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The human race since the ancient times has been fascinated by the thought of flying in the air. Human beings had always dreamt of flying, but never succeeded for a long period of time. They created kites to savour this wish but could not avail the real joy of flying in the air. After hard struggle of several generations for the fulfilment of this wish, man succeeded in inventing flight machines. Though the flight machines were not successful at that time and had several lapses and mistakes in its design, performance aerodynamic qualities etc. but managed to improve all these aspects and factors with the passage of time. In the year 1781, an architect to the prince of Baden named Karl Frederic supposedly succeeded in the long time struggle of man for flying. He invented a flying machine which he named as ornithopter, which was basically a type of glider.
Then as science developed and people improved in the understanding of the nature and surroundings they started to bring forth new ideas related to creating a flying machine. People started observing different phenomenon around them. For instance, people noticed that gases have different weights and some gases area far lighter in weight as compared to other gases. They brought forward the concept of the gas supported cell and prepared a small scale model of the idea which was successful. Using the technique that they applied in the gas supported cell, they succeeded in inventing the air balloon which worked on a simple principle of nature that some gases are lighter than air and move upward in the atmosphere. So, man had finally succeeded in inventing a flying machine that had fulfilled their wish if touching the heights of the sky. But the model of gas supported cell was nothing when compared to the flight machine invented by the Wright brothers in the later centuries.
The Wright Brotherâ€™s Flight Machine/Aircraft
Then came the era of the Wright Brothers who literally had a lot of passion for flying and struggled and toiled hard for achieving their goal. The brothers worked day and night for the turn their dream of flying into reality ad their dream turned into reality in 1903 when the first flight machine or an aircraft was invented. It was the first aircraft which was piloted and was heavier than air. Moreover, it was the first flight machine that was self propelling and controllable. In other words, the first airplane was invented. The modernism and reality of the aircraft can be understood easily by the fact that the all the forces and variables that are applicable on the modern day aircraft were applicable on the aircraft created by the Wright brothers as well. It took Wright Brothers a time period of three years to successfully create and invent a flight aircraft that was completely suitable for flying. The Wright brothers had to run several tests and make a lot of changes to their designs over the time. They checked the credibility of their aircraft by the usage of wind tunnel which is still applied in the modern time for the testing of the aerodynamic and flight variables of aircrafts (Grant, 2010).
One of the distinguishing qualities of the aircraft invented by the Wright Brothers was the quality to manoeuver and controls the direction and other variables of the aircraft which was previously not possible on the flight machines or glider created. Basically there are just a few steps to manoeuvre and control the alleviation and descent of the aircraft. The first and foremost step is to control and manoeuver the up and down movements of the nose portion of the airplane. This step or action is also technically known as the pitch control of the aircraft. The second important factor or variable of successfully manoeuvring an aircraft is the side to side movements of the nose, which is technically termed as the yaw movement of the nose. And last but not the least factor that is required for controlling the direction and movements of the airplane is the up and down movements of the wing tips which is technically termed as the roll movement of the wing tips (Grant, 2012).
The time passed and more and more effort started incorporating in the field of aerodynamics and with the advancement in science, the scientists and inventors felt a need of a rudder in the aircraft. A rudder is a device which helps in controlling the yaws and also helps in coordinating the turn while in flight. A small evolution of the aircraft of the aircraft invented by the Wright brothers is discussed as follows: The Wright brothers were deeply involved in the aerodynamics and forces of air involved in the flight of kites and they observed all the variables of a flying kite and incorporated those studies in their own aircraft. In 1900, the Wright brothers invented a glider which was their first step to inventing the first aircraft of this world we live in (Grant, 2010).
Aircrafts involved in the World War I
There was seen a major development in the field of aeronautics and flight science during the years of the World War I (1914-1918) as every country involved in the major battle wanted the best flight fighting machines. Moreover, the period of the World War I was a period of rapid growth in the field of science and technology. So in addition with the aerodynamic features of the aircrafts, many ne technologies were also introduces in the fighting airplanes for the first time which played an important role in developing the modern day aircrafts. The period of the World War I started with the invention and introduction of slow and unarmed aircrafts. The structures and designs of the aircrafts were fragile and un-effective for usage in a war. So the people and inventors at that time strongly felt the need of stronger, faster and a bomb bristling machine that could fly in the air and destroy the enemy targets with great precision and accuracy at the same time (Willmott, 2003).
