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Chapter 4 Early Flight ( 1914-1919). A – Airships, Dirigibles, and Balloons B – Military Airplanes C – Aircraft Production D – Armistice and Peace. Section A Airships, Dirigibles, and Balloons.

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Chapter 4 early flight 1914 1919 l.jpg

Chapter 4Early Flight ( 1914-1919)

A – Airships, Dirigibles, and Balloons

B – Military Airplanes

C – Aircraft Production

D – Armistice and Peace


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Section AAirships, Dirigibles, and Balloons

World War I opened in 1914 when German troops stormed through Belgium and into France. Troops were moved by train, truck, car, horse, and on foot. Airplanes, balloons, dirigibles, and airships were used for observation and recon.


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German Airships

  • At start of WWI, German Army had 6 operating airships, and the German Navy had 2.

  • German had little strategy for the use of rigid airships, but the public, who were very aviation-minded, demanded that Zeppelins be used.

  • The German Army was their airships for recon mainly, and occasionally drop a bomb or two.


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German Airships

  • On 6 August 1914, the German airship Z6 bombed Liege, Belgium. Fire was returned, damaging the Z6, but it returned to base.

    • Earliest documented use of an airship as a bomber.

  • German Navy took lead when it can to buying, flying and using airships over the German Navy. The Army dismantled its airship program in 1916. Competitiveness between Armies and Navies occurred in many countries.

  • German Airship designations

    • Z: Zeppelin made before the war

    • LZ: Wartime army Zeppelins

    • L: Wartime navy Zeppelins


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German Airships

  • The German Army learned in the opening months of the war that airship were very vulnerable.

    • They were large, highly visible, low-flying, and slow-moving targets.

  • The Army reduced its use of airships over land and during the day over the Western Front.


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German Airships

  • As the Army was curtailing the use of airships, the Navy increased the used of them.

    • Peter Strasser, head of naval airship division, argued for increased use of airships in raids over England.

  • First German raid on England in January 1915.

    • Germany targeted British morale and property, also known as terror bombing. They were trying to force England into separate peace.


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German Airships

  • At first the Terror Raid shocked Britain, but only succeeded in rallying support in England war effort.

  • The British developed their own home defense system.

    • Established observation patrols

    • Installed searchlights

    • Erected wires to entangle airships

    • Designed and produced more powerful fighter planes


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German Airships

  • In addition to England’s new home defense system, German airships had other problems: Cold temperatures.

    • Ice build-up added weight, so fuel was limited

    • Cold temps thickened oil and froze coolant.

      • Weather and mechanical problems downed more German airships than British anti-aircraft fire, airplane, and bombs combined.


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German Airships

In 1917, the Army replaced the airship with new airplane bombers as the Navy continued the airships for coastal patrol.


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German Technology

The German airship makers improved both the process and product during the war and thereby increased not only the number, but also the size, power, and speed of airships. By the end the war demonstrated the failure of the airships as a land bomber and its effectiveness as a naval recon craft.


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German Technology

  • 80 airships could be built for the cost of a single battleship, but were expensive to maintain and operate in terms of money and manpower, ei: crews, hangers, maint., Etc.

  • Navy lost 53 of it 73 airships; Army lost 26 of 52

  • In the end, the war demonstrated the failure of the airships as a land bomber and its effectiveness as a naval recon craft.


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    French Dirigibles and Airships

    They were as vulnerable during daylight and overland as German lighter-than-air craft.

    • the French dirigibles and airships flew mostly at night and mostly over water where they protected ship convoys and the coast by scouting for enemy vessels and mines.


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    British Dirigibles and Airships

    • Great Britain started the war with 4 lighter-than-air craft.

    • The dirigible proved highly effective for recon and surveillance of sea coast.

      • Since Britain is an island nation, the airship was a naval weapon.


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    British Dirigibles and Airships

    • British innovations:

      • Sea Scout blimp: small dirigible used for patrolling coast and spotting floating mines, subs, and other enemy vessels.

      • British used a downed German Zeppelin as a model for the design of several rigid airships, but didn’t quite match the quality of the German-made Zeppelins

    • At the end of war, Britain had the largest fleet of lighter-than-air craft; 103 craft.


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    Drachen and Free Balloons

    Both the Allies and the Central Powers used tethered and free balloons during the war.

    • Drachen: was a balloon tethered to the ground or to a naval vessel on the water.

