When the First World War began in the summer of 1914 the use of aircraft for military purposes was still in its initial stages as regards both the technology and the ideas behind it. It was just eleven years since the Wright brothers had made the first successful powered flights. The intense competition among the belligerent powers led to creation of special types of aircraft, plans and forms of organisation for aerial warfare in the course of the first years of the war. In this phase of rapid development the military had to make decisions on acquisitions and use while there were still many uncertain factors, which repeatedly led to mistakes being made. It also has to be borne in mind that aerial warfare not only served the purpose of fighting the enemy but was also meant to have a propaganda effect at home. On all sides the so-called ‘flying aces’ were popularized as daring heroes who won their battles thanks to their individual courage and skill and were in this way intended to serve as models.
Translation: Leigh Bailey