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Günther Lützow
Günther Lützow
Nickname Franzl
Born (1912-09-04)4 September 1912
Died 24 April 1945(1945-04-24) (aged 32)
Place of birth Kiel
Place of death near Donauwörth
Allegiance Germany Weimar Republic (to 1933)
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Balkenkreuz.svg Luftwaffe
Years of service 1931 – 1945
Rank Oberst
Unit J/88, JG 3, JG 51, JV 44
Commands held 2./J 88
I./JG 3 (3.11.39 – 21.8.40)
JG 3 (21.8.40 – 11.8.42)
JG 51 (10.41 – 11.41)

Spanish Civil War
World War II

Awards Spanish Cross in Gold with Swords and Diamonds
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords

Colonel Günther Lützow (4 September 1912 – 24 April 1945) was a German Luftwaffe fighter ace and a leader in the "Fighter Pilots Revolt". Lützow was credited with 110 victories achieved in over 300 combat missions. He scored 5 victories during the Spanish Civil War. He recorded 20 victories over the Western Front, including at least one four-engine bomber, and 85 victories over the Eastern Front. Lützow, flying the Me 262 jet fighter for Adolf Galland’s JV 44, was posted missing on 24 April 1945 while attempting to intercept a USAAF B-26 Marauder raid near Donauwörth. His body was never recovered.


On 7 April 1931 Lützow began his pilot training at the Deutsche Verkehrsfliegerschule (German Air Transport School) at Schleißheim. He and 29 other trainees attended what was called Kameradschaft 31, abbreviated "K 31". Among the members of K 31 were future Luftwaffe staff Officers Wolfgang Falck and Hannes Trautloft. Lützow graduated from the Deutsche Verkehrsfliegerschule on 19 February 1932. From K 31 Lützow and nine others were recommended for Sonderausbildung (special training) at the Lipetsk fighter-pilot school.[1]

Spanish Civil War

Lützow initially served as a Leutnant in the infantry before transferring to the Luftwaffe as a pilot with I./JG 132 "Richthofen". During the Spanish Civil War Lützow was Staffelkapitän of 2./Jagdgruppe 88 (J/88) with the Condor Legion. From March to September 1937 Oberleutnant Lützow claimed five victories, including the first ever recorded by the Bf 109. In November 1938 Lützow became an instructor at Jagdfliegerschule 1 at Werneuchen.

In 1938 Lützow was assigned to the Reichsluftfahrtministerium, Sonderstab W. under the command of General Helmuth Wilberg. Sonderstab W. was responsible for collecting and analyzing the tactical lessons learned during the Spanish Civil War. Here Lützow met his future wife Gisela von Priesdorff (the eldest daughter of military historian Kurt von Priesdorff). Lützow wrote up his manuscript Erfahrungsbericht Winterausbildung 1937/1938, Jüterbog-Damm, 5. Staffel documenting his Spanish experiences and tactical proposals. This manuscript referred to the finger-four formation as the clearly superior tactical formation for contemporary fighter operations. Lützow's comrade Werner Mölders months later solved the problem of manoeuvring a finger-four formation by introducing what is still known today as the "crossover turn" or "tac turn".[2]

World War II

Lützow became Gruppenkommandeur of I./Jagdgeschwader 3 (JG 3) in November 1939. During the French campaign he claimed a further nine victories. At the height of the Battle of Britain in August 1940 Lützow was appointed Geschwaderkommodore of JG 3. After eight more victories over England Lützow was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernes Kreuzes) in September.

Lützow (front honour guard, right) at Ernst Udet's funeral.

In spring 1941 JG 3 received the new Bf 109-F before Lützow led JG 3 east for the invasion of Russia. On 17 July 1941 he recorded his 40th claim and was awarded the Oak Leaves (Eichenlaub) for the Knight's Cross on 20 July. He was shot down by Soviet ground fire on 23 September, force-landing behind enemy lines but returned to his unit unhurt. In October he claimed 29 victories, including five bombers shot down on 8 October. He was awarded the Swords (Schwerter) for the Knight's Cross on 11 October 1941 for 92 claims. He became the second Experte ( after Werner Mölders) to achieve 100 victories, on 24 October. Lützow was then grounded. In early November, he led Stab. JG 3 back to Germany to rest and re-equip. In May 1942 Lützow and JG 3 commenced operations near Kharkov before moving into the Crimea and Stalingrad. Lützow added one victory when he claimed a Polikarpov I-16 fighter on 21 May 1942 for his 107th kill.

