German Air Force


1. General

The German Air Force (Luftwaffe), one of the three branches of the German Armed Forces, is organized and administered independently of either the Army or the Navy. Its three main branches are the flying troops, antiaircraft artillery, and air signal troops. It also includes parachute and airborne troops, air engineers, air medical corps, and air police, and a number of special divisions formed of Air Force personnel for service as regular fighting troops. It is organized on a territorial rather than a functional basis, with separate operational and administrative commands. This division of responsibilities has made for a high degree of mobility among the flying units and thus has been responsible for much of the success of the German Air Force.

2. Commander-in-Chief

Reichsmarschall Goering serves in the dual capacity of Minister of Aviation (Reichsminister der Luftfahrt) and Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force (Oberbefehlshaber der Luftwaffe). As Commander-in-Chief he is charged with the administration and operations of the Air Force. As Minister of Aviation he is a member of the Cabinet and is responsible for the coordination and supervision of civil aviation. Since Goering has many other duties in the German Government, however, the supreme command usually is exercised by the State Secretary in the Ministry of Aviation and Inspector General of the Air Force.

3. Air Ministry (Reichsluftfahrministerium or R.L.M.)

At the Air Ministry--the highest administrative and operational authority of the Air Force--are found the departments which control all Air Force activity. These departments fall into two groups:those of the General Staff and those concerned with administration and supply.


1. General

The role of the Air Force in the conduct of the war, and to a certain extent in particular operations, is determined by the High Command of the Armed Forces (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht). The chain of command is from the Supreme Commander (Hitler), through the OKW to the Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force (Goering). The latter directs the actual employment of the Air Force through the Air Ministry and through his subordinate commanders of air combat units. However, when Air Force units are used in conjunction with Army or Navy units, all the forces involved come under a single operational control, in accordance with the German doctrine of unity of command. In such circumstances, a commanding officer is chosen from whichever of the three branches predominates in the operation, and he becomes directly responsible to the OKW.

2. Luftflotte

All Air Force units are organized into tactical and territorial air commands known as Luftflotten. Each Luftflotte is assigned a particular command area, although this assignment is not necessarily permanent, for an entire Luftflotte at any time may be moved from one area to another at the direction of the Air Ministry. Within its area, however, each Luftflotte not only controls all operations of the flying units, but also supervises the activities of all ground service units. Thus, in addition to a large operations department, each Luftflotte has its own adjutant, legal, administration, signal, and supply departments. All commands


Figure 1.--The German Air Force High Command.
Figure 1.--The German Air Force High Command.

Figure 2.--German Air Force chain of command
Figure 2.--German Air Force chain of command.

and formations subordinate to the Luftflotte are either essentially operational (Fliegerkorps, Jagdkorps, Geschwader, Gruppen, and Staffeln) or administrative (Luftgaue). Thus the administrative and operational commands meet at the Luftflotte headquarters, where their respective activities are coordinated.

3. Fliegerkorps

Operational units within the Luftflotte command area are organized into subordinate operational commands known as Fliegerkorps. Through these Fliegerkorps, the Luftflotten execute the opertional directives received from the Air Ministry. Each Fliegerkorps is a composite, mobile command with its own geographical area of control and operations. A Luftflotte may command one or several Fliegerkorps, depending upon the size of the command area and the nature of operations. A Fliegerkorps may be detached at any time for operations in another Luftflotte area. The makeup of a Fliegerkorps is very elastic, both as to number and type of aircraft. It may consist of several bomber Geschwader, several fighter Geschwader, in addition to a varying number of short-and long-range reconnaissance Gruppen. On occasion it may be limited to one function such as that of a bomber command. The most important department of the Fliegerkorps command is that of operations. Although the Fliegerkorps also has adjutant, legal, administration, signal, and supply departments, it depends almost entirely upon the Luftgau for administrative and supply services. The Fliegerkorps are numbered nonconsecutively in Roman numerals.

4. Jagdkorps

A Jagdkorps is an operational command, similar to a Fliegerkorps but whose function is limited to that of a fighter command.

5. Fliegerdivision

A Fliegerdivision is an operational command similar to but of less importance than a Fliegerkorps. Most of the Fliegerdivisionen which existed prior to the war were replaced by Fliegerkorps. Several Fliegerdivisionen still exist on the Eastern Front.

6. Jagddivision

A Jagddivision is a command subordinate to a Jagdkorps.

7. Lehrdivision

This division is unnumbered and is known simply as the Lehrdivision. Its primary function was to test the latest types of aircraft, antiaircraft defenses, and air signals equipment from a tactical and operational point of view. Lehr units are incorporated directly into the combat commands and function as a part of the command's operational strength. Lehr personnel are supposed to have had previous combat experience. This system, by giving the Lehr units an operational status, enables them to experiment in actual combat operations, rather than under simulated conditions. The Lehrdivision was organized into a variety of formations and commands. There were two Lehrgeschwader composed of bomber, fighter, and reconnaissance Lehrgruppen. Recently, however, only a few bomber Lehr units have been operational and they no longer appear concerned with experimentation. There are also two Lehrregimenter, one concerned with antiaircraft defenses and the other with signal developments. Lehr units are not to be confused with experimental units whose duties are of a technical nature, such as the testing of prototype aircraft.

8. Geschwader

a. GENERAL. The Geschwader is the largest mobile, homogeneous formation in the Air Force, and is used for long-range bombers, ground attack units, and both single- and twin-engine fighters. It normally consists of about 100 aircraft, organized into three Gruppen. A fourth and, in a few instances, a fifth Gruppe have been added to several single-engine fighter Geschwader.1 Apparently the original intention was to have each Geschwader operate as a unit by stationing all three Gruppen at adjacent airdromes. However, although all Gruppen are now usually found on the same battlefront, all three of them are unlikely to operate from neighboring fields. In fact, it is not uncommon at present for the Air Force to withdraw one or two Gruppen for rest or re-equipment and subsequently return them to operations in another theater.

b. COMMAND. A Geschwaderis generally commanded by an Oberst or Oberstleutnant known as the Geschwaderkommodore. He has a small Staff of officers for the adjutant, operations, organization,


technical, signal, navigation, meteorological, and intelligence branches. Some staffs also have a photographic officer. The staff has its own headquarters flight (Stabs-Schwärm)of three to six aircraft of the same type as those which make up the Geschwader. This Geschwaderstaff is always maintained, even when the subordinate Gruppen are separated for operations on different fronts.

c. TYPES. There are several types of Geschwader, known according to aircraft complement and/or operational employment as follows:

German title Aircraft type Abbreviation
Kampfgewshwader Bomber K. G.
Schlachtgeschwader2 Ground attack and antitank S.G.
Jadgeschwader Single-engine fighter J. G.
Zerstorergeschwader Twin-engine fighter Z. G.
Nachtjagdgeschwader Night fighter N. J. G.
Lehrgeswader Tactical experimental L. G.

Each Geschwader is designated by its abbreviation followed by an Arabic numeral: for example, K.G.77, N.J.G.26, Z.G.111, etc. The numerals are not necessarily in consecutive order.

d. EQUIPMENT. Although all Gruppen in a Geschwader specialize in similar air tactics and are equipped with the same type of plane, the make and model may differ among the Gruppen. This variation is most prevalent in fighterGeschwader, but also occurs in a few of the bomber Geschwader. Thus a Kampfgeschwader may have one Gruppe equipped with the Dornier 217 and the other two Gruppen with the Heinkel 111, Junkers 88, or the Focke-Wulf 200. Or the entire Geschwader may be equipped with the same make of plane, such as the Messerschmitt 109, although one Gruppe may have a newer model while the other Gruppen have earlier ones.

9. Gruppe

a. GENERAL. The Gruppe is the basic combat unit of the Air Force for both administrative and operational purposes. It is a mobile homogeneous unit which is largely self-contained and which may be detached from its parent Geschwaderfor operations in any command area. In fact, directives for the movement of flying units are almostalways issued in terms of Gruppen. Usually the entire Gruppe is based at the same airdrome.

b. COMMAND. The Gruppe normally is commanded by a major or captain known as the Gruppenkommandeur. He has a small staff, consisting of the adjutant, operations officer, technical officer, and medical officer. There apparently is no special intelligence officer, since prisoners are sent directly to interrogation centers. Each Gruppe also has its own air signal platoon (Luftnachrichtenzug), known as a Technical Ground Station, and a staff flight (Stabs-Kette) of three aircraft generally of the same type with which the Gruppe is equipped.

c. EQUIPMENT. The Gruppen are organized into three Staffeln, with the exception of single-engine fighter Geschwadern which recently have been organized into four Staffeln. Thus, most Gruppenare considered to have a table of organization of 27 aircraft each (exclusive of the three aircraft of the Gruppen-Stab) and Jagdgruppen a table of organization of 36 aircraft (also exclusive of the Gruppen-Stab). Actual strength, however, is likely to differ substantially from authorized strength; on many occasions it has been found well below or above such figures. Gruppen attached to a Geschwader are numbered in Roman numerals in consecutive order. Thus I/K. G. 77, II/K. G. 77, and III/K. G. 77 are the first, second, and third Gruppen, respectively, of long-range bomber Geschwader 77.

10. Staffel

a. GENERAL. The Staffel is the smallest Air Force operational unit, and is generally commanded by a captain or lieutenant known as the Staffelkapitan. One officer serves as adjutant; the signal, technical, and navigation branches are supervised by the flying personnel in their spare time.

b. EQUIPMENT. A Staffel is considered to have a table of organization of nine aircraft. Its actual strength, however, may be as low as five or six aircraft or as much as 18 or 20 aircraft. For tactical purposes, it may be subdivided into Schwarme of five planes; into Ketten of three planes; or into Rotten of two planes. Each Staffel usually will have its own mobile repair shop for minor repairs in the dispersal areas; other motor vehicles must be drawn from the organization of the parent Gruppe.

c. NUMBERING. All Staffeln in theGeschwader are numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals.


Thus, in all but Jagdgeschwader, the first, second, and third Staffeln constitute Gruppe I; the fourth, fifth and sixth Staffeln, Gruppe II; and the seventh, eighth, and ninth Staffeln, Gruppe III. Where a fourth or fifth Gruppe exists, the Staffeln will be numbered 10, 11, and 12 ,or 13, 14, and 15, respectively. In Jagdgeschwadern having four Staffeln, the Gruppe I thus will contain Staffeln 1, 2, 3,and 4; Gruppe II, Staffeln 5, 6, 7,and 8; Gruppe III, Staffeln 9, 10, 11, and 12, etc. In unit designations, the Gruppe numeral is omitted whenever the Staffel number is indicated. Thus the fourth Staffel of K. G. 77 is known as 4/K. G. 77, and no other reference to its position in Gruppe II of K. G. 77 is necessary.

