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Kurt Knappe - Pilot Profile - Kurt Knappe

Kurt Knappe

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Victories : 54
Country : Germany
Fought in : WW2
Fought for : Axis
Died : 3rd September 1943

Awarded the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross

Latest Axis Aviation Artwork !
 The Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG 54 Erich Rudorffer is depicted in Fw190A-6 'Black Double Chevron' over the misty forests of Finland in June 1944. Credited with 222 aerial victories, he survived being shot down no less than sixteen times and survived the war until eventually passing away in 2016 aged 98.

Erich Rudorffer by Ivan Berryman.
 With 275 victories credited, Gunther Rall is the third highest scoring Ace in history  He was awarded the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.

Gunther Rall by Ivan Berryman. (P)
 Walter Wolfrum, a Knight's Cross winning German WW2 Ace with 137 victories, in his Bf109G.

Walter Wolfrum by Ivan Berryman. (P)
 Austrian-born Walter Nowotny was one of Germany's highest scoring aces of WWII with 258 victories to his credit, three of them flying the Messerschmitt Me.262. He is depicted here flying White 8 of Kommando Nowotny based at Achmer, Germany in 1944. He was killed in action later that year following a fraught combat with US fighters during the Defence of the Reich.

White 8 - Walter Nowotny by Ivan Berryman.

Kurt Knappe

Squadrons for : Kurt Knappe
A list of all squadrons known to have been served with by Kurt Knappe. A profile page is available by clicking the squadron name.


Country : Germany
Founded : 1st May 1939
'Ace of Hearts'

Click the name above to see prints featuring aircraft of JG2

Jagdgeschwader 2 was formed from parts of Jagdgeschwader 131 Richthofen on 1 May 1939 in Döberitz and its first commander was Oberst Robert Ritter von Greim. At the outbreak of the war JG 2 was tasked with defence of the Reich and based in the Berlin area under Luftgaukommando III. Stab and II. Gruppe were equipped with the Bf 109E and were located at Döberitz with 10.(N) staffel flying the Bf 109D in Straussberg.

10.(N) Staffel was one of the first night fighter units formed in the Luftwaffe. Later this staffel was expanded into IV.(N) Gruppe. This Gruppe gained the Luftwaffe’s first night kill over the RAF Bomber Command on the night of 25/26 on April 1940 when Ofw Förster shot down a Handley Page Hampden.

The unit saw little combat until the Western offensive against France and the Low Countries from 10 May 1940 onwards. During the campaign against France, JG 2 was tasked with escorting raids and defending German airspace to the south of Heinz Guderian's Panzer forces which were encircling the French and the British Expeditionary Force further north. Leutnant Helmut Wick, who later became part of a trio of outstanding aces (including Adolf Galland from Jagdgeschwader 26 (JG 26) and Werner Mölders from Jagdgeschwader 51 (JG 51)) in the Battle of Britain, attained his first and the Geschwader's second kill on 22 November 1939, a French Curtiss Hawk Model 75. The first victory for the JG 2 was scored by Oberfeldwebel Kley (3. Staffel) at the same day.

JG 2 took part in the Battle of Britain, operating Bf 109Es over the South Coast of England and the English Channel from bases in Cherbourg and Normandy. Major Helmut Wick emerged as one of the Battle’s top Luftwaffe aces, claiming 31 kills for a personal total of 56, before being killed (MIA) in action versus Spitfires of No. 609 Squadron in November 1940. Wick was seen to bail out successfully but was not found by German Air/Sea Rescue attempts. The Spitfire who dispatched him was immediately shot down by Oberleutnant Rudolf Pflanz. Ofw. Schnell, Ofw. Machold and Olt. Hans Assi Hahn also claimed heavily during this period, with 16 kills each. Some 42 JG 2 pilots were killed or made POW during the battle.


Country : Germany
Founded : August 1939
'Ace of Hearts'

Click the name above to see prints featuring aircraft of JG51

Jagdgeschwader 51 Mölders was a Luftwaffe fighter wing during World War II, named after the fighter ace Werner Mölders in 1942. JG 51's pilots won more Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes than any other Jagdgeschwader, and flew combat from 1939 in all major theatres of war. Flying Bf 109s and then FW 190s, the wing claimed over 8,000 air victories. Experten included 'Toni' Hafner, Heinz Bär, Richard Leppla, Karl-Gottfried Nordmann, Günther Schack and the legendary Mölders.

Formed in August 1939, and commanded by 48-year-old World War I ace Onkel Theo Osterkamp, the early months of the war JG 51 was based in the West, fighting in the French campaign, and in the Battle of Britain. From late June to mid July JG 51 was the only fighter Geschwader engaged against the RAF constantly. During the whole battle JG 51 lost 68 pilots, the highest casualty rate of the Luftwaffe fighter units engaged. JG 51 was one of the two Geschewader that had four Gruppen. The other being JG 1.

