A: Plan of Investigation
This investigation will examine the extent to which World War I encouraged aeronautical advancements in Germany from 1914 to 1918. A comparison of the crude airplanes developed before the brink of war to the end models will be evaluated to determine the Great War’s impact on aviation. Motivations for these advancements such as excellent piloting, number of deaths, need for ground assistance and competition with other countries will be considered, but specificities other countries aeronautical advancements will not be studied. Furthermore, the use of the airplane, which changed dramatically during the war, will be assessed to see its effect on Germany’s aeronautical advancements.
Sources 1001 Questions Answered About Aviation History by C.H. Hildreth and Bernard C. Nalty and War in the Air 1914-1945 by Williamson Murray will be evaluated during this investigation.
B. Summary of Evidence
American brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright largely inspired by German aeronautical engineer Otto Lilienthal, were able to achieve flight with their glider, the Kitty Hawk, in September of 1903 (Bell 13). At the brink of World War I ten years later, aircrafts were light and could only travel short distances because of their small fuel tank (Hildreth 111). Military use of the airplane was thought to have been practical solely for observation and most military authorities felt investment in experimentation would be a waste (Hildreth 125). As the war progressed, however, “the military believed that aircraft had a far greater value than just” (Trueman) aerial photography or reconnaissance- observation of enemy. The men that flew planes for this purpose had an “unspoken code” (Copper 4) that prevented them from shooting another pilot; however, if the enemy is taking notes of the other enemy and has no consequence for doing so, “no side had secrets” (Hildreth 123). Infantry lines and bases were exposed. Soon, ground forces began to shoot down the enemy observers before they could report to their headquarters, making a need for the development of the warplane (Hildreth 120).
Germans foresaw the potential in military aviation and purchased the design of the Taube, or Dove, from Igor Etrich in 1911 which could carry two men and developed the Albatross, a small biplane (Hildreth 132). The essential factor for the development German aeronautical engineering during the war was capturing Roland Garros. Garros was an aviator made famous by his nonstop flight across the Mediterranean in 1913 (Englebardt). He taught military aviation in Germany, but snuck into Switzerland so that he could join the French Air Service (Englebardt). Garros worked with the French Engineer, Saulnier to develop the much-needed mounted machine gun. Known as synchronized gear, the gun could shoot from the nose of the airplane without hitting the propeller in the front of the plane (Englebardt). Pilots no longer had to hold their weaponry by hand nor fear that...