their front yard, and a small gravel road led to their garage.
Franz’s house was something out of an old photograph.  Collectable plates and antiques, which filled the hallway, gave a warm sense and smell of history.  Franz invited me with a smile and led me into his study.  The site was almost breathtaking.  In a small room only big enough for 2 chairs and a coffee table, housed the most intense collection of aircraft memorabilia I have ever seen.  The walls were covered with paintings of Me109’s; Me262’s…pictures of friends, some gone and lost; medals, at least 30 models in various sizes (1/72 – 1/16); books; reference materials; a humanitarian award given to him by the American Government…and a plate of cookies freshly baked.


I sat down on the comfortable chair, which was between him and myself.  I looked around the room in awe, trying to take in everything I could, but it was almost like bombardment.

Are you alone here today?

            My wife is here…but she, a…she is at the hospital right now.  She’s been there since last night.

Is she going to be okay?

           Oh yeah…she is okay.

After carefully resting his cane on the floor he sat in his comfortable chair…I immediately was overcome with nervousness.  Behind me was a massive painting of a Trop Me109F-2 pained in his Afrikan colours.  I knew what I wanted to ask…the list 3 pages long confirmed that…looking back I almost wished I threw away the list as it almost felt like an interview than a conversation.
Is that your plane, the big picture?

                  That was my plane in Afrika…


You know…I really don’t know how to start…I really appreciate you sitting down with me and spending this time.  Do you mind if I just start asking you a few questions?

       Yeah, go ahead…

You began your career with Jagdgeschwader 27…how did you get involved with them and the Luftwaffe…Had you always wanted to be a pilot?

Well, I was a pilot before, uh…the Air Force...also.  At the time…we, uh…became pilots…we had nothing to do, uh…with the Air Force, so we were attached to the Lufthansa, and uh…so we were also…I mean, I was out, uh… of my own training…uh…as a pilot…as a…as a private person, and, uh…then I went to, uh…to train in seaplanes… I had an unlimited seaplane license.

Wow…did you always want to fly as a boy?

Well…I wanted…My father was a pilot in the first world war, my grade 5 teacher was a…a fighter pilot in the first world war…my brother and I…we… joined the flying club with glider planes, you know… when I was 12 years old, my brother was…16 at the time.  I think my first glider flight…was a little… between 12 ½ and 13 years.

So you were fairly experienced then?

Oh, yeah…

When did you report to JG27?

                    I didn’t report…I was reported…and so…in…1942.

Now, the first plane you flew in the Luftwaffe was the 109?

Yeah…

Which was the first Model was it?

F

How did you like it?

I liked it a more than any other one…this is an F model.

(Franz points back to the massive painting behind me)

Cool…it has the tropical filter as well.

Yeah…and where is a G…(Franz looks around date the multitude of painting and photographs)… that is a G model here…(Franz points to another smaller painting, again featuring a G-6 in his original colours)…that’s the last 109 I was flying.
The last one you flew was a G?

Yeah…actually it was a K model, but uh…we used it as a G model, you know…and then I was a…a pilot for the 262 also.


How did you like it? I mean you had so many years as a pilot, and you basically went from a prop driven plane over to a jet.  Did your experience flying help with the 262, or did you have to learn over again, being something totally new?

No, no…my flying experience as I said…was with all kinds of - I don’t know how many different types I flew, maybe a hundred...and uh, so…it was something that we flew…same with the flying boat, you know. I flew all kinds of flying boats, you know...up to 4 motors… at the time

From what I understand, the 262 was very dangerous?  The engines had a tendency to overheat…

Oh yeah…

…Did you feel safe in it flying?

Oh yeah, oh yeah, very safe you know…our engines were very good, you know… which in the end it helps.  No…I… once had an officer in Germany, but uh…

(Franz stopped himself…it sounded like it was quite personal, so I didn’t pry…)

What was you first impression when you first flew the 262?

Well, we…uh…we had only single seaters, you know…there…and then at the first factory where I had learned to fly it, we were 14…the first 14 men, I was one of them.  They, uh…stud on the…stood on the wing, you know, we were sitting in the cockpit, and they showed us everything…and so, then they said to us, “this is your speed for take off, and then, uh…that’s your landing speed… now take off!”… you know…

Really! (I start laughing).

…And that’s how we learned to fly it.

Wow…The cockpit in the 262 was much bigger than the 109 wasn’t it?          

Yes, big…and comfortable…it was a comfortable airplane and a safe airplane, let’s put it this way, you know.  My Number 3 got…2 days before the war was over…a friend of mine… had not a chance to fly the airplane yet, he had so many flights, only he had not very many with it and so I said, “okay, fly it”, you know…he killed himself…on takeoff.  (Through research I found out that it was Leutnant Pirchhan.  After persuading Stigler to allow him to fly the plane, soon after take-off Pirchhan crashed at Oberweissenfeld, north of the airfield, totally destroying the aircraft and was fatally wounded. He died a few hours later being comforted in Stigler’s arms in a farmer’s field)

On the 109 and the 262, the Revi sights were always mounted slightly to the right…

Yes, uh…on the panel…in front sometimes…but usually they were in the middle.

Why did they sometimes have them to the right?

Uh, usually we were…uh, right handed, you know…and so…on the 109 they were not so to the right…on the 109 they were right in front of you.

Your favourite was the F model, yet the one that was produced the most was the G6…

Yeah…

…But most pilots preferred, like yourself, the F models and the earlier G’s, like the G-2.  What was the reason behind that?

The G6 basically had a heavier motor and could fly higher…not more speed, but that’s it…it starts getting heavier every time they put something new in.

Did you ever have the GM-1 boost or MW-50 in any of your planes?

Oh yeah, we used it quite often…in combat you know.

How long did it last?

Uhh…you were not allowed to have it at more than 5 min., you know…if you used it 10 minutes, then motor has to come out.

It makes the engine worse?

It wrecks the motor.

And this was for the higher altitude?

Higher…yes…

And at what speed could you get up to?

Oh boy…I don’t remember…450 or 500 km…

Like you said, you could only use it for 5 min. otherwise you would burn out the engine. How many 5 min. intervals could you use?  Did you have to shut it down for a period of time to let the engine cool?

