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Oswald Bölcke

German ace Oswald Bölcke, second from left, marked with an X, was killed in a collision, October 28, 1916 with 40 victories.

German ace Oswald Bölcke, second from left, marked with an X, was killed in a collision, October 28, 1916 with 40 victories.

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A leading German ace, with 40 victories, Bölcke was a strategist and combat tactician. He created the Jadgstaffel — hunter squadron — organizing air squadrons by function. His 'Bölcke Dicta' were a statement of aerial combat tactics: Attack from behind; keep the sun at your back; only fire at close range with your opponent positively in your sights; if over enemy territory, never forget your path home.

Bölcke was awarded the Pour le Mérite (the Blue Max) on January 12, 1916, the first fighter pilot to receive it. To the nine victories he claimed that month, Bölcke added another ten by the end of June. Fearful the fighter pilot would be killed in combat, Kaiser Wilhelm sent him on a tour — to Vienna, Budapest, occupied Belgrade, and Turkey — in June, 1916. He returned in August to form the first Jadgstaffel (Jasta) with Hptm. Rudolf Berthold. It included the Blue Max recipients Lt. Wilhelm Frankl, Lt. Kurt Wintgens, Lt. Walter Hohndorf, and Oblt. Ernst von Althaus. His Jasta would later include Manfred von Richthofen.

On patrol with von Richthofen and Erwin Böhme on October 28, 1916, the three set upon seven British planes. In the dogfight, Bölcke and Böhme collided, sending Bölcke's plane to the ground, where his body was pulled from the wreckage.

May 19, 1891

October 28, 1916

Germany

Roles held by Oswald Bölcke

Role Start Date End Date
Combatant - Pilot

Statistics for Oswald Bölcke

1 Statistic

Statistic Type Statistic
Enemy Aircraft Downed 40