The history of aviation began before the 13th century, progressing on throughout World War I. During the Great Depression, the aviation industry became so successful that Congress instituted specific antitrust laws, ensuring consumers were not victims of monopolies in the airline industry. In fact, the years between World War I and World War II saw so much growth in the airline industry it gained the nickname “the Golden Age of Aviation.”
Start of World War II
There is no doubt that World War II will go down in the history of aviation as a pivotal point in fighting wars in the future. In fact, one key factor in bringing the Allies to war was a meeting called by Hermann Goering, the Air Minister of the German Air Force on March 10, 1935. At the meeting, Goering informed England and France’s military advisors that Germany would no longer abide by the Treaty of Versailles’ restrictions regarding military aircraft development, and demonstrated this fact by opening the curtains of his office so the visiting officials could see the aircraft-filled sky. The history of aviation changed rapidly from this point as aviation became a deciding factor in the war. Production and development of aircraft became a priority. In fact, prior to the outbreak of the war, there were approximately 193,000 personnel working in the aviation industry; after the war began, there was an increase to 450,000 employees in the industry.
During the War
Air combat in World War II significantly differed from World War I. Large-scale bombings and the ability to destroy entire buildings/battleships made aviation equipment critical to the success of many battles. A Boeing-built plane, the B-17 Flying Fortress, has often been credited with defeating the Germans. In the history of aviation, World War II began a method of combat relying heavily on air strikes.
The history of aviation continued to change as the first jet airlines appeared in Germany and Britain. However, fuel shortages made them less economical than the radial engines gaining popularity after World War I. After the war, commercial flights became increasingly popular, and many airline companies simply converted ex-military aircraft to transport both people and cargo. By 1952, the British state airline introduced the de Havilland Comet into commercial service, but cycles of pressurization in the cabins caused metal fatigue and cracks, resulting in many catastrophic failures. Other jet designs eventually replaced the Comet.
World War II was the catalyst for a major change in the history of aviation, as battles during the war were fought predominantly in the air and less on the ground. The development of jet engines also led to increased commercial use of aircraft, especially with the surplus of ex-military aircraft when the war ended. For more information on the history of aviation, join Covington Aircraft’s online community on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
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