The Genesis of Air Power 9789546422118, 954-642-211-8

В своей книге полковник Д. Недялков, профессор Военной Академии Болгарии, рассказывает о развитии авиации с момента появ

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DIMITAR NEDIALKOV

The Genesis of Air Power

1

2

The Genesis of

Air Power by Dimitar Nedialkov

Sofia–Moscow 2004

3

The Genesis of Air Power by Col. Dimitar Nedialkov Ph.D. 1-st class pilot Commandant of Air Force Department of BDSC “G.S.Rakovski”

First published 2004 ISBN 954-642-211-8

© PENSOFT Publishers All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

Pensoft Publishers, Acad. G. Bonchev Str., Bl.6, 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria Fax: +359-2-979-34-06; +359-2-870-45-08 e-mail: [email protected] www.pensoft.net

Cover artist: Marii Chernev Book & cover design: Zheko Aleksiev Layout: Teodor Georgiev Printed in Bulgaria, August 2004

4

CONTENTS: PREFACE

7

INTRODUCTION Chapter

9

1: EXAMINING AIR POWER

11

Air Power as an Element of National Armed Power 11 The Structure of Air Power 16 Examining Air Power as a System 24

2: LEGEND TO REALITY 31 Chapter 3: STORMY PROGRESS 109 Chapter 4: EARLY COMBAT UNITS 165 Chapter 5: EMERGENCE OF AIR DEFENCE AND

Chapter

AIR DEFENCE TACTICS Chapter

247

6: EMERGENCE OF THE COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER AND AIR POTENTIAL

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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This book is dedicated to the knights of the fifth ocean who pledged their lives in the foundations of one great human dream Col. Dimitar Nedialkov Ph. D

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PREFACE

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od created man according to his image and inspired him with a constantly searching spirit. The spirit that gives birth to progress and leads our civilization to the tempting future of a better and free life. Freedom as notion has been defined in various ways and the definition is the product of the hard labour of many great scientists. The feeling of real freedom comes to us, the people, only when thanks to our common sense and skills we succeed to overcome the gravitational law and we leave the warmth of our natural earth environment, heading for the sky. This is a hard way and its beginning lies in ancient times when the dream, and later the idea to fly, was born. This era was followed by centuries of acquiring necessary knowledge and decades of unsuccessful trials used by man to break his earth chains. All of this was compensated by our civilization with the blood of its elite of intelligent, searching and brave men whose self-sacrifice was the base to build our heavenly future. Why was it necessary for man to fly? What is the purpose of dwelling in a space not assigned by God? These are all logical questions answered by scientists hundreds of years ago. Even at that early time, scientists foresaw that the three-dimensional space over us offers unlimited opportunities for making progress and its implementation by man using man-made aircraft would give exceptional chances for rapid development of civilization. Now we understand 7

how far-sighted this great effort of human mind and will was, irregardless of the cost of thousands of human lives. We, contemporary generations owe those heroes the memory and reverence in return to their great deeds. Commandant of Bulgarian Defence and Stuff College “G.S.Rakovski” Major General Manev

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INTRODUCTION

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he use of airborne weapons in combat characterizes armed conflict since the end of the 19th Century, and especially since the start of the 20th Century. Today the significance of airborne weaponry has grown to the point where it plays a decisive role in the outcome of armed and political crises. This book is dedicated to 100-anniversary from the first control humans‘ flight, aims to clarify the genesis of air power, uncover its essence, and trace the evolution in this term during certain stages of its currency. Official historiography, memoirs, and scientific papers form the base for research. Subject of the study is air power: how the term emerged, what was meant by it as it developed historically, how it influenced the formulation of doctrines for the utilization of airforces and national air potential as a whole, and how it made its debut in the years prior to 1914. The very new moment is a special part for creation of Air Power in Balkan countries and meaning of new components for the military operations in Balkan wars (1912-1913). A well-known rule in science is that a phenomenon cannot be understood and studied in each of its aspects. Thus this book seeks to contribute to further clarification of terminology and processes: a clarification which would assist a future streamlining in the development of national air potential on the road to integration into col9

lective security systems. Ultimately, arrival at a uniform terminology, and its clarification and amplification are the first steps to genuine integration.

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Chapter

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EXAMINING AIR POWER

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dentifying critical issues and finding optimum solutions to them is a fundamental task of politicians and soldiers at the start of the 21st Century. Methodologies for this include modelling techniques and intensive computer use. Nevertheless, the road to pinpointing the major problems of today remains thorny. A major job for experts is to clarify the meaning of words and to apply terms rationally and correctly. Anyone who has tackled any significant issue knows the process well. One may apply a variety of techniques for such purposes. One possibility is to take commercial procedures and modify them as needed. ‘Commercial procedures’ implies Stanford L. Optner’s ideas in Systems Analysis for Business and Industrial Problem Solving. This looks at industry and government, including the military. Issues may involve national security and military capacity: particularly tough topics of considerable consequence, and ones comprising a multitude of quantitative and qualitative components. Yet, exactly this sort of elaborate and intractable issue is so fundamental today. Scientists and researchers are particularly involved in medium and large-scale issues, including air power. Resolving such issues entails creating new hierarchies or modifying existing ones, and adopting policies that may obtain over a long period. The longer the period, the greater the risk of failure. (Moreover, risk here may imply that a policy line initially makes things worse, improving them over a longer term.)

AIR POWER AS AN ELEMENT OF NATIONAL ARMED POWER The issue of air power is topical in Bulgaria, a nation going through a trying patch in the history of its sovereign existence. Yet, air power has never been subjected to indepth professional research, particularly as regards its role as an instrument for attaining specific political, economic or military objectives. Why is air power topical? Because: - it has existed, exists now, and will continue to exist into the future - it has always presented planners with a broad range of options, does so now, and will continue to do so in future

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- it calls for significant capital investment entailing large measures of risk - it is highly dependent upon national scientific and technological potential - it is an exceptionally convoluted and complex matter where decision making and implementation call on a whole range of disparate resources - it is central to national security. The methodology for addressing similar issues does not call for a precise definition of success. (Some systems analysis authorities even claim that such issues do not need too close a formulation to be researched.) However, national security matters such as air power and its rôle in armed conflict are overridingly important. Therefore, it is incumbent before specialists studying air power to define it, and the options for its development, to the greatest attainable degree of precision. In pursuing the exercise’s objectives, one has to adhere scrupulously to objectivity and logic. Objectivity is essential in monitoring and data processing. Logic is a way of thinking which aims at rational conclusions. The body of evidence under consideration forms the substance of the transparency and clarity essential to such studies. Empirical monitoring is the process whereby data gathered forms a system, which in turn provides grounds for recommendations. The latter, in their turn, are logical conclusions resting on properly selected fact. As stated above, Bulgarian military science has not yet grappled with the meaning of air power. Due to post-Second World War historical divisions, it still employs Soviet terminology. Yet, contemporary realities call both for the introduction of air power as a concept, and for new ways of interpreting it. They would reflect contemporary national priorities, and enable a proper appreciation of air power in the context of the recent conflict near Bulgaria’s Western borders. While retaining the hierarchy of fundamental issues, it is crucial to redefine air power, and examine it as an element or subset of national power. As national potential develops, so do science and technology. They in turn promote further development. National potential determines how nations rank in the world league: a nation’s ability to attain political, commercial and military objectives depends upon it. Never has this been truer than today, as leading nations (‘the Superpowers’) enter the information society. However, regardless of the era a country is in, its development depends on proper harnessing of whatever potential it has. National power may be defined as the extent to which national potential can be actualised in the pursuit of set political, commercial or military objectives. It determines a country’s vitality, its ability to endure hard times, and to go on to prosper. If national power is the extent to which national potential is actualised, we may view it as the result of a process: the outcome of a system of mutually linked components. We may prove that such a system exists by noting its intrinsic com-

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ponentry, and its point of entry (the presence of an object affected by the process at play within the system). New realities require a broader view of national power as a whole, and of each of its components. In researching the issue, the fact that one is observing an open system in which air power is an entry point is significant. Once we agree to regard national power as a system, we also agree to examine its environs: finite objects with a definite influence on the system. Vital to the system’s existence, each of these objects is a source of input into the system. We may call the sources of national power ‘tangible’ and ‘intangible’ (Diagram 1). Tangible sources include, inter alia, geography, economic potential, infrastructure, the extent of technological development, human resources, and the armed forces. Intangible sources include, inter alia, culture, ideology, national will and morale, government powers and resolve, diplomatic skill, and significant political and military success or failure in the past. Depending on the objectives set before it, national power may be military or nonmilitary. This subjective distinction derives from the sources of national power, which may also acquire the same distinction in turn. The subjectivity deepens by the emergence of an information society in advanced nations. There, links between components of national power grow stronger, while bounds between them grow weaker. Nevertheless, in your Author’s opinion, the distinction is still necessary because few nations are ‘advanced,’ remaining (according to Toffler’s definition) at the industrial/agrarian stage. According to the same author again, industrial nations’ striving to retain a status quo that gives them world leadership and the ability to shape that world according to their interests, is natural. This striving is one of the reasons for sharp political and economic crises, frequently leading to the use of armed force. Unarmed power derives from non-military sources that feed the part of the system relating to national political and economic potential. Armed power derives from the military. Both sources may be tangible or intangible, and determine the methods and resources used in pursuing objectives: political and economic, or military goals. The recent clash of arms in the Balkans bears out the correctness of such a classification: it has been degrading Bulgarian national potential for the past ten years. Discourses on national armed power are particularly apposite in view of the nature of the issue under review. Armed power is the sum total of material and morale at national/class/international alliance level, and as the ability of that nation/class/alliance to mobilise these resources for combat objectives or in the resolution of other issues. Military prowess depends upon national business, social, scientific and technological prowess, and national morale. A country’s armed forces and their ability to attain objectives set by political leaders are its direct expression.

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Intangible Sources of National Power: – Culture – Ideology – History – National Will and Morale – Government Power and Resolve – Diplomatic Skill – Past Success and Failure in Peace and War

National Power: The Degree of Actualisation of National Potential in Attaining Objectives

Tangible Sources of National Power: – Geography – Economic Potential – Infrastructure – Technological Development – Human Resources – Armed Forces

Components of National Power by Purpose and Source

Non-Military

Armed Power

Unarmed Power

Military

Components of National Power by Environment

On the Ground

In the Air

On the High Sea and Waterways

Extent of Actualisation of National Air Potential

Air Power derives from National Air Potential Diagram 1: The sources and components of national power

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Armed forces are classified according to their environment: army, airforce, and navy. The ability of each to perform depends on its armed power. Armed power is the totality of material factors and morale characterising the state of the armed forces and their ability to attain combat objectives. It depends directly on, inter alia: personnel numbers, morale and training, the quantity and quality of combat equipment, and good command. Armed power is the ability and potential to attain a set objective in the context of a specific set of conditions. The major components of armed power (Diagram 2) are: - personnel and equipment in direct combat: people and machines basic to combat potential - reserve personnel and equipment: technical and logistics backup providing sustainability - command strength and mechanisms: management potential. Combat potential is basic to armed power. It is the state and potential of personnel and equipment in direct combat: those directly committed to attaining set combat objectives. Before delineating the bounds of air power as a subsystem of national power, the point that national power is classified by environment (land, water or air) repays reiteration. This best enables countries to utilise land, water and air for objectives relevant to their prosperity and ability to endure.

ARMED POWER

Personnel and Equipment in Combat

Backup Personnel and Equipment

Diagram 2: The components of armed power

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Command Strength and Mechanisms

THE STRUCTURE OF AIR POWER Hitherto, air power theory has been the exclusive province of West European and United States’ theoreticians and experts. Attempts to formulate and explain air power date back to the infancy of aviation. Concepts of naval power provided starting points. Early air power theorists borrowed ideas and basic postulates from naval warfare fairly uncritically. This worked only occasionally. The concept of naval power is firmly linked with Alfred Dyer Mahan. He defined naval power as the ability to use the seas for military aims, and thwart the enemy in doing the same. Mahan pointed out that the seas could be used not only as a setting in which to destroy enemy forces representing a genuine threat, but also as one in which to exercise indirect but nonetheless decisive influence on military potential. Mahan’s 1890 treatise, The Influence of Naval Power upon History, also contained the rather too absolute prescription of superiority as a prerequisite in all naval operations: nothing was to be undertaken before superiority was secured. What was needed was a large, centrally commanded fleet whose basic purpose was to destroy enemy capital forces. Another naval strategy theorist, Sir Julian Corbett, regarded the high seas in their normal state as uncontrollable. His great contribution was to separate the attainment of superiority from its exercise, which he treated as a distinct aim of naval power. These twin aims in turn dictated different armaments, training, and unit structure. Specialists will readily find analogies with contemporary views of air power. What is the nexus between naval power and air power? At the turn of the 20th Century, it was the striving to seek superiority or mastery in a largely uncontrollable environment. In addition, both naval an air power depended upon — and served the needs of — land operations. This gradually led to the triune configuration of national power, enabling nations to pursue their objectives not only on dry land, but also on the high seas, and in the air. What were the properties of the new environment over which politicians and soldiers felt challenged to seek superiority? The first and essential one is its universality. The earliest flying machines suggested to strategists that the new leap of human ingenuity had a future: with development, it would render any point on Earth accessible, moreover at speeds unknown to land and naval vehicles. Speed gave the new environment its second advantage: greater mobility, granting intrinsic privileges to owners of flying machines. The third advantage stems from the ability to move in three dimensions, thus gaining a large measure of invulnerability. Graf Zeppelin’s dirigibles and the Albatros Company’s aeroplanes

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abruptly ended a British geographical immunity bestowed by 36 kilometres (21 miles) of English Channel. This immunity had held since the Norman Conquest in 1066, yet henceforth no nation was beyond invasion from the air. Early flyers grasped the opportunities offered by the new environment (viz. Professor Charles’s views, and Orville Wright’s letters to his government almost a century hence). However, the first soldier and theoretician to state notions of the changes about to hit warfare, was Giulio Douhet. In 1909, this unknown artillery Maggiore wrote: “It may well seem improbable that the sky shall turn into a battlefield no less important than the land and the seas. However, it would be better if we accept this probability now, and prepare our services for the conflicts to come. The struggle for aerial superiority shall be arduous, yet ostensibly civilised nations shall strive to prosecute war insistently, and with all means at their disposal.”1 By 1913, Colonele Tenente Douhet was firmly of the opinion that aerial forces must form a separate command. Criticising Italian high command strategy, he declared: “Aerial space shall be independent. A new type of weaponry is being born: aerial weaponry. A new battlefield is being opened: the air. The history of warfare is being infused with a new factor: the principle of aerial warfare has been born.”2 The first military leader who not only saw the significance of nascent air power but also began active work to elevate it as a primary pillar of national power, was the Head of the German General Staff, General-Feldmarschall von Moltke. Before the First World War, he formulated and applied a programme for the promotion of this new weaponry, and for the creation of properly functioning Army and Navy air units. During the Great War, Generals Trenchard and Mitchell were the first to breach the Klausewitz postulates on warfare (which Foche was following). British soldiers had principal differences with Klausewitz’s paradigms: they had attained and maintained a 150 year superiority not through set-piece wars but through manoeuvre, limited warfare, attrition and threat. Major General Trenchard and Brigadier Mitchell proved that rather than being tied to close support of the infantry, aerial forces ought to co-operate with them, yet pursue independent objectives. Reviewing Tripolitanian, Balkan and Great War experience, Generale Douhet attempted the first definition of air power in his 1921 book, Command of the Air. He and subsequent theorists regarded air power merely as a tool for mastery, even after the advent of missiles. For instance, writing in the January 1956 issue of the Air Force Journal, Major Alexandre Seversky defined air power as a function of speed, height, range, mobility, and the ability to project armed power with pinpoint accuracy in time and place at maximum speed. 1, 2

Translator’s rendering from the quotation in Bulgarian.

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To this very moment, air power tends to be regarded as a component of national armed power. In this sense, its definitions tend to recycle general concepts of armed power and combat potential. Treating the airforce as a prime command, they address its armed power, combat potential, state, and ability to attain set objectives within a discrete timeframe. However, there are grounds for believing that air power is in fact the rational combination of all means for operating in the air, and of all means for defending the national interest. Air power determines a country’s ability to harness the military and business benefits of the air for its own ends. In this sense, air power may also be defined as the extent to which national air potential is actualised: the extent to which the elements of national air potential are given tangible shape. It is reasonable to regard air power as a system comprising components, links and dependencies. In unbreakable unity with their environment — the air — they display interrelationships that give the system its wholeness. Specific historical conditions determine the significance of air power’s individual components. The dominating significance of its contents is a matter not only of today, but also of tomorrow. In the context of this volume, the military aspects of air power are particularly important, since your Author examines the current and future rôle of airforces in warfare. The structure of the air power system is markedly hierarchical. It comprises basic components (ones instrumental in the performance of business or combat tasks), and elements influencing the performance of such tasks to one extent or another. The number of components and elements in the proposed system is not fixed. It, and the extent of their development, depend on a variety of factors and have a purely national character. These factors include, inter alia: degree of national economic development; priority objectives set before nations; major points in national military doctrines; and the political and geographical environment. For instance, most nations have chosen a tripartite armed forces structure; but some (like Israel, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and former USSR) have a quadripartite structure, with air defence the fourth part. Nevertheless, the principles for determining the major components obtain for the force structures of any nation with aircraft and an infrastructure for their operation. These basic components of air power have been nominated (Diagram 3): - the Air Force (including air defence forces, with the proviso that in the aforementioned countries they are separate commands) - state and private airlines and general aviation companies - the naval air arm - police and border patrol air units - state and civic air clubs and voluntary defence support organisations - the air traffic control system

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The Air Force

Air Defence

The Naval Air Arm

Legislative Base: all Instruments Addressing Aviation

Science & Research Establishment

Police/Border Patrol Air Units

Flying Schools

R&D/E&T/ Manufacturing

Manufacturing Base

Airports Network

Air Infrastructure

ATC

Air Potential: the State and Ability of Air Power System Components to Perform Set Objectives

Repair & Maintenance

State and Civic Air Clubs and Voluntary Defence Support Organisations

Diagram 3: The Major Components of Air Power

Airlines/ Aviation Companies

Components of Air Power

Air Power: a Nation’s Ability to Utilise Airspace in the Pursuit of Set Political, Commercial, Military and Other Objectives

- the entire air operations infrastructure - the research and development (R&D), education and training (E&T), and manufacturing sectors. A proper legislative base is crucial in delineating air power and ensuring normal function to its structures. While one cannot define it as a component of air power, it affects processes and task performance directly, particularly in peacetime. One may regard each component of the air power system as a subsystem of constituent elements. For instance, airforces comprise units which discharge peace and wartime tasks. One may also regard aviation as one of these elements as a subsystem comprising types of aviation. However, your Author is loath to overanalyse the system and thus risk obfuscation. Certain components of air power play a special rôle in its development. Therefore, they repay especial examination whose findings may be used as an entry point into the air power system. They are: the entire air operations infrastructure; R&D, E&T, and manufacturing. Within the former, one may discern two basic elements: the repairs and maintenance sector, and the airports and airfields network. The R&D, E&T and manufacturing component comprises the entire national science and research establishment, the aviation industry, engineering design and consultancy bodies, and flying schools. Although here these elements rank as mere parts of larger components, and although their presence in most nations’ air power systems is token or nonexistent, their significance to flying and aviation is immense. National air potential is the basis of air power. Air potential is the state and ability of the components of air power, or the state and ability of forces and material directly involved in task performance. It is not necessary to tap the full measure of national air potential at all times. The precise extent depends on many factors, chief among them the nature of tasks. One may regard air potential as succour for the air power system, and as a system of several elements (Diagram 4) grouped according to the possibility of actualisation of air power components and elements. They may be regarded as an entry point into the system of air potential, whose final product is the degree of its actualisation. The elements of air potential include: - aircraft number and quality - ground and air personnel numbers, training and career satisfaction - air and ground equipment state and availability - state and scope of available backup - command structure powers and effectiveness. Air power is the extent to which air potential becomes reality. The assessment of this extent is of necessity subjective. It depends on the extent of actualisation of

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various elements of air potential. There are cases where for one reason or another components of air power, or elements of air potential, are missing or undeveloped. This does not mean that air power is absent, or that it cannot rise beyond a certain level. However, it does mean that the ultimate degree of air power is circumscribed. Apart from depending on objective conditions, the extent of available air power may also be fixed by politicians and soldiers with a view to adequacy in the pursuit of set objectives. The proposed view of air power makes it obvious that it is an element of national power able to discharge duties both in peace and in wartime. One may glean a fuller picture of its multifarious peacetime duties from this list:

Aircraft Numbers and Quality

Ground and Air Personnel Numbers, Training, and Career Satisfaction

State and Availability of Air and Ground Equipment

NATIONAL AIR POTENTIAL

State and Scope of Available Backup

Command Powers and Effectiveness

Diagram 4: The Components of air potential

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- deterring potential aggression - assisting in disasters or crisis situations - assisting national business, science and research - patrolling and controlling national airspace - maintaining combat readiness and preparedness for a smooth transition from peace to war. Manifestations of the business rôle of air power include: - state and private sector airlines - R&D establishments and firms with interests in aviation - the air design and manufacturing sector which bridges the gap between fundamental research and manufacturing - the aviation community (those who earn a living in aviation and related interests). The airforce as a component of air power plays a special rôle in peacetime. As part of the armed forces, it is able to display national armed power on the international arena. Politicians often make use of this to demonstrate a threat to adversaries. German politicians pioneered this use of air power. A similar display arsenal for the use of diplomacy was widely used during the Cold War and remains deployed today. Demonstrations of aerial might often allow the attainment of political objectives without recourse to combat: the mere threat of potential superiority or mastery supplants spilt blood. In this sense air power has always been an instrument of national policy and a major buttress to peacetime diplomacy. This is helped by the nature of the airforce: constantly combat ready, mobile, and able to concentrate forces rapidly with great accuracy. The ability to influence adversaries simply because the airforce is there bring the creation of air power to the forefront as a priority national issue, and to the forefront in international politics. Here, Bulgaria’s lack of an adequate level of air potential, and the process of downgrading air potential (in progress as these words are written) erode Bulgarian leaders’ positions on the international arena. At the same time air power, along with the other elements of national power, is there to defend the nation in case of attack. Thus, its importance for national safety grows in line with military threat. Primary expression of this aspect of air power is a country’s ability to repel aggression. However, this does not mean that air power ends with the airforce. One must interpret air power primarily as a nation’s ability to harness all resources and opportunities at its disposal to the end of utilising airspace. The basic aim here is to boost national prosperity, with defence as part of this aim. Regarded thus, air power may to some definite extent be seen as synonymous with national economic prowess, whose inalienable constituent it indeed is. It is economic power that determines the level of armed power (hence also of air power); air power has both commercial and military origins.

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The reason people invest air power with military meanings is mostly to do with international factors. Threat, and the concomitant need for defence, are immanent in international relations. In this sense, tasks before air power in a conflict include: - controlling national airspace - controlling enemy airspace - continuous aerial reconnaissance and intelligence gathering using the advantages of the third dimension - transport operations. The relative importance of army, airforce, and navy, has always depended on political and strategic considerations, geography, and international alliances. The army has played first fiddle in some historical periods; in others, primacy has rested with the airforce or navy. The place and rôle of each armed force in peace and war depends on the technical level of adversaries, their potential, and their geography. Experience shows that each of the forces makes a definite and always significant contribution to victory. Over the last century (since the arrival of air power) there have been no pure infantry, naval or air wars; neither do military experts foresee any in future. One thing remains unaltered: only the army can secure the results of a campaign or a war. Its sheer physical presence on the ground consolidates the conquests of hot conflict. Conditions for the attainment of set objectives arise only where organised, wellarmed, and well-trained armed forces are available. Each of them has a specific sphere of application, and modes of interplay with the others. The appropriate utilisation of this specificity determines the degree of success of an operation, campaign, or war. Precisely because of this, the pursuit of balance between the different armed forces (and within each of them) is a major procedure in modern military science. National interests guide this procedure closely as do, inter alia, tasks set by political and military leaders, political and military developments in the region and beyond, national potential, and geography. The procedure is also the key to a broader challenge: striking a balance between the components of air power. In constructing air power, attention must be paid to blend its components most advantageously, and to maintain this blend thereafter. This is only possible after thorough scientific analysis of all influences on civil and military aviation. Balancing thus involves military science and addresses historical and technical developments. The issue of balancing also intrigues per se, inviting examination in an historical and military science aspect. Military doctrine and national security postulates, as well as the national constitution, have to form the basis of balanced development of air power. They must determine the rôle and place of air power and the airforce within the hierarchy of national power, and national armed power. They must fix its relative weight in the system, its

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tasks in peace and war, and the composition and purpose of various force commands and civic volunteer formations. A conclusion valid for nations with Bulgaria’s economic potential, is that balancing the components of air power means bringing them to a state and blend which allows air power to be multi-rôle (able to perform a variety of peace and wartime tasks). In view of the basic requirements before air power (to perform set tasks using its peacetime strength while taking account of geography, and to manoeuvre using available resources), another major procedure is to determine human and material strength. Here, it must be borne in mind that force renewal in today’s swift wars is highly problematic, and generally considered impossible. Thus, the issue of balancing and creating air power is mainly a matter of peacetime planning. Balancing the components of air power is an ongoing process. It evolves according to historical circumstances. Major factors determining such evolution include: politics (changing balances, military blocs, and changes of regime); economic realities and changes in national commercial/military potential; developments in indigenous and world science; and changes in the tasks before air power. Tasks set by political leaders and the level of national economic development are prime among these factors. History is replete with examples of defeat or distress resulting from poor (or nonexistent) balance among elements of national power and components of air power. Most of these relate to financial straits, mistaken military doctrines, or short-sighted foreign policies. The national economy then has to make up for such defeat and distress.

EXAMINING AIR POWER AS A SYSTEM Systems analysis represents system objects symbolically; denotes their structures (function, links, organisation, and development), events, properties, objective laws, and formal relationships between them; and displays structural similarities, properties, composition, communication, and development as evidence of functional system integrity. To apply systems theory to a phenomenon means to study that phenomenon thoroughly, but without recourse to classical experimentation. The aim is to discover the phenomenon’s structure and behaviour. This entails using methods from a number of disciplines. (Indeed, the benefits of the systems approach stem from the fact that it is isomorphic, breaching historical bounds between sciences claiming to study entirely different phenomena.) Attempts to study air power as a system date back some decades. To your Author’s knowledge, Stephen Possony made the first such attempt in 1949. Writing on Elements of Air Power in the Infantry Journal Press, he listed 15 elements of air power:

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- materiel and fuel - industrial potential; a high level of technological progress and instrument development - a network of bases and forces to defend them - communications and electronics - logistics support - auxiliary services - airborne forces - guided missiles and nuclear weaponry - aeroplanes and other aircraft - human resources - training - morale - intelligence - inventions and research - tactics, strategy, and planning. Possony then described the significance of each element, but ended his article short of stating the need to apply a systems approach. The 1992 Air Force Manual exhibited a similar level of perception in treating the United States’ aerospace doctrine. Possony was cited verbatim, but without clarifying things in the least; what was omitted includes: - the internal organisation of air power, and modes of interplay between its components - the functions of air power components - horizontal and vertical links between air power and other structured systems - mechanisms and factors for system preservation, improvement, and development - methods and phasing in air power development with a view to defining its historical prospects. But why examine air power as a system? Indeed, is the systems approach suitable to air power? It recommends itself because: - air power is created by man and involves components with different natures - air power has a purpose, and each of its components has an aim (tasks whose performance generally involves the air) - the scope of air power is very broad, as witnessed by the variety of its components, and the number of functions and values involved - air power is sufficiently complex to merit study as a unity. Any internal or environmental change begets other significant changes. Moreover, inputs and outputs are non-linear, which renders mathematical modelling both exceptionally complex and far too subjective

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- inasmuch as adversaries always strive to downgrade air power, it contains an element akin to competition. In the aforementioned business systems, commercial competitors assume the adversary rôle. In examining air power, the systems approach entails study of a series of aspects, each of them important, viz.: - system elements - system structure - system function - system communications - system integrity - system history. The system elements aspect tells us what the system contains. The components of air power are listed above, along with their major elements where relevant. This ought to have made it clear that the system’s net product is to enable a country to use the air in the pursuit of its political, business and military objectives: a topical issue today. This issue has long represented a major priority before any national and military leadership that has ever set its public ambitious tasks for the pursuit of national prosperity. It has become particularly pertinent in the light of plentiful recent examples of the benefits of air superiority. These benefits stem from the advantages of three-dimensional space, great speed, manoeuvrability, the mobility and flexibility of airborne platforms, and the multiplicity of tasks performed. The conclusion has to be that the system under review has a great many interrelated properties. These properties do not derive merely from the properties of individual components, nor are they reduced to them. They also depend on the environment and on the elements and subsystems of components. Air power is part of the hierarchy of national power, and is itself a hierarchy: a complex system with a great many interdependencies. This renders formal mathematical descriptions practically impossible: such descriptions would transgress any levels of conditionality deemed useful in practice. In this and similar cases, the systems approach is not a stage on the road to mathematical modelling. The main task is not to employ mathematics to detail structures, links and functions —but to research trends. In Bulgarian conditions, this may be paraphrased as finding how to guarantee the retention of air power, and how to maintain a reasonable level of air potential. The system structure aspect shows how the system is put together, and how its components may interact. Though they may be shown as equal, the development of one or another of them is a matter of priorities and affordability. Factors determining the relative import and degree of development of individual components include: - national economic potential

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- political and military leaders’ air priorities - national human resources’ potential (in demographic, intellectual and educational terms) - national scientific potential - geography and regional geopolitical encumbrances - heritage and development prospects. The degree to which an air power component is present or absent affects the links between others, and may impose system restructuring. For instance, in Bulgaria an element of one of the components (flying schools) has to stand in for the entire headline component (R&D, E&T, and manufacturing): the rest barely exists. (It must be stressed that the lack, or underdevelopment, of any system component degrades overall system effectiveness. That is why balancing between components while keeping account of national interests and abilities is so necessary.) The reason this system is proposed is to facilitate better understanding of the issue, and ultimately to promote better policy in its regard. The system may be used to determine the rôle of air power in the conduct and outcome of armed conflict. The formation of most components of air power is revealed when examining system function aspects. On the one hand, the system communications aspect helps delineate the system under review. On the other, it sets air power in the broader context of the system of national power. The formation of some components (due for examination later in the volume) was not only a process of emergence, but also of gradual fitting into the national power hierarchy, and of linking with land and sea power. We shall review this aspect in subsequent volumes, which will cover air power’s increased importance, and its attainment of equality with the other two elements of national power. Today, air power is a decisive factor in the performance of strategic national tasks. This in no sense downgrades its functions in securing air superiority or mastery, or in offering adequate resistance in the defence of sovereignty over land or sea. On the contrary: it is the very ability of this element of national power to react most rapidly and appropriately to any threat, irrespective of where it arises, that gave it its dominating significance vis-à-vis the other two forces. However, regardless of how great the success at the end of hostilities, consolidating it is down to land and sea power. This mutual dependence has been confirmed repeatedly, and will continue to be confirmed in your Author’s opinion. The system integrity aspect of air power cannot be regarded as a constant. As will be obvious from the very infancy of air power, the emergence of its various components was evolutionary and uneven in time. It continues to this day, and will continue. Air power is an open system; protagonists at its entry and exit points are both the tangibles and intangibles listed above (Diagram 1), and the tasks and objectives before it.

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Air power’s system history is possibly its most important aspect in the context of this study. It provides answers as to how the system came about, what development stages it underwent, and what prospects it faces. History is basic to this volume, and it will inform future volumes in the series. The intention is to show how air power evolved into a system over clearly defined periods, and to attempt to glean general trends for the near future. Apart from that, air power is the product of various nations’ air potential: an item also subject to evolution in set periods, and to trends in the future. The study of air power leads to these conclusions: - Air power is among the major indicators of national economic and military prowess. It expresses a country’s genuine ability to utilise the air in the pursuit of its interests. Thus, it is undoubtedly a primary element of the national security system, and a measure of national prosperity and potency. - The benefits bestowed by air power and the possession of air potential stem from the air as an environment (high speed, long range, three dimensional manoeuvrability), and from the promise of further development as science progresses. The air allows high mobility, flexibility and universality, and offers politicians and soldiers rapid and effective solutions to complex problems. This helps rank air power as a prime element of national power. The primacy of air power, and its growing importance, means that it is a major issue that would repay study as a system with a set of clearly defined components. - The number of components and the degree of their development express priorities and objectives nations set themselves. They are explicit in national security doctrines and implicit in geography, and in the state of tangible and intangible sources of national power. This state varies with time. It also relates to the links between system components. In this sense, air power is a complex open system whose entry point features its components and their subsystems, and whose major source is air potential. - Air power has a multipurpose nature in both peace and war. It is involved in a variety of tasks, each drawing upon a different set of components, thus calling for a proper balance which may be determined according to set principles and criteria. Experience shows that imbalance in component construction and development results in limited ability to perform tasks, and degraded ability to tackle subsidiary tasks. In this connection, the balanced arranging of components, and their subsequent manipulation in order to maintain a suitable balance between them is a challenge to national business, intellectual, and political leaders. - The utilisation of air power depends on the proper interaction of components which are heterogeneous in nature. Thus, utilising air power does not imply merely summing these components’ potentials, but rather invoking an altogether higher degree of unity and potency. Attaining proper balance in the structure of air power depends to a decisive degree on the complex process of scientific management during

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its construction and maintenance. This in turn may call for adequate funding; obtaining it ought not to be a problem, since air power is always a matter of adequate sufficiency in a national context. - Armed conflicts are direct stimuli for the development of air power and air potential. They have played an unbroken shaping rôle ever since air power’s emergence. Experience from assigning one rôle or another to air power’s components has read across to military science, and to the formulation of national priorities as a whole. Armed conflict is an extreme state that most rapidly tests the veracity of peacetime assumptions. What is necessary is a thorough study of the influence of air power on the course and outcome of armed conflict (particularly of the influence of air power’s major wartime component: the airforce). Because of their properties, airforces also manifest themselves as prime instruments of national policy in a variety of historical circumstances. The emergence of air power occupied a relatively brief period. However, this period was rich in the variety and dynamism of processes it witnessed. Events influencing the emergence of air power and determining its place in the system of national power were numerous. Therefore, your Author proposes to review only the major ones among them. There is also a wish to forecast the future of air power in the context of the information society. Thus, subsequent volumes in the series shall review air power and conflict in successive periods: - the First World War, featuring the rapid evolution of national aerial forces into separate commands able to tackle tactical tasks independently, influence operations, and undertake strategic duties - the interwar period, marked by developments in doctrinal thinking, and by air power’s growing importance in periodic local armed conflicts - the Second World War, which conformed airforces’ strategic significance as separate commands equal to the army and navy in determining the outcome of strategic operations - the postwar period, which witnessed the gradual imposition of a state where leading industrial nations honed their aerospace forces’ readiness to react to any threat immediately and in a measured way, and when these forces assumed the rôle of prime deterrent in international relations.

