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The British Army convenes an inquiry to look into the failure of the British offensive in the Battle of Cambrai in November-December 1917. The inquiry finds that the German use of massed aircraft for close air support of German ground troops subjected British ground troops to so much machine-gun fire that they felt helpless and became demoralized, allowing a successful German counterattack.
January 3 – With its owner, Alfred Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe, concerned about declining support for the war effort by the British public and believing that news about the successes of living British pilots by name would create popular heroes and improve public morale, the British newspaper the Daily Mail publishes an editorial strongly criticizing the British Army's policy of not disclosing the names of successful Royal Flying Corps pilots unless they are killed, a policy instituted because of a belief by the British Army's leadership that such publicity would harm the esprit de corps of their fellow aviators. Other British newspapers quickly take up the cause, prompting the British Army to begin identifying pilots by name. France and Germany had identified their pilots to the press since early in World War I.
January 5 – A rapid series of explosions and quickly spreading fires at the Imperial German Navy airship base at Tondern destroys four hangars and five airships in five minutes, killing four civilian workers and 10 naval personnel and injuring 134 naval personnel.
January 7 – After the British Army drops its policy of not disclosing the names of successful Royal Flying Corps pilots unless they are killed, the Daily Mail publishes "Our Wonderful Airmen - Their Names At Last," the first article in the British press identifying living RFC pilots by name. The article discusses the exploits of CaptainsPhilip Fuller and James McCudden.
January 29-30 (overnight) – For the first time, German Riesenflugzeug bombers attack the United Kingdom without Gotha bombers accompanying them; the four bombers are from Riesenflugzeug Abteilung ("Giant Airplane Detachment") 501 (Rfa 501). One bomber turns back. The other three bomb England, inflicting only light damage and casualties. British aircraft fly 80 defensive sorties; five of them bring one of the German bombers under attack but succeed only in disabling one of its engines, and it returns safely to base. Unfamiliar with the great size of the bombers, many of the British pilots underestimate their size and fire at them from too great a range.
February 5 – Second Lieutenant Stephen W. Thompson achieves the first aerial victory by the U.S. military.
February 8 – The United States replaces the () national insignia for its military aircraft adopted in 1917 with a roundel with an outer red ring, then a blue ring, and a white center . The roundel will remain in use until the United States reverts to its former markings in August 1919.
February 20 – The German high command issues a memorandum governing the employment of German ground-attack squadrons in the upcoming spring offensive on the Western Front, Operation Michael. It lays out the role of the squadrons as "flying ahead of and carrying the infantry along with them, keeping down the fire of the enemy's infantry and barrage batteries," adding that the appearance of ground-attack aircraft over the battlefield "affords visible proof to heavily engaged troops that the Higher Command is in close touch with the front, and is employing every means to support the fighting troops." It also directs the squadrons to "dislocate traffic and inflict appreciable loss on reinforcements hastening up to the battlefield."
March 7-8 (overnight) – Five German Riesenflugzeug giant bombers raid England. One of them drops a 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) bomb on Warrington Crescent near London's Paddington station; Lena Ford, who in 1914 had composed the popular wartime song Keep the Home Fires Burning and her 30-year-old son Walter are killed in their house by this bomb, becoming the first United States citizens to be killed in a German bombing raid.
March 21 – Germany launches Operation Michael, marking the beginning of the Spring Offensive. In the initial attack against the British front west of St Quentin, the German Army Air Service has 1,680 aircraft to the Royal Flying Corps' 579. Thirty-eight German close air support squadrons take part in the offensive; massed at key points of the attack, the German ground-attack aircraft operate in great numbers, both attacking the enemy front line and disrupting the flow of enemy supplies, replacements, and reinforcements behind the line.
Under attack by several German Fokker Dr.Itriplanes over Albert, France, 18-year-old Canadian Second Lieutenant Alan Arnett McLeod, the pilot of an Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 of the Royal Flying Corpss No. 2 Squadron, and his observer, Lieutenant Arthur Hammond, shoot down four of the German fighters before themselves being shot down in flames and crash-landing in no man's land. The seriously injured McLeod carries the badly wounded Hammond to the British lines, and, although McLeod is wounded again in the process, both men survive. McLeod will receive the Victoria Cross for his actions in a ceremony on September 4 at the age of 19, the youngest airman to be awarded the Victoria Cross in World War I.
The Germans redesignate their Shutzstafffeln (escort squadrons) as Schlachtstaffeln (attack squadrons) in recognition of their close air support achievements during Operation Michael.
