Wilhelm Schilling

Wilhelm Schilling (30 January 1915 – 14 March 2000) was a Luftwaffe fighter ace and recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross during World War II. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership – for the fighter pilots, it was a measure of skill and combat success. He was credited with at least 50 victories in 538 missions.

Schilling’s “Yellow 1” – Ludwigslust in early 1944.

Upon finishing flight training, Wilhelm Schilling joined 3./JG 21 as an Unteroffizier. He gained his first victory during the Battle of France, shooting down a Hurricane fighter on 12 May 1940 over Brussels. In the ensuing Battle of Britain (by which time his unit had been renamed 9./JG 54) he added three more victories: a Spitfire on 12 August 1940, another on 5 September near Ashford, and a Bristol Blenheim bomber over the North Sea on 8 November.

On 20 February 1944, the 8th Air Force started its Big Week against the Reich’s industry. By now Schilling had added a further four victories, including three four-engined bombers. During the week III./JG 54 was heavily engaged, suffering considerable losses but inflicting only light damage on the bomber formations. On the first day, February 20, he was seriously injured over Dehnsen/Alfeld while flying Bf 109 G-6 “Yellow 1” (Werknummer 440141 — factory number) but made a successful forced-landing.

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