aviation at the start
Great War timeline
Aerial Reconnaissance
observation balloons
aerial combat
machine guns
forward firing machine gun
allied AAA guns of WW1
aircraft camouflage
death of an Air Ace
the Fokker scourge
the Red Baron
von Richthofen journal
Zeppelin airships
nocturnal air defence
Lafayette Escadrille
Belgium during the Great War
the Eastern Front
the Russian Front
the Italian Front
Air Effort over Gallipoli
the bombers
the American air effort
the German 1918 spring offensive
America at War
the end of Germany's air effort
aircraft statistics
Aircraft of WW1
WW1 air aces
aircraft designers
WW1 aircraft engines

aviation in World War One










Most companies passed into the hands of auto manufacturers, who had experience in mass-production techniques, and to people who were comfortable in the world of corporate finance. The Wrights, Blériot, and Curtiss did not belong to this world; Fokker, Saulnier, and Martin did. Second, the war only whetted the appetite of many military strategists for a time when the full potential of air power could be applied to conflict. The requirements for effective aerial bombing, for instance, turned out to be much more stringent than those for close fighter combat. Bombers have to carry larger payloads, have  greater range, fly faster and higher, and be better armoured than fighters.

World War I saw two cycles begin that were to become perennial parts of the future of aviation. One cycle was the parry-and-thrust between adversaries, as one side gained an advantage that required better planes from the other side as a counter; the other cycle was the same sort of competition between the makers of fighters and the makers of bombers. Better fighters created the need for better bombers, which in turn created a need for better fighters, and so on. As terrible a war as the Great War was, it is fortunate that it ended when it did, because both sides had already produced the beginnings of a fleet of advanced bombers that would have decimated cities and  resulted in even greater civilian deaths across Europe.