World War 1 Airplanes - A Brief Glimpse Into A Storied Past

World War 1 airplanes are usually not given the kudos that they deserve. The use of air planes during World War 1 can be credited for advancing aviation and flying to new levels.

About ten years after the Wright Brothers made the first powered flight, there was still much to be improved upon. Because of limitations of engine power, the effective payload of aircraft was extremely limited.

They were made mostly of hardwood and canvas. Aside from these rugged materials, the rudimentary aviation engineering of the time meant most aircraft were structurally fragile by later standards, and they frequently broke up in flight, especially when performing violent combat maneuvers such as pulling up from steep dives. World War 1 airplanes were, as pilots of the time put it, flying coffins.

As early as 1909, these evolving flying machines were recognised to be not just toys, but weapons.

Sopwith Camel

In 1911, Captain Bertram Dickson, the first British military officer to fly, also correctly prophesied the military use of aircraft. He predicted aircraft would first be used for reconnaissance, but this would develop into each side trying to "hinder or prevent the enemy from obtaining information", which would eventually turn into a battle for control of the skies. This is exactly the sequence of events that would occur several years later.

The first operational use of aircraft in war took place on 23 October 1911 in the Italo-Turkish War, when Captain Carlo Piazza made history’s first reconnaissance flight near Benghazi in a Blériot XI.

World War 1 saw the rise of the aircraft as a weapon system and the changing face of war. Trench warfare would dominate the ground forces in bloody battles of attrition, but the skies would be ruled by the first aces of aerial combat.

The aircraft changed the modern battlefield as much as gunpowder did centuries earlier. The Red Baron, Frenchman Rene Fonck and Canadian Ace Roy Brown and Billy Bishop would duke it out above the ever-changing frontlines utilizing these 'flying wooden crates'.

Synchronized machine guns, monoplane, biplane and triplane designs and plywood aerodynamic construction would usher in a new chapter of warfare. War in itself would never be the same again. Now the common soldier had to worry about death from above - and not just from artillery barrages.

World War 1 airplanes were sometimes referred to as "flying coffins" for the very simple reason that these early warbirds often were the death of the pilot - either through combat or simply through trying to handle these machines.

Another attribute of these early flying machines was that they were constructed out of plywood with stretched fabric skin, often taking the shape of wooden coffins. The construction was, however, beneficial in most designs as the fuselage of these planes could often withstand a great deal of punishment and still keep flying, thus returning their pilots home safely.

It should be noted that World War 1 airplanes (as combat platforms) were generally in their infancy, and evolved a great deal as the conflict progressed.

As technology progressed and aircraft engineers found new workarounds for new problems, the few-month-old models that were the king of the skies quickly gave way to newer models, giving the average life span of many fighters only about a few months of frontline service.

Tiger Moth

Key Developments of World War 1 Airplanes: machine guns as standard armament; synchronized machine guns firing through a spinning propeller system; bombing as an air tactic; bombers as a new aircraft class (along with bomber escorts); dogfighting tactics; the name "ace" is made standard as one who downs 5 enemy aircraft or more; aerodynamic fuselage design; monoplane, biplane and triplane designs are all considered viable aircraft designs; carrier aircraft make a brief appearance, signaling a facet of warfare still yet to be fulfilled until the Second World War; use of oxygen and heaters to allow for flight above 10,000 feet.

World War 1 Airplanes

The following is a list of airplanes used by the British Commonwealth and the Americans during World War One. By no means is this list exhaustive. Please retuen frequently as this list will be constantly updated. To see a picture of the airplane click on the airplane link.

World War 1 Airplanes - Armstrong Whitworth FK8 : The FK.8 was of a basic biplane design intended to supercede the capabilities of the preceding FK.3 as a more powerful robust improvement model. The twin seat configuration placed the pilot in front and an observer/rear gunner in back. Armament consisted of a single forward-firing fixed 7.62mm Vickers machine gun and a single 7.62mm trainable Lewis-type in the rear cockpit position. Provisions for bombs were also a part of the arsenal for the FK.8. Power was derived from the Beardmore inline piston engine that generated upwards of 160 horsepower.

