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Hans Ekkehard Bob
24 January 1917 (1917-01-24) (age 92)
Hans-Ekkehard Bob.jpg
Hans Ekkehard Bob
Place of birth Freiburg / Breisgau
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Balkenkreuz.svg Luftwaffe
Years of service 1936–1945
Rank Major
Unit JG 54, JG 51, JG 3, EJG 2, JV 44
Commands held IV./JG 51, II./JG 3, II./EJG 2
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Relations Elmar Bob (son)
Other work Founder and Chairman of Bohrmaschinen und Geräte GmbH (drilling equipment)

Hans Ekkehard Bob (born 24 January 1917) was a German Fighter pilot, serving with the Luftwaffe. During World War II, Bob flew approximately seven hundred combat missions, and claimed sixty victories; thirty-seven of which were on the eastern front.


Early Luftwaffe

Hans Ekkehard Bob joined the Luftwaffe in 1936,[1] at the rank of a Fahnenjunker (officer candidate), and began his Flight training June 1, 1937.

In 1938, he attended the Officers Academy, and was transferred to the Jagdfliegergruppe 133 in Wiesbaden. During the occupation of the Sudetenland, he flew his first missions, primarily escorting bombers and transport aircraft, piloting an Arado Ar 68 biplane. Later, Bob was transferred to JG 334 in Gablingen, were he also received a promotion to the rank of Leutnant. JG 334 was a heavy fighter Geschwader, equipped with the Messerschmitt Me 110.

World War II

In 1939, shortly before the Invasion of Poland, Bob was transferred to the newly formed 3./Jagdgeschwader 21 (JG 21) (later known as the "Devils Squadron"),[Notes 1] which was redesignated on June 6, 1940 into 9./Jagdgeschwader 54 (JG 54). It was equipped with the Bf 109 fighter, an aircraft Bob would become very familiar with over the years - flying every model except the Kurfürst.

During the French campaign on May 10, 1940, Bob claimed his first victory when he shot down a Gloster Gladiator over Toveren in Belgium. That August he was promoted to the rank of Oberleutnant. On October 10, 1940 he was appointed Staffelkapitän of 7./JG 54 for a short period; he was soon appointed Staffelkapitän of 9./JG 54.

During the Battle of Britain 9./JG 54 was activated as a Jabo (fighter-bomber) unit, targeting shipping vessels. By November 1940, Bob had recorded 19 kills, and was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) by Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring on March 7, 1941.

On March 21, 1941 Bob survived, unhurt, a ditching into Cherbourg harbour with his Bü 131 training aircraft, which had suffered engine failure. After the Battle of Britain, he participated in the Balkan campaign, where he recorded his 20th and 21st victories. JG 54 was re-equipped with the new Me 109F, and relocated to airfields in Prussia, in preparation for the invasion of Russia.

On June 23, 1941, during Operation Barbarossa (Invasion of Russia), Hans Ekkehard Bob recorded his first victory in Russian airspace - a SB-2 twin-engined bomber. During this combat action his Me 109F2 was hit by return fire, resulting in a forced landing behind enemy lines. He evaded capture and returned to his unit 2 days later.

Between July 13 and October 30, 1941 Bob made three more emergency landings due to aircraft combat damage behind enemy lines, but in each case came back to his unit.

On September 29, 1942, Bob had his 50th victory, and was promoted to Hauptmann later that year. Flying on the Eastern front ended for Hans Ekkehard Bob and his III./JG 54 in February 1943, after he received orders from General der Jagdflieger Adolf Galland to change positions with elements of the then French-based JG 26. This order was later cancelled, but III. Gruppe stayed on the Western front, separated from the rest of the 'Greenhearts', serving initially in Northern Germany with Jagdgeschwader 1.

On April 17, 1943 Bob recorded his 57th Victory; the ramming of a USAAF Boeing B-17 bomber near Bremen with his Bf 109 G-6. He bailed out and survived the crash without injury. On August 1, Bob was promoted to the rank of Major and was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of IV./JG 54. He returned to the Eastern front, where he scored a further two victories.

By May 1944, Bob was back at the Western front as Gruppenkommandeur of II./Jagdgeschwader 3 (JG 3); based in the Normandy invasion front corridor, flying Reichsverteidigung (Defense of the Reich) duties. In August he was transferred to Erprobungskommando 262 where he learned to fly the Me 262.

In early 1945, his experience led to his becoming a member of Generalmajor Josef Kammhuber's staff. Bob was responsible for allocating newly built Me-262's to operational units. Later he took command of I. and II./EJG 2 and was responsible for practice and training former bomber pilots in flying the Me-262.

Bob was one of the aces chosen to fly as a member of the jet fighter unit JV 44, led by Adolf Galland. In the final days of World War II, Bob was responsible for building a longer runway at Innsbruck airfield for the Me-262 Jets. At the capitulation on May 8, 1945 Bob was in Kappl, a small village near Salzburg. From Kappl he walked more than 1,400 kilometres (870 mi) in 6 weeks to return to his home in Celle.

After the war

Bob returned to civilian life working as a farm labourer. In 1946, he founded his own transport company. Around this time he met Waldemar Wuebke, an old JV 44 comrade, and a friend from his time in JG 54. Bob still tells the story to this day with a smile on his face. Wuebke still wore his old uniform and officer cap as he was questioned by a British officer. "Why are you wearing this old stuff"? Wuebkes reply: "Do I ask you if your grandma has hemorrhoids"? He never met Wuebke again, and Wuebke later died in the early 1950s in Argentina, the result of injuries sustained in an airliner crash.

In 1956, Bob founded his own company, BOMAG, specializing in drilling equipment and doing business in over 120 countries around the world as well as establishing the Celle Flying Club. Today, Bob still flies his own aircraft at his current age of 92 and is believed to be the oldest licensed pilot in the world. He enjoys his retirement, and occasionally assists in research on the Luftwaffe.

From September 30 to October 1, 2000, Bob also was among the historical figures at the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in Santa Monica, California.

Bob is married to his wife of over 45 years, Christa. They have three children: Roland, Elmar Bob and Delia. He has also three other children from his first wife.



  1. ^ For an explanation of the meaning of Luftwaffe unit designation see Luftwaffe Organization


  1. ^ Ries and Obermaier 1991
  2. ^ Obermaier 1989, p. 90.
  3. ^ Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 46.
  4. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 135.
  • Bob, Hans-Ekkehard (2003). Betrayed Ideals, Memoirs of a Luftwaffe Fighter Ace. Cerberus Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-84145-031-6.
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945. Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
  • Forsyth, Robert (1996). JV 44: The Galland Circus. Classic Publications. ISBN 0-9526867-0-8.
  • 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.
  • Ries, Karl and Obermaier, Ernst (1991). Luftwaffe Rudder Markings 1936-1945. Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 0887403379.
  • 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.
  • Spick, Mike (1996). Luftwaffe Fighter Aces. New York: Ivy Books. ISBN 0-8041-1696-2.
  • Trautloft, Hannes and Bob, Hans-Ekkehard (2005). War Diaries of Hannes Trautloft Kommodore of JG54 Grunherz. Cerberus Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-84145-010-3.




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