April 4 – A two-seater aircraft takes off from a flying-off platform on a ship for the first time, when a Royal Air Force Sopwith 1½ Strutter launches from a platform mounted on a 12-inch (305-mm) gun turret of the Australian battlecruiserHMAS Australia. By November 1918, ships of the British Grand Fleet will carry over 100 aircraft on flying-off platforms, by which time 22 light cruisers will have a flying-off platform and every battleship and battlecruiser will carry a two-seat aircraft on a platform mounted on a forward turret and a single-seat fighter on a platform mounted on an after turret.
April 7 – The German submarine UB-53 sees an airship accidentally catch fire and crash into the sea near the Strait of Otranto with the loss of all hands. It is the German Navy Zeppelin L 59 which had been modified for long-range flights, while on the outbound leg of a flight from Yambol, Bulgaria, in an attempt to bomb the Royal Navy base at Malta.
While attacking the German Navy Zeppelin L 62 while piloting an F.E.2b over England, Royal Air Force Lieutenant C. H. Noble-Campbell of No. 38 Squadron is wounded in the head by machine-gun fire from L 62 but returns safely to base. This is the only occasion on which an attacking airman is wounded in combat with an airship.
May 9 - French ace René Fonck shoots down six German aircraft in a day.
May 9-10 (overnight) – The German Riesenflugzeug Abteilung ("Giant Airplane Detachment) 501 (Rfa 501) attempts the first heavier-than-air raid on England since March, sending four Riesenfluzeuge bombers to bomb Dover. They encounter high winds over the North Sea and are recalled; when they return home, they find their bases shrouded in fog. One lands safely, but the other three are destroyed in crashes, with only one entire crew surviving and only crew member surviving from each of the other two bombers.
May 10 – The German Navy Zeppelin L 62 explodes, breaks in half, and crashes in flames over the North Sea with the loss of all hands under mysterious circumstances. The German Naval Airship Service blames her loss on an accident, while the Royal Air Force claims that one of its Felixstowe F.2aflying boats shot her down.
May 19-20 (overnight) - Germany launches the largest heavier-than-air raid against the United Kingdom of World War I, with 38 Gotha and three Riesenfkugzeug bombers participating. Bombs fall on London for the last time in World War I during the raid. The bombers drop 1,236 kg (2,725 lb) of bombs according to British estimates or 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) according to the Germans, killing 49 people, injuring 177, and inflicting £117,317 in damage. British fighters and antiaircraft guns shoot down six Gothas, and after a protracted engagement a Bristol F.2B Fighter of the Royal Air Force's No. 141 Squadron forces a seventh Gotha to land substantially intact in England; the Bristol Fighter's two-man crew, Lieutenants Edward Eric Turner and Henry Balfour Barwise, each will receive the Distinguished Flying Cross for their achievement. The Germans launch no further heavier-than-air bomber attacks against the United Kingdom during World War I; in the 27 heavier-than-air raids, German bombers have dropped 111,935 kg (246,774 lb) of bombs, killing 835 people, injuring 1,972, and inflicting £1,418,272 of damage in exchange for the loss of 62 bombers either shot down over England or destroyed in crashes while attempting to return to base.
Early June – The Royal Navy destroyerHMS Vectis conducts towing trials with the NS-classblimpN.S.3 to see if an airship which runs out of fuel or suffers a mechanical breakdown can be towed at speed by a ship at sea. Vectis reaches nearly 20 knots with N.S.3 in tow during successful initial trials, but N.S.3 touches down on the sea on the final run.
June 5 – Douglas Campbell, the first American to become an ace while flying for an American-trained unit, scores his sixth and final victory. Badly wounded during the flight, he sees no further combat.
June 29: Flight Lieutenant William John Cox, 20-year old Canadian serving with the RAF Naval Unit, dies in an air crash at Easthampnett, Sussex, England, when the engine of his aircraft stalls. He received his commission a week earlier and was due shortly to leave for France. His body was shipped back to Toronto and buried at Mt. Pleasant cemetery, August 14, 1918.
During the month, the American writer William Faulkner arrives in Canada for flight training with the Royal Air Force. He still is in training there when the World War I ends, after which he returns to the United States.
July 9 – British aceJames McCudden is killed when his aircraft crashes on take-off at Auxi-le-Château, France. He has 57 victories at the time of his death; enough to make him the seventh-highest-scoring ace of World War I.
July 26 – Major Edward "Mick" Mannock, the United Kingdom's highest-scoring ace of the war, is shot down by German ground fire and killed. He traditionally is credited with 73 victories as the highest-scoring British ace of World War I, but he never claimed that many and his actual score may have been 61.
