Flight School

Basic Jagdwaffe Organisation and Formations

Jagdwaffe Formations

Rotte
The Rotte (pair) is the basic fighting unit for all Jagdwaffe formations. It consits of the Rottenfüher (pair leader) and the Katschmarek (wingman). The Rottenfüher is responsible for making the kills and the Katschmarek is simply following the Rottenführer and protecting his tail.

Schwarm
Two Rotten make up a Schwarm (flight). Typically flying in the finger four formation where the leading Rotte is flying to one side and slightly ahead of the other.

Staffel
A Staffel (squadron) formation comprises three Schwärme (flights) either stepped up in line astern or in line abreast.

Gruppe
Following the tripartite system, a Gruppe (group) consists of three Staffeln (squadrons).

Geschwader
The Geschwader (wing) is the largest, mobile homogeneous Luftwaffe flying unit and usually contains three our four Gruppen (groups).

Unit Identification

A Jagdgeschwader (fighting wing) is designated by an Arabic numeral which is prefixed by the abbreviation JG. So Jagdgeschwader 26 is simply written as JG 26. The Gruppen are identified by a Roman numeral in front of the Geschwader designation, separated by a slash. This means the second Gruppe of the Jagdgeschwader 26 is written as II./JG 26. Arabic numerals are used for the Staffeln: 3./JG26 is the third Staffel of JG 26.

In identifying it can not be mistaken since every Gruppe contains certain Staffeln. Once you understand the system, you can immediately identify which Staffel belongs to which Gruppe of a Geschwader. The 1., 2. and 3. Staffel belong to the I. Gruppe, the 4., 5. and 6. to the II. Gruppe, the 7., 8. and 9. to the III. Gruppe and the 10., 11. and 12 to the IV. Gruppe.

For an easy and quick identification of the planes within a Staffel a combination of numbers and colors is used. The planes of a Staffel are numbered from 1 to 12. The 1., 4., 7. and 10. Staffel has white, 2., 5., 8. and 11. has black (sometimes red) and 3., 6., 9. and 12. has yellow numbers.

Likewise every Gruppe has it's own identification marking which is placed near the tail of the aircraft. The I. Gruppe does not have a marking, the II. has a crossbar, the III. has a wavy line (early) or a vertical beam (later) and the IV. Gruppe has a dot (early) or a little cross (later).

With knowledge of this system you can identify at first glance which pilot from which Staffel and which Gruppe is flying the plane.
Let's take the white 3 with a vertical beam as an example: It is the plane with the number 3 of the 7. Staffel of the III. Gruppe. Since we know that the 7., 8. and 9. Staffel are belonging to the III. Gruppe but only the 7. Staffel has white numbers.