11. Semi-autonomous Units

a. GENERAL. Reconnaissance and Army cooperation aircraft operate and are organized as semi-autonomous units, as Staffeln or Gruppen. These semi-autonomous units fall into three general categories, all of which are numbered nonconsecutively in Arabic numerals of one, two or three digits.

b. LONG-RANGE RECONNAISSANCE. Long-range reconnaissance aircraft are organized into Fernaufklärungsgruppen, which are known as (F) or FAG units. Thus 3(F)123 is the third Staffel of Fernaufklärungsgruppe 123.

c. SHORT-RANGE RECONNAISSANCE. Short-range reconnaissance and Army cooperation aircraft are organized into Nahaufklärungsgruppen, which are known as NAGr or (H) units (due to former name of Heeresaufklärungsgruppen). Under the old nomenclature still applying to some units, the first Staffel of Nahaufklärungsgruppe 32 is therefore 1(H)32. Under the more recent Gruppen organization and numbering, the third Staffel of Nahaufklärungsgruppe1 for instance, is 3/NAGr 1.

d. COASTAL RECONNAISSANCE. Coastal reconnaissance and naval cooperation aircraft were originally organized into Küstenfliegergruppen (abbreviated K.F.Gr.). They are now known as Seeaufklärungsgruppen (abbreviated SAGr.). Thus the third Staffel of Seeaufklärungsgruppe 196 is known as 3/SAGr. 196.

e. MISCELLANEOUS UNITS. Miscellaneous units also are similarly organized and operated.

(1) Nachtschlachtgruppen (Night Harassing) represent the relatively recent grouping of previously loosely organized Staffeln. Most of them are equipped with obsolete aircraft, although coincidentally with their reorganization in Gruppen, these units have been modernized to some extent. Though some units in the East still have such aircraft as Arado 66, G0145, HE50, etc. , those in the West are equipped with modern JU87 and FW190. These Nachtschlachtgruppen are numbered in Arabic numbers and thus abbreviated--NS1, NS2, NS3, etc.

(2) The Luftbeobachter Staffeln (Air Observers).

(3) A number of specialized units such as minesweeping Staffeln, etc.

12. Special Commands

a. Jagdführer. Separate fighter commands known as Jagdführer, or more commonly as Jafü, have been established in each Luftflotte since the outbreak of war. At first a Jafü was concerned primarily with matters of policy and controlled operations only on specific occasions. Yet, for a period, the Jafüs in France and Germany appeared to have had an overriding authority in directing all defensive fighter operations. Lately, however, it is believed that their functions have become virtually administrative.

b. Fliegerführer. Highly specialized operations on certain fronts have been put under the control of special commanders known as Fliegerführer. These Fliegerführer control operations in a particular area only and are directly responsible to the Luftflottecommander in whose area they operate. For instance, the three Fliegerführer (3, 4, 5) in Luftflotte V, although primarily concerned with anti-shipping operations and weather reconnaissance, controlled all types of combat aircraft in their area of operations.

13. Luftgau

a. GENERAL. The Luftgaue are the actual administrative and supply organizations of the Luftwaffe. They are stationary or immobile commands whose authority is limited to certain well defined and permanently fixed geographical areas. A Luftgau commander is usually a General der Flieger or General der Flakartillerie, and theoretically is responsible to the Luftflotte commander within whose command area the Luftgau lies. In actual practice, however, the Luftgau commanders receive most of their instructions direct from the Air Ministry, and the Luftflottenchefs interfere little with Luftgau administration. The Luftgaue permanently established in Germany are numbered non-consecutively by Roman numerals;


those in occupied countries are generally designated by their location: for example, Luftgau Norwegen.

b. FUNCTIONS. Each Luftgau is responsible for the following services within its command area:

(1) Administration, supply, and maintenance of all flying units.

(2) Active and passive defense against air attack.

(3) Operations of signal units.

(4) All training other than that of auxiliary units.

(5) Recruitment, mobilization, and training of reserve personnel.

c. SECTIONS. Each Luftgau has its own operations, adjutant, legal, administration, signal, and supply sections. It also has a department for prohibited and restricted flying areas which has no known counterpart in the Luftflotte or Fliegerkorps headquarters. All training within the Luftgau area is directed by a Higher Commander of Training. This officer is usually a Generalmajor and is subordinate only to the Luftgau commander. All other Luftgau services are maintained through subordinate section commands which are designated by Arabic numerals preceding the Luftgauunit designation. Thus 4/VIII is the fourth section command in Luftgau VIII.

d. AIRDROME COMMANDS. The main channels through which the flying units draw on the services of the Luftgaue are the airdrome commands. Each Luftgau area is divided into about five airdrome regional commands (Flughafenbereichkommandanturen). The regional commands are in turn subdivided into five or more operational airdrome commands (Einsatzhafenkommandanturen). The regional command is essentially administrative and is not necessarily located at an airfield. The operational airdrome command, however, exists only to serve the flying units at their stations and is thus always found at an airdrome. The manner in which the Luftgau has decentralized its authority through these commands is as follows:

(1) The airdrome regional commands are charged with the Luftgau's responsibility for supply and maintenance of supplies and equipment within their respective areas; meeting the physical needs of the flying units; defense of aircraft, equipment, and motor transport against air attack; airdrome development; and air movements. These duties are discharged by specialized units which the Luftgau allots to the regional command and which the regional command then redistributes among the operational commands. For example, the Field Works Office (Feldbauamt) at the regional command handles airdrome maintenance through its subsidiary Works Superintendent's Offices which are stationed at the airdromes. Similarly, the Air Signal Company at each regional command is divided into platoons which are stationed at the operational commands. A senior technical officer supervises aircraft maintenance in the region through his subordinate technical officers at the operational commands. The airdrome regional command is thus largely self-contained and calls on the Luftgau for assistance only when the units already assigned prove inadequate.

(2) The airdrome regional command also acts as the intermediary between the Luftgau headquarters and the operational airdrome command. All orders, requests, reports, etc., traveling between the two must pass through the regional command staff. This staff numbers from 50 to 150 officers and enlisted men and is headed by a commandant who usually holds the rank of General-major.

(3) The airdrome regional command's primary practical task is that of transporting supplies and equipment from the depots to its subordinate operational commands. For this purpose it is generally assigned a supply company (Nachschubkompanie) composed of a supply column staff (Nachschubkolonnenstab), some four transport columns (Transportkolonnen), and two or three fuel-columns (Flugbetriebsstoffkolonnen).

(4) The commander of the operational airdrome command normally holds the rank of major, captain, or first lieutenant. His adjutant handles personnel matters. The personnel complement of an operational command numbers about 350 officers and enlisted men, and the motor transport allotment is between 50 and 100 vehicles.

(5) Airdrome maintenance at each operational command is handled by a Works Superintendent's Office (Bauleitung), subordinate to the Field Works Office at the regional command. The Bauleitung has charge of most of the construction done at the airdrome (buildings, dispersal areas, defense works, camouflage, etc.), as well as the laying of runways, extension of landing grounds, and installation of lighting systems. Reports on serviceability and bomb damage are radioed through the regional command to the Luftgau, and thence to the Air Ministry for broadcast over


the Air Force Safety Service network. The Bauleitung personnel is composed of civil servants and technical staffs. Any other specialized construction units which may be attached to the airdromes to repair bomb damage or enlarge facilities are also directed by the Bauleitung.

(6) The operational airdrome command is also responsible for defense against air attack, for which it has both heavy and light Flak units. These guns and other aerial defense units are commanded by the airdrome commander only when there is no flying unit stationed at the field. Otherwise, defense is controlled by the commander of that flying unit which is occupying the airdrome.

(7) The telephone, teleprinter, and radio at each operational airdrome command are operated by an air signal platoon (Fliegerhorst-Luftnachrichtenzug) and commanded by a signal officer who is subordinate to the senior signal officer at the airdrome regional command. The signal platoon also transmits the meteorological and airdrome serviceability reports and operates the Air Movements Control. This control directs only non-operational flying. Signal communications with aircraft in operations are controlled by the tactical ground station attached to the flying unit.

(8) Aircraft maintenance at the operational airdrome command--except for servicing and minor repairs which are performed by the ground staff of the flying unit--is the responsibility of a technical officer. This officer not only handles overhauls and major repairs, but also is responsible for maintenance of motor vehicles; for bomb, fuel, and other supply stores; and for equipment stores and the armory. He is subordinate to the senior technical officer at the airdrome regional command.

(9) The requests by the operational airdrome command for equipment and spare parts reach the regional command through the technical officer. Requisitions for bombs, fuel, and ammunition are made by the supply section. The operational command also has an administrative section which handles clothing, food, pay, billeting, and other accommodations; a record office; a photographic section; a medical section; and a welfare section.

(10) Luftgaustäbe z.b.V. During campaigns the Luftgaue provide the advancing air formation with supplies and services through a system of subordinate commands known as Luftgaustäbe zur besonderer Verwendung (Luftgau staffs for special duty) or, simply, Luftgaustäbe z.b.V. units. These units may be designated by an Arabic numeral (Luftgaustab z.b.V. 3) or by their location (Luftgaustab Kiev). They are sent into the forward battle areas by their controlling Luftgau and are normally responsible for all services in an area occupied by a Fliegerkorps. After conditions have become relatively stabilized--for example, when operational airdrome commands have been established and supply stations and fuel and ammunition field depots have been set up--the Luftgaustäb z.b.V. unit is withdrawn and the parent Luftgau assumes direct command.


I. Antiaircraft Defenses

a. GENERAL. The bulk of the German antiaircraft artillery, inclusive of antiaircraft searchlight units, is an organic part of the German Air Force. The German Army has antiaircraft artillery units of its own, but these units are only for the organic use and protection of the Army units against air attack.

For organizational charts of Luftwaffe and Army antiaircraft units see Sections V and VI, Chapter II. For a discussion of antiaircraft weapons and equipment see Chapter VII, Section IV.

b. ANTIAIRCRAFT DEFENSE OF GERMANY AND REAR AREAS. The Chief of the German Air Force is responsible for the air defense of territorial Germany as well as important installations in occupied countries. The Aircraft Warning Service as a part of the Air Force is tied in with the coordinated use of aviation, antiaircraft artillery, and barrage balloons. All air raid precaution measures also are the responsibility of the Chief of the German Air Force.

Antiaircraft defense of rear areas is carried out through the Luftgaue mentioned above. Luftgaue coordinate their defenses with each other in accordance with regulations published by the Chief of the Air Force. The commander of each Luftgau has a specialist under him who exercises command over the antiaircraft artillery units, including searchlights, assigned to the district. Other specialists include the commanders of barrage balloon units and of units responsible for carrying out special defense measures. In actual


operations, in most cases the commands above the actual operating units act mainly in a coordinating capacity, feeding information to the operating units which act in turn on their own initiative in accordance with prescribed standing operating procedure.

Within certain of the air districts there are special air defense commands. Each of these covers special areas or cities of vital importance, defense of which, under one command, is laid out with a concentration of coordinated defense facilities inclusive of antiaircraft guns and searchlights, fighter aviation, barrage balloons, warning facilities, and the use of special devices such as smoke generators.

