|Born||9 June 1914
Matzenbach, district of Kusel in Rhineland-Palatinate
|Died||4 August 1988 (aged 74)
|Allegiance|| Nazi Germany
|Years of service||–1945, –1972|
|Unit||JG 51, JG 105, JG 6|
|Commands held||III./JG 51, JG 6|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross|
Richard Leppla (9 June 1914 – 4 August 1988) was a German Luftwaffe ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) during World War II. Leppla claimed 68 aerial victories claimed in over 500 combat missions. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Leppla was born on 9 June 1914 in Matzenbach, joining the army as a cadet in 1934, he transferred to the Luftwaffe in 1935 and was an Oberleutnant with 3 Staffel, Jagdgeschwader 51 (JG 51—51st fighter wing) when the war started.
Leppla was Staffelkapitän (squadron leader) by March 1940, and claimed his first confirmed victory on 10 May, a Dutch Fokker G.I. By July he had claimed five victories, and during the Battle of Britain Hauptmann Leppla claimed eight more and was appointed Gruppenkommandeur (group commander) of III./JG 51.
Leppla then took part in Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, quickly raising his score and being awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 27 July 1941 after downing 27 aircraft.
His 40th victim fell 10 October 1941 and his 50th came on 9 February 1942. Leppla was severely wounded in August 1942, losing the vision in one eye after colliding with a landing Junkers Ju 52.
After a period of hospitalization in December 1942 Leppla was assigned to command Jagdfliegerschule 5 (later renamed JG 105), a position he held until August 1943.
He then served in the West German Air Force, reaching the rank of Oberst before retiring from active service in 1972.
Leppla flew over 500 combat missions and claimed 68 victories (13 on the western front and the 55 on the Russian front). Richard Leppla died of natural causes in his hometown 4 August 1988 when 74 years old.
- Iron Cross (1939) 2nd and 1st Class
- German Cross in Gold on 9 December 1941 as Hauptmann in the III./JG 51
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 27 July 1941 as Hauptmann and Gruppenkommandeur of the III./JG 51
- Weal 2001, p. 47.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 276.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 289.
- 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.
- 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.
- Weal, John (2001). Bf 109 Aces of the Russian Front. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-084-1.
Major Gerhard Schöpfel
|Commander of Jagdgeschwader 6 Horst Wessel
17 April 1945 – 8 May 1945