Franz Stigler

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Franz Stigler
AllegianceNazi Germany Nazi Germany (to 1945)
Service/branchBalkenkreuz.svg Luftwaffe (Wehrmacht)
Years of service1933–1945
RankOberleutnant (Wehrmacht)
UnitJG 27, and JV 44
Commands heldGruppenkommandeur 12./JG 27
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsIron Cross 1st class
Other workLufthansa Transport Pilot / Flight Instructor / Lead Mechanic Hertz Rental Car

Oberleutnant Franz Stigler (21 August 1915 - 22 March 2008) was a German fighter pilot in World War II. He was born August 21, 1915 in Regensburg, Bavaria. His father, also named Franz, was a World War I pilot/observer. Franz started flying in 1927 at the age of 12. In the 1930s he flew for Lufthansa and was an instructor pilot. One of his most famous students was Gerhard Barkhorn. Of Barkhorn's lessons Stigler has said "he could barely fly the plane and I almost failed him".

As a member of Jagdgeschwader (JG) 27 in North Africa as well as Europe, and of the Jagdverband (JV) 44 jet fighter squadron, the only aircraft he flew in combat were the Bf 109 and Me 262.

A Heavy Secret[edit]

On 20 December 1943, Franz met the B-17 bomber named "Ye Olde Pub" and its crew for the first time, but it would not be the last. Franz had shot down 2 B-17s earlier on that day and he soon caught up to this wounded B-17 flown by Charles Brown. Lining up to finish the bomber and shoot it down, he noticed the tail gunner never moved the guns. Upon further inspection of the airplane he saw through the large holes in the fuselage a frantic crew trying to save the lives of their fellow airmen. "Franz felt like this was shooting men in their parachutes". Stigler motioned to Brown to land his airplane because of the extensive damage. However, Brown flew on and when they reached the North Sea coast Stigler saluted Brown and broke formation to return to base.

Stigler never spoke of this incident as he could have been court-martialed. Charles Brown told his commanding officers, who chose to keep the incident secret. Years later, Charles Brown searched for the German pilot who let them live that day, and eventually the two pilots met face to face, half a century later.[1]


Me 262 "White 3" of JV.44 is commonly believed to be Adolf Galland's aircraft. This is a misconception, as White 3 was the aircraft of Franz Stigler and Galland had a photo taken by it, creating the misinformation.


  1. ^ Based on "A Higher Call" by John D. Shaw, quoted in

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