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Getting lost was commonplace and landing in a field to ask directions was not unusual, as was flying alongside railway lines hoping to read station names on the platforms. But throughout the war there was a spiral of technological developments, as first one side and then the other gained the ascendancy. To this day the core roles of air power - control of the air, strike, reconnaissance and mobility - have their roots in the evolution of aviation before and during WW1. How aviation came of age. Aviation evolved rapidly during WW1, with modern and more effective aircraft replacing the basic machines that took to the skies in This may not seem such a big deal today, but was a major achievement then - and a hazardous one.
Crews were not always sure where the enemy was. The danger was all the greater because the troops on the ground were not expert in aircraft recognition so just shot at anything that flew, regardless of which side it was on. As the benefits of "eyes in the sky" became increasingly evident to both sides, it became obvious that steps would need to be taken to prevent the opposition from gaining significant advantage. The enemy would need to be shot down. At first this consisted of little more than pilots taking pot shots at each other with their service revolvers. But as technology improved airframes became more manoeuvrable and engines more powerful and it was soon possible to mount machine guns.
The age of air-to-air combat had begun. The improvements also meant crews could carry more than simple hand grenades in their pockets. Recognisable bombs and bomb racks added a strike component to the roles of air power in warfare. This development took a sinister turn when Germany started long-range bombing attacks on London, primarily with Zeppelins and then Gotha bombers. Total war was now on the doorsteps of family homes. Control of the air also became paramount over the trenches and has remained so ever since in every conflict undertaken. As the war progressed, tactics and technology improved markedly with each side trying to outwit the other, both in the air and on the drawing boards of the aircraft designers.
Eyes in the sky. This was matched by an unprecedented growth in the aviation industry. By early the British Army reckoned it would need some 50 squadrons of aircraft, up to planes in total. When Kitchener, as Secretary of State for War, saw the estimate he swept aside official objections with curt instruction to double the figure. Pilots were needed in ever-increasing numbers to fly the new machines and replace casualties. Although the RFC was relatively small, their ratio of losses was at least as high as in the infantry. But there was never a shortage of volunteers either to fly as a pilot or as an observer. The romance of flying was an attractive proposition, it avoided the tedium of life in the trenches and offered a novel way of going to war.
From today's vantage point, the aircraft of WW1 look incredibly flimsy, precarious to manoeuvre on the ground and seemingly subject to every gust of wind in the air. But to those who flew them, they were to be marvelled at. There were over 50 different aircraft designs during WW1, with five distinct technological generations, according to American historian Richard Hallion. Over the course of the war the countries involved in the fighting produced more than , aircraft and even more engines.
French industry alone accounted for a third of these. At the end of the war, the Allied nations were out-producing the Germans by nearly five-to-one in terms of aircraft and over seven-to-one in engines. The UK was producing 31 times more aircraft per month than it had owned at the beginning of the conflict and the RAF was not only the first independent air service, but also the largest. The aircraft in were clearly recognisable as direct descendants of their pre-war predecessors with open cockpits, no parachutes and wood and doped fabric construction.
But they had reached a degree of sophistication in handling and engine performance which would make a sound platform for the developments that were to come in the inter-war years and on from then. MOOCs stands for massive open online courses and are a new way of learning from the world's leading academics. Explore the courses by registering here. The Italian alliance partner was also deliberately kept in the dark, save for some indiscretions of the German Ambassador Ludwig von Flotow Despite such deliberate deception, Russian, French and British leaders expected a reaction by Vienna and used this time to co-ordinate their stance e.
Petersburg — though when details of it finally emerged, the harsh nature of the ultimatum surprised everyone. It is due to this deception that the other major powers did not play a decisive role in the July Crisis until 23 July, the day when the ultimatum was finally presented in Belgrade. While increasingly suspicious of the intentions of the Austrian government and aware that some action was being planned, the governments of the other European powers expected that Austria-Hungary would seek redress of some kind, but they were largely unaware of the extent of the secret plotting in Vienna and Berlin. The harsh nature of the ultimatum confirmed to the decision-makers in St.
