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Luftbeobachterstaffeln (Tag und Nacht) (v)
[Air Observer Squadrons (Day and Night) (mobile)]
Five (LBeoSt. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7) day and night observer Staffeln were ordered formed in October and November 1943 and assigned to the seven Jagddivisionen (1., 2., 3., 4., 5., 7., and 8.). There is some indication that the original plans may have been for 7 of these Staffeln – one for each of the Jagddivisionen – but no information has been found for more that 4 (1, 2, 3 and 7). Each Staffel’s number corresponded to that of the Jagddivision to which it belonged. On 5 February 1944 Luftflotte Reich issued instructions that these Staffeln were to be considered provisional in nature with an intended life span of 6 months.
The Bf 110 and Ju 88 aircraft used by the Staffeln were chuck-full of the latest electronics equipment, including Naxos, Flensburg and Neptun R radar, and each crew had an experienced night fighter pilot and a Flak officer aboard. During night operations, the aircraft had orders to maintain contact with the enemy bomber stream or formation, release illumination flares and sky markers for German night fighters, pass all observations to the pertinent fighter command as running commentary, attack the aircraft of the RAF Bomber Command Master Bomber if possible, and evaluate and report on German air defenses. The illumination flare most commonly used was the Fallschirmleuchtbombe LC50 F/G 5 (parachute illuminating bomb) that weighed 42 kg (92.4 lbs) and could burn for 5 to 6 minutes. There were 2 versions: "white-yellow" for ground illumination (1.4 million candlepower) and "intense white" for fighter interception (800,000 candlepower). The task during daylight operations was similar: shadow USAAF day formations with twin-engine fighters and report on the status of each bomber box and the effect on these by the German fighter attacks. This concept worked well until USAAF fighter sweeps far ahead and around the bomber formations caused heavy losses, forcing the Fühlungshalter (shadowing) aircraft into a weather reporting role by mid-1944, since they could no longer get close to the bomber formations.
The Luftbeobachterstaffeln were all ordered disbanded in late July 1944. In their place, each Nachtjagdgruppe was to form a Fühlungsschwarm (Contact or Shadowing Section) to take their place. The actual disbanding was completed in September but, strangely, the official order to disband LBeoSt. 1,2,3,4, and 7 was dated 20 November 1944.
The KStN (Establishment Schedule) for a Luftbeobachterstaffel was:
KStN 1106 Luftbeobachterstaffel (Tag und Nacht) (v)
© H.L. deZeng IV, 2022
- G.Aders-History of the German Night Fighter Force:112, 116, 134, 170; W.Kock-NJG 6:20 (citing 7.Jagddiv. order Ia Nr.1510/43g.Kdos. dated 16 Oct 43), 42, 75; R.Toliver/T.Constable-Fighter General:227; BA-MA Freiburg: Signatur RL 2 III/64; Pawlas-Munitionslexikon, Band 3 (Deutsche Abwurfmunition), Nuernberg, 1977.