Wolfgang Tonne

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Wolfgang Tonne
Born (1918-02-28)28 February 1918
Moosbach in Schleiz, Thuringia
Died 20 April 1943(1943-04-20) (aged 25)
Protville in Tunisia
Buried German Military Cemetery at Bordj-Cedria
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Balkenkreuz (Iron Cross) Luftwaffe
Years of service 1937–43
Rank Major (major)
Unit JG 53
Commands held 3./JG 53
Battles/wars
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Wolfgang Tonne (28 February 1918 – 20 April 1943) was a former Luftwaffe fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves during World War II, the highest award in the military and paramilitary forces of Nazi Germany during World War II. Tonne was credited with 122 aerial victories before being killed in a flying accident on 20 April 1943 at Protville, Tunisia.

Early life and career[edit]

Tonne was born on 28 February 1918 in Moßbach, near Schleiz, in Thuringia of the German Empire. His father was a one-room school teacher (Dorfschullehrer). Tonne had a brother who got him interested in flying glider aircraft.[1] In November 1937, Tonne joined the Luftwaffe as an office cadet at the Luftkriegsschule 4 (LKS 4—4th Air War School) near Fürstenfeldbruck. He completed his A/B pilot license,[Note 1] and was promoted to Leutnant (second lieutenant) on 1 September 1939.[1]

World War II[edit]

World War II in Europe began on Friday 1 September 1939 when German forces invaded Poland. On 6 December 1939, Tonne was posted to 3. Staffel (3rd Squadron) of Jagdgeschwader 53 (JG 53—53rd Fighter Wing) and received the Iron Cross 2nd Class (Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse) on 18 April 1940.[1] Tonne claimed his first aerial victory over a Royal Air Force (RAF) Bristol Blenheim twin-engined bomber over Sedan from either No. 21, No. 107 or No. 110 Squadron on 14 May 1940 during the Battle of France.[2] On that mission, he was also shot down near Bouillon. He bailed out landing in enemy territory. However, he returned safely to his own lines, uninjured. Over England and the Channel he was to gain a further three victories by the spring of 1941.

Eastern Front[edit]

On 1 July, Tonne was appointed Adjutant of I./JG 53. Tonne participated in the invasion of the Soviet Union. In June and July 1941, he scored eight further victories.

In December 1941, I./JG 53 was transferred to the Mediterranean theatre. On 24 January 1942, Tonne was appointed Staffelkapitän of 3./JG 53. Tonne flew 116 combat missions over Malta, without adding to his victory total, before being transferred back to the Eastern Front.

From 31 May 1942 to 29 September 1942, Tonne flew 155 combat missions and shot down 88 aircraft on the Eastern Front. Oberleutnant Tonne was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 6 September 1942 following his 54th victory. The Oak Leaves were awarded on 24 September for 101 victories.

In November 1942, Tonne led 3./JG 53 to North Africa. He gained his first victory in this theatre on 26 December 1942 shooting down a United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) P-38 Lightning twin-engine fighter. He specialised in shooting down Supermarine Spitfire fighters claiming ten of the type in a short time. Tonne flew 82 combat missions and claimed 21 victories over Tunisia. Tonne was killed in a flying accident caused in the attempt to celebrate his 122nd victory over the airfield at Protville, Tunisia on 20 April 1943 in his Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6 /R1 (Werknummer 16523—factory number).[3] He was promoted to Major (major) posthumously.[4]

Tonne was credited with 122 victories claimed in 641 missions. He scored 26 victories over the Western Front, including 16 Supermarine Spitfire. 10 of his 96 victories claimed over the Eastern Front were Il-2 Sturmoviks.

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 120 aerial victory claims, plus six further unconfirmed claims. This figure of confirmed claims includes 198 aerial victories on the Eastern Front and two on the Western Front, including one four-engined bomber.[5]

Victory claims were logged to a map-reference (PQ = Planquadrat), for example "PQ 49293". The Luftwaffe grid map (Jägermeldenetz) 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.[6]

  This and the – (dash) indicates unconfirmed aerial victory claims for which Tonne did not receive credit.
  This and the ? (question mark) indicates information discrepancies listed by Prien, Stemmer, Rodeike, Bock, Matthews and Foreman.

