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Horst Hannig
File:Horst Hannig.jpg
Born (1921-11-13)November 13, 1921
Died 15 May 1943 (1943-05-16) (aged 21)
Place of birth Frankenstein, Lower Silesia
Place of death near Rocquancourt, Normandy
Buried at German War Cemetery at St. Desir-de-Lisieux
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Luftwaffe
Years of service 1939–1943
Rank Oberleutnant (posthumously)
Unit JG 54, JG 2 "Richthofen"
Commands held 7./JG 54, 2./JG 2
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Horst Hannig (13 November 1921 – 15 May 1943) was a German Luftwaffe fighter ace and posthumous 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. A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during aerial combat.[1] Hannig is credited with 98 aerial victories claimed in over 350 combat missions. He was killed in action following combat with Royal Air Force (RAF) Spitfire's on 15 May 1943.


Born in 1921 in Frankenstein, Lower Silesia, Hannig joined the military service in the Luftwaffe as a Fahnenjunker (officer cadet) in October 1939. He was posted to the 6./Jagdgeschwader 54 "Grünherz" (JG 54—54th fighter wing) in early 1941.[2] His brother, Walter Hannig, received the German Cross in Gold (Deutsches Kreuz in Gold) on 28 April 1943 as an observer with Aufklärungsgruppe (reconnaissance group) 4.(F)/14 of the Luftwaffe.[3] Horst Hannig claimed his first aerial victory, a Tupolev SB-2, on the first day of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941.[4] He achieved his first 30 victories up to November 1941. On 9 May 1942, Leutnant (second Lieutenant) Hannig was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) having flown over 200 operations and claiming 48 victories. He and Leutnant Hans Beißwenger received the Knight's Cross from Generalleutnant Helmuth Förster at Siverskaya. On 21 July 1942 he claimed his 54th victory, a Petlyakov Pe-2 reconnaissance aircraft, near Lake Ilmen. It was JG 54 2,500th aerial victory.[5]

Focke Wulf Fw 190 A-4 of I./JG 2, flown by Leutnant Hannig, early 1943

By early 1943 he had achieved 90 kills on the Eastern Front, and became Staffelkapitän (squadron leader) of 2./Jagdgeschwader 2 "Richthofen" (JG 2—2nd fighter fing) in Northern Europe. While with 2./JG 2 he achieved another 8 victories, including 1 four-engine United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) heavy bomber shot down on 16 February 1943.

Horst Hannig was killed in action on 15 May 1943 against Royal Air Force (RAF) operations that targeted Caen-Carpiquet Airdrome and Poix Airdrome. He was shot down by Squadron Leader J. Charles leading Yellow Section of No. 611 Squadron, and thus becoming the 1,000th aerial victory of the Biggin Hill Wing. He had managed to bail out but his parachute failed to open.[6] Hannig was posthumously awarded the 364th Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub) on 3 January 1944 and posthumously promoted to Oberleutnant (first Lieutenant). He was interred at the German war cemetery at St. Desir-de-Lisieux, block 3 row 15 grave 445.



  1. According to Scherzer as pilot in the 5./JG 54.[9]


  1. Spick 1996, pp. 3–4.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Obermaier 1989, p. 60.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 164.
  4. Weal 2007, pp.7–8.
  5. Bergström, Dikov, Antipov and Sundin 2006, p. 100.
  6. Weal 2000, p. 100.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Thomas 1997, p. 242.
  8. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 213.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Scherzer 2007, p. 365.
  10. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 76.
  • Bergström, Christer; Dikov, Andrey; Antipov, Vlad and Sundin, Claes (2006). Black Cross / Red Star Air War Over the Eastern Front, Volume 3, Everything for Stalingrad. Hamilton MT: Eagle Editions Ltd. ISBN 0-9761034-4-3.
  • 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. 
  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001) (in German). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2]. Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8. 
  • 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. 
  • Spick, Mike (1996). Luftwaffe Fighter Aces. New York: Ivy Books. ISBN 978-0-8041-1696-1. 
  • Thomas, Franz (1997) (in German). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K]. Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6. 
  • Weal, John (2000). Jagdgeschwader 2 'Richthofen'. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-046-3.
  • Weal, John (2007). More Bf 109 Aces of the Russian Front. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing Limited. ISBN 978-1-84603-177-9.
  • Frey, Gerhard; Herrmann, Hajo: Helden der Wehrmacht III - Unsterbliche deutsche Soldaten (in German). München, Germany: FZ-Verlag GmbH, 2007. ISBN 978-3-924309-82-4.

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