Günther Scheel

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Günther Scheel
Günther Scheel.jpg
Günther Scheel
Born (1921-11-23)23 November 1921
Dannenberg, Germany
Died 16 July 1943(1943-07-16) (aged 21)
MIA (Missing in Action)
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Balkenkreuz (Iron Cross) Luftwaffe
Years of service 1940–43
Rank Leutnant
Unit JG 54
Battles/wars

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (posthumously)

Günther Scheel (23 November 1921 – 16 July 1943) was a Luftwaffe fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (posthumously) during World War II. Günther Scheel holds the unique record in World War II of shooting down more aircraft than he flew missions. He was credited with 71 aerial victories—that is, 71 aerial combat encounters resulting in the destruction of the enemy aircraft—in just 70 missions. All his victories were recorded over the Eastern Front.

Military career[edit]

Following flight training, Scheel was posted to 3. Staffel (3rd squadron) of Jagdgeschwader 54 (JG 54—54th Fighter Wing)—sometimes cited as 2. Staffel[1][2]—which was based on the northern sector of the Eastern Front in January 1943.[Note 1] At that time, most fighter activity was still involved in covering the blockade of Leningrad. He flew many ground attack missions destroying a number of locomotives and other vehicles. Scheel recorded his first aerial victories on 9 February 1943 by shooting down a Lavochkin La-5 and a Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov LaGG-3 fighter. After that he rarely flew a day without claiming a victory. On 30 May, he shot down four fighters (18-21v.) and did so again on 21 June (26-29v.). By the time of his 50th mission on 22 June his score was 30 victories.

However it was in July, when his unit was transferred to Orel to support the Kursk offensive that he hit a phenomenal purple patch, shooting down 41 planes in just 16 days. On the opening day (5 July) he shot down 8 aircraft (31-38v.), then 7 aircraft on 7 July (40-46v.). He shot down five fighters on the 10th (53-57v.) and seven more on 13 July (62-67v.), including three Yakovlev Yak-9 fighters in just two minutes.[3]

But with such intense air activity, his luck finally ran out on the morning of 16 July 1943. Flying Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-5 (Werknummer 710 002, Yellow-8 - the 3. Staffel unit colour) he shot down two fighters, but then collided with the wreckage of the second and crashed near Bolkhov.[1]

The loss report read: "Ltn Scheel took off at 07:07 hours together with 3. Staffel of I./JG 54 in order to provide a Stuka formation with fighter escort in the vicinity of Orel. After completion of this mission, Ltn Scheel shot down two Yak-9s, during a subsequent fighter sweep. During the second combat, his 71st in total, his left wing hit the enemy aircraft. The wing broke off at the fuselage, which caused the aircraft to immediately start descending from an altitude of 800 metres. In 50 metres altitude the aircraft caught fire and exploded on impact in Planquadrat 64356, at 8.06 hours. Point of impact: about 15 kilometres northeast of Bolkhov".[4]

In a tour of only six months he flew 70 missions and scored 71 victories. All his victories were recorded over the Eastern Front and included 20 Il-2 Sturmoviks. He was posthumously awarded the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold, the Ehrenpokal, and finally the Ritterkreuz on 5 December 1943.

Missing in Action[edit]

Reports of his fate vary: some say he was killed in the crash and subsequent explosion, others that he bailed out at 200 meters (660 feet) and landed behind enemy lines. Scheel was reportedly seen in a camp at Yelabuga in 1946, and receiving medical treatment in a camp at Solny in 1948.[1] However, he officially remains missing in action.

Aerial victory credits[edit]

Scheel was credited with 71 aerial victories claimed in 70 combat missions, all of which were on the Eastern Front.[5]

  This and the ♠ (Ace of spades) indicates those aerial victories which made Scheel an "ace-in-a-day", a term which designates a fighter pilot who has shot down five or more airplanes in a single day.