The BE2C Aircraft
The principal military and fighter aircraft used in the World War I was the BE2. The BE2 aircraft was not mainly and practically a military aircraft as it had some flaws. The first if the flaws was that the design of the aircraft was such that the pilot had to sit at the rear had good view of the surroundings but the vision of the main pilot who was seated in the front was obstructed by the wings of the aircraft. Moreover, there were manly four places where different weapons and manly duns could be fitted into for firing purposes. But the main drawback to this was that the observer himself had to lift the gun from one socket and place it into another if the observer wanted to replace the weapon (Willmott, 2003).
Other drawbacks of the BE2 aircrafts include the fact that the aircraft was too slow for a military aircraft but still it was in use if the major countries involved in the World War I. The use of the BE2 aircraft was stopped or rather minimized when the German introduced the Fokker Eindecker in the year 1915. The dimensions and weight variables and other factors of the BE2 aircraft are mentioned as follows: The total length of the aircraft was approximately 8.3 meters and had a height of 3.5 meters. The wing span of the BE2 aircraft was approximately 11.2 meters and it brought in use a single RAF 1A 90hp. Either it used the this or the 105hp 9 litres V8 engine to fly in the atmospheres of the World War I (Willmott, 2003).
The Morane Parasol Aircraft
Another of the aircraft that was in use during the period of World War I was the Marone Parasol aircraft. This particular aircraft was built and manufactured by the French people and it was included in the number 3 squadron of their flight army. This aircraft was introduced in the year 1915 and it replaced an important aircraft in the French squadron namely the Bleriot. The main quality and plus point to mention of the Marone aircraft at tis point was that it was equally efficient for the observer as well as the pilot at the same time as none of the people mentioned had their vision obstructed by the design and structure of the aircraft (Tanner, 1975).
The specifications, dimensions and variables of the Marone Parasol aircraft are mentioned as follows: The first and foremost of the design was that it was a single seated aircraft and it was propelled by a singly rotatory engine. The engine in use was the 74kW power. The speed that the aircraft could achieve at maximum of 141 km/h. Moreover the dimensions of the wing span was 312ft, the length of the aircraft was approximately 236ft and the range of the weapons that Marone aircraft was equipped with was accurate up to 359 km (Willmott, 2003).
Vickers Gunbus Aircraft
During the era of World War I, many new aircrafts were introduced. The Vickers Gunbus was also one of them. The specifications of this aircraft include the fact that the aircraft consisted of a two seated design which was similar to the design of the FE2 and the single seat according to the design of the DH2. The changes and modifications that had been done in this aircraft proved to be quite effective as the machine gun could be easily mounted forward which allowed a good arc of fire (RAF, 1976).
The Sop-With Camel Aircraft
The best achievement of the inventors in the field of inventing an efficient and strong military aircraft was the introduction of the Sopwith Camel aircraft. This aircraft proved to be quite efficient in the World War I and achieved a lot of goals and helped in gaining lot victories in this period of time. According to the statistics, approximately a number of 1294 enemies had been killed by this aircraft alone in the World War I. The wing span of the Sop-with camel aircraft was approximately 8.5 meters and the maximum speed that could be attained by this aircraft was a furious 185 km/h and the range of the weapons equipped in this aircraft was 485 km (Willmott, 2003).
The SE5a Aircraft
The SE5a was one of the most successful single seated military aircrafts that played its part in the World War I. It had been modified with certain features that had been picked up from the Vickers Gunbus. The modification included the equipment of the gun above the wing which was 360 degrees rotatable. The wing span of the aircraft under consideration was 8.2 meters and the top speed achieved by this aircraft was 120 mph (RAF, 1976).
These were the modifications that were seen to come in the military aircrafts over the period of the years of the World War I.
The Aircrafts involved in the World War II
Till the period of the World War II, many new aircrafts and modifications had been included in the field of military aircrafts. An important fact to mention at this point is that in the World War II, a total of 316 military aircrafts took part and about 104 countries were involved in this epic battle of the 20th century. Since a lot advancement had been done in till the period of the World War II, so the aircrafts that took part in this battle performed extremely well in the war. Some of the important military aircrafts that took part in the World War II are mentioned below:
The Messerchmitt BF 109 Aircraft
According to the history, statistics and aviation reviews the Messerchitt Bf 109 Aircraft is regarded as the one of the best military aircraft used in the history of military aircrafts. The first flight recorded by this aircraft was in the year 1935. The qualities of this aircraft include its small and light frame along with a very powerful engine attached to it. Various dimensions and specifications of this aircraft are mentioned as follows: The total wing span of this amazing military aircraft was 32 feet, the length was 28 feet and the loaded weight was approximately 5600lbs. The maximum velocity attained by this aircraft was recorded to be 354 mph (Pitts, 2012).
