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Kurt Tanzer - Pilot Profile - Kurt Tanzer

Kurt Tanzer

Victories : 143
Country : Germany
Fought in : WW2
Fought for : Axis
Died : 25th June 1960

Awarded the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross

Kurt Tanzer was born on 1 November 1920 at Moscow in Russia. Tanzer was transferred from Ergänzungsgruppe/JG 51 to 12./JG 51, based on the Eastern front, on 18 March 1942. He claimed his 35th victory on 5 May 1943. The next day, Russian Il-2 Sturmovik ground-attack aircraft attacked the airfield at which Tanzer was stationed. He managed to scramble and shot down two of the attacking aircraft. Tanzer was wounded in this combat but continued attacking the raiding Russian aircraft shooting down a further two Il-2s. Russian fighters then intervened and Tanzer was further wounded. Despite severe wounds to his right hand and blood loss, Tanzer managed to land his badly damaged Fw 190 A-4 (Work.Nr. 7161) “Blue 7” at his base airfield. Oberfeldwebel Tanzer was awarded the Knight’s Cross on 5 December for 39 victories. Following his recovery from the wounds received in May 1943, Tanzer returned to JG 51 and front line duty on 4 November. He was assigned to the Geschwaderstab of JG 51, with whom he flew many successful fighter-bomber missions while also increasing his tally of aerial victories. In June 1944, Tanzer accompanied Karl-Gottfried Nordmann (78 victories, RK-EL), Kommodore of JG 51, to the staff of Jagdfliegerführer 6.

Latest Axis Aviation Artwork !
 The Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG 54 Erich Rudorffer is depicted in Fw190A-6 'Black Double Chevron' over the misty forests of Finland in June 1944. Credited with 222 aerial victories, he survived being shot down no less than sixteen times and survived the war until eventually passing away in 2016 aged 98.

Erich Rudorffer by Ivan Berryman.
 With 275 victories credited, Gunther Rall is the third highest scoring Ace in history  He was awarded the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.

Gunther Rall by Ivan Berryman. (P)
 Walter Wolfrum, a Knight's Cross winning German WW2 Ace with 137 victories, in his Bf109G.

Walter Wolfrum by Ivan Berryman. (P)
 Austrian-born Walter Nowotny was one of Germany's highest scoring aces of WWII with 258 victories to his credit, three of them flying the Messerschmitt Me.262. He is depicted here flying White 8 of Kommando Nowotny based at Achmer, Germany in 1944. He was killed in action later that year following a fraught combat with US fighters during the Defence of the Reich.

White 8 - Walter Nowotny by Ivan Berryman.

Kurt Tanzer

Squadrons for : Kurt Tanzer
A list of all squadrons known to have been served with by Kurt Tanzer. A profile page is available by clicking the squadron name.


Country : Germany
Founded : August 1939
'Ace of Hearts'

Click the name above to see prints featuring aircraft of JG51

Jagdgeschwader 51 Mölders was a Luftwaffe fighter wing during World War II, named after the fighter ace Werner Mölders in 1942. JG 51's pilots won more Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes than any other Jagdgeschwader, and flew combat from 1939 in all major theatres of war. Flying Bf 109s and then FW 190s, the wing claimed over 8,000 air victories. Experten included 'Toni' Hafner, Heinz Bär, Richard Leppla, Karl-Gottfried Nordmann, Günther Schack and the legendary Mölders.

Formed in August 1939, and commanded by 48-year-old World War I ace Onkel Theo Osterkamp, the early months of the war JG 51 was based in the West, fighting in the French campaign, and in the Battle of Britain. From late June to mid July JG 51 was the only fighter Geschwader engaged against the RAF constantly. During the whole battle JG 51 lost 68 pilots, the highest casualty rate of the Luftwaffe fighter units engaged. JG 51 was one of the two Geschewader that had four Gruppen. The other being JG 1.

Four Bf 109 of JG 51 in France 1940Whilst based out of the Belgian airfield at Mardyik in late 1940, the German ace Josef Pips Priller was a Staffelkapitän with JG 51, flying Bf 109-E Yellow One. Josef Priller went on to score over 100 victories, the third highest scoring Luftwaffe day fighter ace on the Western Front, fighting solely against the Western Allies.

Against the Western Allies JG 51 had claimed 345 aircraft destroyed by May 1941. JG 51 were therefore one of the Jagdwaffe's elite units, with 'top ten' aces at this time including Werner Mölders with 68 claims, Walter Oesau with 34 claims, and Hermann-Friedrich Joppien with 31. Major Werner Mölders became unit Geschwaderkommodore during July 1940 and led the unit into the invasion of Russia in June 1941.

