Desperate Times for the Allies in the month of January
The year of 1918 opens gloomily for the Allies. Despite many concentrated offensive battles, the Allies failed to force a breakthrough in 1917. One of the lessons was that the massive artillery bombardments did not achieve their objectives, resulting in their abandonment for the final year of the war. The British ground forces are so depleted by the massed infantry attacks and high casualties that by February 1918 each division was reduced from 12 to nine battalions! The losses and meager gains during 1917 cause the Allies to abandon thoughts for offensives and concentrate on strategic and tactical defense. Meanwhile, the German Air Force is on track to double its size in eight months and hopes to win back air superiority which it lost in the months after “Bloody April.” On the other hand, the RFC is one of the greatest assets the British have in both size and the extent of its operations. British aircraft production increases greatly and pilot training improves markedly in quality. The year sees increased cooperation between air and ground forces of all the beligerents
The Imperial Japanese Lighter-Than-Air Unit
The Imperial Japanese Navy establishes its first lighter-than-air aviation unit in January
Kawasaki Heavy Industries Company Ltd. Takes to the Sky in January
Kawasaki Heavy Industries Company Ltd. organizes an aircraft division.
Air Ambulances for France
In January, the French Army 's Service Aeronautique employs four Breguet 14S air ambulances for casualty evacuation along the Aisne Front. Each aircraft can accommodate two stretcher cases.
Miraculous Near-Death Save
In January, Gunner-observer Captain John H. Hedley is thrown from the cockpit of his Bristol F2B Fighter without a parachute during a dogfight when his pilot, Captain Reginald "Jimmy" Makepeace, puts the plane into a steep dive. After he falls several hundred feet, Hedley and the aircraft come back together and he manages to grab the fighter 's after fuselage and crawl back into his cockpit unharmed.
Why Did Cambrai Fail?
During January, British Army convenes an inquiry to look into the failure of the British offensive in the Battle of Cambrai in November–December 1917. The inquiry finds that the German use of massed aircraft for close air support of German ground troops subjected British ground troops to so much machine-gun fire that they felt helpless and became demoralized, allowing a successful German counterattack.
The British Air Council and Air Ministry
The British government establishes the British Air Council and Air Ministry.
First British Secretary of State for Air and Chief of Air Staff
Harold Sidney Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere, becomes the first British Secretary of State for Air while Maj Gen Sir Hugh Trenchard is recalled from his RFC command to become the first Chief of the Air Staff.
German Ace Von Müller is Killed
Three RFC aircraft – an RE-8 of No. 21 Squadron and two SE-5as of No. 60 Squadron – engage in a dogfight with the Albatros D.Va of German ace, Max Ritter von Müller, formerly of Jasta 2 “Boelcke.” Von Müller’s aircraft is shot down in flames, and von Müller jumps to his death to escape the fire. His 36 victories will make him 15th among German aces and the highest-scoring Bavarian ace of the war.
Russia: The Council of Peoples' Commissars of the Republic
The Council of Peoples ' Commissars of the Republic issues a decree that puts all Russian aircraft manufacturing companies under state control.
Maj Gen Salmond
Maj. Gen. Sir John Salmond is named to succeed Trenchard as commander of the RFC in France.
Colonel Billy Mitchell
Colonel William Mitchell becomes Chief of the Air Service, American First Army Corps, AEF.
Lt Mather dies
Second Lieutenant Carl Mather is killed in an aircraft collision at Ellington Field, Texas. The future Mather Air Force Base, later Sacramento Mather Airport, at Rancho Cordova, California, will be named for him.
German Air Force Expansion
The German Air Force forms its second and third Jagdgeschwader (fighter wings), bringing together four fighter squadrons) –Jastas 12, 13, 15, and 19 – to form Jagdgeschwader II, with Adolf Ritter von Tutschek as its first commanding officer. Four other Jagdstaffeln – Jasta 2 "Boelcke" and Jastas 26, 27, and 36 – form Jagdgeschwader III, with Bruno Loerzer as its first commanding officer.
First Aerial Victory for the US Military
2/Lt Stephen W. Thompson achieves the first aerial victory by the U.S. military in his role as an aerial gunner, while flying with a French squadron.
The Lafayette Escadrille Is Transferred
The Lafayette Escadrille is transferred from the French Army to the United States Army and redesignated the 103rd Aero Squadron.
The US Changes Its Insignia
The United States replaces the national insignia for its military aircraft adopted in 1917 with a roundel with an outer red ring, then a blue ring, and a white center. The Allies had requested the change out of a fear that the star in the 1917 US marking could be mistaken for a German cross. The roundel will remain in use until the United States reverts to its former markings in August 1919.
RFC Attacks German Airbases
The RFC launches a massive tactical bombing offensive by attacking German airfields, lines of communication and front lines. The attacks on German air bases prove to be very effective.
Four More Victories for McCudden
British ace James McCudden again scores four victories.
The Sopwith Dolphin
The British introduce the Sopwith Dolphin aircraft, one of the best fighters of the period. It carried two forward-firing machine guns and up to two more, firing at angles around the propeller.
