Günter Steinhausen

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Günther Steinhausen
Born 15 September 1917
Lobkevitz on the isle of Rügen
Died 6 September 1942(1942-09-06) (aged 24)
near El Alamein
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Balkenkreuz (Iron Cross) Luftwaffe
Rank Leutnant
Unit JG 27
Battles/wars

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Günther Steinhausen (born 15 September 1917 in Lobkevitz on the isle of Rügenkilled in action, 6 September 1942 near El Alamein, Egypt) was a World War II Luftwaffe Flying ace with 40 combat victories to his name. He was also a posthumous recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes). 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 tangible measure of their skill and success.

Biography[edit]

Günther Steinhausen was born 15 September 1917 at Lobkevitz, on the island of Rügen. After flight training, Steinhausen was posted, as an Unteroffizier, to 1./JG 27 (the 1st squadron of the 27th Fighter Wing) in the spring of 1941, transferring with the unit to North Africa soon after.

The first Luftwaffe fighter unit in Africa, they were initially based at Ain-el-Gazala, just west of the besieged port of Tobruk. Flying the older Bf 109E-7, it was still found to be eminently competitive against the British squadrons based there. He recorded his first victory on 9 June, shooting down a Hawker Hurricane north of Tobruk. On 26 August 1941, Steinhausen claimed his fifth victory: probably a Tomahawk IIb AK374 of No. 250 Squadron flown by British ace Sgt. Maurice Hards (7 victories) who force-landed wounded near Mersa Matruh.[1][2] In August, as the remaining Gruppen of Jagdgeschwader 27 transferred in to North Africa from Russia as reinforcements, I./JG 27 rotated its squadrons back to Germany to re-equip onto the Bf 109F.

After the British Operation Crusader in November and December had relieved Tobruk and driven the Axis back, in January Rommel had sufficient fuel supplies to launch his next counter-attack, and he took Benghazi on 29 January, as the aircrew retraced their steps to airfields they had abandoned only a month or so previously. On 28 March Steinhausen claimed his 10th victory, when he shot down a Kittyhawk fighter of 94 Squadron RAF flown by P/O Crosbie, near Timimi.

Four days after his 13th victory on 22 May 1942, Rommel launched his offensive that would eventually take the Axis forces right across Libya and into Egypt, almost to the gates of Alexandria. It was this time, as with many other pilots of JG 27 that was to be particularly successful for Steinhausen. With a rush of multiple victories he advanced his tally: a pair of South African Tomahawks on 31 May, followed by four fighters in the El Adem area on 16 June (20-23v.) and then a further four Hurricanes (of No. 238 Sqn (RAF)) on 28 June over Sidi Haneish (27-30v.).

On 9 July, Steinhausen shot down a United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) B-24 Liberator, ("Eager Beaver"), and only the second four-engine bomber claimed by JG 27. One of six bombers of the Halverston Detachment that had been sent to attack an Axis supply convoy, it was his 34th victory.[3] By now the front had stabilised at the Alamein line and both sides paused to draw breath, and build up supplies for their next offensives. In the interim, he was awarded the Ehrenpokal (Honour Goblet) on 5 August, and then the German Cross in Gold on 21 August, for his success to date.

At the end of August, activity picked up again, and Rommel launched his assault on the fortified Alamein line at the beginning of September. On 6 September 1942, on an early-morning patrol, Fw Steinhausen shot down a Hurricane of No. 7 Sqn (SAAF) or No. 274 Sqn (RAF) near El Alamein for his 40th victory. However, he was then himself shot down in his Bf 109F-4 "White 5" (Werknummer 13272—factory number) southeast of El Alamein.[4] His body was never recovered. It is highly likely that James Francis Edwards was his victor since his combat report tallies with the action, though he only claimed a "damaged" Bf 109.[5]

Günther Steinhausen was credited with 40 victories, all recorded over the Western Desert, all but two of those were over single-seat fighters. On 3 November he was posthumously awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) and promoted to Leutnant.

Aerial victory claims[edit]

Steinhausen was credited with 40 aerial victories.

