Hans-Dieter Frank

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Hans-Dieter Frank
Hans-Dieter Frank.jpg
Frank as a Hauptmann
Born8 July 1919
Kiel
Died28 September 1943(1943-09-28) (aged 24)
Hannover
Allegiance Nazi Germany
Service/branchBalkenkreuz (Iron Cross) Luftwaffe
Years of service1937–43
RankMajor (Posthumously)
UnitZG 1
NJG 1
Commands held2./NJG 1, I./NJG 1
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Hans-Dieter Frank (8 July 1919 – 28 September 1943) was a German Luftwaffe military aviator during World War II, a night fighter ace credited with 55 aerial victories claimed in approximately 150 combat missions making him the seventeenth most successful night fighter pilot in the history of aerial warfare.[1][2] All of his victories were claimed over the Western Front in Defense of the Reich missions against the Royal Air Force's (RAF) Bomber Command.

Born in Kiel, Frank grew up in the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany. Following graduation from school, he joined the military service in 1937 and was trained as a pilot. Frank then served with Zerstörergeschwader 1 (ZG 1—1st Destroyer Wing), flying a Messerschmitt Bf 110 heavy fighter during the Invasion of Poland and Battle of France. In mid-1941, he transferred to Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1—1st Night Fighter Wing) where he became a night fighter pilot and claimed his first aerial victory on the night of 10/11 April 1941. Frank was appointed squadron leader of 2. Staffel (2nd squadron) of NJG 1 in August 1942. Following his 33rd aerial victory, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 20 June 1943. On 1 July 1943, he was appointed group commander of I. Gruppe of NJG 1. Frank and his crew were killed in action in a mid-air collision with another German night fighter on the night of 27/28 September 1943. He was posthumously bestowed with the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and promoted to Major (major).

Early life and career[edit]

Frank was born on 8 July 1919 in Kiel, which was then part of the Province of Schleswig-Holstein during the Weimar Republic. He was the son of a sales agent. After graduation from school and receipt of his Abitur (university entry qualification), Frank joined the Luftwaffe in 1937 as a Fahnenjunker (cadet). Following flight training,[Note 1] he was posted to Zerstörergeschwader 1 (ZG 1—1st Destroyer Wing).[4]

World War II[edit]

World War II in Europe began on Friday 1 September 1939 when German forces invaded Poland. Now a Leutnant (second lieutenant) with I. Gruppe (1st group) of ZG 1, Frank flew his first combat missions over Poland and during the Battle of France.[4] On 22 June 1940, Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1—1st Night Fighter Wing) was created from I. Gruppe of ZG 1 and placed under the command of Hauptmann Wolfgang Falck. In consequence, Frank became a member of the night-fighter force.[5]

Night fighter career[edit]

A map of part of the Kammhuber Line. The 'belt' and night fighter 'boxes' are shown.

Following the 1939 aerial Battle of the Heligoland Bight, Royal Air Force (RAF) attacks shifted to the cover of darkness, initiating the Defence of the Reich campaign.[6] By mid-1940, Generalmajor (Brigadier General) Josef Kammhuber had established a night air defense system dubbed the Kammhuber Line. It consisted of a series of control sectors equipped with radars and searchlights and an associated night fighter. Each sector named a Himmelbett (canopy bed) would direct the night fighter into visual range with target bombers. In 1941, the Luftwaffe started equipping night fighters with airborne radar such as the Lichtenstein radar. This airborne radar did not come into general use until early 1942.[7] On 25 August 1941, Frank became an ace after downing his 5th victim, Armstrong Whitworth Whitley, Z6505, MH-F, No. 51 Squadron RAF. Sergeant J. C. W. King and his crew were captured.[8] He was appointed Staffelkapitän (squaron leader) of 2. Staffel of NJG 1 on 8 August 1942.[9] On 27 November 1942, Frank was awarded the German Cross in Gold (Deutsches Kreuz in Gold).[10]

