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WWI Aircraft Development June 1914 – November 1918

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WWI Aircraft Development June 1914 – November 1918. When war broke out in Europe in August of 1914 (only 10 years after the first flight by the Wright Brothers), aircraft designed to fight one another did not exist

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When war broke out in Europe in August of 1914 (only 10 years after the first flight by the Wright Brothers), aircraft designed to fight one another did not exist
  • The Generals and Admirals were almost unanimous in thinking that aero planes had little if any practical application for war purposes
  • It was grudgingly conceded that aero planes might be of some use “as an adjunct to the existing military and naval forces“, to observe the progress of the war.
  • The possibility of aero planes making any positive contribution to the progress of the war received scant support.
  • The official French position was that the aero plane was no more than “a substitute for a captive balloon”

In the years before the war…..

  • In 1911, Major Brooke-Popham of the Air Battalion, Royal Engineers had successfully fitted a gun to his Bleriot monoplane – His superiors ordered it removed
  • In 1913, Major Issac Newton Lewis demonstrated firing of one of his Lewis machine guns from a Wright bi-plane. The U.S. Army Signal Corp rejected the idea.
june 1914
June 1914

Arch Duke Ferdinand killed, and WW1 Begins

A Russian staff pilot attempted towing a grappling hook on a steel cable attached to his Moraine in an attempt to hook it into an opponent aircraft and tear the him apart


aug 1914
Aug 1914

Germans invade Belgium and France

Upon being ordered across the English Channel to France, crews of these unarmed aircraft were instructed to use their planes to ram any Zeppelins they may encounter on the way

jan 1915
Jan 1915

Machine guns make it into the air

Roland Garros first used deflector plates with this aircraft in March of 1915

In April of 1915 Garros crashed and the secret to his success was out

feb 1915
Feb 1915

No guns

march 1915
March 1915

-appx. 1900 built, some equipped with a 37mm cannon for strafing

may 1915
May 1915

Another solution to aerial combat was mounting a gun so it fired upward at a 45 degree angle, so that bullets passed the area swept by the propeller blades

june 1915
June 1915
  • First interrupter gear installed on a Fokker M.5K *(became Fokker E series with appx. 266 E’s built)
  • It took the German Air Service about 6 months to figure out the value of this weapons system and begin to exploit it
june 19151
June 1915
  • Raymond Saulnier had developed a type of interrupter gear for French aircraft. The French authorities were unwilling to back continued research.
  • French aircraft had to make do with a machine gun mounted above the top wing.
july 1915
July 1915

-Appx. 400 built

-A reasonable match (one on one) with the Fokker E type.

oct 1915
Oct 1915
  • Manfried von Richthofen ‘s first solo flight, ended in a crash
  • The Red Barron’s first kill in April of 1916
  • The Red Barron received the “Blue Max” in Jan of 1917
  • The Red BarronKilled in April of 1918 at age 25 (80 victories)
november 1915
November 1915
  • The beginning of the Fokker Scourge
  • A mediocre underpowered airplane (Fokker E) dominated the skies because
  • 1. synchronized machine gun firing through propeller allowed pilot to aim airplane rather than the gun
  • 2. Pilot officers, Max Immelman and Oswald Boelcke developed maneuvers to take advantage of their Fokker E’s weapon
  • 3. Immelman and Boelcke developed tactics, and organized German aircraft and pilots into hunting groups, rather than a number pilots acting as individual hunters (get the high position and attack out of the sun)
feb 1916
Feb 1916

-better performer than the Fokker “E” types, and the Fokker “D” types to be introduced in June of 1916

-not well respected by German pilots as it appeared slender and frail

may 1916
May 1916

-larger stronger wing than the Nieuport 11

-most popular aircraft fighting aircraft of entire war because of its flying qualities and fighting ability

june 1916
June 1916

-Appx. 291 DII & III’s built

-meant to replace “E” models was only marginally better

july 1916
July 1916

-Fast climbing , tight turning aircraft but the drag of the three wing layout made it slow.

-RFC were not impressed and built only a few, quickly shifting to other models

-Germans were impressed with its turning ability and ordered Anthony Fokker to build a copy.

aug 1916
Aug 1916

-Appx. 2000 DI thru DIII’s built

-First German fighter to carry a 2 gun armament without suffering loss of performance

-Red Barron scored majority of his victories in this aircraft

sept 1916
Sept 1916

-Appx. 6000 built

-French built, designed around newly developed water cooled Hispano-Suiza 150hp V8 engine

-some equipped with an over wing gun in addition to the single fuselage mounted gun

march 1917
March 1917

-Appx. 2700 built

-British built, designed around newly developed water cooled Hispano-Suiza 150hp V8 engine

-standard armament was 1 fuselage mounted and 1 wing mounted machine gun

-S.E.5-a model had 200 hp

may 1917
May 1917

-Appx 8500 built

-2 machine guns and a 220 HP Hispano-Suiza motor, with 138mph speed

-tricky to handle at low speeds but strong and an excellent gun platform

aug 1917
Aug 1917
  • Appx 1000 built
  • -semi-monocoque plywood fuselage gave great strength
  • -stable gun platform, but not as fast as French and British contemporaries
  • -could dive at higher speeds without shedding its wings
nov 1917
Nov 1917

-Development of the Nieuport 17, but with only 10 more HP, increased weight, and less endurance, they were not popular

-appx. 381 built

jan 1918
Jan 1918

Developed to replace the Nieuport 17’s, and 24’

-appx. 297 built

-Had 60 more HP, and 10% faster, but was not a particularly good fighter

-Would have faded into obscurity except that it was the only fighter available when the A.E.F. entered the war in early 1918

april 1918
April 1918

-Thought to be the best German fighter of WW1 as it was capable of maintaining performance at high altitude

-appx. 1000 built

-so feared by allies that is was singled out for specific treatment (handed over to allies) in the armistice agreement

-some smuggled to Holland by Fokker to continue his aviation business

may 1918
May 1918

-Basically a Fokker triplane minus one wing

- Faster than the D7 but disliked by pilots only 59 built

july 1918
July 1918

-Appx. 400 built

-Fast and maneuverable, and a better overall fighter than many allied aircraft, but too late to do any good

11am 11 11 18 it ended
11am-11-11-18it ended

To be continued 01-09-39