Luftwaffe Orders of Battle September 2, 1939

Strength and aircraft of the Luftflotten on the day after Germany invaded Poland and before the declaration of war by Britain and France.

Ju 87B dive-bomber
No aircraft better typified the Luftwaffe at the beginning of WW2 than the Ju 87B dive-bomber – the infamous Stuka.

The Luftwaffe Orders of Battle gives the strength of the German air force operational units on the day after Germany invaded Poland, and the day before Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. The majority of the short range fighter, dive-bomber and reconnaissance units were subordinated to Luftflotte 1 and 4 for the attack on Poland. Long range aircraft from the other Luftflotten were also involved in this campaign, however. The Lehrdivision (combat training units), comprising LG1 and LG2, operated independently of the Luftflotten, but several of its units took part in the Polish campaign.

Luftwaffe Orders of Battle from September 2nd, 1939:

Air fleetGeschwaderGroupPlane typetotalserviceable
Luftflotte 1 (northeast Germany)Recon group 10Hs1262322
total 1,109 planes:Do171212
99 Hs126Recon group 11Hs12699
281 Do17He4631
5 He46Do173332
5 He45Recon group 21Hs1263531
286 Bf109He4598
32 Bf110Recon group 41Hs1263226
185 He111He4620
18 Ju88Recon group 120Do171312
154 Ju87Recon group 121Do174433
40 Hs123JG1I. GroupBf1095454
JG2II GroupBf1094239
10. Nachtjagd-SquadronBf10999
JG3Staff flightBf10933
I. GroupBf1094842
JG20I. GroupBf1092120
JG21I. GroupBf1092928
ZG1I. GroupBf1103224
II. GroupBf109D3636
ZG2I. GroupBf109D4440
KG1Staff flightHe11171
I. GroupHe1113832
KG2Staff flightDo171110
I. GroupDo173729
II. GroupDo173533
KG3Staff flightDo1797
II. GroupDo173625
III. GroupDo173938
KG4Staff flightHe11165
I. GroupHe1113128
II. GroupHe1113227
III. GroupHe1113321
KG25I. GroupJu881815
KG152I. GroupHe1113832
StG1I. GroupJu873831
StG2I. GroupJu873832
II. GroupJu873836
III. GroupJu874037
LG2II. Ground-attack GroupHs1234037
Luftflotte 4 (southeast Germany)Recon group 14Hs1263027
totla 636 planes:He4661
39 Hs126Do17119
23 He46Recon group 31Hs12699
231 Do17He461717
3 He45He4532
189 Bf109Do171212
31 Bf110Recon group 124Do17119
120 Ju87JG76I. GroupBf1094945
JG77I. GroupBf1095043
II. GroupBf1095036
ZG76I. GroupBf1103129
II. GroupBf109D4039
KG76Staff flightDo1799
I. GroupDo173633
III. GroupDo173935
KG77Staff flightDo1766
I. GroupDo173229
II. GroupDo173232
III. GroupDo173424
StG76I. GroupJu873932
StG77Staff flightJu8733
I. GroupJu873932
II. GroupJu873934
Luftlotte 2 (northwest Germany)Recon group 12Hs1263330
total 524 planes:He46108
33 Hs126He4530
10 He46Recon group 122Do173027
3 He45JG26I. GroupBf1094848
30 Do17II. GroupBf1094844
244 Bf109ZG26I. GroupBf109D5246
204 He111II. GroupBf109D4847
III. GroupBf109D4844
KG26Staff flightHe11188
I. GroupHe1113232
II. GroupHe1113527
KG27Staff flightHe11163
I. GroupHe1113428
II. GroupHe1112618
III. GroupHe1112820
KG28II. GroupHe1113535
Luftflotte 3 (southwest Germany)Recon group 13Hs1265349
total 841 planes:He4631
77 Hs126He4532
24 He64Recon group 22Hs1261212
6 He45Do173535
78 Do17Recon group 23Hs126128
287 Bf109He462118
28 Ar68He4531
301 He111Recon group 123Do173736
40 Ju87JG51I. GroupBf1094739
JG52I. GroupBf1093934
JG53I. GroupBf1095139
II. GroupBf1094341
JG70I. GroupBf1092424
JG71I. GroupBf1093918
JG72III. GroupAr682824
ZG52I. GroupBf109D4443
KG51Staff flightHe11163
I. GroupHe1113636
III. GroupHe1113634
KG53Staff flightHe11166
I. GroupHe1113229
II. GroupHe1113232
III. GroupHe1113534
KG54Staff flightHe11198
I. GroupHe1113636
KG55Staff flightHe11196
I. GroupHe1113327
II. GroupHe1113122
StG51III. GroupJu874034
Lehrdivision (Combat training units)LG1Staff flightHe111104
I.(Z) GroupBf1103229
II.(K) GroupHe1114135
III.(K) GroupHe1114034
IV.(St) GroupJu873936
LG2Staff flightBf10933
I.(J) GroupBf1093634
III. GroupDo172418
10. SquadronHe11198
JG2610. SquadronBf109129
assigned to Navyvarious groupsHe593130
Carrier group 186, 4 SquadronJu871212
Carrier group 186, 5 and 6 SquadronBf1092424
Kampfgruppe 806 (torpedo planes)He1112120
Transportvarious groupsJu52547535

