27 March 1916|
Lug near Bad Bergzabern
25 November 1985
|Years of service||1935–45|
|Unit||JG 3, JG 300, EJG 2|
|Commands held||III./JG 3, JG 300|
World War II
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Walther Dahl (27 March 1916 – 25 November 1985) was a German Oberst 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. A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during aerial combat. Dahl claimed some 128 enemy aircraft shot down in 678 missions, including about 300 ground-attack missions.
Walther Dahl was born in Lug near Bad Bergzabern, son of a teacher who was killed in action in 1918 on the Western Front of World War I. He joined the army in 1935, initially serving in Infantry Regiment 119 in Stuttgart, before transferring to the Luftwaffe and becoming a fighter pilot.
By May 1941 Dahl was part of the Geschwaderstab of Jagdgeschwader 3 (JG 3—3rd Fighter Wing) and claimed his first victory on 22 June during the first day of the invasion of Russia. In July Dahl transferred to II. Gruppe of JG 3. By the end of October Dahl had 17 claims. He was then transferred to 4 staffel, JG 3 in December 1941 before the unit was posted to the Mediterranean theatre. He claimed a Spitfire over Malta on 1 April 1942 and on 10 April 1942 Dahl was made Staffelkapitän, Ergänzungsgruppe, JG 3.
In April 1943, Dahl was transferred to the staff of the General der Jagdflieger. In August, Dahl was next appointed Geschwaderadjutant, JG 3 on the Eastern Front where he had raised his total to 51, being awarded the German Cross in Gold in December 1942
On 20 July 1943, Dahl was posted as Gruppenkommandeur III./JG 3 and relocated to Münster from Kursk on the Russian Front. He claimed 2 four-engined bombers on 6 September and 2 more four-engined bombers (and a P-38) on 23 February 1944.
Dahl led a III./JG 3 formation against the Schweinfurt and Regensburg raid of 17 August 1943 but was intercepted by Spitfires of No. 222 Squadron. III./JG 3 lost 5 Bf 109s shot down including Dahl who had to make a belly landing in his Bf 109 G-6.
Major Dahl was awarded the Ritterkreuz in March 1944 for 67 victories. In May 1944, Dahl was appointed Kommodore of JG z.b.V. He led the unit until 6 June, then taking command of Jagdgeschwader 300 (JG 300—300th Fighter Wing) on 27 June. JG 300 was to become famous for flying the heavily armed and armored Focke Wulf FW 190A-8 "Sturmbock" in close formation, driving in their attacks to point-blank range. As a last resort, after depletion of all ammunition, the pilots had to ram enemy bombers.
On 7 July 1944 a force of 1,129 B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) Eighth Air Force set out from England to bomb aircraft factories in the Leipzig area and the synthetic oil plants at Boehlen, Leuna-Merseburg and Lützkendorf. This formation was intercepted by a German Gefechtsverband consisting of IV.(Sturm) Gruppe Jagdgeschwader 3 escorted by two Gruppen of Bf 109s from JG 300 led by Major Dahl. Dahl drove the attack to point-blank range behind the Liberators of the 492nd Bomb Group before opening fire. 492nd Bomb Group was temporarily without fighter cover. Within about a minute the entire squadron of twelve B-24s had been annihilated. The Germans claimed 28 USAAF 2nd Air Division B-24s that day and were credited with at least 21. The majority to the Sturmgruppe attack. IV./JG 3 lost nine fighters shot down and three more suffered damage and made crash landings; five of the unit's pilots were killed.
On 13 September, Dahl apparently brought down a B-17 four-engined bomber by ramming according to his own account. The historians of JG 300 (Lorant/Goyat) found no evidence of a corresponding loss in US archives. For his personal exploits and that of his unit, Dahl was dubbed Rammdahl again according to his own account. On the morning of 30 November 1944, Dahl was informed that Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring was coming to visit the troops and to present Dahl with the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross. At 12:20 pm Göring and Generaloberst Bruno Loerzer arrived and Dahl made a formal report. Soon the discussion came to the question of whether Dahl believed that given these bad weather conditions the Geschwader could not engage in combat. Dahl explained that in only good conditions would they stand a chance against the overwhelming odds, as they were outnumbered 20:1. He also referred to the inexperience and inadequate training of his young pilots. Into this situation came the news of an approaching bomber formation. Göring ordered Dahl to take off and engage the enemy. Dahl stood his ground and continuously refused to obey. Göring became furious and threatened Dahl with court martial and execution. Only the arriving General der Jagdflieger Adolf Galland, who confirmed Dahl's opinion, saved Dahl from severe punishment. Nevertheless Dahl was immediately relieved from his command and sent on sick leave. Subsequently Dahl was not presented with the Oak Leaves that day.
