Category The Genesis of Air Power

EMERGENCE OF AIR DEFENCE. AND AIR DEFENCE TACTICS

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s the threat from the air grew, states took measures to counter it. However, although air defence developed hand-in-hand with airforces, the idea of uniting the two into a single structure met with no success in peacetime. By late 1905 it was clear that France was assessing seriously the possibility of using airships for military ends. Thus the issue of how to prevent aerial attack from airships acquired primary importance. The very first theoretical ideas hit a completely unexpected obstacle. Initially, it was expected that the artillery would be more effective against airships than the infantry. Germans viewed their 1904 model 100mm howitzer, and the light field howitzer, as particularly suited for the role. Both could adopt the required elevation angle without especial preparations or ac­cessories. Flight altitudes until 1914 rarely exceeded 1200m, which explains why the light field howitzer retained its air defence role despite its indifferent ballistic quality.

It was down to practical experience to show the road ahead. The limited area of land testing grounds pointed the military to the sea, and particularly inland waters. This was helped by large arms manufacturers. In 1911, Germany’s Krupps and the Rhein Machine and Metal Products Factory (‘Rheinmetall’) built a 77mm air defence weapon mounted on a truck, with a special mount being designed for it the following year. After their first test firings, the infantry and cavalry pinned their hopes on massed small arms and machine gun fire directed against aircraft which still flew relatively low and within range of these weapons.

Air defence artillery weapons also found a naval application. Since naval installa­tions were fixed, what counted most was good ballistic properties and increased cali­ber, hence firepower. The 88mm ship board gun looked most promising because of its high initial velocity and elevation angles of up to 70 degrees. Powerful spotlights were also foreseen against nocturnal attacks.

Realistic combat-condition testing was still a problem. Unmanned target drones were still in the future. The few aeroplanes available were rather too expensive to be wasted in such tests. Pooling the efforts of the various arms under a single command might have resolved many problems, major ones being taking precise aim in a new way, using principally new weapons, and using principally new instrumentation.

France was one of the leaders in air defence technology. There, the 75mm field gun turned out most suitable for firing at airborne targets. It was also to be mounted

EMERGENCE OF AIR DEFENCE. AND AIR DEFENCE TACTICSEMERGENCE OF AIR DEFENCE. AND AIR DEFENCE TACTICS

I Highly mobile anti aircraft machine gun platforms such as this one entered service with infantry and cavalry units

on a truck later, and by 1914 equipped mobile batteries within several artillery regi­ments. Combat to come was to show that this was far from adequate.

Other nations failed to create air defence structures until the Great War. Even though the final manoeuvres threw some light on suitable air defence tactics, hard and fast decisions on air defence structures appeared premature. Initially, air defence units were appended to field artillery regiments guarding national borders. Large or­ders were placed for the reasonably capable mobile artillery weapons.

Anti aircraft artillery tactics aimed to disturb enemy flying. The greater the use­fulness of aerial artillery direction and correction, the greater the need to hamper its precision and effectiveness. The necessity of assigning anti aircraft weapons to cavalry corps and divisions became obvious. Tactics used to counter enemy flying, and cam­ouflage as a most effective passive means of air defence were thoroughly overhauled. Less mobile animal-draught artillery units were assigned to protect important targets in the rear. Corps commands which received anti aircraft weapons, machine guns, projectors and communications equipment were advised to act as they saw fit.

The extent of defence afforded depended on target importance. The range of options covered anything from infantry small arms fire to the combined use of rifles, machine guns, field guns and projectors. A communications network began to emerge, to speed the passage of information on enemy aerial movements.

I A French Morane-Saulnier mono­plane in flight

 

EMERGENCE OF AIR DEFENCE. AND AIR DEFENCE TACTICS

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EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL

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hether or not air power exists depends on the individual components which constitute it when taken together. In the difficult period when air potential begins to be created, the greatest contribution is made by the scientific and experimental base. Thus, it was unthinkable that man would fly without first having a grasp on the properties of gases; and evolution in the knowledge of gases went alongside knowledge of aerodynamics. Having acquired some understanding of how water behaves (hydrodynam­ics), learned people began experimenting with gases. Their discoveries about lighter-than – air gases were quickly applied in late 18th Century aeronautics. Starting in 1804, Cayley and later Chapman studied different aerofoils, and how they behaved at different inci­dences. As learned societies were established with the purpose of researching flight, indi­vidual endeavour gradually became systematic and shared by the scientific community. The first scientific society was established in France in 1852. Britain’ s Aeronautical Soci­ety was founded in 1866, and the Russian Technical Society’s turn was in 1881. The fruits of this pooling of effort were not slow to emerge: using a home-made wind tunnel, Briton Phillips showed the lift benefits of cambered aerofoils, patenting a number of profiles in 1884. Not five years after Phillips’s work, Lilienthal proved these profiles’ benefits in prac­tice by designing and flying gliders which paved much of the way to powered flight. (Con­current studies of aspect ratio and of the best angle of incidence were no less important.)

Though early knowledge was rather limited, and though experiments were rather less than rigorous and used rather primitive equipment, the body of knowledge ac­quired was a basis for the early successes.

Another major barrier in the way of powered flight was the lack of suitable power – plant. There were two schools of thought among scientists. One stressed further improve­ments in steam engines. And indeed, such engines relative power increased, and times to building up steam pressure reduced. Between 1868 and 1872, steam engine efficiency nearly doubled! The second school of thought on powerplant sought principally new types of engine. Trial use of electric motors for propulsion showed that they were unsuitable. However, the discovery of the internal combustion engine was an important breakthrough for aeronautics and aviation. The working principle of internal combustion dated back to

the 17 th Century. However, the high cylinder temperatures could not be attained with the materials of the time. It was only in 1860 that Frenchman Lenoir built a working model of an internal combustion engine. It was water-cooled and burned lighting gas. But both this engine, and the much later Otto – Langlen one had nothing much to offer set against steam units. Only the four-stroke power unit designed by German Otto late in the late 1870s was worthy of development. Daimler refused to use lighting gas, choosing petrol instead. This removed the need for bulky and heavy gas storage vessels. With time, the needs of aviation began to influence internal combustion engine development. Such powerplant became standard due to its compact size, quick starting and unmatched relative power. At the end of the period under review, their output varied from 40 to 100hp (Table 1, Graph 2) (experimental FIAT units ran at 300hp and even 700hp).

Подпись:
Daimler led the water cooled engine field, followed by Argus. Despite the weight of coolant, such engines were more powerful, longer-lasting and more reliable. How-

T a b l e 1: Aeroengine Weight and Output, 1913-1914

Make

Origin

Type of engine

Ouyput,

hp.

Cylinders

Relative

Weight

Air-Cooled

Gnome

France

Rotary

50

5

1,5

Gnome

France

Rotary

80

7

1,2

Rhone

France

Rotary

80

9

1,4

Renault

France

V-Formation

100

12

2,9

Water-Cooled

Argus

Germany

Inline

100

6

Mercedes

Germany

Inline

100

6

2,0

Astor-D

Germany

Inline

100

6

2,2

ENV

Britain

V-Formation

120

8

2,0

Salmson

France

Radial

130

9

1,8

140

120

100

80

60

40

20

0

ever, many builders preferred the air-cooled French Gnome engine despite its great frontal area (and hence drag): it was lighter and cheaper. Aeroplanes using it were light, had shorter take-off and landing runs, and were more manoeuvrable (yet not as reliable…). Air-cooled engines also burned more lubricant. Yet, controversial aspects aside, the Gnome was licensed for production in Germany and Britain.

EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL
Science and research remained the driving force behind the creation of air potential until the close of the first decade of the 20th Century. By that time, a relatively stable base had been established to assist the pursuit of certain tasks in the air. The period began with large-scale production of Parcival-Siegsfeld balloons, the vesting of the DELAG paramil-

Подпись: Biplane flying boats for the military under construction at the Breguet works
itary/civilian Zeppelin operator, and initial series production orders for Wright, Bleriot, Farman, Voisin, Etrich and other aeroplanes. Before the start of the Great War, science determined air power, as demonstrated by the scramble to squeeze ever better technical indicators from all manner of aerial devices. It was also science that sourced the people who were to form design teams and apply their scientific skills in a commercial direction.

Manufacture also grew apace, with 2718 aeroplanes being made in 1914: 1348 in Germany, 541 in France, 535 in Russia, 245 in Britain, and 49 in the USA. Performance grew along with production capacity. Frequent air shows and competitions became an added stimulus for designers and pilots to challenge range, endurance and speed records. Amply subsidised by state and private funds, these events also became marketplaces. Graphs 2, 3, and 4 show how rapidly flying machines progressed in that period.

Подпись: u 1906 1907 1908 1909 1910 1911 1912 1913 Graph 2: Aeroplanes’ speed growth, 1906-1913

However, it was clear that these achievements had to have a context of clear and specific requirements. Having emerged, the aeroplane had to become civilised: it had to be made capable of showing its superiority vis-a-vis other types of airborne vessel in practice by becoming a competent and comfortable platform able to perform set tasks

1200

Подпись: 1906 1908 1909 1910 1912 1913 Подпись:Подпись: Graph 4: Aeroplanes’ service seiling growth, 1906-1914Подпись:EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL1000

800

600

400

200

0

9000 8000 7000 6000 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 0

with ease. Thus, the demonstration of air power was the only way air potential could be actualised. In other words, a sufficient number of aeroplanes had to be utilised by national services specifically formed to operate them. This logically leads to one of the major issues in aviation from its emergence to the present: the issue of security. This in turn depends on the requirements of another important component which came to the fore after the first air arms had been formed: the availability of a sufficient number of reliable and competent aeroplanes.

Poor safety affected aviation development adversely. If 29 pilots had died by 1910, in 1911 they numbered 74, in 1912: 127, and in 1913: 154 (plus several hundred injured survivors). (Graph 5)

EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL

EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL

Graph 5: Humans’ casualties in airo accidents, 1910-1913

 

EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL

Seattle, Washington: the pilot loses control during a risky demonstration flight and heads into the grandstand. Onlookers fled for their lives, but three died and 12 were hurt

Clearly, if aeroplanes were not to remain an exotic plaything, much had to be done to improve their reliability and safety. Flight safety became a concern from 1910 on­wards. To get things going, the state in the face of relevant offices such as war ministries, set aside prize money for air safety. Britain led the way here, sponsoring some excellent aeroplanes such as the BE2, the Avro 504, a Sopwith, and others. These saw active use into the 1930s, the Avro even serving in Soviet flying schools as the У-1 (U-1). The statistics showed these main causes of accidents: pilot error; poor aeroplane stability causing upsets in bad weather or in inexperienced hands; insufficient aeroplane strength causing structural failures; powerplant unreliability. The stability issue was tackled in two ways. The first one was to enhance aeroplanes’ natural aerodynamic stability. The key here was to select a suitable configuration. In-depth studies were undertaken of wing profiles, control surface action, trim, and propeller/rotary engine torque. The re­sult was an advance in enlightened scientific methods of selecting a configuration. Val­uable data was obtained in early wind tunnels built in Britain, France and Russia. Using data from the Royal Aircraft Factory Research Centre, the British built the RE 1 biplane which flew for ten minutes without any control inputs from its pilot. Apart from being pleasant for the pilot, this ability coincided with military requirements for stable aerial observation platforms. Thus emerged a trend to overestimate the significance of aero­plane stability. This trend was to rule supreme until the first dogfights, when its delete­rious effect was shown. Similar events took place in Germany, Russia, and France: all countries leading aviation ‘fashion’ at the time. The second way in which the stability

EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL

Farman aeroplanes enjoyed a good reputation among pilots for their enviable stability

EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL

Щ The Curtiss twin-engined flying boat, specially built to fly the Atlantic, is notable for featuring one of the earliest autopilots

issue was tackled was to create a device allowing straight and level flight without pilot input. Such a device had to restore steady flight after atmospheric upsets or involuntary pilot inputs. Over 120 such devices were invented and patented before the First World

War. The poor level of knowledge and experience at the time were reflected in the many and serious defects of such early ‘autopilots,’ rendering all of them impracticable.

Aircraft structures were a great safety problem in themselves. In the dawn of aviation no stress calculation techniques whatsoever were applied to aeroplane struc­tural design. French and British stressmen began static testing of airframes only after the first wing failure crashes in 1911. Little by little, designers relinquished timber for major stress bearing elements, adopting various kinds of metal instead. Another result of the stress studies was the preference for the stiffer biplane configuration, which was to stay in vogue until the mid-1930s. (Graph 6)

Engine reliability also improved, as evidenced by the first flights measured in hours. Multi-engined aeroplanes able to maintain flight and land safely after an engine fail­ure, also appeared. Russia led the way here, Igor Sikorski’s trials of his Russkiy Vityaz and Ilya Muromets proving that the multi-engined formula was a contribution to safe­ty. The latter type was also the world’s first strategic bomber and strategic reconnais­sance aeroplane to enter service.

Подпись: I A Deperdussin about to depart for testing the para-chute seen in an under-fuselage pod The arrival of the parachute was another great boost to safety. Known to man for a long time before aero­planes, parachutes were first used for egress from balloon gondolas. The first rucksack parachute was designed by Kotel’nikov in 1911. Similar designs quickly appeared in the USA (1912) and Germany (1913). The first life saved by this progenitor of modern emergency escape devices was that of American pilot Lowe in 1912.

EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL

Efforts to improve safety went hand in hand with another very important

u 1909 1910 1911 1912 1913 1914

Graph 6: Monoplanenes % from all aeroplanes production, 1909-1914

component of air power: the availability of adequately trained air and ground personnel. The newly created flying schools began not only to impart flying skills to pilots, but also to train mechanics in aeroplane maintenance. Legislative instruments were adopted to regulate the operation of aeroplanes in the air and on the ground and define rights and responsibilities. The first textbooks and flight manuals were published.

As the number of aeroplanes grew, so did the number of national offices con­cerned in one way or another with their operations, and so did the requirements for crew training. As the nature of tasks performed by crews evolved, so did flying school curricula. The first military flying schools opened, training pilots in the specialist arts of aerial observation and reconnaissance, and the skill of flying at above 1000m: the altitude then considered optimal for such purposes. As mentioned above, those wish­ing to serve in the emergent air arms had to have military wings. Bearers of military wings were specifically trained to fly specially designed army and navy aeroplanes. For instance, one difference between civil and military flying schools was that while the former rarely strayed above 600m, the latter were trained to reach observation alti­tudes of 1000m or more, dive to 600m to avoid artillery fire, and practise dead stick landings with an idling or switched off engine.

Подпись: | Dual controls in a Curtiss training flying boat By 1913 improving aeroplane reliability and performance allowed quite daring aerial manoeuvres. Independently of one another, Nesterov and Pegoo flew loops, proving that aircraft were capable of sustaining great loadings in the air. This was the start of aerobatic training which included learning spin recovery skills. A danger to the unwary to this very day, spins are uncontrolled falls at high angles of attack while rolling, pitching and yawing. The number of aerobatic-trained pilots grew rapidly, reaching 30 in Russia alone by early 1914. Thus, despite the greater com­plexity of aeroplanes and flying, the flight hours per accident indicator im­proved twenty fold. Whereas in 1909 an accident occurred once every 200 flight hours on average, by 1914 it occurred once every 4000 hours.

Convinced of aeroplanes’ military and civil utility, the governments of nations able to develop aircraft and airship manufacturing set aside con­siderable funds for equipping their new air arms. By 1913, over 1000 aero­planes had entered military service around the world.

EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL

An early procedural trainer used to give ab-initio skills to future Antoinette pilots

 

German pilots duringintensive training a week before the start of the First World War: the helmet has become a compulsory part of the kit

 

EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL

EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL

Graph 7: Finance funds spending for aviation in 1913 (in mln. dol.)

 

Military aviation budgets for 1913 came to 7.4m dollars in France, 5m dollars in Germany and Russia, 3m dollars in Britain, and 2.1m dollars in Italy. (Graph 7)

The trend was for these sums to grow apace, and moreover for the share of avia­tion to grow at the expense of aeronautics. Aeroplanes were gradually becoming rec­ognised as more versatile for the range of tasks set before aviation and aeronautics. Initially, the military bought proven designs for sports and private-owner use, but specialist military designs emerged from 1912. The latter all had two crew members

Подпись:and stronger landing gear, and were easily reconfigured for transportation by road, riv­er or sea. Before impressment into service, such aeroplanes were tested by special ac­ceptance bodies, often on top of having proven their qualities in numerous fly-offs and competitions. This was then a new de­parture which later found its way to other areas due to its effectiveness.

Alongside the development of aero­planes as such, another component of air power was taking shape: on board and ground equipment. Pre-First World War army and navy aeroplanes were decidedly multi-role. Much experimentation with dif­ferent equipment thought useful for the various armed forces which employed aer­oplanes took place. Specialised airborne cameras appeared whose images helped de­termine the precise location of enemy forc­es. Reliable cameras with moderate focal length optics, comfortable for use from aer-

EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL

A Type L planview camera fitted to a B. E.2a

EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL

Щ A machine gun equipped Nieuport 4

oplanes and tethered balloons, entered production. This in turn led to the design of mobile photographic labs to process the cameras’ output for immediate use. However, the money involved was huge, and thought unjustified amid prevailing expectations that the coming war would be so swift and mobile, events would overtake photo­graphic intelligence. Thus mobile labs were not mass produced, reliance being placed on field laboratories instead. Observation equipment derived from the artillery also entered wide scale use, especially in naval aviation.

Initial attempts to arm airborne vessels with firearms date back to this period. Their use was directed at both the ground and the air. Despite significant advances, the fitting of machine guns to aeroplanes was still very much an experiment prior to the Great War. The major problem was the difficulty of firing safely through the pro­peller disc, which limited the use of machine guns. Also, the available machine guns were either too primitive, or too heavy.

Experience of manual bombing in the Tripolitanian and Balkan Wars showed that its effect was more psychological than genuinely damaging to the enemy. The bombs used had unknown ballistic properties: they were mostly adaptations of infantry hand grenades. Purpose designed aeroplane bombs, though of a modest size in keeping with the capacity of early aeroplanes, gradually acquired the shape we know today. Most widespread were ‘bat cubs,’ weighing five kilos, drop-shaped and finned so as to drop vertically. Their ap-

EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL

| Bombing trials with training bombs near Los Angeles, California; the aeroplane seen is a Farman biplane

pearance led to the design of special bombsights and bomb-holders. Though patented devices were insufficiently effective, individual pilots demonstrated exceptional bombing precision during training or in competitions. One such was Lieutenant Gobert who scored 12 hits in a 20m circle from a height of 200m with his 15 bombs (make not recorded) during a 1912 international military display. In the next heat, the same officer scored eight hits of a 120x50m target from a height of 450m. Other pilots of the period were not far behind, including Bulgarian ones during the preparations for the second stage of the First Balkan War. However, airmen in general entered the Great War unarmed but for their handguns (which they indeed used in anger in the conflict’s opening stages!).

The period saw early attempts to protest airmens’ seats against ground fire. Though easy to fit, however, the steel plate used was too heavy. Armour plating had to wait for sturdier airframes and more powerful engines.

The means and equipment which ensure effective use of military aeroplanes are another important component of air power. Initially, this included bases where men could train and equipment could be tried, and manufacture and maintenance work­shops. Army and navy orders gradually encouraged factory-based aircraft manufac­ture. Specialised engine and propeller companies emerged. By the start of the Great War, the world had no fewer than 75 aircraft and 23 aeroengine makers capable of turning out 1600 aeroplanes and 2200 engines a year. This was in addition to fully equipped military workshops and airfields.

Command and control, the last but not least important component of air power, remained most problematic in its nascence. The reason for this was that radio com­munications were not yet adapted for routine air-to-air or air-to-ground operation. This circumstance introduced delays in the passing on of aerial reconnaissance infor­mation. Even though initial trials in 1910 brought very encouraging results, radio sets were too heavy and bulky for the typical aeroplane then.

However, radio was not the only concern of commanders who had to juggle bal­loons, dirigibles, and aeroplanes around the battlefield. Limited experience had not yet suggested the sort of unit structure that would be right for aviation and aeronau­tics. Part of engineering or communications corps, their commanders lacked the in­dependence and flexibility.

Experience from manoeuvres and local wars gave some clarity on how different types of flying machine are best employed. Those first airborne weapons, spherical balloons, were on their way out. However, despite their known disadvantages, they were still used for secondary and auxiliary tasks such as defending fortresses and tar­gets to the rear. Their place at the battlefront was taken by tethered kite balloons, which were stable observation platforms. In recognition of their still limited mobility, they were intended for static and defensive warfare. Aeroplanes and airships were to be the proactive agents on the battlefront, with aerostatic balloons being used for

observation, aerial reconnaissance, and artillery correction. Forward-positioned aero­stats would conduct stereoscopic photography of enemy formations, allowing their locations, firepower, and force concentrations to be determined precisely. In attack, aerostats were only assigned the artillery correction role.

Observation altitudes reached 1300m, with some 600 to 1000m being average, and 400m being the minimum. Aerostats could only carry one aeronaut to maximum altitude, which made effective data transmission more difficult. A normal three of four-strong crew could ascend to no more than 600m.

Aerostats’ distance from the frontline depended on observation altitude and the pres­ence of enemy artillery (especially long-range guns), and was usually four to six kilometres.

Observers’ effectiveness depended on locale (the presence of characteristic fea­tures) , on how well enemy manpower and equipment was camouflaged, and on the weather. Major weather indicators were visibility and wind speed. Parcival-Siegsfeld balloons could cope with no more than some 15m/s of wind. Fair visibility constituted anything over ten kilometres. Given such conditions, experienced aeronauts could locate a single artillery battery 15 to 18km away by looking for gun flashes.

Aerostats’ good visual range and ability to fly equally well from shipboard as from the shore made them valuable to the fleet, especially in naval blockades. Apart from conducting general lookout and recce duties, naval aeronauts could spot enemy sur-

EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL

A French balloon unit filling its vessel with hydrogen

EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL

I An Italian semi-rigid airship

face and submarine shipping and mines, correct artillery fire, and relay ship-to-ship or ship-to-shore messages.

Operational and strategic intelligence duties were assigned to airship crews. The last peacetime manoeuvres proved that general staffs’ requirements of early 1914 could only be met by airships. These requirements included the ability to penetrate enemy airspace to a depth of 500 or 600km at a height of 2400m: indicators far beyond the ability of any mass produced heavier-than-air craft at the time.

Another great advantage of airships was their great loadability. This enabled them to bomb fortresses, troop and equipment concentrations, harbours, stores and indus­trial establishments. In penetrations of the order of 600km, airship warloads were not less than 300 kg, with corresponding increases at shorter ranges. However, the fact is that prior to the Great War very few airships boasted anything like the above indica­tors. Those that did were mostly German. (Graph 8)

Wisdom from the initial manoeuvres and local wars in which aeroplanes were involved seemed to suggest they would be most useful for operational reconnaissance. The same events also showed some aeroplane utility in tactical recce, and in artillery

EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL

Graph 8: Airships’ payload and range growth, 1900-1914

correction, but this was ignored. Apart from mistrust of aeroplanes among commands, and short-sightedness on the part of military bureaucrats, this was also due to pilots’ dislike of such hard and risky missions which required concerted training and offered no guarantee of success. Yet artillery correction soon became a routine task for avia­tors, especially against well camouflaged targets. Since no manuals and agreed proce­dures of any kind existed, flyers and gunners would thrash things out informally be­fore a flight. Naturally, results were patchy, took long to arrive and were often at odds with gunners’ real needs. Military theoreticians correctly surmised that informal ‘ne­gotiations’ would be unthinkable in the mobile general war they expected, and began developing formalised procedures. Things did not get much further than those early developments, being overtaken by the outbreak of war.

The next task assigned to aviators was to strike enemy targets. The Tripolitanian and Balkan Wars, in which aviators from many non-combatant nations volunteered, convinced experts that there was considerable likelihood of success in bombing from aeroplanes. They concluded that aeroplanes would be best used against targets that were large or covered a great area. Working heights would be between 800 and 1000m. Two approaches were fore­seen: star patterned and squadron attacks. The former involved individual aeroplanes ap­proaching the target from a variety of directions, whereas the latter involved a group ap­proaching together. In both cases the aim was to saturate the target with bombs to an ade­quate extent. In any case, considering the relatively small number of aeroplanes, no special­ised bombing units were formed before the Great War, commanders having to rely on what (if any) strike capacity happened to be available in units under their command.

The Balkan Wars brought the dogfight a stage nearer. Though isolated, the encoun­ters on the Bulgarian/Turkish and Bulgarian/Servian fronts did not escape analysts’ no­tice. However, neither designers, nor strategists offered coherent views on dogfighting. The very idea of one aerial vessel being attacked by another was only addressed in the

EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL

I Good portability was among the conditions set before candidates to supply aeroplanes to the military: here a Breguet is seen readied for transportation by road

—————————————— >——————————————————

case of some airships, which were accordingly fitted with machine guns. Aeroplanes lacked such defensive armament. While France, Britain, Belgium, Russia and Austria – Hungary did some defensive/offensive armament trials, conclusions drawn and solu­tions implemented were disparate. For instance, influenced by the forward-positioned engine and puller propeller, the Austro-Hungarians decided to position the observer aft and let him handle the weapon. Others felt it was better to site the engine aft, use a pusher propeller, and put the observer/gunner at the front.

The use of aeroplanes for liaison between distant columns or units was another long-drawn contentious issue. Since everyone expected a mobile war, aerial liaison scenarios were tried at manoeuvres, and in 1911 some pilots called for a purpose – designed swift and light aeroplane. The call was heard only in Britain, where the satisfactory Scout flew eighteen months later.

Stemming from man’s earliest attempts to break the bonds of gravity, the genesis of air power saw early aeroplanes used not just by the military, but also for transporta­tion and other civilian business. This genesis stimulated great scientific and industrial effort. The following general conclusions may be drawn:

1. Even at their nascence, air power and air potential became a priority in indus­trially developed nations which could afford to keep pace with advancing research and technology;

2. The emergence and development of air power’s various components was evolu­tionary, and was governed as much by the new environment as by the objectives set by national political and military leaders;

3. The tasks set before early aviation led to the creation of specialised institutions at the government and private enterprise levels;

4. The improvement of aeroplanes’ capabilities led to enhanced status for the specialised institutions which started on their way to becoming pillars of national military and economic might;

5. As the components of air power and air potential grew in importance, they began to form a system with its typical interconnections, points of entry and exit, and sources;

6. The major development stimulus for air power and air potential was the drive for supremacy in the new environment of the air. The first local conflicts in which the nascent components of the new system played a part proved that this system had a future in the attainment of political, business and military goals.

The first shots of the world’s first general war put an end to the period of emer­gence in the development of air power. Although regarded romantically today, this period saw many rational solutions which hold true to this very day. Later, air poten­tial would draw on experience gained in this period to develop both its peaceful civil­ian aspects, and its military side.

No

Designation/ N ante

Year

Origin

Volume,

m3

Length,

m

Diameter,

m

Power,

kWt

Payload,

kg

Speed,

km/h

Type

1

LZ-1

1900

Germany

11,300

128

11.65

21

n. a.

28.1

Rigid

2

LZ-2

1905

Germany

11,300

128

11.65

126

2800

39.6

Rigid

3

LZ-4

1908

Germany

12,200

136

11.65

144

2900

43.9

Rigid

4

Lebed’

1909

Russia

3700

61.4

11.1

51

920

36

Semi Rigid

5

LZ-5

1909

Germany

15,000

136

13

144

4600

48.6

Rigid

6

Grif

1910

Russia

7300

700

14

162

3700

59

Soft

7

LZ-7

1910

Germany

19,300

148

14

264

6800

60.1

Rigid

8

LZ-10

1911

Germany

17,800

140

14

321

6500

75.6

Rigid

9

Schute-Lanz SL-1

1911

Germany

19,500

131

18.4

368

4500

70.9

Rigid

10

Mayfly

1911

Britain

18,760

156

14.6

265

n. a.

n. a.

Rigid

11

LZ-14

1912

Germany

22,465

158

14.86

363

9400

76.3

Rigid

12

P

1912

Italy

4900

62

12.6

103

1490

65

Semi Rigid

13

PL-17

1912

Germany

9830

85

16

250

2150

64.8

Soft

14

PL-16

1913

Germany

9830

94.15

15.48

265

2716

67.6

Soft

15

LZ-21

1913

Germany

20,870

148

14.86

396

8800

73.8

Rigid

16

Astra

1913

Russia

10,000

78

15

294

5400

59

Soft

17

PL-18

1913

Germany

8800

84

15

265

2200

67

Soft

18

PL-20

1914

Germany

9830

92

15

265

3300

78.1

Soft

19

M

1914

Italy

12,500

82.7

16.9

287

5300

70

Semi Rigid

20

LZ-24

1914

Germany

22,470

158

14.86

441

9200

80.6

Rigid

Designation

Origin

Year

Type

Engine, Rating

Crew

Span,

m

Length,

m

Wing Area, sq m

Gross

Weight,

kg

Max

Speed,

km/h

Range/ time

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

Flyer 1

USA

1903

Biplane

Wright, 12hp

1

12.3

6.4

47

340

approx 18

285m/59s

Flyer 2

USA

1904

Biplane

Wright, 16hp

1

12.3

6.4

47

360

approx 47

4.8km/5m 4s

Flyer 3

USA

1905

Biplane

Wright, 2 lhp

1

12.3

8.5

47

388

approx 60

39km/38m 3s

14 bis

France

1906

Biplane

Antoinette, 50hp

1

11.5

9.7

52

300

approx 60

220m/21.2s

Voisin-Delagrange

France

1907

Biplane

Anotinette, 50hp

1

10

n. a.

40

n. a.

n. a.

500m/n. a.

Bleriot VI

France

1907

Tandem Wing Biplane

Antoinette, 50hp

1

5.9

n. a.

20

280

n. a.

184m/n. a.

Voisin-Farman 1

France

1907

Biplane

Antoinette, 50hp

1

10.2

13.3

40

520

approx 45

771m/52.6s

Wright A

USA

1908

Biplane

Wright, 30hp

2

12.5

8.9

47.4

500

approx 60

125km/2h 20m 23s

Bleriot VIII

France

1908

Monoplane

Antoinette, 50hp

1

11

10

22

425

approx 76

14 km

REP 2

France

1908

Monoplane

n. a., 30hp

1

8.6

n. a.

15.8

350

n. a.

1.2 km

Verber 9

France

1908

Biplane

Antoinette, 50hp

1

10.5

10.7

30

400

40

500m/n. a.

Cody 1

Britain

1908

Biplane

Antoinette, 50hp

1

15.8

n. a.

n. a.

n. a.

45

450m/n. a.

Voisin-Farman 1 bis

France

1908

Biplane

Antoinette, 50hp

1

10.2

13.3

40

530

54

40km/n. a.

Antoinette 4

France

1908

Monoplane

Antoinette, 50hp

1

12.8

11.5

50

450

65

155km/n. a.

Voisin Standard

France

1908

Biplane

Antoinette, 50hp

1

10

12

40

550

55

n. a.

Grade 1

Germany

1908

Triplane

Grafe, 16hp

1

10

8.5

25

230

70

60m/n. a.

Bleriot XI

Germany

1908

Monoplane

Anzani, 25hp

1

7.8

8.2

14

300

60

n. a.

Golden Flyer

USA

1909

Biplane

Curtiss, 50hp

1

8.7

8.7

24

376

60

n. a.

Farman 3

France

1909

Biplane

Gnome, 50hp

1

10

11.2

40

550

60

223km/n. a.

Antoinette 6

France

1909

Monoplane

Antoinette, 50hp

1

12.8

11.5

50

520

85

180km/n. a.

Kudashyov-1

Russia

1910

Biplane

Anzani, 35hp

2

9

10

32

420

n. a.

60m/n. a.

Gakkel’ 3

Russia

1910

Biplane

Anzani, 35hp

1

7.5

7.5

29

560

80

400m/n. a.

Grizodubov

Russia

1910

Biplane

ARB, 30hp

1

12

10.9

n. a.

600

70

4.4km/n. a.

Laner Simon 1

Austria-

Hungary

1910

Biplane

Anzani, 25hp

2

13

n. a.

47

550

70

n. a.

EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

Etrich Taube

Austria-

Hungary

1910

Monoplane

Clerget, 50hp

2

14

10

34

430

80

75km/n. a.

C-6A [S-6A]

Russia

1911

Biplane

Argus, lOOhp

2

11.8

8.8

35.4

990

111

n. a.

Curtiss A1

USA

1911

Biplane Flying Boat

Curtiss, 75hp

2

8.74

8.43

30.75

714

105

n. a.

Bristol R1

Britain

1911

Monoplane

Gnome, 50hp

1

9.2

n. a.

15

372

105

n. a.

Fokker Spin

Germany

1911

Monoplane

Argus, lOOhp

2

11

7.75

22

400

90

45km/n. a.

Nieuport 4

France

1911

Monoplane

Gnome, 50hp

1

11.6

8

18

600

105

330km/n. a.

Farman MF7

France

1912

Biplane

Renault, 70hp

2

15.8

n. a.

48

728

90

n. a.

Flenriot D

France

1912

Monoplane

Gnome, 50hp

1

8.9

n. a.

14

480

120

n. a.

Albatros

Germany

1912

Biplane

Argus, lOOhp

2

14.4

n. a.

39

950

100

1200km

Bristol Scout

Britain

1912

Biplane

Gnome, 80hp

1

6.7

n. a.

14.3

280

150

n. a.

Dun DB

Britain

1912

Flying Wing Biplane

Green, 50hp

1

10.97

6.4

21.35

772

97

n. a.

Farman 22

France

1913

Biplane

Gnome, 80hp

2

15

n. a.

41

680

90

n. a.

BA2A

Britain

1913

Biplane

Renault, 70hp

2

10.68

9

32.7

726

112

480km

Caudron G-3

France

1913

Biplane

Gnome, 80hp

2

13.9

n. a.

30

625

90

n. a.

Avro 504

Britain

1913

Biplane

Gnome, 80hp

2

11

8.91

32

625

100

280km

Albatros B2

Germany

1913

Biplane

Mercedes, lOOhp

2

12.8

n. a.

36

900

100

600km

Morane Parasol

France

1913

High Wing Monoplane

Gnome, 80hp

2

10.3

6.38

18

680

115

300km

Morane-Saulnier

France

1913

Monoplane

Gnome, 80hp

1

9.2

7

16

500

130

250km

Sopwith Tabloids

Britain

1913

Biplane

Gnome, 80hp

1

7.8

6.1

22

480

148

n. a.