Operation of the antiaircraft defense system calls for close cooperation between fighter planes and air warning systems, and the antiaircraft guns with supporting searchlights are considered the backbone of the static defense. For operational control, the antiaircraft command in a Luftgau is usually divided into groups known as Flakgruppen, and these groups in turn are divided into sub-groups known as Flakuntergruppen. The headquarters of the group is normally the control center of the Flak defenses, and acts downward through the sub-groups.

In deployment of heavy antiaircraft guns in important static areas, there is a tendency toward the use of concentrated sites known as Grossbatterien. These usually consist of three 4-, 6-, or even 8-gun batteries grouped together at one site, with fire control for all guns emanating from one central source.

Antiaircraft searchlights are used in cooperation with night fighters, as well as in their normal role of illuminating targets for the gun units.

c. USE OF ANTIAIRCRAFT WITH FIELD FORCES. For operation in the field, Luftwaffe antiaircraft units are allotted to field task forces for protection of Army and Air Force installations. Even in moving situations, a certain amount of antiaircraft is present for the defense of important semi-permanent installations such as depots, parks, railroads, bridges, and airdromes. No hard and fast rule is laid down for this use of antiaircraft artillery. The size of the antiaircraft force defending such areas will depend to a large extent on importance of the areas to be defended, plus availability of Luftwaffe antiaircraft units for such assignment. Luftwaffe antiaircraft organizations and units operating with the Army are subordinated operationally and for command pur poses to the Army unit concerned, and administratively (for replacements, etc.) to their parent Air Force Organization.

Employment and composition of the higher Flak units will vary in accordance with local conditions. For a fuller discussion of the organization and employment of higher antiaircraft units in the field, see Section V, Chapter II.

d. DEFENSE OF RAILWAY TRAINS. The mounting of antiaircraft materiel on railway mounts for the protection of railway trains and as a means of furnishing a highly mobile defense of lines of communication has been highly perfected by the Germans. Antiaircraft guns on railway mounts can be used either in rear areas for protection of trains operating there, or for the protection of trains carrying troops or supplies to forward combat areas. Although the 20-mm single- or four-barreled Flak is normally employed for this purpose, the 37-mm, 88-mm and 105-mm guns will also be encountered mounted on railway cars.

2. German Air Force Signal Service (Luftnachrichtenwesen)

a. GENERAL. The importance of a comprehensive and efficient air signal service in aerial warfare is obvious. Neither offensive nor defensive air operations could be conducted without a complete network of signal communications, or without radio and radar equipment for the direction and control of aircraft, particularly in fighter defense. So vital is the role of the German Air Force Signal Service that it has had a greater proportionate wartime expansion than any other arm of the German Air Force, and now has an estimated personnel strength of between 175, 000 and 200, 000.

b. FLEXIBILITY. The efficiency of the German Air Force has been enhanced by the flexibility of its signal organization. This was particularly true when the Germans were advancing into new territory, usually well prepared, on a temporary basis, for the reception of flying units. As soon as the captured territory was firmly occupied, signal units then established a more permanent land-line communications system. Under present circumstances, with the Germans on the defensive, the flexibility and mobility of the German Air Force are no longer dependent to the same extent on its signal organization. However, a workable German Air Force Signal Service is still of paramount importance in the defense of Germany against air attacks.



These include the transmission of all orders and communications necessary for the operation and functioning of the German Air Force, if possible both by land-line and by wireless; the establishment and supervision of all navigational aids to aircraft; the manning of Observer Corps and radar in connection with air defense; control of air traffic, air safety and rescue services; and the interception of enemy signals.

d. ORGANIZATION. (1) General. One of the departments of the German Air Ministry is the Director General of Signal Communications (Generalnachrichtenführer der Luftwaffe). To handle its multiple duties, a flexible organization has been developed, consisting of many self-contained specialist companies. The bulk of these companies are allocated to the major operational and administrative commands, and the others are grouped into battalions or remain as individual companies attached to minor commands.

(2) Section platoon and company. The basic operational unit is the section (Truppe) of 10-20 men. Each section specializes in one particular signal activity such as telephone, teletype, cable laying, construction, etc. Five to ten sections of the same type are organized into a platoon (Zug) of 80 to 100 men. Three to six platoons are grouped into a company (Kompanie) of 200 to 300 men. All platoons in a company specialize in the same branch of signal activity, so that each company is a self-contained specialist unit.

(3) Battalion and regiment. Three to four companies usually make up a battalion (Abteilung), although some have many more. The strength of a battalion, aside from its staff, depends on the number of companies. Three to five battalions normally form a regiment (Regimenter), with a strength between 1,500 and 9,000 and varying functions.

(4) Allotment and numbering of units. Signal regiments and smaller units are allotted to the several different types of operational and administrative commands requiring a permanent allocation of signal personnel. Allocation is on the basis of the size and requirements of the command. The relationship of the signal units to their assigned commands often is indicated by the terminal number of the unit designation; e.g. Luftflotte 2 had Signal Regiments 2, 12, and 22. However, with the creation of many new commands and the renumbering of others, the numbering system for signal units is not as readily workable as formerly.

(5) Special units. In addition to the standard units, there is a special Research Regiment charged with the development of new types of signal equipment and its employment. Aircraft specially equipped for signal activities have also in many instances been allotted to various commands and have proved extremely useful in conducting air operations in mobile situations.

(6) Command. The supreme signal command of the above units is exercised by the Director General of Signals of the Air Ministry. Signal command of a Luftflotte is under a Chief Signal Officer (Hohere Nachrichtenführer or Hohere Nafü) who controls the senior Signal Officer (Nafü) of the Fliegerkorps, Luftgaue, Flak-Korps and Flak Division, and Airfield Regional Command. Subordinate to these are the Signal Officers (Nachrichten Offizieror N. O.) who exercise command in the lower subdivisions such as Operational Airfield Command signal platoons, and Geschwader signal companies.

e. SIGNAL EQUIPMENT. (1) General. German signal equipment, generally speaking, has been characterized by standardization of design, relatively few major types, and a high quality of components and workmanship. During the first years of the war, the Germans did not fully appreciate the tactical possibilities of radar3 and for a time Allied radar development was well ahead of the German. However, the Germans have made tremendous efforts to match Allied technical progress and to overcome the various tactical problems resulting from Allied superiority.

(2) Ground radar. German ground radar falls into three general categories: Early warning set (Freya, Mammutor or Wassermann) for long range detection; Giant Würzburg primarily for aircraft interception control; and Small Würzburg designed for flak control, but also used for height finding in the Aircraft Reporting Service. These various types of ground radar equipment play a large part in the German system of air raid warning and control of fighter interception. Many devices have been developed by the Allies to nullify the effectiveness of the German equipment, but at the same time the Germans have


developed numerous counter-measures. These measures and counter-measures have led to extremely rapid development of new techniques and equipment both by the Germans and by the Allies.

(3) Airborne radio and radar. German airborne radio and radar equipment may be classified in four general categories: Funkgerat (FuG), or radio and radar equipment involving transmitters and receivers; Peilgerat (PeG), or navigational equipment; Notsender (NS), or emergency transmitter; and other types of miscellaneous equipment. Airborne equipment is an absolute necessity for the successful conduct of air operations. Throughout the war, the Germans have developed navigational, bombing, and fighter control equipment. The latter is particularly important at the present time for the Germans who must depend on adequate warning of Allied air attacks and efficient control of fighters and flak for effective opposition.

f. FIGHTER DEFENSE. (1) General. During 1941 and early 1942, the German Air Force fighter organization was concerned mainly with defense of targets in Northern France and the Lowlands. The bulk of aerial combats then were taking place in the relatively small area over those countries and over the English Channel; and a warning system, consisting of a coastal radar belt and visual observers, was adequate. But the greater depth of penetration by Allied bombers in 1943 required that the German Air Force protect targets in Germany as well as in occupied territory, and the defensive problem thus became infinitely more complex. Additional radar belts and observer posts were required. German fighters had to be placed in tactically favorable positions, and they were forced to enlarge the scope of their activity to cover all areas subject to attack. Such developments naturally led to considerable changes in the German Air Force fighter organization and the methods of fighter control. The liberation of France and part of the Lowlands in 1944 further complicated the German defensive problem by depriving the German Air Force of a large and efficient part of its early warning system, as well as many excellent airfields at a time when the weight of the Allied air assault was increasing.

(2) Reporting and warning system. The Aircraft Reporting Service is a part of the German Air Force. Long-range radar sets determine the range and bearing of the approaching aircraft, and short-range sets measure height. Other types of equipment distinguish between friendly and hostile aircraft. An Observer Corps network with strategically located posts also supplies aircraft warning information, while in some instances patrolling aircraft shadow the attacking aircraft. On the basis of the information from these various sources, hostile aircraft are plotted in a central headquarters, and the Germans in the past have been able to construct a fairly accurate and current picture of Allied air operations. Proper warning then is given to all interested agencies, and defensive fighters are put in the air to intercept the attackers. Information on the course and expected target of the bombers is passed by radio to the airborne fighters until contact is made. The specific aerial tactics used by the German fighters have varied considerably throughout the war, but in general the precise method becomes the responsibility of the fighter pilots after contact is made. In spite of the excellent equipment and control methods the Germans have developed, their defensive warnings and operations are considerably handicapped by the loss of territory in Western Europe.

3. Airborne Forces

See Chapter X, section VII.

4. Air Force Fighting Units

See Chapter II, sections V, VI.

5. Air Transport

a. GENERAL. German transport aircraft and gliders are controlled by a General Staff Department at the Air Ministry. This department, headed by a Kommodor und Lufttransportführer, allocates and administers all transport units in the Air Force. The majority of the transport planes consist of the JU 52. This old type has been retained because of its adaptability to varied tasks and its ability to operate under difficult conditions. Since the production of JU 52's has been inadequate to meet present transport needs, the German Air Force has drawn upon Italian aircraft, such as the SM 82. Production of new types specifically designed as transports, such as the JU 252, JU 290 and the ME 323, has been almost negligible. The HE 111 has been adapted to extensive employment as a freight carrier, and lighter planes, such as the Fieseler Storch (FI 156), frequently are used for passenger-carrying


and liaison work. Transport and communications aircraft are organized for the following services:

b. FOR OPERATIONAL UNITS. The Air Force maintains several minor air transport units which are more or less permanently allocated to various commands. These units are not intended to perform any particularly heavy or large-scale transport work such as airborne operations or long-term supply. They are used rather for the numerous odd jobs of communications, liaison, and passenger-carrying within the Luftflotte area, or between the Luftflotte and Air Force headquarters in Germany. These units are distributed among the commands as follows:

(1) The staff of each Luftflotte and Fliegerkorps is allotted a transport Staffel, with 12 or 13 aircraft to be used for transport within Germany proper as well as in forward areas.

