During his career, Barkhorn entered combat over 1,100 times. He was shot down nine times, bailed out once, and was wounded twice. On 31 May 1944, with 273 victories, he was well on his way to becoming the leading ace in the Luftwaffe when he was severely wounded in a dogfight. The four months he spent in the hospital allowed another JG-52 ace, Erich Hartmann, to surpass his record. Barkhorn scored his three hundred and first—and final—victory on 5 January 1945.
Barkhorn ended his wartime career as a major flying the Me-262 jet in JV-44, Major General Adolf Galland's "Squadron of Experts." Injuries from a crash landing took Barkhorn out of combat permanently on 21 April 1945. At the end of the war, he surrendered to the Americans and was held prisoner until September 1945.
Barkhorn's postwar career included service in the Federal Republic of Germany's air force from 1956 until his retirement as a major general in 1976. On 6 January 1983, he and his wife, Christl, were involved in a serious automobile accident near Köln (Cologne). Christl died at the scene, and Barkhorn died in the hospital in Köln on 8 January 1983.
M. R. Pierce
Spick, Mike. Luftwaffe Fighter Aces: The Jagdflieger and Their Combat Tactics and Techniques. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1996.; Toliver, Raymond F., and Trevor J. Constable. Fighter Aces of the Luftwaffe. Fallbrook, CA: Aero, 1977.