Jagdstaffel 26

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Jasta 26
Albad3.jpg
Albatross D.III
Active 1916–1918
Country German Empire
Branch Luftstreitkräfte
Type Fighter squadron
Engagements World War I

Royal Prussian Jagdstaffel 26 was a World War I "hunting group" (i.e., fighter squadron) of the Luftstreitkräfte, which was the forerunner to the Luftwaffe. As one of the original German fighter squadrons, the unit would score 177 verified aerial victories, including four observation balloons destroyed. The jasta would pay a bloody price for its success: five pilots killed in action, nine wounded in action, and one prisoner of war.[1]

History[edit]

Royal Prussian Jagdstaffel 26 was founded on 14 December 1916 at the FEA 9 training center in Darmstadt. It mobilized on 20 January 1917. Its first war patrols followed a week later, and the first victory was scored on 25 February 1917. Just four days before, on 21 February, Jasta 26 had become part of Jagdgeschwader III, with Bruno Loerzer raised to its command. As part of JG III, Jasta 26 would battle to the end of the war. It would end the war as one of the top-scoring German fighter squadrons. It disbanded at FEA 5 at Hannover, Germany on 3 December 1918.[1]

Staffelführers (Commanding officers)[edit]

  • Leutnant Fritz Loerzer: transferred in from Jasta 63 on 21 February 1918 - taken POW on 12 June 1918
    • Bollmann (Acting CO): 12 June 1918 - 27 Jun3 1918
    • Leutnant Helmut Lange (Acting CO): 22 August 1918 - 12 September 1918
  • Franz Brandt: 12 September 1918 - 11 November 1918[2]

Aerodromes[edit]

1. Darmstadt, Germany: 14 December 1916 - 20 January 1917

2. Colmar Nord: 20 January 1917 - 2 March 1917

3. Habsheim, France: 2 March 1917 - 12 April 1917

4. Guise-Ost: 16 April 1917 - 23 April 1917

5. Bohain-Nord: 23 April 1917 - 6 June 1917

6. Iseghem: 8 June 1917 - 10 September 1917

7. Abeele, Belgium: 11 September 1917 - 1 November 1917

8. Bavinchove, France: 2 November 1917 - 10 February 1918

9. Markebecke: 11 February 1918 - 12 March 1918

10. Erchin, France: 13 March 1918 - 10 April 1918

11. Halluin-Ost: 11 April 1918 - 23 May 1918

12. Vivaise, France: 24 May 1918 - 7 June 1918

13. Mont Soissons Ferme, France: 8 June 1918 - 18 July 1918

14. Vauxcéré, France: 19 July 1918 - 30 July 1918

15. Chambry, France: 31 July 1918 - 24 August 1918

16. Émerchicourt: 25 August 1918 - 26 September 1918

17. Lieu St. Armand: 27 September 1918 - 29 September 1918

18. Soultain: 30 September 1918 - 12 October 1918

19. Lenz[disambiguation needed]: 13 October 1918 - 4 November 1918

20. Aische-en-Befail: 5 November 1918 - 11 November 1918[2]

Notable members[edit]

Hermann Göring Pour le Merite, Royal House Order of Hohenzollern, Iron Cross, served a couple of months with Jasta 26 while making ace.[3]

Bruno Loerzer, Pour le Merite, Royal House Order of Hohenzollern, Iron Cross, scored over half of his 44 victories while commanding Jasta 26.[4]

The squadron's other winner of the Blue Max was Walter Blume, who also rated an Iron Cross.[5]

Otto Fruhner, leading ace of the jasta with 27 wins, won the enlisted man's equivalent of the Blue Max, the Military Merit Cross, as well as the Iron Cross.[6]

Erich Buder[7] and Otto Esswein [8] also won the MMC and Iron Cross.

Fritz Beckhardt,[9] Fritz Kosmahl[10] and Franz Brandt both won both the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern and Iron Cross.[11]

Xavier Dannhuber was a winner of the Hohenzollern.[12]

Several other aces also served in the unit, including Christian Mesch, Fritz Loerzer, Helmut Lange, Fritz Classen, and Claus Riemer.[13]

Aircraft[edit]

While specifics of aircraft usage by Jasta 26 are not known, the following is known about the types assigned to the squadron.

1. The Albatros D.III entered service in January 1917, coincidental with the unit's foundation.[14]

2. The Albatros D.V arrived as a replacement for the D.III later in 1917.[15]

3. The Fokker Dr.I triplane was brought into service in August 1917.[16]

4. Fokker D.VIIs were introduced in late April or early May 1918.[17] [18]

Operations[edit]

Jasta 26 was originally mobilized in the Armee-Abteilung B Sector on 20 January 1917. From there, it was assigned to 2nd Armee Sector on 12 April. On 16 June, it was reassigned to 4th Armee Sector. During December 1917, after only a year's operation, the squadron scored its 100th victory.

On 21 February 1918, Jasta 26 was assigned to JG III, along with Jasta 2, Jasta 27, and Jasta 36. On 13 March 1918, the squadron moved to support 17th Armee. A month later, on 11 April, they moved back to aid 4 Armee. On 27 May 1918, they were seconded to 7th Armee. On 25 August 1918, the entire JG III was assigned to support of 17th Armee for Jasta 26's last posting of the war.[1]

References[edit]

Above the Lines: The Aces and Fighter Units of the German Air Service, Naval Air Service and Flanders Marine Corps, 1914-1918. Norman L. R. Franks, Frank W. Bailey, Russell Guest. Grub Street, 1993. ISBN 0-948817-73-9, ISBN 978-0-948817-73-1.

Endnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Above the Lines: The Aces and Fighter Units of the German Air Service, Naval Air Service and Flanders Marine Corps, 1914-1918. p. 40. 
  2. ^ a b Retrieved on 10 July 2010.
  3. ^ Retrieved on 10 July 2010.
  4. ^ Retrieved on 10 July 2010.
  5. ^ Retrieved on 10 July 2010.
  6. ^ Retrieved on 10 July 2010.
  7. ^ Retrieved on 10 July 2010.
  8. ^ Retrieved on 10 July 2010.
  9. ^ http://www.jmberlin.de/
  10. ^ Retrieved on 10 July 2010.
  11. ^ Retrieved on 10 July 2010.
  12. ^ Retrieved on 10 July 2010.
  13. ^ List derived from Above the Lines: The Aces and Fighter Units of the German Air Service, Naval Air Service and Flanders Marine Corps, 1914-1918. p. 40.  as well as http://www.theaerodrome.com/services/germany/jasta/jasta26.php Retrieved on 10 July 2010.
  14. ^ Retrieved on 10 July 2010.
  15. ^ Retrieved on 10 July 2010.
  16. ^ Retrieved on 10 July 2010.
  17. ^ Retrieved on 10 July 2010.
  18. ^ List derived from http://www.theaerodrome.com/services/germany/jasta/jasta26.php Retrieved on 10 July 2010.