Title: American air service observation in World War I
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00097982/00001
 Material Information
Title: American air service observation in World War I
Physical Description: xii, 482, 2 leaves. : illus. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Frank, Sam Hager, 1932- ( Dissertant )
Mahn, Dr. ( Thesis advisor )
Woty, Franklin ( Reviewer )
Proctor, Samuel ( Reviewer )
Imann, F. H. ( Reviewer )
Gropp, A. H. ( Degree grantor )
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 1961
Copyright Date: 1961
Subjects / Keywords: Aeronautics, Military   ( lcsh )
History thesis Ph. D   ( lcsh )
World War, 1914-1918 -- Aerial operations   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- History -- UF   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Abstract: A knowledge of enemy strength and activity has always been essential to the formulation and execution of successful plans for military operations. After centuries of war in Europe cavalry reconnaissance evolved as the principal means of obtaining this strategic intelligence. It was always a difficult mission to perform and became even more arduous after the rise of mass armies and the increase of fire power at the time of the French Revolution. By a curious coincidence, man-carrying balloons appeared during the era of the French Revolution. Military leaders, conscious of the importance but mindful of the difficulty of obtaining satisfactory reconnaissance. Initially hailed these remarkable spheres as the solution to their problem. The experience of military aeronautics in the following century revealed, however, that balloon detachments lacked the mobility necessary to participate in the war of movement. A contempt for the technique of aerial observation developed among general staffs because of conspicuously inaccurate reports from aeronauts who vrere often free-lance adventurers with more courage than training or knowledge in military science. Interest in aerial surveillance waned and In most armies balloons were subordinated to the use of cavalry reconnaissance. Failing to dissolve the fog of war, commanders sought some system which would Insure victory in spite of their blindness. This was the basis for the doctrine of the offensive a ou trance " -the headlong offensive. It was a simple and attractive formula: a determined advance at all costs to impose a commander* s will on the enemy, making the latter's movement of little importance. This doctrine lessened the army's dependence on its reconnaissance branches such as the cavalry or aeronautics. The soldiers that settled into the trenches of western Europe after a few disastrous months of open warfare in 1914 were the victims of the attempt to wage the offensive a outrance with massed armies and devastating fire power. The awful results of this fighting have become familiar to us all. The poverty of their strategic doctrine was clearly demonstrated to the generals on both sides and the following years of the war were spent in a halting search for weapons and techniques of achieving victory. Machine guns, poison gas, and tanks were some of the developments in land warfare. On the sea, the submarine proved to be an extremely effective weapon. Even the air became a battleground In World War I. This study presents a detailed narrative and analysis of one of the aspects of aerial warfare which the United States Air Service performed during World War I—observation aviation. While bombardment and pursuit aviation of the American Expeditionary Forces caught the public fancy and subsequently have received substantial amplification by "air power" enthusiasts, it was the use of airplanes for liaison purposes and for close-support observation and reconnaissance that was the most significant in terms of achievement. This achievement, albeit limited In tline and scope, has often been overlooked and deprecated in an effort to substantiate arguments of "Air Force" versus "Army" or tactical (fighter) versus strategic (bombardment) aviation doctrines. This study is a consideration of the "Air Service" concept of Vtorld War I. It does not attempt to present a case for or against the "Air Force" concept which maintains that military aviation should be a separate, independent, and co-equal establishment. While lengthy considerations of present developments in aerial reconnaissance such as were highlighted by the American U 2 Incident of May, 1960, may be difficult, a study of aerial observation during the war when it was first significantly effective may be of interest and value. In an age when supersonic speeds are limiting further progress in fighter aviation and when guided missiles are threatening to replace piloted bombers, perhaps the study of observation--one of the original goals of man's quest for flight--is not without purpose. The author has not dealt with all phases of America's military aviation effort in World War I, The Navy's achievement in the air is beyond the scope of this study. The Lafayette Escadrille, that colorful band of American adventurers who, along with French aviators fought the Germans in the skies of western Europe even before the United States entered the war, made little contribution to the development of American aerial observation during World War I. Also omitted are the activities of the Americans who served in pursuit or bombardment organizations with the British