April 22, 1918 – The Red Baron – Today in History

By way of comparison, the highest scoring Allied ace of the Great War was Frenchman René Fonck, with 75 confirmed victories. The highest scoring fighter pilot from the British Empire was Canadian B…

Source: April 22, 1918 – The Red Baron – Today in History

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The Balloon Busters

Robert Walsh

Belgian ace Willy Coppens, top-scoring ‘balloon buster’ of the First World War.

The First World War was unusual in many ways. One was that, for the first time in military history, the air became a battlefield. No longer were combatants confined to land and sea, now they could exploit the military potential of what in 1914 was a relatively new invention – the aircraft.

The sheer speed at which aircraft evolved from barely more than powered gliders into fully-fledged weapons was staggering. In 1914 aircraft were so fragile and underpowered that carrying even the weight of a machine gun was usually beyond them. By 1918 there existed fighters, bombers, reconnaissance aircraft and the weapons and tactics had evolved.

In 1914 a typical dogfight often consisted of one aircraft from either side with pilots firing their service pistols at each other. By 1918 aircraft were stronger, faster, more agile and carried…

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