Monday, October 29, 2007
Top Gun c. 1911
Wired reports: [edited]
The airplane is introduced to warfare for the first time in a reconnaissance flight over Turkish lines during the Italo-Turkish War.
Aerial reconnaissance was not new to warfare; observation balloons had been deployed over battlefields since the 18th century. But when the Italian pilot climbed into his Blériot XI - the flying machine of choice ever since one of its number successfully crossed the English Channel in 1909 - and flew over the Turks, the nature of warfare changed forever.
This conflict, a predecessor to the First and Second Balkan Wars and a precursor to World War I, also saw the first use of an airplane as a combat weapon.
In December 1911, an Italian plane flew over the Turkish lines and its pilot dropped four hand grenades on the troops below. Within three years true aerial combat would become a reality and within a generation the airplane was the decisive battlefield weapon.