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Hermann Schleinhege
Born (1916-02-21)February 21, 1916 Essen,Germany
Died Soest,Germany (aged 98)
Place of birth Essen
Place of death Soest
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Luftwaffe
Years of service 1936 - 1945
Rank Leutnant
Unit JG 54

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Hermann Schleinhege (21 February 1916 – 11 March 2014) was a German Luftwaffe ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership - for the fighter pilots it was a quantifiable measure of skill and combat success. Schleinhege was credited with 97 aerial victories, all on the Eastern Front.


Schleinhege joined the Luftwaffe before the war and upon completely his training, in February 1941, served as a flight instructor.[1] It was not until April 1942 that he was transferred as an Unteroffizier to combat duty: to serve with 6./Jagdgeschwader 54 Grünherz (54th Fighter Wing) at the time stationed near Leningrad.[2] However, it was four months until he scored his first victory (9 August 1942) and ten months for his 5th victory (27 February 1943) south of Lake Ilmen. It was only upon his transfer to the JG54 Geschwaderstab (headquarters flight) that his combat claims picked up. Flying as wingman to the unit commanders - men like the long-serving Hannes Trautloft, Hubertus von Bonin (78 victories) and Anton Mader (86 victories) gave him invaluable experience for the difficult months ahead. By the end of the year when they were based in Orsha with Army Group Centre, his score stood at 30 victories.

He was awarded the German Cross in Gold on 20 March 1944, and scored his 37th victory on 4 April. After an extended period away from the front with officer-training, the newly commissioned Leutnant Schleinhege was transferred to 4./JG 54 in Estonia, and resumed scoring on 16 August, and claiming his 50th on 17 September. On 9 October, now based out of Riga, he shot down two Airacobras and two Il-2 bombers (58-61v.) Finally, at the end of November 1944, he was promoted to Staffelkäpitan of 8./JG 54 and by the end of the year, with his squadron based in Libau supporting the troops in the isolated Kurland pocket, his score had climbed to 81.

Schleinhege was awarded the Knight's Cross on 28 January 1945, for 84 victories. He and his pilots continued to fly as best they could with the limited fuel supply, covering the naval evacuation of the pocket. Based firstly from Libau until March, then from Heiligenbeil, near Königsberg, until the end of the war. His last flight was on 8 May 1945 when he squeezed his two mechanics into his (nominally) single-seater Fw190 and flew to Kiel to surrender to the British troops.[3]

Schleinhege survived the war, and in 3 years flew 484 combat missions all on the Eastern Front and all with JG 54. He ended with 97 confirmed victories (and a number more unconfirmed), including 54 Il-2 and Pe-2 bombers.



  1. Luftwaffe 39-45 Historia website.
  2. Luftwaffe Officer Career Summaries website.
  3. Weal 2001, pg. .
  4. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 307.
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945. 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. Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 3-931533-45-X.
  • 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.
  • Weal, John (2001). Aviation Elite Units #6: Jagdgeschwader 54 ‘Grünherz’. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Limited. ISBN 1-84176-286-5. (with 3 photos, p1113, 116, 117)
  • Weal, John (2007). More Bf109 Aces of the Russian Front. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Limited. ISBN 1-84603-177-X.
  • Weal, John (1995). Focke-Wulf Fw190 Aces of the Russian Front. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Limited. ISBN 1-85532-518-7.

External links

Military Offices held

Military offices
Preceded by
unknown: unit reformed Oct 1944
Squadron Leader of 8./JG 54
late November, 1944 – 9 May 1945
Succeeded by
none: end of war