|Born||8 July 1919|
|Died||28 September 1943 (aged 24)|
|Years of service||1937–43|
|Commands held||I./NJG 1|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Hans-Dieter Frank (8 July 1919 – 28 September 1943) was a German Luftwaffe military aviator during World War II, a night fighter ace credited with 55 aerial victories claimed in approximately 150 combat missions making him the seventeenth most successful night fighter pilot in the history of aerial warfare. All of his victories were claimed over the Western Front in Defense of the Reich missions against the Royal Air Force's (RAF) Bomber Command.
Born in Kiel, Frank grew up in the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany. Following graduation from school, he joined the military service in 1937 and was trained as a pilot. Frank then served with Zerstörergeschwader 1 (ZG 1—1st Destroyer Wing), flying a Messerschmitt Bf 110 heavy fighter during the *Invasion of Poland and Battle of France. In mid1941, he transferred to Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1—1st Night Fighter Wing) where he became a night fighter pilot and claimed his first aerial victory on the night of 10/11 April 1941. Frank was appointed squadron leader of 2. Staffel (3rd squadron) of NJG 1 in August 1942. Following his 33rd aerial victory, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 20 June 1943. On 1 July 1943, he was appointed group commander of I. Gruppe of NJG 1. Frank and his crew were killed in action in a mid-air collision with another German night fighter on the night of 27/28 September 1943. He was posthumously bestowed with the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and promoted to Major (major).
Early life and career
Frank was born on 8 July 1920 in Kiel, which was then part of the Province of Schleswig-Holstein during the Weimar Republic. He was the son of a sales agent. After graduation from school and receipt of his Abitur (university entry qualification), Frank joined the Luftwaffe in 1937 as a Fahnenjunker (cadet). Following flight training,[Note 1] he was posted to Zerstörergeschwader 1 (ZG 1—1st Destroyer Wing). 
World War II
World War II in Europe began on Friday 1 September 1939 when German forces invaded Poland. Now a Leutnant (second lieutenant) with I. Gruppe (1st group) of ZG 1, Frank flew his first combat missions over Poland and during the Battle of France. In mid-1940, he transferred to the night-fighter force.
Night fighter career
Following the 1939 aerial Battle of the Heligoland Bight, Royal Air Force (RAF) attacks shifted to the cover of darkness, initiating the Defence of the Reich campaign. By mid-1940, Generalmajor (Brigadier General) Josef Kammhuber had established a night air defense system dubbed the Kammhuber Line. It consisted of a series of control sectors equipped with radars and searchlights and an associated night fighter. Each sector named a Himmelbett (canopy bed) would direct the night fighter into visual range with target bombers. In 1941, the Luftwaffe started equipping night fighters with airborne radar such as the Lichtenstein radar. This airborne radar did not come into general use until early 1942. Frank became an ace after downing his 5th victim, Armstrong Whitworth Whitley, Z6505, MH-F, No. 51 Squadron RAF. Sergeant J. C. W. King and his crew were captured.
Frank was decorated with the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) on 20 June 1943, the nomination had been submitted for 33 aerial victories claimed. The presentation was made by Generalmajor Kammhuber. Frank claimed six victories in the early hours of the 22 June 1943. One of the bombers he shot down was Halifax HR848, which was one of 19 No. 35 Squadron RAF aircraft detailed to attack Krefeld on the night of the 21/22 June. Flight Sergeant R. J. Quigley and two of his crew were captured and the remaining four perished. Another was HR735 operated by No. 158 Squadron RAF. Pilot Officer C. H. Robinson DFC RNZAF and his six crew were killed. A third, BB375, flown by German-Canadian Sergeant C. C. Reichert RCAF, No. 408 Squadron RAF, crashed with all but one crewman killed.
On 24/25 June Sergeant Robert Whitfield's Halifax JD-258, VR-K borrowed from No. 419 Squadron RAF, but operated by a No. 428 Squadron RAF crew, became Frank's 41st aerial victory. All of the crew died. Frank's final victory in June occurred on day twenty-nine when he shot down his 44th victim; Lancaster ED362, HW-E, flown by Pilot Officer J. P. Pascoe RCAF, No. 100 Squadron RAF. Pascoe and all but one of his crew were killed (Sergeant R. G Storr was taken prisoner).
Frank and his radio operator Oberfeldwebel Erich Gotter were killed following a mid-air collision with another German night fighter northwest of Celle in the night of 28/29 September 1943. Their He 219 A-0 (Werknummer 190055—factory number) "G9+CB" had collided with a Bf 110 G-4 of the Geschwaderstab (headquarters unit) of NJG 1 during the landing approach. Frank had escaped the aircraft using the ejection seat but forgot to release his radio-cable. He landed safely but was strangled by the radio-cable. This collision was likely caused by an attack made on his fighter by RAF night fighter ace Bob Braham. On 2 March 1944, Frank was posthumously awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub), the 417th officer or soldier of the Wehrmacht so honored. Posthumously, he was also promoted to Major (major).