Equipment of Luftwaffe First Line Units on September 1, 1939:

Aircraft typestrength
He 111 bombers780
Do 17 bombers470
Do17 recon280
Ju 88 bombers20
Ju 87 dive-bombers335
Me 109 D fighters235
Me 109 E fighters850
Me 110 heavy fighters195
Ar66 fighters5
Ar68 fighters35
Hs126 tactical recon195
He46 tactical recon100
Coastal aircrafts205

Staffel (Squadron):
The number of flying personnel in a Squadron naturally depended on the type of aircraft it operated; between 10 (in the case of single-seat fighters) and more than 40 (in the case of multiengine bombers). The number of ground personnel in a Squadron varied from 150 (in the case of single engine fighters) to 80 (in the case of multiengine bombers); the latter’s ground staff was smaller because much of its servicing and administration was done for it by attached units provided by the local Luftgau command.
A Squadron had a strength of 9 to 12 aircraft in 1939, but gradually rose during the war to a maximum of 16, with corresponding rises in the number of aircrew and ground personnel.

Gruppe (Group):
The Group was the basic flying unit for operational and administrative purposes. Initially the Group comprised three Staffeln, and a Staff flight (headquarters flight) with three aircraft more, making a total of 30 aircraft in all. By the mid-war period many fighter groups operated a fourth Squadron, however, and this, with the 16-aircraft Squadron establishment, brought the strength of some Gruppen to 67 aircraft.
The total personnel strength of a Group varied between 35 and 150 members of the aircrews, and 300 and 515 ground crew.

Geschwader (no English equivalent):
The Geschwader was the largest German flying unit. Initially it comprised three Gruppen, with 90 aircraft, and a Staff flight (staff) flight with four, making a total of 94 aircraft.

References and literature

Luftwaffe Handbook (Dr Alfred Price)
Das große Buch der Luftkämpfe (Ian Parsons)
Luftkrieg (Piekalkiewicz)
Der 2. Weltkrieg (C. Bertelsmann Verlag)
Zweiter Weltkrieg in Bildern (Mathias Färber)

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1 thought on “Luftwaffe Orders of Battle September 2, 1939”

  1. Very interesting, thank you.
    I have been looking in vain to find how many personnel (aircrew members, maintenance and other support elements) were in Luftflotten 2, 3 & 5 on the eve of the Battle of Britain. Does anyone know? If so, please pass that along to me at [email protected]


    Don Fisk,
    USAF Ret

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