American Aviation During Wwi

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U.S. Aviation during World War I

American aviation was in its infancy when the United States entered WWI in 1917. Most U.S. pilots were untrained in air combat and using aircraft that were less sophisticated than their enemies. When the U.S. joined the allied forces in April of 1917, it had 56 pilots and less than 250 aircraft, which were all obsolete. In July of 1917, congress appropriated $640 million to form 354 combat squadrons. There were no industries in the U.S. at this time manufacturing aircraft. With a few trial and errors supported by the government, the Bureau of Aircraft Production and a separate Division of Military Aeronautics were established. The new industry produced 11,754 aircraft and the Army set up 27 primary flying schools in the United States. American pilots would not be able to utilize these resources until the end of the war. Many of the sorties flown by U.S. aviators were in foreign aircraft. Some of the airframes used were the Salmson observation airplanes, Spad XIII pursuits, Havilland DH-4's, Breguet 14's, and some French balloons. Although many of these airframes helped win decisive air battles, they were no comparison to the German Fokker. Fokker was a Dutch aircraft manufacturer that began producing planes in Germany. The “Fokker Scourge” had revolutionary armament and was the most feared airframe during WWI. An American pilot by the name of Eddie Rickenbacker recalls in his book “Fighting The Flying Circus” an opportunity to trade a German pilot his life for his Fokker aircraft. Although the United States aviation units lacked training and sufficient aircraft, they were still able to make a difference in WWI and go on to have air superiority almost one hundred years later. This could be accredited to winning decisive battles and the U.S. being a “learning organization.” With the employment of balloons and fixed wing aircraft for trench warfare {text:soft-page-break} reconnaissance, the U.S. was able to save thousands...
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