An aircraft takes off from a platform installed on a towed lighter for the first time, when Royal Air Force Lieutenant Stewart Culley takes off in a Sopwith Camel from a lighter towed behind a British warship.
A Royal Air Force bombing raid over Germany by 12 Airco DH.9s suffers the loss of 10 aircraft shot down.
French ace Lieutenant Gabriel Guérin is killed in action. His 23 victories will tie him with Lieutenant René Dorme for ninth-highest-scoring French ace of World War I.
August 5-6 (overnight) – Five Imperial German NavyZeppelins attempt to bomb the United Kingdom in the fourth and final such raid of 1918. All of their bombs fall through clouds into the North Sea, and the commander of the Naval Airship Division, FregattenkapitänPeter Strasser, is killed in action when a Royal Air Force Airco DH.4 piloted by Major Egbert Cadbury and crewed by Captain Robert Leckie shoots down in flames the Zeppelin in which he is flying as an observer, L70, over the coast of England. After Strassers death, Germany attempts no more airship raids against the United Kingdom. During their 1915-1918 bombing campaign, German airships have made 208 raids against England, dropped 5,907 bombs, killed 528 people, and injured 1,156.
During a dogfight, the Fokker D.VII fighter of the German fighter ace OberleutnantErich Löwenhardt collides with another D.VII flown by Leutnant Alfred Wenz near Chaulnes, France. Both men bail out; Wenz survives, but Löwenhardt's parachute fails and he falls to his death from 12,000 feet (3,658 meters). Löwenhardt's score of 53 kills will make him the third-highest-scoring German ace of World War I.
After shooting down two enemy aircraft earlier in the day, the German ace Rudolf Berthold collides with an enemy plane during a dogfight with Sopwith Camels. His Fokker D.VII crashes into a house, injuring him; although he survives, he never flies another combat mission. His total of 44 kills will make him the sixth-highest-scoring German ace of World War I.
After taking off in a Sopwith Camel from a barge towed behind the destroyerHMS Redoubt, Royal Air Force Flight Sub-LieutenantStuart Culley shoots down the Imperial German Navy ZeppelinL 53, which had been flying a scouting mission over the North Sea. It is the first successful interception of an enemy aircraft by a shipborne fighter. German airships never conduct another scouting mission. L 53s sole survivor is a crewman who parachutes from the Zeppelin at an altitude of 19,000 feet (5,791 m), almost certainly a record at the time.L 53 is the last German airship destroyed during World War I.
The first use of a parachute from an airplane in combat occurs when a German pilot escapes his burning Pfalz D.III after being attacked by a pilot from the Royal Air Forces No. 19 Squadron.
August 25 – Flying a Sopwith Dolphin, Jerry Pentland of the Royal Air Force's No. 87 Squadron downs two German aircraft - a DFW two-seater and a Fokker D.VII fighter - before being shot down himself and wounded in the foot. They are his last victories, but he emerges from World War I as Australia?s fifth-highest-scoring ace with 23 kills.
August 27 – The first Director of the U.S. Army Air Service is appointed.
Known as "Black September;" during the month the Allies lose 560 aircraft, of which 87 are American.
September 7 – The U.S. Marine Corpss 1st Marine Aviation Force, building up in the Calais-Dunkirk area of France to operate as an element of the U.S. Navys Northern Bombing Group, takes delivery of its first bomber.
September 12 – 627 French and 611 American fighters are brought together for the Battle of Saint-Mihiel. At the time, it is the largest force of aircraft assembled for a single operation.
September 28 – Flying an Airco DH.9 with the Royal Air Forces No. 218 Squadron, U.S. Marine Corps First Lieutenant Everett R. Brewer (pilot) and Gunnery Sergeant Harry B. Wershiner (observer) become the first U.S. Marine Corps personnel to shoot down an enemy plane in aerial combat. They both are badly wounded during the engagement.
Second Lieutenant Chapin Barr becomes the first U.S. Marine Corps pilot to die in aerial combat.
German ground-attack aircraft of Schlachtstaffel 3 intervene to support German troops in danger of being overrun by United States Army forces in the Argonne Forest in France. A German officer on the ground reports that the German air attack causes the American troops to break off their attack and scatter "in wild flight."
In attempt to lure Belgian "balloon-busting" ace Baron Willy Coppens to his own destruction, German troops load the basket of an observation balloon in his operating area with explosives and have their artillery open fire on Allied positions in order to attract him to the balloon. When he arrives and attacks the balloon, the Germans detonate the explosives. Although Coppens' blue Hanriot HD.1 flies through the explosion, he emerges uninjured.