Deperdussin

France

1913

Monoplane

Gnome, 160hp

1

6.7

6.1

10

500

200

n. a.

Russkiy Vityaz

Russia

1913

Biplane

4 x Argus, lOOhp

4

27

20

120

4200

90

380km

llya-Muromets

Russia

1913

Biplane

4 x Argus, lOOhp

4

32

23

182

4650

95

380km

Curtiss M

USA

1913

Biplane Flying Boat

Curtiss, 85hp

2

8.7

n. a.

32.9

550

80

n. a.

C-10 [S-10]

Russia

1914

Biplane Flying Boat

Argus, lOOhp

2

14

n. a.

36

1080

100

n. a.

Albatros

Germany

1914

Flying Boat Biplane

Mercedes, lOOhp

2

16

n. a.

50

1240

105

n. a.

Rumpler 4S

Germany

1914

Monoplane

Mercedes, lOOhp

2

14

n. a.

29

1000

110

n. a.

EMERGENCE OF THE. COMPONENTS OF AIR POWER. AND AIR POTENTIAL

[1] 2 Translator’s rendering from the quotation in Bulgarian.

[2] Paradoxically Lilienthal, who did more than anyone before him to breathe life into fixed wings, believed without any reservation that the future lay with ornithopters.

[3] This construction was retained for all Lilienthal’s future gliders.

[4] Of Maxim Gun fame; using recoil energy, his machine gun found worldwide success.

[5] Today he would be Romanian. Translator.

[6] R-7 in Latin script. Translator.

[7] Al’batros in Latin script. Translator.

[8] More usually known as Igor Sikorsky; the complete Russian transliteration is given for comleteness and uniformity. Translator.

[9] Russkiy Vityaz or Russian Knight. Translator.

[10] Il’ya Muromets or Elijah of Murom. Translator.

[11] Province. Translator

[12] Lapseki is on the Asia Minor side of the Dardanelles. Translator.

[13] Notable

EARLY COMBAT UNITS

The creation of stable and reliable flying machines and their spread suggested that the time for air navigation and aviation to be taken seriously by soldiers and statesmen had arrived. And this is indeed what transpired. Production facilities grew apace, especially after the Summer 1911 Agadir Crisis. It became clear to all that a gigantic clash of arms was approaching.

The creation and structuring of air forces as an element of armed power went almost parallel with technical advance. The earliest such units had been established in revolutionary France. Two air navigation units were set up, based upon the Ecole Nationale de Navigation Aerienne, established in 1792. During the defence of Antw­erp in 1814, French Aeronaut Carnot used a tethered balloon to observe the enemy. In the Italian War of Independence, another Frenchman, Godard, carried out recon­naissance from a balloon gondola before the Battle of Solferino. The Aerial Bridge organised during 1870 using aerostats allowed the besieged garrison in Paris to main­tain links with the outside world.

Employing the modest experience accumulated in war, and the greater background of civilian postal operations, in 1886 France created the Administration Centrale de Navigation Aerienne Militaire. This comprised four newly created and suitably equipped units. Included in Engineering Regiments, they participated in military ex­peditions in Madagascar in 1894-‘5, China in 1900-‘1, and Morocco in 1908, inter alia. During 1912 the units had ten flying machines of indifferent quality.

Подпись: I A French balloon unit on the move in Morocco, 1908

Despite failing to accomplish the first flight of a heavier-than-air machine, the Av – ion-3 tests in 1897 attracted the attention of military specialists. Impressed by reports of

what the Flyer-3 could do, in 1905 the French War Ministry sent a delegation to the USA. This had powers to purchase a licence to produce aeroplanes from the Wright brothers. Negotiations ended unsuccessfully for a number of reasons, major among which was the extortionate sum demanded by the inventors. Nevertheless, in 1908 the Wrights did sell a production licence for their machines to the civilian Compagnie Generale de Navigation Aerienne. This was the company through which, on 12 July 1909, the French War Ministry purchased the first aeroplane for the army. The order resulted from the great interest created by Wilbur Wright’s triumphal demonstration of his biplane’s great ability. Regardless of the fact that France’s first aeroplane was American, there was commitment and finance for indigenous designs. The first results of this followed soon: two of Henri Farman’s aeroplanes, a Louis Bleriot monoplane and a Wright biplane were ordered, all being delivered in 1910. The same year the Aeroclub Francaise published the first Regulations for the Awarding of Air Pilots’ Wings.

Подпись: I Lieutenant Camot at the start of his pilot training on a Sommer aeroplane
EARLY COMBAT UNITS

Aviation entered a period of rapid organisational development. By 1909, French military air navigation and aviation comprised four army balloon units, commanded by Colonel Hirchauer and included within the Engineering Corps. The formation of aeroplane units within these units was commencing, with finance being made avail­able for equipment purchase and crew training. The only French military pilot at the time was Captain Lucas Girardville, who had been trained at the Wright Brothers’ Po school in 1908-‘9. Another ten officers entered training the following year at the Bleriot, Wright, and Farman schools, and at the Antoinette school in Chalonne. First to get his wings was Lieutenant Cammermann, awarded Wings No33 on 7 March 1910. Merely a year later the military began issuing their own wings. The first of these was awarded to Tricarnot de Roz on 7 February 1911. Up until then the War Ministry had earmarked 2500 francs for pilot officer training at private schools.

The first aeroplane was officially commissioned for service on 10 June 1910 after acceptance testing by Captain Eteve. It was a copy of the Wrights’ Flyer-3. The Avia­tion Exhibition at Rheims did not go unnoticed by French military experts, being followed by orders for Farman and Bleriot. After studying the designs at the exhibi­tion, artillery officers began looking into the possibilities of arming aeroplanes. French War Minister General Brunn made funds available to buy aeroplanes specifically for research purposes. Colonel Estienne was appointed head of the Aviation Inspectorate, and following a parliamentary debate, a Military Aviation Administration was estab­lished under Lieutenant Cammermann’s command. Based near Chalonne, this came into service in April 1910 and its organisation was complete by 9 June when the first reconnaissance sortie was flown. At 4:30pm, pilot Lieutenant Frecon and observer Captain Marcone departed the Military Aviation School airfield in their Farman and flew the 145km to Vencan in two and a half hours. Despite various crises on board, they managed to take a variety of intriguing aerial photographs.

The new structure grew more experienced by the day. On 10 August, Captain Manorie, Commander of the elite XX Corps deployed along the border with Germa­ny, requested a reconnaissance flight along the Corps front. The same day another aeroplane directed fire during artillery training near Nancy, and its positive contribu­tion to precision was noted.

EARLY COMBAT UNITSConsidering the moment propitious, General Roques, head of the Military Aerial Fleet Inspectorate, and his dep­uty Hirschauer proposed that aeroplanes and crews be included in the large scale September manoeuvres in Picardy. Ex­amining the good results of the 10 Au­gust flights, the Supreme Command granted assent. General Roques pre­pared for the manoeuvres in earnest. Experienced civillian school pilots, among whom Hubert Latham, Louis Bleriot and Louis Poland, were invited to take part.

Despite the very modest number of aeroplanes (two Framans, a Sommer, and a Bleriot in the Second Corps, and two Framans, a Wright, and a Bleriot in the Ninth Corps), results exceeded Ц Hubert Latam prior to the start of military ma – Roques’s, Hirschauer’s and their pilots’ noeuvres in 1910

EARLY COMBAT UNITS

I Left to right: the President of France, General Roques, and Colonel Hirchauer visiting an airfield during the Picardy Manoeuvres

EARLY COMBAT UNITS

I A two seat military Bleriot

expectations. The consequences of this brilliant showing in the September manoeu­vres were twofold.

First, the purchase of a large number of new aeroplanes was permitted: 20 Bleriots and 20 Farmans. Seventeen of the Bleriots were to be two seaters, enabling observa-

EARLY COMBAT UNITS

A Bleriot military model with seats for pilot, observer and flight engineer

tion. All 20 were to be delivered over two months. Seven of the Farmans had to accommodate two observers apiece, and the 20 had to be delivered over a three month period. The contracts specified the new machines’ performance: a 60km/h speed, range of up to 300km, and a 300kg payload capability.

Second, the French Senate granted semi-autonomous status to the Military Avi­ation Administration within the Army. A Resolution of 22 October 1910 transferred General Roques away from the Engineering Corps and promoted him to the rank of General-Inspecteur. He used this favourable circumstance to put into practise two of his ideas which would influence the future of French military aviation greatly. The training of combat pilots came under the military. Roques also gave impetus to the changeover from existing civilian aeroplanes to ones designed specifically for military purposes. By October, the military aviation of the Republique Francaise comprised 20 Farman Ils, six Farman IV, six Sommer-4s, six Voisins, 20 Bleriot IV, four Antoinette-2s, three Nieuports, two Henriots, and two Breguets, inter alia. It had a total of 71 aero­planes delivered and on order, of which 30 were combat ready. However, no less than 11 types of machine were operated, and this affected operations adversely.

The Flying School commenced work. Three airfields were largely used for combat pilot training. The trend was for each group to use one type of aeroplane. The system involved theoretical and flying exams prior to the awarding of wings. A similar profi­ciency check was used for pilots who had gained wings at civilian schools and now

wished to make a career as army pilots. In 1910 only 31 pilots gained combat wings from a total of 52 checked. Civil pilots upgrading their skills at private schools could enlist as Engineering Battalion reservists. In this way France created a system for preparing the second major component linked with sufficiently trained flight and ground personnel. These people’s life was now subjected to specific flying duties, ful­filling set army requirements, and carrying out set tasks in the army’s interest.

As mentioned above, an important condition on the road to a fully fledged Air Force is the availability of combat aeroplanes designed for genuine combat conditions and actual combat tasks. The Military Aviation Command decided to give designers and manufacturers ample time to meet these requirements. The first competition for new combat aeroplanes was set for October 1911. Apart from performance, each design was to be assessed on its ability to be easily disassembled and stowed for transportation by road or rail, to use fields overgrown with grass, to carry a pilot and observer plus a mechanic when necessary. Headed by General Roques, the assessment commission in­cluded many senior officers and civilian specialists employed by the Military Aviation Command. The British War Ministry also delegated three observers.

The competition’s initial round saw 140 aeroplanes by 43 manufacturers com­pete. Most of them had been over optimistic: only 31 designs reached the testing stage, nine coming out as finalists. Nieuport won, followed by Breguet and Deper – dussin. The winners received monetary awards and immediate orders for ten Nie – uports, six Breguets and four Deperdussins. Similar orders boosted the process of pro­viding the nascent air arm with all it needed for its newly formed units. The French aircraft industry at the time was sufficiently powerful to assume the role of a compo­nent, and figures prove this point best.

During 1911, 135 aeroplanes and 1400 aero engines were produced. The respec­tive figures for 1912 were 1425 and 2217; and for 1913: 1148 aeroplanes, 146 float­planes and 2440 engines. Propeller production numbered over 30,000. The greater part of this output was for export. Tests of the first machine guns mounted on a Far – man began. Other tests involved air to ground radio telegraph transmissions. These demonstrated an affective range of 30km. This was dictated by the logic of develop­ment of ground and airborne equipment which enabled the more eficient use of flying machines. However, it would be premature to speak of a separate Air Force compo­nent at this stage: this was still the experimental stage.

The crisis in Franco-German relations caused by the Agadir Crisis of summer 1911 raised the profile of the bipartite French Army manoeuvres of the late summer. Involving the Sixth and Seventh Corps, the exercise aimed to practise cover and defence of the borders in an attack from the East, and providing sufficient time for mobilisation and the deployment of reserves. A 25-aeroplane unit supported the Sixth Corps, with as many pilots. Ten of the latter were civilians specially mobilised for the

EARLY COMBAT UNITS

Transporting a Bleriot aeroplane by rail

EARLY COMBAT UNITS

Щ A Breguet aeroplane stowed for transportation

manoeuvres. The unit was commanded by Captain Eteve, Commandant of the Ver­sailles Military Aviation School. The Seventh Corps was commanded by Etampes Military Aviation School Commandant Captain Felix, whose tenure was marked by several fatal accidents at the outset of action.

Crews’ performance over the ‘battlefield’ was assessed highly. The wonderful plan photographs of a camouflaged field artillery battery taken by observer Captain Lebon came in for particular praise. Manoeuvre commanders discussed aerial reconnais­sance, observation and artillery direction sorties, concluding that:

– aerial reconnaissance aeroplanes were to be two seaters, and were to be capable of use from improvised aerodromes close to the front line;

– it was desirable to afford armour protection to aeroplanes’ more important parts and assemblies, including the crew;

– where possible, aerial reconnaissance data on the enemy were to be duplicated;

– due to the important nature of data from aerial reconnaissance, it was desirable that crews (especially observers) ought to be aware of army staff modi operandi.

Homogenous units began to be formed: these had permanent establishments and were equipped with aeroplanes of one type only. The process began in 1912, with the formation of the first Escadrille (Squadron). This comprised six aeroplanes, flight and

EARLY COMBAT UNITS

Soft dirigibles accompany mobile cavalry units during the 1912 manoeuvres

technical personnel, transportation, and hangars. Commanded by a Chef d’Escadrille with the rank of Captain, the unit had an alphanumerical designation which showed the type of equipment used: for instance, Escadrille D6 meant ‘Number six Squadron equipped with Deperdussin aircraft’. By mid 1912, the French Army had five Escadrilles:

– HF1, flying Henri Farmans and based at Chalons;

– MF2, flying Maurice Farmans and based at the Buc Flying School airfield;

– B3, flying Bleriots and based at Pan;

– D4, flying Deperdussins and based at Saint Cyr; and

– MF5, flying Maurice Farmans and based at Saint Cyr.

Another organisational change was the appointment of Colonel Hirchauer as head of French military aviation units. He took up the post in April 1912. General Rocault was appointed Commander of No7 Infantry Division. An order of 29 March 1912 removed the Escadrilles from the Central Army Group and established three Aviation Groups:

– First Group, based near Versailles and commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Butnot;

– Second Group, based near Rheims and commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Breton;

– Third Group, based near Lyon and commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Estienne.

The Groups were independent of each other and each had its own logistic and

other support. Each Group had airfields where its individual units (Escadrilles) were deployed. Non flying personnel was deployed in support or logistics centres. Lieuten­ant Colonel Vouyes was appointed Head of Air Supply.

Aviation’s growing independence was underscored by the late 1912 decision to create separate uniforms for its personnel. In fact, pro temps officers continued wear­ing their usual garb, to which were added navy tunics with emblazoned winged stars. Hirschauer was promoted to Brigadier, receiving his new epaulettes on 12 December 1912. Regardless of the ongoing dispute as to whom he should report to (chief rivals

EARLY COMBAT UNITS

Щ The first French aeroplane hangar in North Africa: Morocco, 1911

EARLY COMBAT UNITS

I A French pilot prepares to depart on a reconnaissance sortie in support of colonial forces: Morocco, 1912

were the Artillery and Engineers), he continued Gen Roques’s work, winning assent for a 400-aeroplane order. These machines entered Escadrille service in the first half of 1913. The enhanced air arm also conducted the first air-only manoeuvres at Azennes near Toulouse. To reach this region, the Escadrilles overflew almost all of France. The exercise showed improved reconnaissance and artillery direction standards.

Successful manoeuvres in the mother country led to the thought of using aero­planes to monitor bands led by hostile chieftains in the colonies. First to suggest a ‘Desert Air Corps’ in October 1910 was the Commander of the Algeria based XIX Corps. Meanwhile the Governor of French West Africa called on the government for aeroplanes and aviators to cover his large and strife torn area.

Accordingly, a six-aeroplane Escadrille was despatched to Algiers, and the young French air arm flew its first combat sortie on 17 February 1912, at the infantry’s re­quest. Army officers praised the effects of working with the new type of arm highly, and requests for air support soon grew apace. Escadrilles were sent to Tunisia and Morocco, and four aircraft were sent by sea to the Governor of West Africa. All units flew as intended until the outbreak of the First World War.

A short time after the murder of the Austro-Hungarian Crown Prince Franz Fer­dinand, mobilisation was declared. This applied to French military aviation units, whose strength comprised 21 Escadrilles:

– MF2, ‘5, ‘8, ’16 and ’20, flying Maurice Farman biplanes

– HF1, ‘7, ’13 and ’19, flying Henri Farman biplanes

– V14 and ’21, flying Voisin biplanes

EARLY COMBAT UNITS

I A French infantry unit and Maurice-Farman aeroplanes at a field airstrip during one of the last pre­War manoeuvres

– C11, flying Caudron biplanes

– Br17, flying Breguet biplanes

– B9, ’10, ’13 and ’18, flying Bleriot-XI monoplanes

– D4 and ‘6, flying Deperdussin monoplanes

– EP15, flying Esnault-Peltrier monoplanes

– N12, flying Nieuport monoplanes

– BIC2 and ‘5 Cavalry Escadrilles, flying single seat Bleriot monoplanes.

At the close of July 1914, the French had 132 first line aircraft, with 136 reserve aeroplanes. Since it was thought that the war would end soon, a decision was taken to close flying schools. Their pilots were distributed among the Escadrilles, ground staff going to infantry units.

Aerial reconnaissance was the main task of French aviation units. Some Esca – drilles were set apart for the needs of the Supreme Command. Information centres were created for them at Moulins de Mesieres, Verdun, Thulle, Belfort and Epinal. Remaining Escadrilles were brougth under the direct command of Army and Corps Staffs to carry out tactical and operational aerial reconnaissance.

British interest in military aviation dates back to 1878 when the War Office allo­cated 150 pounds sterling of budget funds for the order of an aerial observation bal­loon. Results from its sailings were encouraging, and 1884 saw the launch of the Ar­my’s first balloon unit. The successful employment of balloons in Victorian colonial wars and police actions led to the emergence of a balloon business and the establish­ment of a balloon factory. Opened at the close of 1884 at Farnborough near Alder­shot, the latter made and repaired lighter-than-air Army flying apparatus. Apart from observation balloons, the turn of the 19th Century saw the factory producing kites,

including ones capable of lifting a man. Design and research were led by the afore­mentioned Cody. However, what tangible results were attained were only good for a few years at best. The experience in kite design came in useful when it became clear that the future lay in aeroplanes. Lieutenant John Dunn of the Wiltshire Regiment joined Cody in his efforts. This young man was captured by the dream of flying upon his return from the 1899-1900 Boer War. There the British successfully used tethered spherical aerostats, and he had witnessed this. However, he decided to pursue his dream down a different route, embarking upon the design of an aeroplane in 1906 andcompleting work on it the following year.

The Dunn D.1 was built at the Farnborough Balloon Factory. We have already described its original design. The 12m span biplane had no tail surfaces and featured 30 degrees of sweepback. It broke up on its maiden flight but financing continued despite this setback. Work was carried out in conditions of strict secrecy since the flying machine was intended for Army needs. However, the expected success failed to materialise. The 2500 pounds sterling disbursed on the Dunn and Cody aeroplanes seemed rather profligate to the government, and in April 1909 all expenditure ceased.

This decision was absurd against the background of spending on similar projects in neighbouring countries. For instance, over the same period Germany spent the equiva­lent of 400,000 pounds for the same purpose. French expenditures were commensurate with German ones. Louis Bleriot’s cross-Channel flight in his Type 11 convinced the British of the error of their ways. Yet despite everything, the War Office and the Admi­ralty only approved the Nulli Secundus Army and the Mayfly Navy programmes, both for airships. No money was forthcoming for aeroplane design and construction. British con­servatism stayed aloof from the stormy development of aviation on the Continent.

In the event, the burden of progress towards military aeroplanes fell upon the shoulders of three Royal Field Artillery officers. They were: Lieutenant Gibbs, who had completed the Farman flying school at Chalonnes; Captain Bertram Dixon, who

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I Captain Dixon preparing to fly his Bristol Boxkite during the 1910 Royal Army Manoeuvres

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THE DUNN D.6

had his own Farman aeroplane; and Captain Fulton, who had completed the Bleriot school and also had his own aeroplane: a Bleriot. In 1910 Dixon left the Army and joined the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company (later Bristols) where he used his Army connections to arrange for the participation of company aeroplanes and crews in the September 1910 manoeuvres. Despite scepticism from senior Army officers, Dixon and Robert Lorraine flew a Bristol Boxkite and Gibbs flew his Farman, carrying out several successful recce missions. Lorraine also attempted radio contact with ground personnel at one of the command centres.

This successful showing by aeroplanes and pilots at the autumn manoeuvres led the War Office to broaden Balloon School activities by including aeroplane flying. First step was to separate the School from the Balloon Factory. The latter was given a new design office for heavier than air machines. Its first leader was a hitherto un­known automotive engineer, Frederick Green.

But the floes of British conservatism had yet to melt. Despite the efforts of the young and enthusiastic officers who had financed their own flying lessons in late 1910, the government officially announced that it was still not prepared to fund the purchase of aeroplanes for the Army. However, the dynamic development of avia­tion across the Channel began to bear upon British political and military leaders’ thinking. The first positive step came on 28 February 1911: a War Office order decreed that as form 1 April the same year, a Royal Engineers’ Air Battalion would come into being, to be commanded by Major Alexander Bannerman. It would com­prise two squads. One, flying lighter-than-air apparatus, would be commanded by Captain Maitland. The other, flying aeroplanes, would be commanded by Captain Fulton who would be head of the United Kingdom aerial fleet. Upon formation, the aeroplane squad had a Bleriot, a Flyer, a Farman, a Rulhan which had been in a crash, and an FEI. From summer 1911, six additional Bristol Boxkites, a Farman, a Flyer and a Bleriot were purchased.

Despite the cancellation of the 1911 autumn manoeuvres, the aeroplane squad was cleared to test its combat skills in East England. Sorties were flown as originally planned for the cancelled manoeuvres. Bad luck dogged the exercise from the start. Four aeroplanes were withdrawn due to defects. Only two of those which took off made the exercise grounds, and just one returned. The fiasco seemed a godsend to the sceptics who formed the majority of War Office staff. However, the rapid develop­ment of French and German air navigation and aviation compelled the Imperial De – fence Committee to debate the future creation of an effective air arm. This was to comprise units equal to the demands of the period. The poor showing by some of the types flown by the aeroplane squad during the improvised exercises dictated an Army Staff statement to the effect that the nascent air arm would need new aeroplanes designed and built at the Army Aeroplane Factory. The task of creating a new and

stable platform for airborne monitoring and aerial reconnaissance was given to de Havilland, Green and Edward Vooske.

The Agadir Incident in July 1911 confirmed Germany’s aggressive intentions. Apart from a magnificently armed and drilled land army, Germany also possessed an impressive amount of lighter-than-air machines. German flying schools were ex­panding and local aeroplane makers were achieving initial successes. At the same time, trained British pilots numbered 11 in the Army, and nine in the Navy. Aero­planes could be counted on the fingers of both hands, and there were just two dirigibles: experimental at that. Growing tensions in Europe led the Imperial De-

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THE DE HAVILLAND AEROPLANE

fence Committee to hasten the creation of an air arm. Much disturbed by the force imbalance in the air, Prime Minister Sir Herbert Asquith assisted the process. The Royal Air Corps was formed on 13 April 1912. From May that year it included an air battalion and support services. Parliament approved an initial budget of 308,000 pounds sterling for the new Corps.

The RFC comprised an Army and Naval Wings, the Royal Aeroplane Factory (later the Army Aeroplane Factory) at Farnborough, and the Central Air School charged with training pilots for both Wings. The Naval Aerial Service was disbanded in January 1912. Immediate reason for this was the September 1911 crash of the sole serving dirigible.

Initially, all 22 RFC officers served in the Naval Wing. The Admiralty continued to seek a certain independence for ‘its’ part of the Corps and indeed, the Royal Naval Air Service (не e ли Fleet Air Arm) did come into being soon after. The RFC was regarded as being a purely Army structure, rather than an Army and Navy conglom­erate on equal terms.

First Commander of the Army Wing was Captain Sykes. The War Office decided that the Wing should have two 13-aeroplane Squadrons (12 for ordinary pilots plus one for the Squadron Leader). It further decided that reserve strength should match the strength of units on active duty. War Office calculations showed that 364 pilots were needed for a viable combat ready structure.

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A young British pilot preparing to fly a Bristol Boxkite

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Training these men was the task of the Central Air School, with all trainees being officers. The RFC needed to grow to seven Squadrons. By early 1912 there were only three, one of them flying lighter-than-air apparatus. The Squadrons were staffed by establishment officers and quartered at Farnborough and Lorkhill.

The equipment issue continued to occupy the forefront. August 1912 saw Brit­ain’s first military aeroplane trials. Main rivals were Cody and de Havilland. The lat­ter’s BE2 demonstrated remarkable qualities and was ordered into series production. Cody got an order for just two aeroplanes. In general, prior to the First World Was the RFC largely favoured the Royal Aeroplane Factory, while the Fleet Air Arm patron­ised private makers like Sopwith and Short Brothers.

This was de facto an experimental period for the RFC. Strategists held that the Corps’ purpose was to employ its strength for aerial reconnaissance for Army and Navy needs, and any ideas which eased information gathering and gave greater precision to the results were given the change to prove themselves. The major issue was communication between airborne personnel and their land based equivalents, in whose interest air activity took place. To stimulate efforts in this direction, an RFC Experimental Department was estab­lished in 1913. Headed by Major Herbert Musgrave, its main task was to investigate kite, balloon and aeroplane flight and explore options of aerial bombing, artillery direction, reconnaissance and photography. Much was done in equipping aeroplanes with special lightweight radio transmitters and receivers for artillery direction purposes.

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I Francis McLean flies beneath Tower Bridge in his Shorts flying boat

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Army manoeuvres in late 1912 and early 1913 highlighted the usefulness of a number of ideas. No3 Squadron which specialised in artillery direction but was yet to adopt radios, tried various methods of communication such as written messages thrown to the ground, or flag or light signals similar to Navy ones. Despite some progress, it was clear that these were mere improvisations. The same Squadron flew recce mis­sions for the ‘defence side’ and the precise and timely data it supplied on the attacking forces helped secure a victory.

The manoeuvres also highlighted a number of weaknesses in flight organisation and ground force operations. These led to robust discussion among aviators. Howev­er, staff officers remained aloof from polemics: an attitude that was to prevail until the start of the World War.

Spring 1913 saw a settlement to some outstanding aspects of the RFC’s status. On 1 September, a Military Aeronautics Administration was established at the War Of­fice. Brigadier David Henderson was appointed to head it, with Captain Sefton Bren – carr as his deputy. The Administration had three sections: personnel administration and training; unit equipment; and economics, the latter entering into contracts with aircraft manufacturers. A million pounds sterling was allocated from the budget to breathe life into the new structure.

Despite support from First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, the last years of peace were difficult for the Fleet Air Arm. Among the reasons was the cir­cumstance that, while RFC terms of reference were set, those of the FAA were very much ‘up in the air.’ An official announcement that Naval aeroplanes were to patrol and reconnoitre the coast came only in late October 1912. This required the estab­lishment of stations which were to be set at intervals determined by the combat radius of aeroplanes used. The first of these was at Eastchurch, and the second: on the Isle of Grain. Another four came into being by mid 1913, the process continuing until by the start of the World War the FAA had 11 stations.

By late 1913 the Royal Naval Aviation Service had some 100 pilots and a consid­erable number of aeroplanes, floatplanes and lighter-than-air apparatus. Due to the Service’s great importance to the nation, the Admiralty continued to insist on its full independence. The final administrative division between Naval and Army aviation came on 1 July 1914. By the start of hostilities, the RNAS managed to form Squad­rons and Wings, but none of these attained official designation. Combat readiness was tried at the Spithead exercises held between 18 and 22 July 1914. All available flying machines took part in these: 17 floatplanes and two landplanes.

The proximity of war was clear to everyone in Europe. The British government decided to test the state of Army and Navy preparedness. For the fleet this meant the aforementioned exercise, while the RFC was gathered at Netheravon airfield. Nos 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 Squadrons flew there in June 1914. Personnel numbered over 700. No1

Squadron was being reequipped, while No7 Squadron remained on duty at its Farn – borough base. Main aeroplane types were the de Havilland BE2 and BE2a, Farmans, Avro 504s, Sopwith Tabloids and Bleriot-XIs. The Corps had a total of 179 aircraft, but a comparatively small part of them were combat ready.

Prior to the start of the First World War, Britain had 113 combat ready aeroplanes and six non-rigid airships. This was commensurate with French numbers, but France had greater reserves which proved their worth during the War.

The British air contingent sent to the Continent comprised 105 officers and 63 aeroplanes. They were commanded by Brigadier David Henderson: an exceptional

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I A float equipped Avro 504

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Щ The Avro 504 was Britain’s most successful pre-War biplane

man and officer, who first sat in an aeroplane to commence pilot training at the age of 49. Lieutenant Harvey-Kelly was the first British pilot to arrive in France, landing his BE2a in the early hours of 13 August 1914 near Amiens: a place that would live on in British aviation history.

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THE HANDLEY-PAGE E AEROPLANE

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I The Royal Air Corps at Netheravon airfield, 29 June, 1914

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Щ Lieutenant Harvey-Kelly’s BE2a ‘347:’ first British military aeroplane to land in France at the start of the First World War

Like other advanced nations which formed airborne units before the First World War, Germany accumulated initial experience using balloons. The first Railway Forc­es’ Aeronautics Detatchment was established in early 1884. Its duties were more to do with research than with direct support of the force it belonged to. Becoming indepen­dent in 1897, by 1901 the command had grown to Battalion strength with two com-

panies. As early as 1896 spherical balloons were replaced by kite (dragon) balloons designed by Major von Parcival and Hauptmann von Siegsfeld.

Sailings by German aeronauts contributed much to upper atmosphere research. Significant attention was paid to aerial photography as well as information exchange. The latter was initially by carrier pigeon, and later by radio telegraphy.

Balloons were followed by large controllable airships. Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin is rightly called Father of the Dirigible. These enormous flying balloons captured German imagination and seemed to offer a way to world domination. The Army and Navy includ­ed dirigibles as a major means of strategic reconnaissance deep behind enemy lines or in the open seas. Of the 26 dirigibles the world had in 1910, 14 were German. France had five, Italy: two, and Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Britain, Russia, and the USA: one apiece.

German enthusiasm for airships meant that this nation began developing heavier – than-air flying machines comparatively late. This did not mean that the General Staff failed to monitor aviation development closely, ready to take advantage of this new technology for its ends. The first step was taken on 1 October 1908: a Special Techni­cal Department was established at the General Staff. Its brief was to watch and report on advances in radio communications, transportation and aviation: all of them items seen as decisive in a highly mobile future war. The department was established at the

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| German infantrymen watch the raising of a Parcival-Siegsfeld type dragon balloon

recommendation of Hauptmann Thomsen of the General Staff’s Fourth Department. He succeeded thanks to enthusiastic support by General Erich Ludendorff, head of the Second Department.

Soon after coming into existence, the Technical Department published a report supporting the view that aeroplanes would soon become useful attack weapons and stable observation platforms. These conclusions essentially rested on the views of Major Gross and Hauptmann de la Roy, aeronautics advisers to the War Ministry. Occupy­ing this post since 1906, Gross had monitored and financed German aeroplane mak­ers. Since no promising design had appeared by 1910, it was decided that Army offic­ers should begin training using foreign machines. Dr Walther Hude of the Albatros Aeroplane Company bought a Farman biplane and paid the French company for the training of one pilot. After this pilot’s return to Germany, he became an instructor in the newly created Combat Pilots’ School near Dobrenz. Ten officers were trained between 10 July 1910 and late March 1911, Hauptmann de la Roy being one of them.

The General Staff was still sceptical regarding the practical use of aeroplanes in com­bat, but it did provide a modest sum for training officers to fly heavier-than-air machines. Trials of aeroplanes designed especially for combat and for the specific conditions expect­ed in such combat, also began. After these tests, the War Ministry allocated 150,000

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I Mixed feelings as a Prussian cavalryman contemplates a Wright A built under American licence at a German aeroplane factory: the advent of aviation meant the end of whirlwind cavalry charges

marks to purchase seven aeroplanes: one Etrich Taube, two Flyer biplanes, a Farman, an Albatros-built Farman, an Aviatik-built Farman and an Albatros-built Sommer.

This order finally gave the German Army flying machines which were heavier than air. A Military Aviation and Transport Inspectorate was created. The aviation service still suffered from lack of clarity as to its functions and were insufficiently developed to figure in the military budget. Thus a special resolution of the War Min­istry and the General Staff of 1 April 1911 allocated a further 500,000 marks to pur­chase aeroplanes and asociated equipment. This bought another 30 aeroplanes (19 single engined Type B biplanes and 11 Etrich Taubes) which were delivered by the year’s end. The Army now had 37 aeroplanes and 30 pilots.

The best aeroplanes and crews took part in the autumn manoeuvres, practising skills expected to be useful in wartime. To hasten military aviation development, pilots who had completed civilian flying courses were to be brought into compliance with emerging military standards at courses in Strassbourg and Metz. Special observer train­ing courses were also organised. The period also saw General Staff head General-Oberst Helmut von Moltke and the War Ministry administration locked into contention as to the future of the air arm. Von Moltke succeeded in imposing his view that two or three field aviation squads and a support squad (a Station) should be at the disposal of each Army Command. Moreover, each Corps Command (whether in active service or the reserve) should also have an aeroplane unit after the start of hostilities. According to Moltke’s plan, 34 air squads had to be ready by April 1914: eight of them at Army level,

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I A Taube under assembly in the Rumpler workshops

and 26 at Corps level. The air arm was to be separated from the transport command, and subjected to its own inspectorate.

Подпись: I War Minister von Herringen (left) and General Staff Head von Moltke observe departure prep-arations for new aircraft Подпись:

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The War Ministry and the Central In­spectorate opposed von Moltke’s plans. Both bodies felt aviation was too new and weak to be afforded such a degree of inde – pendence. Regardless of this disagreement, from 1 October 1912 the German air arm began reforming along the lines proposed by von Moltke. Doberitz, Strasbourg, Metz and Darmstadt became the first Air Stations, or bases, staffed by 21 officers, 306 NCOs and privates. As reorganisation progressed, it became clear that the funds allocated were most inadequate. At the close of 1912 the Chancellor was asked for additional fi­nance. The air arm was indirectly helped by the National Air Support Foundation led by Prince Heinrich of Prussia, which col­lected seven million marks. This mostly went to finance civil aeronautics and in­digenous aeroplane designs which oblique­ly boosted the development of the air arm.

