The Wright brothers built the first airplane in 1903. Under ten years later, World War I broke out and the machine was progressed greatly by being made faster, lighter, able to fly higher, and to carry and use weapons. The airplane had a extreme affect on the war. First, as an observation plane and then for combat. The airplane progressed the war greatly by giving armies the ability to attack from above, observe the enemy with a bird’s eye view and help their soldiers fight through the enemy lines. The airplane helped shortened the war by more than a year.
When the war first broke out all of the countries thought that the plane could be used in the war, and first started making planes stronger and better built. The planes first started as an observation plane which by being able to see the enemy with a bird’s eye view had a significant effect on the war. When World War I broke out, the airplane was less than a decade old, but right away some countries thought the airplane could be used to their advantage. First, most of the countries started using planes to get a bird’s eye view of the battlefield which gave them the upper hand. That affected the war greatly. AboutEducation notes, “The belligerents in World War One quickly took to the air to gain an advantage war. Pilots were initially sent up for reconnaissance, with their ability to fly over enemy positions and photograph below proving extremely valuable to planners.” Being able to see from above gave your side a significant advantage, by being able to have a good strategy knowing where the enemy is. After a while it was pretty obvious that aerial photographs would be a huge advantage, so the pilots started mounting cameras on their planes so the could take photos of the enemy’s strategy and come back to show the commanders. The ability to do this had a significant effect on the war. Iwm.org states “Aerial reconnaissance was a dangerous job. Taking photos of enemy positions required the pilot to fly straight and level so that the observer could take a series of overlapping images. This made them an easy target.” Once the photo was taken the plane could report back to the base so that your side could have a lot more effective strategy by knowing what the enemy is up to. This had a significant effect on the war. Soon the aerial engineers realized that they needed to make the planes faster, stronger and more durable if they wanted to compete with the other sides aircraft and be able to get a bird’s eye view of the battlefield before the opposing side did. Firstworldwar.com notes “In the Brusilov offensive of 1916 aerial reconnaissance provided the Russian army with detailed maps of enemy positions. Reconnaissance missions were dangerous. They were usually carried out by a crew of two. The pilot was required to fly straight and level to allow the observer to take a series of overlapping photographs.” The airplane was about to receive some major positive change as the war was progressing the plane at an astonishing rate, to be able to compete with the other side for reconnaissance. This had a huge affect on the war. Once the pane was first put into service they acted great as a reconnaissance vehicle, progressing the war and giving your side a detailed map of the battlefield, which of course was a significant advantage. After awhile though some aircraft engineers decided that the plane should have weapons as a part of the design.
As the first World War progressed the military’s thought that the airplanes could be used for a tactical advantage by being able to attack from above. After a few months of World War 1 pilots would start dropping bombs and little spikes out of the side of their plane in the hope of hitting enemy troops, and thousands of enemy soldiers were taken out this way, which of course had a significant effect on the war. A BBC video quotes “ but then the pilots started taking an active role on the battlefield pilots would shoot with spikes called flashets, that if you drop out the side might hit enemy troops, or even bombs.” Being able to attack from above affected the war because you could go deep into enemy lines and hit a target without being shot down yourself. Once the military of each country realized it’s quite easy to place a few spikes and a bomb on your airplane they started to use this technique all the time, and by this time the airplane and the war were progressing at an astonishing rate. Darts and other dangerous objects were used by both sides. Iwm.org states “They were usually dropped in bundles from aeroplanes, as this method ensured a wide dispersal.” With the ability to target soldiers on the ground from above, the side with the plane would always have the upper hand, and make the war progress faster. After awhile of doing this aerial engineers started making the aircraft bigger and faster so the airplanes could carry more supplies and weapons, and be able to escape the enemy quickly after an attack. BBC.com notes “But as technology improved airframes became more maneuverable and engines more powerful and it was soon possible to mount machine guns.” By now the war was progressing, along with the airplane at an astonishing rate. Being able to attack from above gave your side a significant advantage, having a significant effect on the war. The ability to attack from above and get an aerial view of the battlefield was progressing the war greatly by now, but soon guns would be part of the design, and air to air combat would be born.
As the war progressed even further the airplanes started mounting guns and bombs on their planes which gave them the ability to attack enemy reconnaissance planes, which had a significant effect on the war. At first pilots would give a friendly wave when they passed each other but that did not last for long. At first it was just pilots taking hot shots with pistols, but then the weapon became part of the airplane and air to air combat was born, which had a extreme affect on the war. A BBC video states“ as airplanes went into service in the first world war the pressure was on to improve them, first the pilots would take shots from the plane but then a weapon became part of the design.” After air to air combat was invented airplanes could attack other enemy airplanes as well as attack troops on the ground, which had a significant effect on the war. It was clear that the best way for the weapon to be pointing was in the direction the aircraft was going, so soon machine guns would be fitted onto the airplane which by being able to take down enemies reconnaissance planes had a significant effect on the war. Iwm.org quotes “As the importance of aerial observation grew, both sides developed tactics to try and shoot down enemy aircraft and to protect their own. By 1915, forward-firing machine guns were being fitted onto aircraft…” The ability to have a gun as a part of the aircraft had a significant effect on the war. Soon bombs were being put on planes too, but the machine gun was still a problem because it was mounted on top of the wing, so soon a method was invented were the machine gun fired through the propeller. This had a significant effect on the war. Iwm.org quotes “but the real breakthrough came with the invention of an interrupter mechanism which allowed machine guns to fire through moving propeller blades. The first one was fitted to the Fokker Eindekker.” Being able to fire through your propeller gave you and your side a huge advantage, this was the last major breakthrough as these planes became faster, stronger and have more agility. The airplane was progressed greatly during the war which had a significant effect on the war. Once air to air combat was born the pressure was on to improve the airplane and it’s weapons designs. This was having a extreme affect on the war.
Once World War 1 started the airplane was an effective tool for reconnaissance, the ability to attack from above, and air to air combat. All of these had a significant effect on the war. By the end of World War 1 the airplane had been progressed greatly and in many ways, without the plane the war might have lasted a lot longer and there could have been a different outcome.