Richard Leppla

Richard Leppla
Born 9 June 1914
Matzenbach, district of Kusel in Rhineland-Palatinate
Died 4 August 1988 (1988-08-05) (aged 74)
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
 West Germany
Service/branch Luftwaffe
Years of service –1945, –1972
Rank Major
Unit JG 51, JG 105, JG 6
Commands held III./JG 51, JG 6
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Richard Leppla (9 June 1914 – 4 August 1988) was a German Luftwaffe ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) during World War II. Leppla claimed 68 aerial victories claimed in over 500 combat missions. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.


Leppla was born on 9 June 1914 in Matzenbach, joining the army as a cadet in 1934. he transferred to the Luftwaffe in 1935 and was an Oberleutnant with 3 Staffel, Jagdgeschwader 51 (JG 51—51st fighter wing) when the war started.

Leppla was Staffelkapitän (squadron leader) by March 1940, and claimed his first confirmed victory on 10 May, a Dutch Fokker G.I. By July he had claimed five victories, and during the Battle of Britain Hauptmann Leppla claimed eight more and was appointed Gruppenkommandeur (group commander) of III./JG 51.

Leppla then took part in Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, quickly raising his score and being awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 27 July 1941 after downing 27 aircraft.

His 40th victim fell 10 October 1941 and his 50th came on 9 February 1942. Leppla was severely wounded in August 1942, losing the vision in one eye after colliding with a landing Junkers Ju 52.

After a period of hospitalization in December 1942 Leppla was assigned to command Jagdfliegerschule 5 (later renamed JG 105), a position he held until August 1943.

In April 1945 Leppla was then appointed Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 6.[1] When the war ended, Leppla was interned by Soviet Soviet forces, remaining in captivity until 1950.

He then served in the West German Air Force, reaching the rank of Oberst before retiring from active service in 1972.

Leppla flew over 500 combat missions and claimed 68 victories (13 on the western front and the 55 on the Russian front). Richard Leppla died of natural causes in his hometown 4 August 1988 when 74 years old.



Military offices
Preceded by
Major Gerhard Schöpfel
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 6 Horst Wessel
17 April 1945 – 8 May 1945
Succeeded by