October 5 – The famed French pilot Lieutenant Roland Garros, who in 1915 had become the first man to shoot down another aircraft by firing a machine gun through a tractor propeller, is shot down and killed in combat near Vouziers, France. He has four victories at the time of his death.
October 12 – The Imperial German Navys Naval Airship Division flies its last combat mission.
Baron Willy Coppens, the highest-scoring Belgian ace, shoots down a German observation balloon near Praatbos, Belgium. It is the last of his 37 victories, 34 of them observation balloons. Attacking another German balloon later in the same flight, he is badly wounded near Torhout, Belgium, forcing him to crash-land. World War I ends four weeks later with him as its top-scoring "balloon buster."
The first all-U.S. Marine Corps air combat action in history takes place, when five Airco DH.4s and three Airco DH.9s bomb Pitthem, Belgium. On the return flight, German Fokker D.VII and Pfalz D.III fighters attack the bombers. Second Lieutenant Ralph Talbot (pilot) and Gunnery Sergeant Robert Guy Robinson (gunner) become separated from the formation after their DH.4 loses power, then encounter 12 German fighters. Although Robinson is terribly wounded during the resulting dogfight, they hold off the Germans and Talbot lands at a Belgian hospital, where Robinson is treated. For this action, they will become the first U.S. Marine Corps aviators to receive the Medal of Honor during a ceremony on November 11, 1920.
October 25 – U.S. Marine Corps Second Lieutenant Ralph Talbot dies in a crash during a test flight 11 days after the action for which he will receive a posthumous Medal of Honor in 1920.
October 27 – Italian acePier Ruggero Piccio is shot down by enemy ground fire and captured by Austro-Hungarian troops. He finishes the war with 24 victories, the third-highest-scoring Italian ace of World War I.
French ace Lieutenant Michel Coiffard is gravely wounded during a dogfight with German Fokker D.VII fighters. He flies back to base, where he dies of his wounds. His 34 kills will make him the sixth-highest scoring French ace of World War I.
October 29 – The Danish airline Det Danske Luftfartselskab, trading in the English-speaking world as Danish Air Lines – the oldest airline that still exists – is founded. It will begin flight operations in August 1920.
Austria and Hungary conclude separate ceasefires with the Allies, ending Austria-Hungary?s participation in World War I. The ceasefires bring the more-or-less continuous bombing campaigns of Italy and Austria-Hungary against one another to an end. Since Italy's entry into the war in May 1915, Austria-Hungary has conducted 343 bombing raids against various Italian cities - particularly Mestre, Padua, Treviso, Venice, Verona, and Vicenza - killing 984 people and injuring 1,193, while Italy's bombing targets have included Fiume, Pola, and Trieste.
The Armistice with Germany brings World War I to an end. After the signing of the Armistice, all Allied aircraft flying over withdrawing German forces fly streamers attached to their wings to indicate that they have no hostile intent.
Italy?s Corpo Aeronautico Militare ("Militaty Aviation Corps") finishes the war with a strength of 2,725 aircraft. During the war, 105 Italian factories have manufactured airframes, aero engines, and aviation propellers, producing 11,986 airplanes, almost half under license and only 2,208 made entirely of Italian components.
^ abKnapp, Walter, "The Marines Take Wing," Aviation History, May 2012, p. 52.
^Thetford, Owen, British Naval Aircraft Since 1912, Sixth Edition, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1991, ISBN1-55750-076-2, p. 15.
^The date of this event is placed on 1 August 1918 in Whitehouse, Arch, The Zeppelin Fighters: The Fascinating Story of the Great Zeppelin Raids of the First World War, New York: Ace Books, 1966, no ISBN, p.251.
^Thetford, Owen, British Naval Aircraft Since 1912, Sixth Edition, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1991, ISBN1-55750-076-2, p. 97.
^Layman, R.D., Before the Aircraft Carrier: The Development of Aviation Vessels 1849-1922, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1989, ISBN0-87021-210-9, p. 102.
^Dobson, Christopher, and John Miller, The Day They Almost Bombed Moscow: The Allied War in Russia, 1918-1920, New York: Atheneum, 1986, no ISBN number, pp. 63-64.
^ abcFranks, Norman, Aircraft Versus Aircraft: The Illustrated Story of Fighter Pilot Combat From 1914 to the Present Day, London: Grub Street, 1998, ISBN1-902304-04-7, p. 62.
^Crosby, Francis, The Complete Guide to Fighters & Bombers of the World: An Illustrated History of the World's Greatest Military Aircraft, From the Pioneering Days of Air Fighting in World War I Through the Jet Fighters and Stealth Bombers of the Present Day, London: Hermes House, 2006, ISBN9781846810008, p. 25.
