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American aviation news reel footage 1918


old man emu
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The use of aviation and it's integration with ground forces in WW1 must surely be one of the most significant turning points in the history of warfare. Others would no doubt be the invention of cannons and firearms. Modern communications would be another one. But in my opinion, air power ranks right up there.

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41 minutes ago, willedoo said:

The use of aviation and it's integration with ground forces in WW1 must surely be one of the most significant turning points in the history of warfare.

And who was first to demonstrate the necessity of this integration and to go on to prove it? The Australians under Lieutenant General John Monash (his first as a corps commander) for the Battle of Hamel on 4th July 1918. As a result of meticulous planning both in the selection of objectives, involvement of all possible weapons from the infantryman's bayonet to tanks and aircraft (both as attack and resupply vehicles), the Hamel confrontation was a brilliant success. In two hours, all objectives were obtained, and 1,400 German prisoners were captured, as well as many weapons. Australian troops suffered 1,062 casualties, with 800 killed. Several arms of attack were coordinated through the detailed and organised planning of Monash and his senior officers. All decisions and strategies were outlined, refined and formalised in group meetings.

 

https://www.awm.gov.au/visit/exhibitions/1918/battles/hamel

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 Monash was, nevertheless, a noted advocate of the co-ordinated use of infantry, aircraft, artillery and tanks. As he wrote in the book: 'The Australian Victories in France in 1918'

 

... the true role of infantry  to expend itself upon heroic physical effort, not to wither away under merciless machine-gun fire, not to impale itself on hostile bayonets, nor to tear itself to pieces in hostile entanglements but to advance under the maximum possible protection of the maximum possible array of mechanical resources, in the form of guns, machine-guns, tanks, mortars and aeroplanes; to advance with as little impediment as possible; to be relieved as far as possible of the obligation to fight their way forward; to march, resolutely, regardless of the din and tumult of battle, to the appointed goal; and there to hold and defend the territory gained; and to gather in the form of prisoners, guns and stores, the fruits of victory.

 

Surely this change in operational thinking was taken on board by the major powers after WWI, but is would seem that only Germany gave it a lot of consideration as it was the means for employing Bewegungskrieg (manoeuvre warfare), the traditional German tactic of deep penetrations and the bypassing of enemy strong points to encircle and destroy enemy forces in a Kesselschlacht (cauldron battle). It is clear that the German military between 1919 and 1930 conducted many post mortems on the battels of WWI, and developed ways to avoid the trench warfare that did not produce results, and only  sped the development of military machinery to return the field mobility that had won numerous battles in the pre-industrial ages.

 

On the other hand, the Allies opted to wallow in the grief of the carnage and direct their efforts to turning swards onto ploughshares. As a result, they fell behind in developing methods to counter planning for mobile war. This was clear during the invasion of France where. although the Allies had superior numbers of men, artillery, armoured vehicles and aircraft, tactics were not up to meeting the speed of a mechanised army. However, if one lesson was not learned by Germany, it was that a rapidly moving front line requires an equally rapidly moving supply chain. It's great the have fast tanks, motorcycle-mounted troops, troop truck and aircraft, but unless fuel and ammunition can be brought up quickly, then these machines simply become armoured pill-boxes. That's what happened in France at the start of the War; North Africa; the Eastern Front, and back to the 1944 Christmas Ardennes breakthrough.

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The Nazis also forgot to allow a certain percentage of manufacturing to be retained for parts purposes, putting virtually every part and component into the construction of more equipment and aircraft. As a result, parts shortages crippled the Luftwaffe, as well as many other military divisions, and the Nazis had to resort to cannibalising good aircraft and machines to keep others going.

This policy of using all parts and components for manufacture of equipment and aircraft, was almost certainly a direct order from Hitler, who wanted to display the maximum manufactured number of items of equipment and aircraft, in order to frighten the Allies.

OME is spot-on with the reference to Monash being the architect of modern military tactics. Many believe if Monash was given greater commanding powers earlier in the War, the War would have been over in half the time.

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