| Material Information
||American air service observation in World War I
||xii, 482, 2 leaves. : illus. ; 28 cm.
||Frank, Sam Hager, 1932- ( Dissertant )
Mahn, Dr. ( Thesis advisor )
Woty, Franklin ( Reviewer )
Proctor, Samuel ( Reviewer )
Imann, F. H. ( Reviewer )
Gropp, A. H. ( Degree grantor )
||University of Florida
||Place of Publication:
||Subjects / Keywords:
||Aeronautics, Military ( lcsh )
History thesis Ph. D ( lcsh )
World War, 1914-1918 -- Aerial operations ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- History -- UF ( lcsh )
||bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
||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
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
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
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--University of Florida, 1961.
||Bibliography: leaves 425-482.
||Additional Physical Form:
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| Record Information
||University of Florida
||University of Florida
||All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
||alephbibnum - 000568636
oclc - 13691866
notis - ACZ5374