Kurt Tanzer

Kurt Tanzer

Kurt Tanzer
Born (1920-11-01)1 November 1920
Died 25 June 1960(1960-06-25) (aged 39)
Near the Balearic Islands
Allegiance  Nazi Germany (to 1945)
 West Germany
Service/branch  Luftwaffe (Wehrmacht)
Luftwaffe (Bundeswehr)
Rank Oberfeldwebel (Wehrmacht)
Major (Bundeswehr)
Unit JG 51, Jafü 6, Jafü Ostpreußen
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe
German Cross in Gold
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Kurt Tanzer (1 November 1920 – 25 June 1960) was a World War II Luftwaffe fighter ace. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Tanzer is credited for shooting down approximately 128–143 enemy aircraft.[1]


He was born in Moscow.[2] On 18 March 1942, he was transferred from Ergänzungsgruppe/Jagdgeschwader 51 (JG 51—51st Fighter Wing) to 12./JG 51 which was based on the Eastern Front. Tanzer achieved his 35th victory on 5 May 1943. On 6 May, Soviet Ilyushin Il-2 attacked the airfield where Tanzer was stationed. He managed to scramble and destroyed two Ilyushin Il-2. Despite being wounded, he continued attacking the raiding Soviet aircraft and shot down two more aircraft. After further intense battle, Tanzer landed his heavily damaged Focke-Wulf Fw 190. Tanzer's right hand was seriously injured and he suffered from heavy blood loss.[2]

After being recovered from his injury, Tanzer returned to JG 51 and front line duty on 4 November.[2] He received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 5 December 1943 for 35 victories.[3] In June 1944, Tanzer accompanied Karl-Gottfried Nordmann to the staff of Jagdfliegerführer 6.[2] He achieved his 100th victory in the same month in 1944 while serving with this formation.[2][4] He was the 81st Luftwaffe pilot to achieve the century mark.[5] He was then transferred to the staff of Jagdfliegerführer in East Prussia on 1 September 1944. Tanzer was transferred to 13./JG 51 on 10 February 1945 and was appointed Staffelkapitän of the unit on 12 March.[2] At the end of World War II, he had 128 victories.[4]

Later life and death

Kurt Tanzer survived World War II[2] and began as a volunteer at a chemical plant.[4] On 16 June 1957, he joined the post-war Bundesluftwaffe.[2][4] He died on 25 June 1960 when his T-33 Shooting Star crashed over the Balearic Islands in bad weather.[2][4]




  1. Spick 1996, p. 229.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Kurt Tanzer
  3. Weal 2006, p. 106.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Tanzer, Kurt (German)
  5. Obermaier 1989, p. 244.
  6. Obermaier 1989, p. 214.
  7. Patzwall & Scherzer 2001. p. 470.
  8. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 419.
  9. Scherzer 2007, p. 738.


  • 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. Ivy Books. ISBN 0-8041-1696-2.
  • Weal, John (2006). Jagdgeschwader 51 'Mölders'. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84603-045-5. 
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