Barbarossa (1941)

Claiming 69 kills on the first day of the offensive, by 30 June 1941 JG 51 became the first fighter Geschwader to claim 1,000 air victories (113 kills in 157 sorties were claimed for the day). On 24 June JG 51 claimed 57 bombers shot down for the day. Mölders became the first fighter pilot to reach 100 claims in August and in the same month JG 51's Oberfeldwebel Heinz Bär reached 60 claims and was decorated with the Oak Leaves. A total of 500 Soviet claims was reached on 12 July 1941, although 6 pilots had been lost by JG 51 in the intervening 3 weeks since the offensive had started.

After Mölders' departure in September 1941 (and death later that year) the Geschwader adopted his name as a title of honor in early 1942. Jagdgeschwader 51 Mölders was to remain on the centre sector of the Russian front throughout the rest of 1941. However Oberstleutnant Friedrich Beckh ( one of the few fighter pilots to wear spectacles) proved an uncharismatic commander after Mölders, and it was not until Major Karl-Gottfried Nordmann took over in April 1942 that a worthy successor to Mölders was found. In the period 22 June - 5 December 1941 the unit destroyed 1,881 Soviet aircraft, in return for 84 losses in aerial combat and a single aircraft on the ground.

Air support for the Wehrmacht's Army Group Centre was entrusted to General Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen's VIII. Fliegerkorps. In early January 1942, among the fighter units available to von Richthofen were II, III and IV/ JG 51. With the onset of the sub-zero conditions of the Russian winter, the majority of JG 51's available aircraft became grounded.

The Russian winter counter offensive forced III./ JG 51 into flying numerous fighter-bomber operations in direct support of the infantry, and the gruppe filed few aerial 'kill' claims through January 1942. II./ JG 51 however, accounted for most of VIII. Fliegerkorps's aerial victories during the Soviet offensive. Particularly successful was the duo of Lt. Hans Strelow and Ofw. Wilhelm Mink, both of 5. JG 51. They claimed five MiG-3s of 16 IAP on 4 January (Mink claimed three) and 9 days later Mink claimed a Pe-2 and Strelow destroyed two R-Z biplanes for his 30th and 31st victories. On 4 February, Strelow increased his victories to 36 by shooting down four Russian aircraft. The 19 year-old Strelow claimed his 40th victory on 28 February and claimed 4 victories on both 6 March and 17 March. The next day he was awarded the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes and also shot down seven Soviet aircraft. He was awarded the Eichenlaub on 24 March, his claims total at 66.

Normandy (1944)

7./JG 51, (with Bf 109G-6's) was attached to II./JG 1 in May 1944 from Brest-Litovsk, with pilots arriving at Störmede late in May and hurriedly converting to the FW-190. (It was later renamed 8./JG 1 on 15 August 1944 when the four-Staffeln Gruppe became standard) 7. Staffel was led by Ritterkreuzträger (Knight's Cross winner) Hptm. Karl-Heinz Weber with 136 confirmed kills. Its two other experten were Lt. Friedrich Krakowitzer (23 kills) and Ofhr. Günther Heckmann with 12 kills.

7./JG 51 joined II. Gruppe with 15 pilots on strength at the end of May, and during the first two months of the Normandy campaign the staffel was decimated, with twelve pilots killed, one POW and one severely wounded.

As the war turned against Germany JG 51 was forced to operate closer and closer to Germany, finally staging out of East Prussia.
Aircraft for : Kurt Tanzer
A list of all aircraft associated with Kurt Tanzer. A profile page including a list of all art prints for the aircraft is available by clicking the aircraft name.


Click the name above to see prints featuring Fw190 aircraft.

