C. Forbes, Inc. was pleased to participate in last week’s annual EAA AirVenture Oshkosh Fly-In and Convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. For the 64th year, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), hosted the iconic air show for over 500,000 aviation enthusiasts at Wittman Regional Airport. Billed as the “World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration”, one of the featured themes at this year’s show was the introduction of aviation warfare, which came of age in 1914 with the commencement of World War One. Media coverage of the event included reactions from attendees, including the importance of “preserving and bringing to life” the history of older aircraft, which was on full display at this year’s event.
On the Ground in Oshkosh
The 4.7 million members of the United States Armed Forces who served during “The Great War” have sadly become members of a “forgotten war” for many. In collaboration with Roger Fisk, Director of Development at the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission, a team from C. Forbes, Inc. traveled to Oshkosh to assist in increasing awareness of the contributions and sacrifices made a century ago. We invite you to visit www.ww1cc.org/osh16 to view images of the road trip to Oshkosh, and some of the activities and exhibits that re-created the challenges faced and courage exhibited by aviation pioneers. The Commission’s Vice Chair, Edward Fountain, noted that “technology has advanced a long way since then but…it’s the same basic technology. And to think that we’re flying today what they were flying a hundred years ago, is pretty impressive.”
Aviation Warfare Comes of Age
Military aircraft was in its infancy as much of Europe entered World War One. As the first major conflict to see widespread use of powered aircraft, fighter pilots were often armed only with pistols, if armed at all. Flying new, often experimental aircraft, and at the mercy of the weather, crashes were commonplace and lives were lost. By 1918, fighter planes and massive bombers were in use, armed with multiple machine guns and devastating explosive payloads.
Brigadier General R. G. Head, USAF (Ret.) has prepared a timeline which chronicles the achievements and events of the U.S., its allies and enemy forces pertaining to aviation milestones before and during the years of World War One. The milestones reached are rich with the history of aviation and reveal both the setbacks and advances that shaped the world of aviation as we know it today.
Highlights of U.S. Military Aviation 1914-1918
July 28, 1914 – Following the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in June, 1914, “The Great War” begins as Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson remains neutral.
April 20, 1915 – Considered the first combat air sortie in U.S. Army history, First Lt. Byron Jones (pilot) and Lt. Thomas Milling (observer), have Mexican forces open fire on them over the Rio Grande at Brownsville, Texas. The plane is hit, but no injuries result.
March 21, 1916 – The Escadrille Americaine is officially authorized to organize a group of American volunteers to form squadron N124 within the French Air Service. The numbers of American volunteers are so great that only some can be accommodated in the original Escadrille, but are assigned and fly with over 100 different French squadrons.
April 6, 1917 – The U.S. declares war on Germany, officially entering World War One.
May 19, 1917 – The United States adopts an official national insignia for the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps aircraft. But for a period from 1918-1919, a white star centered in a blue circle with a red disc centered within the star remained the marking in use until 1942.
July 6, 1917 – The first elements of the American Expeditionary Force arrive in France.
December 26, 1917 – The Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny” becomes the first basic trainer for U.S. pilots.
February 5, 1918 – The first aerial victory by the U.S. military is achieved by 2/Lt Stephen Thompson in his role as an aerial gunner, while flying with a French squadron.
April 23, 1918 – Lt. Paul Baer shoots down his fifth aircraft, becoming the first ace of the American Expeditionary Force.
April 29, 1918 – Eddie Rickenbacker scores his first victory flying a Nieuport 28 fighter and becomes the top-scoring American ace of WWI with 26 victories.
September 1, 1918 – The month became known as “Black September”- the costliest month of the air war for the Allies, losing 560 aircraft.
September 11, 1918 – The size of the American army on the Western Front reaches the size of the British and French armies, and the Americans are energized.
September 12, 1918 – The Battle of Saint-Mihiel is the first major and distinctly American offensive. Gen. John Pershing commands the U.S. First Army composed of more than 500,000 men. The American units are under the command of Brig Gen. Billy Mitchell and is the largest force of aircraft assembled for a single operation.
November 11, 1918 – Armistice Day. World War I ends at 11:00 am on 11/11/1918.
World War One Commemorative Items
As the Official Licensee for the WWICC merchandise program, C. Forbes, Inc. has an extensive variety of commemorative items available at www.worldwar1-shop.com and www.cforbesinc.com. We also invite you to visit www.ww1cc.org to learn more about the WWICC and how you can support the efforts. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of all merchandise will go towards funding a national Memorial to be built in Pershing Park in Washington, D.C.