World 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.

5 January
Five German Navy Airships are destroyed in an explosion at the Ahlhorn sheds.

23 January
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 enemy aircraft.

Lieutenant Stephen W. Thompson becomes the first American pilot to gain an aerial victory while serving with an American squadron.

18 February
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.

3 March
The American Expeditionary Force (AEF) begin airship operations with the French Astra-Torres AT1 non-rigid dirigible (steerable airship).

5 March
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.

10 March
The Junkers D1, an all-metal single-seat cantilever monoplane fighter, is flown as a prototype. 41 aircraft are eventually produced.

11 March
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.

14 March
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) squadron.

19 March
While on patrol near Heligoland, Ensign Stephen Potter becomes the first United States Navy (USN) airman to shoot down a German aircraft.

21 March
The German spring offensive begins and hundreds of aircraft take part in Kaiserschlacht (‘Emperors Battle’).

27 March
A Curtiss H16 flying boat, the first production aircraft built by the United States Naval Aircraft Factory, makes its first flight.

Fokker 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.

1 April
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.

12 April
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.

13 April
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.

14 April
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.

21 April
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.

29 April
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.

11 May
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.

15 May
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.

18 May
The 96th Aero Squadron, the first American bomber unit, forms in France.

19 May
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.

20 May
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.

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.

29 May
Brigadier General Mason Patrick is made Chief of the US Air Service in France.

31 May
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.

2 June
Oberleutnant Erich Löwenhardt receives the Pour le Mérite

12 June
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.

24 June
Fleeing from the Russian Revolution, aircraft designer Igor Sikorsky offers his services to the French Government.

19 June
Italy’s most successful fighter pilot, Maggiore Francesco Baracca, credited with 34 victories, is killed during a ground attack mission at Montello.

10 July
Leutnant F. Rumey is awarded the Pour le Mérite.

15 July
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.

7 August
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.

10 August
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.

11 August
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.

12 August
The United States Post Office takes over airmail services from the Army.

5 September
The Royal Canadian Naval Air Service is founded.

12-15 September
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.

25 September
Captain Edward V. Rickenbacker is awarded the US congressional Medal of Honour.

26 September
Frenchman Capitaine René Paul Fonck shoots down six German aircraft in a day, including four Fokker DVII’s and an Albatros DV.

28 September
Leutnant F. Büchner is awarded the Pour le Mérite.

29 September
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.

5 October
Roland Garros is killed when his SPAD XIII fighter breaks up during aerial combat at Vouziers.

6 October
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.

12 October
Pilots of the 185th Aero (Pursuit) Squadron carry out the first United States night fighter operations in France.

15 October
1st Aviation Unit of the Polish Forces is formed.

24 October
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)

26 October
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

29 October
The Czechoslovak Army Air Force is formed.

30 October
The Allies and Turkey agree to an Armistice.

Canadian Air Force is formed.

11 November
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.

25 November
The Italian airline, Posta Aerea Transadriatica, begins regular mail flights from Venice.

1 December
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.

17 December
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.

4-22 December
Four Curtiss JN-4 ‘Jennies’ complete the first United States Army coast to coast crossing of the USA, from San Diego to Jacksonville.