|Born||August 5, 1918|
|Died||17 September 1944(aged 26)|
|Place of birth||Posen|
|Place of death||Aldekerk|
|Years of service||1937–1944|
|Commands held||III./Jagdgeschwader 26 "Schlageter"|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Klaus Mietusch (5 August 1918 – 17 September 1944) was a German Luftwaffe ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves during World War II. Mietusch claimed 75 victories during his combat career but died at the hands of an American P-51 pilot in September 1944 and was posthumously awarded the Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross on 18 November 1944. According to JG 26 historian Donald Caldwell, Mietusch was shot down nine previous times and was wounded at least four times. He was said never to have turned down a mission, and he had logged an incredible 452 combat sorties at the time of his death.
Klaus Mietusch was born on 5 August 1918 at Posen. After completing his flying training he was transferred to 2./JG 234, which was later redesignated 2./JG 26 on 1 September 1938.
World War II
On 23 September 1939, [then-]Leutnant Mietusch was transferred to 7./Jagdgeschwader 26 "Schlageter" (JG 26—26th fighter wing). He participated in the Battle of France but, on 8 June 1940, was shot down in his Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-1 (Werknummer 2746—factory number) by a Royal Air Force (RAF) Hawker Hurricane fighter near Neufchatel. He force-landed behind French lines unhurt, but was then shot in the buttocks by a French civilian. He became a prisoner of war of the French. He was released at the fall of France.
Reunited with 7./JG 26, Mietusch gained his first victory on 31 May 1940, when he shot down a RAF Hurricane near Dunkirk. By the end of 1940, he had added a second victory and been promoted to Oberleutnant (first lieutenant).
In January 1941, 7./JG 26, under the leadership of Oberleutnant Joachim Müncheberg, was relocated to Sicily. Mietusch gained three victories over Malta before 7./JG 26 were briefly deployed to participate in the assault on Yugoslavia. Mietusch gained a single victory over Yugoslavia on 6 April 1941, when he shot down a Fury biplane over Podgorica for his sixth victory. Redeployed over Malta, Mietusch added a further three victories, including a notable RAF ace. On 13 April, Mietusch attacked a Hurricane that had attacked four Bf 109s and shot it down for his eighth victory. Mietusch also saw combat over North Africa gaining a single victory in the battles around Tobruk. By September, 7./JG 26 was relocated back to the Channel front.
On 19 September 1941, Müncheberg took command of II./JG 26 following the death in aerial combat with RAF Spitfire fighters of Hauptmann (captain) Walter Adolph (25 victories, RK) the day before. As a result Mietusch became Staffelkapitän (squadron leader) of 7./JG 26. On 19 August 1942, he shot down two RAF Spitfire fighters over the Allied landings at Dieppe for his 20th and 21st victories. Hauptmann Mietusch led 7./JG 26 to Russia in February 1943 where it replaced I./Jagdgeschwader 54 (JG 54—54th fighter wing). The Staffel was based at Krasnogvardeisk-Gatschina, west of Leningrad.
From the end of February until June 1943, when 7./JG 26 was sent back to the Western Front, the Staffel shot down 63 Russian aircraft. Mietusch himself gained 15 victories during this period. However, on 20 March, Mietusch suffered engine failure on take-off from Gatschina in Fw 190 A-4 (Werknummer 7147). The aircraft turned over and was destroyed. As a result, Mietusch was out of action for two months. On 18 June, Mietusch downed five Russian fighters.
On 5 July 1943, Mietusch became Gruppenkommandeur (group commander) of III./JG 26. He recorded a victory over an United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) B-17 four-engine heavy bomber on 25 July, the first confirmed victory of 16 four-engine bombers he was to shoot down. His 50th victory was a B-17 shot down over Cambrai on 20 October. On 8 March 1944, the 8th Air Force, USAAF raided Berlin. Mietusch claimed a B-17 Herausschuss—a severely damaged heavy bomber forced to separate from his combat box—as the bombers made their way to Berlin for his 60th victory. However, when attempting to attack the withdrawing bombers, Mietusch was shot down in Bf 109 G-6 (Werknummer 162 032) “Black 21” near Meppen by the USAAF P-47 fighter escort. He baled out and landed safely but had suffered injuries destined to keep him in hospital for the next few weeks. He was awarded the Ritterkreuz for his 60th victory on 26 March 1944. He received promotion to the rank of Major in April.
While landing at Rouvres-Étain on 12 April, Mietusch’s Bf 109 G-6 (Werknummer 162 345) “Black 24” hit a bomb crater and overturned. He suffered injuries that put him back in hospital for three weeks. Mietusch shot down a USAAF P-38 twin-engine fighter near Chartres on 4 July to record his 70th victory. On 17 July, Mietusch was shot down in Bf 109 G-6/U4 (Werknummer 440 640) “White 20” by an RAF Spitfire. He baled out but did not return to his base until the next day. He was promptly sent to hospital in Germany...
After gaining his 75th, and final victory while engaged in combat with USAAF P-51 fighters, Major Mietusch was shot down and killed on 17 September 1944 at 15:11 in Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6/U4 (Werknummer 441 646—factory number) by a P-51 Mustang piloted by flight leader Lieutenant William Beyer of the 361st Fighter Group's 376th Squadron in the vicinity of Rath-Aldekerk. Beyer's description of his duel with Mietusch is spectacular, and while he ultimately vanquished his enemy, Beyer paid a respectful tribute to the German in the final lines of his after-action report:
"Knowing the caliber of this German pilot, I am sure that if I had taken the time to get off some shots when he was slowing down he could have possibly shot me down or made a getaway. My other combat victories were not nearly as spectacular as this one, and it is with this in mind that I can recall it so vividly."
According to his compatriot and fellow fighter pilot Josef Priller, Mietusch's combat motto was, "Bore in, until the enemy is as large as a barn door in your sights." Priller went on to describe duty as Mietusch's wingman as an "unforgettable experience."
- Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe (26 April 1941)
- Front Flying Clasp of the Luftwaffe
- Iron Cross (1939)
- 2nd Class
- 1st Class
- Wound Badge (1939)
- in Black
- in Silver
- German Cross in Gold on 15 October 1942 as Oberleutnant in the 7./Jagdgeschwader 26 "Schlageter"
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Caldwell, Donald L. (1998). JG 26 War Diary Volume Two 1943–1945. London: Grub Street. ISBN 1-898697-86-8.
- Caldwell, Donald L. (1991). JG 26 Top Guns of the Luftwaffe. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-8041-1050-6.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) (in German). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches]. Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6.
- Obermaier, Ernst (1989) (in German). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe Jagdflieger 1939 – 1945 [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force 1941 – 1945]. Mainz, Germany: Verlag Dieter Hoffmann. ISBN 978-3-87341-065-7.
- Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001) (in German). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2]. Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8.
- Scherzer, Veit (2007) (in German). 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]. Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
- Spick, Mike (1996). Luftwaffe Fighter Aces. New York: Ivy Books. ISBN 978-0-8041-1696-1.
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