Aircraft has long been used in the military, even prior to WWI. First uses included scouting and occasional bombings. Then fighter planes were developed, leading to today’s advanced fighter jets. Explore the fascinating history of military aviation with this guide.
Beginnings & Types of Military Aircraft
The airplane has significantly shaped our world, especially the military. Gain insight into the beginnings of airplanes, including the origins of seaplanes and jets, and how they’ve evolved through history.
It wasn’t soon after the development of the first plane that they began to be used in scouting missions to take pictures of enemy territory. From there the military’s use of planes quickly evolved. Fighter planes and seaplanes were used heavily in WWII and continue to be used today. Military planes inspired further development of civilian planes, and vice versa.
Find out when and how airplanes were first used for military purposes, as well as the many types of military aircraft used, both past and present.
World Wars I & II
Initially used solely for reconnaissance and strategic bombing, by the end of World War I, airplanes were playing a major role in the war effort. Special types of airplanes were developed to be more effective at air combat, including fighters and bombers. Many young pilots found fame in becoming Ace Shooters, including the infamous Red Baron, a German Flying Ace.
World War II saw an increase in the reliance and development of military aircraft. Many magnificent fighting planes were developed, allowing Flying Aces to rank up kills in the triple digits. At the home front, women went to work in factories to help build these new airplanes. During the end of the war, some even got to fly in Stearman Biplanes, paving the way for female pilots of the future.
Camouflage had only been experimented with during WWI, but during the 2nd World War armies began painting their planes with distinctive coloring and used camouflaging to make their attacks even more successful. Discover a fascinating overview of the many historic planes developed during the world wars, some of which you can still see today!
Post War, Cold War & Into the Present
WWI had highlighted the importance of a strong military air force to fend off future attacks. After the war ended, many nations focused on further development of their military air force, even building flying boats. There was also much development in commercial and civilian aircraft.
During the Cold War, nations stockpiled weapons and made further advancements in military technology, preparing for a possible outbreak of war at any moment. To gain further insight into the atmosphere and history of the Cold War, read about the Berlin Airlift, when airplanes allowed the US to transport 2,326,406 tons of food and supplies to Berlin, preventing a communist takeover. There were many such advancements in military aviation made during the Cold War and beyond. Some of these planes never even saw action, like the SU-27 Flanker, while some served major roles in the Vietnam and Korean wars. Variations of these planes continue to be developed and used in the military today.
The Present & Future
The military has made incredible advancements in aviation technology, in the US, China, Australia and around the world. Get a sampling of what is currently being worked on today, from futuristic fighter jets and bombers, to aircraft carriers, cargo, reconnaissance and utility planes. Read about development of hypersonic aircraft, and plans for unmanned bombers.
What Does the Future Hold?
What nation has developed the best fighter jet? What is the significance of China's recent aviation developments? What exciting advancements lie ahead? It is only limited by imagination and the drive for faster, sleeker and more efficient aircraft. Have a question or comment? We'd love to hear what you think. Leave a comment on any of the above articles to start a discussion.