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Explain the importance of the war in the air to the final outcome of WWI

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Explain the importance of the war in the air to the final outcome of the war. Within the First World War, the war in the air certainly played a role. Aircraft technology, unlike land and sea, was considerably primitive at the start of the war - only ten years old at the most. Therefore, it was the first major effort in which planes were tested out for their strengths and weaknesses. However, there were methods that could be put into effect to bring in aircraft in the initial stages and this brought about major technological advances in the field of aviation later on in the war. There is no doubt that these breakthroughs led to more significant innovations in the period leading up to the Second World War and beyond. We will look at just how important these events in air technology were to deciding the outcome of the war. At the start of the war, aircraft were used. Planes were around, albeit extremely basic and highly dangerous and unreliable. They were made of wood and canvas, all held together by metal wiring. The wings were one above the other, either biplanes (two wings) or triplanes (three wings) with a simple rotating propeller on the front. Top speeds were no more than sixty miles per hour. ...read more.


When the Germans were in full retreat, such efforts from planes helped also. However, this was far from being decisive in making any breakthrough on the Western Front. The Germans used reconnaissance too. Two developments helped this - good cameras fitted to planes and radio that provided air to ground communication. Neither side had the advantage in this case, so it soon became clear for both sides to try and deprive their enemy the vital information it was gaining due to reconnaissance. It started off with simply throwing bricks, grenades or rope in a hope that enemy planes' propellers or pilots would suffer. This later went on to handheld guns being used. When planes had guns successfully mounted to them in 1915, the era of air combat had begun. Dogfights were common above the Western Front. Again, neither side could gain an advantage over the other. Major limitations were put upon the mounting of machine guns, due to the awkward position of the propeller. Placing the gun in the most natural place, between the pilot and propeller, could not be done, as bullets would go straight into the propeller blades. Solutions such as the Frenchman Roland Garros' metal deflectors, mounting the gun above the propeller and mounting it at the back of the plane were quite good remedies, but were all scrapped. ...read more.


Flak cannons were used - effectively anti-aircraft artillery fired into the air, exploding in clouds of smoke and shrapnel - hindering enemy aircraft and causing damage also. This was another reason raids could not be carried out and aircraft could not be used to their full potential at the time. Throughout the war, air production increased on all sides incredibly dramatically, showing the importance that aviation could have had to the war and did have in the Second World War. Although there were definitely many technological advances in just four years - taking aircraft from string bags to complex machines - it played more of a subordinate role to the rest of the war. There were no major air battles in the war - just simple dogfights, various small bombing campaigns and reconnaissance. If anything, it played a small role at sea and on land by reconnaissance, where aircraft could spot enemy ships and aspects of trenches, respectively. World War I pointed the way to better, more decisive developments in the air in the 1920s, 1930s and into the Second World War. Tactics such as strategic bombing, close air support in blitzkrieg and proper fighter planes were more significant in the Second World War rather than the first, simply because each side countered the others' developments and aviation was still in its infancy, albeit the steps made during the war. In conclusion, air warfare was not particularly important in winning the First World War. ...read more.

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