Oswald Boelcke

Oswald Boelcke was not only one of the most successful German fighter pilots in the First World War, he also developed with the Dicta Boelcke the first basis for aviators, whose principle worked until the Second World War into it.



Origin and teenage years:

Oswald Boelcke was born on 19 May 1891, the son of a high school professor in Giebichenstein (now a district in the north of Halle an der Saale).




Military career:

In 1911 Oswald graduated from high school and began his military service in the telegraph battalion No. 3 in Koblenz as Fahnenjunker. After his officer training he changed at his own request to the new flying troupe. He completed his apprenticeship as an aviation pilot at Halberstadt Aviation School.




Use in the First World War:

With the outbreak of the First World War Oswald Boelcke was assigned on 15 August 1914 the Feldfliegerabteilung 13 and flew some reconnaissance flights together with his brother on the Western Front. After quarrels with his brother, Oswald read in April 1915 moved to the Feldfliegerabteilung 62.

When used in the new department Oswald's flight observer von Wühlisch on 4 July 1915 shoot down an enemy aircraft. After this aerial victory Oswald developed the basic idea of ​​developing aircraft that only hunt and shoot down enemy planes. This basic idea had already been present in the air force for some time, shortly after the first fighters were built, which had only one pilot who could fire over his firmly mounted machine gun over the engine.

On 19 September 1915, Oswald fired his first enemy aircraft during an aerial combat with one of the newly deployed fighter pilots. On January 12, 1916, he was honored together with the pilot Max Immelmann by Emperor Wilhelm II. With the Pour le Mérite Order for every 8 aerial victories.

In March 1916 Oswald was transferred the command of the newly established squadron Sivry. When on June 18, 1916, the aircraft of Max Immelmann broke apart during a mission and Felel accidentally killed, Boelcke received from the Army Command immediate flight ban because his knowledge had been too valuable.

Oswald Boelcke was instead sent to the Balkans and led there among others Enver Pasha, Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, Erich Ludendorff, Field Marshal Augustus von Mackensen, Field Marshal Franz Conrad and Kaiser Wilhelm II his tactics for aerial combat before. Subsequently, Oswald was promoted to captain and oversaw the restructuring of the air force according to the tactics he has named. On 10 August 1916, he was further appointed commander of the Jagdstaffel 2, which grew during the war into an elite unit.

From September 1916 Boelcke began with the training and education of its pilots. There he also introduced the Dicta Boelcke tactics developed by him, which proved to be very effective in the following weeks. By the end of October 1916 dozens of enemy airmen were shot down and Boelcke was with 40 kills the hitherto most successful German fighter pilot.


Oswald Boelcke 1916 with the Pour le Mérite Order


Oswald Boelcke


Hauptmann Buddecke, Marschall Liman von Sanders and Hauptmann Boelcke





In an operation on October 28, 1916, the aircraft of Oswald Boelcke and his plane colleague Erwin Böhme came too close, so that the wings touched and was damaged by Boelcke.

His plane then began to spin and crash. Oswald Boelcke died in the collision of his plane.

Under much public attention his body was buried in the cemetery of the city of Dessau. A tomb created in 1921 by the architect Albin Müller and the sculptor Walter Kieser is still there today.




The Dicta Boelcke:

The Dicta Boelcke refers to an air combat regime developed by Oswald Boelcke to make the use of fighter pilots more effective.

The most important rules are:

  1. Secure the benefits of aerial combat (speed, altitude, surprise, numerical superiority, position) before attacking. Always attack from the sun.
  2. If you started the attack, bring it to an end.
  3. Fire the machine up close and only if you are sure to target your opponent.
  4. Do not lose sight of the enemy.
  5. In any form of attack, an approach to the opponent from behind is required.
  6. If the enemy attacks you in a dive, do not try to dodge the attack, but turn to the attacker.
  7. If you are above the enemy lines, always keep your own retreat in mind.
  8. For squadrons: In principle attack only in groups of 4 to 6. If the fight breaks up in noisy single battles, make sure that not many comrades pounce on an opponent.






