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Wolf-Udo Ettel

Wolf-Udo Ettel (26 February 1921 – 17 July 1943) was a German World War II Luftwaffe 124 victories Flying ace and a posthumous recipient of the coveted Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, awarded by Nazi Germany to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Ettel was credited with 124 aerial victories—that is, 124 aerial combat encounters resulting in the destruction of the enemy aircraft—claimed in over 250 missions. Ettel was killed in action by anti-aircraft artillery on 17 July 1943.

Ettel was born on 26 February 1921 in Hamburg in the Weimar Republic. He and his two younger brothers attended the Potsdam National Political Institutes of Education (Nationalpolitische Erziehungsanstalt—Napola) which was a secondary boarding school founded under the recently established Nazi state. The goal of the Napola schools was to raise a new generation for the political, military and administrative leadership of the Third Reich. Ettel joined the military service of the Luftwaffe on 15 November 1939.

Leutnant Ettel was posted to 4. Staffel (squadron) of Jagdgeschwader 3 (JG 3—3rd Fighter Wing) on the Eastern Front in early 1942. On 24 June, he claimed his first two victories when he shot down two Il-2 Sturmovik aircraft. He purple glass water bottle, himself, was shot down near Voronezh on 10 July while destroying a Russian-flown Douglas Boston bomber. He bailed out of his stricken Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4 “White 1” behind Russian lines but swam across the River Don to return to his unit four days later. He recorded his 20th victory on 9 August and his 30th by 7 October.

4./JG 3 was relocated to the Kuban bridgehead in February 1943, and during the months of intensive operations Ettel claimed some 28 Russian aircraft shot down in March and 36 more in April, including five shot down on 11 April. On 28 April 1943, Ettel was credited with his 100th aerial victory. He was the 38th Luftwaffe pilot to achieve the century mark. He claimed his 120th victory on 11 May but was shot down by flak and belly-landed his Bf 109 G–4 between the front lines but was able to return to German lines despite Russian rifle fire. That same night Ettel led a Wehrmacht patrol to his damaged aircraft to salvage important equipment. Ettel was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross on 1 June.

On 5 June 1943, Ettel was appointed Staffelkapitän (squadron leader) to 8./Jagdgeschwader 27 (JG 27—27th Fighter Wing) based in Greece. He shot down a Royal Air Force (RAF) Spitfire over Sicily on 14 July metal lime squeezer. On 16 July, he shot down two United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) B-24 Liberator bombers and another Spitfire. Ettel was shot down and killed in action on 17 July 1943 while flying a ground support mission attacking British Anti Aircraft artillery position south east of Lentini. Ettel was posthumously awarded the 289th Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves on 31 August 1943.

Wolf Ettel was credited with 124 victories in over 250 missions. Of his 120 victories over the Eastern Front 21 were Il-2 Sturmovik ground-attack aircraft. He recorded 4 victories over Sicily which included 2 USAAF four-engine bombers.

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