Sunday, 2 January 2011

Hermann-Friedrich Joppien: 70-kill ace

Hermann-Friedrich Joppien was born in Bochum-Ruhrgebeit on 19 July, 1912. In 1931, he joined an infantry regiment of the Reichswehr, and there he served until 1935, when he joined the Luftwaffe, training as a fighter pilot. Joppien qualified as a Leutnant, and was subsequently posted to a Zerstorergeshwader in 1938. However, the ebullient Leutnant was not happy with his duties, and in the summer of 1939 he obtained a posting to 1./JG 51. The Staffel was equipped with the single-engined Bf-109 E, and was also led by the famous Werner Molders.

When the war broke out, Joppien flew mission over Poland, but didn't score kills. He had to wait until 23 November 1939 when, over the French-German border, he shot down a Morane Saulnier M.S.406. During the dogfight, his undercarriage was hit, resulting in an overtuned landing without serious injuries.

The attack against France and the Low Countries, launched on 10 May 1940, gave the young Joppien the chance to score four more kills, but it was the Battle of Britain which revelead him as one of the rising stars of the Jagdwaffe. During the months of heavy fightings between 29 July and 5 December 1940, he scored 26 kills, all against Spitfires and Hurricanes. In the meantime, he was awarded the Ritterkreutz on 16 October, and given command of I./JG 51.
His Gruppe was one of the few Luftwaffe units which continued to mount raids against the British isles in the first half of 1941, when the majority of Jagdgruppen re-equipped and prepared for the invasion of the Soviet Union. At the end of April 1941, Hermann-Friedrich Joppien reached 40 kills, was promoted to Hauptmann and was also mentioned in the Wermachtbericht.

Operations on the Western front were, however, finished, as I./JG 51 joined the bulk of the Luftwaffe to take part in Operation Barbarossa. Joppien opened his Eastern front account on 25 June, downing five (other sources say three) SB-2 bombers, a single enemy fighter on the 29th and other five SB-2 on the 30th.
July also saw the Gruppenkommandeur add victories to his belt, with multiple kills on the 2nd, 3rd, 24th and 28th. During a mission on 5 July, he was wounded by return fire from a DB-3 bomber, and had to spent a few days in hospital. He was also mentioned for a second time in the Wermachtbericht.

On 15 August 1941 Joppien scored his 64th kill, to which he added six more victories in the following weeks. On the 28th of the same month, he engaged Russian fighters and bombers near Yelnya, SW of Bryansk. Joppien shot down a MiG-3, but was hit by another MiG fighter and killed in his Bf-109 F-2 Wr. N. 9670 (

Hermann-Friedrich Joppien was credited with 70 air victories, 43 of which on the Western Front. During his career, he received the following awards:

  • Iron Cross 2nd and 1st Class
  • Knight's Cross on 16 September 1940 
  • Oak Leaves on 23 April 1941. 
  • Three times mentioned in the Wermachbericht