In 1932, he graduated as a pilot at the Deutsche Verkehrsfliegerschule (German Commercial Flyers' School) in Braunschweig before applying to join the Reichswehr of the Weimar Republic later in the year. Galland's application was accepted, but he never took up the offer. In February 1934, he was transferred to the Luftwaffe.
An adept glider pilot before he was twenty, Galland joined the Lufthansa civilian airline in 1932. Between 1937 and 1938 he took an active part in the Spanish Civil War, flying three hundred missions with the Condor Legion and developing novel techniques of close support.
During the German invasion of Poland, Galland had a staff post but returned to a Fighter Group in April 1940, serving in France and then leading German formations during the Battle of Britain. Over the skies of England they had to face RAF fighter squadrons directed by radar, which came as a surprise ‘and a very bitter one’. Galland, who never made the mistake of underestimating his opponents, nonetheless survived and was credited during World War II with more than a hundred aircraft destroyed.
After the death of Werner Moelders in November 1941 Galland succeeded him as Commander of the Fighter Arm of the Luftwaffe. A year later he was promoted to Major General, becoming at the age of only thirty the youngest general in the German armed forces. During the next two years, though handicapped by shortages of every kind, Galland took all available opportunities to improve technical and tactical know-how and managed to inspire his pilots with his own devotion to duty and to their concerns. Nevertheless, he was blamed for the gradual collapse of the Fighter Arm under the Allied aerial onslaught, falling out with both Hitler and Goering who blindly refused to accept the realities of Germany’s situation. Galland was relieved of his command in January 1945, but allowed by Hitler to return to combat duty.
He was made head of the new Jagdverband 44, flying the highly sophisticated jet-powered Me 262 fighters with other dismissed officers. The new jets, however, had come off the production lines too late and in too few numbers to alter the course of the war.
Following his return in 1954 from Peron's Argentina, Galland worked as an industrial consultant in Düsseldorf and for a time was even considered a likely candidate as chief of the new West German air force.
(Galland claimed that future group commanders of the Germ...)1953
(A fearless leader with 104 victories to his name, Galland...)
Galland's position as General der Jagdflieger brought him into gradual conflict with Göring as the war continued. In 1942–44, the German fighter forces on all fronts in the European Theatre of Operations (ETO) came under increasing pressure and Galland's relationship with Göring began to turn sour. The first distinct cracks began to appear in the spring, 1943. Galland suggested that the fighter forces defending Germany should limit the number of interceptions flown to allow sufficient time for re-grouping and to conserve air strength. Only by conserving its strength and its precious resources—the fighter pilots—could the Luftwaffe hope to inflict damage on the bombers. Göring refused. He demanded every raid be countered in maximum strength regardless of the size of the Allied fighter escort. According to head of production and procurement Erhard Milch, who was also present at the meeting, "Göring just could not grasp it."
Baroness Gisela von Donner had refused to marry Galland as the restrictions imposed upon her by her former husband's will would deny her the wealth and freedom she had enjoyed. She left for Germany in 1954. Galland married Sylvinia von Dönhoff on 12 February 1954. However, she was unable to have children and they divorced on 10 September 1963.
On 10 September 1963, Galland married his secretary, Hannelies Ladwein. They had two children: a son, Andreas Hubertus (nicknamed "Andus") born 7 November 1966; and a daughter, Alexandra-Isabelle born 29 July 1969.