Aircraft Index

Fighter Aces & Famous Pilots



Gerhard Barkhorn
WW2 Fighter Pilot

Full Name: Gerhard "Gerd" Barkhorn
Lifespan: March 20, 1919 – January 8, 1983
Occupation: Fighter Pilot

Gerhard Barkhorn joined the German air force when he was 18. Although he did not achieve a victory during his first combat, it did not stop him from doing his best in the succeeding dogfights. He was one of the few fighter aces who were feared by the Soviets. In fact, the Red Air Force had place a price to his head. They desperately wanted him killed as he was single handily decimating the Soviet Air Force.

Gerhard Barkhorn

Fast Facts
Occupation: Fighter Pilot
Birthday: March 20, 1919
Place of Birth: Königsberg
Nickname: Gerd
Date of Death: January 8, 1983
Place of Death: Frechen/Cologne


Background and Early Life
On March 20, 1919 at Königsberg, Prussia, Gerhard Barkhorn was born. At the age of 18, he joined the Luftwaffe and became a Fahnenjunker. He began his pilot training after serving a year in Luftwaffe. After he completed his pilot training, he was assigned as a Lieutenant and worked with Jagdgeschwader 2 Richthofen. This was an old unit formed during World War I. He was trained by one of the existing fighter ace pilot, Franz Stigler.

Work and Career

  • 1937 Joined Luftwaffe
  • May 1940 His first combat battle during the Battle of France and Britain but he was not able to claim any victories.
  • July 1941 His first victory against the Soviet air force.
  • Nov 1941 He was promoted as Oberleutnant for winning 10 aerial combats.
  • May 1942 He was appointed as the Staffelkapitän of 4./JG 52.
  • July 19, 1942 He became an "ace in one day" for destroying 6 aircraft in his Bf 109F fighter.
  • July 1942 He was wounded and was asked to take a rest. He had destroyed 30 Soviet aircrafts by this time
  • August 1942 He was awarded the Ritterkreuz for destroying 59 Soviet aircraft.
  • Oct 1942 He returned to combat.
  • Jan 1943 He tallied 105 victories which included killing Soviet pilots Lieutenant Vasiliyev and Podpolkovnik Lev Shestakov
  • Jan 1943 He received the Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross.
  • Feb 1944 His unit was able to tally 350 victories, 50 of these victories were personally claimed by Barkhorn. The Soviet Red Air Force placed a price on his head.
  • March 1944 He was awarded the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. He also attended the wedding of Erich Hartmann where he acted as Best Man.
  • May 1944 He was promoted to Major.
  • May 1944 He claimed his 273rd victory but he was shot down by a Soviet P-39 Airacobra. Luckily, he was able to crash-land far from enemy lines.
  • Sep 1944 He tallied 15 victories.
  • Nov 1944 He tallied 23 victories.
  • Dec 1944 He tallied 28 victories.
  • Jan 5, 1945 He was able to score his 301st combat victory.
  • Jan 16, 1945 He was assigned as Geschwaderkommodore to Jagdgeschwader 6 (JG 6). The unit was composed mostly of new recruits. They had many losses which resulted in him being advised to rest due to the physical and mental strain of command.
  • Apr 21, 1945 This was his last mission, he was attacked by P-51 Mustang fighters which severally damaged his aircraft. He was able to crash-land but suffered major injuries.
  • Sep 25, 1945 He was released following being taken prisoner by the Western Allies.
  • 1956 He joined the Bundesluftwaffe and was promoted to commander of the JaboG 31 “Boelcke”.
  • 1976 He retired with the rank of Generalleutnant.

Details of Death
Barkhorn and his wife, Christl, were involved in a car accident on January 6, 1983 during a winter storm on an autobahn near Cologne. His wife died on the spot and he was rushed to the nearest hospital. He died 2 days later due to major injuries. The couple were buried in Tegernsee, Bavaria.


Influence & Legacy
Being one of the fighter pilots who was tagged “ace in a day” for destroying 6 kills in one day he was highly respected by both friend and foe.

Medals and Awards

  • Wound Badge in Black
  • Front Flying Clasp of the Luftwaffe in Gold with Pennant "1,100"
  • Combined Pilots-Observation Badge
  • Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe (20 July 1942)
  • German Cross in Gold on 21 August 1942 as Oberleutnant in the 4./JG 52
  • Iron Cross (1939)
  • 2nd class (23 October 1940)
  • 1st class (3 December 1940)
  • Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
  • Knight's Cross on 23 August 1942 as Oberleutnant and Staffelkapitän of the 4./JG 52
  • 175th Oak Leaves on 11 January 1943 as Oberleutnant and Staffelkapitän of the 4./JG 52
  • 52nd Swords on 2 March 1944 as Hauptmann and Gruppenkommandeur of the II./JG 52
  • Mentioned twice in the Wehrmachtbericht

Gerhard Barkhorn


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Gerhard Barkhorn - WW2 Fighter Ace


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