Military Aviation on the Eve of WW I

September 15, 2008 at 1:42 am

On the eve of the World War I, no country was prepared for using aircraft or had even admitted they would make an effective weapon of war. Several had experimented with dropping bombs from aircraft, firing guns, and taking off and landing from aircraft carriers, but no country had designed or built aircraft specifically for war functions.

 Limited bombing operations had been carried out before 1914, but most thought that aircraft use was limited to reconnaissance or scouting missions. An October 1910 editorial in Scientific American, a respected publication, denigrated the airplane as a war weapon:

“Outside of scouting duties, we are inclined to think that the field of usefulness of the aeroplane will be rather limited. Because of its small carrying capacity, and the necessity for its operating at great altitude, if it is to escape hostile fire, the amount of damage it will do by dropping explosives upon cities, forts, hostile camps, or bodies of troops in the field to say nothing of battleships at sea, will be so limited as to have no material effects on the issues of a campaign….”
But some effort was made to use aircraft for military purposes. Some of the earliest efforts took place in Italy. In April 1909, the newly formed Italian aviation club, Club Aviatori, brought Wilbur Wright to Italy to demonstrate his Military Flyer at the Centocelle military base near Rome. Before leaving Rome, Wilbur trained the naval officer who would become Italy’s first pilot, Lieutenant Mario Calderara. In 1910, Italy set up its first military flying school at Centocelle.

Read the entire article at Hampton Roads Military History

Entry filed under: American Military History, Aviation History, European Military History, Modern Military History. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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