Military Wiki
Rudolf Schoenert
Born (1911-07-27)27 July 1911
Died 30 November 1985(1985-11-30) (aged 74)
Place of birth Glogau, Silesia
Place of death province Manitoba, Canada
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Balkenkreuz.svg Luftwaffe
Years of service 1933–1945
Rank Major of the Reserves
Unit NJG 2, Nachtjagdgruppe 10
Commands held 4./NJG 2, Nachtjagdgruppe 10

World War II

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

Rudolf Schoenert (27 July 1911 – 30 November 1985) was the seventh highest scoring night fighter flying ace in the German Luftwaffe during World War II.[Notes 1] He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German language: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). 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.


After five years in the Merchant Navy, Schoenert began flight training in 1933 and went on to fly commercial aircraft for Lufthansa. He was commissioned as a Leutnant in the Luftwaffe's Reserve in 1938 and in June 1941 joined 4./Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1—1st Night Fighter Wing) at Bergen in northern Holland. He gained his first victories on 9 July 1941 and by 25 July 1942 his total stood at 22 and he was awarded the Knight's Cross.

Schoenert is universally recognised as the driving force behind the introduction of upward-firing armament in night fighter aircraft, the first prototype of which he introduced into his own Dornier Do-17 in 1942. The concept, dubbed Schräge Musik was initially rejected by Helmut Lent and Werner Streib. Oberfeldwebel Paul Mahle, an armourer attached to II./Nachtjagdgeschwader 5 (NJG 5—5th Night Fighter Wing) at Parchim, worked closely with Rudolf Schoenert and built his own working prototype of Schräge Musik, which was soon fitted to all of the Gruppe's aircraft.

Schoenert claimed the first aerial victory with upward-firing guns in May 1943.[1] By August he was flying with Nachtjagdgeschwader 100 (NJG 100—100th Night Fighter Wing) over the Eastern Front, claiming some 30 Soviet night raiders by early 1944.

During a sortie east of the Elbe on 27 April 1945, an electrical fault rendered Schonert's radar unserviceable and his Junkers Ju 88G was shot down by an Royal Air Force (RAF) Mosquito. He survived and was rescued by German troops.

Surviving the war, Schoenert was credited with 65 aerial victories claimed in 376 combat missions, including 35 Soviet flown aircraft, and was a holder of the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross. Schoenert's radio and wireless operator was Oberfeldwebel Johannes Richter.


Wehrmachtbericht references

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Tuesday, 28 April 1942 Oberleutnant Schoenert errang seinen 15. Nachtjagdsieg.[6] Oberleutnant Schoenert achieved his 15th nocturnal aerial victory.
Wednesday 24 June 1942 Oberleutnant Schoenert errang über der Deutschen Bucht seinen 19. und 20. Nachtjagdsieg.[7] Oberleutnant Schoenert achieved his 19th and 20th nocturnal aerial victory over the German Bight.


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


  1. Hinchliffe 1998, p. 122.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Thomas 1998, p. 278.
  3. Obermaier 1989, p. 64.
  4. Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 420.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Scherzer 2007, p. 680.
  6. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 2, p. 98.
  7. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 2, p. 174.
  • 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. 
  • Hinchliffe, Peter (1998). Luftkrieg bei Nacht 1939–1945 (in German). Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 3-613-01861-6.
  • 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. 
  • 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) (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. 
  • (in German) Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, 1. Januar 1942 bis 31. Dezember 1943 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 2, 1 January 1942 to 31 December 1943]. München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. 

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Oberstleutnant Walter Borchers
Commander of Nachtjagdgeschwader 5
5 March 1945 – May 1945
Succeeded by

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