13 January 1912
24 December 1944
near Bergisch-Gladbach, Germany
|Buried at||cemetery Westönnen|
|Years of service||1935–44|
|Unit||ZG 26, KG 30, NJG 2, NJG 1|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Heinz Strüning (13 January 1912 – 24 December 1944) 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) during World War II. 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. Strüning shot down 56 aircraft in 280 missions. All of his victories were recorded at night.[Note 1] He was shot down and killed in action on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1944.
Strüning was born on 13 January 1912 in Neviges and joined the Luftwaffe in 1935. He was posted as an Unteroffizier to 5./Zerstörergeschwader 26 "Horst Wessel" (ZG 26—26th Destroyer Wing) on 2 August 1939.[Note 2] When World War II broke out, he flew several ground attack missions during the campaign in Poland. His Staffel was then transferred to serve with Kampfgeschwader 30 supporting German troops defending the bridgehead of Narvik in Norway.
Strüning was then transferred to the Nachtjagd (night fighter force) arriving in July 1940 to 1./Nachtjagdgeschwader 2 (NJG 2—2nd Night Fighter Wing). With this unit, Feldwebel Strüning made 66 intruder missions over England at night, and gained his first victory on the night of 23 November 1940. At the end of 1941 he had 9 claims in total. In November 1941, he was transferred to 7./NJG 2. With this unit, Strüning gained 15 victories until mid-September 1942. He received the German Cross in Gold in July 1942, after his 19th claim. In mid September 1942 he was promoted to Leutnant and awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) in October 1942.
From November 1942, Strüning served with NJG 2 in the Mediterranean from bases in Sicily, until April 1943. Strüning is then transferred to 2./NJG 1 in May 1943. On 1 June he shot down three Royal Air Force Avro Lancasters. Promoted to Oberleutnant and appointed Staffelkapitän of 3./Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1—1st Night Fighter Wing), Strüning coordinated the introduction of the new Heinkel He 219 "Uhu". With this aircraft, Strüning downed three bombers on the night of 1 August 1943.
By April 1944, Strüning had accumulated 15 night victories and on 20 July 1944, was awarded the Eichenlaub. Shortly after, he was appointed to take command of 9./NJG 1.
At about 6 pm on 24 December 1944 his Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-4 (Werknummer 740 162—factory number) G9+CT was shot down by 10-kill ace F/L R.D. Doleman and F/L D.C. Bunch of No. 157 Squadron RAF in a de Havilland Mosquito Intruder while he tried to attack a Lancaster bomber over Cologne. He bailed out but struck the tail of his plane and fell to his death. His body was found two months after his death.
During his career, Hauptmann Heinz Strüning had made 280 combat missions (250 at night), and claimed 56 victories at night (including two Mosquitoes).
- Iron Cross (1939)
- Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe (12 June 1941)
- German Cross in Gold on 10 July 1942 as Oberfeldwebel in the Ergänzungsstaffel/Nachtjagdgeschwader 2
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht on 2 June 1942
Reference in the Wehrmachtbericht
|Date||Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording||Direct English translation|
|Tuesday, 2 June 1942||Oberfeldwebel Struening errang in der letzten Nacht seinen 15. und 16. Nachtjagdsieg.||Oberfeldwebel Struening (sic) achieved his 15th and 16th nocturnal aerial victory last night.|
- For a list of Luftwaffe night fighter aces see List of German World War II night fighter aces.
- For an explanation of the meaning of Luftwaffe unit designation see Organisation of the Luftwaffe during World War II.
- According to Scherzer as Leutnant (war officer) and pilot in the 8./Nachtjagdgeschwader 2.
- According to Scherzer as Hauptmann (war officer).
- Thomas and Davey 2005, p. 72.
- Thomas 1998, p. 365.
- Obermaier 1989, p. 67.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 466.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 415.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 732.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 85.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 149.
- Thomas, Andrew and Davey, Chris (2005). Mosquito Aces of World War 2. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-878-2.
- Base of III./NJG 1 December 1944 until March 1945