The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - INSIGHT -

When the mod­ern petrol-pow­ered air­craft was in­vented in 1903 by Amer­i­cans Orville and Wil­bur Wright, it was re­garded as no more than a nov­elty by mil­i­tary au­thor­i­ties. How­ever, with the out­break of war, those con­trap­tions of wire, can­vas and wood en­tered mil­i­tary ser­vice and quickly be­gan prov­ing their value as air­borne in­tel­li­gence plat­forms. For in­stance, on Aug 22, 1914, Bri­tish Cap­tain L.E.O. Charl­ton and Lieu­tenant V.H.N. Wad­ham re­ported that Ger­man Gen­eral Alexan­der von Kluck was pre­par­ing his army to sur­round the Bri­tish Ex­pe­di­tionary Force in France – this re­port con­tra­dicted all other in­tel­li­gence re­ceived by the Bri­tish High Com­mand. Their sub­se­quent de­ci­sion based on this in­tel­li­gence to with­draw to Mons saved the lives of 100,000 soldiers.

The role of the air­craft ex­panded to air-to-air com­bat with the first true fighter, the Fokker E.1,

the Fokker e.IV, an ad­vance on the first true fighter air­plane, the Fokker

e.1. — Wikimedia Commons emerg­ing in 1915, hand­ing air su­pe­ri­or­ity to the Ger­mans un­til in early 1916, with the ar­rival in num­bers of the French Nieu­port 11 and Bri­tish DH.2 fighters. This de­vel­op­ment in turn prompted an arms race that would con­tinue un­til the 1918 Ar­mistice, with each side try­ing to de­velop harder hit­ting and faster fighters.

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