Rudolf Schoenert

Rudolf Schoenert

Rudolf Schoenert
Born (1911-07-27)27 July 1911
Glogau, Silesia
Died 30 November 1985(1985-11-30) (aged 74)
province Manitoba, Canada
Allegiance Nazi Germany
Service/branch Luftwaffe
Years of service 1933–45
Rank Major of the Reserves
Unit NJG 2, Nachtjagdgruppe 10
Commands held 4./NJG 2, Nachtjagdgruppe 10

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Rudolf Schoenert (27 July 1911 – 30 November 1985) was the seventh highest scoring night fighter flying ace in the German Luftwaffe during World War II.[Notes 1] 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.


After five years in the Merchant Navy, Schoenert began flight training in 1933 and went on to fly commercial aircraft for Lufthansa. He was commissioned as a Leutnant in the Luftwaffe's Reserve in 1938 and in June 1941 joined 4./Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1—1st Night Fighter Wing) at Bergen in northern Holland. He gained his first victories on 9 July 1941 and by 25 July 1942 his total stood at 22 and he was awarded the Knight's Cross.

Schoenert is universally recognised as the driving force behind the introduction of upward-firing armament in night fighter aircraft, the first prototype of which he introduced into his own Dornier Do-17 in 1942. The concept, dubbed Schräge Musik was initially rejected by Helmut Lent and Werner Streib. Oberfeldwebel Paul Mahle, an armourer attached to II./Nachtjagdgeschwader 5 (NJG 5—5th Night Fighter Wing) at Parchim, worked closely with Rudolf Schoenert and built his own working prototype of Schräge Musik, which was soon fitted to all of the Gruppe's aircraft.

Schoenert claimed the first aerial victory with upward-firing guns in May 1943.[1] By August he was flying with Nachtjagdgeschwader 100 (NJG 100—100th Night Fighter Wing) over the Eastern Front, claiming some 30 Soviet night raiders by early 1944.

During a sortie east of the Elbe on 27 April 1945, an electrical fault rendered Schonert's radar unserviceable and his Junkers Ju 88G was shot down by an Royal Air Force (RAF) Mosquito. He survived and was rescued by German troops.

Surviving the war, Schoenert was credited with 65 aerial victories claimed in 376 combat missions, including 35 Soviet flown aircraft, and was a holder of the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross. Schoenert's radio and wireless operator was Oberfeldwebel Johannes Richter.


Wehrmachtbericht references

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Tuesday, 28 April 1942 Oberleutnant Schoenert errang seinen 15. Nachtjagdsieg.[6] Oberleutnant Schoenert achieved his 15th nocturnal aerial victory.
Wednesday 24 June 1942 Oberleutnant Schoenert errang über der Deutschen Bucht seinen 19. und 20. Nachtjagdsieg.[7] Oberleutnant Schoenert achieved his 19th and 20th nocturnal aerial victory over the German Bight.


  1. ^ For a list of Luftwaffe night fighter aces see List of German World War II night fighter aces.


  1. ^ Hinchliffe 1998, p. 122.
  2. ^ a b Thomas 1998, p. 278.
  3. ^ Obermaier 1989, p. 64.
  4. ^ Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 420.
  5. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 680.
  6. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 2, p. 98.
  7. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 2, p. 174.

External links

  • Rudolf Schoenert @ Lexikon der Wehrmacht
Military offices
Preceded by
Oberstleutnant Walter Borchers
Commander of Nachtjagdgeschwader 5
5 March 1945 – May 1945
Succeeded by