Karl "Quax" Schnörrer

Karl "Quax" Schnörrer deserves his place in Luftwaffe history as Walter Nowotny's Katchmarek (wingman) and best friend. It was Quax who kept Nowotny's tail clear during the latter's unparalleled string of victories during 1943.

Karl Schnörrer was born on March 3, 1919, in Nuremberg. He joined I./JG 54, with the rank of Unteroffizier, during the summer of 1941 and scored his first victory on the last day of the year. Schnörrer earned the nicknamed "Quax" because he crashed three of the difficult to land Messerschmitt 109s. Quax was an accident-prone cartoon character popular at that time.

In late 1942, Walter Nowotny chose Schnörrer to be his Rottenflieger. Nowotny and Schnörrer were close friends and referred to each other by their nicknames - Nowi and Quax. In fact, the entire Staffel used the nicknames in place of Walter and Karl.

By March 1943, Anton "Toni" Döbele and Rudolf Rademacher joined with Nowotny and Schnörrer to form one of the most feared formations in the Luftwaffe - The Nowotny Schwarm. These four men combined to score over 500 victories! Nowotny led the scoring by shooting down over 140 aircraft while flying with these men. Ever present was the faithful Quax, keeping his Rottenfuhrer's tail clear.

Eventually fate caught up with the Nownty Schwarm. On November 11, 1943, Anton Döbele was killed after colliding with another German fighter over the airfield near Smolensk. The next day, Quax would be seriously wounded.

Note - the remainder of this Schnörrer story is from an excerpt of Christer Bergström's "Red Star / Black Cross - German and Russian Fighter Pilots in Combat" to be published in late 1998.

On November 12, 1943, Luftflotte 6 dispatched all available aircraft, a total of 215 sorties, despite the poor weather conditions, to the Nevel area. The situation in the area was critical and heavy rainstorms hampered visibility. The Russians had created a breakthrough and were heavily supporting it with ground-attack aircraft. This was to be Walter Nowotny's last combat mission on the Eastern front, and "Quax" Schnörrer flew as his wingman.

Nowotny attacked a red painted Il-2 Shturmovik and shot it down - it was his 255th victory. However, the German fighters appeared to have run into a Soviet elite Guards Aviation Regiment. Possibly it was the famous 6 GvOShAP, whose airmen had the habit of painting their Shturmoviks wildly. The most successful pilot of this unit was Guards Senior Leitenant I. F. Pavlov, who flew 250 ground-attack sorties, achieved 3 aerial kills and was twice appointed Hero of the Soviet Union.

A second Il-2 attack Nowotny's Fw 190 from behind, attempting to end the life of the Luftwaffe's ranking fighter pilot. Nowotny was covered by Schnörrer, who managed to bring down this Il-2 for his 35th victory. In the next moment, a well aimed burst from another Il-2 hit Schnörrer's Fw 190 decisively. Nowotny cried over the radio: "Quax! Turn left, you're on fire!" From then on, Quax himself remembers nothing. His comrades saw him bail out from the blazing Fw 190 at an altitude of no more than 50 to 70 meters. The parachute unfolded only a few meters above ground. German soldiers rescued the badly injured pilot, who had suffered broken legs and a skull fracture.

The loss of "Toni" Döbele and the wounding of "Quax" Schnörrer was a severe blow to I./JG 54. Perhaps no one was more shaken than the young (less than 23 years old) Schwarm leader Walter Nowotny. Shortly afterwards, Nowotny was withdrawn from front-line service and transferred to a command post in Schulgeschwader 101 in France.

Having recovered from his wounds, Karl Schnörrer was assigned to the E-Gruppe Lechfeld in June 1944, where he was later reunited with Walter Nowotny. This unit was later renamed Kommando Nowotny in the fall of 1944 and Quax personally witnessed the death of Nowotny on November 8, 1944 (Schnörrer later wrote an account, published in 1957, of Nowotny's death). After the disbanding of Kommando Nowotny, Schnörrer was put in charge of 11./JG 7, where he re-joined his last surviving friend from the Nowotny Schwarm - Rudolf Rademacher. While with this unit, Quax achieved his last victories (nine U.S. heavy bombers) while flying the Me 262.

On March 30, 1945 Schnörrer's Me 262 was shot down over Hamburg. He was able to bail out but once again injured his legs. This time, one leg had to be amputated. Thus ended the career of the 26-year-old Karl Schnörrer. He had been awarded the Knight's Cross just eight days before. Karl "Quax" Schnörrer flew a total of 536 missions and scored 46 victories.