Summary of career
Aerial victory claims
Frank was credited with 55 nocturnal aerial victories claimed in 328 combat missions. Foreman, Parry and Matthews, authors of Luftwaffe Night Fighter Claims 1939 – 1945, researched the German Federal Archives and found records for 54 nocturnal victory claims Matthews and Foreman also published Luftwaffe Aces — Biographies and Victory Claims, listing Frank with 51 claims.
|Chronicle of aerial victories|
Ace of spades) indicates those aerial victories which made Frank an "ace-in-a-day", a term which designates a fighter pilot who has shot down five or more airplanes in a single day. This and the ♠ (
|Claim||Date||Time||Type||Location||Serial No./Squadron No.|
|– I. Gruppe of Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 –|
|1||10 April 1941||23:32||Hampden||2 km (1.2 mi) southwest of Neeroeteren|
|2||12 June 1941||02:13||Whitley||vicinity of Eindhoven|
|3||17 August 1941||02:15||Wellington||10 km (6.2 mi) northwest of Roermond|
|4||17 August 1941||02:40||Whitley||2 km (1.2 mi) north of Venlo|
|5||25 August 1941||01:15||Whitley||3 km (1.9 mi) east of Weert|
|– 2. Staffel of Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 –|
|6||27 December 1941||21:25||Whitley|
|7||13 April 1942||01:53||Wellington||north of Maarheeze|
|8!||31 May 1942||01:30||Wellington||west of Maarheeze|
|9||26 July 1942||02:14||Halifax||north of Venlo|
|10||6 August 1942||00:17||Halifax||northwest of Posterholt|
|11||27 August 1942||23:25||Wellington||10 km (6.2 mi) north of Helmond|
|12||1 October 1942||21:34||Stirling||10 km (6.2 mi) northwest of Venlo|
|13||1 October 1942||22:30||Wellington||Volkel Air Base|
|14||15 October 1942||22:05||Wellington||10 km (6.2 mi) southwest of Arnhem|
|15||15 October 1942||22:31||Stirling||15 km (9.3 mi) northeast of 's-Hertogenbosch|
|16||15 October 1942||22:56||Stirling||10 km (6.2 mi) west of Breda|
|17||17 January 1943||22:24||Lancaster||10 km (6.2 mi) west of IJmuiden|
|18||2 February 1943||22:01||Stirling||12 km (7.5 mi) east-southeast of Rotterdamn|
|19||3 April 1943||22:45||Halifax||5 km (3.1 mi) southeast of Rhenen, Arnhem|
|20||3 April 1943||23:02||Lancaster||4 km (2.5 mi) north of Kleve|
|21||3 April 1943||23:25||Stirling||3 km (1.9 mi) southwest of Den Haag|
|22||9 April 1943||23:46||Lancaster|
|23||27 April 1943||03:15||Wellington||3 km (1.9 mi) west of Brakel|
|24||27 April 1943||03:37||Wellington||5 km (3.1 mi) west of Dougen|
|25||5 May 1943||01:47||Stirling||west of Zandvoort|
|26||5 May 1943||02:16||Wellington||20 km (12 mi) south of Amsterdam|
|27||5 May 1943||02:38||Wellington||Werkendam|
|28||13 May 1943||02:21||Wellington||15 km (9.3 mi) northwest of Ereda|
|29||13 May 1943||03:39||Stirling||Rotterdam|
|30||14 May 1943||02:02||Wellington||Hilversum|
|31||14 May 1943||02:53||Wellington||10 km (6.2 mi) northwest of Hilversum|
|32||15 June 1943||00:59||Lancaster||14 km (8.7 mi) southeast of 's-Hertogenbosch|
|33||15 June 1943||01:13||Lancaster||1 km (0.62 mi) south of Hien|
|34||15 June 1943||02:20||Lancaster||vicinity of Amsterdam|
|35♠||22 June 1943||01:23||Lancaster||36 km (22 mi) northeast of Hien|
|36♠||22 June 1943||01:37||Halifax||0.5 km (0.31 mi) east of Kaalhoven|
|37♠||22 June 1943||01:48||Halifax||1 km (0.62 mi) west of Vechel|
|38♠||22 June 1943||02:09||Halifax||4 km (2.5 mi) northwest of Boxtel|
|39♠||22 June 1943||02:24||Halifax||2 km (1.2 mi) southwest of Zeist|
|40♠||22 June 1943||02:30||Halifax||0.5 km (0.31 mi) north of Yaarsfeld|
|41||25 June 1943||01:05||Halifax||Acht|
|42||26 June 1943||02:17||Wellington||14 km (8.7 mi) west-northwest of Gouda|
|43||26 June 1943||02:37||Wellington||11 km (6.8 mi) east-northeast of Gouda|
|44||29 June 1943||02:47||Lancaster||12 km (7.5 mi) southeast of Rotterdam|
|– I. Gruppe of Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 –|
|45||10 July 1943||01:22||Lancaster||8 km (5.0 mi) east-northeast of Enschede|
|46||14 July 1943||01:26||Halifax||1 km (0.62 mi) south of Helmond|
|47||14 July 1943||01:39||Halifax||north of Leuith|
|48||26 July 1943||00:56||Lancaster||10 km (6.2 mi) southeast of Nijmegen|
|49||25/26 July 1943||01:30||Wellington||0.5 km (0.31 mi) south of Cülemburg|
|50||23 August 1943||23:40||Lancaster||7 km (4.3 mi) southeast of Emmen|
|51||31 August 1943||03:18||Stirling||Mönchengladbach|
|52||31 August 1943||03:30||Wellington||Siggerath||JA118/No. 432 Squadron RCAF|
|53||31 August 1943||03:35||Lancaster||Brüggen|
|54||6 September 1943||00:15||Lancaster||northeast of Pirmasens|
- Iron Cross (1939) 2nd and 1st Class
- Honour Goblet of the Luftwaffe on 19 October 1942 as Oberleutnant and pilot
- German Cross in Gold on 27 November 1942 as Oberleutnant in the 2./Nachtjagdgeschwader 1
