German Navy Tactical Orders

(source: Public Record Office ADM 186/55: CB1548 German Navy Tactical Orders)

Commander-in-Chief High Sea Fleet

23rd July 1918

Gg. 3957 A. 3.

Most Secret

Tactical Order No. 11.

Aircraft Division.

A. General Remarks Concerning Aircraft Allocated to North Sea

Type of Machines Seaworthiness Crew Average


Armament Weight, Fully Laden
Tractor biplanes, with fuselage and 2 floats; 1 motor Completely seaworthy 1 Pilot behind motor; 1 Observer behind pilot Speed: 75 km

Endurance: 300 sea miles

Ceiling: about 3,000 metres



2 to 4 22 lb bombs.

Explosive bullets

Tractor mono-and biplanes, with fuselage and 2 floats Limited seaworthiness Ditto Speed: 70-90 km

Endurance: 240-300 sea miles

Ceiling: about 5,000 metres


or C3MG


a) 150 hp monoplane, 2,204 lb

b) 260 hp monoplane, 4,409 lb

c) c) 260 hp biplane, 4,409 lb

Biplanes with fuselage, 2 floats and 2 motors, 1 on each side of fuselage on lower plane Limited seaworthiness 1 Pilot and 1 Observer side by side in the fuselage and behind them W/T Operator who is also a Machine Gunner Speed: 70 km

Endurance: 550 sea miles

Ceiling: 2,000 metres

HFT. 2 movable machine guns. 10 22-lb bombs (when searching for submarines 8 132-lb bombs)


(a) Monoplane boats, 4 motors over boat.

(b) Biplane with two floats and 2 motors on each side of fuselage. Motors behind each other on each wing. Fuselage has cabin forward.

Limited seaworthiness 1 Commander, 1 Pilot, 1 Observer, Mechanics, W/T Operators, Machine Gunners. Total Crew: 8. Speed 75 km.

Endurance about 750 sea miles.

Ceiling: ?


Several movable MG. 1 2-cm Becker large calibre gun. Some bombs for submarines.

Tractor biplanes with fuselage and two floats. Unseaworthy. 1 Pilot behind motor. speed 80 km.

Endurance 120 sea miles.

Ceiling: 8,000 metres



Recognition Marks.

Plain black cross with white border on top surface of upper wing, on under side of lower wing, and on both sides of fuselage. Vertical rudder plain black cross on white ground.

Fighters.-Distinguishing marks of the "Flight" besides the Iron Cross on fuselage or different coloured streamers on the wings.

Squadron Leaders.- War Ensign on the Elevator.

Recognitions Signals with Varta Lamp. Very's Light recognition signals (single seaters cannot always make recognition signals).

B. Communication Between Aircraft and Ships.

1. Signals from Aircraft.

(a) Electric hand signal lamps (Varta Lamp). Range under favourable conditions up to five sea miles. Only slow transmission possible. Bear in mind that after protracted use the accumulator is liable to be exhausted.

(b) Star signals according to signal card. (Signal Book, p. 111).

(c) "Message boxes" or "message containers," with red streamers. The message should be dropped on or close to the ship. The container floats a short time.

(d) Message boxes with smoke bombs.

(e) All large Reconnaissance and Giant Machines, also some fighting scouts are fitted with W/T sending and receiving apparatus. Transmitter T. L. F. Range about 150 sea miles (wave 1,200) four fixed waves, 300, 400, 500, 600 metres. Hanging aerials 80 m. long. Inter-communication between aircraft possible up to about 50 sea miles. Giant Machines fitted for using Fleet Wave (range over 450 sea miles). Aircraft must keep a permanent W/T watch. Connection in accordance with Regulations for W/T Communication, in North Sea Gg. 6666 F. 2, Nos. 22 and 52. W/T Procedure 3 and 6 Block groups, according to Aircraft Signal Table.

2. Out Signals to Aircraft.

(a) As in 1 (b).

