Kurt Bühligen (13 December 1917 - 11 August 1985) was a Luftwaffe World War II flying ace who served from 1936 until early 1945. Credited with downing 112 enemy aircraft, he received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.
Early life and career
Bühligen, the son of a pipefitter, was born on 13 December 1917 in Granschütz, in Province of Saxony of the German Empire. He joined the military service of the Luftwaffe with Flieger-Ersatz-Abteilung (Aviator Replacement Unit) in Oschatz on 13 March 1936. Following his recruit training he served as an aircraft mechanic with Kampfgeschwader 153 (KG 153--153rd Bomber Wing) from September 1937 to 15 February 1938. He then served as a mechanic with 2. Staffel (squadron) of Kampfgeschwader 4 (KG 4--4th Bomber Wing) from 16 February 1938 to 30 April 1939.
World War II
He initially joined the Luftwaffe as a mechanic, before transferring to flying training during 1938-39. In July 1940 he was posted to Jagdgeschwader 2 (JG 2) as an Unteroffizier pilot.
Bühligen claimed his first aerial victory -- a Hawker Hurricane over Kent -- on 4 September 1940 and was awarded the Ritterkreuz a year later after 20 further claims.
In December 1942 Bühligen served with II./JG 2 in Tunisia and North Africa, claiming some 40 Allied kills before returning to Europe in March 1943. By March 1944 he had scored 96 kills and was now a Major in command of II./JG 2. On 7 June 1944, Bühligen was credited with his 100th aerial victory. He was the 75th Luftwaffe pilot to achieve the century mark. Bühligen led JG 2 in carrying out operations against the Soviet advance on the Eastern Front. In early 1945, now Geschwaderkommodore of JG 2, an engine failure caused Bühligen to be taken prisoner by the Soviets, being finally released in 1950.
He shot down some 112 enemy aircraft in over 700 operations, becoming the fourth highest Luftwaffe scorer against the Western Allies. All his victories were claimed over the Western Front and North Africa and included 47 Spitfires and 46 United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) victims; 13 P-38, 9 P-47, 7 US operated Spitfires and 24 four-engine bombers. He was never shot down but had to make emergency landings on 3 occasions. His final command was Geschwaderkommodore of the JG 2 fighter wing.
- ^ According to Scherzer in the 4./JG 2
- ^ According to Von Seemen as pilot in JG 2 "Richthofen".
- ^ Stockert 2007, p. 26.
- ^ Obermaier 1989, p. 243.
- ^ http://www.luftwaffe.cz/usaaf.html
- ^ Obermaier 1989, p. 38.
- ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 67.
- ^ a b MacLean 2007, p. 89.
- ^ a b Thomas 1997, p. 89.
- ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 148.
- ^ a b c Scherzer 2007, p. 250.
- ^ Von Seemen 1976, p. 99.
- ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 79.
- ^ Von Seemen 1976, p. 42.
- ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 88.
- ^ Von Seemen 1976, p. 17.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) . Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945 -- Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939-1945 -- The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6.
- MacLean, French L. (2007). Luftwaffe Efficiency & Promotion Reports -- For the Knight's Cross Winners. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Military History. ISBN 978-0-7643-2657-8.
- Obermaier, Ernst (1989). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe Jagdflieger 1939 - 1945 [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force 1939 - 1945] (in German). Mainz, Germany: Verlag Dieter Hoffmann. ISBN 978-3-87341-065-7.
- Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 - 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 - 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8.
- 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 [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939-1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
- Spick, Mike (1996). Luftwaffe Fighter Aces. New York: Ivy Books. ISBN 978-0-8041-1696-1.
- Stockert, Peter (2007). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939-1945 Band 5 [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939-1945 Volume 5] (in German). Bad Friedrichshall, Germany: Friedrichshaller Rundblick. OCLC 76072662.
- Von Seemen, Gerhard (1976). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939-1945 : die Ritterkreuzträger sämtlicher Wehrmachtteile, Brillanten-, Schwerter- und Eichenlaubträger in der Reihenfolge der Verleihung : Anhang mit Verleihungsbestimmungen und weiteren Angaben [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939-1945 : The Knight's Cross Bearers of All the Armed Services, Diamonds, Swords and Oak Leaves Bearers in the Order of Presentation: Appendix with Further Information and Presentation Requirements] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7909-0051-4.
- Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939-1945 Band 1: A-K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939-1945 Volume 1: A-K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6.