The Luftwaffe scoring system was rational and realistic. "One pilot - one victory" was the straightforward scoring rule. If more then one pilot claimed a kill they had to settle who would get it, if in the end they still remained undecided, the kill was awarded to the Staffel.

Without a witness, a Luftwaffe pilot had no chance of victory confirmation. Such a claim, even if filed, would not pass beyond his Gruppenkommandeur.

The final destruction or explosion of an enemy aircraft in the air, or the bail-out of the pilot, had to be observed either on gun-camera film, or at least one other human witness. This witness could be the pilot's wingman, squadron mate, or a ground observer of the encounter. there was no possibility, as with some RAF and USAAF pilots, of having a victory credited because the claiming officer was a man of his word. The Luftwaffe rule was simple "no witness - no victory credit." This rule applied universally in the Luftwaffe, no matter what the pilot's rank or status.

This made the Luftwaffe claim procedure possibly the most rigid and trustworthy of all World War Two combatants (as always mistakes have been made, but nothing points out that this was deliberate or significantly higher then on the Allied side).


B17 cought in guncam


The Luftwaffe system was impartial, inflexible and far less error-prone than British or American procedures. Luftwaffe fighter pilots sometimes had to wait more then a year for victory confirmation to reach them from the Luftwaffe High Command.

The Germans differed radically from the Allies with the Luftwaffe's introduction of a complicated "points" system, instituted to bring a modicum of uniformity into the bestowal of higher decorations.


In effect only on the Western Front:

Aircraft Type Abschuss
Entgültige Vernichtung
Final Destruction
Single-engined 1 0 0
Twin-engined bomber 2 1 1/2
Four-engined bomber 3 2 1


The German set a great store by the ability of a fighter pilot to separate individual Allied bombers from the box formations in which they flew. Thus, a Luftwaffe pilot could not win points for damaging an Allied bomber unless he separated it from the box. The system recognized the fact that achieving a Herrausschuss of a bomber was a more difficult task then the final destruction of a damaged straggler.

The point system had nothing to do with the total number of victories (and claims), only with awarding decorations and promotions through proven ability and worth. Many people think the Luftwaffe awarded multiple kills for multi-engined aircraft and even for damaging them, this is totally false!


B24 cought in guncam


Decorations were awarded after the following point totals had been reached


Award Points
Iron Cross 2nd Cl. 1
Iron Cross 1st Cl. 3
Honor Cup 10
German Cross in Gold 20
Knight's Cross 40


This point-decoration system was used only on the Western Front, because the Germans believed it was easier to shoot down Soviet fighters and bombers than to down Western-flown aircraft.

The Knight's Cross, which was worn on a ribbon around the neck, even in combat, was recognized in the Jagdwaffe as a sign of a true Experte. Glory-hungry pilots were said to have a "neck rash", "itching neck" or "sore throat", it was a common desease in the Luftwaffe, sometimes even a fatal one - although not always to the one contaminated - which only the coveted award could cure (quite similar to the Pour Le Mérite, or more commonly known as the Blue Max, in the Great War of 1914-18).

The Luftwaffe pilots, and Wehrmacht personal in general, wore all their all their decorations in combat unlike their RAF and USAAC/F adversaries.



The Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross was not the highest order, there were several higher orders created during the war which were basically additions to the Knight's Cross.


Decorations were awarded on the Eastern Front after the following kill totals had been reached (1943/44)
Award Kills
Iron Cross 2nd Cl. 2-3
Iron Cross 1st Cl. 8
German Cross in Gold 30
Knight's Cross 45-50
Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross 100-120
Swords to the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves 200
Diamonds to the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords 250


Note that the Wehrmacht's decoration system was a progressive one, unlike the Allied decoration system you could not attain a higher decoration without the previous medal.


Oberstleutnant Hans-Ulrich Rudel received the highest order available for combat personal (especially created for him!), the Knight's Cross with Golden Oak leaves, Swords and Diamonds. He kept flying the Ju87, although upgraded variants, almost until the end of the war, when finally he too was forced to use the Fw 190 Dora. His final score standing at 2530 combat sorties, at least 519 tanks, more then 800 vehicles,150 artillery pieces, 70 landing craft, many bridges, 1 battleship, 1 cruiser, 1 destroyer, and he shot down 9 Soviet aircraft including 7 fighters in air to air combat!



Luftwaffe Main Page

12 O'Clock High!

Please send any comments, suggestions or corrections to