Unending Seige

Air Force Roles

German airship caught by a searchlight

Caption: German airship caught by a searchlight

On both sides of the conflict, cities would eventually be bombed. Bombs would rain on London and Paris as well as on the German cities of the Ruhr and in other French and Belgian areas occupied by the Germans. In 1918 aerial night bombing was tested out. Its effectiveness would influence the course of the Second World War.

The bombing raids would foster the illusion that, in a future war, aircraft could play a more important part than land battles. Since a number of aviators had experienced the terrible conditions in the trenches, it was natural for them to desperately seek a less messy way - though unfortunately more deadly for the populations affected - to make and win any potential war.

However, aircraft performed other services as well, such as keeping watch over the enemy, protecting observation balloons, and seeking and destroying enemy submarines, ships and balloons.

In the course of the war, combat aviation tactics and techniques would evolve. For example, machine-gun fire would be synchronized with the rotations per second of the propeller blades in the bullet's trajectories. At war's end, aviators would know how to attack enemy troops on the ground with fighters or modified bombers.