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20 April 1920|
|Died||5 September 1943
near Markor, southern Russia
|Years of service||1938–43|
|Commands held||6./JG 52|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Heinz Schmidt (20 April 1920 – 5 September 1943) was a former Luftwaffe fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves during World War II. A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during aerial combat. He is credited with 173 aerial victories achieved in 712 combat missions and was posthumously promoted to Hauptmann.
Early life and career
Heinz Schmidt was born on 20 April 1920 in Bad Homburg and joined the Luftwaffe on 10 November 1938. After he completed his basic training he was assigned to the 2nd Staffel of the Ergänzungs-Jagdgruppe Merseburg in July 1940 for final fighter-pilot preparation.
World War II
A month later he was posted to 4./Jagdgeschwader 52 (52nd Fighter Wing) on 12 August 1940. His II Gruppe of JG 52 was, at that time, engaged in the Battle of Britain and under command of the future great fighter leader Johannes 'Macki' Steinhoff. For a short time Schmidt was acting Staffelführer of 5./JG 52 but returned to the 4. Staffel and was promoted to Feldwebel on 1 April 1941.
With no victories by the end of the campaign his unit, along with most others, were re-deployed to the east for the campaign against Russia (Operation Barbarossa). He scored his first victory, against a DB-3 bomber soon after the campaign started, on 26 June 1941. On 12 August 1941, Schmidt crash landed 70 kilometers (43 mi) into enemy territory and spent six hard days evading capture by Russian troops until able to get back to the German lines, and his unit. He was promoted to Oberfeldwebel on 27 August 1941, but this experience hardened his attitude and made him more determined. As the snows started falling in November his score had reached 15 victories.
But it was in the new campaign season of 1942 that his career really took off. Promoted to Leutnant on 1 February 1942, he had a temporary transfer to 5./JG 52 for 2 months as Staffelkapitän. In that time though, he received the Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe on 6 July 1942, and a promotion to Oberleutnant on 1 August 1942. Now involved in the heavy air battles in the advance toward Stalingrad, soon after he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) for 51 aerial victories on 23 August 1942. After a long year to get that far, within only three short weeks and a transfer to the far reaches of the Caucauses ranges, he was able to double his score reaching the magical century-mark on 16 September, for which he was honored with the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross. He was the 21st Luftwaffe pilot to achieve the century mark. His secondment to 5./JG 52 ended on 30 September, and he was sent on a period of extended leave.
Returning in late November he was posted to 6./JG 52, back over Stalingrad, which by this time was now in a desperate defence. Retreating back to Taganrog and Rostov, he scored his 125th victory on 7 January 1943. But in mid-February 1943, with 130victories, he was again shot down behind Russian lines but returned after a two-day trek across the frozen Sea of Azov minus one fur-lined flying boot and with a smashed shoulder.
After a long convalescence, he returned to the Eastern Front on 25 May 1943, now with 146 victories and now commanding 6./JG 52. His parent unit, II./JG 52 was one of the few Luftwaffe fighter units not initially employed over the great battles for Kursk, instead staying in the south based out of Anapa, over the Kuban bridgehead. However, recalled to cover the German retreat to Khar'kov and Poltava, he scored his 150th victory in early August (the 14th pilot to reach that score), and continued with 22 victories in August.
Heinz Schmidt was posted as missing in action after aerial combat near Markor on 5 September 1943. His Messerschmitt Bf 109G6 aircraft 'Yellow 7' (Werknummer 15903—factory number) was possibly shot down in error by Hungarian fighters operating in the same area. Heinz Schmidt is credited with 173 confirmed victories in 712 combat missions. At the time, after the recent death of Max Stotz (189v.) a fortnight earlier in the north, he had become the 3rd highest-scoring ace flying on the Eastern Front (after Walter Nowotny and Günther Rall).
- Flugzeugführerabzeichen (Pilots Badge)
- Iron Cross (1939)
- Front Flying Clasp of the Luftwaffe
- in Gold (22 August 1941)
- in Gold with pennant (12 December 1942)
- Honorary Cup of the Luftwaffe (6 July 1942)[Note 1]
- German Cross in Gold on 13 August 1942 as Leutnant in the 4./Jagdgeschwader 52[Note 2]
- Medaille "Winterschlacht Im Osten 1941/42" (30 August 1942)
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Spick 1996, pp. 3–4.
- Weal 2004 p. 84.
- Obermaier 1989, p. 243.
- Weal 2004, pg. 99.
- Weal 2004, p.99.
- Thomas 1998, p. 269.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 413.
- "Heinz Schmidt". Auf Himmel zu Hause. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 670.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 381.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 61.
- 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.
- Bergström, Christer (2007). Stalingrad – The Air Battle: 1942 through January 1943. Midland Publications ISBN 1-857802-76-4
- Bergström, Christer; Dikov, Andrey; Antipov, Vlad (2006). Black Cross, Red Star Vol 3 Eagle Editions Ltd ISBN 0-9761034-4-3
- 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 Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
- Spick, Mike (1996). Luftwaffe Fighter Aces. New York: Ivy Books. ISBN 978-0-8041-1696-1.
- Stockert, Peter (2012) . Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2 [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2] (in German) (4th ed.). Bad Friedrichshall, Germany: Friedrichshaller Rundblick. ISBN 978-3-9802222-9-7.
- Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9.
- Weal, John (2001). Bf 109 Aces of the Russian Front. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-084-1.
- Weal, John (2004). Jagdgeschwader 52: The Experten (Aviation Elite Units). Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-786-4.
Oblt Karl Ritzenberger
|Squadron Leader of 6./JG 52
25 May 1943 – 5 September 1943
Ltn Helmut Lipfert