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Flight training in the Luftwaffe progressed through the levels A1, A2 and B1, B2, referred to as A/B flight training. A training included theoretical and practical training in aerobatics, navigation, long-distance flights and dead-stick landings. The B courses included high-altitude flights, instrument flights, night landings and training to handle the aircraft in difficult situations. For pilots destined to fly multi-engine aircraft, the training was completed with the Luftwaffe Advanced Pilot's Certificate (Erweiterter Luftwaffen-Flugzeugführerschein), also known as the C-Certificate.
- Scutts 1998, p. 88.
- Stockert 2007, p. 34.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 9.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 27.
- Rollings 2004, p. 111.
- Chorley 1996, p. 193.
- Chorley 1996, p. 195.
- Chorley 1996, p. 196.
- Chorley 1996, p. 207.
- Chorley 1996, p. 215.
- Thomas 1997, p. 174.
- Bowman 2016, p. 212.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 77.
- Obermaier 1989, p. 61.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, pp. 18–150.
- Matthews & Foreman 2014, pp. 329–330.
- Matthews & Foreman 2014, p. 329.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 18.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 21.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 29.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 30.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 33.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 38.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 42.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 50.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 54.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 56.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 60.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 61.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 65.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 66.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 72.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 73.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 78.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 79.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 80.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 86.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 88.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 89.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 90.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 91.
- Matthews & Foreman 2014, p. 330.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 93.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 97.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 105.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 108.
- Bowman 2016, p. 208.
- Foreman, Parry & Matthews 2004, p. 111.
- Patzwall 2008, p. 79.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 119.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 315.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 184.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 79.
- Bowman, Martin (2016). Nachtjagd, Defenders of the Reich 1940–1943. Barnsley: Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-1-4738-4984-6.
- Chorley, W. R (1996). Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War: Aircraft and crew losses: 1943. Midland Counties Publications. ISBN 978-0-90459-790-5.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) . 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.
- Foreman, John; Parry, Simon; Matthews, Johannes (2004). Luftwaffe Night Fighter Claims 1939–1945. Walton on Thames: Red Kite. ISBN 978-0-9538061-4-0.
- Matthews, Andrew Johannes; Foreman, John (2014). Luftwaffe Aces — Biographies and Victory Claims — Volume 1 A–F. Walton on Thames: Red Kite. ISBN 978-1-906592-18-9.
- 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.
- Patzwall, Klaus D. (2008). Der Ehrenpokal für besondere Leistung im Luftkrieg [The Honor Goblet for Outstanding Achievement in the Air War] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-08-3.
- Rollings, Charles (2004). Wire and Worse: RAF Prisoners of War in Laufen, Bibarach, Lubeck and Warburg 1940-42: Vol 2. Ian Allan. ISBN 978-0-711030-50-3.
- 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 (1998). German Night Fighter Aces of World War 2. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85532-696-5.
- Stockert, Peter (2007). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 5 [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 5] (in German). Bad Friedrichshall, Germany: Friedrichshaller Rundblick. OCLC 76072662.
- 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.
Major Werner Streib
| Commander of I. Nachtjagdgeschwader 1
1 July 1943 – 22 September 1943
Hauptmann Manfred Meurer