Germans: Operation Michael
The German high command issues a memorandum governing the employment of German ground-attack squadrons in the upcoming spring offensive on the Western Front, Operation Michael. It lays out the role of the squadrons as "flying ahead of and carrying the infantry along with them, keeping down the fire of the enemy's infantry and barrage batteries," adding that the appearance of ground-attack aircraft over the battlefield "affords visible proof to heavily engaged troops that the Higher Command is in close touch with the front, and is employing every means to support the fighting troops." It also directs the squadrons to "dislocate traffic and inflict appreciable loss on reinforcements hastening up to the battlefield."
Captain Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor Scores
Captain Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor becomes an ace by shooting down a German two-seater as his fifth victory. Only five feet, two inches tall, Beauchamp-Proctor uses wooden blocks to extend his reach in the SE-5. He goes on to achieve 54 victories and is awarded the Victoria Cross. He ends the war as the leading South African ace, the fourth highest British one and the eighth overall for the war.
US Air Service Combat Area
The Tour sector is chosen as the most logical, and quiet, place for the American Air Service to begin combat operations.
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Germany and Russia sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, with the Russian surrender. This frees the Baltic Republic to form the Baltic Duchy with their new-found freedom. The Germans begin transferring hundreds of thousands of men and aircraft from the Eastern to the Western Front in preparation a massive offensive in late Spring. It also frees the Bolsheviks to concentrate on the Russian Civil War and consolidate their power.
The Finnish Air Force
The Finnish Air Force is founded.
The Birth of the UAV
The first successful flight of a powered unmanned heavier-than-air craft, the Curtiss-Sperry Flying Bomb, takes place. It is the precursor to modern unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The US establishes the Office of the Director of Naval Aviation.
Captain Miller becomes America's First Aerial Combat Casualty
Capt. JE Miller, commander of the 95th Aero Squadron, is shot down flying a SPAD VII. He is the first US Air Service pilot to be killed in the war.
International Airmail Service
The first regular international airmail service begins, with Hansa-Brandenburg C.I aircraft linking Vienna, L'viv, Proskurov and Kiev.
The First Air Service Distinguished Service Cross
Lt. Paul Baer, pilot with the 103d Aero Squadron, is awarded the first Air Service Distinguished Service Cross for shooting down his first German aircraft. Originally joining the Lafayette Flying Corps in 1917, he transferred to the Lafayette Escadrille in January 1918 to transition into the 103rd Aero Squadron of the US Army Air Service.
The American 1st Pursuit Group Takes Flight
The US 95th Aero Squadron flies the first offensive patrol of the American First Pursuit Group.
The first Norwegian airline, Det Norske Luftfartrederi, is founded
94th Aero Squadron
The 94th (the “Hat in the Ring”) Pursuit Squadron flies its first mission across German lines.
A New Strategy in the Air
The RFC develops a strategy to employ its forces in the face of the expected German attack. The “corps” aircraft are to concentrate on counter-battery fire, photography, harassment of enemy troops and night bombing. “Army” squadrons are to focus on protect “Corps” machines, attack enemy troop concentrations, interdict transport and provide high altitude offensive patrols.
Operation Michael Begins
Germany launches Operation Michael, marking the beginning of the Spring Offensive on the Allies on the Somme. In the initial attack against the British front west of St Quentin, the German Air Force has 1,680 aircraft to the RFC's 579 on the Somme. Thirty-eight German close air support squadrons take part in the offensive; massed at key points of the attack, the German ground-attack aircraft engage the enemy front line and disrupt the flow of enemy supplies, replacements, and reinforcements behind the line. The German Air Force throws itself into the battle, but it is hampered by fuel shortages, pilot shortages and increasing distance from the moving front lines. Nevertheless, the German offensive is quite successful, advancing 30 miles in eight days, the same distance it took the Allies six months to gain in 1916.
Canadian Donald MacLaren, 46 Squadron, destroys a railway gun with bombs, then shoots down a German balloon and finishes this sortie by shooting down two LVG two-seaters. For this mission he earns the Military Cross When the squadron commander was killed in a crash later in the year MacLaren was given command. He extends his victory list to 54, to tie with Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor for fourth in the British list of aces and eighth overall. After the war, he returned to Canada and formed Pacific Airways which was eventually acquired by Western Canada Airways. He died on 4 July 1988, aged 95. One of his comrades in 46 Squadron was VM Yeates, the author of the seminal World War I novel, "Winged Victory" in which Tom Cundall, the main protagonist's flight commander is a Canadian called "Mac". It is widely believed that this character was based on MacLaren.
Six German Aircraft in One Day
Captain John Lightfoot Trollope of the RFC No. 43 Squadron shoots down six German aircraft in a single day.
US Navy Engages Submarines
Ensign John McNamara makes the first United States Navy attack on a submarine.
Alan McLeod Earns his Victoria Cross
Under attack by several German Fokker Dr.I triplanes over Albert, France, 18-year-old Canadian Second Lieutenant Alan Arnett McLeod, the pilot of an Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 of the RFC 's No. 2 Squadron, and his observer, Lieutenant Arthur Hammond, shoot down four of the German fighters before themselves being shot down in flames and crash-landing in no man's land. The seriously injured McLeod carries the badly wounded Hammond to the British lines, and, although McLeod is wounded again in the process, both men survive. McLeod will receive the Victoria Cross for his actions in a ceremony on September 4 at the age of 19, the youngest airman to be awarded the Victoria Cross in World War I.
