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Heinz Strüning
Heinz Strüning
Born (1912-01-13)January 13, 1912
Died 24 December 1944(1944-12-24) (aged 32)
Place of birth Neviges, Germany
Place of death near Bergisch-Gladbach, Germany
Buried at cemetery Westönnen
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Balkenkreuz Luftwaffe
Years of service 1935–1944
Rank Hauptmann
Unit ZG 26, KG 30, NJG 2, NJG 1
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Heinz Strüning (13 January 1912 – 24 December 1944) was a German Luftwaffe fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German language: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub) during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Strüning shot down 56 aircraft in 280 missions. All of his victories were recorded at night.[a] He was shot down and killed in action on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1944.


Strüning was born on 13 January 1912 in Bergisch-Gladbach and joined the Luftwaffe in 1935. He was posted as an Unteroffizier to 5./Zerstörergeschwader 26 "Horst Wessel" (ZG 26—26th Destroyer Wing) on 2 August 1939. When World War II broke out, he flew several ground attack missions during the campaign in Poland. His Staffel was then transferred to serve with Kampfgeschwader 30 supporting German troops defending the bridgehead of Narvik in Norway. Strüning was then transferred to the Nachtjagd arriving in July 1940 to 1./NJG 2 . With this unit, Fw. Strüning made 66 intruder missions over England at night, and gained his first victory on the night of 23 November 1940. At the end of 1941 he had 9 claims in total. In November 1941, he was transferred to 7./NJG 2. With this unit, Strüning gained 15 victories until mid-September 1942. He received the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold in July 1942, after his 19th claim. In mid September 1942 he was promoted to Leutnant and awarded the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes in October 1942.

From November 1942, Strüning served with NJG 2 in the Mediterranean from bases in Sicily, until April 1943. Strüning is then transferred to 2./NJG 1 in May 1943. On 1 June he shot down three RAF Lancaster. Promoted to Oberleutnant and appointed Staffelkapitän of 3./NJG 1, Strüning co ordinated the introduction of the new Heinkel He 219 "Uhu". With this aircraft, Strüning downed three bombers on the night of 1 August 1943.

By April 1944, Strüning had accumulated 15 night victories and on 20 July 1944, was awarded the Eichenlaub Shortly after, he was appointed to take command of 9./NJG 1.

At about 6 pm on the evening of 24 December 1944 his Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-4 (Werknummer 740 162—factory number) G9+CT was shot down by 10-kill ace F/L R.D. Doleman and F/L D.C. Bunch of No. 157 Squadron RAF in a Royal Air Force Mosquito Intruder while he tried to attack a Lancaster bomber over Cologne.[1] He bailed out but struck the tail of his plane and fell to his death. His body was found two months after his death.

During his career, Hauptmann Heinz Strüning had made 280 combat missions (250 at night), and claimed 56 victories at night (including two Mosquitoes).


Reference in the Wehrmachtbericht[]

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Tuesday, 2 June 1942 Oberfeldwebel Struening errang in der letzten Nacht seinen 15. und 16. Nachtjagdsieg.[6] Oberfeldwebel Struening (sic) achieved his 15th and 16th nocturnal aerial victory last night.


a For a list of Luftwaffe night fighter aces see List of German World War II night fighter aces.


  1. Thomas and Davey 2005, p. 72.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Thomas 1998, p. 365.
  3. Obermaier 1989, p. 67.
  4. Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 466.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Scherzer 2007, p. 732.
  6. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 149.
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945 (in German). 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 (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 3-931533-45-X.
  • Schaulen, Fritjof (2005). Eichenlaubträger 1940 - 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe III Radusch - Zwernemann (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 3-932381-22-X.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 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.
  • Thomas, Andrew and Davey, Chris (2005). Mosquito Aces of World War 2. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-878-2.
  • Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 3-7648-2300-3.
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, 1. Januar 1942 bis 31. Dezember 1943 (in German). München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, 1985. ISBN 3-423-05944-3.

External links[]

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