07.10.

Helmut Lent – night pilot with more than 100 downed aircraft – 1944.

Helmut Lent – night pilot with more than 100 downed aircraft – 1944.

By the end of 1942, Helmut Lent had gained a reputation as the best night fighter pilot in the Third Reich. He was also given the position of squadron commodore.

On October 7, 1944, German Colonel Helmut Lent, a highly decorated night pilot of Luftwaffe fighter jets, was killed. Colonel Lent shot down as many as 110 enemy aircraft during his career, 102 of them during a night flight. He belonged to a unit called Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (Croatian: First Night Fighter Squadron), the most successful in the Third Reich in terms of night air combat (this unit recorded 2,311 victories during World War II).

Helmut Lent was born in 1918 in Pyrehne (today Pyrzany in Poland). He joined the Luftwaffe in 1936. At the beginning of World War II, he participated in offensive missions to Poland and Norway. However, as British bombing raids on Germany increased, night hunting detachments were formed within the Luftwaffe, which were to defend the Third Reich from night bombings. Over time, the Germans also installed large radar antennas on the fronts of their fighter jets, with the aim of greater efficiency during night operations.

By the end of 1942, Helmut Lent had gained a reputation as the best night fighter pilot in the Third Reich. He was also awarded the position of squadron commodore and higher and higher decorations: the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with oak leaves, the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with oak leaves and swords, and finally the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with oak leaves, swords and diamonds. The latter was an extraordinarily high decoration, which was awarded only 12 times to people from the Luftwaffe during World War II.

Colonel Lent was killed in 1944 because he had an accident in Germany with his Junkers Ju-88 aircraft. Namely, during one landing, the engine broke down, so Lent’s plane swerved and hit the electric wires under high voltage. Lent, admittedly, survived the crash, but died at the hospital from his injuries. A solemn funeral was held for him at the Reich office in Berlin, in the presence of Marshal Hermann Göring.

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