Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Start of Aviation in Eretz Yisrael
Military Aircraft Became Part of the Palestine Campaign (a re-posting)

Bonnier lands in Jerusalem, 1913. The
man on the far right appears to be the
mayor of Jerusalem, Salim Hussein
el-Husseini.  Note the unidentified
 Jewish man on the left.
Turkish plane in Jerusalem, 1914
Just 10 years after the first Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk, the first aircraft landed in Jerusalem on December 31, 1913, flown by a Frenchman, Marc Bonnier.  The flight was part of a seven-week tour of the Mediterranean that began and ended in France. 

On May 1, 1914, Turkish aviators Salim Bey and Kemal Bey landed their aircraft in Jerusalem.  And after that flight, it appears that military aircraft began to fill the skies over Palestine.
Aerial photo of Jerusalem taken by German pilot in 1917.
Click here for another view. By the end of 1917, Jerusalem was
in British hands.
German reconnaissance flight over
Ramla, 1915

The early aircrafts' biggest military advantage was its ability to provide reconnaissance data of enemy troops' deployment.  In that regard, the plane's advantage was slightly more than the observation balloons used by armies two centuries earlier.  But quickly machine guns and bombs were added to the planes, and air combat and ground support changed the nature of modern warfare.
Turkey utilized aircraft to provide intelligence during its 1916 attack on the Suez Canal and to observe British troops' two attempts to capture Gaza in early 1917.  By the fall of 1917, German and Turkish aircraft had to be stopped from reporting back on British commanders' plan to unleash a flank attack against Be'er Sheva.  The challenge was met by British and Australian planes, and the Turks were caught unprepared.
German and Turkish officers at the
funeral of a German pilot in Nazareth

Turkish anti-aircraft guns, 1917

Memorial plaque in Jenin for
fallen German pilots

German planes near Gaza

German plane captured by Australian
soldiers, 1917. Pilot is behind
the plane's left wing.

Australian aircraft in Palestine, 1918


The Library of Congress and the Australian War Memorial provide many photographs of the combat aircraft, the men who flew them, and the graves of those who fell.

Click on the photos to enlarge. Click on the captions to see the originals.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this one. I didn't know that this is how they started the aviation industry in Israel.
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