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Rudolf Schoenert

Rudolf Schoenert

German officer and fighter pilot during World War II
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro German officer and fighter pilot during World War II
Countries Germany
Occupations Fighter pilot
Gender male
Birth 27 July 1911 (Głogów)
Death Manitoba
Rudolf Schoenert
The details

Rudolf Schoenert (27 July 1911 – 30 November 1985) was the seventh highest scoring night fighter flying ace in the German Luftwaffe during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. 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.


After five years in the Merchant Navy, Schoenert began flight training in 1933 and went on to fly commercial aircraft for Lufthansa. He was commissioned as a Leutnant in the Luftwaffe's Reserve in 1938 and in June 1941 joined 4./Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1—1st Night Fighter Wing) at Bergen in northern Holland. He was credited with his first aerial victory on the night of 8/9 July 1941 when he claimed an Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bomber shot down at 02:51 60 kilometres (37 miles) northwest of Vlieland. His total stood at 22 by 25 July 1942 and he was awarded the Knight's Cross.

Schoenert is recognised as the instigator of upward-firing armament in German night fighter aircraft, which he introduced into his own Dornier Do-17 in 1942. The concept, dubbed Schräge Musik (Jazz Music), was initially rejected by Helmut Lent and Werner Streib. Oberfeldwebel Paul Mahle, an armourer attached to II./Nachtjagdgeschwader 5 (NJG 5—5th Night Fighter Wing) at Parchim, worked closely with Rudolf Schoenert and built his own working prototype of Schräge Musik, which was soon fitted to all of the Gruppe's aircraft.

Schoenert claimed the first aerial victory with Schräge Musik in May 1943. By August he was flying with Nachtjagdgeschwader 100 (NJG 100—100th Night Fighter Wing) over the Eastern Front, where he claimed to have shot down 30 Soviet aircraft by early 1944.

During a sortie east of the Elbe on 27 April 1945, an electrical fault rendered Schonert's radar unserviceable and his Junkers Ju 88G was shot down by a Royal Air Force (RAF) de Havilland Mosquito. He survived and was rescued by German troops.

Schoenert survived the war. He was credited with 65 aerial victories in 376 combat missions, including 35 Soviet aircraft, and was a holder of the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross. Schoenert's radio and wireless operator was usually Oberfeldwebel Johannes Richter.


  • Iron Cross (1939)
    • 2nd Class (10 July 1941)
    • 1st Class (22 July 1941)
  • Honour Goblet of the Luftwaffe (Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe) on 5 January 1942
  • German Cross in Gold on 18 May 1942 as Oberleutnant in the 4./Nachtjagdgeschwader 2
  • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
    • Knight's Cross on 25 July 1942 as Oberleutnant of the Reserves and Staffelkapitän of the 4./Nachtjagdgeschwader 2
    • 450th Oak Leaves on 11 April 1944 as Major of the Reserves and commander of Nachtjagdgruppe 10
  • Mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht (28 April 1942 and 24 June 1942)

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