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Advent of the Air Age: World War I

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Presentation on theme: "Advent of the Air Age: World War I"— Presentation transcript:

1 Advent of the Air Age: World War I

2 Rapid Technological Change
1914 only aircraft at the front All are reconnissance 1918: 8000 planes in action, 300,000 support staff (mechanics etc…) Evolves from duels to mass war in the air


4 Overview How the airplane was employed during WWI
Condition of air service at the beginning of WWI Beginnings of strategic bombing Early airpower theorists

5 World War I -- Missions Reconnaissance -- Collecting visual and photographic information Counter-air -- Air-to-air combat Close Air Support -- Support of ground forces Interdiction -- Striking enemy resources close to the battlefield Strategic Bombing -- Strikes deep into enemy territory to destroy war making capabilities 2

6 WW I -- Early Uses of Airpower
Reconnaissance and artillery spotting Took away the element of surprise Hampered by weather / unserviceable aircraft Kites and Cameras Manned Kites Manned Balloons Telephones Cameras Planes Radio 3

7 Observation


9 WW I -- Early Uses of Airpower
Pursuit aviation (Air superiority) Grew out of attempts to deny reconnaissance 1st air-to-air kill occurred in Oct. 1914 Developed rapidly in WW I Key to winning the air war 3

10 Technology How to Kill? The Propeller. Avoid. Detour. Deflect.
Interrupt. Bomb. 3

11 Avoid

12 Detour

13 Deflect Lieutenant Roland Garros
came to Saulnier and had steel deflector plates attached to his propeller blades a fixed machine gun mounted in front of the cockpit Apr first kill, Apr. 19 shot down in German territory and Germans get the technology

14 Deflect Anthony Fokker improves Garros' Innovation
perfecting a machine gun that would synchronize its firing with the rotation of the propellers Fokker, In two days the Dutch engineer had improved on Garros' innovation considerably Fokker Eindekkers (E III) were armed with synchronized Spandau machine guns and roamed the skies virtually unopposed for a while. German aces such as Immelman and Boelcke led a reign of terror in the skies, known as the Fokker Scourge.

15 Synchronize the Allies came up with a synchronized gun designed by Georges Constantinesco German plane strays over Allied lines and is captured despite German orders not to go there

16 Interruptor

17 Allied Domination 1916 Sopwith Strutter, Pup and Nieuport 17 use synchronization gear and more powerful engine to sweep Germans from the sky They can now strafe trenches, supply lines, bomb munitions and are unoppsed by Germans at the Somme

18 German Recovery Mobilize resources build new aircraft (Albatross out classes allied planes) Use top remaining Ace Boelcke to organize hunting squadrons (Jasta) No patrols: respond to sightings in groups Dicta Boelcke: Secure advantage before attack Fire only at short range Sun behind you Attack in a dive Keep line of retreat open 4-6 plane attack elements (never alone)

19 German Recovery/Allied Response
French ground their aircraft but British fight on with 4 to 1 advantage over the German Albatross Richtofen takes over after Boelcke killed Bloody April 1917 British wiped out by Germans Rebuild again with new Sopwith Camel and Spad XIII aircraft and Germans are again swept from the sky

20 WW I Technological Developments
Roland Garros (French) -- Developed metal strips for propellers so machine bullets would not shatter the props Anthony Fokker (Dutch) -- Designed synchronizing gear so bullets would pass through the spinning propeller blades 4

21 WW I Technological Developments
Nieuports and Spads (French and British) -- most reliable and flexible aircraft in 1916 Fokker Triplane -- German aircraft that put the Germans back on top in 1917 Problem was that Germany in 1917 is short of metal, rubber Triplane and the even better Fokker D VII can’t be built in large numbers and Allies dominate skies in 1918 5

22 American Participation in WW I
When US entered the war in in April 1917, the US Air Service was totally unprepared Aviation Section had 56 pilots and less than 250 airplanes -- none ready for combat Congress approved $640 million in July 1917 to raise 354 combat squadrons At the end of WW I, Air Service had 200,000 personnel and 185 squadrons 6

23 Strategic Bombing in WW I
Limited in scope and intensity Had a negligible outcome on the war Laid the foundation for future thought 7

24 Bombing of Britain Germans conducted daylight bombing raids against Britain using Zeppelins Stopped because of poor results Germans reinitiated daylight raids using Gotha bombers in ineffective Germans begin night bombing using Zeppelins and Reisen bombers primarily terror raids Strengthened British morale (made them angry, determined to fight back) , destroyed little war making capacity 8

25 Allied Bombing of Germany
Began in generally ineffective British bombed German cities and airfields in retaliation for German strikes Allies created the Inter-Allied Independent Air Force (IAIAF) in 1919 for the purpose of bombing Germany War ended before IAIAF was used 9

26 Strategic Bombing Theorists
Sir Hugh Trenchard Guilio Douhet Billy Mitchell

27 Strategic Bombing Theorists: Sir Hugh Trenchard
Commander of Royal Air Force Primary target should be civilian morale Believed allies should attack German homeland Attack around the clock

28 Strategic Bombing Theorists: Guilio Douhet
General in the Italian Army Believed airpower was supreme after WW I Believed bombers would win all wars Air weapon would be used against ports, railroads and economic structures Best way to gain air superiority was to destroy the enemy’s ground organization 10

29 Strategic Bombing Theorists: Guilio Douhet (cont)
Once air superiority was achieved, bombers would concentrate on cities to destroy industry and morale Influenced by Italian geography where there was little threat of a ground invasion His doctrine led to total war concept -- war on the nation as a whole, not just military forces 11

30 Strategic Bombing Theorists: General Billy Mitchell
Commanded Army combat units in WW I Believed Navies were obsolete Believed enemy cities should be attacked to destroy war production and morale Advocated destruction of the enemy’s ability to make war -- factories, food production, communications, fuel supply 12

31 Strategic Bombing Theorists: General Billy Mitchell (cont)
Felt airpower could be used against ground forces -- bombers should not be the only type of aircraft Saw airpower in global terms Overestimated the speed of technological development Passionate advocate of airpower -- made many powerful enemies within military 13

32 Summary How the airplane was employed during WWI
Condition of air service at the beginning of WWI Beginnings of strategic bombing Early airpower theorists

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