As August drew to a close in 1916, the German Air Service was reeling almost helplessly towards inevitable defeat on the Somme. The Artillery and Feldflieger Abteilungen, the Kampfstaffeln, had been quickly reduced to relative impotency by the overwhelming quantitative and qualitative superiority of the Allies. The once feared Fokker and Pfalz Eindeckers proved unequal to the task of checking the aerial flood which daily scoured the ravaged German front.
A crisis was reached. Germany was compelled to seek a new solution. Jagdstaffel 2 was formed to stem the tide and fight back. Later by Imperial decree renamed Jasta Boelcke in honour of its distinguished commander Oswald Boelcke, this military formation had no prolonged, entangled gestation period. There was no parent, no prior stirrings of life. Jasta 2 was lifted from the keyboard of a typewriter, assigned to the First Army and provided with a leader.
Between 2 September and 31 December 1916 it scored 85 kills, and was destined to end the war with 336 confirmed victories. Here, for the first time, is the story of that auspicious and audacious unit, told in his inimitable style by Norman Franks, an expert in his subject.
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