10. Air battles, airplanes, air weapons

Danny Pinder and Joey Suda

Topic: Aircraft and air weapons and the advancements that we have today.

INTRODUCTION: Planes have been used in many wars. The world first saw them used in World War I for spotting targets, locations, and other reasons. Since World War I, air planes have evoloved into major killing machines. In the wars following World War I, they were used in many ways such as fighting air battles and spotting and shooting targets. On our web page we will guide you through three issues that involve planes from World War I and today. Our issues are: weapons on planes, plane craftsmanship, and the use of the plane.

ISSUE 1: Use of the Plane. Fighter planes were not used at the beginning of World War I. The first planes were used for spotting enemies - to determine which way they were heading, what they were doing, and what enemies were planning. Planes also were used to send messages from base to base and even soldier to soldier. Planes were not used to actually fight at all really in World War I. Soon, however, enemies started noticing other enemies flying by each other and they started knowing what they were doing. This interaction led to air-to-air conflict. World War I saw the rise of the airplane as a weapon system which changed the face of war. Trench warfare dominated the ground forces in bloody battles of attrition during the war, but the skies were ruled by the first aces of air combat.

ISSUE 2: Weapons on the Plane. In World War I, weapons were barely used on planes. The first weapons used on aircraft were hand guns and revolvers that pilots brought on the plane with them to try and shoot passing enemy planes. They tried to shoot them down so that they could get information about them. Another way World War I pilots used weapons was by flying in the air over opposing forces. They would drop grenades down on the enemy in order to hit a base or some enemies. Some enemy pilots would even participate in suicide bombing missions into other planes, soldiers, and bases.

ISSUE 3: Plane Craftsmanship. About ten years after the Wright Brothers made the first plane flight, there was still much to be improved upon. For example, engine power was extremely limited. Planes of this time were made mostly of hardwood and canvas. These planes were very dangerous and even unsafe. Some vets called these early aircraft "flying coffins" for the very simple reason that these early warbirds were where the deaths of many pilots occurred - either through combat or simply through trying to handle these machines. As early as 1909, these evolving flying machines were recognised to be not just toys, but also weapons. As technology progressed and aircraft engineers found new workarounds for new problems, the few-month-old models that were the king of the skies quickly gave way to newer models, giving the average life span of many fighters only about a few months of front line service.

The airplane changed the modern battlefield as much as gunpowder did centuries earlier. The Red Baron, Frenchman Rene Fonck, Canadian Ace Roy Brown, and Billy Bishop fought it out above the ever-changing frontlines utilizing these early planes. Now, even the common soldier had to worry about death from above - and not just from artillery barrages. As technology progressed and aircraft engineers found new workarounds for new problems, the few-month-old models that were the king of the skies quickly gave way to newer models, giving the average life span of many fighters only about a few months of frontline service.

Armstrong Whitworth FK8 : The FK.8 was a basic airplane design intended to supercede the capabilities of the preceding FK.3 as a more powerful robust improvement model. The twin seat configuration placed the pilot in front and an observer/rear gunner in back. Armament consisted of a single forward-firing fixed 7.62mm Vickers machine gun and a single 7.62mm trainable Lewis-type in the rear cockpit position. Provisions for bombs were also a part of the arsenal for the FK.8. Power was derived from the Beardmore inline piston engine that generated upwards of 160 horsepower.

Then to now Weapon Advancements Today - Planes have changed since WW1 in the issues we've been discussing in this page. Here they are.
ISSUE 1: Use of plane- The use of planes has changed since World War I. They are now used for many more uses than just mostly spotting targets and getting information off of them. Now planes are used for those reasons and many more! Some reasons they use planes now are: to transport troops, to ship ammunition, guns, care supplies, food and even other machines such as cars and other air support like choppers. They also have jets now that can go two or even three times the speed of the early airplanes. Another new aircraft used on the modern battlefield is a chopper or helicopter. The main use for Planes today are for either fighting air battles with jets or dropping of cargo or troops with planes or helicopters.
The F-15 Eagle is one of the greatest combat jet planes in ever created in the history bof modern man. The first Eagle took off in 1972., four years later it entered service in 1976. It was designed to have air superiority, so when they had control of the sky, other aircraft (i.e. Bombers and other craft) could safely carry out their
missions. The F15 is still seen around the world

ISSUE 2: Weapons on the plane. -Weapons on planes have changed a lot since World War I. They used to only bring hand guns and rifles with them on planes but now they have machine guns, missiles, bombs and other weaponry built into the planes.They use way more advanced weapons today like missiles for example today can lock on target and follow the target until it hits it. Also instead of dropping grenades, they can drop bombs like a nuke. Missiles are the main form of aircraft weapons in the army now though. The also have chopper gunners on the helicopters, where its built in to shoot for you and they can have heat sensors and thermal to find enemies and targets better. These are the changes in the weapons from World War I to today on planes.


The A10 Thunderbolts also known as Warthogs are a purpose designed ground attack aircraft. The Warthogs is no means fast. Its top speed is only 420 Mph. One thing about the engines is that they are positioned at the rear, this allows for better protection form ground fire. Wartgun.gifThunderboltII.gif
In service since 1986, the Apache AH-64A helicopter was primarily designed as a tank-killer. the Apache can carry 16 laser-guided AGM-114 missiles. Hovering amongst the trees or behind terrain, the Apache can pop up and engage targets then retreat behind cover. In the close support role the Apache's rocket pods and 30mm cannon can bring devastating firepower to bear against a ride range of enemy units. They are all similar because they can fly, but today it's just faster, stronger and have more armor and equipment.


ISSUE 3: Plane craftsmanship. Plane craftsmanship has changed since World War I greatly! Some changes are in world war on the planes were made out of wood which caused the plane to be really weak and vulnerable which, in turn, would cause the plane to get shot down easier. Today, planes are made out of metal and composite material that is perhaps the toughest armor known to man. Another major change that has evolved in the airplane of today is the engine. Early airplanes had very poor and weak engines. These engines would sometimes die in the air during flight or even explode. Today, engines are one of the most important parts of the aircraft. They are built around armor and are very protected and strongly built. Planes today are no longer called flying coffins. Modern aircraft are known as some of the safest known to man. So planes have changed over time in craftsmanship. It's probably one of the biggest changes in planes since then, besides the issues I stated.

CONCLUSION: We feel that airplanes and thye manner in which they are used has changed dramatically since first being used during World War I - even in many more ways than we have stated here. We found that the weapons changes in airplanes was major and it greatly affected the face of war. Another change we thought was major was the change in craftsmanship in going from wood to metal to composite-like armor. It just seems crazy how our generation in war has changed over time. Finally, Joe and I conclude that the change in the use of the airplane during war had perhaps the greatest impact on how battles are fought on the modern battlefield. To think that it all started with just a spy plane and evolved into such high technology aircraft as the Stealth Fighter is pretty amazing!