That’s okay…that uh…it didn’t matter.  You…but you never used it for five minutes…a minute, minute and a half and that’s it.

The armament, you used on the Messerschmitt…you used the Mk108 cannon…

Yeah we had it in the middle…we had two centimetre…or later a three centimetre Cannon…and then a thirty millimetre on top…two of them.

Was there a fairly big muzzle flash from the cannon?

Oh yeah…oh yeah…(Franz pints to a picture of his Me262). Up there we had four, three centimetre cannons…I shot a wing off a B-17 once...

Did the aircraft move quite a bit when you fired the weapon?

No, no, not at all.

Really?  I assumed that because of the large calibre cannon, the plane would move quite a bit.

No, no…only very small…but that’s all.

What about the gun pods…a lot of pilots had the option of these…they found that -

Oh, I never… I hated them!!  I never had them on my airplane.  As soon as I got a new airplane… I say, “That’s a damn part, off with them!”...Made it sluggish, you know.

Yeah, I heard a lot of pilots hated them…so, if most pilots didn’t like them, as it made the airplane sluggish, poor manoeuvrability, why do you suppose they kept trying to incorporate them?

Just more firepower...

Now, in the F model, you had the automatic Prop Pitch control… I know the early Emils it was all manual.  Did you ever switch to manual settings?

You could…have uh, have it not automatic, but uh…as soon as we were off the ground we would put in automatic.

So it just handles the engine better?

Because uh...in the air… you might overrev it, and the motor will start to burn

Okay…so you would only switch it to manual for take off and landing?

Yeah…

I know on your left side you had the throttle and adjustments for prop and the mixture lever.  

Yeah…

Where did you adjust the prop?

Oh, you can FORGET about the mixture control!!  It’s not like in a…in a…like in an American airplane or British airplane they had their mixture control.  Forget about it, we never had to...it was automatic.  Like once throttle had a button on…for prop control…and uh…you could shift it like a gear thing and it would make the motor...you just push it and could adjust it and make it more…

And that was on the throttle?  

Yes, there was a button and you could switch it.  There was a clock there… in the air…on the control panel… that showed you how your prop…and uh, how it works and was condition.

I’ve actually seen pictures of Galland, and it looked like he mounted a telescopic gun sight to the Revi…like a rifle scope.  Have you ever seen that?

(Franz laughs)  No, never…

Now the view from the Me109…backward was really difficult.  Did you keep yourself completely strapped it when you were flying?

Oh yeah..

And how did you compensate for the lack of being able to see behind.

Well you could turn your head hundred-eighty degrees around.  We didn’t have any mirrors in like the Spitfire…what you did was when you strapped yourself in, you had your shoulder straps loose…and uh…and not so tight…so you could move…you could put it in autopilot too… you know…

You flew the Me110 as well correct?

Yeah…(Franz makes a “disgusted” face)

Did you ever fly the Focke Wulf 190?

Oh yeah, I flew it for a few hours, but not in combat.

Did you like it?

I liked it very much…but we were all so used to the 109.  But uh, Focke Wulf 190 D model, was far better than we had…and the 152 was even so better.

Yeah...the 152 was the final one…How was the view…the canopy was a lot bigger…

Oh yeah,

…Than that of the 109…did you find the view a lot easier?  

         Oh yeah, it was…but…the landing gear you had to be careful, because we had a narrow landing gear, the FW had uh…a wider one.

So being on the western front, you obvious flew against the Mustang, Spitfire-

         P-7 – uh, P-47, Spitfire, Hurricane…the P-38...and no more…some of them I flew, also…the captured ones.

What did you think of the American and the British planes?

Well it, uh…the P-47 and the… P-51 was a…a good airplanes, you know…and depends also who was sitting in it…it’s always this.  Did you ever see the Spitfire out in the Vancouver Airport?

No, I haven’t.          

It uh…was the Spitfire Fourteen…(Franz leans over and grabs a journal from his desk and pulls out a business card).  If you like, you can write the phone number down…Just phone him and he, uh…let you look at it, yo u know... (Franz opens a book containing a wealth of business cards, all aircraft related)

I didn’t know they had one there actually...

        Penta…

I look at the business card.  “Penta Aviation”.

His name is uh…Bob Jens…he’s just now rebuilding a...a Mosquito…But he has the money… so.  Owns two…owns two hangers out there at Vancouver airport…but costs a lot of money…really a lot

So when you were flying, how easy was it to spot an aircraft?  Could you recognize it at 500, 1000 meters?

It depends, uh…I could, I had pretty good eyes…and I could see pretty far.  Of course that’s what you needed, especially in Afrika, where you could see the enemy before he saw you.

What were the conditions like in Afrika…the weather…did it affect you at all as a pilot?

No, I was uh…I was used to it; I was two years there.  We had people who they had to send them to Russia because they couldn’t stand the heat and sun…both sides was the same.

The Trop F model had these odd attachment points for a “Sun Umbrella”.   Did you actually use those things?

(Franz laughs) Umbrella?  No, no.  See, we had also a rifle in there…inside...in the airplane...two shotguns and one rifle. Three barrels, you know…in a box.  The only thing was we never used it.  But uh, as soon as one airplane belly-landed, the rifles disappeared!

(I laughed) I can imagine…someone taking it for their collection!  If you were flying against a Mustang or a spitfire, was it easy to lose sight of them?

That depends, you know…I mean I had a lot of experience…I flew a lot of different airplanes… and I flew the Spitfire XII, V, and IX. I flew. In Afrika the Five, and in Germany the Nine.  And this one out there at Vancouver Airport is a Fourteen, the last model…2000 hp, 5 bladed prop.

Yeah, I’ve never seen the 5 bladed one…the 3 and a 4 bladed one for sure...

The last ones.  Big Griffon engines.  With the engine of 2000hp, they couldn’t build a prop so big, so they made 5 blades.

What plane of the American or British did you fear the most, or show the biggest challenge for you?

…The P-51.

It was one of the fastest.

Yeah… It was one of the fastest and most manoeuvrable.

What was you favourite thing to do…in Afrika…or anywhere on the western front… when you weren’t flying?  When you were on leave, what did you like to do as a hobby, what did you like to do for fun?

(Franz smiles quickly)…Play with the girls!

