Luftwaffe Pilots & Airmen – A thru D / Fliegerpiloten & Flieger – A durch D

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Oskar-Heinrich “Heinz” ( Pritzl ) Bär 

Heinrich Bär, 25 May 1913 – 28 April 1957, often referred to in literature as Heinrich or Heinz Bär was a German Luftwaffe flying ace who served throughout World War II in Europe. Bär flew more than one thousand combat missions and fought in the Western, Eastern and Mediterranean theatres. On 18 occasions he survived being shot down, and according to records in the German Federal Archives, he claimed to have shot down 228 enemy aircraft and was credited with 208 aerial victories, around 16 of which were in a Messerschmitt Me-262 jet fighter.

Bär, a Saxon with a strong accent, joined the Reichswehr in 1934 and transferred to the Luftwaffe in 1935. Serving first as a mechanic, then as a pilot on transport aircraft, he was informally trained as a fighter pilot. He claimed his first aerial victory in September 1939 on the French border. By the end of the Battle of Britain, his tally of victories had increased to 17. Transferred to the Eastern Front to participate in Operation Barbarossa, he quickly accumulated further kills, a feat that earned him the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords for 90 aerial victories in February 1942.

During the remainder of World War II, Bär was credited with 130 other aerial victories, including 16 while flying one of the first jet fighters, the Me 262, an achievement which would normally have earned him the coveted Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. Hermann Göring’s personal dislike of Bär, coupled with Bär’s insubordinate character and lack of military discipline, deprived him of this award. After World War II, Bär continued his career as an aviator. He was killed in a flying accident on 28 April 1957 near Braunschweig.

Gerhard Barkhorn

Gerhard “Gerd” Barkhorn, 20 March 1919 – 8 January 1983, was the second most successful fighter ace of all time after fellow Luftwaffe pilot Erich Hartmann. Barkhorn joined the Luftwaffe in 1937 and completed his training in 1939.

Barkhorn flew his first combat missions in May 1940, during the Battle of France and then the Battle of Britain without scoring an aerial victory—that is an aerial combat encounter resulting in the destruction of the enemy aircraft. His first victory came in July 1941 and his total rose steadily against Soviet opposition. In March 1944, he was awarded the third highest decoration in the Wehrmacht when he received the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern) for 250 aerial victories. Despite being the second highest scoring pilot in aviation history, Barkhorn was not awarded the Diamonds to his Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords after achieving his 300th victory on 5 January 1945.

Barkhorn flew 1,104 combat sorties and was credited with 301 victories on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Red Air Force piloting the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Focke-Wulf Fw 190D-9. He flew with the famed Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52—Fighter Wing 52), alongside fellow aces Hartmann and Günther Rall, and Jagdgeschwader 2 (JG 2). Less than two weeks later he left JG 52 on the Eastern Front and joined Jagdgeschwader 3 (JG 3), defending Germany from Western Allied air attack.

Barkhorn survived the war and was taken prisoner by the Western Allies in May 1945 and released later that year. After the war Barkhorn joined the Luftwaffe of the Bundeswehr also called colloquially Bundesluftwaffe, serving until 1976. On 6 January 1983, Barkhorn was involved in a car accident with his wife Christl. She died instantly and Gerhard died two days later on 8 January 1983.

Hansgeorg Bätcher

Hansgeorg Bätcher, 13 January 1914 – 23 April 2003, was a highly decorated Oberstleutnant bomber pilot in the Luftwaffe during World War II, and one of only 882 recipients of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Hansgeorg Bätcher was captured by American troops in May 1945.

Wilhelm Batz

Major Wilhelm “Willi” Batz, 21 May 1916 in Bamberg – 11 September 1988 in Mauschendorf/Ebern in Unterfranken, was a German Luftwaffe fighter ace. Willi Batz flew 445 combat missions and claimed 237 enemy aircraft shot down. 234 of these victories were achieved over the Eastern Front, including at least 46 Il-2 Sturmoviks, but he did claim three victories, including one four-engine bomber against the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) over the Ploieşti oil fields. He was wounded three times and was shot down four times. Batz was also a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

Werner Baumbach

Werner Baumbach, 27 December 1916 – 20 October 1953, was a bomber pilot in the German Luftwaffe during World War II and commander of the secret bomber wing Kampfgeschwader 200 (KG 200). He received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern) for the destruction of over 300,000 gross register tons (GRT) of allied shipping.

