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Wilhelm Balthasar (2 February 1914 – 3 July 1941) was a German fighter pilot during the Spanish Civil War and World War II. A flying ace, he was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves of Nazi Germany. During his career in the Luftwaffe, Balthasar was credited with 47 victories, including 7 in the Spanish Civil War. Between 1939 and 1941 he flew about 300 combat missions in addition to 465 in Spain.
2 February 1914|
3 July 1941 (aged 27)|
† near Saint-Omer, France
|Buried||German war cemetery at Illies, France|
|Years of service||1933–41|
JG 1, JG 27, JG 3, JG 2
|Commands held||JG 2|
World War II
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
At the outset of World War II, Balthasar was squadron commander of 1./Jagdgeschwader 1, which was in July 1940 renamed 7./Jagdgeschwader 27. The squadron did not see any action during the 1939 operation Fall Weiss, as it was tasked with the air defense of Berlin. On 10 May 1940 German forces launched the offensive in Western Europe and it was there Balthasar made his mark. On his first mission, 11 May 1940, he claimed three Belgian Air Force Gloster Gladiator fighters and a French Morane 406. He also recorded 9 victories in two days between 5 and 6 June 1940, which brought his World War II tally to 21. For this achievement, on 14 June 1940, Hauptmann Balthasar was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, becoming the second Luftwaffe fighter pilot after Werner Mölders, to be so decorated.
On 16 February 1941 Balthasar was appointed commander of the Jagdgeschwader 2. Balthasar was killed five months later on 3 July 1941. He was involved in an aerial combat with RAF fighters over Aire, France. He was in a steep dive in his Bf 109 F-4 when the wing of his aircraft malfunctioned and he was unable to pull out of the dive. He crashed near Saint-Omer.
- Iron Cross (1939) 2nd Class & 1st class
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Spanish Cross in Gold with Swords and Diamonds (1938)
- Nauroth 1999, p. 133.
- Thomas 1997, p. 21.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 201.
- Nauroth, Holger (1999). Jagdgeschwader 2 "Richthofen" Eine Bildchronik (in German). Stuttgart, Germany: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 3-613-01935-3
- 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.
- 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.
Hauptmann Karl-Heinz Greisert
| Commander of Jagdgeschwader 2 Richthofen
16 February 1941 – 3 July 1941
Oberstleutnant Walter Oesau