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Walther Dahl (27 March 1916 – 25 November 1985) was a German Oberst Luftwaffe fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves during World War II.

World War II

Walther Dahl was born in Lug near Bad Bergzabernmarker and joined the army in 1935, initially serving in Infantry Regiment 119 in Stuttgartmarker, before transferring to the Luftwaffe and becoming a fighter pilot.

By May 1941 Dahl was part of the Geschwaderstab of Jagdgeschwader 3 (JG 3) and claimed his first victory on 22 June during the first day of the invasion of Russia. In July Dahl transferred to II. Gruppe of JG 3. By the end of October Dahl had 17 claims. He was then transferred to 4 staffel, JG 3 in December 1941 before the unit was posted to the Mediterranean theatre. He claimed a Spitfire over Malta on 1 April 1942 and on 10 April 1942 Dahl was made Staffelkapitän, Ergänzungsgruppe, JG 3.

In April 1943, Dahl was transferred to the staff of the General der Jagdflieger. In August, Dahl was next appointed Geschwaderadjutant, JG 3 on the Eastern front where he had raised his total to 51, being awarded the German Cross in Gold in December 1942

On 20 July 1943, Dahl was posted as Gruppenkommandeur III./JG 3 and relocated to Münster from Kurskmarker on the Russian Front.He claimed 2 four-engined bombers on 6 September and 2 more four-engined bombers (and aP-38) on 23 February 1944.

Dahl led a III./JG 3 formation against the Schweinfurt and Regensburg raid of 17 August 1943 but was intercepted by Spitfires of No. 222 Squadron. III./JG 3 lost 5 Bf 109s shot down including Dahl who had to make a belly landing in his Bf 109 G-6.

Major Dahl was awarded the Ritterkreuz in March 1944 for 67 victories. In May 1944, Dahl was appointed Kommodore of JG z.b.V. He led the unit until 6 June, then taking command of JG 300 on 27 June. JG 300 was to become famous for flying the heavily armed and armored Focke Wulf FW 190A-8 "Sturmbock" in close formation, driving in their attacks to point-blank range. As a last resort, after depletion of all ammunition, the pilots had to ram enemy bombers.

On 7 July 1944 a force of 1,129 B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) Eighth Air Force set out from England to bomb aircraft factories in the Leipzigmarker area and the synthetic oil plants at Boehlenmarker, Leunamarker-Merseburgmarker and Lützkendorf. This formation was intercepted by a German Gefechtsverband comprised of IV.(Sturm) Gruppe Jagdgeschwader 3 escorted by two Gruppen of Bf 109s from Jagdgeschwader 300 led by Major Dahl. Dahl drove the attack to point-blank range behind the Liberators of the 492nd Bomb Group before opening fire. 492nd Bomb Group was temporarily without fighter cover. Within about a minute the entire squadron of twelve B-24s had been annihilated. The Germans claimed 28 USAAF 2nd Air Division B-24s that day and were credited with at least 21. The majority to the Sturmgruppe attack. IV./JG 3 lost nine fighters shot down and three more suffered damage and made crash landings; five of the unit's pilots were killed.

On 13 September, Dahl brought down a B-17 four-engined bomber by ramming. For his personal exploits and that of his unit, Dahl was dubbed Rammdahl. On the morning of 30 November 1944, Dahl was informed that Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring was coming to visit the troops and to present Dahl with the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross. At 12:20 pm Göring and Generaloberst Bruno Loerzer arrive and Dahl made a formal report. Soon the discussion came to the point if Dahl was of the opinion that given these bad weather conditions the Geschwader could not engage in combat. Dahl explained that only good conditions would they stand a chance against the overwhelming odds of being outnumbered 1:20. He also refers to the inexperience and inadequate training of his young pilots. And only in good conditions do they stand a chance if they engage the enemy in close combat formation. Into this situation came the news of an approaching bomber formation. Göring ordered Dahl to take off and engage the enemy. Dahl stood his ground and continuously refused to obey. Göring became furious and threatened Dahl with court martial and execution. Only the arriving General der Jagdflieger Adolf Galland, who confirmed Dahls' opinion, saved Dahl from severe punishment. Nevertheless Dahl was immediately relieved from his command and sent on sick leave. Subsequently Dahl was not presented with the Oak Leaves that day.

On 26 January 1945, Hermann Göring appointed him Inspekteur der Tagjäger. Despite his promotion, Dahl continued to fly operationally.

Oberst Dahl ended the war flying the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter with III./EJG 2. On 27 March 1945, Dahl claimed two P-47 fighter kills. His 128th and last victory was a USAAF P-51 Mustang near Dillingen on 26 April 1945.

Dahl claimed some 128 enemy aircraft shot down in 678 missions, including about 300 ground-attack missions. He claimed 30, possibly 36, four-engined bombers and 34 Il-2 Stormovik ground attack aircraft. Dahl also achieved two, and possibly as many as nine victories while flying the Me-262. 84 of his aerial victories were claimed over the Eastern Front.

Walther Dahl survived the war, and died on 25 November 1985 in Heidelbergmarker at the age of 69.

Awards



References

Citations
  1. Caldwell & Muller 2007, p. 216.
  2. Dahl 2000, pp. 46–66
  3. Weal 1996, p. 78.
  4. Dahl 2000, p. 154-165
  5. Spick 1996, p. 230.
Bibliography
  • Dahl, Walther (2000). Rammjäger: Bericht über seine Kriegserlebnisse 1943 bis 1945 (in German). Pour le Mérite. ISBN 3-932381-01-7.
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945 (in German). Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
  • Hagen, Hans-Peter (1998). Husaren des Himmels Berühmte deutsche Jagdflieger und die Geschichte ihrer Waffe (in German). Rastatt, Germany: Moewig. ISBN 3-8118-1456-7.
  • Murawski, Erich (1962). Der deutsche Wehrmachtbericht 1939 - 1945, vom 1.7.1944 bis zum 9.5.1945 (in German). Schriften des Bundesarchivs 9, Boppoard am Rhein: Harald Boldt Verlag.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Spick, Mike (1996). Luftwaffe Fighter Aces. Ivy Books. ISBN 0-8041-1696-2.
  • Weal, John (1996). Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Aces of the Western Front. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-85532-595-0.
  • Helden der Wehrmacht - Unsterbliche deutsche Soldaten (in German). München, Germany: FZ-Verlag GmbH, 2004. ISBN 3-924309-53-1.


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