1 June 1914|
Pinnow, Province of Pomerania
|Died||8 August 1995
Wennigsen, Lower Saxony
|Years of service||1933–1945|
|Unit||LG 2, JG 77, JG 52,
JG 103, JG 25, JG 11, JG 1
|Commands held||JG 77, JG 52, JG 103, JG 25,
JG 11, JG 1
Herbert Ihlefeld (1 June 1914 – 8 August 1995) was a German World War II fighter ace who served in the Luftwaffe from 1936 until the very end of World War II in May 1945. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. 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. He claimed 132 enemy aircraft shot down; nine in the Spanish Civil War, 67 on the Eastern Front, and 56 on the Western Front, including 15 four-engined bombers and 26 Spitfires. He survived being shot down eight times during his 1,000 combat missions.
World War II
Ihlefeld was born on 1 June 1914 in Pinnow, (at the time in the Province of Pomerania), a province of the Kingdom of Prussia. In August 1938, he was assigned to the I(J)./Lehrgeschwader 2 (LG 2—2nd Demonstration Wing), an operational training unit. He flew in the invasion of Poland, and in the battles of France and Britain. In July 1940, "Ihle" was now Staffelkapitän (squadron leader) of 1.(J)/LG 2, leading it during the Battle of Britain. He was awarded the Ritterkreuz during September 1940, for 24 claimed kills.
In April 1941, the unit was transferred to the Balkans to take part in the invasion of Yugoslavia. During one of his first missions, strafing an airfield near Niš, Ihlefeld was shot down by anti-aircraft fire and captured by Yugoslavian soldiers. While in their custody, he was allegedly severely beaten, and threatened with execution by firing squad. He was rescued by German troops after eight days in captivity, and returned to Germany to recover. After a few weeks, "Ihle" returned to participate in the assault on Crete, claiming a Hawker Hurricane shot down for his 36th claim. Soon after, LG 2 was rearmed and remustered as I./Jagdgeschwader 77 (JG 77—77th Fighter Wing) in time for Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Ihlefeld retaining command of I./JG 77.
In the spring of 1942, a series of multiple victories (five aircraft on 24 March, seven on 30 March and seven on 20 April), saw Ihlefeld become the fifth pilot to reach 100 victories. During the period of Ihlefeld's leadership, I./JG 77 was credited with the destruction of 323 enemy aircraft while losing only 17 Messerschmitt Bf 109s.
In June 1942, Ihlefeld became Geschwaderkommodore (Wing Commander) of the famed Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52—52nd Fighter Wing). On 22 July 1942, whilst flying over the front in his Storch, he was shot down and badly wounded by Soviet fighters, this took him out of the front line until July 1943, when he joined the newly formed Jagdgeschwader 25 as Geschwaderkommodore, leading the group's high-altitude Bf 109s in ultimately unsuccessful operations against Royal Air Force Mosquitos, and later United States Air Force (USAAF) heavy bomber formations in Reichsverteidigung missions.
In May 1944, he became Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 11 (JG 11—11th Fighter Wing), briefly before switching to Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 1 (JG 1—1st Fighter Wing), overseeing the period where elements of the Geschwader were equipped late in the war with the He 162 Volksjäger.
- Spanish Medalla Militar
- Spanish Cross in Silver with Swords
- Wound Badge in Black
- Front Flying Clasp of the Luftwaffe in Gold with Pennant "1000"
- Combined Pilots-Observation Badge
- Iron Cross (1939)
- Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe (12 June 1941)
- German Cross in Gold on 9 April 1942 as Hauptmann in the I./JG 77
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
- Mentioned six times in the Wehrmachtbericht
References in the Wehrmachtbericht
|Date||Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording||Direct English translation|
|Friday, 27 June 1941||Hauptmann Ihlefeld, Kommandeur einer Jagdfliegergruppe, errang am 26. Juni seinen 39. und 40. Luftsieg.||Hauptmann Ihlefeld, commander of a fighter group, achieved on 26 June his 39th and 40th aerial victories.|
|Thursday, 26 March 1942||Hauptmann Ihlefeld schoß am 24. März seinen 70. bis 74. Gegner im Luftkampf ab.||Hauptmann Ihlefeld shot down on 24 March his 70th to 74th enemy in aerial combat.|
|Tuesday, 31 March 1942||Hauptmann Ihlefeld errang mit sieben Abschüssen seinen 82. Luftsieg.||Hauptmann Ihlefeld achieved with seven kills his 82nd aerial victory.|
|Monday, 20 April 1942||Hauptmann Ihlefeld errang an der Ostfront seinen 85. bis 88. Luftsieg.||Hauptmann Ihlefeld achieved on the Eastern front his 85th to 88th aerial victory.|
|Tuesday, 21 April 1942||Hauptmann Ihlefeld errang gestern an der Ostfront seinen 89. bis 95., Oberleutnant Geißhardt der gleichen Jagdfliegergruppe seinen 52. bis 56. Luftsieg.||Hauptmann Ihlefeld achieved yesterday on the Eastern front his 89th to 95th, Oberleutnant Geißhardt of the same fighter group his 52nd to 56th aerial victory.|
|Thursday, 23 April 1942||Hauptmann Ihlefeld errang am gestrigen Tag an der Ostfront seinen 98. bis 101. Luftsieg.||Hauptmann Ihlefeld achieved yesterday at the Eastern front his 98th to 101st aerial victory.|
- According to Scherzer in the I.(J)/LG 2
- J. S. A. Hayward 1998, p.146
- Berger 2000, p. 139.
- Thomas 1997, p. 317.
- Obermaier 1989, p. 31.
- Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 204.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 239.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 413.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 54.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 39.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 591.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 67.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 73.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 91.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 92.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 94.
- 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.
- Forsyth, Robert (2011). Aces of the Legion Condor. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84908-347-8.
- Hayward, Joel S. (2001). Stopped at Stalingrad: The Luftwaffe and Hitler's Defeat in the East 1942–1943. University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-1146-0
- 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.
- 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 (2003). Eichenlaubträger 1940 – 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe I Abraham – Huppertz [Oak Leaves Bearers 1940 – 1945 Contemporary History in Color I Abraham – Huppertz] (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 978-3-932381-20-1.
- 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, 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.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, 1. September 1939 bis 31. Dezember 1941 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 1, 1 September 1939 to 31 December 1941] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2.
- 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.
- "Lexikon der Wehrmacht". Herbert Ihlefeld. Retrieved 27 March 2007.
- "das-ritterkreuz.de". Herbert Ihlefeld. Retrieved 31 May 2007.
- "Jagdgeschwader 52". Herbert Ihlefeld. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
Major Heinrich Bär
|Commander of Jagdgeschwader 1 Oesau
May 20, 1944 – May 8, 1945
Major Anton Hackl
|Commander of Jagdgeschwader 11
May 1, 1944 – May, 1944
Major Günther Specht
|Commander of Jagdgeschwader 25
July, 1943 – December, 1943
Oberstleutnant Friedrich Beckh
|Commander of Jagdgeschwader 52
June 22, 1942 – October 28, 1942
Oberstleutnant Dietrich Hrabak
|Commander of Jagdgeschwader 103
December 7, 1942 – July 20, 1943
Major Hans von Hahn