Chronicle of aerial victories
Victory Date Time Type Location Victory Date Time Type Location
– 1. Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 27 –
1 9 June 1941 05:05 Hurricane[6] north Tobruk 21 16 June 1942 18:10 P-40[7] east El Adem
2 18 June 1941 Brewster[6] Buq Buq 22 16 June 1942 18:14 P-40[7] southwest El Adem
3 2 August 1941 18:50 Hurricane[6] 40 km (25 mi) northwest Mersa Matruh 23 16 June 1942 18:20 P-40[7] east Gambut
4 2 August 1941 18:50 Hurricane[6] 40 km (25 mi) northwest Mersa Matruh 24 27 June 1942 08:58 Martin 167[7] west-southwest El Dabaa
5 26 August 1941 P-40[8] north Sidi Barrani 25 27 June 1942 18:27 Hurricane[7] southwest Fouka
6 14 September 1941 18:15 P-40[8] southeast Gasr el Ahrid 26 27 June 1942 18:30 Hurricane[7] southwest Fouka
7 7 January 1942 13:02 P-40[9] northeast Ajdabiya 27 28 June 1942 11:25 Hurricane[7] southwest Fouka
8 9 January 1942 15:05 P-40[10] east Ajdabiya 28 28 June 1942 11:30 Hurricane[7] south Fouka
9 9 January 1942 15:30 P-40[10] east Ajdabiya 29 28 June 1942 11:31 Hurricane[7] southwest Fouka
10 28 March 1942 13:40 P-40[10] south Timimi 30 28 June 1942 11:33 Hurricane[7] southwest Fouka
11 11 April 1942 10:50 P-40[11] north Bir Habex 31 3 July 1942 09:15 P-40[12] east-southeast El Alamein
12 25 April 1942 10:10 P-40[11] east-southeast Ain el Gazala 32 4 July 1942 17:05 Hurricane[12] 20 km (12 mi) south-southeast El Alamein
13 22 May 1942 07:50 P-46[11] 20 km (12 mi) south Martuba 33 5 July 1942 18:00 P-46[12] Borg El Arab
14 28 May 1942 10:00 Hurricane[11] 5 km (3.1 mi) north Gasr el Ahrid 34 9 July 1942 18:00 B-24[12] 100 km (62 mi) northwest Bir el Astas
15 31 May 1942 07:25 P-40[11] north Bir Hakeim 35 22 August 1942 14:07 Spitfire[12] 7 km (4.3 mi) south El Hammam
16 31 May 1942 07:35 P-40[11] north Bir Hakeim 36 25 August 1942 12:14 Hurricane[12] south El Alamein
17 9 June 1942 07:53 P-40[11] south Mteifel Chebir 37 1 September 1942 17:46 Hurricane[13] Alam el Halfa
18 12 June 1942 19:03 Hurricane[7] west El Adem 38 3 September 1942 15:43 Hurricane[13] north Manga el Rahla
19 12 June 1942 19:14 P-40[7] Ssouthwest El Adem 39 3 September 1942 15:46 Hurricane[13] north Manga el Rahla
20 16 June 1942 18:00 Hurricane[7] east El Adem 40 6 September 1942 07:57 P-40[13] southeast El Alamein

Awards[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ According to Obermaier on 5 August 1942.[15]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. 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. 
  • Heaton, Colin; Lewis, Anne-Marie (2012). The Star of Africa: The Story of Hans Marseille, the Rogue Luftwaffe Ace. London, UK: Zenith Press. ISBN 978-0-7603-4393-7. 
  • Molesworth, Carl (2011). P-40 Warhawk vs Bf 109, MTO 1942–44. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84908-469-7. 
  • Obermaier, Ernst (1989). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe Jagdflieger 1939 – 1945 [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force 1939 – 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. 
  • Patzwall, Klaus D. (2008). Der Ehrenpokal für besondere Leistung im Luftkrieg [The Honor Goblet for Outstanding Achievement in the Air War] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-08-3. 
  • Prien, Jochen; Rodeike, Peter; Stemmer, Gerhard (1998). Messerschmidt Bf 109 im Einsatz bei Stab und I./Jagdgeschwader 27, 1939 – 1945 [Messerschmidt Bf 109 in Action with the Headquarters Unit and I./Jagdgeschwader 27, 1939 – 1945] (in German). Eutin, Germany: Struve-Druck. ISBN 978-3-923457-46-5. 
  • Ring, Hans (1969). Fighters over the desert: the air battles in the Western Desert, June 1940 to December 1942. London, UK: Neville Spearman. ISBN 978-0-85435-060-5. 
  • 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 Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Scutts, Jerry (1994). Bf 109 Aces of North Africa and the Mediterranean. London, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85532-448-0. 
  • Shores, Christopher (1999). Aces High – Volume 2: A Further Tribute to the Most Notable Fighter Aces of the British and Commonwealth Air Forces in World War II. London: Grub Street. ISBN 1-902304-03-9. 
  • Shores, Christopher F.; Massimello, Giovanni; Guest, Russell (2012). A History of the Mediterranean Air War, 1940–1945 Volume 2: North African Desert, February 1942 – March 1943. London, UK: Grub Street. ISBN 978-1-909166-12-7. 
  • Weal, John (2003). Jagdgeschwader 27 'Afrika'. London, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-538-9.