Joachim Brendel (27 April 1921 – 7 July 1974) was a German Luftwaffe fighter ace and recipient of 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. Brendel was credited with 189 aerial victories—that is, 189 aerial combat encounters resulting in the destruction of the enemy aircraft—claimed in 950 all Eastern Front combat missions, among them 162 ground support missions. A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during aerial combat.
Joachim Brendel was born on 27 April 1921 in Ulrichshalben near Weimar. Brendel began his combat career in 1941 as a Leutnant and Rottenflieger with I./Jagdgeschwader 51 (JG 51—51st Fighter Wing) on the Russian front. On only his fourth mission he scored his first victory, but had to wait until 31 March 1942 flying another 116 missions to score again. The beginning of 1943 saw a marked change in Brendels performance, by February he had 20 kills to his credit, on the 9 July 1943 he scored his 50th victory. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and on the 22 November 1943. That day, Brendel was credited with his 100th aerial victory. He was the 60th Luftwaffe pilot to achieve the century mark.
He achieved his 150th victory which earning him the Oak Leaves to the Knight' Cross on 14 January 1945 by this time his score stood at 156 kills. By now he had been promoted to the rank of Hauptmann and was Gruppenkommandeur (group commander) of III./JG 51. His final victory came on the 25 April 1945. Joachim Brendel finished the War with 189 victories and emerged as JG 51 highest scorer on the Eastern Front, including over 90 heavily armored Ilyushin Sturmoviks.
He died on 7 July 1974 in Cologne.
- Iron Cross (1939)
- 2nd Class (3 July 1941)
- 1st Class (21 April 1942)
- Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe (15 March 1943)
- German Cross in Gold on 17 May 1943 as Leutnant in the 2./JG 51
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Knight's Cross on 22 November 1943 as Oberleutnant and Staffelkapitän of the 1./JG 51 "Mölders"
- 697th Oak Leaves on 14 January 1945 as Hauptmann and Gruppenkommandeur of the III./JG 51 "Mölders"
- ^ Thomas 1997, p. 81.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 59.
- ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 242.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 144.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 94.