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Paul Zorner

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Paul Zorner

Paul Zorner
Paul Zorner
Birth name Paul Zloch
Born 31 March 1920
Roben district of Leobschütz, Upper Silesia
Died 27 January 2014 (aged 93)
Allegiance Nazi Germany (to 1945)
West Germany
Service/branch Luftwaffe
Years of service 1939–45, 1956–57
Rank Major
Unit NJG 2, NJG 3, NJG 5, NJG 100
Commands held 8./NJG 3, III./NJG 5, II./NJG 100
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
Other work mechanical engineering

Paul Anton Guido Zorner, born Paul Zloch (31 March 1920 – 27 January 2014),[1] was a German night fighter pilot in World War II. He was born in Roben district of Leobschütz, Upper Silesia. Zorner is credited with 59 nocturnal aerial victories claimed in 272 missions, including 110 night fighter missions.[Note 1] His wireless radio operator Oberfeldwebel Heinrich Wilke received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 6 December 1944.


Zorner joined the Luftwaffe in October 1938 and began training at Oschatz-Sachsen on 7 November. He attended Luftkriegsschule 2 at Berlin-Gatow in November qualified and was sent for conversion training on twin-engine aircraft. He was posted as an instructor in July 1940. In March 1941 Leut. Zorner was posted to KGr.z.b.v. 104. to fly the Junkers Ju 52 transport aircraft. He flew over 160 missions in the Mediterranean area, and in August 1941 operated over the Ukraine.

In October 1941 Zorner commenced training as a night fighter pilot. He was then posted to 8. NJG 2 based at Gilze-Rijen to fly the Junkers Ju 88 C night fighter. In December 1942 Zorner was posted to command 2./NJG 3 at Wittmundhafen flying the Bf 110 and Do 217 night fighters. On the night of 17–18 January 1943, Zorner claimed his first victory. By March, he had six victories to his credit. He was shot down on 17 April 1943 while intercepting USAAF bombers during the day, force-landed his Bf 110 near Cloppenburg.

He claimed his 10th victory on 25–26 July, a Halifax bomber raiding Essen, but he and his crewman had to bale out when his Bf 110 G-4 had an engine catch fire. In August 1943 Zorner was made Staffelkapitän of 8./NJG 3. He claimed three Lancaster bombers on 23–24 December, and another Lancaster near Luckenwalde as his 20th claim on 2–3 January 1944. He claimed another four Lancasters shot down on the night of 19–20 February and five more shot down on 24–25 February. Zorner claimed a Mosquito night fighter of 169 Squadron shot down on 20–21 April. Zorner was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of III./NJG 5 in April 1944. On the night of 27–28 April, Zorner claimed three Lancasters shot down attacking Friedrichshafen to take his total to 46.

Zorner was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross in June for 48 victories. He shot down four bombers targeting railway installations in support of the Normandy invasion on the night of 10–11 June and then three Halifaxes targeting V-1 launch sites in the Pas-de-Calais on 24–25 July. Zorner was awarded the Oakleaves on 17 September for 58 victories. In October 1944 Zorner was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of II./NJG 100 equipped with Ju 88 night-fighters. In February 1945 II./NJG 100 was relocated to Wien-Seyring. Zorner claimed his 59th and last victory on 5–6 March 1945, a B-24 bomber near Graz.

Zorner surrendered his Gruppe to United States troops near Karlsbad on 10 May 1945. He was then handed over to Soviet Forces on 17 May. He returned to Germany after years of incarceration in December 1949. Zorner studied mechanical engineering in Stuttgart and entered the field of refrigeration engineering before he rejoined the Bundesluftwaffe in 1956. He was not passed fit to fly jet fighters and returned to civilian life in May 1957. He was employed within the chemical industry. He retired in 1981 as a chief engineer with Hoechst near Frankfurt. Zorner was credited with 59 victories recorded at night in 272 missions, of which 110 were night fighter missions.



  1. ^ For a list of Luftwaffe night fighter aces see List of German World War II night fighter aces.
  2. ^ According to Obermaier on 31 August 1943.[4]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Thomas 1998, p. 477.
  3. ^ Patzwall 2008, p. 225.
  4. ^ Obermaier 1989, p. 69.
  5. ^ Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 533.
  6. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 459.
  7. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 88.

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