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Herbert Ihlefeld
1 June 1914(1914-06-01) – 8 August 1995 (aged 81)
Herbert Ihlefeld.jpg
Herbert Ihlefeld
Place of birth Pinnow, Pommern
Place of death Wennigsen, Lower Saxony
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Balkenkreuz.svg Luftwaffe
Years of service 1933–1945
Rank Oberst
Unit LG 2, JG 77, JG 52,
JG 103, JG 25, JG 11, JG 1
Commands held I./JG 77, JG 52, JG 103, JG 25,
JG 11, JG 1
Battles/wars Spanish Civil War
World War II
Awards Spanish Cross in Silver with Swords
Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords

Herbert Ihlefeld (1 June 1914 in Pinnow, Pommern – 8 August 1995 in Wenningsen, Lower Saxony) was a German World War II fighter ace who served in the Luftwaffe from 1936 until the very end of World War II in May 1945. He claimed 132 enemy aircraft shot down; 9 in the Spanish Civil War, 67 on the Eastern Front, and 56 on the Western Front, including 15 four-engined bombers and 26 Spitfires. He survived being shot down 8 times during his 1000 combat missions.


World War II

In August 1938, he was assigned to the I(J)/Lehrgeschwader 2 (LG 2), an operational training unit. He flew in the battles of Poland, France and Britain. In July 1940, "Ihle" was now Staffelkapitän of 1.(J)/LG 2, leading it during the Battle of Britain. He was awarded the Ritterkreuz during September 1940, for 24 claimed kills.

In April 1941, the unit was transferred to the Balkans to take part of the invasion of Yugoslavia. During one of his first missions, strafing an airfield near Niš, Ihlefeld was shot down by anti-aircraft fire and captured by Yugoslavian soldiers. While in Yugoslavian captivity, he was allegedly severely beaten, and was threatened with execution by firing squad. Ihlefeld was rescued by German troops after eight days of arrest, and returned to Germany to recover. After a few weeks, "Ihle" returned to participate in the assault on Crete, claiming a Hurricane shot down for his 36th claim. Soon after, LG 2 was rearmed and remustered as I/Jagdgeschwader 77 (JG 77) in time for Unternehmen Barbarossa in June 1941, Ihlefeld retaining the command of I/JG 77.

In the spring of 1942, a series of multiple victories (five aircraft on 24 March, seven on 30 March and seven on 20 April) saw Ihlefeld become the fifth pilot to reach 100 victories. During the period of Ihlefeld's leadership, I/JG 77 was credited with the destruction of 323 enemy planes while losing only 17 Bf 109s.

In June 1942, Ihlefeld became Geschwaderkommodore of the famed Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52). On 22 July 1942, whilst flying over the front in his Storch, he was shot down and badly wounded by Soviet fighters[1], this took him out of the front line until July 1943, when he joined the newly formed Jagdgruppe 25 as Geschwaderkommodore, leading the group's high-altitude Bf 109s in ultimately unsuccessful operations against RAF Mosquitos, and later USAAF heavy bomber formations in Reichsverteidigung missions.

In May 1944, he became Kommodore of Jagdgeschwader 11 (JG 11), briefly before switching to Kommodore of Jagdgeschwader 1 (JG 1), overseeing the period where elements of the Geschwader were equipped late in the war with the He 162 Volksjager.



References in the Wehrmachtbericht

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Friday, 27 June 1941 Hauptmann Ihlefeld, Kommandeur einer Jagdfliegergruppe, errang am 26. Juni seinen 39. und 40. Luftsieg.[9] Hauptmann Ihlefeld, commander of a fighter group, achieved on 26 June his 39th and 40th aerial victory.
Thursday, 26 March 1942 Hauptmann Ihlefeld schoß am 24. März seinen 70. bis 74. Gegner im Luftkampf ab.[10] Hauptmann Ihlefeld shot down on 24 March his 70th to 74th enemy in aerial combat.
Tuesday, 31 March 1942 Hauptmann Ihlefeld errang mit sieben Abschüssen seinen 82. Luftsieg.[11] Hauptmann Ihlefeld achieved with seven kills his 82nd aerial victory.
Monday, 20 April 1942 Hauptmann Ihlefeld errang an der Ostfront seinen 85. bis 88. Luftsieg.[12] Hauptmann Ihlefeld achieved on the Eastern front his 85th to 88th aerial victory.
Tuesday, 21 April 1942 Hauptmann Ihlefeld errang gestern an der Ostfront seinen 89. bis 95., Oberleutnant Geißhardt der gleichen Jagdfliegergruppe seinen 52. bis 56. Luftsieg.[13] Hauptmann Ihlefeld achieved yesterday on the Eastern front his 89th to 95th, Oberleutnant Geißhardt of the same fighter group his 52nd to 56th aerial victory.
Thursday, 23 April 1942 Hauptmann Ihlefeld errang am gestrigen Tag an der Ostfront seinen 98. bis 101. Luftsieg.[14] Hauptmann Ihlefeld achieved on yesterdays day at the Eastern front his 98th to 101st aerial victory.


  1. ^ According to Scherzer in the I.(J)/LG 2[6]


  1. ^ J. S. A. Hayward 1998, p.146
  2. ^ a b c d e Berger 2000, p. 139.
  3. ^ Obermaier 1989, p. 31.
  4. ^ Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 204.
  5. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 239.
  6. ^ a b c Scherzer 2007, p. 413.
  7. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 54.
  8. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 39.
  9. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 591.
  10. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 67.
  11. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 73.
  12. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 91.
  13. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 92.
  14. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 94.
  • Berger, Florian (2000). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges. Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 3-9501307-0-5.
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945. Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
  • Hayward, Joel S. (2001). Stopped at Stalingrad: The Luftwaffe and Hitler's Defeat in the East 1942-1943. University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-1146-0
  • 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.
  • Schaulen, Fritjof (2004). Eichenlaubträger 1940 - 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe II Ihlefeld - Primozic (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 3-932381-21-1.
  • 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.
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 1, 1. September 1939 bis 31. Dezember 1941. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, 1985. ISBN 3-423-05944-3.
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 2, 1. Januar 1942 bis 31. Dezember 1943. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, 1985. ISBN 3-423-05944-3.

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Major Heinrich Bär
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 1 Oesau
May 20, 1944 – May 8, 1945
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Major Anton Hackl
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 11
May 1, 1944 – May, 1944
Succeeded by
Major Günther Specht
Preceded by
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 25
July, 1943 – December, 1943
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Oberstleutnant Friedrich Beckh
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 52
June 22, 1942 – October 28, 1942
Succeeded by
Oberstleutnant Dietrich Hrabak
Preceded by
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 103
December 7, 1942 – July 20, 1943
Succeeded by
Major Hans von Hahn


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