Sometime in June 1942 (most likely in Grakowo), Lützow was visited by two men from the SS. They were of lower rank. After Lützow asked them how he could be of assistance to them they responded by requesting as many of his men as possible to form up execution squads to liquidate Jews, Soviet Political Officers and other "scum". Lützow was furious and ordered the entire Geschwader in full dress uniform to assemble and before Jagdgeschwader explained what the SS had requested and how he considered this act to be barbaric and criminal. He threatened to resign from command and take off his uniform if a single soldier volunteered. This act ensured Lützow got in trouble with the SS and the NSDAP.[3]

In August 1942 Lützow was posted to the staff of the General der Jagdflieger as Inspector of Day Fighters, Eastern Front. Arguably Adolf Galland's decision to appoint Lützow was motivated to get him out of the "line of fire".

Adolf Galland and Günther Lützow in Italy

In July 1943 Oberst Lützow became Inspector of Day Fighters, Italian Front, based in Naples. He then commanded 1. Jagd-Division at Döberitz from September 1943 to March 1944, where he assumed command for day and night fighter operations in north western Germany, Holland and Belgium. 1. Jagd-Division was under control of 1. Jagd-Korps commanded by Generalmajor Joseph Schmid. Lützow was relieved of this command on 16 March 1944 because of personal differences with Schmid.

In late 1943 Lützow received news that his older brother, Korvettenkapitän Werner Lützow, commander of 4. Schnellbootflottille, had been killed in action on 25 October 1943.[4]

Lützow became known as a central figure behind the Fighter Pilots' Mutiny in late 1944. This was an attempt to reinstate Adolf Galland who had been sacked as General der Jagdflieger for outspokenness regarding the Luftwaffe high command. The behavior of Lützow and the other leading pilots was regarded as mutiny by Göring, who relieved him of command and had Lützow posted to Italy to take over Jagdfliegerführer Oberitalien.

Lützow later joined Adolf Galland’s JV 44 and recorded two victories flying the Me 262 jet fighter, but was posted missing on 24 April 1945 while attempting to intercept a USAAF B-26 Marauder raid near Donauwörth. A B-26 was shot down by Lützow. His body and aircraft were never recovered.

Günther Lützow was credited with 110 victories, achieved in over 300 combat operations. He scored 5 victories during the Spanish Civil War, 20 victories over the Western Front and 85 victories over the Eastern Front.


Reference in the Wehrmachtbericht

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Saturday 25 October 1941 Hauptmann Gollob errang am 20 Oktober seinen 30., Major Lützow am 24 Oktober seinen 101. Luftsieg.[7] Hauptmann Gollob achieved on 20 October his 30th, Major Lützow on 24 October his 101st aerial victory.

See also

  • List of Spanish Civil War air aces


  1. Braatz 2005, pp. 28-51.
  2. Braatz 2005, pp. 174-182.
  3. Braatz 2005, pp. 265-267.
  4. Braatz 2005, p. 305.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Thomas 1998, p. 46.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Scherzer 2007, p. 519.
  7. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 1, p. 708.


  • Berger, Florian (1999) (in German). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges [With Oak Leaves and Swords. The Highest Decorated Soldiers of the Second World War]. Vienna, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 978-3-9501307-0-6. 
  • Bergström, Christer & Mikhailov, Andrey (2000), Black Cross / Red Star Air War Over the Eastern Front, Volume I, Operation Barbarossa 1941, California: Pacifica Military History. ISBN 0-935553-48-7.
  • Braatz, Kurt (2005). Gott oder ein Flugzeug - Leben und Sterben des Jagdfliegers Günther Lützow (in German). NeunundzwanzigSechs Verlag. ISBN 3-9807935-6-7.
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) (in German). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [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]. Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Obermaier, Ernst (1989) (in German). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe Jagdflieger 1939 – 1945 [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force 1941 – 1945]. Mainz, Germany: Verlag Dieter Hoffmann. ISBN 978-3-87341-065-7. 
  • Forsyth, Robert (2011). Aces of the Legion Condor. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84908-347-8.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007) (in German). 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]. Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Thomas, Franz (1998) (in German). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z]. Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9. 
  • Williamson, Gordon Williamson and Bujeiro, Ramiro (2004). Knight's Cross and Oak-Leaves Recipients 1939-40 — Volume 114 of Elite Series. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-641-0.
  • (in German) Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, 1. September 1939 bis 31. Dezember 1941 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 1, 1 September 1939 to 31 December 1941]. München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. 
  • Frey, Gerhard; Herrmann, Hajo: Helden der Wehrmacht - Unsterbliche deutsche Soldaten (in German). München, Germany: FZ-Verlag GmbH, 2004. ISBN 3-924309-53-1.

External links