25 June 1917|
22 February 1946
|Unit||JG 53, JG z.b.V., JG 4, JG 11|
|Commands held||4./JG 53, II./JG 53, JG 4|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Gerhard Michalski (25 June 1917 in Augsdorf – 22 February 1946 in Kaltenkirchen) was a German Luftwaffe fighter ace and 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.
Michalski joined 6 Staffel, Jagdgeschwader 53 (JG 53—53rd Fighter Wing) in 1940. His first victory was on 31 March 1940, when he downed a French Morane Saulnier MS 406 fighter over the French border. Flying through the Battle of Britain, he gained eight more victories. In October 1940, Michalski was appointed Adjutant in II./JG 53. With JG 53 participating in the invasion of Russia from June 1941 onward, Michalski claimed 13 further victories by the end of August 1941 for a total of 22. By October 1941 Oberleutnant Michalski was Staffelkapitän of 4./JG 53 based at Leeuwarden in the Netherlands.
Top Malta ace
In November II./JG 53 were relocated to Sicily for operations against Malta. Michalski was to become the most successful German fighter pilot in the Siege, claiming 26 victories against the island's defenders. Michalski became Gruppenkommandeur II./JG 53 in June 1942 and was awarded the Ritterkreuz for 41 victories in September. On 15 October Michalski was shot down by No. 126 Squadron Spitfires, flown by F/L. Jones and F/Sgt Varey. off Marsaxlokk Bay. He bailed out of his Bf 109 G-2, landing in the sea, and was rescued by the German air-sea rescue service.
In October 1942 II./JG 53 were sent to Tunisia. Following the fall of Tunisia, II./JG 53 relocated to bases in Sicily in May 1943. On 18 June Michalski was again shot down, near Donnafucata in Sicily by F/O G. Keith Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), flying a Spitfire of No. 72 Squadron. He bailed out wounded in the leg and with a broken ankle, landing in the sea, from where he was rescued by the German air-sea rescue service. Hospitalised, he returned to JG 53 in August 1943.
Reich defence 1944–45
In November 1943, II./JG 53 was relocated to airfields in Austria, operating on Reichsverteidigung (Defense of the Reich) duties. Michalski claimed his 60th victory on 2 November.
On 1 May, he was once more shot down and wounded in aerial combat. Following a swift recovery, Michalski was transferred to the Verbandsführerschule of the General der Jagdflieger on 20 May 1944.
On 21 July, he joined the Stabsstaffel, I./Jagdgeschwader 11 before being appointed Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 4 on 18 August 1944. Major Michalski was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Ritterkreuz on 25 November for 72 victories.
He gained his 73rd and final victory on 8 March 1945, over the Eastern Front.
Gerhard Michalski was credited with 73 aerial victories in 652 missions, of which 59 victories were achieved over the Western Front including 13 four-engine bombers and 29 Supermarine Spitfire fighters.
Michalski was involved in a motor vehicle accident on 22 February 1946 and died in a hospital in Kaltenkirchen. His brother Werner was killed in action as a Leutnant on 10 April 1942 serving with Jagdgeschwader 26 "Schlageter".
- Iron Cross (1939)
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Shores & Cull 1991, p. 607.
- Cull 2000, p.
- Spick 1996, p. 237
- Obermaier 1989, p. 71.
- Thomas 1998, p. 80.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 543.
- Cull, Brian (2000). Spitfires Over Sicily – The crucial role of the Malta Spitfires in the Battle of Scily, January – August 1943. Grub Street. ISBN 978-1902304328.
- Shores, Christopher and Brian Cull with Nicola Malizia (1991). Malta: The Spitfire Year. London: Grub Street. ISBN 0-948817-16-X.
Commander of Jagdgeschwader z.b.V.
20 April 1944 – 20 May 1944
Hauptmann Walther Dahl
Major Gerhard Schöpfel
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 4
7 August 1944 – 8 May 1945