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Jasta Boelcke: The History of Jasta 2, 1916-1918 - Norman L.R. Franks JASTA BOELCKE is a treasure trove for any student/aficionado of World War I air warfare. It begins by describing the development of the German Jastas or "fighter squadrons", which arose out of a need for the Germans to wrest control of the skies over the Somme from the British during the late spring and summer of 1916. (At the same time, the French fighter escadrilles had all but driven the Germans out of the skies over Verdun.)

The Germans needed to mount an effective challenge to Allied air supremacy, which hampered the efforts of their own two-seater crews out on artillery-spotting duties over the battlefield --- as well as reconnaissance crews to gain photographic intelligence about the disposition of the enemy in the trenches and rear areas. These activities, as the war went on, helped to influence the planning and execution of military operations on the ground.

From August 1916, the Jastas began to be organized along different areas of the Western Front. The brainchild for these units came from Oswald Boelcke, one of Germany's earliest air heroes and tacticians. Boelcke was given the command of Jasta 2, which he led until his death in October 1916. Henceforth, Jasta 2 was renamed "Jasta Boelcke" in recognition of Boelcke's contribution in making Jasta 2 one of the premiere fighter units in the German Luftstreitkrafte.

The book goes on to detail the ups and downs that Jasta Boelcke experienced through the end of 1916 and on until 1917. With the arrival of Karl Bolle as its final commander in February 1918, Jasta Boelcke again was able to reclaim much of its luster as a top-scoring unit, seeing considerable action against the French and Americans, as well as the British, up until the Armistice.

JASTA BOELCKE reads like a war diary and comes highly recommended.