- Second World War (1939-1945)
- Flugzeugführer 10.(Pz.) / Schlagtgeschwader 2 "Immelmann"
- Awarded on:
- August 8th, 1944
Ludwig’s Knight’s Cross recommendation reads as follows…
“Feldwebel Ludwig joined the Wehrmacht on 17 April 1939 and he has served as a pilot on the eastern front since 5 June 1942. With his 600 missions and 50 destroyed tanks Feldwebel Ludwig is one of the Schlachtgeschwader "Immelmann"'s most successful pilots and tank busters, flying all his missions in the central and southern sectors of the eastern front. As a flight and sometimes unit leader he showed outstanding abilities. Always ready and possessing superior fighting spirit he was able to achieve equally superior results. On the basis of his outstanding airmanship, his experience and his daring he is a shining example for his comrades.
The following accomplishments deserve particular mention:
I. In July 1942, during operations in the Voronezh area, Fw. Ludwig succeeded in placing a direct hit on an ammunition train despite heavy fighter and Flak defenses. A few days later he achieved a similar hit on an armored train. Near Kalach he destroyed a heavy Flak battery and an important escape bridge by direct hits, despite heavy enemy Flak fire.
In more than a hundred missions against Stalingrad, flown despite concerted Flak and fighter defenses, Fw. Ludwig contributed substantially to easing the burden of the ground troops. Enemy fighters, which were very numerous in the Stalingrad area, he was able to outgun on several occasions.
On 19 September 1942, during the fighting to protect the northern flank near Stalingrad, Fw. Ludwig destroyed a tank, an ammunition carrier and a Soviet battery by direct hits. Soviet support operations across the Volga were repeatedly disrupted by destroying several ferries and a larger river craft full with men and material.
Between 6 and 8 October 1942 the Gruppe flew attacks against the railway stations of Logovsky, Prolov and Olkhovka, 150 to 200 km inside enemy territory, in order to disrupt Soviet support operations from the north. Despite heavy opposition Fw. Ludwig flew daring attacks and achieved hits on the railway installations.
II. In the winter battle 1942/43, during the retreat from Stalingrad until behind the Donez, Fw. Ludwig gave valuable support to the hard-fighting ground forces. On 26 November 1942 he flew six missions against cavalry concentrations that were attacking the advanced airfield at Oblivskaya, getting as close as 1200 m. By placing devastating hits Fw. Ludwig and his flight succeeded in halting the enemy attack and in destroying the rest of the attacking forces. On 25 December 1942 motorized columns had come as close as 2500 m to the Norosovskaya airfield. Again he was instrumental in spoiling this enemy attack, destroying six trucks and three guns with carriers as well as strafing the accompanying infantry troops with his guns.
The following successes which are described are all ones he achieved after having been awarded the German Cross in Gold:
III. On 14 January 1943 Fw. Ludwig, on account of his outstanding airmanship, was detached to an anti-tank trial unit. Following the instrumental period, he returned to operational status on 8 March 1943, subsequently achieving outstanding successes as a tank buster. During an enemy tank breakthrough south of Briansk on 17 March 1943, Ludwig succeeded in destroying two and damaging another two tanks, thereby slowing the enemy advance which was then stopped completely.
Afterwards, Fw. Ludwig was operating as an anti-tank buster in the lagoon area of the Kuban. These attacks were especially difficult due to the heavy defensive fire of a permanent front, requiring a high degree of airmanship as well as an outstanding fighting spirit. In the period from 1 May to 3 July 1943 he destroyed 63 landing craft and successfully strafed enemy positions and houses, inflicting heavy losses. In addition, he was able to gun down four light anti-aircraft guns which were hampering the attacks on the landing craft. Again, these attacks brought noticeable relief to the ground forces.
IV. During an enemy tank breakthrough north of Krivoi-Rog, Fw. Ludwig was again able to display his abilities as an anti-tank buster. He succeeded in destroying seven tanks in two days and damaging another four. By this the enemy breakthrough could be stopped. During one of these missions he was involved in a 20-minute dogfight with an enemy “Airacobra”, succeeding in evading the repeatedly attacking enemy fighter time and again with his heavy and slow aircraft, forcing the fighter to break off the attacks, having spent all his ammunition.
V. In the area north of Yassi, near Busila, on 28 March 1944, Fw. Ludwig flew close-support operations as acting Staffelführer, realizing the difficult situation of an advancing German infantry battalion. By his experience he was able to direct the bomb and cannon attacks in such a way that the enemy opposition was soon destroyed and the German infantry was able to advance unopposed. He himself succeeded in destroying four enemy tanks on this day and damaging another three. After returning to his base he counted about 25 bullet hits in his aircraft. On 13 and 14 April 1944, near Todirasti, north-east of Yassi, he encountered a similar situation. Again he deployed his aircraft in such a way that the enemy’s machine gun and anti-tank positions were silenced. He then assisted the German troops’ advance with his own cannon and machine gun fire despite heavy enemy defense by machine guns and light anti-aircraft guns, until the German troops had successfully penetrated the enemy positions. During these attacks he destroyed five tanks, one tracked vehicle with a mounted gun, and he damaged another three enemy tanks.
During his missions with the cannon-armed aircraft, Ludwig encountered enemy fighters 20 times, being wounded on these occasions. The severity of these operations is shown by the fact that Ludwig almost always returned with bullet holes in his aircraft. He has lost two radio operators as the result of enemy infantry fire, his current one having recently been wounded for the second time.
Fw. Ludwig succeeded in destroying or damaging by bombs the following war material:
11 tanks, damaging another 8
2 armoured trains
6 freight trains damaged by direct hits
11 bridges (Don and Donez)
13 Flak batteries (placing direct hits)
17 artillery positions
34 horse-drawn carriages
1 anti-tank gun
1 larger river craft
As an anti-tank buster:
39 tanks, damaging another 24
1 assault gun
63 landing craft
4 light anti-aircraft guns
11 horse-drawn carriages
1 tracked vehicle with mounted gun
On the basis of his never-ceasing operational readiness, his outstanding courage, his personal behaviour and military attitude, Feldwebel Ludwig appears to be worthy for the high award of the Knight’s Cross to the Iron Cross.”