Germany Reshifts Its Aircraft for Close Air Support
The Germans redesignate their Shutzstafffeln (escort squadrons) as Schlachtstaffeln (attack squadrons) in recognition of their close air support achievements during Operation Michael.
The Balkenkreuz (beam or bar cross) replaces the Cross Pattée (Iron Cross) as the national marking on German military aircraft, making the legs of the cross straight and of equal width instead of curved.
The Royal Air Force
The RFC and Royal Naval Air Service combine to form the Royal Air Force, the world 's first independent air organization. The Women's Royal Air Force is formed at the same time. As an indication of their amalgamation, all former Royal Navy squadrons have a “2” added to their designation, so that 1 Sq becomes 201 Sq.
The First Parachute Use in Combat
Vizefeldwebel (Sergeant) Weimar becomes the first person to use a parachute in combat, when he successfully bails out of a German Albatros D. Va fighter.
Shift to Ground and Interdiction Attacks Fail
General Ferdinand Foch, one day in advance of his being named Supreme Allied Commander-in-Chief, instructs the RFC and French Air Force to focus on ground and interdiction attack and to only engage in air-to-air combat sufficiently to conduct these missions. Unfortunately, even his joint dictum failed to address the central issue with these two air forces – their failure to coordinate their operations. This resulted in the continuation of the inability to concentrate bombing on a small set of critical targets and to create a strategic reserve air force that could be rapidly moved to critical places on the combined front.
General Foch becomes Supreme Allied Commander-in-Chief
French, British and American political leaders officially make General Foch the Supreme Allied Commander-in-Chief.
A Two-Seat Aircraft Takes Off From a Ship for the First Time
A two-seater aircraft takes off from a platform on a ship for the first time, when a Royal Air Force Sopwith 1½ Strutter launches from a gun turret of the Australian battlecruiser HMAS Australia. By November 1918, ships of the British Grand Fleet will carry over 100 aircraft on flying-off platforms, by which time 22 light cruisers will have one, and every battleship and battlecruiser will carry a two-seat aircraft on a platform mounted on a forward turret and a single-seat fighter on a platform mounted on an after turret.
Zeppelin vs. Aircraft, and This Time the Zeppelin Wins
Royal Air Force Lieutenant C. H. Noble-Campbell of No. 38 Squadron attacks the German Navy Zeppelin L 62 while piloting an F.E.2b over England. He is wounded in the head by machine-gun fire from L 62, but returns safely to base. It is the only occasion on which an attacking airman is wounded in combat with an airship.
First US Independent Air Attack
A flight of Airco DH-4s makes the first independent raid of World War I by aircraft of the US Army 's Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps, the forerunner of the United States Army Air Service.
The Battle of Lys
The Germans initiate the Battle of the Lys between Armetieres and Givenchy with extensive gas shelling. Rain and mist prevent air support, but the rapid advance catches nine RAF squadrons unprepared, and they have to evacuate or burn their aircraft in place.
Final Zeppelin Raid in England
The final Zeppelin raid on England takes place.
Six Victories in Two Sorties
Captain H. W. Woollett of the Royal Air Force's No. 43 Squadron scores six victories, including five Albatros D.Vs, in two sorties.
Lt Douglas Campbell
Lt. Douglas Campbell, 94th Aero Squadron, flying a Nieuport 28, scores the first victory of an American-trained pilot, shooting down an Albatros.
The Legend of the Red Baron Ends
German ace Manfred von Richthofen, a living legend called the "Red Baron" and "ace of aces," is shot down and killed. By the time of his death, he had 80 victories. Credit for his kill is given to Canadian Captain Roy Brown, but current evidence is that he was killed by ground fire from Australian troops. His victory total will not be exceeded until June 1941.
The AEF's First Ace
Lieutenant Paul Baer shoots down his fifth aircraft, becoming the first ace of the American Expeditionary Force. He goes on to achieve nine confirmed victories with another seven unconfirmed. He is shot down on the day of his last victory and ends the war as a prisoner.
Belgium's Greatest Ace Scores His First Victory
Belgium's top-scoring ace, Willy Coppens, claims his first victory.
The Division of Military Aeronautics
The United States Department of War creates a Division of Military Aeronautics responsible for the training of United States Army aviation personnel and units.
America's Top-Scoring Ace Scores his First Victory
Eddie Rickenbacker scores his first victory, shooting down a German Pfalz D.III fighter near Baussant, France. He is flying a Nieuport 28 fighter and becomes the top-scoring American ace of World War I with 26 victories.
The Fokker D. VII Takes Flight
Germany’s Fokker D. VII, arguably the best WWI fighter, appears for the first time.
General Mason Patrick Replaces General Foulois
Maj. Gen. Mason M. Patrick replaces Brig. Gen. Foulois as Chief of the Air Service, AEF.
The German Offensive Reaches Its Height
The German offensive in Flanders peaks. In less than six weeks General Ludendorff had thrown 140 divisions at the combined British and French forces and was defeated. The third German campaign ends.
