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3 February 1922|
Mühlow, Prussia, Weimar Republic
|Died||5 July 2017(aged 95)|
|Years of service||1941–45|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross|
Willi Reschke (3 February 1922 – 5 July 2017) was a Luftwaffe ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) during World War II, credited with 26 aerial victories in 70 missions. In 1999, Reschke recounted his wartime experiences in print, published in English in 2005 as "Jagdgeschwader 301/302 'Wilde Sau': In Defense Of The Reich with the Bf 109, Fw 190 and Ta 152;" including writing about the late-war period he spent flying the exotic Focke-Wulf Ta 152 high-altitude fighter-interceptor designed by Kurt Tank.
Reschke was born on 3 February 1922 at Mühlow, Province of Brandenburg. He joined the Luftwaffe in February 1941 and began training with the Flieger-Ausbildung-Regiment at Königsberg/Neumark. Reschke commenced pilot-training in spring 1942. In June 1943 Reschke served with Jagdgruppe 102, in Zerbst to undergo operational training. On completion of training, Unteroffizier Reschke was posted to 1st Staffel, Jagdgeschwader 302, based near Vienna in June 1944.
On 2 July he achieved his first successes when he claimed two United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) 15th Air Force B-24 Liberator bombers shot down over Budapest. On 7 July Reschke downed another B-24, this time by ramming when his guns malfunctioned, and successfully bailed out of his crippled fighter. On 24 August Reschke claimed a B-24 near Jindřichův Hradec but during an attack on a second his aircraft was hit by return fire and he attempted to force-land while under attack by P-51 fighters, having to use his parachute. On 29 August he shot down a B-17 bomber south of Zlín, although another Bf 109 fired on his Bf 109 G-6 and Reschke had to force-land damaged.
By the end of August 1944 Reschke had 14 victories to his credit. Re-equipping with the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-8, I./JG 302 was redesignated III./JG 301 on 30 September 1944. In October the unit transferred to Stendal near Berlin. On 1 January 1945 Feldwebel Reschke downed a B-17 for his 22nd victory claim but again, hit by return fire, he bailed out of his Fw 190 near Gardelegen. On 13 March he was awarded the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold. In March 1945 Reschke transferred to the Geschwaderstab, JG 301. On 14 April he flew the new Focke-Wulf Ta 152 for the first time and claimed a Hawker Tempest of No. 486(NZ) Squadron shot down (pilot W/O O.J.Mitchell who was killed). On 20 April Oberfeldwebel Reschke received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. He claimed his last two victories of the war on 24 April when he downed two Soviet Yak-9s near Berlin.[Note 1]
Reschke flew about 70 missions during his career in which he recorded 27 victories. All he claimed over the Western Front, including 20 four-engine bombers. Three claims were made flying the Ta 152. He was shot down 8 times, bailing out five times, and was wounded once. Reschke died in July 2017 at the age of 95.
- Front Flying Clasp of the Luftwaffe
- Iron Cross (1939)
- 2nd Class
- 1st Class
- Wound Badge (1939)
- in Black
- German Cross in Gold on 13 March 1945 as Oberfeldwebel in the 1/Jagdgeschwader 301
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 20 April 1945 as Oberfeldwebel and pilot in the Stab/Jagdgeschwader 301
- "His Yak-9 was hopelessly inferior to my Ta 152. In the end, he went down trailing smoke."
- Date of death according to confirmation of the „Gemeinschaft der Flieger deutscher Streitkräfte e.V.“ (="Association of German Armed Forces Airmen") from 15 July 2017)
- Reschke 2005, p. 258.
- Reschke 2011, p. 244 f.
- Obermaier 1989, p. 186.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 375.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 356.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 624.
- 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.
- Reschke, Willi (2011). Chronik Jagdgeschwader 301/302 Wilde Sau. ISBN 978-3-613-03268-2.
- Reschke, Willi (2005). Jagdgeschwader 301/302 "Wilde Sau": In Defense Of The Reich with the Bf 109, Fw 190 and Ta 152 (English). Atglen, USA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-0764321306.
- 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.
- Weal, John (2011). Fw 190 Defence of the Reich Aces. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing Limited. ISBN 978-1-84603-482-4.