Werner Baake

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Werner Baake
Born1 November 1918
Died15 July 1964(1964-07-15) (aged 45)
Allegiance Nazi Germany
Service/branchBalkenkreuz (Iron Cross) Luftwaffe
Years of service1939–45
RankHauptmann (captain)
UnitNJG 1
Commands heldI./NJG 1
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Other workPilot for Lufthansa

Werner Baake (1 November 1918 in Nordhausen, Germany – 15 July 1964) was a night fighter pilot fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross who served in the Nazi German Luftwaffe during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Baake claimed 41 nocturnal aerial victories in 195 combat missions. He was the 36th most successful night fighter ace of World War II, and of aerial warfare. Baake's total surpassed that of all Allied night fighter pilots; Branse Burbridge being the highest.

World War II[edit]

Baake joined the Luftwaffe in 1940 and underwent basic flight and advanced training before undertaking blind flight instruction.

Night fighter career[edit]

A map of part of the Kammhuber Line. The 'belt' and night fighter 'boxes' are shown.

Following the 1939 aerial Battle of the Heligoland Bight, bombing missions by the Royal Air Force (RAF) shifted to the cover of darkness, initiating the Defence of the Reich campaign.[1] By mid-1940, Generalmajor (Brigadier General) Josef Kammhuber had established a night air defense system dubbed the Kammhuber Line. It consisted of a series of control sectors equipped with radars and searchlights and an associated night fighter. Each sector, named a Himmelbett (canopy bed), would direct the night fighter into visual range with target bombers. In 1941, the Luftwaffe started equipping night fighters with airborne radar such as the Lichtenstein radar. This airborne radar did not come into general use until early 1942.[2]

After two years of training Baake was posted to I.Gruppe/Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1), based at Gilze-Rijen, Netherlands on 21 November 1942. The unit was involved in so-called Reichsverteidigung ("Defence of the Reich") operations.

It took Baake nearly seven months to make a claim, and by the time he did so, he had been promoted to Leutnant (Second Lieutenant). At the height of the Battle of the Ruhr, a concerted bomber offensive conducted by RAF Bomber Command, Baake achieved his first success. In the early hours of 2 June 1943, north of Neeroeteren, he claimed a Vickers Wellington bomber shot down at 01:10.[3] Baake remained airborne for nearly two hours before engaging and claiming a Handley-Page Halifax shot down northwest of Gorinchem at 02:43.[4] Baake's third victory was achieved at 00:59 hours on 17 June near "Vechel" (possibly Vechte). This time the enemy bomber was identified as an Avro Lancaster.[5] The machine, ED629, "PH-K", was from No. 12 Squadron RAF. All of the crew — Sergeants Arthur Charles Aylard, J. Scott, T. Alexander, M. R. Williams, H. J. P. Lackey, J. W. N. Westlake and R. Swain — were killed.[6]

On 22 June Baake claimed a Wellington southwest of Bergeyk at 01:30 and then accounted for a Halifax northeast of the town at 01:37. The successes put his total at five for which qualified him for night fighter ace.[7]

In the early hours of 23 June, Baake claimed three victories. These included two Lancasters, at 00:55 and 1:30, near south-east Utrecht and west of Nijmegen respectively.[8] Sergeant E. A Williams of 101 Sqn was the sole survivor from one of these Lancasters (LM325; "SR-J").[9] (Sgt R. A. Waterhouse, Sgt J. Osborne, Pilot Officer (P/O) T. Tomkins, Sgt E. Smith, Sgt V Sugden and Sgt R. Cooper were killed.) Baake's third victim that night was a Halifax Mk V (DK224; MP-Q) of 76 Squadron, north-west of Utrecht at 01:58. The crew bailed out and there was one fatality among them, Sgt R. Huke (flight engineer). The station commander of RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor, Group Captain Douglas Wilson Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), who was acting as second pilot of the Halifax, was apprehended by the Gestapo in Paris several weeks later and became a prisoner of war (POW)).[10][11][12]

At 01:10 on 25 June 1943, Baake shot down another Wellington at Driel for his ninth victory.[13] Baake achieved his tenth victory at 01:30 on 14 July, northwest of Utrecht. It was last during the RAF's Ruhr offensive.[14] This aircraft was probably Halifax HR720, WP-B, of No. 158 Squadron RAF crewed by: G. R. J. Duthie Royal New Zealand Air Force (pilot, killed); J. N. Hempstead (flight engineer, evaded capture); F.D. Granger (navigator, became a POW); T. E. F. Carr (bomb-aimer, POW); G. H. King (wireless operator, POW); J. R. Grey Royal Australian Air Force (gunner, POW); and T. Pinkney (gunner, POW).[15]

