Kurt Ubben

Kurt Ubben

Kurt Ubben
Nickname(s) "Kuddel"
Born (1911-11-18)18 November 1911
Dorstadt, Harz
Died 27 April 1944(1944-04-27) (aged 32)
near Fère-en-Tardenois, France
Allegiance  Weimar Republic,  Nazi Germany
Years of service 1931–44
Rank Major
Unit SSS Gorch Fock
JGr 186, JG 77, JG 2
Commands held 8./JG 77, III./JG 77, JG 2
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Kurt "Kuddel" Ubben (18 November 1911 in Dorstadt, Harz – 27 April 1944 near Fere-en-Tardenois, France), was a German World War II fighter ace who served in the Luftwaffe from 1935 until his death on 27 April 1944. 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.


His first aerial success was a Dutch Fokker D XXI fighter claimed over the Netherlands on 10 May 1940, the opening day of the Battle of France.[1] On 22 July 1940 Ubben was made Staffelkapitän (squadron leader) of 8./Jagdgeschwader 77 (JG 77). The unit transferred to the Balkans in April 1941. Ubben claimed a No. 33 Squadron Hawker Hurricane fighter over Greece on 19 April, although his Bf 109 was badly damaged in the engagement and Ubben forced-landed behind Allied lines. He was rescued by a Fieseler Fi 156 Storch and flown back to his unit. No. 33 Squadron claimed four Bf 109s during the battle, though only three were brought down. Among the claimants was RAF ace Marmaduke Pattle, who claimed two Bf 109s shot down. Ubben may have been one of his victims.

Ubben also carried out many ground-attack and fighter-bomber operations against Allied naval forces during mid-1941. On 22 May 1941 he damaged the British battleship HMS Warspite.

Ubben and JG 77 then participated in the invasion of Russia in June 1941. He claimed a 21st victory on 25 July. He was soon awarded the Ritterkreuz in September for 32 air kills, 26 aircraft destroyed on the ground and some 15 armoured vehicles claimed destroyed.

Philipp receives the Oak Leaves with Swords, Ubben (center) and Ostermann receive the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross from Hitler on 5 April 1942.

In September 1941, Hauptmann Ubben was promoted to Gruppenkommandeur (group commander) of III./JG 77. He achieved 50 kills on 19 October, and was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub) on 12 March 1942 for 69 victories. The presentation was made on 5 April 1942 by Adolf Hitler at the Führer Headquarter Wolfsschanze in Rastenburg (now Kętrzyn in Poland). Also present at the award ceremony were the fighter pilots Hauptmann (Captain) Hans Philipp who received the Swords and Oberleutnant Max-Hellmuth Ostermann who also received the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross.[2]

III./JG 77 was then transferred to North Africa, by which time Ubben had 92 victories. He scored his 100th victory on 14 January 1943. He was the 33rd Luftwaffe pilot to achieve the century mark.[3] In October, Ubben led III./JG 77 into Romania where it provided aerial protection over the Ploiești oilfields. Major Ubben was next appointed Geschwaderkommodore (wing commander) of Jagdgeschwader 2 "Richthofen" (JG 2), based in France in March 1944.

By this time he had shot down 110 enemy aircraft in over 500 combat missions. 90 of his victories were claimed over the Eastern Front. On 27 April 1944, Ubben engaged United States Army Air Forces P-47 fighters near Fère-en-Tardenois. In the ensuing combat, Ubben was shot down in Fw 190 A-8/R2/R6; (Werknummer 680 113—factory number). He bailed out but his parachute failed to open either due to insufficient altitude or because of an improperly fastened harness.[4]




  1. Weal 1996, p. 95.
  2. Steinecke 2012, p. 25.
  3. Obermaier 1989, p. 244.
  4. Weal 2000, p. 106.
  5. 1 2 Thomas 1998, p. 395.
  6. Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 482.
  7. 1 2 Scherzer 2007, p. 753.
  8. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 427.
  9. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 59.


  • 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. 
  • Molesworth, Carl (2011). P-40 Warhawk vs Bf 109, MTO 1942–44. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84908-469-7. 
  • 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. 
  • Scutts, Jerry (1994). Bf 109 Aces of North Africa and the Mediterranean. London, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85532-448-0. 
  • Steinecke, Gerhard (2012). Ritterkreuzträger Profile Nr. 11 Hans Philipp — Einer von Vielen [Knight's Cross Profiles Nr. 11 Hans Philipp — One of Many] (in German). UNITEC-Medienvertrieb. ASIN B008AIT9Z6  (4 January 2013). 
  • Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9. 
  • Weal, John (1995). Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Aces of the Russian Front. London, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85532-518-0. 
  • Weal, John (1996). Bf 109D/E Aces 1939–41. London, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85532-487-9. 
  • Weal, John (2000). Jagdgeschwader 2 'Richthofen'. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-046-3.
  • Weal, John (2007). More Bf 109 Aces of the Russian Front. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84603-177-9. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Major Egon Mayer
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 2 Richthofen
2 March 1944 – 27 April 1944
Succeeded by
Oberstleutnant Kurt Bühligen
Preceded by
Major Friedrich-Karl Müller
Acting Commander of Jagdgeschwader 53 Pik As
October 1943 – November 1943
Succeeded by
Oberstleutnant Helmut Bennemann
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