From Torpedo Bombers to Lockheed P-38 Lightning to the infamous Enola Gay, the role of airplanes in warfare can never be overstated.
Airplanes saw it first major entry into warfare during World War I. It was invented in 1903 by the Wright Brothers, and just a decade after, the First World War erupted. And in no time, the ingenious invention would soon be dragged to the fray.
Initially, aircrafts played a minor role in warfare, but, around the end of the era, air force has become a crucial part of the military.
Early missions of the air force
Airplanes were first instrumental for reconnaissance missions. The armed forces used this new mode of transport to determine the movement of enemy and their positions.
Considered as the most important contribution of airplane during the war occurred at the First Battle of Marne were Allied forces spotted a gap in the German front lines. With this valuable piece of info, the Allied forces took chance of the opening giving them a chance to split the opposing army and pushing them back.
As the war intensified, modest airplanes were used to drop bombs on strategic enemy installations. Initially, the planes carried small bombs and were vulnerable to ground attacks.
In fact, ground soldiers could shoot down an airplane with a regular rifle – although air rifle models reviewed here at http://riflejudge.com/ wouldn’t be able to down a WWI fighter plane.
But as airplane engineering and technology become more developed, WWI military airplanes became more agile and were now equipped with faster long-range bombers. It also allowed loading of larger, heavier bombs.
Gunfights in the air
With both the Allied and Axis forces looking to take advantage of the air space, firefight was soon brought in the air. Enemy pilots began shooting with pistols and rifles or throwing grenades at each other while flying above ground. It was useless and downright laughable shooting aimlessly while on flight.
Soon, planes were equipped with a machine gun, usually mounted at the front of the plane. This gave the pilots better control and also rid the need for a co-pilot when flying the aircraft.
It was the Germans that first invented a device known as the “interrupter” which basically syncs the propeller with the machine gun. It just took a few years for other air forces to use this invention. Now equipped with machine guns, the pilots have literally brought firepower to their hands and in the air. These firefights were called dogfights.
There are a lot of pilots and aviators who were very skilled in dogfights. Some have even become famous for their courageous exploits. In the military force, these distinguished fighter pilots were nicknamed “flying aces.”
Some of the popular fighter aces are:
- Manfred von Richthofen also called the “Red Knight” of the German air force;
- Eddie Rickenbacker of the US Army Air Service who is considered the “ace of aces” in the American squadron;
- Albert Ball of the British Army and a wartime celebrity in the United Kingdom;
- William Bishop of Canada’s Royal Flying Corps and dubbed by the German pilots as the “Hell’s Handmaiden” for his prolific fighting skills;
- Werner Voss of the German air force and was also the closest competitor of the Red Baron;
- Georges Guynemer of the French squadron.
Through the years, we’ve seen how aircrafts and its pilots has become a defining asset in the military force. From being a transport vessel for reconnaissance missions, the air force now plays a major role in almost all the activities of the armed forces – whether it is in military offensive during wartime or humanitarian missions during peacetime.