At 02:18 on 24 August Baake claimed a Lancaster southeast of Wittenburg as Bomber Command attacked Berlin[16] and he claimed two Short Stirling bombers on 28 August, west of Augsburg at 02:10 and northwest of Nuremberg at 02:15.[17] One was Stirling III EE942 QS-R from No. 620 Squadron RAF flown by Flight Lieutenant John Francis Nichols. The aircraft came down at Halbersdorf, Mainz. None of the crew survived.[18] On the night of 31 August another two Halifax bombers were claimed at 23:25 and 23:30 northeast of Lemgo and Neu-Rebstock to bring his tally to 15.[19] In September 1943 he claimed four bombers: three Lancasters and a Halifax; one on 1 September at 0:59 near Wustermark, two on 6 September at 00:15 and scoring the last victory for the Luftwaffe that night at 02:00 over Kaiserslautern. At 22:40 north of Quakenbrück on 27 September, Baake achieved his 19th victory.[20]

On 3 November 1943 two Lancasters were shot down near Helmond and Essen at 19:13 and 19:36.[21] One of the Lancasters may have been Lancaster I W4822, of No. 57 Squadron RAF, captained by First Lieutenant Donald R. West, United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). West died with four other crew members; three were captured.[22] On 18 November Bomber Command began the Berlin Campaign. On 20 December Baake shot down two Lancasters. The aircraft were reported shot down northwest of Liege, Belgium and Eindhoven, at 19:12 and 21:00 respectively—the last success being the last claim submitted by a night fighter pilot on that operation.[21] On 27 January 1944 Baake downed his third and last victim during the Berlin campaign. He recorded a Lancaster shot down at 22:50 southwest of Aachen.[23] In the engagement, Baake's Messerschmitt Bf 110G-4 was hit by return-fire and Baake parachuted to safety with his crew.[18] Baake claimed his 25th victory as Bomber Command attacked Aachen on the night of 11/12 April 1944. He claimed a Lancaster west of Haarlem at 23:37. Nine claims were made over Germany that night plus two claims made over England.[24] Bomber Command lost nine.

On the night of 24/25 April 1944 Munich and Karlsruhe were targeted. Baake achieved two interceptions resulting in the destruction of a Lancaster north of Tilburg at 00:26, and a Halifax west of Gorinchem at 02:18.[25] Baake's 28th victory was attained on 4 May at 00:20 west of Venlo.[26] He shot down Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress M-Mother of No. 78 Squadron RAF that had been by ground fire in the target area but was intercepted and finished off by Baake. It was piloted by Flight Lieutenant J. G Smith; Smith and one crew member evaded capture but the others, including American expatriate and former USAAF officer, Sergeant W. Heubner, were captured. On 6/7 May Baake shot down another B-17 west of Venlo at 00:09, having claimed a de Havilland Mosquito at 23:25—his first and only victory against that type. The two claims made his personal total 30. Only Baake claimed a Mosquito on 6/7 May.[27] Bomber Command records show that one belonging to No. 109 Squadron RAF was lost participating in a raid on Leverkusen.[28]

On 12 and 23 May 1944, at 0:42 and 1:14 respectively, Baake shot down a Lancaster; to take his total to 32.[29] The former victory was over Lancaster JB733 of No. 103 Squadron RAF, which crashed at Hallaar, northeast of Antwerp after Baake fatally damaged it over Huckhofen. Pilot Officer R. Whitley; Sergeant K. L. Ramage; Warrant Officer J. A. Carter Royal Canadian Air Force; Flight Sergeant R. B. Webb; Sergeant P. N. Crutchfield; Sergeant J. W. Smith; and Sergeant K. M. Martin were all killed.[30] Baake claimed a Halifax on 17 June 1944 and two Lancasters on 22 June, west of Aachen for his 33rd, 34th and 35th air victories. On 4 and 6 November 1944 Baake filed single claims for a Lancaster destroyed. On 24 December Baake claimed another Lancaster over western Germany as Bomber Command targeted rail junctions to disrupt German Army supplies during the German Ardennes Offensive. Baake's last claims came on the evening of 5 January 1945, when he downed a trio of Halifax bombers—two near Emden and another near Hannover.[31]

Werner Baake did not claim another bomber in the last four months of the war. On the night of 18/19 March 1945, Baake narrowly avoided being killed when he was shot down in a Heinkel He 219 by a Mosquito night fighter flown by night fighter ace Walter Gibb, commander of No. 239 Squadron RAF.[32]

After the war[edit]

