Oberst Dr. jur. Ernst Kupfer (born 2 July 1907 in Coburg – killed in aircraft accident on 6 November 1943, 60 km (37 mi) north of Thessaloniki in the Kerkini mountain range) was a German World War II Luftwaffe Stuka ace. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Ernst Kupfer was born on 2 July 1907 in Coburg where he attended the Ernestium Coburg, a secondary school. He dropped out prior to achieving his Abitur (diploma) and completed a banking apprenticeship instead. When he became unemployed, he returned to school, completed his Abitur in 1925 and then studied five semesters Jurisprudence at the University of Heidelberg.
On 1 October 1928, Kupfer joined the military, serving with the Bavarian Cavalry Regiment 17, 5th Escadron. From 1 May 1936 to 3 March 1937, he returned to university in preparation for his Dr. jur. degree (Doctor of Law), which he attained on 4 March 1937.
World War II
Kupfer participated in the Battle of Crete and was instrumental in the sinking of the British cruiser HMS Gloucester. While operating against Kronstadt, he scored a 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) bomb hit on the Soviet battleship Oktyabrskaya Revolutsiya.
Kupfer was appointed acting Geschwaderkommodore (Wing Commander) of Sturzkampfgeschwader 2 "Immelmann" (StG 2—2nd Dive-Bomber Wing) on 13 February 1943. He led StG 2 in the battles of the Kuban bridgehead and Operation Citadel. In April and May, several other fighter and ground attack groups augmented his command. Following the failure of Operation Citadel in July 1943, he took command of all local ground attack units, named Gefechtsverband "Kupfer" (Combat Detachment "Kupfer"). He flew 636 combat missions and was shot down three times, all by ground fire.
In September 1943, Kupfer was appointed inspector of the attack aircraft (General der Schlachtflieger) and promoted to Oberstleutnant (lieutenant colonel). In this role he handled the procurement of the Focke Wulf Fw-190, which was to replace the old obsolete Junkers Ju 87 and especially the Henschel Hs 123. For this purpose he flew and visited a number of Schlachtgeschwader (ground attack wings) to meet with the various Geschwaderkommodore (wing commanders). He visited Oberstleutnant Kurt Kuhlmey, commander of Schlachtgeschwader 3, in early November 1943 and was killed when his Heinkel He 111 crashed returning to his base in bad weather on 6 November 1943. His body lay undiscovered until 17 November. He received a posthumous promotion to Oberst (Colonel) and was posthumously awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.
- Verwundetenabzeichen in Gold
- Front Flying Clasp of the Luftwaffe in Gold with Pennant "600"
- Combined Pilots-Observation Badge
- "Kreta" Cuffband
- German Cross in Gold on 15 October 1942 as Major in the II./StG 2
- Iron Cross (1939) 2nd and 1st class
- Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe on 14 October 1942 as Hauptmann and Staffelkapitän
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
- Knight's Cross on 23 November 1941 as Hauptmann and Staffelkapitän of the 7./StG 2 "Immelmann"
- 173rd Oak Leaves on 8 January 1943 as Major and Gruppenkommandeur of the II./StG 2 "Immelmann"
- 62nd Swords on 11 April 1944 (posthumous) as Oberst and former Geschwaderkommodore of StG 2 "Immelmann"
- ^ Obermaier 1976, p. 46.
- Brütting 1992, p. 103.
- Griehl 2001, p. 277.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 263.
- Patzwall 2008, p. 129.
- ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 486.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 280.
- Von Seemen 1976, p. 213.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 65.
- Von Seemen 1976, p. 32.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 43.
- Von Seemen 1976, p. 16.