|Born||15 Apr 1892|
|Died||2 Jan 1975|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseTheodor Osterkamp was born in Düren, Rhineland, Germany. He joined the German Navy Air Corps (Marinefliegerkorps) on 14 Aug 1914 and entered WW1 as an air observer; in this role he was the first German pilot to fly a land-based aircraft to England, United Kingdom on a reconnaissance mission. In Mar 1917, he enrolled in an aerial combat school and became a fighter pilot. On 15 Oct 1917, at the rank of lieutenant, he took command of the naval fighter squadron Marine-Jagdstaffel 2 and scored 32 victories during WW1. For his WW1 service, he was awarded the Prussian military order Pour le Mérite on 2 Sep 1918; he was the last individual to receive the award.
ww2dbaseIn the inter-war years, Osterkamp was involved in the formation of the new German Air Force (Luftwaffe). In 1930, he placed 11th in the fourth FAI International Tourist Plane Contest Challenge. In 1932 and 1934, he entered the same contest again, placing 12th and 5th, respectively.
ww2dbaseWhen WW2 began, Colonel Osterkamp was named the commanding officer of the fighter wing Jagdgeschwader 51 (JG 51). During the German invasion of France, he claimed four victories, with the first claimed on 12 May 1940. During the Battle of Britain, he claimed two victories. On 23 July 1940, he was relieved as the commander of JG 51 by Werner Mölders. He was promoted to the rank of Major General and awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 22 Aug 1940, and took command of all fighters of Air Fleet 2 (Luftflotte 2). On 1 Aug 1942, he was transferred to North Africa, and on 5 Apr 1943 to Sicily, Italy, returning to Germany in late Jul 1943. In 1944, he was appointed the Inspector of Luftwaffe ground units. He was removed from service on 21 Dec 1944 after criticism from the High Command.
ww2dbaseOsterkamp passed away in 1975 and left the legacy of being one of the few pilots who scored victories in both World Wars.
Last Major Revision: Jul 2009
Theodor Osterkamp Timeline
|15 Apr 1892||Theodor Osterkamp was born.|
|20 Aug 1940||Theodor Osterkamp, the commanding officer of Jagdgeschwader 51, was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz). Forty-eight year old Osterkamp was one of only a handful of aviators to see combat in both World Wars. During the Great War he had been awarded both the Knight's Cross of the Royal Hohenzollern House Order with Swords and the Pour le Mérite, and finished the war with thirty kills to his name. In 1940 he added six more victories before his superiors insisted that his further career should be chairbound.|
|5 Apr 1943||Theo Osterkemp was appointed the commanding officer of Jagdfliegerführer Sizilien and charged with safeguarding Axis flights between Sicily, Italy and Tunisia, Italian North Africa.|
|31 Dec 1944||Theodor Osterkamp retired from the German Luftwaffe with the rank of Generalleutnant (equivalent to Air Vice Marshal in the British RAF).|
|2 Jan 1975||Theodor Osterkamp passed away.|
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Thomas Dodd, late 1945