On 26 January 1945, Hermann Göring appointed him Inspekteur der Tagjäger (Inspector of the day fighter). Despite his promotion, Dahl continued to fly operationally.
Oberst Dahl ended the war flying the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter with III./Ergänzungs-Jagdgeschwader 2 (a supplementary fighter unit). On 27 March 1945, Dahl claimed two P-47 fighter kills. His 128th and last victory was a USAAF P-51 Mustang near Dillingen on 26 April 1945.
Post World War II
Walther Dahl survived the war and became a member of the Deutsche Reichspartei (DRP—German Reich Party). In the West German federal election of 1961 he unsuccessfully ran as a candidate for the DRP. His 128 aerial victory claimed during World War II were challenged by the historians of JG 300 (Lorant/Goyat) who identified no more than 100 Dahl claims. Any other figures are likely to have been based on his 'memoir' entitled Rammjäger. Dahl died on 25 November 1985 in Heidelberg at the age of 69.
- Iron Cross (1939) 2nd and 1st class
- Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe (23 December 1941)
- German Cross in Gold on 2 December 1942 as Oberleutnant in the Stab/JG 3
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht on 8 July 1944
Reference in the Wehrmachtbericht
|Date||Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording||Direct English translation|
|8 July 1944||Die unter persönlicher Führung ihres Geschwaderkommodore Major Dahl kämpfende IV. Sturmgruppe Jagdgeschwader 3, mit ihrem Kommandeur Hauptmann Moritz, zeichnete sich durch Abschuß von 30 viermotorigen Bombern besonders aus.||The under the personal leadership of its wing commander Major Dahl fighting 4th assault group of the 3rd fighter wing, with its commander, Captain Moritz, distinguished itself exceptionally by shooting down of 30 four-engined bombers.|
- Spick 1996, pp. 3–4.
- Spick 1996, p. 230.
- Caldwell & Muller 2007, p. 216.
- Dahl 2000, pp. 46–66
- Weal 1996, p. 78.
- Dahl 2000, p. 154-165
- Jenke 1967, p. 128.
- Frederik 1966, p. 161.
- Obermaier 1989, p. 72.
- Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 77.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 264.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 156.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 96.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, p. 155.
- Dahl, Walther (2000). Rammjäger: Bericht über seine Kriegserlebnisse 1943 bis 1945 (in German). Pour le Mérite. ISBN 3-932381-01-7.
- Forsyth, Robert (2009). Fw 190 Sturmböcke vs B-17 Flying Fortress Europe 1944–45. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84603-941-6.
- Frederik, Hans (1966). NPD. Gefahr von rechts? (in German). München-Inning, Germany: Verlag Politisches Archiv.
- Hagen, Hans-Peter (1998). Husaren des Himmels Berühmte deutsche Jagdflieger und die Geschichte ihrer Waffe (in German). Rastatt, Germany: Moewig.
- Jenke, Manfred (1967). Die nationale Rechte. Parteien, Politiker, Publizisten (in German). Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Büchergilde Gutenberg.
- Lorant, Goyat (2005–7). Jagdgeschwader 300 ". Eagle Editions.
- Murawski, Erich (1962). Der deutsche Wehrmachtbericht 1939 – 1945, vom 1.7.1944 bis zum 9.5.1945 (in German). Schriften des Bundesarchivs 9, Boppoard am Rhein: Harald Boldt Verlag.
- Obermaier, Ernst (1989). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe Jagdflieger 1939 – 1945 [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force 1941 – 1945] (in German). Mainz, Germany: Verlag Dieter Hoffmann.
- Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall.
- Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag.
- Spick, Mike (1996). Luftwaffe Fighter Aces. New York: Ivy Books.
- Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag.
- Weal, John (1996). Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Aces of the Western Front. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-85532-595-0.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 3, 1. Januar 1944 bis 9. Mai 1945 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 3, 1 January 1944 to 9 May 1945] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985.
- Frey, Gerhard; Herrmann, Hajo: Helden der Wehrmacht – Unsterbliche deutsche Soldaten (in German). München, Germany: FZ-Verlag GmbH, 2004. ISBN 3-924309-53-1.
- Walther Dahl in the German National Library catalogue
- "Walther Dahl". Aces of the Luftwaffe. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
Major Gerhard Michalski
Commander of Jagdgeschwader z.b.V.
20 May 1944 – 6 June 1944
Major Gerhard Schöpfel
Oberstleutnant Kurd Kettner
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 300
27 June 1944 – 26 January 1945
Major Kurd Peters