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Aviation at the Start of the First World War

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Aviation at the Start of the First World War At the start of the World War I when Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated on the 28th of June 1914, it was only just over a decade since the Wright brothers first twelve second flight at Kittyhawk. No country was prepared for the use of aircrafts in war or even admitted to have an effective weapon for war. Some countries had experimented with dropping bombs from aircraft, firing guns, and taking off and landing from aircraft carriers, but no country had designed or built aircrafts specifically for the purpose of war. Though limited bombing operations were introduced before 1914, most people thought that aircraft use was limited to reconnaissance or scouting missions. (Century of Flight contributors. 1) An October 1910 editorial in Scientific American unfairly criticized the airplane as a war weapon: "Outside of scouting duties, we are inclined to think that the field of usefulness of the aeroplane will be rather limited. ...read more.


The French army bought its first planes in 1910 and trained 60 pilots. It began to install armament in its reconnaissance craft in 1911. In Russia, Igor Sikorsky built the first "air giant," a four-engine plane that was the forerunner of the multiengine strategic bombers of World War I. The French military began experimenting with aerial bombing in 1912, as did the British in 1913. Adolphe P�goud in France also experimented with a hook-and-cable system for landing a plane on a ship at sea-following Eugene Ely in the United States who had successfully taken off and landed on the deck of a ship. (Gibbs-Smith, Charles H. 5) The United States had also experimented on a limited basis with military operations in aircraft. Glenn Curtiss experimented with the plane as a means of bombardment in June 1910 with his Golden Flyer. On August 20, 1910, at Sheepshead Bay racetrack near New York City, Lieutenant James Fickel fired the first shot from an airplane--a rifle at a target from an altitude of 100 feet (30 meters) ...read more.


Not until 1909 did the Signal Corps purchase an aircraft for military purposes. The U.S. Navy purchased its first plane, a derivative of the Curtiss Golden Flyer, in July 1911. On March 31, 1911, Congress first appropriated funds for military aviation, $125,000. The U.S. Signal Corps immediately ordered five new airplanes. Two of these--a Curtiss Type IV Model D "Military," and a Wright Model B--were accepted at Fort 1 Century of Flight Contributors. "Aviation During World War I." Century of Flight. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. <http://www.century-of-flight.net/Aviation%20history/airplane%20at%20war/Aviation%20at%20the%20Start%20of%20the%20First%20World%20War.htm>. 2 Angelucci, Enzo, and Matricardi, Paolo. World Aircraft: Origins - World War I. Chicago: Rand McNally & Co., 1975. 3 Angelucci, Enzo, and Matricardi, Paolo. World Aircraft: Origins - World War I. Chicago: Rand McNally & Co., 1975. 4 Angelucci, Enzo, and Matricardi, Paolo. World Aircraft: Origins - World War I. Chicago: Rand McNally & Co., 1975. 5 Gibbs-Smith, Charles H. The Invention of the Aeroplane -1799-1909. New York: Taplinger, 1966. 6 Chandler, Charles F. and Lahm, Frank P. How Our Army Grew Wings. New York: Ronald Press, 1943. 7 Harrison, James P. Mastering the Sky - A History of Aviation From Ancient Times to the Present. New York: Sarpedon, 1996. ...read more.

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