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THE FOKKER SPIN III

 

Despite resistance by some War Ministry circles, the General Staff resolved to begin replacing lighter-than-air apparatus with aeroplanes. Of rigid and semi-rigid construction, the outgoing machines had been used for tactical reconnaissance. The 15 rigid construction airships were henceforth to specialise in air strikes and strategic reconnaissance on behalf of the Supreme Command.

Air arm structures continued to evolve in 1913. The Military Aviation Inspec­torate was created on 1 October. Oberst von Erhard was appointed Chief Inspector, commanding four Air Battalions each with three Squads, located as follows:

– No1 Air Battalion at Doberitz and Grossenheim

– No2 Air Battalion at Posen (now Poznan), Graudentz and Konigsberg (now Kaliningrad)

– No3 Air Battalion at Cologne, Hannover and Darmstadt

– No4 Air battalion at Strasbourg, Metz and Freiburg.

The semi autonomous Bavarian Army had a separate two Squad Bavarian Air Battalion.

In case of war, these airfields were to remain as main bases of the internal Squads. The reform foresaw the creation of 57 Field Air Squads and 46 Field Air Squads by 1916, and the creation of one air unit for each infantry division after eventual mobilisation. This appeared unrealistic due to tight deadlines and insufficient manufacturing capacity. Com­pelled to review timescales and organisational goals, the General Staff decided to concen­trate on acquiring four Air Units, each with 12 six-aeroplane Air Squads, by 1 April 1914.

Since it was impossible for the air arm to secure a base for each Corps, aviation remained subordinate to the transport arm. Experience from the 1913 manoeuvres

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I A Rumpler Taube with fictitious serial number ‘84’: disinformation for the enemy

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The real Taube No84 with a 100hp engine, strengthened landing gear and enlarged radiator

also lent support for this status: air units still depended greatly on road and rail trans­port for mobility. Experience of incidents in combat conditions led the War Ministry to demand new and more reliable aircraft with stronger airframes. To this end, the Transport Army Experimental Section increased its establishment and changed its tasks, becoming the Directorate of Technical Transportation Testing. Combat pilot training also changed, becoming more intensive in the last months of peace to satisfy the growing need for pilots and observers.

The theory and practice of aerial reconnaissance for the needs of Army and Corps commands and staffs, as well as aerial artillery direction, marked significant advances. However both tasks were hampered by the lack of suitable communication. The lack of any onboard armament also meant limitations to aircraft use, the experiments in mounting machine guns and bomb racks on aeroplanes having enjoyed only modest success. Despite this, German political and military leaders assessed the place of avia­tion in a future conflict realistically, financing the programme for developing an air arm generously. Between 1906 and July 1914, military aviation was funded to the tune of 11,800,000 marks.

After the declaration of mobilisation on 1 August 1914, military aviation began war preparations in earnest. Comprising five aircraft and six airship batallions, with the latter supporting 33 field air detachments: 30 Prussian and three Bavarian. Ten of these were set aside to support the forces defending Strassbourg, Metz, Cologne, Posen (Poznan), Konigsberg (Kaliningrad) and Graudenz, and the major military centres of Beuen, Breslau (now Wroclaw) and Glogau.

The airship battalions comprised strength and discharged duties as follows:

– eight field airship units, each with an active and reserve kite balloon and a hydrogen production station;

– 15 castle airship units, each with a kite balloon and a total of a handful of shared spherical balloons, and

– 12 airships with 18 crews.

The air arm also had six reserve aeronautical units and five reserve field air battal­ions whose main duty was to replenish active units’ personnel and equipment.

Mobilisation took five days. The Armies were deployed and ready for action. A field air detachment was put at the disposal of each Army and Corps Staff. The su­preme command had no aircraft or crews under its direct command. Field air units were subordinate to Army Staffs, and Castle Aeronautical units, being in larger in­dustrial centres, served as a reserve.

After mobilisation, the German air arm comprised 254 pilots, 271 observers, and 246 combat ready aeroplanes. Half of the latter were Taube monoplanes, the rest being Albatros and Aviatik biplanes. Field air detachments had six aeroplanes each, and Castle Air Detachments: four each. The naval aviation unit managed to prepare 20 pilots for action. It had six aeroplanes, of which just half were serviceable: a strength completely inadequate for the provision of maritime patrol.

The first heavier than air machine was flown in Italy in 1908 by French aviation pioneer Leon Delagrange. He flew a series of demonstration flights over Milan, Rome and Turin. Beauty and emotion are close to the Italian spirit, and many Italian youths were soon enthusiastic about flying. Not a few of them were in uniform, though initially they set

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I A pilot warming up the engine of an Albatros B prior to departing to a forward base near the border with France

pursued their dream privately. Mario Calderara was one of Italy’s first pilots. His training included 23 lessons given by Wilbur Wright during his Italian visit in spring 1909.

At the time, military interest in aviation was purely theoretical. Since there was no objection to officers receiving flying lessons in their own time, using their own money, their attendance at the first flying school near Rome in 1910 surprised nobody. Flying soon became fashionable and six similar schools sprang al over Italy in a matter of months.

Tenente Savoia’s sensational 1910 flight captured the Italian imagination. He flew a Farman from Murmelon to the Rome suburb of Cintochelle, where on 2 August he took aloft Italian War Minister General Spinardi. Eleven days later, Tenente Vivaldi became the first Italian to die in an air crash while attempting to overfly Italy from Rome to Cit – tavecchia. Despite the tragedy, the year saw significant progress, 31 soldiers getting their wings, of whom 16: Italian wings (the rest had trained mainly in France and Germany).

Two military flying schools opened in 1911. Along with the paramilitary school at Cintochelle, they embarked on specialist and active military training programmes. Both were situated in the more industrialised Italian north. One was at Aviano near Udine, and the other: at Soma Lombardo. The larger school in Aviano opened its doors in April 1911 and had a mix of types: five Bleriot monoplanes, an Etrich Taube monoplane, a Nieuport monoplane, and three Farman biplanes.

The Italian military first used aeroplanes in manoeuvres during the annual exercises from 22 to 29 August 1911, led by Tenente Generale Polio. Capetane Carlo Piazza with a Bleriot, Capetane Ricardo Moisa with a Nieuport, Tenente Constantino Coagglia with a Savoia biplane, and Tenente Junio Guiglio Gavotti with an Etrich Taube flew for the Reds. Blue pilots were Tenentes Manlio Ginocchlio and Francisco Roberti with Bleriot monoplanes, Tenente Junio Hugo de Rossi with a Nieuport monoplane and Tenente Leonardo de Rada with a Farman biplane. The manoeuvres took place close to Monferrato, with the aeroplanes based at an improvised airfield near Novi, from where they flew a great many recce sorties. At the close of the manoeuvres, many military pilots took part in the September Air Races. Capetane Piazza and Tenente Giunio Ga- votti were awarded the Medaglia d’Oro for services to military aviation.

Italian military flyers had to show their skills in earnest all too soon. On 29 Sep­tember 1911 their country started a war with Turkey in an attempt to increase its influence in North Africa at the expense of the crumbling Ottoman Empire. Military Council deliberations concluded that the cavalry was unsuited to difficult desert con­ditions. Accordingly, seven aeroplanes and 30 of the best trained aviators (including five pilots) were shipped to join the expeditionary force in Tripolitania, tasked with supplying reconnaissance.

Set up using Aviano Flying School aeroplanes, the First Aeroplane Flotiglia de­ployed near an old Jewish cemetery at Jafrah near Tarabulus (now Tripoli). Aeroplane reassembly began on 15 October, and several days hence a Nieuport, two Farmans,

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I The Italian crew of a soft dirigible

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Wheeling a stowed Taube across the field airstrip near Tripoli

two Etrich Taubes and two Bleriots were lined up on the improvised airfield, ready for testing. Difficult atmospheric conditions, high temperatures and sand storms hindered normal operation. However, heavy losses caused to the Italian infantry by Turkish cavalry at the Sharah Shatt Oasis compelled expeditionary force commanders to re­sort to using aeroplanes as the sole means of observing enemy movements. The first combat sortie was on 23 October 1911. At 0619hr Tenente Piazza departed for Asisia, 60km south of italian positions, in his Bleriot-XI. After more than an hour’s flying, he returned with valuable intelligence on Turkish forces and their Arab allies. Similar flights became routine in subsequent days, bringing invaluable help to the infantry.

On 28 October, Capetanes Piazza and Moiso observed artillery bombardment from the battle cruiser Sardegna from the air. This led to the idea of using aeroplanes to direct artillery fire. A system of communication was agreed with naval officers, com­ing into operation a week later.

On 1 November Tenente Junio Gavotti carried out history’s first aerial bombard­ment when he threw four hand grenades. The use of hand grenades against enemy infantry and cavalry was to become routine for Italian pilots in future sorties. Natural­ly, the effect of this was more psychological than anything else. Following one of these flights, the Turkish authorities accused the pilots of bombing a field hospital. Investi­gations led to legal disputes: the 1899 Hague Convention permitted aerial bombard­ment, but only from lighter than air apparatus. Aeroplanes were missing from the Convention for obvious reasons. Article 25 of the 1907 Hague Convention forbade aerial bombardment of undefended targets even where they were otherwise targeted by land forces, if it put civilian lives and property at risk.

Despite the successes of the young Italian air arm which had attained combat effectiveness rapidly, the situation of Italian land forces in Cyrenaica remained dif-

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Taube pilots taking their seats

ficult. Improvised airfields near Tobruk (now Tubruq) and Derna were inadequate for air support. This dictated the setting up of a second aerial Flotiglia near Bengha­zi. This included 29 men, including four pilots. The three aeroplanes (a Bleriot, a Farman, and an Asteria) and the 110 metre airstrip only became operational on 29 November. A few days earlier, on 24 November, Capetane Mioso directed artil­lery for the first time in genuine combat. His flight, and subsequent ones, met ever better organised opposition. Small arms fire, largely futile at 1000m at which aero­planes flew, was joined by artillery weapons mounted on special carriages allowing them to aim at aerial targets. Tenente Giunio Roberti’s aeroplane was hit under such circumstances. The danger led to pilots’ seats being lined with thick sheet steel during the January lull in fighting.

Another result of combat experience was the fitting of mechanical bomb holders to aeroplanes. Also, on 24 January 1912, Capetane Piazza’s Bleriot was fitted with a still camera delivered from Italy. After this, he flew aerial photo reconnaissance sor­ties, and the unit he commanded took part in mapping the area between Tarabulus and Al Gharian. On 4 March 1912 Capetane Piazza jointly with Gavotti flew the first night reconnaissance sortie, and carried out the first night bombardment. The con­flict also took aviation’s first war victim, with the death of pilot Pietro Manzini on 12 August 1912. Other tasks of the Italian air arm included dropping propaganda leaflets behind enemy lines.

Two groups of volunteers from the Royal Italian Club led by its President Carlo Monti also arrived at Tobruk and Derna. Each had four men, and each was commanded by an officer. They flew their eight aeroplanes in a total of 150 sorties. One of these groups experimented with radio as a means of transmitting intelligence. One of the aeroplanes was fitted with a small radio set which received a signal sent from a warship.

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A Bleriot is readied for the next reconnaissance flight at a field airstrip near Tripoli

The experience of Italy’s nascent air arm in Libya proved to the world that, thought novel and consisting of fragile aeroplanes with weak engines, air power was sufficient­ly effective and mobile to play a significant role in the outcome of conflicts. Two main ways were developed for reconnoitring from the air: visual and photographic. Also tested was the delivery of strikes from the air (however symbolic, it became routine), directing artillery fire, and dropping propaganda behind enemy lines. In other words, many of the tasks performed by today’s air forces were first tried then.

Analysing the results of the war, Italian political and military leaders decided to boost combat aviation. Between April and October 1912, some 3,250,000 lire was spent on new aeroplanes and organisational development of this new form of service. Its emergence as a separate formation began after March 1912, when Colonel Vittorio de Montemozzolo recommended the formation of the Royal Italian Military Aviation Service on his return from an inspection in North Africa.

One of the first steps in the creation of this new service was the formation of a floatplane unit to patrol inland waters and the coast. Even before its creation, maritime aviation pioneer Capetane Alessandro Guidoni had begun testing aerial bombardment and aerial torpedo launching against shipping. His tests were successful and mark an important stage in the aeroplane’s conversion into an important and effective weapon.

Another novelty was the creation in 1912 of a Colonial Aviation Service. This further boosted fleet expansion, and by early 1913 Italian military aeroplanes numbered 50, and lighter than air apparatus: 14. Several flying schools were very active, including a floatplane school near Venice. The Army had 13 airfields, hosting the following units:

– Aviano: a flying school with Bleriots

– Bologna: Esquadriglia VIII

– Busto Arsisio: Esquadriglia V

– Cintochelle: Esquadriglias IV and XI

– Cuneo: Esquadriglia III

– Mirafiori: Esquadriglia I

– Padua: Esquadriglia VII

– Piacenza: Esquadriglia XVI

– San Francesco: Esquadriglias IX and X

– Soma Lombardo: a flying school

– Taliedo: Esquadriglia VI

– Venaria Reale: Esquadriglia II.

Esquadriglia designations changed by mid 1913 with the adoption of Arabic nu­merals. Aerial reconnaissance and artillery direction tasks were successfully carried out during the September manoeuvres. The Reds had two Esquadriglias, each with 11 Bleriots and Savoia-Farmans, while the Blues also had two Esquadriglias, each with ten Savoia-Farmans and Nieuport-Macchis.

By 1914 Italian army aviation comprised 13 Esquadriglias and two flying schools based on 14 airfields. Italy declared neutrality, but even though a direct threat by the Central Powers was not foreseen, aviators were training intensively for combat. Train­ing involved mainly aerial reconnaissance skills, including those needed in strategic reconnaissance for the supreme command. The appearance of Giovanni Caproni’s trimotored aeroplanes led to theorising about their possible use as strategic bombers.

A Military Air Corps was founded on 7 January 1915. This had a headquarters and two commands (aeronautical and aviation) which controlled Dirigible Battal­ions, Esquadriglia Battalions, and Flying School Battalions. Italy entered the Great War on 24 May 1915. Its Air Corps comprised 15 Esquadriglias armed with 86 aero­planes and staffed with 72 pilots. The Navy had 12 ground-based aeroplanes, some dirigibles which were not realistic weapons due to their limited performance, and 15 aeroplanes supported by a mother ship.

Russia is a country with a significant tradition in flying lighter than air apparatus. In 1904, Russians became the first to use kite balloons in combat. Several such balloons were taken to Port Arthur and took part in its defence. In the maritime theatre, tethered bal­loons supported the Vladivostok cruiser detachment. The possibility of using other flying machines continued to be studied after Russia’s defeat by Japan. Dirigibles were bought from France and Germany, and indigenously designed ones were put into production.

Official interest in heavier than air machines began in 1910 with the establish­ment of the Central Army School of Flying at Gatchino, near Sankt Petersburg. A similar school for the Navy opened a year later in Sebastopol. As early as 1909, mon­ies from the military budget were allocated to the purchase of five Wright biplanes

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I A Caproni Ca-33 three engined strategic bomber

and several Bristol Boxkites. Russia has ten trained pilots who formed a special mili­tary reserve. At the opening of the Gatchino School, all airworthy aeroplanes were transferred there.

Even though early aeroplane building efforts brought no fruit, the enormous po­tential of Russian engineering thought brought some advances, particularly in mili­tary aeroplanes. In 1909 Porokhovchikov designed an aeroplane with an armoured cabin. Igor Sikorski and Yuriyev came up with many of the breakthroughs needed for the future helicopter. The state itself attempted to boost efforts at creating indigenous aeroplanes. Two aeroplane factories opened near the capital between 1907 and 1909, both with full financial support from the Russian Imperial Technical Society, which formed an Aviation Section in 1910.

Aviation rapidly gained popularity in Russia and enjoyed universal respect and attention, including advocacy from senior public figures. They not only sympathised, but also did all they could to ensure that the new challenge would be widely taken up by Russians. Grand Prince Aleksander Mikhailovich was among the foremost of these advocates. He used the two million roubles donated voluntarily by the public during the Russo-Japanese War for torpedo carrier construction, the training of Russian of­ficers in France, and the purchase of several Bleriots and Voisins from France. Private donors also lent great financial support. The Grand Prince’s advocacy was reflected the place he occupied in the emerging structure of military aviation. He was appoint-

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I Chief Pilot Abramovich with a student

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A Russian Bleriot at the Kubinka airfield near Moscow

ed General Inspector of Aeronautics and Field Aviation. Until mid 1912, command over aviation rested with the War Ministry Technical Department. Thereafter it went to the Defence Council: the body responsible for overall Russian army and Naval combat readiness. An Aviation Division was formed on 30 July 1912 under the com­mand of a Major General reporting directly to the General Staff. Its deputy com­mander was to be a suitably commissioned Senior Engineer. Organisation copied the French structure, and included a training department for field aviation, and a techni­cal and field supply department.

The structure underwent more changes in 1913. Two bureaux were opened in the General Staff. One was the Chief Military Technical Administration, and the other, the Chief Administration of the General Staff. Russian military administration at the time was territorially divided. Each Governorship[11] had at least two Corps, and each of these had a six-aeroplane aviation Otryad. Similar Otryads were attached to fortress garrisons, special purpose commands, and commands tasked with operational and tactical reconnaissance and intelligence gathering. The idea behind this form of or­ganisation was for a six-aeroplane (with two to six reserve aeroplanes) Otryad to be available to support to each Corps and each fortress garrison. The reorganisation was

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THE GRIZODUBOV G-2

202

 

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planned to be complete by April 1914 which turned out a pipedream in view of limit­ed finance.

In 1910 the Navy created its own aviation organisation. However, this faced the same technical resource problem as its Army equivalent. To resolve the issue, a Mili­tary Air Contest was organised at Gatchino in 1911. Gakkel’s biplane came first, but the authorities preferred to buy foreign aeroplanes. Army aviation bought French, German, British and American machines, and the Navy bought Curtises. With the exception of some Sikorski designs, Russian aircraft makers made only licenced copies of foreign designs.

The significant sums made available led to rapid development of the new air units. If Russian military aviation in 1910 comprised not more than 40 aeroplanes and three dirigibles, by 1911 these numbers had risen to 100 and nine respectively, reaching 150 modern and 100 older aeroplanes and 13 dirigibles by 1 April 1913. By August 1914, Russian military aviation, aeronautics, and aerostatics comprised some 263 aeroplanes, 15 dirigibles and 46 tethered spherical and kite balloons. Despite these impressive numbers, the air arm’s combat readiness was impacted by negative trends started dur­ing its very nascence. Relying on foreign made aeroplanes led to spares problems: the heterogenous fleet included no fewer than 16 tipes. The proportion of airships which were genuinely combat ready was minute, the mainstream being decidedly passe. Even though Russia had several aeroplane makers with great production capacities, their output was tiny compared with the volume of imports.

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The Sikorski S-9 was exceptionally aerodynamic for its time

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THE KIEV DIRIGIBLE DESIGNED BY F F ANDERS IN 1911

The Tsar and government got around to recognising that the early withdrawal of support for indigenous designs was one reason behinds this state of affairs. In April 1914, the War Ministry authorised production of 326 aeroplanes, 13 dirigibles, and ten Ilya Muromets bombers. However, the time factor was working against them and things remained practically unchanged by the outbreak of the First World War.

In America, both the Army of the Potomac and Confederate forces had used tethered balloons in the 1861 -‘5 Civil War. As related earlier, the former force even had a seven-vessel Balloon Corps. Commanded by the energetic Thaddeus Lowe, this existed until 1863.

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The Nieuport 4 was among the most popular aeroplanes in pre-War Russia

Post-Civil War interest in aeronautics among US soldiers was weak or non-exis­tent, ballooning being practised only as a sport. Things changed after the appoint­ment of Gen Adolph Greely as US Liaison Forces Commander. An enthusiastic aero­naut, Greely succeeded in establishing aeronautical units in Liaison Corps. French balloons were purchased for these units, some of them seeing action in the 1898 Span – ish-American War. Indeed, one of them was hit and destroyed by Spanish fire, its loss increasing the general scepticism of aeronautics among US Army commanders. In fact, interest in all forms of flying took a blow after Samuel Langley’s failure to fly his aeroplane despite spending the then-lavish amount of 50,000 dollars. All too soon, the only remaining balloon unit was disbanded.

US soldiers failed to see much military advantage in the air even after the successes of the Wright brothers and other Amrerican and European pioneers. It took until 1 August 1907 for an Aeronautical Division to be formed within the Liaison Corps. Its first com­mander was Charles Chandler, with just two NCOs reporting to him. An airship was duly ordered, being commissioned the following year under the designation Army Airship No1.

Meanwhile, the American Aero Club was the subject of no less than presidential interest by Theodore Roosevelt. Despite the crash which injured Orville Wright and killed Lt Thomas Selfridge, the effect of the brothers’ biplanes was becoming such that the Army undertook to fund a replacement machine. Flown on 2 August 1909, this was taken on strength as Aeroplane No1. For the following two years, this remained Amer­ica’s sole heavier-than-air military flying machine. The contract with the Wrights in­cluded the training of two officers in piloting skills. They were Lt Lamb and Lt Frederick Humphreys. However, even though they were the USA’s only pilots with wings, they soon had to return to their old cavalry jobs due to the lack of aeroplanes.

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I One of the Wright Brothers’ workshops

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The Wright Model A was America’s first warplane. It had no armament, flew at 70km/h, and cost taxpayers 25,000 dollars

In March 1911, Congress finally approved funds for aviation development. An­other five airships were ordered for the Aeronautical Division. Its establishment also expanded, allowing a number of experiments on the military uses of aeroplanes. But here too, enterprising Glenn Curtis had stolen a march on the military. In late spring 1910 he flew a trial sortie armed with training bombs. The objective was to destroy a ‘ship’ marked by buoys with flags. With each pass, more and more bombs hit the target. In January 1911, the Wright brothers threw genuine bombs onto an impro­vised test ground near San Francisco. Meanwhile, Army officer Raleigh Suit had de­signed a specialised aeroplane bomb along with a basic aiming and release device. Despite successful trials, he failed to convince the military to buy his invention. Other testing involved endurance flying, aerial photography, and machine gunning ground targets from aeroplanes.

By November 1912 the Aeronautical Division had grown to nine Wright, Curtis and Burges aeroplanes, 14 Pilot officers, and 39 NCOs and troops. The decision was taken to move the unit South for the winter. The Wrights and their auxilliary person­nel travelled to Augusta, Georgia, the Curtis went to North Island near San Diego, California: site of Curtis’s private flying school which began acting as the USA’s first military flying school.

The Mexican Civil War which broke out in 1911 began to spread. This troubled the US Government and in January 1913 the Aeronautical Division was detailed to support the Second US Army Division. It then moved to Texas City, Texas, where No1 Squadron was formed in March. The unit was not directly involved in combat

but the severe climate and terrain impacted its everyday tasks of flying, observing and patrolling the border. In June most equipment and personnel relocated to San Diego, leaving two aeroplanes, three pilots, and 26 NCOs and troops at Texas City. An in­spection soon afterwards revealed a sorry state of affairs. Of the twenty aeroplanes purchased until then, nine were scrapped due to crashes or other damage. Eleven of the forty pilots had died in accidents. Of the 11 Wright and Curtis aeroplanes inspect­ed, just five were pronounced fit for flying, and that only subject to thorough over­haul. The findings forced the grounding of the unit. Luckily, a new Cutis biplane with pusher propellers had just been successfully test-flown, and 17 were duly ordered.

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THE CURTISS A.1 FLOATPLANE

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I A Curtiss landing on the USS Pennsylvania

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Щ Just hours to go before this Curtiss is to depart from a specially rigged strip on the USS Birmingham

Gradually aviation became a routine part of the US military scene. B 18 July 1914 the Liaison Corps Aviation Department had a personnel of 60 unarmed Pilot Lieu­tenants, and 260 NCOs and troops. These were unr Gen Scraven’s overall command. A senior liaison officer, he was known for his progressive views on the planning and conduct of warfare. By the end of the same year, the General proposed that US mili­tary aviation shld expand further, to reach 18 Squadrons with 12 aeroplane each. However, this idea had to wait until the USA entered the Great War.

The first aeroplane flight over Belgium took place on 26 May 1908. Pilot was Frenchman Leon Delagrange. The event inspired many young and not so young Bel­gians to fly. The following year Professor Emile Allard and Pierre de Gaterre succeed­ed in flying, whereas Julien de Lamin got his wings in France, at the Farman school. In

1910 he bought a Farman III and demonstrated it by flying from a field near Antwerp.

Flying from the same field on 7 July 1910, Lamin flew a historic flight with Belgian

War Minister General Helebaut on board. Strongly impressed, the General decided it was time to start training pilots for the Belgian Army. Enthused, Lamin offered to organise things. However, the General Staff turned down his offer, and did not ap­prove a flying training curriculum it had commissioned from the Balloon Company CO. Instead, Belgian pilots were to train in French flying schools.

Two artillery officers, Lieutenants Baldouin de Montes d’Osterick and Alfred Sar – til, went first. Their example fired the dreams of young officers and the General Staff was flooded with applications for seconding to flying schools. This made Gen Hele – baut turn to Lamin to organise flying training, and the Ministry bought a Farman biplane for training purposes. Two artillery Lieutenants entered the new school: Eman – nuel Brone and Robert Denis, and another two were sent to France.

The first airfield was also established near Antwerp, comprising personnel quar­ters, maintenance workshops and spares and fuel storage facilities. This airfield be­came the birthplace of the Service Belgique d’Aviation, formally founded in spring

1911 with five pilots, two mechanics, a carpenter, and one aeroplane.

The opening of the Military Flying School on 5 May 1911 was an important step forward in the development of Belgian aviation. The event was marred by the tragic death of Lt Brone. The School’s specially purchased Farman which he was flying was also destroyed. Some months later, in September, the two surviving Farmans took part in the autumn manoeuvres near Antwerp. Several successful intelligence sorties were flown. By the year’s end, 13 Belgian officers had acquired wings. In November they also went through an observer course.

The following year began with a General Staff study on the options for aviation in a future war, and how it could influence infantry operations planning and execution. This coincided with the appointment of Gen Michel as War Minister. He brought new ideas, inluding ones with a bearing on aviation. The Flying School’s activity intensified.

Meanwhile, Belgian military engineers began trials of a new lightweight air­cooled machine gun designed by American Col Isaac Lewis. After his design was rejected in the USA, he had come to Europe. Despite being underdeveloped, the Lewis Gun was a breakthrough in weapon design and was as usable in the air as it

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THE FARMAN F20 AEROPLANE

was on the ground. The first of four Farman F20 biplanes delivered to Belgium on 9 July 1912 had the first Lewis Gun mounted on it. Trials on 12 September were successful.

A Royal Decree of 16 April 1913 declared the formation of an Aviation Company and a Balloon Company. The Belgian Army comprised four Divisions, and the idea was for each to have its own Squadron in the future. After mobilisation, the Squad­rons would grow to six, as would the Divisions.

In May 1913 some crews and aeroplanes took part in Army manoeuvres near Beverloo. There they astonished ionfantry officers with the speed and precision of data on adversary positions and force strengths. Mainstream vehicles were the Far – man F20s. Repeat orders had brought their number to 20 by July 1913. This was sufficient for the planned four Escadrilles to be formed. Each had four aeroplanes, eight pilots, and adequate surface transport to become an effective and mobile com­bat unit. The new organisational structure was tested in the August manoeuvres, which also confirmed the great effectiveness of aerial reconnaisance. After the ma­noeuvres, No1 Escadrille was assigned to No2 Division, and No2 Escadille, to No4 Division. The other two Escadrilles were judged insufficiently combat ready.

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I Four Royal Belgian Air Force pilots and their Farman F20

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After the declaration of mobilisation on 2 August 1914, the 38 military pilots were joined by eight civilian conscripts, some of whom brought their own aeroplanes. Of 22 serviceable aeroplanes, eight were sent to the front line to support the Belgian Army which was deploying in the border areas.

Even though the first decade of the 20th Century was a time of decline for Austria – Hungary, the country was still a Great Power. This prompted its political and military leaders to maintain a modern and well equipped army. Several Etrich Taubes were pur­chased in 1911, and four trained pilots returned from abroad, among them Gen Schleger. Austria-Hungary created her air arm in 1912, after French and German aerial might had grown significantly, and as the initial lessons from the use of aeroplanes in the Tripolitani – an War were becoming known. The exceptionally erudite Emil Uselak was chosen as Commanding officer. He began flying at 44, later becoming one of the Empire’s best known pilots. Uselak test-flew every new aeroplane type to enter Austro-Hungarian service. The Dual Kindgom had good aeroplanes of indigenous design, and its strategists had at once realised that the presence of an observer was compulsory for effectiveness.

By the start of the First World War, the Austro-Hungarian Army had eight avia­tion units with six aeroplanes each. The total of available aeroplanes, 70, was below the real requirement. In view of the nature of the relief and the war theatre, signifi­cant attention was paid to the design of a so-called ‘mountain aeroplane.’ The Loner biplane, which had a take-off run of just 30m, was eventually selected. The poor

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I Austro-Hungarian pilots from the first graduation class of the Imperial Flying School at Wiener Neustadt pose before a Taube monoplane

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The Austro-Daimler engined Etrich Taube was one of the main Austro-Hungarian military avia­tion’s aircraft prior to the start of the Great War

industrial base could not match growing Army demand and aviation needs were ever more dependent on Germany. This trend was to continue until the very end of the World War and the country’s collapse and disappearance.

The Imperial Japanese Army and navy created aviation units almost at the same time in 1912. However, interest in aeronautics and aviation in the Land of the Rising Sun dated back much earlier. The Army’s first balloons dated back to 1877. Balloons were successfully used in the 1904 Russo-Japanese War in the Siege of Port Artur. Six years later Capt Yoshitoshi Tokugawa was sent to a French flying school, with Capt Kumazo Nino going to a German one. Several aeroplanes were bought from abroad in 1911, more officers were sent to learn to fly, and later in the same year flying training began in Japan itself. The Army Transport Command formed an Air Battalion equipped with European aeroplanes and Japanese-made licenced copies.

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I The Farman biplane which made the first flight over Japan in 1910

In June 1912 the Imperial Navy formed an Aviation Research Committee. A little while later six officers were sent to train in France and the USA. They were also tasked with researching the flying boat market. It was two of these pilots who later performed the first flight over Japanese territorial waters on 2 November 1912. The new flying boat base at Yokosuka saw a floatplane-equipped Farman and a Curtis take-off. Soon the other pioneer pilots returned from abroad. The first Navy Aviation Unit was formed, receiving in 1913 the mother-ship Wakamio Maru to transport and supply its flying boats.

As distinct from their Army colleagues, Japanese naval aviators saw some action. In September and October 1914 they flew active recce missions over the China Sea, sinking a German minelayer with bombs.

Another Far Eastern nation with aeronautical traditions began developing its aviation at the turn of the 20th Century. Russian pilot Aleksandr Kuzminskiy’s Ble – riot demonstration flights over Peking in 1910 were the impulse behind this. During the same year, enthusiasts Liu-Zun Ch’eng and Li-Pao Chung began building their own aeroplane. This was flown in April 1911 but crashed on its maiden flight due to engine failure. A General Staff decision of the same year set up China’s first Military Aviation Centre, with two Etrich Taubes being bought from Austria-Hungary for its needs.

The start of the Chinese Revolution provoked the return of many progressive and patriotically minded emigrants. One of them was the famous US sports aviator Feng Ru. He arrived in China with two aeroplanes of his own design, which he

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I A Taube about to depart for China

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offered to the Army. This also marks the creation of China’s airforce. When Feng Ru died in an air crash in 1912, he received funeral honours befitting the founder of the nation’s air arm.

In 1913 the Peking government decided to create China’s first Aviation School in Nanking. China’s first qualified pilot, Zi-Yi Lee was appointed to head it. A dozen Caudron GIII and GIV were bought from France for its needs, and French instructors were invited to China. The same year maintenance workshops opened in Nanking and Kwanghe, marking the start of an aviation industry. Their first success was the building of a combat aeroplane with a machine gun in the nose, in 1914. Despite these successes, the development of Chinese aviation and aeronautics lagged behind that in Europe and Japan.

Spain and Portugal also created military aviation structures, albeit gradually. The foundations were laid in 1912. Personnel was mainly trained in France. Young Span­ish pilots did get a whiff of gunpowder before the First World War (in which neither nation participated). Influenced by the French Army which activel yused aeroplanes in North Africa to observe warlords’ cavalry movements, the Spanish Supreme Com­mand sent an aeroplane unit to Morocco. Their task was to fly recce missions and map the theatre of action. Commanding officer Capt Kindelan was an excellent pilot and officer with enviable theoretical knowledge in warfare (later he became Gen Franco’s head of aviation during the 1936 to 1939 Spanish Civil War). However, his period of command falls outside this volume’s scope.

The appearance of air arms touched nations like Australia (which armed its first Squadron with B. E.2as in 1913), Canada and South Africa. All of these dominions’ pioneer military pilots were trained in Britain in the run up to the Great War.

Without doubt, the major testing ground for trying the new type of weapon was the Balkans. This was where a number of pilots from Balkan nations and further afield

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A Farman III at Biserda

(Russia and Western Europe) got their first combat training. Turkey was not going to leave its European lands without a fight, and the clash between her and the newly emerged and rapidly developing nations was unavoidable. Part of the preparations for this clash included the creation of new air arms.

The dawn of aviation in the Kingdom of Roumania is linked with three names: Traian Vuia, Henri Coanda, and Aurel Vlaiku. As young students in the Bucharest Polytechnic in 1909, they were fired with the idea of flying. Aurel Vlaiku designed his first aeroplane in early 1910. The Vlaiku 1 was first flown early on 17 June 1910. This date is considered the start of Roumanian air arms: a valid judgement, since it was the military that first showed an interest in the flight. Funds set aside from the military budget, and help from another young man, Paris Ploytechnic graduate M. Cerkez, bought four aeroplanes from France: two Farman IIIs, a Wright B-Type, and a Santos – Dumont. Cerkez also won the right to licence-produce Farman IIIs. The machines were assigned to the Pilot School set up in the late spring of 1910. This first flying school on the Balkans had its airfield not far from Bucharest. Its first instructor was French pilot F. Guillaume. In summer 1910, M Cerkez and N. Filipescu completed training and were awarded wings.

