Feldgrau.com - research on the German armed forces 1918-1945
 High Command of the Luftwaffe by Mike Holm
ADMINISTATIVE

The basis of the Administration and Supply organisation of the Luftwaffe was the Luftgau, which was a territorial area command within Germany, and later occupied areas, responsible for training, administration, maintenance, supply and field defence.

OPERATIONAL

The Luftflottenkommando or Luftflotte (Air Fleet Command) were established on a territorial basis. The commander of the Luftflotte, normally a Generaloberst or higher, was responsible for the field formations under him regardless of their operational role. The subsidiary formations under the Luftflotte, normally a limited number, were the Fliegerkorps, the Fliegerdivision, the Jagdkorps, the Jagddivision, and the Jagdfliegerführer, in addition, there were localised commands known as Fliegerführer (Air Commander) e.g., Fliegerführer Atlantik, Fliegerführer Afrika, etc. Thus, a fighter unit would be controlled possibly by a Jagdfliegerführer or Jafü (Fighter Commander) for its tactical employment, who was in turn subordinated to a Fliegerkorps or Fliegerdivision under the final control of the Luftflotte.

TACTICAL

The highest tactical command was the Geschwader (Air Wing). The Geschwader bore the prefix that indicated its role in warfare, i.e., Jagdgeschwader (Fighter Wing). The Geschwaderkommodore or Kommodore was usaully a Major or above in rank and flew operations with his Geschwaderstab. His Stab (Staff) consisted of an Adjutant, a IIa Officer (Adj.'s assistant: commissioned rank), a IIb Officer (Adj.'s assistant: non-commissioned rank), a Staff Major, a Ia Operations Officer, a Ic Intelligence Officer, a Nachrichten Offizier (Intelligence/Signals Officer), a TO (Technical Officer), a Kfz-Offizier (Armaments Officer) and a IVa (Administrative Officer). The control of the entire Geschwader was normally exercised from the Gefechtsstand (Battle HQ) situated on the Geschwaderstab's airfield, but this was not always the case, and its was common for the Geschwader to have its Gruppen scattered over a wide area, even possibly in different theatres of war. The Geschwader normally consisted of 3 Gruppen (Groups), the IV. Gruppe was normally the operational training unit (Ergänzungsgruppe) for the Geschwader, but it could be used for operations if needed, and in 1941, some Jagdgeschwaders were already using the IV. Gruppe as a fully fledged combat formation.

The Gruppe (Group) was led by a Gruppenkommandeur or Kommandeur, an executive post held by an aircrew member whose rank could vary considerably - normally it was a Major in the case of bomber units and a Hauptmann in fighter units. He had his own operational and administrative Gruppenstab (Staff), and flew combat operations with his Stabsschwarm (Staff Flight) usually of 3 to 4 aircraft. Under his command there were three, or sometimes four, Staffeln (Squadrons) led by a Staffelkapitän, an executive post that could be held by any aircrew officer from Leutnant to Hauptmann. In the temporary absence of the Staffelkapitän, the unit was led by a Staffelführer. For tactical operations, the Staffel was split into Schwarm (Section of four aircraft) or Rotte (pair of aircraft) in the case of fighters, fighter-bombers or close -support aircraft, or Kette (Flight of three aircraft) in the case of bombers and dive-bombers. The Staffel normally comprised between 12 and 16 aircraft, with the number of aircrew varying according to the strength; normally there were 20-25 pilots and 150 ground crew in the case of single-engined fighter units and 80 groundcrew in the case of twin-engined fighter units. Thus, a Gruppe consisted of 40-50 aircraft on establishment with around 500 ground personnel.

The Geschwader would thus have between 120-125 aircraft, in the case of a Jagdgeschwader, whereas the Kampfgeschwader had about 80-90 on strength. In October 1943, JG2 and JG26 became the first Geschwaders to increase the strength of their Gruppen from three to four Staffeln, thus raising the establishment to about 160 aircraft.

The Gruppen number was indicated by the Roman figure, whilst that of the Staffel was the Arabic figure: thus III./JG27 was the third Gruppe, and 3./JG27 was the third Staffel of JG27. The complete organisation of JG27 in early 1943 was:

    Stab/JG27
    I./JG27 (Gruppenstab, 1. - 3. staffeln)
    II./JG27 (Gruppenstab, 4. - 6. staffeln)
    III./JG27 (Gruppenstab, 7. - 9. staffeln)

The High Command of the Luftwaffe was called the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe, and it was divided into several numbered Directorates (Abteilungen), incl.:

    1. Operations
    2. Organisation
    3. Training
    4. Movements
    5. Intelligence
    6. Equipment
    8. Historical
    9. Personnel

In addition to the Directorates there were sixteen Inspectorates, which came under the Chief of the General Staff. These dealt with specific flying subjects such as fighter, ground attack flight safety, etc.

The Reichsluftfahrtministerium (Luftwaffe Air Ministry) was situated in Berlin and was headed by Hermann Göring in his additional capacity as Air Minister. The Ministry included the 16 Inspectorates mentioned above.

Oberbefehlshaber der Luftwaffe (ObdL):

    Reichsm Hermann Göring, 1.3.35 - 23.4.45
    GenFeldm Robert Ritter von Greim, 25.4.45 - 8.5.45

Chef der Generalstabes der Luftwaffe:

    Gen Walther Wever, 1.3.35 - 3.6.36
    Feldm. Albert Kesselring, 5.6.36 - 31.5.37
    GenOb Hans-Jürgen Stumpff, 1.6.37 - 31.1.39
    GenOb Hans Jeschonnek, 1.2.39 - 19.8.43
    GenOb Günther Korten, 25.8.43 - 22.7.44
    Gen Werner Kreipe, 1.8.44 - 10.44
    Gen Karl Koller, 12.11.44 - 8.5.45

Chef der Luftwaffenführungsstabes:

    Gen Bernhard Kühl, 1934 - Spring 1936
    Gen Wilhelm Mayer, Spring 1936 - 4.37
    Gen Paul Deichmann (temporary), 4.37 - 9.37
    Gen Bernhard Kühl, 9.37 - 28.2.39
    Gen Otto Hoffmann von Waldau, 1.3.39 - 10.4.42
    GenOb Hans Jeschonnek, 10.4.42 - mid.3.43
    Gen Rudolf Meister, mid.3.43 - mid.10.43
    Gen Karl Koller, mid.10.43 - mid.8.44
    Gen Eckhardt Christian, mid.8.44 - 12.4.45
    Gen Karl Heinz Schulz, 12.4.45 - 8.5.45

Reichsminister der Luftfahrt:

    Reichsm Hermann Göring, 30.1.33 - 4.45

Der Staatssekretär der Luftfahrt (disbanded 6.44):

    GenFeldm Erhard Milch, 22.2.33 - 20.6.44

Der Generalinspekteur der Luftwaffe (disbanded 1.45)*:

    GenFeldm Erhard Milch, 24.10.38 - 7.1.45

Der Generalluftzeugmeister (disbanded 6.44):

    GenOb Ernst Udet, 4.2.38 - 17.11.41
    GenFeldm Erhard Milch, 19.11.41 - 20.6.44

Der Chef der Luftwehr (in RLM):

    GenOb Otto Rüdel, 1.1.40 - 11.42

* deputy to Hermann Göring as Oberbefehlshaber der Luftwaffe and Reochsminister der Luftfahrt.


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