First “Jasta” Fighter Squadron Created
Oswald Boelcke (1891-1916), leading German fighter ace and founder of Jasta 2.
August 23 1916, Péronne–In late 1915 and early 1916, German fighters dominated the skies over the Western Front. This was the so-called “Fokker Scourge,” when German fighters had synchronization gears that let them fire machine guns through their propellers, while Allied planes did not. By the spring of 1916, however, Allied technology had caught up, and by the beginning of the Battle of the Somme the Allies had air superiority.
With superior technology no longer an option, the Germans began to investigate regaining the advantage by superior tactics. Oswald Boelcke, now the leading German ace after Immelmann’s death, had been developing and advocating a set of tactical rules for aerial combat, the so-called “Dicta Boelcke.” Some of these were quite simple, such as “keep the sun behind you, if possible.” He also strongly advocated groups of fighters flying in formation and working together. As a result, he pushed for the creation of dedicated fighter squadrons, allowing organized groups of fighters to concentrate on challenging Allied air superiority.
On August 23, the first Jagdstaffel (“hunting squadron”), Jagdstaffel 1, was organized near the Somme. Additional such “Jasta” were created over the coming weeks; Boelcke himself would lead Jasta 2, founded on August 30.
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