Name, Rank and Serial Number Please!

Remember all those bad war movies that came from the BBC and all the german character’s had an english accent?  Or in more modern movies when they start speaking in a foriegn language and than transition to english, to take a nod at the actual language spoken?  I suppose Merryl Streep was the star of practiced accents that won her a few awards in films like “Sophie’s Choice”.  Jack Hunter was drawn to the german language early in life as a huge aviation fan who wanted to read Baron von Richthofen’s autobiography.  His knowledge of the german language shaped his life when he entered into military service during World War 2 and became involved in secret missions in Germany.

When he wrote “The Blue Max” he filled the book with german language particularly when attempting to describe military leadership and aviation terminology.  The german words stand out because they are always in italics.  I hope eventually to include these word and their definitions in this blog as a glossary so I can use them as a reference when I start writing the script for the graphic novel.  What follows is fast look at some of the key military terms that show up in the book with what definitions  I could muster from from the internet.

Those with more knowledge than me feel free to post corrections or sources so I can make these more accurate!

German FlagGerman Air Force Structure

Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte   “German Air Force” of World War 1

 Die Fliegertruppen  The air arm of the  German Army(of which it remained an integral part) during  World War 1 (1914–1918). Often referred to as the “Imperial German Air Service”

Jagdstaffeln (often abbreviated to Jastas) Specialized fighter squadrons in the Luftstreitkräfte during World War I.

 Jagdgeschwader  A fighter unit of the German Luftstreitkräfte, comprising of multiple Jastas or ‘fighter squadrons‘.  Jagdgeschwader 1 or JG1 was formed as combination of Jastas 4610 and 11 formed on 24 June 1917, with Manfred von Richthofen as commanding officer, by combining . JG 1 became known as “The Flying Circus”.

Jadggruppe Likely an even larger combination of Jastas

Leadership Terms used in “The Blue Max”

 Kofl…”The Kommandeur brought us greetings from the Kofl himself”…Headquarters?

 Kommandeur General der Luftstreitkräfte  Commanding General of the Air Service

 Kogenluft.…”the cadaverous major from Kogenluft”  I am guessing that this is a slang abbreviation of Kommandeur General der Luftstreitkräfte

 Kommandeur der flieger….”We completed our business with the Kommandeur der flieger in short order”..Commander of the Flyers in “Rittmeister Von Richtofen”.  In German language literally Ride master or Cavalry master was the military rank of a commissioned cavalry officer in charge of a squadron (a troop in the United States), the equivalent of O3 or Captain, in the armies of German-speaking, Austro-Hungarian and some other states

Jastafuhrer  Leader of a German Squadron, Stachel referred to Heidemann this way when he want to show high respect, instead of Hauptmann

Kettenfuhrer A Kette is a group of planes, like a flight, so I assume this is the “flight leader”

Kanone…as in  “ Heidemann, a full fledge Kanone with forty victories..”  Kanone can be translated from German as “cannon.”  A looser translation as used by the Kaiser’s airmen meant “big gun” or “big shot” reserved for the ace airman.

List of Characters and their Rank

General Wurfl

Major Klingel …a Major assigned to publicity for Kogenluft

Hauptmann Otto Heidemann…the Captain of the Squadron

Oberleutnant Karl-Heinz Kettering…Adjutant…Administrative Assistant to the Captain

Leutnant Bruno Stachel.…A pilot in the squad

Unteroffizier Gerhardt Rupp…”Uffz”…like a supply sargent

Leutnant Ziegal, Mechanic

Comic Roots ….The History of WWHFA

My experimentation with comic story telling while flying in an online squad is what gave birth to the idea of “The Blue Max Project”.  I updated the blog this week to create links to the WWHFA Comics and  The Bloody April Journal under the “Source” page.  I will post later about “The Bloody April Journal”, but I thought it might be appropriate to give a bit of the story behind where the WWHFA comics came from.

Three years ago, I was stumbling along with the WingWalkers, trying to learn how to fly Rise of Flight and learn the joys of online play.  I naively posted on Sim Hq that I was going to host a mission and invited anyone interested to come fly with us.  This caught Fawlty’s attention at the Old Fokkers and he eventually called in The Black Haze.  I remember the first night  I offered to host I had no idea what kind of hardware was even required.  The server speed was crawling slow but everyone was very polite and said they had a good time. The idea continued to develop, we got stronger hosts and various members created better missions for us to fly.  What developed was six months and ten missions worth off competitive events with anywhere from 12 to 20 flyers.  It was great fun and for me a great introduction to the Wingwalkers, Squad Life and the Flight Sim online community as a whole.

I still couldn’t fly worth a crap, I couldn’t build missions, I really couldn’t host, so I tried to figure out what I could do to contribute.  I organized the events, I developed briefs and maps and creating “comic teasers” to advertise the events.  I  read my first set of AAR’s (after action reports) after the first event.  This was new to me and I didn’t realize how much people put into these creative writing efforts.  The AAR’s increased the immersion in the game by writing first person accounts of the action with a little story telling mixed in.  It got me thinking about what I might be able to do……

By using the in-game recorder, I found I could hunt around for interesting dogfights in the game and save screen shots.  The idea of doing a comic version of an After Action Report came to mind, and I spent hours digging thru the footage, much like a documentary producer, finding action that no one but the individual flyer may have witnessed.  I pieced together these screen shots into a comic format and started building a story around them. The real joy was when random events in the game started creating story lines that I had never considered.  The whole French Spy idea really developed when I accidently posted our strategy map on the enemy side before a key event.  It was fun for the other flyers as well because they knew that their heroics or incredible failures might show up in the comics a few weeks after they played the game.

Needless to say, I spent a lot more time working on the comic than learning how to fly, but it cemented my relationship with the squad and helped me build lasting friendships with many other flyers in the online flying community!  Please wander over to the “Sources” page and wonder thru these comics (Most are about ten meg pdf files)

The earliest comics where done in power point and really focused as mission briefs issued before the event and  documenting the dogfights after.  The story line was secondary.


Gradually I started to introduce stronger story lines in the comic and add images from outside the game, digging thru google images to find stuff that extended the story and the graphics.  I also started using “Comic Life” software to give the graphics a more comic book look.  I filmed the mission, took screen shots, modified in Photoshop Elements, pasted into Comic Life and finally converted it into a single pdf…..It took hours….



By the time I got to the final comic, I was actually doing mission building to create scenes to fill in around what actually occured during the event.  I also used photoshop to manipulate the screen shots and add events that didn’t actually happen at all.  The effort became much more story oriented.