Rotte, Kette, and You!
will be helpful to understand where you and your Jagdstaffel (i.e. squadron in the German
Armee Air Service, or GAAS, a Jagdstaffel is abbreviated to
"Jasta") fit into
Luftstreitkräft (German Air Force).
Frankly, if you are new to this, it is only important right now that you
understand who and what a wingman does and what a Rotte or Kette is. The rest is presented so it is available to those who need to see the bigger picture.
After reading the information below, follow the link below to the
Jasta 5 YouTube Channel for more
Rise of Flight
pilot flying in the number 2 slot or position, generally to the right and
behind the Lead position plane. Sometimes it is the less experienced pilot in a
Rotte (see below). Often, the wingman is actually the more experienced
pilot, since the job of the wingman is to protect the behind ("six") of your Flight
Leader. If in doubt though, assume you are the wingman. See the
other tutorial on the role of the Wingman and how to successfully
master this important role.
The basic fighting unit comprised of two individual elements; a leader (Rottenführer) and wing-man (Katchmarek).
During cruising flight the two aircraft fly almost in line abreast about
600meters apart, each pilot concentrating his visual lookout so that he covered
his partner's blind areas. Each pilot was responsible for the safety of the
A variation of the Rotte above with three planes instead of two.
The essential roles are the same as in the Rotte, excepting that there are
two wingmen and one leader, thus increasing the firepower of the element.
Two Rotte make up a Schwarm, with the leading Rotte flying to one side and slightly
ahead of the other (finger Four). The Rotte and Schwarm are both
TACTICAL formations. The better/more experienced pilot leads, skill is the
decisive factor NOT rank and/or seniority.
Staffel (Jagdstaffel or
Nominal strength of 12-16 aircraft. A Staffel formation comprised of three Schwärme
stacked up in various formations. The staffel was the lowest grade of formation
within the German Air Service organization. Commanded by a Staffelkapitän usually an
Oberleutnant or Hauptmann, members of it's flying personnel would supervise
the technical and signals branches as secondary duties. Late in the war some
Staffeln had their numbers raised to 16 aircraft on strength nominally.
The following structures are presented for information only,
since most pilots generally must only concern themselves with their roles
from the Rotte up to the Staffel (Jasta) level. The following organizational
structures exist only at the command and control and mission planning level,
which officers must become effective in dealing with during their career.
Nominal strength: 24-48 aircraft. Initially this Grouping of Jasta (GruJa) comprised
two or three Jagdstaffel and a Stab
(Headquarters), later in the war a fourth Staffel was added. The Stab flight
consisted of 3-4 a/c. The Gruppe was the basic flying unit for operational and
administrative purposes. When orders were given for moves of flying units, the
recipients were usually Gruppen. Normally one complete Gruppe occupied a
single airfield, occasionally individual Staffeln might be detached from their
parent Gruppe for operational reasons or to re-equip.
The Gruppe commander carried the title of Gruja or Kommandeur (Kdr.) and was usually a
Hauptmann or a major. Under his command he had an Adjutant who acted on
his behalf in his absence, and also specialist
technical officers and staff (stab) personnel and a medical officer.
Nominal strength: 108-256 aircraft. Initially the Geschwader comprised of three Gruppen and a Stab, later in the
war a fourth Gruppe was added. The Geschwader was the largest German flying
unit to have a fixed nominal strength. Originally it had been intended that
the component Gruppen of each Geschwader should operate together from adjecent
airfields, but under the stress of war this soon broke down.
Some historians note that
the abbreviation JG was used in WWII to
denote Geschwader, but not during WWI. The
abbreviation for Geschwader was not mentioned in the official Flieger=Formationen
documents governing the organization of the Luftstreitkraefte of WWI.
However following historical precedent for how other abbreviations were
formed, JaGe or Jage, would be historically consistent.
The Geschwader commander held the title of Kommodore (Kdore), and was usaully
a Major, Oberstleutnant or Oberst. His Staff included and adjudant, an
operations officer, an intelligence officer, a navigation officer, technical
officers, a signal officer and such other specialist officers as the nature of
the unit and task might dictate.
Number of Aircraft in a Jagdgeschwader
Stab flight (±4 aircraft)
3-4 Gruppen in each
Geschwader (108-256 aircraft plus Stab flights)
3-4 Staffeln in each Gruppe
(36-64 aircraft; plus Stab flights)
12-16 aircraft in each Staffel