Aviation - Military
Fighters, Bombers, Air Forces, Airfields and Military Aircraft
Following the Wright brothers first flight in 1903 the first military aeroplane was their ‘Airplane No. 1’ produced for the US government in 1908. A Blériot XI monoplane was the first aircraft to be used in combat operations in 1911. Previously balloons and airships had been used for aerial observation during the nineteenth century and these continued into the First World War, most notably the Zeppelin airships.
Development of military aircraft in WWI saw fighters and bombers becoming key parts of the military in addition to observation, reconnaissance, ground-attack and anti-submarine operations. Manufacturers and aircraft types multiplied with improvements in design and armament, including the Vickers FB5, Fokker E1 and Dr1 (Triplane), Albatros, Sopwith Camel, SE5 and Nieuport 11. Air forces were formed as the third military service, with the British Royal Flying Corps (RFC) becoming the Royal Air Force (RAF), and the Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte. Air combat led to the celebrated heroic ‘ace’, such as Manfred von Richthofen (‘The Red Baron’) and Albert Ball VC.
In the 1930s German bombing operations of the Spanish Civil War were a precursor to the Second World War Blitz on London and the massed allied bomber offensives on German cities as well as the dropping of the atomic bombs. Air superiority became a vital objective with aircraft developing from Spitfire, Messerschmitt Bf109 and Junkers Ju87 combat of Blitzkrieg and the Battle of Britain, to faster and more powerful aircraft such as the North American P-51 Mustang, de Havilland Mosquito and Lockheed P-38 Lightning, through to the first jet aircraft produced by Heinkel, Gloster and other manufacturers. Aircraft also played a vital role in carrier operations, anti-submarine warfare, and supply and troop movements.
The post 1945 period became the jet age with the first supersonic jet in service being the North American F-100 Super Sabre in 1954. Other developments saw the introduction of vertical take-off with the Hawker Siddeley Harrier, and the wider use of helicopters and missile systems Aircraft played vital roles in conflicts such as the Korea and Vietnam wars, the Falklands War and the wars in the Middle East. The Cold War nuclear deterrent was maintained by strategic bomber groups of Boeing B-52s, British V-Bombers and Soviet Tupolev Tu-4 and Tu-16.
Our military aviation categories cover all aspects, including aircraft and manufacturers, airfields and air forces, as well as history and air warfare in the major conflicts. View all aspects or the sub-categories on the left of this page, clicking on the book image for more details including the examples we have in stock.
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"Roger Vee" (Vivian Voss)
Flying Minnows - Memoirs of a World War One fighter pilot, from training in Canada to the Front Line, 1917 - 1918
Recollections of Vivian Voss, writing under pseudonym Roger Vee, as a Canadian pilot operating Bristol fighters with 48 and 88 Squadrons in 1917-18. Originally published in 1935, a reprint volume appeared with added information in 1977.
Adam and Charles Black
The R.A.F. in Action
Account of early RAF wartime activities first published in December 1940. Twenty-two pages of text followed by 100 images, many being official photographs.