|Born||13 January 1912
|Died||24 December 1944
near Bergisch-Gladbach, Germany
|Buried at||cemetery Westönnen|
|Years of service||1935–1944|
|Unit||ZG 26, KG 30, NJG 2, NJG 1|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Heinz Strüning (13 January 1912 – 24 December 1944) 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) during World War II. 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. Strüning shot down 56 aircraft in 280 missions. All of his victories were recorded at night.[Note 1] He was shot down and killed in action on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1944.
Strüning was born on 13 January 1912 in Bergisch-Gladbach and joined the Luftwaffe in 1935. He was posted as an Unteroffizier to 5./Zerstörergeschwader 26 "Horst Wessel" (ZG 26—26th Destroyer Wing) on 2 August 1939.[Note 2] When World War II broke out, he flew several ground attack missions during the campaign in Poland. His Staffel was then transferred to serve with Kampfgeschwader 30 supporting German troops defending the bridgehead of Narvik in Norway.
Strüning was then transferred to the Nachtjagd (night fighter force) arriving in July 1940 to 1./Nachtjagdgeschwader 2 (NJG 2—2nd Night Fighter Wing). With this unit, Feldwebel Strüning made 66 intruder missions over England at night, and gained his first victory on the night of 23 November 1940. At the end of 1941 he had 9 claims in total. In November 1941, he was transferred to 7./NJG 2. With this unit, Strüning gained 15 victories until mid-September 1942. He received the German Cross in Gold in July 1942, after his 19th claim. In mid September 1942 he was promoted to Leutnant and awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) in October 1942.
From November 1942, Strüning served with NJG 2 in the Mediterranean from bases in Sicily, until April 1943. Strüning is then transferred to 2./NJG 1 in May 1943. On 1 June he shot down three Royal Air Force Avro Lancaster. Promoted to Oberleutnant and appointed Staffelkapitän of 3./Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1—1st Night Fighter Wing), Strüning coordinated the introduction of the new Heinkel He 219 "Uhu". With this aircraft, Strüning downed three bombers on the night of 1 August 1943.
By April 1944, Strüning had accumulated 15 night victories and on 20 July 1944, was awarded the Eichenlaub Shortly after, he was appointed to take command of 9./NJG 1.
At about 6 pm on the evening of 24 December 1944 his Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-4 (Werknummer 740 162—factory number) G9+CT was shot down by 10-kill ace F/L R.D. Doleman and F/L D.C. Bunch of No. 157 Squadron RAF in a Royal Air Force Mosquito Intruder while he tried to attack a Lancaster bomber over Cologne. He bailed out but struck the tail of his plane and fell to his death. His body was found two months after his death.
During his career, Hauptmann Heinz Strüning had made 280 combat missions (250 at night), and claimed 56 victories at night (including two Mosquitoes).
- Iron Cross (1939)
- Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe (12 June 1941)
- German Cross in Gold on 10 July 1942 as Oberfeldwebel in the Ergänzungsstaffel/Nachtjagdgeschwader 2
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht on 2 June 1942
Reference in the Wehrmachtbericht
|Date||Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording||Direct English translation|
|Tuesday, 2 June 1942||Oberfeldwebel Struening errang in der letzten Nacht seinen 15. und 16. Nachtjagdsieg.||Oberfeldwebel Struening (sic) achieved his 15th and 16th nocturnal aerial victory last night.|
- For a list of Luftwaffe night fighter aces see List of German World War II night fighter aces.
- For an explanation of the meaning of Luftwaffe unit designation see Organisation of the Luftwaffe during World War II.
- According to Scherzer as Leutnant (war officer) and pilot in the 8./Nachtjagdgeschwader 2.
- According to Scherzer as Hauptmann (war officer).
- Thomas and Davey 2005, p. 72.
- Thomas 1998, p. 365.
- Obermaier 1989, p. 67.
- Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 466.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 415.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 732.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 85.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 149.
- 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.
- Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8.
- 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.
- Thomas, Andrew and Davey, Chris (2005). Mosquito Aces of World War 2. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-878-2.
- 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.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, 1. Januar 1942 bis 31. Dezember 1943 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 2, 1 January 1942 to 31 December 1943] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2.
- Media related to Heinz Strüning at Wikimedia Commons
- "Heinz Strüning". Aces of the Luftwaffe. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
- "Heinz Strüning". Lexikon der Wehrmacht (in German). Retrieved 19 March 2012.
- Friedrich Schleep. "Heinz Strüning". Westönnen in Westfalen (in German). Retrieved 19 March 2012.
-  base of III./NJG 1 Dec 1944 until March 1945