(I laugh)…well that’s a…that’s a good hobby!  Actually, I heard a rumour that pilots used to fill their drop tanks with beer, is that true?

Oh yeah…sometimes we used to drink from it…sometimes for transport.

We share a laugh.

…I had a Messerschmitt 108 here in Vancouver…

Yeah, I think I saw a picture of it here.

Yeah…this one here.   I had this one for 16 years.  I sold it to an Australian.  

You had it painted in the Luftwaffe colours as well.

Yeah…exactly to the replica of the colours I had.

So, what was the 108 used for mainly?

To bring…uh, generals from the rear back to the front also…only for transport.

You have some beautiful pictures here…. Did you ever operate from the same fields as JG 51, JG 53...did you ever meet any of the pilots?

I have…after the war, not uh…during the war…during the war when they were shot down.  But after the war I was…I met survived American    Fighter aces and a few times invited…you know…up there is Douglas…(points to a picture)…the left one…with 2 wooden legs…and the middle one, was uh…was one of his…Squadron Commanders…

(Looking around he room I see a panel from Galland's F-4)  Is this here an original?

This is a side panel from an airplane, you know.

This is an original?

Original, yeah…

Do you mind. If I take a look at it.

Oh yeah, it was taken from uh…the manufacture of the last year of the F...  You see that little tag...see that little tag, that’s the manufacture of it.  On the bottom left is an original Werk number plate.  That was General Galland’s.


Wow!  I have to take a picture of it before I go. You had to bail out before and use your parachute…

Yeah, six times…I belong to the Caterpillar Club.  Six survived by parachute…it’s an international club.

What was it like the first time you used your parachute?  You were obviously trained to use them…

No.

No?  Really?

We were not trained, but, uh, when you use…when you HAVE to use them…then you use them - We didn’t give a shit about anything else.

(I start to laugh)

The first time my airplane was on fire…the motor, uh, flames were coming in, and had to get out fast.  I still had my hands and my face burnt, you know…but uh…you get out fast.

You didn’t even think, you just pushed the canopy and jumped?

No, you just take…the canopy takes off.  You just pull a lever and the canopy takes off…And you threw the…the belts from the airplane because you were tied down… and you just take ‘em off…take the stick… and fly and push it down… if you can still use it, because sometimes you cannot, uh…control the airplane anymore, no.  Half a wing missing or both…I jumped six times I jumped...

Did you ever get used to it?

No…I never could get used to it.

When you did lose an airplane either due to a bad landing or enemy fire, how did you get a new one assigned to you when you got back to your airbase?  Did you automatically get a new one?

There was always something there, some other airplane there. The Jagdgeschwader Squadron Commander always had 2 airplanes as well...

When new pilots came in…younger pilots….

They had to bring their own airplane with them.

Okay…so when a new models came out…because you had so many missions did you get priority over the newer pilots?  Did you get the aircraft first then the younger pilots?

No, we didn’t do that.  We didn’t get priority.  We didn’t do it.  Whoever came in last with the latest model, that’s his airplane, you see.   Whoever it was a Corporal or, uh…it was a General it doesn’t matter who it was. We had other pilots, Corporal, Private with us you know, like…uh… the squadron got bigger and in rough shape…with a bunch of youngsters you know, all kinds of ‘em…Lieutenants, and…Sergeants.  (Franz points to another photo)  These guys together shot down within about 15 minutes, uh…24 B-24’s.

Wow, in 15 minutes!  Did you always have the same wingman?

Uh, usually, yes…I kept ‘em.  We usually flew with 4 people…another 3.  Schwarm we’d call it….”Swarm”…it was a…a wingman and then again a leader and this also a wingman.

And you usually kept the same wingman.

Yeah…as long as he was there...

If your aircraft was being repaired, would you borrow someone else’s?  I know you said there was always an extra one...

Yeah, if you wanted you could borrow…but let them fly their own airplane.  For repairs…change the whole motor was in-fact four-hour job. And, uh, if you had holes in it, you’d just put tape on it to cover the holes.  As long as nothing was…destroyed inside, y’know controls and so on…there they had special tools…

Did you fly with Edu Neumann?

Edu Neumann…that was my Gruppe Commander in Afrika...  I met him 3 years ago…and he’s in poor shape now...getting old…91 years old…

Do you guys meet when you can…other pilots?

Yeah…I meet some of them…we are not of many left for JG27.  We had a…a meeting and they took 3 different units together because there wasn’t too many pilots left….  I am one of the oldest ones - If I’m not the oldest one...except Neumann.

What was he like?

I did not fly with him… he didn’t do much flying though.

What about Gunter Rödel…

Yeah that’s Rödel there.  (Franz points to a picture of a black and white officer posing on a desk with a phone on his ear)

Oh here on the left, the one with the phone?

Yeah. He was my, uh…firsts Squadron Commander...and I made my first missions I flew with him.

Did you learn quite a bit from him?

Oh yeah…he was good…

Out of all the pilots you have flown with was there one who made a really good lasting impression on you?

Uh, well…this depends...someone a year or so…I had a Sergeant...and he had a Ritterkreuz.   And he, uh…he got shot down…uh…in Germany…over Germany.  He had a Cross of Knights and then he got after he was killed...he got the one with oak leaves.  He was only non-com (NCO) that had this got one.

What was his name?

Oh…damn…I’m terrible with names…my wife might know the name, she would know his name…

Did you as pilots always have regular training courses on escape and evasion, survival…

Yeah, we had them, but no one gave a shit.  You lost everyday you lost a few pilots…everyday…and so…we are sitting there every night writing to a wife or to parents, you know…you’d have half a bottle of cognac besides you…because that’s the only way you could do it, you know.  We’d have to write about what a “hero” he was, and so…late in the afternoon there’d be about 6…multiply by…by 2…but, uh…we were sitting out of the evening with all the other men, the liquor and the beer…and we were sitting in the office and writing…and we had to write it by hand…We couldn’t get the…the Master Sergeant to write the letters, no…YOU had to write the letters.

With new pilots…obviously you have better experience with the aircraft like the F and the G…did the new pilots have problems?

You’d put them in the middle…for the first few flights, you know…so they know what is going on.  The…the new pilots they hardly could fly the 109…they had seventy or eighty hours of flying time.  They had of heck of a time learning to fly the airplane…take off and land, you know.  As I said, every pilot came with a plane.  They came form the school and then they went to uh…to the manufacture, or someplace where they had the airplanes, and they would come with them…especially in Afrika.

