Pilots with visual impairment

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Hohlladung
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Pilots with visual impairment

Post by Hohlladung » 27 Jan 2021 15:08

Hello,

When reading military history over the past years, I learned that some pilots kept on flying after air crashes, although wounded or handicaped with the help of prostheses.
Best known in air history are:

Sir Douglas Bader, who lost both legs after a flight accident in 1931, but led a Squadron in the Battle of Britain until being shot down in August 1941 over France.

Oberleutnant Viktor Petermann (RKT), who lost his left arm after hit by friendly fire, but kept on flying with an artifical arm in 10./JG 52 gaining another 4 victories.

Oberst Hans-Ulrich Rudel (RKT), who lost his right lower leg after hit by Flak in February 1945, but kept on flying after recovery (although grounded) until May 1945.

I read, that there were also cases in the Russian Air force of WW2. Flying with prostheses might be a handicap, but still possible. While searching further I found some astonishing cases of pilots, who kept on flying after wounding with visual impairment, meaning to be one-eyed pilots.

It´s quite amazing for me that this was possible, as I always thought that good eye-sight is a substancial factor in flying.
Try to drive your car with one eye closed and you find out it´s difficult, maybe just a matter of exercise, but in an aerial combat, I prefer to have both eyes available.

How was it possible to gain airworthyness again after recovery?
Could an experienced, battle-hardened one-eyed Pilot not be renounced in these days?

I found following three pilots, if anyone knows of other pilots, feel free to add:


Sub-Lt. Saburo Sakai, Japanese Navy Pilot
Was heavily wounded in aerial aombat with Dauntless Bombers in August 1942 over Guadalcanal, although shot in the head and loosing his right eye, he made it back to Rabaul (ca. 1000 km). After 5 months recovery, he flew again, even at night.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabur%C5%8D_Sakai

Oberfeldwebel Stefan Litjens (RKT), 4./JG 53, was shot down on September 11th, 1941 in Russia, loosing his right eye. Flew again from November 1942 on over Malta, Tunesia and in the "Reichsverteidigung".

https://www.luftwaffe.cz/litjens.html

Hauptmann Hans-Heinrich König (RKT), flew with ZG. 1, after converted to night fighter, 4 air victories. Lost one eye in aerial combat and was transferred to JG. 11 as day fighter. Downed 20 four-engined-bombers in the "Reichsverteidigung", KIA as group leader of I./JG. 11 on May 24th, 1944.

http://www.luftwaffe.cz/koenig.html

Best Regards
Armin
"Ihr verfluchten Racker, wollt ihr denn ewig leben?" Friedrich, II. in der Schlacht von Kolin am 18.Juni 1757 zu seinen zurückgehenden Grenadieren.

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Ironmachine
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Re: Pilots with visual impairment

Post by Ironmachine » 28 Jan 2021 08:36

Another two:

Oberstleutnant Günther Specht, wounded in combat he lost the sight in his left eye in December 1939, but flew again. He went missing in action during operation Bodenplatte, when he had 34 victories.
https://luftwaffe.cz/specht.html

Oberleutnant Wilhelm Hofmann was injured his left eye in a ground accident in 1944 but continued to fly combat missions wearing an eyepatch.
https://luftwaffe.cz/hofmann.html

ben0708
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Re: Pilots with visual impairment

Post by ben0708 » 28 Jan 2021 21:04

Aleksey Petrovich Maresyev (Russian: Алексей Петрович Маресьев; 20 May 1916 – 19 May 2001) was a Russian military pilot who became a Soviet fighter ace during World War II despite becoming a double amputee.
The most famous Ass known to each child in Russia

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Hohlladung
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Re: Pilots with visual impairment

Post by Hohlladung » 29 Jan 2021 19:45

Ironmachine,

Thx for adding. I found this picture of Oberleutnant Wilhelm Hofmann sitting in his cockpit.
You can clearly see his eye patch.
(Source: Jägerblatt 2/1989)
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"Ihr verfluchten Racker, wollt ihr denn ewig leben?" Friedrich, II. in der Schlacht von Kolin am 18.Juni 1757 zu seinen zurückgehenden Grenadieren.

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