A barrage balloon is a large uncrewed tethered kite balloon used to defend ground targets against aircraft attack, by raising aloft steel cables which pose a severe collision risk to aircraft, making the attacker's approach more difficult. The design of the kite balloon, having a shape and cable bridling which stabilise the balloon and reduce drag, meant that it could be operated with more wind than a circular balloon could. Some examples carried small explosive charges that would be pulled up against the aircraft to ensure its destruction. Barrage balloons are not practical against very high altitude flying aircraft, due to the weight of the long cable required.
France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom used barrage balloons in the First World War. Sometimes, especially around London, several balloons were used to lift a length of "barrage net", in which a steel cable was strung between the balloons and many more cables hung from it. These nets could be raised to an altitude comparable to the operational ceiling (15,000 ft / 4,500 m) of the bombers of that time period. By 1918 the barrage balloon defences around London stretched for 50 miles (80 km), and captured German pilots expressed great fear of them.
In 1938 the British Balloon Command was established to protect cities and key targets such as industrial areas, ports and harbours. Balloons were intended to defend against dive bombers flying at heights up to 5,000 feet (1,500 m), forcing them to fly higher and into the range of concentrated anti-aircraft fire: anti-aircraft guns could not traverse fast enough to attack aircraft flying at low altitude and high speed. By the middle of 1940 there were 1,400 balloons, a third of them over the London area.
While dive-bombing was a devastatingly effective tactic against undefended targets, such as Guernica and Rotterdam, dive-bombers were very vulnerable to attack by fighter aircraft while performing a dive, and their use in this role by Germany against the UK with its effective Royal Air Force was rapidly discontinued. Balloons proved to be of little use against the German high-level bombers with which the dive-bombers were replaced, but continued to be manufactured nonetheless, until there were almost 3,000 in 1944. They proved to be mildly effective against the V-1 flying bomb, which usually flew at 2,000 feet (600 m) or lower but had wire-cutters on its wings to counter balloons. Two hundred and thirty-one V-1s are officially claimed to have been destroyed by balloons.
The British added two refinements to their balloons, "Double Parachute Link" (DPL) and "Double Parachute/Ripping" (DP/R). The former was triggered by the shock of an enemy bomber snagging the cable, causing that section of cable to be explosively released complete with parachutes at either end; the combined weight and drag bringing down the aircraft. The latter was intended to render the balloon safe if it broke free accidentally. The heavy mooring cable would separate at the balloon and fall to the ground under a parachute; at the same time a panel would be ripped away from the balloon causing it to deflate and fall independently to the ground.
In January 1945, during Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm raids on the Palembang oil refineries, the British aircrews were surprised by massive use of barrage balloons in the Japanese defences. These were spherical and smaller than the British type. One Grumman Avenger was destroyed, and its crew killed, from striking a balloon cable.
In 1942 Canadian and American forces began joint operations to protect the sensitive locks and shipping channel at Sault Ste. Marie along their common border among the Great Lakes against possible air attack. [ citation needed ] In particular, metals production was disrupted. Canadian military historical records indicate that one of the more serious incidents, known as "The October Incident", caused an estimated loss of 400 tonnes (390 long tons; 440 short tons) of steel and 10 tonnes (9.8 long tons; 11 short tons) of ferro-alloys. The winter weather also, apparently, played a part.[ citation needed ]During severe storms in August and October 1942 some barrage balloons broke loose, and the trailing cables short-circuited power lines, causing some localised disruption to mining and manufacturing.
As a result, balloons were stored during the winter months and training was improved.[ citation needed ] Lessons learned from breakaway balloons led to Operation Outward, the intentional release of balloons trailing conductive cables to disrupt power supplies on the occupied European mainland.