In Afrika, was the tropical filter used just for takeoff?

Yes, for takeoff and landing you close it…because of the sand, you know…after you go about a couple of thousand feet high…and then you open it…

How many times were you out per day flying missions?

Sometimes three a day, three times, yeah…especially in Afrika.  And we didn’t waste any time because if the bombers.

How long did it take for fatigue to hit you, tiredness, wanting to take a break?

I don’t know, I don’t remember…we had no time for fatigue.

Out of all the planes you’ve flown in your whole life, including like your 108…what was you favourite plane, from the day you started flying?

My favourite plane?…I had a Heinkel 70 …have you heard of it?

Yeah, it’s big plane.

It was like…looked like a Spitfire…only bigger, it was 6 seater.  One pilot in the front, and in the middle down there, the passengers.  It was a kind of a…how do you say it…a commuter plane…you bring a pilot from some, uh...airport to the main area…and I had it for…oh, I don’t know how long.  I teached my students with it…I visited my girlfriends with it…on the weekend I could fly anywhere I wanted…

So that was your favourite?

Yeah!  It was fast, you know.  At the time it was the fastest airplane there was.

What year was this?

Uh…43 or 44…No, 33 or 34


There was a gunsite for a Me262 (EZ42)…my friend Roger waned me to ask you about it…

Yeah…on the 262 it adjusted itself for the speed and acceleration, so…it was a Revi too, for all aircraft types it was the Revis…but o the 262 you saw it in the windshield…the reflection.

Did you ever have any dogfights or battles, where you didn’t think you would make it back home, or uninjured?

Oh yeah, it happened quite often, but you don’t even think of it.  We…we always uh…in the, the home defence we were always under...under...had less than the other side.

There were lots of American fighters, Germany had lots of fuel shortages and…

I can quite remember a night in ’43 in Afrika we flew over the Junkers 52’s transport planes with fuel and ammunition…and as we came over there, I had 6 airplanes with me…6 fighter planes as escort.  We came over there, and the sky looked like a swarm of bees!…P-51s, you know… and uh…uh…Spitfires.  Of course we were always short.  I always made it home…but not quite…

Did the transport planes make it?

…no…

…Did you ever, just for fun, did you ever fly your plane without permission?

Oh yeah…we had also, uh…aerobatic planes, you know, little biplanes, and we went up and cut loose and just have yourself fun.   We had those cloud, those… pillow clouds, and we’d fly around them.  Looked like Blanket against the wall, you know.

What were your favourite memories?

I…I don’t know…I…one is I didn’t shoot this guy down… this guy down this B-17…Charlie Brown, I let him get away…I was talking yesterday with him.  He might come here to our airshow.  They want to make a film down there, I don’t want to.  I just want to have my quiet peace, you know…that’s all.

Now…I’ve read the story…(Franz’s cat walks over, meows). If you downed one more plane, you could be nominated for a Knights Cross.  It was pretty much illegal not to shoot an enemy aircraft down was it not?

Yeah, more or less.  I didn’t do my job, I should have shot him down. If I wouldn’t have not seen a person I would have shot him down.  I came from a…I was flying above, and uh...I figured out how to finish him off…I’d say I’d do it the normal way from the rear.  And I came from the rear…and I was waited…waiting and gave the tail gunner a chance to lift the guns…the guns were hanging down, you know.  And he never lifted the guns.  And I came closer and closer…and at about 20 feet…and I saw him lying in there in his blood…so I couldn’t shoot.  I flew up…next to his right side...and uh… the plane was bad, you know…much damage. I was surprised it flew even…I tried to get him to land…in Switzerland…because of the damage, I never saw so much… next to him, I flew for many minutes…until he got to the sea…and then I flew home…




The painting titled, “The Gallant Foe”, by Michael W. Wooten, commemorating the act of humanity that Franz Stigler displayed on December 20, 1943.

Why did you stay with him for so long?

…Because I didn’t want anyone else to get him…

Wow…

Yeah…and it took him forty years to find me.  In out Jagr magazine…we have this uh…this pilot magazine…(Franz pulls out a copy of a pilots magazine). He had an ad and…as looking for the pilot who let him go…now we meet every year.  Charlie and I meet every year now.  Right now I cannot fly I have an asthma you know…so I am not allowed to get insurance…because of the stupid air and air-conditioning in the airplane...it’s dangerous… you know…not too long ago a woman died in an airplane because of it.

So, when you came back from the B-17, were you scared at all, that someone might find out that you didn’t -

- I didn’t tell anybody.  No definitely not… I couldn’t tell anyone…I couldn’t…I’d be court-martialled.  I shot, on the same day I shot two B –17’s down, you know.

(Franz cat jumps on my leg, and there is a bit of silence)  You have a very friendly cat…loves attention.

Oh, if you want, I got a picture for you.  I’ll sign it for you.
(Franz pulls out a picture of himself in full dress uniform…he signs it in silver ink)

How old were you here?

Uhh... 24, I guess...when I guess I was a Squadron Commander…




Did you ever get the heated flight suit?

Oh yeah, they were always heated.  We only had heated flight suits.  You just plugged it into the aircraft. Yeah, the boots were heated, the gloves were heated…everything…and you just plugged ‘em in.

What did the Messerschmitt smell like when you were in the cockpit?

Ahh, that’s a…well…that’s…we had, special fuel made from coal.  It’s the only way, we didn’t have usual fuel as everybody else…and uh…well…actually it was a good smelling clean airplane…I can write I hope…(Franz signs the photo)

Thank you very much…

Let it dry…

Thank you.

…you’re welcome.

How did the AFN2 and Fug 16Z work?

Yeah, the 16Z...that was our radio…and so you could talk to the ground, you could talk to each other…and then uh… and if you were above the clouds, and didn’t know where you were, you’d ask the ground, give me my position, or and my course for the next airport and within a minute at least…within minutes you had it.  The Americans were crazy about those radios.  We didn’t use a lot of the…Variometer it was called…that showed the position of your plane.  There were very few of us ever used it - the old timers…the young pilots would end up flying with us, they would...

Was it was it easy to keep formation in the group?

