The Jagdstaffel or Jasta was a "flight" of German fighter airplanes (Class, E, D, or Dr) Some Jastas, such as Jasta 2 (Boelcke) were independent, and later incorporated into a Jagdgeschwader. A Jasta, at full strength had about twelve airplanes; most Jastas operated understrength, however. The primary role of the Jasta was to attack enemy observation aircraft. As a secondary role they would also attack enemy fighters

A Jasta would also fly "top cover" for German observation craft and balloons. They were also used at times for close air support but the unarmored aircraft were really ill-equipped for such a mission.

The Jagdgeschwader was a Squadron of German fighter aircraft. Typically it would comprise four Jastas or flights. JG1 was Known as Richthofen's Flying Circus by the British, due to the variety of color used on the aircraft of the four Jastas assigned to it. After the death of Richthofen, it was christened, Jagdgeschwader Richthofen.

JG4 was an all Bavarian Jagdgeschwader. The Jastas within the Jagdgeschwader could act independently if need be but it was most effective to employ the Jagdgeschwader enmasse against an enemy formation with Jastas flying in support of one another.

The Kampfgeschwadern was a grouping of four Kampfstaffeln (Kasta) These were literally "Battle" groups. The units were completely mobile and capable of being moved rapidly to specially prepared aerodromes along the front. The original offensive duties of the Kampfgeschwadern were two fold. They could be used in strength to carry out bombing attacks on military targets behind Enemy Lines such as enemy aerodromes or railway junctions they were also expected to play an air to air combat role. Typically, however, the Kampfgeschwadern fulfilled their defensive roles. The defensive role of the Kampfgeschwadern and were extensively used for artillery spotting and reconnaissance work. The evolution of the war forced the Kampfgeschwadern to work primarily as support for ground forces and were thus primarily employed in artillery spotting , close air support (strafing, bombing) and reconnaissance near the front.

The Kampfstaffel was a flight of six "C" class aircraft The planes were used primarily for Artillery spotting, reconnaissance, and close air support. (see Kampfgeschwader)

German Aircraft Designations

German aircraft were given a serial number based on (1) the name of the manufacturer, (2) aircraft function, and (3) a Roman Numeral. This allowed all aricraft to have a unique identifier. For example, there was a Fokker Driedecker= Fok DrI, and a Pfalz Driedecker = Pfalz DrI.

Originally, the function was based partly on the number of wings a fighter aircraft had (E=Eidndecker, D=Doppeldecker Dr=Dreidecker) but this was later dropped and all fighters got a "D" classification, hence the Fokker's EV or V28 (a late war monoplane) is designated D VIII.

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