How Much Do You Know About the Warplanes of WWI?

John MIller

True or false, was World War I the first war to feature the widespread use of warplanes?

The Wright Brothers coaxed their first heavier-than-air machine into the sky in 1903, and WWI began in 1914. It was the first war to see aircraft as killing machines. It was a new, deadly era.

How did aircraft at the end of the war compare with models deployed at the start?

At the war’s start, airplanes were primitive contraptions. But survival instincts have a way of speeding up engineering processes — just a few years later, planes were far more advanced ... and much deadlier.

The Germans used large Zeppelins during the war. What in the world is a Zeppelin?

Zeppelins were huge airships with cylindrical hulls that became symbols of German aggression in the war. The Zeppelins were deployed as bombers and scouts.

How did Zeppelins fly?

Zeppelins used hydrogen, which made the craft lighter than air. The gigantic airships then lumbered into the skies, filling the Allies with dread from miles away.

Famed French General Ferdinand Foch famously said what about airplanes?

Foch was a brilliant general who simply didn’t understand the potential of planes in battle. He said, "The airplane is useless for the purposes of war."

The first planes of the war were used for which purpose?

At first, planes were moving observation posts, helping both sides conduct reconaissance. It wasn’t long, however, before weapons took wing.

How did the first fighter pilots attack each other?

The first fighter planes weren’t equipped with guns, leaving pilots to attack with handheld guns and, you guessed it, hand grenades. As you can probably imagine, these methods were not very effective.

What innovation did the German Fokker Eindecker fighter introduce?

The Eindecker fighters were the first to introduce a machine gun synchronization mechanism, which allowed a weapon to shoot bullets between the propeller blades. Without this clever device, pilots would’ve simply blasted the propellers and wound up dead.

What sort of plane was the British F.2?

The British Bristol F.2 was a famed fighter. The biplane had two seats and very good maneuverability, making it an excellent dog fighter.

What was the primary impact of German Zeppelins during the war?

Zeppelins were minor players in offensive operations, killing just a few hundred people during bombing runs. But the fear that they inspired was even more harmful, as they floated along like dark beacons of death and destruction.

Why did Germans prefer gas-filled Zeppelins over fixed-wing airplanes for some tasks?

Early fixed-wing planes were rickety and unreliable. Airships, on the other hand, featured dependable technology and carried much larger payloads.

Early Allied planes were inferior to German models. They were sometimes derisively called ______.

Allied pilots were not impressed with their own machines. The called them "Fokker fodder," because the German fighters downed them in droves.

Which country designed the Sopwith Camel fighter?

The British Sopwith Camel became one of the iconic machines of the war. The biplane fighter was very hard to fly, but it was also agile, making it very useful in dogfights.

True or false, in 1914, did the Royal Flying Corps recruits have a higher fatality rate than infantrymen?

It took brave men to step into a cockpit. The first warplanes were so primitive and dangerous that yes, pilot trainees were more likely to die than men on the frontlines.

The Fokker Dr.I was a _____.

The Fokker Dr.I was a German triplane introduced in 1917. It was a very successful fighter that the famous Red Baron used to down 19 Allied planes.

Which Allied plane shot down more enemy aircraft than any other?

The Allies used Sopwith Camels to record nearly 1,300 air victories in WWI. The Camel was the deadliest Allied fighter of the conflict.

How did German warplanes fare at the beginning of the war?

As the war gained steam, German planes claimed air superiority. For a time, the Allies were completely outclassed in the skies, sometimes unable to launch even basic scouting missions for fear of immediately losing their crews.

True or false, was the French Nieuport 11 fighter a sucess?

As German Eindecker fighters ruled the skies, France introduced its Nieuport 11 fighter, a biplane that was faster and simply better than the Eindecker. Suddenly, the Allies had a fighting chance in the air.

What was a "parasite fighter"?

The first parasite fighters were used in WWI. The term refers to fighters that are ferried into combat by larger planes and then released during combat. The advantage? Fighter planes could save their fuel for when it was necessary.

What was remarkable about the Felixstowe Porte Baby?

The Felixstowe Porte Baby was a very large British flying boat. It was great for scouting and carrying parasite fighters, but it was slow and vulnerable.

True or false, were planes of the early war completely lacking in military markings?

At first, warplanes didn’t have any easily spotted markings. But ground troops mistook friendly planes as foes and shot at them, so each side began painting symbols on the underside of each plane’s wings so as to avoid friendly fire.

How many Sopwith Camels did the Allies build during the war?

For a machine that was barely known to humankind before the war, the Allies sure managed to build a lot of them. They manufactured nearly 5,500 of the Camel as the conflict raged.

What sort of plane was the Gotha G.V?

Germany built around 200 of its Gotha heavy bomber, which featured a crew of three. The huge bomber had a wingspan of nearly 80 feet.

True or false, were aircraft carriers created during WWI?

It’s true, the British were the first to create an aircraft carrier. They revamped an ocean liner and installed a flight deck, but it was finished too late to impact the war.

The French Nieuport 17 was a fabulously successful Allied fighter. What was its top speed?

Few planes in the war could top 100 MPH, but the Nieuport 17 managed around 110 MPH. Its speed and fast climbing capability made it a deadly Allied weapon.

What was notable about the British Handley Page Type O?

The British Handley Page was a big, heavy bomber. At the time, it was the biggest British warplane and one of the largest aircraft in the world.

Which German plane inflicted many casualities during "Blood April," a period of particularly high Allied losses in the spring of 1917?

In the spring of 1917, the new German Albatros D.III fighter inflicted huge losses among the Allies. But the Allies pressed on in spite of "Bloody April" and later introduced planes meant to counter the D.III.

The first Fokker Dr.I triplanes suffered from which major problem?

You didn’t want to be a pilot of an early Fokker Dr.I — the wings tended to break. In multiple cases, pilots were killed when the plane’s wings failed.

How did the French SPAD S.XIII fighter fare in the war?

France’s SPAD S.XIII was incredibly valuable, fast, powerful and deadly. France built nearly 8,500 during the war and planned many more, but Germany finally surrendered.

Why did German planes began suffering mechanical breakdowns at the war’s end?

Castor oil was used for multiple German plane models during the war, but the lubricant became very scarce. Synthetic substitutes were terrible, so plane reliability suffered.

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Image: Rebel Pilot

About This Quiz

In World War I, industrialized nations fashioned incredible killing machines of all kinds. The result? A stalemate of trenches, as men dug in just hoping to survive storms of artillery and a hail of machine gun rounds. But the battle wasn’t limited to terra firma — for the first time in human history, combat raged in the skies, too. Do you know anything about the aircraft of the Great War? Take our warplane quiz and find out!

Airplanes had only been in existence for a few years when the war began. Forward-thinking leaders knew planes might be a key to survival, so they began investing heavily in warplane technologies. Do you know which innovations made planes deadlier by the day?

Neither side had many warplanes when fighting erupted. By the end of the war, though, tens of thousands of aircraft had launched (and crashed) as part of the cataclysmic war. Do you know which planes were most common?

Not all planes were created equal. Some were fairly reliable, while others were downright treacherous for the pilots trying to get them into the air. Do you know which planes suffered from major problems?

From the Sopwith Camel to Fokker planes of every stripe, the Allies and Germany relied heavily on planes as fighters, bombers and scouts. Take our WWI quiz and see if you know these incredible warplanes!

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