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Chapter

2

LEGEND TO REALITY

M

an has dreamed of flying since deep antiquity. Man’s restless spirit felt challenged to master an environment God had denied, and to move in three dimensions at a speed immeasurably greater than possible on the earth’s surface. The deep blue of the sky fascinated the eye and excited human imagination. It was probably the thirst for flight that produced the beautiful and didactic story of Icarus. Told more than two millennia ago by Roman poet Ovid, it is the first recorded expression of the idea of flight. In 750BC, Cretan King Minos invited Greek sculptor Daedalus to construct a Labyrinth so elaborate as to render any escape impossible. Daedalus arrived on Crete with his son Icarus, and in fulfilling his commission created one of the Wonders of the World. Reluctant to part with so accomplished a master, Minos did all he could to prevent his return. However, Daedalus decided to flee in a way the tyrant could not foresee. He gathered birds’ feathers and glued them together with wax, making pairs of wings for himself and Icarus. Training his son for the flight, he told

Q The legend of Icarus: a source of inspiration and a challenge to human ingenuity

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him he would be safe at a height where neither waves would wet the feathers, nor solar heat would melt the wax. Came the day of the flight, and the pair set off successfully. But when the best part of the journey was behind them, Icarus, taken with the experience and forgetting his father’s advice, shot upward towards the searing sun. The hot rays soon melted the wax, the wings melted, and the sea claimed the youth’s body. Ever since, a portion of the Aegean bears the name of Icarus. The freedom that flight grants bestows many benefits in battle. Ancient strategists knew this. Their attempts to use flight in warfare employed neither aircraft, nor aerostatics and tethered balloons. It was the kite, invented in China 2300 years ago, that was used by the soldiers of the day to take observers aloft for the purpose of spying on enemy movements. Thirteenth Century Italian traveller Marco Polo observed such an ascent during his journey around China. The same nation also invented missiles (rocket propelled arrows) in time to use them with some success against Mongol invaders in 1232AD. Kites and rockets later spread to medieval Europe. There is no written confirmation that Europeans used kites to haul men aloft. However, rockets had been tested in battle by the middle of the 15th Century. Though fitted with fins, up until the late 19th Century they were unstable and imprecise, and this inhibited their popularity among soldiers. Between 1475 and 1505, scientific genius Leonardo da Vinci worked on the problem of enabling man to inhabit the air and descend safely. His paper entitled On the Flight of Birds dealt in part with how man could copy birds’ movements and hence their ability to fly. Arriving at certain conclusions, Leonardo described and drew apparatus for flying. His ornithopter had the body of a boat, controllable tail surQ Kite-flying as depicted by an unknown artist in 1635 faces, and a retractable

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undercarriage. Borrowing from nature, Leonardo formulated principles of lift, and methods of attaining stable controlled flight. In order to increase the sweep of each wing stroke, he employed the combined strength of arms and legs. In his declining years, aware of man’s inadequate and waning physical prowess, the genius directed more attention to fixed wing flying machines. In the closing year of the 15th Century, he devised an ornithopter with partially fixed surfaces, and a technique for gliding during which ornithopter flyers could reQ Rocket firing during the Napoleonic Wars between coup their strength. Leonardo’s helicopter also relied 1805 and 1807 upon muscle power. Its wing was shaped like an Archimedean screw which pushed air downward as it spun. Toys employing this principle had emerged in the first quarter of the 15th Century, and their descendants are available today. Leonardo even proposed an early parachute. His drawing of it states that if one owns a tent whose sides are 12 sajena in breath and width, one may safely jump from any height. The inventor’s manuscripts archived in Paris contain a sketch of a man

Q A sketch of Leonardo da Vinci’s ornithopter which the great man drew between 1485 and 1500

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Q Leonardo’s helicopter was also planned to depend on sheer muscle power to stay aloft – A helicopter toy

descending with the aid of a flat rectangular surface. Control is stated to be possible by tilting the surface. It is likely that the idea came to Leonardo as he watched sheets of paper fall. In Leonardo’s day, science and craft had not advanced sufficiently to attain the desired result of flight. One man’s efforts, notwithstanding his genius, were insufficient to accomplish the required leap. Human progress follows its own logic. During the 17th Century, Englishman Robert Hook and Italian Giovanni Borelli independently reached the conclusion that human strength on its own was insufficient to haul man aloft. Hook succeeded in building a working model of a powered ornithopter, but no documents survive to tell us what it looked like. In 1643, Italian scientist Torricelli proved the existence of air pressure. Eleven years later, his discovery was confirmed by Otto von Gerricke, an inventor of gauges. The latter undertook a rather impressive experiment. The air was drawn from a smallish sphere comprising two equal parts. Then each hemisphere was harnessed to eight pairs of horses which tried to separate them: an impossible task. This led von Gerricke to conclude that similar lightweight spheres filled with rarefied air might be able to fly. Developing von Gerricke’s conclusions, Italian re- Q This tent-like parachute is searcher Francisco de Lana Torzi published a treatment another Leonardo idea from describing an aerial ship. This consisted of a boat with sails, 1485

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Q A drawing of Verancio’s parachute, 1595

Q A drawing of Francisco de Lana Torzi’s idea for a flying ship

to which were attached four vacuum balloons. Torzi claimed such a device might launch rockets to scupper enemy ships or raze enemy cities. From that moment onward the idea of using the air in battle was no longer new. Torzi’s project was unfeasible: the materials available would either have made the spheres too weak to withstand atmospheric pressure as the air was drawn out, or would have been so heavy that flight would have been unthinkable. Ideas of similar apparatus reappeared in the early 20th Century as aluminium alloys became available. Dutch scientist and mechanic Cristiaan Huigens (1629—1695) left a wealth of papers. One of his inventions was a pilotless drone with two airscrews spinning in opposing directions and powered by twisted and stretched animal tendons: a prototype of today’s bungee chord-powered flying models. The wings were rectangular and had upturned tips for lateral stability. Huigens’ airscrews were the first proposal to use blades for motive power in the air. Their prototypes must have been the innumerable Dutch windmills, which Huigens is known to have studied over an extended period. No record suggests that this drone was ever built and flown, yet the drawing alone is evidence that Huigens overtook developments by over a century. Bernouli’s classical work on hydrodynamics appeared in 1738. In it, the Swiss scholar laid the basis of today’s gas dynamics by clothing the theory of gas kinematics into mathematics. Scientists were not alone in showing the way to flight. In 1742, the Marquis de Bac-

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queville decided to cross the Seine by air. Having strapped wings to his arms and legs, the sixty-year-old jumped into uncertainty from the roof of a tall Paris hôtel. Before the gaze of numerous onlookers, he managed to cover the great distance across the river before falling into a boat moored off the opposite bank. The feat is commemorated in many engravings, and a detailed description of the event survives. In order to measure air temperatures a thousand metres above the ground, Alexander Wilson from the University of Glasgow attached a thermometer to the tether rope of a kite in 1749. Three years later, statesman and philosopher Benjamin Franklin barely avoided electrocution while studying the nature of lightning with the aid of a kite. While researching meteorology and gas physics, Russian scientist and researcher Lomonosov also pondered how to elevate measuring apparatus to a great height. At an Academy of Sciences meeting on 4 February 1754, he delivered a general description of an Aerodynamic Machine based on Leonardo’s helicopter. Later that year, Lomonosov delivered an account of experiments with the Machine before the Academic Council. Sadly, the experiment had been a failure. For the next half-century, attempts to build heavier-than-air flying devices were confined to small-scale devices more reminiscent of toys than businesslike machines. The separation of hydrogen, and the devising of a process for its production in quantity by Henry Cavendish in 1766, marked a leap in human attempts to shake off the bounds of Earth. The discovery drew the attention of scholars on both sides of the

Q Marquis Bacqueville overflying the Seine

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Channel. A decade later, chemist Joseph Priestley published a number of experiments from research with gases. These efforts gave a powerful impetus to the creation of lighter-than-air flying apparatus. However, the first ascent of a balloon took place far from Europe, and independent of European discoveries. Vanconne, a French missionary in China, came across a document dating back to 1624 in the Peking State Military Archives. This described how, during the celebrations marking the accession of Emperor Fo King in 1306, a hot-air balloon had been launched into the air. The event had remained unknown in far-off Europe, and the chance finding of its written record had no influence there: however, the natural progression of events did follow its logic. French paper manufacturer Joseph Montgolfiere who lived and worked in Anonis, 55km south-west of Lyons, was one of Priestley’s readers. In 1782, he embarked on a series of experiments with balloons, all making use of the known fact that air is lighter when heated. He burned organic materials to obtain volatile gases, and conducted the first trials indoors, using small balloons made of thin silk. Filled with hot air obtained from burning paper, these floated to the ceiling. Later, Joseph successfully tested a balloon with a diameter of 3.5m, which he had made with the help of his brother Etienne. Encouraged, the brothers embarked on making an 11.4m diameter sphere which they believed would be able to haul a man aloft. The balloon was made of paper-covered broadcloth. The official demonstration on 5 June 1783 was a great success. After the

Q Josef Montgolfier, 1740-1810

Q Etienne Montgolfier, 1745-1799

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Q Professor Charles’s first balloon goes through Paris escorted by guards

balloon was duly filled with hot air, its guy ropes were cut and the vessel rose aloft. On reaching a height of 2000m, it descended two kilometres from the place of ascent. The Mongolfieres sent an official record of the event to the Paris Academie des Sciences. This achievement by a non-scientist was a challenge to metropolitan scholars, who felt slighted by a provincial backwater taking the lead. An appeal quickly raised 10,000 francs. By resolution of the Academie, Parisian scholars turned to 37-year-old Physics professor Jacques-Alexandre Charles. The young scientist took up the challenge with verve. Hiring the artisan brothers Robert as assistants, he ordered them to make a sphere of fine taffeta with a rubber backing, a diameter of four metres, and a volume of 33.5cu m. He decided to fill this with the newly discovered gas, hydrogen, which is 14 times lighter than air. Preparations for the filling began on 23 August. An enormous crowd gathered to watch. Three days later, filling was pronounced satisfactory to lift the balloon to a height of 30 to 35m. Held down by ropes, the flying machine passed triumphantly through the streets of Paris to the Champs de Mars escorted by mounted guards. The ascent was set for 27 August. After a 45-minute flight, the balloon landed near a village 25km from Paris. Taking it for a monster, the locals there had it dismembered into small pieces in a matter of minutes. After an unsuccessful ascent attempt on 19 September, the Montgolfieres organised a demonstration before the Royal Family at Versailles. The balloon had a 13.5m diameter and a volume of almost 1300 cu m. The ascent was to a height of just 600m, the flight

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Q The Montgolfier brothers’ demonstration before the Royal Family at Versailles

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Q The first ascent of a hydrogen-filled balloon on 1 December 1783

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lasting eight minutes. After a soft landing four kilometres from the Royal stand, the pioneering Aeronauts were recovered safe. Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette were impressed and congratulated the Montgolfieres on their success. Observers of the Versailles demonstration included 26-year-old physicist Pilatres de Rosieres. He was later to devise a tethered balloon and accomplish several test ascents during which he took additional fuel into the gondola. He proved that ascent and descent could be controlled by the rate of combustion. On 21 November 1783, Rosieres and the Marquis d’Arland were the first to make a free flight in a man-made apparatus. This had the impressive size of 14m diameter and over 1400m3 volume, and enabled eight kilomeQ Pilatres de Rosieres, 1754-1785 tres to be covered in 25 minutes. A hydrogen balloon departed the Tuilleries on 1 December 1783, carrying Professor Charles and the elder of the Robert brothers. Having flown for two hours at a height of 650m and covered 40km, they descended to a soft landing by dumping part of the hydrogen through a specially designed valve. Robert stayed on the ground, while Charles ascended to 3500m. French success did not remain unnoticed elsewhere in Europe. In February 1784, Paolo Andreanni of Milan accomplished the first Italian flight in a hot-air balloon alongside the two artisans who made the balloon. The flight lasted 20 minutes. Seven months later Vicenzo Lunardi de Lucca, a clerk at the Neapolitan Embassy to London, ascended from the Honourable Artillery Company’s grounds in Moorfields in a hydrogen-filled balloon, accompanied by a dog, a cat, and a pigeon. He flew for 33km, attempting to control flight altitude and direction by means of paddle-like surfaces. The title of first British aeronaut, more for courage than achievement, goes to James Titler of Edinburgh. In the late summer of 1784, he employed a crude balloon and the properties of hot air to make a couple of brief hops into the air. The first such hop was on 25 August: three weeks prior to Lunardi’s historic flight. The second and last hop was on 1 September. However, the pioneer British aeronaut in the proper sense was James Sedler. His first ascent was on 4 October 1784, when he covered the distance between Oxford and Islip in a hot-air-balloon. His next flight was on 12 November. On that occasion he used hydrogen to fill the balloon, hoping for a more notable result. And

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Q Blanchard flying over the Channel

Q Lunardi’s balloon was ‘propelled’ by two oars

indeed, the change proved justified: he covered the 23km from Oxford to Hartwell in 17 minutes. In 1785 Sedler made five flights which included an 80km flight. He then gave up ballooning for 25 years. Other feats, which made aeronautics something of a craze rather than a risky pursuit, included the ascents of Francois Blanchard. If we exclude Lunardi, Blanchard was the first professional aeronaut. Accompanied by anatomist John Shelton in a hydrogenfilled balloon, on 16 October 1784 Blanchard covered the 115km from Chelsea to Ramsay in Hampshire. Success drove the Frenchman undertake a risky attempt to fly the Channel. The epic 12-hour flight took place on 7 January 1785, in the company of American Doctor John Geoffrey: financier of the attempt determined to convince himself that the aeronaut would not cheat. Between 1785 and 1789, Blanchard made a series of demonstration flights in various European countries, using hydrogen more often than hot air. He set a 480km distance record with the aid of air currents. After the start of the French Revolution, Blanchard was accused of anti monarchist propaganda in Austria and was arrested there but managed to flee to the USA. There on 9 January 1793 he performed the first ascent in America. This was in Philadelphia, using a hydrogen filled balloon. Returning to France in 1798, he resumed receiving the

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pension awarded him by Jouis XVI on the occasion of overflying the Channel. This exceptional man died of a heart attack in 1809 after his 60th ascent. Aeronautics claimed its first victim all too soon. Two years after his first ascent, Pilatres de Rosieres perished while attempting to fly the Channel, taking with him co-traveller Pierre Romain. Before Englishman Charles Green used lighting gas in a balloon, a serious drawback of hydrogen was the considerable time and effort expended in filling balloons. Hydrogen could not be generated in flight; ascents could only be made where the heavy process plant and none too widely available materials could be procured. On the other hand, hot-air balloons needed nothing more than matches, readily available fuel, and a furnace box. However, they had limited endur- Q The death of Pilatres de Rosieres ance and payload. In both cases, aeronauts were at the mercy of wind speed and direction: Lunardi’s and Blanchard’s guidance devices were of no help at all. Balloons strictly followed the wind. A dirigible could not have been built in the late 18th Century due to the lack of any suitable powerplant. The above account forms the background to the formation of the first component of nascent air power: the invention of a sufficient number of reliable flying machines. Initially, balloons were used for research; but the issue of their other uses arose soon enough. Charles’s Flying Sphere made him ponder possible applications. Seeing far beyond the 4m diameter sphere, the Professor stressed balloons’ military promise in letters to friends in Philadelphia, London, and Vienna. Data on enemy positions, movements and actions on the battlefield and beyond were considered the key to military success. The use of spies and informers always put their lives at risk. The cavalry was trained for rapid raids around the field of battle, partly to discover enemy locations. Invariably, the purpose was to determine the status of the other side: to ‘look over the hill’ or over the horizon, so to speak. And even while still primitive, balloons were ideal for this purpose. In 1794, an anonymous French author published a monograph, L’Art de Guerre change par l’Usage de Machines Aerostatiques. This early study of the significance of

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balloons in combat claimed that they could lead to a sea change in the art of war. In the early 1790s, the eminent chemist Guiton de Morveaux laid down the basics of aerial reconnaissance by tethered balloon. French Army officer Meunier, a capable engineer and physicist, presented a paper describing gas balloons’ safety and stability before the Academie des Sciences. He went on to make a spherical balloon with the basic propelling and controlling devices of an elevator and three large propellers. Meunier’s remarkable project embodied all achievements up to that moment. Its major disadvantage was the lack of an engine: in its absence, the designer had to rely upon the combined muscle power of Q Guiton de Morvaux, 1737-1816 the balloon’s occupants. France became embroiled in Revolution and the war against Austria. Meunier was killed near Meinz in 1793. On 14 July the same year, a Convent session approved the use of balloons for military purposes. Means and premises for war balloon production were set aside, with the proviso that sulphur oxide, vital to the artillery, was not to be diverted for hydrogen production. An officer, Jean Coutelle, was put in charge of testing. He managed the task of obtaining large amounts of hydrogen in field conditions brilliantly. The first installation was built near Meudon. Meanwhile, an elastic varnish had been discovered to seal balloons against gas leakage, treated balloons maintaining their shape for two to three months. Tests of the L’Entreprenant combat balloon intended for quantity production ended successfully, and in April 1794 the basis of the eventual planned Balloon Division was laid. Initially, it comprised a single Balloon Company. To try out the Eyes in the Sky concept in combat, the Convent ordered Captain Coutelle to Belgium at the disposal of General Jourdain. The latter, and the majority of officers viewed the new arrival with incredulity. On 2 June 1794, Capt Coutelle took his place in the gondola along with his assistant and gave orders for ascent. Two groups of soldiers, each 32-strong, began releasing the guy ropes. Soon the aeronauts were a thousand feet up and began history’s first aerial reconnaissance, comparing their maps with the battlefield they surveyed. When the Battle of Mobeuge began two days later, General Jourdain’s Adjutant Morleaux was in the gondola alongside Coutelle. Over the next eight hours, the two sent a stream of messages regarding the rapidly evolving situation. The battle was won with the active help of the aerial observers.

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Q The Battle of Mobeauges: the use of an airborne vehcle in warfare becomes fact

Regardless of the heavy intallations, some of them stationary and having to be built in situ, the balloon was shown to be a reasonably effective means of observing and directing artillery fire. General Jourdain’s command sent apologies for its initial doubts. A new order sent the Balloon Company to the aid of French troops near Fleurix, some 20km distant from its camp. The journey turned out fraught. The balloon was transported erect, tethered at a height sufficient to clear roof tops. Coal dust smokescreens masked its progress. Fifteen hours after it had set off, the unit was ready for action. The French Army faced difficulties. After heavy battles for control of Charleroi, Gen Jourdain split the 73,000 men under his command into three, posting them west, north-east and north of the city with the order to defend it. The approaching Allied Army was of approximately the same size, but its commander, Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, made a fateful error at the outset. He split the attackers five ways and set seven directions of advance. The tactic was not unusual in its day, but the Austrian noble had no inkling of the new French way of getting reconnaissance. On 29 June 1794, Gen Jourdain himself is likely to have been in the gondola along with Capt Coutelle. The two men witnessed an impressive sight. Camouflage and deception were arts that would develop over a century later (indeed, a reason for their late

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development was the prior lack of means to observe armies from the air!). Allied units in bright, elaborate uniforms, made not the slightest effort to hide their thrust towards French positions. Each infantry regiment had its own distinctive wear. All this eased the French command’s orientation in the course of battle, and helped it adopt correct decisions. Coutelle would observe the battlefield through a telescope and apply his findings to a map. Individual units’ bright colouring clearly delineated infantry from ulans, Dragoons and other armed units. The first aerial spy determined cavalry and artillery strengths rather precisely, pinpointed the site of the Austrian Command, and noted backup units arriving from up to 60km off. Several-hour long sojourns in the air were by now routine. Coutelle would periodically tie his information to bags of sand, and would lower it to the ground by long lengths of string. Thus, according to researcher Hodgston, “the information sent as signals to Gen Jourdain was a proven material factor in securing French victory over the Allies.” The Battle of Fleriux was the first in human history in which an air unit was employed in a planned and purposeful fashion. The result was a practical example of the benefits the new environment bestows. Following the brilliant despatches regarding the activity of the Balloon Company, preparations for forming a second such Company started as early as 23 June. By late summer, four balloons were in active service,

Q The Battle of Flerius

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each with ground equipment, aeronauts, and backup crews. They helped achieve victory at Urtes near Liege and reconnoitred at Augsburg, Stuttgart, Vörzburg, and Donauworth, providing valuable information on enemy movements. However, enthusiasm was short lived. After successful operation in Europe, Capt Coutelle’s Balloon Company accompanied Napoleon to Egypt in 1798. Before the unit could unload its equipment at Abukir near Alexandria, Counter-Admiral Nelson’s main British fleet appeared. The battle of 1 August reversed plans for the conquest of Egypt, and the Balloon Company’s property was completely destroyed. Upon returning to France the following year, Napoleon disbanded the Aeronautical Division. The testing and training establishment at Meudon also closed. On the one hand, this could be seen as an expression of the young Emperor’s vain belief in his infallible ability to divine enemy locations and intentions. On the other, the decision was not devoid of some merit. The poor reliability of tethered spherical balloons, the arduous transportation of heavy equipment, and the lengthy gas filling cycle hampered the mobility of associated units, particularly artillery batteries, for whose benefit the balloons were supposed to act. Nevertheless, some Napoleonic Wars researchers claim that the availability of balloons might have saved the Emperor from defeat at Waterloo, changing the course of subsequent European history.

Q An artist’s impression of Napoleon’s plans to invade Britain

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Q The Meudon balloon manufacturing workshop

Barely emergent aeronautics had already influenced the art of war. Some of the componentry of air power, slated to become topical a century hence, was also in place. Despite its inherent lack of safety and stability, flying apparatus did exist, providing platforms for aerial reconnaissance. Also available was personnel, poorly trained though it was. Another component was the ballooning school, though service units lacked a proper method of training which took account of the specifics of warfare. Airborne and ground equipment was still rather primitive. Observation was through standard field telescopes which were rendered unusable by any stiffish wind at altitude. Thus gondola crews did little more than look out onto the battlefield, albeit in some depth behind enemy lines. Backup means also emerged. Limited finance delayed the creation of a manufacturing base, and ultimately the Emperor’s hasty decision destroyed what little had been achieved. There was no system to govern the actions of aeronauts, nor was there any systematic method of communication between officers on the ground and in the air. Information transfer methods were also primitive, as could be expected of the period. In certain situations this rendered balloons useless. However, all this ought not to obscure the main point in any way. It was another six decades before military men were to return to the air: this alone shows French strategists’ forward thinking in battlefield assessment during the Revolution. Pioneering attempts to overcome gravity with heavier-than-air apparatus date to about the same time. In 1784, Frenchmen Lenois and Bienvenue demonstrated a helicopter model in Paris. This had an elementary clockwork motor which transmitted power to lifting blades calculated to lift the model off the ground at a certain rotational

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Q A drawing of Cayley’s helicopter, 1796

Q John Cayley, 1773-1857

speed. As in the case of Lomonosov thirty years prior, no documentary evidence on this test reaches us to enable an assessment of its contribution to aviation. In 1796, Yorkshire Baronet and philanthropist Sir John Cayley combined his pecuniary means and remarkable engineering bent to create another working model of a helicopter. This was essentially identical with that of Lonois and Bienvenue. After some improvements, he demonstrated it in public, causing interest on both sides of the Channel. Money was raised by voluntary subscription and with it the Baronet set up a charity with the major purpose of creating a heavier-than-air flying machine. Given the choice between lighter-than-air and heavier-than-air flying machines, almost all inventors bent on conquering the air focused on the former: it seemed that balloons would do the job more easily. Cayley was one of the few who stayed faithful to the idea of dynamic flight. It is to him that we owe the theory of flight with fixed wing aircraft. He viewed the motorised aeroplane as a kite whose towrope had been replaced by an engine, and formulated the real issues of powered flight: using the wing surface to create lift, and overcoming drag. The lack of suitable engines directed his attention to gliders. Cayley reached the conclusion that in them (excepting towed gliders) the resultant force of the structure plus a man or other load could overcome drag. For his first attempt to test this contention, Cayley designed a boat-like flying machine with a wing square in plan and set high at a slight angle to its longitudinal axis. Tail surfaces provided longitudinal and lateral control. No evidence exists that a model was built or tested. However, despite its shortcomings, this represented a step forward to the creation of an aeroplane. For the first time, we have the basic components in place: fixed wing, fuselage, and empennage.

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Q A drawing of a typical early Cayley aeroplane model

Having gathered theoretical knowledge, by 1804 Cayley built history’s first freely flying model of a fixed wing flying machine. The wing has an area of 0.1sq m and six degrees’ fixed angle of incidence to the fuselage. The model had a cruciform empennage for control and trim. Testing proved that flight was possible with fixed wing apparatus, the glider covering distances from 18m to 27m at a speed of some 5m/sec. Meanwhile, ballooning continued to be a pursuit for the wealthy, a trade for the reckless, and a wide-open field of research. A scientific flight was recorded in Russia on 30 June 1804. This was preceded by several Academy of Sciences’ sessions which discussed the programme and listed materials and gauges the researchers needed. The actual flight was held up to await the Tsar (who never arrived). The crew did finally fly at a quarter past seven in the evening, by when conditions were against them (at dusk the gas cools and its lifting power declines). Weather conditions limited the ascent to not more than 2000m. Nevertheless, the test programme was accomplished. It proved that altitude could be determined by echo sounding: directing sound at the earth’s surface, and measuring the time it took to reflect back up to the balloon. The crew stayed aloft for three and a half hours and landed 30 versts from Sankt Peterburg. Before landing they lowered a bundle of unnecessary items to the ground, this being the first guyrope in history. In the second half of 1805, Staff Doctor Kashinskiy made a demonstration flight over Moscow. Prior to the event, his aerostat was displayed to curious Muscovites at the Grand Hall of the Petrine Theatre. After Blanchard and Robertson’s successful flights over the Austrian capital, Vienna clockmaker Jakob Degan set off to make a controllable flying machine. He studied aeronautical literature in detail and paid particular attention to ornithopters. Using reed, oiled paper, silk thread and timber lathes, the structure he produced weighed just 14 kilos. Degan made several flight attempts and concluded that success required the attachment of his ornithopter to a hydrogen balloon. On 12 November 1808 he succeeded in staying airborne for some minutes before a huge crowd. There was a definite impression of control, since the apparatus alternately lifted, descended and moved sideways. The effect was astonishing. The Austrian Emperor awarded Degan 4000 guilders, and Austrian newspapermen spread the news that controllable flight had been achieved

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Q A contemporary drawing of Jakob Degan and his strange flying contraption

throughout the Old Continent. However, foreign newspapers sowed doubt as to the authenticity of the flight. To dispel them, Degan travelled to Paris in 1812. On his first attempt on 10 June, he failed to become airborne. The same happened on his second attempt on 7 July, despite widespread reports that he flew but failed to manoeuvre as required. The third attempt took place on the Champs de Mars on 5 October, and was also a failure. The angry crowd attacked the ‘prestidigitateur,’ reducing his apparatus to pieces. The papers declared Degan a charlatan and soon the name of this industrious and intelligent man was forgotten even in his homeland. On 17 July 1817, Whitham Sedler, younger son of James Sedler, crossed the Irish sea from Dublin to Anglesea by hydrogen filled balloon in five hours. In 1836, Charles Green broke all distance and endurance records in ballooning in the company of two fellow travellers. In 18 hours he covered the 800km from London to Wilburg near Frankfurt. He filled his balloon with lighting gas which offered less than half of hydrogen’s lift but was cheaper and more easily produced. Three years after Green’s remarkable flight, American aeronaut John Weiss designed and fitted a special rapid gas discharge flap to a balloon, enabling rapid descent in emergency. His invention significantly improved safety and subsequently became standard. Weiss’s successes did not end there. In 1859, accompanied by John la Mautin (‘Gegard’)

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Q The later version of Jakob Degan’s flying machine

Q Charles Green, 1785-1870

and a newspaperman, he flew the 1300km form Saint Louis, Missouri to Henderson. Encouraged by this, the trio decided to beat their own record and fly the Atlantic using their proven balloon. However, the idea remained in the realm of intentions. Their major competitor was another American professional aeronaut, Thaddeus Loewy. Also aiming to conquer the ocean, he had designed a balloon with an even larger volume. A sudden whirlwind an hour and a half prior to departure put an end to the flight by destroying the balloon which was being filled at the time. Meanwhile, Cayley had accumulated much knowledge and experience in heavier-than-air flying machines. One of his greatest achievements was to conceive the first multi-plane flying machine. In 1849, forty years after his first fixed wing aircraft, he assembled a triplane with auxiliary manually activated flapping surfaces. Cayley’s rationale in adopting a multiple wing consisting of three surfaces one beneath the other was to reduce span (and hence weight), while keeping wing area (and hence lift) unchanged. The Baronet’s coach driver and a ten-year-old boy tested the machine: pulling it downhill or into wind, they attempted to get airborne. Sadly the best results were counted in metres: wing aspect ratio was insufficient, and the three wings were too close to each other, resulting in poor lift.

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Q In his historic 1836 ascent, Charles Green flew a distance of 800km

Q A sketch of Cayley’s triplane

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Cayley followed this up with a series of gliders in which he incrementally improved various elements, reducing drag and improving stability. In 1853, the last of these flew 60m. Over almost half a century the Baronet published a number of papers, some giving ‘masterclasses’ on the principles of flight aerodynamics and controllability, and others dealing with emergency escapes from balloons using aerodynamically stable gliders. These caused much interest and their ideas found adherents. One such adherent was William Samuel Hanson, manufacturer of rope and lace making machines. In 1843 he registered a patent for an Aerial Steam Car for the transportation of mail, goods and persons by air. Though never built, the project marked an important step forward in aviation. It was the first design to envisage all basic elements of propeller aeroplanes of a century hence, and was the first aircraft to capture the mass imagination. No book on the history of aviation is complete without a mention of this exceptional machine. It was a high wing monoplane with two six-bladed pusher propellers. The fuselage was completely faired and contained the steam engine, fuel, and room for freight and the crew. The Steam Car had elevators and rudder, and wheeled landing gear. Takeoff was to be accomplished along a downward sloping surface. To reduce the weight of the powerplant (a 25/ 30hp steam engine), the designer replaced the usual steam boiler by a series of cone-shaped vessels and air condensers. Calculated gross weight was some 1350 kilos, wing area was 420sq m, and the empennage measured 140sq m. The design’s most significant advance was the choice of motive power: flapping surfaces were abandoned and propellers proposed. Hanson’s Steam Car was never built, but drawings and artist’s impressions of it travelled the world, begetting much discussion. Decades later, aeroplanes with an

Q An axonometric cutaway of Hanson’s Steam Car taken from its patent licence

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Q An artist’s impression of Hanson’s Steam Car in flight

identical configuration (but with engines using a completely different working principle and having significantly greater relative power) would take over human attempts to conquer the air. On concluding his project, Hanson and his friend Stringfellow built the first model aeroplanes. The third such scale prototype was built almost entirely by Stringfellow due to Hanson’s leaving for the America. All models looked like the Aerial Steam Car and had miniature steam engines. The largest weighed 12kg and had a span of 6.7m. Insufficient power rendered them unable to perform genuine flights. Early work on heavier-than-air flying machines did not attract visible military interest. During the half century from the French Revolution and the first use of airborne apparatus, only British Admiral Knowles suggested the use of tethered balloons for Navy needs. British conservatism had the final word and the idea was rejected. Austrian troops suppressing the 1849 Italian Risorgimento against the Habsburg Empire fought long and hard against the defenders of Venice. The lagoon city was invulnerable to artillery fire from dry land, so the command of the besieging army decided to use airborne devices in a novel way: to bombard the city form the air. Their 82 m3 hot-air balloons were made of non-porous paper. Below the ventral aperture was a ring to which were attached 15kg explosive and incendiary bombs.

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Q Photograph of one of Stringfellow’s aeroplane models from the late 1840s

Dropping and activation times were governed by the length of fuse which was lighted a short time prior to the start of ascent. Each bombing run was preceded by a trial ascent to determine wing speed and direction. A launch site was then chosen and flight time to overhead the target (and hence the length of fuse needed) was calculated. The average launch time was almost six minutes. The idea was to make some 200 sorties, each lasting about half an hour. A hundred balloons were produced, but despite the idea’s originality, it did not work well in practice. This was due to the poor selection of launch sites, changes in wind direction and speed, and a variety of other reasons. Those balloons that did reach their targets caused only slight damage. However, by mere fluke one such bomb landed right in the city centre, on the Piazza San Marco, and showed that even ineffective aerial bombardment could visit much distress upon the public. During Napoleon III’s 1859 Italian Campaign, the French army tried hot air balloons for field reconnaissance, but their shortcomings limited endurance and they were not used in combat.

Q Drawing of Pierre Julien’s dirigible

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Q Drawing of Henri Gifard’s dirigible in flight; note the gondola and the net by which it is suspended from the balloon body

Controllability was proving an insuperable problem. Powerplant progress was rapid from 1850 onwards. French clockmaker Pierre Julien demonstrated an aerodynamic model of an airship driven by two propellers actuated by a clockwork engine. Public acclaim for the model made talented engineer and inventor Henri Gifard design a controlled lighter-than-air flying machine. This was driven by an enormous propeller actuated by a 3hp steam engine. Powerplant weight, including the steam accumulator, came to some 150kg. The balloon body was faired so as to be longitudinally symmetrical, with pointed ends. For safety, the crew, engine, fuel and ballast were housed in a gondola hanging some 13.5m below the balloon on rope rigging. The exhaust stack was pointed downward and to the rear, directing sparks away from inflammable items. Etienne Lenois’s 1860 invention of a gas engine opened new possibilities before aviation and aeronautics. Five years later Austrian Paul Henlein patented the installation of a gas engine in a dirigible, but another seven years would elapse before the project was realised. The 1861 to 1865 American Civil War saw leading US aeronauts offering their services to the North. John Weiss designed a field hydrogen generator. However, its high cost made it practically unaffordable and the military did not finance the project. Instead they opted for an idea proposed by Thadeus Loewy. Twelve of his generators were manufactured and entered service. Feedstocks included sulphur oxide and metal swarf. The device could fill an observation balloon in under three hours. Though rather heavy and difficult to transport, the lack of any alternative made the generators indispensable until the end of active aeronaut duty.

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Another original idea of Loewy’s was to employ river barges as mobile bases for tethered balloons. To assist nocturnal missions, each barge had four navigation lights: iron lamps with their own uninterrupted gas supply. The newly invented telegraph was intended to be used to transmit observation data to the ground. This was first tested in the air on 24 September 1861 at the Battle of Falls Church. To facilitate data simultane- Q Tadeusz Lowe (1832-1913) during the American Civil War ous transmission from several balloons close to one another, one was designated as an airborne base to gather, process and retransmit data. Another innovation in aerial reconnaissance was aerial photography, first practised by Frenchman Felix Nadar in 1858. All this gradually went to construct two basic control effectiveness components of air power: on-board and surface equipment. By late 1862, the North had seven tethered balloons with an overall volume of 450-900m3. They were purpose built for combat, usually operating at some 1500m altitude. John La Montaigne was the most active aeronaut. Making use of prevailing winds at altitude, he made several free flights over Confederate positions. The balloon corps gained great confidence in senior Washington, D.C. circles, particularly after it saved Federal forces from defeat at Four Oaks and Gaines Mill. In both cases,

Q Filling an observation balloon with gas at Four Oaks in May 1861

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Q Preparations for the first flight of an airborne telegraphic device: Falls Church, September 1861

balloonists had delivered timely warnings of enemy breaches of Federal flanks. However, aeronauts turned out a wayward bunch. Aiming for personal recognition, they were in constant conflict with each other. The authorities had erred in not giving them officer commissions and in leaving them outside army structures, unbound by military discipline. Making the best of limited finance, the Confederacy adopted simple yet effective countermeasures: the blackout, and luminary mimicry. For the first time in history, all lamps and fires were doused upon a signal at dusk, while false encampments were plentifully illuminated. Apart from that, the South also attempted to employ balloons, John Randolph Brien making several flights at the start of hostilities. His poorly designed hot-air balloon with limited endurance was duly replaced by one filled with lighting gas and made from a patchwork of multicoloured silk pieces. (Thus arose the legend that the women of Richmond, Virginia, had sacrificed their dresses for the cause.) The original ‘silk dress’ balloon was captured by Federal forces at Turkey Bend in 1862. The Confederacy then put a similar balloon into service, this seeing active service for 12 months before being blown across the lines by a gust of wind, and also turning into a trophy (though without an aeronaut on board). There had not been a qualitative leap in the combat use of flying machines since the French Revolution, but Loewy’s achievements in America impressed military observers. Some of the latter were to leave a trace in the history of aviation. Young German Army officer graf von Zeppelin was one. What he witnessed gave him the

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Q Stringfellow’s triplane

idea to which he would dedicate his entire subsequent life. Another was British military observer Captain Beaumont. Upon returning to England, he and Capt Grover tried to draw War Office attention to the possibility of using airborne devices in combat. They flew two demonstrations using a balloon hired from Henry Coswell, Britain’s best aeronaut at the time. Grover went on to fund a military balloon programme at his own expense; fifteen years would pass before it attracted genuine interest. After twenty years of none too successful work on gliders, and influenced by the hostile comments Cayley and Hanson’s monoplanes drew, Stringfellow looked at multiplanes. At the Crystal Palace Aeronautics Exhibition, he showed a triplane model which looked rather archaic by comparison with his 1848 monoplanes. This had three flat profile superimposed wings braced by vertical struts. It was powered by a 0.33hp steam engine located in a fairing beneath the lower and middle wings, and actuating two pusher propellers. Span was 2m, and weight: 5.4 kg. Due to fire precautions, Exhibition organisers prohibited flying, with demonstrations limited to runs along a guide wire. Subsequent open air testing was unsuccessful, the onrush of air extinguishing the jet of burning spirit which heated the boiler. Despite this, Stringfellow’s triplane marked an advance in multiplane design and was influential in the choice the Wright Brothers were to make. Another inventor who made quality aeroplane models was Alphonse Pennault. The son of a French Admiral, he improved on Pierre Julien’s invention of elastic to power flying models. Where Julien used a flat band of elastic, Pennault used twisted bungee, thus obviating the need for transmission between unravelling elastic and spinning propeller, and lightening and simplifying things. Alongside this, Pennault paid much heed to stability. In 1870, he created a most successful helicopter model. A year later came the tiny Planophore monoplane which had great stability in all three axes. In pitch, this was granted by aft horisontal tail surfaces, and in roll: by vertical

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Q Alphonse Penaud, 1850-1880

Q A helicopter model created by Penaud in 1870

Q The Planophore was exceptionally simple and elegant

endplates and a fin. The Planophore was extraordinarily simple. Just 0.5m long, it had approximately the same span, and weighed just 16g, 5.5g of which was the bungee cord. Tested on 18 August 1871 in Paris, the model demonstrated exceptionally stable flight, always ending with soft landings. The maximum distances of some 40m to 50m were covered in 11 to 13 seconds.

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This fragile toy represented an exceptional event in the story of aviation. For the first time the public could observe feasible flight in a device that was heavier than air, had a fixed wing, and used its own power. Reports of the flights circled the globe, stimulating numerous enthusiasts. By the mid-1870s France alone had several similar aeroplane models. Later, elastic-powered aeroplanes appeared in Russia, England, and Austria. The fact that modern elastic-powered aeroplane models do not differ significantly from the Planophore is a testament to its advanced design. Pennault was also the first model maker to pay heed to commerce. Selling at reasonable prices, his models brought the invention into many households. While aviation was still at the model aeroplane stage, aeronautics enjoyed a new renaissance. At the outbreak of the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian War, Prussian forces possessed two balloons which were not used in combat. After the fall of Sedan, the French made several observation and reconnaissance ascents in tethered balloons. Privately owned and designed for free flight, they were unsuited to this task. Attention to flying machines picked up quickly after the Prussians surrounded Paris. The besieged garrison badly needed to communicate with the high command and government in Tours. At the instigation of several aeronauts, the postal authorities set up a balloon mail. An improvised balloon factory was established on the premises of a redundant railway station, employing seamstresses and seamen. From September 1870 to January 1871, 66 balloons left Paris, carrying over ten tonnes of mail, 160 privileged persons, several hundred pigeons, and five dogs. These balloons also threw propaganda over enemy positions. Over 60 of the pigeons returned to the city with messages, and some flew the trip twice. However, though sent out with similar intentions and fitted with special collars, the dogs failed to return. To systematise the knowledge acquired, in 1874 the French Government established an Aerial Communications Council. This recommended the reestablishment of the Military Aeronautics Institute on its old Meudon site. Following this example,

Q Preparations for the raising of a spherical balloon, Paris, 1870

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Britain, Italy, Germany, and Russia also set up aeronautics schools and research establishments between 1878 and 1893. The USA also systematised its experience of aeronautics, albeit with a thirty year delay. Due to the low technological level of flying apparatus, no combat units could be formed yet. Even after the Franco-Prussian War, the main problem of aeronauts remained that of control. Development continued to be hampered by the lack of suitable engines. However, research continued. A large dirigible commissioned by the French government was completed on 2 February 1872. Designed by Naval Engineer Henri Dupuis de Loms, it did not feature an engine but was driven by a large four-bladed propeller driven by eight men turning a crankshaft. Still air speed was comparable with that attained by Gifard. However, reaching it required such physical exertion that the test was not deemed successful. Ready for testing in 1872, Paul Henlein’s dirigible had an engine which drew gas from the balloon. Catamaran shaped, it was 55m long. Flights took place on 13 and 14 December. Hard to control, the craft needed to be accompanied by troops in case of difficulties for the crew. A speed of 15km/h was reached but further testing did not take place due to the lack of funds. The craft was dismembered and sold at auction. Charles Ritchell’s single seat balloon was tested near Hartford, Connecticutt, in 1878. Powered by a pedal-driven propeller, it was 27m long. Flying a closed circuit, Ritchell attained a speed of 5.7km/h.

Q Artist’s impression of Henri Dupuis de Loms’s airship

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Q Arduous labour in the airship’s gondola

During the 1881 Electrical Exhibition in Paris, brothers Gaston and Albert Tessandiere caused great interest with their model of an electrically-powered airship. The designers decided to build a full scale version capable of accommodating a man. As distinct from Gifard’s design, this airship had greater volume and rounder shape. A propeller driven by a 1.5hp Siemens electric motor powered it. Since the batteries alone weighed more than the combined weight of a steam engine and steam tank, the craft attained just half its design speed. The airship designed in 1884 by French military engineers Charles Ronard and Arthur Krebs had more powerful electric motors. Similar to Henlein’s, it differed in being half a metre longer. Initially fitted with a 7.5hp motor, it was later fitted with one rated at 8.5hp. Flying seven times in two years, it reached a maximum still air speed of 24km/h. All but two of the flights ended on the spot where they began. The powerplant did bestow control, but only in essentially still air. Again in 1884, a steel cylinder containing hydrogen under pressure was designed in Britain. This granted much greater mobility to emergent military balloon units. Thanks to this, a three-balloon Royal Engineers detachment participated in the military expedition to Bechuanaland (today’s Botswana). A year later, the British actively used balloons in the Eastern Sudan, followed by the Italians in Eritrea in 1887 and ’88. However, balloon combat efficiency in the late 1800s was not that much higher than it had been during the French Revolution. Despite greater mobility, balloons

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Q Tessandiere’s electric-engined airship was Siemens-powered

Q Henlein’s airship

remained unstable and at the mercy of numerous circumstances. Despite early combat experience, not one of the components of air power was yet firmly in place. A decade after Stringfellow’s first model tests, French naval officer Felix de Temple de la Croix and his brother Louis built a clockwork-powered aeroplane. This achieved record success, being able to take off, fly, and land. Later, the clockwork was replaced by a steam engine. In 1857, de la Croix was granted a patent for a propeller driven monoplane. The design featured several impressive and advanced ideas. Made largely of aluminium, it had an unencumbered wing and a damped-strut retractable undercarriage.

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After model tests, the inventor began building the full sized model, intending to fly it. Construction took until 1874. Practical limitations imposed some simplifications: the landing gear was fixed, and the wing had a single spar instead of the intended two. Despite this, the 260kg structure weight was over twice what had been predicted. The aeroplane was a steam-engined monoplane with a six bladed propeller. The open-topped fuselage was 2.5m long and 0.8m wide. Its welded steel tube structure also carried the wing, tail surfaces and tricycle undercarriage. Weighing 59kg and developing 3 to 4hp, the steam engine was located forward. The boiler was superheated with fuel oil, with the fuselage structural tubing used to condense the used steam. The pilot sat behind the engine. Wing structural elements were steel tubes. Cloth-covered, the wing spanned almost 30m. Of similar structure, the empennage comprised movable horizontal and vertical surfaces. The stalky undercarriage gave a ground run incidence of some 20-25 degrees. Ground tests showed insufficient structural strength. Lack of money forced Felix de la Temple de la Croix to curtail further development. Even though not one attempt to take off was made, the designer deserved due recognition. He was the first to progress the idea of heavier-than-air manned flight from scale models to a practical full sized aeroplane which he had every intention of flying. In this sense, de la Croix’s achievement marked a stage in aviation research. The lack of development in engines during the late 1860s and early 1870s, combined with a lack of clarity and an absence of scientific and financial assistance, doomed the efforts of a generation of designers such as Evard (Russia, 1861), Teleshyov (Russia, 1864), Claude (France, 1864), Louvriere and Mouillard (France, 1865), Battler (Britain, 1867), Renard (France, 1871), and May and Shill (Britain, 1875).