      • They had the advantage of being connected by telephone line with forces on the ground, radios came later.

      • Used for observation, sector recon, artillery spotting, battery ranging, and verification of demolition.


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    Drachen and Free Balloons

    • Caquot: Balloons that dangled light cables down in order to entangle enemy airplanes

      • Developed by the British, adopted by Germany and other countries.

      • Britain had one that stretched 50 miles long

    • France was the first nation equip its military balloonist with parachutes.



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    Section BMilitary Airplanes

    Most air forces entered WWI with aircraft and crews suitable for only reconnaissance. The airplanes were mostly two-seat and relatively low-powered biplanes with limited maneuverability and limited load-carrying capacity. But the military utilization of aircraft expanded to other missions and development of aircraft for the new military applications transformed military aviation into a specialized and diversified field during the course of WWI.


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    Combatant Air Forces

    • All combatant nations entered the war with small air forces of a few hundred or less operational aircraft.

      • Germany – Began the war with the largest military air force, divided among a large Army air branch and a small Navy air section, and with military flying schools in operation and military aircraft production underway in a growing German industry.

      • Austria-Hungary - Produced too few aircraft, though an adequate number of airplane engines, to meet its wartime needs, and relied upon its German ally to supply its military aircraft.

      • France – Had the largest Allied air force at the start of the war and a centralized mechanism to coordinate the production and acquisition of military aircraft during the war.


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    Combatant Air Forces

    • Great Britain– The British Royal Flying Corps flew its general purpose aircraft to France to provide recon support for the Allied effort, and the Royal Naval Air Service brought landplanes, seaplanes, and lighter-than-air craft to the conflict.

    • Russia – The Russian Army and Navy began the war with aircraft of many different models, including the domestic Sikorsky aircraft as well as many foreign types, some built in Russia under license, but with a few combat-ready airplanes.

    • Italy – The Italian Aeronautical Corps entered the war with limited combat experience from the Italo-Turkish War, and both the Army and Navy expanded acquisition of military aircraft bewteen the start of the war in Europe in 1914 and Italy’s joining the conflict in 1915.


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    Combatant Air Forces

    • United States– The U.S. entered the war two years after Italy, but was still unprepared interims of production and combat –ready aircraft.

      • Some Americans were already fighting in the war, assuming different names so not to lose their citizenship. Some served in the Canadian Royal Flying Corps, and in the British Royal Flying Corps.


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    Combatant Air Forces

    Some others enlisted in the French Foreign Legion, which allowed them to retain their US citizenship. Troops did not have to swear allegiance to France and trained in French flight schools.

    • LaFayette Escadrille (Squadrons) – Squadron of men trained and serving as an American Unit with the French Foreign Legion.

      • When the US entered the war in 1917, most in the LaFayette transferred to the US Army Air Service or the US Naval Air Service, but one pilot didn’t.

        • Eugene Bullard; the first black American military aviator.


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    Expansion

    Germany’s army air force maintained the dominant aerial position 1915-1916

    • Germany’s aircraft industry’s ability to replace and produce new aircraft

    • Military’s ability to train pilots, observers, and ground crew.


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    Aerial Combat

    • Pilots started to carry pistols for defensive purposes

    • Pilots would occasionally fire at each other

      • First air-to-air combat

      • But shot from too far to do any harm


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    Bombing And Artillery

    Favorite targets for enemy bombers of every nation in 1915 were trains.

    Britain Flying Corps used airplanes for artillery spotting.

    • Pilots would radio to observers to guide gunners to enemy targets


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    Forward Firing

    • March 1915, Roland Garros

      • Added metal deflector plates to his propeller blades and mounted a machine gun on the fuselage in front of the cockpit.

    • Pilots now became fighters

      • Ace - pilot with 5 or more victories


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    Forward Firing

    • Anthony Fokker

      • Developed and produced a machine gun that was synchronized with the propeller by an interrupter gear.


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    Gentleman’s Warfare

    • Max Immelmann and Oswald Boelck

      • Became famous by late 1915

      • Recorded the first victories (Immelmann)

      • Became the first aces.

    • Manfred von Ricthofen

      • A.K.A “The Red Baron”

      • 80 victories, 54 of them “burns”


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    Bombers

    • Giovanni Caproni and Igor Sikorsky

      • 1914, demonstrated multi-engine airplanes designed to carry and drop bombs

      • Bombers up to now were airships and dirigibles

    • Bombing dominated French aviation during the war



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