Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte

start_date= 1910-May 8, 1920
country= flag|German Empire
size= In 1918:
2,709 frontline aircraft
56 airships
186 balloon detachments
About 4,500 flying personnel
The Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte or Imperial German Army Air Service ("Die Fliegertruppen des deutschen Kaiserreiches"), was the over-land air arm of the German military during World War I (1914–1918).


It was founded in 1910 prior to the outbreak of the war with the emergence of military aircraft, which were initially intended to be used primarily for reconnaissance and artillery spotting in support of armies on the ground, just as balloons had been used in the same fashion during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871 and even as far back as the Napoleonic Wars. It was the world's first air force, since France's embryonic army air service ("Aviation Militaire"), which eventually became the "Armée de l'Air", was founded later in 1910. Britain's Royal Flying Corps was founded in 1912, but when it was merged in April 1918 with the Royal Naval Air Service to form the Royal Air Force it became the world's first "independent" air force, as opposed to a specialist department of the army or navy.


The "Luftstreitkräfte" organisation changed during the war substantially to accommodate the new types of aircraft, doctrine, tactics and the needs of the ground troops, in particularly the artillery. During this time evolved the system of organisation and unit designations that would be reintroduced in the "Luftwaffe" in 1933.

During 1916 the German High Command, in response to the then current Allied air superiority, reorganised their forces by creating several types of specialist units, most notably single seat fighter squadrons, or "Jastas" in order to counter the offensive operations of the Royal Flying Corps and the French Air Force.

:(AFA) "Artillerieflieger-Abteilung" :(AFS) "Artillerieflieger-Schule":AFP - "Armee-Flug-Park" :BZ - "Ballonzug":Bogohl/BG - "Bombengeschwader " :Bosta - "Bomberstaffel":etc - "Etappe " :FFA - "Feldflieger Abteilung":FLA - "Feldluftschiffer-Abteilung ":FestFA - "Festungsflieger-Abteilung":FA - "Flieger-Abteilung " :FA A - "Flieger-Abteilung" ("Artillerie"):FlgBtl - "Flieger-Bataillon":FBS - "Fliegerbeobachter-Schule":FEA - "Fliegerersatz-Abteilung ":FS - "Fliegerschule":JG - "Jagdgeschwader " :Jasta - "Jagdstaffel":JastaSch - "Jagdstaffel-Schule ":KEK - "Kampfeinsitzerkommando":Kest - "Kampfeinsitzerstaffel " :Kagohl/KG - "Kampfgeschwader":Kasta - "Kampfstaffel ":Luft - "Luftschiff-Truppe":LsBtl - "Luftschiffer-Bataillon " :Marine - "Marine-Flieger":RBZ - "Reihenbildzug":Schlasta - "Schlachtstaffel":Schusta - "Schutzstaffel"


During the war, the Imperial Army Air Service utilised a wide variety of aircraft, ranging from fighters (such as those manufactured by Albatros-Flugzeugwerke and Fokker), reconnaissance aircraft (Aviatik and DFW) and heavy bombers (Gothaer Waggonfabrik, better known simply as Gotha, and Zeppelin-Staaken).

Designation system

During the First World War German aircraft officially adopted for military service were allocated a designation that included (1) the name of the manufacturer, (2) a function letter, and (3) a Roman number. The three-part designation was needed for a unique designation to simplify logistics support of the many types of aircraft in operation.

The designation system evolved during the war. Initially all military aircraft were classed as "A" (monoplane) or "B" (biplane). The new "C" class of armed (two seat) biplane, and the the "E" class of armed monoplane were introduced in 1915 - and other classes were added later as new aircraft types were introduced. For most of the war 'D' was only used for biplane fighters, 'E' for monoplane fighters and 'Dr' for triplane fighters. By the end of the war however, the 'D' designation was also used for all single-seat fighters, including monoplanes.

:A Unarmed reconnaissance monoplane aircraft (for example the Rumpler Taube and Fokker M.5) :B Unarmed two-seat biplane, with the observer seated in front of the pilot. :C Armed two-seat biplane, with the observer (usually) seated to the rear of the pilot.:CL Light two-seater, initially intended as escort fighters - latterly mainly used for ground attack.:D "Doppeldecker" - single-seat, armed biplane, but later any fighter - for instance the Fokker E.V was redesignated the D.VIII.:E "Eindecker" - armed monoplane - initially included monoplane two seaters. New monoplane types at the end of the war designated as "D" (single seat) or "CL" (two seat).:Dr "Dreidecker" - triplane fighter (prototype Fokker triplanes initially "F"):G "Grosskampfflugzeug" - Large twin engined types, mainly bombers (initially "K"):J "Schlachten" - Armoured ground-attack aircraft:N "C" type aircraft adapted for night bombing:R "Riesenflugzeug" - "Giant" aircraft - at least three, up to four or five engines - all servicable in flight.


The fighters thus received the most attention in the annals of military aviation, since it produced high-scoring "aces" such as Manfred von Richthofen, popularly known in English as "The Red Baron" (in Germany, he was known as "der Rote Kampfflieger" [Red Air Fighter] ), Lothar von Richthofen, Ernst Udet, Hermann Göring, Oswald Boelcke, Werner Voss, and Max Immelmann (the first airman to win the "Pour le Mérite", Imperial Germany's highest decoration for gallantry, as a result of which the decoration became popularly known as the "Blue Max") . As well as the German Navy, the German Army also used Zeppelin airships for bombing military and civilian targets in France and Belgium as well as the United Kingdom.


Initially all German and Austro-Hungarian military aircraft in service used the Iron Cross insignia. The "Balkenkreuz", a black Greek cross on white, officially replaced the earlier marking from late March 1918, although the last order on the subject, fully standardising the new national marking, was dated June 25 1918.


By the end of the war, the German Army Air Service possessed a total of 2,709 frontline aircraft, 56 airships, 186 balloon detachments and about 4,500 flying personnel.


Casulties totalled 8,604 aircrew killed/missing/prisoner, 7,302 wounded, and 3,126 aircraft, 546 balloons and 26 airships. Some 5,425 Allied aircraft and 614 kite balloons were claimed destroyed. [p.?, Clark]

After the war ended in German defeat, the service was dissolved completely on May 8, 1920 under the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles, which demanded that its aeroplanes be completely destroyed.



* Clark, Alan, "Ace High: The War in the Air over the Western Front 1914-18", Putnam Pub Group, 1973 ISBN 978-0399111037

ee also

*Luftstreitkräfte der NVA

External links


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