The Four Finger Formation was a type of flight tactic that was used by the Luftwaffe during WWII. The formation consisted of two groups or "rottes" of two aircraft, one containing the flight leader and his wingman and the other containing the supporting leader with his wingman.

The tactic was designed so that both groups could operate independently yet still maintain the flight and cooperate to achieve aerial victory.[1]

Typically, the tactic is used among fighter squadrons in which the squadron is divided into four groups of two rottes each. These groups were themselves usually called various colors such as Red group or Blue group. Ideally, the first rotte's job is to carry out an offensive role while the second rotte carries out the opposite. 


The Four Finger Formation was first developed in 1934 by the Finnish Air Force but the Luftwaffe was the first to put it into practice during the Spanish Civil War with their own separate additions to the tactic. One of the most notable uses of the tactic was during the Battle of Britain by the various fighter squadrons serving there. It was deemed so effective that after it was witnessed by Allied forces, it was quickly adopted and modified to suit Allies needs. The first to adopt the Luftwaffe tactic in his own flying was Douglas Bader. Furthermore, the tactic was also adopted by Japan later in the war.[2]


  1. Mitcham Jr. Samuel. Eagles of the Third Reich:Men of the Luftwaffe in World War II. Stackpole Books (2007), Page 43
  2. Boyne, Walter. The influence of air power upon history. Pelican Publishing Company (2003), Page 447

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