Germany was the first country to organize regular air attacks on enemy infrastructure. In World War I it used its zeppelins (airships) to drop bombs on British cities. At that time, Britain did have aircraft, though her airships were less advanced than the zeppelins and were very rarely used for attacking; instead they were usually used to spy on German U-boats (submarines).
Fixed-wing aircraft at the time were quite primitive, being able to achieve velocities comparable to that of modern automobiles and mounting minimal weaponry and equipment. Aerial services were still largely a new venture, and relatively unreliable machines and limited training resulted in stupendously low life expectancies for early military aviators.
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Ca.4s were tested by the Italian Air Force in 1917 and began operations in 1918. They were used for attacking targets in Austria-Hungary. In April 1918, 6 Ca.42s were used by the British RNAS (No. 227 Squ). At least three CA.42s were sent to the United States for evaluation. After the war, the Ca. 4 was replaced in Italy by the Ca.36.
Caproni Ca.40 heavy bomber prototype
Despite its unstable and fragile appearance, the Ca.4 was well-designed. Its size, without regards to its height, was not any larger than that of other foreign heavy bombers. With Liberty engines, it had a fast speed, similar to other heavy bombers, while its bomb load had one of the largest capacities of that era, surpassed only by that of the Imperial German: Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI. If it had been flown with other engines, its performance would have suffered.
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The Sopwith Pup was a British single seater biplane fighter aircraft built by the Sopwith Aviation Company. It entered service with the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service in the autumn of 1916. With pleasant flying characteristics and good maneuverability, the aircraft proved very successful.
The Pup was eventually outclassed by newer German fighters, but it was not completely replaced on the Western Front until the end of 1917. Remaining Pups were relegated to Home Defence and training units. The Pup’s docile flying characteristics also made it ideal for use in aircraft carrier deck landing and takeoff experiments.
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The Sopwith Camel was a British First World War single-seat biplane fighter introduced on the Western Front in 1917. Manufactured by Sopwith Aviation Company, it had a short-coupled fuselang, heavy, powerful rotary engine, and concentrated fire from twin synchronized machine guns. Though difficult to handle, to an experienced pilot it provided unmatched manoeuvrability.
A superlative fighter, the Camel was credited with shooting down 1,294 enemy aircraft, more than any other Allied fighter of the war. It also served as a ground-attack aircraft, especially near the end of the conflict, when it was outclassed in the air-to-air role by newer fighters.
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Fokker E V/D.VIII
The Fokker E.V was a German parasol-monoplane fighter aircraft designed by Reinhold Platz and built by Fokker-Flugzeugwerke. It entered service with the Luftstreitkräfte in the last months of World War I. After several fatal accidents due to wing failures, the aircraft was modified and redesignated Fokker D.VIII. Dubbed the Flying Razor by Allied pilots, the D.VIII had the distinction of scoring the last aerial victory of the war.
First flight may 1918, approximately 381 built
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The red baron
Manfred von Richthofen was a Freiherr (literally “Free Lord”), a title of nobility often translated as Baron. This is not a given name nor strictly a hereditary title—since all male members of the family were entitled to it, even during the lifetime of their father. This title, combined with the fact that he had his aircraft painted red,
led to Richthofen being called “The Red Baron”: “Der rote Baron” both inside and outside Germany.During his lifetime, however, he was more often described in German as Der Rote Kampfflieger (variously translated as The Red Battle Flyer or The Red Fighter Pilot). This name was used as the title of Richtofen’s 1917 autobiography.
Richthofen’s other nicknames include “Le Diable Rouge” (“Red Devil”) or “Le petit Rouge” (“Little Red”) in French, and the “Red Knight” in English.