After the war, Baake worked as a pilot for the German airline Lufthansa. He was killed on 15 July 1964, when his Boeing 720 registration D-ABOP crashed near Ansbach during a training flight after he performed an unauthorised aerobatic manoeuvre.[33] Following a successful barrel roll, the crew attempted a second. During this the aircraft broke apart due to structural overloading and all three members of the crew were killed.[34]

Summary of career[edit]

Aerial victory claims[edit]

Baake was credited with 41 nocturnal aerial victories claimed in 195 combat missions. His 41 aerial victory claims include 37 four-engined bombers and one Mosquito.[33]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ According to Fellgiebel as Staffelkapitän of 3./Nachtjagdgeschwader 1.[56]


  1. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 9.
  2. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 27.
  3. ^ a b c Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 84.
  4. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 85.
  5. ^ a b Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 86.
  6. ^ a b Chorley 1996, p. 188.
  7. ^ a b c Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 87.
  8. ^ a b c d Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 88.
  9. ^ Cooper 2013, p. 222.
  10. ^ Cooper 2013, p. 361.
  11. ^ Phillips 1992, p. 438.
  12. ^ Ligne Comète Line - Remembrance, n.d., fiche C135 (in French) (26 May 2017).
  13. ^ a b Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 89.
  14. ^ a b Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 93.
  15. ^ Chorley 1996, p. 231.
  16. ^ a b Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 106.
  17. ^ a b c Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 108.
  18. ^ a b Bowman 2016, p. 207.
  19. ^ a b c Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 109.
  20. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, pp. 111–112, 116.
  21. ^ a b Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, pp. 133–134.
  22. ^ Lancaster I W4822, 3/4 November 1943
  23. ^ a b Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 144.
  24. ^ a b Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 166.
  25. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, pp. 169–170.
  26. ^ a b Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 173.
  27. ^ a b Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 174.
  28. ^ Everitt & Middlebrook 2014, pp. 302–303.
  29. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, pp. 176.
  30. ^ a b Chorley 1997, p. 221.
  31. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, pp. 188, 191, 222–223, 227–228.
  32. ^ Bowman 2004, p. 164.
  33. ^ a b Obermaier 1989, p. 83.
  34. ^ Boeing 720-030B D-ABOP.
  35. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 110.
  36. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 111.
  37. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 112.
  38. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 116.
  39. ^ a b Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 125.
  40. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 133.
  41. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 134.
  42. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 169.
  43. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 170.
  44. ^ Chorley 1998, p. 222.
  45. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 178.
  46. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 188.
  47. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 190.
  48. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 191.
  49. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 222.
  50. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 223.
  51. ^ Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 227.
  52. ^ a b c Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 228.
  53. ^ Patzwall 2008, p. 184.
  54. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 20.
  55. ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 197.
  56. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 119.


  • Bowman, Martin (2016). Nachtjagd, Defenders of the Reich 1940 – 1943. Barnsley: Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-1-47384-983-9.
  • Bowman, Martin (2004). Mosquitopanik!: Mosquito Fighters and Fighter Bomber Operations in the Second World War. Barnsley: Leo Cooper Limited. ISBN 978-1-84415-025-0.
  • Chorley, W. R (1996). Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War: Aircraft and crew losses: 1943. Midland Counties Publications. ISBN 978-0-90459-790-5.
  • Chorley, W. R (1997). Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War: Aircraft and crew losses: 1944. Midland Counties Publications. ISBN 978-0-9045-9791-2.
  • Chorley, W. R (1998). Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War: Aircraft and crew losses: 1945. Midland Counties Publications. ISBN 978-0-90459-792-9.
  • Cooper, Alan (2013) [1992]. Air Battle of the Ruhr: RAF Offensive March–July 1943. Airlife Publishing Limited. ISBN 978-1-85310-201-1.
  • Everitt, Chris; Middlebrook, Martin. (2014) [1985]. The Bomber Command War Diaries: An Operational Reference Book. Pen & Sword. ISBN 978-1-78346360-2.
  • 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.
  • Foreman, John; Parry, Simon; Matthews, Johannes (2004). Luftwaffe Night Fighter Claims 1939–1945. Walton on Thames: Red Kite. ISBN 978-0-9538061-4-0.
  • 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.
  • Phillips, J. Alwyn (1992). The Valley of the Shadow of Death: an account of the Royal Air Force Bomber Command night bombing and mine laying operations including "The Battle of the Ruhr" March 5th/6th to July 18th/19, 1943. New Malden, UK: Air Research Publications. ISBN 978-1-871187-13-7.
  • 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.
  • "Accident". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
Military offices
Preceded by
Major Paul Förster
Commander of I. Nachtjagdgeschwader 1
2 October 1944 – 8 May 1945
Succeeded by