1862 – Otto Von Bismarck becomes prime minister of what is then known as Prussia. Dedicated to uniting all the surrounding German speaking provinces into one country, he defeats Austria-Hungary in 1866 and eventually seizes Alsace and Lorraine from France in 1871. A brief culmination of events
An Alliance is formed • 1878 – A dual alliance is formed between Germany and Austria-Hungary which included the following provisions: • Both countries promise to aid the other should Russia attack it. • Both countries promise to aid the other should Russia assist another country in attacking it. • 1881 – Italy is brought in forming a triple alliance with the following provision: • If France should declare war on either Austria-Hungary or Germany, then Italy would lend aid; Vice Versa.
Within this triple alliance was a condition dictating that if any of the 3 parties involved should launch a “preventive”, or offensive, war then the other 2 would remain neutral. Results: 1914 – Germanys attack on France is considered to be preventable thus breaking the former contract. 1915 – Italy would enter the war on the allied side. A critical stipulation • It is worth mentioning that Italy had engaged in a secret agreement with France stating that should Germany attack France then Italy themselves would remain neutral. • Either way, Germany initially broke the former agreement by launching an offensive battle.
1892 – Russia and France ally themselves with the aim to specifically counteract the potential threat posed by the triple alliance. France had a grudge to settle with Germany ever since they were stripped of the rich coal mining territories of Alsace and Lorraine. Franco-Russian Military Convention
1890 – Kaiser Wilhelm II takes over for the aging chancellor, Von Bismarck. The ambitious Wilhelm sets out to solidify Germanys “Place in the sun”. Kaiser Wilhelm II
Britain grows cautious • Determined to make Germany a formidable colonial power, Wilhelm plans to construct a naval fleet the match of Britain's. • Britain possessed the largest navy in the world at this time and expressed concern at Germanys sudden interest in naval affairs. • This may have ultimately been a key deciding factor for Britain's involvement in WWI. • Germany did not believe that Britain would get involved in the war as they were in a policy of “splendid isolation”, choosing to stay above European politics.
The Entente Cordiale • 1904 – Britain signs the Entente Cordiale with France resolving long standing colonial disputes between the two. • This gave France a possible buffer against future German aggression. • Neither country was obligated through this document to come to the defense of the other should a war or other military cur break out. • There was, however, a moral obligation from one country to the other. • 1907 - The Entente was extended to include Russia creating what would become known as the Triple Entente.
Belgium or Bust • 1839 – The treaty of London was signed binding Britain to protect Belgium in the event of later invasion. • When German troops intended to seize France during the opening months of the war, they had planned to cut through Belgium in the process. • Knowing of the document, the German government asked the British government to ignore the “scrap of paper”. Britain refused and was officially brought into the war on August 4,1914.
The Culmination of events resulting in WWI • June 28, 1914 – The assassination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, by Serbian terrorist Gavrilo Princip. • Austria-Hungary declare war on Serbia but Russia, another Slavic speaking country, decides to come to Serbia's defense. • Germany sides with Austria-Hungary. • The Duel Alliance of 1878. • Italy sees this as a ‘preventable’ move on the behalf of Hungary and decides not to lend aid. • The Triple Alliance of 1881. • France joins Russia. • The Triple Entente of 1907. • Britain gets involved • Germany invades Belgium enroot to France violating the Treaty of London signed in 1839 • 1915 – Italy enters the war on the allied side.
Flight as a tool of war Zeppelins and Fighters
Zeppelins were rigid airships with aluminum alloy skeletons. Within the larger outer balloon of the zeppelin were smaller balloons filled with hydrogen, a very flammable gas. Zeppelins
1899 - Thanks to the efforts of Ferdinand Von Zeppelin, the first zeppelin was successfully constructed. War time benefits would include: Extended travel time Capability of carrying heavy loads. Possessed a stronger engine than airplanes. As the war got under way the military took notice. Ferdinand Von Zeppelin
The military saw many advantages the Zeppelin offered over contemporary aircraft from a war standpoint, including: almost as fast, but could carry more guns. Greater bomb load, capacity, and range. Better endurance. The one main set back from conventional aircraft at the time was its vulnerability to gunfire.
