Aerial Warfare Seen from 1910

Monday, December 17th, 2007

Donald Pittenger comments on aerial warfare as seen from 1910:

The closest analog they could think of was naval warfare.

The naval analogy made sense because early airplanes were doing well if they simply took off, climbed a few hundred feet into the air, circled around for a while and then landed safely. While airborne, they pretty much stayed in a horizontal plane; aerobatic maneuvers came a few years later when comparatively light, powerful motors allowed heavier, stronger airplanes to be built. During the Great War fighter aircraft engaged in swirling dogfights, but that was the future observers around 1910 were scratching their heads about.

Airships — blimp-type craft and dirigible Zeppelins — were even more constrained to a horizontal maneuver plane than aircraft.

Given the horizontal nature of flight at that time, it was easy to look at naval warfare, fought on the essentially horizontal plane of the sea, as the analog. So we have aircraft armed with shell-type guns taking pot-shots at each other.

The image is by newspaper artist Henry Grant Dart:

For more on Dart and his work, see here, here and here.

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