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The Jasta, Rotte, Kette, and You!


First, 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 the German 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 training information.



The 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 other pilot.



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 Jasta)
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.

Gruppe (GruJa)
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


Jasta 5 and this site is not-for profit and non-commercial. Please see "Our Mission" and "Our Code" webpages linked above to learn more about us.  Historical accuracy has been a goal, so if you see that something is missing, needs to be corrected or changed, please let me know.  Proper credit to sources are attempted whereever possible.  If you see something that may infringe on your rights, please just let me know.  I will be happy to correct it to your satisfaction. This website is dedicated to the enhancement and enjoyment of World War I flight simulations, not the promotion of any political or philosophical views.    Red Baron 3D is a registered trademark of Mad Otter Games.  Rise of Flight is a registered trademark of 777 Studios.

©Paul Bäumer 2004 - 2018.   All rights reserved.