World War 1 Airplanes - Armstrong Whitworth Siskin : The Armstrong Whitworth Siskin was a British biplane single-seat fighter aircraft of the 1920s produced by Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft. The Siskin was one of the first RAF fighters designed after the First World War; it was noted for its aerobatic qualities.

World War 1 Airplanes - Avro 504 : The Avro 504 was a World War I biplane aircraft made by the Avro aircraft company and under licence by others. Production during the War totalled 8,340 and continued for almost twenty years, making it the most-produced aircraft of any kind that served in World War I, in any military capacity, during that conflict. First flown on 18 September 1913,[1] powered by an 80 hp Gnome Monosoupape engine, the Avro 504 was a development of the earlier Avro 500, designed for training and private flying.

World War 1 Airplanes - Bristol F2 : The Bristol F.2 Fighter was a British two-seat biplane fighter and reconnaissance aircraft of World War I flown by the Royal Flying Corps. It is often simply called the Bristol Fighter or popularly the "Brisfit" or "Biff". Despite being a two-seater, the F.2B proved to be an agile aircraft that was able to hold its own against single-seat scouts. Having overcome a disastrous start to its career, the F.2B's solid design ensured that it remained in military service into the 1930s and surplus aircraft were popular in civil aviation.

World War 1 Airplanes - Bristol Scout : The Bristol Scout was a simple, single seat, rotary-engined biplane that functioned as one of the very first UK-built and designed fighter aircraft for the British armed forces in the first two years of the First World War, even though it was originally intended to be a sporting aircraft for wealthy private citizens when it was first conceived.

World War 1 Airplanes - Curtiss JN4 Jenny : The Curtiss JN-4 is possibly North America's most famous World War I aircraft. It was widely used during World War I to train beginning pilots. The Canadian version was the JN-4(Can), also known as the "Canuck", and was built with a control stick instead of the Deperdussin control wheel used in the regular JN-4 model, as well as usually having a somewhat more rounded rudder outline than the American version. The U.S. version was called "Jenny". It was a twin-seat (student in front of instructor) dual control biplane. Its tractor prop and maneuverability made it ideal for initial pilot training with a 90 hp (67 kW) Curtiss OX-5 V8 engine giving a top speed of 75 mph (121 km/h) and a service ceiling of 6,500 ft (1980 m).

World War 1 Airplanes - De Havilland DH2 : The Airco DH.2 was a single-seat biplane "pusher" aircraft which operated as a fighter during the First World War. It was the second pusher design by Geoffrey de Havilland for Airco, based on his earlier DH.1 two-seater. The DH.2 was the first effectively armed British single-seat fighter and enabled Royal Flying Corps (RFC) pilots to counter the "Fokker Scourge" that had given the Germans the advantage in the air in late 1915.

World War 1 Airplanes - De Havilland DH4 : The Airco DH.4 was a British two-seat biplane day-bomber of the First World War. It was designed by Geoffrey de Havilland (hence "DH") for Airco, and was the first British two seat light day-bomber to have an effective defensive armament. It first flew in August 1916 and entered service with the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) in March 1917. The majority of DH.4s were actually built as general purpose two-seaters in the USA, for service with the American forces in France.

World War 1 Airplanes - De Havilland DH5 : The Airco DH.5 was a British First World War single-seat fighter aircraft specifically designed to replace the obsolete Airco DH.2. The DH.5 was one of the first British fighter designs to include the improved Constantinesco interrupter gear to allow a forward-firing machine gun to fire through the propeller arc more effectively than the older mechanical gears. Although developed rapidly, by the time of its operational introduction, other superior aircraft were available and its service life was short.