Q Patent drawings of Felix de Temple de la Croix’s aeroplane as envisaged in 1874

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Meanwhile, after building an ornithopter model with P. Gochault, in 1876 Alphonse Pennault designed and patented a large two seat flying wing monoplane. This was amphibious, intended to depart and alight equally well on water, or on land. Pitch stability was achieved by locating the centre of Q Drawing of de la Croix’s aeroplane gravity forward of the wing’s centre of lift. Roll stability was attained by wing dihedral, and longitudinal stability was bestowed by a fin. Controls included an elevator and drag rudders at the wingtips. The design had many advanced features. The multi-spar wing was to be metal covered, and the cockpit was to be glazed and fitted with a single control stick actuating both elevator and drag rudders. A neat instrument binnacle, whose likes were to remain in the realm of wishes as late as the First World War, was designed. It included a compass, a barometric altimeter, a speedometer and an incidence indicator. An automatic pilot was also foreseen, comprising a sensor (suspended below the fuselage to warn of ground proximity), and an electrical mechanism controlling elevator and drag rudders. The four-wheeled undercarriage had rubber and pneumatic damping. The propeller blades featured variable pitch, intended to make better use of the 30hp engine on take-

Q Approximate model of de la Croix’s aeroplane displayed at the Musee de l’Aviation in Paris

Q Teleshov’s 1867 delta-winged aeroplane was among the more visionary designs of its time

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off: early in the run, the pilot was to keep pitch coarse, allowing engine revolutions and momentum to build up. Prior to unstick, he would suddenly set very fine pitch, transferring power to the propeller. The latter was to be made of metal for greater stiffness. When taking off and landing on water, the aeroplane was to float on its belly or on ski-like surfaces. Additional floats were to be fitted to the wing for longer stays on water. Calculated gross weight with a two-man crew was up to 1200kg, and speed was up to 90km/h. Embodying some very forward thinking, Pennault and Gochot’s aeroplane was many decades ahead of its time. Progress in designing heavier-than-air flying machines was also hampered by the lack of scientific understanding of aerodynamics. Important contributions to fixed wing heavier-than-air flight were made by the Comte Ferdinand d’Estergnaut, L. P. Molliard, and Otto Lilienthal. The latter carefully researched bird flight and described how birds glide and maintain height. In 1863 photographer Felix Tournachon, better known as ‘Nadar,’ established a Society for the Encouragement of Flight With Machines Heavier than Air in Paris. At the first meeting of the United Kingdom Aeronautical Union on 27 June 1866, Naval Engineer Francis Herbert Venham proposed a scientific study of wing shape and profile. His major source had been the observation of nature. Noting that birds’ wings were thicker at the front and the root, and tapered towards the rear and away from the root, he concluded that long, narrow wings (with greater aspect ratio) would give more lift. Another aerodynamics pioneer, H. F. Phillips, used the wind tunnel he had invented for a series of experiments with convex wings of various thickness and degrees of convexity.

Q Patent drawing of Penaud and Gochot’s amphibious aeroplane

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Completing his work in 1884, he proved that lift derives from the difference in air pressure above and below the wing, and patented a number of wing profiles. By the early 1880s, differently powered aeroplane designs had been produced by, inter alia, Mouillard (France, 1876), Mikulin (Russia, 1877), Taitin (France, 1879), Kerhoven and Speers (Britain, 1881), Shishkov (Russia, 1882). But most remarkable for its time was the design by Aleksandr Fyodorovich Mozhayskiy. He had experimented with flying models until early 1877, achieving a measure of success. He then sent the War Ministry a project for a full scale aeroplane, and set about drawing it without awaiting the reply. The drawings showed a monoplane with a single puller and two pusher propellers. Mozhayskiy proposed a flat wing of modest aspect ratio, set at an incidence to create lift like a kite. Total cost was estimated at 19,000 roubles. The War Ministry failed to appreciate the project’s potential and made available a small sum, spent before the aeroplane’s model was built. Nevertheless, Mozhayskiy went on pursuing his goal. In 1881 he received Russia’s first patent for a flying machine. Construction of the aeroplane began the same year. Two steam engines built to Mozhayskiy’s specifications arrived from Britain. The following year, part of a military estate near Sankt Peterburg was allocated for the project’s needs. Work was completed by mid 1883, and on 7 June an Application for the Performance of Flights with Airborne Apparatus was sent to the Sankt Peterburg Military Region Guards Staff. Records depict Mozhayskiy’s aeroplane as a twin engined monoplane with a boatshaped fuselage and cloth-covered timber structural elements. The fuselage also housed fuel and the pilots. The wing was fixed to the fuselage’s upper edge. It spanned 23m, and had an area of 330sq m. The empennage was fixed to the aft fuselage and comprised an elevator and rudder for directional and pitch control.

Q Model of Mozhayskiy’s aeroplane at the Monino Museum of Aviation and the Air Forces

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THE MOZHAYSKIY’S AEROPLANE, 1881

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Powerplant comprised the aforementioned two steam engines which shared a naptha-heated boiler. Their respective outputs were 10 and 20hp. For maximum weight reduction, many parts were hollow. This, and other design features resulted in a power to weight ratio of 5.5hp/kg (engine weight plus boiler, condenser and separator): a figure without equal at the time. The smaller engine was located forward and drove a puller propeller with four blades. The bigger engine sat in the mid-fuselage, at one third of wing chord. It drove two pusher propellers located within the wing. All propellers were wooden and had a 4m diameter. The aeroplane was to depart from a timber ramp (which could be set a different slope angles to assist acceleration) on a four-wheeled undercarriage. Three roll indicators, a compass, and a barometer were to be fitted. Mozhayskiy tested his aeroplane in 1884 and 1885. Trials included engine starts, taxiing and an attempted take-off. Even though the machine failed to become airborne, it provided valuable data for later use. The poor aerodynamics of low aspect ratio wings became apparent, as did the issue of lateral stability, and the need for completely different engines with reasonable power and relatively low weight and size. Despite Mozhayskiy’s attempts to improve engine output at the Obukhov Works, the futility of such an exercise became apparent, and work ended. The efforts of numerous scientists, engineers, inventors and enthusiasts to solve the engine problem began bearing fruit. Following in the footsteps of compatriot N. A. Otto, German Gottlieb Daimler developed a new type of gas engine fuelled by a volatile liquid known as gasoline. Fitting such an engine to a flying machine was a safety challenge. This applied especially to lighter-than-air machines where gasoline would coexist with an enormous quantity of hydrogen. Nevertheless, the new engine’s great power to weight ratio, and the lack of heavy subsidiary devices such as steam tanks, accumulators and condensers, made it very tempting. Having read of Carl Wölfert’s work on small man-powered aerial vessels, Daimler approached him with a proposal to pool their work. Trials of a single seater gas balloon fitted with a single cylinder Daimler engine started in 1888. At a power rating of 2hp, the flying machine showed reasonable results. Since the engine was rather close to the balloon envelope, exhaust gases were ducted away along a special pipe. However, even this was far from safe, but Wölfert felt he was on the right track and started planning a larger vessel. While the engine breakthrough had arrived, the new engines’ power to weight ratios were still too low for the needs of powered heavier-than-air flight. This is why aeroplane designers in the last decade of the 19th Century continued looking to steam. In 1890 French engineer Clement Ader completed a rather strange looking aeroplane. Design and construction had taken a long time, having started in 1882. The gifted engineer had chosen the bat as prototype. All work proceeded under a cloak of secrecy, using Ader’s adequate private funds.

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True to intention, the Aeole did indeed look like a bat. This flying wing monoplane with a wing area of almost 28sq m, and 14m span, was made of cloth-covered bamboo. The enclosed fuselage housed a steam engine, controls, and the pilot. There was no fin. A four bladed propeller of 2m diameter pulled the craft. Movement along the ground was on a tricycle undercarriage with a guard wheel forward. Thanks to its lightweight structure, empty equipped weight was just 175kg, with a gross weight of 296kg. A most intriguing Aeole component was the 20hp steam engine. Thanks to Ader’s refinements, its power to weight ratio was some 3hp per kilo: the Aeole’s had five Q Clement Ader, 1841-1925 times more overall power per unit of weight than Mozhayskiy’s aeroplane! Another novelty concerned control. Copying the movements of bats’ wings, Ader articulated the Aeole’s wing to allow changes in sweep, span, camber, and tip deflection. Though these could be made individually or simultaneously, no explanation underpinned the sense behind any of them. Overall, the controls were exceptionally complex and hard to manage.

Q Model of the Aeole

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Q Working drawing of the Aeole

Trials began on 9 October 1890 in secrecy. This explains why data reaching us today is so scant. In an unfinished report, one of Ader’s assistants describes the Aeole, controlled by the designer, lifting a few centimetres off the ground, staying airborne for five seconds, and covering some 50m. This result could hardly be called a flight, and in any case the craft’s instability and uncontrollability would have rendered longer hops impossible. Nevertheless, the event was significant in the aviation, being the first recorded instance of an aeroplane taking off from a flat surface under its own power. The Aeole showed that aeroplane makers were about to overcome the power barrier. Although sufficient effort was expended to keep these events from becoming public knowledge, they did not remain unknown to the French military. The latter saw in them prospects for the future, and a superior alternative to the unstable and uncontrollable tethered balloons they were using for observation and reconnaissance. Hoping that Ader would be able to build an improved model to supplant balloons and deliver air strikes, they subsidised him with 650,000 francs. Work was to continue in deep secrecy. This financial injection allowed Ader to recruit more assistants. Design, production and assembly continued from 1882 to 1887. The Avion-3 resembled the Aeole: a batlike flying wing monoplane. Main difference was the addition of a second engine. The twin 20hp steam units shared a boiler and spun two 3m diameter propellers. Mounted on the leading edge, the propellers turned in opposing directions to cancel out torque. Less articulated than that of the Aeole, the wing had a span of 16m and an area of 56sq m. Only sweep remained adjustable, being changed simultaneously for both wing halves.

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Q The Avion-3 ready to attempt to fly

A fin gave lateral stability, and there was a steerable tailwheel beneath. Turns were to be accomplished by varying propeller speeds. The pilot sat in an open cockpit behind the engine which resulted in poor forward visibility and problems in steering straight while taxiing and ground running. Gross weight reached 400kg. First trials took place on 12 October 1897. Plans included accelerating along a specially constructed runway. This was circular, with a 1500m perimeter and a width of 40m. Weather after passage of a rain front was perfect, and the ground was dry. During acceleration, Avion-3 reached 24km/h, Ader using a small portion of engine output. Ground tracks after passing 18km/h were practically unnoticeable, which made those present consider the chances of successful flight very good. The flight attempt came on 14 October, Ader considering himself sufficiently ready. Unfortunately, a gusting wind appeared. During the takeoff run a powerful gust from the side deflected the lightweight machine from the runway, pointing it at a fence. The pilot remained calm, managing to brake and emerge unharmed. However, the machine’s wing, landing gear and propellers were seriously damaged. This put an end to the talented engineer’s aviation efforts. Testing halted. The military lost interest in the project and stopped funding. Though Avion-3 was restored, its future career was as a display item in the Paris Musee des Arts. In aviation history, this bat-like device remains the first heavier-than-air flying Q Part of the Avion-3’s engine machine to have overcome the power bar-

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Q The Avion-3 with wings folded for transporting

Q The Avion-3 as displayed at the Palais des Arts ae des [crafts] in Paris

rier (and that with a steam engine). Some specialists claim that Ader’s failure was due to slavish copying of bats. This certainly resulted in both imperfections and overcomplexity. Nevertheless, man’s effort to conquer the air — or to complete air power’s first component, to put it another way — continued.

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In 1890, the Russian War Ministry accepted a proposal by Vladimir Konstantinovich German for a humanpowered or petrol engined monoplane. This was Russia’s first attempt to put an internal combustion engine (rated at 0.5hp) into an aeroplane. In other ways, the design was rather unsophisticated, and funding was declined. The same year, Frenchman Graffini proposed a kite-like flying machine powered by an engine using compressed carbon oxide gas. It was estimated to fly at 36km/h and have several hours’ endurance. In case of engine failure, the wing was to act like a Q Otto Lilienthal, 1848-1896 parachute, permitting a safe landing. The lack of suitable engines at the end of the 19th Century was one of the reasons why gifted designers directed efforts at unpowered flight. A leading figure here was Otto Lilienthal, a German engineer from Pomerania.1 His first 1889 glider was a primitive contraption of cloth-covered timber.2 It insufficient strength and the lack of stabilisers spelt its demise. In 1890 Lilienthal built two more gliders, the second of which had a fin. This was the first device to accomplish a successful glide. However, its performance was poor due to excessive wing curvature. This was corrected in the next design which also featured a tailplane. The benefits were apparent, especially in stronger winds. In 1892, the designer attained an eight to one glide ratio. A year later, Lilienthal built the glider that would serve as prototype for his subsequent monoplanes. A novelty alongside the strengthened wing, was the movable tailplane. Counteracting a spring, aerodynamic loads could deflect it upwards, this flaring the wing for softer landings. Lilienthal performed a number of successful flights with this device. Distances covered reached 250m, with flight times of up to half a minute. The glider’s properties encouraged construction of two improved versions. One was an 8m span monoplane fitted with a 2hp single cylinder engine. This was to be used as a subsidiary aid while gliding between thermal currents. Moving the wing, and specifically its feather-like tips, created propellant thrust. Powerplant weight was 20kg and the design-

1

Paradoxically Lilienthal, who did more than anyone before him to breathe life into fixed wings, believed without any reservation that the future lay with ornithopters. 2 This construction was retained for all Lilienthal’s future gliders.

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Q Otto Lilienthal accelerating with his Glider No3 in 1891

Q Lilienthal’s motorised glider

er had envisaged that the engine would work for not more than half an hour. In any case, engine problems meant that the device was tested only as a pure glider. Engine problems made Lilienthal return to unpowered gliders, and in 1894 he built his smallestone, spanning just six metres. A similar model can be seen at the Vienna Technische Museum to this day. The same year also saw Lilienthal’s ‘standard’ glider, whose wings could fold for transport and storage. The tailplane was moved a

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THE OTTO LILIENTHAL’S ‘STANDARD’ GLIDER

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Q Lilienthal’s ‘standard’ glider which found a fair following among late 19th Century birdmen

metre further aft to improve stability. Nine such gliders were made, making the device the first heavier-than-air craft to be produced in numbers. Despite his growing fame, Lilienthal realised that his gliders were rather unsafe for widespread use by untrained people. He therefore built a special experimental glider with automatic leading edge droop to prevent sudden dives. Another novelty was the ability to cut speed using the movable tail, and the dihedral control mechanism. The pilot hung vertically, changing flight direction by swinging his legs and lower body, the additional features working automatically to assist his intentions. After several flights without much success, Lilienthal abandoned such designs and went on to build biplanes. The first of these saw light of day in 1895. The idea was to allow flight in crosswinds of up to 5-6m/s. The glider demonstrated perfect stability, rewarding its designer by overcoming sidewinds of up to 10m/s. Lilienthal had not given up the idea of powered gliders with moving motive surfaces. As distinct from the 1893 model, the new design featured a two-cylinder engine. Only the airframe was completed in 1896. This monoplane spanning 8m, and with an area of 17sq m, was never tested due to Lilienthal’s untimely demise

Q Lilienthal flying his No13 glider in 1895

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Q One of the last photographs of Lilienthal, this time with his No17 ornithopter/glider

while gliding. The famous German had flown over 2000 times and left many trained disciples. Unaware of Ader’s work, prominent British inventor Hiram Maxim3 set off to build a steam powered aeroplane in 1890. He studied the propulsive efficiency of different propeller shapes in a wind tunnel of his own design, using custom instrumentation. Upon gathering some empirical data, he determined optimum blade and wing shapes and over the following three years built, at a cost of some 20,000 pounds Sterling, an aeroplane which differed from all previous designs in size and propulsion system. Span came to 32m, and wing area to 370sq m. Twin elevators were located fore and aft of the wing, but there was no fin or rudder. Gross weight reached 3.5 tons. Powerplant consisted of two compound steam engines manufactured of high grade steel. Carried on a steel tube cradle beneath the upper wing, they turned two 5.4m diameter propellers. System power to weight ratio was 1.2kg per horsepower. Fuel was naphtha. The crew sat behind the boiler and condenser. Overall cradle and engine weight was almost a ton. Maxim underestimated the importance of balance and controllability. Control was limited to the twin elevators. Maxim was convinced that dihedral by itself bestowed sufficient lateral stability. A 600m long rail track with buffers at the distant end was built for the trials. Maxim also provided a height governor which limited 3

Of Maxim Gun fame; using recoil energy, his machine gun found worldwide success.

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Q Hiram Maxim’s aeroplane on its acceleration rail

excursions to 0.6m off the ground. This was to be used initially as a precaution against mishap. Famous sportsman and mechanic De Lambert, experienced aeronaut and speed boat tester, was invited to pilot the craft. After several test runs, a date was set for the flight attempt on which the engines would work at full steam. On 31 July 1894 De Lambert waited for steam to build up and released the enormous craft’s brakes. Acceleration was rapid, the two front wheels lifting clear of the rail. Since the entire weight was now over the rear wheels, they bent the rails, but the latter coped. Maxim claims that 300m after the start of the run the aircraft lifted off the rails, banked slightly and fell to earth, the wheels sinking into soft ground. According to Maxim’s calculations, lift had reached some five tons in the closing stages of the run: half as much again as the gross weight; this was sufficient not just for horisontal flight, but also for climbing and certain manoeuvres. As with Ader’s experiments, the power barrier had been breached, stability and controllability coming to the fore. Maxim undertook no further trials, but showed his machine to friends for a further year, turning it into something of a local attraction. Otto Lilienthal’s former students and assistants made a great contribution to aviation development. At the time, their newspaper photographs had travelled the world giving them universal fame. One of them was Scottish naval engineer Percy Sinclair Pilcher. After working with Maxim for some time, he went to Lilienthal in Germany and learned to glide. In 1896, Pilcher patented a monoplane distinguished by large

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wing area. Its trials confirmed Lilienthal’s belief that a small aircraft could be controlled adequately by body balancing. However, the Gull crashed twice in high winds, and Pilcher stopped using it. The same year he completed his Hawk, very similar to his mentor’s ‘standard’ glider. The pilot occupied a cutout in the centre wing, and the moving tail gave good controllability, especially at high angles of attack. The fourwheeled sprung undercarriage was a novelty helping ground acceleration and softening landings. Initially, Pilcher attained distances of up to 90m in the Hawk, this being bettered to over 200m the following year. Thanks to its adequate stability and modest size and weight, the glider had good controllability for its time. Pilcher was able to make turns and control landing speeds. Right from the start, Pilcher intended to fit engines to some of his designs. The Hawk being most suitable, he decided to fit it with an internal combustion engine driving a pusher propeller. The craft would be launched as a glider, its pilot running downhill. Once airborne, the 2-4hp class engine would be started to help maintain a 30km/h speed. Control would be by balancing, the pilot switching positions or swinging his legs and pelvis. Sadly, a suitable engine was found only in late 1899, and this was never tried, Pilcher finding his demise in a gliding crash. British aviation hopes were severely dashed with the loss of this man who combined the requisite technical background and flying experience. Otto Lilienthal’s work had attracted the notice of one Octave Chanute: French Baron by origin, US citizen by choice, and Chicago structural engineer. Aware of Cayley, Hanson, Stringfellow and other aviation pioneers’ work, in 1894 he published The Progress of Flying Machines. Lilienthal’s example made him think of trying his

Q Pilcher’s Hawk glider

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Q Pilcher between flights

luck at designing his own flying machine. In 1896, aged 64, Chanute built two gliders. Advancing age meant he had to ask young engineer Augustus Herring to fly them. The first glider failed to live up to expectations due to poor finish and low controllability. But the second one, a simple, lightweight and tough device, turned out to be the best balanced glider of its time. Assessed by specialists as setting new aviation design standards, it was used by the Wright brothers in their work some time later. The glider’s most notable feature was its wing. A biplane, it had a structure of timber spars, ribs and stays: bridge design knowledge applied to aeroplanes. The ruddered fin allowed the glider to counter crosswinds of up to 14m/s. To ease control, the pilot sat suspended in a sling. Spanning some 4.9m, the glider weighed just 10.5kg. In 1896, the biplane was tested at the sand dunes on Lake Michigan’s shore, flying some 1000 times. The greatest distance covered was 100m, in 14 seconds. Later Herring was to build his own large triplane glider which would cover 280m. (Explaining this achievement, he stressed not the glider’s superiority, but the growth of his own piloting ability.) Herring learned to make smooth turns and flew around hills in search of thermal currents. Encouraged by success, the engineer decided to go for the next step: powered flight. Initially he intended using two lightweight petrol engines of some 2hp each. Sadly, this class of Q Octave Chanute’s biplane glider which engine was rather heavy at the time, so Her- flew successfully between 1896 and 1904

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ring opted for a compressed air powerplant. The twin cylinder engine weighed six kilos and developed 3 to 5hp for some 30 seconds. Completed in summer 1898, the monoplane was tested at the Michigan lakeshore between 10 and 22 October, with decidedly mediocre results. The longest hop achieved was just 22m in a little under ten seconds. This convinced the designer that he had to have a more powerful engine which would work longer. However, by weighing down the craft, this clashed with its very concept. Circumstances dictated a different acceleration method and precluded control by balancing. Herring failed to find the right solution and gave up. Meanwhile, Wölfert and Daimler’s joint efforts continued. The result was a large airship fitted with a 6hp two cylinder internal combustion engine with exhaust pipes. (From now on, the exhaust would feature in all of Daimler’s engines.) The machine was demonstrated at the 1896 Berlin Exhibition. Kaiser Wilhelm II showed interest in it but declined to ride it. A major disadvantage was the engine’s proximity to the balloon envelope. Critics noted that rapid gas discharges for emergency landings could lead to dire consequences. Wölfert did not view this as good reason to introduce design changes, his only response being to limit flight altitude. The Kaiser’s attention occasioned great interest in the craft at the Tempelhof aeronautic exhibition which opened on 12 June 1897. A demonstration flight was

Q Wölfert’s dirigible at Tempelhof on 14 June 1896

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planned to demonstrate the airship to German officers and the Diplomatic Corps. A Prussian Balloon Corps officer was invited to ride with Wölfert and his mechanic. Last-minute inspections revealed skin damage where guyropes had scuffed the envelope. However, the hydrogen leakage was not considered really hazardous or prejudicial to performance. Wölfert did however decided to reduce the load so as to impress the military assessment committee with good climb rates despite the damage. Thus the Prussian officer stayed on the ground, while the airship rapidly climbed to 1000m. At that altitude, Wölfert ordered the engine to be started, and the craft turned into a falling ball of flame. Both aeronauts perished. Five months later, Tempelhof was to witness a dirigible of completely different design, built by Austrian engineer David Schwartz. In 1896, Frenchman Herault and American Hall invented electrolysis independently of each other. The process was suited to industrial production of aluminium. Schwarz’s dirigible had an envelope and gondola of aluminium sheet over a skeleton of alluminium tubing. The 52m long, shiny, artillery shell-like object was the first rigid airship. Regrettably Schwarz fell gravely ill and died on 11 January 1897. The honour of testing his dirigible in flight fell to Jagel, his capable mechanic, who had no experience as an aeronaut. To add to his troubles, a stiff wind blew up on the day set aside for the first ascent. Alone in the gondola at a height of 300m, the rookie aeronaut tried keeping steering straight but

Q David Schwartz’s airship was the first of the all-metal rigid type; it is seen here exhibited at Tempelhof on 3 November 1896

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panicked and broke a control cable. The emergency descent which followed was complicated by unnecessarily rapid gas discharge, causing the craft to strike the ground hard. Jagel managed to jump clear, but the machine was in pieces. The tragedy did not stop count Ferdinand von Zeppelin from completing an enormous rigid dirigible. The reserve cavalry General had observed the American Civil War between 1864 and 1865 and seen active service in the Franco-Prussian War. He was convinced that even imperfect tethered balloons could influence the outcome of battle. On leaving the army, he began developing a lighter-than-air craft with much broader combat competence. His new weapon was intended to transform the power of Germany’s rearming army. Design was completed in 1895 and the nobleman was awarded a patent. He set up the Society for the Advancement of Aeronautics, a limited company with an equity of a million marks, half of it invested by himself. Workshops and an airship hangar were built on von Zeppelin’s Bodensee estate. Work began in spring 1899, and a year later the finished article was ready for testing. The 140m long dirigible had two Daimler marine engines, each rated at 16hp. However, not more than 24hp was actually produced from both engines in ground tests. As distinct from Schwartz, von Zeppelin used not aluminium but cloth to cover the tube structure. The interior was divided into 17 compartments. With two exceptions, they contained gas bags (ballonets) with a combined volume of 11,000cu m. The airship was designed to lift a five-man

Q Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, 1838-1917

Q The LZ-1 before completion

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Q Count Zeppelin’s first airship before the start of tests

crew and enough fuel for a ten hour flight. Designated the LZ, it made an 18 minute maiden sailing from the Lake Konstanz naval hangar on 2 July. An 80 minute sailing was recorded on 17 October. Testing showed up insufficient stiffness and poor load trim, resulting in control difficulties. The engines were also insufficiently powerful. Despite this, another sailing was made on 24 October before the designer decided to halt further tests. Forced to repay creditors, von Zeppelin had to sell his airship hangar, dismiss workers and Q Samuel Langley, 1834-1906 cut the airship for scrap. Samuel Langley’s steam powered model aeroplane was the 19th Century’s most advanced aeroplane. During its 1896 tests, it covered over a kilometre. Some years were to pass for this exceptional record to be bettered. These tests also marked the end of the model aeroplane era in aviation development. The possibility of making a powered heav-

Q Photograph of the 19th Century’s best model aeroplane in flight

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ier-than-air flying machine was now proven. The US government showed an interest in Langley’s work. The 1898 Spanish-American War spurred American ambitions to possess an all-new weapon which could grant the US regional and world supremacy. The significant sum of 50,000 dollars was set aside to subsidise developments. The airframe of Langley’s aeroplane was ready by late 1900. What distinguished it was its tandem wing layout and cruciform tail. Overall wing area was 95sq m. The body was a flat frame supporting an open cockpit. Body length was 14.5m. The earlier models’ superb stability recommended the replication of their control surfaces in full scale form. The aeroplane had a 50hp water-cooled steam engine weighing 94kg: the lightest aero engine of its period. The scale model flights and the availability of a powerful and light engine raised hopes of success. Regrettably, both flight attempts failed. Pilot Manley got into trouble from which only quick thinking and reflex saved him. Failure turned the press against Langley and project funding halted, forcing him to stop further work. Not surprisingly, Wölfert’s tragic fate turned official circles against non-rigid balloons fitted with internal combustion engines. However, balloonists continued flying such rigs. Formed in Paris in 1898, France’s first Aero Club could use the Saint Cloud airfield. One of its most enthusiastic members was Brazilian Alberto Sãntos-Dumont. Q Langley’s aeroplane before testing …

Q … and after

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Q Opening of the French Aero Club, Saint Cloud, 1898

After a false start on 28 September 1898, two days later he performed the first in a series of successful ascents with a de Dion petrol-engined non-rigid airship. In 1901 Sãntos-Dumont won a large cash prize for flying from Saint Cloud to the Eiffel Tower and back: a distance of some 24km covered in an hour and a half. While not a major designer, SãntosDumont was a superb pilot and had the great advantage of sufficient money to carry on improving. He was a ‘born aeronaut,’ and if Meunier, Gifard and Renard showed the world how to build non-rigid airships, Sãntos-Dumont showed it how they ought to be flown. Despite its inherent conservatism, Britain did not lag behind in the rapid development of aeronautics at the turn of the Century. Animated discussions were held about the relative merits of lighter versus heavier-than-air craft. Established in 1866, the Aeronautical Society grew

Q Alberto Sãntos-Dumont

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Q Sãntos-Dumont’s historic flight

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rapidly, becoming an Aero Club in 1901 (later The Royal Aero Club). Despite this activity, powered balloon trials were rather fewer than in France. The turning point came with Stanley Spencer’s 1902 flight. His 28.5m long, 6.6m diameter airship had a single seat cabin and a 3.5hp Sims water cooled engine. This ran at 2500rpm: so fast for its time that a reductor was needed. On 22 September 1902 Spencer flew from Crystal Palace in South East London to Inchcoates in Middlesex, covering the 100km distance in 100 minutes. Later the same design made other successful flights. Having acquired serious experience, Spencer built a larger airship which, however, failed to live up to expectations. The same year French engineer Henri Juliotte completed a semi-rigid airship. It had been commissioned by sugar refinery owners, the brothers Paul and Pierre Lebaudi. The elongated balloon envelope was 62m long. Powerplant was a 40hp Daimler engine. Form early in the winter in 1902 until summer 1903, 30 flights were performed from the Matesse base. Maximum still air speed was 40km/h. One of the flights, in November 1902, was symbolic: from Matesse to the Champs de Mars in Paris, where Professor Charles had flown the first hydrogen balloon in 1783. Mean cruise speed was 35.5km/h. Despite dirigible successes, the military stayed faithful to non-rigid and semi-rigid tethered balloons: they were battle proven. Armed forces in several countries made efforts to improve such balloons for reconnaissance purposes. Naturally, this was still far from the creation of a component of air power. Until the late 19th Century, the military had used almost exclusively spherical balloons. Despite being useful in African colonial wars, they also had numerous limitations. For instance, in Southern Af-

Q Q Newspaper drawing of Paul and Pierre Lebaudis’s airship

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rica the British Army found that wind speeds of over 35km/h rendered ascents impossible due to drag. The balloons swayed unacceptably even in slight gusts, making the observer unable to use optics. This resulted in altitude restrictions which reduced the area under observation. Clearly, a stable aerial platform was needed. Encouraged by the War Office, after the Boer Wars some British inventors tested man-lifting kites. Most active was Texan-born Samuel Cody. He built kites similar to those made by Baden-Laulel and used Hargrave’s sling system. Experiments in Britain and Russia confirmed concerns that the kites would be worse than balloons in strong winds. Another direction of work involved attaching kites to balloons to stabilise the latter. Such experiments had a history dating to before 1885, and showed much promise. The military were hastily seeking new and sufficiently effective reconnaissance platforms. Almost half a century earlier, Klausewitz had stressed information procurement by writing that whichever side knew more about its adversary had the battle half-won. Developments of the new type of balloon proceeded fastest in Germany. There, scientists were working on a new and stable aerial observation and artillery direction platform. As early as 1886, Major August von Parcival and Captain Bartch von Siegsfeldt had patented an unfortunate looking but practical kite balloon. Trials of the new design started in 1893, and the following five years saw variations with volumes of between 600 and 1200cu m tested. They ultimately evolved into ‘sausage’ balloons used on both sides in the Great War, and to guard London, Moscow and other cities from air raids in the Second World War. Main material was rubberised

Q A British balloon unit during the Boer Wars

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Q Lawrence Hargrave preparing one of his kites for a flight

cotton. Anchored by guy ropes, kite balloons flew into wind at some 30 or 40 degrees of incidence. The airstream created additional lift. For greater stability, the design incorporated a guide sleeve and a guide sail on each side of the main envelope. Observation was from an altitude of 2000m, entirely adequate for normal reconnaissance.

Q Instructional drawing of a Parcival-Siegsfeld kite balloon

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Combat proved the benefits of the new balloons. At the onset of the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War, the Russian side used indigenous spherical balloons to support its forces and coastal defence in the Port Artur area. The Russian engineering unit officers who operated them soon encountered the customary stability problems. They then tried kites, to no appreciable improvement. Only the introduction of Parcival-Siegsfeldt kite balloons made a difference. Navy needs were served by a specially equipped mother ship which would launch kite balloons. However, due to engine trouble, the cruiser did not see active service. Russian specialists also developed a new, lighter method of charging balloons with hydrogen, allowing them to be replenished closer to their ascent sites. The fact that between 1914 and 1918 the warring sides used no fewer than 5500 kite balloons shows how well the two Germans handled their task. The emergence of the basic component of air power did not involve only aeronautics and aerostatics. At the turn of the century, two brothers who manufactured bicycles in Dayton, Ohio, began actively researching aviation. Influenced by Otto Lilienthal’s famous successes, in early 1899 Wilbur Wright wrote to the Smithsonian Institution asking for books and papers on heavier-than-air craft, giving Chanute’s monograph as an example. Soon after receiving the requested literature, he and his brother Orville built a biplane kite. The aim of this first experiment was to test Orville’s contention that birds balance and turn by twisting their wings. The kite had a special control cable which changed wing camber as needed to react to wind direction and speed. This control system was amplified by a canard elevator (one fixed forward of the wing). The following year Wilbur wrote to Chanute asking for comments and advice on the brothers’ new biplane glider. Spanning 5.5m, this resembled Chanute’s design in its structure, but everything else was the fruit of the Wrights’ own creative thought. They believed that if they coped with controlling the glider, they would succeed in building their own powered aeroplane. The idea was to make an unstable aerial platform whose trim would depend on the pilot’s coordinated movements, much as a bicycle depends on the rider’s balancing Q Wilbur and Orville Wright with their mother

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Q Octave Chanute visiting the Wrights at Kitty Hawk

movements. Lilienthal controlled his gliders by swinging his almost vertical body, but the Wrights chose a prone control position from the outset. The pilot was to twist the wings to maintain an optimum glide angle, and use the canard elevator to control sudden downward pitch (such as the one which had killed Lilienthal). Trials of the glider began in late summer 1900, near the town of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The Wrights had chosen the hilly site because of its excellent yearround weather. The proximity of the Atlantic provided a stiff breeze of constant direction and speed. Most flights were unmanned, the glider flying as a kite. Some tethered flights also took place. Just one piloted glide was flown. In July and August 1901, the Wrights began trials of a larger glider, spanning 7.3m. Though essentially unchanged, its control system was developed and improved. This time the Wrights went to Kill Devil Hills, four and a half miles south of Kitty Hawk. While one piloted, the other helped by steadying the glider and running alongside until it was airborne. Several exceptionally successful glides were performed, including one of 110m. The designers noted a tendency to sideslip when one wing half was Q One of the first glides from the sand dunes of Kill Devil Hills twisted independently of the other.

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On returning from this season’s flying, the Wrights reassessed their theory in the light of practical experience. They also carried out a number of tunnel tests using a pedaldriven wind tunnel. By late summer 1902 the brothers built their third biplane glider, with a span of 9.15m. To counter sideslip and ease turns, the tail now featured two extra fins. In the second half of September, the glider was taken to the Kill Devil Hills sand dunes. During initial flights, wilful or accidntal (caused by the wind) camber changes to one wing half were found to result in yawing and rolling. The problem was solved only when the twin fins were replaced with one and this was made to swivel by being geared to wing camber changes. The modified glider could now turn fairly flatly and was even controllable in Beaufort Force Seven winds. The brothers patented their method of control by jointly twisting the wing and fin, but the patent was to lie fallow until 1906: other flyers were far behind in their endeavours.

Q Launching a Wright glider

Q A Wright glider about to land, October 1902

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Successful glides of over a minute’s duration firmly prompted the Wrights to make an aeroplane. The engine installation and propeller were built in the winter and spring of 1902 and 1903. Progress was easy because, as distinct from all their predecessors, the brothers were not aiming at a super light powerplant. All they had to do was adapt a water-cooled four-cylinder petrol engine by stripping away unnecessary road-going complications and weight. It weighted 90kg and developed 12hp: a power to weight ratio of Q The engine cradle, fuel tank and chain drive 7.5kg per horsepower, or rather worse than of the Wrights’ first aeroplane are clearly visible the steam units of the late 19th Century. in this photograph Still, good aerodynamics meant that the engine was perfectly capable of hauling the flying machine into the air. The propeller resulted from exhaustive wind tunnel testing in 1902 and 1903. The Wrights viewed it as a spinning wing and tried to find the best profile for each spanwise propeller section. The result was a new record in propeller efficiency: 66 per cent. Transmission was by bicycle chains which also acted as reductors. Overall transmission and propeller weight was 41kg. In other respects, the aeroplane was similar to the 1902 glider. The higher weight called for a span increase to 12.2m and for increased control surface area, the latter achieved simply by installing a second elevator and rudder. Skids were mounted under the wing to soften landings: wheels would be of little use on the sands of the North Carolina coast. The craft was taken to the test site where it was assembled by November 1903. It was a canard biplane with twin 2.6m diameter pusher propellers turning in opposing directions to cancel out torque. The engine was on the lower wing, alongside the prone pilot. The latter controlled wing camber by thigh movements. Two other levers were mounted in front of him: one for controlling the elevator, and the other for starting the engine. Gross weight was 340kg, length: 6.4m, wing area: 42sq m, and span: 12.3m. Takeoffs were performed using an 18m long steel-plated wooden rail which could be turned to face directly into wind. On departure, the craft travelled on a small wheeled dolly which remained on the ground. Initial tests involved running the engine on the ground. These showed up weakness in the hollow propeller shafts which had to be replaced with solid units, raising structure weight. On 12 December, the Wrights decided they were ready to fly. They waited for good weather and made their first attempt on 14 December. After a 16m

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ground run the aeroplane lifted, pitching up sharply and falling to the ground from a height of 5m. The 32m hop had taken 3.5 seconds. Pilot Wilbur Wright was unhurt and damage was insignificant. The designers realised that the mishap had resulted from incautious handling of the elevator. The second flight was on 17 December. The wind was stronger on that day, and the guide rail was set almost flat. The flight was successful, lasting 12s. Three further attempts were made, each improving on the duration of the first one. Overall airborne time was almost two minutes, with the final flight lasing 59 seconds and covering 280m.

