Top 5 Legendary Snipers
Snipers date back ages, however their first widespread documented use is in the Revolutionary War. Frontiersmen who spent significant time with their rifles could fashion a weapon that was accurate up to 300 yards. Many officers of the British army were taken down by the Kentucky Rifle, or Long Rifle, because of its accuracy at a distance. Snipers were now very capable battlefield instruments, and they will play a significant role in all future wars. The first real sniper training could be attributed to Russia in the 1930s, however that could also be called elite training of regular battle troops. It was less sniper training and more camouflage and marksmanship of the common soldier. Germany in World War II was the pioneer in training snipers, and they often picked off U.S. green troops. Russian and Japanese snipers were significant role players as well. Russia was famous for training women and Japan was famous for hiding in tropical rain forests. The U.S. army never trained snipers in peacetime until after the Vietnam War, when snipers proved that they were a battlefield necessity.
Occasionally, with all of the troops in all of the wars fought since the modern gun, a legendary sniper will stand out. Here are the stories of Cydro's top 5.
Number 5: Lyudmila Pavlichenko
Yes, a woman.
So the story of how Ms. Pavlichenko started embedding lead into German soldiers is rather interesting. At first, she couldn't bring herself to do it. On her first day on the battlefield she had numerous German soldiers in her sights but couldn't bring herself to fire because of the looks on their faces.
Then the twist that ultimately doomed 309 German soldiers. The young Russian next to her was killed, and then "after that, nothing could stop me." She killed two German soldiers that day.
So how did this woman learn to shoot? By joining a shooting club in Kiev at the age of 14. While most little girls are starting to flirt with boys at that age, she was learning how to kill. She even joined the army before women were even accepted.
She killed 187 soldiers at the battle of Odessa, and 257 during the rest of the war. Not to mention she also killed 36 enemy snipers (one of whom already amassed 500 kills.) All of this was after she had already attained her master's degree at the University of Kiev. She later became a historian (probably one of the most badass in history.)
Number 4: Josef Allerberger and Matthäus Hetzenauer
Introducing probably the most famous German sniper of WWII, Josef Allerberger, and his accomplice Matthäus Hetzenauer. This Nazi duo made a significant impact during the war.
Josef was a normal front line soldier until he got injured at the Battle of Stavropol. While he was recuperating, he decided to play around with a captured Soviet Mosin Nagant 91/30 rifle. This practice would lead him to want to practice on real targets, and he did.
He soon went Soviet-hunting and killed 27 Soviet troops before his commanders sent him off to sniper training (German sniper training was the best in WWII). There he learned to hide behind a camouflaged umbrella, all the while shooting whatever he wanted with a German K98.
He also met a fellow Austrian, Matthäus Hetzenauer. Allerberger would rack up a total of 257 confirmed kills, while Matthäus Hetzenauer racked up 345 all on the Eastern Front. That made their combined total 602 confirmed kills. It was reported that they would often cover each others' line of fire along with the other snipers of the 3rd Mountain Division. Also, Josef hated female Russian snipers like #5 Pavlichenko: he killed approximately 38 of them.
Matthäus Hetzenauer would eventually be captured, but survived the war and lived until 2004. Josef (Sepp) Allerberger would follow his dad's footsteps and become a carpenter. He was probably one of the most badass carpenters in history. He only recently died in 2010.
#3: The American White Feather
Who is the most famous American sniper? Carlos Hathcock. While his kill total (93 confirmed, 300 estimated) remains small relative to the others on the list, he still deserves a spot at #3. Why?
- He won all the major prestigious shooting championships in the United States.
- He survived the war with a white feather on his hat on every mission but one, and a $30,000 bounty on his head (normal bounties were $8-2000, according to Wikipedia). The North Vietnamese would go on specific missions just for him.
- He later commanded a troop of snipers. He also basically taught the United States how to teach sniping by being a key adviser at the Marine Scout Sniper school, all while suffering from extreme pain.
- He pulled seven marines off of a flaming half-track after being hit by an anti-tank mine. He was seriously injured while doing it, too.
- He attached a scope to an M2 browning machine gun, a crazy idea, and recorded the longest confirmed kill in history (2,500 yards) that stood until recently in 2002 when it was broken in the deserts of Afghanistan
- He crawled 1,500 meters to a North Vietnamese base on a mission that he did not know the details of beforehand. He watched the compound for days, surveying the behavior of everyone inside. He then, with one shot, killed the general of the compound with a literal shot to the heart. Then he evaded detection for a few days, with search parties coming within feet of stepping on him. He later regretted it because of the fervent subsequent attacks that the North Vietnamese had on Americans in the area.