War Ministry interest in aeroplanes did not end there. The first six pilots were sent to the Pilot School in spring 1911. They were Maj Makri, Capt Ionescu, Porucik Boiangiu, Porucik Protopopescu, Podporucik Nigrescu, and Podporucik Drutu. French instructor Viallardes headed the course, deputised by Cerkez; basic type flown was the Farman III.

By summer, three of the officers got their wings and training continued with the rest. Cerkez used the favourable circumstances to open a second Pilot School at Engi-

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| A Farman III with auxiliary forewheels

neering Corps. As the clash of arms on the Balkans drew nearer, it was renamed the Scoala Militara de Pilotaj. Pilots were trained on Bleriot XIs, Farman IVs and Farman IIIs. The first use of Roumania’s new military aviation came in the 1913 Second Balkan War.

In June 1913, Roumanian forces crossed the Bulgarian border and started hostil­ities against their recent First Balkan War ally. Both sides had military aviation, but the Bulgarian units were committed on the Western and South-Western approaches. The Roumanians had two Escadrilles.

Escadrille No1 was commanded by Capt Fotescu and had 11 Bleriot XIs, of which eight had 80hp engines, two had 50hp engines, and one had a 70hp engine. The other two aeroplanes were 70hp Renault-engined Farmans.

Escadrille No2 was commanded by Capt Bibascu and had roughly the same strength, apart from the Vlaiku 2 aeroplane, piloted by its designer.

Escadrille No1 reported to an Army Corps commanded by Gen Cutescu, with No2 remaining directly at Supreme Command disposal. The pilots flew recce missions, cor­rected artillery fire, and observed from the air. Porucik Protopescu and observer Porucik Avion were most active. Between 24 June and 13 July they flew 15 combat missions in their Bleriot XI, flying a total of 20 hours. On 13 July, Protopescu flew a recce mission near Sofia which was 180km distant from forward Roumanian positions.

After the war, convinced of the effectiveness of the new type of weapon, the Roumanian Ministry of War decided to build on what had been achieved and create an Aerial Corps. In June 1914 this had 44 aeroplanes, of which 12 were Farman MF7 and MF9s, 12 Caudron GIIIs, six Morane-Saulnier L-10s, eight Voisin IIIs, and six Bleriot XIs.

In Bulgaria, air navigation for military ends began with the formation of the First Airship Unit (Otdelenie) within the Railway Drujina by Order of the War Ministry dated 24 April 1906. Otdelenie strength was 37 men of whom two were officers; it had a 360 cubic metre spherical balloon imported from France. A second Godard balloon

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I The Bleriot-XI was among the most numerous aeroplanes used in the Roumanian invasion in Bulgaria

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Voisin aeroplanes entered Roumanian service after the end of the Balkan Wars

 

Number of Airplanes 300

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France Britain Germany Russia Italy Belgium Austria – Roumania

Hungary

Graph 1: numbers of aeroplanes in service on the eve of the First World War of 640m2 was supplied in 1911, and the Sofia-1 balloon was manufactured using Rus­sian materials in 1912. Otdelenie staff began growing: two more Bulgarian officers were sent to the Airship College in Russia, enabling an expansion of the Railway Drujina’s technical side in 1912.

Interest in air navigation and aviation grew after manoeuvres in France, and the successes of the Italian air arm in the Tripolitania War. The ultimate decision to create military aviation in Bulgaria was taken by the close of 1911. Funds were made

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I A Bulgarian balloon preparing for launch in 1909

available for the purchase of five aircraft: a Bleriot XXI monoplane, a Voisin biplane, a Sommer biplane (all three from France), a Wright biplane (from Germany), and a Bristol biplane from Britain. Thirteen pilots and two mechanics went to the supplier countries and to Russia in April 1912.

The first flight by a Bulgarian pilot in Bulgaria took place on 13 August 1912 when Poruchik (Lieutenant) Simeon Petrov tested the newly arrived Bleriot XXI. The nascent air arm’s combat readiness was tested at the Shumen manoeuvres in early September 1912. These saw participation by the balloon unit with the Sofia-1 and by three pilots flying the combat-ready Bleriot XXI. These manoeuvres also saw the first reconnaissance sortie, flown at the infantry’s request.

General mobilisation was announced on 17 September 1912. Up to this moment, six Bulgarian pilots had received their wings and returned from training. The remain­ing seven were recalled later, some flying combat sorties as observers. An aeroplane Otdelenie was created only after the start of war, on 2 November 1912. It comprised three Pilot Officers, three aircraft, and had an overall strength of 62 men.

The Bulgarian army entered the war with a balloon unit equipped with two bal­loons and a Bleriot aeroplane. Supplies of more aeroplanes from Russia, France, Ger­many and England were studied.

The ascent of the Sofia-1 on 15 October is accepted as the start of active duty. The following morning the Otdelenie deployed south-eastwards near the village of Kemal, where it supported Bulgarian artillery. The Aeroplane Otdelenie received three new Albatros aircraft. On 16 October 1912, Poruchik Radul Milkov and Poruchik Prodan Tarakchiev flew the Bulgarian air arm’s first combat sortie. Their task was to reconnoitre Turkish positions near Odrin (Hadrianople), and army strength in the

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Bulgarian trainee pilots at Etampes airfield near Paris

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Щ Simeon Petrov and his Bleriot XXI: Etampes, 5 June 1912

city itself. The pilot also threw two bombs without much effect. A second balloon sortie aimed to observe Turkish movements at tactical depth. This was the first in­stance in history where air navigation and aviation units were used jointly in actual combat on the same stretch of front.

The Bulgarian air arm continued to receive supplies. Nine Bleriots arrived from Russia. On 17 October 1912, Timofey Yefimov, one of Russia’s most experienced pi­lots, flew one of these. Formation of a Second Aeroplane Otdelenie started on 3 No­vember in Corlu. The increased number of combat-ready aircraft also permitted a new method: simultaneous aerial reconnaissance and ground attack. Four aircraft flew such a sortie on 14 November over various objects of interest near Hadrianople and threw bombs. Departures were at small intervals, each aircraft then flying a differ­ent route to the target areas, which were close to each other.

Another historic flight took place on 17 November. An enemy target was photo­graphed from the air for the first time in the Balkan War, and an international crew flew a combat sortie for the first time, pilot Giovanni Sabelli and observer Major Zlatarov throwing propaganda leaflets and two bombs in the vicinity of Hadrianople.

The Aeroplane Otdelenie remained at Kemal until the armistice, supporting Bulgar­ian and Servian infantry units. The Aeroplane Otdelenia now had 13 serviceable flying machines and flew 15 combat sorties in the nine days noted as having flying weather.

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An observation balloon presented by Russia to Bulgaria near Hadrianople during 1912

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I A Bulgarian Bleriot XXI being prepared for a combat sortie

Once all 19 aircraft ordered had arrived, the Third Aeroplane Otdelenie was formed. The nascent Bulgarian air arm had a total of 13 trained pilots, of whom eight were foreign volunteers. The armistice saw organisational improvements at air navigation and aviation units. These resulted in the following organisation:

– the First Aeroplane Otdelenie (four aircraft and three pilots) based at Svilengrad airfield;

– the Second Aeroplane Otdelenie (four aircraft and four pilots) based at Corlu, Cerkezkoy and Kabakcakoy airfields;

– the Third Aeroplane Otdelenie (one aircraft, one pilot and two observers) based at the Urma airfield; and

– the Balloon Otdelenie (two balloon stations with a spherical balloon and a teth­ered balloon).

Bombing came to be accepted as part of combat, for the first time in armed con­flict beginning to assume the features of a mainstream activity. This dictated test and training sorties which tried out specially designed Russian and Bulgarian air drop bombs. Conducted at the Svilengrad airfield, these involved almost all pilots, who gained much useful experience.

After the resumption of hostilities on 21 January 1913, the contribution of aviation increased. Analysis of aerial reconnaissance became part and parcel of the duties of Bul-

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Air drop bombs being prepared for training at Svilengrad airfield

garian army staff. By the second armistice of 1 April, which led to the London Peace Treaty of 17 May 1913, all Bulgarian air navigation and aviation units had seen action, flying 55 sorties. Nine sorties involved bombing, using either special air delivery bombs or standard issue hand grenades, and six sorties involved leaflet drops over enemy positions.

On 26 January 1913 the First Aeroplane Otdelenie flew a recce sortie involving all four serviceable aircraft: an Albatros, a Farman, a Voisin, and a Bleriot. This was the

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second time this new method had been used in aviation history; aerial recconnais- sance would later become the task of specialised air force units. The dropping of bombs was a secondary task for the crews, again using both specialised bombs and standard issue hand grenades.

Another remarkable sortie took place on 15 March 1913. Second Aeroplane Otde – lenie pilot Ernest Burie, flying a Farman, flew recce both near Carigrad (Constantino­ple) , and overhead the Ottoman metropolis itself. Setting off on the return leg, Burie noted that he was being followed by a Turkish biplane. Probably this was one of the Doppel Taubes recently delivered to Turkey from Germany. Overhead C atalca the ene – my closed the gap to the Bulgarian aircraft, coming to within three kilometres. Con­vinced that continuing the pursuit was pointless, the Turkish pilot turned south and threw two bombs close to Bulgarian positions without visible effect. The Farman landed successfully at Cerkezkoy airfield after 2hr 20min in the air. Enemy aircraft had also been noted overhead the C atalca lines on 23 February and 9 March, but this was histo­ry’s first encounter between adversaries in the air. Naturally, it would be premature to contemplate dogfights. The machines were unarmed and insufficiently capable of this, and in any case the armistice postponed dogfighting until the First World War.

Bulgarian military aviation’s last sortie in the First Balkan War was by the interna­tional crew of Giovanni Sabelli and Penjo Popkrastev. Their objective was to recon-

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| Poruchik Mankov in his Voisin

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I A Bulgarian dragon balloon being raised for artillery direction purposes: March 1913

noitre Turkish units in the Dardanelles area. Departing on 23 March 1913, they flew both over the Galipoli (Gelibolu) Peninsula, and over Asia Minor. This was the first aeroplane flight over two continents. In the course of the sortie two bombs were dropped: at Gelibolu and Lapsaki (Lapseki).11

Due to poor weather, the Balloon Otdelenie saw limited action. It was based in the Hadrianople area and conducted reconnaissance and artillery direction operations.

The Second Balkan War started on 16 June 1913. At its start Bulgarian aviation had eight serviceable aircraft, eight trained pilots, and two observers. Supporting ac­tion by the First, Third and Fifth Armies on Bulgaria’s western flanks, the Second Aeroplane Otdelenie, with four aircraft and four pilots was based at Slivnica airfield. The Third Aeroplane Otdelenie similarly supported the Second and Fourth Armies and was stationed at Syar (Seres) airfield.

The Second Aeroplane Otdelenie undertook four reconnaissance sorties, all flown by the most experienced Otdelenie pilot, Poruchik Simeon Petrov. It was during one of these sorties that the second encounter between adversary aircraft took place. Most likely this was the 2 July flight, when the Poruchik flew to Vranya (Vranje) and back, and met a Servian monoplane in the air. Servian sources substantially confirm a similar encounter.

The Third Aeroplane Otdelenie flew three sorties under exceptionally difficult con­ditions on the ground. The Otdelenie lost two of its aircraft, a Voisin and a Bleriot, mostly due to the shortage of fuel and lubricants needed for them to be ferried to another base. [12]

The Balloon Otdelenie was also de­ployed closer to combat areas. But though garrisoned near Slivnica,12 it did not see action.

Подпись: An aerial photograph of the Morava river, 1913EARLY COMBAT UNITSBulgarian aviators fell on hard times after the nation’s defeat in the Second Balkan War. Yet, despite limited means, the desire for revenge gave added impe­tus to find a way out of the difficult situ­ation. Seven more pilots were sent to train, and three Bleriots, two Aviatiks, and two kite balloons were ordered, but the outbreak of war halted delivery of all but two of the Bleriots. Due to limit­ed finance, Bulgarian military aviation structures retained their Balkan Wars shape.

When mobilisation was declared on 10 September 1915, the Aeroplane Otdelenie comprised five aeroplanes (three Bleriots and two Albatros) and five trained pilots. The Balloon Otdelenie had a Bulgarian-made kite balloon and two trained Observer Officers.

The development of Greek aviation dates back to the publication in 1907 of a study by eminent lawyer Alfredos Atanasoulias, later reissued under the title The Progress of Aerial Flights. In spring 1908 came the country’s first attempted flight. Ec­centric theatre producer Leonidas Arniotis who had studied aviation in France bought his own 30hp engined Bleriot and chose a grassy field near Tathios as suitable for his attempt. After a few unsuccessful attempts the monoplane flew, rising to some 10m before diving vertically. The pilot survived, but his aeroplane was beyond repair.

Greece’s first proper flight came a year later, when Russian aviator Utochkin flew a Farman for ten minutes near Paleos Faliros near Athens.

First Greek to fly over his homeland was Emanuil Argiropulos. During his studies in Germany this youth developed the desire to fly, going on to France to study pilot­ing. Having got his wings, and acquired his own Nieuport, he arrived in Greece in January 1912. The aeroplane was assembled by the Ruf Barracks Engineering Unit troops. After a few days of preparations, on 8 February 1912 Argiropulos was enjoying the view from 300m, watched by huge crowds. An hour after landing, he was up again, this time carrying Greek Prime Minister Eleutherios Venizelos.

Six weeks after this memorable flight, Argiropulos organised and air race with Greece’s second pilot, Alexandros Karamanlakis, who had arrived with his own Bleri – ot. The date was set for 28 March 1912. However, the initiative fell through because

1 The village of Slivnica to the west of Sofia was close to the Servian border. Translator.

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Karamanlakis’ monoplane was wrecked due to a failure during the take-off run. Luck­ily, its pilot was unhurt and minded to continue aviating. He managed to repair his aeroplane and flew a series of impressive flights. At the conclusion of one of them, bad weather forced him to put down 200m off the Lygaea shore, where he drowned in rough seas. He was Greece’s first, and the world’s 193rd, aviation casualty.

In late 1911 the Greek Ministry of War announced a competition for officers wish­ing to train as pilots in France. Almost sixty applications were filed, but just three won: Senior Artillery Captain Dimitrios Kamberos, Senior Engineering Corps Lieutenant Mihail Mututus, and Cavalry Lieutenant Hristos Adamidis. A second three-man group was sent to train in April 1912: Sen Capt (Infantry) Lucas Papalucas, Sen Capt (Artil­lery) Markos Drakos, and Lt (Cavalry) Panutsos Notaras. Both groups trained at Henri Farman’s flying school at Etampes airfield near Paris.

Along with training its staff, the Greek War Ministry, also started negotiating to buy aeroplanes. The delegation included the National Defence Committee chairman. Perhaps influenced by their pilots’ schooling, the Greeks eventually bought two Henri Farman bi­planes for 123,000 French francs. The machines were delivered in May. After they had been assembled, Sr Lt Dimitrios Kamberos was summoned back from France to test fly them. He did so between 13 and 15 May, crashing harmlessly in the process. On 15 May he reconnoi­tred for the ‘Invasion Force’ in manoeuvres which involved him until their end on 19 May.

The successful manoeuvres resulted in the formation of a Squadron under the com­mand of the Engineering Corps Liaison Battalion in Larissa. The Squadron eventually boasted four 50hp-engined Henri Farmans, four qualified pilots, and fifty auxilliary staff. The unit was based at Greece’s first military airfield at the Trian field near Eleusina.

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I The Greek Henri Farman before its reconnaissance sortie in support of the ‘invasion forces’ on 19 May 1912

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I A float equipped Farman III: the first Greek floatplane was similar

The creation of an army aviation unit soon led to the idea of a naval one. Sr Lt Kamberos championed this by fitting floats to a Henri Farman with the help of a group of army engineers and French mechanic Savot. The modified biplane first flew on 22 June 1912. The outbreak of the First Balkan War put paid to plans for a Greek naval air unit.

The nation’s first aviators went into action led by Engineering Corps Colonel Georgios Skoufos. The Squadron was at the direct disposal of the General Staff, which was also located at Larissa.

By the close of 1912, the Henri Farmans were obsolete and insufficiently effective. In particular, their inability to carry a second crew member was a major disadvantage. Apart from that, only one of them turned out to be fully serviceable. This was enough to prompt the order of 80hp-engined Maurice Farmans from France immediately the war broke out. These aeroplanes could carry an observer and had longer endurance.

The nascent Greek air arm first saw action in the beginning of First Balkan war at day time the infantry filed a request for the Skomia and Tsaritsani areas to be recon­noitred. Sr Lt Kamberos departed Larissa just after noon, later landing near Tirnavos to write his report to the High Command.

The same pilot flew his second sortie the next day, this time throwing several hand grenades over Turkish positions, and his aeroplane received numerous small arms hits. The following day recce flights were flown by the other Squadron pilots, who threw hand grenades ad-hoc. On 11 November, Sr Lt Kamberos penetrated enemy airspace by 60km, performing the first operational reconnaissance, by the standards of the day.

The Greek army swiftly moved north, beyond range of the old Farmans. The Squadron had to move to the new Kotsani airfield, along with the Army Staff.

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EARLY COMBAT UNITSI The Maurice Farman biplane in prototype form: aeroplanes ordered by Greece had more powerful engines and significantly better performance

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Щ An Henri Farman aeroplane takes off on a reconnaissance mission

 

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There Sr Lt Kamberos and Sr Lt Mututis tried a newly delivered Maurice Farman, using the opportunity to reconnoitre over Turkish positions, and ending in a forced landing due to engine failure.

This incident led to a reduction in recce flight frequency. At the same time, the adversary tried his hand at the game, a Turkish Henriot flying overhead Greek posi­tions at the Battle of Antsion. The aeroplane was flown by a French mercenary. Greek advances put paid to such flights. The aeroplane was captured in fully serviceable condition, later gathering reconnaissance for its captors, flown by newly impressed Lt Emanuil Argiropoulos (who had volunteered along with his private Nieuport).

After the Greeks had attained their operational objectives in Macedonia, the Squadron was detailed to the Epirus front. The old Farmans turned out to be unsuit­able for operation from the mountain airstrips. The three newly delivered Maurice Farmans were despatched from Athens to by ship, eventually reaching Preveza. There the unit retained its strength of four aeroplane, four Greek and one French pilot, a French mechanic, and 57 auxilliary personnel.

In late November the Squadron began flying from its new base. The first combat sortie was on 5 December 1912, involving recce of the Jannina region and the throw­ing of several hundred improvised bombs. Greek aviation saw action in Epirus until the capture of Jannina on 21 February 1913. On that day, Lt Adamidis landed his Maurice Farman on the Town Hall square, to the adulation of an enthusiastic crowd.

On 13 December 1912, Sr Lt Mututis, then based in Epirus, was detailed to Ath­ens to help create a naval air unit. A month later, the first floatplane arrived from France: a 100hp Renault-engined Astra. Mututis arrived in Athens on board the req­uisitioned Varvaras vessel and made for the Midras naval base. After the Astra’s first

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A Greek Henri Farman after redeployment to Preveza airfield

flight on 12 January 1913, Navy Commander Admiral Kuduriotis decided to use his new weapon to reconnoitre Turkish shipping in the Dardanelles.

The mission was planned for 24 January 1913. The pilot, Sr Lt Mihail Mututis, and Observer, Naval Standard Bearer Aristidis Moragitinis, took their seats in the float­plane. The engine was warmed and the machine, with 115 litres of fuel and four hand grenades on board, accelerated for takeoff. The crew headed for the Turkish naval base at Nagara. Near Imbros they landed to refuel. They flew overhead their target at 1350m altitude, from which excellent weather allowed them to make a sketch map of the base and shipping in it. The hand grenades were thrown to no real effect, but the data sup­plied was exceptionally useful. The flight resonated in the world press, including the Turkish one, with unanimously high assessments. The pilots were lionised. The fascina­tion was justified bearing in mind the mission’s complexity and the fact that the aero­plane was a constant target for enemy fire both on its outward and return legs.

Greek military aviation claimed its first victim. On 4 April 1913 Lt Argiropulos died when his captured Turkish Henriot crashed. Fate decreeed that the first Greek to fly over his homeland would also be the first one to die.

The Greek air arm saw no action against the Bulgarians in the Second Balkan War. In fact, it was to stagnate until 1916. As the prospects of Greece’s joining in the Great War increased, so did a process to improve aviation combat readiness. A pilot training centre opened at Sedes. After its first class had graduated, No 532 Recon­naissance and Bombing Squadron was formed, armed with Breguet 14s. This was the first unit to see action on the Macedonian front after Greece’s formal adherence to the Entente and its joining the War in 1917.

Servia endeavoured to keep pace with her neighbours. The process began with French aviator Simon’s demonstration flights in Belgrade in May 1909. In his Anzani,

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Russian pilot Maslyennikov and his Farman at the Banica airfield near Belgrade

he performed the first aeroplane flight over the Kingdom. Later the capital also wit­nessed flights by Russian pilots Maslennikov, Chermak, and Agafonov. Engineering Corps Kapitan Kosta Miletic was sent to Russia for training, and two balloons were bought from Germany: a 540 cu m free-flying spherical Kugelbalon, and a Parcival – Siegsfeld kite balloon. They were officially named the Srbija and the Bosna i Herzegov­ina at a ceremony. Due to various money problems, formation of the balloon Ceta took until the outbreak of the First Balkan War.

Despite the lack of money, in December 1911 the Ministry of War declared a com­petition for aviators. The decision to do so was influenced by the results of the previous year’s French Army manoeuvres in Picardy, where the aeroplane had shown its utility as a means of reconnaissance, and by the Tripolitanian War. Bulgarian and Greek efforts to create indigenous air arms and air potential undoubtedly also played a part. Limited funds forced only one candidate to be selected: Porucnik Borce Blagojevic. In the event, even he had to stay at home and await better times instead of travelling to France.

A second competition was announced in February 1912. This time, a group of three officers and three NCOs was formed. The Ministry of War contracted a loan of 30,000 dinars for their training and to purchase equipment and materials. On 29 April 1912 the group departed for Etampes, 60km from Paris. Three of them entered the Maurice Farman school and began flying two-seaters, while the other three went to fly single-seat Bleriots. As distinct from the Bulgars, the Servians sent no trainee engineers and mechanics, which was later seen to be a mistake.

Training took four months. Exams were sat and wings issued: for civil piloting. No military skills such as climbing beyond 1000m, observation, and dead-stick landings were studied. Trainees’ technical knowledge was also very vague. At the request of

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I Preparing a Deperdussin for a demonstration flight: summer 1912, Banica airfield near Belgrade

the two groups’ leaders, Iljic and Jugovic, the government made extra funds available. The 50,000 dinars were also earmarked for the purchase of three 80hp Gnome-en­gined Henri Farman biplanes, a 50hp Gnome engined Bleriot XI, and two twin seat Bleriot XI-2s with 70hp Gnome engines. Negotiations also began for the purchase of two 80hp Gnome-engined Deperdussins. In trials of one Farman, Servian aviators conducted their first aerial photography, albeit over a foreign land.

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Щ Trainees at Eouis Bleriot’s flying school at Etampes near Paris. The first two frotn left are Porucnik Ilic and Porucnik Tomic. Two Bulgarians are also in the group

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Porucnik Jugovic, Narednik Petrovic, and Podnaredmk Novicic at the Farman pilots’ school at Etampes

On 26 November 1912 the Servian airmen and their machines set off home by ship, headed for the First Balkan War which had raged for nearly two months by then. They arrived home on 2 December and began establishing an aviation unit near Nis. This consisted of a balloon Ceta and an aeroplane Eskadra. By late December the Servians had nine trained pilots, two mechanics, two observers, two balloons, and nine aeroplanes (including the Russian Duks brought by Agafonov).

The two R. E.Ps ordered by Turkey had arrived at Belgrade Station at the out­break of the conflict and were requisitioned by the Servian authorities. Servian pilots expressed little liking for them in trials, condemning them unfit for action in moun­tainous or forested areas. The R. E.Ps were therefore not taken on strength.

The renewal of hostilities marked a new stage in Servian military aviation devel­opment. The successful use of aeroplanes over the Eastern front by Bulgarian and Russian pilots accelerated the newly formed air units’ incorporation into the infantry which was to be detailed to the Skodra (Shkodar) fortress, then besieged by the Mon­tenegrin Army. Relocation was to be in two stages: first by railway to the newly taken

EARLY COMBAT UNITSport city of Salonica (Thessal­oniki) , and then by ship to the vicinity of Ss kodra. The contin­gent comprised a single and a twin-seat Bleriot Xls, a Deper – dussin, and a Farman. the Servi­an pilots were joined by French­men Godfroid and Kirstein, tak­ing personnel numbers to 33. The remaining pilots and ground

Подпись: I Servian aviators pose before a Dux aeroplane in December 1912

Changing the Gnome engine on a Dux staff remained at Mh.

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Щ An R. E.P. aeroplane being delivered to Topolnica railway station near Nis for testing and possible combat duty

The contingent set off on 19 February 1913, boarding the Greek steamer Marika on 27 February. On the way, the steamer was attacked by the Turkish cruiser Hamid – iye. The equipment was undamaged, but there were deaths among the personnel. At length, the battered flyers disembarked and made for the village of Barbalus near the fortress.

Servian pilots were keen to show their nation and fellow officers the capabilities of aviation in support of their own and the Montenegrin infantry. The aeroplanes were readied for flying by 7 March. Weather was warm for the season and clear, with the snow-covered jagged peaks ringing the airfield plainly visible. Some of these peaks, rising to over 800m above sea level, were on the direct approaches to the field. Cold winds blew down them, warning the aviators of tough times ahead.

The experienced French mercenaries who drew some 1000 dinars a month each, found a variety of reasons to refused sorties over Skodra. Despite having basic skills and a tenth of the pay, Servian flyers had the edge in morale. On 20 March, Aerial Com­mand CO Miletic gave the order for trial flying to start. First to take his Farman aloft was Porucnik Jugovic, who returned 13 minutes later. He was followed by Porumik Stanko – vic who returned in his Bleriot after 25 minutes. At best, both pilots had climbed to not more than 900m: totally inadequate to escape fire from the besieged fortress. Third to fly was Narednik Mihajlo Petrovic. Finding a way to turn the powerful winds and limited area available to his advantage, he climbed to some 1200m. He then set for the fortress and flew over the Servian positions. On returning to base he again encountered a sud-

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I Commissioning a Bleriot-XI at the Trupalsko polje airfield near Skodra (Shkodar). The mounted figure is Knez Arsen Karaporpevic

 

den downdraft and was not so lucky this time. He lost control of his fragile machine which dived, killing him. The Servians gave their first aviator victim.

On 22 March Porucnik Stankovic, followed by Frenchman Godfroid, reached Skodra. However, the first proper aerial reconnaissance of the fortress was on 29 March by Porucnik Stankovic and Narednik Tomic. Lasting 45 minutes and was conducted at a height of 2200m above sea level. A total of seven similar flights at infantry request were flown before the second armistice. Some sources claims that bombs were thrown during one such sortie but the adversary side does not corroborate this.

After the armistice, command of the Aeroplane Eskadra passed to Capt Milos Ilic, Capt Jovan Jugovic being given command of the Balloon Ceta. The contingent left Skodra on 6 April 1913 and returned to their Nis base 20 days later. As the threat of war with Bulgaria grew, the Supreme Command detailed Capt Stojkovic, Capt Ilic;, and Narednik Tomic; and two Bleriots to an improvised airstrip at the village of Vojnika near Kumanovo. The strip turned out small and surrounded by mountains. The personnel

EARLY COMBAT UNITSgathered gradually, reaching a strength of 37. Reserves in­cluded a Bleriot and a Deper – dussin which had been left pi­lotless after the French had gone home at the conclusion of the armistice.

At the outbreak of hos­tilities along the Bulgaro – Servian line of demarcation, the unit came under Gen

. . . . . Pavel furicic’s command.

The Servian air arm’s first victim, Narednik Mihajlo Petrovic,

posing before his Farman III The General s army was ad-

vancing to Kustendil along the Cunino Brdo, Kriva Palanka, Kratovo line. Aviators conducted recce on behalf of the army command.

The Bulgars also had an air presence along the same front. During a sortie over Kriva Palanka, Narednik Tomic encountered an adversary in the air. The pilots waved at each other and set off to their respective airfields. One possible reason for such pleasant manners was the lack of any armament. Another was that some Bulgarian flyers had studied at Bleriot’s school at Etampes together with their Servian colleagues. The hour of the dogfight had yet to arrive…

Action lasted little over a month, during which time the Servians flew 21 observa­tion and tactical recce sorties. Some requests for intelligence on the Kustendil front had to be denied since the area was barely within range and reaching it would have involved overflying mountain massifs. The Servians still harboured a healthy respect for strong winds at altitude! The unit had no trained observers and Capt Ilic proposed that two infantry officers be specially coached for the role. However, the conflict’s brevity pre-empted this initiative.

Meanwhle, Capt Jugovic’s Balloon Ceta had deployed near Crvena Reka near Pirot, and was preparing to use its sole surviving Russian tethered balloon for observa­tion. Personnel numbered 45, and a field near Jamin Rid was selected as suitable. The Ceta entered action on 15 June 1913, marking its first success a week later near Nesk – ova Visa. On 25 July the unit finished its duties and returned to Nis.

The Kingdom of Servia left the Balkan Wars a victor with an almost doubled land area, but its economy was in a sad state. A new danger loomed all too soon, this time from the north. Time, and most of all money, did not allow for any significant change in the aeronautical command. Its personnel remained the same as did the number of aer­oplanes, yet the lack of spares told on combat readiness. After mobilisation on 25 July, it took the Eskadra seven days to assemble, the Ceta taking 20 days. France was approached for aid in the shape of a dozen aeroplanes with pilots and technicians, but pressure on the French in the early weeks of war put such help beyond the realm of the possible. Servian aviators were to be left to their own devices for the first nine months of the war.

Having been heavily defeated by the Italians and having lost a major tract of its North African territories, Turkey now faced a new challenge. The objective of the military alliance of Balkan nations were more than clear: to seize and share among themselves the collapsing Ottoman Empire’s European lands. Despite the financial exhaustion of the recent war with Italy, combat experience dictated the recognition of the aeroplane and balloon as important attack and defence weapons, and as facili­tators of naval artillery effectiveness. In fact, the first Turkish aeronautical decisions were linked with the establishment of anti-air artillery units. One of these indeed saw action in the final stages of the defence of Tripoli. These were also the first air defence units to see action anywhere in the world.

By mid 1912, eight Turkish officers began flying trining in French schools, another four going to Britain. A flying school headed by infantry Major Cemal bey was also set up in the Constantinople suburb of Yesilkoy. Two twin-seat and one single-seat De – perdussins, a twin-seat Bleriot, four twin-seat and two single-seat R. E.Ps, two twin – seat Bristols, and two twin-seat Harlands were ordered for the school and for future combat. However, the contract for the Bristols fell through due to delayed delivery prior to the outbreak of the First Balkan War, whereas two of the R. E.Ps were cap­tured by the Servians in transit as related above. A little before the outbreak of hostil­ities the trainees were summoned back from abroad. The eight who had been to France returned with wings, while the four who had gone to Britain had not completed their courses. To strengthen its air arm, the Turkish command hired three French and four German pilots, and three French and two German mechanics. Two of the Germans arrived in a DFW Mars which the Turkish authorities later purchased.

There was no time for training flights, save for two sorties around Constantinople by Lt Nuri, on which he reached 1500m. He was later awarded an illuminated address by the Military Inspectorate for his historic achievement.

On 9 October 1912 the Turkish Prime Minister declared a general mobilisation. Operational war plans called for six aeroplanes to be in active service under the com­mand of the Chief Military Engineering Inspectorate. Three groups of two aeroplanes each were formed. One was to secure the Eastern Army, another: the Western Army, and the third: the Hadrianople Fortified Region. The sole kite balloon (750cu m) also went to Hadrianople where it failed to see action due to the lack of a gas station.

Capt Cemal’s group, equipped with two Harlands and with two German pilots, went to the Eastern Army. Capt Fesa, Lt Nuri and a French pilot went to the Western Army with twin-seat Bleriots and an R. E.P The third group failed to deploy due to the rapid Bulgar advance. Its CO, Capt Revfik, pilots, ground personnel and two aero­planes remained at Yesilkoy airfield.

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Щ The French R. E.P. was the Turkish forces’ first combat aeroplane. This is the one seat version, suitable for aerial reconnaissance

The first reconnaissance request came from the Eastern Army command and called for intelligence of the Kirklareli region. However, low visibility and driving rain pre – cluded flying. The Turks sufered another defeat, and the aeroplane group joined the retreating columns. Prior to departing, it is likely that the personnel thoroughly torched set the two Harlands. (A telegram despatch by Bulgarian Lt Gen Radko Dimitriev claims they were captured but Turkish sources deny this.)

The Western Army group enjoyed more success. Personnel and equipment de­ployed at Selanik (now Thessaloniki). The aeroplanes based at a specially prepared forward airfield in Koprulu, from which they flew several recce sorties. The retreat soon forced the aeroplanes to relocate to Selanik. Additional observation and recce flights were performed by 10 November around Karafare. After the Greeks approached Selanik, the pilots decided to torch the aeroplanes and take refuge in the home of a local bey.[13] Later the British Consul arranged safe conduct for all the pilots, bar one who had been captured by Greek Andartes. The Turks were shipped to Constantino­ple, the Frenchman returning home.

The situation of the Hadrianople garrison was growing more and more critical. Cut off from their hinterland and surrounded by a well trained adversary enjoying high morale, its chances of standing fast were reducing by the day despite Turkish conviction that the fortifications were impregnable. Hadrianople Garrison CO Sukri pasa insisted on air support, mostly to direct artillery fire. In this, he wanted to follow the example set by the Bulgars in their actions against his garrison. The lack of a gas station had rendered the fortress’s sole Parcival-Siegsfeld balloon unusable, hence aviation remained the only hope.

All serviceable aeroplanes (two newly arrived DFW Mars, two Deperdussins, two Bristols, and four R. E.Ps) were assembled at the Flying School’s airfield at Yesilkoy.