Q The Flyer, first successful aeroplane in history, before being put on its starting rail

Q The Flyer on its starting rail

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Q 17 December 1903: the second of the day’s flights

Naturally, these were not flights in the proper sense of the word, since Wilbur Wright made no attempt to vary the Flyer’s speed or direction. Nevertheless, that day saw the first recorded aeroplane flight with proper control over speed and height. Using their predecessors’ experience, the Wrights made a craft which not only possessed the necessary power, but also effective pitch and roll control. Due to its static instability, the Flyer called for fine piloting skills: something the Wrights had only begun building up in late 1903. The tests were the first successful flight of a heavier-than-air machine: powered take off, level flight, and landing with a man on board. There now followed a reassessment of the Flyer leading to its improvement. Flyer 2 was completed in May 1904. It differed mainly in having a 16hp engine, but power to weight ratio remained low due to higher all-up weight. Elevator shape was changed and wing profile flattened. The airframe had to be strengthened, increasing empty weight to 320kg. Since tests were to be on flat pastureland near Dayton, Ohio, the craft was reliant on strong headwinds. This limited flying opportunities and made the Wrights dependent on weather. Their answer was an improvised catapult: they built a tower from which a half ton weight attached to the aeroplane would be dropped, launching it along its rail. The first catapult take off was on 7 September 1904. The flight went well, confirming that tests would be possible without relying on the wind. Flights were becoming routine, and the Wrights’ piloting skills grew. Still, flying was still along straight lines, and still over in mere seconds. The meadow’s size limited flight distances of necessity, and each hop ended with the tedious task of hauling the machine back to the rail. Eventually, the idea of circling flights commended itself. The first departure with the intention of flying a closed circuit was on 15 September. However, due to the great radius of the turn, Flyer II flew too close to a fence and

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Q One of the Wrights’ early demonstration flights at Fort Myer. The pyramid-shaped tower which assisted takeffs is clearly visible

had to be landed prematurely. The first successful circling flight was on 20 September. Wilbur Wright completed a 360 degree turn, staying aloft for two and a quarter minutes. It was clear that this method of flying made possible significant endurance without straying off the safety of the ‘airfield.’ Another achievement was marked on 9 November, when 4.8km were flown in 5m 4s. Flyer II was used until 1910, making over 80 successful flights. Nevertheless, the Wrights were dissatisfied with its controllability. Hazardous situations caused by Flyer II’s unwillingness to comply were commonplace in 1904. Further work was needed. Flyer 3 was finished in June 1905. The engine was unchanged, but judicious tuning had increased power to 21hp. The airframe was additionally strengthened. The elevators and fins were moved further away from the centre of gravity (which coincided almost entirely with the centre of lift). To reduce sideslip in turns and rolls, two vertical plates were fitted between the twin elevators. Despite these improvements, initial flights suffered from temporary loss of control. By late September, the designers realised their control problem was due to stalling of the control surfaces when reducing speed. Future flights, flown at flatter angles of attack, confirmed this. The control issue was solved! To ease piloting, controls for wing and rudder twisting were separated. Coordinated rolling turns without sideslip were now possible, reducing the demand on engine

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power when turning, rolling and flying figures-of-eight. In summer and autumn 1905, Flyer 3 performed some forty flights near Dayton. On 5 October, the craft covered a closed circuit of 39km in 38 minutes and three seconds: an average speed of 60km/h. The Wright brothers’ flights were almost totally ignored by the press. Newspapermen refused to take the rumours of successful American powered flights seriously. Airships, with their impressive size and considerably better achievements, made a much better story. The few (factually wrong) press reports that did appear were greeted with a large measure of doubt. One of those who did believe them was Lieutenant Colonel Cooper of the Royal Engineers’ School of Aeronautics. In 1904, the War Office sent him to the Saint Louis, Missouri, Technical Exhibition. While there, he got in touch with the Wrights at Dayton. On returning, he wrote a full report regarding the claimed 1903 flights, adding he was convinced of their authenticity.

THE FLYER III, 1905

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The British visit and the US government’s interest in Langley’s project convinced the Wrights they had a product they could sell for a lot of money. They believed in the future of the aeroplane as a means of international communication and trade, and harbinger of goodwill. They also foresaw for it a future as a means of warfare. This is why in selling their project they first addressed the United States’ Department of Defense, Orville Wright writing these words on 18 January 1905: “The series of aeronautical experiments upon which we have been committed these last five years ended with the creation of a flying machine capable of practical use ... The numerous flights made confirm that flying can be used in a great many ways, one of which is intelligence gathering and the transfer of messages in wartime.”1 In a 9 October 1905 letter addressed to the Secretary of State for Defense, Orville reminds him of the newly created flying machine capable of use for intelligence purposes. However, perhaps for reinsurance after Langley’s failure, the military did not hasten to buy. Their reasons were reasonable enough. The Wrights’ aeroplanes were unsuited to genuine combat: for one thing, the pilot lay prone, fully exposed to ground fire; for another, there was no room for a second crew member who could observe and recconnoiter from the air. And even the most improved Flyer could hardly maintain a set altitude to enable effective use of optical instruments and cameras. Also, the small amount of fuel limited endurance to below any reasonable duration. Taking into account the Wrights’ high asking price, the double refusal of the Department of Defense becomes understandable. Negotiations with the Admiralty in London and the French government ended the same way. Despite the interest shown in future improved flying machines, the pioneers lost heart. They were wary of displaying their machines in public, lest their technical secrets be stolen by competitors. After the 16 October 1905 flight, their two and a half years of active flying were over. Mothballed, the machines stayed in storage until spring 1908. After count Zeppelin’s first attempt to build a dirigible with the sort of performance the military sought, the Schute Lanz company also came up with a rigid airship. Main structural material was timber which was rather heavy, affecting performance. Von Zeppelin gradually became undisputed leader in rigid airships. In 1905, he completed his LZ-2. Similar in size to the LZ-1, its powerplant was significantly more powerful. It was this powerplant that failed on the LZ-2’s maiden sailing on 17 January 1906. Rendered unable to cope with bad weather, and hit by a sudden storm, the Count had to land far from his base. Such was the severity of damage that the craft had to be disassembled where it landed. None of this was reason to despair (and in any case despair was something unknown to the old soldier). The LZ-3 emerged from its hangar soon enough, and in 1906 and 1

Translator’s rendering from the quotation in Bulgarian.

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Q The Schute-Lanz airship being walked from its hangar for tests

1907 went on to make a series of successful voyages. It was bought by the Ministry of War who designated it the Z-1. At the same time, von Zeppelin designed the 147m long LZ-4 and offered it to the government. One of the conditions the latter put to him was that it should make an uninterrupted 24-hour voyage. Zeppelin planned to sail from Friedrichshafen to overhead Basle, and along the Rhine to Meinz. In fine summer weather this was easy for the vessel, provided its twin 110hp Daimler-Mercedes engines held out. The LZ-4 lifted off on 4 August 1908 with 12 persons on board (including its designer), The day was warm and conditions looked ideal. Many inhabitants of Basel, Strassbourg,

Q The LZ-2, moments after its accident

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Q The LZ-3 over Berlin

and Mannheim came out to watch the huge creation of man fly overhead. However, the hot sun overheated the structure and the valves let a great quantity of hydrogen escape from the gas bags. Between Mannheim and Meinz, after more than half the planned voyage was completed, one of the the LZ-1’s engines failed. Count Zeppelin assessed the situation and decided to put down near Oltenheim. Repairs took three and a half hours, and the flight resumed with a reduced load. The next morning, after covering 610km and with just 110km to go, engine trouble again caused an unscheduled landing. The airship touched down gently near the Daimler factory in Stuttgart. Lacking anything better, local volunteers moored it to an undertaker’s coach. A summer storm struck in the afternoon, tearing the airship off its improvised mooring. A fire broke out and the craft was rendered unfit for further use. The bloodless calamity increased von Zeppelin’s stock. A sympathetic public raised cash to assist his further activities. This made series production of airships and their associated equipment possible. The world press announced the laying down of eight airships and a government prize for the designer. The Count, for whom riches meant little, refused to make non-rigid or semi-rigid airships, however quick the returns. At the time, soft balloons continued to be the only means of aerial observation bought by armies and navies. What really motivated von Zeppelin was to boost German grandeur with an instrument of air power without equal. At the close of 1909 he assented to the founding of the German Aeronautical Public Equity Company, DELAG. This was to operate seven airships, which in the event made over 16,000 flights carrying over 35,000 passengers before the start of war.

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Q DELAG’s Schwaben airship about to alight

The fleet was also used for crew training and moving troops. During the same period the Friedrichshaven airship works manufactured 25 airships. Apart from DELAG’s machines, 12 sold to the Army, three to the Navy, and three remained on the company’s books. Right since the debut of rigid airships, the German war ministry saw in them a new and powerful strategic weapon. Its great benefit was the great depth of projection, and that in an environment previously untouched by man. Apart from anything else, airship warloads could reach six and a half tonnes. The operational war plan for the Western approaches formulated in 1906 by von Schliffen foresaw German troops entering France and an Army group passing through Belgium. The plan assigned airships to operational and tactical tasks in the service of the Supreme Command and Army Commands. Airships were to bomb strategic targets, perform reconnaissance and strike targets under observation, and perform transportation tasks. The General Staff felt that a lone airship would be able to disperse troops, force the capitulation of fortified garrisons, paralyse communications and supply, cause panic in large cities, and have a psychological effect on troops and civilians. The Germans paid for their overestimation of airships in the initial stages of the Great War: the idea of using them in combat had to be curtailed hastily, and the fascination with them held back German aeroplane making for years. The initial period of man’s search for reliable methods of conquering the sky ended with the Wright brothers halting flights, Parcival-Ziegsfeld balloons entering production, and the LZ-4 making its first voyage. Three ways to build the first component of national air power. These roads were defined by the nature of flying apparatus, and by the future tasks suitable to each.

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The first such road went via non-rigid lighter-than-air vessels: balloons. Going back over a century, their history had led to the tethered kite balloon: an excellent aerial observation platform. Though the nature of their tasks had hardly changed since the French Revolution, they offered much better conditions for the use of sighting and photographic optics. This made them invariable participants in manoeuvres and colonial conflict at the turn of the 20th Century, and invaluable in reconnaissance gathering and artillery directing. In view of their comparatively long evolution and the considerable accumulated experience in their use, they were both most perfected and most widespread. The second road led to lighter-than-air vessels of non-rigid, semi-rigid and rigid construction, able to fly freely thanks to being powered. They had evolved from the first balloons which freely followed air currents. The lack of suitable and sufficiently powerful engines was the main hindrance in the way of airships. They failed to find a practical application until the end of the 19th Century. It was only after the appearance of the internal combustion engine that strategists in France and Germany began writing airships into their war plans as strategic intelligence collection and attack platforms. But plans are intentions, not reality: the first airships lacked adequate performance. Army and navy experts were very critical of their slowness, their dependence on medium altitude winds, and their low flight altitude which made them vulnerable even to small-arms fire. The third and newest road was represented by aeroplanes: heavier-than-air flying machines. Though fragile, the Wrights’ Flyer nevertheless staked a claim for the future with its mobility and compactness. A period of breakneck development over a very short time was about to unfold.

Q A Zeppelin airship under construction

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Regardless of human advance towards the conquest of the air, the components of air power were barely nascent. Most developed was the availability of flying apparatus capable of performing military or civil tasks in a sustained fashion. Yet such apparatus as there was played purely subsidiary roles and lacked any penetration in depth. Such flying schools as were soon to appear trained a very limited contingent of pilots and ground staff. The creation of German airship operator DELAG was a step forward, in that it gave fine training to many flight and ground crews. However, there was still no combat training system in operation. What military theories existed trod well established infantry and naval paths, failing to take into account both the specifics of the new weaponry and that of the environment it was designed for. As to aviation, it was literally still on its starting blocks. One could not speak of the second component: the sufficient availability of skilled pilots and ground crews. The third component, ground and air equipment, was only developed to any extent in aeronautics. Airborne equipment comprised sighting optics and early aerial cameras. Ground equipment comprised hydrogen production and filling stations. The arrival of airships increased demand for facilities where they could be moored and maintained. This led to the appearance of the first hangars, mooring towers and other station facilities. As aeroplanes developed, so would airfields and eventually airports. Support facilities were limited to a few factories for the manufacture of tethered balloons and workshops catering to the amateur aeronaut trade. Zeppelin’s company, whose core and only activity was aeronautics, was an exception (though it soon became the rule in the industrial nations). It is difficult to discern any command or coordinating structure or system, let alone discuss its powers or effectiveness. Telegraphic transmission tests did take place, but failed to become routine both in the armed forces and in private operators. The early stage of development determined the limited opportunities of using the air for civil and military ends. The emergence of air potential depended on scaling a number of problems: a challenge calling for both time and money.

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Chapter

3

STORMY PROGRESS

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ven the scant attention given to the Wright brothers’ glider trials between 1900 and 1902 stimulated French aeronautics students’ desire to build real aeroplanes. After Lilienthal’s death, European progress in heavier-than-air flying apparatus had come to a standstill. French artillery officer Capt Ferdinand Ferber made the first effort to a resumption. In early 1902, Octave Chanute sent him a copy of the paper on gliding delivered by Orville Wright the previous September. Ferber decided to make a glider similar to that of the Americans, but without the roll control system. He used bamboo and normal timber, and completed the job in 1903. The glider was intended to be powered, and Ferber acquired a 6hp Bouchet internal combustion engine for the purpose, marrying it to two puller propellers. The aeroplane was tested later the same year, being put through its paces while suspended from the gib of an 18 metre high stand. This showed up the engine’s insufficient power: it had to sustain a 235kg machine in flight. In 1904, Ferber improved the aeroplane, fitting a tailplane aft of the wing. The wings were given some anhedral in an attempt to improve longitudinal stability. A new and more reliable

Q Ferdinand Ferber, 1862-1909

Q Ferber’s aeroplane seen suspended from its 18m high test rig

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Q Ferber’s attempted free flight in 1905

Peugeot engine, again rated at 6hp, was fitted. The puller propeller was between the wing assembly and the forward mounted elevator. A flight attempt was made on 27 May 1905 when Ferber intentionally cut the holding rope. However, all that the weak engine did was merely reduce the gradient of the precipitous glide. Nevertheless, the puller propeller/biplane aerodynamic configuration was rational, and was to spread far and wide a few years hence. The enthusiastic gunner went on to build a third aeroplane in 1906. This featured a significantly more powerful Antoinette engine, whose output reached 24hp at 600rpm. Regrettably, the aeroplane was destroyed by a storm on 19 November, a little while before its planned first flight. When the Wrights stopped flying, aviation advance palpably slowed. Ferber was not the only one to try and acquit the Old World. Transylvanian4 Traian Vuia, who lived in France, conceived a Flying Automobile. Its road-going progenitor left a strong imprint on the finished article which had four leaf-sprung, pneumatic-strutted and tyred wheels; a steering wheel controlled the rudder. The wing folded for easy transport by road. Control was to be achieved by tilting the wing, and longitudinal trim: by sliding the seat fore and aft. The steel tube and cloth article weighed 192kg, had an erect span of 8.7m and a wing area of 20sq m. The engine, a 24hp Serpols unit, drove a two-bladed puller propeller with a 1.5m diameter. The Vuia 1 entered testing in March 1906. On 18 March it took off and flew for 12m at a height of a metre. Five months later, this distance was doubled but the landing was a crash. Despite the modest achievements, these hops boosted interest in monoplanes. Vuia’s later improvements to his apparatus, which included modifying the controls, led nowhere: testing in October showed it to be incapable of sustaining level flight. 4

Today he would be Romanian. Translator.

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Q Traian Vuia with his Aerial Automobile at its debut on 18 March 1906

Q Gabriel Voisin, 1880-1973

Q Charles Voisin, 1882-1912

Gabriel Voisin was one of the most famous of pioneer aviators. He was a French mechanic who had designed and built his own gliders. In 1905, he made a float-equipped glider with a strange wing. It took off by being pulled along the Seine by a motor boat, and testing proved that boxing the wing as in a kite resulted in good stability, as well as improving structural strength for a given weight. Using his glider experience, in spring 1906 Voisin built the Bleriot III (thus called because it was ordered by Louis Bleriot, later to be a renowned designer, maker and flyer in his own right). In profile, the wing was ellipsoid. The idea was to box it and give it anhedral for roll stability in one. The rudder was within the wing. The aeroplane was intended to depart and alight from and on water, as the glider had, and it was fitted with two fore and one aft floats. A 24hp engine drove two forward propellers via bicycle chains. Testing began in May 1906 and soon revealed that the powerplant caused strong wing vibrations at certain regimes. Nevertheless, on 12 September the designer did fly a distance of 42m at a metre above the surface, and an average speed of 57km/h. It turned out that such hops afforded no control whatever. The

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Q The float-equipped Voisin glider being towed on the Seine at Paris in 1905

Q The Bleriot III, in which the later-famous Bleriot first tried to fly

Q The 14-bis suspended from its non-rigid mother airship

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attempt to get rid of vibrations by fitting two engines, each driving its own propeller, ended in failure: the heavier machine could not improve on its earlier parameters. After a fruitful summer, Gabriel and Charles Voisin formed the world’s first aeroplane making company. Orders piled in, especially after a famous flight by eminent aeronaut Santos-Dumont. The Bazilian had designed the 14-bis aeroplane. A hybrid between the Wrights’ Flyers and Hargrave’s kite, this was a canard biplane with a biplane forward elevator and a pusher propeller. A peculiarity of the design was its pronounced dihedral. The engine was a 24hp Antoinette. The structure was of timber and bamboo. The pilot stood upright in a basket-like container. The rest of the fuselage was of square section, entirely cloth-covered. Santos-Dumont began tests in 1906. The Aeroplane was towed behind a dirigible (again designed by himself, hence the bis in the designation). In late August, an attempt was made to fly free, but the contraption failed to get off the ground. Subsequent runups ended in failure. One reason for this was the weak engine, which was changed for a more powerful 50hp Antoinette. The modified aeroplane flew for some 70 to 80m at 3m on 23 October. This was enough for all members of a French Aero Club committee, who witnessed the flight, to admit that SantosDumont qualified for the Prix Archdecon, instituted for the first man to fly a distance of not less than 25m. On 21 November the designer won a second similar prize, this time for a flight coverQ Santos-Dumont after the record flight in his 14-bis ing not less than 100m. This time he rose to

Q Santos-Dumont performing his 220m flight

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6m and covering a distance of 220m. Of course, this was not the first powered aeroplane flight, and indeed the 14 bis was only just an aeroplane, being immensely unstable and yawing uncontrollably. The yawing was not cured even after ailerons were installed. Its great many imperfections make it clear that the credit for its flights lies mainly with the excellent engine and well-chosen weather. A crash in early 1907 was the natural end to its career. Nonetheless, the enormous enthusiasm caused by reports of its flights stimulated the efforts of many pioneers, and the acclaim of the public. One of Voisin’s early clients was French sculptor Leon Delagrange. His ViosinDelagrange 1 was a motorised version of the Voisin-built floatplane glider. The engine was the proven 50hp Antoinette, and a wheeled undercarriage replaced the floats. The aeroplane had a biplane elevator, with the side members of the tailplane acting as rudders. Span was 10m and wing area, 40sq m. Fitted directly to the engine output shaft, without a reductor, the metal pusher propeller spun at up to 1000rpm. First trials set for 28 February 1907 resulted in some successful hops. On 30 March Charles Voisin covered a distance of some 80m. Then the wheeled undercarriage was removed and replaced with floats, but when this did not increase flight lengths, the designers reverted to wheels. On 3 November 1907, Leon Delagrange flew a distance of 500m but crashed on landing. The Antoinette engines which were becoming favourites to inventors of early aeroplanes, were designed by French engineer Leon Levavasseur. Initially intended for light maritime applications, they were later adapted for airborne use. Two major versions were Q Leon Levavasseur, 1863-1922

Q On 30 March 1907, a Voisin-Delagrange covered a distance of 60m

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made: 24hp and 50hp, both extremely compact for the time. In seeking potential European buyers, Levasseur tried to make his own aeroplane. It was to share the name of the engine, which had been named after Levasseur’s employer’s daughter, Mademoiselle Antoinete Gastambid. The Antoinette 1 was to have been a canard monoplane with a pusher propeller, but regrettably the project did not reach conclusion. In 1908, Levavasseur designed a second monoplane. This had a long fuselage and a rather advanced wing profile, with a great thickness to chord ratio and different upper and lower curvatures. The wing planform was a trapeze with an area of 24sq m and a span of 10.5m. Weight reached 350kg. The more powerful 50hp engine was chosen for the aeroplane, but even this was insufficient for a proper flight, trials resulting in a few hops. This did not out off the designer, but rather, spurred him on. In July 1908 he completed detail work on the Gastambid-Mangen-2 by fitting it with triangular ailerons at the wing tips. On 21 August the new machine flew a circular flight lasting 1m36s. The Gastambid-Mangen-2 was the first manned monoplane to fly. The Antoinette 4 appeared in 1908. Similar to Levasseur’s early designs, this had a trapezoid wing, a puller propeller, and a long thin fuselage. All-up weight reached 460kg. The engine was the same as in the previous design. To cut drag, the cloth covering the wing’s upper surface was varnished to a gleam. Wing and body structural elements were made of metal. The undercarriage was of the single pivot type, with pneumatic damping. The wing undersides had skids, with another skid guarding the propeller from striking the ground in heavy landings. The aeroplane showed excellent qualities, prompting French pilot Latham to attempt to fly the Channel. On a good July day in 1909, he set off superbly, but shortly before reaching the English coast problems developed and the machine had to land on water. In August the saem year, an Antoinette 4 piloted by Latham flew the distance of 155km in 2h17m at the first international air races in Rheims. The aeroplane was widely exported in the years before the Great War.

Q The builders of the Gastambid-Mangen 2 checking its undercarriage before a flight attempt

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A year earier, in July 1908, Ferber completed his last aeroplane, the Ferber 9. Built by Antoinette, it was a puller propeller biplane and a forward positioned elevator. Span was 10.5m, wing area was 30sq m, weight was 400kg, and the engine was a 50hp Antoinette. Trials began in the summer and were successful. The aeroplane was exceptionally stable, covering a distance of 500m in September. This was Ferber’s first and last aeroplane to make it into the air. The designer was to die in an air crash in autumn 1909. As mentioned above, Maj Parcival was a successful designer of non-rigid airships. On leaving the army in 1907, he organised airship manufacture for civil and military use. Between 1909 and 1913, his company built 18 examples, some of which went on to transport passengers, while others were bought by the German, Austro-Hungarian, British, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Turkish armies. The British became worried by the interest the German military lavished on the LZ-4. Disquiet became pronounced with the news that after the craft’s widely publi-

Q An Antoinette 7 before its second Channel flight attempt on 27 July 1909 …

Q … and after it

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THE ANTOINETTE 7

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THE FERBER 9

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Q The Ferber 9, also known as the Antoinette 3

cised demise, patriotically minded Germans had subscribed money for yet more airships. At a time of intense Anglo-German naval rivalry, it became clear that Germany, possessor of Europe’s (and possibly the World’s) most powerful land army, was now aiming for naval and aerial supremacy. How was this challenge to be met? The question turned out rather difficult. In 1907 the Army Balloon Factory built a small sausage-shaped airship. Named the Nulli Secundus, its first flight covered the distance between Farnborough and Crystal Pal-

Q A Parcival P IV non-rigid airship

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ace, overflying St Paul’s Cathedral en route. Covering the fifty miles took a little under three and a half hours. In 1908 the vessel was modernised, but the resulting Nulli Secundus II was also rather tardy to have any military significance. In fact, British hopes of competing with the Germans rested with large rigid airships. This was the class of vessel the Admiralty wanted. The task was assigned to Vickers, Sons and Maxim Ltd (soon to be just Vickers after Sir Hiram Maxim left the board). The company had built Britain’s first submarine. Initial plans included the wide scale use of duralumin, a new German-discovered light alloy, which Vickers also made. When the project was first presented, head of the Maritime Armaments Department head Capt Bacon was dissatisfied and decided on a course of constant inspections during construction and preparatory work. Thus he personally supervised compliance between what was wanted by the War Office Maritime Design Department and what was being done at Vickers. Bacon was a firm adherent to the ideas of air power and of adapting airships for Navy needs. His findings found favour with the Admiralty which in turn held him responsible for their implementation. Sadly, no sooner had the project started than Bacon resigned as part of a heated argument between Admiral Lord Charles Beresford and First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir John Fisher. Bacon was succeeded by Capt Murray Suiter, another firm adherent of naval aeronautics. Sadly, Suiter knew little about aeronautics. He took the job of Inspecting Captain well aware he had to trust Vickers. The responsibility for failure was thus passed down to Vickers’ maritime design managers who had no aeronautic experience, and no background in the construction of rigid dirigibles or the new special materials used in them. To construct the vessel, Vickers began building a huge airship hangar near Barrow-in-Furness. This turned out so hugely expensive that it absorbed the entire project’s budget. Suiter turned to the War Office for additional funds. His application led to another round of inconclusive discussions about the number of airships versus aeroplanes on order for the Navy and Army. When the job was nearing completion, a mathematician consulting Vickers on stresses reported that the numerous departures from initial design specifications meant the airship would lack the requisite strength. Nonetheless, completion went ahead with the added proviso of additional ground tests prior to first sailing. In late spring 1911, the 137m long Mayfly, as it had been popularly dubbed, was ready to fly. Moored at a purpose built tower, it had overcome strong winds successfully. However, serious defects were discovered in its lifting engines, and it was walked back into its hangar for modifications. The date of 24 September was set for further tests. As the Mayfly was being walked out on that day, its upper parts struck the hangar, sustaining irreparable damage. Fortunately for posterity, photographers managed to document its final appearance shortly before the accident. Navy officers present were unanimous in declaring the airship “more the work of lunatics than anything

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Q Russia’s most competent pre-World War airship was the Al’batros

else”. An enquiry reached the verdict that structural weakness had lain at the bottom of the events, recommending the cessation of further work. The hundred thousand pounds Sterling spent on the Mayfly project were ultimately written off, the Admiralty redirecting efforts at heavier-than-air apparatus. Some years after the defeat of the Russo-Japanese War, in early 1909 the Russian Army and Navy bought indigenous and foreign-made airships. By 1912, the Army had ten dirigibles. They were of the semi-rigid class, with a single long gondola for the pay/warload. Largest was the P-75, a 70m long Parcival type vessel which had a radio station broadcasting within a 500km radius. By 1914, Russian dirigibles had grown to 15: German, French and British designs, some of them manufactured in Russia. Eleven of them had limited performance, being limited to some 50km/h. Only four genuinely met military specifications. Best among them was the Al’batros,6 a 10,000cu m design with a ceiling of 2000m, and a 75km/h true cruise speed. Its complement was between eight and twelve men. The aeronautical situation in France and Italy was similar. Germany was the unoubted leader in giant airships. Their performance allowed them to perform a great variety of tasks, with operational and strategic reconnaissance assigned as their main use in a future war. Meanwhile, the performance of heavier-than-air machines was improving by the day. Progress threw up new names fated to become legends in aviation. One such was Henry Farman. Known in France as ‘Henri,’ he was one of the three sons of British journalists working in that country. Fascinated by the achievements of pioneer flyers, he ordered an aeroplane from the Voisins. This was to be the constructors’ first departure from their early aeroplanes’ trademark box-wing biplane construction. The aeroplane had an unusual layout. It was a triplane with a span of 6.3m, an elongated body, 5 6

R-7 in Latin script. Translator. Al’batros in Latin script. Translator.

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Q The Voisin-built biplane in which Henry Farman made his first successful flight

Q Henry Farman speaking with a trainee pilot about to fly a Farman

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and a biplane tail. It was fitted with a Renault automobile engine driving a pusher propeller. Elevators and rudder were forward-mounted. No evidence of flights with this strange machine survives. Farman must have been disappointed and began modifying the design. The new version had four ailerons: one on each of the four wingtips. They deflected only downward, but their large area made them effective enough. Wing area was 40sq m with a span of 10m. The engine remained the same, its 50hp rating being sufficient for the 530kg all-up weight. Initial tests showed adequate flying qualities. On 2 October 1908, Henry Farman set a distance and height record for a French built aeroplane by flying 40km in 44m 31s. On 30 October the same machine performed aviation’s first city-to-city flight when it

Q The Farman 1 biplane

Q The Standard Voisin had a box wing construction

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departed from Bouis and landed in Rheims (the two are 27km distant). This marked the end of the Voisins’ fruitful period of cooperation with Farman. The former truned their attention to their ‘Standard Voisin’ which was assembled and towed out in December 1908. This was to be their first series-produced design. Within six months, 16 machines were built for clients which included the Odessa Aero Club in Russia. The original Voisin glider could still be divined in the aeroplane’s appearance. Engines were different, but all drove a pusher propeller. Major materials were timber and cloth, the latter covering only the upper surface of the wing, and the exterior of the ‘stabilisers’ and some parts of the body. Only the undercarriage was of steel for strength. The biplane had the same span and wing area as Farman’s design, and a length of 12m. Maximum recorded speed was 55km/h. The lack of ailerons (or an other means of roll control) meant the machine was not particularly manoeuvrable. Turns had to be flat, taking a long time and covering a great area. Despite this shortcoming, the aeroplane was among the most popular designs of the next few years. Thanks to its stability, even in strong wind, the Standard Voisin was preferred for initial pilot training. It saw action as a recce and light bomb-

Q A Voisin about to complete a training flight

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THE STANDARD VOISIN

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ing platform in the Tripolitanian, First and Second Balkan, and the initial stages of the Great War. The crash of the 14 bis did not set that eternal seeker, Santos-Dumont, back. He built the 15 bis, which however inverted on its first take off and was damaged. SantosDumont resotred it, but did not fly it any more, directing his efforts at monoplanes. The 19 was finished in late 1907. The machine was extraordinarily compact and rational looking. Span was barely 5m, and wing area was 11sq m. This was history’s first micro aeroplane. To cut weight, bamboo and cloth had been used almost exclusively. Calculations showed that a 20hp engine would be sufficient to haul the sub200kg craft into the air and give it good controllability. Yet the lack of ailerons and the ineffectiveness of the other controls meant a difficult test career. The aeroplane suffered a failure on its third takeoff attempt. The Brazilian refused to repair it, preferring to devote what means he had to the 20, or the Demoiselle, as the 19’s modified successor was to be called. The structure was strengthened with thin metal piping used instead of bamboo for structural elements. Without practically any change to the craft’s appearance, the control system was changed to allow the pilot to control the aeroplane by shifting his body around, as well as by moving levers. The same 30hp engine type as in the previous version was located between the two wing halves, near the leading edge. Despite being flown successfully and attaining a 90km/h

Q The 15 bis biplane being towed by designer Santos-Dumont; the visibly great dihedral was intended for roll stability

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Q Santos-Dumont’s Demoiselle looked similar to his 19 and 20

speed, the Demoiselle was insufficiently developed. It was to be the eminent Brazilian’s ultimate design. The appearance of European designers able to attain impressive indicators shook the Wright brothers’ conviction that they would remain unchallenged for a long time. Their patent was threatened: aeroplane making was developing well regardless of their absence. In order to salvage something from their invention, in 1905 they cut the asking price for a French licence by half to 500,000 franks. Flyer III was sold to the US Government for 25,000 dollars. Negotiations started with British and German aviation hopefuls. One of the contracts called on the Wrights to fly demonstrations in an aeroplane similar to the Flyer III, but with two seats, and with pilot and passenger sitting upright. The fuel tank was also increased for greater range and endurance. The new pilot position called for modifications to the controls. The engine, another Wright,

Q Alberto Santos-Dumont surrounded as usual by an adulating crowd

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THE SANTOS-DUMONT 19

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Q A Wright single-seater

THE WRIGHT TYPE A

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was also new, this time producing 30hp. Length was 8.9m, span was 12.5m, and wing area was 47sq m. There was still no undercarriage, the aeroplane landing on skids. In May 1908, before departing for Europe the Wrights began testing their new type. History’s first biplane flight with a passenger on board was on 14 May. The passenger was W. Fernas, Wilbur Wright’s assistant, who was in the air for a total of 20 seconds. Soon after, Orville Wright notched up a 3m 40s flight. The demonstration flights began in August 1908. The brothers parted, Wilbur going to France. In the short time between 8 and 31 August he performed 104 flights lasting a total of 25 hours over the Old World. His last flight, in which he covered 129km in 180 minutes won him a 20,000 frank prize. Meanwhile, Orville flew near Fort Myer, Virginia, demonstrating the second example fo the new design. He made ten flights, four of them lasting over an hour. The last one, on 17 September, ended in a crash. The reason turned out to be a defect in one of the propellers. The pilot was badly hurt, and his passenger, friend and Army engineer Thomas Selfridge, died. The European aviation community was impressed with the manoeuvrability of the Wright brothers’ aeroplane. They witnessed turns with banks of up to 25 degrees, executed not just with a rudder (as in contemporaneous European types), but also with ailerons and wing camber control which moreover were not just used for countering the odd involuntary roll. Another good idea was the use of gearing for the propellers. Thanks to the Wrights’ reductor, they used larger timber propellers which worked more efficiently. European designs had more primitive metal props with direct drives. As a result of its superiority,

Q Moments after Orville Wright’s crash which killed passenger Thomas Selfridge

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the Wright A flew considerably better with almost half the installed power of Voisins, Levasseurs, and Santos-Dumonts. The Europeans reacted swiftly: ailerons became a compulsory feature of subsequent designs, gearing was fitted to reduce propeller speeds, and the latter were now made of timber and grew in size. By early 1909, newly-designed French aeroplanes could match or outdo the Wright A. Some were more stable and controllable, while others had lighter and more powerful engines and were more autonomous due to their wheeled undercarriages.

Q Wrights during demonstrations in France

Q A Wright in front of a hangar

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The Wrights’ most serious competitor was one of aviation’s legends: Frenchman Louis Bleriot. His road to success and fame was hard. After a short and not altogether satisfactory spell of working with Gabriel Voisin, Bleriot modified his private Voisin and renamed it the Bleriot IV. Fitted with floats for testing from water, this failed to get airborne, as it also failed when using a wheeled undercarriage: the engine was too weak. But the designer was also clear that the overall concept needed changing. The Bleriot V of April 1905 was the first of a series of trademark monoplanes. It was a canard with a span of 7.8m and a wing area of 13sq m. The engine was a 24hp Antoinette driving a pusher propeller in the aft fuselage. Gross weight was just 236kg thanks to, among other things, the machine’s paper covering. It was this aeroplane that rewarded its creator with his first hops of a few metres each. The last of these ended dramatically. Being inex-

Q The Bleriot V after its crash-landing

Q Louis Bleriot’s tandem monoplane

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perienced in the use of the elevator, Bleriot handled it roughly, causing the monoplane to stall, drop its wing and crash. While its maker was unhurt, the aeroplane was so damaged that repairing made no sense. The next attempt involved seeking the ideal configuration. Bleriot chose a tandem with great dihedral. Spanning just 5.9m, it had a 20sq m wing area. The engine was as before. The control method was changed. The forward wing had elevons at its tips, in addition to which the designer used balancing by sliding his seat fore and aft for pitch control. The Bleriot VI was tested in July 1907, being flown also by Ferber and Peyret. Distances flown had now grown to over 100m. The designer felt that a yet more powerful engine was needed, and fitted a 60hp Antoinette. The heavy six-cylinder unit affected trim in what was already a rather unstable machine. The anticipated control problems reared their head, a trying first flight ending with a heavy landing; only Bleriot’s cool head avoided a worse outcome. Worse for wear, and with his ungainly creation in even poorer shape, he received an Aero Club prize for covering a distance of 184m. The next step was the building in November 1907 of the Bleriot VII. This was a clean looking machine some 20 years ahead of its time. The low-wing monoplane with its long and entirely cloth-faired fuselage, forward propeller, and tailplane and fin evoked more a 1930s feel than a pioneering effort. Structural materials were moixed, steel tubing being used in an attempt to bargain between lightness and strength; timber, cloth and paper appearing elsewhere. Eight metres long, spanning 11m, and with a 25sq m area, the monoplane weighed in at 425kg. A powerful 50hp Antoinette spun a four-bladed metal prop.

Q The Bleriot VII monoplane

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Q The Bleriot VIII after its crash; note the empennage

In November and December 1907, Bleriot made six flights of up to 500m. The few timorous attempts at manoeuvring confirmed fears of ineffective controls, especially in roll. This defect was the reason for the crash on 18 December. The energetic Frenchman needed just six months to synthesise his achievements so far and create the Bleriot VIII. Layout was the same, and was to prove its worth in the years to come. However, the controls were changed. For the first time, the design featured modern ailerons faired within the wing contour. Elevators were also featured. Dimensions remained approximately unchanged. What change there was aimed to affect trim. This was how Bleriot’s first businesslike aeroplane emerged. On 6 July 1908 he flew it in a circle around his testing ground for 8m 28s. On 31 October, he flew the 14km distance from Tours to Artenes in 11 minutes. The successes of aeroplane makers increased in geometric progression. While France had attained pole position, other nations were not far behind. Despite Germany’s fascination with airships, Otto Lilienthal’s rich testament was not forgotten. Karl Jato was an amateur birdman who had first flown in a Lilienthal-type glider. In 1903 he built an aeroplane with an internal combustion engine. This was a tailless triplane with no built-in longitudinal or pitch stability whatever. Four fins positioned between the upper and mid wings acted as rudders. Testing of the unusual device began in August 1903. A gust of wind at the end of that month inverted it, and when repairing it Jato decided to get rid of the uppermost wing. Tests resumed but the best that could be attained by the unstable and almost uncontrollable craft powered by a 12hp Bouchet engine was a 60m hop at a height of two to three metres. Building on his experience, in 1908 Jato made his second aeroplane. This was a biplane with a wing area of 54sq m and a 35hp engine driving a 2.5m diameter

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Q Jato’s biplane before an attempted flight in summer 1903

propeller. The elevator was forward mounted. Longitudinal and pitch control were by means of the upper wing whose incidence was variable, as well as by elevators mounted between the wings. Despite the more powerful engine, the aeroplane’s

Q Carl Jato’s 1907 design

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Q Hans Grade’s 1908 triplane

behaviour was about the same as before, and Jato failed to become Germany’s first powered aeroplane flyer. Another German, Ing. Hans Grade, had better chances. His fascination with flying had also formed under the influence of Lilienthal. He began designing his aeroplane in 1902 but only finished it in 1908. The triplane wing spanning 8m had an area of 25sq m. The empennage comprised elevators and a rudder. Basic materials were bamboo and thin cotton. The engine, of Grade’s own design, was a six-cylinder unit producing 36hp. Several hops were achieved by the year’s end, by when it was clear that the design was incapable of more. Modifications involved increasing the wing area, improving the controls, and fitting a more efficient propeller. The result was Germany’s first aeroplane flights. Barely covering several hundred metres, they were sufficient to enter Grade into history as Germany’s first designer of a heavier-than-air flying machine to fly it successfully.

Q Grade’s aeroplane in modified form

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THE GRADE AEROPLANE (1909)

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British-domiciled American Samuel Cody designed kites for the Royal Army. In 1907 he fitted a 12hp Bouchet engine to a kite of his own design which spanned 12m. Initial tests were unmanned, the kite being tethered in an intricate way. Analysing his experience, Cody improved the design with the result that the Army Balloon Factory began building an aeroplane with a military purpose in 1907. The Wrights’ Flyers acted as patterns, as is obvious from a glance at the machine. The Cody 1 was a biplane with two pusher propellers and a forward mounted elevator. It had a wheeled undercarriage and an aft mounted fin. Roll control was by wing twisting. The bamboo structure was cloth-covered. Several attempts to get off the ground were made in September. Despite the lack of success, trials continued, Cody managing a 50m hop. His biggest success was on 16 October, when he flew 450m at a speed of 45km/h. Sadly, the return to earth was a crash landing. The craft was repaired and improved. In May 1909 Cody flew a mile in

Q Cody’s Army Aeroplane being towed in September 1908

Q Cody’s biplane as modified with elevators

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THE CODY 1

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it; in July, he covered almost six miles; and in September he achieved a record 39 miles. Despite being a foreign subject, Cody was recognised by the Royal Aeronautical Society as the first man to fly successfully in Britain. Meanwhile, the British War Office was funding another aeroplane which looked strange even by the standards of today when practically anything has been tried. It was a flying-wing biplane. Stability was granted by the wings’ shape. It spanned 12m and was swept back 30 degrees. Lt John Dunn, who led the project at the Balloon Factory, chose a 12hp Bouchet engine driving a two blade pusher propeller. No structure testing methods were available at the time, nor were there yet any means of calculating stresses. The Dunn 1 fell apart during its first takeoff run. The military lost

Q Lieutenant Dunn’s ‘flying wing’ after a successful flight

Q Lieutenant Dunn’s ‘flying wing’ after a successful flight

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interest in the project, but the Lieutenant continued developing it, increasing engine power, improving controls and structural stiffness, and ultimately coming up with the Dunn D.5 in 1910: the first successful flying wing. The Wrights were not America’s only aeroplane makers. As early as late 1900, an exceptionally far-sighted and inventive man by the name of Glenn Hammond Curtiss founded an aeroplane company. The company’s first design was the Golden Flyer. This was similar to the Silver Dart which Canadian Mark Curdey was to fit with a Curtiss engine in 1908. The difference was in its lighter structure and the 50hp produced by the Curtiss V8 engine. Between June and September 1908 the

THE DUNN 8 (1912)

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Q Glenn Hammond Curtiss

aeroplane made 54 flights. Since the Wrights had not registered their achievements officially before the end of that year, Curtiss was declared the first Amreican to cover a kilometre, and the first to fly a circling flight. In 1909, the same craft flew at the international air show near Rheims, reaching a speed of 70km/h and winning a prize for this speed. Over the next few years, Curtiss was to design a number of excellent aeroplanes which exported widely. Russians were also trying to keep in step with developments. For a long time, efforts to design heavier-than-air machines were dogged by failure. It was only in May

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Q Curtiss’s John Bag in flight, 1908

Q Curtiss’s Golden Flyer biplane in front of the Curtiss Company’s hangar at the 1909 Rheims Air Show

1910 that Kiev Polytechnical Institute lecturer Aleksandr Sergeevich Kudashyov suceeded in building an aeroplane. The design was a canard triplane with a length of 10m, and a span of 9m. The craft was fitted with an 35hp Anzani engine. The designer had flown near Nice in the company of famous Russian pilot Efimov and felt competent to test-fly his creation. On 23 May 1910 he managed to make a few hops at a height of two to three metres. The event was not officially registered since the appropriate institutions had not been invited to witness it.

