was born in Frankfurt, Germany, on 26th April 1896. He
joined the German Army Air Service in 1915. Flying a Fokker
D-III , he scored his first victory on 18th March 1916 in a
lone attack on 22 French aircraft. By the end of the First
World War Udet had 62 victories. This made him the second
highest German war ace of the war.
After the war Udet appeared with Leni Riefenstahl in the
film SOS Eisberg. He was also active in the Richthofen
Veterans' Association and caused great controversy when he
campaigned to have Hermann Goering rejected for for making
false claims of air victories during the First World War.
Udet joined the Luftwaffe in June 1935 as a colonel and a
year later was appointed head of the Technical Office of the
Air Ministry. In this post Udet was responsible for the
introduction of the Junkers Stuka and the Messerschmitt
During the Second World War he rose to the rank of colonel
general and Director of Air Armaments. In 1940 pilots began
to complain that the Spitfire was superior to German
aircraft. Later Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering both
accused him of being responsible for the defeat of the
Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. He was also
criticized for neglecting the development of new heavy
Udet became depressed by the performance of the Luftwaffe
during Operation Barbarossa and the decision by Erhard
Miltch to overrule his plans to develop the Focke Wulf FW
190. On 17th November, 1941, Udet shot himself in the head
while on the phone to his mistress.
Adolf Hitler was embarrassed by Udet's death and the Nazi
Government issued a statement that Udet had been
accidentally killed while testing out a new weapon.