JASTA BOELCKE. The History of Jasta 2, 1916-1918.
- As August 1916 drew to a close, the German Air Service was spiralling almost helplessly towards defeat on the Somme. The Artillery and Feldflieger Abteilungen, the Kampfstaffeln, had been quickly reduced to relative impotency by the overwhelming quantitative and qualitative superiority of the Allies. Airmen had become more fearless and hostile. The once feared Fokker and Pfalz Eindeckers had become unequal to the task of checking the aerial barrage which the ravaged German front faced on a daily basis.
This crisis meant that Germany was compelled to seek a solution. Jagdstaffel 2 was one of the first dozen units which were quickly formed to stem the tide and fight back. Later by Imperial decree renamed Jasta Boelcke in honour of its distinguished commander Oswald Boelcke, this military formation had no real gestation period. Jasta 2 was simply lifted from the keyboard of a typewriter, assigned to the First Army and provided with its leader.
Despite this sudden birth, between 2 September and 31 December 1916 the staffel scored eighty-five kills, and was destined to end the war with 336 confirmed victories. This unit was the home for many of Germany's most famous fighter pilots, including Werner Voss, Manfred von Richthofen, Erwin Böhme and Max Müller. Here, for the first time, is the story of that auspicious and audacious unit, told in his inimitable style by Norman Franks, an expert in the subject.