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Old 01-14-2006, 10:36 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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How common was wireless in WWI aircraft?

I've heard that British artillery observation aircraft had one-way wireless transmitters, and that they could direct a barrage using Morse code. (ISTR that telegraphs were used in balloons during the American Civil War.) Did any other aircraft in WWI use wireless? Did the Germans use it? The French or Americans? Or was it only the Brits?
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Old 01-14-2006, 10:50 AM
David Simmons David Simmons is offline
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According to this site wireless telegraphy equipment was added to reconnaisance aircraft by 1915.

I don't think it was common in fighters or bombers if any was used at all. At that time radio was mostly Morse Code equipment and was cumbersome and heavy.

There were also problems communicating aerial observations. Ideally an airplane could land and the crew could deliver an observation in person, but it was not always possible to find a suitable landing location near the proper officer’s unit. Some units devised systems of having messages dropped in weighted bundles, but many of the notes blew away, landed in trees, or were ruined in the mud. Other units invented signal systems based on airplane position and movement, but these were frequently misinterpreted. By 1915, mechanics began to add wireless telegraph equipment that could send messages to the ground in Morse Code to the airplanes.
Reconnaissance pilots had proved their usefulness to the military. Unfortunately, both sides knew that if they were receiving valuable information from their pilots, the other side must be doing the same. Pilots realized that the enemy they had flown past and given friendly waves to was also close enough to shoot with a service pistol. Ground mechanics began mounting machine guns and soon, the Germans debuted the Fokker Eindecker as a separate type of airplane--fast, light, and well armed with a trained pilot--to be devoted solely to destroying reconnaissance planes. Suddenly, the slow, awkward two-seaters, already weighed down with the heavy wireless equipment, became easy targets for enemy fighter pilots. Escort fighter planes were then sent to protect their own reconnaissance planes.
Old 01-14-2006, 01:58 PM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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Note-WW1 saw zeppelins used as heavy bombing aircraft.

They carried extensive wireless gear, sending & receiving.
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Old 01-14-2006, 08:01 PM
SenorBeef SenorBeef is offline
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It was much more common to have wired communications with reaaaally long phone lines on a spool in the tail.
Old 01-14-2006, 08:55 PM
Raguleader Raguleader is offline
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Apon seeing the topic, the first thing I thought was "Wireless? Nah, they had to use CAT5 cable to network their computers in the WWI planes. 802.11b wasn't developed and deployed (By US Navy aviators) until shortly before the Battle of Midway

Disclaimer: This post is in jest. Nothing in it is of any informational value.
Old 01-15-2006, 10:47 AM
slaphead slaphead is offline
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random article on WW1 observation
I believe artillery spotting was the main purpose of aircraft during WW1. Most other aircraft were there to protect or destroy the spotters.

Note that tethered balloons were still very important for artillery control and were not only prime targets for aircraft but very heavily defended - shooting them down was considered to be a considerable achievement. For instance this character was a notorious Balloon Buster


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