Starting in 1914 the development of military aircraft grew exponentially in the following years of the conflict. German machines and their pilots quickly gained a well-earned reputation as the war developed. Aerial conflict offered a rich ground for the exploits of Canadian pilot William (Billy) Bishop and the ‘Red Baron’ of Germany, Manfred von Richthofen. These men developed lasting reputations which saw them renowned and the subjects of films, documentaries and plays up until the present day.
This publication, created by the Air Ministry Air Intelligence unit, was primarily designed as a training aid for service personnel to help them identify German Aircraft. The aerial recognition element of the publication was of utmost importance in educating combatants about enemy aircraft. Although pilots were in some cases portrayed as 20th century equivalents of Galahad and Lancelot, in actual fact aerial combat was more often an affair which involved multiple aircraft frantically dog fighting in frenetic and dangerous engagements. In such an environment survival often depended on recognising enemy aircraft before they themselves were spotted. In addition early aviators needed to contend with anti-aircraft artillery, lack of training and mechanical failure, all of which were common problems in early aircraft and in some cases proved very costly during combat.
- Article by:
- Bernard Wilkin
- The war machine
From Zeppelin airships to propaganda leaflet drops, Bernard Wilkin explores the significant role of aerial warfare in World War One – where it was used on a large scale for the first time.