James Normal Hall is Shot Down and Captured
James Norman Hall is shot down by an Albatros over Vieville-en-Haye and made a prisoner of war. He survives and with Charles Nordhoff, writes several original works, including The Lafayette Flying Corps in 1920 and Mutiny on the Bounty in 1932.
Rene Fonck Scores Six Victories
French ace Rene Fonck, Group de Chasse 12, scores six victories.
German Bombing Raid on Dover Fails
The German Riefenfluzeug Abteilung ("Giant Airplane Detachment) 501 attempts the first heavier-than-air raid on England since March, sending four Riefenfluzeuge bombers to bomb Dover. They encounter high winds over the North Sea and are recalled; when they return home, they find their bases shrouded in fog. One lands safely the next day, but the other three are destroyed in crashes, with only one entire crew surviving and only one crew member surviving from each of the other two bombers.
Zeppelin L 62 Crashes in Flames
The German Navy Zeppelin L 62 explodes, breaks in half, and crashes in flames over the North Sea with the loss of all hands under mysterious circumstances. The German Naval Airship Service blames her loss on an accident, while the Royal Air Force claims that one of its Felixstowe F.2a flying boats shot her down.
The Liberty Engine Takes to the Skies
The first American-built DH-4 powered by an American Liberty engine is delivered to the AEF.
The First US Air Mail Stamps
The United States issues its first air mail stamps to the public. They bear a picture depicting a Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny". This stamp becomes even more famous when many sheets are printed with the Jenny upside down, which immediately becomes the “Inverted Jenny.”
US Regular Air Mail Services Begin
The first regular United States air mail service commences, between New York and Washington, D.C. Lieutenant Geoffrey Boyle makes the first flight in a Curtiss JN-4H.
Light Cruiser Stuttgart is Recommissioned as a Seaplane Carrier
The Imperial German Navy recommissions the light cruiser Stuttgart after her conversion into a seaplane carrier. She is the only German seagoing aviation ship capable of working with the fleet during either World War I or World War II.
Raoul Lufbery is Killed in Combat
Raoul Lufbery, commander of the 94th (Hat in the Ring) Aero Squadron and second highest scoring American ace with 17 victories, is killed in air combat.
The First Interisland Flight in Hawaii
U.S. Army Major Harold M. Clark Jr. and Sergeant Robert P. Gay make the first interisland flight in Hawaii, flying from Fort Kamehameha on Oahu to Maui. They continue on to the island of Hawaii the same day, where they crash on the slopes of Mauna Kea. Uninjured, they wander on foot for a week before finding help.
Germany Launches Largest Heavier-Than-Air Raid
Germany launches the largest heavier-than-air raid against the United Kingdom of World War I, with 38 Gotha and three Riesenfkugzeug bombers participating. This is the last raid on London. The bombers drop 2,724 pounds of bombs according to British estimates or 3,307 pounds according to the Germans, killing 49 people, injuring 177. British fighters and antiaircraft guns shoot down six Gothas, and Bristol F-2B Fighter forces a seventh Gotha to land substantially intact in England. In the 27 heavier-than-air raids, German bombers have dropped 246,774 lbs. of bombs, killing 835 people, injuring 1,972, and inflicting £1,418,272 of damage in exchange for the loss of 62 bombers either shot down or destroyed in crashes.
Military Aviation is Transferred to the War Department
President Woodrow Wilson detaches military aviation from the Army Signal Corps and places it under two new War Dept. bureaus: Military Aeronautics and Aircraft Production. Maj. Gen. William L. Kenly becomes Director of Military Aeronautics.
The US Army Air Service is Created
The US Army Air Service, replaces the Aviation Section, Signal Corps, as the American air force;
Jozsef Kiss Is Shot Down
József Kiss, Austria-Hungary's fifth-highest-scoring ace, is shot down in combat. He had scored 19 victories.
The Main Directorate of the Workers' and Peasants' Red Air Force is Created
In Russia, Order No. 385 of the Bolshevik People 's Commissariat on Military and Naval Affairs creates the Main Directorate of the Workers ' and Peasants ' Red Air Fleet, the predecessor of the Soviet Air Forces
Germany Reaches the Marne
The German Aisne offensive reaches the Marne.
The Battle of Cantigny
The 1st US Infantry Division leads and wins local action at the Battle of Cantigny under French command.
Rickenbacker Becomes an Ace
Eddie Rickenbacker shoots down a German Albatros C. I for this fifth victory, making him one of the first US aces.
General Patrick Takes Command of the US Air Service
Maj. Gen. Mason Patrick assumes command of the US Air Service.
Campbell Becomes an American Ace
Douglas Campbell scores his fifth victory to become another American ace
Erich Löwenhardt is Awarded the Pour Le Merite
Erich Löwenhardt, with 24 victories, is awarded the Pour le Mérite on this day. He becomes the commander of Jasta 10 and extends his string to 54 before being shot down on August 10, flying a Fokker D. VII. He becomes the 9th highest overall ace and the 3rd highest German ace, behind only Manfred von Richthofen and Ernst Udet.