Awards[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Flight training in the Luftwaffe progressed through the levels A1, A2 and B1, B2, referred to as A/B flight training. A training included theoretical and practical training in aerobatics, navigation, long-distance flights and dead-stick landings. The B courses included high-altitude flights, instrument flights, night landings and training to handle the aircraft in difficult situations.
  2. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed at 12:40.[7]
  3. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed as a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk.[7]
  4. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed as at 05:56.[19]
  5. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed at 18:28.[19]
  6. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed as at 07:40.[19]
  7. ^ This claim is not listed by Matthews and Foreman.[5]
  8. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed at 17:25.[19]
  9. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed as at 10:19.[19]
  10. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed as at 10:41.[23]
  11. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed at 10:35.[19]
  12. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed as at 07:00.[23]
  13. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed as at 07:38.[23]
  14. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed as a Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov LaGG-3.[19]
  15. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed as at 17:12.[23]
  16. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed as at 06:49.[23]
  17. ^ Misidentified Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, claimed as a Morane-Saulnier M.S.406[35]
  18. ^ This claim is not listed by Matthews and Foreman.[5]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Stockert 2012, p. 84.
  2. ^ Goss 2017, p. 24.
  3. ^ Prien et al. 2010, pp. 421, 475.
  4. ^ Stockert 2012, p. 85.
  5. ^ a b c d Matthews & Foreman 2015, pp. 1329–1331.
  6. ^ Planquadrat.
  7. ^ a b c d e Matthews & Foreman 2015, p. 1329.
  8. ^ a b Prien et al. 2000, p. 327.
  9. ^ Prien et al. 2002, p. 203.
  10. ^ a b Prien et al. 2002, p. 204.
  11. ^ a b Prien et al. 2003, p. 107.
  12. ^ a b c d Prien et al. 2003, p. 108.
  13. ^ a b Prien et al. 2003, p. 110.
  14. ^ a b c d e f Prien et al. 2006, p. 21.
  15. ^ a b c d Prien et al. 2006, p. 29.
  16. ^ a b c Prien et al. 2006, p. 30.
  17. ^ a b Prien et al. 2006, p. 22.
  18. ^ Prien et al. 2006, p. 31.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g Matthews & Foreman 2015, p. 1330.
  20. ^ a b c d e f Prien et al. 2006, p. 32.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Prien et al. 2006, p. 23.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g Prien et al. 2006, p. 33.
  23. ^ a b c d e f Matthews & Foreman 2015, p. 1331.
  24. ^ a b Prien et al. 2006, p. 24.
  25. ^ a b c d e Prien et al. 2006, p. 35.
  26. ^ a b c d e f g Prien et al. 2006, p. 25.
  27. ^ a b c d e Prien et al. 2006, p. 36.
  28. ^ a b c d e f Prien et al. 2006, p. 26.
  29. ^ a b c d Prien et al. 2006, p. 37.
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Prien et al. 2006, p. 38.
  31. ^ a b c d e Prien et al. 2006, p. 27.
  32. ^ a b c Prien et al. 2006, p. 28.
  33. ^ a b Prien et al. 2004, p. 81.
  34. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Prien et al. 2010, p. 470.
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h Prien et al. 2010, p. 469.
  36. ^ a b Thomas 1998, p. 387.
  37. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 478.
  38. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 748.
  39. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, pp. 424, 506.
  40. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 61.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bergström, Christer. "Bergström Black Cross/Red Star website". Identifying a Luftwaffe Planquadrat. Retrieved 29 May 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. 
  • Goss, Chris (2017). Jagdgeschwader 53 ‘Pik-As’ Bf 109 Aces of 1940. London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4728-1872-0. 
  • Matthews, Andrew Johannes; Foreman, John (2015). Luftwaffe Aces — Biographies and Victory Claims — Volume 4 S–Z. Walton on Thames: Red Kite. ISBN 978-1-906592-21-9. 
  • 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. 
  • Prien, Jochen (1991). Pik-As: Geschichte des Jagdgeschwaders 53 — 3 — Das Ende in Italien 1944, Rumänien, Ungarn 1944/45, Einsatz zur Verteidigung des Reiches 1943–1945 [Ace of Spades: History of the Fighter Wing 53 — 3 — The End in Italy 1944, Romania, Hungary 1944/45, Defense of the Reich 1943–1945] (in German). Eutin, Germany: Struve-Druck. ISBN 978-3-923457-16-8. 
  • Prien, Jochen; Stemmer, Gerhard; Rodeike, Peter; Bock, Winfried (2000). Die Jagdfliegerverbände der deutschen Luftwaffe 1934 bis 1945 Teil 3—Einsatz in Dänemark und Norwegen 9.4. bis 30.11.1940—Der Feldzug im Westen 10.5. bis 25.6.1940 [Fighter Pilot Association of the German Luftwaffe 1934 to 1945 Part 3—Assignments in Denmark and Norway 9 April to 30 November 1940—The campaign in the West 10 May to 25 June 1940] (in German). Struve-Druck. ISBN 978-3-923457-61-8. 
  • Prien, Jochen; Stemmer, Gerhard; Rodeike, Peter; Bock, Winfried (2002). Die Jagdfliegerverbände der Deutschen Luftwaffe 1934 bis 1945—Teil 4/II—Einsatz am Kanal und über England—26.6.1940 bis 21.6.1941 [The Fighter Units of the German Air Force 1934 to 1945—Part 4/II—Action at the Channel and over England—26 June 1940 to 21 June 1941] (in German). Eutin, Germany: Struve-Druck. ISBN 978-3-923457-64-9. 
  • 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 (2004). Die Jagdfliegerverbände der Deutschen Luftwaffe 1934 bis 1945—Teil 8/II—Einsatz im Mittelmeerraum—November 1941 bis Dezember 1942 [The Fighter Units of the German Air Force 1934 to 1945—Part 8/II—Action in the Mediterranean Theater—November 1941 to December 1942] (in German). Eutin, Germany: Struve-Druck. ISBN 978-3-923457-74-8. 
  • 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. 
  • Prien, Jochen; Stemmer, Gerhard; Rodeike, Peter; Bock, Winfried (2010). Die Jagdfliegerverbände der Deutschen Luftwaffe 1934 bis 1945—Teil 11/I—Einsatz im Mittelmeerraum—1.1. bis 31.12.1943 [The Fighter Units of the German Air Force 1934 to 1945—Part 11/I—Action in the Mediterranean Theater—1 January to 31 December 1943] (in German). Eutin, Germany: Struve-Druck. ISBN 978-3-923457-95-3. 
  • 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. 
  • Stockert, Peter (2012) [1997]. Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2 [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2] (in German) (4th ed.). Bad Friedrichshall, Germany: Friedrichshaller Rundblick. ISBN 978-3-9802222-9-7. 
  • Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9.