Kurt Knispel (20 September 1921 – 28 April 1945) was a German tank commander during World War II. Knispel was a Sudeten German born in Czechoslovakia who started his career as a Panzer IV and Tiger I gunner (in Tiger 101).
He is considered the greatest tank ace ever with 168 confirmed kills during the war. Heavily disliked by the most fanatical Nazi officials, he never rose through the ranks more than commander because of an incident where Knispel defended a Soviet Army P.O.W. after seeing him being beaten by a Waffen-SS soldier. Kurt pointed his sidearm at the SS guard and forced him to stop. Knispel was also usually seen bearded, hairy and umkept, what went against regulations. The look of the character Sergeant Oddball from Kelly's Heroes was actually based on Knispel.
Knispel was severely wounded on 28 April 1945 by shrapnel to his head when his Tiger II was hit during battle with Soviet tanks in the Eastern Front. He died two hours later in a German field hospital nearby just a few days before the end of the war.