The Royal Air Force Forms the Independent Force
From the basis of VIII Brigade, the Royal Air Force forms the Independent Force, tasked to mount a strategic bombing campaign against Germany "independently" of the ground and sea campaigns the Allies have been waging since 1914.
The First Marine Aviation Force
The United States Marine Corps consolidates its aviation forces at the Marine Flying Field at Miami, to form the First Marine Aviation Force. Composed of four squadrons, the force will deploy to France for combat.
Major Roderic Dallas is Shot Down
The Australian ace Lieutenant Colonel Roderic Dallas, flying an SE.5a, is shot down and killed over Liévin, France, by the German ace Leutnant Johannes Werner in a Fokker Dr.I as Werner 's sixth victory. Dallas 's victory total of 51 will make him the highest-scoring Australian ace of World War I.
Allied Forces Hold the Marne
The French hold the Marne while the AEF at Chateau-Thierry prevent the Germans from crossing the river.
The First All-Metal Stress-Skin Fighter
The first flight of the first all-metal stressed-skin fighter, the Dornier-Zeppelin D. I, takes place.
Douglas Campbell Scores his Final Victory
Douglas Campbell, 94th Aero Squadron, scores his sixth and final victory. Badly wounded by antiaircraft fire during the flight, he sees no further combat. After the war he becomes a vice president with Pan American World Airways and lives until 1990, age 94.
The Battle of Belleau Woods
The US 2d Division wins the Battle of Belleau Wood while under French Corps command.
First non-stop flight across Atlantic Ocean
Capt. John Alcock and Lt. Arthur Whitten Brown of Great Britain make the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, flying from Newfoundland to Ireland in 16 hours and 12 minutes arriving on June 15, 1918
Italian Ace Francesco Baracca is Shot Down
Italy's highest-scoring ace, Maggiore (Major) Francesco Baracca, is killed by Austro-Hungarian ground fire. He had claimed 34 victories.
Americans Launch Bombing Raids on Italian Front
Led by Captain Fiorello LaGuardia, 18 United States Army Air Service cadets assigned to various squadrons of the 4th and 14th Bombardment Groups take part in an Italian bombing raid against the Austro-Hungarian railway center at Falze de Piave. Shot down and taken prisoner by Austria-Hungary, Lieutenant Clarence Young becomes the first of three American aircrew casualties suffered while flying with the Italians during World War I.
First Scheduled Airmail Flight in Canada
The first scheduled Canadian airmail flight is made, between Montreal and Toronto.
1st Lt. Field Eugene Kindley Scores his First Victory
Attached to the Royal Air Force's No. 65 Squadron, US Army Air Service ace First Lieutenant Field Eugene Kindley scores his initial (of 12) victories, shooting down the Pfalz D.III of Jagdstaffel 5 commanding officer Leutnant Wilhelm Lehmann over Albert, France.
Hermann Goering Takes command of the Flying Circus
After von Richthofen’s death, Hauptmann Wilhelm Reinhard is chosen to command Jagdgeschwader 1.
The Battle of Hamel
Four 4 companies (1,000 men) from the 33d Division participate in the first offensive action by AEF units serving under British (Australian) command during the Battle of Hamel.
British Ace James McCudden is killed in flying accident
British ace James McCudden is killed in a flying accident when his aircraft crashes on take-off at Auxi-le-Château, France. He has 57 victories at the time of his death; enough to make him the seventh-highest-scoring ace of World War I.
2nd Lt. Quentin Roosevelt is Shot Down
Second Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt is shot down and killed by a German fighter over Chamery, France. Quentin is the youngest son of former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. He was flying Flying a Nieuport 28, serving in the 95th Aero Squadron.
The Second Battle of the Marne
Germany launches the Second Battle of the Marne, the last major German offensive of the War. US Army and Marine Corps troops played a key role in helping stop the German thrust towards Paris. The US 3d Infantry Division holds fast and even conducts local counterattacks, forever being known as the "Rock of the Marne."
Battle of Château-Thierry
The Germans focus part of their Marne attack on US forces, resulting in the Battle of Château-Thierry. American soldiers hold the line and advance in many places, gaining the victory.
US Seaplanes Attack German Submarine
Two United States Navy seaplanes from Naval Air Station Chatham, Massachusetts, attack a surfaced German submarine that is firing at a tug and three barges off Cape Cod. One bomb strikes the submarine, but is a dud.
Major Mannock is Shot Down
Major Edward "Mick" Mannock, the United Kingdom's highest scoring ace of the war, is shot down by German ground fire and killed. He officially is credited with 73 victories as the highest-scoring British ace of World War I, but he never claimed that many and his actual score may have been nearer 61.
Lt. Frank Linke-Crawford is Shot Down
Lieutenant Frank Linke-Crawford, the fourth-highest-scoring Austro-Hungarian ace, is shot down and killed in aerial combat. He had scored 27 victories.
US Marine Pilots Arrive in Brest, France
The USMC 's 1st Marine Aviation Force, minus one of its four squadrons, arrives at Brest, France, to become the first U.S. Marine Corps aviation force to serve in combat. Delays in transportation and the arrival of equipment will prevent it from operating until mid-October.
