Gerhard Michalski

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Gerhard Michalski
Born (1917-06-25)25 June 1917
Augsdorf
Died 22 February 1946(1946-02-22) (aged 28)
Kaltenkirchen
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Balkenkreuz.svg Luftwaffe
Rank Oberstleutnant
Unit JG 53, JG z.b.V., JG 4, JG 11
Commands held 4./JG 53, II./JG 53, JG 4
Battles/wars

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Gerhard Michalski (25 June 1917 in Augsdorf – 22 February 1946 in Kaltenkirchen) was a German Luftwaffe fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

Military career[edit]

Michalski joined 6 Staffel, Jagdgeschwader 53 (JG 53—53rd Fighter Wing) in 1940. His first victory was on 31 March 1940, when he downed a French Morane Saulnier MS 406 fighter over the French border. Flying through the Battle of Britain, he gained eight more victories. In October 1940, Michalski was appointed Adjutant in II./JG 53. With JG 53 participating in the invasion of Russia from June 1941 onward, Michalski claimed 13 further victories by the end of August 1941 for a total of 22. By October 1941 Oberleutnant Michalski was Staffelkapitän of 4./JG 53 based at Leeuwarden in the Netherlands.

Top Malta ace[edit]

In November II./JG 53 were relocated to Sicily for operations against Malta. Michalski was to become the most successful German fighter pilot in the Siege, claiming 26 victories against the island's defenders. Michalski became Gruppenkommandeur II./JG 53 in June 1942 and was awarded the Ritterkreuz for 41 victories in September. On 15 October Michalski was shot down by No. 126 Squadron Spitfires, flown by F/L. Jones and F/Sgt Varey.[1] off Marsaxlokk Bay. He bailed out of his Bf 109 G-2, landing in the sea, and was rescued by the German air-sea rescue service.

North Africa[edit]

In October 1942 II./JG 53 were sent to Tunisia. Following the fall of Tunisia, II./JG 53 relocated to bases in Sicily in May 1943. On 18 June Michalski was again shot down, near Donnafucata in Sicily by F/O G. Keith Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), flying a Spitfire of No. 72 Squadron.[2] He bailed out wounded in the leg and with a broken ankle, landing in the sea, from where he was rescued by the German air-sea rescue service. Hospitalised, he returned to JG 53 in August 1943.

Reich defence 1944–45[edit]

In November 1943, II./JG 53 was relocated to airfields in Austria, operating on Reichsverteidigung (Defense of the Reich) duties. Michalski claimed his 60th victory on 2 November.

In April 1944, Michalski was made Geschwaderkommodore of JG z.b.V. at Kassel in Germany. The unit was formed to control III./JG 3, I./JG 5, II./JG 27, III./JG 54 and II./JG 53.

On 1 May, he was once more shot down and wounded in aerial combat. Following a swift recovery, Michalski was transferred to the Verbandsführerschule of the General der Jagdflieger on 20 May 1944.

On 21 July, he joined the Stabsstaffel, I./Jagdgeschwader 11 before being appointed Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 4 on 18 August 1944. Major Michalski was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Ritterkreuz on 25 November for 72 victories.

In early 1945 he participated in the conspiracy against the Reichsmarschall and chief of the Luftwaffe Hermann Göring in what is referred to as the "Fighter Pilots Revolt".

He gained his 73rd and final victory on 8 March 1945, over the Eastern Front.

Gerhard Michalski was credited with 73 aerial victories in 652 missions, of which 59 victories were achieved over the Western Front including 13 four-engine bombers and 29 Supermarine Spitfire fighters.[3]

Michalski was involved in a motor vehicle accident on 22 February 1946 and died in a hospital in Kaltenkirchen. His brother Werner was killed in action as a Leutnant on 10 April 1942 serving with Jagdgeschwader 26 "Schlageter".[4]

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ Shores & Cull 1991, p. 607.
  2. ^ Cull 2000, p.[page needed]
  3. ^ Spick 1996, p. 237
  4. ^ Obermaier 1989, p. 71.
  5. ^ a b Thomas 1998, p. 80.
  6. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 543.
Bibliography
  • Cull, Brian (2000). Spitfires Over Sicily – The crucial role of the Malta Spitfires in the Battle of Scily, January – August 1943. Grub Street. ISBN 978-1902304328.
  • 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. 
  • 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 and Brian Cull with Nicola Malizia (1991). Malta: The Spitfire Year. London: Grub Street. ISBN 0-948817-16-X.
  • 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. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
none
Commander of Jagdgeschwader z.b.V.
20 April 1944 – 20 May 1944
Succeeded by
Hauptmann Walther Dahl
Preceded by
Major Gerhard Schöpfel
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 4
7 August 1944 – 8 May 1945
Succeeded by
none