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Wilhelm Batz
Wilhelm Batz
Nickname Willi
Born (1916-05-21)21 May 1916
Died 11 September 1988(1988-09-11) (aged 72)
Place of birth Bamberg
Place of death in the clinic at Mauschendorf/Ebern in Unterfranken
Buried at Leverkusen-Opladen
Years of service
  • 1935–1945
  • 1956–1972
  • Major (Wehrmacht)
  • Oberst (Bundeswehr)
Unit JG 52
Commands held
  • III./JG 52 (19 April 1944 – 31 January 1945)
  • II./JG 52 (1 February 1945 – 8 May 1945)
  • Flugzeugführerschule "S"
    Lufttransportgeschwader 63
Awards Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords

Major Wilhelm "Willi" Batz (21 May 1916 in Bamberg – 11 September 1988 in Mauschendorf/Ebern in Unterfranken) was a German Luftwaffe fighter ace. Willi Batz flew 445 combat missions and claimed 237 enemy aircraft shot down. 234 of these victories were achieved over the Eastern front, including at least 46 Il-2 Sturmoviks, but he did claim three victories, including one four-engine bomber against the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) over the Ploieşti oil fields. He was wounded three times and was shot down four times. Batz was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

Early life

Wilhelm Batz grew up between the World Wars, with the Red Baron as his ideal of a fighter pilot.[1]

World War II

Batz joined the Luftwaffe in 1935 and trained as a fighter pilot, becoming an instructor in 1937 at the flying school at Kaufbeuren and the fighter pilot school at Bad Aibling. Promoted Leutnant in November 1940, his applications for combat assignment were continually rejected. With some 5,000 flying hours, Batz was finally transferred to 2./Ergänzungs-Jagdgruppe Ost in December 1942.[2] Batz was then transferred to II./Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52). On 11 March 1943, Batz claimed his first victory, an Il-2 Sturmovik, while flying a mission over the Strait of Kerch.[3] He was appointed Staffelkapitän (Squadron Leader) of 5./JG 52 in May 1943, and by September, he had claimed 20 victories. Batz claimed his 75th aerial victory on 26 March 1944 for which he received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes), followed by his 100th victory two days later.[4]

In April, Batz was appointed Gruppenkommandeur (Group Commander), III./JG 52. In June, his unit was moved to defend Romanian targets against the American 15th Air Force. Batz downed two P-51s and a B-24 at this time. Hauptmann Batz was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub) on 20 July for 188 victories, 200 being achieved on 17 August 1944.

By the end of 1944, Batz had shot down 224 enemy aircraft. In February 1945, Batz was transferred to take command of II./JG 52, based in Hungary. Major Batz was awarded the Schwerter on 21 April 1945. At war’s end he was able to extricate his unit and men from Hungary and Austria back to Germany to surrender to American forces. He was thus able to avoid the prolonged Soviet captivity that befell the personnel of other two JG 52 Gruppen.



  1. The Swords to the Knight's Cross were awarded without an official sequential number.[8] The sequential number "145" was assigned by the Association of Knight's Cross Recipients (AKCR).[9]


  1. Toliver 1996 p. 165.
  2. Kurowski 1996, p. 173
  3. Kurowski 1996, p. 174
  4. Berger 2000, p. 23.
  5. Obermaier 1989, p. 41.
  6. Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 26.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Thomas 1997, p. 23.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Scherzer 2007, p. 204.
  9. Fellgiebel 2000, pp. 48, 49.
  • Berger, Florian (1999). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges (in German). Wien, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 3-9501307-0-5.
  • 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]. Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Kurowski, Franz (1996). Luftwaffe Aces. J.J. Fedorowicz Publishing Inc. ISBN 0-921991-31-2.
  • Kurowski, Franz (2008). Major Wilhelm Batz Vom Fluglehrer zum Schwerterträger (in German). Flechsig Verlag. ISBN 978-3-88189-765-5.
  • 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. & 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 (2003). Eichenlaubträger 1940–1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe I Abraham – Huppertz (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 3-932381-20-3.
  • 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 (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. 
  • Toliver, J. Constable & Toliver, F. Raymond. Fighter Aces of the Luftwaffe. Atglen: PA, Schiffer Military/Aviation History, 1996. ISBN 0-88740-909-1.
  • Weal, John (2004). Aviation Elite Units Jagdgeschwader 52 The Experten. Orsprey Publishing Limited. ISBN 1-84176-786-7.

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Oberst Joachim Pötter
Commander of Flugzeugführerschule S
January 1961 – September 1961
Succeeded by
Oberst Horst Merkwitz
Preceded by
Commander of Lufttransportgeschwader 63
November 1961 – 31 January 1964
Succeeded by
Oberst Horst Rudat

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