Werner Hoffmann (nightfighter pilot)
13 January 1918|
|Died||8 July 2011
|Years of service||1936–1945|
|Commands held||I./Nachtjagdgeschwader 5|
World War II
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross|
Werner Hoffmann (13 January 1918 – 8 July 2011) was a German Luftwaffe night fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Werner Hoffmann claimed 51 aerial victories, 50 of them at night.[Notes 1]
Hoffmann began flying gliders in 1932 and joined the Luftwaffe in December 1936, learning to fly with the Luftkriegschule near Potsdam. He was awarded his pilot's badge in June 1938 and was then posted to 7./JG 234. III./JG 234 was eventually redesignated I./ZG 52 in May 1939 and was equipped with the new Bf 110 Zerstörer fighter. Lt. Hoffmann was assigned to 4./ZG 2 in early 1940 and participated in the Battle of France. He claimed his first victory, a Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter over Calais, on 24 May 1940. He was slightly wounded in June and spent some time in hospital.
In July 1940 Hoffmann was transferred to Ergänzungs-Zerstörergruppe Værløse as an instructor with the rank of Oberleutnant and appointed Staffelkapitän (squadron leader). He remained with the unit until 3 August 1941, when the unit was disbanded. Hoffmann was posted as Staffelkapitän to 5./NJG 3 based at Schleswig.
On the night of 25/26 June 1942 Hoffmann shot down two twin-engine bombers during the 1,000-bomber raid on Bremen. Hauptmann Hoffmann was appointed Staffelkapitän of 4./NJG 5 on 11 February 1943. He then served with I./NJG 1, based at St Trond, in May and was acting Gruppenkommandeur (group leader) of I./NJG 5 in July 1943.
On 15 November Hoffmann was awarded the German Cross in Gold (Deutsches Kreuz in Gold) for 15 victories and by the end of 1943 had a victory total of 18. On 20 January 1944 Hoffmann had to bale out over Berlin when his aircraft was damaged by return fire from an RAF Lancaster. On the night of 28/29 January he shot down three Halifax bombers raiding Berlin and claimed two Lancaster bombers shot down the next night.
Hauptmann Hoffmann was awarded the Ritterkreuz for 31 victories in May 1944. On 29 June Hoffmann shot down a four-engine bomber but again bailed out when his aircraft received hits from defensive fire from the bomber. On the night of 7/8 July he shot down three RAF bombers. In late July 1944 I./NJG 5 was withdrawn to Stendal for re-equipment with the Ju 88 G-6. Deployed to East Prussia, Hoffmann claimed four victories over Soviet-flown aircraft around Libau during December 1944.
By early 1945 Hoffmann had 44 victories. Following the Soviet offensive on 12 January 1945, Major Hoffmann flew ground-attack operations against ground forces. Hoffmann claimed a further seven victories during 1945. On the night of 16/17 March Hoffmann shot down three Lancaster bombers before he was shot down in a Ju 88 G-6 near Nüremberg by a Mosquito Mk XXX night-fighter flown by ace F/L Dennis Hughes (5 victories) of No. 239 Squadron RAF. Hoffmann suffered severe bruising to his chest as a result of bailing out.
On 1 May 1945 Hoffmann joined 7./NJG 3, based at Husum. Following three months internment in the POW camp at Wiedelah Hoffmann was released. After the war he studied pharmacy and opened a dispensary in Goslar. In 1957 Hoffmann was engaged by Hoechst AG in Bremen in an advisory role.
Werner Hoffmann was credited with 51 victories in 192 missions. He recorded one victory by day and four were recorded over the Eastern Front. Hoffmann was recommended for the award of the Eichenlaub.
- Aviator badge (2 June 1938)
- Front Flying Clasp of the Luftwaffe in Gold
- Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe (28 February 1944)
- Iron Cross (1939)
- 2nd Class
- 1st Class
- German Cross in Gold (15 November 1943)
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 4 May 1944 as Hauptmann and Gruppenkommandeur of the I./Nachtjagdgeschwader 5 
- For a list of Luftwaffe night fighter aces see List of German World War II night fighter aces.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 192.
- 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.
- 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.