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A month later, electrical engineer Yakov Modestovich Galkkel’ completed a most original aeroplane. The Gakkel’ 3 was the world’s first biplane with an inverted section wing: the leading and trailing edges were turned upward rather than down. The aeroplane had a tailplane, elevator and rudder. The engine, a 35hp Anzani, drove a two-bladed forward propeller. Structure was cloth-covered timber, weighing 560kg.

THE GOLDEN FLYER

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THE GAKKEL-3

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On 6 June 1910 an All-Russian Aeroclub committee recorded the first flight of a Russian designed aeroplane. However, poor engine performance resulted in disappointing performance. The problem was later solved and Gakkel’s biplanes and his monoplane were to be equal to any. Despite Hans Grade’s flight, German political and military leaders were becoming concerned at otherwise falling behind in aviation. To make up for this, in 1910 they bought the licence for the Austro-Hungarian Taube monoplane. That aeroplane’s story was rather interesting. The wing’s profile and planform were a replica of the winged seed of the tropical Zanonia plant. German scientist D. Alborn was impressed by this seed’s flat glide and surmised that it might serve as model for a flying machine.

Q A Taube’s unfaired structure

Q A sports Etrich Taube with an Austro-Daimler 100hp engine

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THE ETRICH TAUBE

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The idea was developed by industrialist Hugo Etrich and engineer Franz Wells in the form of a glider rather similar to the natural original. The designers performed several flights in it in 1906, reacing distances of over 200m. After the Zanonia flying wing was fitted with a 24hp Antoinette engine driving a two-bladed propeller, and with a twin-wheel undercarriage, it was tested again. Fears that the lack of an empennage would damage controllability were confirmed. An empennage was successfully designed and fitted later the same year, giving birth to the famous Q The flying seed of the Zanonia plant Taube: most widely used German and Auswhich impressed Alborn trian aeroplane in the 1910 to 1915 period,

Q The Zanonia glider built by Etrich Taube in 1906

Q The Zanonia-derived Antoinette-engined flying wing monoplane

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Q The Zanonia-derived Antoinette-engined flying wing monoplane

and the first enemy aeroplane to fly over Paris after the outbreak of the First World War. Aeroplane production was now picking up. The tense international situation made the military look more closely at the new-fangled, rather unreliable, kite-like flying machines. The main quality measure of the emerging component of the new measure of each nation’s potential was what records had been set and what achievements notched up. Bleriot was again among the leaders. In January 1909 he finished work on the Bleriot XI: the design that would bring him worldwide fame. On 25 July the same year, he flew it over the Channel. This was a leap forward in aviation development, which showed its great potential for the future. The Bleriot XI was a high wing monoplane with a space-frame fuselage whose forward portion (housing the cabin and engine) were cloth-faired. Instead of ailerons, roll was controlled by wing warping. This was controlled by the same lever which moved the conventionally sited elevator. The rudder was pedal-controlled. This is how today’s aeroplane controls work! Major structural material was chestnut. The wing was cloth-faired on both surfaces. The aeroplane was 8m long, had a span of 7.8m, and weighed 300kg. Maximum recorded speed was some 60km/h. In My 1909, before his historic flight, Bleriot had modified the design. Instead of the capricious 30hp R.E.P. engines, he fitted an Anzani motorcycle unit and married it to a new, more efficient prop, and a sealed fuel tank which gave buoyancy in case of a forced landing on water. The aeroplane’s excellence apart, luck was also on Bleriot’s side. The most critical moment came when the engine overheated above the blue expanse of the strait.

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Q The Bleriot XI at the 1909 Paris Automobile and Aeroplane Salon

Q Louis Bleriot on arrival in England on 25 July 1909 after his historic Channel crossing

The cliffs of England were clearly visible, but height was insufficient to allow a deadstick landing. At that moment, Providence itself seemed to help, sending cooling rain down and speeding Bleriot on. The Bleriot XI became as celebrated as Bleriot the aviator. The machine was built in some numbers and exported widely. Its appearance and configuration were to influence many other enthusiasts. Without a doubt, the most successful Bleriot XI development was Edouard Nieuport’s aeroplane. Externally, it was almost identical to its progenitor, but had a broader body. This made it more aerodynamic: both in itself, and because it now housed the engine, cabin, and fuel tank. Less drag meant more range, a 50hp engine propelling the machine for over 100km.

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THE BLERIOT XI

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Q The Nieuport monoplane designed in 1910

The Nieuport 4 was most popular, being licence-produced in Russia and Italy. The machine was very manoeuvrable, and it is probably no accident that Russian pilot Nesterov performed the world’s first aerial loop in a Nieuport 4. The type’s military career began as a reconnaissance platform, but more importantly the type went on to become the world’s first fighter. The first great air race near Rheims caused a ripple of interest in aviation to circle the world. Held in late summer 1909, it was attended by leading aircraft and aeroengine makers. Demonstrations of 38 aeroplanes were scheduled, 23 of these actually managing to make it into the air. Only three of the demonstrations were by the Wright brothers, the show being dominated by the French: Voisin, Bleriot, Farman, and Levasseur. Many nations sent observers, including military men intent on seeing things at first hand and gathering comparable information. The British Government was one of those which monitored the event, subsequently resolving to boost the design and production of British aeroplanes. The first step was to subdivide the War Office department responsible for aeronautics into two, to address lighter and heavier-than-air vessels. The Army Aeroplane Factory was founded in 1911, renamed the Royal Aeroplane Factory when the Royal Air Corps was established a year later. Private enterprise was invited to lead the process of setting aeronautical standards. This is an example of how emergent air power was incorporated into national structures. Each nation followed its own road in the resolution of problems linked with its presence in the air, this being determined by what others were doing, as well as by affordability and the intellect of is political and military elites. Aviation fora continued to serve as signposts of progress. Involvement in them by national institutions, i.e. the state, also grew. The process was possibly best exemplified by developments in Britain. In summer 1912, some 30 aeroplanes took part in an

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THE NIEUPORT 4

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Q Pilot Eugene Lefebvre banks a Wright a couple of feet off the ground as he turns around the control pylon at the Rheims demonstrations

Q Captain Ferber watches the Henry Farman fly from his vantage point in the Curtiss (left)

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air show near Salisbury. The ulterior motive behind this must have been purely military: performance assessments included aeroplanes’ maximum level and landing speeds, rate of climb and other parameters important in a combat setting. Undoubted winner of the show was the twin-seat BE2 biplane designed at Farnborough. Designer Geoffrey de Havilland failed to win a personal award, yet in flying his machine, he reached a speed of 112km/h, a landing speed of 65km/h, a rate of climb of some 120m per minute, and a ceiling of almost 3500m. These indicators were achieved with a second man on board and a fuel load sufficient for a three-hour flight. Later de Havilland was to improve his design, retaining its speed and manoeuvrability, yet imparting phenomenal pitch and roll stability to it and sig-

THE B.E.2A (1913)

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nificantly easing controllability. Over the next few years the Royal Air Corps was to take delivery of over 2000 of this exceptionally simple and rational aeroplane. As distinct from their march in France, monoplanes failed to impress the British. The findings after a series of crashes in summer 1912 (which cost the lives of two pilots) were that this layout was insufficiently strong. This was to leave a strong imprint on British aircraft manufacture. Notwithstanding the attainment of the amazing (for its time) speed of 200km/h by a Deperdussin at the 1913 Rheims air show, the British put their bets on biplanes with forward propellers. An early exponent of this layout was the Bristol B.S.1 Scout. Designed by de Havilland, it was compace and weighed 280kg. The powerful 80hp Gnome engine permit-

THE BRISTOL TABLOID (1913)

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ted a speed of 150km/h. The machine had a conventional elevator and rudder. Roll control was by wing warping, later replaced by ailerons. The aeroplane was intended to be a racer, but its high speed and good manoeuvrability recommended it to the military, and it was soon to equip the first high-speed reconnaissance units. After being fitted with a machine gun, the Scout was a reasonable fighter. Typical of British aeroplanes of the Great War, its configuration was repeated in the 1913 Avro 504, whose great conservatism did not stop it becoming one of the world’s most popular aeroplanes, being used in training establishments until the early 30s. Armand Deperdussin’s 1913 racing monoplane was the undoubted peak of the French design school. A development of Bleriot and Nieuport’s ideas, everything in it

THE AVRO 504 (1913)

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was subjected to the reduction of drag and the attainment of the maximum possible speed. The fuselage was a monocoque, with load-bearing 4mm plywood skinning. Deperdussin faired-over and smoothed everything that could create drag. The machine was compact: 6.1m long, and spanning 6.6m, gross weight was 500kg. Engine was an air-cooled 14-cylinder two-row Gnome developing 160hp.

THE DEPERDUSSIN B (1911)

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Q The World Speed Record Deperdussin racer

The objective was reached. On 29 September, pilot Maurice Prevot covered a 200km distance in under an hour. The record was to stand for almost a decade, and remains one of the most outstanding ones. To contemporaries, the Deperdussin racer was not just an excellent flying machine, but also a fighter in sheep’s skin. However,

Q The Albatros B-1 was Germany’s standard intelligence gatherer after the outbreak of the First World War

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Q Reinhard Boehm with his Albatros after their record flight on 10 and 11 July 1914

both the British and French were to prefer biplanes for this role, and would pay heavily for this at the start of the Great War. With the accumulated experience of Taube construction and operations, German designer Groman drew the twin-seat Albatros. The aeroplane lacked sparkling performance, yet had an irreplaceable quality preferred by pilots: great reliability. This was mostly attributable to its water-cooled 100hp Mercedes engine. Even though on the heavy side compared with French Gnomes and Rhones, this powerplant worked unfailingly and burned little fuel and oil. On 10 and 11 July 1914, pilot Reinhard Boehm flew an Albatros non-stop for 24 hours 12 minutes, beating all endurance records. The Albatros’s 100km/h maximum speed and its 300km combat radius made it one of the most successful aeroplanes of the First World War. During the conflict, the aeroplane was to be used mainly as a recce platform, and later as a pilot trainer. Despite lagging behind, Russia left a lasting trace in pre-Great War aviation history. The major contributor to this was Igor’ Ivanovich Sikorskiy,7 creator of the world’s first multi-engined aeroplane. The design of ‘a large aeroplane for strategic reconnaissance’ began in 1911. Construction at the Russo-Baltic Carriage Works in Riga took until early 1913. The result was a biplane with a 27m span and a wing area of 120sq m. Nothing else had anywhere near these dimensions. Powerplant installation was intersting. The four 100hp Argus engines were originally located in 7

More usually known as Igor Sikorsky; the complete Russian transliteration is given for comleteness and uniformity. Translator.

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THE RUSSKIY VITYAZ

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Q The Russkiy Vityaz: world’s first multi-engined aeroplane

twin tandems, two per lower wng-mounted nacelle. Thus two propellers pulled, while the other two pushed. When it was found that the efficiency of the pusher props was rather low, all four engines were given individual nacelles on the lower wing. The fuselage was long and thin, its aft end supporting the tail. Forward was a large glazed cabin comprising a control compartment, two passenger cabin, and compartments for tools and Q The Russkiy Vityaz accommodation cabin spares. The nose was occupied by an open deck. Rather than being for promenading in flight, this was intended for night observation spotlights, or for machine guns. The giant was controlled by ailerons, rudder, and elevator. It had an eight-wheel undercarriage. Few believed the aeroplane would fly. Some were of the opinion that it would be doomed if an engine failed in mid-air. Tests were to prove them entirely wrong. The Russkiy Vityaz8 could return safely to base with just two working engines. Its maximum level speed was 90km/h. On 2 August the crew and seven passengers flew nonstop for two hours, recording a world record. The famous Il’ya Muromets9 the world’s 8 9

Russkiy Vityaz or Russian Knight. Translator. Il’ya Muromets or Elijah of Murom. Translator.

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Q One of Sikorsky’s most famous project: the Il’ya Muromets strategic reconnaissance and bomber aircraft first flown in 1913

first strategic reconnaissance and bombing aeroplane, which was produced in some numbers, was a development of the Russian Knight. The era when the first component of air power was created came to an end. A difficult start was followed by stormy advance. The total number of aeroplanes built during Europe’s five ultimate years of peace was significantly larger than anything seen before. But the ability to design aeroplanes capable of fulfilling set combat tasks was not sufficient to guarantee an aerial presence to the nations that could afford it. Additional requirements soon made themselves felt, all of them acquiring key importance in the emergence of air power.

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Chapter

4

EARLY COMBAT UNITS

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he creation of stable and reliable flying machines and their spread suggested that the time for air navigation and aviation to be taken seriously by soldiers and statesmen had arrived. And this is indeed what transpired. Production facilities grew apace, especially after the Summer 1911 Agadir Crisis. It became clear to all that a gigantic clash of arms was approaching. The creation and structuring of air forces as an element of armed power went almost parallel with technical advance. The earliest such units had been established in revolutionary France. Two air navigation units were set up, based upon the Ecole Nationale de Navigation Aerienne, established in 1792. During the defence of Antwerp in 1814, French Aeronaut Carnot used a tethered balloon to observe the enemy. In the Italian War of Independence, another Frenchman, Godard, carried out reconnaissance from a balloon gondola before the Battle of Solferino. The Aerial Bridge organised during 1870 using aerostats allowed the besieged garrison in Paris to maintain links with the outside world. Employing the modest experience accumulated in war, and the greater background of civilian postal operations, in 1886 France created the Administration Centrale de Navigation Aerienne Militaire. This comprised four newly created and suitably equipped units. Included in Engineering Regiments, they participated in military expeditions in Madagascar in 1894-‘5, China in 1900-‘1, and Morocco in 1908, inter alia. During 1912 the units had ten flying machines of indifferent quality. Despite failing to accomplish the first flight of a heavier-than-air machine, the Avion-3 tests in 1897 attracted the attention of military specialists. Impressed by reports of

Q A French balloon unit on the move in Morocco, 1908

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what the Flyer-3 could do, in 1905 the French War Ministry sent a delegation to the USA. This had powers to purchase a licence to produce aeroplanes from the Wright brothers. Negotiations ended unsuccessfully for a number of reasons, major among which was the extortionate sum demanded by the inventors. Nevertheless, in 1908 the Wrights did sell a production licence for their machines to the civilian Compagnie Generale de Navigation Aerienne. This was the company through which, on 12 July 1909, the French War Ministry purchased the first aeroplane for the army. The order resulted from the great interest created by Wilbur Wright’s triumphal demonstration of his biplane’s great ability. Regardless of the fact that France’s first aeroplane was American, there was commitment and finance for indigenous designs. The first results of this followed soon: two of Henri Farman’s aeroplanes, a Louis Bleriot monoplane and a Wright biplane were ordered, all being delivered in 1910. The same year the Aeroclub Francaise published the first Regulations for the Awarding of Air Pilots’ Wings. Aviation entered a period of rapid organisational development. By 1909, French military air navigation and aviation comprised four army balloon units, commanded by Colonel Hirchauer and included within the Engineering Corps. The formation of aeroplane units within these units was commencing, with finance being made available for equipment purchase and crew training. The only French military pilot at the time was Captain Lucas Girardville, who had been trained at the Wright Brothers’ Po school in 1908-‘9. Another ten officers entered training the following year at the Bleriot, Wright, and Farman schools, and at the Antoinette school in Chalonne. First to get his wings was Lieutenant Cammermann, awarded Wings No33 on 7 March 1910. Merely a year later the military began issuing their own wings. The first of these was awarded to Tricarnot de Roz on 7 February 1911. Up until then the War Ministry had earmarked 2500 francs for pilot officer training at private schools.

Q Lieutenant Camot at the start of his pilot training on a Sommer aeroplane

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The first aeroplane was officially commissioned for service on 10 June 1910 after acceptance testing by Captain Eteve. It was a copy of the Wrights’ Flyer-3. The Aviation Exhibition at Rheims did not go unnoticed by French military experts, being followed by orders for Farman and Bleriot. After studying the designs at the exhibition, artillery officers began looking into the possibilities of arming aeroplanes. French War Minister General Brunn made funds available to buy aeroplanes specifically for research purposes. Colonel Estienne was appointed head of the Aviation Inspectorate, and following a parliamentary debate, a Military Aviation Administration was established under Lieutenant Cammermann’s command. Based near Chalonne, this came into service in April 1910 and its organisation was complete by 9 June when the first reconnaissance sortie was flown. At 4:30pm, pilot Lieutenant Frecon and observer Captain Marcone departed the Military Aviation School airfield in their Farman and flew the 145km to Vencan in two and a half hours. Despite various crises on board, they managed to take a variety of intriguing aerial photographs. The new structure grew more experienced by the day. On 10 August, Captain Manorie, Commander of the elite XX Corps deployed along the border with Germany, requested a reconnaissance flight along the Corps front. The same day another aeroplane directed fire during artillery training near Nancy, and its positive contribution to precision was noted. Considering the moment propitious, General Roques, head of the Military Aerial Fleet Inspectorate, and his deputy Hirschauer proposed that aeroplanes and crews be included in the large scale September manoeuvres in Picardy. Examining the good results of the 10 August flights, the Supreme Command granted assent. General Roques prepared for the manoeuvres in earnest. Experienced civillian school pilots, among whom Hubert Latham, Louis Bleriot and Louis Poland, were invited to take part. Despite the very modest number of aeroplanes (two Framans, a Sommer, and a Bleriot in the Second Corps, and two Framans, a Wright, and a Bleriot in the Ninth Corps), results exceeded Q Hubert Latam prior to the start of military maRoques’s, Hirschauer’s and their pilots’ noeuvres in 1910

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Q Left to right: the President of France, General Roques, and Colonel Hirchauer visiting an airfield during the Picardy Manoeuvres

Q A two seat military Bleriot

expectations. The consequences of this brilliant showing in the September manoeuvres were twofold. First, the purchase of a large number of new aeroplanes was permitted: 20 Bleriots and 20 Farmans. Seventeen of the Bleriots were to be two seaters, enabling observa-

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Q A Bleriot military model with seats for pilot, observer and flight engineer

tion. All 20 were to be delivered over two months. Seven of the Farmans had to accommodate two observers apiece, and the 20 had to be delivered over a three month period. The contracts specified the new machines’ performance: a 60km/h speed, range of up to 300km, and a 300kg payload capability. Second, the French Senate granted semi-autonomous status to the Military Aviation Administration within the Army. A Resolution of 22 October 1910 transferred General Roques away from the Engineering Corps and promoted him to the rank of General-Inspecteur. He used this favourable circumstance to put into practise two of his ideas which would influence the future of French military aviation greatly. The training of combat pilots came under the military. Roques also gave impetus to the changeover from existing civilian aeroplanes to ones designed specifically for military purposes. By October, the military aviation of the Republique Francaise comprised 20 Farman IIs, six Farman IV, six Sommer-4s, six Voisins, 20 Bleriot IV, four Antoinette-2s, three Nieuports, two Henriots, and two Breguets, inter alia. It had a total of 71 aeroplanes delivered and on order, of which 30 were combat ready. However, no less than 11 types of machine were operated, and this affected operations adversely. The Flying School commenced work. Three airfields were largely used for combat pilot training. The trend was for each group to use one type of aeroplane. The system involved theoretical and flying exams prior to the awarding of wings. A similar proficiency check was used for pilots who had gained wings at civilian schools and now

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wished to make a career as army pilots. In 1910 only 31 pilots gained combat wings from a total of 52 checked. Civil pilots upgrading their skills at private schools could enlist as Engineering Battalion reservists. In this way France created a system for preparing the second major component linked with sufficiently trained flight and ground personnel. These people’s life was now subjected to specific flying duties, fulfilling set army requirements, and carrying out set tasks in the army’s interest. As mentioned above, an important condition on the road to a fully fledged Air Force is the availability of combat aeroplanes designed for genuine combat conditions and actual combat tasks. The Military Aviation Command decided to give designers and manufacturers ample time to meet these requirements. The first competition for new combat aeroplanes was set for October 1911. Apart from performance, each design was to be assessed on its ability to be easily disassembled and stowed for transportation by road or rail, to use fields overgrown with grass, to carry a pilot and observer plus a mechanic when necessary. Headed by General Roques, the assessment commission included many senior officers and civilian specialists employed by the Military Aviation Command. The British War Ministry also delegated three observers. The competition’s initial round saw 140 aeroplanes by 43 manufacturers compete. Most of them had been over optimistic: only 31 designs reached the testing stage, nine coming out as finalists. Nieuport won, followed by Breguet and Deperdussin. The winners received monetary awards and immediate orders for ten Nieuports, six Breguets and four Deperdussins. Similar orders boosted the process of providing the nascent air arm with all it needed for its newly formed units. The French aircraft industry at the time was sufficiently powerful to assume the rôle of a component, and figures prove this point best. During 1911, 135 aeroplanes and 1400 aero engines were produced. The respective figures for 1912 were 1425 and 2217; and for 1913: 1148 aeroplanes, 146 floatplanes and 2440 engines. Propeller production numbered over 30,000. The greater part of this output was for export. Tests of the first machine guns mounted on a Farman began. Other tests involved air to ground radio telegraph transmissions. These demonstrated an affective range of 30km. This was dictated by the logic of development of ground and airborne equipment which enabled the more eficient use of flying machines. However, it would be premature to speak of a separate Air Force component at this stage: this was still the experimental stage. The crisis in Franco-German relations caused by the Agadir Crisis of summer 1911 raised the profile of the bipartite French Army manoeuvres of the late summer. Involving the Sixth and Seventh Corps, the exercise aimed to practise cover and defence of the borders in an attack from the East, and providing sufficient time for mobilisation and the deployment of reserves. A 25-aeroplane unit supported the Sixth Corps, with as many pilots. Ten of the latter were civilians specially mobilised for the

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Q Transporting a Bleriot aeroplane by rail

Q A Breguet aeroplane stowed for transportation

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manoeuvres. The unit was commanded by Captain Eteve, Commandant of the Versailles Military Aviation School. The Seventh Corps was commanded by Etampes Military Aviation School Commandant Captain Felix, whose tenure was marked by several fatal accidents at the outset of action. Crews’ performance over the ‘battlefield’ was assessed highly. The wonderful plan photographs of a camouflaged field artillery battery taken by observer Captain Lebon came in for particular praise. Manoeuvre commanders discussed aerial reconnaissance, observation and artillery direction sorties, concluding that: - aerial reconnaissance aeroplanes were to be two seaters, and were to be capable of use from improvised aerodromes close to the front line; - it was desirable to afford armour protection to aeroplanes’ more important parts and assemblies, including the crew; - where possible, aerial reconnaissance data on the enemy were to be duplicated; - due to the important nature of data from aerial reconnaissance, it was desirable that crews (especially observers) ought to be aware of army staff modi operandi. Homogenous units began to be formed: these had permanent establishments and were equipped with aeroplanes of one type only. The process began in 1912, with the formation of the first Escadrille (Squadron). This comprised six aeroplanes, flight and

Q Soft dirigibles accompany mobile cavalry units during the 1912 manoeuvres

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technical personnel, transportation, and hangars. Commanded by a Chef d’Escadrille with the rank of Captain, the unit had an alphanumerical designation which showed the type of equipment used: for instance, Escadrille D6 meant ‘Number six Squadron equipped with Deperdussin aircraft’. By mid 1912, the French Army had five Escadrilles: - HF1, flying Henri Farmans and based at Chalons; - MF2, flying Maurice Farmans and based at the Buc Flying School airfield; - B3, flying Bleriots and based at Pan; - D4, flying Deperdussins and based at Saint Cyr; and - MF5, flying Maurice Farmans and based at Saint Cyr. Another organisational change was the appointment of Colonel Hirchauer as head of French military aviation units. He took up the post in April 1912. General Rocault was appointed Commander of No7 Infantry Division. An order of 29 March 1912 removed the Escadrilles from the Central Army Group and established three Aviation Groups: - First Group, based near Versailles and commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Butnot; - Second Group, based near Rheims and commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Breton; - Third Group, based near Lyon and commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Estienne. The Groups were independent of each other and each had its own logistic and other support. Each Group had airfields where its individual units (Escadrilles) were deployed. Non flying personnel was deployed in support or logistics centres. Lieutenant Colonel Vouyes was appointed Head of Air Supply. Aviation’s growing independence was underscored by the late 1912 decision to create separate uniforms for its personnel. In fact, pro temps officers continued wearing their usual garb, to which were added navy tunics with emblazoned winged stars. Hirschauer was promoted to Brigadier, receiving his new epaulettes on 12 December 1912. Regardless of the ongoing dispute as to whom he should report to (chief rivals

Q The first French aeroplane hangar in North Africa: Morocco, 1911

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Q A French pilot prepares to depart on a reconnaissance sortie in support of colonial forces: Morocco, 1912

were the Artillery and Engineers), he continued Gen Roques’s work, winning assent for a 400-aeroplane order. These machines entered Escadrille service in the first half of 1913. The enhanced air arm also conducted the first air-only manoeuvres at Azennes near Toulouse. To reach this region, the Escadrilles overflew almost all of France. The exercise showed improved reconnaissance and artillery direction standards. Successful manoeuvres in the mother country led to the thought of using aeroplanes to monitor bands led by hostile chieftains in the colonies. First to suggest a ‘Desert Air Corps’ in October 1910 was the Commander of the Algeria based XIX Corps. Meanwhile the Governor of French West Africa called on the government for aeroplanes and aviators to cover his large and strife torn area. Accordingly, a six-aeroplane Escadrille was despatched to Algiers, and the young French air arm flew its first combat sortie on 17 February 1912, at the infantry’s request. Army officers praised the effects of working with the new type of arm highly, and requests for air support soon grew apace. Escadrilles were sent to Tunisia and Morocco, and four aircraft were sent by sea to the Governor of West Africa. All units flew as intended until the outbreak of the First World War. A short time after the murder of the Austro-Hungarian Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand, mobilisation was declared. This applied to French military aviation units, whose strength comprised 21 Escadrilles: - MF2, ‘5, ‘8, ’16 and ’20, flying Maurice Farman biplanes - HF1, ‘7, ’13 and ’19, flying Henri Farman biplanes - V14 and ’21, flying Voisin biplanes

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Q A French infantry unit and Maurice-Farman aeroplanes at a field airstrip during one of the last preWar manoeuvres

- C11, flying Caudron biplanes - Br17, flying Breguet biplanes - B9, ’10, ’13 and ’18, flying Bleriot-XI monoplanes - D4 and ‘6, flying Deperdussin monoplanes - EP15, flying Esnault-Peltrier monoplanes - N12, flying Nieuport monoplanes - BIC2 and ‘5 Cavalry Escadrilles, flying single seat Bleriot monoplanes. At the close of July 1914, the French had 132 first line aircraft, with 136 reserve aeroplanes. Since it was thought that the war would end soon, a decision was taken to close flying schools. Their pilots were distributed among the Escadrilles, ground staff going to infantry units. Aerial reconnaissance was the main task of French aviation units. Some Escadrilles were set apart for the needs of the Supreme Command. Information centres were created for them at Moulins de Mesieres, Verdun, Thulle, Belfort and Epinal. Remaining Escadrilles were brougth under the direct command of Army and Corps Staffs to carry out tactical and operational aerial reconnaissance. British interest in military aviation dates back to 1878 when the War Office allocated 150 pounds sterling of budget funds for the order of an aerial observation balloon. Results from its sailings were encouraging, and 1884 saw the launch of the Army’s first balloon unit. The successful employment of balloons in Victorian colonial wars and police actions led to the emergence of a balloon business and the establishment of a balloon factory. Opened at the close of 1884 at Farnborough near Aldershot, the latter made and repaired lighter-than-air Army flying apparatus. Apart from observation balloons, the turn of the 19th Century saw the factory producing kites,

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including ones capable of lifting a man. Design and research were led by the aforementioned Cody. However, what tangible results were attained were only good for a few years at best. The experience in kite design came in useful when it became clear that the future lay in aeroplanes. Lieutenant John Dunn of the Wiltshire Regiment joined Cody in his efforts. This young man was captured by the dream of flying upon his return from the 1899-1900 Boer War. There the British successfully used tethered spherical aerostats, and he had witnessed this. However, he decided to pursue his dream down a different route, embarking upon the design of an aeroplane in 1906 andcompleting work on it the following year. The Dunn D.1 was built at the Farnborough Balloon Factory. We have already described its original design. The 12m span biplane had no tail surfaces and featured 30 degrees of sweepback. It broke up on its maiden flight but financing continued despite this setback. Work was carried out in conditions of strict secrecy since the flying machine was intended for Army needs. However, the expected success failed to materialise. The 2500 pounds sterling disbursed on the Dunn and Cody aeroplanes seemed rather profligate to the government, and in April 1909 all expenditure ceased. This decision was absurd against the background of spending on similar projects in neighbouring countries. For instance, over the same period Germany spent the equivalent of 400,000 pounds for the same purpose. French expenditures were commensurate with German ones. Louis Bleriot’s cross-Channel flight in his Type 11 convinced the British of the error of their ways. Yet despite everything, the War Office and the Admiralty only approved the Nulli Secundus Army and the Mayfly Navy programmes, both for airships. No money was forthcoming for aeroplane design and construction. British conservatism stayed aloof from the stormy development of aviation on the Continent. In the event, the burden of progress towards military aeroplanes fell upon the shoulders of three Royal Field Artillery officers. They were: Lieutenant Gibbs, who had completed the Farman flying school at Chalonnes; Captain Bertram Dixon, who

Q Captain Dixon preparing to fly his Bristol Boxkite during the 1910 Royal Army Manoeuvres

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THE DUNN D.6

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had his own Farman aeroplane; and Captain Fulton, who had completed the Bleriot school and also had his own aeroplane: a Bleriot. In 1910 Dixon left the Army and joined the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company (later Bristols) where he used his Army connections to arrange for the participation of company aeroplanes and crews in the September 1910 manoeuvres. Despite scepticism from senior Army officers, Dixon and Robert Lorraine flew a Bristol Boxkite and Gibbs flew his Farman, carrying out several successful recce missions. Lorraine also attempted radio contact with ground personnel at one of the command centres. This successful showing by aeroplanes and pilots at the autumn manoeuvres led the War Office to broaden Balloon School activities by including aeroplane flying. First step was to separate the School from the Balloon Factory. The latter was given a new design office for heavier than air machines. Its first leader was a hitherto unknown automotive engineer, Frederick Green. But the floes of British conservatism had yet to melt. Despite the efforts of the young and enthusiastic officers who had financed their own flying lessons in late 1910, the government officially announced that it was still not prepared to fund the purchase of aeroplanes for the Army. However, the dynamic development of aviation across the Channel began to bear upon British political and military leaders’ thinking. The first positive step came on 28 February 1911: a War Office order decreed that as form 1 April the same year, a Royal Engineers’ Air Battalion would come into being, to be commanded by Major Alexander Bannerman. It would comprise two squads. One, flying lighter-than-air apparatus, would be commanded by Captain Maitland. The other, flying aeroplanes, would be commanded by Captain Fulton who would be head of the United Kingdom aerial fleet. Upon formation, the aeroplane squad had a Bleriot, a Flyer, a Farman, a Rulhan which had been in a crash, and an FEI. From summer 1911, six additional Bristol Boxkites, a Farman, a Flyer and a Bleriot were purchased. Despite the cancellation of the 1911 autumn manoeuvres, the aeroplane squad was cleared to test its combat skills in East England. Sorties were flown as originally planned for the cancelled manoeuvres. Bad luck dogged the exercise from the start. Four aeroplanes were withdrawn due to defects. Only two of those which took off made the exercise grounds, and just one returned. The fiasco seemed a godsend to the sceptics who formed the majority of War Office staff. However, the rapid development of French and German air navigation and aviation compelled the Imperial Defence Committee to debate the future creation of an effective air arm. This was to comprise units equal to the demands of the period. The poor showing by some of the types flown by the aeroplane squad during the improvised exercises dictated an Army Staff statement to the effect that the nascent air arm would need new aeroplanes designed and built at the Army Aeroplane Factory. The task of creating a new and

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stable platform for airborne monitoring and aerial reconnaissance was given to de Havilland, Green and Edward Vooske. The Agadir Incident in July 1911 confirmed Germany’s aggressive intentions. Apart from a magnificently armed and drilled land army, Germany also possessed an impressive amount of lighter-than-air machines. German flying schools were expanding and local aeroplane makers were achieving initial successes. At the same time, trained British pilots numbered 11 in the Army, and nine in the Navy. Aeroplanes could be counted on the fingers of both hands, and there were just two dirigibles: experimental at that. Growing tensions in Europe led the Imperial De-

THE DE HAVILLAND AEROPLANE

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fence Committee to hasten the creation of an air arm. Much disturbed by the force imbalance in the air, Prime Minister Sir Herbert Asquith assisted the process. The Royal Air Corps was formed on 13 April 1912. From May that year it included an air battalion and support services. Parliament approved an initial budget of 308,000 pounds sterling for the new Corps. The RFC comprised an Army and Naval Wings, the Royal Aeroplane Factory (later the Army Aeroplane Factory) at Farnborough, and the Central Air School charged with training pilots for both Wings. The Naval Aerial Service was disbanded in January 1912. Immediate reason for this was the September 1911 crash of the sole serving dirigible. Initially, all 22 RFC officers served in the Naval Wing. The Admiralty continued to seek a certain independence for ‘its’ part of the Corps and indeed, the Royal Naval Air Service (íå å ëè Fleet Air Arm) did come into being soon after. The RFC was regarded as being a purely Army structure, rather than an Army and Navy conglomerate on equal terms. First Commander of the Army Wing was Captain Sykes. The War Office decided that the Wing should have two 13-aeroplane Squadrons (12 for ordinary pilots plus one for the Squadron Leader). It further decided that reserve strength should match the strength of units on active duty. War Office calculations showed that 364 pilots were needed for a viable combat ready structure.

Q A young British pilot preparing to fly a Bristol Boxkite

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Training these men was the task of the Central Air School, with all trainees being officers. The RFC needed to grow to seven Squadrons. By early 1912 there were only three, one of them flying lighter-than-air apparatus. The Squadrons were staffed by establishment officers and quartered at Farnborough and Lorkhill. The equipment issue continued to occupy the forefront. August 1912 saw Britain’s first military aeroplane trials. Main rivals were Cody and de Havilland. The latter’s BE2 demonstrated remarkable qualities and was ordered into series production. Cody got an order for just two aeroplanes. In general, prior to the First World Was the RFC largely favoured the Royal Aeroplane Factory, while the Fleet Air Arm patronised private makers like Sopwith and Short Brothers. This was de facto an experimental period for the RFC. Strategists held that the Corps’ purpose was to employ its strength for aerial reconnaissance for Army and Navy needs, and any ideas which eased information gathering and gave greater precision to the results were given the change to prove themselves. The major issue was communication between airborne personnel and their land based equivalents, in whose interest air activity took place. To stimulate efforts in this direction, an RFC Experimental Department was established in 1913. Headed by Major Herbert Musgrave, its main task was to investigate kite, balloon and aeroplane flight and explore options of aerial bombing, artillery direction, reconnaissance and photography. Much was done in equipping aeroplanes with special lightweight radio transmitters and receivers for artillery direction purposes.

Q Francis McLean flies beneath Tower Bridge in his Shorts flying boat

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Army manoeuvres in late 1912 and early 1913 highlighted the usefulness of a number of ideas. No3 Squadron which specialised in artillery direction but was yet to adopt radios, tried various methods of communication such as written messages thrown to the ground, or flag or light signals similar to Navy ones. Despite some progress, it was clear that these were mere improvisations. The same Squadron flew recce missions for the ‘defence side’ and the precise and timely data it supplied on the attacking forces helped secure a victory. The manoeuvres also highlighted a number of weaknesses in flight organisation and ground force operations. These led to robust discussion among aviators. However, staff officers remained aloof from polemics: an attitude that was to prevail until the start of the World War. Spring 1913 saw a settlement to some outstanding aspects of the RFC’s status. On 1 September, a Military Aeronautics Administration was established at the War Office. Brigadier David Henderson was appointed to head it, with Captain Sefton Brencarr as his deputy. The Administration had three sections: personnel administration and training; unit equipment; and economics, the latter entering into contracts with aircraft manufacturers. A million pounds sterling was allocated from the budget to breathe life into the new structure. Despite support from First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, the last years of peace were difficult for the Fleet Air Arm. Among the reasons was the circumstance that, while RFC terms of reference were set, those of the FAA were very much ‘up in the air.’ An official announcement that Naval aeroplanes were to patrol and reconnoitre the coast came only in late October 1912. This required the establishment of stations which were to be set at intervals determined by the combat radius of aeroplanes used. The first of these was at Eastchurch, and the second: on the Isle of Grain. Another four came into being by mid 1913, the process continuing until by the start of the World War the FAA had 11 stations. By late 1913 the Royal Naval Aviation Service had some 100 pilots and a considerable number of aeroplanes, floatplanes and lighter-than-air apparatus. Due to the Service’s great importance to the nation, the Admiralty continued to insist on its full independence. The final administrative division between Naval and Army aviation came on 1 July 1914. By the start of hostilities, the RNAS managed to form Squadrons and Wings, but none of these attained official designation. Combat readiness was tried at the Spithead exercises held between 18 and 22 July 1914. All available flying machines took part in these: 17 floatplanes and two landplanes. The proximity of war was clear to everyone in Europe. The British government decided to test the state of Army and Navy preparedness. For the fleet this meant the aforementioned exercise, while the RFC was gathered at Netheravon airfield. Nos 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 Squadrons flew there in June 1914. Personnel numbered over 700. No1

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Squadron was being reequipped, while No7 Squadron remained on duty at its Farnborough base. Main aeroplane types were the de Havilland BE2 and BE2a, Farmans, Avro 504s, Sopwith Tabloids and Bleriot-XIs. The Corps had a total of 179 aircraft, but a comparatively small part of them were combat ready. Prior to the start of the First World War, Britain had 113 combat ready aeroplanes and six non-rigid airships. This was commensurate with French numbers, but France had greater reserves which proved their worth during the War. The British air contingent sent to the Continent comprised 105 officers and 63 aeroplanes. They were commanded by Brigadier David Henderson: an exceptional

Q A float equipped Avro 504

Q The Avro 504 was Britain’s most successful pre-War biplane

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man and officer, who first sat in an aeroplane to commence pilot training at the age of 49. Lieutenant Harvey-Kelly was the first British pilot to arrive in France, landing his BE2a in the early hours of 13 August 1914 near Amiens: a place that would live on in British aviation history.

