Saturday, June 2, 2012


 This is coolbert:


From the previous blog entry the topic of which was the observation balloon from the era of the Great War [WW1].

"Attacking enemy combat aircraft subjected to massed and dedicated AAA [anti-aircraft-artillery] fire, withering and intense."

Anti-aircraft-artillery [AAA] as it was known at the start of the Great War a NON-ENTITY?

Since the various general staff officers of the various combatants had the attitude toward the combat airplane as a curiosity and oddity not worthy of serious consideration as a weapon of war! The twinning of the words combat and airplane of itself is a curiosity and oddity as would  have been the case in 1914. NO SUCH thing even existed to my knowledge. Observation perhaps YES, but combat as that term understood, NO!

How much less must it have been the case then that the general staff officers of the various warring parties had given serious consideration to DEFENDING AGAINST THE WARPLANE? Almost none I would have to think.

AAA during the war becoming a combat arm as that term understood, dedicated units formed and armed, doctrine and tactics developed to what was at the time a degree of usefulness as was commensurate with the technology available during that period.

From several web sites concerning WW1 AAA we have these comments:

"The concept of an Anti Aircraft Artillery guns was not even to the imagination of field commanders in the early part of the Twenty Century. Aviation was a new field of battle at that time; a much misunderstood one too. But, as with any new human-developed field, there were countermeasures being developed almost at the same time that the first few planes took to the air."

Solutions to the problem of ground forces shooting down attacking enemy aircraft done on an expedient basis, ad hoc for the most part:

Solutions for the most part consisting of field guns of three inch bore [75 mm] modified and mounted on vehicles or carriages in such a manner as to allow the barrel to be raised to almost the vertical position, that caliber of gun [75 mm] found to be the weapon of choice.

The results of which are generally described as for the most part "useless"!!

"In general, these ad-hoc solutions proved largely useless"

Consider that an actual "shoot-down" was a very rare occurrence so it seems that DETERRENCE was more a factor with AAA of the period.

"Few aircraft were actually directly shot down, each requiring an average 4,000 - 4,500 shells, but guns were often employed in aerial barrages to deny an airspace to aircraft rather than to simply shoot down individually targeted aircraft . . . 'in the BEF [i.e. on the Western Front] stress was laid on long-range deterrent fire'"

By 1918 however, the ground-strafing attack warplane becoming an integral part of the blitzkrieg style offensive as originated with the German, effective allied counter-measures adopted in the form of machine-guns mounted on poles [for 360 degree traversing action] a quick and resourceful response, more "deadly" and effective!

"As aircraft started to be used against ground targets on the battlefield, the AA guns could not be traversed quickly enough at close targets and, being relatively few, were not always in the right place (and were often unpopular with other troops), so changed positions frequently. Soon the forces were adding various machine-gun based weapons mounted on poles. These short-range weapons proved more deadly"

AAA of the Great War era obviously an ever evolving process, counter-measures constantly in development  AND a new branch of combat arms being created in the process.


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