The Great War – 100 Years, Part Four: War in the Air
The First World War was the first major conflict to involve the large-scale use of aircraft in combat. Powered flight itself was in its infancy; the Wright brothers’ first flight had only been achieved eleven years previously, and in 1914 the aircraft were still flimsy and very primitive.
However, such was the rapid development of their use, by the end of the war in 1918, their potential had been recognised and aircraft had become indispensable to modern warfare. The pilots themselves soon became dashing cultural icons, ‘knights of the air’, and stories of dramatic dogfights and the victories of fighter pilot aces – those with five victories or more – were perfect for distracting public attention away from the mud, horror and destruction of the trenches.
Six stamps feature aircraft flown by the squadrons of Britain, France, Germany and the United States, that battled in the fast developing air-war between 1914-1918. The Miniature Sheet features an Airco DH.2 of Royal Flying Corps 32 Squadron being manoeuvred by ground crew based at Vert Galand aerodrome in northern France, one of the best known British aerodromes on the Western front. This airfield saw continuous use from 1915 until 1919, and many of the WW1 era buildings can still be seen there today.