Franz Stigler

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Ludwig 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 twelve. In the 1930s he flew for Lufthansa and was an instructor pilot. One of his most famous students was Gerhard Barkhorn. Stigler said of him that "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.

Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler incident[edit]

See also: Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler incident

On 20 December 1943, Franz met the B-17 bomber named "Ye Olde Pub" and its pilot Charles "Charlie" Brown for the first time. Franz had shot down two B-17s earlier that day and he soon caught up to a 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 large holes in the fuselage a frantic crew trying to save the lives of their fellow airmen. Franz is quoted as saying "and for me it would have been the same as shooting at a parachute". Stigler motioned to Brown to land his airplane because of the extensive damage. However, Brown decided to keep flying towards England. Stigler escorted the B-17 and its crew to the North Sea coast, where he then 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]

Between 1990 and 2008, Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler became close friends and remained so until their deaths within several months of each other in 2008. [2]


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; this led to the confusion.


  1. ^ Based on "A Higher Call" by John D. Shaw, quoted in
  2. ^ Charles L. Brown’s obituary discusses the incident with Stigler and describes their friendship. [1]