Oh yeah…yeah, you get used to it.

The armour glass was first on the outside of the aircraft, and then they moved it to the inside for the G model.  Is that correct?

Yeah.

Did you ever get the heated flight suit?

Oh yeah, they were always heated.  We only had heated flight suits.

You just plugged it into the aircraft.

Yeah, the boots were heated, the gloves were heated…everything…and you just plugged ‘em in.

What did the Messerschmitt smell like when you were in the cockpit?

Ahh, that’s a…well…that’s…we had, special fuel made from coal.  It’s the only way, we didn’t have usual fuel as everybody else…and uh…well…actually it was a good smelling clean airplane…I can write I hope…(Franz signs the photo)

Thank you very much…

Let it dry…

Thank you.

…you’re welcome.

How did the AFN2 and Fug 16Z work?

Yeah, the 16Z...that was our radio…and so you could talk to the ground, you could talk to each other…and then uh… and if you were above the clouds, and didn’t know where you were, you’d ask the ground, give me my position, or and my course for the next airport and within a minute at least…within minutes you had it.  The Americans were crazy about those radios.  We didn’t use a lot of the…Variometer it was called…that showed the position of your plane.  There were very few of us ever used it - the old timers…the young pilots would end up flying with us, they would...

Was it was it easy to keep formation in the group?

Oh yeah…yeah, you get used to it.

The armour glass was first on the outside of the aircraft, and then they moved it to the inside for the G model.  Is that correct?

Yeah…

It was about 2-3 inches thick…even at that thickness, were there times when it didn’t help?

My windshield saved me…I have a hole…from the tail gunner of a B-17...(Franz points to a dent in his head).  Through the thick glass in the windshield.

It went right through the windshield?

Yes, it had exact enough power to stick.

When you bailed out, you’d just pull the lever…did you ever have any problems getting out?

Yeah, on the right hand, you had a lever on there…as soon as you pull the lever…the air took off, uh…took the canopy away…

Did it ever get stuck?

No…- oh yeah, once…it was shot in there once by a bullet, it was sitting in there so I couldn’t get it…but you get strong!

Did you choose the camouflage yourself…your own emblem?

Oh yeah, you could put your girlfriends name on…like this one here…that’s my first wife’s name on here (points to a picture of a G-6).  But, uh…sometimes you’d change the name so often (Franz smiles)…you’d go to a new airport and have a new girlfriend…and then you would have to put on a new one…  

Where did you meet your first wife?

Yeah, I met her…the last time I saw her was 14 years ago.  And I knew her parents very well. And I had a girlfriend at that time…and she was coming over…and I was seeing her parents…and then I was there in Afrika, and it was under pressure again…when we were arriving (Canada) I chose, you know…asked her to come over here…she was then twenty-five years old, twenty-four…and we were up in the Queen Charlotte Islands, and we were there for 5 ½ years...And we loved EVERY minute if it.  After a year she was so home sick…so then, “you go home”…because everybody begged that she wouldn’t come back (Canada), you know…but after 8 weeks she was back again.  And we remained for 47 years.

Wow…all these pictures that are in here, do you paint these?

No, nothing.  Somebody else did them for me.  This one of a 262, was an artist from the air force in Port, ah…in Portland.  This one here, and the top one.  He is from Kamloops.  The other one is a famous painting…the one in the middle there…is worth about $2000.00 now…signed by Galland.

You have a beautiful room here…there just so much history here.  

…There is a picture here…of General Galland in this room here…the little one.  Galland was…one of my best friends I ever had.  Oh yeah…he came over here, 4 times he was here.  I went hunting with him and he got a lot of the moose.  In Germany there is no moose, you know.  And he shot a good one…a big one!! We went up to the North in a cabin there…and we went and flew around in a Beaver and showed us where…and he shot a REAL big one!  He was happy with it.

(Cat jumps on my leg)

Oh get down!

(Franz was talking to the cat by the way J)  Do you want me to put her down?

Yeah just on the floor there…

You weren’t in the 262 for very long were you?  How may missions?

I had the 262 for over half a year…you know they build ‘em… one down in America.

Yeah!  They flew one few months ago!

They got it up…I was there.  If the pilot would have done what I told him…he wouldn’t have grounded it...

They wrecked the landing gear didn’t they?

Yeah, the undercarriage collapsed…

What did he do wrong?

What we always did…when we came in for a landing, and we were high yet, we sideslipped so the undercarriage would really lock.

And he didn’t?

It was common that it did that, you know…automatically.  We had the same problem.  Thing is, if we didn’t get the wheels even, you know, because the airplane exploded right there.  Because on the front there was a little gas engine on each side, you know… and the gas tank there, and as soon as it hit the ground…something happened to set the tank off.

The engines over heat a lot?

Yeah, you had to be careful because, don’t forget the engine was a 28 hr. engine…if you made 20 hours you were a hero, you know.

The whole engine was replaced after?

Yeah, replaced…and very fast. But…we were under- powered too…they now in the US had 50% more horsepower then we did, you know…and it’s a 10,000 hr. engine.  That’s the problem piloting it… I’ll have to phone ‘em….

I know they were finishing a 2-seater…

Yeah, that was a 2-seater…the second one is a…for the Messerschmitt Foundation…and it’s almost finished.  They built 5 of them.

I think one is going to Arizona…          

Yeah, some uh…judge bought it.

Very expensive…

…Two million dollars.

So when you rocked the plane side to side to lock the landing gear, did you have to do that for any other plane?

No, no…only on the 262.

It had 4 cannons in the front…

Yeah…four, three centimetre cannons…all in the front there…

How was that?

We would, uh…start normally shoot head on with the 262…but after, we didn’t do it.  Well, you’d shoot the wing off a B-17…just like nothing.

I was reading that pilots specifically had a fairly large camaraderie and respect for each other…even against an enemy.   Was reading an article on the Finnish Ace “Illu" Juutilanen, and whenever he could, he would sometime fly over the aircraft he shot down to look to make sure the pilot was okay.

In combat you count them…like when I shot a B-17 down…and I…you had a tendency of counting the parachutes, you know…how many parachutes came out, you know…or…when she… she exploded…you felt sorry, you know…same when if you shot a fighter down…and…and most of the time they…could jump…unless you killed him

(There was pause from both of us at this point.  It felt like it lasted a couple of minutes). Did you normally shoot a specific area of the plane, like the wing root?

