Gerhard Köppen

Gerhard Köppen

Gerhard Köppen
Born 17 May 1918
Died 5 May 1942(1942-05-05) (aged 23)
over the Sea of Azov, Russia
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch  Luftwaffe
Years of service 1936–42
Rank Leutnant
Unit JG 52

World War II

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

Gerhard Köppen (17 May 1918 – 5 May 1942) was a German Luftwaffe ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves 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. Gerhard Köppen is credited with 85 victories in 380 sorties and was posted missing in action on 5 May 1942.

Military career

Gerhard Köppen joined the military service in 1936. His initial posting was with Kampfgeschwader 1 "Hindenburg" (KG 1) before he was selected for fighter pilot conversion training in 1939. He was transferred to the 7th Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52) in 1941. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) after 40 aerial victories. He claimed four aircraft shot down on 24 February 1942 and was decorated with Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub) after 72 aerial victories on 27 February 1942. He was promoted to Leutnant on 1 April 1942. He was posted as missing in action following combat flying a Bf 109 F-4 "white 4" (Werknummer 7303factory number) north of Akmonaj. Köppen was last seen swimming in the Sea of Azov on 5 May 1942.[1]



  1. According to Scherzer as pilot in the 8./Jagdgeschwader 52.[4]



  1. 1 2 Obermaier 1989, p. 48.
  2. Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 246.
  3. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 218.
  4. Scherzer 2007, p. 460.
  5. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 53.


  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [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] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Obermaier, Ernst (1989). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe Jagdflieger 1939 – 1945 [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force 1939 – 1945] (in German). Mainz, Germany: Verlag Dieter Hoffmann. ISBN 978-3-87341-065-7. 
  • 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. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8. 
  • 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 Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Spick, Mike (1996). Luftwaffe Fighter Aces. New York: Ivy Books. ISBN 978-0-8041-1696-1. 
  • 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. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6. 
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, 1. Januar 1942 bis 31. Dezember 1943 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 2, 1 January 1942 to 31 December 1943] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. 
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