Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Germany - 1917 Jasta 11 Fokker Dr.I

Some Fokker Dr.I Triplanes of Jasta 11

Recently I have been busy producing a lot of a Fokker aircraft profiles. I have reached 36 Dr.I and 24 D.VII with more on the way. I have been working on fleshing out different Jasta so I can set up articles on their history. Here are a few of the new profiles.

Jasta 11

Jagdstaffel 11 (11th Fighter Squadron) was founded on September 28, 1916 from elements of Keks 1, 2 and 3 and mobilized on October 11 as part of the German Air Service's expansion program. THe program created permanent specialised fighter squadrons, or "Jastas". Jasta 11 became the most successful fighter squadron in the German Air Service.

Jasta 11's first commander was Oberleutnant Rudolf Lang, from its mobilization at Brayelles, until January 14, 1917. Jasta 11's first months of operations were not distinguished.

It was not until the appointment of Manfred von Richthofen on January 16, 1917 as Commanding Officer that the unit became a legendary fighting force. Von Richthofen was already an able tactical pilot and ace during several months of service in Jasta 2 and became a highly effective unit commander who led his pilots by example. He already had 16 victories and was awarded the Pour le Merite just before he assumed his command of Jasta 11.

The unit was first based at Douai-Brayelles and then Roucourt for operations over the 6 Armee on the Arras front, the Jasta were equipped with various models of Albatros fighters. Between January 22, 1917 and the end of March the Jasta claimed some 36 victories. The beginning of the Battle of Arras in early April Jasta 11 logging 89 claims for aircraft out of a total of 298 made by all German fighter units for the month. This decimation of the Royal Flying Corps became termed "Bloody April".

On July 26, 1917, Jasta 11 became part of Jagdgeschwader 1 - a collection of four Jastas into one administrative and highly mobile tactical force. Richthofen was promoted to command JG I. It became known as "Richthofen's Flying Circus" because it mimicked a circus's logistics by using dedicated railway trains to transport it to forward airfields, and because of its vividly painted aircraft.

In September 1917, Jasta 11 would be equipped with Fokker Dr.I triplanes. It would operate these until April–May 1918, when it received the Fokker D.VIIs it would use until war's end.

Manfred von Richthofen remained Jasta commander until June 26, 1917, when his deputy, Leutnant Karl Allmenroeder took over. Following the latter's death the next day, former Jasta 11 pilot Leutnant Kurt Wolff took over after his transfer back from Jasta 29. After Wolff was wounded in September, Oberlt. Wilhelm Reinhard took charge until Wolff returned. Soon after Wolff was killed in action on September 15, Lothar von Richthofen took command. Jasta 11 would then have a bewildering succession of other temporary commanding officers, especially when Lothar was frequently away from the front recovering from wounds. Oberleutnant Erich Rüdiger von Wedel was the last Staffelführer, from September 1918 until the end of the war. The Jasta was demobilised at Darmstadt on November 16, 1918.

Jasta 11 eventually became the highest scoring German Jasta of World War I, with 350 claims. The first was scored on 23 January 1917, the 100th on 23 April, the 200th on August 17, the 250th on April 2, 1918, and the 300th on June 28, 1918. (By comparison, the British 56 Squadron claimed 427.)

It numbered no fewer than twenty aces among its ranks, and "graduated" pilots to command numerous other Jastas in the German Air force. In return it suffered 17 pilots killed, 2 POW, and 2 killed in flying accidents. Its loss rate was thus less than one-tenth of its opponents, although it also suffered 19 wounded in action.

Reference

  1. Jagdstaffel 11. (2011, May 3). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 08:20, July 19, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jagdstaffel_11&oldid=427294574
  2. http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/germany/richthofen2.php
  3. http://www.pourlemerite.org/
  4. Above the Lines Franks, Bailey & Guest , (grub street, 1993)
  5. http://www.theaerodrome.com/services/germany/jasta/jasta11.php
  6. Greg VanWyngarden, Harry Dempsey. Richthofen's Circus: Jagdgeschwader Nr 1. Osprey Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1-84176-726-3, 9781841767260.

4 comments:

The Angry Lurker said...

That was very interesting especially the numbers and stats, nice work sir.

W. I. Boucher said...

Thanks Fran. This is a trial run for a new section I am planning for my main website. I just thought it would be good to get some feedback.

Jon said...

I really enjoyed this. I am sure Jasta 11 wasn't the only Jasta have a high turn over on commanders in 1918. How does its lose rate compare to other Jastas?

W. I. Boucher said...

Thanks On, I am not sure about the comparison. The Jasta project is still in early stage of research and development. I do not have enough information gathered to make an assessment. My main intention besides putting the aircraft profiles I have done into context was to start fleshing out the section on Aces on my website. I am thinking it may take some time to get things in order. I have not reached the stage of adding the section to my site. This was a sneak preview.

Cheers,

Will