Modern Combat Aircraft From fighters to Battlefield Hel

Modern Combat Aircraft From fighters to Battlefield Hel

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Modern Combat Aircraft From fighters to Battlefield Hel
 
Modern Combat Aircraft From fighters to Battlefield Helicopters By Bill Gunston Hard Cover 1983  80 Pages
At the start of World War 1, in August 1914 the aeroplane was only just beginning to develop into a practical vehicle. Previously it had been a very hit-and-miss affair, and at least half the early would-be aviators failed to get off the ground. Once in the air, early aeroplanes were extremely unreliable, and their performance was so low that even a slight headwind was serious. On the ground their frailty was ill-suited to the rough environment of a military campaign. Not least, there was no organized method of leaching people how to fly and for most of the war the casualty rate among pupil pilots was appalling.
By 1918 aeroplanes were still dangerous to their crews as well as to their enemies, but progress had been remarkable. In just over four years of war the speed of aircraft had doubled, from 100 km/h (62 mph) to 200 km/h 1124 mph). Engine reliability had improved greatly, although by modern standards it was still poor. Whereas in 1914 the general official view was that there was no role for the aeroplane in warfare, except conceivably to carry a reconnaissance observer, when peace returned thousands of aircraft had been built for air combat, bombing, torpedo dropping, submarine hunting correcting the fire of friendly artillery, destroying airships, co-operating with surface fleets and many other roles, including the protective escort of other aircraft. Night flying had become routine, although high winds and heavy rain or snow could keep aircraft on the ground -where not infrequently they were blown up side down in gales and severely damaged.
In the ten years after World War 1 aircraft increased in weight, engine power and reliability, but basically the changes were minimal. The standard fighter armament remained two machine guns, synchronized with the rotation of the engine so that the bullets could not shoot off the blades of the propeller.

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