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Q The Royal Air Corps at Netheravon airfield, 29 June, 1914

Q Lieutenant Harvey-Kelly’s BE2a ‘347:’ first British military aeroplane to land in France at the start of the First World War

Like other advanced nations which formed airborne units before the First World War, Germany accumulated initial experience using balloons. The first Railway Forces’ Aeronautics Detatchment was established in early 1884. Its duties were more to do with research than with direct support of the force it belonged to. Becoming independent in 1897, by 1901 the command had grown to Battalion strength with two com-

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panies. As early as 1896 spherical balloons were replaced by kite (dragon) balloons designed by Major von Parcival and Hauptmann von Siegsfeld. Sailings by German aeronauts contributed much to upper atmosphere research. Significant attention was paid to aerial photography as well as information exchange. The latter was initially by carrier pigeon, and later by radio telegraphy. Balloons were followed by large controllable airships. Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin is rightly called Father of the Dirigible. These enormous flying balloons captured German imagination and seemed to offer a way to world domination. The Army and Navy included dirigibles as a major means of strategic reconnaissance deep behind enemy lines or in the open seas. Of the 26 dirigibles the world had in 1910, 14 were German. France had five, Italy: two, and Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Britain, Russia, and the USA: one apiece. German enthusiasm for airships meant that this nation began developing heavierthan-air flying machines comparatively late. This did not mean that the General Staff failed to monitor aviation development closely, ready to take advantage of this new technology for its ends. The first step was taken on 1 October 1908: a Special Technical Department was established at the General Staff. Its brief was to watch and report on advances in radio communications, transportation and aviation: all of them items seen as decisive in a highly mobile future war. The department was established at the

Q German infantrymen watch the raising of a Parcival-Siegsfeld type dragon balloon

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recommendation of Hauptmann Thomsen of the General Staff’s Fourth Department. He succeeded thanks to enthusiastic support by General Erich Ludendorff, head of the Second Department. Soon after coming into existence, the Technical Department published a report supporting the view that aeroplanes would soon become useful attack weapons and stable observation platforms. These conclusions essentially rested on the views of Major Gross and Hauptmann de la Roy, aeronautics advisers to the War Ministry. Occupying this post since 1906, Gross had monitored and financed German aeroplane makers. Since no promising design had appeared by 1910, it was decided that Army officers should begin training using foreign machines. Dr Walther Hude of the Albatros Aeroplane Company bought a Farman biplane and paid the French company for the training of one pilot. After this pilot’s return to Germany, he became an instructor in the newly created Combat Pilots’ School near Döbrenz. Ten officers were trained between 10 July 1910 and late March 1911, Hauptmann de la Roy being one of them. The General Staff was still sceptical regarding the practical use of aeroplanes in combat, but it did provide a modest sum for training officers to fly heavier-than-air machines. Trials of aeroplanes designed especially for combat and for the specific conditions expected in such combat, also began. After these tests, the War Ministry allocated 150,000

Q Mixed feelings as a Prussian cavalryman contemplates a Wright A built under American licence at a German aeroplane factory: the advent of aviation meant the end of whirlwind cavalry charges

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marks to purchase seven aeroplanes: one Etrich Taube, two Flyer biplanes, a Farman, an Albatros-built Farman, an Aviatik-built Farman and an Albatros-built Sommer. This order finally gave the German Army flying machines which were heavier than air. A Military Aviation and Transport Inspectorate was created. The aviation service still suffered from lack of clarity as to its functions and were insufficiently developed to figure in the military budget. Thus a special resolution of the War Ministry and the General Staff of 1 April 1911 allocated a further 500,000 marks to purchase aeroplanes and asociated equipment. This bought another 30 aeroplanes (19 single engined Type B biplanes and 11 Etrich Taubes) which were delivered by the year’s end. The Army now had 37 aeroplanes and 30 pilots. The best aeroplanes and crews took part in the autumn manoeuvres, practising skills expected to be useful in wartime. To hasten military aviation development, pilots who had completed civilian flying courses were to be brought into compliance with emerging military standards at courses in Strassbourg and Metz. Special observer training courses were also organised. The period also saw General Staff head General-Oberst Helmut von Moltke and the War Ministry administration locked into contention as to the future of the air arm. Von Moltke succeeded in imposing his view that two or three field aviation squads and a support squad (a Station) should be at the disposal of each Army Command. Moreover, each Corps Command (whether in active service or the reserve) should also have an aeroplane unit after the start of hostilities. According to Moltke’s plan, 34 air squads had to be ready by April 1914: eight of them at Army level,

Q A Taube under assembly in the Rumpler workshops

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Q War Minister von Herringen (left) and General Staff Head von Moltke observe departure preparations for new aircraft

and 26 at Corps level. The air arm was to be separated from the transport command, and subjected to its own inspectorate. The War Ministry and the Central Inspectorate opposed von Moltke’s plans. Both bodies felt aviation was too new and weak to be afforded such a degree of independence. Regardless of this disagreement, from 1 October 1912 the German air arm began reforming along the lines proposed by von Moltke. Döberitz, Strasbourg, Metz and Darmstadt became the first Air Stations, or bases, staffed by 21 officers, 306 NCOs and privates. As reorganisation progressed, it became clear that the funds allocated were most inadequate. At the close of 1912 the Chancellor was asked for additional finance. The air arm was indirectly helped by the National Air Support Foundation led by Prince Heinrich of Prussia, which collected seven million marks. This mostly went to finance civil aeronautics and indigenous aeroplane designs which obliquely boosted the development of the air arm.

Q Dutch pilot Anthony Fokker succeeded in his Fokker Spin III project thanks to generous financing of aviation by the War Ministry

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THE FOKKER SPIN III

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Despite resistance by some War Ministry circles, the General Staff resolved to begin replacing lighter-than-air apparatus with aeroplanes. Of rigid and semi-rigid construction, the outgoing machines had been used for tactical reconnaissance. The 15 rigid construction airships were henceforth to specialise in air strikes and strategic reconnaissance on behalf of the Supreme Command. Air arm structures continued to evolve in 1913. The Military Aviation Inspectorate was created on 1 October. Oberst von Erhard was appointed Chief Inspector, commanding four Air Battalions each with three Squads, located as follows: - No1 Air Battalion at Döberitz and Grossenheim - No2 Air Battalion at Posen (now Poznan), Graudentz and Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) - No3 Air Battalion at Cologne, Hannover and Darmstadt - No4 Air battalion at Strasbourg, Metz and Freiburg. The semi autonomous Bavarian Army had a separate two Squad Bavarian Air Battalion. In case of war, these airfields were to remain as main bases of the internal Squads. The reform foresaw the creation of 57 Field Air Squads and 46 Field Air Squads by 1916, and the creation of one air unit for each infantry division after eventual mobilisation. This appeared unrealistic due to tight deadlines and insufficient manufacturing capacity. Compelled to review timescales and organisational goals, the General Staff decided to concentrate on acquiring four Air Units, each with 12 six-aeroplane Air Squads, by 1 April 1914. Since it was impossible for the air arm to secure a base for each Corps, aviation remained subordinate to the transport arm. Experience from the 1913 manoeuvres

Q A Rumpler Taube with fictitious serial number ‘84’: disinformation for the enemy

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Q The real Taube No84 with a 100hp engine, strengthened landing gear and enlarged radiator

also lent support for this status: air units still depended greatly on road and rail transport for mobility. Experience of incidents in combat conditions led the War Ministry to demand new and more reliable aircraft with stronger airframes. To this end, the Transport Army Experimental Section increased its establishment and changed its tasks, becoming the Directorate of Technical Transportation Testing. Combat pilot training also changed, becoming more intensive in the last months of peace to satisfy the growing need for pilots and observers. The theory and practice of aerial reconnaissance for the needs of Army and Corps commands and staffs, as well as aerial artillery direction, marked significant advances. However both tasks were hampered by the lack of suitable communication. The lack of any onboard armament also meant limitations to aircraft use, the experiments in mounting machine guns and bomb racks on aeroplanes having enjoyed only modest success. Despite this, German political and military leaders assessed the place of aviation in a future conflict realistically, financing the programme for developing an air arm generously. Between 1906 and July 1914, military aviation was funded to the tune of 11,800,000 marks. After the declaration of mobilisation on 1 August 1914, military aviation began war preparations in earnest. Comprising five aircraft and six airship batallions, with the latter supporting 33 field air detachments: 30 Prussian and three Bavarian. Ten of these were set aside to support the forces defending Strassbourg, Metz, Cologne, Posen (Poznan), Königsberg (Kaliningrad) and Graudenz, and the major military centres of Beuen, Breslau (now Wroclaw) and Glogau.

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The airship battalions comprised strength and discharged duties as follows: - eight field airship units, each with an active and reserve kite balloon and a hydrogen production station; - 15 castle airship units, each with a kite balloon and a total of a handful of shared spherical balloons, and - 12 airships with 18 crews. The air arm also had six reserve aeronautical units and five reserve field air battalions whose main duty was to replenish active units’ personnel and equipment. Mobilisation took five days. The Armies were deployed and ready for action. A field air detachment was put at the disposal of each Army and Corps Staff. The supreme command had no aircraft or crews under its direct command. Field air units were subordinate to Army Staffs, and Castle Aeronautical units, being in larger industrial centres, served as a reserve. After mobilisation, the German air arm comprised 254 pilots, 271 observers, and 246 combat ready aeroplanes. Half of the latter were Taube monoplanes, the rest being Albatros and Aviatik biplanes. Field air detachments had six aeroplanes each, and Castle Air Detachments: four each. The naval aviation unit managed to prepare 20 pilots for action. It had six aeroplanes, of which just half were serviceable: a strength completely inadequate for the provision of maritime patrol. The first heavier than air machine was flown in Italy in 1908 by French aviation pioneer Leon Delagrange. He flew a series of demonstration flights over Milan, Rome and Turin. Beauty and emotion are close to the Italian spirit, and many Italian youths were soon enthusiastic about flying. Not a few of them were in uniform, though initially they set

Q A pilot warming up the engine of an Albatros B prior to departing to a forward base near the border with France

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pursued their dream privately. Mario Calderara was one of Italy’s first pilots. His training included 23 lessons given by Wilbur Wright during his Italian visit in spring 1909. At the time, military interest in aviation was purely theoretical. Since there was no objection to officers receiving flying lessons in their own time, using their own money, their attendance at the first flying school near Rome in 1910 surprised nobody. Flying soon became fashionable and six similar schools sprang al over Italy in a matter of months. Tenente Savoia’s sensational 1910 flight captured the Italian imagination. He flew a Farman from Murmelon to the Rome suburb of Cintochelle, where on 2 August he took aloft Italian War Minister General Spinardi. Eleven days later, Tenente Vivaldi became the first Italian to die in an air crash while attempting to overfly Italy from Rome to Cittavecchia. Despite the tragedy, the year saw significant progress, 31 soldiers getting their wings, of whom 16: Italian wings (the rest had trained mainly in France and Germany). Two military flying schools opened in 1911. Along with the paramilitary school at Cintochelle, they embarked on specialist and active military training programmes. Both were situated in the more industrialised Italian north. One was at Aviano near Udine, and the other: at Soma Lombardo. The larger school in Aviano opened its doors in April 1911 and had a mix of types: five Bleriot monoplanes, an Etrich Taube monoplane, a Nieuport monoplane, and three Farman biplanes. The Italian military first used aeroplanes in manoeuvres during the annual exercises from 22 to 29 August 1911, led by Tenente Generale Polio. Capetane Carlo Piazza with a Bleriot, Capetane Ricardo Moisa with a Nieuport, Tenente Constantino Coagglia with a Savoia biplane, and Tenente Junio Guiglio Gavotti with an Etrich Taube flew for the Reds. Blue pilots were Tenentes Manlio Ginocchlio and Francisco Roberti with Bleriot monoplanes, Tenente Junio Hugo de Rossi with a Nieuport monoplane and Tenente Leonardo de Rada with a Farman biplane. The manoeuvres took place close to Monferrato, with the aeroplanes based at an improvised airfield near Novi, from where they flew a great many recce sorties. At the close of the manoeuvres, many military pilots took part in the September Air Races. Capetane Piazza and Tenente Giunio Gavotti were awarded the Medaglia d’Oro for services to military aviation. Italian military flyers had to show their skills in earnest all too soon. On 29 September 1911 their country started a war with Turkey in an attempt to increase its influence in North Africa at the expense of the crumbling Ottoman Empire. Military Council deliberations concluded that the cavalry was unsuited to difficult desert conditions. Accordingly, seven aeroplanes and 30 of the best trained aviators (including five pilots) were shipped to join the expeditionary force in Tripolitania, tasked with supplying reconnaissance. Set up using Aviano Flying School aeroplanes, the First Aeroplane Flotiglia deployed near an old Jewish cemetery at Jafrah near Tarabulus (now Tripoli). Aeroplane reassembly began on 15 October, and several days hence a Nieuport, two Farmans,

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Q The Italian crew of a soft dirigible

Q Wheeling a stowed Taube across the field airstrip near Tripoli

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two Etrich Taubes and two Bleriots were lined up on the improvised airfield, ready for testing. Difficult atmospheric conditions, high temperatures and sand storms hindered normal operation. However, heavy losses caused to the Italian infantry by Turkish cavalry at the Sharah Shatt Oasis compelled expeditionary force commanders to resort to using aeroplanes as the sole means of observing enemy movements. The first combat sortie was on 23 October 1911. At 0619hr Tenente Piazza departed for Asisia, 60km south of italian positions, in his Bleriot-XI. After more than an hour’s flying, he returned with valuable intelligence on Turkish forces and their Arab allies. Similar flights became routine in subsequent days, bringing invaluable help to the infantry. On 28 October, Capetanes Piazza and Moiso observed artillery bombardment from the battle cruiser Sardegna from the air. This led to the idea of using aeroplanes to direct artillery fire. A system of communication was agreed with naval officers, coming into operation a week later. On 1 November Tenente Junio Gavotti carried out history’s first aerial bombardment when he threw four hand grenades. The use of hand grenades against enemy infantry and cavalry was to become routine for Italian pilots in future sorties. Naturally, the effect of this was more psychological than anything else. Following one of these flights, the Turkish authorities accused the pilots of bombing a field hospital. Investigations led to legal disputes: the 1899 Hague Convention permitted aerial bombardment, but only from lighter than air apparatus. Aeroplanes were missing from the Convention for obvious reasons. Article 25 of the 1907 Hague Convention forbade aerial bombardment of undefended targets even where they were otherwise targeted by land forces, if it put civilian lives and property at risk. Despite the successes of the young Italian air arm which had attained combat effectiveness rapidly, the situation of Italian land forces in Cyrenaica remained dif-

Q Taube pilots taking their seats

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ficult. Improvised airfields near Tobruk (now Tubruq) and Derna were inadequate for air support. This dictated the setting up of a second aerial Flotiglia near Benghazi. This included 29 men, including four pilots. The three aeroplanes (a Bleriot, a Farman, and an Asteria) and the 110 metre airstrip only became operational on 29 November. A few days earlier, on 24 November, Capetane Mioso directed artillery for the first time in genuine combat. His flight, and subsequent ones, met ever better organised opposition. Small arms fire, largely futile at 1000m at which aeroplanes flew, was joined by artillery weapons mounted on special carriages allowing them to aim at aerial targets. Tenente Giunio Roberti’s aeroplane was hit under such circumstances. The danger led to pilots’ seats being lined with thick sheet steel during the January lull in fighting. Another result of combat experience was the fitting of mechanical bomb holders to aeroplanes. Also, on 24 January 1912, Capetane Piazza’s Bleriot was fitted with a still camera delivered from Italy. After this, he flew aerial photo reconnaissance sorties, and the unit he commanded took part in mapping the area between Tarabulus and Al Gharian. On 4 March 1912 Capetane Piazza jointly with Gavotti flew the first night reconnaissance sortie, and carried out the first night bombardment. The conflict also took aviation’s first war victim, with the death of pilot Pietro Manzini on 12 August 1912. Other tasks of the Italian air arm included dropping propaganda leaflets behind enemy lines. Two groups of volunteers from the Royal Italian Club led by its President Carlo Monti also arrived at Tobruk and Derna. Each had four men, and each was commanded by an officer. They flew their eight aeroplanes in a total of 150 sorties. One of these groups experimented with radio as a means of transmitting intelligence. One of the aeroplanes was fitted with a small radio set which received a signal sent from a warship.

Q A Bleriot is readied for the next reconnaissance flight at a field airstrip near Tripoli

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The experience of Italy’s nascent air arm in Libya proved to the world that, thought novel and consisting of fragile aeroplanes with weak engines, air power was sufficiently effective and mobile to play a significant role in the outcome of conflicts. Two main ways were developed for reconnoitring from the air: visual and photographic. Also tested was the delivery of strikes from the air (however symbolic, it became routine), directing artillery fire, and dropping propaganda behind enemy lines. In other words, many of the tasks performed by today’s air forces were first tried then. Analysing the results of the war, Italian political and military leaders decided to boost combat aviation. Between April and October 1912, some 3,250,000 lire was spent on new aeroplanes and organisational development of this new form of service. Its emergence as a separate formation began after March 1912, when Colonel Vittorio de Montemozzolo recommended the formation of the Royal Italian Military Aviation Service on his return from an inspection in North Africa. One of the first steps in the creation of this new service was the formation of a floatplane unit to patrol inland waters and the coast. Even before its creation, maritime aviation pioneer Capetane Alessandro Guidoni had begun testing aerial bombardment and aerial torpedo launching against shipping. His tests were successful and mark an important stage in the aeroplane’s conversion into an important and effective weapon. Another novelty was the creation in 1912 of a Colonial Aviation Service. This further boosted fleet expansion, and by early 1913 Italian military aeroplanes numbered 50, and lighter than air apparatus: 14. Several flying schools were very active, including a floatplane school near Venice. The Army had 13 airfields, hosting the following units: - Aviano: a flying school with Bleriots - Bologna: Esquadriglia VIII - Busto Arsisio: Esquadriglia V - Cintochelle: Esquadriglias IV and XI - Cuneo: Esquadriglia III - Mirafiori: Esquadriglia I - Padua: Esquadriglia VII - Piacenza: Esquadriglia XVI - San Francesco: Esquadriglias IX and X - Soma Lombardo: a flying school - Taliedo: Esquadriglia VI - Venaria Reale: Esquadriglia II. Esquadriglia designations changed by mid 1913 with the adoption of Arabic numerals. Aerial reconnaissance and artillery direction tasks were successfully carried out during the September manoeuvres. The Reds had two Esquadriglias, each with 11 Bleriots and Savoia-Farmans, while the Blues also had two Esquadriglias, each with ten Savoia-Farmans and Nieuport-Macchis.

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By 1914 Italian army aviation comprised 13 Esquadriglias and two flying schools based on 14 airfields. Italy declared neutrality, but even though a direct threat by the Central Powers was not foreseen, aviators were training intensively for combat. Training involved mainly aerial reconnaissance skills, including those needed in strategic reconnaissance for the supreme command. The appearance of Giovanni Caproni’s trimotored aeroplanes led to theorising about their possible use as strategic bombers. A Military Air Corps was founded on 7 January 1915. This had a headquarters and two commands (aeronautical and aviation) which controlled Dirigible Battalions, Esquadriglia Battalions, and Flying School Battalions. Italy entered the Great War on 24 May 1915. Its Air Corps comprised 15 Esquadriglias armed with 86 aeroplanes and staffed with 72 pilots. The Navy had 12 ground-based aeroplanes, some dirigibles which were not realistic weapons due to their limited performance, and 15 aeroplanes supported by a mother ship. Russia is a country with a significant tradition in flying lighter than air apparatus. In 1904, Russians became the first to use kite balloons in combat. Several such balloons were taken to Port Arthur and took part in its defence. In the maritime theatre, tethered balloons supported the Vladivostok cruiser detachment. The possibility of using other flying machines continued to be studied after Russia’s defeat by Japan. Dirigibles were bought from France and Germany, and indigenously designed ones were put into production. Official interest in heavier than air machines began in 1910 with the establishment of the Central Army School of Flying at Gatchino, near Sankt Petersburg. A similar school for the Navy opened a year later in Sebastopol. As early as 1909, monies from the military budget were allocated to the purchase of five Wright biplanes

Q A Caproni Ca-33 three engined strategic bomber

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and several Bristol Boxkites. Russia has ten trained pilots who formed a special military reserve. At the opening of the Gatchino School, all airworthy aeroplanes were transferred there. Even though early aeroplane building efforts brought no fruit, the enormous potential of Russian engineering thought brought some advances, particularly in military aeroplanes. In 1909 Porokhovchikov designed an aeroplane with an armoured cabin. Igor Sikorski and Yuriyev came up with many of the breakthroughs needed for the future helicopter. The state itself attempted to boost efforts at creating indigenous aeroplanes. Two aeroplane factories opened near the capital between 1907 and 1909, both with full financial support from the Russian Imperial Technical Society, which formed an Aviation Section in 1910. Aviation rapidly gained popularity in Russia and enjoyed universal respect and attention, including advocacy from senior public figures. They not only sympathised, but also did all they could to ensure that the new challenge would be widely taken up by Russians. Grand Prince Aleksander Mikhailovich was among the foremost of these advocates. He used the two million roubles donated voluntarily by the public during the Russo-Japanese War for torpedo carrier construction, the training of Russian officers in France, and the purchase of several Bleriots and Voisins from France. Private donors also lent great financial support. The Grand Prince’s advocacy was reflected the place he occupied in the emerging structure of military aviation. He was appoint-

Q Chief Pilot Abramovich with a student

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Q A Russian Bleriot at the Kubinka airfield near Moscow

ed General Inspector of Aeronautics and Field Aviation. Until mid 1912, command over aviation rested with the War Ministry Technical Department. Thereafter it went to the Defence Council: the body responsible for overall Russian army and Naval combat readiness. An Aviation Division was formed on 30 July 1912 under the command of a Major General reporting directly to the General Staff. Its deputy commander was to be a suitably commissioned Senior Engineer. Organisation copied the French structure, and included a training department for field aviation, and a technical and field supply department. The structure underwent more changes in 1913. Two bureaux were opened in the General Staff. One was the Chief Military Technical Administration, and the other, the Chief Administration of the General Staff. Russian military administration at the time was territorially divided. Each Governorship10 had at least two Corps, and each of these had a six-aeroplane aviation Otryad. Similar Otryads were attached to fortress garrisons, special purpose commands, and commands tasked with operational and tactical reconnaissance and intelligence gathering. The idea behind this form of organisation was for a six-aeroplane (with two to six reserve aeroplanes) Otryad to be available to support to each Corps and each fortress garrison. The reorganisation was 10

Province. Translator

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THE GRIZODUBOV G-2

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planned to be complete by April 1914 which turned out a pipedream in view of limited finance. In 1910 the Navy created its own aviation organisation. However, this faced the same technical resource problem as its Army equivalent. To resolve the issue, a Military Air Contest was organised at Gatchino in 1911. Gakkel’s biplane came first, but the authorities preferred to buy foreign aeroplanes. Army aviation bought French, German, British and American machines, and the Navy bought Curtises. With the exception of some Sikorski designs, Russian aircraft makers made only licenced copies of foreign designs. The significant sums made available led to rapid development of the new air units. If Russian military aviation in 1910 comprised not more than 40 aeroplanes and three dirigibles, by 1911 these numbers had risen to 100 and nine respectively, reaching 150 modern and 100 older aeroplanes and 13 dirigibles by 1 April 1913. By August 1914, Russian military aviation, aeronautics, and aerostatics comprised some 263 aeroplanes, 15 dirigibles and 46 tethered spherical and kite balloons. Despite these impressive numbers, the air arm’s combat readiness was impacted by negative trends started during its very nascence. Relying on foreign made aeroplanes led to spares problems: the heterogenous fleet included no fewer than 16 tipes. The proportion of airships which were genuinely combat ready was minute, the mainstream being decidedly passe. Even though Russia had several aeroplane makers with great production capacities, their output was tiny compared with the volume of imports.

Q The Sikorski S-9 was exceptionally aerodynamic for its time

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THE KIEV DIRIGIBLE DESIGNED BY F F ANDERS IN 1911

The Tsar and government got around to recognising that the early withdrawal of support for indigenous designs was one reason behinds this state of affairs. In April 1914, the War Ministry authorised production of 326 aeroplanes, 13 dirigibles, and ten Ilya Muromets bombers. However, the time factor was working against them and things remained practically unchanged by the outbreak of the First World War. In America, both the Army of the Potomac and Confederate forces had used tethered balloons in the 1861-‘5 Civil War. As related earlier, the former force even had a seven-vessel Balloon Corps. Commanded by the energetic Thaddeus Lowe, this existed until 1863.

Q The Nieuport 4 was among the most popular aeroplanes in pre-War Russia

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Post-Civil War interest in aeronautics among US soldiers was weak or non-existent, ballooning being practised only as a sport. Things changed after the appointment of Gen Adolph Greely as US Liaison Forces Commander. An enthusiastic aeronaut, Greely succeeded in establishing aeronautical units in Liaison Corps. French balloons were purchased for these units, some of them seeing action in the 1898 Spanish-American War. Indeed, one of them was hit and destroyed by Spanish fire, its loss increasing the general scepticism of aeronautics among US Army commanders. In fact, interest in all forms of flying took a blow after Samuel Langley’s failure to fly his aeroplane despite spending the then-lavish amount of 50,000 dollars. All too soon, the only remaining balloon unit was disbanded. US soldiers failed to see much military advantage in the air even after the successes of the Wright brothers and other Amrerican and European pioneers. It took until 1 August 1907 for an Aeronautical Division to be formed within the Liaison Corps. Its first commander was Charles Chandler, with just two NCOs reporting to him. An airship was duly ordered, being commissioned the following year under the designation Army Airship No1. Meanwhile, the American Aero Club was the subject of no less than presidential interest by Theodore Roosevelt. Despite the crash which injured Orville Wright and killed Lt Thomas Selfridge, the effect of the brothers’ biplanes was becoming such that the Army undertook to fund a replacement machine. Flown on 2 August 1909, this was taken on strength as Aeroplane No1. For the following two years, this remained America’s sole heavier-than-air military flying machine. The contract with the Wrights included the training of two officers in piloting skills. They were Lt Lamb and Lt Frederick Humphreys. However, even though they were the USA’s only pilots with wings, they soon had to return to their old cavalry jobs due to the lack of aeroplanes.

Q One of the Wright Brothers’ workshops

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Q The Wright Model A was America’s first warplane. It had no armament, flew at 70km/h, and cost taxpayers 25,000 dollars

In March 1911, Congress finally approved funds for aviation development. Another five airships were ordered for the Aeronautical Division. Its establishment also expanded, allowing a number of experiments on the military uses of aeroplanes. But here too, enterprising Glenn Curtis had stolen a march on the military. In late spring 1910 he flew a trial sortie armed with training bombs. The objective was to destroy a ‘ship’ marked by buoys with flags. With each pass, more and more bombs hit the target. In January 1911, the Wright brothers threw genuine bombs onto an improvised test ground near San Francisco. Meanwhile, Army officer Raleigh Suit had designed a specialised aeroplane bomb along with a basic aiming and release device. Despite successful trials, he failed to convince the military to buy his invention. Other testing involved endurance flying, aerial photography, and machine gunning ground targets from aeroplanes. By November 1912 the Aeronautical Division had grown to nine Wright, Curtis and Burges aeroplanes, 14 Pilot officers, and 39 NCOs and troops. The decision was taken to move the unit South for the winter. The Wrights and their auxilliary personnel travelled to Augusta, Georgia, the Curtis went to North Island near San Diego, California: site of Curtis’s private flying school which began acting as the USA’s first military flying school. The Mexican Civil War which broke out in 1911 began to spread. This troubled the US Government and in January 1913 the Aeronautical Division was detailed to support the Second US Army Division. It then moved to Texas City, Texas, where No1 Squadron was formed in March. The unit was not directly involved in combat

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but the severe climate and terrain impacted its everyday tasks of flying, observing and patrolling the border. In June most equipment and personnel relocated to San Diego, leaving two aeroplanes, three pilots, and 26 NCOs and troops at Texas City. An inspection soon afterwards revealed a sorry state of affairs. Of the twenty aeroplanes purchased until then, nine were scrapped due to crashes or other damage. Eleven of the forty pilots had died in accidents. Of the 11 Wright and Curtis aeroplanes inspected, just five were pronounced fit for flying, and that only subject to thorough overhaul. The findings forced the grounding of the unit. Luckily, a new Cutis biplane with pusher propellers had just been successfully test-flown, and 17 were duly ordered.

THE CURTISS A.1 FLOATPLANE

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Q A Curtiss landing on the USS Pennsylvania

Q Just hours to go before this Curtiss is to depart from a specially rigged strip on the USS Birmingham

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Gradually aviation became a routine part of the US military scene. B 18 July 1914 the Liaison Corps Aviation Department had a personnel of 60 unarmed Pilot Lieutenants, and 260 NCOs and troops. These were unr Gen Scraven’s overall command. A senior liaison officer, he was known for his progressive views on the planning and conduct of warfare. By the end of the same year, the General proposed that US military aviation shld expand further, to reach 18 Squadrons with 12 aeroplane each. However, this idea had to wait until the USA entered the Great War. The first aeroplane flight over Belgium took place on 26 May 1908. Pilot was Frenchman Leon Delagrange. The event inspired many young and not so young Belgians to fly. The following year Professor Emile Allard and Pierre de Gaterre succeeded in flying, whereas Julien de Lamin got his wings in France, at the Farman school. In 1910 he bought a Farman III and demonstrated it by flying from a field near Antwerp. Flying from the same field on 7 July 1910, Lamin flew a historic flight with Belgian War Minister General Helebaut on board. Strongly impressed, the General decided it was time to start training pilots for the Belgian Army. Enthused, Lamin offered to organise things. However, the General Staff turned down his offer, and did not approve a flying training curriculum it had commissioned from the Balloon Company CO. Instead, Belgian pilots were to train in French flying schools. Two artillery officers, Lieutenants Baldouin de Montes d’Osterick and Alfred Sartil, went first. Their example fired the dreams of young officers and the General Staff was flooded with applications for seconding to flying schools. This made Gen Helebaut turn to Lamin to organise flying training, and the Ministry bought a Farman biplane for training purposes. Two artillery Lieutenants entered the new school: Emannuel Brone and Robert Denis, and another two were sent to France. The first airfield was also established near Antwerp, comprising personnel quarters, maintenance workshops and spares and fuel storage facilities. This airfield became the birthplace of the Service Belgique d’Aviation, formally founded in spring 1911 with five pilots, two mechanics, a carpenter, and one aeroplane. The opening of the Military Flying School on 5 May 1911 was an important step forward in the development of Belgian aviation. The event was marred by the tragic death of Lt Brone. The School’s specially purchased Farman which he was flying was also destroyed. Some months later, in September, the two surviving Farmans took part in the autumn manoeuvres near Antwerp. Several successful intelligence sorties were flown. By the year’s end, 13 Belgian officers had acquired wings. In November they also went through an observer course. The following year began with a General Staff study on the options for aviation in a future war, and how it could influence infantry operations planning and execution. This coincided with the appointment of Gen Michel as War Minister. He brought new ideas, inluding ones with a bearing on aviation. The Flying School’s activity intensified.

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Meanwhile, Belgian military engineers began trials of a new lightweight aircooled machine gun designed by American Col Isaac Lewis. After his design was rejected in the USA, he had come to Europe. Despite being underdeveloped, the Lewis Gun was a breakthrough in weapon design and was as usable in the air as it

THE FARMAN F20 AEROPLANE

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was on the ground. The first of four Farman F20 biplanes delivered to Belgium on 9 July 1912 had the first Lewis Gun mounted on it. Trials on 12 September were successful. A Royal Decree of 16 April 1913 declared the formation of an Aviation Company and a Balloon Company. The Belgian Army comprised four Divisions, and the idea was for each to have its own Squadron in the future. After mobilisation, the Squadrons would grow to six, as would the Divisions. In May 1913 some crews and aeroplanes took part in Army manoeuvres near Beverloo. There they astonished ionfantry officers with the speed and precision of data on adversary positions and force strengths. Mainstream vehicles were the Farman F20s. Repeat orders had brought their number to 20 by July 1913. This was sufficient for the planned four Escadrilles to be formed. Each had four aeroplanes, eight pilots, and adequate surface transport to become an effective and mobile combat unit. The new organisational structure was tested in the August manoeuvres, which also confirmed the great effectiveness of aerial reconnaisance. After the manoeuvres, No1 Escadrille was assigned to No2 Division, and No2 Escadille, to No4 Division. The other two Escadrilles were judged insufficiently combat ready.

Q Four Royal Belgian Air Force pilots and their Farman F20

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After the declaration of mobilisation on 2 August 1914, the 38 military pilots were joined by eight civilian conscripts, some of whom brought their own aeroplanes. Of 22 serviceable aeroplanes, eight were sent to the front line to support the Belgian Army which was deploying in the border areas. Even though the first decade of the 20th Century was a time of decline for AustriaHungary, the country was still a Great Power. This prompted its political and military leaders to maintain a modern and well equipped army. Several Etrich Taubes were purchased in 1911, and four trained pilots returned from abroad, among them Gen Schleger. Austria-Hungary created her air arm in 1912, after French and German aerial might had grown significantly, and as the initial lessons from the use of aeroplanes in the Tripolitanian War were becoming known. The exceptionally erudite Emil Uselak was chosen as Commanding officer. He began flying at 44, later becoming one of the Empire’s best known pilots. Uselak test-flew every new aeroplane type to enter Austro-Hungarian service. The Dual Kindgom had good aeroplanes of indigenous design, and its strategists had at once realised that the presence of an observer was compulsory for effectiveness. By the start of the First World War, the Austro-Hungarian Army had eight aviation units with six aeroplanes each. The total of available aeroplanes, 70, was below the real requirement. In view of the nature of the relief and the war theatre, significant attention was paid to the design of a so-called ‘mountain aeroplane.’ The Loner biplane, which had a take-off run of just 30m, was eventually selected. The poor

Q Austro-Hungarian pilots from the first graduation class of the Imperial Flying School at Wiener Neustadt pose before a Taube monoplane

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Q The Austro-Daimler engined Etrich Taube was one of the main Austro-Hungarian military aviation’s aircraft prior to the start of the Great War

industrial base could not match growing Army demand and aviation needs were ever more dependent on Germany. This trend was to continue until the very end of the World War and the country’s collapse and disappearance. The Imperial Japanese Army and navy created aviation units almost at the same time in 1912. However, interest in aeronautics and aviation in the Land of the Rising Sun dated back much earlier. The Army’s first balloons dated back to 1877. Balloons were successfully used in the 1904 Russo-Japanese War in the Siege of Port Artur. Six years later Capt Yoshitoshi Tokugawa was sent to a French flying school, with Capt Kumazo Nino going to a German one. Several aeroplanes were bought from abroad in 1911, more officers were sent to learn to fly, and later in the same year flying training began in Japan itself. The Army Transport Command formed an Air Battalion equipped with European aeroplanes and Japanese-made licenced copies.

Q The Farman biplane which made the first flight over Japan in 1910

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In June 1912 the Imperial Navy formed an Aviation Research Committee. A little while later six officers were sent to train in France and the USA. They were also tasked with researching the flying boat market. It was two of these pilots who later performed the first flight over Japanese territorial waters on 2 November 1912. The new flying boat base at Yokosuka saw a floatplane-equipped Farman and a Curtis take-off. Soon the other pioneer pilots returned from abroad. The first Navy Aviation Unit was formed, receiving in 1913 the mother-ship Wakamio Maru to transport and supply its flying boats. As distinct from their Army colleagues, Japanese naval aviators saw some action. In September and October 1914 they flew active recce missions over the China Sea, sinking a German minelayer with bombs. Another Far Eastern nation with aeronautical traditions began developing its aviation at the turn of the 20th Century. Russian pilot Aleksandr Kuzminskiy’s Bleriot demonstration flights over Peking in 1910 were the impulse behind this. During the same year, enthusiasts Liu-Zun Ch’eng and Li-Pao Chung began building their own aeroplane. This was flown in April 1911 but crashed on its maiden flight due to engine failure. A General Staff decision of the same year set up China’s first Military Aviation Centre, with two Etrich Taubes being bought from Austria-Hungary for its needs. The start of the Chinese Revolution provoked the return of many progressive and patriotically minded emigrants. One of them was the famous US sports aviator Feng Ru. He arrived in China with two aeroplanes of his own design, which he

Q A Taube about to depart for China

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offered to the Army. This also marks the creation of China’s airforce. When Feng Ru died in an air crash in 1912, he received funeral honours befitting the founder of the nation’s air arm. In 1913 the Peking government decided to create China’s first Aviation School in Nanking. China’s first qualified pilot, Zi-Yi Lee was appointed to head it. A dozen Caudron GIII and GIV were bought from France for its needs, and French instructors were invited to China. The same year maintenance workshops opened in Nanking and Kwanghe, marking the start of an aviation industry. Their first success was the building of a combat aeroplane with a machine gun in the nose, in 1914. Despite these successes, the development of Chinese aviation and aeronautics lagged behind that in Europe and Japan. Spain and Portugal also created military aviation structures, albeit gradually. The foundations were laid in 1912. Personnel was mainly trained in France. Young Spanish pilots did get a whiff of gunpowder before the First World War (in which neither nation participated). Influenced by the French Army which activel yused aeroplanes in North Africa to observe warlords’ cavalry movements, the Spanish Supreme Command sent an aeroplane unit to Morocco. Their task was to fly recce missions and map the theatre of action. Commanding officer Capt Kindelan was an excellent pilot and officer with enviable theoretical knowledge in warfare (later he became Gen Franco’s head of aviation during the 1936 to 1939 Spanish Civil War). However, his period of command falls outside this volume’s scope. The appearance of air arms touched nations like Australia (which armed its first Squadron with B.E.2as in 1913), Canada and South Africa. All of these dominions’ pioneer military pilots were trained in Britain in the run up to the Great War. Without doubt, the major testing ground for trying the new type of weapon was the Balkans. This was where a number of pilots from Balkan nations and further afield

Q A Farman III at Biserda

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(Russia and Western Europe) got their first combat training. Turkey was not going to leave its European lands without a fight, and the clash between her and the newly emerged and rapidly developing nations was unavoidable. Part of the preparations for this clash included the creation of new air arms. The dawn of aviation in the Kingdom of Roumania is linked with three names: Traian Vuia, Henri Coanda, and Aurel Vlaiku. As young students in the Bucharest Polytechnic in 1909, they were fired with the idea of flying. Aurel Vlaiku designed his first aeroplane in early 1910. The Vlaiku 1 was first flown early on 17 June 1910. This date is considered the start of Roumanian air arms: a valid judgement, since it was the military that first showed an interest in the flight. Funds set aside from the military budget, and help from another young man, Paris Ploytechnic graduate M. Cerkez, bought four aeroplanes from France: two Farman IIIs, a Wright B-Type, and a SantosDumont. Cerkez also won the right to licence-produce Farman IIIs. The machines were assigned to the Pilot School set up in the late spring of 1910. This first flying school on the Balkans had its airfield not far from Bucharest. Its first instructor was French pilot F. Guillaume. In summer 1910, M Cerkez and N. Filipescu completed training and were awarded wings. War Ministry interest in aeroplanes did not end there. The first six pilots were sent to the Pilot School in spring 1911. They were Maj Makri, Capt Ionescu, Porucik Boiangiu, Porucik Protopopescu, Podporucik Nigrescu, and Podporucik Drutu. French instructor Viallardes headed the course, deputised by Cerkez; basic type flown was the Farman III. By summer, three of the officers got their wings and training continued with the rest. Cerkez used the favourable circumstances to open a second Pilot School at Engi-

Q A Farman III with auxiliary forewheels

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neering Corps. As the clash of arms on the Balkans drew nearer, it was renamed the Scoala Militara de Pilotaj. Pilots were trained on Bleriot XIs, Farman IVs and Farman IIIs. The first use of Roumania’s new military aviation came in the 1913 Second Balkan War. In June 1913, Roumanian forces crossed the Bulgarian border and started hostilities against their recent First Balkan War ally. Both sides had military aviation, but the Bulgarian units were committed on the Western and South-Western approaches. The Roumanians had two Escadrilles. Escadrille No1 was commanded by Capt Fotescu and had 11 Bleriot XIs, of which eight had 80hp engines, two had 50hp engines, and one had a 70hp engine. The other two aeroplanes were 70hp Renault-engined Farmans. Escadrille No2 was commanded by Capt Bibascu and had roughly the same strength, apart from the Vlaiku 2 aeroplane, piloted by its designer. Escadrille No1 reported to an Army Corps commanded by Gen Cutescu, with No2 remaining directly at Supreme Command disposal. The pilots flew recce missions, corrected artillery fire, and observed from the air. Porucik Protopescu and observer Porucik Avion were most active. Between 24 June and 13 July they flew 15 combat missions in their Bleriot XI, flying a total of 20 hours. On 13 July, Protopescu flew a recce mission near Sofia which was 180km distant from forward Roumanian positions. After the war, convinced of the effectiveness of the new type of weapon, the Roumanian Ministry of War decided to build on what had been achieved and create an Aerial Corps. In June 1914 this had 44 aeroplanes, of which 12 were Farman MF7 and MF9s, 12 Caudron GIIIs, six Morane-Saulnier L-10s, eight Voisin IIIs, and six Bleriot XIs. In Bulgaria, air navigation for military ends began with the formation of the First Airship Unit (Otdelenie) within the Railway Drujina by Order of the War Ministry dated 24 April 1906. Otdelenie strength was 37 men of whom two were officers; it had a 360 cubic metre spherical balloon imported from France. A second Godard balloon

Q The Bleriot-XI was among the most numerous aeroplanes used in the Roumanian invasion in Bulgaria

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Q Voisin aeroplanes entered Roumanian service after the end of the Balkan Wars

Graph 1: numbers of aeroplanes in service on the eve of the First World War

of 640m2 was supplied in 1911, and the Sofia-1 balloon was manufactured using Russian materials in 1912. Otdelenie staff began growing: two more Bulgarian officers were sent to the Airship College in Russia, enabling an expansion of the Railway Drujina’s technical side in 1912. Interest in air navigation and aviation grew after manoeuvres in France, and the successes of the Italian air arm in the Tripolitania War. The ultimate decision to create military aviation in Bulgaria was taken by the close of 1911. Funds were made

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Q A Bulgarian balloon preparing for launch in 1909

available for the purchase of five aircraft: a Bleriot XXI monoplane, a Voisin biplane, a Sommer biplane (all three from France), a Wright biplane (from Germany), and a Bristol biplane from Britain. Thirteen pilots and two mechanics went to the supplier countries and to Russia in April 1912. The first flight by a Bulgarian pilot in Bulgaria took place on 13 August 1912 when Poruchik (Lieutenant) Simeon Petrov tested the newly arrived Bleriot XXI. The nascent air arm’s combat readiness was tested at the Shumen manoeuvres in early September 1912. These saw participation by the balloon unit with the Sofia-1 and by three pilots flying the combat-ready Bleriot XXI. These manoeuvres also saw the first reconnaissance sortie, flown at the infantry’s request. General mobilisation was announced on 17 September 1912. Up to this moment, six Bulgarian pilots had received their wings and returned from training. The remaining seven were recalled later, some flying combat sorties as observers. An aeroplane Otdelenie was created only after the start of war, on 2 November 1912. It comprised three Pilot Officers, three aircraft, and had an overall strength of 62 men. The Bulgarian army entered the war with a balloon unit equipped with two balloons and a Bleriot aeroplane. Supplies of more aeroplanes from Russia, France, Germany and England were studied. The ascent of the Sofia-1 on 15 October is accepted as the start of active duty. The following morning the Otdelenie deployed south-eastwards near the village of Kemal, where it supported Bulgarian artillery. The Aeroplane Otdelenie received three new Albatros aircraft. On 16 October 1912, Poruchik Radul Milkov and Poruchik Prodan Tarakchiev flew the Bulgarian air arm’s first combat sortie. Their task was to reconnoitre Turkish positions near Odrin (Hadrianople), and army strength in the

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Q Bulgarian trainee pilots at Etampes airfield near Paris

Q Simeon Petrov and his Bleriot XXI: Etampes, 5 June 1912

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city itself. The pilot also threw two bombs without much effect. A second balloon sortie aimed to observe Turkish movements at tactical depth. This was the first instance in history where air navigation and aviation units were used jointly in actual combat on the same stretch of front. The Bulgarian air arm continued to receive supplies. Nine Bleriots arrived from Russia. On 17 October 1912, Timofey Yefimov, one of Russia’s most experienced pilots, flew one of these. Formation of a Second Aeroplane Otdelenie started on 3 November in Cˇ orlu. The increased number of combat-ready aircraft also permitted a new method: simultaneous aerial reconnaissance and ground attack. Four aircraft flew such a sortie on 14 November over various objects of interest near Hadrianople and threw bombs. Departures were at small intervals, each aircraft then flying a different route to the target areas, which were close to each other. Another historic flight took place on 17 November. An enemy target was photographed from the air for the first time in the Balkan War, and an international crew flew a combat sortie for the first time, pilot Giovanni Sabelli and observer Major Zlatarov throwing propaganda leaflets and two bombs in the vicinity of Hadrianople. The Aeroplane Otdelenie remained at Kemal until the armistice, supporting Bulgarian and Servian infantry units. The Aeroplane Otdelenia now had 13 serviceable flying machines and flew 15 combat sorties in the nine days noted as having flying weather.

