Diether Lukesch

Diether Lukesch

Diether Lukesch
Born (1918-07-15)15 July 1918
Hadersdorf-Weidlingau, Wien
Died 28 February 2004(2004-02-28) (aged 85)
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch  Luftwaffe
Rank Hauptmann
Unit KG 158, KG 76
Commands held IV./KG 76
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Hauptmann Diether Lukesch (born 15 July 1918, in Hadersdorf-Weidlingau, Penzing, Wien – died 28 February 2004) was World War II Luftwaffe bomber pilot. During the course of the war he was decorated with Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, awarded by Nazi Germany to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. He was one of the first pilots to carry out jet bombing missions flying the Arado Ar 234.

Military career

In October 1944, as his Arado training proceeded, Lukesch was awarded Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). On the day before Christmas 1944, Lukesch led nine Ar 234B-2s in the first jet bombing missions ever, supporting the German counterattack out of the Ardennes. The target was a factory complex at Liège, Belgium. In the days that followed, Lukesch and the Arado pilots attacked Allied troops, rail yards, and other positions. On New Year's Day 1945, Lukesch led history's first jet, night-bombing sortie, attacking targets at Brussels and Liège. He concluded the war with a total of 436 bombing and long-range reconnaissance missions. He was taken prisoner of war by the American forces and released on 27 July 1945.

After the war

Lukesch at first worked for US Armed Forces in Austria. He then became a commercial airline pilot, flying for 18 years first with KLM, and later Lufthansa.


Lukesch awards are on display at the Luftwaffenmuseum.



  1. 1 2 Thomas 1998, p. 48.
  2. Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 288.
  3. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 299.
  4. Von Seemen 1976, p. 230.
  5. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 90.
  6. Von Seemen 1976, p. 50.


  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Kaiser, Jochen (2010). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Kampfflieger—Band 1 [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Bomber Fliers—Volume 1] (in German and English). Bad Zwischenahn, Germany: Luftfahrtverlag-Start. ISBN 978-3-941437-07-4. 
  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8. 
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9. 
  • Von Seemen, Gerhard (1976). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 : die Ritterkreuzträger sämtlicher Wehrmachtteile, Brillanten-, Schwerter- und Eichenlaubträger in der Reihenfolge der Verleihung : Anhang mit Verleihungsbestimmungen und weiteren Angaben [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 : The Knight's Cross Bearers of All the Armed Services, Diamonds, Swords and Oak Leaves Bearers in the Order of Presentation: Appendix with Further Information and Presentation Requirements] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7909-0051-4. 
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