(2) Each Fliegerkorps is allotted a transport Staffel of 10 to 15 JU 52's in addition to a Kurier-Staffel (communications) of lighter planes. The Fliegerkorps then may temporarily re-allot part or all of the JU 52's to the subordinate Geschwader and Gruppen whenever the transport of personnel, equipment, and/or supplies becomes particularly urgent.

(3) Each operational Gruppe is allotted several lighter types of communication aircraft. Formerly, each Gruppe also had at least one JU 52 for transport purposes. Now, however, the Gruppen usually rely on JU 52's temporarily lent to them by the Fliegerkorps headquarters.

(4) Each Aufklärungsgruppe (reconnaissance group) has a Kurier-Staffel within the Fliegerkorps organization which is primarily intended for liaison with Army commanders. These aircraft are at the disposal of Army personnel as well as the Air Force reconnaissance officers.

(5) Allotted to each Flivo is a Verbindungs-Staffel (liaison) of communication aircraft which is used for contact work between Army headquarters and those Air Force units which are providing close or direct support for the Army.

(6) The main air signal regiments of each Luftflotte and Fliegerkorps have their own Staffeln or transport aircraft. Some of these planes are equipped as flying signal stations, but many are used simply for transporting equipment and personnel.

(7) The higher commands, including the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, the Oberkommando des Heeres, the Oberkommando der Marine, and the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe, each have their own Kurier-Staffel to carry mail and personnel. These aircraft operate on a fixed schedule over all of Germany and remaining occupied territory. Individual aircraft may also be detailed on special urgent tasks.

c. FOR CIVIL AIRLINES. A small number of transports, primarily JU 52's, still are used on those civil air routes which the Deutsche Lufthansa A. G. operated before the war and continues to maintain under strict military supervision for high priority communication.

d. FOR K. G. z.b.V. UNITS. The Kampfgeschwader zur besonderer Verwendung (for special duty), known more simply as K. G. z.b.V. units, include over two-thirds of the German transport aircraft and are actually the mainstay of the Air Force transport organization. For limited operations these aircraft still may be subordinated to and receive their directives from the Luftflotten and Geschwader. In the past they occasionally were allotted by the Air Ministry to the Luftflotten on a fairly permanent basis (for example, to a Luftflotte headquarters). Now, however, they usually are so allotted for a specific operation only (for example, an airborne operation or supply mission). If only one or two units are allotted to a Luftflotte, the chief quartermaster department of the Luftflotte will handle administration, personnel, and aircraft serviceability. If several units are operating under the Luftflotte, however, the Air Ministry usually will detail an air transport officer to the Luftflotte. This officer, who normally holds the rank of Oberst, generally is assisted by a staff, which may include a technical officer, a personnel officer or adjutant, and an operations officer, in addition to a transport officer who apportions the loads.

The organization of the K. G. z.b.V. units is extremely fluid, and although the original intention apparently was to set up the units in Geschwader, the actual strength of most z.b.V. units rarely exceeds that of a Gruppe. These Gruppen normally number 53 aircraft Organized into four Staffeln of 12 aircraft each plus a Gruppenstab of five planes.

For purposes of transporting parachute troops and air-landing infantry in airborne operations, transport aircraft are organized into z.b.V. Geschwader. Each such Geschwader consists of about 200 aircraft organized into four Gruppen of four Staffeln each. Each Staffel has 12 aircraft organized into four Ketten of three aircraft


each. The organization of the Kampfgeschwader thus closely parallels that of the parachute troops which they transport. A JU 52 can carry 10 to 12 fully equipped parachutists. Thus one section of parachutists is carried by one aircraft; a platoon of 36 men is carried by a z.b.V. Kette; a company of 120 to 144 men is carried by a z.b.V. Staffel; and an entire parachute battalion is carried by a z.b.V. Gruppe. Whenever possible, the men are moved by units, that is, a z.b.V. Kette carrying a parachute platoon.

e. SPECIALLY EQUIPPED TRANSPORTS. A number of JU 52's have been designed for highly specialized transport services. For example, many JU 52's, a number of which are attached to Air Force medical units, are fitted as ambulance planes with a capacity of 12 stretcher patients and five sitting patients. Some JU 52's temporarily have been equipped with skis, and others with pontoons for transporting men and supplies into areas made inaccessible by snow or separated by bodies of water.

f. GLIDERS. The Germans also are using towed gliders for air transport. Since they combine a high load capacity with comparatively small fuel consumption for the towing aircraft (or of the glider itself in the powered version), they first were used in the Lowlands in 1940. The DFS 230 and the Gotha 242 carried troops and supplies from Italy and Sicily to Africa from mid-1941 until the conclusion of the Tunisian campaign. In the fall of 1942, the ME 323 powered glider caused wide comment in its operations between Sicily and Tunisia. At the same time it was revealed that each dive-bomber Staffel operating from Tunisia had its own DFS 230 to carry supplies from Sicily to Africa. Critical supply situations on the Russian Front and in the Balkans forced the Germans to employ gliders in many instances. Though they have seen little service in the West to date, disruption of transportation lines through Allied aerial attacks may compel further use of unpowered gliders.

6. Sea Rescue Service

The Air Force Sea Rescue Service (Seenotdienst) was first established to take care of airmen shot down over the North Sea area and the English Channel. Its services were extended to the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and the Baltic. Rescues are performed normally by the service's own aircraft, but where the hazards of water landing are too great, the actual rescue is made by surface craft. These craft may be attached to the service or may be simply lent to it for a particular rescue.

Seenotdienst units were subordinated to the Luftflotte within whose area they serve. These units were organized into three sea rescue commands (Seenotflugkommandos), each of which is headed by a Seenotdienstführer with the rank of colonel. Subordinate to these commands are regional commands, known as Bereichkommandos, which control the various Staffeln and detachments. Single rescue planes were often attached to combat units which operated over water.

7. Meteorological Services

a. GENERAL. The Air Force Meteorological Service (Flugwetterdienst) is controlled by the Air Ministry. The chief responsibility of the Flugwetterdienst is to provide all flying units with dependable weather forecasts as well as all long-term forecasts for strategical planning. The two main sources of Air Force meteorological information are weather stations and weather aircraft.

b. WEATHER STATIONS. At each airfield there is a relatively small Wetterstelle (weather station) which reports on conditions in its immediate vicinity. These reports are collected at regular intervals (usually hourly) by a Wetterberatungszentral (weather reporting center) which then coordinates the reports of all the Wetterstellen within its area and prepares maps for the flying units. A center usually serves an area covered by a Fliegerkorps and frequently is motorized. Some centers carry a Luftgau unit designation, such as W. Z. B ./XIII. The chain of command from the airfield to Air Ministry is completed through meteorological officers stationed at Luftgau, Fliegerkorps, and Luftflotte headquarters.

c. WEATHER AIRCRAFT. Attached to each Luftflotte is a Wetterkündigungstaffel (weather reconnaissance squadron), commonly known as a Westa unit. These units normally have nine to 12 aircraft equipped with automatic recording instruments. The crews include a meteorological officer and a specially trained wireless operator.

Combat aircraft often are detailed to report on weather conditions encountered during their operations. The outstanding example of this type of reporting is that of the long-range bomber units operating from Norway. Weather reconnaissance performed by these units has become almost as important as their anti-shipping reconnaissance.



Air Force cooperation may be of three types: direct or close support (tactical support); indirect support (strategic missions); and liaison.

1. Direct or Close Support

Close support usually is confined to the actual battle front and the area immediately behind it. It consists of bombing and strafing enemy ground forces, tanks, artillery, pillboxes, field defense works, antiaircraft defenses, forward dumps, and supply columns. It also includes air cover as protection for ground and Air Force units against enemy air attacks, and against enemy air reconnaissance. All types of aircraft may be used for these operations.

2. Indirect Support

Indirect support involves attacks on targets beyond the battle area such as rear maintenance and supply depots, enemy airfields, railroads, industrial centers, etc.

3. Liaison

Liaison between the Army and Air Force for both army cooperation and tactical reconnaissance is provided by specially trained Air Force officers known as Flivos (Fliegerverbindungsoffiziere). The German Air Force support is requested by the Army units through their superior commands. The armies transmit the request to the competent headquarters authority where a German Air Force liaison officer (Flivo) is stationed. Such headquarters are generally those of Army groups. German Air Force Signal Liaison officers (Fliegerverbindungsoffiziere (Ln)) are stationed with Army corps headquarters and in some particular cases with division headquarters. A German Air Force Liaison Officer is specially assigned to Army Headquarters for the purpose of directing close cooperation between the Army and German Air Force reconnaissance units (Fliegerverbindungsoffiziere (Aufklärung)). For the control of the close support missions, which as a result of these requests are ordered by the German Air Force Command (Fliegerkorps or Luftflotte HQ), special German Air Force officers are stationed at the front line. These control officers (Fliegerleitoffiziere) direct the flying formations to their targets by radio from advanced observation posts on the ground.



1. Aircraft

a. CONVENTIONAL TYPES. (1) General. The decision of the German Air Ministry to concentrate on mass production of a few selected types has led to the development of versatile aircraft capable of performing several duties. Therefore, certain types of aircraft fall into more than one category; i.e., the Junkers 88 is both a twin-engine fighter and bomber. The German Air Force has relied chiefly on the Focke-Wulf 190, Messerschmitt 109, and Junkers 88 to perform the major part of all fighter, day and night bomber, and reconnaissance missions. During the course of the war, however, improvements became necessary, and many sub-types have been produced. It was important to prevent these changes from interfering seriously with production schedules, and especially to avoid the substitution of entirely new types. Therefore most of the improvements consisted of modernizations and adaptations of existing types rather than the creation of completely new models. The most favored improvements were the installations of more powerful engines, additional armament, and heavier armor plate. When these modifications did not achieve the desired end, the plane's structure was changed. One of the outstanding weaknesses of early German planes--their lack of defensive armament and protective armor--received increased attention, and in many cases has been adequately remedied.

(2) Single-engine fighters. (a) General. The German single-engine fighter force is made up of only two plane types--the Messerschmitt 109 and the Focke-Wulf 190. Both types are produced in several versions and series, but the basic design of each has remained unchanged. Improvements have been achieved mainly by installation of more highly powered engines and heavier armament. The principal developments in these fighters have been the introduction of special high-altitude versions and the conversion of the FW 190 into a fighter-bomber.

(b) Important operational aircraft. (1) Messerschmitt 109. This plane was the standard single-engine fighter at the beginning of the war. At present, it is one of two standard single-engine fighters and is used primarily for high-altitude defensive duties.

(2) Focke-Wulf 190. This is the first single- engine fighter in the Air Force to use an air-cooled, radial engine. Of a more recent design than the ME 109, the FW 190 is a larger, cleaner plane. Its armor, armament, and simplified electrically operated controls are essential features that make it an exceptionally good medium-altitude fighter. It also is extensively used as a fighter-bomber with a normal bomb load of 550 pounds.

