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Eduard Tratt
24 February 1919(1919-02-24) – 22 February 1944 (aged 24)
Place of birth Würzburg, Germany
Place of death Nordhausen, Germany
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Balkenkreuz.svg Luftwaffe
Years of service 1937–1944
Rank Major
Unit ZG 1, Erpr.Gr. 210, SKG 210, ZG 2, Ekdo 25, Ekdo JG 1, ZG 26
Commands held II./ZG 26
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Eduard Tratt (24 February 1919 – 22 February 1944) was a Luftwaffe fighter, test pilot and flying ace of World War II.Major Eduard Tratt was a the highest scoring Zerstörer pilot of the war with 38 victories and Gruppenkommandeur of II./Zerstörergeschwader 26 (ZG 26). He was promoted to the rank of Major posthumously.

Career

Tratt was born on 24 February 1919 in Würzburg. By 1937 Tratt was serving as a Fahnenjunker in the Luftwaffe. At the beginning of World War 2, Leutnant Tratt was serving in 1 Staffel, Zestörergeschwader 1, flying the Bf 110 heavy twin-engine fighter. After participation in Polish campaign Tratt took part in the Battle of France, and on 1 June 1940 claimed 3 Hawker Hurricane fighters over Dunkirk.

In July 1940, Tratt was transferred with elements of ZG 1 to become 1./Erprobungsgruppe 210. The Gruppe, charged with introducing the new Messerschmitt Me 210 to operations, were, while awaiting delivery of the new aircraft, were pioneering the use of Bf 110 and Bf 109 fighter-bombers in low level, pin-point bombing attacks against British targets. Tratt flew numerous combat missions over England, and by the end of 1940 had 12 victory claims to his credit.

Erprobungsgruppe 210, was redesignated Schnellkampfgeschwader 210 in April 1941 and transferred to the East to take part in the assault on Russia. As part of 1./SKG 210 Tratt flew over the Central part of the front during Operation Barbarossa supporting the German army's encirclement and overrunning of Russian land forces in the Bialystok and Minsk area in the early phase of the campaign. Tratt flew numerous ground attack and fighter missions during 1941 and claimed another 9 victories over Russian aircraft by the end of 1941.

When I Gruppe were recalled to Landsberg-Lech to begin conversion to the Me 210 in January 1942, Tratt was then transferred to command 4 Staffel, ZG 26. In February 1942, Oberleutnant Tratt was wounded by ground fire over Rzhev. He was then appointed Staffelkapitän, 6./ZG 26 in March, before being wounded again by enemy fire on 27 March.

Oberleutnant Tratt received the Ritterkreuz in April 1942 and in May was transferred as to command 2./ZG 2. He was then sent as Staffelkapitän to 1./ZG 1 in July 1942.

In early 1943 I./ZG 1 flew against targets in the Stalingrad area, but then moved to Poltava, with attacks on Russian troop positions, supply and communications lines, and airfields. On 30 January 1943, Tratt suffered serious injuries (and his gunner killed) when he crash-landed his Bf 110 G-2 after suffering engine damage North of Rowenki.

When recovered, Tratt next commanded Erprobungskommando 25, undertaking the operational testing and evaluation of new weapons for use against the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) bomber offensive. One of these was the Me410A-1/U4 (bomber destroyer) armed with a 50 mm BK-5 gun mounted underneath the fuselage. The gun, weighing some 900 kg, severely restricted manoeuvrability, though carrying some 21 rounds and having a recoil pressure of about seven tons. Tratt claimed 2 B-17s shot down with this unit during the summer of 1943.

On 11 October 1943, Hauptmann Tratt was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of the reformed II./ZG 26, flying the new fighter versions of the Messerschmitt Me 410 from Hildesheim.

He led the unit on Reichsverteidigung duties. As late 1943 ground on interceptions were infrequent, but by early 1944 the Zerstörer day fighters found the odds increasingly stacked as the massed American escort fighter accompanied the bombers all the way deep into Germany. During Tratt's tenure in command, II./ZG 26 sustained increasingly heavy losses to these fighter escorts. On 29 November, he shot down a B-17 bomber as his 30th victory. On 10 February he claimed a P-38, and on the following day he claimed another 3 P-38 fighters shot down.

He recorded his final and 38th victory on 20 February 1944; a B-17 of the 452th Bomb Group, also attacked by Oberleutnant Dürkopp of 6./ZG 26.

Tratt was shot down and killed (with his gunner Ofw. Gillert) single-handedly attacking B-17's near Nordhausen on 22 February 1944, flying a Messerschmitt Me410B-1/U2/R4.

He was posthumously awarded the Eichenlaub in March and promoted to the rank of Major.

Eduard Tratt was credited with 38 victories in over 350 missions. He recorded 18 victories over the Western front, including at least 4 four-engine heavy bombers and at least 5 P-38 Lightnings. In addition he claimed 26 aircraft destroyed on the ground, 24 tanks, 312 road vehicles/transport and 33 anti-aircraft guns, 4 anti-aircraft batteries and 8 machine-gun nests.

Awards

References

Citations
  1. ^ Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 478.
Bibliography
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945. Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
  • Obermaier, Ernst (1989). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe Jagdflieger 1939 - 1945 (in German). Mainz, Germany: Verlag Dieter Hoffmann. ISBN 3-87341-065-6.
  • Patzwall, Klaus D. and Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 - 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II. Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 3-931533-45-X.
  • 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 (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
  • Helden der Wehrmacht III - Unsterbliche deutsche Soldaten (in German). München, Germany: FZ-Verlag GmbH, 2007. ISBN 978-3-924309-82-4.
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