The second decade of the 20th century, though set against a backdrop of upheaval and conflict, showed society the tangible possibilities that aviation could offer, such as the first postal flights or passenger airliners. Undoubtedly, World War I gave rise to state-of-the-art military aircraft, which often were converted to civil use after the conflict.
Fascinating the public1911
The Nieuport 4 was the first pre-war multi-seater aircraft to set a world speed record. It was exported to Italy, Russia and Great Britain and was also the first aircraft to be used for military reconnaissance.
The Morane-Saulnier H was the first aircraft to successfully cross the Mediterranean, piloted by Roland Garros.
Born at Bilda in Algeria, Eduard Nieuport followed the experiments of Lilienthal, while developing himself as a racing cyclist. He recognised that aerodynamics play a fundamental role in aviation and carried out aerodynamic tests. Having set up a small factory in 1907, he now had a financial basis for the development of his own designs. He started with a monoplane, which he presented in 1909 and in the same year, the Nieuport 2N was built, in which he set a world speed record of 199.76 km/h. Nieuport died in a crash in 1911 while demonstrating the capabilities of his aircraft to the French military.
Anthony Fokker first flew his famous self-made Spinne (spider) airplane on 5 May, 1911, just a few months before gaining his pilot’s licence. The aircraft was dubbed the ‘Spin’ because of the many wires that made up its design.
The illustrious Morane-Saulnier company was founded on 10 October, 1911 by childhood friends Raymond Saulnier and brothers Robert and Léon Morane. While Saulnier, who had co-designed the Blériot XI, remained chairman until 1961, Robert Morane was for a long time the chief pilot. He also founded the famous pilot training school Messageries Aériennes at Villacoublay. Over 80 different aircraft models emerged from the Morane-Saulnier plants. Today SOCATA continues this company’s legacy.
The need for speed
Enthusiasm for the new technology grew as its impact on the general public was seen for the first time. The world’s first aerial post flight took place in British India on 18 February, 1911, while regularly scheduled mail services and international services were established by the end of the decade. Meanwhile, flying events and air races drew members of the public and celebrities and royalty alike. A large number were held in the pre-war years, including the Paris-Madrid race in May 1911, which Jules Védrines won in his Morane-Borel (pictured here the landing en-route at San Sebastián, Spain.)
The talented Marvingt Air ambulance pioneer
Marie Marvingt, born in 1875 in France, was the first woman to fly combat missions and the first certified Flight NurseView story
Aerial combatsof World War I1914
Dogfights in the sky
The French pioneer Raymond Saulnier introduced firing through the propeller, a new technique that was tested for the first time on a Morane-Saulnier N by famous pilot Roland Garros. Experiments with different approaches, including systems using steel plates to deflect bullets, followed.
Farnborough At the heart of aerospace
From witnessing Samuel Cody’s first British powered flight to staging one of today’s greatest airshows, the site of Farnborough has been at the heart of aerospaceView story
Women in the workforce
It was during World War I that women stepped out of traditional roles and into those seen as “men’s work”. With millions of men away fighting, women were drafted into the civilian workforce, filling roles ranging from farm work to transport and office jobs. Many also worked in munitions factories or provided military support as nurses. Shown here are female workers assembling aircraft wings at Farnborough, where hundreds of aircraft were built during the war.
During WWI, the early French fighter planes the SPAD XII and SPAD XIII went into series production in France where more than 8,500 SPAD XIIIs were built. It proved to be one of the ultimate fighters of its time.
Anthony Fokker was a Dutch aviation pioneer and aircraft manufacturer, most famous for the fighter aircraft he produced in Germany during World War I such as the Eindecker monoplanes, the Dr.1 triplane and the D.VII biplane. After the war, he transferred his company to Amsterdam and eventually turned to the development of commercial aircraft, winning a 28 percent share of the European market by 1930. In 1939 he produced the twin-engine T.9, his first all-metal aircraft, before passing away that same year.
In this era, ingenuity was essential and pilots learned to identify speed from the sound of the wind singing on the wires of their biplanes.
At the end of WW1, this German aircraft was known as the ultimate fighting machine, thanks to its agility, fast climb rate and resistance to spin. Such was its reputation, it is rumored that orders were issued by post-war authorities to destroy all remaining examples.