Frank was decorated with the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) on 20 June 1943, the nomination had been submitted for 33 aerial victories claimed. The presentation was made by Generalmajor Kammhuber.[4] On the night of 21/22 June, RAF Bomber Command sent 705 aircraft on a mission to bomb Krefeld, losing 44 aircraft in the attack.[11] That night, Frank claimed six victories in the early hours, making him an "ace-in-a-day". One of the bombers he shot down was Handley Page Halifax HR848, which was one of 19 No. 35 Squadron RAF aircraft detailed to attack Krefeld on the night of the 21/22 June. Flight Sergeant R. J. Quigley and two of his crew were captured and the remaining four perished.[12] Another was HR735 operated by No. 158 Squadron RAF. Pilot Officer C. H. Robinson DFC RNZAF and his six crew were killed.[13] A third, BB375, flown by German-Canadian Sergeant C. C. Reichert RCAF, No. 408 Squadron RAF, crashed with all but one crewman killed.[14] Further victories included an Avro Lancaster bomber from No. 100 Squadron RAF near Dinther, and two Halifax bombers from 408 (Goose) Squadron near Zeist and Lopik.[11]

On 24/25 June Sergeant Robert Whitfield's Halifax JD258, VR-K borrowed from No. 419 Bomber Squadron RCAF, but operated by a No. 428 Squadron RAF crew, became Frank's 41st aerial victory. All of the crew died.[15] The aircraft was on a mission to bomb Elberfeld, a municipal of Wuppertal.[16] Frank's last victory in June 1943 occurred on day twenty-nine when he shot down his 44th victim; Lancaster bomber ED362, HW-E, flown by Pilot Officer J. P. Pascoe RCAF, No. 100 Squadron RAF. Pascoe and all but one of his crew were killed (Sergeant R. G Storr was taken prisoner).[17] That night, RAF Bomber Command was targeting Cologne.[18]

Group commander[edit]

Heinkel He 219

On 1 July 1943, Frank was appointed Gruppenkommandeur (group commander) of I. Gruppe of NJG 1, succeeding Major Werner Streib.[19] Operating from Venlo Airfield, Frank claimed his first aerial victory as Gruppenkommandeur on the night of 9/10 July when he attacked Lancaster bomber W4763 from No. 61 Squadron RAF which crashed near Overdinkel in the Netherlands.[20] Four nights later, he shot down a Halifax bomber from No. 401 Squadron RCAF and another Halifax bomber from No. XXXV (Madras Presidency) Squadron.[21][22] Frank claimed his first aerial victories flying the Heinkel He 219 night fighter of the night of 25/26 July when claimed two aerial victories, a Lancaster bomber from No. 50 Squadron RAF and a Wellington bomber from 429 (Bomber) Squadron RCAF.[23][24] When on the night 30/31 August 660 bombers targeted both Mönchengladbach and Rheydt, Frank was credited with the destruction of three bombers. His aerial victories included a Short Stirling bomber over Mönchengladbach, the Vickers Wellington bomber JA118 from the Royal Canadian Air Force No. 432 Squadron RCAF, and a Lancaster bomber which crashed near Brüggen.[25]

Frank and his radio operator Oberfeldwebel Erich Gotter were killed following a mid-air collision with another German night fighter northwest of Celle in the night of 28/29 September 1943.[26] Their He 219 A-0 (Werknummer 190055—factory number) "G9+CB" had collided with a Bf 110 G-4 of the Geschwaderstab (headquarters unit) of NJG 1 during the landing approach. Frank had escaped the aircraft using the ejection seat but forgot to release his radio-cable. He landed safely but was strangled by the radio-cable.[27] The three man crew of the Bf 110 G-4, pilot Hauptmann Günther Friedrich, radio operator Oberleutnant Werner Gerber and flight engineer Obergefreiter Kurt Weißke, were also killed in the accident.[28] This collision was likely caused by an attack made on his fighter by RAF night fighter ace Bob Braham.[29] On 2 March 1944, Frank was posthumously awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub), the 417th officer or soldier of the Wehrmacht so honored. Posthumously, he was also promoted to Major (major).[4] He was succeeded by Hauptmann Manfred Meurer as commander of I. Gruppe of NJG 1.[19]

Summary of career[edit]

Aerial victory claims[edit]

Frank was credited with 55 nocturnal aerial victories claimed in 328 combat missions.[9] Foreman, Parry and Mathews, authors of Luftwaffe Night Fighter Claims 1939 – 1945, researched the German Federal Archives and found records for 54 nocturnal victory claims[30] Mathews and Foreman also published Luftwaffe Aces — Biographies and Victory Claims, listing Frank with 51 claims.[31]

Chronicle of aerial victories

  This and the ♠ (Ace of spades) indicates those aerial victories which made Frank an "ace-in-a-day", a term which designates a fighter pilot who has shot down five or more airplanes in a single day.
  This and the ! (exclamation mark) indicates aerial victories listed in Luftwaffe Night Fighter Claims 1939 – 1945 but not in Luftwaffe Aces — Biographies and Victory Claims.

