Werner Hoffmann (nightfighter pilot)
13 January 1918|
|Died||8 July 2011
|Years of service||1936–45|
|Commands held||I./Nachtjagdgeschwader 5|
World War II
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross|
Werner Hoffmann (13 January 1918 – 8 July 2011) was a German Luftwaffe night fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Werner Hoffmann claimed 51 aerial victories, 50 of them at night.[Note 1]
Hoffmann began flying gliders in 1932 and joined the Luftwaffe in December 1936, learning to fly with the Luftkriegschule near Potsdam. He was awarded his pilot's badge in June 1938 and was then posted to 7./Jagdgeschwader 234. III./JG 234 was eventually redesignated I./ZG 52 in May 1939 and was equipped with the new Bf 110 Zerstörer fighter. Lt. Hoffmann was assigned to 4./ZG 2 in early 1940 and participated in the Battle of France. He claimed his first victory, a Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter over Calais, on 24 May 1940. He was slightly wounded in June and spent some time in hospital.
In July 1940 Hoffmann was transferred to Ergänzungs-Zerstörergruppe Værløse as an instructor with the rank of Oberleutnant and appointed Staffelkapitän (squadron leader). He remained with the unit until 3 August 1941, when the unit was disbanded. Hoffmann was posted as Staffelkapitän to 5./NJG 3 based at Schleswig.
On the night of 25/26 June 1942 Hoffmann shot down two twin-engine bombers during the 1,000-bomber raid on Bremen. Hauptmann Hoffmann was appointed Staffelkapitän of 4./NJG 5 on 11 February 1943. He then served with I./NJG 1, based at St Trond, in May and was acting Gruppenkommandeur (group leader) of I./NJG 5 in July 1943.
On 15 November Hoffmann was awarded the German Cross in Gold (Deutsches Kreuz in Gold) for 15 victories and by the end of 1943 had a victory total of 18. On 20 January 1944 Hoffmann had to bale out over Berlin when his aircraft was damaged by return fire from an RAF Lancaster. On the night of 28/29 January he shot down three Halifax bombers raiding Berlin and claimed two Lancaster bombers shot down the next night.
Hauptmann Hoffmann was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) for 31 victories in May 1944. On 29 June, Hoffmann shot down a four-engine bomber but again bailed out when his aircraft received hits from defensive fire from the bomber. On the night of 7/8 July he shot down three RAF bombers. In late July 1944 I./NJG 5 was withdrawn to Stendal for re-equipment with the Ju 88 G-6. Deployed to East Prussia, Hoffmann claimed four victories over Soviet-flown aircraft around Libau during December 1944.
By early 1945 Hoffmann had 44 victories. Following the Soviet offensive on 12 January 1945, Major Hoffmann flew ground-attack operations against ground forces. Hoffmann claimed a further seven victories during 1945. On the night of 16/17 March Hoffmann shot down three Lancaster bombers before he was shot down in a Ju 88 G-6 near Nüremberg by a Mosquito Mk XXX night-fighter flown by ace F/L Dennis Hughes (5 victories) of No. 239 Squadron RAF. Hoffmann suffered severe bruising to his chest as a result of bailing out.
On 1 May 1945 Hoffmann joined 7./NJG 3, based at Husum. Following three months internment in the POW camp at Wiedelah Hoffmann was released. After the war he studied pharmacy and opened a dispensary in Goslar. In 1957 Hoffmann was engaged by Hoechst AG in Bremen in an advisory role.
Aerial victory claims
Hoffmann was credited with 52 aerial victories, 51 of which by night, claimed in 192 combat missions. He filed four nocturnal aerial victories on the Eastern Front. In some instances, aerial victories were claimed and logged in a Planquadrat (PQ—grid reference). The grid map was composed of rectangles measuring 15 minutes of latitude by 30 minutes of longitude, an area of about 360 square miles (930 km2).