Royal Air Force Bombing Raid on Germany Suffers Heavy Casualties
A Royal Air Force bombing raid over Germany by 12 Airco DH.9s suffers the loss of 10 aircraft shot down.
A large petroleum barge on the Volga River in Russia is equipped with a flight deck and elevators (lifts) to carry up to nine Grigorovich M.9 flying boats and three Nieuport fighters. Named Kommuna and towed by a sidewheel paddle tug, she and her aircraft actively support operations of the Bolshevik Volga River Flotilla during the Russian Civil War.
Combined Air, Sea, and Land Operations in Northern Russia
Probably the first fully combined air, sea, and land military operation in history takes place in the North Russia Campaign during the Russian Civil War as Fairey Campania seaplanes from the Royal Navy carrier HMS Nairana join Allied ground forces and ships in driving Bolsheviks out of their fortifications on Modyugski Island at the mouth of the Northern Dvina River. Then the aircraft scout ahead of the Allied force as it proceeds up the channel to Arkhangelsk. The appearance of one of the Campanias over Arkhangelsk induces the Bolshevik leaders there to panic and flee.
Lt. Gabriel Guerin is Shot Down
French ace Lieutenant Gabriel Guérin is killed in action. His 23 victories will tie him with Lieutenant René Dorme for ninth-highest-scoring French ace of World War I.
The Last Zeppelin Raid on England
Five Imperial German Navy Zeppelins attempt to bomb the United Kingdom at night in the fourth and final such raid of 1918. All of their bombs fall through clouds into the North Sea, and the commander of the Naval Airship Division, Fregattenkapitän Peter Strasser, is killed in action when an RAF Airco DH-4 piloted by Major Egbert Cadbury and crewed by Captain Robert Leckie shoots down the Zeppelin in which he is flying as an observer. After Strasser 's death, Germany attempts no more airship raids against the United Kingdom. During their 1915-1918 bombing campaign, German airships have made 208 raids against England, dropped 5,907 bombs, killed 528 people, and injured 1,156.
The End of the 2nd Marne
The Second Battle of the Marne ends with an American-French victory. This ended Germany's last offensive and paved the way for the fight to the Armistice.
The Battle of Amiens
With the failure of the German offensive on the Marne, the Allies turn the tide and begin offensive action at the Battle of Amiens that lasts until the end of the war.
Italian Planes Fly Over Vienna
Eight Italian Ansaldo SVA biplanes of the 87 Squadriglia "Serenimissa," led by Gabriele d'Annunzio, fly over Vienna for 30 minutes without interference from Austro-Hungarian forces, taking photographs and dropping leaflets before returning to base without loss.
Erich Löwenhardt is Killed in a Collision
The Fokker D.VII fighter of the German fighter ace Oberleutnant Erich Löwenhardt collides with another D.VII flown by Leutnant Alfred Wenz near Chaulnes, France. Both men bail out; Wenz survives, but Löwenhardt's parachute fails and he falls to his death from 12,000 feet. Löwenhardt's score of 53 kills will make him the third-highest-scoring German ace of World War I.
The Iron Man Flies His Last Mission
After shooting down two enemy aircraft earlier in the day, the German ace Rudolf Berthold collides with an enemy plane during a dogfight with Sopwith Camels. His Fokker D.VII crashes into a house, injuring him; although he survives, he never flies another combat mission. Called “the Iron Man,” his total of 44 kills will make him the sixth-highest-scoring German ace of World War I. He survives the war, but joins the Freikorps and dies in a street battle with Socialists in 1920.
1st Lt. Field Eugene Kindley Shoots Down the Red Baron's Brother
USAAS First Lieutenant Field Eugene Kindley shoots down the Fokker D.VII of Lothar von Richthofen, the brother the late Manfred von Richthofen, North of Roye, France. Lothar von Richthofen, an ace with 40 confirmed air-to-air victories, suffers serious wounds and never flies in combat again. It is the fourth of Kindley's 12 kills.
Rene Fonck Shoots Down three German Planes in Ten Seconds
The French ace René Fonck shoots down three German aircraft in ten seconds in a head-on attack. All three crash within 300 feet of one another near Roye, France.
The End of the Battle of Amiens
The British draw an end to the Battle of Amiens and begin planning for the Battle of Bapaume.
New World Speed Record
A U.S. Navy Curtiss 18-T-1 triplane sets a new world speed record of 163 mph.
The Battle of Bapaume
The British launch the Battle of Bapaume, capturing the town by August 29.
The First Director of the US Army Air Service
John D. Ryan is appointed first Director of the U.S. Army Air Service and serves until November 27, 1918.
This month becomes known as “Black September,” the costliest month of the air war for tThe Allies as they lose 560 aircraft (373 British; 100 French and 87 US) versus the German losses of 107, of which 87 are American. Over the last year the size of the air war had doubled, with thousands of aircraft in the skies over the Western Front. The Americans contribute to the air war in a significant way for the first time. , the most costly month of the air warBoth sides add night bombing as a mission. The Germans employ 80 Jastas (12 of which are grouped in three Geschwader), most of which are flying Fokker D. VIIs and are the only German service that significantly impacts the Allies., making the period forever known as "Black September."
