World War 1 Aeronautical Advantage
World War 1 took place from 1914 to 1919 and various weapons were used by various nations to try and defeat their opponents. Airplanes were among the weapons used and by the beginning of the war, they were less than 11 years old (Spark Notes, 2016). Technology had taken a major leap before the war thus the aviation industry fascinated many; although there was not much trust in the planes. The airplanes were not as advanced as those of recent times. The planes could barely accommodate a pilot and a single passenger due to their little power; they were also slow and flimsy (Spark Notes, 2016). By the end of the war, the planes had improved and they had led to the development of other weapons such as bombs.
Initially, the thought of using aircraft during the war was a far-fetched idea by various nations. All changed when countries realized that they could use airplanes to spy on the movements of their enemy troops (Spark Notes, 2016). However, this meant the introduction of a new kind of plane which could serve the intended purpose. The reconnaissance plane was born and it was used by both opponents at war; it could carry the pilot and one passenger who played the role of an observer (Spark Notes, 2016). The work of the observer was to take photos of the troops on the ground. These planes, however, did not stay for long as the only aerial planes. A way of stopping the observation plans from spying on troops was invented. The reconnaissance planes were either fired from the ground or attacked by other aircraft (Spark Notes, 2016). These methods however failed until the machine gun was put into the task. The main aeronautical advantage in the above discussion is that the opponents who had access to reconnaissance planes could spy on the troops of the other members, thus most likely to win the battle.
The aircraft were basic and crude at the start of the war but this changed at the close of the war. Aircraft had become more sophisticated and had led to the introduction of fighters, bombers, and long-range bombers (Trueman, 2016). The introduction of aircraft in the World War 1 had various advantages for the armies of the participating countries. The British airmen were included in the British army at the start of the war but by the end of the war, it had turned into the Royal Air Force (Trueman, 2016). The very first powered flight to be recorded was in 1903, an aircraft that the Wright brothers flew. The other powered aircraft recorded was by Louis Bleriot and it crossed the English Channel in 1909. The latter two statements are an indication that the aircraft available by 1914 were crude and were not essential for war (Trueman, 2016). However, this led to the invention of the reconnaissance plans as discussed earlier. The Germans used these planes for ‘feeding back information for artillery strikes’, spying on opponents’ troops, and also monitoring the movements of their own troops on the ground (Trueman, 2016).
According to Keitch and Blair (2016), planes such as B.E.2 biplane were used for finding out where the enemy was and the activities they were carrying out. It can be seen that the major aeronautical advantage in World War One was to gather information for opponent camps. The passing of messages was, however, a mechanical one as the planes did not have radio sets. The observers and pilots could either drop the information in weighted bags or get messages on forces on the ground using message steamers (Keitch & Blair, 2016). The latter form of passing information proved hard and inaccurate as the war progressed thus the introduction of aerial photography in early 1915 (Keitch & Blair, 2016). The first photos were taken by hand but later on a camera was mounted on the aircraft, making work easier.
Aircraft played a significant role during World War 1 despite the fact that they had been used in various battles such as the Italo-Turkish war of 1911-1912 (Wilkin, n.d.). At first, the planes were used for spying and gathering troop information however, as the war progressed, their use increased. In 1915, a French innovation that could allow machine-gun firing through the propeller was perfected by Anthony Fokker; the Dutch aircraft manufacturer (Wilkin, n.d.). World War One led to the development of planes such as the Bristol F.2 Fighter (Boucher, 2013).
Boucher W, I. 2013. ‘The Rise of Advanced Aircraft- 1917.’ Wwiaviation.com.
Keitch C, Blair J. 2016. ‘What impact did the First World War have on aircraft and aerial warfare?’ IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUMS.
Spark Notes. 2016. ‘The War in the Air.’ sparknotes.
Trueman C. 2016. ‘Aircraft and World War One.’ The History Learning Site.
Wilkin B. nd. ‘Aerial Warfare during World War One.’