(3) Twin-engine fighters. (a) General. The Germans started the war with but one operational twin-engine fighter, the Messerschmitt 110. Attempts at introducing improved models (ME 210 and 410) encountered production difficulties, and these aircraft have not proved very successful as twin-engine fighters or been operational in large numbers. However, the German Air Force has adopted two of its long-range bombers as twin-engine fighters, the JU 88 and the DO 217. The fighter version of the JU 88 appeared in 1941, and this type since has been used in increasing numbers, now constituting a very substantial part of the German twin-engine fighter force. The DO 217 fighter is used primarily for night fighting, but has not achieved the success of the JU 88. Generally speaking, the night fighter branch of the German Air Force has constituted its most effective arm throughout the war.

(b) Important operational aircraft. (1) Junkers 88. Similar in appearance to its bomber prototype, except for the metal-panelled nose, the fighter version of the JU 88 is currently the most formidable German night fighter. It is relatively fast, heavily armed, and well protected. This type is employed for intruder and ground attack operations in addition to night fighting.

(2) Dornier 217. Likewise a modified bomber model, the DO 217 is used as a night-fighter, but has not proved as effective as the JU 88 in this category.

(4) Ground attack aircraft. The original JU 87 "Stuka" dive bomber, while still in limited use for night ground attack duty, has been largely superseded by faster single-engine fighters, equipped with bomb racks and known as fighter-bombers. The latter aircraft, of which the FW 190 is the best example, have the greater speed and maneuverability required by all ground attack operations without the necessity of strong fighter escort. The ME 262 jet plane also is being used for this type of operation.

(5) Multi-engine bombers. The long range bomber force has been relegated to a minor role


in German Air Force operations. Allied fighter superiority, combined with the necessity of increased German fighter production, largely has restricted bomber activities to mine laying and occasional night bombing. Principal types used are the JU 88, DO 217 and HE 111.

(6) Transport planes. Although a pre-war model, the Junkers 52 three-engine, low-wing monoplane is still the standard freight and troop carrying transport of the German Air Force. It also is used extensively for carrying and dropping parachute troops and as a glider tug. Other operational transport types include the six-engine Messerschmitt 323 and the four-engine Junkers 290. Converted bombers, such as the HE 111, also are employed frequently for heavy transport duty.

(7) Gliders. Gliders are of two types: powered and tow. Both resemble a conventional monoplane, but the tow glider lacks an engine and landing gear. The tow glider generally uses wheels during take-off and then jettisons them, subsequently landing on a skid. Both types of gliders are equipped with landing flaps and dive brakes, as well as navigation and landing lights.

The principal types of tow gliders are the DFS 230, GO 242 and ME 321. Principal powered gliders are ME 323 and GO 244.

(8) Army cooperation and reconnaissance aircraft. The standard type of Army cooperation plane, typified by the Henschel 126, has proved very vulnerable to modern fighters and antiaircraft fire. This has resulted in the employment of converted fighters, sufficiently fast, maneuverable, and armed to undertake short-range reconnaissance without fighter protection. Such conversion usually consists of replacing some of the armament with cameras. Recent development of high-speed jet aircraft has furnished the German Air Force with a highly desirable reconnaissance plane.

b. GERMAN COMPOSITE OR "PICK-A'BACK" AIRCRAFT. This innovation, still in the experimental stage, consists of a multi-motored plane with a large amount of explosive in the nose, surmounted and controlled by a single-engine aircraft. The latter directs the former in a dive towards the target and then releases it. Thereafter its operation is apparently by remote control. The usual components observed have been the JU 88 and the ME 109, but there is no reason to believe that other similar types could not be adapted for this purpose.

c. JET- AND ROCKET-PROPELLED. (1) General. The perfection and application of jet and rocket propulsion as motive power for aircraft are outstanding German aeronautical developments of the current war. To counter this new type aircraft, if it is employed on any appreciable scale, might well necessitate a general revision of defensive and offensive aerial tactics. Required changes or improvements also might extend to include ground defenses against attacks by these aircraft. To date the Germans have not employed jet or rocket aircraft on a sufficient scale to permit full and accurate assessment of their characteristics and possibilities. Those currently in use, however, appear to possess significant advantages over conventional types. In level flight, dives, and rate of climb all known conventional types have been surpassed by aircraft with this type of motive power. The propellerless power unit is capable of operation on the lowest grade fuels, and the absence of many intricate parts, necessary in conventional types, probably greatly simplifies assembly and repair methods.

(2) Types. Operational types of German jet and rocket aircraft thus far have been limited to those powered by single or twin-units. They have been employed to date as defensive fighters, as ground-attack or low-altitude bombers, and for reconnaissance. For the latter purpose they have proved to be very effective because of their speed.

(a) The only rocket-propelled aircraft known to be operational by the German Air Force is the Messerschmitt 163 (ME 163). It is a very fast, single-seat fighter. Although it has only a single power unit, it has a remarkable rate of climb. Because of its present limited endurance, to date it has seen comparatively little use, particularly in forward areas.

(b) The Messerschmitt 262 (ME 262), a twin-unit, jet-propelled aircraft, has proved to be the most successful of the German jet or rocket types thus far developed. Employed as a fighter, as a ground-attack or low-level bomber, and for reconnaissance duties, it is the most versatile of the jet or rocket aircraft yet introduced by the Germans.

(c) Other German twin-unit jet aircraft, either currently operational on a limited scale or expected to become operational in the near future, are the Arado 234 (AR 234) and Heinkel 280 (HE 280). Both of these aircraft are somewhat similar to the Messerschmitt 262 in appearance


and are expected to be about equal in performance.

d. NAVAL AND MARINE. At present, naval and marine aircraft are operated by the German Air Force on a limited scale. The use of the BV 138 for reconnaissance in the Norway and Denmark areas is the principal duty performed by this type of aircraft. Other types, such as the HE 115 and AR 196, are employed for general reconnaissance and liaison with the various naval testing units operating in the Baltic Sea, and for the performance of air/sea rescue service. In addition, naval aircraft such as the BV 222 are occasionally used for marine supply and transport duty.

2. Power Units

a. ENGINES. The German Air Force has equipped practically all operational aircraft with engines manufactured by three large companies: Daimler-Benz (D. B.); the Bayerische Moteren Werke (B. M. W.); and the Junkers (Jumo). The trend of aeronautical engine development has been toward more powerful engines with increased altitude performance. German aero-engine designers have obtained this by modifying existing engines to use GM-1 (nitrous oxide) and MW-50 (methanol injection) apparatus and, in certain instances, by coupling two existing engines together. Lack of time for experimentation with new engines has led to the modification of existing types which could be more quickly put into service in war time.

b. JET PROPULSION UNITS. An outstanding achievement in the field of aircraft power units has been the development of jet propulsion, an example being the Junkers Jumo 004. This unit often is referred to as a jet-propulsion turbine, or turbo jet. Propulsion is developed through the reaction to ejected hot gases which have been created by compressed air igniting with liquid fuel. As these gases pass out to the vents they traverse a turbine, which in turn operates the air compressor. Original momentum of the turbine is created by an auxiliary engine which disengages when the turbine has developed sufficient speed to create the required compression. German aircraft using jet propulsion turbines include the Messerschmitt 262, Arado 234 and Heinkel 280.

c. ROCKET-PROPULSION UNITS. A closed unit in which fuel is burned or gasified, a rocket does not require air from the atmosphere for combustion. The gases leave through a nozzle at the rear to provide thrust by jet propulsion. Fuels are of three types: solids, (e.g., cordite); two liquids, one a fuel, (e.g., gasoline), and the second an oxidizing agent (e.g., liquid oxygen); or a single liquid with or without liquid as a catalyst, (e.g., hydrogen peroxide with potassium or sodium permanganate).

3. Armament

The Germans started the war with only a few types of aircraft armament, in order to standardize manufacture and achieve large-scale production. As the war progressed, improvements became necessary and many changes and additions have been made. In addition to increasing the rate of fire, muzzle velocity, and caliber of aircraft armament, the number of guns on German Air Force fighters has been greatly increased. The addition of the Model 108 30-mm cannon, a new weapon in aircraft armament, to FW 190's, ME 262's, ME 110 Gs and ME 109 G's stands out as a great advancement, in terms of striking power. A detailed discussion of the various types of aircraft armament can be found in Chapter VII, Section IX.

4. Armor

The armor protection in German planes varies in thickness from 4 to 20 mm The total weight per plane may vary from 100 pounds or less in some army cooperation types to over 1,000 pounds for a ground-attack plane. The demands of modern warfare have necessitated increased protection of the pilot as well as of the engine and accessory equipment. Other crew members are normally protected by plates on the sides and floor of the plane.

5. Tabulated Data

Specifications given are for the principal types in current operation. The following type abbreviations are used:

LWM--Low Wing Monoplane.
HWM--High Wing Monoplane.
MWM--Mid-Wing Monoplane.
TT--Twin tails.
TB--Twin tail booms.



Aircraft Manufacturer and Model Type Normal Crew Engines, Model and Rated HP Wing Span Max, Speed MPH Radius of Action (40% Normal
Range) (Miles)
Bomb or Freight Load
Normal Weight
Service Ceiling
    (1) Focke-Wulf FW 190
LWM 1 1xBMW 801 D 14 cyl. twin-row, air-cooled radial--
1755 HP
34'6" 385 at 19,000 ft. 175 Forward fuselage
2x7. 9-or 13-mm
Forward wings 2/4x20-mm
2x21-cm rockets under wings 8,600 36,000
    (2) Focke-Wulf FW 190 (Long nose) LWM 1 Jumo 213--12 cyl. liquid-cooled --1700 HP
or DB603--12 cyl. liquid-cooled-- 1800 HP
34'6" 435 (est.) 160 (est.) Forward fuselage
2x7. 9- or 13-mm
Forward wings 2/4x20-mm
9,000 (est.) 36,000 (est.)
    (3) Messerschmitt ME 109 LWM 1 1xDB 605A/1 12 cyl. liquid-cooled--1460 HP 32'8" 400 at 22,000 ft. 175 Forward fuselage
2x7. 9- or 13-mm
Forward wings
2x20-mm Prop. hub
2x21-cm rockets under wings 6, 820 38, 500
    (1) Dornier DO 217 J
HWM 3 2xBMW 801D 14 cyl. twin-row, air-cooled radial--1755 HP 62'5" 328 at 20,000 ft. 470 Forward fuselage
4x7. 9-mm plus 4x20-mm
1x13-mm Ventral
27,500 29,000
    (2) Heinkel HE 219 MWM 2 (est.) 2xDB 60312 cyl. liquid-
cooled--1800 HP
60'6" 400 at 22,000 ft. (est.) 600 (est. max.) Forward wings
4x24- or 30-mm
26,100 32,800



Aircraft Manufacturer and Model Type Normal Crew Engines, Model and Rated HP Wing Span Max, Speed MPH Radius of Action (40% Normal
Range) (Miles)
Bomb or Freight Load
Normal Weight
Service Ceiling
    (3) Junkers JU 88 C-6 LWM 3 2xJumo 211J 12 cyl. liquid-cooled--1380 HP 65'11" 295 at 14,000 ft. 285 Forward fuselage 1/3x20-mm plus 3x7. 9-mm
2x7. 9-mm plus
2x7. 9-mm
24,000 24, 200
    (4) Messerschmitt ME 110 LWM 2 2xDB 601F 12 cyl. liquid-
cooled--1395 HP
53'11" 360 at 20,000 ft. 275 Forward fuselage
4x7. 9 mm plus 2/4x20-mm
2x7. 9-mm
16, 200 34,000
    (5) Messerschmitt ME410[1] LWM 2 2xDB 603 A-2 12 cyl. liquid-cooled--1680 HP 53'7" 395 at 22,000 ft. 415 Forward fuselage
2/4x20-mm or
2x30-mm plus 2x47-mm
or 1x37- or 50-mm
plus 2x7. 9-mm
24,000 30,000

[1] No technical data available for the rocket- and jet-propelled fighters Messerschmitt ME 163 and ME 262, Arado AR 234, and Heinkel HE 280.


