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Kurt Knispel was little-known top tank ace of World War II, credited with over 168 confirmed tank “kills” and a number of unconfirmed bring the total up to 195. Before his death at the age of 23 Knispel was the most successful tank ace of World War II with more tank kills than Michael Wittmann, Ernst Barkmann, Johannes Bolter, or Otto Carius.
Knispel’s record lists 168 confirmed tank kills, but when unconfirmed victories are included, the total adds up to 195. Even at 168 confirmed, this makes Knispel the most successful tank ace of World War II. Having volunteered to join the Wehrmacht in April 1940, Knipsel started basic training at the Panzer Replacement Training Battalion at Sagan. Training initially on Pz1, II and IV, Knipsel finally moved to a field unit of PzIV in October 1940.
Knispel first saw action in August 1941 in a Pz IV tank and by January 1942 had progressed to training on the new Tiger 1 tank. His next home was the 1st Company of the 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion where he took part in the Battle of Kursk as flank cover to the 7th Panzer Division and subsequently progressed to command of a Tiger II tank in the same division.