Royal Air Force or the Italian Air Service, This work is not simply a chronicle of United States Army aviation units. Although Air Service organizations are mentioned from time to time, their function in the narrative which follows is to distinguish the activities of the men who served in them. Indeed, the focus of this study lies in the role played by aerial observation in shaping the developments of the war. It is a premise of this work that observation was the motivation for the first employment of airplanes and that in World War I other branches of aviation grew from this central theme. Pursuit and bombardment aviation were never so completely separated from observation as to discontinue performing reconnaissance while carrying out their specialized assignments. While most of the narrative is concerned with the operations of observation squadrons the activities of these other units as well as those of balloon companies is also presented. The writer has tried to make his narrative intelligible to those who, like himself, are outsiders to military aviation. The overly technical and obscure dialect of military aviation has been avoided as much as possible. Changes of rank and assignment were rapid during the war, so that the prefixes to officers' names varied from month to month. When describing a particular event, the rank held at the time has been give. When speaking more generally, the highest rank attained by the individual is used. Perhaps no two writers would make the same choice of events or of chronological limits in telling this story. Primarily concerned with a well-knit and comprehensive account, I have chosen to begin with the development of aerial observation prior to the entry of the United States into World War I, In describing this experience it seemed worthwhile to carry the narrative back briefly to the evolution of aircraft. In several Instances, when It was felt that such an analysis would contribute to a better understanding of the central theme, considerable detail has been lavished upon the discovery of a particular technique. Oftentimes, on the other hand, developments that do not reveal the basic trends in aviation have been omitted or referred to only in passing. If pursuit and bombardment developments appear neglected, it is because this study is not intended as an exhaustive account of all types of aerial activity, and throughout such activities have been relegated to their proper relationship to observation operations. This study is an attempt to tell the story of the tool of aerial observation used in World War I. For a fuller comprehension of the subject it seeks to explain the development of the means and doctrine of observation aviation prior to and during this conflict. Throughout the countless millennia in which men have implemented their unfriendly Impulses, military Intelligence has been of decisive Importance in making command decisions of strategy and tactics. Without minimizing other Important factors affecting warfare, such as morale and logistics, a disregard for the intelligence aspect of the art of war might lead to disaster. With this much in the nature of explanation I must nevertheless confess a sense of inadequacy. In so vast and complex a field, this work must be regarded in the nature of an experiment. Despite intensive reading in the source materials and representative works It would not have been possible for me to undertake this study had I not been unusually fortunate in securing the assistance of many people. I am under especially heavy obligation to Dr. John K. Mahon, who served as chairman of my supervisory committee and guided this study. To Dr. Franklin A. Doty, Dr. Frederick li. Hartmann, Dr. Rembert W. Patrick, Dr. Samuel Proctor, and Dr. Oscar Svarlien, I wish to express my appreciation for their help in the preparation of this dissertation.Their scholarly advice has been an encouragement throughout my studies and they have contributed to the solution of many of the difficult problems involved in this work, I owe particular thanks to the historians and archivists at the United States Air Force Historical Division Archives. Dr. Maurer Maurer was particularly helpful during the earliest stages of investigation. Miss Marguerite Kennedy and Mr. Frank Myers greatly facilitated my researches. Colonel Laurence Macauley and Major James F, Sundernan aided me in getting clearance and approval to use the materials in this depository. To the staff of the Air University Library go sincere thanks for a multitude of services, Mr. John Cameron saw to my repeated requests for books. Recognition for assistance is also due Dr. Robert Krauskopf and the archivists in the World War I Branch, War Records Division of the National Archives and Records Service, Finally, I acknowledge with pride the contribution of my wife, who has been at the same time the chief help and the primary distraction in the completion of this study, and whose efforts in both roles could not have been more delightful.
Thesis: Thesis--University of Florida, 1961.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 425-482.
Additional Physical Form: Also available on World Wide Web
General Note: Manuscript copy.
General Note: Vita.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00097982
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000568636
oclc - 13691866
notis - ACZ5374


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