Military Wiki
Wilhelm Schilling
Born (1915-01-30)30 January 1915
Died 14 March 2000(2000-03-14) (aged 85)
Place of birth Kamenz, Lower Silesia, Germany (now Poland)
Place of death Germany
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Luftwaffe
Years of service 1939–1945
Rank Oberleutnant
Unit JG 54

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Wilhelm Schilling (30 January 1915 – 14 March 2000) was a German Luftwaffe fighter 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 measure of skill and combat success. He was credited with at least 50 victories in 538 missions.


Upon finishing flight training, Wilhelm Schilling joined 3./JG 21 as an Unteroffizier. He gained his first victory during the Battle of France, shooting down a Hurricane fighter on 12 May 1940 over Brussels. In the ensuing Battle of Britain (by which time his unit had been renamed 9./JG 54) he added three more victories: a Spitfire on 12 August 1940, another on 5 September near Ashford, and a Bristol Blenheim bomber over the North Sea on 8 November.

The unit was then transferred to the Balkans and Bucharest,[1] before going to the Eastern Front to prepare for Operation Barbarossa. His first victory of the campaign was on the second day, 23 June 1941, when he shot down a Russian SB-2 bomber. III./JG 54 was based in the north covering the advance to, and siege of, Leningrad. By the end of the year, he had 17 victories. He hadn't advanced his score by 14 February 1942, when he was seriously wounded by Russian ground fire. Returning to the Leningrad Front in March 1942, he was awarded the Ehrenpokal (Goblet of Honour) on 1 July and the German Cross in Gold on 4 August. But he was wounded again by anti-aircraft fire, on September 16, 1942 over Dubrovka in Bf 109 G-2 "Yellow 3" after shooting down an Il-2 bomber. While recovering in hospital at the front he was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 10 October for his 46 victories at the time.[2][3]

In February 1943, III/54 was withdrawn from the Eastern Front to Defence of the Reich duties, in a misguided attempt to rotate the fighter units between west and east. But for the pilots of III/54, used to low-level combats, being thrown in against the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) four-engined bombers at high altitude it was a disaster. In its first two missions the unit lost 15 planes and some of its best pilots. However, they persisted and things gradually improved.[4] Now commissioned as an officer, on 1 August Schilling was promoted to Oberleutnant,[5] and a month later he was promoted to Staffelkapitän (Squadron Leader) of 9./JG 54 in September 1943.

On 20 February 1944, the 8th Air Force started its Big Week against the Reich's industry. By now Schilling had added a further four victories, including three four-engined bombers. During the week III/54 was heavily engaged, suffering considerable losses but inflicting only light damage on the bomber formations. On the first day, February 20, he was seriously injured over Dehnsen/Alfeld while flying Bf 109 G-6 "Yellow 1" (Werknummer 440141 — factory number) but made a successful forced-landing.

After his recovery, he was transferred back to the Eastern Front, as Staffelkapitän of 5./JG 54, on 4 May 1944. With the siege of Leningrad finally lifted, they were now based in Estonia. In June II./JG 54 was transferred across to Finland as combat support over the Karelian isthmus as the Soviets launched an attack to try and knock Finalnd out of the war. by July, they were back in Estonia with intense air activity, as another Soviet offensive aimed to turn the flanks of Army Group North either end of Lake Peipus. Then, on 22 August, he was finally transferred back to the Reich, as a fighter-instructor in 1./ErgJG Ost (renamed 1./ErgJG Nord on 1 September[6]). On 15 January 1945 he was made Staffelkapitän of the training unit 4./EJG 1,(renamed 10./EJG 1 in April 1945[7]) where he served till the war's end.[8][9]

Wilhelm Schilling was credited with 50 victories (plus 13 more unconfirmed) in 538 missions, 41 of them on the Eastern Front.



  1. Luftwaffe Air Units: Single–Engined Fighters website.
  2. Luftwaffe Officer Career Summaries website.
  3. Weal 2001, p. 61
  4. Sundin 1997, p. 74
  5. Luftwaffe Officer Career Summaries website.
  6. Luftwaffe Air Units: Single–Engined Fighters website, EJGr Ost.
  7. Luftwaffe Air Units: Single–Engined Fighters website, EJG 1.
  8. Weal 2006, p. 93
  9. Luftwaffe Officer Career Summaries website.
  • Die Ordensträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht (CD), VMD-Verlag GmbH, Osnabrück, 2002
  • Barbas, Bernd (1985). Planes of the Luftwaffe Fighter Aces Vol II. Kookaburra Technical Publishing. ISBN 0-85880-050-0, with picture p. 163
  • Bergström. Christer; Dikov, Andrey; Antipov, Vlad (2006). Black Cross, Red Star Vol 3. Eagle Editions Ltd ISBN 0-9761034-4-3, with picture p. 235
  • Fellgiebel W.P., Elite of the Third Reich, The recipients of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939-1945: A Reference, Helion & Company Limited, Solihull, 2003, ISBN 1-874622-46-9
  • Patzwall K., Scherzer V., Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941-1945, Geschichte und Inhaber Band II, Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall, Norderstedt, 2001, ISBN 3-931533-45-X
  • Patzwall K.D., Der Ehrenpokal für besondere Leistung im Luftkrieg, Studien zur Geschichte der Auszeichnungen, Band 6, Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall, Norderstedt, 2008, ISBN 978-3-931533-08-3
  • Sundin, Claes & Bergström. Christer (1997). Luftwaffe Fighter Aircraft in Profile. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History. ISBN 0-7643-0291-4 including colour profile of aircraft (#64)
  • Weal, John (2001). Aviation Elite Units #6: Jagdgeschwader 54 ‘Grünherz’. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Limited. ISBN 1-84176-286-5 including colour profile of aircraft (#29)
  • Weal, John (1999). Bf109F/G/K Aces of the Western Front. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Limited. ISBN 1-85532-905-0 including colour profile of aircraft (#39)
  • Weal, John (2006). Bf109 Defence of the Reich Aces. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Limited. ISBN 1-84176-879-0 including colour profile of aircraft (#31)
External Links

Military Offices held

Military offices
Preceded by
Squadron Leader of 9./JG 54
September, 1943 – 20 February 1944
Succeeded by
Oberleutnant Emil Lang
Preceded by
Leutnant Emil Lang
Squadron Leader of 5./JG 54
4 May 1944 – 22 August 1944
Succeeded by
Leutnant Ulrich Wöhnert
Preceded by
Squadron Leader of 4./EJG 1
15 January 1945 – April, 1945
Succeeded by
unit renamed 10./EJG 1
Preceded by
unit reformed
Squadron Leader of 10./EJG 1
April, 1945 – 9 May 1945
Succeeded by
none: end of war

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