Manufacturer : Fokke-Wulf
Production Began : 1940
Retired : 1945


The Focke-Wulf 190 development project began in 1937. Conceived as a hedge against total dependence on the Messerchmitt 109, the 190 was designed by Kurt Tank utilizing a radial engine. This was against generally accepted design criteria in Germany, and many historians believe that the decision to produce a radial engine fighter was largely due to the limited manufacturing capacity for in-line, water-cooled engines which were widely used on all other Luftwaffe aircraft. Despite these concerns, Tanks design was brilliant, and the 190 would become one of the top fighter aircraft of WWII. The first prototype flew in mid-1939. The aircraft had excellent flying characteristics, a wonderful rate of acceleration, and was heavily armed. By late 1940 the new fighter was ordered into production. Nicknamed the butcher bird, by Luftwaffe pilots, early 190s were quite successful in the bomber interceptor role, but at this stage of the war many Allied bombing raids lacked fighter escort. As the war dragged on, Allied bombers were increasingly accompanied by fighters, including the very effective P-51 Mustang. The Allies learned from experience that the 190s performance fell off sharply at altitudes above 20,000 feet. As a result, most Allied bombing missions were shifted to higher altitudes when fighter opposition was likely. Kurt Tank had recognized this shortcoming and began working on a high-altitude version of the 190 utilizing an in-line, water-cooled engine. Utilizing a Jumo 12-cylinder engine rated at 1770-HP, and capable of 2,240-HP for short bursts with its methanol injection system, the 190D, or Long Nose or Dora as it was called, had a top speed of 426-MPH at 22,000 feet. Armament was improved with two fuselage and two wing mounted 20mm cannon. To accommodate the changes in power plants the Dora had a longer, more streamlined fuselage, with 24 inches added to the nose, and an additional 19 inches added aft of the cockpit to compensate for the altered center of gravity. By mid 1944 the Dora began to reach fighter squadrons in quantity. Although the aircraft had all the right attributes to serve admirably in the high altitude interceptor role, it was not generally focused on such missions. Instead many 190Ds were assigned to protect airfields where Me-262 jet fighters were based. This was due to the latter aircrafts extreme vulnerability to Allied attack during takeoff and landing. The 190Ds also played a major role in Operation Bodenplatte, the New Years Day raid in 1945 which destroyed approximately 500 Allied aircraft on the ground. The High Command was impressed with the 190Ds record on this raid, and ordered most future production of the Doras to be equipped as fighter-bombers. In retrospect this was a strategic error, and this capable aircraft was not fully utilized in the role for which it was intended.

Known Victory Claims - Kurt Tanzer









02/08/1942Gefr. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Il-247 581: tiefflug9Eastern Front
05/08/1942Gefr. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Pe-246 442: 1500m4.5Eastern Front
24/08/1942Gefr. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Il-247 572: 300m7.4Eastern Front
13/09/1942Uffz. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Il-245 39217.35Eastern Front
03/12/1942Uffz. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Il-220km SSW Velikiye Luki: 1000m11.5Eastern Front
08/12/1942Uffz. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Il-210km NW Velikiye Luki: 300m12.55Eastern Front
08/12/1942Uffz. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Il-207 521: 300m13.03Eastern Front
09/12/1942Uffz. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Il-233km SW Velikye-Luki8.15Eastern Front
16/12/1942Uffz. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Il-235km NW Velikye-Luki: 300m8.12Eastern Front
16/12/1942Uffz. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Il-220km NNW Velikye-Luki: 300m8.1Eastern Front
16/12/1942Uffz. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51MiG-325km S. Velikye-Luki: 2500m8.03Eastern Front
16/12/1942Uffz. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Il-207 791: 400m11.4Eastern Front
05/01/1943Uffz. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Il-207 792: 150m9.18Eastern Front
05/01/1943Uffz. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Il-207 7762: 150m9.15Eastern Front
06/01/1943Uffz. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Il-207 761: tiefflug11.58Eastern Front
06/01/1943Fw. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Pe-207 813: 500m11Eastern Front
06/01/1943Fw. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51MiG-307 554: 1500m8.3Eastern Front
06/01/1943Fw. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Il-207 732: 500m12.2Eastern Front
07/01/1943Fw. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Pe-207 584: tiefflug12.05Eastern Front
12/01/1943Fw. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51MiG-307 564: 600m13.18Eastern Front
14/01/1943Ofw. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Pe-262 184: 1500m9.1Eastern Front
15/01/1943Fw. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Pe-207 663: tiefflug11.25Eastern Front
16/01/1943Fw. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Pe-207 553: 1000m8.14Eastern Front
16/01/1943Fw. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51MiG-307 582: 1500m8.1Eastern Front
16/01/1943Fw. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Il-207 563: 100m14.45Eastern Front
26/01/1943Fw. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51LaGG-307 593: 2500m11.2Eastern Front
07/03/1943Fw. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51MiG-336 142: 400m14.4Eastern Front
10/04/1943Fw. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51RZ46 731: tiefflug12.56Eastern Front
10/04/1943Fw. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51U-246 122: tiefflug12.58Eastern Front
19/04/1943Fw. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51R-545 141: tiefflug8.52Eastern Front
25/04/1943Ofw. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Jak-163 571: 2500m11.47Eastern Front
06/05/1943Ofw. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Il-263 143: 400m13.19Eastern Front
06/05/1943Ofw. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Il-253 264: 300m13.19Eastern Front
06/05/1943Ofw. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Il-253 264: 400m13.25Eastern Front
06/05/1943Ofw. Kurt Tanzer12JG 51Il-263 171: 400m13.28Eastern Front

Known Claims : 35

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