The Effects Of Powered Flight On War

2424 words - 10 pages

The first World War expedited the evolution of aircraft technology, which continued through World War II. These developments revolutionized military strategy and contributed greatly to the final outcomes.
The Wright brothers Orville and Wilbur are considered to be the fathers of modern flight. They were not the first to build and fly experimental aircraft, but they were the first who invented controls that made flight controllable. Before they revolutionized flight, many other methods had been attempted such as people jumping off buildings or other high locations with make shift wings attached to their arms, or machines that bounced up and down with something akin to an umbrella on top of them. None of these experiments were very successful though some did manage to glide very short distances.
The Wright brothers started off with small kites testing various principles, such as when wings on one side of the kite were bent the other side would receive more lift. They then moved onto using gliders. The gliders were first flown something like a kite, being held by tethers. They began to fly the gliders, often not getting far off the ground, but they did manage to achieve unpowered flight. It was not until 1903 and the Wright Flyer I that the Wright brothers attempted powered flight. (Kent 562)
There was, however, the development of blimps and hot air balloons which were somewhat controllable but still depended largely on where the wind would take them. The Wright brothers were the first to develop successful, controllable, heavier-than-air air craft. Most such aircraft before had been disasters, crashing after being launched off cliffs or other high points.
The first successful airplanes were of the biplane design. From 1914 to around the 1920s the technology to build aircraft with just two wings was not available, the current building materials made such designs unfeasible. Sturdier building materials would be needed to construct airplanes with two wings. While the dual-wing design of a biplane could increase the amount of lift generated, the supports for the wings also increased the amount of drag produced. This decreased the maximum speed of biplanes and decreased its effectiveness.
The first biplanes were not very fast, sturdy, or reliable. The slightest mistake could send the craft into a headlong rush towards the earth below. (Stewart 70) They had no place in dog fights or any other type of fast paced action. (Williams 94) They were mostly useful for reconnaissance missions in the military, where they would fly over the enemy and report back what they saw. (Stewart 63)They had the advantage of altitude, putting them beyond the accuracy of most rifles, but to gather intelligence they had to get lower so the pilot could see.
Around the 1910s, when the planes were sturdier and more reliable, they were armed, often with medium caliber machine guns. Problems with these design were encountered though, because there were few steady...

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