17 October 1920|
|Died||27 December 1944
near Dobele, Latvia
|Unit||EJGr Ost, JG 54|
|Commands held||1./JG 54|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross|
Heinz Wernicke (17 October 1920 – 27 December 1944) was a Luftwaffe World War II fighter ace and was credited with 117 aerial victories—that is, 117 aerial combat encounters resulting in the destruction of the enemy aircraft. 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. Wernicke was killed in a mid-air collision with his wingman on 27 December 1944.
Heinz Wernicke was born on 17 October 1920 in Berlin of the Weimar Republic. He joined the 3./Jagdgeschwader 54 (3./JG 54—3rd Squadron of the 54th Fighter Wing) in early 1942 as an Unteroffizier (non-commissioned officer).[Note 1] JG 54 at the time was stationed at the Eastern Front. Here he claimed his first aerial victory in late summer of 1942. In the fall of 1942 he was transferred to Ergänzungs-Jagdgruppe Ost (Supplementary Fighter Group East) and then to 8./JG 54 in early 1943.
In mid-1943, at the time Wernicke had been credited with roughly 15 aerial victories, he became a fighter pilot instructor and underwent officer training courses. In 1944 he was back to front line service. He claimed his 88th aerial victory on 15 August 1944, and surpassed the century mark—100 aerial victories—in mid-September 1944. Wernicke was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 30 September 1944 after 112 victories. The presentation was made by General Kurt Pflugbeil. Wernicke, now Staffelkapitän (squadron leader) of the 1st Staffel (squadron) of Jagdgeschwader 54, was killed in a midair collision with his wingman Unteroffizier Wollien on 27 December 1944.
- Iron Cross (1939) 2nd and 1st class
- German Cross in Gold on 20 March 1944 as Fahnenjunker-Feldwebel in the II./JG 54
- Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe on 24 April 1944 as Fahnenjunker-Oberfeldwebel and pilot
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 30 September 1944 as Leutnant and pilot in the 1./JG 54[Note 2]
- Obermaier 1989, p. 222.
- Weal 2001, p. 114.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 508.
- Patzwall 2008, p. 217.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 443.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 780.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Weal, John (2001). Jagdgeschwader 54 'Grünherz'. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-286-5.
- "Heinz Wernicke". WW2Awards.com. Retrieved 29 December 2012.