Influence of Technology on Development of Airpower
Air power development in the military began the same time aviation began because of the accelerating World War 1 features. Following the extraordinary conditions in the nascent air forces in operation, military applications used for aircraft increased to the point that there was production of techniques and equipment to encompass all forms of aerial mission. Despite the tools being useful, they were yet to realize the true potential. The First World War led to the development of military airpower and advancement of the involved technology. When the war began, aircraft were not advanced as they had only existed for about a decade and were only used for static and recon balloons. Through technology, the balloons were developed into an offensive weapon with the common Zeppelin raids. The technology of aircraft developed rapidly, especially in the weaponry area. Aircraft were initially unarmed, but later became defended by a crew with rifles, pistols or small hand bombs.
The development of machine guns that were lighter and smaller offered the perfect aircraft weapon, but first true aircraft emerged when a method of synchronizing firing using the propeller was developed, to allow forward firing guns. There was also the development of fighter tactics, and by the end of World War 1, large-scale air battles were seen. The aircraft that existed at the end of this war were more advanced than the previous versions, stronger, faster, and with weapons that were more powerful despite designs being mostly biplanes.
Invention of airpower was seen to be influenced by various factors which included the requirements of national security which saw the need of adopting more strong and powerful tools of fighting. America and Europe saw the need of advancing the tools used in the First World War to minimize the negative consequences experienced. Another factor that influenced the development of airpower was institutional self-interest and technology. Despite the three factors playing a major role in the development of airpower in Europe and USA, technology is seen to have had the most significant influence. For the first time in history, technology played a major role in the Firs World War. As the War continued, it became evident that the quality of the hardware being used in the battlefields was a decisive factor. Technological improvements were at that time very frequent and noticeable, making changes of the elements to gain unprecedented importance. Among the aspects of the war experience, this phenomenon is better explained by the military aviation. Technology became very crucial in winning the great battles.
Aerial Warfare introduction was accomplished through the help of technological improvements. A machine gun that was capable of shooting through the propeller blades was the first test to be used, and, after several attempts, an interrupter gear was invented by Antony Fokker which could synchronize the propeller motion to the machine gun pace. Through the invention, a machine gun was in a position to shoot straight through the propeller without harming it, and this led to the invention of the modern military aircraft. The technology was useful in facilitating the development of airpower which eased the effort of the military in the war.
In addition, there was also advancement in the aerial photography field. Individual photographs could now capture a wider area. For instance, in the First World War, individual photographs that were taken from a 16,000 ft attitude were now able to capture an area that is of two by three miles. Semi-automatic cameras would then take the photos, and when assembled, they would show even the exact minute of shifts of posts by machine gun, supply lines, troops, and artillery positions. The synchronizing device and aerial photography improvement led to the second phase of air war. In this period, in addition to aerial reconnaissance becoming important, the need for deterrence proved to be critical. It became imperative to keep observations of enemy airplanes from entering into the air space of another person. It is important to note that even in this period failure or success depended on technology mastery.
The third air war stage was marked by Verdun and Somme, the bloody and lengthy battles. During the two confrontations, the actual value of aerial reconnaissance was understood clearly. At that time, the British army suffered from 60, 000 casualties: the loss was 15 times of what it experienced on D-Day. Thus, aerial photography of the positions of enemies and prevention of their activity in one’s territory became now a great priority in the war effort. Rather than being considered as an auxiliary, air services became major components of all the military actions. Thus, the number of airplanes that participated in battles increased, creating a demand for flying machines that were more powerful and faster. There was the introduction of the Sopwith Pup by the Americans and the Spad SVII by the French.
The fourth phase of the air war is focused on a race in the technology field. After the introduction of the Albatross D-III, it was possible for the German air service to rely on an airplane that was sturdy, fast, and powerful which had revolutionized the air war. The strong plywood construction of wings and fuselage made German pilots control superb flying machines that were capable of driving, turning, and banking rapidly without the airplane being damaged. The French and English air services were damaged by the Germans, and they all realized how the technological edge was decisive for the whole war effort. The Germans, as a result, came up with the Amerika program, calling for new aircraft wings establishment before participation of America in the war would secure Allies victory.
Finally, technology was seen to have the revolutionized modern warfare. In the Early 1918, the high command of the German decided to break the stalemate on the western Front through launching the Great Offensive, which was intended to crack enemy trench lines before the Americans could be involved in the War. The penetration of enemy trenches was during this time preceded by strafing actions that were launched from any aircraft that was available. Through the use of air to ground war, the Germans were able to achieve what appeared to be impossible.
In conclusion, technology is seen to have greatly influenced the development of airpower to the Americans and Europeans before the Second World War. As the war progressed, the dependence of man on military technology increased. The more the fight became tougher, the higher the hopes of a victory based on technological superiority. The changes of technology experienced in the military aviation field were frequent, consequential, and decisive, making the impact of technology to be more noticeable, and more appreciated than before. This was a time that technology was more important in any human endeavor.