Q An observation balloon presented by Russia to Bulgaria near Hadrianople during 1912

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Q A Bulgarian Bleriot XXI being prepared for a combat sortie

Once all 19 aircraft ordered had arrived, the Third Aeroplane Otdelenie was formed. The nascent Bulgarian air arm had a total of 13 trained pilots, of whom eight were foreign volunteers. The armistice saw organisational improvements at air navigation and aviation units. These resulted in the following organisation: - the First Aeroplane Otdelenie (four aircraft and three pilots) based at Svilengrad airfield; - the Second Aeroplane Otdelenie (four aircraft and four pilots) based at Cˇ orlu, ˇ Cerkezköy and Kabakcˇaköy airfields; - the Third Aeroplane Otdelenie (one aircraft, one pilot and two observers) based at the Urma airfield; and - the Balloon Otdelenie (two balloon stations with a spherical balloon and a tethered balloon). Bombing came to be accepted as part of combat, for the first time in armed conflict beginning to assume the features of a mainstream activity. This dictated test and training sorties which tried out specially designed Russian and Bulgarian air drop bombs. Conducted at the Svilengrad airfield, these involved almost all pilots, who gained much useful experience. After the resumption of hostilities on 21 January 1913, the contribution of aviation increased. Analysis of aerial reconnaissance became part and parcel of the duties of Bul-

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Q Air drop bombs being prepared for training at Svilengrad airfield

garian army staff. By the second armistice of 1 April, which led to the London Peace Treaty of 17 May 1913, all Bulgarian air navigation and aviation units had seen action, flying 55 sorties. Nine sorties involved bombing, using either special air delivery bombs or standard issue hand grenades, and six sorties involved leaflet drops over enemy positions. On 26 January 1913 the First Aeroplane Otdelenie flew a recce sortie involving all four serviceable aircraft: an Albatros, a Farman, a Voisin, and a Bleriot. This was the

Q Aerial photograph of Mustafapaša station, with Turkish supply echelons plainly visible

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second time this new method had been used in aviation history; aerial recconnaissance would later become the task of specialised air force units. The dropping of bombs was a secondary task for the crews, again using both specialised bombs and standard issue hand grenades. Another remarkable sortie took place on 15 March 1913. Second Aeroplane Otdelenie pilot Ernest Burie, flying a Farman, flew recce both near Carigrad (Constantinople), and overhead the Ottoman metropolis itself. Setting off on the return leg, Burie noted that he was being followed by a Turkish biplane. Probably this was one of the Doppel Taubes recently delivered to Turkey from Germany. Overhead Cˇ atalca the enemy closed the gap to the Bulgarian aircraft, coming to within three kilometres. Convinced that continuing the pursuit was pointless, the Turkish pilot turned south and threw two bombs close to Bulgarian positions without visible effect. The Farman landed successfully at Cˇ erkezköy airfield after 2hr 20min in the air. Enemy aircraft had also been noted overhead the Cˇ atalca lines on 23 February and 9 March, but this was history’s first encounter between adversaries in the air. Naturally, it would be premature to contemplate dogfights. The machines were unarmed and insufficiently capable of this, and in any case the armistice postponed dogfighting until the First World War. Bulgarian military aviation’s last sortie in the First Balkan War was by the international crew of Giovanni Sabelli and Penjo Popkrastev. Their objective was to recon-

Q Poruchik Mankov in his Voisin

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Q A Bulgarian dragon balloon being raised for artillery direction purposes: March 1913

noitre Turkish units in the Dardanelles area. Departing on 23 March 1913, they flew both over the Galipoli (Gelibolu) Peninsula, and over Asia Minor. This was the first aeroplane flight over two continents. In the course of the sortie two bombs were dropped: at Gelibolu and Lapsaki (Lapseki).11 Due to poor weather, the Balloon Otdelenie saw limited action. It was based in the Hadrianople area and conducted reconnaissance and artillery direction operations. The Second Balkan War started on 16 June 1913. At its start Bulgarian aviation had eight serviceable aircraft, eight trained pilots, and two observers. Supporting action by the First, Third and Fifth Armies on Bulgaria’s western flanks, the Second Aeroplane Otdelenie, with four aircraft and four pilots was based at Slivnica airfield. The Third Aeroplane Otdelenie similarly supported the Second and Fourth Armies and was stationed at Syar (Seres) airfield. The Second Aeroplane Otdelenie undertook four reconnaissance sorties, all flown by the most experienced Otdelenie pilot, Poruchik Simeon Petrov. It was during one of these sorties that the second encounter between adversary aircraft took place. Most likely this was the 2 July flight, when the Poruchik flew to Vranya (Vranje) and back, and met a Servian monoplane in the air. Servian sources substantially confirm a similar encounter. The Third Aeroplane Otdelenie flew three sorties under exceptionally difficult conditions on the ground. The Otdelenie lost two of its aircraft, a Voisin and a Bleriot, mostly due to the shortage of fuel and lubricants needed for them to be ferried to another base. 12

Lapseki is on the Asia Minor side of the Dardanelles. Translator.

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The Balloon Otdelenie was also deployed closer to combat areas. But though garrisoned near Slivnica,12 it did not see action. Bulgarian aviators fell on hard times after the nation’s defeat in the Second Balkan War. Yet, despite limited means, the desire for revenge gave added impetus to find a way out of the difficult situation. Seven more pilots were sent to train, and three Bleriots, two Aviatiks, and two kite balloons were ordered, but the outbreak of war halted delivery of Q An aerial photograph of the Morava river, 1913 all but two of the Bleriots. Due to limited finance, Bulgarian military aviation structures retained their Balkan Wars shape. When mobilisation was declared on 10 September 1915, the Aeroplane Otdelenie comprised five aeroplanes (three Bleriots and two Albatros) and five trained pilots. The Balloon Otdelenie had a Bulgarian-made kite balloon and two trained Observer Officers. The development of Greek aviation dates back to the publication in 1907 of a study by eminent lawyer Alfredos Atanasoulias, later reissued under the title The Progress of Aerial Flights. In spring 1908 came the country’s first attempted flight. Eccentric theatre producer Leonidas Arniotis who had studied aviation in France bought his own 30hp engined Bleriot and chose a grassy field near Tathios as suitable for his attempt. After a few unsuccessful attempts the monoplane flew, rising to some 10m before diving vertically. The pilot survived, but his aeroplane was beyond repair. Greece’s first proper flight came a year later, when Russian aviator Utochkin flew a Farman for ten minutes near Paleos Faliros near Athens. First Greek to fly over his homeland was Emanuil Argiropulos. During his studies in Germany this youth developed the desire to fly, going on to France to study piloting. Having got his wings, and acquired his own Nieuport, he arrived in Greece in January 1912. The aeroplane was assembled by the Ruf Barracks Engineering Unit troops. After a few days of preparations, on 8 February 1912 Argiropulos was enjoying the view from 300m, watched by huge crowds. An hour after landing, he was up again, this time carrying Greek Prime Minister Eleutherios Venizelos. Six weeks after this memorable flight, Argiropulos organised and air race with Greece’s second pilot, Alexandros Karamanlakis, who had arrived with his own Bleriot. The date was set for 28 March 1912. However, the initiative fell through because 12

The village of Slivnica to the west of Sofia was close to the Servian border. Translator.

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Karamanlakis’ monoplane was wrecked due to a failure during the take-off run. Luckily, its pilot was unhurt and minded to continue aviating. He managed to repair his aeroplane and flew a series of impressive flights. At the conclusion of one of them, bad weather forced him to put down 200m off the Lygaea shore, where he drowned in rough seas. He was Greece’s first, and the world’s 193rd, aviation casualty. In late 1911 the Greek Ministry of War announced a competition for officers wishing to train as pilots in France. Almost sixty applications were filed, but just three won: Senior Artillery Captain Dimitrios Kamberos, Senior Engineering Corps Lieutenant Mihail Mututus, and Cavalry Lieutenant Hristos Adamidis. A second three-man group was sent to train in April 1912: Sen Capt (Infantry) Lucas Papalucas, Sen Capt (Artillery) Markos Drakos, and Lt (Cavalry) Panutsos Notaras. Both groups trained at Henri Farman’s flying school at Etampes airfield near Paris. Along with training its staff, the Greek War Ministry, also started negotiating to buy aeroplanes. The delegation included the National Defence Committee chairman. Perhaps influenced by their pilots’ schooling, the Greeks eventually bought two Henri Farman biplanes for 123,000 French francs. The machines were delivered in May. After they had been assembled, Sr Lt Dimitrios Kamberos was summoned back from France to test fly them. He did so between 13 and 15 May, crashing harmlessly in the process. On 15 May he reconnoitred for the ‘Invasion Force’ in manoeuvres which involved him until their end on 19 May. The successful manoeuvres resulted in the formation of a Squadron under the command of the Engineering Corps Liaison Battalion in Larissa. The Squadron eventually boasted four 50hp-engined Henri Farmans, four qualified pilots, and fifty auxilliary staff. The unit was based at Greece’s first military airfield at the Trian field near Eleusina.

Q The Greek Henri Farman before its reconnaissance sortie in support of the ‘invasion forces’ on 19 May 1912

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Q A float equipped Farman III: the first Greek floatplane was similar

The creation of an army aviation unit soon led to the idea of a naval one. Sr Lt Kamberos championed this by fitting floats to a Henri Farman with the help of a group of army engineers and French mechanic Savot. The modified biplane first flew on 22 June 1912. The outbreak of the First Balkan War put paid to plans for a Greek naval air unit. The nation’s first aviators went into action led by Engineering Corps Colonel Georgios Skoufos. The Squadron was at the direct disposal of the General Staff, which was also located at Larissa. By the close of 1912, the Henri Farmans were obsolete and insufficiently effective. In particular, their inability to carry a second crew member was a major disadvantage. Apart from that, only one of them turned out to be fully serviceable. This was enough to prompt the order of 80hp-engined Maurice Farmans from France immediately the war broke out. These aeroplanes could carry an observer and had longer endurance. The nascent Greek air arm first saw action in the beginning of First Balkan war at day time the infantry filed a request for the Skomia and Tsaritsani areas to be reconnoitred. Sr Lt Kamberos departed Larissa just after noon, later landing near Tirnavos to write his report to the High Command. The same pilot flew his second sortie the next day, this time throwing several hand grenades over Turkish positions, and his aeroplane received numerous small arms hits. The following day recce flights were flown by the other Squadron pilots, who threw hand grenades ad-hoc. On 11 November, Sr Lt Kamberos penetrated enemy airspace by 60km, performing the first operational reconnaissance, by the standards of the day. The Greek army swiftly moved north, beyond range of the old Farmans. The Squadron had to move to the new Kotsani airfield, along with the Army Staff.

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Q The Maurice Farman biplane in prototype form: aeroplanes ordered by Greece had more powerful engines and significantly better performance

Q An Henri Farman aeroplane takes off on a reconnaissance mission

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There Sr Lt Kamberos and Sr Lt Mututis tried a newly delivered Maurice Farman, using the opportunity to reconnoitre over Turkish positions, and ending in a forced landing due to engine failure. This incident led to a reduction in recce flight frequency. At the same time, the adversary tried his hand at the game, a Turkish Henriot flying overhead Greek positions at the Battle of Antsion. The aeroplane was flown by a French mercenary. Greek advances put paid to such flights. The aeroplane was captured in fully serviceable condition, later gathering reconnaissance for its captors, flown by newly impressed Lt Emanuil Argiropoulos (who had volunteered along with his private Nieuport). After the Greeks had attained their operational objectives in Macedonia, the Squadron was detailed to the Epirus front. The old Farmans turned out to be unsuitable for operation from the mountain airstrips. The three newly delivered Maurice Farmans were despatched from Athens to by ship, eventually reaching Preveza. There the unit retained its strength of four aeroplane, four Greek and one French pilot, a French mechanic, and 57 auxilliary personnel. In late November the Squadron began flying from its new base. The first combat sortie was on 5 December 1912, involving recce of the Jannina region and the throwing of several hundred improvised bombs. Greek aviation saw action in Epirus until the capture of Jannina on 21 February 1913. On that day, Lt Adamidis landed his Maurice Farman on the Town Hall square, to the adulation of an enthusiastic crowd. On 13 December 1912, Sr Lt Mututis, then based in Epirus, was detailed to Athens to help create a naval air unit. A month later, the first floatplane arrived from France: a 100hp Renault-engined Astra. Mututis arrived in Athens on board the requisitioned Varvaras vessel and made for the Midras naval base. After the Astra’s first

Q A Greek Henri Farman after redeployment to Preveza airfield

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flight on 12 January 1913, Navy Commander Admiral Kuduriotis decided to use his new weapon to reconnoitre Turkish shipping in the Dardanelles. The mission was planned for 24 January 1913. The pilot, Sr Lt Mihail Mututis, and Observer, Naval Standard Bearer Aristidis Moragitinis, took their seats in the floatplane. The engine was warmed and the machine, with 115 litres of fuel and four hand grenades on board, accelerated for takeoff. The crew headed for the Turkish naval base at Nagara. Near Imbros they landed to refuel. They flew overhead their target at 1350m altitude, from which excellent weather allowed them to make a sketch map of the base and shipping in it. The hand grenades were thrown to no real effect, but the data supplied was exceptionally useful. The flight resonated in the world press, including the Turkish one, with unanimously high assessments. The pilots were lionised. The fascination was justified bearing in mind the mission’s complexity and the fact that the aeroplane was a constant target for enemy fire both on its outward and return legs. Greek military aviation claimed its first victim. On 4 April 1913 Lt Argiropulos died when his captured Turkish Henriot crashed. Fate decreeed that the first Greek to fly over his homeland would also be the first one to die. The Greek air arm saw no action against the Bulgarians in the Second Balkan War. In fact, it was to stagnate until 1916. As the prospects of Greece’s joining in the Great War increased, so did a process to improve aviation combat readiness. A pilot training centre opened at Sedes. After its first class had graduated, No 532 Reconnaissance and Bombing Squadron was formed, armed with Breguet 14s. This was the first unit to see action on the Macedonian front after Greece’s formal adherence to the Entente and its joining the War in 1917. Servia endeavoured to keep pace with her neighbours. The process began with French aviator Simon’s demonstration flights in Belgrade in May 1909. In his Anzani,

Q Russian pilot Maslyennikov and his Farman at the Banica airfield near Belgrade

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he performed the first aeroplane flight over the Kingdom. Later the capital also witnessed flights by Russian pilots Maslennikov, Chermak, and Agafonov. Engineering Corps Kapitan Kosta Mileticˇ was sent to Russia for training, and two balloons were bought from Germany: a 540 cu m free-flying spherical Kugelbalon, and a ParcivalSiegsfeld kite balloon. They were officially named the Srbija and the Bosna i Herzegovˇ eta ina at a ceremony. Due to various money problems, formation of the balloon C took until the outbreak of the First Balkan War. Despite the lack of money, in December 1911 the Ministry of War declared a competition for aviators. The decision to do so was influenced by the results of the previous year’s French Army manoeuvres in Picardy, where the aeroplane had shown its utility as a means of reconnaissance, and by the Tripolitanian War. Bulgarian and Greek efforts to create indigenous air arms and air potential undoubtedly also played a part. Limited funds forced only one candidate to be selected: Porucˇ nik Borce Blagojevicˇ . In the event, even he had to stay at home and await better times instead of travelling to France. A second competition was announced in February 1912. This time, a group of three officers and three NCOs was formed. The Ministry of War contracted a loan of 30,000 dinars for their training and to purchase equipment and materials. On 29 April 1912 the group departed for Etampes, 60km from Paris. Three of them entered the Maurice Farman school and began flying two-seaters, while the other three went to fly single-seat Bleriots. As distinct from the Bulgars, the Servians sent no trainee engineers and mechanics, which was later seen to be a mistake. Training took four months. Exams were sat and wings issued: for civil piloting. No military skills such as climbing beyond 1000m, observation, and dead-stick landings were studied. Trainees’ technical knowledge was also very vague. At the request of

Q Preparing a Deperdussin for a demonstration flight: summer 1912, Banica airfield near Belgrade

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the two groups’ leaders, Iljic and Jugovic, the government made extra funds available. The 50,000 dinars were also earmarked for the purchase of three 80hp Gnome-engined Henri Farman biplanes, a 50hp Gnome engined Bleriot XI, and two twin seat Bleriot XI-2s with 70hp Gnome engines. Negotiations also began for the purchase of two 80hp Gnome-engined Deperdussins. In trials of one Farman, Servian aviators conducted their first aerial photography, albeit over a foreign land.

Q Trainees at Louis Bleriot’s flying school at Etampes near Paris. The first two from left are Porucˇ nik Ilicˇ and Porucˇ nik Tomicˇ . Two Bulgarians are also in the group

Q Porucˇ nik Jugovicˇ , Narednik Petrovicˇ , and Podnarednik Novicicˇ at the Farman pilots’ school at Etampes

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On 26 November 1912 the Servian airmen and their machines set off home by ship, headed for the First Balkan War which had raged for nearly two months by then. They arrived home on 2 December and began establishing an aviation unit near Nisˇ. ˇ eta and an aeroplane Eskadra. By late December the This consisted of a balloon C Servians had nine trained pilots, two mechanics, two observers, two balloons, and nine aeroplanes (including the Russian Duks brought by Agafonov). The two R.E.P.s ordered by Turkey had arrived at Belgrade Station at the outbreak of the conflict and were requisitioned by the Servian authorities. Servian pilots expressed little liking for them in trials, condemning them unfit for action in mountainous or forested areas. The R.E.P.s were therefore not taken on strength. The renewal of hostilities marked a new stage in Servian military aviation development. The successful use of aeroplanes over the Eastern front by Bulgarian and Russian pilots accelerated the newly formed air units’ incorporation into the infantry which was to be detailed to the Sˇ kodra (Shkodar) fortress, then besieged by the Montenegrin Army. Relocation was to be in two stages: first by railway to the newly taken port city of Salonica (Thessaloniki), and then by ship to the vicinity of Sˇ kodra. The contingent comprised a single and a twin-seat Bleriot XIs, a Deperdussin, and a Farman. the Servian pilots were joined by Frenchmen Godfroid and Kirstein, taking personnel numbers to 33. The remaining pilots and ground staff remained at Nisˇ. Q Changing the Gnome engine on a Dux

Q Servian aviators pose before a Dux aeroplane in December 1912

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Q An R.E.P. aeroplane being delivered to Topolnica railway station near Niš for testing and possible combat duty

The contingent set off on 19 February 1913, boarding the Greek steamer Marika on 27 February. On the way, the steamer was attacked by the Turkish cruiser Hamidiye. The equipment was undamaged, but there were deaths among the personnel. At length, the battered flyers disembarked and made for the village of Barbalus near the fortress. Servian pilots were keen to show their nation and fellow officers the capabilities of aviation in support of their own and the Montenegrin infantry. The aeroplanes were readied for flying by 7 March. Weather was warm for the season and clear, with the snow-covered jagged peaks ringing the airfield plainly visible. Some of these peaks, rising to over 800m above sea level, were on the direct approaches to the field. Cold winds blew down them, warning the aviators of tough times ahead. The experienced French mercenaries who drew some 1000 dinars a month each, found a variety of reasons to refused sorties over Sˇ kodra. Despite having basic skills and a tenth of the pay, Servian flyers had the edge in morale. On 20 March, Aerial Command CO Mileticˇ gave the order for trial flying to start. First to take his Farman aloft was Porucˇnik Jugovicˇ, who returned 13 minutes later. He was followed by Porucˇnik Stankovicˇ who returned in his Bleriot after 25 minutes. At best, both pilots had climbed to not more than 900m: totally inadequate to escape fire from the besieged fortress. Third to fly was Narednik Mihajlo Petrovicˇ. Finding a way to turn the powerful winds and limited area available to his advantage, he climbed to some 1200m. He then set for the fortress and flew over the Servian positions. On returning to base he again encountered a sud-

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Q Commissioning a Bleriot-XI at the Trupalsko polje airfield near Škodra (Shkodar). The mounted figure is Knez Arsen Karaporpevicˇ

den downdraft and was not so lucky this time. He lost control of his fragile machine which dived, killing him. The Servians gave their first aviator victim. On 22 March Porucˇnik Stankovicˇ, followed by Frenchman Godfroid, reached Skodra. However, the first proper aerial reconnaissance of the fortress was on 29 March by Porucˇnik Stankovicˇ and Narednik Tomicˇ. Lasting 45 minutes and was conducted at a height of 2200m above sea level. A total of seven similar flights at infantry request were flown before the second armistice. Some sources claims that bombs were thrown during one such sortie but the adversary side does not corroborate this. After the armistice, command of the Aeroplane Eskadra passed to Capt Milos Ilicˇ, ˇ eta. The contingent left Capt Jovan Jugovicˇ being given command of the Balloon C Škodra on 6 April 1913 and returned to their Nis base 20 days later. As the threat of war with Bulgaria grew, the Supreme Command detailed Capt Stojkovicˇ, Capt Ilicˇ, and Narednik Tomicˇ and two Bleriots to an improvised airstrip at the village of Vojnika near Kumanovo. The strip turned out small and surrounded by mountains. The personnel gathered gradually, reaching a strength of 37. Reserves included a Bleriot and a Deperdussin which had been left pilotless after the French had gone home at the conclusion of the armistice. At the outbreak of hostilities along the BulgaroServian line of demarcation, the unit came under Gen Pavel Juricicˇ’s command. Q The Servian air arm’s first victim, Narednik Mihajlo Petrovicˇ , The General’s army was adposing before his Farman III

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vancing to Kustendil along the Cunino Brdo, Kriva Palanka, Kratovo line. Aviators conducted recce on behalf of the army command. The Bulgars also had an air presence along the same front. During a sortie over Kriva Palanka, Narednik Tomicˇ encountered an adversary in the air. The pilots waved at each other and set off to their respective airfields. One possible reason for such pleasant manners was the lack of any armament. Another was that some Bulgarian flyers had studied at Bleriot’s school at Etampes together with their Servian colleagues. The hour of the dogfight had yet to arrive… Action lasted little over a month, during which time the Servians flew 21 observation and tactical recce sorties. Some requests for intelligence on the Kustendil front had to be denied since the area was barely within range and reaching it would have involved overflying mountain massifs. The Servians still harboured a healthy respect for strong winds at altitude! The unit had no trained observers and Capt Ilicˇ proposed that two infantry officers be specially coached for the rôle. However, the conflict’s brevity pre-empted this initiative. ˇ eta had deployed near Crvena Reka near Meanwhle, Capt Jugovicˇ’s Balloon C Pirot, and was preparing to use its sole surviving Russian tethered balloon for observation. Personnel numbered 45, and a field near Jamin Rid was selected as suitable. The ˇ eta entered action on 15 June 1913, marking its first success a week later near NeskC ova Visa. On 25 July the unit finished its duties and returned to Nisˇ. The Kingdom of Servia left the Balkan Wars a victor with an almost doubled land area, but its economy was in a sad state. A new danger loomed all too soon, this time from the north. Time, and most of all money, did not allow for any significant change in the aeronautical command. Its personnel remained the same as did the number of aeroplanes, yet the lack of spares told on combat readiness. After mobilisation on 25 July, it ˇ eta taking 20 days. France was approached took the Eskadra seven days to assemble, the C for aid in the shape of a dozen aeroplanes with pilots and technicians, but pressure on the French in the early weeks of war put such help beyond the realm of the possible. Servian aviators were to be left to their own devices for the first nine months of the war. Having been heavily defeated by the Italians and having lost a major tract of its North African territories, Turkey now faced a new challenge. The objective of the military alliance of Balkan nations were more than clear: to seize and share among themselves the collapsing Ottoman Empire’s European lands. Despite the financial exhaustion of the recent war with Italy, combat experience dictated the recognition of the aeroplane and balloon as important attack and defence weapons, and as facilitators of naval artillery effectiveness. In fact, the first Turkish aeronautical decisions were linked with the establishment of anti-air artillery units. One of these indeed saw action in the final stages of the defence of Tripoli. These were also the first air defence units to see action anywhere in the world.

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By mid 1912, eight Turkish officers began flying trining in French schools, another four going to Britain. A flying school headed by infantry Major Cemal bey was also set up in the Constantinople suburb of Yesilköy. Two twin-seat and one single-seat Deperdussins, a twin-seat Bleriot, four twin-seat and two single-seat R.E.P.s, two twinseat Bristols, and two twin-seat Harlands were ordered for the school and for future combat. However, the contract for the Bristols fell through due to delayed delivery prior to the outbreak of the First Balkan War, whereas two of the R.E.P.s were captured by the Servians in transit as related above. A little before the outbreak of hostilities the trainees were summoned back from abroad. The eight who had been to France returned with wings, while the four who had gone to Britain had not completed their courses. To strengthen its air arm, the Turkish command hired three French and four German pilots, and three French and two German mechanics. Two of the Germans arrived in a DFW Mars which the Turkish authorities later purchased. There was no time for training flights, save for two sorties around Constantinople by Lt Nuri, on which he reached 1500m. He was later awarded an illuminated address by the Military Inspectorate for his historic achievement. On 9 October 1912 the Turkish Prime Minister declared a general mobilisation. Operational war plans called for six aeroplanes to be in active service under the command of the Chief Military Engineering Inspectorate. Three groups of two aeroplanes each were formed. One was to secure the Eastern Army, another: the Western Army, and the third: the Hadrianople Fortified Region. The sole kite balloon (750cu m) also went to Hadrianople where it failed to see action due to the lack of a gas station. Capt Cemal’s group, equipped with two Harlands and with two German pilots, went to the Eastern Army. Capt Fesa, Lt Nuri and a French pilot went to the Western Army with twin-seat Bleriots and an R.E.P. The third group failed to deploy due to the rapid Bulgar advance. Its CO, Capt Revfik, pilots, ground personnel and two aeroplanes remained at Yesilköy airfield.

Q The French R.E.P. was the Turkish forces’ first combat aeroplane. This is the one seat version, suitable for aerial reconnaissance

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The first reconnaissance request came from the Eastern Army command and called for intelligence of the Kirklareli region. However, low visibility and driving rain precluded flying. The Turks sufered another defeat, and the aeroplane group joined the retreating columns. Prior to departing, it is likely that the personnel thoroughly torched set the two Harlands. (A telegram despatch by Bulgarian Lt Gen Radko Dimitriev claims they were captured but Turkish sources deny this.) The Western Army group enjoyed more success. Personnel and equipment deployed at Selanik (now Thessaloniki). The aeroplanes based at a specially prepared forward airfield in Koprulu, from which they flew several recce sorties. The retreat soon forced the aeroplanes to relocate to Selanik. Additional observation and recce flights were performed by 10 November around Karafare. After the Greeks approached Selanik, the pilots decided to torch the aeroplanes and take refuge in the home of a local bey.13 Later the British Consul arranged safe conduct for all the pilots, bar one who had been captured by Greek Andartes. The Turks were shipped to Constantinople, the Frenchman returning home. The situation of the Hadrianople garrison was growing more and more critical. Cut off from their hinterland and surrounded by a well trained adversary enjoying high morale, its chances of standing fast were reducing by the day despite Turkish conviction that the fortifications were impregnable. Hadrianople Garrison CO Sukri pasˇa insisted on air support, mostly to direct artillery fire. In this, he wanted to follow the example set by the Bulgars in their actions against his garrison. The lack of a gas station had rendered the fortress’s sole Parcival-Siegsfeld balloon unusable, hence aviation remained the only hope. All serviceable aeroplanes (two newly arrived DFW Mars, two Deperdussins, two Bristols, and four R.E.P.s) were assembled at the Flying School’s airfield at Yesilköy.

Q French R.E.P. and Deperdussin were assembled at the Flying School’s airfield at Yesilköy 13

Notable

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Q Hidroplan attempt flight over Mediterranean sea

However, this was 210km from Hadrianople. Turkish pilots had insufficient endurance flying training, while the French ended their conacts for one reason or another, ultimately leaving Sukri pasˇa without air support. However, all was not forfeit. The opportunity was used to conduct for intensive flying training of pilots and observers. The more experienced among them, such as Capt Selim and Sr Lt Fethi, flew recce sorties above Bulgarian positions on the Cˇ atalca front. Meanwhile, a detachment of two Turks and two Germans was detailed to the Galipoli peninsula, charged with supplying reconnaissance to units counterattacking the Bulgars there. While in tranit by sea, the detachment encountered a storm and emerged with damaged equipment. The Germans them made their way back to Constantinople and returned home. Hostilities resumed in early February, after an armistice. Though much reduced in strength, Turkish aviation showed commendable activity right from the start. One factor for this was the concentration of its forces in the most vulnerable sector, another being the intensive recent training. The defence of the Cˇ atalca lines was critical to

Q A Turkish piloted R.E.P. about to depart for training flight

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the nation’s survival. It was entrusted to an elite command, reinforced by considerable numbers of German and French advisers. Right from the start, the Army Staff sent requests to aviators for intelligence on Bulgarian artillery positions. A Deperdussin piloted by Sr Lt Fethi accordingly departed, carrying General Staff Major Sadat as observer. The crew spotted the Bulgarian batteries from a height of 800m. The flight lasted 1hr 10min and was a constant small arms target for Bulgars and Turks alike. The same crew flew two further recce sorties, but despite warnings, Turkish soldiers continued shooting at their own aeroplane. Capt Fesa flew over the next few days, his observers including Maj Cemal and Capt Kenan. On 22 February Fesa and Kemal flew a two-hour long recce mission near Silivri. The flight was most fraught, a Bulgarian division concertedly firing on the aeroplane and causing it plentiful superficial damage. However, the information supplied was of immense import to the success of the defensive operations. The positions of a deploying Bulgarian regiment and its supporting artillery were pinpointed with great accuracy. The Commander of the Tenth Corps awarded the pilot ten gold lira for his heroism. On 22 March German pilot Mario Scherf flew along the Kumburgaz, Cˇ orlu, Cˇ erkezköy route, discovering Bulgarian preparations near Cˇ orlu. Two days later Sr Lt

Q A Deperdussin ready for take off

Q The Deperdussin single seat trainer was among the most widely used Turkish army aeroplanes prior to the First World War

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Fethi flew recce near Karaköy along with Lt Col Enver bey, tenth Corps Chief of Staff. They reached the Black Sea coast and returned safely to base. Mari Scherf and Capt Kemal crossed the Sea of Marmora, flew over the Cˇ atalca lines, reached Hadrianople and returned safely after a four-hour flight. The sortie was also remarkable for the fact that Kemal bey threw several egg-shaped bombs over adversary positions near the village of Kavakcˇa: the first such use of an aeroplane in Turkish history. On 29 March Scherf and his observer Capt Kemal flew recce near Karaorman. After the second armistice Yesilköy hosted just three serviceable aeroplanes: a Bleriot, a DFW, and an R.E.P. Despite efforts to buy new aircraft from Germany and France, the number was to remain unchanged until 13 July when Turkey renewed hostilities against Bulgaria. Flights were flown by pilots Fesa, Nuri, Selim, Fethi, and Fazil. On 21 July Sr Lt Fethi overflew Hadrianople in a DFW Mars. The following day Turkish units retook the city. An order on 26 July detailed Capt fesa with a Bleriot to the Right Flank Army, where on 28 July he flew recce along with a General Staff officer. The nascent Turkish air armflew recce and partol sorties until mid September 1913, losing one aeroplane when Sr Lt Fethi crashed his Mars into the Merica river (he survived, being temporarily hospitalised in Constantinople). As part of plans to improve military and national potential, a P9 non-rigid airship manufactured by the Parcival Luftfahrt Flugzeuge Gesellschaft company arrived in the metropolis. It had been purchased in April 1913, but the Austro-Hungarians refused to grant it passage and it had had to be transferred by sea via Constanca. The 2400cu m dirigible was 48m long and weighed 2000 kg. It had a 50hp engine, a crew of six, and offered a 1200m cruise at 41km/h. Along with it, some 40 kg of grenades were delivered for throwing from the gondola. On arrival of the important consignment, an Aeronautical Unit with five officers and 100 NCOs and troops was formed at the harbour. Two mechanics and the engineer/aeronaut Haxter arrived from Germany as advisers. An airship hangar was erected at Yesilköy airfield. The first sailing was on 5 August, with Haxter, Capt Fevzi, Navy Lt Murat, Lt Sakir, and a German mechanic in the gondola. They rose to 200 or 300m and flew around Yesilköy and Bakirköy for 1hr12m. More training sorties were performed in the following few days. The authorities also directed efforts at increasing the number of aeroplanes. For the purpose, a delegation led by Veli bey, head of the Flying School, toured AustriaHungary, Germany and France. Two months later, in March 1914, 20 Moranes were ordered for the Army, along with 15 Nieuport flying boats for the Navy. Capt Marcus de Goys, a French officer personally recommended to the delegation by Gen Bernard, assumed command of the Flying School. De Goys arrived in Turkey in May and was promoted to Major. A short time later, three newly manufactured training Bleriot Delfins arrived, and a strenuous programme

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THE CURTISS AEROPLANE FROM 1912

Q Pilot Fethi bey helps Šefket haneme, first Turkish woman to fly in an aeroplane, alight from his Deperdussin two seater on 30 October 1913

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of training for officers began. Newly arrived French mechanics repaired old aeroplanes which had been given up as ready for scrapping, boosting the fleet to pre-War levels. De Goys turned out to be an excellent flying instructor and educator. He proposed that all aviators should wear a new uniform, and also that a commission should meet to formulate a programme for the development of a Turkish airforce. This new command was to have 35 aeroplanes for army support, and 15 for naval support. Another six Caudrons

Q The Curtiss floatplane had a single 100hp engine driving twin propellers

Q The Turkish General Staff hoped the Caudron III order would improve combat effectiveness significantly before the start of The First World War

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and three Farmans were ordered from France. These were expected to arrive within two months, but the outbreak of the First World War put paid to the plans. In reality, the Ottoman Empire had just nine aeroplanes, of which just four were suitable for aerial reconnaissance: three 60/70/80hp engined R.E.P.s, and a 70hp engined Deperdussin. The Navy had three flying boats: a Curtis and two Nieuports. This strenght was badly below par, and the Empire would soon pay a heavy price for it.

