The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German language: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes, often simply Ritterkreuz) was a grade of the 1939 version of the 1813 created Iron Cross (Eisernes Kreuz). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was the highest award of Germany to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership during World War II. It was second only to the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross (Großkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) in the military order of the Third Reich.
Lt. Hans-Ulrich Rudel was awarded the Knight's Cross for proposing and testing 37mm anti-panzer cannons on Stukas, the first in his squadron to do so. The citation read "In recognition of Lt. Rudel's cleverness in suggesting the installation of antipanzer cannon on the Ju-87, and in recognition of his gallantry in personally testing the new weapons system against the enemy".