20 April 1920|
|Died||5 September 1943
near Markor, southern Russia
|Years of service||1938–1943|
|Commands held||6./JG 52|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Heinz Schmidt (20 April 1920 – 5 September 1943) was a German former Luftwaffe fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves 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. He is credited with 173 aerial victories achieved in 712 combat missions and was posthumously promoted to Hauptmann.
Heinz Schmidt was born on 20 April 1920 in Bad Homburg and joined the Luftwaffe on 10 November 1938. After he completed his basic training he was assigned to the 2nd Staffel of the Ergänzungs-Jagdgruppe Merseburg in July 1940 for final fighter-pilot preparation.
A month later he was posted to 4./Jagdgeschwader 52 (52nd Fighter Wing) on 12 August 1940. His II Gruppe of JG 52 was, at that time, engaged in the Battle of Britain and under command of the future great fighter leader Johannes 'Macki' Steinhoff. For a short time Schmidt was acting Staffelführer of 5./JG 52 but returned to the 4. Staffel and was promoted to Feldwebel on 1 April 1941.
With no victories by the end of the campaign his unit, along with most others, were re-deployed to the east for the campaign against Russia (Operation Barbarossa). He scored his first victory, against a DB-3 bomber soon after the campaign started, on 26 June 1941. On 12 August 1941, Schmidt crash landed 70 km into enemy territory and spent six hard days evading capture by Russian troops until able to get back to the German lines, and his unit. He was promoted to Oberfeldwebel on 27 August 1941, but this experience hardened his attitude and made him more determined. As the snows started falling in November his score had reached 15 victories.
But it was in the new campaign season of 1942 that his career really took off. Promoted to Leutnant on 1 February 1942, he had a temporary transfer to 5./JG 52 for 2 months as Staffelkapitän. In that time though, he received the Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe on 6 July 1942, and a promotion to Oberleutnant on 1 August 1942. Now involved in the heavy air battles in the advance toward Stalingrad, soon after he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) for 51 aerial victories on 23 August 1942. After a long year to get that far, within only three short weeks and a transfer to the far reaches of the Caucauses ranges, he was able to double his score reaching the magical century-mark on 16 September, for which he was honored with the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross. His secondment to 5./JG 52 ended on 30 September, and he was sent on a period of extended leave.
Returning in late November he was posted to 6./JG 52, back over Stalingrad, which by this time was now in a desperate defence. Retreating back to Taganrog and Rostov, he scored his 125th victory on 7 January 1943. But in mid-February 1943, with 130victories, he was again shot down behind Russian lines but returned after a two-day trek across the frozen Sea of Azov minus one fur-lined flying boot and with a smashed shoulder.
After a long convalescence, he returned to the Eastern Front on 25 May 1943, now with 146 victories and now commanding 6./JG 52. His parent unit, II./JG 52 was one of the few Luftwaffe fighter units not initially employed over the great battles for Kursk, instead staying in the south based out of Anapa, over the Kuban bridgehead. However, recalled to cover the German retreat to Khar'kov and Poltava, he scored his 150th victory in early August (the 14th pilot to reach that score), and continued with 22 victories in August.
Heinz Schmidt was posted as missing in action after aerial combat near Markor on 5 September 1943. His Messerschmitt Bf 109G6 aircraft 'Yellow 7' (Werknummer 15903—factory number) was possibly shot down in error by Hungarian fighters operating in the same area. Heinz Schmidt is credited with 173 confirmed victories in 712 combat missions. At the time, after the recent death of Max Stotz (189v.) a fortnight earlier in the north, he had become the 3rd highest-scoring ace flying on the Eastern Front (after Walter Nowotny and Günther Rall).
|•||Flugzeugführerabzeichen (Pilots Badge)|
|• 22 October 1940:||Iron Cross Second Class|
|• 9 November 1940:||Iron Cross First Class|
|• 22 August 1941:||Frontflug-Spange für Jäger in Gold|
|• 6 July 1942 (or possibly posthumously on 1/11/43):||Honorary Cup of the Luftwaffe|
|• 13 August 1942:||German Cross in Gold as Leutnant in the 4./JG 52[Note 1]|
|• 23 August 1942:||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross as Leutnant (war officer) and pilot in the 6./JG 52|
|• 30 August 1942:||Medaille "Winterschlacht Im Osten 1941/42"|
|• 15 September 1942:||124th Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves as Leutnant (although already promoted to Oberleutnant) and pilot in the 6./JG 52|
|• 12 December 1942:||Frontflug-Spange für Jäger in Gold mit Anhänger (Front Flying Clasp of the Luftwaffe in Gold with pendant for fighters)|
 Dates of rank
|1 December 1939:||Gefreiter|
|1 October 1940:||Obergefreiter|
|1 December 1940:||Unteroffizier|
|1 April 1941:||Feldwebel|
|27 August 1941:||Oberfeldwebel|
|1 February 1942:||Leutnant|
|1 August 1942:||Oberleutnant|
- The picture posted of his id documentation at Auf Himmel zu Hause indicates the German Cross in Gold was awarded on 20 August 1942.
- Spick 1996, pp. 3–4.
- Luftwaffe Officer Career Summaries website.
- Luftwaffe 39-45 Historia website.
- Weal 2004 pg. 84.
- Weal 2004, pg. 99.
- Weal 2004, p.99.
- Thomas 1998, p. 269.
- Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 413.
- "Heinz Schmidt". Auf Himmel zu Hause. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 670.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 (in German). Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
- Bergström, Christer (2007). Stalingrad – The Air Battle: 1942 through January 1943. Midland Publications ISBN 1-857802-76-4
- Bergström, Christer; Dikov, Andrey; Antipov, Vlad (2006). Black Cross, Red Star Vol 3 Eagle Editions Ltd ISBN 0-9761034-4-3
- 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 (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall (in German). ISBN 3-931533-45-X.
- Schaulen, Fritjof (2005). Eichenlaubträger 1940 - 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe III Radusch - Zwernemann (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 3-932381-22-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. New York: Ivy Books. ISBN 0-8041-1696-2.
- Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 3-7648-2300-3.
- Weal, John (2001). Bf109 Aces of the Russian Front. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Limited. ISBN 1-84176-084-6.
- Weal, John (2004). Aviation Elite Units - Jagdgeschwader 52 The Experten. Osprey Publishing Limited. ISBN 1-84176-786-7
- "Heinz Schmidt". Lexikon der Wehrmacht (in German). Retrieved 11 August 2011.
- "Luftwaffe 39-45 Historia". Heinz Schmidt. Retrieved 2 October 2007. incl images from his flight-book
- "Luftwaffe Officer Career Summaries". Heinz Schmidt. Retrieved 29 December 2012
- "Luftwaffe Fighter Claims". Heinz Schmidt. Retrieved 7 January 2013