Aviation in 1918
The German D-Type (Fighter) competition at Berlin-Adlershof
is won by the Fokker VII designed by Reinhold Platz and is
put into production as the Fokker DVII
The first German Gotha Bomber
to be shot down at night over England is destroyed by No.44
Squadron with Sopwith Camels over Wickford in Essex.
Five German Navy Airships are destroyed in an explosion at
the Ahlhorn sheds.
The first American Expeditionary Force (AEF) balloon ascent
is made at the Balloon School at Cuperly in France.
The Airco DH4, the first American mass produced combat
aircraft, begins production.
The first operational
squadrons of the American Expeditionary Force are formed in
France. American Air Force squadrons go on to destroy 781
Lieutenant Stephen W.
Thompson becomes the first American pilot to gain an aerial
victory while serving with an American squadron.
The first American fighter squadron, the 95th Aero (Pursuit)
Squadron, arrives in France.
The Aviation of the 1st Polish Corps is formed from the 1st
Polish aviation Unit.
Ilmailuvòimat, the Finnish
Air Arm, is formed.
Dr Ing Theodor von Kárman and
Wilheim Zurovec complete an electrically powered helicopter
in Budapest. The PKZ1 performs four tethered lift-offs, with
all but one carrying three people.
The American Expeditionary Force (AEF) begin airship
operations with the French Astra-Torres AT1 non-rigid
dirigible (steerable airship).
The 2nd Balloon company is established, becoming the first
United States balloon unit to serve operationally in France
with American Expeditionary Force (AEF) ground forces.
The Junkers D1, an all-metal single-seat cantilever monoplane
fighter, is flown as a prototype. 41 aircraft are eventually
The first regular international air mail is organised in
Austria by A.R. von Marwil. Mail is carried in a Hansa-Brandenburg
CI from Vienna to Lvov (then Lemberg) and Proskurov via
Cracow. A branch service is also run from Proskurov to
Odessa. The service expands on 11 July 1918 by adding
Budapest to its destinations, but later collapses with the
defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918.
American aircraft of the 95th (Pursuit) squadron begin patrol
flights over the Western Front, defending the River Marne
from German reconnaissance aircraft. Observation patrols
begin on the 19 March with aircraft of the 94th (Pursuit)
While on patrol near Heligoland, Ensign Stephen Potter
becomes the first United States Navy (USN) airman to shoot
down a German aircraft.
The German spring offensive begins and hundreds of aircraft
take part in Kaiserschlacht ('Emperors Battle').
A Curtiss H16 flying boat, the first production aircraft
built by the United States Naval Aircraft Factory, makes its
DVII biplane fighters become operational on the Western Front
with Jagdegeschwader I. The DVII proves itself to be the best
German fighter of the First World War.
A pilot of Jasta 56 is the first to bale out in an emergency
when his Albatros DVa is shot down over British lines. He was
probably using a Heinecke cushion-type parachute, landed
safely and was taken prisoner.
German Gotha bombers bombed Paris, hitting a hospital and
killing a mother, baby and a nurse. Bombs also exploded in
the city and northern suburbs. A further attack that night
left 26 dead and 72 injured.
The Loughead brothers fly
their F1 Seaplane from Santa Barbara to San Diego.
Teniente Luis C. Candelaria of the Argentinean Army makes the
first aerial crossing of the Andes. He flies the 120 miles
from Zapala, Argentina to Cunço in Chile in a Morane-Saulnier
Parasol monoplane, reaching an altitude of 13,000 feet to
clear the higher peaks.
The 94th Aero (Pursuit) squadron becomes the first American
unit to engage in combat when Lieutenants Douglas Campbell
and Alan Winslow, flying Nieuport 28's shoot down two German
aeroplanes and capture the pilots.
Baron Manfred Von Richthofen, the 'Red Baron', is shot down
and killed. Manfred von Richthofen was the most successful
fighter pilot of the First World War and at the time of his
death, he had shot down 80 Allied aircraft in air combat.
Although Captain Roy Brown of
No.209 Squadron is credited with the destruction of von
Richthofen's Fokker Triplane, it has also been suggested that
the Red Baron actually fell victim to ground fire whilst
being pursued by Captain Brown.
Captain Edward Vernon Rickenbacker, who would later become
America's top ace of the First World War, with 26 victories,
claims his first victory, an Albatros Scout.
The American Expeditionary Force receives the first United
States built de havilland DH4.
Italian Corpo Aeronautico
Militare aircraft are used to fly an air service across the
Tyrrhenian Sea, which lasts for a month.
The United States Army Signal Corp establishes the first
American airmail service between New York and Washington,
using Curtiss JN and Standard J aircraft.
Captain Rudolph W. Schroeder
attains a height of 10,093 metres. (33,113 feet) flying from
Dayton, Ohio, in a Packard-Le Père LUSAC-11 fighter, powered
by a liberty12 engine, fitted with a Turbocharger.