Claim Date Time Type Location Serial No./Squadron No.
– I. Gruppe of Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 –[10]
1 10 April 1941 23:32 Hampden 2 km (1.2 mi) southwest of Neeroeteren[32] Hampden X3066/No. 144 Squadron RAF[33]
2 12 June 1941 02:13 Whitley vicinity of Eindhoven[34]
3 17 August 1941 02:15 Wellington 10 km (6.2 mi) northwest of Roermond[35]
4 17 August 1941 02:40 Whitley 2 km (1.2 mi) north of Venlo[35] Whitley Z6794/No. 10 Squadron RAF[36]
5 25 August 1941 01:15 Whitley 3 km (1.9 mi) east of Weert[37] Whitley Z6505/No. 51 Squadron RAF[38]
– 2. Staffel of Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 –[31]
6 27 December 1941 21:25 Whitley[39]
7 13 April 1942 01:53 Wellington north of Maarheeze[40] Wellington Z1213/No. 300 Polish Bomber Squadron[41]
8! 31 May 1942 01:30 Wellington west of Maarheeze[42]
9 26 July 1942 02:14 Halifax north of Venlo[43] Halifax W1211/No. 158 Squadron RAF[44]
10 6 August 1942 00:17 Halifax northwest of Posterholt[45] Halifax W1180/No. 78 Squadron RAF[46]
11 27 August 1942 23:25 Wellington 10 km (6.2 mi) north of Helmond[47] Wellington Z1613/No. 156 Squadron RAF[48]
12 1 October 1942 21:34 Stirling 10 km (6.2 mi) northwest of Venlo[49]
13 1 October 1942 22:30 Wellington Volkel Air Base[49]
14 15 October 1942 22:05 Wellington 10 km (6.2 mi) southwest of Arnhem[49] Wellington BK270/No. 419 Bomber Squadron RCAF[50]
15 15 October 1942 22:31 Stirling 15 km (9.3 mi) northeast of 's-Hertogenbosch[51] Lancaster W4195/No. 106 Squadron RAF[52]
16 15 October 1942 22:56 Stirling 10 km (6.2 mi) west of Breda[51] Stirling R9146/No. 214 Squadron RAF[53]
17 17 January 1943 22:24 Lancaster 10 km (6.2 mi) west of IJmuiden[54]
18 2 February 1943 22:01 Stirling 12 km (7.5 mi) east-southeast of Rotterdamn[55] Stirling R9264/No. 7 Squadron RAF[56]
19 3 April 1943 22:45 Halifax 5 km (3.1 mi) southeast of Rhenen, Arnhem[57] Halifax JB866/408 (Goose) Squadron[58]
20 3 April 1943 23:02 Lancaster 4 km (2.5 mi) north of Kleve[57]
21 3 April 1943 23:25 Stirling 3 km (1.9 mi) southwest of Den Haag[57] Halifax W7937/No. 78 Squadron RAF[59]
22 9 April 1943 23:46 Lancaster[60] Lancaster ED502/No. 9 Squadron RAF[61]
23 27 April 1943 03:15 Wellington 3 km (1.9 mi) west of Brakel[29] Wellington HE168/No. 196 Squadron RAF[62]
24 27 April 1943 03:37 Wellington 5 km (3.1 mi) west of Dougen[29] Wellington HE693/No. 420 Squadron RCAF[63]
25 5 May 1943 01:47 Stirling west of Zandvoort[64] Stirling BK782/No. 15 Squadron RAF[65]
26 5 May 1943 02:16 Wellington 20 km (12 mi) south of Amsterdam[64] Wellington HE727/No. 428 Squadron RCAF[66]
27 5 May 1943 02:38 Wellington Werkendam[67] Wellington HE244/No. 166 Squadron RAF[68]
28 13 May 1943 02:21 Wellington 15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Ereda[67] Wellington HE423/429 (Bomber) Squadron RCAF[69]
