12 July 1922|
|Died||17 June 1951(aged 28)|
|Years of service||1941–45|
|Unit||JG 52, JG 7, JV 44|
|Commands held||JG 7 and the Protection Squadron of JV 44|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross|
Heinz Wimmersaal Sachsenberg (12 July 1922 – 17 June 1951) was a German World War II fighter ace who served in the Luftwaffe. He was also a 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. Sachsenberg was credited with 104 aerial victories.
Sachsenberg was born in Dessau. "Heino", also called "Wimmersaal" by his comrades, was the nephew of the 31-victory and Pour le Mérite awarded World War I fighter ace Gotthard Sachsenberg. He had a brother named Gotthard, who also served in the Luftwaffe, and was killed in action on 8 March 1944 during a night fighter mission. He joined the Luftwaffe in 1941.
Flying on the Eastern Front
After flight training he was assigned, as a Feldwebel, to Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52) in the Fall of 1942. He was sent to the front in late 1942 at the Eastern Front, and was assigned to 6./JG 52.[Note 1] On 21 April 1943 he achieved his first air victory, shooting down an Il-2 ground attack aircraft. By the end of July 1943 he had shot down 22 enemy airplanes in heavy air combat over the Kuban bridgehead. His unit was then transferred to cover the retreat from the southern Kursk salient where he scored a further 16 victories. After a spell of leave from September to November due to overstress (when he was also awarded the German Cross in Gold and Ehrenpokal, he returned to the Crimea and the intense air-battles over the Kerch Straits.
After 76 victories, and on leave, Sachsenberg was recommended for the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) in March 1944. Upon returning to the Crimea at the beginning of May, he shot down 25 aircraft in just a month including 6 planes on 7 May (77-82v.). On 31 May, over Iasi, in the battles for Romania, he claimed four victories (89-92v.) and five more were claimed on 8 June 1944, bringing his total to 101 air victories. He was the 76th Luftwaffe pilot to achieve the century mark. Fahnenjunker-Feldwebel Sachsenberg was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 9 June 1944. Returning from leave, his unit was then transferred to cover the Ploiești oilfields in Romania. After claiming one more victory, he was seriously wounded during an air battle with American P-51 Mustang fighters on 23 June 1944 although he managed to successfully belly-land his Bf-109 G-6, (Werknummer 166233—factory number) "Yellow 1". Promoted to Leutnant, he achieved his final victories over Hungary, including a USAAF P-51 (#103, on 3 March) and a Russian P-39 (#104, on 16 April).
The 'Sachsenberg Schwarm'
In 1945 he transferred briefly to jet fighters in JG 7 as Staffelkapitän of 9./JG 7, but in April 1945 he joined JV 44. His task was to provide top cover for the Me 262 jet fighters. Sachsenberg was assigned as Staffelkapitän of the Platzschutzstaffel or airfield-protection squadron, flying the Fw 190 D9 fighter. As squadron commander, his particular aircraft was known as "Red 1". The inscription on his Fw 190 D9 was "Verkaaft's mei Gwand I foahr in Himmel!" meaning "Sell my clothes I'm going to heaven".
The aircraft in the protection squadron were painted red on their underbelly with prominent white stripes to help in their identification by ground crews. The legend of the Papagei Staffel (parrot squadron) was born (the name was given after the war and is truly misleading as it was not used by the squadron itself). The decision to paint the aircraft in this manner was made by the pilots themselves, perhaps as result of the failed Operation Bodenplatte, where a number of German aircraft were lost to friendly fire.[Note 2]
The protection squadron was tasked with flying Start- und Landeschutz (Takeoff and landing cover). During take off and landing, the jets were very vulnerable to attacks by strafing allied ground attack airplanes, because their engines were not very responsive at those times and the jets could not accelerate and decelerate quickly. Thus to give additional protection besides the light and medium AA-guns around the airfields, parts of JG 52 and JG 54 were delegated to fly protective missions to cover the take off and landing phase of the 'Stormbirds'. JV 44 was a special case in that they had their own protection squadron.
After the war
Sachsenberg had a total of 104 victories over a total of 520 flown sorties. Of his 104 air victories, 1 was achieved in the west, 84 of his victories were fighter planes. He also sunk 1 speed boat. He died on 17 June 1951, following complications from wounds he received during the war.
"I don't trust anything without a Propeller at least." - Sachsenberg in reply to being asked why he didn't fly jet aircraft.
- Iron Cross (1939) 2nd and 1st Class
- Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe 2 October 1943
- German Cross in Gold on 17 October 1943 as Feldwebel in the 6./Jagdgeschwader 52
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 9 June 1944 as Fahnenjunker-Feldwebel and pilot in the 6./Jagdgeschwader 52
- For an explanation of the meaning of Luftwaffe unit designations see Luftwaffe Organization
- Quote from Franz Stigler
- Obermaier 1989, p. 243.
- Obermaier 1989, p. 191.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 393.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 369.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 647.
- Crandall, Jerry (1999). Doras of the Galland Circus. Hamilton, MT: Eagle Editions Ltd. ISBN 0-9660706-2-3.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) . 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.
- 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.
- Weal, John (2004). Jagdgeschwader 52: The Experten (Aviation Elite Units). Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-786-4.