The Super-Marine Spitfire Aircraft
The spitfire aircraft is regarded as one of the best fighter aircrafts if the European war period. The most important quality if this aircraft that needs to be mentioned at this point is that it was considered as the most adaptable aircraft in various versions similar to the Bf 109. Moreover many of the British pilots flew the spitfire during the World War II and t proved to be a great aircraft for them as it played an important role on strengthening the air-force of the British army. The first spitfire was invented during the period of the early 20th century. Many new models of the spitfire were introduced according the advancements and research that was done in the field aviation industry with the period of time. The main weapon that the spitfire was equipped with was 20mm cannons (Pitts, 2012)..
The wingspan of the aircraft under consideration was 36 feet. The length of the spitfire aircraft was 29 feet and the height was 8 feet and 10 inches respectively. The maximum velocity of the spitfire recorded in the history was approximately 354 mph.
The North American P-51 Mustang Aircraft
In the period of the World War II, many of the best pilots and fighters used to fly the Mustang P-51. This aircraft was regarded as one of the fastest piston engine fighters. Moreover, it was the only aircraft in the World War II that go higher and farther that any of the aircrafts taking part in the major battle of the 20th century. Due to its simple and light structure and frame, it could be created in a large number and can be brought in use with rapid production. The wing span of the Mustang P-51 was approximately 37 feet. The engine which is brought in use by this outstanding aircraft was Packard/Merlin V-1650-7. Moreover, the maximum velocity ever attained by this aircraft was 438 mph or 30,000 feet. The endurance period was amazingly 4.3 hours (Pitts, 2012).
Mitsubishi A6M Zero
There occurred and came to be seen barrios changes in the design of the aircrafts in the late years of the World War II. The A6M Zero was one of the aircrafts that proved its quality in terms of fighting jets as it was flown by the top aces of the Navy Army. It was the worldâ€™s first long range escort fighter and its design was seriously amended if we give a look at the previous fighter airplanes of that time. The basic purpose if this aircraft was to fulfil the needs of the Japanese navy as they required a fighter jet that would have the abilities of rapid climb, great range, high speed and the best manoeuvrability of that time. The maximum speed achieved by this aircraft was 358 miles per hour.
With the passage of time and the awareness that came in the minds of the designers and engineers of the late World War II era, they kept on producing and designing better and better aircrafts. Like the other aircrafts introduced earlier in the World War II, this aircraft also had a unique feature in it that made it stand out from others. In this case, the Yak-3 had the unique feature of tight turning radius which was absent in other fighter airplanes of that time. Though the aircraft was not too difficult to fly, still a highly professional pilot was recommended in order to take the full use of the potential that this aircraft held in itself. The maximum speed attained by this aircraft was around 412 miles per hour.
Focke-Wulf FW 190
This particular aircraft was a single seated aircraft that was designed and produced by Kurt Tank. The date of its introduction was September 1941, the first batch contained a number of 200 aircrafts which later increased in the coming years due to its great adaptations and fighter qualities that were either absent or if present in other aircrafts were enhances in the case of FW 190. Many new features were added in this aircraft as the technology improved in the late years of World War II. The first change was done by improving the flexibility of the under wing stores that substantially affected its flight performance and stability. The range of this aircraft was extraordinarily 820 miles.
Moreover there were many other aircrafts such as the P-38, F4U and the Ki-84. These aircrafts were also modified and changed according to the advancements in military technology and aviation technology. These aircrafts also operated effectively during the complete war period of World War II. With the passage of time, the design, structure and the aerodynamic features of the military aircrafts were changing and being modified dramatically. New and innovative ideas were being incorporated in the aviation industry and especially in the military industry. So, to conclude, the journey to the modern day military aircrafts was rather a long one and the two major battles namely the World War I and II played an important role in stimulating the need of better technology that should be incorporated in the aviation industry of military department of the armies of various countries and many new modifications were there to be seen during the 20th century with the passage of time, especially in the designs and structures of the aircrafts.