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Щ French R. E.P. and Deperdussin were assembled at the Flying School’s airfield at Yesilkoy

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I Hidroplan attempt flight over Mediterranean sea

However, this was 210km from Hadrianople. Turkish pilots had insufficient endur­ance flying training, while the French ended their conacts for one reason or another, ultimately leaving Sukri pasa without air support. However, all was not forfeit. The opportunity was used to conduct for intensive flying training of pilots and observers. The more experienced among them, such as Capt Selim and Sr Lt Fethi, flew recce sorties above Bulgarian positions on the Cs atalca front. Meanwhile, a detachment of two Turks and two Germans was detailed to the Galipoli peninsula, charged with supplying reconnaissance to units counterattacking the Bulgars there. While in tranit by sea, the detachment encountered a storm and emerged with damaged equipment. The Germans them made their way back to Constantinople and returned home.

Hostilities resumed in early February, after an armistice. Though much reduced in strength, Turkish aviation showed commendable activity right from the start. One factor for this was the concentration of its forces in the most vulnerable sector, anoth­er being the intensive recent training. The defence of the Cs atalca lines was critical to

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Щ A Turkish piloted R. E.P. about to depart for training flight

the nation’s survival. It was entrusted to an elite command, reinforced by considerable numbers of German and French advisers. Right from the start, the Army Staff sent requests to aviators for intelligence on Bulgarian artillery positions. A Deperdussin piloted by Sr Lt Fethi accordingly departed, carrying General Staff Major Sadat as observer. The crew spotted the Bulgarian batteries from a height of 800m. The flight lasted 1hr 10min and was a constant small arms target for Bulgars and Turks alike. The same crew flew two further recce sorties, but despite warnings, Turkish soldiers continued shooting at their own aeroplane. Capt Fesa flew over the next few days, his observers including Maj Cemal and Capt Kenan.

On 22 February Fesa and Kemal flew a two-hour long recce mission near Silivri. The flight was most fraught, a Bulgarian division concertedly firing on the aeroplane and causing it plentiful superficial damage. However, the information supplied was of im­mense import to the success of the defensive operations. The positions of a deploying Bulgarian regiment and its supporting artillery were pinpointed with great accuracy. The Commander of the Tenth Corps awarded the pilot ten gold lira for his heroism.

On 22 March German pilot Mario Scherf flew along the Kumburgaz, Corlu, Cerkezkoy route, discovering Bulgarian preparations near Corlu. Two days later Sr Lt

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I A Deperdussin ready for take off

EARLY COMBAT UNITS

Щ The Deperdussin single seat trainer was among the most widely used Turkish army aeroplanes prior to the First World War

Fethi flew recce near Karakoy along with Lt Col Enver bey, tenth Corps Chief of Staff. They reached the Black Sea coast and returned safely to base. Mari Scherf and Capt Kemal crossed the Sea of Marmora, flew over the C atalca lines, reached Hadrianople and returned safely after a four-hour flight. The sortie was also remarkable for the fact that Kemal bey threw several egg-shaped bombs over adversary positions near the village of Kavakca: the first such use of an aeroplane in Turkish history. On 29 March Scherf and his observer Capt Kemal flew recce near Karaorman.

After the second armistice Yesilkoy hosted just three serviceable aeroplanes: a Ble – riot, a DFW, and an R. E.P Despite efforts to buy new aircraft from Germany and France, the number was to remain unchanged until 13 July when Turkey renewed hostilities against Bulgaria. Flights were flown by pilots Fesa, Nuri, Selim, Fethi, and Fazil.

On 21 July Sr Lt Fethi overflew Hadrianople in a DFW Mars. The following day Turkish units retook the city. An order on 26 July detailed Capt fesa with a Bleriot to the Right Flank Army, where on 28 July he flew recce along with a General Staff officer. The nascent Turkish air armflew recce and partol sorties until mid September 1913, losing one aeroplane when Sr Lt Fethi crashed his Mars into the Merica river (he survived, being temporarily hospitalised in Constantinople).

As part of plans to improve military and national potential, a P9 non-rigid air­ship manufactured by the Parcival Luftfahrt Flugzeuge Gesellschaft company ar­rived in the metropolis. It had been purchased in April 1913, but the Austro-Hun­garians refused to grant it passage and it had had to be transferred by sea via Con – stanca. The 2400cu m dirigible was 48m long and weighed 2000 kg. It had a 50hp engine, a crew of six, and offered a 1200m cruise at 41km/h. Along with it, some 40 kg of grenades were delivered for throwing from the gondola. On arrival of the impor­tant consignment, an Aeronautical Unit with five officers and 100 NCOs and troops was formed at the harbour. Two mechanics and the engineer/aeronaut Haxter ar­rived from Germany as advisers. An airship hangar was erected at Yesilkoy airfield. The first sailing was on 5 August, with Haxter, Capt Fevzi, Navy Lt Murat, Lt Sakir, and a German mechanic in the gondola. They rose to 200 or 300m and flew around Yesilkoy and Bakirkoy for 1hr12m. More training sorties were performed in the fol­lowing few days.

The authorities also directed efforts at increasing the number of aeroplanes. For the purpose, a delegation led by Veli bey, head of the Flying School, toured Austria – Hungary, Germany and France. Two months later, in March 1914, 20 Moranes were ordered for the Army, along with 15 Nieuport flying boats for the Navy. Capt Marcus de Goys, a French officer personally recommended to the delegation by Gen Bernard, assumed command of the Flying School.

De Goys arrived in Turkey in May and was promoted to Major. A short time later, three newly manufactured training Bleriot Delfins arrived, and a strenuous programme

EARLY COMBAT UNITS

THE CURTISS AEROPLANE FROM 1912

EARLY COMBAT UNITS

I Pilot Fethi bey helps Sefket haneme, first Turkish woman to fly in an aeroplane, alight from his Deperdussin two seater on 30 October 1913

—————————————— >——————————————————

of training for officers began. Newly arrived French mechanics repaired old aeroplanes which had been given up as ready for scrapping, boosting the fleet to pre-War levels. De Goys turned out to be an excellent flying instructor and educator. He proposed that all aviators should wear a new uniform, and also that a commission should meet to formu­late a programme for the development of a Turkish airforce. This new command was to have 35 aeroplanes for army support, and 15 for naval support. Another six Caudrons

EARLY COMBAT UNITS

I The Curtiss floatplane had a single 100hp engine driving tivin propellers

EARLY COMBAT UNITS

Щ The Turkish General Staff hoped the Caudron III order would improve combat effectiveness signifi­cantly before the start of The First World War

and three Farmans were ordered from France. These were expected to arrive within two months, but the outbreak of the First World War put paid to the plans. In reality, the Ottoman Empire had just nine aeroplanes, of which just four were suitable for aerial reconnaissance: three 60/70/80hp engined R. E.Ps, and a 70hp engined Deperdussin. The Navy had three flying boats: a Curtis and two Nieuports. This strenght was badly below par, and the Empire would soon pay a heavy price for it.

EARLY COMBAT UNITS

I Twenty one year old Richard Raymond-Baker: one of scores of young men volunteering for RFC service at the outbreak of the Great War. As this photograph was taken, he was not to know that he would be killed in 1918, entering aviation history as the last victim of the conflict’s most famous ace, Mannfred von Richthoffen

>

Air Power

G

od created man according to his image and inspired him with a constantly searching spirit. The spirit that gives birth to progress and leads our civilization to the tempting future of a better and free life. Freedom as notion has been defined in various ways and the definition is the product of the hard labour of many great scientists. The feeling of real freedom comes to us, the people, only when thanks to our common sense and skills we succeed to over­come the gravitational law and we leave the warmth of our natural earth environment, heading for the sky. This is a hard way and its beginning lies in ancient times when the dream, and later the idea to fly, was born. This era was followed by centuries of acquiring necessary knowledge and decades of unsuccessful trials used by man to break his earth chains. All of this was compensated by our civili­zation with the blood of its elite of intelligent, searching and brave men whose self-sacrifice was the base to build our heavenly future.

Why was it necessary for man to fly? What is the purpose of dwelling in a space not assigned by God? These are all logical ques­tions answered by scientists hundreds of years ago. Even at that early time, scientists foresaw that the three-dimensional space over us offers unlimited opportunities for making progress and its imple­mentation by man using man-made aircraft would give exceptional chances for rapid development of civilization. Now we understand

Air Power

how far-sighted this great effort of human mind and will was, irre – gardless of the cost of thousands of human lives. We, contemporary generations owe those heroes the memory and reverence in return to their great deeds.

Commandant of Bulgarian Defence and Stuff College “G. S.Rakovski” Major General Manev

INTRODUCTION

T

he use of airborne weapons in combat characterizes armed con­flict since the end of the 19th Century, and especially since the start of the 20th Century. Today the significance of airborne weap­onry has grown to the point where it plays a decisive role in the outcome of armed and political crises.

This book is dedicated to 100-anniversary from the first control humans‘ flight, aims to clarify the genesis of air power, uncover its essence, and trace the evolution in this term during certain stages of its currency. Official historiography, memoirs, and scientific pa­pers form the base for research.

Subject of the study is air power: how the term emerged, what was meant by it as it developed historically, how it influenced the formulation of doctrines for the utilization of airforces and national air potential as a whole, and how it made its debut in the years prior to 1914. The very new moment is a special part for creation of Air Power in Balkan countries and meaning of new components for the military operations in Balkan wars (1912-1913).

A well-known rule in science is that a phenomenon cannot be understood and studied in each of its aspects. Thus this book seeks to contribute to further clarification of terminology and processes: a clarification which would assist a future streamlining in the devel­opment of national air potential on the road to integration into col-

—————————————— >——————————————————

lective security systems. Ultimately, arrival at a uniform terminolo­gy, and its clarification and amplification are the first steps to genu­ine integra

EXAMINING AIR POWER

I

dentifying critical issues and finding optimum solutions to them is a fundamental task of politicians and soldiers at the start of the 21st Century. Methodologies for this include modelling techniques and intensive computer use.

Nevertheless, the road to pinpointing the major problems of today remains thorny. A major job for experts is to clarify the meaning of words and to apply terms rationally and correctly. Anyone who has tackled any significant issue knows the process well.

One may apply a variety of techniques for such purposes. One possibility is to take commercial procedures and modify them as needed. ‘Commercial procedures’ implies Stanford L. Optner’s ideas in Systems Analysis for Business and Industrial Problem Solving. This looks at industry and government, including the military. Is­sues may involve national security and military capacity: particularly tough topics of considerable consequence, and ones comprising a multitude of quantitative and qualitative components. Yet, exactly this sort of elaborate and intractable issue is so fundamental today.

Scientists and researchers are particularly involved in medium and large-scale issues, including air power. Resolving such issues entails creating new hierarchies or modifying existing ones, and adopting policies that may obtain over a long period. The longer the period, the greater the risk of failure. (Moreover, risk here may imply that a policy line initially makes things worse, improving them over a longer term.)

AIR POWER AS AN ELEMENT OF. NATIONAL ARMED POWER

The issue of air power is topical in Bulgaria, a nation going through a trying patch in the history of its sovereign existence. Yet, air power has never been subjected to in­depth professional research, particularly as regards its role as an instrument for attain­ing specific political, economic or military objectives.

Why is air power topical? Because:

– it has existed, exists now, and will continue to exist into the future

– it has always presented planners with a broad range of options, does so now, and will continue to do so in future

– it calls for significant capital investment entailing large measures of risk

– it is highly dependent upon national scientific and technological potential

– it is an exceptionally convoluted and complex matter where decision making and implementation call on a whole range of disparate resources

– it is central to national security.

The methodology for addressing similar issues does not call for a precise definition of success. (Some systems analysis authorities even claim that such issues do not need too close a formulation to be researched.) However, national security matters such as air power and its role in armed conflict are overridingly important. Therefore, it is incumbent before specialists studying air power to define it, and the options for its development, to the greatest attainable degree of precision.

In pursuing the exercise’s objectives, one has to adhere scrupulously to objectivity and logic. Objectivity is essential in monitoring and data processing. Logic is a way of thinking which aims at rational conclusions. The body of evidence under considera­tion forms the substance of the transparency and clarity essential to such studies. Empirical monitoring is the process whereby data gathered forms a system, which in turn provides grounds for recommendations. The latter, in their turn, are logical con­clusions resting on properly selected fact.

As stated above, Bulgarian military science has not yet grappled with the meaning of air power. Due to post-Second World War historical divisions, it still employs Soviet terminology. Yet, contemporary realities call both for the introduction of air power as a concept, and for new ways of interpreting it. They would reflect contemporary na­tional priorities, and enable a proper appreciation of air power in the context of the recent conflict near Bulgaria’s Western borders.

While retaining the hierarchy of fundamental issues, it is crucial to redefine air power, and examine it as an element or subset of national power.

As national potential develops, so do science and technology. They in turn promote further development. National potential determines how nations rank in the world league: a nation’s ability to attain political, commercial and military objectives depends upon it. Never has this been truer than today, as leading na­tions (‘the Superpowers’) enter the information society. However, regardless of the era a country is in, its development depends on proper harnessing of whatever potential it has. National power may be defined as the extent to which national potential can be actualised in the pursuit of set political, commercial or military objectives. It determines a country’s vitality, its ability to endure hard times, and to go on to prosper.

If national power is the extent to which national potential is actualised, we may view it as the result of a process: the outcome of a system of mutually linked components. We may prove that such a system exists by noting its intrinsic com-

ponentry, and its point of entry (the presence of an object affected by the process at play within the system).

New realities require a broader view of national power as a whole, and of each of its components. In researching the issue, the fact that one is observing an open system in which air power is an entry point is significant. Once we agree to regard national power as a system, we also agree to examine its environs: finite objects with a definite influence on the system. Vital to the system’s existence, each of these objects is a source of input into the system. We may call the sources of national power ‘tangible’ and ‘intangible’ (Diagram 1).

Tangible sources include, inter alia, geography, economic potential, infrastructure, the extent of technological development, human resources, and the armed forces. Intangible sources include, inter alia, culture, ideology, national will and morale, gov­ernment powers and resolve, diplomatic skill, and significant political and military success or failure in the past.

Depending on the objectives set before it, national power may be military or non­military. This subjective distinction derives from the sources of national power, which may also acquire the same distinction in turn. The subjectivity deepens by the emer­gence of an information society in advanced nations. There, links between compo­nents of national power grow stronger, while bounds between them grow weaker.

Nevertheless, in your Author’s opinion, the distinction is still necessary because few nations are ‘advanced,’ remaining (according to Toffler’s definition) at the indus – trial/agrarian stage.

According to the same author again, industrial nations’ striving to retain a status quo that gives them world leadership and the ability to shape that world according to their interests, is natural. This striving is one of the reasons for sharp political and economic crises, frequently leading to the use of armed force.

Unarmed power derives from non-military sources that feed the part of the system relating to national political and economic potential. Armed power derives from the military. Both sources may be tangible or intangible, and determine the methods and resources used in pursuing objectives: political and economic, or military goals. The recent clash of arms in the Balkans bears out the correctness of such a classification: it has been degrading Bulgarian national potential for the past ten years.

Discourses on national armed power are particularly apposite in view of the na­ture of the issue under review. Armed power is the sum total of material and morale at national/class/international alliance level, and as the ability of that nation/class/alli – ance to mobilise these resources for combat objectives or in the resolution of other issues. Military prowess depends upon national business, social, scientific and techno­logical prowess, and national morale. A country’s armed forces and their ability to attain objectives set by political leaders are its direct expression.

 

Intangible
Sources of
National Power:

-Culture

-Ideology

-History

-National Will and Morale

-Government Power and Resolve

-Diplomatic Skill

-Past Success and Failure in Peace and War

 

Tangible
Sources of
National Power:

Geography – Economic Potential Infrastructure Technological Development Human Resources Armed Forces

 

National Power:

The Degree of
Actualisation of
National Potential in
Attaining Objectives

 

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Components of by Purpose

 

National Power and Source

 

Components of National

 

Power by Environment

 

On the High
Sea and Waterways

 

In the Air

 

Extent of
Actualisation of
National Air
Potential

 

AIR POWER AS AN ELEMENT OF. NATIONAL ARMED POWER

Diagram 1: The sources and components of national power

 

AIR POWER AS AN ELEMENT OF. NATIONAL ARMED POWERAIR POWER AS AN ELEMENT OF. NATIONAL ARMED POWER

AIR POWER AS AN ELEMENT OF. NATIONAL ARMED POWER

Armed forces are classified according to their environment: army, airforce, and navy. The ability of each to perform depends on its armed power. Armed power is the totality of material factors and morale characterising the state of the armed forces and their ability to attain combat objectives. It depends directly on, inter alia: personnel numbers, morale and training, the quantity and quality of combat equipment, and good command. Armed power is the ability and potential to attain a set objective in the context of a specific set of conditions. The major components of armed power (Diagram 2) are:

– personnel and equipment in direct combat: people and machines basic to com­bat potential

– reserve personnel and equipment: technical and logistics backup providing sus­tainability

– command strength and mechanisms: management potential.

Combat potential is basic to armed power. It is the state and potential of person­nel and equipment in direct combat: those directly committed to attaining set com­bat objectives.

Before delineating the bounds of air power as a subsystem of national power, the point that national power is classified by environment (land, water or air) repays reiteration. This best enables countries to utilise land, water and air for objectives relevant to their prosperity and ability to endure.

AIR POWER AS AN ELEMENT OF. NATIONAL ARMED POWER

Diagram 2: The components of armed power

THE STRUCTURE OF. AIR POWER

Hitherto, air power theory has been the exclusive province of West European and United States’ theoreticians and experts. Attempts to formulate and explain air pow­er date back to the infancy of aviation. Concepts of naval power provided starting points. Early air power theorists borrowed ideas and basic postulates from naval war­fare fairly uncritically. This worked only occasionally.

The concept of naval power is firmly linked with Alfred Dyer Mahan. He defined naval power as the ability to use the seas for military aims, and thwart the enemy in doing the same. Mahan pointed out that the seas could be used not only as a setting in which to destroy enemy forces representing a genuine threat, but also as one in which to exercise indirect but nonetheless decisive influence on military potential. Mahan’s 1890 treatise, The Influence of Naval Power upon History, also contained the rather too absolute prescription of superiority as a prerequisite in all naval operations: nothing was to be undertaken before superiority was secured. What was needed was a large, centrally commanded fleet whose basic purpose was to destroy enemy capital forces.

Another naval strategy theorist, Sir Julian Corbett, regarded the high seas in their normal state as uncontrollable. His great contribution was to separate the attainment of superiority from its exercise, which he treated as a distinct aim of naval power. These twin aims in turn dictated different armaments, training, and unit structure. Specialists will readily find analogies with contemporary views of air power.

What is the nexus between naval power and air power? At the turn of the 20th Century, it was the striving to seek superiority or mastery in a largely uncontrollable environment. In addition, both naval an air power depended upon — and served the needs of — land operations. This gradually led to the triune configuration of national power, enabling nations to pursue their objectives not only on dry land, but also on the high seas, and in the air.

What were the properties of the new environment over which politicians and soldiers felt challenged to seek superiority?

The first and essential one is its universality. The earliest flying machines suggest­ed to strategists that the new leap of human ingenuity had a future: with develop – ment, it would render any point on Earth accessible, moreover at speeds unknown to land and naval vehicles. Speed gave the new environment its second advantage: greater mobility, granting intrinsic privileges to owners of flying machines. The third advan­tage stems from the ability to move in three dimensions, thus gaining a large measure of invulnerability. Graf Zeppelin’s dirigibles and the Albatros Company’s aeroplanes

abruptly ended a British geographical immunity bestowed by 36 kilometres (21 miles) of English Channel. This immunity had held since the Norman Conquest in 1066, yet henceforth no nation was beyond invasion from the air.

Early flyers grasped the opportunities offered by the new environment (viz. Profes­sor Charles’s views, and Orville Wright’s letters to his government almost a century hence). However, the first soldier and theoretician to state notions of the changes about to hit warfare, was Giulio Douhet. In 1909, this unknown artillery Maggiore wrote:

“It may well seem improbable that the sky shall turn into a battlefield no less important than the land and the seas. However, it would be better if we accept this probability now, and prepare our services for the conflicts to come. The struggle for aerial superiority shall be arduous, yet ostensibly civilised nations shall strive to pros­ecute war insistently, and with all means at their disposal.”[1]

By 1913, Colonele Tenente Douhet was firmly of the opinion that aerial forces must form a separate command. Criticising Italian high command strategy, he de­clared:

“Aerial space shall be independent. A new type of weaponry is being born: aerial weaponry. A new battlefield is being opened: the air. The history of warfare is being infused with a new factor: the principle of aerial warfare has been born.”2

The first military leader who not only saw the significance of nascent air power but also began active work to elevate it as a primary pillar of national power, was the Head of the German General Staff, General-Feldmarschall von Moltke. Before the First World War, he formulated and applied a programme for the promotion of this new weaponry, and for the creation of properly functioning Army and Navy air units.

During the Great War, Generals Trenchard and Mitchell were the first to breach the Klausewitz postulates on warfare (which Foche was following). British soldiers had principal differences with Klausewitz’s paradigms: they had attained and main­tained a 150 year superiority not through set-piece wars but through manoeuvre, lim­ited warfare, attrition and threat. Major General Trenchard and Brigadier Mitchell proved that rather than being tied to close support of the infantry, aerial forces ought to co-operate with them, yet pursue independent objectives.

Reviewing Tripolitanian, Balkan and Great War experience, Generale Douhet attempted the first definition of air power in his 1921 book, Command of the Air. He and subsequent theorists regarded air power merely as a tool for mastery, even after the advent of missiles. For instance, writing in the January 1956 issue of the Air Force Journal, Major Alexandre Seversky defined air power as a function of speed, height, range, mobility, and the ability to project armed power with pinpoint accuracy in time and place at maximum speed.

To this very moment, air power tends to be regarded as a component of national armed power. In this sense, its definitions tend to recycle general concepts of armed power and combat potential. Treating the airforce as a prime command, they address its armed power, combat potential, state, and ability to attain set objectives within a discrete timeframe.

However, there are grounds for believing that air power is in fact the rational combination of all means for operating in the air, and of all means for defending the national interest. Air power determines a country’s ability to harness the military and business benefits of the air for its own ends. In this sense, air power may also be defined as the extent to which national air potential is actualised: the extent to which the elements of national air potential are given tangible shape.

It is reasonable to regard air power as a system comprising components, links and dependencies. In unbreakable unity with their environment — the air — they display interrelationships that give the system its wholeness.

Specific historical conditions determine the significance of air power’s individual components. The dominating significance of its contents is a matter not only of today, but also of tomorrow. In the context of this volume, the military aspects of air power are particularly important, since your Author examines the current and future role of airforces in warfare.

The structure of the air power system is markedly hierarchical. It comprises basic components (ones instrumental in the performance of business or combat tasks), and elements influencing the performance of such tasks to one extent or another. The number of components and elements in the proposed system is not fixed. It, and the extent of their development, depend on a variety of factors and have a purely national character. These factors include, inter alia: degree of national economic development; priority objectives set before nations; major points in national military doctrines; and the political and geographical environment. For instance, most nations have chosen a tripartite armed forces structure; but some (like Israel, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and former USSR) have a quadripartite structure, with air defence the fourth part. Never­theless, the principles for determining the major components obtain for the force structures of any nation with aircraft and an infrastructure for their operation.

These basic components of air power have been nominated (Diagram 3):

– the Air Force (including air defence forces, with the proviso that in the afore­mentioned countries they are separate commands)

– state and private airlines and general aviation companies

– the naval air arm

– police and border patrol air units

– state and civic air clubs and voluntary defence support organisations

– the air traffic control system

THE STRUCTURE OF. AIR POWER

Repair &

Airports

Maintenance

Network

 

Science &
Research
Establishment

 

Flying

Schools

 

Manufacturing

Base

 

Diagram 3: The Major Components of Air Power

 

– the entire air operations infrastructure

– the research and development (R&D), education and training (E&T), and man­ufacturing sectors.

A proper legislative base is crucial in delineating air power and ensuring normal function to its structures. While one cannot define it as a component of air power, it affects processes and task performance directly, particularly in peacetime.

One may regard each component of the air power system as a subsystem of con­stituent elements. For instance, airforces comprise units which discharge peace and wartime tasks. One may also regard aviation as one of these elements as a subsystem comprising types of aviation. However, your Author is loath to overanalyse the system and thus risk obfuscation.

Certain components of air power play a special role in its development. There­fore, they repay especial examination whose findings may be used as an entry point into the air power system. They are: the entire air operations infrastructure; R&D, E&T, and manufacturing.

Within the former, one may discern two basic elements: the repairs and mainte­nance sector, and the airports and airfields network. The R&D, E&T and manufac­turing component comprises the entire national science and research establishment, the aviation industry, engineering design and consultancy bodies, and flying schools. Although here these elements rank as mere parts of larger components, and although their presence in most nations’ air power systems is token or nonexistent, their signif­icance to flying and aviation is immense.

National air potential is the basis of air power. Air potential is the state and ability of the components of air power, or the state and ability of forces and material directly involved in task performance. It is not necessary to tap the full measure of national air potential at all times. The precise extent depends on many factors, chief among them the nature of tasks.

One may regard air potential as succour for the air power system, and as a system of several elements (Diagram 4) grouped according to the possibility of actualisation of air power components and elements. They may be regarded as an entry point into the system of air potential, whose final product is the degree of its actualisation.

The elements of air potential include:

– aircraft number and quality

– ground and air personnel numbers, training and career satisfaction

– air and ground equipment state and availability

– state and scope of available backup

– command structure powers and effectiveness.

Air power is the extent to which air potential becomes reality. The assessment of this extent is of necessity subjective. It depends on the extent of actualisation of

various elements of air potential. There are cases where for one reason or another components of air power, or elements of air potential, are missing or undeveloped. This does not mean that air power is absent, or that it cannot rise beyond a certain level. However, it does mean that the ultimate degree of air power is circumscribed.

Apart from depending on objective conditions, the extent of available air power may also be fixed by politicians and soldiers with a view to adequacy in the pursuit of set objectives.

The proposed view of air power makes it obvious that it is an element of national power able to discharge duties both in peace and in wartime. One may glean a fuller picture of its multifarious peacetime duties from this list:

THE STRUCTURE OF. AIR POWER

Diagram 4: The Components of air potential 21

– deterring potential aggression

– assisting in disasters or crisis situations

– assisting national business, science and research

– patrolling and controlling national airspace

– maintaining combat readiness and preparedness for a smooth transition from peace to war.

Manifestations of the business role of air power include:

– state and private sector airlines

– R&D establishments and firms with interests in aviation

– the air design and manufacturing sector which bridges the gap between funda­mental research and manufacturing

– the aviation community (those who earn a living in aviation and related interests).

The airforce as a component of air power plays a special role in peacetime. As part

of the armed forces, it is able to display national armed power on the international arena. Politicians often make use of this to demonstrate a threat to adversaries. Ger­man politicians pioneered this use of air power. A similar display arsenal for the use of diplomacy was widely used during the Cold War and remains deployed today. Demon­strations of aerial might often allow the attainment of political objectives without recourse to combat: the mere threat of potential superiority or mastery supplants spilt blood.

In this sense air power has always been an instrument of national policy and a major buttress to peacetime diplomacy. This is helped by the nature of the airforce: constantly combat ready, mobile, and able to concentrate forces rapidly with great accuracy. The ability to influence adversaries simply because the airforce is there bring the creation of air power to the forefront as a priority national issue, and to the fore­front in international politics. Here, Bulgaria’s lack of an adequate level of air poten­tial, and the process of downgrading air potential (in progress as these words are writ­ten) erode Bulgarian leaders’ positions on the international arena.

At the same time air power, along with the other elements of national power, is there to defend the nation in case of attack. Thus, its importance for national safety grows in line with military threat. Primary expression of this aspect of air power is a country’s ability to repel aggression. However, this does not mean that air power ends with the airforce. One must interpret air power primarily as a nation’s ability to har­ness all resources and opportunities at its disposal to the end of utilising airspace. The basic aim here is to boost national prosperity, with defence as part of this aim.

Regarded thus, air power may to some definite extent be seen as synonymous with national economic prowess, whose inalienable constituent it indeed is. It is economic power that determines the level of armed power (hence also of air power); air power has both commercial and military origins.

The reason people invest air power with military meanings is mostly to do with international factors. Threat, and the concomitant need for defence, are immanent in international relations. In this sense, tasks before air power in a conflict include:

– controlling national airspace

– controlling enemy airspace

– continuous aerial reconnaissance and intelligence gathering using the advantag­es of the third dimension

– transport operations.

The relative importance of army, airforce, and navy, has always depended on po­litical and strategic considerations, geography, and international alliances. The army has played first fiddle in some historical periods; in others, primacy has rested with the airforce or navy. The place and role of each armed force in peace and war depends on the technical level of adversaries, their potential, and their geography.

Experience shows that each of the forces makes a definite and always significant contribution to victory. Over the last century (since the arrival of air power) there have been no pure infantry, naval or air wars; neither do military experts foresee any in future. One thing remains unaltered: only the army can secure the results of a campaign or a war. Its sheer physical presence on the ground consolidates the con­quests of hot conflict.

Conditions for the attainment of set objectives arise only where organised, well­armed, and well-trained armed forces are available. Each of them has a specific sphere of application, and modes of interplay with the others. The appropriate utilisation of this specificity determines the degree of success of an operation, campaign, or war. Precisely because of this, the pursuit of balance between the different armed forces (and within each of them) is a major procedure in modern military science. National interests guide this procedure closely as do, inter alia, tasks set by political and military leaders, political and military developments in the region and beyond, national po­tential, and geography. The procedure is also the key to a broader challenge: striking a balance between the components of air power.

In constructing air power, attention must be paid to blend its components most advantageously, and to maintain this blend thereafter. This is only possible after thor­ough scientific analysis of all influences on civil and military aviation. Balancing thus involves military science and addresses historical and technical developments. The issue of balancing also intrigues per se, inviting examination in an historical and mili­tary science aspect.

Military doctrine and national security postulates, as well as the national consti­tution, have to form the basis of balanced development of air power. They must deter­mine the role and place of air power and the airforce within the hierarchy of national power, and national armed power. They must fix its relative weight in the system, its

tasks in peace and war, and the composition and purpose of various force commands and civic volunteer formations.

A conclusion valid for nations with Bulgaria’s economic potential, is that balancing the components of air power means bringing them to a state and blend which allows air power to be multi-role (able to perform a variety of peace and wartime tasks).

In view of the basic requirements before air power (to perform set tasks using its peacetime strength while taking account of geography, and to manoeuvre using avail­able resources), another major procedure is to determine human and material strength. Here, it must be borne in mind that force renewal in today’s swift wars is highly problematic, and generally considered impossible. Thus, the issue of balancing and creating air power is mainly a matter of peacetime planning.

Balancing the components of air power is an ongoing process. It evolves according to historical circumstances. Major factors determining such evolution include: politics (changing balances, military blocs, and changes of regime); economic realities and changes in national commercial/military potential; developments in indigenous and world sci­ence; and changes in the tasks before air power. Tasks set by political leaders and the level of national economic development are prime among these factors.

History is replete with examples of defeat or distress resulting from poor (or non­existent) balance among elements of national power and components of air power. Most of these relate to financial straits, mistaken military doctrines, or short-sighted foreign policies. The national economy then has to make up for such defeat and distress.

EXAMINING AIR POWER. AS A SYSTEM

Systems analysis represents system objects symbolically; denotes their structures (func­tion, links, organisation, and development), events, properties, objective laws, and for­mal relationships between them; and displays structural similarities, properties, compo­sition, communication, and development as evidence of functional system integrity.

To apply systems theory to a phenomenon means to study that phenomenon thor­oughly, but without recourse to classical experimentation. The aim is to discover the phenomenon’s structure and behaviour. This entails using methods from a number of disciplines. (Indeed, the benefits of the systems approach stem from the fact that it is isomorphic, breaching historical bounds between sciences claiming to study entirely different phenomena.)

Attempts to study air power as a system date back some decades. To your Author’s knowledge, Stephen Possony made the first such attempt in 1949. Writing on Ele­ments of Air Power in the Infantry Journal Press, he listed 15 elements of air power:

– materiel and fuel

– industrial potential; a high level of technological progress and instrument devel­opment

– a network of bases and forces to defend them

– communications and electronics

– logistics support

– auxiliary services

– airborne forces

– guided missiles and nuclear weaponry

– aeroplanes and other aircraft

– human resources

– training

– morale

– intelligence

– inventions and research

– tactics, strategy, and planning.

Possony then described the significance of each element, but ended his article short of stating the need to apply a systems approach.

The 1992 Air Force Manual exhibited a similar level of perception in treating the United States’ aerospace doctrine. Possony was cited verbatim, but without clarifying things in the least; what was omitted includes:

– the internal organisation of air power, and modes of interplay between its com­ponents

– the functions of air power components

– horizontal and vertical links between air power and other structured systems

– mechanisms and factors for system preservation, improvement, and development

– methods and phasing in air power development with a view to defining its histor­ical prospects.

But why examine air power as a system? Indeed, is the systems approach suitable to air power? It recommends itself because:

– air power is created by man and involves components with different natures

– air power has a purpose, and each of its components has an aim (tasks whose performance generally involves the air)

– the scope of air power is very broad, as witnessed by the variety of its compo­nents, and the number of functions and values involved

– air power is sufficiently complex to merit study as a unity. Any internal or envi­ronmental change begets other significant changes. Moreover, inputs and outputs are non-linear, which renders mathematical modelling both exceptionally complex and far too subjective

– inasmuch as adversaries always strive to downgrade air power, it contains an element akin to competition. In the aforementioned business systems, commercial competitors assume the adversary role.

In examining air power, the systems approach entails study of a series of aspects, each of them important, viz.:

– system elements

– system structure

– system function

– system communications

– system integrity

– system history.

The system elements aspect tells us what the system contains. The components of air power are listed above, along with their major elements where relevant. This ought to have made it clear that the system’s net product is to enable a country to use the air in the pursuit of its political, business and military objectives: a topical issue today. This issue has long represented a major priority before any national and military lead­ership that has ever set its public ambitious tasks for the pursuit of national prosperity. It has become particularly pertinent in the light of plentiful recent examples of the benefits of air superiority. These benefits stem from the advantages of three-dimen­sional space, great speed, manoeuvrability, the mobility and flexibility of airborne plat­forms, and the multiplicity of tasks performed.

The conclusion has to be that the system under review has a great many interre­lated properties. These properties do not derive merely from the properties of individ­ual components, nor are they reduced to them. They also depend on the environ­ment and on the elements and subsystems of components. Air power is part of the hierarchy of national power, and is itself a hierarchy: a complex system with a great many interdependencies. This renders formal mathematical descriptions practically impossible: such descriptions would transgress any levels of conditionality deemed useful in practice.