The 96th Aero Squadron, the first American bomber unit, forms
In the latest of a series of monthly raids on London and the
Home Counties by German Gotha bombers and Staaken airships,
49 civilians are killed and 179 injured as bombs fell in
residential areas before midnight
Hauptmann H Kohl receives the
Pour le Mérite for flying 800 missions.
Overman Act creates the Bureau of Aircraft Production and the
Division of Military Aeronautics. The United States Army Air
Service is formed from these on 24 May.
US Army Air Service is formed.
The Chief Directorate of the
Workers and Peasants Military Air Fleet (GU-RKKVF: Glavoce
Upravlenie-Raboche-Krestyanskogo Vozdushhnogo Flota) replaces
the All-Russian Air Board.
Brigadier General Mason Patrick is made Chief of the US Air
Service in France.
1st Lt Douglas Campbell shoots down his fifth German airplane
to become the US Army's first ace.
Oberleutnant Ernst Udet receives the Pour le Mérite.
Oberleutnant Erich Löwenhardt receives the Pour le Mérite
American aircraft of the 96th Aero Squadron carry out the
first bombing raid by US aircraft on the Western Front,
attacking the railway yards at Dommany-Baroncourt.
Fleeing from the Russian Revolution, aircraft designer Igor
Sikorsky offers his services to the French Government.
Italy's most successful fighter pilot, Maggiore Francesco
Baracca, credited with 34 victories, is killed during a
ground attack mission at Montello.
Leutnant F. Rumey is awarded the Pour le Mérite.
General Ludendorff launches the final major attack of the
German spring Offensive at Reims. It fails by the 18th.
During this month, German Fokker DVII fighters claim 565
kills over the Western Front.
The first Fokker E.V parasol wing fighters are received on
the Western Front by Jagdgeschwarder I, commanded by Goering.
However, wing failures result in the quick withdrawal of the
type by August 21.
German fighter ace, Oberleutnant E. Loewenhardt is killed in
a mid-air collision with another German pilot. He had scored
53 victories, and would be the third most successful German
pilot by the end of the war.
Eighteen Brandenburg W29 floatplane fighters attack six
British patrol craft near Borkum, sinking three and damaging
three more. The remaining three boats escape to Holland,
where they are interned.
The United States Post Office takes over airmail services
from the Army.
The Royal Canadian Naval Air Service is founded.
An assault on the Saint Mihiel Salient, during the Battle of
Bapaume, sees the largest number of aircraft assembled for a
single operation. 1,483 aircraft of all types, under the
command of Brigadier General William 'Billy' Mitchell,
support American and British ground forces.
Captain Edward V. Rickenbacker is awarded the US
congressional Medal of Honour.
Frenchman Capitaine René Paul Fonck shoots down six German
aircraft in a day, including four Fokker DVII's and an
Leutnant F. Büchner is awarded the Pour le Mérite.
2nd Luitenant Frank Luce Jr is posthumously awarded the US
Congressional Medal of Honour. He was killed on the 28th
after destroying three balloons, and having been wounded, he
landed behind enemy lines and engaged German ground troops.
His score of 21 victories makes him the second ranking
American ace of the war.
Roland Garros is killed when his SPAD XIII fighter breaks up
during aerial combat at Vouziers.
After a heroic supply dropping mission at Binarville resulted
in their deaths, 2nd Lt Erwin R. Bleckley and 1st Lt Harold E
Goettler receive posthumous United States Congressional
Medals of Honour.
Pilots of the 185th Aero (Pursuit) Squadron carry out the
first United States night fighter operations in France.
1st Aviation Unit of the Polish Forces is formed.
The first strengthened Fokker DVIII, called the Fokker E.V,
arrives at the Western Front and is an immediate success,
with a good rate of climb and manoeuvrability complementing a
maximum speed of 204 km/h (127 mph)
The Inter-allied Independent Air Force is created and Marshal
Foch of France is made the supreme commander, with Britain's
General Sir Hugh Trenchard as commander in chief
The Czechoslovak Army Air Force is formed.
The Allies and Turkey agree to an Armistice.
Canadian Air Force is formed.
An Armistice is signed at Compiègne in France, ending the
First World War. Britain finishes the war with largest air
force, while France has the best equipped.
The Italian airline, Posta Aerea Transadriatica, begins
regular mail flights from Venice.
The Central Aero and Hydrodynamics Institute (TsAGI) is
established in Moscow. It is the first establishment of its
kind in the world, and becomes the most important
aeronautical research centre in the Soviet Union.
The Aero Club of America lifts its ban on flying over cities,
allowing pilots certified as 'expert' aviators to overfly
populated areas. Post Office pilots had been permitted to do
this since August.
Four Curtiss JN-4 'Jennies' complete the first United States
Army coast to coast crossing of the USA, from San Diego to