Petersburg, Paris and London that they needed to work together to prevent a war from breaking out, or if that proved impossible, to be in the best possible position to wage it. For St. Petersburg and Paris, this meant co-ordinating their response with each other, as well as trying to ensure that London would declare its support for the Entente in case of war. Hopes that an amicable solution might be found were dashed at 6 p. Petersburg at the time the Austrian demands were handed over. It is, however, doubtful that even the fullest acceptance of the Austrian terms would have secured a different outcome for Belgrade.
In Britain, Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey took heart from the Serbian reply and suggested repeatedly that the issue could be resolved at the conference table, but his mediation proposals were only given half-hearted support by Berlin and not taken up by Vienna. Both sides hoped their hand would be strengthened with a clear declaration from London as to whose side it might be on. It is important to bear in mind that from the delivery of the ultimatum onwards, this was no longer a crisis dominated by the decision of the Dual Alliance partners.
Whereas until this point the Entente partners conferred with one another in the face of rumours and small amounts of intelligence gleaned from spies and careless diplomats, now France, Russia and Great Britain had to react and make decisions which would affect the outcome of events. However, despite being pressed by its Entente partners, the British government , at this point still preoccupied with the Irish question and determined to stay out of a continental quarrel, refused until the very end of July to commit to its allies. In an effort to try and prevent an escalation of the crisis, the British Foreign Secretary kept his cards close to his chest and refused to commit Britain one way or the other.
It has been argued that Britain could have played a more decisive role by declaring its intentions to support France earlier, and that the outcome of the crisis might have been different as a result. Certainly Berlin worked on the misconceived assumption that British neutrality was possible, and even likely. By then, he was so convinced that Britain needed to declare its support for France and Russia that he threatened to resign over the issue.
We can of course only speculate if an earlier declaration of British involvement would have changed the minds of decision-makers in Vienna or Berlin and made them more inclined to accept mediation instead of war. The prospect of British neutrality, based on an a misunderstanding by the German Ambassador in London, Prince Karl Max von Lichnowsky , certainly led to last minute attempts in Berlin to change the deployment plan for one that only sent German troops to the East, suggesting that British neutrality was a coveted outcome in Germany and might have changed how it began the fighting. In France, decision-making was hampered by the fact that the senior statesmen were abroad on their state visit to St.
Petersburg for many of the crucial days of the crisis as we have seen, the ultimatum was timed to be presented at the least opportune moment for French decision-makers. Petersburg and if war-guilt can thus be attributed to France an argument advanced, for example, by revisionists in the interwar years. France was caught uncomfortably between two stools, wanting to reassure Russia that it could count on support from Paris while needing to appear conciliatory to keep Britain on side. Its desire to ensure British support even affected its military plans. Nothing should suggest to the Entente partner that France might be responsible for the onset of hostilities, and mobilisation measures had to be postponed until reliable news had been received of German moves, while French troops were deliberately withdrawn ten kilometres behind the border to ensure that hostile acts would not even result accidentally.
Nonetheless, the decision was made to advise Serbia not to offer any resistance to any armed invasion, while Vienna was to be asked to extend the time limit, and permission for mobilisation was to be sought to cover all eventualities. Much has been made of this early decision by historians who attribute responsibility for the war to Russia. Public opinion would arguably not have condoned such an outwardly visible expression of weakness, even if the Prime Minister had been inclined towards acceptance. The demand of an Austrian-led enquiry was unacceptable because it would have revealed that the Serbian government, while not the instigators of the plot, had nonetheless had prior knowledge of it, and had failed in its attempt to prevent the murder from taking place.
Only at the very last minute, when it was clear that Britain, too, would become involved if war broke out, did German Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg try to restrain the Austrians, but his mediation proposals arrived far too late and were in any case not forceful enough. Historians have argued over the origins of the First World War for over a hundred years, and the July Crisis is a particularly controversial aspect of this long debate.
This was not helped by the fact that even before the war had broken out, lies were told about who had caused the crisis to escalate, as all sides tried to appear as though they had been attacked. No government could hope to sweep away millions of volunteers for a war of aggression. Their positioning and deceptions during the July Crisis and subsequently have obscured our view and have allowed historians to indulge in an unprecedented debate over the interpretation of the minutest of detail. Today there is still no consensus on the origins of the war, but there is continuing interest in examining the crisis from every conceivable angle and in new ways.
