Otto Kittel

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Otto Kittel
Otto Kittel (fighter pilot).jpg
Born(1917-02-21)21 February 1917
Kronsdorf, Sudetenland
Died14 or 16 February 1945 (aged 27)
Džūkste, Latvia
Allegiance Nazi Germany
Service/branchBalkenkreuz (Iron Cross) Luftwaffe
Years of service1939–45
RankOberleutnant
UnitJG 54
Commands held2./JG 54
EJGr Ost
Battles/wars
AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords

Otto Kittel (21 February 1917 – 14 or 16 February 1945) was a German fighter pilot during World War II. He flew 583 combat missions on the Eastern Front, claiming 267 aerial victories, making him the fourth highest scoring ace in aviation history according to authors John Weal and Jerry Scutts.[1][2] Kittel claimed all of his victories against the Red Air Force.[3]

Kittel joined the Luftwaffe in 1939, and, in spring 1941, he was posted to Jagdgeschwader 54 (JG 54—54th Fighter Wing) supporting Army Group North on the Eastern Front. He received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 29 October 1943, for reaching 120 aerial victories. During the remainder of World War II, Kittel was credited with 144 more aerial victories and was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. He was shot down by Soviet aircraft and killed in February 1945. Kittel was the most successful German fighter pilot to be killed in action.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Kittel was born on 21 February 1917 in Sudeten Silesia, Austria-Hungary. After working briefly as an auto mechanic, Kittel joined the Luftwaffe in 1939.[5] Kittel married his fiancé, Edith, in June 1942; the couple had a son, born in 1945.[6]

World War II[edit]

Kittel's first operations were air superiority missions in support of the German invasion of Yugoslavia, including the bombing of Belgrade,[7] which killed up to 17,000 civilians,[8] destroyed the National Library of Serbia,[9] and damaged the Belgrade Zoo.[10] For Operation Barbarossa, JG 54 was moved to East Prussia, in early June 1941. The unit supported Army Group North in its advance through the Baltic states towards Leningrad.[11] On 24 June 1941, Kittel claimed his first two aerial victories, two Tupolev SB-2 bombers.[12] His tally had risen to 19 by May 1942.[13] On 19 February 1943, Kittel achieved his 39th victory.[14]

During the fighting in 1943, JG 54 took part in the spring battles over the Crimea Peninsula, Vyazma-Bryansk, Vitebsk, Kharkov, Orsha and Orel regions. During the Battle of Kursk, Kittel's unit escorted Junkers Ju 87 Stukas of a dive bomber wing commanded by Hans-Ulrich Rudel.[15] On 14 September 1943, Kittel claimed his 100th aerial victory, a Yakovlev Yak-9 fighter.[16] The 53rd Luftwaffe pilot to achieve the century mark,[17] he received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) on 29 October 1943.[18] On 1 November 1943, Kittel was promoted to the rank of Leutnant (second lieutenant).[19]

In early April 1944, Kittel achieved his 150th aerial victory. On April 14, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub) for his 152nd aerial victory, claimed on 12 April. Kittel received the Oak Leaves from Adolf Hitler at the Berghof on 5 May 1944.[20] In May 1944, the 2 wing was transferred to augment the 3rd group of JG 54 fighting on the Western Front to provide air defense over Germany against Allied aerial attacks. In August 1944, Kittel was appointed squadron leader.[21] Kittel was credited with his 200th aerial victory on 23 August 1944.[22] He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern) on 25 November 1944.[23]

On 14 or 16 February 1945, Kittel took off with his wing flying Fw 190 to engage a formation of 14 Shturmovik aircraft over the Courland Pocket.[22] His wingman later reported that his aircraft was hit, descended towards the ground on fire and crashed in flames.[14] The site of the crash is believed to have been 6 kilometers (3.7 mi) south-west of Džūkste in Latvia.[21]

Summary of career[edit]

Aerial victory claims[edit]

Matthews and Foreman, authors of Luftwaffe Aces — Biographies and Victory Claims, researched the German Federal Archives and found records for 265 aerial victory claims, plus three further unconfirmed claims. All of his aerial victories were claimed on the Eastern Front.[24] Victory claims were logged to a map-reference (PQ = Planquadrat), for example "PQ 44793". The Luftwaffe grid map covered all of Europe, western Russia and North Africa and was composed of rectangles measuring 15 minutes of latitude by 30 minutes of longitude, an area of about 360 square miles (930 km2). These sectors were then subdivided into 36 smaller units to give a location area 3 × 4 km in size.[25]

