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Role of Aircraft at the Outbreak of the War

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Role of Aircraft at the outbreak of the war

Powered aircraft were first used in the war in 1911, by the Italians against the Turks near Tripoli, but it was not until the Great War of 1914–18 that their use became widespread.

There were only 22 made and were used by Germany, Italy, France and Great Britain.

Aircraft were primarily used for reconnaissance at the start of the war.

When pilots have gathered this information they had to communicate with the ground but at the beginning of the war, there were no radio coms so the only way to communicate was by sending message streamers. The Pilots would write down their discovery and throw it down in a weighted piece of fabric to the ground.

Message streamers became a thing of the past when reconnaissance cameras were introduced in 1915.

Reconnaissance Planes

It was used by all the sides of the war

It became much more important in the war when cameras were being placed on board

They were the only means of gathering information beyond the enemy trenches as they were important on understanding the layout as well as where they were based

This although required another person on board, which would be known as the observer, and the observer would take a series of overlapping images.

Although this also had negative effects as taking aerial photographs was quite a dangerous job. To take these series of images the plane must be level and this was dangerous due to anti-aircraft weapons from the ground which made reconnaissance planes an easy target.

Combat In the Air

Most aircraft, in the beginning, were unarmed other than, a pistol or grenade, but that then evolved to darts, which were metal projectiles that would be dropped to the opposition on the ground.

Although by 1915 machine guns were being mounted at the front of the Airplanes, the real breakthrough didn't come until the interrupter gear by Anthony Fokker, which allowed the machine guns to fire through the moving propeller blades and have the gunfire become synchronized with the blades.

That led to Dog Fights in which one plane would try to shoot down the opposing enemy's plane.

Fighter Planes

In the beginning fighter planes were reconnaissance planes that were fitted with a machine gun on board

Later on in the war planes were being specifically made for dog fights by upgrades the motor and aerodynamics of the plane

Bomber Planes

There were a total of 54 bomber planes used in WWI they were used by the Italians, French, Germans and USA.

They would destroy whole cities and would be called Air Raids

Bomber planes slowly needed to become larger due to the amount of bombs needed


Pilots had very basic and minimal hours of training and this was due to the high demand for pilots. This explains the statistics for the fatalities of aircraft at that time which consisted of mainly self-deficiencies.

Aerial Warfare

Throughout 1916 and 1917 aerial warfare developed from lone fighting to ever larger formations of aircraft and patrols.

Tactical Aerial bombings became very important



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