In this and similar cases, the systems approach is not a stage on the road to math­ematical modelling. The main task is not to employ mathematics to detail structures, links and functions —but to research trends. In Bulgarian conditions, this may be paraphrased as finding how to guarantee the retention of air power, and how to main­tain a reasonable level of air potential.

The system structure aspect shows how the system is put together, and how its components may interact. Though they may be shown as equal, the development of one or another of them is a matter of priorities and affordability. Factors determining the relative import and degree of development of individual components include:

– national economic potential

– political and military leaders’ air priorities

– national human resources’ potential (in demographic, intellectual and educa­tional terms)

– national scientific potential

– geography and regional geopolitical encumbrances

– heritage and development prospects.

The degree to which an air power component is present or absent affects the links between others, and may impose system restructuring. For instance, in Bulgaria an element of one of the components (flying schools) has to stand in for the entire head­line component (R&D, E&T, and manufacturing): the rest barely exists. (It must be stressed that the lack, or underdevelopment, of any system component degrades over­all system effectiveness. That is why balancing between components while keeping account of national interests and abilities is so necessary.)

The reason this system is proposed is to facilitate better understanding of the issue, and ultimately to promote better policy in its regard. The system may be used to determine the role of air power in the conduct and outcome of armed conflict. The formation of most components of air power is revealed when examining system func­tion aspects.

On the one hand, the system communications aspect helps delineate the system under review. On the other, it sets air power in the broader context of the system of national power. The formation of some components (due for examination later in the volume) was not only a process of emergence, but also of gradual fitting into the national power hierarchy, and of linking with land and sea power. We shall review this aspect in subsequent volumes, which will cover air power’s increased importance, and its attainment of equality with the other two elements of national power.

Today, air power is a decisive factor in the performance of strategic national tasks. This in no sense downgrades its functions in securing air superiority or mastery, or in offering adequate resistance in the defence of sovereignty over land or sea. On the contrary: it is the very ability of this element of national power to react most rapidly and appropriately to any threat, irrespective of where it arises, that gave it its domi­nating significance vis-a-vis the other two forces.

However, regardless of how great the success at the end of hostilities, consolidat­ing it is down to land and sea power. This mutual dependence has been confirmed repeatedly, and will continue to be confirmed in your Author’s opinion.

The system integrity aspect of air power cannot be regarded as a constant. As will be obvious from the very infancy of air power, the emergence of its various components was evolutionary and uneven in time. It continues to this day, and will continue. Air power is an open system; protagonists at its entry and exit points are both the tangibles and intangibles listed above (Diagram 1), and the tasks and objectives before it.

Air power’s system history is possibly its most important aspect in the context of this study. It provides answers as to how the system came about, what development stages it underwent, and what prospects it faces. History is basic to this volume, and it will inform future volumes in the series. The intention is to show how air power evolved into a system over clearly defined periods, and to attempt to glean general trends for the near future. Apart from that, air power is the product of various nations’ air po­tential: an item also subject to evolution in set periods, and to trends in the future.

The study of air power leads to these conclusions:

– Air power is among the major indicators of national economic and military prow­ess. It expresses a country’s genuine ability to utilise the air in the pursuit of its inter­ests. Thus, it is undoubtedly a primary element of the national security system, and a measure of national prosperity and potency.

– The benefits bestowed by air power and the possession of air potential stem from the air as an environment (high speed, long range, three dimensional manoeuvrabil­ity), and from the promise of further development as science progresses. The air al­lows high mobility, flexibility and universality, and offers politicians and soldiers rapid and effective solutions to complex problems. This helps rank air power as a prime element of national power. The primacy of air power, and its growing importance, means that it is a major issue that would repay study as a system with a set of clearly defined components.

– The number of components and the degree of their development express prior­ities and objectives nations set themselves. They are explicit in national security doc­trines and implicit in geography, and in the state of tangible and intangible sources of national power. This state varies with time. It also relates to the links between system components. In this sense, air power is a complex open system whose entry point features its components and their subsystems, and whose major source is air potential.

– Air power has a multipurpose nature in both peace and war. It is involved in a variety of tasks, each drawing upon a different set of components, thus calling for a proper balance which may be determined according to set principles and criteria. Experience shows that imbalance in component construction and development re­sults in limited ability to perform tasks, and degraded ability to tackle subsidiary tasks. In this connection, the balanced arranging of components, and their subsequent ma­nipulation in order to maintain a suitable balance between them is a challenge to national business, intellectual, and political leaders.

– The utilisation of air power depends on the proper interaction of components which are heterogeneous in nature. Thus, utilising air power does not imply merely summing these components’ potentials, but rather invoking an altogether higher de­gree of unity and potency. Attaining proper balance in the structure of air power depends to a decisive degree on the complex process of scientific management during

its construction and maintenance. This in turn may call for adequate funding; obtain­ing it ought not to be a problem, since air power is always a matter of adequate suffi­ciency in a national context.

– Armed conflicts are direct stimuli for the development of air power and air potential. They have played an unbroken shaping role ever since air power’s emer­gence. Experience from assigning one role or another to air power’s components has read across to military science, and to the formulation of national priorities as a whole. Armed conflict is an extreme state that most rapidly tests the veracity of peacetime assumptions. What is necessary is a thorough study of the influence of air power on the course and outcome of armed conflict (particularly of the influence of air power’s major wartime component: the airforce). Because of their properties, airforces also manifest themselves as prime instruments of national policy in a variety of historical circumstances.

The emergence of air power occupied a relatively brief period. However, this pe – riod was rich in the variety and dynamism of processes it witnessed. Events influenc­ing the emergence of air power and determining its place in the system of national power were numerous. Therefore, your Author proposes to review only the major ones among them. There is also a wish to forecast the future of air power in the context of the information society. Thus, subsequent volumes in the series shall re­view air power and conflict in successive periods:

– the First World War, featuring the rapid evolution of national aerial forces into separate commands able to tackle tactical tasks independently, influence operations, and undertake strategic duties

– the interwar period, marked by developments in doctrinal thinking, and by air power’s growing importance in periodic local armed conflicts

– the Second World War, which conformed airforces’ strategic significance as sep­arate commands equal to the army and navy in determining the outcome of strategic operations

– the postwar period, which witnessed the gradual imposition of a state where leading industrial nations honed their aerospace forces’ readiness to react to any threat immediately and in a measured way, and when these forces assumed the role of prime deterrent in international relations.

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M

an has dreamed of flying since deep antiquity. Man’s restless spirit felt chal­lenged to master an environment God had denied, and to move in three di­mensions at a speed immeasurably greater than possible on the earth’s surface. The deep blue of the sky fascinated the eye and excited human imagination.

It was probably the thirst for flight that produced the beautiful and didactic story of Icarus. Told more than two millennia ago by Roman poet Ovid, it is the first record­ed expression of the idea of flight.

In 750BC, Cretan King Minos invited Greek sculptor Daedalus to construct a Labyrinth so elaborate as to render any escape impossible. Daedalus arrived on Crete with his son Icarus, and in fulfilling his commission created one of the Wonders of the World.

Reluctant to part with so accomplished a master, Minos did all he could to prevent his return. However, Daedalus decided to flee in a way the tyrant could not foresee. He gathered birds’ feathers and glued them together with wax, mak­ing pairs of wings for himself and Icarus. Training his son for the flight, he told

LEGEND TO REALITY

The legend of Icarus: a source of inspiration and a challenge to human ingenuity

 

him he would be safe at a height where neither waves would wet the feathers, nor solar heat would melt the wax.

Came the day of the flight, and the pair set off successfully. But when the best part of the journey was behind them, Icarus, taken with the experience and forgetting his father’s advice, shot upward towards the searing sun. The hot rays soon melted the wax, the wings melted, and the sea claimed the youth’s body. Ever since, a portion of the Aegean bears the name of Icarus.

The freedom that flight grants bestows many benefits in battle. Ancient strategists knew this. Their attempts to use flight in warfare employed neither aircraft, nor aero­statics and tethered balloons. It was the kite, invented in China 2300 years ago, that was used by the soldiers of the day to take observers aloft for the purpose of spying on enemy movements. Thirteenth Century Italian traveller Marco Polo observed such an ascent during his journey around China. The same nation also invented missiles (rocket pro­pelled arrows) in time to use them with some success against Mongol invaders in 1232AD.

Подпись: | Kite-flying as depicted by an unknown artist in 1635 Kites and rockets later spread to medieval Europe. There is no written confirmation that Europeans used kites to haul men aloft. However, rockets had been tested in battle by the middle of the 15th Century. Though fitted with fins, up until the late 19th Cen­tury they were unstable and imprecise, and this in­hibited their popularity among soldiers.

Be tween 1475 and 1505, scientific genius Le­onardo da Vinci worked on the problem of ena­bling man to inhabit the air and descend safely. His paper entitled On the Flight of Birds dealt in part with how man could copy birds’ movements and hence their ability to fly. Arriving at certain conclusions, Leonardo described and drew appa­ratus for flying. His orni – thopter had the body of a boat, controllable tail sur­faces, and a retractable
undercarriage. Borrowing from nature,

Подпись:Leonardo formulated principles of lift, and methods of attaining stable control­led flight. In order to increase the sweep of each wing stroke, he employed the combined strength of arms and legs. In his declining years, aware of man’s in­adequate and waning physical prowess, the genius directed more attention to fixed wing flying machines. In the clos­ing year of the 15th Century, he devised an ornithopter with partially fixed sur­faces, and a technique for gliding dur­ing which ornithopter flyers could re­coup their strength.

Leonardo’s helicopter also relied upon muscle power. Its wing was shaped like an Archimedean screw which pushed air downward as it spun. Toys employing this principle had emerged in the first quarter of the 15th Century, and their descendants are available today.

Подпись: 1500 LEGEND TO REALITY

Leonardo even proposed an early parachute. His drawing of it states that if one owns a tent whose sides are 12 sajena in breath and width, one may safely jump from any height. The inventor’s manuscripts archived in Paris contain a sketch of a man

descending with the aid of a flat rectangular surface. Control is stated to be possible by tilting the surface. It is likely that the idea came to Leonardo as he watched sheets of paper fall.

LEGEND TO REALITYLEGEND TO REALITY
In Leonardo’s day, science and craft had not advanced sufficiently to attain the desired result of flight. One man’s efforts, notwithstanding his genius, were insuffi­cient to accomplish the required leap. Human progress follows its own logic. During the 17 th Century, Englishman Robert Hook and Italian Giovanni Borelli independ­ently reached the conclusion that human strength on its own was insufficient to haul man aloft. Hook succeeded in building a working model of a powered ornithopter, but no documents survive to tell us what it looked like.

In 1643, Italian scientist Torricelli proved the exist­ence of air pressure. Eleven years later, his discovery was confirmed by Otto von Gerricke, an inventor of gauges.

The latter undertook a rather impressive experiment. The air was drawn from a smallish sphere comprising two equal parts. Then each hemisphere was harnessed to eight pairs of horses which tried to separate them: an impossible task.

This led von Gerricke to conclude that similar lightweight spheres filled with rarefied air might be able to fly.

Developing von Gerricke’s conclusions, Italian re­searcher Francisco de Lana Torzi published a treatment describing an aerial ship. This consisted of a boat with sails, 1485
to which were attached four vacuum bal­loons. Torzi claimed such a device might launch rockets to scupper enemy ships or raze enemy cities. From that moment on­ward the idea of using the air in battle was no longer new. Torzi’s project was unfeasi­ble: the materials available would either have made the spheres too weak to with­stand atmospheric pressure as the air was drawn out, or would have been so heavy that flight would have been unthinkable. Ideas of similar apparatus reappeared in the early 20th Century as aluminium alloys be­came available.

Подпись: I A drawing of Verancio’s parachute, 1595 Подпись:Dutch scientist and mechanic Cristiaan Huigens (1629—1695) left a wealth of pa­pers. One of his inventions was a pilotless drone with two airscrews spinning in op­posing directions and powered by twisted and stretched animal tendons: a prototype of today’s bungee chord-powered flying models. The wings were rectangular and had upturned tips for lateral stability. Hui – gens’ airscrews were the first proposal to use blades for motive power in the air. Their prototypes must have been the innumera­ble Dutch windmills, which Huigens is known to have studied over an extended period. No record suggests that this drone was ever built and flown, yet the drawing alone is evidence that Huigens overtook developments by over a century.

Bernouli’s classical work on hydrody­namics appeared in 1738. In it, the Swiss scholar laid the basis of today’s gas dynam­ics by clothing the theory of gas kinematics into mathematics.

Scientists were not alone in showing the way to flight. In 1742, the Marquis de Bac-

—————————————— >——————————————–

queville decided to cross the Seine by air. Having strapped wings to his arms and legs, the sixty-year-old jumped into uncertainty from the roof of a tall Paris hotel. Before the gaze of numerous onlookers, he managed to cover the great distance across the river before falling into a boat moored off the opposite bank. The feat is commemorat­ed in many engravings, and a detailed description of the event survives.

In order to measure air temperatures a thousand metres above the ground, Al­exander Wilson from the University of Glasgow attached a thermometer to the tether rope of a kite in 1749. Three years later, statesman and philosopher Ben­jamin Franklin barely avoided electrocution while studying the nature of lightning with the aid of a kite.

While researching meteorology and gas physics, Russian scientist and researcher Lomonosov also pondered how to elevate measuring apparatus to a great height. At an Academy of Sciences meeting on 4 February 1754, he delivered a general descrip­tion of an Aerodynamic Machine based on Leonardo’s helicopter. Later that year, Lomonosov delivered an account of experiments with the Machine before the Aca­demic Council. Sadly, the experiment had been a failure. For the next half-century, attempts to build heavier-than-air flying devices were confined to small-scale devices more reminiscent of toys than businesslike machines.

The separation of hydrogen, and the devising of a process for its production in quantity by Henry Cavendish in 1766, marked a leap in human attempts to shake off the bounds of Earth. The discovery drew the attention of scholars on both sides of the

LEGEND TO REALITY

I Marquis Bacqueville overflying the Seine

Channel. A decade later, chemist Joseph Priestley published a number of experiments from research with gases.

These efforts gave a powerful impetus to the creation of lighter-than-air flying apparatus. However, the first ascent of a balloon took place far from Europe, and independent of European discoveries. Vanconne, a French missionary in China, came across a document dating back to 1624 in the Peking State Military Archives. This described how, during the celebrations marking the accession of Emperor Fo King in 1306, a hot-air balloon had been launched into the air. The event had remained unknown in far-off Europe, and the chance finding of its written record had no influ­ence there: however, the natural progression of events did follow its logic.

French paper manufacturer Joseph Montgolfiere who lived and worked in An – onis, 55km south-west of Lyons, was one of Priestley’s readers. In 1782, he embarked on a series of experiments with balloons, all making use of the known fact that air is lighter when heated. He burned organic materials to obtain volatile gases, and con­ducted the first trials indoors, using small balloons made of thin silk. Filled with hot air obtained from burning paper, these floated to the ceiling. Later, Joseph successfully tested a balloon with a diameter of 3.5m, which he had made with the help of his brother Etienne.

Encouraged, the brothers embarked on making an 11.4m diameter sphere which they believed would be able to haul a man aloft. The balloon was made of paper-covered broadcloth. The official demonstration on 5 June 1783 was a great success. After the

LEGEND TO REALITY

I Etienne Montgolfier, 1745-1799

 

I Josef Montgolfier,

1740-1810

 

LEGEND TO REALITY

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I Professor Charles’s first balloon goes through Paris escorted by guards

balloon was duly filled with hot air, its guy ropes were cut and the vessel rose aloft. On reaching a height of 2000m, it descended two kilometres from the place of ascent. The Mongolfieres sent an official record of the event to the Paris Academie des Sciences.

This achievement by a non-scientist was a challenge to metropolitan scholars, who felt slighted by a provincial backwater taking the lead. An appeal quickly raised 10,000 francs. By resolution of the Academie, Parisian scholars turned to 37-year-old Physics professor Jacques-Alexandre Charles. The young scientist took up the chal­lenge with verve. Hiring the artisan brothers Robert as assistants, he ordered them to make a sphere of fine taffeta with a rubber backing, a diameter of four metres, and a volume of 33.5cu m. He decided to fill this with the newly discovered gas, hydrogen, which is 14 times lighter than air. Preparations for the filling began on 23 August. An enormous crowd gathered to watch. Three days later, filling was pronounced satisfac­tory to lift the balloon to a height of 30 to 35m. Held down by ropes, the flying ma­chine passed triumphantly through the streets of Paris to the Champs de Mars escort­ed by mounted guards. The ascent was set for 27 August. After a 45-minute flight, the balloon landed near a village 25km from Paris. Taking it for a monster, the locals there had it dismembered into small pieces in a matter of minutes.

After an unsuccessful ascent attempt on 19 September, the Montgolfieres organised a demonstration before the Royal Family at Versailles. The balloon had a 13.5m diame­ter and a volume of almost 1300 cu m. The ascent was to a height of just 600m, the flight

LEGEND TO REALITY

The Montgolfier brothers’ demonstration before the Royal Family at Versailles

LEGEND TO REALITY

I The first ascent of a hydrogen-filled balloon on 1 December 1783

Подпись:lasting eight minutes. After a soft landing four kilometres from the Royal stand, the pioneer­ing Aeronauts were recovered safe. Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette were impressed and congratulated the Montgolfieres on their success.

Observers of the Versailles demonstration included 26-year-old physicist Pilatres de Ro – sieres. He was later to devise a tethered bal­loon and accomplish several test ascents dur­ing which he took additional fuel into the gon­dola. He proved that ascent and descent could be controlled by the rate of combustion. On 21 November 1783, Rosieres and the Mar­quis d’Arland were the first to make a free flight in a man-made apparatus. This had the impressive size of 14m diameter and over 1400m3 volume, and enabled eight kilome­tres to be covered in 25 minutes.

A hydrogen balloon departed the Tuilleries on 1 December 1783, carrying Profes­sor Charles and the elder of the Robert brothers. Having flown for two hours at a height of 650m and covered 40km, they descended to a soft landing by dumping part of the hydrogen through a specially designed valve. Robert stayed on the ground, while Charles ascended to 3500m.

French success did not remain unnoticed elsewhere in Europe. In February 1784, Paolo Andreanni of Milan accomplished the first Italian flight in a hot-air balloon alongside the two artisans who made the balloon. The flight lasted 20 minutes. Seven months later Vicenzo Lunardi de Lucca, a clerk at the Neapolitan Embassy to Lon­don, ascended from the Honourable Artillery Company’s grounds in Moorfields in a hydrogen-filled balloon, accompanied by a dog, a cat, and a pigeon. He flew for 33km, attempting to control flight altitude and direction by means of paddle-like surfaces.

The title of first British aeronaut, more for courage than achievement, goes to James Titler of Edinburgh. In the late summer of 1784, he employed a crude balloon and the properties of hot air to make a couple of brief hops into the air. The first such hop was on 25 August: three weeks prior to Lunardi’s historic flight. The second and last hop was on 1 September. However, the pioneer British aeronaut in the proper sense was James Se – dler. His first ascent was on 4 October 1784, when he covered the distance between Oxford and Islip in a hot-air-balloon. His next flight was on 12 November. On that occasion he used hydrogen to fill the balloon, hoping for a more notable result. And

LEGEND TO REALITY
indeed, the change proved justified: he covered the 23km from Oxford to Hartwell in 17 minutes. In 1785 Sedler made five flights which included an 80km flight. He then gave up ballooning for 25 years.

Other feats, which made aeronautics something of a craze rather than a risky pur­suit, included the ascents of Francois Blanchard. If we exclude Lunardi, Blanchard was the first professional aeronaut. Accompanied by anatomist John Shelton in a hydrogen- filled balloon, on 16 October 1784 Blanchard covered the 115km from Chelsea to Ram­say in Hampshire. Success drove the Frenchman undertake a risky attempt to fly the Channel. The epic 12-hour flight took place on 7 January 1785, in the company of American Doctor John Geoffrey: financier of the attempt determined to convince him­self that the aeronaut would not cheat. Between 1785 and 1789, Blanchard made a series of demonstration flights in various European countries, using hydrogen more of­ten than hot air. He set a 480km distance record with the aid of air currents.

After the start of the French Revolution, Blanchard was accused of anti monarchist propaganda in Austria and was arrested there but managed to flee to the USA. There on 9 January 1793 he performed the first ascent in America. This was in Philadelphia, using a hydrogen filled balloon. Returning to France in 1798, he resumed receiving the

LEGEND TO REALITYpension awarded him by Jouis XVI on the occasion of overflying the Channel.

This exceptional man died of a heart attack in 1809 after his 60 th ascent.

Aeronautics claimed its first victim all too soon. Two years after his first as­cent, Pilatres de Rosieres perished while attempting to fly the Channel, taking with him co-traveller Pierre Romain.

Before Englishman Charles Green used lighting gas in a balloon, a serious drawback of hydrogen was the consider­able time and effort expended in filling balloons. Hydrogen could not be gener­ated in flight; ascents could only be made where the heavy process plant and none too widely available materials could be procured. On the other hand, hot-air bal­loons needed nothing more than match­es, readily available fuel, and a furnace box. However, they had limited endur – ■ The death of Pilatres de Rosieres ance and payload. In both cases, aero­nauts were at the mercy of wind speed and direction: Lunardi’s and Blanchard’s guidance devices were of no help at all. Balloons strictly followed the wind. A dirigible could not have been built in the late 18th Century due to the lack of any suitable powerplant.

The above account forms the background to the formation of the first component of nascent air power: the invention of a sufficient number of reliable flying machines. Initially, balloons were used for research; but the issue of their other uses arose soon enough. Charles’s Flying Sphere made him ponder possible applications. Seeing far beyond the 4m diameter sphere, the Professor stressed balloons’ military promise in letters to friends in Philadelphia, London, and Vienna.

Data on enemy positions, movements and actions on the battlefield and beyond were considered the key to military success. The use of spies and informers always put their lives at risk. The cavalry was trained for rapid raids around the field of battle, partly to discover enemy locations. Invariably, the purpose was to determine the sta­tus of the other side: to ‘look over the hill’ or over the horizon, so to speak. And even while still primitive, balloons were ideal for this purpose.

In 1794, an anonymous French author published a monograph, LArt de Guerre change par l’Usage de Machines Aerostatiques. This early study of the significance of

balloons in combat claimed that they could lead to a sea change in the art of war. In the early 1790s, the eminent chemist Guiton de Morveaux laid down the basics of aerial re­connaissance by tethered balloon. French Army officer Meunier, a capable engineer and physicist, presented a paper describing gas balloons’ safety and stability before the Academie des Sciences. He went on to make a spherical balloon with the basic propelling and controlling devices of an elevator and three large propellers. Meunier’s remarkable project embodied all achievements up to that moment. Its major disadvantage was the lack of an engine: in its absence, the designer had to rely upon the combined muscle power of the balloon’s occupants.

Подпись: I Guiton de Morvaux, 1737-1816 France became embroiled in Revolution and the war against Austria. Meunier was killed near Meinz in 1793. On 14 July the same year, a Convent session approved the use of balloons for military purposes. Means and premises for war balloon produc­tion were set aside, with the proviso that sulphur oxide, vital to the artillery, was not to be diverted for hydrogen production. An officer, Jean Coutelle, was put in charge of testing. He managed the task of obtaining large amounts of hydrogen in field con­ditions brilliantly. The first installation was built near Meudon. Meanwhile, an elastic varnish had been discovered to seal balloons against gas leakage, treated balloons maintaining their shape for two to three months. Tests of the LEntreprenant combat balloon intended for quantity production ended successfully, and in April 1794 the basis of the eventual planned Balloon Division was laid. Initially, it comprised a single Balloon Company. To try out the Eyes in the Sky concept in combat, the Convent ordered Captain Coutelle to Belgium at the disposal of General Jourdain. The latter, and the majority of officers viewed the new arrival with incredulity.

On 2 June 1794, Capt Coutelle took his place in the gondola along with his assist­ant and gave orders for ascent. Two groups of soldiers, each 32-strong, began releasing the guy ropes. Soon the aeronauts were a thousand feet up and began history’s first aerial reconnaissance, comparing their maps with the battlefield they surveyed.

When the Battle of Mobeuge began two days later, General Jourdain’s Adjutant Morleaux was in the gondola alongside Coutelle. Over the next eight hours, the two sent a stream of messages regarding the rapidly evolving situation. The battle was won with the active help of the aerial observers.

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I The Battle of Mobeauges: the use of an airborne vehcle in warfare becomes fact

Regardless of the heavy intallations, some of them stationary and having to be built in situ, the balloon was shown to be a reasonably effective means of observing and directing artillery fire. General Jourdain’s command sent apologies for its initial doubts. A new order sent the Balloon Company to the aid of French troops near Fleurix, some 20km distant from its camp.

The journey turned out fraught. The balloon was transported erect, tethered at a height sufficient to clear roof tops. Coal dust smokescreens masked its progress. Fif­teen hours after it had set off, the unit was ready for action.

The French Army faced difficulties. After heavy battles for control of Charleroi, Gen Jourdain split the 73,000 men under his command into three, posting them west, north-east and north of the city with the order to defend it. The approaching Allied Army was of approximately the same size, but its commander, Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, made a fateful error at the outset. He split the attackers five ways and set seven directions of advance. The tactic was not unusual in its day, but the Austrian noble had no inkling of the new French way of getting reconnaissance.

On 29 June 1794, Gen Jourdain himself is likely to have been in the gondola along with Capt Coutelle. The two men witnessed an impressive sight. Camouflage and decep­tion were arts that would develop over a century later (indeed, a reason for their late

development was the prior lack of means to observe armies from the air!). Allied units in bright, elaborate uniforms, made not the slightest effort to hide their thrust towards French positions. Each infantry regiment had its own distinctive wear. All this eased the French command’s orientation in the course of battle, and helped it adopt correct decisions.

Coutelle would observe the battlefield through a telescope and apply his findings to a map. Individual units’ bright colouring clearly delineated infantry from ulans, Dragoons and other armed units. The first aerial spy determined cavalry and artillery strengths rather precisely, pinpointed the site of the Austrian Command, and noted backup units arriving from up to 60km off. Several-hour long sojourns in the air were by now routine. Coutelle would periodically tie his information to bags of sand, and would lower it to the ground by long lengths of string. Thus, according to researcher Hodgston, “the information sent as signals to Gen Jourdain was a proven material factor in securing French victory over the Allies.”

The Battle of Fleriux was the first in human history in which an air unit was employed in a planned and purposeful fashion. The result was a practical example of the benefits the new environment bestows. Following the brilliant despatches regard­ing the activity of the Balloon Company, preparations for forming a second such Com­pany started as early as 23 June. By late summer, four balloons were in active service,

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Щ The Battle of Flerius

each with ground equipment, aeronauts, and backup crews. They helped achieve victory at Urtes near Liege and reconnoitred at Augsburg, Stuttgart, Vorzburg, and Donauworth, providing valuable information on enemy movements.

However, enthusiasm was short lived. After successful operation in Europe, Capt Coutelle’s Balloon Company accompanied Napoleon to Egypt in 1798. Before the unit could unload its equipment at Abukir near Alexandria, Counter-Admiral Nel­son’s main British fleet appeared. The battle of 1 August reversed plans for the con­quest of Egypt, and the Balloon Company’s property was completely destroyed.

Upon returning to France the following year, Napoleon disbanded the Aeronauti­cal Division. The testing and training establishment at Meudon also closed. On the one hand, this could be seen as an expression of the young Emperor’s vain belief in his infallible ability to divine enemy locations and intentions. On the other, the decision was not devoid of some merit. The poor reliability of tethered spherical balloons, the arduous transportation of heavy equipment, and the lengthy gas filling cycle ham­pered the mobility of associated units, particularly artillery batteries, for whose benefit the balloons were supposed to act. Nevertheless, some Napoleonic Wars researchers claim that the availability of balloons might have saved the Emperor from defeat at Waterloo, changing the course of subsequent European history.

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I An artist’s impression of Napoleon’s plans to invade Britain

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I The Meudon balloon manufacturing workshop

Barely emergent aeronautics had already influenced the art of war. Some of the componentry of air power, slated to become topical a century hence, was also in place. Despite its inherent lack of safety and stability, flying apparatus did exist, providing platforms for aerial reconnaissance. Also available was personnel, poorly trained though it was. Another component was the ballooning school, though service units lacked a proper method of training which took account of the specifics of warfare. Airborne and ground equipment was still rather primitive. Observation was through standard field telescopes which were rendered unusable by any stiffish wind at altitude. Thus gondola crews did little more than look out onto the battlefield, albeit in some depth behind enemy lines. Backup means also emerged.

Limited finance delayed the creation of a manufacturing base, and ultimately the Emperor’s hasty decision destroyed what little had been achieved. There was no sys­tem to govern the actions of aeronauts, nor was there any systematic method of com­munication between officers on the ground and in the air. Information transfer meth­ods were also primitive, as could be expected of the period. In certain situations this rendered balloons useless.

However, all this ought not to obscure the main point in any way. It was another six decades before military men were to return to the air: this alone shows French strategists’ forward thinking in battlefield assessment during the Revolution.

Pioneering attempts to overcome gravity with heavier-than-air apparatus date to about the same time. In 1784, Frenchmen Lenois and Bienvenue demonstrated a heli­copter model in Paris. This had an elementary clockwork motor which transmitted power to lifting blades calculated to lift the model off the ground at a certain rotational

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I John Cayley, 1773-1857 ш A drawing of Cayleyfs helicopter, 1796

speed. As in the case of Lomonosov thirty years prior, no documentary evidence on this test reaches us to enable an assessment of its contribution to aviation.

In 1796, Yorkshire Baronet and philanthropist Sir John Cayley combined his pe­cuniary means and remarkable engineering bent to create another working model of a helicopter. This was essentially identical with that of Lonois and Bienvenue. After some improvements, he demonstrated it in public, causing interest on both sides of the Channel. Money was raised by voluntary subscription and with it the Baronet set up a charity with the major purpose of creating a heavier-than-air flying machine.

Given the choice between lighter-than-air and heavier-than-air flying machines, almost all inventors bent on conquering the air focused on the former: it seemed that balloons would do the job more easily. Cayley was one of the few who stayed faithful to the idea of dynamic flight. It is to him that we owe the theory of flight with fixed wing aircraft. He viewed the motorised aeroplane as a kite whose towrope had been replaced by an engine, and formulated the real issues of powered flight: using the wing surface to create lift, and overcoming drag. The lack of suitable engines directed his attention to gliders. Cayley reached the conclusion that in them (excepting towed gliders) the re­sultant force of the structure plus a man or other load could overcome drag.

For his first attempt to test this contention, Cayley designed a boat-like flying machine with a wing square in plan and set high at a slight angle to its longitudinal axis. Tail surfaces provided longitudinal and lateral control. No evidence exists that a model was built or tested. However, despite its shortcomings, this represented a step forward to the creation of an aeroplane. For the first time, we have the basic compo­nents in place: fixed wing, fuselage, and empennage.

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I A drawing of a typical early Cayley aeroplane model

Having gathered theoretical knowledge, by 1804 Cayley built history’s first freely flying model of a fixed wing flying machine. The wing has an area of 0.1sq m and six degrees’ fixed angle of incidence to the fuselage. The model had a cruciform empen­nage for control and trim. Testing proved that flight was possible with fixed wing apparatus, the glider covering distances from 18m to 27m at a speed of some 5m/sec.

Meanwhile, ballooning continued to be a pursuit for the wealthy, a trade for the reckless, and a wide-open field of research. A scientific flight was recorded in Russia on 30 June 1804. This was preceded by several Academy of Sciences’ sessions which discussed the programme and listed materials and gauges the researchers needed. The actual flight was held up to await the Tsar (who never arrived). The crew did finally fly at a quarter past seven in the evening, by when conditions were against them (at dusk the gas cools and its lifting power declines). Weather conditions limited the ascent to not more than 2000m. Nevertheless, the test programme was accomplished. It proved that altitude could be determined by echo sounding: directing sound at the earth’s surface, and measuring the time it took to reflect back up to the balloon. The crew stayed aloft for three and a half hours and landed 30 versts from Sankt Peterburg. Before landing they lowered a bundle of unnecessary items to the ground, this being the first guyrope in history.

In the second half of 1805, Staff Doctor Kashinskiy made a demonstration flight over Moscow. Prior to the event, his aerostat was displayed to curious Muscovites at the Grand Hall of the Petrine Theatre.

After Blanchard and Robertson’s successful flights over the Austrian capital, Vien­na clockmaker Jakob Degan set off to make a controllable flying machine. He studied aeronautical literature in detail and paid particular attention to ornithopters. Using reed, oiled paper, silk thread and timber lathes, the structure he produced weighed just 14 kilos. Degan made several flight attempts and concluded that success required the attachment of his ornithopter to a hydrogen balloon. On 12 November 1808 he suc­ceeded in staying airborne for some minutes before a huge crowd. There was a definite impression of control, since the apparatus alternately lifted, descended and moved side­ways. The effect was astonishing. The Austrian Emperor awarded Degan 4000 guilders, and Austrian newspapermen spread the news that controllable flight had been achieved

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A contemporary drawing of Jakob Degan and his strange flying contraption

throughout the Old Continent. However, foreign newspapers sowed doubt as to the authenticity of the flight. To dispel them, Degan travelled to Paris in 1812.

On his first attempt on 10 June, he failed to become airborne. The same hap­pened on his second attempt on 7 July, despite widespread reports that he flew but failed to manoeuvre as required. The third attempt took place on the Champs de Mars on 5 October, and was also a failure. The angry crowd attacked the ‘prestidigita – teur,’ reducing his apparatus to pieces. The papers declared Degan a charlatan and soon the name of this industrious and intelligent man was forgotten even in his homeland.

On 17 July 1817, Whitham Sedler, younger son of James Sedler, crossed the Irish sea from Dublin to Anglesea by hydrogen filled balloon in five hours. In 1836, Charles Green broke all distance and endurance records in ballooning in the company of two fellow travellers. In 18 hours he covered the 800km from London to Wilburg near Frankfurt. He filled his balloon with lighting gas which offered less than half of hydro­gen’s lift but was cheaper and more easily produced.

