2 February 1919|
|Died||5 September 2007
|Allegiance|| Nazi Germany (to 1945)
|Service/branch|| Luftwaffe (Wehrmacht)
|Years of service||1939–1945
|Unit||JG 77, JG 27|
|Commands held||1./JG 77, 8./JG 27, 12./JG 27|
|Awards||Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords|
Ernst-Wilhelm Reinert (2 February 1919 – 5 September 2007) was a German former Luftwaffe fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords during World War II. A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during aerial combat. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Ernst-Wilhelm Reinert was born 2 February 1919 in Lindenthal. After gaining his wings in April 1939 Reinert joined Ergänzungsgruppe/Jagdgeschwader 77 (JG 77—77th Fighter Wing) in Vienna in April 1941. Shortly afterwards, he was transferred to 4./JG 77, taking part in Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. On 7 February 1942 Feldwebel Reinert was awarded the Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe for 24 victories, flying with II./JG 77 at Sarabus in the Crimea in March 1942. He was awarded the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold in May for 44 claims, before passing fifty claims in early June. The Ritterkreuz was awarded on 1 July 1942. On 23 July, he was shot down and wounded by a Petlyakov Pe-2 twin-engined bomber over Plaskaja. A period in hospital followed. Reinert returned to the front in September. On 3 October Fw. Reinert passed the century mark with three claims. On 6 October he was awarded the Eichenlaub for 103 victories.
He was posted with the unit to Tunisia in December 1942 flying operations from east of Tripoli in Libya to support the Afrika Korps. Although heavily outnumbered, Reinert continued to score heavily where he became one of the most successful Luftwaffe 'experten' during that period of combat. One of his victims on 16 April was a Spitfire flown by 244 Wing leader and ace Wing Commander Ian Gleed. On 20 April Reinert was promoted to the rank of Leutnant.
Having been ordered to evacuate from Tunisia Lt. Reinert was ordered to fly to Sicily. Reinert took the controls of a Bf 109 G with Oblt. Baeumel and a mechanic crammed into the machine. En route to Sicily Reinert sighted a formation of Royal Navy Grumman Martlets and swung his overloaded fighter behind one of the British aircraft to shoot it down. Reinert then flew on safely to Sicily, to the relief of his passengers.
On 8 August Reinert was forced to ditch his G-6 in the sea near Milazzo after combat with P-40's. Reinert was then appointed Staffelführer of 3./JG 77 in October 1943 and then Staffelkapitän of 1./JG 77. In December he shot down a Supermarine Spitfire over Monte Cassino for his 165th claim. Early in 1944 Reinert was ill with malaria, and in April 1944 was transferred to Austria as a Staffelkapitän to JG 27 as an Oberleutnant.
JG 27 was transferred in June to the invasion front, flying over Caen and claiming a P-47 Thunderbolt on 27 June. Two further victories over Normandy followed, although Reinert was injured on 17 June and 5 July. Reinert's 12./JG 27 was redesignated as 14 Staffel in August and was withdrawn to Germany for refitting. Oberleutnant Reinert was then appointed Gruppenkommandeur of IV./JG 27 on 1 January 1945. Hauptmann Reinert was awarded the Schwerter on 30 January 1945. In March he transferred to JG 7 flying the Me 262.
Reinert flew 715 combat missions and was officially credited with shooting down 174 enemy aircraft plus 16 ground victories. 103 claims were made on the Eastern Front, 20 on the Western Front, and 51 in the Mediterranean theatre. He also destroyed 16 armoured vehicles plus 6 locomotives.
After World War II up until the fifties, Ernst-Wilhelm Reinert pursued a career in business. In 1956 he rejoined the military service in the Bundeswehr as Major. Oberstleutnant Reinert retired in 1972.
- Wound Badge in Silver
- Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe (7 February 1942)
- Front Flying Clasp of the Luftwaffe in Gold with Pennant "700"
- Combined Pilots-Observation Badge
- Iron Cross (1939)
- German Cross in Gold on 18 May 1942 as Unteroffizier in the II./JG 77
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
- According to Scherzer on 5 October 1942.
- Spick 1996, pp. 3–4.
- Michulec 2002, p. 64.
- Berger 2000, pp. 284, 285.
- Berger 2000, p. 284.
- Obermaier 1989, p. 40.
- Thomas 1998, p. 191.
- Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 371.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 620.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 62.
- Berger, Florian (1999). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges [With Oak Leaves and Swords. The Highest Decorated Soldiers of the Second World War] (in German). Vienna, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 978-3-9501307-0-6.
- 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.
- Michulec, Robert (2002). Luftwaffe at War/Luftwaffe Aces of the Western Front. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-486-9.
- 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.
- Schaulen, Fritjof (2005). Eichenlaubträger 1940 – 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe III Radusch – Zwernemann [Oak Leaves Bearers 1940 – 1945 Contemporary History in Color III Radusch – Zwernemann] (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 978-3-932381-22-5.
- 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.
- Spick, Mike (1996). Luftwaffe Fighter Aces. New York: Ivy Books. ISBN 978-0-8041-1696-1.
- Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9.
- "Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945". Ernst Wilhelm Reinert. Retrieved 30 April 2007.