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Herbert Ihlefeld (1 June 1914 in Pinnow, Pommern – 8 August 1995 in Wenningsen, Lower Saxonymarker) was a German World War II fighter ace who served in the Luftwaffe from 1936 until the very end of World War II in May 1945. He claimed 132 enemy aircraft shot down; 9 in the Spanish Civil War, 67 on the Eastern Front, and 56 on the Western Front, including 15 four-engined bombers and 26 Spitfire. He survived being shot down 8 times during his 1000 combat missions.

World War II

In August 1938, he was assigned to the I(J)/Lehrgeschwader 2 (LG 2), an operational training unit. He flew in the battles of Poland, France and Britain. In July 1940, "Ihle" was now Staffelkapitän of 1.(J)/LG 2, leading it during the Battle of Britain. He was awarded the Ritterkreuz during September 1940, for 24 claimed kills.

In April 1941, the unit was transferred to the Balkans to take part of the invasion of Yugoslavia. During one of his first missions, strafing an airfield near Nišmarker, Ihlefeld was shot down by anti-aircraft fire and captured by Yugoslavian soldiers. While in Yugoslavian captivity, he was allegedly severely beaten, and was threatened with execution by firing squad. Ihlefeld was rescued by German troops after eight days of arrest, and returned to Germany to recover. After a few weeks, "Ihle" returned to participate in the assault on Crete, claiming a Hurricane shot down for his 36th claim. Soon after, LG 2 was rearmed and remustered as I/Jagdgeschwader 77 (JG 77) in time for Unternehmen Barbarossa in June 1941, Ihlefeld retaining the command of I/JG 77.

In the spring of 1942, a series of multiple victories (five aircraft on 24 March, seven on 30 March and seven on 20 April) saw Ihlefeld become the fifth pilot to reach 100 victories. During the period of Ihlefeld's leadership, I/JG 77 was credited with the destruction of 323 enemy planes while losing only 17 Bf 109s.

In June 1942, Ihlefeld became Geschwaderkommodore of the famed Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52). On 22 July 1942, whilst flying over the front in his Storch, he was shot down and badly wounded by Soviet fighters, this took him out of the front line until July 1943, when he joined the newly formed Jagdgruppe 25 as Geschwaderkommodore, leading the group's high-altitude Bf 109s in ultimately unsuccessful operations against RAF Mosquito, and later USAAF heavy bomber formations in Reichsverteidigung missions.

In May 1944, he became Kommodore of Jagdgeschwader 11 (JG 11), briefly before switching to Kommodore of Jagdgeschwader 1 (JG 1), overseeing the period where elements of the Geschwader were equipped late in the war with the He 162 Volksjager.

Awards



Notes

  1. J. S. A. Hayward 1998, p.146
  2. Obermaier 1989, p. 31.
  3. Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 204.
  4. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 239.
  5. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 54.
  6. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 39.


References

Citations
  1. J. S. A. Hayward 1998, p.146
  2. Obermaier 1989, p. 31.
  3. Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 204.
  4. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 239.
  5. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 54.
  6. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 39.
Bibliography
  • Berger, Florian (1999). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges. Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 3-9501307-0-5.
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945. Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
  • Hayward, Joel S. (2001). Stopped at Stalingrad: The Luftwaffe and Hitler's Defeat in the East 1942-1943. University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-1146-0
  • Obermaier, Ernst (1989). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe Jagdflieger 1939 - 1945 (in German). Mainz, Germany: Verlag Dieter Hoffmann. ISBN 3-87341-065-6.
  • Patzwall, Klaus D. and Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 - 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II. Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 3-931533-45-X.
  • Schaulen, Fritjof (2004). Eichenlaubträger 1940 - 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe II Ihlefeld - Primozic (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 3-932381-21-1.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.


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