Airplanes joined the civilian bombing campaign in November 1916, when a German plane dropped six bombs on London. A typical large bomber plane of the war was the British Handley Page 0/100 (1916). The figure 100 referred to its wingspan, which was 100 feet (30 meters). The Handley Page 0/100 had two Rolls-Royce engines, giving it a top speed of 97 miles per hour (156 kilometers per hour), and it could fly for 8 to 9 hours. Such bombers flew from Britain to attack railroad depots, docks, and submarine bases along the coast of Belgium and in Germany. In 1917, a single 0/100 flew in several legs from Britain to the Greek island of Lemnos. From an airfield there, it bombed German warships in the Turkish city of Constantinople (now Istanbul).
Even larger bombers took to the sky. These giants included the four – engine Russian Ilya Muromets (designed by Igor Sikorsky) and the three-engine Italian Caproni Ca 42 (a triplane). The Zeppelin company in Germany built the R-type bombers, which carried engineers to service the
EDWARD RICKENBACKER (1890-1973)
Born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1890, Eddie Rickenbacker was a professional automobile racer before World War I. He enlisted in the U. S. Army in 1917, serving as a driver before becoming a pilot. Rickenbacker shot down twenty-two enemy planes and four balloons, becoming the leading American ace pilot in World War I. During World War II, he worked as an inspector of military airbases and survived three weeks on a raft in the Pacific Ocean after his plane came down. A successful businessman in peacetime, Rickenbacker later co-owned the Indianapolis Speedway and was president of Eastern Airlines.
engines on long flights. The biggest R – type bomber was still unfinished when the war ended. It had six engines and longer wings than a World War II Lancaster bomber.
A smaller German bomber, the Gotha, was made of plywood. It cruised at 80 miles per hour (130 kilometers per hour) and carried over 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms) of bombs, including incendiaries (firebombs). Gothas were used to raid London by night during 1917 and 1918. Gotha crews had to be tough-they sat in open cockpits, muffled against the cold.
The British and French retaliated with small, fast bombers, such as the DH-4 and Breguet Br-14, single-engine airplanes flying at around 120 miles per hour (190 kilometers per hour), which
О The De Havilland DH-4 was the only U. S.-built plane used in combat in World War I. Also known as "liberty planes," DH-4s did not enter service until just a few months before the war’s end.
was as fast as a fighter. The British were planning raids on Berlin, using their new V/1500 bomber, when the war ended in 1918. This plane could carry almost 100 times the weight of bombs carried by a 1914 plane.