Three years after Green’s remarkable flight, American aeronaut John Weiss designed and fitted a special rapid gas discharge flap to a balloon, enabling rapid descent in emer­gency. His invention significantly improved safety and subsequently became standard. Weiss’s successes did not end there. In 1859, accompanied by John la Mautin (‘Gegard’)

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I The later version of Jakob Degan’s flying machine Щ Charles Green, 1785-1870

and a newspaperman, he flew the 1300km form Saint Louis, Missouri to Henderson. Encouraged by this, the trio decided to beat their own record and fly the Atlantic using their proven balloon. However, the idea remained in the realm of intentions.

Their major competitor was another American professional aeronaut, Thaddeus Loewy. Also aiming to conquer the ocean, he had designed a balloon with an even larger volume. A sudden whirlwind an hour and a half prior to departure put an end to the flight by destroying the balloon which was being filled at the time.

Meanwhile, Cayley had accumulated much knowledge and experience in heavi – er-than-air flying machines. One of his greatest achievements was to conceive the first multi-plane flying machine. In 1849, forty years after his first fixed wing aircraft, he assembled a triplane with auxiliary manually activated flapping surfaces. Cayley’s rationale in adopting a multiple wing consisting of three surfaces one beneath the other was to reduce span (and hence weight), while keeping wing area (and hence lift) unchanged. The Baronet’s coach driver and a ten-year-old boy tested the ma­chine: pulling it downhill or into wind, they attempted to get airborne. Sadly the best results were counted in metres: wing aspect ratio was insufficient, and the three wings were too close to each other, resulting in poor lift.

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I In his historic 1836 ascent, Charles Green flew a distance of 800km

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Щ A sketch of Cayley’s triplane

Cayley followed this up with a series of gliders in which he incrementally im­proved various elements, reducing drag and improving stability. In 1853, the last of these flew 60m. Over almost half a century the Baronet published a number of papers, some giving ‘masterclasses’ on the principles of flight aerodynamics and controllabili­ty, and others dealing with emergency escapes from balloons using aerodynamically stable gliders. These caused much interest and their ideas found adherents.

One such adherent was William Samuel Hanson, manufacturer of rope and lace making machines. In 1843 he registered a patent for an Aerial Steam Car for the transportation of mail, goods and persons by air. Though never built, the project marked an important step forward in aviation. It was the first design to envisage all basic elements of propeller aeroplanes of a century hence, and was the first aircraft to capture the mass imagination. No book on the history of aviation is complete without a mention of this exceptional machine. It was a high wing monoplane with two six-bladed pusher propellers. The fuselage was completely faired and contained the steam engine, fuel, and room for freight and the crew. The Steam Car had elevators and rudder, and wheeled landing gear. Takeoff was to be accomplished along a downward sloping surface. To reduce the weight of the powerplant (a 25/ 30hp steam engine), the designer replaced the usual steam boiler by a series of cone-shaped vessels and air condensers. Calculated gross weight was some 1350 kilos, wing area was 420sq m, and the empennage measured 140sq m. The design’s most significant advance was the choice of motive power: flapping surfaces were abandoned and propellers proposed.

Hanson’s Steam Car was never built, but drawings and artist’s impressions of it travelled the world, begetting much discussion. Decades later, aeroplanes with an

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An axonometric cutaway of Hanson’s Steam Car taken from its patent licence

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I An artist’s impression of Hanson’s Steam Car in flight

identical configuration (but with engines using a completely different working princi­ple and having significantly greater relative power) would take over human attempts to conquer the air.

On concluding his project, Hanson and his friend Stringfellow built the first mod­el aeroplanes. The third such scale prototype was built almost entirely by Stringfellow due to Hanson’s leaving for the America. All models looked like the Aerial Steam Car and had miniature steam engines. The largest weighed 12kg and had a span of 6.7m. Insufficient power rendered them unable to perform genuine flights.

Early work on heavier-than-air flying machines did not attract visible military inter­est. During the half century from the French Revolution and the first use of airborne apparatus, only British Admiral Knowles suggested the use of tethered balloons for Navy needs. British conservatism had the final word and the idea was rejected.

Austrian troops suppressing the 1849 Italian Risorgimento against the Habsburg Empire fought long and hard against the defenders of Venice. The lagoon city was invulnerable to artillery fire from dry land, so the command of the besieging army decided to use airborne devices in a novel way: to bombard the city form the air. Their 82 m3 hot-air balloons were made of non-porous paper. Below the ventral aperture was a ring to which were attached 15kg explosive and incendiary bombs.

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I Photograph of one of Stringfellow’s aeroplane models from the late 1840s

Dropping and activation times were governed by the length of fuse which was light­ed a short time prior to the start of ascent. Each bombing run was preceded by a trial ascent to determine wing speed and direction. A launch site was then chosen and flight time to overhead the target (and hence the length of fuse needed) was calculated. The average launch time was almost six minutes. The idea was to make some 200 sorties, each lasting about half an hour. A hundred balloons were pro­duced, but despite the idea’s originality, it did not work well in practice. This was due to the poor selection of launch sites, changes in wind direction and speed, and a variety of other reasons. Those balloons that did reach their targets caused only slight damage. However, by mere fluke one such bomb landed right in the city cen­tre, on the Piazza San Marco, and showed that even ineffective aerial bombard­ment could visit much distress upon the public.

During Napoleon Ill’s 1859 Italian Campaign, the French army tried hot air bal­loons for field reconnaissance, but their shortcomings limited endurance and they were not used in combat.

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Щ Drawing of Pierre Julien’s dirigible

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I Drawing of Henri Gifard’s dirigible in flight; note the gondola and the net by which it is suspended from the balloon body

Controllability was proving an insuperable problem. Powerplant progress was rap­id from 1850 onwards. French clockmaker Pierre Julien demonstrated an aerodynam­ic model of an airship driven by two propellers actuated by a clockwork engine.

Public acclaim for the model made talented engineer and inventor Henri Gifard design a controlled lighter-than-air flying machine. This was driven by an enormous propeller actuated by a 3hp steam engine. Powerplant weight, including the steam accu­mulator, came to some 150kg. The balloon body was faired so as to be longitudinally symmetrical, with pointed ends. For safety, the crew, engine, fuel and ballast were housed in a gondola hanging some 13.5m below the balloon on rope rigging. The exhaust stack was pointed downward and to the rear, directing sparks away from inflammable items.

Etienne Lenois’s 1860 invention of a gas engine opened new possibilities before aviation and aeronautics. Five years later Austrian Paul Henlein patented the instal­lation of a gas engine in a dirigible, but another seven years would elapse before the project was realised.

The 1861 to 1865 American Civil War saw leading US aeronauts offering their services to the North. John Weiss designed a field hydrogen generator. However, its high cost made it practically unaffordable and the military did not finance the project. Instead they opted for an idea proposed by Thadeus Loewy. Twelve of his generators were manufactured and entered service. Feedstocks included sulphur oxide and met­al swarf. The device could fill an observation balloon in under three hours. Though rather heavy and difficult to transport, the lack of any alternative made the genera­tors indispensable until the end of active aeronaut duty.

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Подпись: I Tadeusz Lowe (1832-1913) during the American Civil War Another original idea of Loewy’s was to employ river barges as mobile bases for teth­ered balloons. To assist nocturnal missions, each barge had four navigation lights: iron lamps with their own uninterrupted gas sup­ply. The newly invented telegraph was in­tended to be used to transmit observation data to the ground. This was first tested in the air on 24 September 1861 at the Battle of Falls Church. To facilitate data simultane­ous transmission from several balloons close to one another, one was designated as an airborne base to gather, process and retransmit data. Another innovation in aerial reconnaissance was aerial photography, first prac­tised by Frenchman Felix Nadar in 1858. All this gradually went to construct two basic control effectiveness components of air power: on-board and surface equipment.

Подпись:
By late 1862, the North had seven tethered balloons with an overall volume of 450-900m3. They were purpose built for combat, usually operating at some 1500m altitude. John La Montaigne was the most active aeronaut. Making use of prevailing winds at altitude, he made several free flights over Confederate positions. The bal­loon corps gained great confidence in senior Washington, D. C. circles, particularly after it saved Federal forces from defeat at Four Oaks and Gaines Mill. In both cases,

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Preparations for the first flight of an airborne telegraphic device: Falls Church, September 1861

balloonists had delivered timely warnings of enemy breaches of Federal flanks. How­ever, aeronauts turned out a wayward bunch. Aiming for personal recognition, they were in constant conflict with each other. The authorities had erred in not giving them officer commissions and in leaving them outside army structures, unbound by military discipline.

Making the best of limited finance, the Confederacy adopted simple yet effective countermeasures: the blackout, and luminary mimicry. For the first time in history, all lamps and fires were doused upon a signal at dusk, while false encampments were plentifully illuminated. Apart from that, the South also attempted to employ bal­loons, John Randolph Brien making several flights at the start of hostilities. His poorly designed hot-air balloon with limited endurance was duly replaced by one filled with lighting gas and made from a patchwork of multicoloured silk pieces. (Thus arose the legend that the women of Richmond, Virginia, had sacrificed their dresses for the cause.) The original ‘silk dress’ balloon was captured by Federal forces at Turkey Bend in 1862. The Confederacy then put a similar balloon into service, this seeing active service for 12 months before being blown across the lines by a gust of wind, and also turning into a trophy (though without an aeronaut on board).

There had not been a qualitative leap in the combat use of flying machines since the French Revolution, but Loewy’s achievements in America impressed military ob­servers. Some of the latter were to leave a trace in the history of aviation. Young German Army officer graf von Zeppelin was one. What he witnessed gave him the

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I Stringfellow’s triplane

idea to which he would dedicate his entire subsequent life. Another was British mili­tary observer Captain Beaumont. Upon returning to England, he and Capt Grover tried to draw War Office attention to the possibility of using airborne devices in com­bat. They flew two demonstrations using a balloon hired from Henry Coswell, Brit­ain’s best aeronaut at the time. Grover went on to fund a military balloon programme at his own expense; fifteen years would pass before it attracted genuine interest.

After twenty years of none too successful work on gliders, and influenced by the hostile comments Cayley and Hanson’s monoplanes drew, Stringfellow looked at mul­tiplanes. At the Crystal Palace Aeronautics Exhibition, he showed a triplane model which looked rather archaic by comparison with his 1848 monoplanes.

This had three flat profile superimposed wings braced by vertical struts. It was powered by a 0.33hp steam engine located in a fairing beneath the lower and middle wings, and actuating two pusher propellers. Span was 2m, and weight: 5.4 kg. Due to fire precautions, Exhibition organisers prohibited flying, with demonstrations limited to runs along a guide wire. Subsequent open air testing was unsuccessful, the onrush of air extinguishing the jet of burning spirit which heated the boiler.

Despite this, Stringfellow’s triplane marked an advance in multiplane design and was influential in the choice the Wright Brothers were to make.

Another inventor who made quality aeroplane models was Alphonse Pennault. The son of a French Admiral, he improved on Pierre Julien’s invention of elastic to power flying models. Where Julien used a flat band of elastic, Pennault used twisted bungee, thus obviating the need for transmission between unravelling elastic and spinning propeller, and lightening and simplifying things. Alongside this, Pennault paid much heed to stability. In 1870, he created a most successful helicopter model. A year later came the tiny Planophore monoplane which had great stability in all three axes. In pitch, this was granted by aft horisontal tail surfaces, and in roll: by vertical

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endplates and a fin. The Planophore was extraordinarily simple. Just 0.5m long, it had approximately the same span, and weighed just 16g, 5.5g of which was the bungee cord. Tested on 18 August 1871 in Paris, the model demonstrated exceptionally stable flight, always ending with soft landings. The maximum distances of some 40m to 50m were covered in 11 to 13 seconds.

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This fragile toy represented an exceptional event in the story of aviation. For the first time the public could observe feasible flight in a device that was heavier than air, had a fixed wing, and used its own power. Reports of the flights circled the globe, stimulating numerous enthusiasts.

By the mid-1870s France alone had several similar aeroplane models. Later, elas­tic-powered aeroplanes appeared in Russia, England, and Austria. The fact that mod­ern elastic-powered aeroplane models do not differ significantly from the Planophore is a testament to its advanced design. Pennault was also the first model maker to pay heed to commerce. Selling at reasonable prices, his models brought the invention into many households.

While aviation was still at the model aeroplane stage, aeronautics enjoyed a new renaissance. At the outbreak of the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian War, Prussian forces possessed two balloons which were not used in combat. After the fall of Sedan, the French made several observation and reconnaissance ascents in tethered balloons. Privately owned and designed for free flight, they were unsuited to this task.

Attention to flying machines picked up quickly after the Prussians surrounded Paris. The besieged garrison badly needed to communicate with the high command and government in Tours. At the instigation of several aeronauts, the postal authori­ties set up a balloon mail. An improvised balloon factory was established on the premises of a redundant railway station, employing seamstresses and seamen. From September 1870 to January 1871, 66 balloons left Paris, carrying over ten tonnes of mail, 160 privileged persons, several hundred pigeons, and five dogs. These balloons also threw propaganda over enemy positions. Over 60 of the pigeons returned to the city with messages, and some flew the trip twice. However, though sent out with similar inten­tions and fitted with special collars, the dogs failed to return.

To systematise the knowledge acquired, in 1874 the French Government estab­lished an Aerial Communications Council. This recommended the reestablishment of the Military Aeronautics Institute on its old Meudon site. Following this example,

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I Preparations for the raising of a spherical balloon, Paris, 1870

Britain, Italy, Germany, and Russia also set up aeronautics schools and research estab­lishments between 1878 and 1893. The USA also systematised its experience of aero­nautics, albeit with a thirty year delay. Due to the low technological level of flying apparatus, no combat units could be formed yet.

Even after the Franco-Prussian War, the main problem of aeronauts remained that of control. Development continued to be hampered by the lack of suitable en­gines. However, research continued. A large dirigible commissioned by the French government was completed on 2 February 1872. Designed by Naval Engineer Henri Dupuis de Loms, it did not feature an engine but was driven by a large four-bladed propeller driven by eight men turning a crankshaft. Still air speed was comparable with that attained by Gifard. However, reaching it required such physical exertion that the test was not deemed successful.

Ready for testing in 1872, Paul Henlein’s dirigible had an engine which drew gas from the balloon. Catamaran shaped, it was 55m long. Flights took place on 13 and 14 December. Hard to control, the craft needed to be accompanied by troops in case of difficulties for the crew. A speed of 15km/h was reached but further testing did not take place due to the lack of funds. The craft was dismembered and sold at auction.

Charles Ritchell’s single seat balloon was tested near Hartford, Connecticutt, in 1878. Powered by a pedal-driven propeller, it was 27m long. Flying a closed circuit, Ritchell attained a speed of 5.7km/h.

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Artist’s impression of Henri Dupuis de Loms’s airship

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Щ Arduous labour in the airship’s gondola

During the 1881 Electrical Exhibition in Paris, brothers Gaston and Albert Tes – sandiere caused great interest with their model of an electrically-powered airship. The designers decided to build a full scale version capable of accommodating a man. As distinct from Gifard’s design, this airship had greater volume and rounder shape. A propeller driven by a 1.5hp Siemens electric motor powered it. Since the batteries alone weighed more than the combined weight of a steam engine and steam tank, the craft attained just half its design speed.

The airship designed in 1884 by French military engineers Charles Ronard and Arthur Krebs had more powerful electric motors. Similar to Henlein’s, it differed in being half a metre longer. Initially fitted with a 7.5hp motor, it was later fitted with one rated at 8.5hp. Flying seven times in two years, it reached a maximum still air speed of 24km/h. All but two of the flights ended on the spot where they began. The powerplant did bestow control, but only in essentially still air.

Again in 1884, a steel cylinder containing hydrogen under pressure was designed in Britain. This granted much greater mobility to emergent military balloon units. Thanks to this, a three-balloon Royal Engineers detachment participated in the mil­itary expedition to Bechuanaland (today’s Botswana). A year later, the British active­ly used balloons in the Eastern Sudan, followed by the Italians in Eritrea in 1887 and ’88. However, balloon combat efficiency in the late 1800s was not that much higher than it had been during the French Revolution. Despite greater mobility, balloons

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Tessandiere’s electric-engined airship was Siemens-powered

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I Henlein’s airship

remained unstable and at the mercy of numerous circumstances. Despite early com­bat experience, not one of the components of air power was yet firmly in place.

A decade after Stringfellow’s first model tests, French naval officer Felix de Temple de la Croix and his brother Louis built a clockwork-powered aeroplane. This achieved record success, being able to take off, fly, and land. Later, the clockwork was replaced by a steam engine. In 1857, de la Croix was granted a patent for a propeller driven mono­plane. The design featured several impressive and advanced ideas. Made largely of alu­minium, it had an unencumbered wing and a damped-strut retractable undercarriage.

After model tests, the inventor began building the full sized model, intending to fly it. Construction took until 1874. Practical limitations imposed some simplifications: the landing gear was fixed, and the wing had a single spar instead of the intended two. Despite this, the 260kg structure weight was over twice what had been predicted.

The aeroplane was a steam-engined monoplane with a six bladed propeller. The open-topped fuselage was 2.5m long and 0.8m wide. Its welded steel tube structure also carried the wing, tail surfaces and tricycle undercarriage.

Weighing 59kg and developing 3 to 4hp, the steam engine was located forward. The boiler was superheated with fuel oil, with the fuselage structural tubing used to condense the used steam. The pilot sat behind the engine. Wing structural elements were steel tubes. Cloth-covered, the wing spanned almost 30m. Of similar structure, the empennage comprised movable horizontal and vertical surfaces. The stalky un­dercarriage gave a ground run incidence of some 20-25 degrees.

Ground tests showed insufficient structural strength. Lack of money forced Felix de la Temple de la Croix to curtail further development. Even though not one at­tempt to take off was made, the designer deserved due recognition. He was the first to progress the idea of heavier-than-air manned flight from scale models to a practical full sized aeroplane which he had every intention of flying. In this sense, de la Croix’s achievement marked a stage in aviation research.

The lack of development in engines during the late 1860s and early 1870s, com­bined with a lack of clarity and an absence of scientific and financial assistance, doomed the efforts of a generation of designers such as Evard (Russia, 1861), Teleshyov (Rus­sia, 1864), Claude (France, 1864), Louvriere and Mouillard (France, 1865), Battler (Britain, 1867), Renard (France, 1871), and May and Shill (Britain, 1875).

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I Patent drawings of Felix de Temple de la Croix’s aeroplane as envisaged in 1874

LEGEND TO REALITYMeanwhile, after building an ornithopter model with P. Go – chault, in 1876 Alphonse Pennault designed and patented a large two seat flying wing monoplane. This was amphibious, intended to de­part and alight equally well on wa­ter, or on land. Pitch stability was achieved by locating the centre of gravity forward of the wing’s cen­tre of lift. Roll stability was attained by wing dihedral, and longitudinal stability was bestowed by a fin. Controls included an elevator and drag rudders at the wingtips.

The design had many advanced features. The multi-spar wing was to be metal cov­ered, and the cockpit was to be glazed and fitted with a single control stick actuating both elevator and drag rudders. A neat instrument binnacle, whose likes were to remain in the realm of wishes as late as the First World War, was designed. It included a com­pass, a barometric altimeter, a speedometer and an incidence indicator. An automatic pilot was also foreseen, comprising a sensor (suspended below the fuselage to warn of ground proximity), and an electrical mechanism controlling elevator and drag rudders. The four-wheeled undercarriage had rubber and pneumatic damping. The propeller blades featured variable pitch, intended to make better use of the 30hp engine on take-

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| Approximate model of de la Croix’s aeroplane displayed at the Musee de l’Aviation in Paris

 

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Teleshov’s 1867 delta-winged aeroplane was among the more visionary designs of its time

 

off: early in the run, the pilot was to keep pitch coarse, allowing engine revolutions and momentum to build up. Prior to unstick, he would suddenly set very fine pitch, transfer­ring power to the propeller. The latter was to be made of metal for greater stiffness.

When taking off and landing on water, the aeroplane was to float on its belly or on ski-like surfaces. Additional floats were to be fitted to the wing for longer stays on water. Calculated gross weight with a two-man crew was up to 1200kg, and speed was up to 90km/h. Embodying some very forward thinking, Pennault and Gochot’s aero­plane was many decades ahead of its time.

Progress in designing heavier-than-air flying machines was also hampered by the lack of scientific understanding of aerodynamics. Important contributions to fixed wing heav – ier-than-air flight were made by the Comte Ferdinand d’Estergnaut, L. P Molliard, and Otto Lilienthal. The latter carefully researched bird flight and described how birds glide and maintain height. In 1863 photographer Felix Tournachon, better known as ‘Nadar,’ established a Society for the Encouragement of Flight With Machines Heavier than Air in Paris. At the first meeting of the United Kingdom Aeronautical Union on 27 June 1866, Naval Engineer Francis Herbert Venham proposed a scientific study of wing shape and profile. His major source had been the observation of nature. Noting that birds’ wings were thicker at the front and the root, and tapered towards the rear and away from the root, he concluded that long, narrow wings (with greater aspect ratio) would give more lift. Another aerodynamics pioneer, H. F. Phillips, used the wind tunnel he had invented for a series of experiments with convex wings of various thickness and degrees of convexity.

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Completing his work in 1884, he proved that lift derives from the difference in air pressure above and below the wing, and patented a number of wing profiles.

By the early 1880s, differently powered aeroplane designs had been produced by, inter alia, Mouillard (France, 1876), Mikulin (Russia, 1877), Taitin (France, 1879), Kerhoven and Speers (Britain, 1881), Shishkov (Russia, 1882). But most remarkable for its time was the design by Aleksandr Fyodorovich Mozhayskiy. He had experimented with flying models until early 1877, achieving a measure of suc­cess. He then sent the War Ministry a project for a full scale aeroplane, and set about drawing it without awaiting the reply. The drawings showed a monoplane with a single puller and two pusher propellers. Mozhayskiy proposed a flat wing of modest aspect ratio, set at an incidence to create lift like a kite. Total cost was estimated at 19,000 roubles. The War Ministry failed to appreciate the project’s potential and made available a small sum, spent before the aeroplane’s model was built. Nevertheless, Mozhayskiy went on pursuing his goal. In 1881 he received Russia’s first patent for a flying machine. Construction of the aeroplane began the same year. Two steam engines built to Mozhayskiy’s specifications arrived from Brit­ain. The following year, part of a military estate near Sankt Peterburg was allocated for the project’s needs. Work was completed by mid 1883, and on 7 June an Appli­cation for the Performance of Flights with Airborne Apparatus was sent to the Sankt Peterburg Military Region Guards Staff.

Records depict Mozhayskiy’s aeroplane as a twin engined monoplane with a boat­shaped fuselage and cloth-covered timber structural elements. The fuselage also housed fuel and the pilots. The wing was fixed to the fuselage’s upper edge. It spanned 23m, and had an area of 330sq m. The empennage was fixed to the aft fuselage and com­prised an elevator and rudder for directional and pitch control.

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Model of Mozhayskiy’s aeroplane at the Monino Museum of Aviation and the Air Forces

THE MOZHAYSKIY’S AEROPLANE, 1881

 

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Powerplant comprised the aforementioned two steam engines which shared a nap­tha-heated boiler. Their respective outputs were 10 and 20hp. For maximum weight reduction, many parts were hollow. This, and other design features resulted in a pow­er to weight ratio of 5.5hp/kg (engine weight plus boiler, condenser and separator): a figure without equal at the time. The smaller engine was located forward and drove a puller propeller with four blades. The bigger engine sat in the mid-fuselage, at one third of wing chord. It drove two pusher propellers located within the wing. All pro­pellers were wooden and had a 4m diameter.

The aeroplane was to depart from a timber ramp (which could be set a different slope angles to assist acceleration) on a four-wheeled undercarriage. Three roll indi­cators, a compass, and a barometer were to be fitted.

Mozhayskiy tested his aeroplane in 1884 and 1885. Trials included engine starts, taxiing and an attempted take-off. Even though the machine failed to become air­borne, it provided valuable data for later use. The poor aerodynamics of low aspect ratio wings became apparent, as did the issue of lateral stability, and the need for completely different engines with reasonable power and relatively low weight and size. Despite Mozhayskiy’s attempts to improve engine output at the Obukhov Works, the futility of such an exercise became apparent, and work ended.

The efforts of numerous scientists, engineers, inventors and enthusiasts to solve the engine problem began bearing fruit. Following in the footsteps of compatriot N. A. Otto, German Gottlieb Daimler developed a new type of gas engine fuelled by a volatile liquid known as gasoline. Fitting such an engine to a flying machine was a safety challenge. This applied especially to lighter-than-air machines where gasoline would coexist with an enormous quantity of hydrogen. Nevertheless, the new en­gine’s great power to weight ratio, and the lack of heavy subsidiary devices such as steam tanks, accumulators and condensers, made it very tempting.

Having read of Carl Wolfert’s work on small man-powered aerial vessels, Daimler approached him with a proposal to pool their work. Trials of a single seater gas balloon fitted with a single cylinder Daimler engine started in 1888. At a power rating of 2hp, the flying machine showed reasonable results. Since the engine was rather close to the balloon envelope, exhaust gases were ducted away along a special pipe. However, even this was far from safe, but Wolfert felt he was on the right track and started planning a larger vessel.

While the engine breakthrough had arrived, the new engines’ power to weight ratios were still too low for the needs of powered heavier-than-air flight. This is why aeroplane designers in the last decade of the 19 th Century continued looking to steam. In 1890 French engineer Clement Ader completed a rather strange looking aero­plane. Design and construction had taken a long time, having started in 1882. The gifted engineer had chosen the bat as prototype. All work proceeded under a cloak of secrecy, using Ader’s adequate private funds.

Подпись: Clement Ader, 1841-1925 True to intention, the Aeole did indeed look like a bat. This flying wing monoplane with a wing area of almost 28sq m, and 14m span, was made of cloth-covered bamboo.

The enclosed fuselage housed a steam en­gine, controls, and the pilot. There was no fin. A four bladed propeller of 2m diameter pulled the craft. Movement along the ground was on a tricycle undercarriage with a guard wheel forward. Thanks to its lightweight structure, empty equipped weight was just 175kg, with a gross weight of 296kg.

A most intriguing Aeole component was the 20hp steam engine. Thanks to Ad – er’s refinements, its power to weight ratio was some 3hp per kilo: the Aeole’s had five times more overall power per unit of weight than Mozhayskiy’s aeroplane! Another novelty concerned control. Copying the move­ments of bats’ wings, Ader articulated the Aeole’s wing to allow changes in sweep, span, camber, and tip deflection. Though these could be made individually or simulta­neously, no explanation underpinned the sense behind any of them. Overall, the con­trols were exceptionally complex and hard to manage.

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I Model of the Aeole

 

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I Working drawing of the Aeole

Trials began on 9 October 1890 in secrecy. This explains why data reaching us today is so scant. In an unfinished report, one of Ader’s assistants describes the Aeole, control­led by the designer, lifting a few centimetres off the ground, staying airborne for five seconds, and covering some 50m. This result could hardly be called a flight, and in any case the craft’s instability and uncontrollability would have rendered longer hops impos­sible. Nevertheless, the event was significant in the aviation, being the first recorded instance of an aeroplane taking off from a flat surface under its own power. The Aeole showed that aeroplane makers were about to overcome the power barrier.

Although sufficient effort was expended to keep these events from becoming public knowledge, they did not remain unknown to the French military. The latter saw in them prospects for the future, and a superior alternative to the unstable and uncontrollable tethered balloons they were using for observation and reconnais­sance. Hoping that Ader would be able to build an improved model to supplant balloons and deliver air strikes, they subsidised him with 650,000 francs. Work was to continue in deep secrecy.

This financial injection allowed Ader to recruit more assistants. Design, production and assembly continued from 1882 to 1887. The Avion-3 resembled the Aeole: a bat­like flying wing monoplane. Main difference was the addition of a second engine. The twin 20hp steam units shared a boiler and spun two 3m diameter propellers. Mounted on the leading edge, the propellers turned in opposing directions to cancel out torque. Less articulated than that of the Aeole, the wing had a span of 16m and an area of 56sq m. Only sweep remained adjustable, being changed simultaneously for both wing halves.

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I The Avion-3 ready to attempt to fly

 

A fin gave lateral stability, and there was a steerable tailwheel beneath. Turns were to be accomplished by varying propeller speeds. The pilot sat in an open cockpit behind the engine which resulted in poor forward visibility and problems in steering straight while taxiing and ground running. Gross weight reached 400kg.

First trials took place on 12 October 1897. Plans included accelerating along a specially constructed runway. This was circular, with a 1500m perimeter and a width of 40m. Weather after passage of a rain front was perfect, and the ground was dry. During acceleration, Avion-3 reached 24km/h, Ader using a small portion of engine output. Ground tracks after passing 18km/h were practically unnoticeable, which made

Подпись:those present consider the chances of suc­cessful flight very good.

The flight attempt came on 14 Octo­ber, Ader considering himself sufficiently ready. Unfortunately, a gusting wind ap­peared. During the takeoff run a powerful gust from the side deflected the light­weight machine from the runway, point­ing it at a fence. The pilot remained calm, managing to brake and emerge unharmed. However, the machine’s wing, landing gear and propellers were seriously dam­aged. This put an end to the talented en­gineer’s aviation efforts. Testing halted. The military lost interest in the project and stopped funding. Though Avion-3 was restored, its future career was as a dis­play item in the Paris Musee des Arts. In aviation history, this bat-like device re­mains the first heavier-than-air flying machine to have overcome the power bar-

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The Avion-3 with wings folded for transporting

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Щ The Avion-3 as displayed at the Palais des Arts ae des [crafts] in Paris

rier (and that with a steam engine). Some specialists claim that Ader’s failure was due to slavish copying of bats. This certainly resulted in both imperfections and overcom­plexity. Nevertheless, man’s effort to conquer the air — or to complete air power’s first component, to put it another way — continued.

In 1890, the Russian War Ministry accepted a proposal by Vladimir Kon­stantinovich German for a human – powered or petrol engined monoplane. This was Russia’s first attempt to put an internal combustion engine (rated at 0.5hp) into an aeroplane. In other ways, the design was rather unsophis­ticated, and funding was declined.

The same year, Frenchman Graffi- ni proposed a kite – like flying machine powered by an engine using com­pressed carbon oxide gas. It was esti­mated to fly at 36km/h and have sev­eral hours’ endurance. In case of en­gine failure, the wing was to act like a parachute, permitting a safe landing.

The lack of suitable engines at the end of the 19th Century was one of the reasons why gifted designers directed efforts at unpowered flight. A leading figure here was Otto Lilienthal, a German engineer from Pomerania.[2] His first 1889 glider was a prim­itive contraption of cloth-covered timber.[3] It insufficient strength and the lack of stabilisers spelt its demise. In 1890 Lilienthal built two more gliders, the second of which had a fin. This was the first device to accomplish a successful glide. However, its performance was poor due to excessive wing curvature. This was corrected in the next design which also featured a tailplane. The benefits were apparent, especially in stronger winds. In 1892, the designer attained an eight to one glide ratio.

A year later, Lilienthal built the glider that would serve as prototype for his subse­quent monoplanes. A novelty alongside the strengthened wing, was the movable tail – plane. Counteracting a spring, aerodynamic loads could deflect it upwards, this flaring the wing for softer landings. Lilienthal performed a number of successful flights with this device. Distances covered reached 250m, with flight times of up to half a minute. The glider’s properties encouraged construction of two improved versions. One was an 8m span monoplane fitted with a 2hp single cylinder engine. This was to be used as a subsid­iary aid while gliding between thermal currents. Moving the wing, and specifically its feather-like tips, created propellant thrust. Powerplant weight was 20kg and the design-

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I Otto Lilienthal accelerating with his Glider No3 in 1891

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Щ Lilienthal’s motorised glider

er had envisaged that the engine would work for not more than half an hour. In any case, engine problems meant that the device was tested only as a pure glider.

Engine problems made Lilienthal return to unpowered gliders, and in 1894 he built his smallestone, spanning just six metres. A similar model can be seen at the Vienna Technische Museum to this day. The same year also saw Lilienthal’s ‘standard’ glider, whose wings could fold for transport and storage. The tailplane was moved a

THE OTTO LILIENTHAL’S ‘STANDARD’ GLIDER

 

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Щ Lilienthal’s ‘standard’ glider which found a fair following among late 19th Century birdmen

 

metre further aft to improve stability. Nine such gliders were made, making the device the first heavier-than-air craft to be produced in numbers.

Despite his growing fame, Lilienthal realised that his gliders were rather unsafe for widespread use by untrained people. He therefore built a special experimental glider with automatic leading edge droop to prevent sudden dives. Another novelty was the ability to cut speed using the movable tail, and the dihedral control mechanism. The pilot hung vertically, changing flight direction by swinging his legs and lower body, the additional features working automatically to assist his intentions.

After several flights without much success, Lilienthal abandoned such designs and went on to build biplanes. The first of these saw light of day in 1895. The idea was to allow flight in crosswinds of up to 5-6m/s. The glider demonstrated perfect stability, rewarding its designer by overcoming sidewinds of up to 10m/s.

Подпись: I Lilienthal flying his No13 glider in 1895

Lilienthal had not given up the idea of powered gliders with moving motive surfaces. As distinct from the 1893 model, the new design featured a two-cylinder engine. Only the airframe was completed in 1896. This monoplane spanning 8m, and with an area of 17sq m, was never tested due to Lilienthal’s untimely demise

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I One of the last photographs of Lilienthal, this time with his No17 ornithopter/glider

while gliding. The famous German had flown over 2000 times and left many trained disciples.

Unaware of Ader’s work, prominent British inventor Hiram Maxim[4] set off to build a steam powered aeroplane in 1890. He studied the propulsive efficiency of different propeller shapes in a wind tunnel of his own design, using custom instrumen­tation. Upon gathering some empirical data, he determined optimum blade and wing shapes and over the following three years built, at a cost of some 20,000 pounds Ster­ling, an aeroplane which differed from all previous designs in size and propulsion sys­tem. Span came to 32m, and wing area to 370sq m. Twin elevators were located fore and aft of the wing, but there was no fin or rudder. Gross weight reached 3.5 tons.

Powerplant consisted of two compound steam engines manufactured of high grade steel. Carried on a steel tube cradle beneath the upper wing, they turned two 5.4m diameter propellers. System power to weight ratio was 1.2kg per horsepower. Fuel was naphtha. The crew sat behind the boiler and condenser. Overall cradle and engine weight was almost a ton.