World War 1 Airplanes - De Havilland DH9 : The Airco DH.9 (from de Havilland 9) also known after 1920 as the de Havilland DH.9 was a British bomber used in the First World War. A single-engined biplane, it was a development of Airco's earlier, highly successful DH.4 and was ordered in very large numbers for Britain's Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force.

World War 1 Airplanes - Felixestowe F3 : The Felixstowe F.2 was a British First World War flying boat designed by Lieutenant Commander John Cyril Porte RN of the Seaplane Experimental Station, Felixstowe.

World War 1 Airplanes - Handley Page O400 : The Handley Page Type O was an early bomber aircraft used by Britain during World War I. At the time, it was the largest aircraft that had been built in the UK and one of the largest in the world. It was built in two major versions, the Handley Page O/100 (H.P.11) and Handley Page O/400 (H.P.12).

World War 1 Airplanes - Handley Page V1500 : The Handley Page V/1500 was an uprated design from the O/400 with the intention of bombing Berlin from East Anglian airfields. It was colloquially known within the fledgling Royal Air Force as the "Super Handley". The V/1500 used four Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines mounted in two nacelles, so two engines were pulling in the conventional manner and two pushing. A forward-looking design feature was the gunner's position at the extreme rear of the fuselage, between the four fins.

Sopwith Triplane

World War 1 Airplanes - Martin MB1 : The Martin MB-1 became the first heavy bomber type to be purchased in quantity in the First World War, becoming the mainstay of the United States Army Air Service for a time. The system was a two-engine bomber of indigenous creation and was designed by the Glenn Martin Company. In the end, only nine full-operational systems would become available by war's end but the type would soldier on until being replaced in 1920 by the more capable Martin MB-2 series.

World War 1 Airplanes - Martinsyde F4 Buzzard : The Martinsyde F4 Buzzard was developed as a powerful and fast biplane fighter for the Royal Air Force (RAF), but the end of the First World War led to the abandonment of large-scale production. Less than 400 were eventually produced, with many exported. Of particular note was the Buzzard's high speed, being one of the very fastest aircraft developed during WWI.

World War 1 Airplanes - Martinsyde G100 : The Martinsyde G.100 "Elephant" and the G.102 were British fighter bomber aircraft of the First World War.It gained the name "Elephant" from its relatively large size and lack of manoeuvrability. The G.102 differed from the G.100 only in having a more powerful engine.

World War 1 Airplanes - Morane-Saulnier Type L : The Morane-Saulnier Type P was a French parasol wing two-seat reconnaissance aeroplane of the First World War. Morane-Saulnier built 595 for the French air force, and it was also used by the British until 1916-17. The Type P was larger, more powerful, and better armed than its predecessor, the Type L. It was also more popular than its sister plane, the Type LA.

World War 1 Airplanes - Royal Aircraft Factory FE2 : The Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2 was a two-seat pusher biplane that was operated as a day and night bomber and as a fighter aircraft by the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War. Along with the single-seat D.H.2 pusher biplane and the Nieuport 11, the F.E.2 was instrumental in ending the Fokker Scourge that had seen the German Air Service establish a measure of air superiority on the Western Front from the late summer of 1915 to the following spring.

World War 1 Airplanes - Royal Aircraft Factory FE8 : The Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.8 was a British single-seat fighter of the First World War designed at the Royal Aircraft Factory.

World War 1 Airplanes - Royal Aircraft Factory RE8 : The Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8 was a British two-seat biplane reconnaissance and bomber aircraft of the First World War. Intended as a replacement for the vulnerable B.E.2, the R.E.8 was much more difficult to fly, and was regarded with great suspicion at first in the Royal Flying Corps. Although eventually it gave reasonably satisfactory service, it was never an outstanding combat aircraft. In spite of this, the R.E.8 served as the standard British reconnaissance and artillery spotting aircraft from mid-1917 to the end of the war.