Q Twenty one year old Richard Raymond-Baker: one of scores of young men volunteering for RFC service at the outbreak of the Great War. As this photograph was taken, he was not to know that he would be killed in 1918, entering aviation history as the last victim of the conflict’s most famous ace, Mannfred von Richthoffen

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Chapter

5

EMERGENCE OF AIR DEFENCE AND AIR DEFENCE TACTICS

A

s the threat from the air grew, states took measures to counter it. However, although air defence developed hand-in-hand with airforces, the idea of uniting the two into a single structure met with no success in peacetime. By late 1905 it was clear that France was assessing seriously the possibility of using airships for military ends. Thus the issue of how to prevent aerial attack from airships acquired primary importance. The very first theoretical ideas hit a completely unexpected obstacle. Initially, it was expected that the artillery would be more effective against airships than the infantry. Germans viewed their 1904 model 100mm howitzer, and the light field howitzer, as particularly suited for the role. Both could adopt the required elevation angle without especial preparations or accessories. Flight altitudes until 1914 rarely exceeded 1200m, which explains why the light field howitzer retained its air defence role despite its indifferent ballistic quality. It was down to practical experience to show the road ahead. The limited area of land testing grounds pointed the military to the sea, and particularly inland waters. This was helped by large arms manufacturers. In 1911, Germany’s Krupps and the Rhein Machine and Metal Products Factory (‘Rheinmetall’) built a 77mm air defence weapon mounted on a truck, with a special mount being designed for it the following year. After their first test firings, the infantry and cavalry pinned their hopes on massed small arms and machine gun fire directed against aircraft which still flew relatively low and within range of these weapons. Air defence artillery weapons also found a naval application. Since naval installations were fixed, what counted most was good ballistic properties and increased caliber, hence firepower. The 88mm ship board gun looked most promising because of its high initial velocity and elevation angles of up to 70 degrees. Powerful spotlights were also foreseen against nocturnal attacks. Realistic combat-condition testing was still a problem. Unmanned target drones were still in the future. The few aeroplanes available were rather too expensive to be wasted in such tests. Pooling the efforts of the various arms under a single command might have resolved many problems, major ones being taking precise aim in a new way, using principally new weapons, and using principally new instrumentation. France was one of the leaders in air defence technology. There, the 75mm field gun turned out most suitable for firing at airborne targets. It was also to be mounted

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Q One of the first mobile truck-mounted anti aircraft guns in French Army service

Q Highly mobile anti aircraft machine gun platforms such as this one entered service with infantry and cavalry units

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on a truck later, and by 1914 equipped mobile batteries within several artillery regiments. Combat to come was to show that this was far from adequate. Other nations failed to create air defence structures until the Great War. Even though the final manoeuvres threw some light on suitable air defence tactics, hard and fast decisions on air defence structures appeared premature. Initially, air defence units were appended to field artillery regiments guarding national borders. Large orders were placed for the reasonably capable mobile artillery weapons. Anti aircraft artillery tactics aimed to disturb enemy flying. The greater the usefulness of aerial artillery direction and correction, the greater the need to hamper its precision and effectiveness. The necessity of assigning anti aircraft weapons to cavalry corps and divisions became obvious. Tactics used to counter enemy flying, and camouflage as a most effective passive means of air defence were thoroughly overhauled. Less mobile animal-draught artillery units were assigned to protect important targets in the rear. Corps commands which received anti aircraft weapons, machine guns, projectors and communications equipment were advised to act as they saw fit. The extent of defence afforded depended on target importance. The range of options covered anything from infantry small arms fire to the combined use of rifles, machine guns, field guns and projectors. A communications network began to emerge, to speed the passage of information on enemy aerial movements.

Q A French Morane-Saulnier monoplane in flight

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Chapter

6

EMERGENCE OF THE COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER AND AIR POTENTIAL

W

hether or not air power exists depends on the individual components which constitute it when taken together. In the difficult period when air potential begins to be created, the greatest contribution is made by the scientific and experimental base. Thus, it was unthinkable that man would fly without first having a grasp on the properties of gases; and evolution in the knowledge of gases went alongside knowledge of aerodynamics. Having acquired some understanding of how water behaves (hydrodynamics), learned people began experimenting with gases. Their discoveries about lighter-thanair gases were quickly applied in late 18th Century aeronautics. Starting in 1804, Cayley and later Chapman studied different aerofoils, and how they behaved at different incidences. As learned societies were established with the purpose of researching flight, individual endeavour gradually became systematic and shared by the scientific community. The first scientific society was established in France in 1852. Britain’ s Aeronautical Society was founded in 1866, and the Russian Technical Society’s turn was in 1881. The fruits of this pooling of effort were not slow to emerge: using a home-made wind tunnel, Briton Phillips showed the lift benefits of cambered aerofoils, patenting a number of profiles in 1884. Not five years after Phillips’s work, Lilienthal proved these profiles’ benefits in practice by designing and flying gliders which paved much of the way to powered flight. (Concurrent studies of aspect ratio and of the best angle of incidence were no less important.) Though early knowledge was rather limited, and though experiments were rather less than rigorous and used rather primitive equipment, the body of knowledge acquired was a basis for the early successes. Another major barrier in the way of powered flight was the lack of suitable powerplant. There were two schools of thought among scientists. One stressed further improvements in steam engines. And indeed, such engines relative power increased, and times to building up steam pressure reduced. Between 1868 and 1872, steam engine efficiency nearly doubled! The second school of thought on powerplant sought principally new types of engine. Trial use of electric motors for propulsion showed that they were unsuitable. However, the discovery of the internal combustion engine was an important breakthrough for aeronautics and aviation. The working principle of internal combustion dated back to

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the 17th Century. However, the high cylinder temperatures could not be attained with the materials of the time. It was only in 1860 that Frenchman Lenoir built a working model of an internal combustion engine. It was water-cooled and burned lighting gas. But both this engine, and the much later Otto-Langlen one had nothing much to offer set against steam units. Only the four-stroke power unit designed by German Otto late in the late 1870s was worthy of development. Daimler refused to use lighting gas, choosing petrol instead. This removed the need for bulky and heavy gas storage vessels. With time, the needs of aviation began to influence internal combustion engine development. Such powerplant became standard due to its compact size, quick starting and unmatched relative power. At the end of the period under review, their output varied from 40 to 100hp (Table 1, Graph 2) (experimental FIAT units ran at 300hp and even 700hp). Daimler led the water cooled engine field, followed by Argus. Despite the weight of coolant, such engines were more powerful, longer-lasting and more reliable. HowT a b l e 1: Aeroengine Weight and Output, 1913-1914

Make

Origin

Type of engine

Ouyput, hp.

Cylinders

Relative Weight

50 80 80 100

5 7 9 12

1,5 1,2 1,4 2,9

100 100 100 120 130

6 6 6 8 9

2,0 2,2 2,0 1,8

Air-Cooled Gnome Gnome Rhone Renault

France France France France

Rotary Rotary Rotary V-Formation Water-Cooled

Argus Mercedes Astor-D ENV Salmson

Germany Germany Germany Britain France

Inline Inline Inline V-Formation Radial

Graph 2: Aeroengine Output Growth, 1913-1914.

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ever, many builders preferred the air-cooled French Gnome engine despite its great frontal area (and hence drag): it was lighter and cheaper. Aeroplanes using it were light, had shorter take-off and landing runs, and were more manoeuvrable (yet not as reliable...). Air-cooled engines also burned more lubricant. Yet, controversial aspects aside, the Gnome was licensed for production in Germany and Britain. Science and research remained the driving force behind the creation of air potential until the close of the first decade of the 20th Century. By that time, a relatively stable base had been established to assist the pursuit of certain tasks in the air. The period began with large-scale production of Parcival-Siegsfeld balloons, the vesting of the DELAG paramil-

Q A water-cooled 50hp Antoinette (right) and an air-cooled 50hp Rhone (above)

Q Albatros work production line

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Q Biplane flying boats for the military under construction at the Breguet works

itary/civilian Zeppelin operator, and initial series production orders for Wright, Bleriot, Farman, Voisin, Etrich and other aeroplanes. Before the start of the Great War, science determined air power, as demonstrated by the scramble to squeeze ever better technical indicators from all manner of aerial devices. It was also science that sourced the people who were to form design teams and apply their scientific skills in a commercial direction. Manufacture also grew apace, with 2718 aeroplanes being made in 1914: 1348 in Germany, 541 in France, 535 in Russia, 245 in Britain, and 49 in the USA. Performance grew along with production capacity. Frequent air shows and competitions became an added stimulus for designers and pilots to challenge range, endurance and speed records. Amply subsidised by state and private funds, these events also became marketplaces. Graphs 2, 3, and 4 show how rapidly flying machines progressed in that period. However, it was clear that these achievements had to have a context of clear and specific requirements. Having emerged, the aeroplane had to become civilised: it had to be made capable of showing its superiority vis-a-vis other types of airborne vessel in practice by becoming a competent and comfortable platform able to perform set tasks

Graph 2: Aeroplanes’ speed growth, 1906-1913

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Graph 3: Aeroplanes’ range growth, 1906-1913

Graph 4: Aeroplanes’ service seiling growth, 1906-1914

with ease. Thus, the demonstration of air power was the only way air potential could be actualised. In other words, a sufficient number of aeroplanes had to be utilised by national services specifically formed to operate them. This logically leads to one of the major issues in aviation from its emergence to the present: the issue of security. This in turn depends on the requirements of another important component which came to the fore after the first air arms had been formed: the availability of a sufficient number of reliable and competent aeroplanes. Poor safety affected aviation development adversely. If 29 pilots had died by 1910, in 1911 they numbered 74, in 1912: 127, and in 1913: 154 (plus several hundred injured survivors). (Graph 5)

Graph 5: Humans’ casualties in airo accidents, 1910-1913

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Q Seattle, Washington: the pilot loses control during a risky demonstration flight and heads into the grandstand. Onlookers fled for their lives, but three died and 12 were hurt

Clearly, if aeroplanes were not to remain an exotic plaything, much had to be done to improve their reliability and safety. Flight safety became a concern from 1910 onwards. To get things going, the state in the face of relevant offices such as war ministries, set aside prize money for air safety. Britain led the way here, sponsoring some excellent aeroplanes such as the BE2, the Avro 504, a Sopwith, and others. These saw active use into the 1930s, the Avro even serving in Soviet flying schools as the Ó-1 (U-1). The statistics showed these main causes of accidents: pilot error; poor aeroplane stability causing upsets in bad weather or in inexperienced hands; insufficient aeroplane strength causing structural failures; powerplant unreliability.The stability issue was tackled in two ways. The first one was to enhance aeroplanes’ natural aerodynamic stability. The key here was to select a suitable configuration. In-depth studies were undertaken of wing profiles, control surface action, trim, and propeller/rotary engine torque. The result was an advance in enlightened scientific methods of selecting a configuration. Valuable data was obtained in early wind tunnels built in Britain, France and Russia. Using data from the Royal Aircraft Factory Research Centre, the British built the RE 1 biplane which flew for ten minutes without any control inputs from its pilot. Apart from being pleasant for the pilot, this ability coincided with military requirements for stable aerial observation platforms. Thus emerged a trend to overestimate the significance of aeroplane stability. This trend was to rule supreme until the first dogfights, when its deleterious effect was shown. Similar events took place in Germany, Russia, and France: all countries leading aviation ‘fashion’ at the time.The second way in which the stability

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Q Farman aeroplanes enjoyed a good reputation among pilots for their enviable stability

Q The Curtiss twin-engined flying boat, specially built to fly the Atlantic, is notable for featuring one of the earliest autopilots

issue was tackled was to create a device allowing straight and level flight without pilot input. Such a device had to restore steady flight after atmospheric upsets or involuntary pilot inputs. Over 120 such devices were invented and patented before the First World

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War. The poor level of knowledge and experience at the time were reflected in the many and serious defects of such early ‘autopilots,’ rendering all of them impracticable. Aircraft structures were a great safety problem in themselves. In the dawn of aviation no stress calculation techniques whatsoever were applied to aeroplane structural design. French and British stressmen began static testing of airframes only after the first wing failure crashes in 1911. Little by little, designers relinquished timber for major stress bearing elements, adopting various kinds of metal instead. Another result of the stress studies was the preference for the stiffer biplane configuration, which was to stay in vogue until the mid-1930s. (Graph 6) Engine reliability also improved, as evidenced by the first flights measured in hours. Multi-engined aeroplanes able to maintain flight and land safely after an engine failure, also appeared. Russia led the way here, Igor Sikorski’s trials of his Russkiy Vityaz’ and Ilya Muromets proving that the multi-engined formula was a contribution to safety. The latter type was also the world’s first strategic bomber and strategic reconnaissance aeroplane to enter service. The arrival of the parachute was another great boost to safety. Known to man for a long time before aeroplanes, parachutes were first used for egress from balloon gondolas. The first rucksack parachute was designed by Kotel’nikov in 1911. Similar designs quickly appeared in the USA (1912) and Germany (1913). The first life saved by this progenitor of modern emergency escape devices was that of American pilot Lowe in 1912. Efforts to improve safety went hand Q A Deperdussin about to depart for testing the parachute seen in an under-fuselage pod in hand with another very important

Graph 6: Monoplanenes % from all aeroplanes production, 1909-1914

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component of air power: the availability of adequately trained air and ground personnel. The newly created flying schools began not only to impart flying skills to pilots, but also to train mechanics in aeroplane maintenance. Legislative instruments were adopted to regulate the operation of aeroplanes in the air and on the ground and define rights and responsibilities. The first textbooks and flight manuals were published. As the number of aeroplanes grew, so did the number of national offices concerned in one way or another with their operations, and so did the requirements for crew training. As the nature of tasks performed by crews evolved, so did flying school curricula. The first military flying schools opened, training pilots in the specialist arts of aerial observation and reconnaissance, and the skill of flying at above 1000m: the altitude then considered optimal for such purposes. As mentioned above, those wishing to serve in the emergent air arms had to have military wings. Bearers of military wings were specifically trained to fly specially designed army and navy aeroplanes. For instance, one difference between civil and military flying schools was that while the former rarely strayed above 600m, the latter were trained to reach observation altitudes of 1000m or more, dive to 600m to avoid artillery fire, and practise dead stick landings with an idling or switched off engine. By 1913 improving aeroplane reliability and performance allowed quite daring aerial manoeuvres. Independently of one another, Nesterov and Pegoo flew loops, proving that aircraft were capable of sustaining great loadings in the air. This was the start of aerobatic training which included learning spin recovery skills. A danger to the unwary to this very day, spins are uncontrolled falls at high angles of attack while rolling, pitching and yawing. The number of aerobatic-trained pilots grew rapidly, reaching 30 in Russia alone by early 1914. Thus, despite the greater complexity of aeroplanes and flying, the flight hours per accident indicator improved twenty fold. Whereas in 1909 an accident occurred once every 200 flight hours on average, by 1914 it occurred once every 4000 hours. Convinced of aeroplanes’ military and civil utility, the governments of nations able to develop aircraft and airship manufacturing set aside considerable funds for equipping their new air arms. By 1913, over 1000 aeroplanes had entered military service Q Dual controls in a Curtiss training flying boat around the world.

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Q An early procedural trainer used to give ab-initio skills to future Antoinette pilots

Q German pilots duringintensive training a week before the start of the First World War: the helmet has become a compulsory part of the kit

260

Graph 7: Finance funds spending for aviation in 1913 (in mln. dol.)

Military aviation budgets for 1913 came to 7.4m dollars in France, 5m dollars in Germany and Russia, 3m dollars in Britain, and 2.1m dollars in Italy. (Graph 7) The trend was for these sums to grow apace, and moreover for the share of aviation to grow at the expense of aeronautics. Aeroplanes were gradually becoming recognised as more versatile for the range of tasks set before aviation and aeronautics. Initially, the military bought proven designs for sports and private-owner use, but specialist military designs emerged from 1912. The latter all had two crew members and stronger landing gear, and were easily reconfigured for transportation by road, river or sea. Before impressment into service, such aeroplanes were tested by special acceptance bodies, often on top of having proven their qualities in numerous fly-offs and competitions. This was then a new departure which later found its way to other areas due to its effectiveness. Alongside the development of aeroplanes as such, another component of air power was taking shape: on board and ground equipment. Pre-First World War army and navy aeroplanes were decidedly multi-role. Much experimentation with different equipment thought useful for the various armed forces which employed aeroplanes took place. Specialised airborne cameras appeared whose images helped determine the precise location of enemy forces. Reliable cameras with moderate focal Q A German dragon balloon equipped with a length optics, comfortable for use from aer- stereo photographic camera

261

Q A Type L planview camera fitted to a B.E.2a

Q A machine gun equipped Nieuport 4

262

oplanes and tethered balloons, entered production. This in turn led to the design of mobile photographic labs to process the cameras’ output for immediate use. However, the money involved was huge, and thought unjustified amid prevailing expectations that the coming war would be so swift and mobile, events would overtake photographic intelligence. Thus mobile labs were not mass produced, reliance being placed on field laboratories instead. Observation equipment derived from the artillery also entered wide scale use, especially in naval aviation. Initial attempts to arm airborne vessels with firearms date back to this period. Their use was directed at both the ground and the air. Despite significant advances, the fitting of machine guns to aeroplanes was still very much an experiment prior to the Great War. The major problem was the difficulty of firing safely through the propeller disc, which limited the use of machine guns. Also, the available machine guns were either too primitive, or too heavy. Experience of manual bombing in the Tripolitanian and Balkan Wars showed that its effect was more psychological than genuinely damaging to the enemy. The bombs used had unknown ballistic properties: they were mostly adaptations of infantry hand grenades. Purpose designed aeroplane bombs, though of a modest size in keeping with the capacity of early aeroplanes, gradually acquired the shape we know today. Most widespread were ‘bat cubs,’ weighing five kilos, drop-shaped and finned so as to drop vertically. Their ap-

Q Bombing trials with training bombs near Los Angeles, California; the aeroplane seen is a Farman biplane

263

pearance led to the design of special bombsights and bomb-holders. Though patented devices were insufficiently effective, individual pilots demonstrated exceptional bombing precision during training or in competitions. One such was Lieutenant Gobert who scored 12 hits in a 20m circle from a height of 200m with his 15 bombs (make not recorded) during a 1912 international military display. In the next heat, the same officer scored eight hits of a 120x50m target from a height of 450m. Other pilots of the period were not far behind, including Bulgarian ones during the preparations for the second stage of the First Balkan War. However, airmen in general entered the Great War unarmed but for their handguns (which they indeed used in anger in the conflict’s opening stages!). The period saw early attempts to protest airmens’ seats against ground fire. Though easy to fit, however, the steel plate used was too heavy. Armour plating had to wait for sturdier airframes and more powerful engines. The means and equipment which ensure effective use of military aeroplanes are another important component of air power. Initially, this included bases where men could train and equipment could be tried, and manufacture and maintenance workshops. Army and navy orders gradually encouraged factory-based aircraft manufacture. Specialised engine and propeller companies emerged. By the start of the Great War, the world had no fewer than 75 aircraft and 23 aeroengine makers capable of turning out 1600 aeroplanes and 2200 engines a year. This was in addition to fully equipped military workshops and airfields. Command and control, the last but not least important component of air power, remained most problematic in its nascence. The reason for this was that radio communications were not yet adapted for routine air-to-air or air-to-ground operation. This circumstance introduced delays in the passing on of aerial reconnaissance information. Even though initial trials in 1910 brought very encouraging results, radio sets were too heavy and bulky for the typical aeroplane then. However, radio was not the only concern of commanders who had to juggle balloons, dirigibles, and aeroplanes around the battlefield. Limited experience had not yet suggested the sort of unit structure that would be right for aviation and aeronautics. Part of engineering or communications corps, their commanders lacked the independence and flexibility. Experience from manoeuvres and local wars gave some clarity on how different types of flying machine are best employed. Those first airborne weapons, spherical balloons, were on their way out. However, despite their known disadvantages, they were still used for secondary and auxiliary tasks such as defending fortresses and targets to the rear. Their place at the battlefront was taken by tethered kite balloons, which were stable observation platforms. In recognition of their still limited mobility, they were intended for static and defensive warfare. Aeroplanes and airships were to be the proactive agents on the battlefront, with aerostatic balloons being used for

264

observation, aerial reconnaissance, and artillery correction. Forward-positioned aerostats would conduct stereoscopic photography of enemy formations, allowing their locations, firepower, and force concentrations to be determined precisely. In attack, aerostats were only assigned the artillery correction role. Observation altitudes reached 1300m, with some 600 to 1000m being average, and 400m being the minimum. Aerostats could only carry one aeronaut to maximum altitude, which made effective data transmission more difficult. A normal three of four-strong crew could ascend to no more than 600m. Aerostats’ distance from the frontline depended on observation altitude and the presence of enemy artillery (especially long-range guns), and was usually four to six kilometres. Observers’ effectiveness depended on locale (the presence of characteristic features), on how well enemy manpower and equipment was camouflaged, and on the weather. Major weather indicators were visibility and wind speed. Parcival-Siegsfeld balloons could cope with no more than some 15m/s of wind. Fair visibility constituted anything over ten kilometres. Given such conditions, experienced aeronauts could locate a single artillery battery 15 to 18km away by looking for gun flashes. Aerostats’ good visual range and ability to fly equally well from shipboard as from the shore made them valuable to the fleet, especially in naval blockades. Apart from conducting general lookout and recce duties, naval aeronauts could spot enemy sur-

Q A French balloon unit filling its vessel with hydrogen

265

Q An Italian semi-rigid airship

face and submarine shipping and mines, correct artillery fire, and relay ship-to-ship or ship-to-shore messages. Operational and strategic intelligence duties were assigned to airship crews. The last peacetime manoeuvres proved that general staffs’ requirements of early 1914 could only be met by airships. These requirements included the ability to penetrate enemy airspace to a depth of 500 or 600km at a height of 2400m: indicators far beyond the ability of any mass produced heavier-than-air craft at the time. Another great advantage of airships was their great loadability. This enabled them to bomb fortresses, troop and equipment concentrations, harbours, stores and industrial establishments. In penetrations of the order of 600km, airship warloads were not less than 300 kg, with corresponding increases at shorter ranges. However, the fact is that prior to the Great War very few airships boasted anything like the above indicators. Those that did were mostly German. (Graph 8) Wisdom from the initial manoeuvres and local wars in which aeroplanes were involved seemed to suggest they would be most useful for operational reconnaissance. The same events also showed some aeroplane utility in tactical recce, and in artillery

Graph 8: Airships’ payload and range growth, 1900-1914

266

correction, but this was ignored. Apart from mistrust of aeroplanes among commands, and short-sightedness on the part of military bureaucrats, this was also due to pilots’ dislike of such hard and risky missions which required concerted training and offered no guarantee of success. Yet artillery correction soon became a routine task for aviators, especially against well camouflaged targets. Since no manuals and agreed procedures of any kind existed, flyers and gunners would thrash things out informally before a flight. Naturally, results were patchy, took long to arrive and were often at odds with gunners’ real needs. Military theoreticians correctly surmised that informal ‘negotiations’ would be unthinkable in the mobile general war they expected, and began developing formalised procedures. Things did not get much further than those early developments, being overtaken by the outbreak of war. The next task assigned to aviators was to strike enemy targets. The Tripolitanian and Balkan Wars, in which aviators from many non-combatant nations volunteered, convinced experts that there was considerable likelihood of success in bombing from aeroplanes. They concluded that aeroplanes would be best used against targets that were large or covered a great area. Working heights would be between 800 and 1000m. Two approaches were foreseen: star patterned and squadron attacks. The former involved individual aeroplanes approaching the target from a variety of directions, whereas the latter involved a group approaching together. In both cases the aim was to saturate the target with bombs to an adequate extent. In any case, considering the relatively small number of aeroplanes, no specialised bombing units were formed before the Great War, commanders having to rely on what (if any) strike capacity happened to be available in units under their command. The Balkan Wars brought the dogfight a stage nearer. Though isolated, the encounters on the Bulgarian/Turkish and Bulgarian/Servian fronts did not escape analysts’ notice. However, neither designers, nor strategists offered coherent views on dogfighting. The very idea of one aerial vessel being attacked by another was only addressed in the

Q Good portability was among the conditions set before candidates to supply aeroplanes to the military: here a Breguet is seen readied for transportation by road

267

case of some airships, which were accordingly fitted with machine guns. Aeroplanes lacked such defensive armament. While France, Britain, Belgium, Russia and AustriaHungary did some defensive/offensive armament trials, conclusions drawn and solutions implemented were disparate. For instance, influenced by the forward-positioned engine and puller propeller, the Austro-Hungarians decided to position the observer aft and let him handle the weapon. Others felt it was better to site the engine aft, use a pusher propeller, and put the observer/gunner at the front. The use of aeroplanes for liaison between distant columns or units was another long-drawn contentious issue. Since everyone expected a mobile war, aerial liaison scenarios were tried at manoeuvres, and in 1911 some pilots called for a purposedesigned swift and light aeroplane. The call was heard only in Britain, where the satisfactory Scout flew eighteen months later. Stemming from man’s earliest attempts to break the bonds of gravity, the genesis of air power saw early aeroplanes used not just by the military, but also for transportation and other civilian business. This genesis stimulated great scientific and industrial effort. The following general conclusions may be drawn: 1. Even at their nascence, air power and air potential became a priority in industrially developed nations which could afford to keep pace with advancing research and technology; 2. The emergence and development of air power’s various components was evolutionary, and was governed as much by the new environment as by the objectives set by national political and military leaders; 3. The tasks set before early aviation led to the creation of specialised institutions at the government and private enterprise levels; 4. The improvement of aeroplanes’ capabilities led to enhanced status for the specialised institutions which started on their way to becoming pillars of national military and economic might; 5. As the components of air power and air potential grew in importance, they began to form a system with its typical interconnections, points of entry and exit, and sources; 6. The major development stimulus for air power and air potential was the drive for supremacy in the new environment of the air. The first local conflicts in which the nascent components of the new system played a part proved that this system had a future in the attainment of political, business and military goals. — The first shots of the world’s first general war put an end to the period of emergence in the development of air power. Although regarded romantically today, this period saw many rational solutions which hold true to this very day. Later, air potential would draw on experience gained in this period to develop both its peaceful civilian aspects, and its military side.

268

269

1908

1909

LZ-4

3

LZ-10

7

8

1911

1912

1912

1912

1913

1913

1913

1913

1914

1914

1914

11 LZ-14

12 P

13 PL-17

14 PL-16

15 LZ-21

16 Astra

17 PL-18

18 PL-20

19 M

20 LZ-24

1911

1911

10 Mayfly

Schute-Lanz SL-1

LZ-7

6

9

1910

Grif

5

1910

1909

Lebed’

LZ-5

4

1905

LZ-2

2

1900

Year

LZ-1

Designation/ Name

1

No

Germany

Italy

Germany

Germany

Russia

Germany

Germany

Germany

Italy

Germany

Britain

Germany

Germany

Germany

Russia

Germany

Russia

Germany

Germany

Germany

Origin

22,470

12,500

9830

8800

10,000

20,870

9830

9830

4900

22,465

18,760

19,500

17,800

19,300

7300

15,000

3700

12,200

11,300

11,300

Volume, m3

158

82.7

92

84

78

148

94.15

85

62

158

156

131

140

148

700

136

61.4

136

128

128

Length, m

14.86

16.9

15

15

15

14.86

15.48

16

12.6

14.86

14.6

18.4

14

14

14

13

11.1

11.65

11.65

11.65

Diameter, m

441

287

265

265

294

396

265

250

103

363

265

368

321

264

162

144

51

144

126

21

Power, kWt

Airships Prior to the Great War

9200

5300

3300

2200

5400

8800

2716

2150

1490

9400

n.a.

4500

6500

6800

3700

4600

920

2900

2800

n.a.

Payload, kg

80.6

70

78.1

67

59

73.8

67.6

64.8

65

76.3

n.a.

70.9

75.6

60.1

59

48.6

36

43.9

39.6

28.1

Speed, km/h

Rigid

Semi Rigid

Soft

Soft

Soft

Rigid

Soft

Soft

Semi Rigid

Rigid

Rigid

Rigid

Rigid

Rigid

Soft

Rigid

Semi Rigid

Rigid

Rigid

Rigid

Type

270

Origin

2 Flyer 1 USA Flyer 2 USA Flyer 3 USA 14 bis France Voisin-Delagrange France Bleriot VI France Voisin-Farman 1 France Wright A USA Bleriot VIII France REP 2 France Verber 9 France Cody 1 Britain Voisin-Farman 1 bis France Antoinette 4 France Voisin Standard France Grade 1 Germany Bleriot XI Germany Golden Flyer USA Farman 3 France Antoinette 6 France Kudashyov-1 Russia Gakkel’ 3 Russia Grizodubov Russia Laner Simon 1 AustriaHungary

1

Designation

3 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1907 1907 1908 1908 1908 1908 1908 1908 1908 1908 1908 1908 1909 1909 1909 1910 1910 1910 1910

Year

Engine, Rating

5 Biplane Wright, 12hp Biplane Wright, 16hp Biplane Wright, 21hp Biplane Antoinette, 50hp Biplane Anotinette, 50hp Tandem Wing Biplane Antoinette, 50hp Biplane Antoinette, 50hp Biplane Wright, 30hp Monoplane Antoinette, 50hp Monoplane n.a., 30hp Biplane Antoinette, 50hp Biplane Antoinette, 50hp Biplane Antoinette, 50hp Monoplane Antoinette, 50hp Biplane Antoinette, 50hp Triplane Grafe, 16hp Monoplane Anzani, 25hp Biplane Curtiss, 50hp Biplane Gnome, 50hp Monoplane Antoinette, 50hp Biplane Anzani, 35hp Biplane Anzani, 35hp Biplane ARB, 30hp Biplane Anzani, 25hp

4

Type

Crew Span, Length, Wing Gross Max Range/ time m m Area, Weight, Speed, sq m kg km/h 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 12.3 6.4 47 340 approx 18 285m/59s 1 12.3 6.4 47 360 approx 47 4.8km/5m 4s 1 12.3 8.5 47 388 approx 60 39km/38m 3s 1 11.5 9.7 52 300 approx 60 220m/21.2s 1 10 n.a. 40 n.a. n.a. 500m/n.a. 1 5.9 n.a. 20 280 n.a. 184m/n.a. 1 10.2 13.3 40 520 approx 45 771m/52.6s 2 12.5 8.9 47.4 500 approx 60 125km/2h 20m 23s 1 11 10 22 425 approx 76 14km 1 8.6 n.a. 15.8 350 n.a. 1.2km 1 10.5 10.7 30 400 40 500m/n.a. 1 15.8 n.a. n.a. n.a. 45 450m/n.a. 1 10.2 13.3 40 530 54 40km/n.a. 1 12.8 11.5 50 450 65 155km/n.a. n.a. 1 10 12 40 550 55 1 10 8.5 25 230 70 60m/n.a. 1 7.8 8.2 14 300 60 n.a. 1 8.7 8.7 24 376 60 n.a. 1 10 11.2 40 550 60 223km/n.a. 1 12.8 11.5 50 520 85 180km/n.a. 2 9 10 32 420 n.a. 60m/n.a. 1 7.5 7.5 29 560 80 400m/n.a. 1 12 10.9 n.a. 600 70 4.4km/n.a. 2 13 n.a. 47 550 70 n.a.

Aeroplanes Prior to the Great War

271

2 AustriaHungary Russia USA Britain Germany France France France Germany Britain Britain France Britain France Britain Germany France

France Britain France Russia Russia USA Russia Germany Germany

C-6A [S-6A] Curtiss A1 Bristol R1 Fokker Spin Nieuport 4 Farman MF7 Henriot D Albatros Bristol Scout Dun DB Farman 22 BA 2A Caudron G-3 Avro 504 Albatros B2 Morane Parasol

Morane-Saulnier Sopwith Tabloids Deperdussin Russkiy Vityaz’ Ilya-Muromets Curtiss M C-10 [S-10] Albatros Rumpler 4S

1 Etrich Taube

1913 1913 1913 1913 1913 1913 1914 1914 1914

1911 1911 1911 1911 1911 1912 1912 1912 1912 1912 1913 1913 1913 1913 1913 1913

Biplane Biplane Flying Boat Monoplane Monoplane Monoplane Biplane Monoplane Biplane Biplane Flying Wing Biplane Biplane Biplane Biplane Biplane Biplane High Wing Monoplane Monoplane Biplane Monoplane Biplane Biplane Biplane Flying Boat Biplane Flying Boat Flying Boat Biplane Monoplane

3 4 1910 Monoplane

Gnome, 80hp Gnome, 80hp Gnome, 160hp 4 x Argus, 100hp 4 x Argus, 100hp Curtiss, 85hp Argus, 100hp Mercedes, 100hp Mercedes, 100hp

Argus, 100hp Curtiss, 75hp Gnome, 50hp Argus, 100hp Gnome, 50hp Renault, 70hp Gnome, 50hp Argus, 100hp Gnome, 80hp Green, 50hp Gnome, 80hp Renault, 70hp Gnome, 80hp Gnome, 80hp Mercedes, 100hp Gnome, 80hp

5 Clerget, 50hp

1 1 1 4 4 2 2 2 2

2 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2

6 2

9.2 7.8 6.7 27 32 8.7 14 16 14

11.8 8.74 9.2 11 11.6 15.8 8.9 14.4 6.7 10.97 15 10.68 13.9 11 12.8 10.3

7 14

8 10

7 6.1 6.1 20 23 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.

8.8 8.43 n.a. 7.75 8 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 6.4 n.a. 9 n.a. 8.91 n.a. 6.38

Aeroplanes Prior to the Great War

16 22 10 120 182 32.9 36 50 29

35.4 30.75 15 22 18 48 14 39 14.3 21.35 41 32.7 30 32 36 18

9 34

500 480 500 4200 4650 550 1080 1240 1000

990 714 372 400 600 728 480 950 280 772 680 726 625 625 900 680

10 430

130 148 200 90 95 80 100 105 110

111 105 105 90 105 90 120 100 150 97 90 112 90 100 100 115

11 80

250km n.a. n.a. 380km 380km n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.

n.a. n.a. n.a. 45km/n.a. 330km/n.a. n.a. n.a. 1200km n.a. n.a. n.a. 480km n.a. 280km 600km 300km

12 75km/n.a.

272

BIBLIOGRAPHY Books 1. Istoria tis Ellinikis Polemikis Aeroporias, Ekdosi Diegthisis Istorias Aeroporias, Athina 2. Voenno-vozdushnye sily, Voennoe izdatel’stvo Ministerstva oborony SSSR, Moskva 3. Air Force Manual 1-1, Volume 1, Basic Aerospace Doctrine of the USAF, Department of the Air Force, Washington, D.C., 1992 4. Carl von Clauzewitz on War, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1984 5. Field Manual 100-20/APF 3-20, Military Operations in Low Intensity Conflict, 1990 6. Istorija jugoslovenskog vazduhoplovstva, Kniga I, Srpska avijatika 1912-1918, Beograd, 1993 7. Jacuk, N., Taktika na vazdushnia flotw, Peqatnica na armeyskia voennoizdatelski fondw, Sofia 8. Akademiya nauk SSSR, Sistemnye issledovaniya, Nauka, Moskva, 1927 9. Al’gazin, A., Aviatsiya v sovremennoy voyne, Gosudarstvennoe voennoe izdatel’stvo Narkomata oborony SSSR, Moskva, 1936 10. Arie, M. Ya., Dirizhabli, Naukova dumka, Kiev; Dirigibles, Naukova Dumka Publishers, Kiev, 1986 11. Beryozin, P. F., Voenno-vozdushnye sily v sovremennoy voyne, Voennoe izdatel’stvo MO SSSR, Moskva, 1957 12. Botting, D., The Giant Airship, Time-Life Books, 1980 13. Bowen, E., Knights of the Air, Time-Life Books, 1980 14. Voenno-vozdushnie sily SShA, Izdatel’stvo MO SSSR, Moskva, 1957 15. Campbell, C., Aircraft of WW1, Blandford Press, London, 1981 16. Chant, C., The Illustrated History of the Air Forces of WW1 and WW2, Hamlyn, London, 1979 17. Coller, B., History of Air Power, Weidenfield and Nicholson, London, 1978 18. Delafus, C., Bouche, H., Historie de l’Aeronautique, Saint Georges, Paris, 1932 19. Dollfus, C., Les Avions, Robert Delpire, Paris, 1962 20. Douhet, G., Translated by Dino Ferrari, The Command of the Air, Howard McCann, New York City, N.Y., 1942 21. Duz’, P. D., Istoriya vozduhoplavaniya i aviatsii v Rossii, Mashinostroenie, Moskva, 1974 22. Emme, E. M., The Impact of Air Power, van Nostrand, 1959 23. Futrel, R. F., Ideas, Concepts, Doctrine, Air University Press, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, 1989 24. Gibbs-Smith, C. H., Aviation, The Science Museum (Her Majesty’s Stationery Office), London, 1970

273

25. Höppner, U., Deutschland Urieg in der Luft, Verlag von Köhler K. F., Leipzig, 1921 26. Kansu, Y., ¸Sensöz, S., Öztuna, Y., Havacýlýk tarihinde Türkler, Bizim ve nes¸riyat müdafaa, Edirne, 1971 27. Kennet, L., The First Air War 1914-1918, The Tree Press, New York City, N.Y., 1991 28. Kolesnikov, L. A., Osnovy teorii sistemnogo podhoda, Naukova dumka, Kiev, 1988 29. Po-leki ot vwzduha, Tehnika, Sofia, 1984 30. Latev, N., Filosofsko-metodologiqni problemi na swvremennata nauka, Akademia za obxestrveni nauki i socialno upravlenie, Sofia, 1984 31. Lebedev, A. A., Osnovy sinteza sistem letate’lnyh apparatov, Mashinostroenie, Moskva, 1987 32. Lee, E., Vozdushnaya moshch’, Izdatel’stvo inostrannoy literatury, Moskva, 1958 33. Mason, R. A., War in the Third Dimension, Brassey’s Defence Publishers, London, 1986 34. Mason, T., Air Power, Brassey’s Defence Publishers, London, 1994 35. Milanov, Y., Aviaciata i vwzduhoplavaneto na Bulgaria prez voynite 1912-1945, Sveti Georgi Pobedonosec, Sofia, 1995 36. Mitchell, W., Winged Defence, Kennikat [Cennecutt?] Press, Port Washington, 1925 37. Monday, D., The Complete Illustrated Encyclopædia of the World’s Aircraft, A&W Publishers, New York City, N.Y., 1978 38. Monyer, W. W., Air Power in Three Wars, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1978 39. Optner, S. L., Sistemnyi analiz dlya resheniya delovykh i promyshlennykh problem, Sovetskoe radio, Moskva, 1996 40. Petit, E., Histoire Mondiale de l’Aviation, Albin Michel, 1978 41. Plekhanov, M. A., Slovar’ voennyh terminov, Voenizdat, Moskva, 1988 42. Pokrovskiy, S. N., Boevaya deyatel’nost’ aviatsii, Aviaizdatel’stvo, Moskva, 1926 43. Petit, E., Istoria na aviaciata, Kama, Sofia, 1999 44. Schmidt, H., Historische Flugzeuge, Transpress, Berlin, 1967 45. Schmitt, G., Als die Oldtimer Flögen, Transpress, Berlin, 1980 46. Sherman, U., Vwzdushnata voyna, Peqatnica na armeyskia voennoizdatelski fondw, Sofia, 1928 47. Shabaryov, N., Taktika privyaznogo vozduhoplavaniya, Gosudarstvennoe voennoe izdatel’stvo, Moskva, 1924 48. Sobolev, D. A., Istoriya samolyota, Rosren, Moskva, 1995 49. Sobolev, D. A., Rozhdenie samolyota, Mashinostroenie, Moskva, 1988 50. Taylor, J. W. R., Monday, D., Spies in the Sky, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York City, N.Y., 1972 51. Vwlqev, I., Aerostati, Oteqestvo, Sofia, 1985 52. Whitehouse, A., The Military Airplane, Doubleday & Sons, New York City, N.Y., 1971 53. Yakhimovich, Z. P., Italo-turetskaya voyna, Nauka, Moskva, 1967

Periodicals 54. Collins, J. M., “Principles of Deterrence”, Air University Review, November-December 1979 55. Earle, E. M., “The Influence of Air Power”, Yale Review, Summer 1946 56. Groves, P. R. C., “Our Future in the Air”, The Times, 21 March and 24 April 1924 57. Possony, S., “Elements of Air Power”, Infantry Journal Press, 1949 58. Semerdjiev, S., “Boynoto krwxenie na samoleta”, Vestnik VVS, br. br. 5, 6, 1997

274

59. Seversky, A., What is Air Power?, Air Force Magazine, August 1955 60. Tagarev, T., “Akcentirame na sistemnia podhod pri reformata na voennoto obrazovanie”, Bwlgarska armiä, 27 april 1999 61. Wilson, H. J., “The Luftwaffe as a Political Instrument”, Aeronautics, October 1944

Miscellaneous 62. Cooper, J. C., “The Fundamentals of Air Power”, a paper delivered before the National Air Council on 7 January 1948 63. McFarland, M. W., “When the Airplane was a Military Secret”, a paper delivered before the Annual History Conference at the State University of Iowa, 10 April 1954 64. Trenchard, V., Marshal of the Royal Air Force, a pamphlet issued August 1946.

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276