Gerhard Schöpfel

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Gerhard Schöpfel
Gerhard Schöpfel
Born (1912-12-19)19 December 1912
Died 17 May 2003(2003-05-17) (aged 90)
Bergisch Gladbach-Refrath
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Balkenkreuz (Iron Cross) Luftwaffe
Years of service 1937–45
Rank Major
Unit JG 26, JG 54, JG 4, JG 6
Commands held JG 26, JG 4, JG 6

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Other work law

Gerhard Schöpfel (19 December 1912 – 17 May 2003) was a German pilot in the Luftwaffe during World War II. He claimed 45-victories and was recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross of Nazi Germany. Schöpfel was a commander of (amongst others) the fighter wing Jagdgeschwader 26.

Military career[edit]

Gerhard "Gerd" Schöpfel was born on 19 December 1912 at Erfurt in Thüringen.[1][2] Schöpfel was initially assigned to I./Jagdgeschwader 233 (JG 233—233rd Fighter Wing).[2] However, in June 1938 he was transferred to the Stab (HQ) flight of I./Jagdgeschwader 334 (JG 334—334th Fighter Wing), which became I./Jagdgeschwader 132 (JG 132—132nd Fighter Wing) and, ultimately, I./Jagdgeschwader 26 (JG 26—26th Fighter Wing). Oberleutnant Schöpfel was assigned as commander of 9./JG 26 (9th Squadron) on 23 September 1939.[1][2] Whilst there, he achieved 20 victories in the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain,[2] the eleventh Luftwaffe pilot to reach that milestone.

On 1 December 1941 he was promoted to Major[1][2] and on 6 December became Geschwaderkommodore of JG 26[1] when Galland was again promoted, this time to General der Jagdflieger. Through 1942, JG 26 and Jagdgeschwader 2 (JG 2) were the only fighter squadrons in northern France, and took on a defensive rôle as the RAF took the fight back to occupied Europe.[2] Schöpfel left JG 26 on 10 January 1943, with 45 victories, to take up a number of administrative roles; firstly as the I-a (Operations Officer) at Jafü Brittany.[2][1] He then went to serve as Fighter Operations Officer for the South Italy Command[1] from July (during the critical Sicily landings) and then Jafü (Fighter Leader) Norway from January 1944.[1]

He returned to a combat command on 1 May 1944, briefly joining the staff of III./Jagdgeschwader 54 (JG 54—54th Fighter Wing) for a month.[2][1] This was based in Germany on Reich Defense, and he mentored the newly promoted Gruppenkommandeur Siegfried Schnell who had previously commanded 9./JG 2 alongside Schöpfel on the Channel Front. Then, on 1 June 1944, he was appointed Geschwaderkommodore of the newly formed Jagdgeschwader 4,[2] also based on the Channel Front in Defense of the Reich. The original Gruppe I./JG 4, formed in mid 1943, had previously been based in Romania defending the oilfields, and was currently based in northern Italy. The new II. and III./JG 4 Gruppen were authorised in mid July, and I./JG 4 transferred to Germany to join them to bring his Geschwader up to full strength. However, on 6 August wounded he was shot down near Schwerin flying Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6 (Werknummer 440728—factory number).[2] His injuries were serious enough that he had to give up his command on 6 August to ObstLt Gerhard Michalski.[1]

In October 1944 Schöpfel was appointed to the newly created role of Jafü (Fighter Leader) Hungary.[1] In February 1945 he commanded the Luftkriegsschule 2 (training school) at Gatow.[2][1] On 10 April he was appointed the final Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 6 (JG 6—6th Fighter Wing)[1] based in northern Czechoslovakia.[2]

After serving on the Eastern Front for approximately one month, Schöpfel was captured by Soviet forces, and was interned for four and a half years in the Soviet Union. He returned to Germany upon his release in December 1949.[1][2]

Later life[edit]

He took jobs as a chauffeur and a merchant before obtaining an executive position with Air Lloyd in Bonn in the 1960s,[1][2] in an office next to his former commander Adolf Galland.[3] He died of natural causes on 17 May 2003 aged 90.[1]




  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Luftwaffe Officer Career Summaries website
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Gerhard Schöpfel". Aces of the Luftwaffe. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  3. ^ Luftwaffe 39-45 Historia website.
  4. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 422.
  5. ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 680.


  • Caldwell, Donald L (1993). JG26 – Top Guns of the Luftwaffe Ballantine ISBN 0-87938-845-5
  • 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.
  • Musciano, Walter (1989). Messerschmitt Aces Tab Books ISBN 0-8306-8379-8
  • 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 Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
  • Spick, Mike (2003). Luftwaffe Fighter Aces Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-560-1
  • Spick, Mike (2006). Aces of the Reich. Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-675-6
  • Sundin, Claes & Bergström. Christer (1997). Luftwaffe Fighter Aircraft in Profile. Altglen, PA: Schiffer Military History. ISBN 0-7643-0291-4 including a colour profile of aircraft (#5)
  • Weal, John (1996). Bf109D/E Aces 1939-41. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-85532-487-3.
  • Weal, John (1999). Bf109F/G/K Aces of the Western Front. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-85532-905-0. including a colour profile of aircraft (#24)
  • Weal, John (1996). Focke-Wulf Fw190 Aces of the Western Front. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-85532-595-0. including a colour profiles of aircraft (#18 & 25)
Preceded by
Oberst Adolf Galland
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 26 Schlageter
6 December 1941 – 10 January 1943
Succeeded by
Major Josef Priller
Preceded by
Generalmajor Carl-August Schumacher
Commander of Jagdfliegerführer Norwegen
18 January 1944 – May 1944
Succeeded by
Oberstleutnant Günther Scholz
Preceded by
Hauptmann Walther Dahl
Commander of Jagdgeschwader z.b.V.
6 June 1944 – 15 June 1944
Succeeded by
Stab/Jagdgeschwader 4
Preceded by
none: unit renamed
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 4
15 June 1944 – 6 August 1944
Succeeded by
Oberleutnant Gerhard Michalski
Preceded by
none: new command
Commander of Jagdfliegerführer Ungarn
August 1944 – 7 January 1945
Succeeded by
none: command disbanded
Preceded by
Major Gerhard Barkhorn
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 6 Horst Wessel
10 April 1945 – 17 April 1945
Succeeded by
Major Richard Leppla