The Luftstreitkräfte or Imperial German Army Air Service (Die Fliegertruppen des deutschen Kaiserreiches), was the over-land air arm of the German military during World War I (1914–1918).
It was founded in 1910 prior to the outbreak of the war with the emergence of military aircraft, which were initially intended to be used primarily for reconnaissance and artillery spotting in support of armies on the ground, just as balloons had been used in the same fashion during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871 and even as far back as the Napoleonic Wars. It was the world's first air force, since France's embryonic army air service (Aviation Militaire), which eventually became the Armée de l'Air, had also been founded in 1910. Britain's Royal Flying Corps was founded in 1912, but when it was merged in April 1918 with the Royal Naval Air Service to form the Royal Air Force it became the world's first independent air force, as opposed to a specialist department of the army or navy.
World War I
During the war, the Imperial Army Air Service utilised a wide variety of aircraft, ranging from fighters (such as those manufactured by Albatros-Flugzeugwerke and Fokker), reconnaissance aircraft (Aviatik and DFW) and heavy bombers (Gothaer Waggonfabrik, better known simply as Gotha, and Zeppelin-Staaken).
However, the fighters received the most attention in the annals of military aviation, since it produced "aces" such as Manfred von Richthofen, popularly known in English as "The Red Baron" (in Germany, he was known as "der rote Baron"), Lothar von Richthofen, Ernst Udet, Hermann Göring, Oswald Boelcke, Max Immelmann (the first airman to win the Pour le Mérite, Imperial Germany's highest decoration for gallantry, as a result of which the decoration became popularly known as the "Blue Max"), and Werner Voss. As well as the German Navy, the German Army also used Zeppelin airships for bombing military and civilian targets in France and Belgium as well as the United Kingdom.
Initially all German and Austro-Hungarian military aircraft in service used the Iron Cross insignia. The Balkenkreuz, a black Greek cross on white, officially replaced the earlier marking from late March 1918, although the last order on the subject, fully standardising the new national marking, was dated June 25th 1918.
By the end of the war, the German Army Air Service possessed a total of 2,709 frontline aircraft, 56 airships, 186 balloon detachments and about 4,500 flying personnel.
After the war ended in German defeat, the service was dissolved completely on May 8, 1920 under the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles, which demanded that its aeroplanes be completely destroyed.
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It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Luftstreitkräfte".