Maxim underestimated the importance of balance and controllability. Control was limited to the twin elevators. Maxim was convinced that dihedral by itself be­stowed sufficient lateral stability. A 600m long rail track with buffers at the distant end was built for the trials. Maxim also provided a height governor which limited

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I Hiram Maxim’s aeroplane on its acceleration rail

excursions to 0.6m off the ground. This was to be used initially as a precaution against mishap. Famous sportsman and mechanic De Lambert, experienced aeronaut and speed boat tester, was invited to pilot the craft. After several test runs, a date was set for the flight attempt on which the engines would work at full steam.

On 31 July 1894 De Lambert waited for steam to build up and released the enor­mous craft’s brakes. Acceleration was rapid, the two front wheels lifting clear of the rail. Since the entire weight was now over the rear wheels, they bent the rails, but the latter coped. Maxim claims that 300m after the start of the run the aircraft lifted off the rails, banked slightly and fell to earth, the wheels sinking into soft ground. Ac­cording to Maxim’s calculations, lift had reached some five tons in the closing stages of the run: half as much again as the gross weight; this was sufficient not just for horisontal flight, but also for climbing and certain manoeuvres. As with Ader’s exper­iments, the power barrier had been breached, stability and controllability coming to the fore. Maxim undertook no further trials, but showed his machine to friends for a further year, turning it into something of a local attraction.

Otto Lilienthal’s former students and assistants made a great contribution to avi­ation development. At the time, their newspaper photographs had travelled the world giving them universal fame. One of them was Scottish naval engineer Percy Sinclair Pilcher. After working with Maxim for some time, he went to Lilienthal in Germany and learned to glide. In 1896, Pilcher patented a monoplane distinguished by large

wing area. Its trials confirmed Lilienthal’s belief that a small aircraft could be control­led adequately by body balancing. However, the Gull crashed twice in high winds, and Pilcher stopped using it. The same year he completed his Hawk, very similar to his mentor’s ‘standard’ glider. The pilot occupied a cutout in the centre wing, and the moving tail gave good controllability, especially at high angles of attack. The four­wheeled sprung undercarriage was a novelty helping ground acceleration and soften­ing landings.

Initially, Pilcher attained distances of up to 90m in the Hawk, this being bettered to over 200m the following year. Thanks to its adequate stability and modest size and weight, the glider had good controllability for its time. Pilcher was able to make turns and control landing speeds.

Right from the start, Pilcher intended to fit engines to some of his designs. The Hawk being most suitable, he decided to fit it with an internal combustion engine driving a pusher propeller. The craft would be launched as a glider, its pilot running downhill. Once airborne, the 2-4hp class engine would be started to help maintain a 30km/h speed. Control would be by balancing, the pilot switching positions or swing­ing his legs and pelvis. Sadly, a suitable engine was found only in late 1899, and this was never tried, Pilcher finding his demise in a gliding crash. British aviation hopes were severely dashed with the loss of this man who combined the requisite technical background and flying experience.

Otto Lilienthal’s work had attracted the notice of one Octave Chanute: French Baron by origin, US citizen by choice, and Chicago structural engineer. Aware of Cayley, Hanson, Stringfellow and other aviation pioneers’ work, in 1894 he published The Progress of Flying Machines. Lilienthal’s example made him think of trying his

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I Pilcher’s Hawk glider

luck at designing his own flying machine. In 1896, aged 64, Chanute built two gliders. Advancing age meant he had to ask young engineer Augustus Herring to fly them. The first glider failed to live up to expectations due to poor finish and low controlla­bility. But the second one, a simple, lightweight and tough device, turned out to be the best balanced glider of its time. Assessed by specialists as setting new aviation design standards, it was used by the Wright brothers in their work some time later.

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Подпись: Pilcher between flights
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The glider’s most notable feature was its wing. A biplane, it had a structure of timber spars, ribs and stays: bridge design knowledge applied to aeroplanes. The ruddered fin allowed the glider to counter crosswinds of up to 14m/s. To ease control, the pilot sat suspended in a sling. Spanning some 4.9m, the glider weighed just 10.5kg. In 1896, the biplane was tested at the sand dunes on Lake Michigan’s shore, flying some 1000 times. The greatest distance covered was 100m, in 14 seconds.

Later Herring was to build his own large tri­plane glider which would cover 280m. (Ex­plaining this achievement, he stressed not the glider’s superiority, but the growth of his own piloting ability.)

Herring learned to make smooth turns and flew around hills in search of thermal currents.

Encouraged by success, the engineer decided to go for the next step: powered flight. Initial­ly he intended using two lightweight petrol engines of some 2hp each. Sadly, this class of щ Octave Chanute’s biplane glider which engine was rather heavy at the time, so Her – flew successfully between 1896 and 1904

ring opted for a compressed air powerplant. The twin cylinder engine weighed six kilos and developed 3 to 5hp for some 30 seconds.

Completed in summer 1898, the monoplane was tested at the Michigan lakeshore between 10 and 22 October, with decidedly mediocre results. The longest hop achieved was just 22m in a little under ten seconds. This convinced the designer that he had to have a more powerful engine which would work longer. However, by weighing down the craft, this clashed with its very concept. Circumstances dictated a different accel­eration method and precluded control by balancing. Herring failed to find the right solution and gave up.

Meanwhile, Wolfert and Daimler’s joint efforts continued. The result was a large airship fitted with a 6hp two cylinder internal combustion engine with exhaust pipes. (From now on, the exhaust would feature in all of Daimler’s engines.) The machine was demonstrated at the 1896 Berlin Exhibition. Kaiser Wilhelm II showed interest in it but declined to ride it. A major disadvantage was the engine’s proximity to the balloon envelope. Critics noted that rapid gas discharges for emergency landings could lead to dire consequences. Wolfert did not view this as good reason to introduce design changes, his only response being to limit flight altitude.

The Kaiser’s attention occasioned great interest in the craft at the Tempelhof aeronautic exhibition which opened on 12 June 1897. A demonstration flight was

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I Wolfert’s dirigible at Tempelhof on 14 June 1896

planned to demonstrate the airship to German officers and the Diplomatic Corps. A Prussian Balloon Corps officer was invited to ride with Wolfert and his mechanic. Last-minute inspections revealed skin damage where guyropes had scuffed the enve­lope. However, the hydrogen leakage was not considered really hazardous or prejudi­cial to performance. Wolfert did however decided to reduce the load so as to impress the military assessment committee with good climb rates despite the damage. Thus the Prussian officer stayed on the ground, while the airship rapidly climbed to 1000m. At that altitude, Wolfert ordered the engine to be started, and the craft turned into a falling ball of flame. Both aeronauts perished.

Five months later, Tempelhof was to witness a dirigible of completely different design, built by Austrian engineer David Schwartz. In 1896, Frenchman Herault and American Hall invented electrolysis independently of each other. The process was suited to industrial production of aluminium. Schwarz’s dirigible had an envelope and gondola of aluminium sheet over a skeleton of alluminium tubing. The 52m long, shiny, artillery shell-like object was the first rigid airship. Regrettably Schwarz fell gravely ill and died on 11 January 1897. The honour of testing his dirigible in flight fell to Jagel, his capable mechanic, who had no experience as an aeronaut. To add to his troubles, a stiff wind blew up on the day set aside for the first ascent. Alone in the gondola at a height of 300m, the rookie aeronaut tried keeping steering straight but

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I David Schwartz’s airship was the first of the all-metal rigid type; it is seen here exhibited at Tempel­hof on 3 November 1896

panicked and broke a control cable. The emergency descent which followed was com­plicated by unnecessarily rapid gas discharge, causing the craft to strike the ground hard. Jagel managed to jump clear, but the machine was in pieces.

The tragedy did not stop count Ferdinand von Zeppelin from completing an enor­mous rigid dirigible. The reserve cavalry General had observed the American Civil War between 1864 and 1865 and seen active service in the Franco-Prussian War. He was convinced that even imperfect tethered balloons could influence the outcome of battle. On leaving the army, he began developing a lighter-than-air craft with much broader combat competence. His new weapon was intended to transform the power of Germany’s rearming army. Design was completed in 1895 and the nobleman was awarded a patent. He set up the Society for the Advancement of Aeronautics, a limited company with an equity of a million marks, half of it invested by himself. Workshops and an airship hangar were built on von Zeppelin’s Bodensee estate. Work began in spring 1899, and a year later the finished article was ready for testing.

The 140m long dirigible had two Daimler marine engines, each rated at 16hp. However, not more than 24hp was actually produced from both engines in ground tests. As distinct from Schwartz, von Zeppelin used not aluminium but cloth to cover the tube structure. The interior was divided into 17 compartments. With two

Подпись:exceptions, they contained gas bags (ballon – ets) with a combined volume of 11,000cu m. The airship was designed to lift a five-man

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I The LZ-1 before completion

crew and enough fuel for a ten hour flight. Designated the LZ, it made an 18 minute maiden sailing from the Lake Konstanz naval hangar on 2 July. An 80 minute sailing was recorded on 17 October. Testing showed up insufficient stiffness and poor load trim, re­sulting in control difficulties. The engines were also insufficiently powerful. Despite this, another sailing was made on 24 October be­fore the designer decided to halt further tests. Forced to repay creditors, von Zeppelin had to sell his airship hangar, dismiss workers and cut the airship for scrap.

Подпись: Щ Samuel Langley, 1834-1906

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Samuel Langley’s steam powered model aeroplane was the 19th Century’s most advanced aeroplane. During its 1896 tests, it covered over a kilometre. Some years were to pass for this exceptional record to be bettered. These tests also marked the end of the model aeroplane era in aviation development. The possibility of making a powered heav-

ier-than-air flying machine was now proven. The US government showed an interest in Langley’s work. The 1898 Spanish-American War spurred American ambitions to pos­sess an all-new weapon which could grant the US regional and world supremacy. The significant sum of 50,000 dollars was set aside to subsidise developments.

The airframe of Langley’s aeroplane was ready by late 1900. What distinguished it was its tandem wing layout and cruciform tail. Overall wing area was 95sq m. The body was a flat frame supporting an open cockpit. Body length was 14.5m. The earlier models’ superb stability recommended the replication of their control surfaces in full scale form. The aeroplane had a 50hp water-cooled steam engine weighing 94kg: the lightest aero engine of its period.

Подпись: I Langley’s aeroplane before testing ... The scale model flights and the availability of a powerful and light engine raised hopes of success. Regrettably, both flight attempts failed. Pilot Manley got into trou­ble from which only quick thinking and reflex saved him.

Failure turned the press against Langley and project funding halted, forcing him to stop fur­ther work.

Not surprisingly, Wolfert’s tragic fate turned official circles against non-rigid balloons fitted with internal combustion en­gines. However, balloonists con­tinued flying such rigs. Formed in Paris in 1898, France’s first Aero Club could use the Saint Cloud airfield. One of its most enthusiastic members was Bra­zilian Alberto Santos-Dumont.

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and after

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Opening of the French Aero Club, Saint Cloud, 1898

 

After a false start on 28 September 1898, two days later he performed the first in a series of successful ascents with a de Dion petrol-engined non-rigid airship. In 1901 Santos-Dumont won a large cash prize for flying from Saint Cloud to the Eiffel Tow­er and back: a distance of some 24km cov­ered in an hour and a half.

While not a major designer, Santos- Dumont was a superb pilot and had the great advantage of sufficient money to carry on improving. He was a ‘born aero­naut,’ and if Meunier, Gifard and Renard showed the world how to build non-rigid airships, Santos-Dumont showed it how they ought to be flown.

Подпись: Щ Alberto Santos-Dumont Despite its inherent conservatism, Britain did not lag behind in the rapid de – velopment of aeronautics at the turn of the Century. Animated discussions were held about the relative merits of lighter versus heavier-than-air craft. Established in 1866, the Aeronautical Society grew

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I Santos-Dumont’s historic flight

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rapidly, becoming an Aero Club in 1901 (later The Royal Aero Club). Despite this activity, powered balloon trials were rather fewer than in France. The turning point came with Stanley Spencer’s 1902 flight. His 28.5m long, 6.6m diameter airship had a single seat cabin and a 3.5hp Sims water cooled engine. This ran at 2500rpm: so fast for its time that a reductor was needed. On 22 September 1902 Spencer flew from Crystal Palace in South East London to Inchcoates in Middlesex, covering the 100km distance in 100 minutes. Later the same design made other successful flights. Having acquired serious experience, Spencer built a larger airship which, however, failed to live up to expectations.

The same year French engineer Henri Juliotte completed a semi-rigid airship. It had been commissioned by sugar refinery owners, the brothers Paul and Pierre Lebau – di. The elongated balloon envelope was 62m long. Powerplant was a 40hp Daimler engine. Form early in the winter in 1902 until summer 1903, 30 flights were per­formed from the Matesse base. Maximum still air speed was 40km/h. One of the flights, in November 1902, was symbolic: from Matesse to the Champs de Mars in Paris, where Professor Charles had flown the first hydrogen balloon in 1783. Mean cruise speed was 35.5km/h.

Despite dirigible successes, the military stayed faithful to non-rigid and semi-rigid tethered balloons: they were battle proven. Armed forces in several countries made efforts to improve such balloons for reconnaissance purposes. Naturally, this was still far from the creation of a component of air power. Until the late 19 th Century, the military had used almost exclusively spherical balloons. Despite being useful in Afri­can colonial wars, they also had numerous limitations. For instance, in Southern Af-

I Newspaper drawing of Paul and Pierre Lebaudis’s airship

rica the British Army found that wind speeds of over 35km/h rendered ascents impos­sible due to drag. The balloons swayed unacceptably even in slight gusts, making the observer unable to use optics. This resulted in altitude restrictions which reduced the area under observation. Clearly, a stable aerial platform was needed.

Encouraged by the War Office, after the Boer Wars some British inventors test­ed man-lifting kites. Most active was Texan-born Samuel Cody. He built kites sim­ilar to those made by Baden-Laulel and used Hargrave’s sling system. Experiments in Britain and Russia confirmed concerns that the kites would be worse than bal­loons in strong winds. Another direction of work involved attaching kites to bal­loons to stabilise the latter. Such experiments had a history dating to before 1885, and showed much promise.

The military were hastily seeking new and sufficiently effective reconnaissance platforms. Almost half a century earlier, Klausewitz had stressed information procure­ment by writing that whichever side knew more about its adversary had the battle half-won. Developments of the new type of balloon proceeded fastest in Germany. There, scientists were working on a new and stable aerial observation and artillery direction platform. As early as 1886, Major August von Parcival and Captain Bartch von Siegsfeldt had patented an unfortunate looking but practical kite balloon. Trials of the new design started in 1893, and the following five years saw variations with volumes of between 600 and 1200cu m tested. They ultimately evolved into ‘sausage’ balloons used on both sides in the Great War, and to guard London, Moscow and other cities from air raids in the Second World War. Main material was rubberised

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A British balloon unit during the Boer Wars

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Lawrence Hargrave preparing one of his kites for a flight

cotton. Anchored by guy ropes, kite balloons flew into wind at some 30 or 40 degrees of incidence. The airstream created additional lift. For greater stability, the design incorporated a guide sleeve and a guide sail on each side of the main envelope. Obser­vation was from an altitude of 2000m, entirely adequate for normal reconnaissance.

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Instructional drawing of a Parcival-Siegsfeld kite balloon

Combat proved the benefits of the new balloons. At the onset of the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War, the Russian side used indigenous spherical balloons to support its forces and coastal defence in the Port Artur area. The Russian engineering unit officers who operated them soon encountered the customary stability problems. They then tried kites, to no appreciable improvement. Only the introduction of Parcival-Siegsfeldt kite balloons made a difference. Navy needs were served by a specially equipped mother ship which would launch kite balloons. However, due to engine trouble, the cruiser did not see active service. Russian specialists also developed a new, lighter method of charging balloons with hydrogen, allowing them to be replenished closer to their ascent sites. The fact that between 1914 and 1918 the warring sides used no fewer than 5500 kite bal­loons shows how well the two Germans handled their task.

The emergence of the basic component of air power did not involve only aero­nautics and aerostatics. At the turn of the century, two brothers who manufactured bicycles in Dayton, Ohio, began actively researching aviation. Influenced by Otto Lilienthal’s famous successes, in early 1899 Wilbur Wright wrote to the Smithsonian Institution asking for books and papers on heavier-than-air craft, giving Chanute’s monograph as an example.

Подпись: Wilbur and Orville Wright with their mother Soon after receiving the requested literature, he and his brother Orville built a biplane kite. The aim of this first experiment was to test Orville’s contention that birds balance and turn by twisting their wings. The kite had a special control cable which changed wing camber as need­ed to react to wind direction and speed.

This control system was amplified by a canard elevator (one fixed forward of the wing).

The following year Wilbur wrote to Chanute asking for comments and ad­vice on the brothers’ new biplane glid­er. Spanning 5.5m, this resembled Cha­nute’s design in its structure, but every­thing else was the fruit of the Wrights’ own creative thought. They believed that if they coped with controlling the glider, they would succeed in building their own powered aeroplane. The idea was to make an unstable aerial platform whose trim would depend on the pilot’s coordinated movements, much as a bi­cycle depends on the rider’s balancing

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I Octave Chanute visiting the Wrights at Kitty Hawk

 

movements. Lilienthal controlled his gliders by swinging his almost vertical body, but the Wrights chose a prone control position from the outset. The pilot was to twist the wings to maintain an optimum glide angle, and use the canard elevator to control sud­den downward pitch (such as the one which had killed Lilienthal).

Trials of the glider began in late summer 1900, near the town of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The Wrights had chosen the hilly site because of its excellent year – round weather. The proximity of the Atlantic provided a stiff breeze of constant direc­

Подпись:tion and speed. Most flights were un­manned, the glider flying as a kite. Some tethered flights also took place. Just one pi­loted glide was flown.

In July and August 1901, the Wrights began trials of a larger glider, spanning 7.3m. Though essentially unchanged, its control system was developed and improved. This time the Wrights went to Kill Devil Hills, four and a half miles south of Kitty Hawk. While one piloted, the other helped by steadying the glider and running alongside until it was airborne. Several exceptionally successful glides were performed, including one of 110m. The designers noted a ten­dency to sideslip when one wing half was twisted independently of the other.

On returning from this season’s flying, the Wrights reassessed their theory in the light of practical experience. They also carried out a number of tunnel tests using a pedal – driven wind tunnel. By late summer 1902 the brothers built their third biplane glider, with a span of 9.15m. To counter sideslip and ease turns, the tail now featured two extra fins.

In the second half of September, the glider was taken to the Kill Devil Hills sand dunes. During initial flights, wilful or accidntal (caused by the wind) camber changes to one wing half were found to result in yawing and rolling. The problem was solved only when the twin fins were replaced with one and this was made to swivel by being geared to wing camber changes. The modified glider could now turn fairly flatly and was even controllable in Beaufort Force Seven winds. The brothers patented their method of control by jointly twisting the wing and fin, but the patent was to lie fallow until 1906: other flyers were far behind in their endeavours.

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Launching a Wright glider

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A Wright glider about to land, October 1902

Подпись: I The engine cradle, fuel tank and chain drive of the Wrights’ first aeroplane are clearly visible in this photograph Successful glides of over a minute’s du­ration firmly prompted the Wrights to make an aeroplane. The engine installation and propeller were built in the winter and spring of 1902 and 1903. Progress was easy because, as distinct from all their predecessors, the brothers were not aiming at a super light powerplant. All they had to do was adapt a water-cooled four-cylinder petrol engine by stripping away unnecessary road-going com­plications and weight. It weighted 90kg and developed 12hp: a power to weight ratio of 7.5kg per horsepower, or rather worse than the steam units of the late 19th Century.

Still, good aerodynamics meant that the engine was perfectly capable of hauling the flying machine into the air.

The propeller resulted from exhaustive wind tunnel testing in 1902 and 1903. The Wrights viewed it as a spinning wing and tried to find the best profile for each spanwise propeller section. The result was a new record in propeller efficiency: 66 per cent. Transmission was by bicycle chains which also acted as reductors. Overall trans­mission and propeller weight was 41kg.

In other respects, the aeroplane was similar to the 1902 glider. The higher weight called for a span increase to 12.2m and for increased control surface area, the latter achieved simply by installing a second elevator and rudder. Skids were mounted un­der the wing to soften landings: wheels would be of little use on the sands of the North Carolina coast.

The craft was taken to the test site where it was assembled by November 1903. It was a canard biplane with twin 2.6m diameter pusher propellers turning in opposing directions to cancel out torque. The engine was on the lower wing, alongside the prone pilot. The latter controlled wing camber by thigh movements. Two other levers were mounted in front of him: one for controlling the elevator, and the other for starting the engine. Gross weight was 340kg, length: 6.4m, wing area: 42sq m, and span: 12.3m.

Takeoffs were performed using an 18m long steel-plated wooden rail which could be turned to face directly into wind. On departure, the craft travelled on a small wheeled dolly which remained on the ground.

Initial tests involved running the engine on the ground. These showed up weak­ness in the hollow propeller shafts which had to be replaced with solid units, raising structure weight. On 12 December, the Wrights decided they were ready to fly. They waited for good weather and made their first attempt on 14 December. After a 16m

ground run the aeroplane lifted, pitching up sharply and falling to the ground from a height of 5m. The 32m hop had taken 3.5 seconds. Pilot Wilbur Wright was unhurt and damage was insignificant. The designers realised that the mishap had resulted from incautious handling of the elevator.

The second flight was on 17 December. The wind was stronger on that day, and the guide rail was set almost flat. The flight was successful, lasting 12s. Three further at­tempts were made, each improving on the duration of the first one. Overall airborne time was almost two minutes, with the final flight lasing 59 seconds and covering 280m.

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The Flyer, first successful aeroplane in history, before being put on its starting rail

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Щ The Flyer on its starting rail

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17 December 1903: the second of the day’s flights

Naturally, these were not flights in the proper sense of the word, since Wilbur Wright made no attempt to vary the Flyer’s speed or direction. Nevertheless, that day saw the first recorded aeroplane flight with proper control over speed and height.

Using their predecessors’ experience, the Wrights made a craft which not only pos­sessed the necessary power, but also effective pitch and roll control. Due to its static instability, the Flyer called for fine piloting skills: something the Wrights had only begun building up in late 1903. The tests were the first successful flight of a heavier-than-air machine: powered take off, level flight, and landing with a man on board.

There now followed a reassessment of the Flyer leading to its improvement. Flyer 2 was completed in May 1904. It differed mainly in having a 16hp engine, but power to weight ratio remained low due to higher all-up weight. Elevator shape was changed and wing profile flattened. The airframe had to be strengthened, increasing empty weight to 320kg. Since tests were to be on flat pastureland near Dayton, Ohio, the craft was reliant on strong headwinds. This limited flying opportunities and made the Wrights dependent on weather. Their answer was an improvised catapult: they built a tower from which a half ton weight attached to the aeroplane would be dropped, launching it along its rail.

The first catapult take off was on 7 September 1904. The flight went well, con­firming that tests would be possible without relying on the wind. Flights were becom­ing routine, and the Wrights’ piloting skills grew. Still, flying was still along straight lines, and still over in mere seconds. The meadow’s size limited flight distances of necessity, and each hop ended with the tedious task of hauling the machine back to the rail. Eventually, the idea of circling flights commended itself.

The first departure with the intention of flying a closed circuit was on 15 Septem­ber. However, due to the great radius of the turn, Flyer II flew too close to a fence and

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I One of the Wrights’ early demonstration flights at Fort Myer. The pyramid-shaped toner which assisted takeffs is clearly visible

had to be landed prematurely. The first successful circling flight was on 20 September. Wilbur Wright completed a 360 degree turn, staying aloft for two and a quarter min­utes. It was clear that this method of flying made possible significant endurance with­out straying off the safety of the ‘airfield.’ Another achievement was marked on 9 November, when 4.8km were flown in 5m 4s. Flyer II was used until 1910, making over 80 successful flights. Nevertheless, the Wrights were dissatisfied with its control­lability. Hazardous situations caused by Flyer Il’s unwillingness to comply were com­monplace in 1904. Further work was needed.

Flyer 3 was finished in June 1905. The engine was unchanged, but judicious tun­ing had increased power to 21hp. The airframe was additionally strengthened. The elevators and fins were moved further away from the centre of gravity (which coincid­ed almost entirely with the centre of lift). To reduce sideslip in turns and rolls, two vertical plates were fitted between the twin elevators. Despite these improvements, initial flights suffered from temporary loss of control. By late September, the designers realised their control problem was due to stalling of the control surfaces when reduc­ing speed. Future flights, flown at flatter angles of attack, confirmed this. The control issue was solved!

To ease piloting, controls for wing and rudder twisting were separated. Coordinat­ed rolling turns without sideslip were now possible, reducing the demand on engine

power when turning, rolling and flying figures-of-eight. In summer and autumn 1905, Flyer 3 performed some forty flights near Dayton. On 5 October, the craft covered a closed circuit of 39km in 38 minutes and three seconds: an average speed of 60km/h.

The Wright brothers’ flights were almost totally ignored by the press. Newspaper­men refused to take the rumours of successful American powered flights seriously. Airships, with their impressive size and considerably better achievements, made a much better story. The few (factually wrong) press reports that did appear were greet­ed with a large measure of doubt. One of those who did believe them was Lieutenant Colonel Cooper of the Royal Engineers’ School of Aeronautics. In 1904, the War Office sent him to the Saint Louis, Missouri, Technical Exhibition. While there, he got in touch with the Wrights at Dayton. On returning, he wrote a full report regard­ing the claimed 1903 flights, adding he was convinced of their authenticity.

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THE FLYER III, 1905

101

The British visit and the US government’s interest in Langley’s project convinced the Wrights they had a product they could sell for a lot of money. They believed in the future of the aeroplane as a means of international communication and trade, and harbinger of goodwill. They also foresaw for it a future as a means of warfare. This is why in selling their project they first addressed the United States’ Department of Defense, Orville Wright writing these words on 18 January 1905:

“The series of aeronautical experiments upon which we have been committed these last five years ended with the creation of a flying machine capable of practical use… The numerous flights made confirm that flying can be used in a great many ways, one of which is intelligence gathering and the transfer of messages in wartime.”1

In a 9 October 1905 letter addressed to the Secretary of State for Defense, Orville reminds him of the newly created flying machine capable of use for intelligence pur­poses. However, perhaps for reinsurance after Langley’s failure, the military did not hasten to buy. Their reasons were reasonable enough. The Wrights’ aeroplanes were unsuited to genuine combat: for one thing, the pilot lay prone, fully exposed to ground fire; for another, there was no room for a second crew member who could observe and recconnoiter from the air. And even the most improved Flyer could hardly maintain a set altitude to enable effective use of optical instruments and cameras. Also, the small amount of fuel limited endurance to below any reasonable duration. Taking into ac­count the Wrights’ high asking price, the double refusal of the Department of Defense becomes understandable.

Negotiations with the Admiralty in London and the French government ended the same way. Despite the interest shown in future improved flying machines, the pioneers lost heart. They were wary of displaying their machines in public, lest their technical secrets be stolen by competitors. After the 16 October 1905 flight, their two and a half years of active flying were over. Mothballed, the machines stayed in storage until spring 1908.

After count Zeppelin’s first attempt to build a dirigible with the sort of perform­ance the military sought, the Schute Lanz company also came up with a rigid airship. Main structural material was timber which was rather heavy, affecting performance. Von Zeppelin gradually became undisputed leader in rigid airships. In 1905, he com­pleted his LZ-2. Similar in size to the LZ-1, its powerplant was significantly more powerful. It was this powerplant that failed on the LZ-2’s maiden sailing on 17 January 1906. Rendered unable to cope with bad weather, and hit by a sudden storm, the Count had to land far from his base. Such was the severity of damage that the craft had to be disassembled where it landed.

None of this was reason to despair (and in any case despair was something unknown to the old soldier). The LZ-3 emerged from its hangar soon enough, and in 1906 and

1 Translator’s rendering from the quotation in Bulgarian.

102

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The Schute-Lanz airship being walked from its hangar for tests

1907 went on to make a series of successful voyages. It was bought by the Ministry of War who designated it the Z-1. At the same time, von Zeppelin designed the 147m long LZ-4 and offered it to the government. One of the conditions the latter put to him was that it should make an uninterrupted 24-hour voyage. Zeppelin planned to sail from Friedrichshafen to overhead Basle, and along the Rhine to Meinz. In fine summer weather this was easy for the vessel, provided its twin 110hp Daimler-Mercedes engines held out. The LZ-4 lifted off on 4 August 1908 with 12 persons on board (including its designer), The day was warm and conditions looked ideal. Many inhabitants of Basel, Strassbourg,

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The LZ-2, moments after its accident

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I The LZ-3 over Berlin

and Mannheim came out to watch the huge creation of man fly overhead. However, the hot sun overheated the structure and the valves let a great quantity of hydrogen escape from the gas bags. Between Mannheim and Meinz, after more than half the planned voyage was completed, one of the the LZ-1’s engines failed. Count Zeppelin assessed the situation and decided to put down near Oltenheim. Repairs took three and a half hours, and the flight resumed with a reduced load. The next morning, after covering 610km and with just 110km to go, engine trouble again caused an unscheduled landing. The airship touched down gently near the Daimler factory in Stuttgart. Lacking anything better, local volunteers moored it to an undertaker’s coach. A summer storm struck in the afternoon, tearing the airship off its improvised mooring. A fire broke out and the craft was rendered unfit for further use.

The bloodless calamity increased von Zeppelin’s stock. A sympathetic public raised cash to assist his further activities. This made series production of airships and their associated equipment possible. The world press announced the laying down of eight airships and a government prize for the designer. The Count, for whom riches meant little, refused to make non-rigid or semi-rigid airships, however quick the returns. At the time, soft balloons continued to be the only means of aerial observation bought by armies and navies. What really motivated von Zeppelin was to boost German gran­deur with an instrument of air power without equal.

At the close of 1909 he assented to the founding of the German Aeronautical Public Equity Company, DELAG. This was to operate seven airships, which in the event made over 16,000 flights carrying over 35,000 passengers before the start of war.

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DELAG’s Schwaben airship about to alight

The fleet was also used for crew training and moving troops. During the same period the Friedrichshaven airship works manufactured 25 airships. Apart from DELAG’s machines, 12 sold to the Army, three to the Navy, and three remained on the compa­ny’s books.

Right since the debut of rigid airships, the German war ministry saw in them a new and powerful strategic weapon. Its great benefit was the great depth of projec­tion, and that in an environment previously untouched by man. Apart from anything else, airship warloads could reach six and a half tonnes. The operational war plan for the Western approaches formulated in 1906 by von Schliffen foresaw German troops entering France and an Army group passing through Belgium. The plan assigned air­ships to operational and tactical tasks in the service of the Supreme Command and Army Commands. Airships were to bomb strategic targets, perform reconnaissance and strike targets under observation, and perform transportation tasks. The General Staff felt that a lone airship would be able to disperse troops, force the capitulation of fortified garrisons, paralyse communications and supply, cause panic in large cities, and have a psychological effect on troops and civilians. The Germans paid for their overestimation of airships in the initial stages of the Great War: the idea of using them in combat had to be curtailed hastily, and the fascination with them held back Ger­man aeroplane making for years.

The initial period of man’s search for reliable methods of conquering the sky end­ed with the Wright brothers halting flights, Parcival-Ziegsfeld balloons entering pro­duction, and the LZ-4 making its first voyage. Three ways to build the first component of national air power. These roads were defined by the nature of flying apparatus, and by the future tasks suitable to each.

The first such road went via non-rigid lighter-than-air vessels: balloons. Going back over a century, their history had led to the tethered kite balloon: an excellent aerial observation platform. Though the nature of their tasks had hardly changed since the French Revolution, they offered much better conditions for the use of sight­ing and photographic optics. This made them invariable participants in manoeuvres and colonial conflict at the turn of the 20 th Century, and invaluable in reconnais­sance gathering and artillery directing. In view of their comparatively long evolution and the considerable accumulated experience in their use, they were both most per­fected and most widespread.

The second road led to lighter-than-air vessels of non-rigid, semi-rigid and rigid construction, able to fly freely thanks to being powered. They had evolved from the first balloons which freely followed air currents. The lack of suitable and sufficiently powerful engines was the main hindrance in the way of airships. They failed to find a practical application until the end of the 19th Century. It was only after the appear­ance of the internal combustion engine that strategists in France and Germany began writing airships into their war plans as strategic intelligence collection and attack platforms. But plans are intentions, not reality: the first airships lacked adequate per­formance. Army and navy experts were very critical of their slowness, their depend­ence on medium altitude winds, and their low flight altitude which made them vul­nerable even to small-arms fire.

The third and newest road was represented by aeroplanes: heavier-than-air flying machines. Though fragile, the Wrights’ Flyer nevertheless staked a claim for the fu­ture with its mobility and compactness. A period of breakneck development over a very short time was about to unfold.

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| A Zeppelin airship under construction

Regardless of human advance towards the conquest of the air, the components of air power were barely nascent. Most developed was the availability of flying apparatus capable of performing military or civil tasks in a sustained fashion. Yet such apparatus as there was played purely subsidiary roles and lacked any penetration in depth. Such flying schools as were soon to appear trained a very limited contingent of pilots and ground staff. The creation of German airship operator DELAG was a step forward, in that it gave fine training to many flight and ground crews. However, there was still no combat training system in operation. What military theories existed trod well estab­lished infantry and naval paths, failing to take into account both the specifics of the new weaponry and that of the environment it was designed for. As to aviation, it was literally still on its starting blocks. One could not speak of the second component: the sufficient availability of skilled pilots and ground crews.

The third component, ground and air equipment, was only developed to any ex­tent in aeronautics. Airborne equipment comprised sighting optics and early aerial cameras. Ground equipment comprised hydrogen production and filling stations. The arrival of airships increased demand for facilities where they could be moored and maintained. This led to the appearance of the first hangars, mooring towers and other station facilities. As aeroplanes developed, so would airfields and eventually airports. Support facilities were limited to a few factories for the manufacture of tethered bal­loons and workshops catering to the amateur aeronaut trade. Zeppelin’s company, whose core and only activity was aeronautics, was an exception (though it soon be­came the rule in the industrial nations). It is difficult to discern any command or coordinating structure or system, let alone discuss its powers or effectiveness. Tele­graphic transmission tests did take place, but failed to become routine both in the armed forces and in private operators.

The early stage of development determined the limited opportunities of using the air for civil and military ends. The emergence of air potential depended on scaling a number of problems: a challenge calling for both time and money.