4.4 A war in the air
Aircraft were still relatively new when the First World War started. When war broke out in 1914 there was little actual understanding of how to use aircraft effectively in combat. However, as the war progressed, aircraft took on an increasingly important role in warfare. The films on this page show different types of aircraft and the devastating impact they could have.
GERMAN PLANE WRECK
2 MINS 45 SECS, SILENT, B/W, 1914-1918
In England, a large crowd turns out to see the remnants of a German plane. Soldiers examine the wreckage.
BRITAIN'S MASTERY OF THE AIR
0 MINS 43 SECS, SILENT, B/W, 1917
A long line of planes is seen on a field. In the next shot, men move the planes by pushing them, revealing just how light they are. The Royal Air Force was not formed until 1918, so these could be planes for the Royal Flying Corps.
___________________________________________________________________________________THE WORLD OF THE ROYAL NAVY AIR SERVICE
1 MIN 2 SECS, SILENT, B/W, 1917
Filmed in the Mediterranean. We see a British airship set out on observation patrol over the sea, with footage shot from the ground and from the aircraft itself.
___________________________________________________________________________________ZEPPELIN OVER ESSEX
0 mins 36 secs, Silent, B/W, 1914-1918
This film shows the damage done by a Zeppelin to buildings in Essex, England. Men look through the rubble.
___________________________________________________________________________________WAR DAMAGED HOUSE
0 MINS 47 SECS, SILENT, B/W, 1914-1918
Pedestrians stop to take a look at a house with severe damage, particularly to its first floor. The exact cause of the destruction is unknown, but is probably the result either of shelling by German ships or an air raid.
___________________________________________________________________________________THE VALUE OF SUPREMACY IN THE AIR
0 MINS 44 SECS, SILENT, B/W, 1916
Observation balloons are lowered to the ground by a large number of people pulling on ropes. They are then safely housed inside a hangar. This film has been dated to 1916.