|Chronicle of aerial victories|
|Victory||Date||Time||Type||Location||Serial No./Squadron No.|
|– 5./Nachtjagdgeschwader 3 –|
|1||26 June 1942||02:26||Hudson||6 km (3.7 mi) southeast of Heide|
|2||26 June 1942||03:24||Whitley||6 km (3.7 mi) north of Busum|
|– 4./Nachtjagdgeschwader 5 –|
|3||21 April 1943||00:45||Halifax||1.5 km (0.93 mi) east of Eggesin|
|4||21 April 1943||00:50||Halifax||500 m (550 yd) south of Gut-Borkum|
|5||25 June 1943||01:21||Lancaster||3 km (1.9 mi) southwest of Erkelenz|
|6||25 June 1943||01:24||Lancaster||PQ 6278|
|7||25 June 1943||01:54||Wellington||1 km (0.62 mi) south of Brasel|
|8||29 June 1943||02:18||Stirling||3 km (1.9 mi) northwest of Lommel|
|– Stab I./Nachtjagdgeschwader 5 –|
|9||4 September 1943||00:32||Lancaster||middle of Berlin|
|10||7 September 1943||00:24||four-engined bomber||east of Munich|
|11||7 September 1943||00:45||Lancaster||south of Munich|
|12||27 September 1943||23:18||Lancaster||Hanover|
|13||18 October 1943||20:25||Halifax||5–10 km (3.1–6.2 mi) northeast of Hanover|
|14||22 October 1943||21:14||Lancaster||35 km (22 mi) north of Kassel|
|21||29 January 1944||03:12||Halifax||5 km (3.1 mi) north of Neuruppin|
|22||29 January 1944||03:27||Halifax||25 km (16 mi) northeast of Berlin|
|23||29 January 1944||03:55||Halifax||25 km (16 mi) northeast of Berlin|
|24||30 January 1944||20:15||Lancaster||middle of Berlin|
|25||30 January 1944||20:35||Lancaster||middle of Berlin|
|27||20 February 1944||02:51||Lancaster||25 km (16 mi) east of Braunschweig|
|39||15 December 1944||02:10||Lancaster||5 km (3.1 mi) east of Thonnance|
|41||14 December 1944||16:54||DB-3|
|42||20 December 1944||17:19||PS-84||east of Libau|
|43||20 December 1944||18:09||DB-3||east of Libau|
|44||20 December 1944||18:28||DB-3||east of Libau|
|45||6 January 1945||21:12||Halifax||Gdańsk Bay|
|46||14 February 1945||21:58||B-17||southwest of Bad Kissingen|
|47||14 February 1945||22:11||Lancaster||southwest of Bad Kissingen|
|48||16 March 1945||21:18||Lancaster||southwest of Schwäbisch Hall|
|49||16 March 1945||21:26||Lancaster||Ansbach|
|50||16 March 1945||21:30||Lancaster||east of Ansbach|
|51||8 April 1945||23:00||Lancaster||Weissenfels|
- Aviator badge (2 June 1938)
- Front Flying Clasp of the Luftwaffe in Gold
- Iron Cross (1939) 2nd and 1st Class
- German Cross in Gold on 15 November 1943 with I./Nachtjagdgeschwader 5
- Honour Goblet of the Luftwaffe (Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe) on 28 February 1944 as Hauptmann and pilot
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 4 May 1944 as Hauptmann and Gruppenkommandeur of the I./Nachtjagdgeschwader 5
- For a list of Luftwaffe night fighter aces see List of German World War II night fighter aces.
- Obermaier 1989, p. 135.
- Hinchliffe 1999, p. 208.
- Foreman, Matthews & Parry 2004, p. 48.
- Foreman, Matthews & Parry 2004, p. 76.
- Foreman, Matthews & Parry 2004, p. 89.
- Foreman, Matthews & Parry 2004, p. 90.
- Foreman, Matthews & Parry 2004, p. 91.
- Foreman, Matthews & Parry 2004, p. 110.
- Foreman, Matthews & Parry 2004, p. 112.
- Foreman, Matthews & Parry 2004, p. 117.
- Foreman, Matthews & Parry 2004, p. 123.
- Foreman, Matthews & Parry 2004, p. 124.
- Foreman, Matthews & Parry 2004, p. 144.
- Foreman, Matthews & Parry 2004, p. 145.
- Foreman, Matthews & Parry 2004, p. 148.
- Foreman, Matthews & Parry 2004, p. 201.
- Foreman, Matthews & Parry 2004, p. 226.
- Foreman, Matthews & Parry 2004, p. 229.
- Foreman, Matthews & Parry 2004, p. 235.
- Foreman, Matthews & Parry 2004, p. 243.
- Foreman, Matthews & Parry 2004, p. 246.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 192.
- Patzwall 2008, p. 103.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 192.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 399.
- 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.
- Foreman, John; Matthews, Johannes; Parry, Simon (2004). Luftwaffe Night Fighter Claims 1939–1945. Walton on Thames: Red Kite. ISBN 978-0-9538061-4-0.
- Hinchliffe, Peter (1999). Schnaufer: Ace of Diamonds. Brimscombe Port, UK: Tempus. ISBN 978-0-7524-1690-8.
- 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.