^Guttman, Jon, "Honored By the Enemy," Aviation History, January 2018, pp. 12-13.
^Layman, R.D., Before the Aircraft Carrier: The Development of Aviation Vessels 1849-1922, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1989, ISBN0-87021-210-9, pp. 66, 70.
^Layman, R.D., Before the Aircraft Carrier: The Development of Aviation Vessels 1849-1922, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1989, ISBN0-87021-210-9, p. 28.
^Phythyon, John R., Jr., Great War at Sea: Zeppelins, Virginia Beach, Virginia: Avalanche Press, Inc., 2007, p. 14.
^Knapp, Walter, "The Marines Take Wing", Aviation History, May 2012, p. 50.
^Borch, Fred L., and Robert E. Dorr, "Bravery Over Belgium," Military History, March 2012, p. 17.
^ abGooch, John, Mussolini and His Generals: The Armed Forces and Fascist Foreign Policy, 1922-1940, Cambridge, U.K: Cambridge University Press, 2007, ISBN978-0-521-85602-7, p. 53.
^Gardiner, Robert, ed., Conway?s All the World?s Fighting Ships 1906-1921, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1985, ISBN0-87021-907-3, p. 191.
^Gooch, John, Mussolini and His Generals: The Armed Forces and Fascist Foreign Policy, 1922-1940, Cambridge, U.K: Cambridge University Press, 2007, ISBN978-0-521-85602-7, p. 52.
^Franks, Norman, Aircraft vs. Aircraft: The Illustrated Story of Fighter Pilot Combat From 1914 to the Present Day, London: Grub Street, 1998, ISBN1-902304-04-7, p. 63.
^Clark, Basil, The History of Airships, New York: St Martin's Press, 1961, Library of Congress 64-12336, p. 147.
^ abAngelucci, Enzo, The American Fighter: The Definitive Guide to American Fighter Aircraft From 1917 to the Present, New York: Orion Books, 1987, ISBN0-517-56588-9, p. 378.
^Donald, David, ed., The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft, New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1997, ISBN0-7607-0592-5, p. 186.
^Angelucci, Enzo, The American Fighter: The Definitive Guide to American Fighter Aircraft From 1917 to the Present, New York: Orion Books, 1987, ISBN0-517-56588-9, p. 427.
^ abDonald, David, ed., The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft, New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1997, ISBN978-0-7607-0592-6, p. 93.
^Angelucci, Enzo, The American Fighter: The Definitive Guide to American Fighter Aircraft From 1917 to the Present, New York: Orion Books, 1987, ISBN0-517-56588-9, p. 430.
^Swanborough, Gordon, and Peter M. Bowers, United States Navy Aircraft Since 1911, London: Putnam, 1976, ISBN0-370-10054-9, p. 424.
^Angelucci, Enzo, The American Fighter: The Definitive Guide to American Fighter Aircraft From 1917 to the Present, New York: Orion Books, 1987, p. 116.
^Donald, David, ed., The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft, New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1997, ISBN978-0-7607-0592-6, p. 77.
^Angelucci, Enzo, The American Fighter: The Definitive Guide to American Fighter Aircraft From 1917 to the Present, New York: Orion Books, 1987, p. 117.
^Angelucci, Enzo, The American Fighter: The Definitive Guide to American Fighter Aircraft From 1917 to the Present, New York: Orion Books, 1987, p. 293.
^Angelucci, Enzo, The American Fighter: The Definitive Guide to American Fighter Aircraft From 1917 to the Present, New York: Orion Books, 1987, p. 195, claims that this flight was in "mid-August 1918."
^Angelucci, Enzo, The American Fighter: The Definitive Guide to American Fighter Aircraft From 1917 to the Present, New York: Orion Books, 1987, p. 196.
^Guttman, Robert, "The Navy?s Flying Cannon," Aviation History, May 2017, pp. 16, 17.
^Angelucci, Enzo, The American Fighter: The Definitive Guide to American Fighter Aircraft From 1917 to the Present, New York: Orion Books, 1987, p. 291.
^Angelucci, Enzo, The American Fighter: The Definitive Guide to American Fighter Aircraft From 1917 to the Present, New York: Orion Books, 1987, ISBN0-517-56588-9, p. 420.
^Donald, David, ed., The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft, New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1997, ISBN0-7607-0592-5, p. 39.
^Donald, David, ed., The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft, New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1997, ISBN0-7607-0592-5, p. 40.