Noah Richardson
World War I: Aircraft

World War I was the largest war of all time. “The war to end all wars”. This war was truly the war to end all wars. World War I (WWI) had the highest death rate among any other wars. One of the most important things that represented World War I, was the weapons used. Weapons were, of course, an important focus in WWI. It was through weaponry that mainly would showed who would win. Better weapons, more death, which means a win in the war. Besides guns, swords, and tanks, a big weapon in WWI was aircraft. In World War I, Aircraft ranged from weapons like a blimp, plane, and helicopter. Basically a machine that is capable of flight. Aircraft in World War I changed warfare by its effectiveness during battle and the development of new technology to improve and counter aircraft.

Aircraft was not important until World War I. Instead of Aircraft, the main weapons of war were guns, tanks, etc. Shortly after the first recorded flight of the Wright Brothers in 1903, they initially thought that aircraft would be a little use of combat. “The airplane is useless for the purpose of war”. A British company Avro had produced one of the first aircraft used by the army in 1904- The 504. As World War I progressed, two different types of aircraft were developed; the fighter and bomber. At the start of WWI, bomb aiming was crude. They had trouble aiming the bombs to the ground, and actually having a decent chance at hitting their target. Nine times out of time, the mission was not successful. This led to the creation of the Long- Range bomber aircrafts, which were better than fighter aircrafts, their job was more specific. Though the airships were very large, and were assumed to be very heavy. The airships were actually very light, “lighter than air “, filled with hydrogen, and steel framework. “The huge 190 meter-long hydrogen filled rugby ball shaped balloon”. The aircraft developed over time. It went from looking like a giant balloon, to actual planes with many weapons on it.

Prior to aircraft being very important in combat, anti-aircraft was just as important, if not more important. Anti-aircraft is any form of weapon on the ground that is used to take down aircraft. For example, shooting missiles at a plane in the air would be considered anti- aircraft. First anti-aircraft were produced by Germany in 1909. The rapid growth of aircraft in the war forced all the countries involved in the war to improve all anti-aircraft. At first, the guns used in anti-aircraft had a very short range. But progressively, the range of the guns was improved. By 1916, Britain had 271 anti-aircraft guns in position to defend possible German Targets. “The air ministry believed that they required at least 487 anti-aircraft guns to provide the country with a reasonable defense against German bombing missions.” This quote means that Britain was required to have a lot of anti-aircraft weapons, to have a balanced battle with the German Bombing missions.

In several ways, aircraft changed war. Aircraft, along with anti-aircraft caused new technology to be developed. At first, the airships used in aircraft were poorly made, and did not have the right materials to sustain what it needs for war. For this problem to be solved, new technology needed to be produced. When new technology was developed, aircraft changed. Airships went from small plane look a likes, to large blimps, filled with hydrogen and made out of steel. This would have not been possible if new technology had not been developed. Along with new technology being created, new tactics had to be created. Anti-aircraft caused new tactics to be produced. Anti-aircraft was not useful at first, seeing as how it could never hit its aimed target. So to solve this problem, they had to think of new tactics. One of the tactics created for anti-aircraft was blanket coverage. Blanket coverage was used when a plane or airship was in the sky, and they wanted to take it down. Instead of firing just one missile at the target, they would fire several missiles, to have a better chance of taking down the target. All the missiles covered the sky, hence the name “Blanket Coverage”. This is how aircraft and anti-aircraft changed war. They had to develop new technology, and develop tactics to win World War I.