(b) As in 1 (c).

(c) Searchlight. Letters must not be sent too slowly. Only plain language to be used on account of difficulty of reading in Aircraft. Visibility often obstructed by wing. Searchlight to be trained very accurately.

3. Procedure for a Shp when a Machine comes alongside.

Make a lee. Take the way off the ship. Hook ropes and heaving lines ready. Care to be exercised with regard to propeller. Fenders or mats to be over the side. Wings to be handled very carefully.

4. Search for Damaged Machines.

Drifting machines fire Very's Lights at the hours and half-hours. Remember that clocks or watches may be keeping bad time, or that they may be destroyed. Torpedo boats and ships, when searching, and when the military situation permits, are to flash their distinguishing signals at the half and quarter hours on their searchlights. Search vessels which are not fitted with searchlights make their distinguishing signal with the Varta Lamp.

C. Employment

1. Possibility of Flying.

Machines can fly in winds up to force 6 (German scale). Flying is very difficult in fog or cloudy weather. Machines should only be employed at night when there is a moon and sufficient visibility; but even then visibility is poor, and the possibility of distinguishing own from hostile machines is small.

2. Carrying Machines.

Battle Cruisers and Barrage Breakers can carry two; Light Cruisers, one machine. "Santa Elena" is fitted for four machines. SMS "Stuttgart" for two, or possibly three. Machines can only be slung out or hoisted in in a sea not more than force 4 (German scale). A good lee must be made.

3. Attacks by Aircraft.

Bomb attacks are only effective against torpedo boats and submarines. Probability of hitting is decreased in squally weather, and by the enemy rapidly altering course at right angles to the direction of the wind. Do not approach against the wind.

4. Gunnery Machines.

Observers for spotting are available for ships and Coastal Batteries at every Air Station.

D. General.

(a) Seaplanes are Based:

1. In the North Sea: At List, Heligoland, Norderney, Borkum, Zeebrugge, Ostend (as advanced Air Station); Wilhelmshaven (as parting Station for Aircraft Carriers). Seaplane Base: Tönning, and Aircraft Carrying Cruiser SMS "Stuttgart" and SMS "Santa Elena". All advanced stations can be communicated with by W/T or telewriter through the appropriate (K.F.S.) of the Officer in Charge of Aircraft attached to the High Sea Fleet in SMS "Deutschland".

2. In the Baltic: Apenrade, Flensburg, Holtenau, Warnemünde, Wik, and Bug on Rügen, Köslin-Nest, Putzig, Libau, Windau, Papenholm, Reval and Aircraft Parent-Ships "Answald" and "Oswald".

(b) Land Machines are Based:

In North Sea area at Air Stations Barge, Hage, Nordholz and Tondern. Land Machines are also employed for spotting by the Coastal Batteries.

(c) Fixing Position.

At present positions can only be fixed with certainty by landmarks. They are uncertain to within 15 miles on long flights, on account of impossibility of calculating leeway. The fixing of positions by Directional W/T was proved suitable. R. S. A. (? Type of directional W/T - translator's note) still being experimented with.

(d) Issuing Orders.

When issuing orders it must be expressly stated whether the reconnaissance is to be carried out under all circumstances, and without regard for personnel or material; or whether it is to be carried out only if the weather permits.

E. Following Questions Should be Answered

Are any experiences available re:-

(a) Possibility of bombarding (bombing?) within effective radius of anti-aircraft defences?

(b) Audibility of motor noises to windward and to leeward? Listening apparatus?

(c) Distance and height ranges?

(d) Recognition signals?

(e) Spotting by Aircraft?

F. Aerial Reconnaissance in German Bight.

For the purpose of aerial reconnaissance, that portion of the German Bight concerned has been divided into the following Sectors:-

Apportioned on the following lines:-

(Signed) Scheer

Last Updated: 26 August, 1999.

Return to German Navy Tactical Orders

 Return to WWI The Maritime War

 Return to WWI Archive main page.