06 May 2013

Luftwaffe Ace Hauptmann Rolf Pingel

Image size: 1103 x 1600 pixel. 381 KB
Date: Saturday, 14 September 1940
Place: Wissant, Pas-de-Calais, France
Photographer: Unknown photographer from Heinrich Hoffmann Firma

Informal portrait of Hauptmann Rolf Peter Pingel, a Messerschmitt 109 ace pilot from Germany, in 14 September 1940 at Wissant, France, in the day he received Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross). Rolf Pingel was born on 1 October 1913 at Kiel. Following completion of his flying training, Leutnant Pingel was posted to the newly formed I./JG 134 based at Wiesbaden-Erbenheim on 15 March 1937. Pingel served in the Spanish Civil War with the Condor Legion from September 1937. Leutnant Pingel was assigned to 2. Staffel of J 88. He recorded six victories, flying some 200 missions, during his service in Spain. He was awarded the Spanienkreuz in Gold mit Schwerten for his achievements in that conflict. On his return to Germany, Pingel was appointed Staffelkapitän of 2./JG 334 on 1 October 1937. On 1 November 1938, 2./JG 334 was redesignated 2./JG 133 and  2./JG 53 on 1 March 1939. Oberleutnant Pingel shot down a French Mureaux 113 army reconnaisance aircraft over Saarlautern on 10 September 1939 for his first victory in World War 2. On 30 September, he led 2./JG 53 in a successful interception of five RAF Battle single-engine bombers attempting a reconnaisance over the Saarbrücken-Merzig area. Four of the bombers were shot down, including one claimed by Pingel, and the fifth crash-landed on its return to base and was destroyed. On 5 June 1940, Hauptmann Werner Mölders was shot down by French fighters to become a prisoner of war. Hauptmann Pingel was temporarily placed in command of III./JG 53 to replace Mölders. On 11 June, Pingel shot down two French Morane fighters to record his 7th and 8th victories of World War 2. Pingel relinquished temporary command of III./JG 53 to Hauptmann Harro Harder (22 victories, killed in action 12 August 1940) in July 1940. He returned as Staffelkapitän to 2./JG 53. On 22 August 1940, Hauptmann Pingel reported to JG 26 to take up the role of Gruppenkommandeur of I. Gruppe. He was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 14 September for 15 victories. On 28 September, Pingel shot down a RAF Hurricane fighter over Maidstone but his own aircraft, Bf 109 E-4 (W.Nr. 3756), was badly damaged in the combat. He ditched near Hastings and was rescued by the German air-sea rescue services. It is thought that Pingel’s victim in this engagement was the South African ace Albert Lewis (16 destroyed, 2.5 probable and 2 damaged victories) of 249 Sqn, RAF who baled out badly burned. It is also thought that Pingel was, in turn, shot down by British ace John Beard (6 destroyed, 1 probable and 3 damaged victories) of 249 Sqn, RAF. Pingel achieved his 20th victory of World War 2 on 22 June 1941, when he shot down a RAF Spitfire fighter near Dunkirk in an engagement with the British Circus No. 18 attacking Hazebrouck. The British Circus No. 42 targeted Chocques on 10 July 1941. Three RAF Stirling four-engine bombers, accompanied by their fighter escort, were intercepted by Pingel’s I./JG 26. Pingel followed a damaged Stirling bomber back to England, further damaging its tail section. However, the gunners’ return fire hit his Bf 109 F-2 (W.Nr. 12 764) “<< +” in the engine. He descended to low altitude but was intercepted by Spitfires. He force-landed his aircraft in a grain field near Dover and was taken into captivity. He was promoted to the rank of Major during his imprisonment. Rolf Pingel was credited with 28 victories in 550 combat missions, including 200 flown during the Spanish Civil War. Included in his total are six victories gained during the Spanish Civil War. All his World War 2 victories were recorded over the Western front. Awards : Ritterkreuz (14 September 1940)


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