Gustav Rödel

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Gustav Rödel
File:Gustav Rödel.jpg
Gustav Rödel
Born (1915-10-24)24 October 1915
Died 6 February 1995(1995-02-06) (aged 79)
Bonn-Bad Godesberg
Buried at Cemetery Rüngsdorf. Section II–Grave 708
Allegiance  Nazi Germany (to 1945)
 West Germany
Service/branch Luftwaffe
Years of service 1936–45, 1957–71
Rank Oberst (Wehrmacht)
Brigadegeneral (Bundeswehr)
Unit J/88, JG 21, JG 27
Commands held JG 27
Battles/wars Spanish Civil War

World War II

Awards Spanish Cross in Bronze with Swords
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
Other work Bundeswehr

Oberst Gustav Rödel (born 24 October 1915 in Merseburg – died 6 February 1995 in Bonn-Bad Godesberg) was a German World War II Luftwaffe fighter ace. He scored all but one of his 98 victories against the Western Allies in over 980 combat missions whilst flying the Messerschmitt Bf 109. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: 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. He often said to the men under his command "You are fighter pilots first, last, always. If I ever hear of any of you shooting at someone in a parachute, I'll shoot you myself."


Gustav Rödel was born on 24 October 1915 in Merseburg, Saxony. He joined the Luftwaffe with the rank of Fahnenjunker in 1936, and underwent fighter pilot training. Rödel participated in the Spanish Civil War with the Condor Legion, serving with Jagdgruppe 88. He was awarded the Spanish Cross in Bronze with Swords for his achievements in Spain.

On 15 July 1939, Rödel transferred to Jagdgeschwader 21 (JG 21—21st fighter wing). Leutnant Rödel was assigned to 2./JG 21. He achieved his first aerial victory on the first day of World War II, 1 September 1939, during the Invasion of Poland. His victim, a Polish P.24 fighter, was shot down near Warsaw. On 7 September, he was forced down during a ground-strafing mission. However, he managed to fly his machine back close to the border and avoided detection and returned to his unit the next day.

After transferring to the Geschwaderstab of Jagdgeschwader 27 (JG 27—27th fighter wing) on 24 November 1939, he fought in the Battle of France gaining a further three victories. On 12 May 1940, Rödel flew as wingman of Adolf Galland, who claimed his first aerial victory over a Hurricane that day. The combat took place west of Liège.[1] Rödel himself also claimed a Hurricane near Tienen that day.[2] On June 8 he flew a solo intercept mission attacking and shooting down a Blenheim over the English channel.[3] In July 1940, Rödel was transferred to 4./JG 27, and on September 7 was appointed Staffelkapitän of 4./JG 27. By the end of September, he had claimed 14 victories, the majority of these in the Battle of Britain. His II./JG 27 Gruppe participated in the invasion of the Balkans. Rödel achieved six more victories in the aerial battles over Greece, including three Greek fighters shot down on 15 April 1941 and three Royal Air Force (RAF) Hurricanes shot down on 20 April.

After the Balkan campaign, Rödel and 4./JG 27 joined in the invasion of Russia. Rödel claimed a Russian SB-3 twin-engine bomber shot down on 25 June 1941 for his 21st victory. Shortly afterwards 4./JG 27 were transferred to North Africa. Here, Rödel claimed his 30th victory on 4 December 1941, when he shot down a South African P-40 near Bir-el-Gobi. On 20 May 1942, Rödel was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG 27. He claimed his 40th victory on 23 May, when he shot down another P-40 near Ras el Tin. On 21 July, he claimed four Hurricanes shot down to record his 48th through 51st victories. Later he claimed three P-39s shot down in the El Alamein area on 9 October. However, he had misidentified his victims, which were, in all probability, RAF P-40s. Altogether Rödel claimed 15 victories, including three RAF P-40 fighters shot down on 24 October and three fighters shot down on 27 October, in October 1942. On 1 November he claimed his 73rd victory, his last in North Africa.

Rödel was appointed Geschwaderkommodore of JG 27 on 22 April 1943. He saw further combat over Sicily and Greece in May. On 22 May he shot down three enemy aircraft bringing his total to 78. For this, Major Rödel was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 20 June 1943. He recorded his 80th victory on 4 October, and his 83rd on 10 October.

Relocated to Germany and Reichsverteidigung duties, Rödel raised his victory total to 93, including United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) four-engine bombers. In June 1944, he led JG 27 over the Invasion front. On 29 June, he claimed three USAAF Thunderbolts shot down for victories 95 to 97. On 5 July, he claimed his 98th, and last, victory, a USAAF Lightning shot down near Angleur. In December 1944, Rödel was involved in the planning of Operation Bodenplatte. From the beginning of January 1945, he was serving on the staff of the 2. Jagd-Division, becoming Kommandeur on 1 February, a position he held until the end of the war. In this role, he also attended the meeting with Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring in what became known as the "Fighter Pilots Revolt".

In 1957, Rödel joined the Bundeswehr. He retired on 30 September 1971, holding the rank of Brigadegeneral.


Gustav Rödel Bf 109-G2

Aircraft is on display at the Luftwaffenmuseum der Bundeswehr in Berlin. Hauptmann Gustav Rödel flew the "yellow 4" in November 1942 as Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG 27. At this time Rödel had claimed 56 aerial victories.

The Spaniards donated the H.A. 1112 "Buchon" to the Luftwaffenmuseum der Bundeswehr after the making of the movie Battle of Britain still bearing the markings of the "Richthofen" Geschwader. Beginning in 1988, work to reconvert the aircraft back to its original Bf 109 G-2 state began, not an inconsiderable task since the H.A.1112 was a mixture of a German airframe & British engine (Rolls Royce Merlin type 500-45 @ 1600 hp).


  1. According to Scherzer on 24 June 1941.[8]



  1. Ring and Girbig 1994, p. 27
  2. Ring and Girbig 1994, p. 29
  3. Ring and Girbig 1994, p. 47
  4. 4.0 4.1 Thomas 1998, p. 217.
  5. Obermaier 1989, p. 56.
  6. Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 381.
  7. Fellgiebel 2000, pp. 361, 501.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Scherzer 2007, p. 634.
  9. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 70.


  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Michulec, Robert (2002). Luftwaffe at War/Luftwaffe Aces of the Western Front. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-486-9.
  • Obermaier, Ernst (1989). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe Jagdflieger 1939 – 1945 (in German). Mainz, Germany: Verlag Dieter Hoffmann. ISBN 978-3-87341-065-7. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • 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 978-3-931533-45-8. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Ring, Hans and Girbig, Werner (1994). Jagdgeschwader 27 Die Dokumentation über den Einsatz an allen Fronten 1939–1945 (in German). Stuttgart, Germany: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 3-87943-215-5.
  • Schaulen, Fritjof (2005). Eichenlaubträger 1940 – 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe III Radusch – Zwernemann (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 978-3-932381-22-5. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • 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. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

  • "Aces of the Luftwaffe". Gustav Rödel. Retrieved 13 August 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "Lexikon der Wehrmacht". Gustav Rödel (in German). Retrieved 26 April 2013.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Military offices
Preceded by
Oberstleutnant Eduard Neumann
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 27 Afrika
22 April 1943 – 29 December 1944
Succeeded by
Major Ludwig Franzisket
Preceded by
Generalmajor Max Ibel
Commander of 2. Jagd-Division
1 February 1945 – 8 May 1945
Succeeded by