Erbo Graf von Kageneck

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Erbo Graf von Kageneck
Erbo Graf von Kageneck with Me 109 1941.jpg
Erbo Graf von Kageneck standing in front of his Messerschmitt Me 109E in Sicily, whilst being assisted by two ground crew personnel
Born (1918-04-02)2 April 1918
Died 12 January 1942(1942-01-12) (aged 23)
Naples, Italy
Allegiance Nazi Germany
Service/branch Luftwaffe
Years of service 1936–1942
Rank Hauptmann
Unit JG 1, JG 27
Awards Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub

Erbo Graf von Kageneck[Notes 1] (2 April 1918 – 12 January 1942) was a German fighter pilot and flying ace in the Luftwaffe from 1938 to 1942 during World War II. He was credited with 67 aerial victories—that is, 67 aerial combat encounters resulting in the destruction of the enemy aircraft. He was the winner of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves.

Early life[edit]

Kageneck was born in Bonn, one of five sons of Generalmajor Karl Graf von Kageneck and Freiin Maria von Schorlemer,[Notes 2] daughter of Clemens Freiherr von Schorlemer, an Imperial Secretary of Agriculture. His brothers included:

∞ Countess Caroline Henckel von Donnersmarck
  • Franz Joseph Graf von Kageneck (1915–1941), killed in action in front of Moscow, as an Hauptmann leading a battalion in the 18th Infantry regiment
Princess Elisabeth Maria of Bavaria

After passing his Abitur in 1936, Kageneck immediately joined the German air force, the Luftwaffe. At the outbreak of World War II, he served with Jagdgeschwader 1 and flew his first operational missions during the invasion of Poland. Kageneck scored his first victory during the first days of the Blitzkrieg in the Netherlands and soon claimed four kills in the skies of Western Europe. He claimed a further nine victories during the Battle of Britain and on 18 September 1940, he was appointed Staffelkapitän (squadron leader) of Staffel 9, Jagdgeschwader 27. Kageneck also gained four victories over Hawker Hurricanes during his spell supporting the offensive against Malta.

Operation Barbarossa[edit]

In 1941, during the invasion of the Soviet Union, JG 27 was tasked with neutralising the Soviet air force. Kageneck shot down more than 20 Soviet aircraft in less than four weeks. For that he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 30 July 1941 and also was promoted to Oberleutnant (first lieutenant). By October 1941, Kageneck had recorded 48 Soviet victories and — with his total now at 65 — was awarded the Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross (Nr. 39) on 26 October 1941.

North Africa[edit]

In December 1941, Kageneck was transferred back to the Mediterranean theatre with Staffel 9, JG 27 and gained his last two victories against British Commonwealth fighters over the deserts of North Africa.

On 24 December, Kageneck was seriously wounded in combat with several Desert Air Force (DAF) Tomahawks, and Hurricanes south of Agedabia. Both Sergeant Maxwell (of No. 94 Squadron RAF) and Pilot Officer Thompson (No. 229 Squadron RAF) made claims for a fighter shot down in the same action. Many years later, some sources, including Kageneck's brother, August Graf von Kageneck, claimed that the shots which hit Erbo were fired by the pre-eminent Australian ace of the war, Clive Caldwell.[1] The main reason for this was that Caldwell favoured attacks from beneath his opponents, which was precisely the fashion in which Kageneck's wounds were sustained.

Although he suffered severe injuries to his stomach, abdomen and groin, Kageneck managed to fly his crippled fighter back to his base at El Magrun and pull off an emergency landing. He was immediately evacuated, first to a hospital in Athens, and then to another in Naples where, despite intensive care, he died of his wounds on 12 January 1942 at the age of 23. He was posthumously promoted to Hauptmann (captain).



  1. ^ Regarding personal names: Graf was a title, translated as Count, not a first or middle name. Before 1919 preceding the first name, former titles are with people alive after 1919 dependent parts of the surname, thus preceding the main surname and not to be translated. The feminine form is Gräfin.
  2. ^ Regarding personal names: Freiin was a title, translated as Baroness, not a first or middle name. Before 1919 preceding the first name, former titles are with people alive after 1919 dependent parts of the surname, thus preceding the main surname and not to be translated. The title is for the unmarried daughters of a Freiherr.


  1. ^ Alexander 2006, p. 224-228.
  2. ^ a b Thomas 1997, p. 339.
  3. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 428.
  • Alexander, Kristen (2006). Clive Caldwell: Air Ace. Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-74114-705-0.
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Graf von Kageneck, August (1999). Erbo, pilote de chasse, 1918-1942. Paris: Perrin. ISBN 2-262-01512-0
  • Obermaier, Ernst (1989). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe Jagdflieger 1939 – 1945 [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force 1941 – 1945] (in German). Mainz, Germany: Verlag Dieter Hoffmann. ISBN 978-3-87341-065-7. 
  • 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 [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Shores, Christopher. Aces High -Volume 2 (Grub Street 1999)
  • Williamson, Gordon & Bujeiro, Ramiro (2005). Knight's Cross and Oak Leaves Recipients 1941-45. Osprey Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-84176-642-9.
  • Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6. 

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