British Pilots Can Bail Out
The Royal Air Force begins to issue parachutes to its squadrons for the first time.
The First German Fighter Wing
The Imperial German Navy's air service brings together five of its Marine Feld Jagstaffeln ("Navy Field Fighter Squadrons") – Jastas I, II, III, IV, and V – to form its first fighter wing, the Royal Prussian Marine Jagdgeschwader, with Gotthard Sachsenberg as its first commanding officer. It is Germany's fourth fighter wing.
US 1st Marine Aviation Force Receives its First Bomber
The U.S. Marine Corps 's 1st Marine Aviation Force, building up in the Calais-Dunkirk area of France to operate as an element of the U.S. Navy 's Northern Bombing Group, takes delivery of its first bomber.
American Forces Arrive En Mass
By this time the American army on the Western Front reaches the size of the British and French armies, and the Americans are fresh.
The Battle of Saint-Mihiel
The first major and distinctly American offensive is the reduction of the salient during the Battle of Saint-Mihiel. General Pershing commands the US First Army composed of seven divisions and more than 500,000 men. 627 French and 611 American fighters (30 squadrons) are brought together for the Battle. The American units are under the command of Brig Gen Billy Mitchell and is the largest force of aircraft assembled for a single operation.
The HMS Argus is Completed
The British aircraft carrier Argus is completed. She is the world 's first aircraft carrier with an unobstructed flight deck from stem to stern.
Royal Air Force Pilot Shoots Down A Zeppelin -Staaker R. VI
Flying a Sopwith Camel, Frank Broome of the Royal Air Force's No. 151 Squadron shoots down a giant German Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI bomber over Beugny, France, one of the only two R.VI bombers lost to enemy action in World War I and the only one shot down by an Allied aircraft. He will be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for the achievement.
American vs. German aircraft
The American squadrons prepare for the new offensive on the Siegfried Line from Douai to San Quentin and in the Lorraine. The fighter squadrons prevent German reconnaissance from detecting this secret build up although the US fighters had been reduced by casualties. Several hundred US aircraft faced about 350 German ones, including the experienced Geschwaders I and II. In subsequent days the Americans lose numerous DH-4 and SPAD XIIIs in Black September.
German ace shoots down and kills French ace
The German ace Georg von Hantelmann shoots down and kills the French ace Lieutenant Maurice Boyau while the latter is attacking German observation balloons. Boyau 's 35 kills will make him the fifth-highest-scoring French ace of World War I.
World Altitude Record Set
A U.S. Navy Curtiss 18-T-1 triplane piloted by Roland Rholfs sets a world altitude record of 34,910 feet.
First aircraft carrier landing
Royal Air Force LtCol Richard Bell Davies makes the first true aircraft carrier landing in history, landing a Sopwith 1½ Strutter on the bare steel flight deck of HMS Argus in the Firth of Forth.
First U.S. Navy ace
Lieutenant David Ingalls claims his fifth victory, to become the first U.S. Navy ace in history and the only one of World War I.
Meuse-Argonne offensive launched
US forces of 1,200,000 troops launch the Meuse-Argonne offensive with air support from the Army Air Service. The battle lasts until the Armistice on November 11. The observations squadrons have a difficult time over the dense and hilly Argonne terrain. The fighter squadrons are grouped effectively to deal with the massed Geschwader.
Rickenbacker earns Distinguished Service Cross
Lt. Eddie Rickenbacker, 94th Aero Squadron, in a single SPAD XIII sortie attacks seven German aircraft, and is awarded one of his eight Distinguished Service Crosses, one of which is upgraded in 1930 to the Congressional Medal of Honor.
German ace dies
German ace Leutnant Fritz Rumey either collides with the SE-5a of Captain George Lawson or is shot down by Lieutenant Frank Hale during a dogfight with No. 32 Squadron. Rumey parachutes from his D.VII at 1,000 feet but falls to his death when his parachute fails. His 45 kills will make him the fifth-highest-scoring German ace of World War I.
Enemy plane shot down in aerial combat
USMC First Lieutenant Everett R. Brewer (pilot) and Gunnery Sergeant Harry B. Wershiner (observer) flying an Airco DH-9 with the RAF 's No. 218 Squadron become the first U.S. Marine Corps personnel to shoot down an enemy plan in aerial combat. They both are badly wounded during the engagement.
American ace shot down
USAAS Second Lieutenant Frank Luke, the second-highest-scoring American ace of World War I with 18 victories, is wounded and shot down, but he dies in a gunfight with German soldiers.
First U.S. Marine pilot dies in aerial combat
Second Lieutenant Chapin Barr becomes the first U.S. Marine Corps pilot to die in aerial combat.
German ground-attack aircraft of Schlachtstaffel 3 intervene to support German troops in danger of being overrun by US Army forces in the Argonne Forest in France. A German officer on the ground reports that the German air attack causes the American troops to break off their attack and scatter "in wild flight."
The British capture Damascus from the Turks.
American technicians successfully launch a guided missile, “the Bug” at Dayton, Ohio.
