The First World War (WWI)

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During World War One, the role of airplanes and how they were used changed greatly. At first planes were only used for sport, but people started realize that not only could airplanes be useful but they could even influence an outcome of the war greatly. Soon the war was filled with blimps, planes, and tethered balloons. By the end of the war, planes became a symbol of fear, but they were not always treated with such respect. In the time leading up to the war, the general feeling about planes was, they were a sneaky, unfair tactic that should not be used in warfare. During The 1899 Hague Peace Conference it was put on record that the dropping or shooting of any projectiles or explosives from the air during a time of war was forbidden and was considered a crime of war. It was also decided that airplanes could only be used for reconnaissance or spying missions. (Villard-227) “The airplane may be all very well for sport, but for the army it is useless” (Quoted in Villard-227) Even by the beginning of the war in 1912, the use of planes in war was still prohibited by the War Office. Shortly thereafter this changed, people awakened to the possibilities of air warfare. The world soon started to realize the effectiveness of planes in war and how the control of the skies could influence the outcome. Although the French were the first to have a working, conscripting air force and to license fliers, their trust in airplanes still was not up to par. Their lack of trust was justified, for the planes had no armaments, too many wires, and no reliable motor. (Villard-228) Soon all countries in the war effort had their own little air force, built hangers, and started to train pilots. The first bombing occurred in November 1911. Although the first bomb was dropped by the Italians, soon all countries were involved in bombing raids. (Villard-229) It was followed by the first aerial dogfight in 1912. This consisted of a primitive exchange of pistol fire between British and German planes . (Harvey-95) The first flying experience for the United States occurred in 1862, during the Civil War. General McClellan went into battle against the South with a balloon corps floated by hydrogen and pulled by four horses. (Saga-51) Literary fiction started to breed ideas about the use of planes in warfare. The most famous writer to explore the idea was H.G. Wells. He wrote The War In The Air, a book about the future in which battle is conducted with planes. (Wohl-70). In Germany, literary fiction preceded the actual development of warfare in the air.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that during world war one, the role of airplanes and how theywere used changed greatly. by the end of the war, planes became a symbol of fear
  • Explains that airplanes were a sneaky, unfairtactic that shouldn't be used in warfare. during the 1899 hague peace conference, thedropping or shooting of projectiles or explosives from the air was forbidden.
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