You can find the right literature here:


Oswald Boelcke: Germany's First Fighter Ace and Father of Air Combat

Oswald Boelcke: Germany's First Fighter Ace and Father of Air Combat Hardcover – August 19, 2016

Oswald Boelcke was Germany’s first ace in World War One with a total of forty victories. His character, inspirational leadership, organizational genius, development of air-to-air tactics and impact on aerial doctrine are all reasons why Boelcke remains an important figure in the history of air warfare.

Paving the way for modern air forces across the world with his pioneering tactics, Boelcke had a dramatic effect on his contemporaries. The fact that he was the Red Baron’s mentor, instructor, squadron commander and friend demonstrates the influence he had upon the German air force. He was one of the first pilots to be awarded the famous Pour le Mérite commonly recognized as the ‘Blue Max’. All of this was achieved after overcoming medical obstacles in his childhood and later life with a willpower and determination.

Boelcke even gained the admiration of his enemies. After his tragic death in a midair collision, the Royal Flying Corps dropped a wreath on his funeral, and several of his victims sent another wreath from their German prison camp. His name and legacy of leadership and inspiration live on, as seen in the Luftwaffe’s designation of the Tactical Air Force Wing 31 ‘Boelcke’.

In this definitive biography RG Head explores why Oswald Boelcke deserves consideration as the most important fighter pilot of the 20th century and beyond; but also for setting the standard in military aviation flying. This book will appeal to enthusiasts of the German air force, military aviation in general and World War One in particular.

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KNIGHT OF GERMANY: Oswald Boelcke - German Ace

KNIGHT OF GERMANY: Oswald Boelcke - German Ace Paperback – February 6, 2019

The story of the fighter pilot the Red Baron himself sought to emulate... German air ace Oswald Boelcke was a national hero during World War I, and was the youngest captain in the German air force, decorated with the Pour Ie Merite while still only a lieutenant and with 40 aerial victories at the time of his death. He became a pilot shortly before the outbreak of the war, and when he was tragically killed in a flying accident during combat less than two-and-a-half years later not only was his name known all over the world but the whole of Germany mourned his passing. He established his reputation on the Western front first in reconnaissance, then in scouts, and, with Max Immelmann, he became the best known of the early German aces. After Immelmann’ s death, he was taken off flying and traveled to the Eastern front where he met a young pilot called Manfred von Richthofen. Transferred back to the Western Front in command of Jasta 2, when new small fighting units were formed he remembered von Richthofen and chose him as a pilot for his new Staffel. Boelcke was killed in October 1916, although not before the reputation of his unit, together with his own, had been firmly established forever.

This absorbing biography was written with the blessing of Boelcke’s family. Professor Werner was given access to his letters and other papers, and presents here a rounded and fascinating portrait of a great airman and a remarkable soldier, who became known as the father of the German Jagdflieger.

This is an aviation classic, Johannes Werner used Boelcke’s letters home to his parents to help produce a life history within the frame of aerial warfare in the Great War. Boelcke (19 May 1891 - 28 October 1916) was one of greatest German flying aces of the First World War and also one of the most influential patrol leaders and tacticians of the early years of air combat. He is is considered the father of the German fighter air force, as well as the "Father of Air Fighting Tactics".

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The Blue Max Airmen: German Airmen Awarded the Pour le Mérite, Vol.1 (The Blue Max Airmen)

The Blue Max Airmen: German Airmen Awarded the Pour le Mérite, Vol.1 (The Blue Max Airmen) Paperback – 2012

The Blue Max Airmen series is the real story of the German airmen awarded the Pour le Mérite during the Great War. Author Lance J. Bronnenkant, PhD, and Aeronaut Books are pleased to bring you the most detailed and graphically lavish account of these heroes ever produced, covering the men in context with the war's chronology of events. For each recipient a comprehensive, well-illustrated biography of the man is given, together with photos of the aircraft he flew, followed by details of his service, including other medals awarded. Color profiles of the aircraft are provided both for the interest of enthusiasts and as references for modelers. Volume 1 covers Oswald Boelcke and Max Immelmann, the first two aviation recipients of the Pour le Mérite and among the best known and most significant. Volume 1 includes 155 period photographs and 7 color profiles of aircraft flown by Boelcke and Immelmann.

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