Wilhelm Beier

William Beier, 18 November 1913 – 12 July 1977, was a Luftwaffe night fighter ace and recipient of the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross during World War II. Beier claimed 38 aerial victories, all of them at night.

Helmut Benkendorff

Helmut Benkendorff, born on 8 December 1910 in Berlin-Pankow – 3 November 1971 in Berlin/Brandenburg, was an Oberfeldwebel (Flight Sergeant) in the Luftwaffe during World War II.

Alwin Boerst

Major Alwin Boerst, 20 October 1910 in Osterode – Killed in action 30 March 1944 near Iaşi, was a German World War II Luftwaffe Stuka ace. He was also a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

Boerst participated in the Battle of Crete and assisted in the sinking of British destroyers Kelly and Kashmir.

Together with his radio operator and gunner, Ernst Filius, he took off on 30 March 1944 for the first time flying a Ju 87G-1. They were shot down and killed during this mission north of Iaşi by ground fire. Oberfeldwebel Filius was posthumously awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross on 19 May 1944. Boerst was posthumously honored with the Swords to his Knight’s Cross on 6 April 1944. Boerst flew 1060 combat missions.

Walter Bornschein

Walter Bornschein, 7 April 1914 – 27 April 1944, was a German Luftwaffe bomber pilot and recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross during World War II. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Walter Bornschein was killed on 27 April 1944 when he was hit by enemy fire while flying over Schweinfurt.

Max Bucholz

Max Bucholz, 3 November 1912 – 19 July 1996, was a German Luftwaffe ace and recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross during World War II. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Max Bucholz was credited with between 28 and 30 victories.

Kurt Bühligen

Kurt Bühligen, 13 December 1917 – 11 August 1985, was a Luftwaffe World War II flying ace who served from 1936 until early 1945. Credited with downing 112 enemy aircraft, he received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.

Adolf Dickfeld

Adolf Dickfeld, 20 February 1910 – 17 May 2009, was a German Luftwaffe military aviator during World War II, an ace credited with 136 enemy aircraft shot down in about 1,072 combat missions. He was also a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, the highest award in the military and paramilitary forces of Nazi Germany during World War II.

Georg Dörffel

Georg Dörffel, 27 July 1914 – 26 May 1944, was a highly decorated Oberstleutnant in the Luftwaffe during World War II, and one of only 882 recipients of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Georg Dörffel was killed on 26 May 1944, north of Rome. During his career, he flew 1004 missions as a ground assault pilot. He was posthumously promoted to Oberstleutnant.

Martin Drewes

Martin Drewes, 20 October 1918 – 13 October 2013, was a German Luftwaffe military aviator and night fighter ace during World War II. He is credited with 52 victories of which 43 were claimed at night whilst flying variants of the Messerschmitt Bf 110 heavy fighter. The majority of his victories were claimed over the Western Front in Defense of the Reich missions against the Royal Air Force’s Bomber Command.

Born in Lobmachtersen, Drewes grew up in the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany. Following graduation from school, he joined the military service of the Army in 1937 and transferred to the Luftwaffe in 1939. He flew his first combat missions in early 1941. In May 1941, he participated in the Anglo-Iraqi War where he claimed his first aerial victory on 20 May 1941. In November 1941, Drewes transferred to the night fighter force, initially serving with Nachtjagdgeschwader 3 (NJG 3—3rd Night Fighter Wing). He claimed his first nocturnal aerial victory on the evening of 17 January 1943. In February 1943, Drewes was appointed Staffelkapitän (squadron leader) and transferred to Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1—1st Night Fighter Wing) in August 1943.

Alfred Druschel

Oberst Alfred Druschel, born 4 February 1917 in Bindsachsen, District Büdingen – Killed in action on 1 January 1945 near Aachen in Unternehmen Bodenplatte, was a German Luftwaffe combat pilot and Flying ace during World War II. He was the first combat pilot to be honored with the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern). The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

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