World War I was the first major conflict involving the large-scale use of aircraft. Tethered observation balloons had already been employed in several wars, and would be used extensively for artillery spotting. Germany employed Zeppelins for reconnaissance over the North Sea and Baltic and also for strategic bombing raids over Britain and the Eastern Front.
Aeroplanes were just coming into military use at the outset of the war. Initially, they were used mostly for reconnaissance. Pilots and engineers learned from experience, leading to the development of many specialized types, including fighters, bombers, and trench strafers.
Below just some examples of those magnificent flying machines.
British fleet in the Firth of Forth. Picture: taken from a rigid balloon showing the English fleet in the Firth of Forth where the German fleet was turned over to the allies.
Aeroplane leaving a light cruiser.
An aircraft flies over no-man’s land, a European battlefield torn up by bombs and trench diggers.
Aircraft fly above New York City.
A squadron of U.S. Curtis aircraft in flight, circa 1917.
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