Original German WWII Luftwaffe K.I.A. Junkers Ju 88 Bomber Pilot Oberleutnant Gerhard Kielhorn Grouping with Honor Goblet Award Document and Flight Log
Original Items: One-of-a-kind Set. The Junkers Ju 88 was a German World War II Luftwaffe twin-engined multirole combat aircraft. Junkers Aircraft and Motor Works (JFM) designed the plane in the mid-1930s as a so-called fast bomber that would be too fast for fighters of its era to intercept. It suffered from technical problems during its development and early operational periods but became one of the most versatile combat aircraft of the war. Like a number of other Luftwaffe bombers, it served as a bomber, dive bomber, night fighter, torpedo bomber, reconnaissance aircraft, heavy fighter and at the end of the war, as a flying bomb.
Despite a protracted development, it became one of the Luftwaffe's most important aircraft. The assembly line ran constantly from 1936 to 1945 and more than 15,000 Ju 88s were built in dozens of variants, more than any other twin-engine German aircraft of the period. Throughout production the basic structure of the aircraft remained unchanged.
Here we have a fantastic grouping of Awards, Documents, and even his flugbuch FLIGHT LOG used by Pilot Oberleutnant Gerhard Kielhorn, who flew a Junkers Ju88 Bomber as part of 7 / III / Kampfgeschwader 51 "Edelweiß" (Battle Wing 51 or KG 51) in Russia. Keilhorn was born 6. Oktober 1919, and lived in Braunschweig, Germany. There is a recommendation letter written by his father Friedrich Kielhorn in April 1938 regarding the enlisted papers he sent in, and it looks like he officially joined the Luftwaffe at a recruitment event in November 1938. There is some additional correspondence regarding this.
Per his flugbuch, by July 1940, Gerhard had begun in air flight training, and would soon be going to the front on bombing missions. We can trace his history through both the flight log, as well as the besitzzeugnisen (award certificates) that are part of the grouping. He quickly excelled, and by 17. Juli 1941 he had been awarded the Eiserne Kreuz 1.Klasse (Iron Cross 1st Class), ranked as Leutnant Gerhard Kielhorn. Shortly after this he was awarded the Frontflug=Spange für kampfflieger in Bronze (Front Flying Clasp for Bombers in Bronze) on 31. 7. 1941., after he had completed 20 missions. He was further awarded the Frontflug=Spange für kampfflieger in Silber (Front Flying Clasp for Bombers in Silver) on 5. 10. 1941., having completed 60 missions. During his further missions, Kielhorn suffered an injury on 29. November 1941, and was awarded the Verwundetenabzeichen in Schwarz on 8. December 1941.
At this point, he was a very experience pilot, and was awarded the Ehrenpokal für besondere Leistung im Luftkrieg on 15. December 1941. The Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe (Honor Goblet of the Luftwaffe) was a Luftwaffe award established on 27 February 1940 by Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, the Reich Minister of Aviation and Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe. It was officially known as the Ehrenpokal "für Besondere Leistung im Luftkrieg", or Honor Goblet "For Special Achievement in the Air War". The award was made to aircrew who had already been awarded the Iron Cross First Class but whose performance was not considered to merit the German Cross or Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. His original honor goblet award document is included in this set!
Kielhorn's flights continued, and he was awarded the Frontflug=Spange für kampfflieger in Gold (Front Flying Clasp for Bombers in Gold) on 25 März 1942, having completed 110 missions, and was now a very experienced pilot, and was now flying out of Nikolajew (Mykolaiv) in Southern Ukraine per his flight log. On 2.6.42, his flight log now lists Abflug (Departure) and Landung (Landing) events in Charkow (Karkhiv), Ukraine, and on 13.7.42 this changed to Stalino (Donetsk) in Ukraine.
This was the last location that Kielhorn would fly out of, as he was Killed in Action 21. Juli 1942 while flying over Russia. At this point the flight log lists the landing literally as Absturz (crash), and there is further information written into the log, along with an official stamp. There is an official death notice noting his rank as Oberleutnant, though it is not clear whether he was promoted due to the action, or whether it happened beforehand.
There is short notice as well as a letter dated 24. 7. 42. to Gerhard's father Stadtoberinspektor (City Inspector) Friedrich Kielhorn in the documents describing this, which has been translated as follows:
Dear Mr. Stadtoberinspektor,
Unfortunately I have to send you the sad news that your son Gerd died a hero's death on 21 July 1942. Your son, our Oblt. Kielhorn was in action against enemy troop assembly points northeast of Kosbov late on the morning of 21 July. He led a flight of 7 aircraft. In his approach flak hit his left motor. He then dropped his bombs and attempted to reach German lines, which were north and east of the Donez on one motor. His aircraft then started to burn.
While his crew managed to jump and survive, he died faithfully performing his duty. His comrades, one of whom was injured (the radioman), buried him about 25 km northeastwards of the confluence of the Donez and Don Rivers. I would like to express to you in the name of the group my heartfelt condolences for this most difficult loss. With your son the group had lost one of its best officers. Gerd was an especially gifted flyer. At the same time he fulfilled the position of technical officer for the group. All of the officers and men in the group valued him as our best comrade. Respectful of his heroic deeds and with pride he will remain honored in our memories.