Chronicle of aerial victories
Victory Date Time Type Location/Planquadrat Victory Date Time Type Location/Planquadrat
– 2. Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 54 –
1 9 February 1943 9:20 La-5 10 123[6] 37♠ 5 July 1943 18:38 Il-2 63 473[7]
2 9 February 1943 15:25 LaGG-3 10 142[6] 38♠ 5 July 1943 18:39 Il-2 63 451[7]
3 14 February 1943 13:21 Il-2 10 473[6] 39 6 July 1943 11:48 La-5 63 568[7]
4 14 February 1943 13:35 Il-2 10 452[6] 40♠ 7 July 1943 8:30 Il-2 53 561[8]
5 18 February 1943 8:20 Il-2 10 532[6] 41♠ 7 July 1943 8:31 Il-2 56 563[8]
6 23 February 1943 10:59 La-5 10 172[9] 42♠ 7 July 1943 8:32 Il-2 53 592[8]
7 21 March 1943 8:45 LaGG-3 00 193[10] 43♠ 7 July 1943 8:32 Il-2 53 591[8]
8 24 March 1943 8:53 Il-2 10 193[10] 44♠ 7 July 1943 14:12 Boston 63 691[8]
9 3 April 1943 17:57 Airacobra 10 141[11] 45♠ 7 July 1943 14:15 Yak-7 63 514[8]
10 8 April 1943 16:28 La-5 90 252[11] 46♠ 7 July 1943 14:20 Pe-2 63 592[8]
11 16 April 1943 12:04 La-5
[11]
47 8 July 1943 8:04 Boston 63 561[8]
12 16 April 1943 12:25 La-5
[11]
48 8 July 1943 17:31 La-5 63 531[8]
13 1 May 1943 15:55 La-5 00 164[11] 49 8 July 1943 17:40 Airacobra 53 693[8]
14 5 May 1943 11:45 LaGG-3 00 152[11] 50 9 July 1943 4:45 Airacobra 63 576[8]
15 5 May 1943 11:48 LaGG-3 00 161[11] 51 9 July 1943 5:11 Il-2 63 575[8]
16 24 May 1943 19:37 Il-2 09 791[12] 52 9 July 1943 5:11 Il-2 63 579[8]
17 24 May 1943 19:38 Il-2 09 872[12] 53♠ 10 July 1943 7:19 Airacobra 63 753[8]
18 30 May 1943 13:48 LaGG-3 10 113[12] 54♠ 10 July 1943 7:20 Airacobra 63 754[8]
19 30 May 1943 19:50 LaGG-3 11 783[12] 55♠ 10 July 1943 7:22 Airacobra 63 743[8]
20 30 May 1943 19:51 LaGG-3 11 784[12] 56♠ 10 July 1943 13:33 LaGG-3 63 543[8]
21 30 May 1943 20:18 Curtiss P-40 10 123[12] 57♠ 10 July 1943 18:50 Yak-1 63 714[13]
22 5 June 1943 12:01 LaGG-3 10 451[12] 58 11 July 1943 4:24 LaGG-3 63 572[13]
23 5 June 1943 12:10 LaGG-3 20 151[12] 59 11 July 1943 4:26 LaGG-3 63 573[13]
24 10 June 1943 18:16 La-5 10 692[12] 60 11 July 1943 4:33 La-5 63 597[13]
25 18 June 1943 2:02 La-5 00 334[14] 61 12 July 1943 7:09 Il-2 64 753[13]
26 21 June 1943 10:14 LaGG-3 10 261[14] 62♠ 13 July 1943 11:11 La-5 73 144[13]
27 21 June 1943 10:15 LaGG-3 10 262[14] 63♠ 13 July 1943 11:13 Yak-9 73 123[13]
28 21 June 1943 15:25 La-5 20 112[14] 64♠ 13 July 1943 11:13 Yak-9 73 123[13]
29 21 June 1943 20:05 LaGG-3 20 131[14] 65♠ 13 July 1943 14:04 Il-2 54 413[13]
30 22 June 1943 2:25 LaGG-3 90 634[14] 66♠ 13 July 1943 14:12 Il-2 54 442[13]
31♠ 5 July 1943 4:18 La-5 63 612[7] 67♠ 13 July 1943 19:12 La-5 64 221[13]
32♠ 5 July 1943 10:02 Curtiss P-40 63 531[7] 68 14 July 1943 15:45 Il-2 54 481[13]
33♠ 5 July 1943 10:06 Curtiss P-40 63 334[7] 69 16 July 1943 5:25 Spitfire 54 443[13]
34♠ 5 July 1943 12:02 Curtiss P-40 63 583[7] 70 16 July 1943 7:55 Yak-9 54 412[13]
35♠ 5 July 1943 18:35 Il-2 63 481[7] 71 16 July 1943 8:05 Yak-9 54 356[13]
36♠ 5 July 1943 18:37 Il-2 63 364[7]

Awards[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ For an explanation of Luftwaffe unit designations see Organization of the Luftwaffe during World War II.
  2. ^ According to Scherzer as pilot in the 3./Jagdgeschwader 54.[19]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Aces of the Luftwaffe website.
  2. ^ Bergström 2007, pp. 53, 71, 73.
  3. ^ Bergström 2007, p. 87.
  4. ^ Bergström 2007, p. 103., taken from unpublished source JG 54 Grünherz Archiv, courtesy Günther Rosipal.
  5. ^ Obermaier 1989, p. 192.
  6. ^ a b c d e Prien et al. 2012, p. 169.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Prien et al. 2012, p. 176.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Prien et al. 2012, p. 177.
  9. ^ Prien et al. 2012, p. 170.
  10. ^ a b Prien et al. 2012, p. 172.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Prien et al. 2012, p. 173.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i Prien et al. 2012, p. 174.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Prien et al. 2012, p. 178.
  14. ^ a b c d e f Prien et al. 2012, p. 175.
  15. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 401.
  16. ^ Patzwall 2008, p. 178.
  17. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 375.
  18. ^ Von Seemen 1976, p. 296.
  19. ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 657.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bergström, Christer (2007). Kursk—The Final Air Battle: July 1943. Hersham, Surrey: Classic Publications. ISBN 978-1-903223-88-8. 
  • 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. 
  • 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; Stemmer, Gerhard; Rodeike, Peter; Bock, Winfried (2012). Die Jagdfliegerverbände der Deutschen Luftwaffe 1934 bis 1945—Teil 12/III—Einsatz im Osten—4.2. bis 31.12.1943 [The Fighter Units of the German Air Force 1934 to 1945—Part 12/III—Action in the East—4 February to 31 December 1943] (in German). Eutin, Germany: Buchverlag Rogge. ISBN 978-3-942943-07-9. 
  • 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. 
  • Von Seemen, Gerhard (1976). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 : die Ritterkreuzträger sämtlicher Wehrmachtteile, Brillanten-, Schwerter- und Eichenlaubträger in der Reihenfolge der Verleihung : Anhang mit Verleihungsbestimmungen und weiteren Angaben [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 : The Knight's Cross Bearers of All the Armed Services, Diamonds, Swords and Oak Leaves Bearers in the Order of Presentation: Appendix with Further Information and Presentation Requirements] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7909-0051-4. 
  • Weal, John (2001). Jagdgeschwader 54 'Grünherz'. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-286-9. 
  • Weal, John (2007). More Bf109 Aces of the Russian Front. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Limited. ISBN 1-84603-177-X.
  • Weal, John (1995). Focke-Wulf Fw190 Aces of the Russian Front. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Limited. ISBN 1-85532-518-7.