After the war, some surplus barrage balloons were used as tethered shot balloons for nuclear weapon tests throughout most of the period when nuclear weapons were tested in the atmosphere. The weapon or shot was carried to the required altitude slung underneath the barrage balloon, allowing test shots in controlled conditions at much higher altitudes than test towers. Several of the tests in the Operation Plumbbob series were lifted to altitude using barrage balloons. [ citation needed ]
A bomber is a combat aircraft designed to attack ground and naval targets by dropping air-to-ground weaponry, launching torpedoes, or deploying air-launched cruise missiles. The first use of bombs dropped from an aircraft occurred in the Italo-Turkish War, with the first major deployments coming in the First World War and Second World War by all major airforces causing devastating damage to cities, towns, and rural areas. The first purpose built bombers were the Italian Caproni Ca 30 and British Bristol T.B.8, both of 1913. Some bombers were decorated with nose art or victory markings.
The V-1 flying bomb —also known to the Allies as the buzz bomb, or doodlebug, and in Germany as Kirschkern or Maikäfer (maybug), as well as by its official RLM aircraft designation of Fi 103—was an early cruise missile and the only production aircraft to use a pulsejet for power.
Unpowered aircraft can remain airborne for a significant period of time without onboard propulsion. They can be classified as fixed-wing gliders, lighter-than-air balloons and tethered kites. This requires a trajectory that is not merely a vertical descent such as a parachute. In the case of kites, lift is obtained by tethering to a fixed or moving object, perhaps another kite, to obtain a flow of wind over the lifting surfaces. In the case of balloons, lift is obtained through inherent buoyancy and the balloon may or may not be tethered. Free balloon flight has little directional control. Gliding aircraft include sailplanes, hang gliders, and paragliders that have full directional control in free flight.
A military aircraft is any fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft that is operated by a legal or insurrectionary armed service of any type. Military aircraft can be either combat or non-combat:
Anti-aircraft warfare or counter-air defence is the battlespace response to aerial warfare, defined by NATO as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action". It includes surface based, subsurface, and air-based weapon systems, associated sensor systems, command and control arrangements, and passive measures. It may be used to protect naval, ground, and air forces in any location. However, for most countries the main effort has tended to be homeland defence. NATO refers to airborne air defence counter-air and naval air defence as anti-aircraft warfare. Missile defence is an extension of air defence, as are initiatives to adapt air defence to the task of intercepting any projectile in flight.
A dive bomber is a bomber aircraft that dives directly at its targets in order to provide greater accuracy for the bomb it drops. Diving towards the target simplifies the bomb's trajectory and allows the pilot to keep visual contact throughout the bomb run. This allows attacks on point targets and ships, which were difficult to attack with conventional level bombers, even en masse.
The Battle of Taranto took place on the night of 11–12 November 1940 during the Second World War between British naval forces, under Admiral Andrew Cunningham, and Italian naval forces, under Admiral Inigo Campioni. The Royal Navy launched the first all-aircraft ship-to-ship naval attack in history, employing 21 Fairey Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious in the Mediterranean Sea.
Aerial warfare is the use of military aircraft and other flying machines in warfare. Aerial warfare includes bombers attacking enemy installations or a concentration of enemy troops or strategic targets; fighter aircraft battling for control of airspace; attack aircraft engaging in close air support against ground targets; naval aviation flying against sea and nearby land targets; gliders, helicopters and other aircraft to carry airborne forces such as paratroopers; aerial refueling tankers to extend operation time or range; and military transport aircraft to move cargo and personnel. Historically, military aircraft have included lighter-than-air balloons carrying artillery observers; lighter-than-air airships for bombing cities; various sorts of reconnaissance, surveillance and early warning aircraft carrying observers, cameras and radar equipment; torpedo bombers to attack enemy shipping; and military air-sea rescue aircraft for saving downed airmen. Modern aerial warfare includes missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles. Surface forces are likely to respond to enemy air activity with anti-aircraft warfare.