World War 1 Airplanes - Royal Aircraft Factory SE5 : The Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 was a British biplane fighter aircraft of the First World War. Although the first examples reached the Western Front before the Sopwith Camel, and it had a much better overall performance, problems with its Hispano-Suiza engine meant that there was a chronic shortage of S.E.5s until well into 1918 and fewer squadrons were equipped with the type than with the Sopwith fighter. Together with the Camel, the S.E.5 was instrumental in regaining allied air superiority in the summer of 1917 - and maintaining this for the rest of the war.

World War 1 Airplanes - Sopwith Camel : The Sopwith Camel Scout is a British World War I single-seat fighter aircraft that was famous for its manoeuvrability.

World War 1 Airplanes - Sopwith Cuckoo : The Sopwith T.1 Cuckoo was a British biplane torpedo bomber used by the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), and its successor organization, the Royal Air Force (RAF). The T.1 was the first landplane specifically designed for carrier operations, but it was completed too late for service in the First World War. The T.1 was not named Cuckoo until after the Armistice.

World War 1 Airplanes - Sopwith Dolphin : The Sopwith 5F.1 Dolphin was a British fighter aircraft manufactured by the Sopwith Aviation Company. It was used by the Royal Flying Corps and its successor, the Royal Air Force, during the First World War.

World War 1 Airplanes - Sopwith Pup : The Sopwith Pup was a British single seater biplane fighter aircraft used during the First World War. It was manufactured by the Sopwith Aviation Company and was officially named the Sopwith Scout. It was nicknamed the Pup because it looked like a smaller version of the two-seat Sopwith 1½ Strutter, but the name Pup was not used officially as it was reportedly thought to be undignified. The Pup's docile flying characteristics made it ideal for use in aircraft carrier deck landing and takeoff experiments.

World War 1 Airplanes - Sopwith Snipe : The Sopwith 7F.1 Snipe was a British single-seat biplane fighter of the Royal Air Force (RAF). It was designed and built by the Sopwith Aviation Company during the First World War.

World War 1 Airplanes - Sopwith Strutter : The Sopwith 1½ Strutter was a British one or two-seat biplane multi-role aircraft of the First World War. It is significant as the first British designed two seater tractor fighter, and the first British aircraft to enter service with a synchronised machine gun. It also saw widespread but rather undistinguished service with the French Aéronautique Militaire.

World War 1 Airplanes - Sopwith Tabloid : The Sopwith Tabloid was a British biplane sports aircraft, one of the first to be built by the Sopwith Aviation Company. Named the "Tabloid" because it was so small, its performance caused a sensation when it first appeared, surpassing the existing monoplanes of the day.

World War 1 Airplanes - Sopwith Triplane : The Sopwith Triplane was a British single seat fighter aircraft designed and manufactured by the Sopwith Aviation Company during the First World War. The Triplane was built in comparatively small numbers, but the Royal Naval Air Service successfully employed it throughout 1917. Pilots nicknamed it the Tripehound or simply the Tripe.

World War 1 Airplanes - Standard J1 : Built by the Standard Aircraft Corporation, and intended to work with the Curtiss JN-4, the SJ was an open-cockpit tractor biplane, powered by a 100 hp (75 kW) Hall-Scott inline engine. It was followed by the J-1 (or SJ-1), which were only slightly different.

World War 1 Airplanes - Vickers Gunbus : The Vickers F.B.5 (Fighting Biplane 5) (known as the "Gunbus") was a British two-seat pusher military biplane of the First World War. Armed with a single Lewis gun operated by the observer in the front of the nacelle, it was the first aircraft purpose-built for air-to-air combat to see service, making it the world's first operational fighter aircraft.

World War 1 Airplanes - Vickers Vimy : The Vickers Vimy was a British heavy bomber aircraft of the First World War and post-First World War era. It achieved success as both a military and civil aircraft, setting several notable records in long-distance flights in the interwar period, the most celebrated of which was the first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by Alcock and Brown in June 1919.

Source for Information : & Wikipedia

Aviation History Timeline - A Chronological Order to Important Events in The History of Aviation.

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