You’d shoot anywhere you can, because you’re position was not always good.  You didn’t just shoot at the wing…you shot everything.

With all these tail gunners shooting at you, were you mainly diving, then coming back around, or would you go from behind?

That was…you can’t really say that…because you’d do it all automatically.  In the first place you had to be a good airplane pilot…Most of the time we don’t remember what we did…

It was about 2-3 inches thick…even at that thickness, were there times when it didn’t help?

My windshield saved me…I have a hole…from the tail gunner of a B-17...(Franz points to a dent in his head).  Through the thick glass in the windshield.

It went right through the windshield?

Yes, it had exact enough power to stick.

When you bailed out, you’d just pull the lever…did you ever have any problems getting out?

Yeah, on the right hand, you had a lever on there…as soon as you pull the lever…the air took off, uh…took the canopy away…

Did it ever get stuck?

No…- oh yeah, once…it was shot in there once by a bullet, it was sitting in there so I couldn’t get it…but you get strong!

Did you choose the camouflage yourself…your own emblem?

Oh yeah, you could put your girlfriends name on…like this one here…that’s my first wife’s name on here (points to a picture of a G-6).  But, uh…sometimes you’d change the name so often (Franz smiles)…you’d go to a new airport and have a new girlfriend…and then you would have to put on a new one…

Where did you meet your first wife?

Yeah, I met her…the last time I saw her was 14 years ago.  And I knew her parents very well. And I had a girlfriend at that time…and she was coming over…and I was seeing her parents…and then I was there in Afrika, and it was under pressure again…when we were arriving (Canada) I chose, you know…asked her to come over here…she was then twenty-five years old, twenty-four…and we were up in the Queen Charlotte Islands, and we were there for 5 ½ years...And we loved EVERY minute if it.  After a year she was so home sick…so then, “you go home”…because everybody begged that she wouldn’t come back (Canada), you know…but after 8 weeks she was back again.  And we remained for 47 years.

Wow…all these pictures that are in here, do you paint these?

No, nothing.  Somebody else did them for me.  This one of a 262, was an artist from the air force in Port, ah…in Portland.  This one here, and the top one.  He is from Kamloops.  The other one is a famous painting…the one in the middle there…is worth about $2000.00 now…signed by Galland.

You have a beautiful room here…there just so much history here.

…There is a picture here…of General Galland in this room here…the little one.  Galland was…one of my best friends I ever had.  Oh yeah…he came over here, 4 times he was here.  I went hunting with him and he got a lot of the moose.  In Germany there is no moose, you know.  And he shot a good one…a big one!! We went up to the North in a cabin there…and we went and flew around in a Beaver and showed us where…and he shot a REAL big one!  He was happy with it.

(Cat jumps on my leg)

Oh get down!

(Franz was talking to the cat by the way Smile )  Do you want me to put her down?

Yeah just on the floor there…

You weren’t in the 262 for very long were you?  How many missions?

I had the 262 for over half a year…you know they build ‘em… one down in America.

Yeah!  They flew one few months ago!

They got it up…I was there.  If the pilot would have done what I told him…he wouldn’t have grounded it...

The wrecked the landing gear didn’t they?

Yeah, the undercarriage collapsed…

What did he do wrong?

What we always did…when we came in for a landing, and we were high yet, we sideslipped so the undercarriage would really lock.

And he didn’t?

It was common that it did that, you know…automatically.  We had the same problem.  Thing is, if we didn’t get the wheels even, you know, because the airplane exploded right there.  Because on the front there was a little gas engine on each side, you know… and the gas tank there, and as soon as it hit the ground…something happened to set the tank off.

The engines over heat a lot?

Yeah, you had to be careful because, don’t forget the engine was a 28 hr. engine…if you made 20 hours you were a hero, you know.

The whole engine was replaced after?

Yeah, replaced…and very fast. But…we were under- powered too…they now in the US had 50% more horsepower then we did, you know…and it’s a 10,000 hr. engine.  That’s the problem piloting it… I’ll have to phone ‘em….

I know they were finishing a 2-seater…

Yeah, that was a 2-seater…the second one is a…for the Messerschmitt Foundation…and it’s almost finished.  They built 5 of them.

I think one is going to Arizona…

Yeah, some uh…judge bought it.

Very expensive…

…Two million dollars.

So when you rocked the plane side to side to lock the landing gear, did you have to do that for any other plane?

No, no…only on the 262.

It had 4 cannons in the front…

Yeah…four, three centimetre cannons…all in the front there…

How was that?

We would, uh…start normally shoot head on with the 262…but after, we didn’t do it.  Well, you’d shoot the wing off a B-17…just like nothing.

I was reading that pilots specifically had a fairly large camaraderie and respect for each other…even against an enemy.   Was reading an article on the Finnish Ace “Illu" Juutilanen, and whenever he could, he would sometime fly over the aircraft he shot down to look to make sure the pilot was okay.

In combat you count them…like when I shot a B-17 down…and I…you had a tendency of counting the parachutes, you know…how many parachutes came out, you know…or…when she… she exploded…you felt sorry, you know…same when if you shot a fighter down…and…and most of the time they…could jump…unless you killed him

(There was pause from both of us at this point.  It felt like it lasted a couple of minutes). Did you normally shoot a specific area of the plane, like the wing root?

You’d shoot anywhere you can, because you’re position was not always good.  You didn’t just shoot at the wing…you shot everything.

With all these tail gunners shooting at you, were you mainly diving, then coming back around, or would you go from behind?

That was…you can’t really say that…because you’d do it all automatically.  In the first place you had to be a good airplane pilot…Most of the time we don’t remember what we did…

So it was all instinct?

Yeah…but...there was too much, uh… combat.  You’d combat for half and hour and you’re worn out…up and down…and…

How did the oxygen regulator work when you were fighting at higher altitudes?

You didn’t do anything.  You’d put the mask on, and that’s it...that’s all.  Yes, you could see…from the meter, how you…when you breathe in.

I brought with me an Oxygen Regulator from a Messerschmitt, because I had some questions about it

Wow, is that German?

