9 April 1920|
13 December 2004
|Years of service||1938–45|
World War II
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Franz-Josef Beerenbrock (9 April 1920 – 13 December 2004) was one of the most successful German fighter aces of World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Beerenbrock claimed 117 aerial victories in approximately 400 combat missions, all on the Eastern Front. In November 1942 he became a Prisoner of War for the rest of the war in Russia.
In the Luftwaffe
Beerenbock joined a flak artillery unit on 1 October 1938 and in 1939 was trained as a pilot. In March 1941, Beerenbrock was transferred to 12./Jagdgeschwader 51 (JG 51). Unteroffizier Beerenbrock was soon promoted to Oberfeldwebel.
He achieved his first aerial victory on 24 June 1941. On 1 August 1942 he claimed nine more victories and reached his 100th aerial victory often flying as wingman of Karl-Gottfried Nordmann. He was the 15th Luftwaffe pilot to achieve the century mark. At that point he was the most successful fighter pilot of JG 51. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves.
In air combat on 9 November 1942 with numeralically superior Russian fighters over Welish, he downed three Russian fighters but his Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-2 fighter received a hit in the radiator and he went down over Russian-held territory and was taken prisoner of war.
A few days later, the Russian fighter units in this area suddenly started using the very same tactics as Beerenbrock had used with such success. Some of Beerenbrock's old friends in JG 51 were certain. Beerenbrock, who had a Russian mother, has gone over to the Russian side, although there are no facts and is merely speculation. It has been said that Beerenbrock in Russian captivity was one of the founders – together with General League of German Officers (German: Bund deutscher Offiziere), but this also is only speculation.
Franz-Josef Beerenbrock was credited with 117 victories in approximately 400 missions, all on the Eastern Front of which at least 12 were Il-2 Sturmoviks.
- Iron Cross (1939)
- Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe (15 September 1941)
- German Cross in Gold on 17 June 1942 as Feldwebel in the IV./Jagdgeschwader 51
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Obermaier 1989, p. 243.
- Franz Josef Beerenbrock
- Thomas 1997, p. 35.
- Obermaier 1989, p. 52.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 32.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 210.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 127.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 60.
- Bergstrom, Christer. Red Star – Black Cross: Russian and German Fighter Pilots in Combat 1941–1945