The first primitive solution to zeppelins used by Britain was to locate them at night with searchlights. This was ineffective as clouds were commonly mistaken. As anti-aircraft defenses improved so too did the Zeppelins capabilities. They could travel at higher altitudes to utilize cloud cover and stay out of range of ground fire. A later favorite of fighter pilots, as the war progressed, was to use tracer bullets against hydrogen filled aircraft. These bullets had a hollow base which would be filled with a pyrotechnic flare to ignite the hydrogen. Anti aircraft efforts
It was quickly realized that the zeppelin was not capable of penetrating well defended forts or areas. For this reason, coupled with the fact it could sustain long travel periods of great distances, they were predominately used for reconnaissance flights over the North and Baltic seas to locate allied war vessels. The German High Command Losses Confidence
January 19, 1915 – An assault on Britain renders the first aerial bombardment of civilians in history. 4 people were killed and sixteen injured. The media blows the story out of proportion. In the end a total of 88 zeppelins were built by Germany during the war. Over 60 were lost due to accidents/enemy actions. Wrath of the Zeppelin
The final tallies 51 Raids 5,806 Bombs dropped 1,358 Injured 557 People killed
Before the war began there was little to no funding for the aircraft industry. Even at the start of the war, planes were constructed mostly of canvas and wood due to low engine power incapable of handling much weight. 1914
The military did not see much use for airplanes at the onset of WWI other than as aerial scouts. In the opening months, pilots adhered to a code of chivalry forbidding them to harm fellow flyers. It wasn’t long before the reality of war reached the skies and enemy pilots were going at it. Pilots would attempt to: Toss ropes into propellers Throw bricks at one another Fire pistols Early aircraft
It has been said that the stalemate in trench warfare was due in large part to the reconnaissance work of aircraft. Aerial reconnaissance teams would draw or photograph enemy trench lines, monitor troop movements, and locate artillery batteries. Trench Warfare
As the code of aerial chivalry was broken pilots attempted to destroy their enemies. In December 1914 a French pilot named Roland Garros consulted a top French aircraft designer (Raymond Saulnier) about adding armored blades to his wooden propellers. After this, Garros fixed a machine gun onto the front of his plane while his mechanic attached deflector wedges so as to defer bullets that might ricochet off the propeller. The first fighter pilot
Garros is considered the first true fighter pilot as he managed to shoot down 3 aircraft with his machine gun. April 18, 1915 – Garros was shot down over German lines and apprehended before he could destroy his plane. It is believed that the plane was sent to Dutch aircraft designer Anthony Fokker for inspection. Roland Garros
Soon after Fokker received Garros’ plane, he proceeded to successfully create a fully functioning interrupter system. The interrupter gear allowed a pilot to fire his machine gun through a spinning propeller without having to worry about ricochets or damage to the plane itself. 1915
The Fokker Eindecker Fokker EindeckerManufacturer: Fokker Flugzeug-Werke GmbHType: FighterFirst Introduced: 1915Engine: Oberursel U.I, 9 cylinder, rotary, 100 hp31 ft 2¾ in 9.5 m Length: 23 ft 7½ in 7.2 m Height: 9 ft 1¾ in 2.4 m Empty Weight: 399 kg Gross Weight: 1342 lb 610 kg Max Speed: 88 mph 140 km/h Ceiling: 11,500 ft 4100 m Endurance: 1½ hoursCrew: 1Armament: 1 or 2 Spandau machine gun • The initial problem with the interrupter gear was that it did not allow enough bullets to get through each round to have a large impact. This problem was easily overcome by adding two machine guns instead of one.
The ensuing time period immediately following the introduction of the interrupter gear is commonly referred to as the ‘Fokker Scourge’ as German pilots exhibited full aerial dominance. • During this time, Allied opponents who faced the Eindecker referred to themselves as Fokker Fodder. • This time frame allowed German pilots to develop their flying skills with relative safety. When the allies began building better planes in larger quantities the Germans were still able to outfight them purely on skill.
