Kurt Sochatzy

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Kurt Sochatzy
Born 5 February 1915
Schloß Pragerhof, Austria-Hungary
Died 2 May 1996(1996-05-02) (aged 81)
Vienna, Austria
Allegiance Austria First Austrian Republic (to 1938)
 Nazi Germany (to 1945)
Austria Second Austrian Republic
Service/branch Österreichische Luftstreitkräfte (1935–38)
Luftwaffe (1938–45)
Österreichische Luftstreitkräfte (1956–76)
Years of service 1935–40
1956–76
Rank Oberleutnant (Wehrmacht)
Oberst (Bundesheer)
Unit Condor Legion
JG 3
Battles/wars

Spanish Civil War
World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Kurt Sochatzy (5 February 1915 – 2 May 1996) was a German Luftwaffe ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership - for the fighter pilots, it was a quantifiable measure of skill and success. On 3 August 1941 Kurt Sochatzy was shotdown in his Bf 109 and was captured by Soviet troops. He was held as a prisoner of war until 1947. During his career he was credited with 38 aerial victories.

Military career[edit]

Austrian by birth, Sochatzy joined the Luftstreitkräfte (Austrian Air Force) in 1935. After the German Anschluss of 1938, his unit was incorporated into the new Luftwaffe as I./JG 138 (renamed I./JG 134 in November 1938).[1] From February to June 1939, he was in Spain as part of the Condor Legion, serving with 3./Jagdgruppe 88, and was awarded the Spanienkreuz in Bronze mit Schwerten. Upon his return, as a Leutnant, he was assigned to I./JG 76 and participated in the Polish campaign at the start of the war.

Promoted to Oberleutnant in October, he was then transferred in January 1940 as Adjutant to the training unit Jagdfliegerschule 5. He also served as Staffelkapitän of 3./JFS 5 where, among others, he trained future aces Hans-Joachim Marseille, Walter Nowotny and Hans Strelow. He returned to the frontline after the Battle of Britain, on 15 December 1940, taking over command of 7./JG 3. He claimed his first victory in the unit's last days on the Western Front - shooting down an 603 Sqn Spitfire over the English Channel on 7 June 1941.[2][3] Four days later, III./JG 3 transferred to southern Poland for the invasion of Russia (Operation Barbarossa).

On 26 June he claimed his second victory, a Russian SB-2 bomber and four days later he shot down 3 more bombers to take his score to six. The Russian pilots suffered from poor training, obsolete tactics and desperate missions, and as the Wehrmacht raced across the Ukraine, Sochatzy's unit was constantly on the move to keep up with the advance. In fact, Sochatzy was one of the fastest scorers in the first month of the invasion - scoring an incredible 35 victories to the end of July, and second on to the 44 of Walter Oesau. Included in this total were five victories on both 9 July (13-17v.) and 23 July (27-31v.)

But he did not have it all his own way. On 16 July, return fire from two SB-3 bombers (his 25th and 26th victories) forced an emergency landing behind enemy lines. Despite being initially reported MIA, he eventually made it back to his unit. His luck ran out on 3 August flying his Bf109 F-2 (W.Nr 8217), when he was shot down engaging an Il-2 ground-attack bomber, possibly after colliding with an I-16 over Kiev.[4] Baling out he again landed behind enemy lines for a third time, but this time was captured and became a POW for the rest of the war.

At the time of his capture, Kurt Sochatzy had scored 38 victories in 180 missions. He also destroyed 2 trains and 27 aircraft on the ground in strafing attacks. In recognition of these achievements, he was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 12 August 1941. He was finally released, and repatriated to Austria in 1949 [5][6] He subsequently rejoined the Austrian Air Force and served in it until 1976, retiring with the rank of Oberst ('Colonel'). He died, of natural causes, on 2 May 1996, at the age of 81.

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ Aces of the Luftwaffe website.
  2. ^ Luftwaffe 39-45 Historia website.
  3. ^ Weal 2001, pg. 8.
  4. ^ Spick 2006, pg. 121.
  5. ^ Luftwaffe 39-45 Historia website.
  6. ^ Weal 2001, pg. 8.
  7. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 327.
Bibliography
  • Berger, Florian; Habisohn, Christian (2003). Ritterkreuzträger im Österreichischen Bundesheer 1955–1985 [Knight's Cross Bearers of the Austrian Armed Forces 1955–1985] (in German). Vienna, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 978-3-9501307-2-0. 
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [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. 
  • Mombeek, Eric (2001). "Jagdwaffe Vol 1, Sec3: Blitzkrieg and Sitzkrieg 1939 - 1940" Crowborough, East Sussex: Classic Publications Ltd ISBN 0-95-268677-5 incl. a colour profile of his aircraft
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • Spick, Mike (2006). Aces of the Reich. Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-675-6
  • Weal, John (2001). Bf109 Aces of the Russian Front. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Ltd ISBN 1-84176-084-6.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Oblt Erwin Neuerburg
Squadron Leader of 7./JG 3
15 December 1940 – 3 August 1941
Succeeded by
unknown