Theo Osterkamp

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Theo Osterkamp
Theo Osterkamp
Nickname(s) Onkel (Uncle)
Born (1892-04-15)15 April 1892
Düren, Rhine Province, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Died 2 February 1975(1975-02-02) (aged 82)
Baden-Baden, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany
Service/branch  Kaiserliche Marine
Years of service 1914–44
Rank Generalmajor
Unit JG 51
Commands held JG 51

Theodor "Theo" Osterkamp (15 April 1892 – 2 January 1975) was a World War I and World War II Luftwaffe fighter ace. He achieved 32 victories in World War I. In World War II, he led Jagdgeschwader 51 through the Battle of Britain and claimed a further 6 victories, in the process becoming one of only a few men to score victories in both world wars.

World War I

Osterkamp flew as a naval pilot operating over the Western Front. On 14 August 1914, he joined the Marinefliegerkorps. He then flew with the 2. Marine-Fliegerabteilung in Flanders. During 1915–1916, he served as an air observer, and became the first German pilot to fly a land-based aircraft to England on a reconnaissance-mission. In March 1917, he joined the Kampffliegerschule (Combat pilot school) in Putzig and then joined the Marine-Jagdstaffel 1. On 15 October 1917, Leutnant Osterkamp took command over Marine-Jagdstaffel 2. He scored a total of 32 victories during the war, and was awarded the Prussian military order Pour le Mérite on 2 September 1918, and was the last individual to receive it.

Interwar years

File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-2008-1016-508, Hamburg, Trauung Theo Osterkamp, Fel Gudrun Pagge.jpg
Wedding of Theodor Osterkamp with Fel Gudrun Pagge in Eppendorf, Hamburg

Between the two World Wars, Osterkamp was involved in the formation of the new Luftwaffe, amongst other things by setting up Jagdfliegerschule 1. He also participated in the second, third and fourth FAI International Tourist Plane Contest Challenge 1930 (11th place), Challenge 1932 (12th place) and Challenge 1934 (5th place).

World War II

On 19 September 1939, Oberst Osterkamp was appointed Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 51 (JG 51—51st Fighter Wing).[Note 1] During the Battle of France, he claimed four victories. During the Kanalkampf period of the Battle of Britain in July 1940, he claimed a further two victories, (a Bristol Blenheim on 1 June and a Spitfire on 13 July 1940) bringing his total to six. He was replaced as commander of JG 51 by Werner Mölders on 23 July. Promoted to Generalmajor, Osterkamp was awarded his Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 22 August 1940. Following his replacement in JG 51, Osterkamp was appointed Jagdfliegerführer 2, the commander of fighter aircraft in Luftflotte 2.[1]

On 1 August 1942, he was transferred to Luftgaustab z.b.V. Afrika. On 5 April 1943, he was appointed Jagdfliegerführer Sizilien and served until replaced on 15 July by Adolf Galland. He then served in a number of Staff positions until being appointed Inspekteur der Luftwaffen-Bodenorganisation (Inspector of Luftwaffe ground organisation) in 1944. After criticism from High Command, he was dismissed from the service on 21 December 1944.

Post-war career

In 1960, he was appointed honorary chairman of the Gemeinschaft der Jagdflieger, the Association of Fighter Pilots.[2]

Awards and decorations

See also

Pilots who flew in combat in both World Wars


  1. For an explanation of Luftwaffe unit designations see Organisation of the Luftwaffe during World War II.
  2. According to Scherzer as Jagdfliegerführer 1 for his achievements as Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 51.[4]



  1. See Luftwaffe Organization
  2. "Namhafte Persönlichkeiten". Gemeinschaft der Flieger deutscher Streitkräfte e.V. (in German). Retrieved 7 February 2014.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 330.
  4. Scherzer 2007, p. 579.


  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). 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>
  • 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>

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 51 Mölders
25 November 1939 – 23 July 1940
Succeeded by
Major Werner Mölders
Preceded by
Commander of Jagdfliegerführer 1
22 July 1940 – 1 January 1941
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Generalmajor Kurt-Bertram von Döring
Commander of Jagdfliegerführer 2
1 December 1940 – 1 August 1941
Succeeded by
Oberst Joachim-Friedrich Huth
Preceded by
General Stefan Fröhlich
Acting Commander of Fliegerführer Afrika
April 1942 – 12 April 1942
Succeeded by
General Otto Hoffmann von Waldau
Preceded by
Commander of Jagdfliegerführer Sizilien
5 April 1943 – 15 June 1943
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Adolf Galland