However, while it is possible, based on the available documentary evidence, to construct an account which attributes some responsibility to any one or all of the major players in July , nonetheless there were those, in Vienna and Berlin, who created a crisis following the assassination, and those, in St. Petersburg, Paris and London, who reacted to the deliberate provocation of Serbia by Austria-Hungary which in turn reacted to a perceived provocation from Serbia. If all leaders are considered responsible, then arguably they were not equally so.
Moreover, a diplomatic victory was considered worthless and was deliberately ruled out in Vienna, while in London, for example, a diplomatic solution was sought until the very last days of the crisis. It was up to the other governments to choose if they wanted to accept that Austria had a genuine grievance and accommodate their demands, or if they were prepared to call their bluff and risk a general European war. With hindsight, it is easy to condemn all governments for their actions, for they unleashed a conflict they could not control and, in the case of the Central Powers, that they ultimately could not win. But if we ask why this crisis was not de-escalated like others beforehand, the answer is simple: not everyone wanted to prevent a war, not everyone considered it the worst-possible outcome of the July Crisis, and some were willing to risk war rather than risk a decline in their international status.
Section Editor: William Mulligan. Mombauer, Annika: July Crisis Version 1. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, ed. DOI : Version 1. July Crisis By Annika Mombauer. The Serbs should first be presented with a number of demands, and in case they should not accept these, energetic measures should be taken. I take opportunity of every such occasion to advise quietly but very impressively and seriously against too hasty steps.
He must, as he said before, first hear what the Imperial Chancellor had to say, but he did not doubt in the least that Herr von Bethmann Hollweg would entirely agree with him. This was especially so regarding an action on our part against Serbia. How Europe went to War in , London , re-kindled the old debate over culpability and led to soul-searching in Germany where the eve of the centenary saw a renewed interest in the origins of the First World War. July , Oxford More recently, the thesis that war was actually improbable was tested by Afflerbach, Holger and Stevenson, David eds. Similar arguments have been made, inter alia, by Afflerbach, Holger: Der Dreibund.
Entspannung in den internationalen Beziehungen, , Munich Die Biographie, Vienna Der Zerfall des alten Europa , Berlin , p. For more details, see Hannig, Franz Ferdinand The Outbreak of the First World War. The Long Debate , New York et al. Ambassador de Bunsen was able to report on 16 July that Vienna was planning a move against Serbia. For a detailed discussion of the delivery of the ultimatum and reactions to it see e. For details of the historiographical debate on the origins of the First World War see e. Controversies and Consensus, Harlow Analyse und Dokumente, Paderborn Europas Weg in den Ersten Weltkrieg, Munich Berghahn, Volker R.
Martin's Press. Bosworth, Richard J. Clark, Christopher M. How Europe went to war in , New York Harper. Fischer, Fritz: Griff nach der Weltmacht. Die Kriegszielpolitik des kaiserlichen Deutschland, 2 ed. Fischer, Fritz: Krieg der Illusionen. Die deutsche Politik von bis 2 ed. Geiss, Imanuel: Der lange Weg in die Katastrophe. Geiss, Imanuel ed. Hamilton, Richard F.
Herwig, Holger H. Causes and responsibilities 5 ed. Heath and Co. Keiger, John F. Krumeich, Gerd: Juli Langdon, John W. The long debate, , New York; Oxford Berg. Lieven, Dominic C. MacMillan, Margaret: The war that ended peace. The road to , New York Random House. Mombauer, Annika: Die Julikrise. Controversies and consensus , Harlow; New York Longman.What if ww1 never happened an attack would best suit British interests and would make it more difficult what if ww1 never happened the Germans to launch further naval raids against British shipping. What if ww1 never happened smaller states engaged with each other what if ww1 never happened armed conflicts and what if ww1 never happened with a Great Powerthe governments in What if ww1 never happened, Paris, Berlin, London and St. However, despite being pressed by its Entente partners, the British government what if ww1 never happened, at this point still preoccupied The Devils Arithmetic Comparison Essay the Irish question and what if ww1 never happened to stay out of a continental quarrel, refused until the very end The Role Of Racial Disparity In The Criminal Justice System July to commit to its allies. What if ww1 never happened result after a few weeks was, again, a minor territorial gain of no strategic importance for tens of thousands of casualties. Discover 10 surprising facts below…. By comparison, the first world what if ww1 never happened has been the subject of far less counterfactual speculation.