Albatros D III
Together with the Nieuport 11, the Albatros D III was the first in a long row of successful fighter biplanes. The biplane won popularity for its agility and stability and was believed to be capable of carrying heavier loads.
Along came metal1915
While aircraft were beginning to resemble the planes we know today, a domestic appliance that we now take for granted was introduced. In 1913, refrigerators for home and domestic use were invented by Fred W. Wolf of Fort Wayne, Indiana with models consisting of a unit that was mounted on top of an ice box. Self-contained units, automatic controls and mass production followed and the way we store and consume food was changed forever.
Junkers J 4
Dessau aircraft constructor Junkers launched the J 4 in 1917, the first all-metal aircraft to go into large-scale production. It was employed as a so-called infantry support aircraft.
Dornier Rs III
The Dornier Rs III was a large four-engine monoplane flying boat designed by Claude Dornier. It soon earned the nickname ‘Flying Iron’ on account of its peculiar shape.
Nicknamed the Bébé for its small size, the Nieuport 11 became one of the main protagonists of WW1 since it was one of the aircraft that ended the Fokker Scourge.
Hugo Junkers was a German engineer and aircraft designer, generally credited with pioneering the design of all-metal airplanes and flying wings. As founder of the Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke AG, he was one of the main protagonists of the German aircraft industry in the interwar period. Experiments using his own wind tunnel brought him to the realization that economic aircraft design of the future depended on the reduction of drag and that only metal was suitable for such constructions. His multi-engine all-metal passenger airplane helped to establish airlines in Germany and all over the world. Although his Ju 52 reached the all-time highest production and export quantities of any German cargo and passenger aircraft, in 1933 the National Socialists banned Junkers from his works. Two years after, he passed away.
it was the first airplane to be made entirely of metal, rather than wood and cloth, halting the drive for lighter aircraft which could be propelled faster by the less powerful engines of the day. Although the J 1 was heavy, it proved reliable and as pilots were protected from ground fire for the first time, it soon won the aircrew seal of approval.
From wood to steel and aluminium
In 1915, when most aircraft manufacturers were still relying on fabric-covered wooden structures, a bold German pioneer, Hugo Junkers, came up with a vision that would change the aerospace industry forever. The introduction of metal was a revolutionary breakthrough that also brought more safety and security to pilots.Video
Material evolution From wood to hightech
Aircraft have gone from delicate constructions of wood, wire and fabric to high-speed, high-tech machines made from a mix of cutting-edge materialsView story
The commercial plane is born1919
A time before moving-maps
While in-flight entertainment as we know it today first became popular in the 1960s, some in-flight movies were already being shown in the 1920s. The Hindenburg airship, built by the Zeppelin Company, took cabin comfort to another level, though, offering passengers a piano, lounge, dining room, smoking room and bar during its 1936 voyages.
Junkers F 13
Commonly known as the F 13, this Junkers model was the world's first all-metal transport aircraft, built in Germany after the end of World War I. It was an advanced monoplane, with enclosed accommodation for four passengers. In production for 13 years, it had a commercial life of two decades. Today it is considered to be the great grandfather of all Airbus commercial aircraft.
Manufactured by French company Farman Aviation Works between 1919 and 1931, the Farman F.60 Goliath evolved from bomber to airliner, becoming instrumental in the creation of early airlines and commercial routes in Europe. It was first deployed on the inaugural international passenger route from Paris to London.
Born as the son of British parents in Paris, Henry Farman started as a racing driver. Although his enthusiasm was dampened after an accident, his fascination with modern technology remained. After witnessing Voisin’s first attempt at flying in 1906, he became the first person to buy a Voisin aircraft in 1907. Thanks to his natural feel for technology and engines he improved it, developing the Voisin-Farman 1, which flew 1,500 metres in 1908. In 1912 he founded the Farman Aeroplane Company with his brother Maurice, and their aircraft were used for training purposes and reconnaissance during World War I. In 1919 the Farman Goliath became the first long distance passenger aircraft and later Farman became one of the founders of the CMA, the predecessor to Air France.
The first steps of commercial aviation
By the end of World War I, early approaches to commercial aviation were underway. Whether a converted military aircraft, like the French Farman Goliath, or originally conceived as a purely civil airliner, like the German Junkers F 13, both models anticipated the arrival and supremacy of the commercial plane with enclosed cabins for passenger comfort and certain luxuries such as radio headphones.