Erwin Hentschel

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Erwin Hentschel
300px
Hrabak, Rudel, Hentschel and Hitler, in Rastenburg
Born 29 October 1917
Niederthalheim,
Died 20 March 1944(1944-03-20) (aged 26)
Dniester River, Ukraine
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Luftwaffe
Years of service 1938–44
Rank Oberfeldwebel (staff sergeant)
Unit StG 2
SG 2
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Erwin Hentschel (29 October 1917 – 20 March 1944) was an Oberfeldwebel in the Luftwaffe during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. During his career he flew 1,490 combat missions as a radio operator and air gunner, and claimed seven aerial victories.[Note 1]

Career

Hentschel was born on 29 October 1917 in Niederthalheim, present-day a borough of Mittweida, at the time in the Kingdom of Saxony, a federated state of the German Empire. He joined the Luftwaffe on 30 November 1938, initially serving with the II./Flak-Regiment 13. On 31 June 1939, he was transferred to the 2. Staffel (2nd squadron) of Kampfgeschwader 51 (KG 51—51st Bomber Wing) based at Landsberg. There, until 17 August 1940, he attended the Luftwaffen-Nachrichtenschule 3 (3rd Air Force Communication School) and was trained as a radio operator and tail gunner. He was then posted to the Stuka school at Graz-Thalerhof, present-day Graz Airport, followed by a transfer to the Stuka-Ergänzungsstaffel (Supplementary Dive Bomber Squadron) of VIII. Fliegerkorps (8th Air Corps) and the Ergänzungsstaffel of Sturzkampfgeschwader 2 "Immelmann" (StG 2—2nd Dive Bomber Wing), named after the after World War I fighter ace Max Immelmann.[1]

On 21 May 1941, Hentschel was assigned to the 8. Staffel of StG 2 "Immelmann" and flew his first combat missions as a Gefreiter, an enlisted soldiers rank, on the Eastern Front of World War II. In late September 1941, he became Hans-Ulrich Rudel 's regular air gunner. Flying with the I. and III. Gruppe of StG 2 "Immelmann", later renamed to Schlachtgeschwader 2 "Immelmann" (SG 2—2nd Ground Support Wing), he was promoted to Unteroffizier (staff sergeant) on 1 December 1941, received the Honor Goblet of the Luftwaffe (Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe) on 16 March 1942, was promoted to Feldwebel (technical sergeant) on 1 December 1942, received the German Cross in Gold (Deutsches Kreuz in Gold) on 9 January 1943, and was promoted to Oberfeldwebel (senior technical sergeant) on 1 June 1943. Hentschel flew his 1,200th combat mission on 9 October 1943,[2] and was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) on 9 December 1943 after approximately 1,300 combat missions.[1] On 20 March, Rudel made a forced landing behind enemy lines, trying to rescue a downed aircrew. The takeoff failed due to the soft underground. Walking back to German held territory, the four attempted to swim across the Dniester River. Hentschel drowned in the attempt.[3]

Awards

Notes

  1. For an explanation of Luftwaffe unit designations see Organization of the Luftwaffe during World War II.

References

Citations

  1. 1.0 1.1 Obermaier 1976, p. 123.
  2. Weal 2012, p. 75.
  3. Ward 2004, p. 217.
  4. Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 179.
  5. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 222.
  6. Scherzer 2007, p. 382.

Bibliography

  • Brütting, Georg (1992) [1976]. Das waren die deutschen Stuka-Asse 1939 – 1945 (in German) (7th ed.). Stuttgart, Germany: Motorbuch. ISBN 978-3-87943-433-6. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • 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: ref=harv (link) CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Obermaier, Ernst (1976). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe 1939–1945 Band II Stuka- und Schlachtflieger (in German). Mainz, Germany: Verlag Dieter Hoffmann. ISBN 978-3-87341-021-3. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) 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: ref=harv (link) 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: ref=harv (link) CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Ward, John (2004). Hitler's Stuka Squadrons: The Ju 87 at War, 1936–1945. St. Paul, MN: MBI. ISBN 978-0-7603-1991-8.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Weal, John (2012). Junkers Ju 87 Stukageschwader of the Russian Front. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-78200-530-8.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>