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Heinz Vinke
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-533-0006-14, Pilot mit Ritterkreuz und Schwimmweste
Born (1920-05-22)May 22, 1920
Died 26 February 1944(1944-02-26) (aged 23)
Place of birth Barby
Place of death over the North Sea near Dunkirk, France
Allegiance Flag of German Reich (1935–1945) Nazi Germany
Service/branch Balkenkreuz Luftwaffe
Years of service 1938–1944
Rank Oberfeldwebel
Unit NJG 1

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Heinz Vinke (22 May 1920 – 26 February 1944) was a German Luftwaffe night 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.


Serving with NJG 2 over Northern Europe, his first air victory was on 26 February 1942, a Whitley near Leeuwarden. He transferred to NJG 1 in early 1943. On 18 August 1943, Royal Air Force (RAF) Bombers targeted Peenemünde and the V-weapons test centre. Five Bristol Beaufighter night fighters of No. 141 Squadron, under the command of W/C Bob Braham, intercepted five Messerschmitt Bf 110s from IV./Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1), and Fw Georg Kraft (14 victories) and Fw Vinke ( at the time with 20 claims) were both shot down by Braham. Fw Vinke was the only one of his crew to survive.

Vinke claimed eight confirmed night kills during 1942, twenty-nine in 1943 and seventeen during early 1944 before he was killed in action. He was decorated with the Ritterkreuz on 19 September 1943 for twenty-seven claims, and was posthumously awarded the Oak Leaves. Vinke claimed 54 aerial victories in 153 operations, all of them at night.[Notes 1]

Obfw. Vinke was shot down and killed while flying Bf 110G-4 (Werknummer 740136—factory number) of 11./NJG 1 on 26 February 1944, while on a search and rescue mission over the English channel. The victors were two Hawker Typhoons of No. 198 Squadron RAF, flown by F/L. Cheval L'Allemand and F/O. George Hardy. His crew of Uffz Rudolf Dunger and Uffz Rudolf Walter were also killed.



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


  1. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 350.
  2. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 70.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 

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