During WWI, Observation balloons were used to primarily detect troop movements. They would be winched into the air and guarded by anti-aircraft artillery on the ground. Observation Balloons
Pilots who made a living out of bringing down observation balloons were referred to as balloon busters. The balloons counted as a ‘kill’ as far as the various air forces were concerned and were credited to a pilots tally. German copy of a French Caquot – Type Ae 800. Higher flying capability with 3 fins. It quickly became the common model used. Balloon Busters • The original German observation balloon design. • A typical British design.
Beginning with France, air services in various countries started keeping a credit system for their pilots. Any pilot downing five or more enemy aircraft would be credited as an ace. France credited any pilot or aerial gunner participating in a victory with the kill. Under these rules it wasn't uncommon to have six or seven individuals accredited for a single kill. Germany held the purest crediting system of all countries known as one pilot one kill. Under German rules a pilot would be considered an ace if he had downed sixteen or more enemy aircraft accessed as destroyed or captured. Britain and the U.S. would later adopt the French system. This system was extremely lenient and counted ‘moral’ victories such as - driven down, forced to land, and out of control. The rules of the skies
Despite being a stationary target it was by no means an easy task to take down a balloon as: planes could be brought down by ground fire. Planes could get tangled up in wire meshes commonly hanging in clusters of balloons. The balloons would not always ignite if the pilots were not using tracer bullets. Balloons were attached to a winch and could be pulled down in less than a minute. Balloons worthy of a Kill
Ground fire on planes was highly inaccurate most of the time with the exception of the artillery unit standing watch over the balloons. This was due to the fact that the ground unit already knew the height to aim at by the length of rope to which the balloon was attached.
Friedrich Ritter Von Roth was Germanys top balloon buster. Of his 28 confirmed victories 20 were balloons. He ranks fifth on the list. Willy Coppens of Belgium holds the title as top balloon buster. 35 of his 37 victories were balloons. Top Balloon busters
Oswald Boelcke is considered the father of the German air force. He was chosen as the test pilot to try out Fokkers interrupter gear/machine gun device. Boelcke is famous as being the first person to formalize the rules for aerial combat. These rules are presented as the Dicta Boelcke. Germanys Aces
The Dicta Boelcke • 1.Always try to secure an advantageous position before attacking. Climb before and during the approach in order to surprise the enemy from above, and dive on him swiftly from the rear when the moment to attack is at hand. • 2.Try to place yourself between the sun and the enemy. This puts the glare of the sun in the enemy's eyes and makes it difficult to see you and impossible for him to shoot with any accuracy. • 3.Do not fire the machine guns until the enemy is within range and you have him squarely within your sights. • 4.Attack when the enemy least expects it or when he is preoccupied with other duties such as observation, photography or bombing. • 5.Never turn your back and try to run away from an enemy fighter. If you are surprised by an attack on your tail, turn and face the enemy with your guns. • 6.Keep your eye on the enemy and do not let him deceive you with tricks. If your opponent appears damaged, follow him down until he crashes to be sure he is not faking. • 7.Foolish acts of bravery only bring death. The Jasta must fight as a unit with close teamwork between all pilots. The signal of its leaders must be obeyed.
Boelcke was killed in a collision with fellow pilot Erwin Bohme on October 28, 1916. He had 40 victories to his credit when he died.
Max Immelmann was the first Fighter pilot to receive the Orden Pour Le Merite award in WWI – Prussia's highest military order at the time. At the onset of war, the award was granted to any pilot who had succesfully downed 8 enemy aircraft. As the war progressed, the required number of downed enemy aircraft was raised to 16. On January 12, 1916 Immelmann and Boelcke received the award together. The award is informally known as the Blue Max in honor of Immelmann. Max Immelmann
Immelmann is best remembered for creating the Immelmann turn. This was a turn in the air which began with a half loop and finished with a half roll. Immelmann died on June 18, 1916 with a total of 17 victories to his credit. His death remains a mystery: German sources say his machine gun malfunctioned during a dogfight and he shot his own propeller off. British sources credit the pilots of the F.E.2b’s engaged in combat at the time with the kill. The Immelmann Turn
Manfred Albrecht Freiherr Von Richthofen was the leading flying ace from WWI. originally a scout for the German army, Von Richthofen grew bored and asked to be transferred to the air service. The Red Baron • It was here that he met Oswald Boelcke and was immediately inspired. Boelcke requested that he join his squadron, Jasta 2. • After achieving early success, he painted the fuselage of his Albatros D.III red to flaunt his aerial superiority – Thus earning him the nickname the Red Baron.