Yeah…it’s from a Messerschmitt.  (Franz held the Oxygen Regulator and examined it for a couple of minutes).

Oh yeah…if you needed more oxygen, you’d push this button…you’d did the same thing when you uh…are out with your girlfriend…(Franz smiles)…you jump in the airplane for 5 min. and with the heavy breathing…and you’d need the oxygen...

(We share a laugh)  The Messerschmitt was a very small, cramped cockpit.          

Uhhh, well… we didn’t need a shoehorn to get in, but pretty close.  But it was comfortable when we were sitting.  Everything is right there.  This one had a big uh…cabin (pointing to a pic of a 262)…was also comfortable…it was bigger, we had to get used to it…there was lots of room in there.  


Did you ever have to bail out of a 262?

No...I flew home a few times with one engine, you know…but I never bailed out.

You flew home on one engine?  That must have been very hard to control?

No… you can change the rudder, uh…the rudder tilt, and the airplane flew still straight, you know…no it wasn’t a problem.

Did you every use flaps only for take off and landing, or did you use them during combat as well for tighter turns?

Not in combat, no…no, never…only for take-off and landing.




Franz Stigler’s Me262.  For decades it was thought that this was the personal aircraft of General Galland.  To the contrary, Galland never set foot in White 3.  Rumours began when a pic was taken of him outside of White 3, when in fact Galland flew whatever aircraft was available to him.

How about trim?

Mmm…yeah, perhaps …well…sometimes, yeah… The 262 there was pretty hard on…on pressures… on stick pressure.  The control pressure was very high…

It was a bigger control stick, no?

Yeah, yeah…a real long one.

Was that just so you had more movement?

No, you didn’t do much movement, you just had to move the stick a little bit, that’s all.

Were there any tactics that you were trained in using that you thought didn’t work?

…yeah…ahhh, I mean, it didn’t matter…I have 487 combat missions, you know…that’s a lot.  You don’t know which one was which.  It’s not like the Americans that make thirty missions, and then they go home.  As long as you could climb in the airplane, you flew…the reason why we lost so many of the old-timers, you know…they got...worn out and had a very low chance of surviving… (Franz began browsing though the copy of Prien and Rodeike’s I brought with me)  I tried to get this book, you know…where did you buy it?

Umm…this one I ordered form the US.

Yeah, it’s a nice book

…It’s called “The Pictorial History of the Me109 F-K series.  I got it only about 1 month ago, and it’s very, very good.

(Franz looks through the pictures) Yeah, it’s a German translation…it’s very good…I have some 109 books, you know…(Franz pulls out a few smaller 109 books he has on his massive bookcase)

There’s actually 2 pictures of your plane in this one.  (I point out the 2 pics on pg. 128. Franz continues to study the photos).  Did you ever have to belly land?

11 times I had to…

In the handbook/flight manual, it says to never release the landing gear…why is that?

You somersault…if there were fairly fair sized fields, you know…then it was never a problem…especially as the glider planes I flew…they were all the same…it was a little faster…

How many planes did you go through?

About 18 maybe...

You said you flew the K-4?

Yeah…I didn’t like it very much because the tail-wheel was retractable, and most of the time I couldn’t get it out anymore… then…you know, we would just not use it…

Did you find the tail wheel caused a lot of problems when it was down though, with wind resistance?

Oh yeah…The first, uh…262’ s we had, had a tail wheel…and when they took off, after you hit a certain speed… shot on the breaks a little bit, and the tail came up, you know.

Do you mind if I take some pictures of your place here?  (Of course is where my digital camera decides to mess up on me.  Luckily I had a regular camera in the car, but only enough for 4 pictures I later realized).

No, go ahead…

How did you get this, this panel here?

I had it given to me…by Galland…

What do you do in your spare time now?

Now?  Oh, I have no spare time…right now I built my bench in my shop out there…I was given a big model of the Go229, I don’t know which one, but you know this airplane? (Franz shows me a picture of the Go229 from one of his many aircraft books)  This…omni wing.  I flew it only as a glider plane…and one of my pilots, he was testing it…and he killed himself…he was an old fighter pilot too, and he flew all those wingless planes of this sort…

Wow…

…What was left over from this airplane the American’s took with them.  At the end of the war there was…there just building a few yet, and…the Americans took them with them…the B-2 was built after this one here…There’s a new one coming out now, a space thing…the Lufthansa designed one…and ah, the Lufthansa…built and designed this airplane which is 7 days around the world with one gas…I met this girl who was flying it…

You came to Canada in the 50’s…

Yes 53,

Why did you come to Canada?

Ah, it’s a long story…a long story…I had a contract with… here in Canada…Canada here as an engineer…and they were building this Avro Arrow, and it was top secret, you know…they said to me “come back in 2 years”. I tried to get on it, but it was Top Secret…anyway in 2 years when I realized I was supposed to come back, I was in Queen Charlotte Islands, you know…and I had a job out there…and my girlfriend came and I enjoyed every minute…I was there for 5 ½ years.

So how often do you get together with the other pilots?

Yeah, about once per year we get together…I haven’t been…the last one I was there was about 3 years…3 years ago.

(I look up at a massive model of a seaplane).  Did you fly a plane like that?

Oh yeah…

So was landing on water easier?

Oh yeah, well you get used to it…same as on land…you have to watch more because you try to keep the tail down…so you didn’t…didn’t crash.  I had an unlimited license…weight unlimited.

What does that mean?

You could fly any size…

So, did you like the Me 110?

No, not at all...I have a friend, he… he flew the 110 throughout the war…and if he’s still alive it’s a wonder…I hated it…the 210 was better then the 110.

So are you visiting a lot of air shows now?

I’m invited all the time…I don’t know if I should continue…I’m so old to go to the air show now I am a few minutes older…I cannot go…and I belong to the Abbottsford flying club, and now I’m never there.  Ken…he is a friend of mine…he was a Mosquito pilot…you can see him out there at the museum where the planes…they fix planes.

Yeah he sounds like a great guy, he was the gentleman that gave me your number.  What was your last rank in the Luftwaffe?

I was First Lieutenant and a wing Commander…this is a Colonel’s job, but the matter was…as long as you had the experience…

When you were in the service, what did you start out as?

