In order to identify the strain relaxation mechanism, Molecular Beam Epitaxy of wurtzite GaN on AlN was monitored in situ using Reflection High Energy Electron Diffraction (RHEED). In the substrate temperature range between 620°C and 720°C, a Stransky-Krastanov (SK) transition was evidenced, resulting in a 2D-3D transition after completion of 2 monolayers, with subsequent coalescence of 3D islands, eventually resulting in a smooth surface. Quantitative analysis of the RHEED pattern allowed us to determine that island formation is associated with elastic relaxation. After island coalescence, a progressive plastic relaxation is observed. The size and density of 3D islands was varied as a function of the growth parameters. AFM experiments revealed that the size of the GaN islands, about 8 nm large and 2 nm high, was small enough to expect quantum effects. It was found that capping of the islands by AlN resulted in a smooth surface after deposition of a few monolayers allowing us to grow a »superlattice» of islands by periodically repeating the process.