29 13 May 1943 03:39 Stirling Rotterdam[70] Stirling EF357/No. 149 Squadron RAF[71]
30 14 May 1943 02:02 Wellington Hilversum[70]
31 14 May 1943 02:53 Wellington 10 km (6.2 mi) northwest of Hilversum[70] Wellington HE697/No. 426 (Thunderbirds) Squadron RCAF[72]
32 15 June 1943 00:59 Lancaster 14 km (8.7 mi) southeast of 's-Hertogenbosch[73] Lancaster ED980/No. 619 Squadron RAF[74]
33 15 June 1943 01:13 Lancaster 1 km (0.62 mi) south of Hien[73] Lancaster ED434/No. 49 Squadron RAF[75]
34 15 June 1943 02:20 Lancaster vicinity of Amsterdam[73] Lancaster DV160/No. 460 Squadron RAAF[76]
35♠ 22 June 1943 01:23 Lancaster 36 km (22 mi) northeast of Hien[73] Lancaster ED556/No. 100 Squadron RAF[77]
36♠ 22 June 1943 01:37 Halifax 0.5 km (0.31 mi) east of Kaalhoven[78] Halifax HR735/No. 158 Squadron RAF[79]
37♠ 22 June 1943 01:48 Halifax 1 km (0.62 mi) west of Vechel[78]
38♠ 22 June 1943 02:09 Halifax 4 km (2.5 mi) northwest of Boxtel[78] Halifax JD205/No. 77 Squadron RAF[80]
39♠ 22 June 1943 02:24 Halifax 2 km (1.2 mi) southwest of Zeist[78] Halifax DT772/408 (Goose) Squadron[81]
40♠ 22 June 1943 02:30 Halifax 0.5 km (0.31 mi) north of Yaarsfeld[78] Halifax BB375/408 (Goose) Squadron[82]
41 25 June 1943 01:05 Halifax Acht[83] Halifax JD258/No. 419 Bomber Squadron RCAF[84]
42 26 June 1943 02:17 Wellington 14 km (8.7 mi) west-northwest of Gouda[85] Wellington HE412/No. 196 Squadron RAF[86]
43 26 June 1943 02:37 Wellington 11 km (6.8 mi) east-northeast of Gouda[85] Wellington HF589/No. 166 Squadron RAF[87]
44 29 June 1943 02:47 Lancaster 12 km (7.5 mi) southeast of Rotterdam[88] Lancaster ED362/No. 100 Squadron RAF[89]
– I. Gruppe of Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 –[90]
45 10 July 1943 01:22 Lancaster 8 km (5.0 mi) east-northeast of Enschede[91] Lancaster W4763/No. 61 Squadron RAF[20]
46 14 July 1943 01:26 Halifax 1 km (0.62 mi) south of Helmond[91] Halifax HR905/No. 401 Squadron RCAF[21]
47 14 July 1943 01:39 Halifax north of Leuith[91] Halifax HR819/No. XXXV (Madras Presidency) Squadron[22]
48 26 July 1943 00:56 Lancaster 10 km (6.2 mi) southeast of Nijmegen[92] Lancaster ED753/No. 50 Squadron RAF[23]
49 26 July 1943 01:30 Wellington 0.5 km (0.31 mi) south of Culemborg[92] Wellington HE803/429 (Bomber) Squadron RCAF[24]
50 23 August 1943 23:40 Lancaster 7 km (4.3 mi) southeast of Emmen[93] Lancaster ED550/No. 207 Squadron RAF[94]
51 31 August 1943 03:18 Stirling Mönchengladbach[95] Stirling EF438/No. 149 Squadron RAF[96]
52 31 August 1943 03:30 Wellington Siggerath[95] Wellington JA118/No. 432 Squadron RCAF[25]
53 31 August 1943 03:35 Lancaster Brüggen[95] Lancaster JA936/No. 9 Squadron RAF[97]
54 6 September 1943 00:15 Lancaster northeast of Pirmasens[98] Lancaster JB133/No. 619 Squadron RAF[99][Note 2]

