While the functional aircraft was created in the United States, the first large-scale production was established in France by Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont. Each Demoiselle No. 19 took only 15 days to produce, but the lightweight materials did not make it an ideal candidate for early airborne warfare.
The Italians were the first to utilize aircraft for military purposes, making reconnaissance and bombing runs through to Libya during the Italian-Turkish war of 1911. Air combat continued in the First Balkan War the following year, but World War I was the first instance where aircraft were used as a major factor in offensive and defensive operations by multiple nations.
The Great War was the primary reason why airplanes were adopted by major military forces. Primarily used for reconnaissance purposes, early pilots and engineers began developing fighters and bombers based on their experience in the air. Flying Aces were an iconic part of the war, becoming modern-day knights in their own regard.
The most infamous of the Flying Aces was German fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen, also known as the Red Baron. Credited with over 80 victories, Richthofen was originally a cavalryman before transferring to the German Army Air Service in 1915. All of his victories came over a three-year period.
Even after World War I, air combat tactics were still fairly crude. The biggest benefit to the Allie’s came through aerial recon and target spotting for artillery. During the transitional period between World Wars, airplanes made the switch from wood and fabric to aluminum materials.
This lull in need for experienced pilots created an industry of stunt pilots and air shows, with these so-called “barnstormers” grouping up together and taking their talents across the United States. During this time, Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean – just one of the many astounding feats in aviation that took place at this time.
World War II was a gigantic catalyst to increasing and advancing manufacturing and production across a variety of industries – especially aviation. While jet engine technology was in development in both Germany and Britain before the war, an emphasis was placed on pushing it forward along with weapon systems, changes in air combat tactics, and implementation of airplanes in invasion campaigns.
That’s it for now! Next time, we’ll talk more about World War II and how advances made in the aviation world during the war propelled the industry for decades to come. For information on airplane parts, connectors, and custom designs, browse the J&K Connectors inventory or contact our team today!