Aircraft Manufacturer and Model Type Normal Crew Engines, Model and Rated HP Wing Span Max, Speed MPH Radius of Action (40% Normal
Range) (Miles)
Bomb or Freight Load
Normal Weight
Service Ceiling
    (1) Junkers JU 87 (Stuka) (Dive-bomber)
Inverted Gull Wing 2 1xJumo 211 J 12 cyl. liiquid-cooled--1335 HP 45'4" 255 at 13,500 ft. 280 Forward fuselage
Forward wings
2x7.9 or 37-mm
2,200 12,600 18,500
    (2) Focke-Wulf FW 190 (Fighter-bomber) LWM 1 1xBMW 801D 14 cyl. twin-row, airi-cooled radial--1755 HP 34'6" 370 at 19,000 ft. 165 Forward fuselage
2x7.9 or 13.-mm
Forward wings 2/4x20-mm
550 9,800 31,500
Twin-Engine    (1) Henschel HS 129 LWM 1 2xGnome-Rhone 14M 04/05 14 cyl. twin-row, air-cooled radial--800 HP 44'6" 275 at 9,000 ft. 220 Forward fuselage
2x7.9-mm plus 2x15 or 20-mm plus 1x30-mm or 6x7.9mm
Possibly 2x20-mm
220 11,400 25,000
    (2) Dornier DO 217 K-2 HWM 4 2xBMW 801 A-2 14 cyl. twin-row, air-cooled radial--1595 HP 80'6" 325 at 20,000 ft. (est.) 470 Forward fuselage
2x7.9-mm or larger caliber
6,600 35,000 25,000



Aircraft Manufacturer and Model Type Normal Crew Engines, Model and Rated HP Wing Span Max, Speed MPH Radius of Action (40% Normal
Range) (Miles)
Bomb or Freight Load
Normal Weight
Service Ceiling
    (3) Heinkel HE 111 LWM 5/6 2xJumo 211F 12 cyl. liquid-cooled--1230 HP 74' 252 at
14,000 ft.
215 Forward fuselage
1x20-mm plus 1/2x7. 9-mm
2x7. 9-mm
2,020 25,500 26,000
    (4) Heinkel HE 177 MWM 7 2xDB610 (DB 605 doubled) >24 cyl. liquid-cooled--2800 HP 103'6" 300 at
20,000 ft.
460 Forward fuselage
1x7. 9-mm
Forward dorsal
Rear dorsal
Forward ventral
Rear ventral
12,320 68,000 21,000
    (5) Junkers JU 88 A-4 LWM 4 2xJumo 211J 12 cyl. liquid-cooled--1335 HP 65'11" 291 at
14,000 ft.
490 Forward fuselage 1/2x7. 9-mm and/or 1x20-mm
2x7. 9-mm
2x7. 9-mm
4,400 28,300 24,200
    (6) Junkers JU 88 S LWM 3 2xBMW 801 G-2 14 cyl. twin-row, air-cooled radial--1530 HP (est.) 65'11" 339 at
20,000 ft.
245 Forward fuselage
1x7. 9-mm
1, 980 26, 400 30,000



Aircraft Manufacturer and Model Type Normal Crew Engines, Model and Rated HP Wing Span Max, Speed MPH Radius of Action (40% Normal
Range) (Miles)
Bomb or Freight Load
Normal Weight
Service Ceiling
    (7) Junkers JU 188 (Estimated performance) LWM 4 2xJumo 213 A/1 12 cyl. liquid-cooled--1700 HP (est.) 72'6" 325 at
20,000 ft.
320 Forward fuselage
1x20-mm Cockpit rear 1x13-mm
2x7. 9-mm or 1x13-mm
4, 400 33/34,000
    (8) Messerschmitt ME 110G LWM 2 2xDB 605B, 12 cyl. liquid-cooled--1460 HP 53'11" 325 at
19,000 ft.
250 Forward fuselage
4x7. 9-mm plus
2x20 or
2x7. 9-mm
2,640 20,900 29,000
    Focke-Wulf FW 200
LWM 5/7 4xBramo "FAFNIR" 323 R, 9 cyl. air-cooled radial--
1,000 HP
107'7" 240 at
13,000 ft.
750 Dorsal forward
1x15-or 20-mm
Rear dorsal
2/4x7. 9-mm
or 2x13-mm
Forward ventral
1x15-or 20-mm
Rear ventral
1x7. 9-, 13-, or 20-mm
3,600 50,000 20,500



Aircraft Manufacturer and Model Type Normal Crew Engines, Model and Rated HP Wing Span Max, Speed MPH Radius of Action (40% Normal
Range) (Miles)
Bomb or Freight Load
Normal Weight
Service Ceiling
(1) Arado AR 232 (performance and characteristics estimated) HWMTT 3/4 2xBMW 801 A or L 14 cyl. twin-row, air-cooled radial--1595 HP 104' 210 at
18,000 ft.
350/400 Forward fuselage
1 MG Lateral 4 MGs
9,000 45,000 20,000
(2) Gotha GO 244 (Twin-engine powered version of GO 242 glider) HWMTB 2 2xGnome-Rhone 14 m, 14 cyl. twin-row, air-cooled radial-- 800 HP 79' 169 at
10,000 ft.
145 Forward fuselage
1/2x7. 9-mm
1x7. 9-mm Lateral 4x7. 9-mm
1x7. 9-mm
4,400 or
23 men
17,500 19,000
(3) Junkers JU 52 LWM 3/4 3xBMW 132A A/T 9 cyl. air-cooled radial--660 HP 95'11" 165 210 Forward fuselage
1x7. 9-mm
1x7. 9-mm
2x7. 9-mm
1x7. 9-mm
5,000 or
22 men
23,100 16,000
(4) Junkers JU 90 LWM 5 4xBMW 132 H 9 cyl. air-cooled radial--830 HP 115' 218 at
3,500 ft.
315 Forward fuselage
1x7. 9-mm
1x7. 9-mm
9,000 or
up to 70 men
51,000 15,000



Aircraft Manufacturer and Model Type Normal Crew Engines, Model and Rated HP Wing Span Max, Speed MPH Radius of Action (40% Normal
Range) (Miles)
Bomb or Freight Load
Normal Weight
Service Ceiling
(5) Junkers JU 252 LWM 6 3xBMW 80114 cyl. twin-row, air-cooled radial--1755 HP 111' (est.) 235 at 18,500 ft. Unknown Dorsal
1x13-or 20-mm
?x7. 9-mm
1x13-or 30-mm
12,000 (est.) or
35 men
45,000 (est.) 26,000
(6) Junkers JU 290 LWM TT 4/7 4xBMW 801 L-2 14 cyl. twin-row, air-cooled radial--1500 HP 138' 243 at
18,000 ft.
395 Forward fuselage
1x15-or 20-mm
1x20-mm, rear
19,000 or
up to 90 men
90,000 19,000
(7) Messerschmitt ME 323 HWM 8/10 6xGnome-Rhone 14N 48/49,
14 cyl. twin-row, radial--965 HP
181' 195 at
13,000 ft.
255 Fuselage
2x7. 9-mm, upper 2x7. 9-mm, lower
4x7. 9-mm, forward plus 2x7. 9-mm, rear
6x7. 9-mm
2x7. 9-mm
26,900 or 60/100 men 85,000 23,000



Aircraft Manufacturer and Model Type Normal Crew Engines, Model and Rated HP Wing Span Max, Speed MPH Radius of Action (40% Normal
Range) (Miles)
Bomb or Freight Load
Normal Weight
Service Ceiling
(1) Gotha DFS 230 HWM 1 or 2 None 72'4" Dependent on type of tug. Dependent on type of tug. Light MG can be
2, 800 or
10 men
4, 700
(2) Gotha GO 242 HWM TB 2 None 79' Dependent on type of tug. Dependent on type of tug. Fuselage
1 or 2x7. 9-mm Dorsal
1x7. 9-mm
1 x7. 9-mm
5, 300 or
23 fully equipped
(3) Messerschmitt ME 321
HWM 1 or 2 None 181' Dependent on type of tug. Dependent on type of tug. Lateral
6x7. 9-mm
26,000 or
130 men


Aircraft Manufacturer and Model Type Normal Crew Engines, Model and Rated HP Wing Span Max, Speed MPH Radius of Action (40% Normal
Range) (Miles)
Bomb or Freight Load
Normal Weight
Service Ceiling
(1) Henschel HS 126 HWM 2 1xBramo "Fafnir" 323, 9 cyl. air-cooled radial--1,000 HP 47'7" 230 at
15,000 ft.
210 Forward fuselage
1 or 2x7. 9-mm
1x7. 9-mm
2x7. 9-mm
220 7, 250 27,000
(2) Fieseler FI 156 HWM 2 or 3 1xArgus As 10C/3, 8 cyl. air-cooled, inverted "V"--240 HP 46'8" 110 at
S. L.
95 Dorsal
1x7. 9-mm
220 2,250 15,000



Aircraft Manufacturer and Model Type Normal Crew Engines, Model and Rated HP Wing Span Max, Speed MPH Radius of Action (40% Normal
Range) (Miles)
Bomb or Freight Load
Normal Weight
Service Ceiling
(1) Arado AR 196 LWM (Float) 2 1xBMW 132 K, 9 cyl. air-cooled radial--920 HP 41' 195 at S. L. 185 Fuselage
1x7. 9-mm
Forward wings
2x7. 9-mm
220 6, 600 21,500
(2) Blohm & Voss BV 138 HWM
TB(Flying boat)
5 or 6 3xJumo 205 D 6 cyl. liquid-cooled Diesel 700 HP 88'7" 175 at S. L. 395 Forward fuselage
1x15-or 20-mm
Tail 1x15-or 20-mm
660 30,800 17,000
(3) Blohm & Voss BV 222 (Performance estimated) HWM 10 6xBMW 801 A, 14 cyl. twin-row, air-cooled radial--1595 HP 150'10" 200/240 at 15/ 17,000 ft. 1, 400 to 1, 800 Forward fuselage
15-or 20-mm
2x15- or 20-mm
45,000 (est.) up to 116 men 45,000 18,000
(4) Heinkel HE 115 MWM (Twin Floats) 3 2xBMW 132 K, 9 cyl. air-cooled radial--920 HP 72'6" 185 at S. L. 490 Forward fuselage
1x7. 9-and
Engine nacelles
2x7. 9-mm
1x7. 9-mm
1, 100 23,500 18,500


Figure 3.--FW 190 Single-Engine Fighter-Bomber with DB 603 Engine
Figure 3.--FW 190 Single-Engine Fighter-Bomber with DB 603 Engine.

