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Oswald Boelcke - FU Hero

Posted by aaron on December 27, 2008

Oswald Boelcke wearing his Blue Max

Oswald Boelcke is one of the most influential fighter pilots of all time. He has been called “The Father of Air Fighting Tactics” and the father of the German fighter air force. He established a set of rules for fighter tactics in 1916 known as the Dicta Boelcke* that in almost every respect still applies today. One of his closest friends and most ardent students, Manfred von Richthofen, The Red Baron, would say of him, “I am after all only a combat pilot, but Boelcke, he was a hero.”
Boelcke was born in May 1891. Like so many boys of that time he dreamt of a military career and at thirteen had the boldness to write to the Kaiser to request an appointment to a military academy, which he was granted. After graduated and beginning his cadet officer training he received a Prussian officer commission in March 1911. In early 1914 Boelcke transferred to the flying corps and upon finishing his flight training in August 1914, with World War I already underway, he was immediately assigned to an active unit.
He was initially assigned to Fliegerabteilung 13 (Aviation Section 13), where he flew with his brother. They both won an Iron Cross second class for 50 successful missions. In April 1915 he transferred to FA 62 to fly as a reconnaissance and field artillery adjustment pilot. July 4, 1915, while flying a two-seat aircraft, Boelcke’s back seat observer shot down an enemy aircraft. Boelcke landed next to the wreckage to ensure the pilot was indeed dead. On August 19 he got his first individual victory using forward firing machine guns. By the end of the year his kill total was six.
Pour le Mérite, The Blue MaxBoelcke had three more victories in January 1916 and was awarded the Pour le Mérite, better known as the Blue Max, the highest Prussian military honor, awarded to pilots for eight kills. In March he was appointed commander of the new Fliegerabteilung Sivery with it’s six fighter pilots, the forerunner of future fighter squadrons.
In June 1916, now with 18 kills, the preeminent ace of the war and a favorite of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Boelcke was grounded for a time fearing that his combat death would have a too adverse affect on the German public and military forces. He was assigned to share is combat aviation expertise with other German flying units. He was sent on tour through the Balkans, Russia and Turkey. During this time he wrote his Dicta Boelcke. He was also asked to interview pilots to form and lead a fighter squadron. One of his very first selections was Manfred von Richthofen.
His squadron, Jadgstaffel 2 (Fighter squadron 2) stood up at the end of August 1918. He trained his squadron in tight formations and tactics based on his doctrines. JASTA 2 became the premiere German fighter squadron of the war with over 20 aces and 336 victories. Boelcke continued to speak throughout the German air force and to other fighter units about his ideas, which included drawn out tactics.
Albatross D.IIOn the sixth sortie of the day, October 19, 1916, with five wingmen, Boelcke happened upon fighters from the No. 24 squadron of the Royal Flying Corps. Diving his Albatross D.II to engage a British fighter, Boelcke was unaware that one of his wingman, Erwin Böehme, was attacking the same aircraft. As Boelcke closed on the enemy, another wingman, von Richthofen, chasing a different airplane, created a dangerous conflict with Boelcke. As Boelcke broke away to avoid a collision with von Richthofen, Böehme’s landing gear impacted Boelcke’s top wing. Struggling for control, eventually the entire top wing would detach from his plane, Boelcke was able to make a relatively controlled crash landing. However, in the urgent preparation for the sortie, Boelcke had not connected his seat belt properly and the ground impact was enough to throw him forward, killing him. Oswald Boelcke was 25.  He had 40 air combat victories.
Days later the Royal Flying Corps dropped a wreath over JA 2 that stated, “To the memory of Captain Boelcke, a brave and chivalrous foe.” In December 1916, JASTA 2 was officially named JASTA Boelcke, a name the squadron still bears today.
*Dicta Boelcke

 1.Try to secure the upper hand before attacking. If possible, keep the sun behind you.

 2.Always continue with an attack you have begun.
3.Only fire at close range, and then only when the opponent is properly in your sights.
4.You should always try to keep your eye on your opponent, and never let yourself be deceived by ruses.
5.In any type of attack, it is essential to assail your opponent from behind.
6.If your opponent dives on you, do not try to get around his attack, but fly to meet it.
7.When over the enemy's lines, never forget your own line of retreat.
8.Tip for Squadrons: In principle, it is better to attack in groups of four or six. Avoid two aircraft attacking the same opponent.


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