Private, Unteroffizier…I was in instructor, you know…and at the time in Officer’s School, and there I was a Private there, an instructor…and all my student were Lieutenants, you know…it was not always easy, you know…and once I had a run-in with one…in the...in the classroom… I was trying to teach him some…I don’t know navigation or what, and there was one sitting in the back and was reading a newspaper…I said to him…the Lieutenant to come ahead and read it allowed, so everyone knew what was going on…and they gave ME shit, you know.  So I went to the General…told him what happened…and he didn’t become a pilot.  I was the instructor and, and he was mad at me!  So I said don’t be mad at me…it’s your fault.  If an officer doesn’t know how to act or behave… then send him home.

So how long did you instruct for?

2 years I think…but then I got fed-up and went and became a fighter pilot

So you were teaching before you were a fighter pilot?  With your experience flying, I assumed you would have automatically been a Fighter Pilot?

Yeah, I ASKED to become a fighter pilot, otherwise I would have been a transport pilot on some flying ship…but that’s uh…that’s not what…I wasn’t built for.   My brother, August…he was a fighter pilot, before I was...and he was killed…in France...you know...so I wanted to be a pilot.

(Looking up at his vast array of models, I see a HUGE Emil…probably about 1/16 scale)  Wow, that’ s an E-model, yes?

(Franz points at the model hanging next to it) Yeah…but I like the Junkers 52.  They flew it mostly at night…so you can’t recognize them…hundreds of them.

It had three engines…

Yes, three…one in the middle and one each side.  I’ve seen a couple flying like this…I know Luftanza got one…completely rebuilt….

Yeah, I know there’s only a couple flying right now…someone I met is re-building one for a museum…

Yeah, I think the Americans have one…flying…Lufthansa...they flew it bring it over here sometimes.  It’s easy to fly.

When did they start producing that?  It was in the 30’s wasn’t it?

Yeah, they built them…one 4-motor one…this one originally was made with one motor, and then some uh…Arab Siek over there it was…he wanted it with three motors, so since then, the made it with 3 motors. They had one in Canada here too…somewhere up north…

They eventually put a gun turret in the top?

Yeah…stupid, silly thing…

(I look out side)  So what’s that propeller from outside…mounted on that tree?

Oh, a 180 (Bu180…similar to Me108, but shorter)... This guy went in the snow…and picked up of the runway… this part of the airplane.

So what did you do right after the war?  Did you go back to your regular job?

…yeah…I mean…after…before, by the time I went to university…and at the same time went to a flying school to learn how to fly...the seaplanes you know…I came to that school there, and for sea planes and float planes…and then flying boats…and I flew almost anyone they had there…and I was happy…flying them was no problem…some of them, the first Germans after the war began flying for Russia…they had a…a…the so-called Lufthansa German-Russian Airline…it was east in Russia near Moscow…that’s where we first began after the war…29 or so…

When did you eventually stop flying?

Well, I flew still five after I lost my license, you know.  I flew the Beaver, and then my airplane, I had always had to take another pilot along with you… so if you only had 50 hours…as long as you had a standard license you know…still I was flying a lot.  I was teaching aerobatics…mostly I flew with a lot of airline pilots

So today…what is your favourite jet plane?

340…The French one…that’s a nice airplane…the Boeing, 457, that was a nice one.  

So when you came to Canada, what were you doing for a living on the Queen Charlotte Islands?

For a long time, I was a shop foreman in a repair shop.  I had twenty-seven men under me…it was a good shop.  350 men and 8 families… We’d repair logging trucks, garbage trucks, boats…tug boats…anything with a motor.

Unfortunately, my tape recorder ran out at this point…but we basically spent the rest of the day just talking about weather, current events and of course…airplanes.  Franz spent his whole life flying, and like the Queen Charlotte Islands, loved every minute of it. We spent minutes on end talking about planes his love for the air.  One of my favourite memories is picturing Franz, and his best friend Adolf Galland, up in the Canadian wilderness flying in a Beaver in search of a big moose…

I kept thinking of Franz as a German Luftwaffe fighter pilot…how wrong I was…he was quite simply, a pilot.  A dream that grew in him from his earliest memories in childhood.  Hearing him speak of his knowledge of numerous aircraft I couldn’t even count, his boyhood dream still lives in his eyes…

I was extremely happy with our visit…part of me wished that I didn’t have the questions so structured, but I did so to keep everything concise as we were only had a couple of hours.  After the visit, to my surprise, Franz suggested we meet again before I move to the US, but our schedules kept conflicting.  So…I went out and bought a copy of Prien and Rodeike’s, and had it hand delivered to his address…with an inscription thanking him for sharing his experiences and memories with me.

In looking back in awe picturing Franz escorting this wounded B-17 to the North Sea…disobeying orders and regulations so that an enemy could live to see another day.  World War Two was a time where destruction and chaos ruled. After meeting with Franz, I realized that being an Ace isn’t kill score…it’s not how many missions you flew…

It’s about humanity…

…And placing the life of another individual over the life of your own…in a place and time where humanity didn’t exist.  

I would like to dedicate this article to the pilots, soldiers, and families of all nations who survived…            

Michael Fuller

There are great links detailing the full account of  “The Gallant Foe”…

http://www.military.com/Content/MoreContent1/?file=dday_0033p1

http://www.thirdreich.ca/ober.htm

http://www.vancourier.com/112102/news/112102nn1.html

http://www.vancourier.com/113102/opinion/113102le1.html

http://www.stormbirds.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=SA&Product_Code=VID101&Category_Code=VID

http://www.bf109.com/stigler.html

http://www.aircraft-used.com/Listings/feature6.htm

http://vancourier.com/114102/opinion/114102le1.html  

Editor's Note:
Having met Franz twice myself, I was inspired to build two of his 109s, both of which he commented favorably upon.  The G-6/trop identity of "gelbe 12" was conjectural at the time, based on Franz's kennzeichen as carried in Afrika a few months previous.  These can be seen via the following links:

Bf 109F-4/trop of Franz Stigler

Bf 109G-6/trop of Franz Stigler

Lastly, I would like to thank both Herr Stigler and especially Mike Fuller for taking the time to do this interview.  These veterans are leaving us at an ever-increasing rate, and it's important that we let them tell their stories so that future generations may learn from those who've gone before.

Lynn Ritger, webmaster

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