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Archive Report: Axis Forces
1914-1918   1935-1945

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.

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Friedrich 'Fritz' Lang: Luftwaffe pilot
Freidrich 'Fritz' Lang: Stuka Pilot, 1008 Sorties and never shot down!

Fritz Lang was born 12 January 1919 in Mährisch Trübau (Sudetenland) and died 29 December 2003 in Hannover, Germany. He was the son of a professor at a Gymnasium (secondary school). Lang grew up in Linz and in Czernowitz. He attended the German Gymnasium at Czernowitz, which was directed by his father since 1919, and graduated with his Abitur (diploma) in 1932. He then attended the Chernivtsi University where he studied four semesters of Physics and Mathematics. In October 1934 he decided to transfer to the technical University of Breslau where he studied aeronautical engineering. He received German citizenship on 17 April 1935.

Lang flew from the first days of the war right up to 13 February 1945 for a remarkable total of 1008 sorties during which he was never shot down, he never baled out and never force-landed, possibly a unique record!

In his Stuka he supported the attack on Poland, and later on 10 May 1940 that on Eben Emaul, and on the breakthrough at Sedan in the close air-support role pioneered by the Germans. He operated against French and British forces at Arras and a French armoured force near St. Quentin. He came up against British fighters at Calais and over Dunkirk, where the British were executing the miracle withdrawal of their British Expeditionary Force along with French troops back across the English Channel.

On 8 June 1940 he was wounded in the back in a tussle with French fighters near Soissons. This injury put him out of action until September, and he therefore missed the assault on Britain where Stuka units took a mauling from Hurricanes and Spitfires.

Transferred to the Balkans in early 1941 he took part in raids on the Greek port of Piraeus and on airfields around Athens. Switching to Crete he attacked British naval units and hit a couple of Royal navy destroyers.

During the attack on Russia (Operation Barbarossa) in June 1941 he operated against Leningrad and Kronstadt in the north and subsequently against Smolensk in the central sector. During this period he was promoted to Staffelkapitan on 1 October awarded the Ritterkreuz on 23 November 1941. He supported the German advance through the Don Basin and by the end of October 1942 he found himself operating against Stalingrad over the Kuban bridgehead. Awarded the Eichenlaug on 30 November he was promoted to Kommandeur III/StG on 1 Aporil 1943 and fought over the Kursk region and much of the central sector.

His expert gunner in the Stuka, Ofw Alois Berndl, flew 859 missions and he also received the Ritterkreuz, his on 16 June 1944.

He converted to single seater fighters (FW 190) just before the massive Russian advance which eventually overran Berlin.

Transferred to command a training school at the end of April 1944, after flying 1007 sorties, he was to make only one additional operational sortie before his war ended. On 9 February 1945 he took over command from Germany’s highest decorated flyer, Rudel, but 4 days later he overshot his landing and was out of flying for good. While hospitalized, he became a U.S. POW and was released 10 August, 1945.

After World War II

After the war Lang initially stayed with fellow soldiers in Heilbronn. After he passed the necessary examinations he became an assistant teacher at a Volksschule in Gundelsheim am Neckar. In May 1946 a directive by the Office of Military Government of the United States led to his dismissal.

Lang then moved to Neumünster in Holstein in November 1946. He married in 1947 and became a mason. He passed his journeyman’s examination and attended the construction school at Bremen in 1950. His parents had settled here after they had been expelled from Silesia. Lang worked as a construction engineer in Bremen until 1955.

Lang rejoined the military service of the emerging Bundeswehr on 1 January 1956. He was declared unfit for flight service owing to the inability of his heart to re-oxygenate his blood sufficiently. From 1960 until 1963 he commanded the military school of the Luftwaffe. He received his promotion to Oberst (Colonel) in 1961. From 1967 until his retirement in 1971 he was commander of the Military Defense District 22 in Hanover.

Researched by Stefan Pietrzak Youngs from the Kracker Archive (on this site), personal interviews, Mike Spick’s book ‘Luftwaffe Bomber Aces’ and Wikipedia

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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