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5 October 1923|
Wettin, Province of Saxony
|Died||10 December 2000(aged 77)|
|Years of service||1942–45|
|Unit||JG 51, JG 3, JG 7 and JV 44|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross|
Klaus Neumann (5 October 1923 – 10 December 2000) was a Leutnant in the Luftwaffe and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. As a fighter pilot he was credited with 37 aerial victories—that is, 37 aerial combat encounters resulting in the destruction of the enemy aircraft—achieved in about 200 combat missions.
World War II
Unteroffizier Neumann began his combat flying with 2./Jagdgeschwader 51 (JG 51—51st Fighter Wing) on the Russian front in May 1943. He claimed his first victory on 15 July 1943. He was to record 12 victories over Russia.
On 25 June 1944, 2./JG 51 was transferred to Germany where it joined IV./Jagdgeschwader 3 (JG 3—3rd Fighter Wing) becoming 16./JG 3 on 10 August. Neumann was particularly successful against the Allied four-engined bombers. Although flying a heavily armed and thoroughly un-manoeuvrable Focke Wulf FW 190A-8 "Sturmbock" in close formation was totally different from the low altitude turning dog fights that characterised air combat over Russia, Neumann was to become one of IV./JG 3 leading bomber killers during the summer and autumn of 1944. Feldwebel Neumann was recommended for the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 25 November 1944 and had it personally presented to him by Adolf Hitler on 9 December 1944.
In January 1945, Neumann transferred to Jagdgeschwader 7 in a staff position. Here he clashed with the unit's recently appointed Geschwaderkommodore, Major Theodor Weissenberger. Shortly afterwards Oberst Johannes Steinhoff and Generalleutnant Adolf Galland approached him with an invitation to join Jagdverband 44. Leutnant Neumann gained five victories flying the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter.[Note 1]
At 3:00 PM on 24 April 1945 Neumann was one of four pilots to take off from Munich-Riem to intercept B-26 Marauder. Günther Lützow, who failed to return from this mission, led the flight of four. Lützow's fate remains unknown to this date.
Klaus Neumann was credited with 37 victories achieved in about 200 combat missions. 12 of his victories were recorded over the Eastern Front and he shot down 19 four-engined bombers. He was also credited with shooting down five enemy aircraft flying the Me 262 jet fighter.
After the war
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Some of his experiences with JV 44 were related to Robert Forsyth in Classic's Battle over Bavaria, (ISBN 0952686740). When approached for an interview in 2000 Klaus Neumann was very reluctant to talk about his Sturmgruppe experiences, apparently full of remorse for the loss of life he caused amongst the USAAF bomber crews. Klaus Neumann died at home on the 10 December 2000.
- Iron Cross (1939) 2nd and 1st class
- German Cross in Gold on 25 October 1944 as Leutnant in the 16/JG 3
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 9 December 1944 as Feldwebel and pilot in the 16./JG 3 "Udet"[Note 2]
- Braatz 2005, p. 365.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 329.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 323.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 567.
- Braatz, Kurt (2005). Gott oder ein Flugzeug - Leben und Sterben des Jagdfliegers Günther Lützow. NeunundzwanzigSechs Verlag. ISBN 3-9807935-6-7.
- 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 Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.