Brill’s Digital Library of World War I

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Aerial Warfare

(2,055 words)

Author(s): Schmidt, Wolfgang
Aerial Warfare A form of waging war in and from the air with airborne or ground-based weapons against war-critical targets and the air power of the enemy, and in direct or indirect support of land or naval forces. These forms and features of a war being fought in and from the air had been contemplated and partially put into practice in the years leading up to World War I, but the key concepts were laid down by the major powers based on their aerial operations between 1914 and 1918. In the highly-developed industrial nations, with th…

Reconnaissance

(522 words)

Author(s): Schmidt, Wolfgang
Reconnaissance Military procedure by which information is gathered about the enemy situation as well as terrain and weather conditions; it is a vital prerequisite for the decision-making processes on all levels of command. In addition to peace-time intelligence gathering, war-time reconnaissance operations were broken down according to the type of theater or battlefield into long-range, short-range and battlefield, or combat, reconnaissance. While the purpose of long-range reconnaissance was to c…

Zeppelin (Airship)

(528 words)

Author(s): Schmidt, Wolfgang
Zeppelin (Airship) Aircraft of a streamlined shape that is kept aloft by the aerostatic buoyancy of the lifting gas (hydrogen or helium) in its body. Forward thrust is provided by propeller engines that are housed in nacelles mounted outside of the body. Derived from Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, who in 1900 had produced the first practicable airship of a rigid design that was motorized and steerable, the name also became a synonym for other technical solutions. Against the backdrop of a possible war with Britain, the development of zep…

Richthofen, Manfred Baron von

(440 words)

Author(s): Schmidt, Wolfgang
Richthofen, Manfred Baron von (May 2, 1892, Breslau – April 21, 1918, Vaux-sur-Somme near Amiens [killed in action]), German fighter pilot. Richthofen joined a Prussian Ulan regiment in 1911 after graduating from the cadet corps. He undertook patrol duties in 1914 and after the cavalry was in part transferred to the infantry in 1915, signed up to the Imperial Air Service. He was initially an observer, then a reconnaissance and bomber pilot. Between 1916 and April 1918, when he was shot down at Vaux-…

Aircraft

(895 words)

Author(s): Schmidt, Wolfgang
Aircraft After the Wright brothers achieved lift with the aid of a propeller driven by a combustion engine and thus in 1903 completed the first powered flight, most industrial nations saw rapid improvements taking place in the technical reliability, endurance and range of airplanes. France, as the leading European aircraft builder, possessed 100 military planes as early as 1911, while Germany had only begun training military pilots in 1910 on planes purchased from private owners. The Prussian Gen…