The Albatros D.II was the mainstay of the German airforce through late 1916 and Von Richthofens as well. It wasn’t untill he defeated the British Ace Lanoe Hawker, sometimes referred to as the ‘British Boelcke’, on Nov. 23, 1916 that Von Richthofen realized he would need a plane with more agility. The Plane of Choice
September 1916 – the Fokker Dr.I Triplane was introduced offering more agility but less max speed. Earlier in January of the same year Von Richthofen was appointed commander of Jasta 11 – an elite group of fighter pilots.
All the planes in Jasta 11 displayed some red, but the only entirely red plane was Von Richthofens. The squadron slept in tents for closer access to their planes so as to be prepared for emergency notice. This brought forth the title of flying circus or Von Richthofens flying circus. The flying Circus
In April of 1917 Jasta 11 met with unparalleled success. The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) deployed 25 squadrons of 365 aircraft which would be held off by 8 German Jastas (air squadrons). The RFC lost 245 of its 365 aircraft and came close to being totally annihilated completely. Jasta 11, led by Von Richthofen shot down 89 planes alone – almost 1/3 of the total. The month is infamously remembered as Bloody April. Bloody April
The Barons Demise • After sustaining a head injury in July 1917, Von Richthofen was never the same. He suffered from post flight nausea and headaches and made irregular decisions in the air. • One such decision led to his death on April 21, 1918. He pursued Wilfrid May and is believed to have died by a machine gun bullet from the trenches below. This was an odd choice for the Red Baron as he would normally not stay fixated on a single target for an extended period of time.
Up until his sixtieth kill, Von Richthofen had his jeweler friend in Berlin make him a silver cup with the date of each fight and type of enemy aircraft he had brought down. He tallied 80 victories before he died but only had 60 cups made. This was due to the war as silver became restricted from the war. Von Richthofen was the highest scoring pilot in WWI. The Top Ace
Beginning in 1914 German aircraft designers were instructed to paint an Eisernes Kreuz (Iron Cross) in a full chord white field on the tops and bottoms of their wings. Markings were standardized as the exact formula for determining the dimensions of the Eisernes Kreuz were standardized. The white fields were eliminated and all crosses were to be surrounded by a 50 mm white border. The Eisernes Kreuz • Before the war Germany agreed on a single black stripe for its national markings. June 13, 1913 – Sept. 28, 1914 July 25, 1916 – Oct. 29, 1916 Oct. 29, 1916 – March 17, 1918 Sept. 28, 1914 – July 25, 1916
The curved shape of the Eisernes Kreuz was too easily mistakable for an allied cockade so the German military switched to the Balkenkreuz (Beam cross). This new design was a full chord of fuselage depth with a vertical to horizontal arm-length ratio of 5:4. Width of the white border to the arm was 1:4 Arm width to length ratio was changed to 1:8 Arm ends were not bordered. The vertical and horizontal arm length were reverted to a 1:1 ratio for the duration of the war. The Balkenkreuz March 17, 1918 – April 10, 1918. May 15, 1918 – June 25, 1918. • Dimensions for the Balkenkreuz were established. The arms had a length to width ratio of 1:4. June 25, 1918 – Nov. 11, 1918 (War’s end). April 10, 1918 – May 15, 1918.
In the opening rounds of the war it was imperative to have high-output reliable aircraft engines that could sustain great performance in combat and offer a large load carrying capacity. • Germany went with in-line water-cooled power plants virtually from the start of the war while allied engines were predominately of a rotary type in the early years. • These rotary engines had the advantage of being air-cooled but were at an extreme disadvantage due to the fact that the entire engine revolved around the crankshaft. This created terrible torque problems making the plane hard to control. Rotary engines were often exposed to gunfire and apt to catch fire.