Below this the letter is signed, but we are not able to make out what it says. There is a multitude of other documents in the group, as well as some identification papers. It's very rare that we acquire such a complete record of a person's service, particularly one from Germany.
Included with this set are the awards described in the certificates included in the set:
- German WWII Iron Cross First Class 1939 with Vertical Pinback, in very good condition. Maker stamped as issued with Präsidialkanzlei des Führers Lieferant (Presidential Chancellery Supplier) number 65 (Klein & Quenzer A.G.) on the top of the pin.
- Set of Three German WWII Luftwaffe Front Flying Clasps for Bombers: Bronze, Silver, and Gold grade awards. These are all in very good service used condition, having been worn during service as the owner continued his bombing career. They have some bends but all of the pinbacks are still fully functional.
- German WWII Wound Badge 3rd Class in Black, for 1-2 Wounds. This is of stamped brass construction, with the original "blacked" finish worn a bit on the front, while the back still has it fully retained.
- German WWII Wound Badge 2nd Class in Silver, for 3-4 wounds. This is a standard zinc alloy solid back constructed badge, with much of the original silvering either oxidized or worn away, as we usually see them.
This is fantastic named set that we doubt we will see the likes of again anytime in the hear future. There is still tons of research potential left in this set, as well as great display potential. A really great grouping from a Junkers Ju 88 Pilot, Killed in Action on the Eastern Front.
More about the awards in this set:
The Iron Cross: There is no more iconic German military award than the Iron Cross. The long history of this order began during the Napoleonic Wars. King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia instituted the Eisernes Kreuz (Iron Cross) in March of 1813. The award criteria changed somewhat with time, but generally speaking, Iron Crosses could be awarded for individual acts of bravery, or for leadership achievements on the battlefield. The design was created by a Karl Friedrich Schinkel, his choice of the black cross with silver outline was derived from the heraldic emblem of the Teutonic Knights.
The final reinstitution of the cross came in 1939. For this version, the front of the core for both grades bore a swas and the date 1939. The oak leaves, crown and royal initials were removed from the reverse, with only the date 1813 remaining as a reminder of the legacy of this award. In WWII, hundreds of thousands of Iron Cross First Class awards (EKI) were bestowed, and four and a half million Iron Cross Second Class awards (EKII). Iron Crosses were made by a large number of authorized manufacturers. Some variants of these awards were mass produced in huge numbers. Others were made in very limited quantities.
Please also note the edge seam for authentication, which is not present on reproductions. Iron crosses were commonly constructed from an iron core sandwiched in a surrounding two part silver frame, normally the seam of these two silver parts is visible around the edge of the cross as is seen on this fine example.
The Front Flying Clasp (Frontflugspange) was a World War II German military decoration awarded to aircrew and certain other Luftwaffe personnel in recognition of the number of operational flights flown. It was instituted by Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring on 30 January 1941. It was awarded in Bronze, Silver, and Gold with an upgrade to include diamonds possible. Pennants suspended from the clasp indicated the number of missions obtained in a given type of aircraft. Front Flying Clasps were issued for missions completed in the following Luftwaffe aircraft:
- Day Fighters
- Night Fighters
- Long Range Night Fighters
- Heavy Fighters
- Air to Ground Support Fighters
- Transport and Glider
All badges are formed of a central device (usually blackened) encircled by a wreath of laurel leaves set between two stylized wings of oak leaves with a swas located at the base of the wreath. Clasps measure approximately 7.5 cm (3 in) by 2.5 cm (1 in). The various designs of the central device was determined from the type of aircraft flown. The clasp pennant was instituted as additional recognition for the increased number of operational missions/flights, which grew as the war continued.
Criteria for qualification:
Bronze - 20 flown missions
Silver - 60 flown missions
Gold - 110 flown missions
Pennant to the Gold Front Flying Clasp
Day Fighters and Transport Units: 500 missions
Air to Ground Support Fighters: 400 missions
Bombers, Air Sea Rescue and Weather Reconnaissance: 300 missions
Reconnaissance and Night Fighters: 250 missions
The Wound Badge (German: Verwundetenabzeichen) was a military decoration first promulgated by Wilhelm II, German Emperor on 3 March 1918, which was awarded to wounded or frostbitten soldiers of the Imperial German Army, during World War I. Between the world wars, it was awarded to members of the German armed forces who fought on the Nationalist side of the Spanish Civil War, 1938–39, and received combat related wounds. It was awarded to members in the Reichswehr, the Wehrmacht, SS and the auxiliary service organizations during the Second World War. After March 1943, due to the increasing number of Allied bombings, it was also awarded to wounded civilians in air raids. It was awarded when the wound was the result of enemy hostile action, with an exception being for frostbite.
The badge had three classes:
- Black (3rd class, representing Iron), for those wounded once or twice by hostile action (including air raids).
- Silver (2nd class) for being wounded three or four times.
- Gold (1st class, which could be awarded posthumously) for five or more times wounded.
The "progression" could be waived in the event of loss of a limb or eyesight; when such a severe wound occurred, the silver badge was awarded.
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