Carlos Hathcock was a sniper at heart. As a boy growing up, he would sit and watch trees until a squirrel or rabbit would show up. He then could feed his family which was rather torn. Carlos' parents divorced at a young age in Arkansas. However, he managed to trade what he had for a BB gun at the local shop. He loved stalking other animals and men. He would request all of the missions that he could possibly try to execute, sometimes going after snipers that were trying to go after him. In fact, his commanders would send American soldiers to find him after he was out killing for so long.
His life after the war was a sad story. His wife almost left him, he suffered from depression, and he was in constant pain from multiple sclerosis. He was a firm believer that there was no thrill like hunting another man, and he had trouble finding anything like it. Eventually he picked up the hobby of shark fishing. It was the hunt, not the killing, that he always enjoyed. He died in 1999.
Number 2: Ivan Sidorenko
College wasn't exciting enough for Ivan, so he dropped out and joined the army.
The mortar team he was conscripted to wasn't exciting enough for him, so he began hunting the enemy in his free time. One by one, German soldiers fell with accurate shots coming from the same Mosin-Nagantrifle. What did the Germans do? Deployed an army of snipers to the area.
What did the Russians do? Well, Ivan's kill total grew at a fast rate and his commanders started noticing. Soon after, they started asking him to train other men too. Ivan began to take men one by one out on missions with him.
The experienced well trained German snipers all failed to take out Ivan and his team of snipers. The result? The Russian 1st Baltic Front had a steep psychological advantage on its German enemy, and fought one of the more decisive campaigns of the war.
All in all, he earned the number two spot on this list by achieving the rank of major (highest of any sniper) and training 250 snipers by himself. Not to mention the extremely impressive kill total of 542.
Number 1: the Legendary Simo Häyhä (The White Death)
Wait, he's from Finland?
Yes, and he and his comrades gave one hell of a fight against the invading Soviets. Despite being outrageously outnumbered in every category, the Finnish made the Soviet's life hell in 1939-1940. Check out the casuality list on the Wikipedia page.
He was a hero among heroes. Simo Häyhä was 5'3" and a farmer from Finland. He was a killing machine. Over the course of 100 days during the Winter War he sat in trees and behind snow and sniped Russians with iron sights. He preferred iron sights to a scope because he believed the scope exposed him too much. He must have not been exposed at all.
After killing dozens of Soviets, they devised missions just to kill him. They ended up coming so close to him that he would have to spray all of them with his sub-machine gun. He killed 150 of them just with a sub-machine gun. After a couple of failed missions to kill him, they sent in a team of counter snipers. He killed them all. Oh yeah, and this was all in weather that was 20-40 degrees below zero.
So the Soviets decided to artillery strike the hell out of the general vicinity that he was in. Shrapnel from these strikes struck his coat, but that didn't stop him.
Eventually after killing 706 Soviets, a bullet struck Simo in the head.
Did that stop him? No, two weeks later he was out of the hospital despite "half of his face" being blown off. He lived to be 96, dying in 2002.
The legend of "The White Death" is forever immortalized in history. Some of his comrades claim that he killed even more than 706 people. After all, it was probably easy to lose track since he has the most kills of any foot soldier in recorded history.
A list of snipers that almost made the list:
- Mikhail Surkov
- Billy Sing
- I.R. Premasiri (Nero)
- Timothy Kellner
- Semen Nomokonov
A few quick legendary sniper shots:
- Ivan Sidorenko took out three tractors and one tank with incendiary bullets.
- Carlos Hathcock quickly turned and shot a sniper through the sniper's own scope at long range after seeing the sunlight reflect off of his scope. This also means the sniper was looking directly at him.
- The longest range recorded for a sniper kill currently stands at 2,475 m (2,707 yd) and was achieved by CoH Craig Harrison, a sniper from the Household Cavalry of the British Army. It was accomplished in an engagement in November 2009 in which two stationary Taliban machine gunners were killed south of Musa Qala in Helmand Province in Afghanistan with two consecutive shots by CoH Harrison using an Accuracy International L115A3 Long Range Rifle chambered in a .338 Lapua Magnum.
- Steve Reichert reportedly shot and killed 3 insurgents with one shot through a brick wall. This was immediately after shooting a machine gunner from a distance of a mile.