Figure 4.--ME 109 F Single-Engine Fighter-Bomber
Figure 4.--ME 109 F Single-Engine Fighter-Bomber.


Figure 5.--DO 217 J Twin-Engine Night-Fighter
Figure 5.--DO 217 J Twin-Engine Night-Fighter.

Figure 6.--JU 88 C-6 Twin-Engine Fighter
Figure 6.--JU 88 C-6 Twin-Engine Fighter.


Figure 7.--ME 110's in action
Figure 7.--ME 110's in action.

Figure 8.--MF. 110 Twin-Engine Fighter-Bomber
Figure 8.--MF. 110 Twin-Engine Fighter-Bomber.


Figure 9.--ME 110 Twin-Engine Fighter-Bomber
Figure 9.--ME 110 Twin-Engine Fighter-Bomber.

Figure 10.--ME 410 Twin-Engine Fighter-Bomber
Figure 10.--ME 410 Twin-Engine Fighter-Bomber.


Figure 11.--JU 87 (Stuka) Twin-Engine Dive-Bomber
Figure 11.--JU 87 (Stuka) Twin-Engine Dive-Bomber.

Figure 12--FW 190 Single-Engine Fighter-Bomber
Figure 12--FW 190 Single-Engine Fighter-Bomber.


Figure 13.--DO 217 K-2 Twin-Engine Bombe
Figure 13.--DO 217 K-2 Twin-Engine Bomber.

Figure 14.--HE 111 Twin-Engine Bomber
Figure 14.--HE 111 Twin-Engine Bomber.

Figure 15.--HE 177 Twin Doubled Engine Bomber
Figure 15.--HE 177 Twin "Doubled" Engine Bomber.


Figure 16.--JU 88 A-4 Twin-Engine Bomber
Figure 16.--JU 88 A-4 Twin-Engine Bomber.

Figure 17.--JU 88 S Twin-Engine Bomber
Figure 17.--JU 88 S Twin-Engine Bomber.

Figure 18.--JU 188 Twin-Engine Bombe
Figure 18.--JU 188 Twin-Engine Bomber.


Figure 19.--FW 200 C Four-Engine Bombe
Figure 19.--FW 200 C Four-Engine Bomber.

Figure 20.--GO 244 Twin-Engine Transport
Figure 20.--GO 244 Twin-Engine Transport.

Figure 21.--JU 52 Three-Engine Transport/Glider Tug
Figure 21.--JU 52 Three-Engine Transport/Glider Tug.


Figure 22.--ME 323 Six-Engine Transport
Figure 22.--ME 323 Six-Engine Transport.

Figure 23.--JU 90 Four-Engine Transport/Glider Tug
Figure 23.--JU 90 Four-Engine Transport/Glider Tug.

Figure 24.--DFS 230 Glider
Figure 24.--DFS 230 Glider.

Figure 25.--AR 232 Four-Engine Transport
Figure 25.--AR 232 Four-Engine Transport.


Figure 26.--JU 290 Four-Engine Transport
Figure 26.--JU 290 Four-Engine Transport.

Figure 27.--GO 242 Glider
Figure 27.--GO 242 Glider.

Figure 28.--ME 321 Gigant Glider
Figure 28.--ME 321 "Gigant" Glider.


Figure 29.--HS 126 Single-Engine Army Cooperation
Figure 29.--HS 126 Single-Engine Army Cooperation.

Figure 30.--FI 156 Storch Single-Engine Army Cooperation
Figure 30.--FI 156 "Storch" Single-Engine Army Cooperation.

Figure 31.--AR 196 Single-Engine Floatplane
Figure 31.--AR 196 Single-Engine Floatplane.


Figure 32.--BV 138 Three-Engine Flying Boat
Figure 32.--BV 138 Three-Engine Flying Boat.

Figure 33.--BV 222 Six-Engine Flying Boat
Figure 33.--BV 222 Six-Engine Flying Boat.

Figure 34.--HE 115 Twin-Engine Floatplane
Figure 34.--HE 115 Twin-Engine Floatplane.


Figure 35.--ME 163 Liquid-Rocket Propelled Interceptor Fighter
Figure 35.--ME 163 Liquid-Rocket Propelled Interceptor Fighter.

Figure 36.--ME 262 Jet-Propelled Turbine-Type Fighter
Figure 36.--ME 262 Jet-Propelled Turbine-Type Fighter.


Figure 37.--German Air Force training program
Figure 37.--German Air Force training program.


1. General

Air Force training is the responsibility of the Air Ministry Training Inspectorate headed by the Air Officer for Training (General der Fliegerausbildung). Air Training Divisions control the assignment of recruits to training schools and assignment of trained pilots to operational units upon orders from the Air Ministry. At the individual flying schools all training is under the control of a Director of Instruction Courses (Lehrgangsleiter), who is also responsible for the maintenance of the training aircraft.

2. Recruit Training

All prospective Air Force personnel are sent to German Air Force Initial Training Regiments (Fliegerausbildungsregimenter), where for six weeks to three months they receive military or basic infantry training. Upon completion of Initial Training, pilot candidates enter Elementary Flying Training Schools. Personnel to be trained for the air crew positions of flight engineer, gunner, wireless operator, or observer are enrolled in their respective individual schools.

3. Elementary Flying Training

Pilot candidates proceed to and begin their actual flight training in the Elementary Flying Training Schools (Flugzügführerschulen A). All pupils take Course Number 1, a brief glider training course, and Course Number 2, (Motor Auswahl), a preliminary course in powered aircraft. Unsuitable trainees are eliminated, and those acceptable are assigned to bomber or fighter training upon determination of their qualifications. Students in single-engine, fighter-pilot training continue through Course Number 3 (Jagdvorschule), a branch of the Elementary Flying Training School, for preliminary instruction in


fighter aircraft. This course includes aerobatics, cross-country, and formation flying.

4. Single-Engine Fighter Training

The single-engine fighter pilot progresses from Course Number 3 of Elementary Flying Training School to the specialized single-engine fighter school (Jagdschule) Geschwader where he learns to fly operational fighter types. He also receives instruction in gunnery, blind flying, and formation flying. He is next assigned to a Reserve Training Pool (Erganzungs Jagdgeschwader) where he receives intensive combat training prior to joining an operational unit. The total time necessary to produce a single-engine fighter pilot is from 7 to 8 months, including flying time of from 107 to 112 hours.

5. Advanced Training or Conversion School

Upon completion of the Elementary Flying Training School (A) Course Number 2, the bomber, reconnaissance, ground-attack, and twin-engine fighter pilots are sent to an Advanced Training or Conversion School (Flugzeugführerschule B). Here they are instructed in the handling of multi-engine aircraft, in blind flying, link trainer, instrument flying, and the use of direction-finder apparatus. Two or three months are spent in this phase of training.

6. Specialized School Geschwadern

a. BOMBER TRAINING. From the Advanced Training or Conversion School the bomber pilot is sent to a Specialized Bomber School (Kampfschule) Geschwader, where pilots and members of their crews are assembled as units. This course includes formation flying and leading, torpedo and tactical bombing, high level and precision bombing, minelaying, and bomb ballistics. The total training period of a bomber pilot comprises about 9 months.

b. TWIN-ENGINE FIGHTER TRAINING. From the Advanced Training School, prospective twin-engine fighter pilots proceed to a Specialized Twin-Engine School Geschwader, either day (Zerstörerschule) or night (Nachtjagdschule). Here they are instructed in gunnery, blind flying, bad weather flying, mock attacks, and operational day and night flying. A twin-engine pilot spends from 6 to 7 months in training.

c. GROUND-ATTACK TRAINING. Upon completion of the Advanced Training School course, ground-attack students advance to a Specialized Ground-Attack School (Schlachtschule) Geschwader. Here the instruction includes dive bombing, strafing, aerobatics, rocket firing, and navigation. The total time required to produce a ground-attack pilot is about 5 months.


Proceeding from the Advanced Training School to a Specialized Reconnaissance School (Fernaufklärerschule) Geschwader, students training for reconnaissance pilots are instructed in aerial photography, visual reconnaissance, and navigation.

7. Reserve Training Units

After completion of instruction in their individual specialized school, Geschwadern--bomber, twin-engine, ground-attack, and reconnaissance-- together with their assigned crews, are advanced to their respective Reserve Training Units (Ergänzungs Kampfgruppe, Ergänzungs Nachtjagd or Zerstorer Gruppe, Ergänzungs Fernaufklarer Gruppe, Ergänzungs Schlacht Gruppe). Here they are assigned to a non-operational Gruppe of a Geschwader until such time as vacancies occur in the operational Gruppen of the unit to which they are attached. Thus, training periods in this phase vary according to operational requirements. In such Geschwadern the crews receive intensive training under combat conditions in the specific tactics of the unit.

8. Air Crew Training

From the Initial Training Regiment prospective air crew members proceed to their respective specialist schools: Observer's School (Aufklärungschule); Wireless Telegraphy School (Luftnachrichtenschule); Air Gunnery School (Fliegerschützenschule); and Flight Engineer's School (Fliegertechnisheschule). Observer candidates spend 1 to 2 months learning map-making and reading, navigation, bombsights and bombing, meteorology, astro-navigation, and air gunnery. Students in wireless telegraphy undergo 1 to 2 months' intensive training in wireless transmitting and receiving, navigation, map reading, and radio direction-finding. Air gunners must complete a 1- to 2-months course, comprised of ground firing, camera-gun operation, air-to-air machine-gun firing, and elementary navigation. Students in flight engineering are given theoretical training in aircraft engines and aerodynamics. They also spend some time engaged in practical work on engines in an aircraft factory. Upon completion of their various courses, these specially trained


personnel are assembled with pilots into crews for unit training in a specialized school Geschwader.