In attempt to lure Belgian "balloon-busting" ace Baron Willy Coppens to his own destruction, German troops load the basket of an observation balloon with explosives and have their artillery open fire on Allied positions in order to attract him to the balloon. When he arrives and attacks, the Germans detonate the explosives. Although Coppens' blue Hanriot HD.1 flies through the explosion, he emerges uninjured.
Bavaria's first Fighter Wing
The Kingdom of Bavaria brings together four fighter squadrons – Jastas 23, 32, 34, and 35 – to form its first Jagdgeschwader (fighter wing) IV. Eduard Ritter von Schleich is its first commanding officer. It is the fifth Jagdeschwader in the German armed forces, and the last to be formed during World War I.
Garros shot down and killed
The famed French pilot Lieutenant Roland Garros, who in 1915 had become the first man to shoot down another aircraft by firing a machine gun through a tractor propeller, is shot down and killed in combat near Vouziers, France. He has four victories at the time of his death.
Flight decks proposed
The Imperial German Navy's air command proposes that merchant ships be converted into Germany's first aircraft carriers with flight decks.
Collishaw's first victory
Raymond Collishaw, RNAS, scores his first recorded victory in a Sopwith 1 ½ Strutter while escorting his Wing's first large-scale raid into Germany. He goes on to achieve 60 victories to become the second highest Canadian, third highest British and sixth highest overall WWI ace. He was an outstanding leader, squadron commander and wing commander. In World War II he will command the British Desert Air Force. Surviving both wars, he retires in 1943 and lives until 1976.
Belgian ace scores last victory
Baron Willy Coppens, the highest-scoring Belgian ace, scores his last victory, shooting down a German observation balloon near Praatbos, Belgium. It is the last of his 37 victories, 34 of them observations balloons. He is its top-scoring "balloon buster."
Five Marine Corps Airco DH.4s and three Airco DH.9s bomb Pitthem, Belgium. German Fokker D.VII and Pfalz D.III fighters attack the bombers. Second Lieutenant Ralph Talbot (pilot) and Gunnery Sergeant Robert Guy Robinson (gunner) become separated from the formation after their DH.4 loses power, then encounter 12 German fighters. Although Robinson is terribly wounded during the resulting dogfight, they hold off the Germans, and Talbot lands at a Belgian hospital, where Robinson is treated. For this action, they will become the first USMC aviators to receive the Medal of Honor during a ceremony on November 11, 1920. Ralph Talbot dies in a crash during a test flight on Oct. 25.
Barker awarded Victoria Cross
Canadian pilot William Barker, an ace with 46 victories flying Sopwith Camels, attacks a Jagdgeschwader 3 flight of 60 Fokker D. VIIs, and despite being wounded in one arm and both legs, shoots down four fighters, for which he is awarded the Victoria Cross. His other exploits included soloing after only 55 minutes of instruction, shooting down his first enemy aircraft as an observer in a BE-2D and logging 379 hours in Sopwith Camel #B6313 in Italy, before it was retired from service in October 1918. He ends the war with 50 victories, the fourth highest Canadian ace, the sixth highest in Britain and the 12th overall. Surviving the war, he dies in an aircraft crash in 1930.
French ace Lieutenant Michel Coiffard is gravely wounded during a dogfight with German Fokker D.VII fighters. He flies back to base, where he dies of his wounds. His 34 kills will make him the sixth-highest scoring French ace of World War I.
Kindley's last victory
USAAS First Lieutenant Field Eugene Kindley and First Lieutenant Jesse Creech share the kill of a German Fokker D.VII near Villers-Pol, France. It is the last of Kindley's 12 aerial victories.
Danish airline founded
The Danish airline Det Danske Luftfartselskab is founded. The firm is trading in the English-speaking world as Danish Air Lines and is the oldest airline that still exists. It will begin flight operations in August 1920.
Rickenbacker's final victory
Eddie Rickenbacker shoots down a German observation balloon near Remonville, France, for his 26th and final aerial victory. His 26 victories (21 aircraft and five balloons) will make him the top-scoring American ace of World War I. Six of his victories were in a Nieuport 28 and 20 in the SPAD XIII.
Fonck's 75th victory
The French fighter pilot René Fonck scores his 75th and final aerial victory. He ends the war as the highest-scoring Allied ace and second-highest scoring ace overall of World War I.
Forty German Fokker D.VIIs attack nine Sopwith Camels of the Royal Air Force 's No. 65 Squadron southeast of Ghent, Belgium. Camels of No. 204 Squadron join the action, and in the whirling dogfight which follows, the British pilots claim 22 German aircraft either shot down or last seen headed earthward out of control.
The Armistice brings World War I to an end at 11:00 am.
Airmail route surveyed
Captain R. M. Smith, Brigadier General A. E. Borton, and Major General W. Salmond set out in a Handley Page O/400 from Heliopolis, Egypt, to Karachi (then in India) to survey a route for airmail.
First plane launched from airship
An airplane is launched from an airship for the first time, when the U.S. Navy blimp C.1 drops a Curtiss JN-4 into flight over Fort Tilden, New York.
First England-India Flight
Major A. S. C. MacLaren and Captain Robert Halley set out on the first England-India flight, in a Handley Page V/1500