Book Review
'Richthofen's Circus'
Jagdgeschwader Nr. I
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by: Stephen T. Lawson [ JACKFLASH ]


Before June 1917 there had been several attempts at groupings and temporary groupings of fighter, reconn and bombing units. Mostly these were designed around large scale battle plane for supporting units in major campaigns. Fostas, Kastas, Jastas, Kests, Kagohls & Bogohls

Jagdgeschwader Nr.I, was formed to have a fighter group with the ability to move up and down the frontlines in tha Army area that needed the support. Author Greg VanWyngarden provides the history of Jastas 4, 6, 10, and 11 prior to their unification into JG I, and then follows this premier fighter wing’s service over the next year and a half.

Greg VanWyngarden has written and published previously about the men and aircraft of Jagdgeschwader Nr I. This is one of his finest works and fits the decription of being in Osprey's Elite aviation units volume #16 in this series.


The 128 pages
More than120 black and white photos with well compiled captions.
39 colour profiles. Some of these are enhanced with additional scrap viewsby Harry Dempsey has done his usual superb work in covering these German machines. These include;

Albatros D III, D V/Va,
Pfalz D III/IIIa,
Fokker Dr.I triplane
Fokker D VII.
Fokker E.V.

Comments and references from pilot diaries, letters and interviews fill the reader with the impression that they are reading the reports and private thoughts of the men who served in the Jastas of JG.I. Its almost as if you are in the mess halls and cockpits listening to their first hand accounts.

One reviewer mentions some of these come through from ". . .Ltn.Gisbert-Wilhelm Groos’s (Jasta 11) opinion on Göring’s war motives, and Hans-Georg von der Osten’s (Jasta 11) recollection as to why Ltn. Wüsthoff had to be replaced as Jasta 4 commander. Jasta 10 pilot Friedrich Rüdenberg. He commented on an ominous moment that occurred when Werner Voss filled in the paperwork to gain confirmation for his 48th victory, a DH 4 of 57 Sqn. He accidentally filled in his own name in the space reserved for his victim. Later that day, Voss himself was the “victim. . .”

By Chapter

The book is divided into six chapters with appendices in the back.

Chapter 1 has Origins and formation information.

Chapter 2 deals with Flanders Fields and the wounding of their leader. In this crucible they were tried by fire.

Chapter 3 the arrival of the Fokker Dr.I triplane and the early frustrations of loosing fellow pilots to shoddy workmanship.

Chapter 4 takes the unit through all of the preparations and operation for "Kaiserschlacht" in the spring of 1918. They were christened Jagdgeschwader Freiherr von Richthofen Nr I as a tribute to their fallen commander on 21 April 1918.

Chapter 5 covers the chaning leadership and the introduction of new fighter aircraft types.

Chapter 6 talks about the beginning of the end for JG. I and the German war efforts until its being disbanded in the final days of conflict after the long retreat home.

Appendices cover
a. the colour plate commentaries,
b. tables of Jagdgeschwader Nr I commanders, component Jasta commanders,
c. JG I Orden Pour Le Mërite winners,
d. JG I aircraft serial numbers where known.
e. comprehensive bibliography.


Previous attempts at this kind of monograph pale in comparison to this final work. The author knows his subject and gives us a chance to glean far more than just facts and figures. I do not regret purchasing this book.

When contacting manufacturers and publishers please mention you saw this review at AEROSCALE

Highs: Some previously unpublish photo images and personnel info. Excellent packaging of all relevent information. Fine colour profiles.
Lows: Small number of typos.
Verdict: Excellent resource. Always a book to come back to and re-read.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: ISBN: 1841767263
  Suggested Retail: $25.95
  Related Link: website
  PUBLISHED: Oct 24, 2011

About Stephen T. Lawson (JackFlash)

I was building Off topic jet age kits at the age of 7. I remember building my first WWI kit way back in 1964-5 at the age of 8-9. Hundreds of 1/72 scale Revell and Airfix kits later my eyes started to change and I wanted to do more detail. With the advent of DML / Dragon and Eduard I sold off my ...

Copyright ©2021 text by Stephen T. Lawson [ JACKFLASH ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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