1. General

In more than 5 years of warfare new tactics had to be perfected to take advantage of improvements or new developments in both German and Allied aircraft and armament. Other factors have been the German Air Force's loss of its original numerical superiority and the new problems arising in the defense of the homeland due to continually receding front lines. As a result, profound changes have and are still taking place in German Air Force tactics. In general, however, it may be said that through the last few years the German Air Force has been increasingly on the defensive. It has been unable to go on the offensive, except occasionally and on a limited scope. Thus, the German Air Force tactics were modified from one of bold attack to one of conservation of strength, assuming risks only when decisive results appeared obtainable. Within the limitations of such enforced caution the German Air Force has held to its basic concepts of surprise, concentrated attack and exploitation of the enemy's mistakes.

2. Long-Range Bombers

a. OPERATIONS EARLY IN THE WAR. The German Air Force never has had a heavy bomber force. Its long-range bomber force has consisted of medium bombers designed originally for close, as well as indirect, support. Typical of its intended purpose were the large-scale bombing attacks on airfields which initiated the German campaigns against Poland, France, and the Lowlands. The inadequacy of this bomber force for strategic operations was revealed in the Battle of Britain. The deficiency was never corrected, and thereafter the main employment of the long-range bomber force was as close support, a function which progressively declined as the German Air Force lost more and more its previous air superiority to the growing fighter forces of the Allies.

Units specializing in anti-shipping activities have comprised the most experienced and efficient branch of the bomber force during the war. They too eventually proved inadequate to their main mission when major Allied landings were made on the coasts of Europe.

b. RECENT TREND. In view of these factors, the German Air Force in the summer of 1944 substantially curtailed its bomber force. The relatively few units remaining operational are today engaged in the following operations:

(1) Level bombing from medium height, in dusk or dawn attacks by small formations on bridges, railroads, dock facilities, and targets of opportunity in the rear of battle areas.

(2) Mining of coastal waters and estuaries at night.

(3) Occasional torpedo attacks on shipping.

(4) Miscellaneous minor activities such as air launching of pilotless aircraft, "pick-a-back" attacks on shipping, docks and bridges, etc.

3. Ground Attack

a. "STUKAS." Ground attack is the extremely close support of ground forces in the battle area illustrated by the close teamwork of aircraft with advancing Panzer columns which was the basic formula of Germany's Blitzkrieg. The "Stuka" dive-bombing JU 87 was the air artillery which on short summons from the ground forces cleared road blocks and reduced opposition. It also roamed behind the enemy's line disrupting traffic and creating confusion. For such tactics, complete mastery of the air was a requirement. In the early campaigns, the skies were swept clear of opposition by sudden attacks on enemy airfields followed by destruction in the air of such aircraft as had escaped. Without such freedom from enemy fighter interception, the "Stuka" was too vulnerable and could not operate. This became apparent in the later stages of the Tunisian campaign. With the advent of appreciable Allied fighter strength, dive bombing in daytime continued only in areas where the enemy lacked fighter strength such as the Partisan sectors of the Balkans or where special front characteristics, such as the vastness of the Eastern Front, made their employment Still possible. In the West, dive-bombing "Stukas" have been relegated to individual night sorties chiefly against troop concentrations, headquarters and other front-line objectives.

b. TWIN-ENGINE FIGHTERS. The German Air Force unsuccessfully experimented with heavily armored twin-engine fighters to fill the place left vacant by the obsolescence of the "Stuka". The HS 129 never proved satisfactory and is disappearing from the Eastern Front, its only sphere of operations.


c. SINGLE-ENGINE FIGHTER-BOMBERS. (1) The German Air Force then turned to the single-engine fighter to meet the ground-attack needs. The FW 190 equipped as a fighter-bomber proved satisfactory, and re-equipment of the Schlacht Units with this type apparently was intended.

(2) The fighter-bomber tactics are familiar. They consist of medium-height approach by small formations, ranging from aSchwarm of five planes to a half Gruppe, though occasionally concentration may be attempted. Troops, transport columns, and airfields are dive-bombed by each plane in turn, then strafed with the aircraft armament. Attacks against tanks or well defended sites are likely to be made from approaches at treetop level, and main reliance may be on cannon and machine-gun fire.

(3) Fighter-bombers, however, are still vulnerable to regular fighter attacks. It is therefore quite usual for them to be accompanied by a high cover of their own fighters, at least for the outward leg of their journey.

(4) The large numerical superiority of the Allied fighters on the Western Front after the Normandy landings prevented the German Air Force from giving adequate protection to its ground-attack aircraft and thus denied the possibility of any substantial close-support effort. On the Western Front today the fighter-bomber FW 190 is found in night harassing units, where it joins the JU 87 in attacks on headquarters, troop, communication and transportation systems. These night activities have been further augmented by assigning similar tasks to some of the twin-engine night fighters. These missions are generally individual free lance operations.

d. JET AIRCRAFT. Introduction of jet aircraft as ground-attack equipment is the latest German Air Force move in its endeavor to maintain close support by day for the German ground troops. Their tactics are based on the use of speed to escape antiaircraft defense fire or air interception. Jet aircraft attacks on airfields and troop concentrations have been made occasionally with antipersonnel bombs from great height in daytime. Most attacks, however, are at dusk, principally against bridges, dock facilities, railroads, etc, with small bombs. These attacks are made generally by single planes in dives from medium or low height. If attacking in pairs, one aircraft is likely to approach at medium height while the other follows at much lower level.

4. Fighter Tactics

a. MISSION. The mission of the fighter aircraft, be it day or night, single- or twin-engine, is the destruction of the enemy's air force and the protection of its bombers, ground-attack planes, etc., against enemy fighter action. As the development of the war forced Germany more and more on the defensive, the German Air Force fighters have been increasingly occupied with the interception of enemy bomber penetrations. Tactics have been continually revised to meet problems presented by new enemy equipment, greater fire power, new enemy defense formations, and increased enemy fighter cover. Only the most general principles can be outlined.

b. INTERCEPTION. (1) Against enemy day penetration, the German Air Force single-engine fighter tactic is to avoid if possible the fighter screen protecting the enemy bombers. Before the advent of Allied long-range fighters, the German fighters were wont to wait until the Allied bomber formations had reached a point beyond the range of their fighter cover. To insure such an unprotected period, the German Air Force sometimes made early attacks on enemy fighter cover to compel them to drop their auxiliary fuel tanks and thus shorten their protective flights. Always on the alert for opportunities, the German fighters would take quick advantage of gaps between successive fighter cover waves.

(2) Main tactics against the bomber formation have remained the concentrated attack against one particular group of the enemy bomber formation, preferably an outside or laggard one. Effort is made to bring the bombers to loosen their formation and thus lose much of their advantage of combined cross fire. Individual attacks are from the sun if possible, but the main consideration being the defensive fire power of the attacked bomber, approach will differ according to the type of aircraft faced. Single pass and mass attacks have both been employed.

(3) Twin-engine day fighters were used for a time, especially in rocket attacks, for the purpose of breaking enemy formations. The vulnerability of the twin-engine fighter to enemy fighters brought an end to these tactics as soon as the latter were able to accompany in force their bomber formation all the way to and from their target.

(4) Against other fighters, German Air Force single-engine fighter tactics follow whenever possible the usual basic principles of attack from the


sun, from above, and from behind. Speed and maneuverability remain as always the decisive factors. Tactics are based on the "Rotte" formation of 2 planes, number two flying wing man protection for his leader.

c. NIGHT FIGHTERS. Against enemy night penetration, the German Air Force night fighters have been equipped with both single- and twin-engine aircraft, but the latter has really been the basic equipment of the force. Two main night fighter-tactics have been the free lance, independent hunt, or the attack guided by radio from a ground control. In either case the attack is by single aircraft and target location is generally determined by airborne radar, though in some cases it is accomplished by visual sighting.

d. INTRUDER ATTACKS. Twin-engine fighters have carried out night intruder attacks. This consists of attacks against returning enemy bomber aircraft on or near their bases as they prepare to land as well as strafing attacks against the airfields.

5. Airborne Troops

a. ATTACK ON CRETE. In the early stages of the war Germany tried various methods of employing air-landing troops in the Lowlands, Norway, and the Balkans. Tactics for airborne combat became more clearly defined, however, in the combined attack on Crete, which was the first airborne invasion and capture of strongly defended territory across a body of water. The pattern established then consisted of the following:

(1) Short, intensive low and medium bombing and strafing of enemy positions in the intended landing area, immediately preceding or even simultaneous with the landing of glider-borne and parachute troops.

(2) As these troops proceeded, according to plan, to disrupt communications, silence local defenses, and seize airfields or other suitable landing grounds, areas surrounding their immediate objectives were subjected to continuous bombardment.

(3) With the arrival of the airborne infantry and engineer units closely followed by heavier elements, the parachute and other shock troops were reinforced and this combined force continued the task of attacking enemy communications from the rear, drawing off reserves, and clearing the area for the armored forces which were to follow.

b. OPERATIONS SINCE CRETE. (1) Since the capture of Crete, increasing transport commitments on all fronts and Allied air superiority have placed almost insurmountable difficulties in the way of such large scale ventures. The Germans have, however, dropped parachutists and landed glider troops in conjunction with land operations.

(2) In Russia, the Balkans, and the December 1944 counter-offensive in the Ardennes, units varying in strength from a platoon to a battalion have been landed behind enemy lines to disrupt communications, to seize such key points as railroads, roadheads, bridges, and power stations, and to engage in other sabotage activities. When such tactics are employed, the troops, whether they are parachuted from the JU 52 or landed by the DFS 230, usually hold their positions a limited time before being relieved by advancing ground forces or attempting to work their way back to their own lines.

6. Supply by Air

a. PURPOSES. As the complex of the war changes, sustained operations on several fronts forced the German Air Force to use defensively aircraft that had previously been envisioned as spearheading short, decisive victories. The supply situation has been so desperate on many occasions that the German Army has had to rely upon air transportation of personnel, supplies and equipment for its existence. This was evident in Russia, North Africa, and the Balkans first as an attempt to reinforce the Wehrmacht; when that failed, efforts were made to carry out evacuation by air. Although the JU 52 has been the mainstay in these operations, the German Air Force has employed nearly every type of its operational aircraft. Most recent application of the defensive mission of the German Air Force transports has been the supply of isolated garrisons in the Channel and Biscay ports and in other isolated localities. These landings or dropping of supplies are essentially emergency measures--carried on when all other means of supply are interrupted.

b. METHODS. A landing operation, accomplished by power-driven aircraft or by freight-carrying gliders, is the safest method of air supply if proper landing facilities are available. Glider landings may be made in good or bad weather after precise agreements on signals and markers have been reached. Power-driven aircraft have the additional asset of being able to


carry off wounded and make other evacuations on the return trip. Supply-dropping operations have been necessary in other instances. They usually have been carried out by night, although some have taken place during the day. Whichever method is used, careful arrangements have to be made as to the time and locality of the dropping, and for the cessation of local defenses. Night missions, moreover, necessitate increasing the size of the dropping zone and more careful marking of the approach and target area with flares and other signals.


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Transcribed and formatted by Patrick Clancey & Larry Jewell, HyperWar Foundation