Four Bf 109 of JG 51 in France 1940Whilst based out of the Belgian airfield at Mardyik in late 1940, the German ace Josef Pips Priller was a Staffelkapitän with JG 51, flying Bf 109-E Yellow One. Josef Priller went on to score over 100 victories, the third highest scoring Luftwaffe day fighter ace on the Western Front, fighting solely against the Western Allies.

Against the Western Allies JG 51 had claimed 345 aircraft destroyed by May 1941. JG 51 were therefore one of the Jagdwaffe's elite units, with 'top ten' aces at this time including Werner Mölders with 68 claims, Walter Oesau with 34 claims, and Hermann-Friedrich Joppien with 31. Major Werner Mölders became unit Geschwaderkommodore during July 1940 and led the unit into the invasion of Russia in June 1941.

Barbarossa (1941)

Claiming 69 kills on the first day of the offensive, by 30 June 1941 JG 51 became the first fighter Geschwader to claim 1,000 air victories (113 kills in 157 sorties were claimed for the day). On 24 June JG 51 claimed 57 bombers shot down for the day. Mölders became the first fighter pilot to reach 100 claims in August and in the same month JG 51's Oberfeldwebel Heinz Bär reached 60 claims and was decorated with the Oak Leaves. A total of 500 Soviet claims was reached on 12 July 1941, although 6 pilots had been lost by JG 51 in the intervening 3 weeks since the offensive had started.

After Mölders' departure in September 1941 (and death later that year) the Geschwader adopted his name as a title of honor in early 1942. Jagdgeschwader 51 Mölders was to remain on the centre sector of the Russian front throughout the rest of 1941. However Oberstleutnant Friedrich Beckh ( one of the few fighter pilots to wear spectacles) proved an uncharismatic commander after Mölders, and it was not until Major Karl-Gottfried Nordmann took over in April 1942 that a worthy successor to Mölders was found. In the period 22 June - 5 December 1941 the unit destroyed 1,881 Soviet aircraft, in return for 84 losses in aerial combat and a single aircraft on the ground.

Air support for the Wehrmacht's Army Group Centre was entrusted to General Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen's VIII. Fliegerkorps. In early January 1942, among the fighter units available to von Richthofen were II, III and IV/ JG 51. With the onset of the sub-zero conditions of the Russian winter, the majority of JG 51's available aircraft became grounded.

The Russian winter counter offensive forced III./ JG 51 into flying numerous fighter-bomber operations in direct support of the infantry, and the gruppe filed few aerial 'kill' claims through January 1942. II./ JG 51 however, accounted for most of VIII. Fliegerkorps's aerial victories during the Soviet offensive. Particularly successful was the duo of Lt. Hans Strelow and Ofw. Wilhelm Mink, both of 5. JG 51. They claimed five MiG-3s of 16 IAP on 4 January (Mink claimed three) and 9 days later Mink claimed a Pe-2 and Strelow destroyed two R-Z biplanes for his 30th and 31st victories. On 4 February, Strelow increased his victories to 36 by shooting down four Russian aircraft. The 19 year-old Strelow claimed his 40th victory on 28 February and claimed 4 victories on both 6 March and 17 March. The next day he was awarded the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes and also shot down seven Soviet aircraft. He was awarded the Eichenlaub on 24 March, his claims total at 66.

Normandy (1944)

7./JG 51, (with Bf 109G-6's) was attached to II./JG 1 in May 1944 from Brest-Litovsk, with pilots arriving at Störmede late in May and hurriedly converting to the FW-190. (It was later renamed 8./JG 1 on 15 August 1944 when the four-Staffeln Gruppe became standard) 7. Staffel was led by Ritterkreuzträger (Knight's Cross winner) Hptm. Karl-Heinz Weber with 136 confirmed kills. Its two other experten were Lt. Friedrich Krakowitzer (23 kills) and Ofhr. Günther Heckmann with 12 kills.

7./JG 51 joined II. Gruppe with 15 pilots on strength at the end of May, and during the first two months of the Normandy campaign the staffel was decimated, with twelve pilots killed, one POW and one severely wounded.

As the war turned against Germany JG 51 was forced to operate closer and closer to Germany, finally staging out of East Prussia.

Battle of Britain Timeline of Related Info : 20th March
20March1942Former British Battle of Britain pilot, P/O J. L. Ward of 32 & 145 Squadrons, was Killed.
20March1977Former British Battle of Britain pilot, P/O C. C. Ellery of 264 Squadron, Passed away.

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