Awards[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b According to Matthews and Foreman claimed as a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk.[31]
  2. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed at 06:35.[32]
  3. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed at 13:16.[32]
  4. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed at 11:05.[32]
  5. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed at 16:38.[32]
  6. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed at 13:28.[32]
  7. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed as a Ilyushin Il-2.[32]
  8. ^ According to Thomas on 26 February 1943.[65]
  9. ^ According to Scherzer as pilot in the I./JG 54.[23]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Weal 2001, p. 123.
  2. ^ Scutts 1992, p. 145.
  3. ^ Sims 1970, p. 174.
  4. ^ Bergström 2008, p. 103.
  5. ^ Stockert 2007, p. 105.
  6. ^ Kurowski 2007, pp. 147–148.
  7. ^ Kurowski 2007, pp. 10–11.
  8. ^ Knell 2009, pp. 194–195.
  9. ^ Norris 2008, p. 41.
  10. ^ Freeman 2008, p. 94.
  11. ^ Prien et al. 2003, p. 184.
  12. ^ a b c d Prien et al. 2003, p. 199.
  13. ^ Weal 1998, p. 16.
  14. ^ a b Weal 1998, p. 84.
  15. ^ Bergström 2007, p. 106.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i Prien et al. 2012, p. 184.
  17. ^ Obermaier 1989, p. 243.
  18. ^ Scutts 1992, p. 101.
  19. ^ Stockert 2007, p. 106.
  20. ^ Stockert 2007, p. 107.
  21. ^ a b Stockert 2007, p. 108.
  22. ^ a b Obermaier 1989, p. 39.
  23. ^ a b c d Scherzer 2007, p. 444.
  24. ^ Matthews & Foreman 2015, pp. 634–639.
  25. ^ Planquadrat.
  26. ^ Matthews & Foreman 2015, pp. 634–637.
  27. ^ a b c d e f Prien et al. 2012, p. 177.
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h Prien et al. 2012, p. 178.
  29. ^ a b Prien et al. 2003, p. 201.
  30. ^ a b c d e Prien et al. 2003, p. 202.
  31. ^ Matthews & Foreman 2015, p. 634.
  32. ^ a b c d e f Matthews & Foreman 2015, p. 636.
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Prien et al. 2012, p. 179.
  34. ^ Prien et al. 2003, p. 203.
  35. ^ Prien et al. 2005, p. 199.
  36. ^ Prien et al. 2005, p. 200.
  37. ^ a b Prien et al. 2005, p. 202.
  38. ^ Prien et al. 2006, p. 85.
  39. ^ Prien et al. 2006, p. 86.
  40. ^ Prien et al. 2006, p. 91.
  41. ^ Prien et al. 2006, p. 93.
  42. ^ a b Prien et al. 2006, p. 94.
  43. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Prien et al. 2012, p. 180.
  44. ^ a b c d e f Prien et al. 2006, p. 96.
  45. ^ a b Prien et al. 2006, p. 98.
  46. ^ Prien et al. 2006, p. 99.
  47. ^ a b Prien et al. 2012, p. 183.
  48. ^ Prien et al. 2006, p. 100.
  49. ^ a b c d Prien et al. 2012, p. 169.
  50. ^ a b c d e Prien et al. 2012, p. 170.
  51. ^ a b c d Prien et al. 2012, p. 185.
  52. ^ a b c d e f g Prien et al. 2012, p. 171.
  53. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Prien et al. 2012, p. 186.
  54. ^ a b Prien et al. 2012, p. 173.
  55. ^ Prien et al. 2012, p. 174.
  56. ^ a b c d e Prien et al. 2012, p. 175.
  57. ^ a b c d Prien et al. 2012, p. 176.
  58. ^ a b c d e f Prien et al. 2012, p. 187.
  59. ^ Matthews & Foreman 2015, pp. 637–638.
  60. ^ Matthews & Foreman 2015, p. 638.
  61. ^ Matthews & Foreman 2015, pp. 638–639.
  62. ^ a b c Berger 1999, p. 152.
  63. ^ Patzwall 2008, p. 117.
  64. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 230.
  65. ^ Thomas 1997, p. 367.
  66. ^ a b Kurowski 2007, p. 149.
  67. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 257.
  68. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 81.
  69. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 46.