Awards[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Flight training in the Luftwaffe progressed through the levels A1, A2 and B1, B2, referred to as A/B flight training. A training included theoretical and practical training in aerobatics, navigation, long-distance flights and dead-stick landings. The B courses included high-altitude flights, instrument flights, night landings and training to handle the aircraft in difficult situations. For pilots destined to fly multi-engine aircraft, the training was completed with the Luftwaffe Advanced Pilot's Certificate (Erweiterter Luftwaffen-Flugzeugführerschein), also known as the C-Certificate.[3]
  2. ^ According to the Aviation Safety Network, potentially claimed by Hauptmann Heinrich Wohlers.[99]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Scutts 1998, p. 88.
  2. ^ Bowman 2016, p. 243.
  3. ^ Bergström, Antipov & Sundin 2003, p. 17.
  4. ^ a b c d Stockert 2007, p. 34.
  5. ^ Aders 1978, p. 16.
  6. ^ Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 9.
  7. ^ Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 27.
  8. ^ Rollings 2004, p. 111.
  9. ^ a b Obermaier 1989, p. 61.
  10. ^ a b Mathews & Foreman 2014, p. 329.
  11. ^ a b Bowman 2016, p. 156.
  12. ^ Chorley 1996, p. 193.
  13. ^ Chorley 1996, p. 195.
  14. ^ Chorley 1996, p. 196.
  15. ^ Chorley 1996, p. 207.
  16. ^ Bowman 2016, p. 157.
  17. ^ Chorley 1996, p. 215.
  18. ^ Bowman 2016, p. 160.
  19. ^ a b Aders 1978, p. 226.
  20. ^ a b Lancaster W4763.
  21. ^ a b Halifax HR905.
  22. ^ a b Halifax HR819.
  23. ^ a b Lancaster ED753.
  24. ^ a b Wellington HE803.
  25. ^ a b Bowman 2016, p. 208.
  26. ^ Thomas 1997, p. 174.
  27. ^ Bowman 2016, p. 212.
  28. ^ He 219 190053.
  29. ^ a b c Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 77.
  30. ^ Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, pp. 18–150.
  31. ^ a b Mathews & Foreman 2014, pp. 329–330.
  32. ^ Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 18.
  33. ^ Hampden X3066.
  34. ^ Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 21.
  35. ^ a b Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 29.
  36. ^ Whitley Z6794.
  37. ^ Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 30.
  38. ^ Whitley Z6505.
  39. ^ Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 33.
  40. ^ Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 38.
  41. ^ Wellington Z1213.
  42. ^ Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 42.
  43. ^ Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 50.
  44. ^ Halifax W1211.
  45. ^ Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 54.
  46. ^ Halifax W1180.
  47. ^ Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 56.
  48. ^ Wellington Z1613.
  49. ^ a b c Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 60.
  50. ^ Wellington BK270.
  51. ^ a b Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 61.
  52. ^ Lancaster W4195.
  53. ^ Stirling R9146.
  54. ^ Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 65.
  55. ^ Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 66.
  56. ^ Stirling R9264.
  57. ^ a b c Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 72.
  58. ^ Halifax JB866.
  59. ^ Halifax W7937.
  60. ^ Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 73.
  61. ^ Lancaster ED502.
  62. ^ Wellington HE168.
  63. ^ Wellington HE693.
  64. ^ a b Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 78.
  65. ^ Stirling BK782.
  66. ^ Wellington HE727.
  67. ^ a b Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 79.
  68. ^ Wellington HE244.
  69. ^ Wellington HE423.
  70. ^ a b c Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 80.
  71. ^ Stirling EF357.
  72. ^ Wellington HE697.
  73. ^ a b c d Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 86.
  74. ^ Lancaster ED980.
  75. ^ Lancaster ED434.
  76. ^ Lancaster DV160.
  77. ^ Lancaster ED556.
  78. ^ a b c d e Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 88.
  79. ^ Halifax HR735.
  80. ^ Halifax JD205.
  81. ^ Halifax DT772.
  82. ^ Halifax BB375.
  83. ^ Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 89.
  84. ^ Halifax JD258.
  85. ^ a b Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 90.
  86. ^ Wellington HE412.
  87. ^ Wellington HF589.
  88. ^ Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 91.
  89. ^ Lancaster ED362.
  90. ^ Mathews & Foreman 2014, p. 330.
  91. ^ a b c Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 93.
  92. ^ a b Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 97.
  93. ^ Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 105.
  94. ^ Lancaster ED550.
  95. ^ a b c Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 108.
  96. ^ Stirling EF438.
  97. ^ Lancaster JA936.
  98. ^ Foreman, Parry & Mathews 2004, p. 111.
  99. ^ a b Lancaster JB133.
  100. ^ Patzwall 2008, p. 79.
  101. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 119.
  102. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 315.
  103. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 184.
  104. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 79.

Bibliography[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by Commander of I. Nachtjagdgeschwader 1
1 July 1943 – 22 September 1943
Succeeded by
Hauptmann Manfred Meurer