An aerostat is a lighter than air aircraft that gains its lift through the use of a buoyant gas. Aerostats include unpowered balloons and powered airships. A balloon may be free-flying or tethered. The average density of the craft is lower than the density of atmospheric air, because its main component is one or more gasbags, a lightweight skin containing a lifting gas to provide buoyancy, to which other components such as a gondola containing equipment or people are attached. Especially with airships, the gasbags are often protected by an outer envelope.
The history of aerial warfare began in ancient times, with the use of kites in China. In the third century, it progressed to balloon warfare. Airplanes were put to use for war starting in 1911, initially for reconnaissance, and then for aerial combat to shoot down the recon planes. The use of planes for strategic bombing emerged during World War II. Also during World War II, Nazi Germany developed many missile and precision-guided munition systems, including the first cruise missile, the first short-range ballistic missile, the first guided surface-to-air missiles, and the first anti-ship missiles. Ballistic missiles became of key importance during the Cold War, were armed with nuclear warheads, and were stockpiled by the superpowers to deter each other from using them.
World War I was the first major conflict involving the large-scale use of aircraft. Tethered observation balloons had already been employed in several wars, and would be used extensively for artillery spotting. Germany employed Zeppelins for reconnaissance over the North Sea and Baltic and also for strategic bombing raids over Britain and the Eastern Front.
Operation Outward was a British World War II program to attack Germany by means of free-flying balloons. It made use of cheap, simple balloons filled with hydrogen. They carried either a trailing steel wire intended to damage high voltage power lines by producing a short circuit, or incendiary devices that were intended to start fires in fields, forests and heathland.
Industrial warfare is a period in the history of warfare ranging roughly from the early 19th century and the start of the Industrial Revolution to the beginning of the Atomic Age, which saw the rise of nation-states, capable of creating and equipping large armies, navies, and air forces, through the process of industrialization.
Balloons were one of the first mechanisms used in air warfare. Their role was originally mainly for reconnaissance purposes. They provided humans with the first available method of elevating themselves well over the battlefield to obtain the proverbial "birds-eye view." They were an early instrument of definitive intelligence collection, and were also particularly useful in the preparation of accurate battlefield maps, before which time this rudimentary craft had led to many a battlefield failure. Incendiary balloons also have a long history.
An observation balloon is a type of balloon that is employed as an aerial platform for intelligence gathering and artillery spotting. Use of observation balloons began during the French Revolutionary Wars, reaching their zenith during World War I, and they continue in limited use today.
A kite balloon is a tethered balloon which is shaped to help make it stable in low and moderate winds, and to increase its lift. It typically comprises a streamlined envelope with stabilising features and a harness or yoke connecting it to the main tether, and a second harness connected to an observer's basket.
A tethered, moored or captiveballoon is a balloon that is restrained by one or more tethers attached to the ground and so it cannot float freely. The base of the tether is wound around the drum of a winch, which may be fixed or mounted on a vehicle, and is used to raise and lower the balloon.
The Fairey P.4/34 was a competitor for an order for a light bomber to serve with the Royal Air Force. Although not produced in that form, it formed the basis for the Fulmar long-range carrier-based fighter for the Fleet Air Arm.
The Hardest Day is a Second World War air battle fought on 18 August 1940 during the Battle of Britain between the German Luftwaffe and British Royal Air Force (RAF). On that day, the Luftwaffe made an all-out effort to destroy RAF Fighter Command. The air battles that took place on that day were amongst the largest aerial engagements in history to that time. Both sides suffered heavy losses. In the air, the British shot down twice as many Luftwaffe aircraft as they lost. However, many RAF aircraft were destroyed on the ground, equalising the total losses of both sides. Further large and costly aerial battles took place after 18 August, but both sides lost more aircraft combined on this day than at any other point during the campaign, including 15 September, the Battle of Britain Day, generally considered the climax of the fighting. For this reason, 18 August 1940 became known as "the Hardest Day" in Britain.
Unpowered flight is the ability to stay airborne for a period of time without using any power source. There are several types of unpowered flight. Some have been exploited by nature, others by man, and some by both.
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