Hannes Trautloft


Bf 109 G-6 W.Nr. 19 456 "Weisser Doppelwinkel", Maj. Hannes Trautloft, Geschwaderkommandeur JG 54, Dorpat, June 1944. Source: Bundesarchiv Bild 101l-460-194-25 via Philpott 1980, p. 52.

Hannes Trautloft was born on 3 March 1912 at Groß-Obringen near Weimar in Thüringen. On 1 April 1931 he joined  the Deutsche Verkehrfliegerschule at Schleißheim and learned to fly. In 1932 he spent four months at the secret training base in Lipezk, Russia. He returned to Germany to serve in the army until 1934 when he was transferred to Jagdfliegerschule Schleißheim as a Leutnant. Trautloft was one of six pilots that sailed aboard the Ursaramo arriving at Cadiz, Spain on 7 August 1936 to support Franco’s Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. Initially flying He 51 biplane fighters Trautloft and Kraft Eberhardt (seven victories, killed in action 13 November 1936) recorded the first German victories in Spain by each claiming a Breguet XIX shot down on 25 August 1936. On 30 August, Trautloft claimed a Potez 540 for his second victory but became the first German pilot shot down over Spain. He baled out and landed near Nationalist forces and returned unharmed. In December 1936, four prototype Bf 109s were delivered to counter the Russian SB twin-engine bombers and the I-15 and I-16 fighters supporting the Spanish Republican forces. Trautloft went on to record three more confirmed victories flying the Bf 109 for a total of five victories in Spain. Perhaps more importantly, Trautloft was responsible for developing tactics for the deployment of the Bf 109 in service. He was awarded the Spanienkreuz in Gold mit Schwertern for his service in Spain. On his return to Germany, Trautloft served with different units, including winning the international round-the-alps air race in Switzerland as part of the “Dreier-Patrouille” flying Bf 109s, before being appointed Staffelkapitän of 12./JG 132 on 1 July 1938. 12./JG 132 was redesignated 2./JG 331 on 1 November 1938. At the outbreak of World War 2, Trautloft was serving with 2./JG 77. He participated in the Polish campaign. He gained his first victory in the new conflict when he shot down a Polish PZL P.23 attack aircraft near Warta. Trautloft was promoted to the rank of Hauptmann and became Gruppenkommandeur of I./JG 20 on 19 September 1939. He gained two victories with the unit during the French campaign. I./JG 20 was to be redesignated III./JG 51 on 4 July 1940. The Battle of Britain saw Trautloft record two further victories to raise his victory total to five in World War 2 and 10 overall. On 25 August 1940, Trautloft was appointed Kommodore of the newly formed JG 54, a post he would hold until July 5, 1943. He led the Jagdgeschwader during the remainder of the Battle of Britain. Trautloft flew 120 missions over the Channel before JG 54 was relocated to Germany for rest and refit. He recorded three further victories over England to raise his overall victory total to 13.

Trautloft and JG 54 participated in the Balkans campaign and Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia. Major Trautloft was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 27 July 1941 for achieving 20 victories and outstanding leadership. By the end of 1941 he had recorded 26 victories. He recorded 19 victories in 1942, including his 30th victory on 16 March, his 40th on 9 May and his 50th on 15 February 1943. On 6 July 1943, Trautloft was appointed Inspizient Ost with the General der Jagflieger’s office. He was appointed Inspekteur der Tagjäger on 27 November. Trautloft's involvement in the so-called “Mutiny of the Fighter Pilots” in 1945 led to his removal and subsequent posting to 4 Flieger-SchulDivision based at Strassburg. He ended the war with this unit based at Döberitz-Elsgrund. Post-war, Trautloft joined the Bundesluftwaffe on 1 October 1957 with the rank of Brigadegeneral. During the 1960's, Trautloft served as the Inspector General of the Bundesluftwaffe. He retired on 30 June 1970 with the rank of Generalleutnant. Trautloft was active in many veterans’ organizations until his death on 11 January 1995 at Bad Wiessee near München.

        Hannes Trautloft was credited with 58 victories in 560 missions. He recorded 45 victories over the Eastern front. Included in his total are five victories recorded during the Spanish Civil War.

Victories : 58

Awards : Deutsches Kreuz in Gold (27 July 1942)

                Ritterkreuz (27 July 1941)

Units : J/88, JG 77, JG 51, JG 54

Source: http://www.luftwaffe.cz/trautloft.html

Additional history :
Some Myths Dispelled

Additional history :
Maps and Statistics