Bibliography[edit]

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  • Bergström, Christer (2007). Kursk—The Air Battle: July 1943. Hersham, Surrey: Classic Publications. ISBN 978-1-903223-88-8.
  • Bergström, Christer (2008). Bagration to Berlin—The Final Air Battles in the East: 1944–1945. Burgess Hill: Classic Publications. ISBN 978-1-903223-91-8.
  • Bergström, Christer. "Bergström Black Cross/Red Star website". Identifying a Luftwaffe Planquadrat. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. 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.
  • Freeman, Gregory A. (2008). The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II. New York, New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-451-22495-8.
  • Knell, Herman (2009). To Destroy a City: Strategic Bombing and Its Human Consequences in World War II. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-7867-4849-5.
  • Kurowski, Franz (2007). Oberleutnant Otto Kittel—Der erfolgreichste Jagdflieger des Jagdgeschwaders 54 [First Lieutenant Otto Kittel—The Most Successful Fighter Pilot of Fighter Wing 54] (in German). Würzburg, Germany: Flechsig Verlag. ISBN 978-3-88189-733-4.
  • Matthews, Andrew Johannes; Foreman, John (2015). Luftwaffe Aces — Biographies and Victory Claims — Volume 2 G–L. Walton on Thames: Red Kite. ISBN 978-1-906592-19-6.
  • Norris, David A. (2008). Belgrade: A Cultural History. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-970452-1.
  • 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] (in German). II. 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.
  • Prien, Jochen; Stemmer, Gerhard; Rodeike, Peter; Bock, Winfried (2003). Die Jagdfliegerverbände der Deutschen Luftwaffe 1934 bis 1945—Teil 6/II—Unternehmen "BARBAROSSA"—Einsatz im Osten—22.6. bis 5.12.1941 [The Fighter Units of the German Air Force 1934 to 1945—Part 6/II—Operation "BARBAROSSA"—Action in the East—22 June to 5 December 1941] (in German). Eutin, Germany: Struve-Druck. ISBN 978-3-923457-70-0.
  • Prien, Jochen; Stemmer, Gerhard; Rodeike, Peter; Bock, Winfried (2005). Die Jagdfliegerverbände der Deutschen Luftwaffe 1934 bis 1945—Teil 9/I—Winterkampf im Osten—6.12.1941 bis 30.4.1942 [The Fighter Units of the German Air Force 1934 to 1945—Part 9/I—Winter War in the East—6 December 1941 to 30 April 1942] (in German). Eutin, Germany: Struve-Druck. ISBN 978-3-923457-76-2.
  • Prien, Jochen; Stemmer, Gerhard; Rodeike, Peter; Bock, Winfried (2006). Die Jagdfliegerverbände der Deutschen Luftwaffe 1934 bis 1945—Teil 9/III—Vom Sommerfeldzug 1942 bis zur Niederlage von Stalingrad—1.5.1942 bis 3.2.1943 [The Fighter Units of the German Air Force 1934 to 1945—Part 9/III—From the 1942 Summer Campaign to the Defeat at Stalingrad—1 May 1942 to 3 February 1943] (in German). Eutin, Germany: Struve-Druck. ISBN 978-3-923457-78-6.
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  • Scutts, Jerry (1992). JG 54: Jagdgeschwader 54 Grunherz: Aces of the Eastern Front. Osceola, Wisconsin: Motorbooks. ISBN 978-0-87938-718-1.
  • Sims, Edward (1970). The Greatest Aces. New York: Ballantine Books. OCLC 1349435.
  • Stockert, Peter (2007). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 5 [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945] (in German). V. Bad Friedrichshall, Germany: Friedrichshaller Rundblick. OCLC 76072662.
  • Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945: A–K] (in German). I. Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6.
  • Weal, John (1998). Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Aces of the Russian Front. London: Osprey. ISBN 978-1-85532-518-0.
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External links[edit]