Sunday, September 11, 2016

Documentary Review: World War I in Color: Blood in the Air

The use of aircraft in WWI first revolved around reconnaissance.  Balloons were first used, but they were too vulnerable to attack.  Faster aircraft were needed.  However here again, aircraft were not very well armed.  The problem was shooting through the propeller.  A British pilot reinforced his propellers with steal, and thus every tenth bullet would ricochet but not bring the aircraft down.  It was a Danish scientist working for the Germans who discovered a way to synchronize the machine gun and the airplane propeller.  This technological advance gave the Germans a superiority in the air.  However the intelligence was needed, so still the pilots flew, and many were shot down.  The British planes and later American planes, would have a second man with a machine gun shooting behind, but this was not as effective as being able to fire ahead of you.  The Fokker Scourge as this advantage was called resulted in many being shot out of the sky.  One of those who benefitted was the Red Baron, Manfred Von Richthofen, who was credited with downing 80 planes.  He would eventually be shot down by a machine gun on the ground.
there was a year for the technology of the allies to catch up.
WWI also introduced the idea of launching planes from naval vessels.  This was developed by the British as a way to combat the German U-Boats.  Also bombing was introduced during this time.  Germany introduced bombing of civilian areas, as they bombed London, first from zeppelins and then from bombers called Gotha bombers.  In the end, the air war in WWI was mostly air combats, with one pilot going against another.

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