17 January 1891|
Stettin, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
|Died||18 November 1944
|Allegiance|| German Empire (to 1918)
Weimar Republic (to 1933)
|Years of service||1914–19, 1934–43|
|Unit||34th Infantry Regiment
210th Reserve Infantry Division
Flieger-Abteilung (Artillerie) 5
Flieger-Abteilung (Artillerie) 6
unidentified Kampfeinsitzerkommando (Combat Single-Seater Command)
|Commands held||JG 53|
|Battles/wars||World War I
World War II
|Awards||Pour le Mérite
House Order of Hohenzollern
Early life and infantry service
Hans Klein was born in Stettin, when it was still within the Kingdom of Prussia and the German Empire; today, Stettin is part of Poland because of changing national boundaries. Klein's birth date was 17 January 1891.
When World War I broke out in 1914, Klein joined the Prussian Army. He served first with the 34th Infantry Regiment, then with the 210th Reserve Infantry Regiment on the Western Front, beginning in October 1914. He was commissioned as an officer in March 1915.
World War I aerial service
Hans Klein transferred to aviation service in March 1916. He first flew with Flieger-Abteilung (Artillerie): Flier Detachment (Artillery) 5 and Flieger-Abteilung (Artillerie) 6 on artillery ranging and reconnaissance duties. He then served in an early ad hoc fighter unit, a Kampfeinsitzerkommando (Combat Single-Seater Command), claiming a 20 August 1916 aerial victory that could not be confirmed.
Klein was then posted to a fighter squadron, Jagdstaffel 4, on 4 November 1916. He was credited with his first confirmed aerial victory on 4 April 1917; by the time Bloody April ended, his tally was up to eight, including an observation balloon on the 7th and a pioneering night-time victory on the 8th. He scored his ninth victory on 6 May 1917; three days later, he was wounded in action.
Klein scored his tenth victory on 16 June 1917, and once again began to notch victories. On 11 July, he managed to shoot down two enemy balloons in two minutes for his 15th and 16th victories. He was wounded again on 13 July 1917, in combat versus Nieuport 17s of No. 29 Squadron RFC.
On 27 September 1917, Klein assumed command of Jagdstaffel 10. He began to score again on 2 October. He had already been awarded both classes of the Iron Cross and the Knight's Cross of the House Order of Hohenzollern. Now he qualified for the Pour le Merite with his 20th confirmed victory, scored on 18 October 1917. He would score two more victories in late November, before he was awarded the Pour Le Merite on 2 December 1917. Although he would not score again, he continued to fly until he was wounded again on 19 February 1918. He lost a digit to a British bullet fired by one of the Sopwith Camels of No. 54 Squadron RFC. Various sources say he lost either his right index finger or his thumb. Upon recovering, he served on ground duties with Jasta 10 on ground duties from 26 April 1918 until the end of the war.
Post World War I
After attaining an engineering degree, in 1935 Klein joined the Luftwaffe as a major, commanding JG 133 and JG 53 in late 1939. He later served as deputy commander of all fighter schools and attained the rank of major general before his retirement in April 1943.
He died on 18 November 1944. The official cause of death was from injuries received in a car accident, however his family suspected he was murdered, an inspection of Klein's body allegedly showing evidence of a gunshot wound to the head.
- Franks et al 1993, pp. 144-145.
- Bodenschatz 1998, p. 166.
- Hans Klein
- Bodenschatz, Karl (translated by Jan Hayzlett). Hunting With Richthofen: The Bodenschatz Diaries : Sixteen Months of Battle With Jg Freiherr Von Richthofen, Issue 1. Grub Street, 1998. ISBN 1898697973, 9781898697978.
- Franks, Norman; Bailey, Frank W.; Guest, Russell. Above the Lines: The Aces and Fighter Units of the German Air Service, Naval Air Service and Flanders Marine Corps, 1914–1918. Grub Street, 1993. ISBN 0-948817-73-9, ISBN 978-0-948817-73-1.
- Prien, Jochen (1997). Jagdgeschwader 53 A History of the "Pik As" Geschwader March 1937 - May 1942. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 0-7643-0175-6.
Oberstleutnant Werner Junck
|Commander of Jagdgeschwader 53 Pik As
1 September 1939 – 15 December 1939
Major Hans-Jürgen von Cramon-Taubadel
|Commander of Jagdfliegerführer 3
21 December 1939 – 7 March 1940
Oberst Gerd von Massow