• JG52
  • 9./JG52
  • 3 Gruppe

Staffel Structure and tactics

Two machines would fly together and form a "Rotte" (or pair). The "Rottenführer" (pair leader), flying slightly ahead of his wingman or "Katschmarek", concentrated on the attack. His wingman’s responsibility was to keep lookout, especially to the rear, and to cover his leader’s tail. As he only had this one job to do, namely keeping his leader’s tail clear by flying behind the pair leader no matter if it was left, right, above or below, his situation was nowhere near as demanding as the challenge of his British "colleague". On the contrary, being typically less experienced than his pair leader, he actually had the opportunity to observe and learn from him how to manoeuvre into a firing position. Should an attack from the rear occur, however, the covering pilot would of course warn his leader and, whenever appropriate, intervene himself. Pilots with that kind of education learned quickly, especially the need to exercise caution, and the value of tactics, as well as developing the confidence to use their own initiative. In the case of German fighter formations ideally two pairs would fly together and formed what was known as a "Schwarm" (swarm). This formation is what the British and Americans termed the "finger four". Both pairs flew in a typical yet completely flexible position relative to one another at a considerably safer distance, moreover, than was usual in the British vic formation. Three Schwarms formed a "Staffel" (squadron) which could completely cover a stretch of sky over a mile long like the links of a chain. At the beginning of the Second World War this tactic considerably increased the combat power of the Luftwaffe in comparison with all their adversaries.

Source: Airwar over Europe 1939-1945

H2 heading

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