January 26, 2022

Luftwaffe is the commonly used name for the German Air Force. However, the word Luftwaffe (air weapon) in the German language is not tied to one country, but simply means air force there. The current Luftwaffe was founded on January 9, 1956 during the Cold War as the air force of the Federal Republic of Germany. The Luftwaffe was placed under NATO command from the start. In 1956 the GDR also established its own air force, the Luftstreitkräfte der NVA, which was directly under Soviet command. The Luftstreitkräfte were incorporated into the Luftwaffe during the German Reunification in 1990. After the Second World War, the Luftwaffe only fought in Kosovo in 1999.



The forerunner of the Luftwaffe, Die Fliegertruppe des Deutschen Kaiserreiches, or Luftstreitkräfte, was founded in 1910, before the outbreak of World War I. In the beginning, the use of aircraft was only for reconnaissance purposes, to support the troops on the ground, as was previously done with balloons.

World War I

During World War I, the Imperial Air Force used a wide variety of aircraft, ranging from fighters (such as those built by Albatros Flugzeugwerke and Fokker), reconnaissance aircraft (Aviatik and DFW), and heavy bombers (Gothaer Waggonfabrik, better known as Gotha, and Zeppelin-Staaken). . Yet the fighters received the most attention, because they 'produced' the aces, such as Manfred von Richthofen (The Red Baron), Hermann Göring, Ernst Udet, Oswald Boelcke and Max Immelmann. Like the German navy, the military also used Zeppelins as airships to bomb both military and civilian targets in France and Belgium, as well as the United Kingdom. All German and Austro-Hungarian aircraft used the Iron Cross insignia until early 1918, when it was replaced by the Balkenkreuz, a black Greek cross on a white background. After the war ended in defeat for Germany, the air force was disbanded as a result of the Treaty of Versailles, which demanded that all aircraft be destroyed. As a result, the current Luftwaffe (founded 1956) is not the oldest independent air force, because the British Royal Air Force has existed continuously since 1 April 1918.

Weimar Republic

Since Germany was not allowed to build up new air forces under the Treaty of Versailles, there was a need to secretly train pilots for a possible future war. In the beginning, civil aviation schools were used in Germany, but only light aircraft could be flown there to keep up the appearance that they were training for service with Lufthansa. Since the Treaty of Rapallo, Germany maintained good relations with the Soviet Union, a country also isolated within Europe. In order to train its pilots on the latest combat aircraft, the Soviet Union offered help to Germany. In 1924 a secret airfield was built near Lipetsk, which would remain operational until 1933. It mainly used Dutch Fokker D.XIII aircraft and Russian aircraft, but also some German training aircraft. This base was officially known as the 4th Squadron of the 40th Wing of the Red Army.

Luftwaffe (Wehrmacht)

On February 26, 1935, Adolf Hitler ordered Hermann Göring to re-establish the Luftwaffe. He thereby broke the Treaty of Versailles, but sanctions from the United Kingdom and France or the League of Nations were not forthcoming. Even when the new air force was active separately from the Heer, the German Land Army, it would retain the tradition that personnel were given the same ranks as in the Land Army. Before the official re-establishment of the Luftwaffe, there was a paramilitary air force, the Deutscher Luftverband or DLV, headed by Ernst Udet. The DLV insignia was terminated

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