First Aerial Bombardment

The very first aerial act of aggression occurred during the Italian-Turkish War of 1911-1912 in North Africa. Italy had been using aircraft to monitor enemy troop movements and search for Turkish artillery positions. One Italian pilot, a Lieutenant Giulio Gavotti, realized that the airplane could be used for more than simple reconnaissance. The event occurred over a Turkish camp at Ain Zara in Libya on 1 November 1911. Lt. Gavotti was flying his Taube monoplane at an altitude of 600 ft (185 m) when he took four small 4.5 lb (2 kg) grenades from a leather pouch, screwed in the detonators he had carried aboard in his pocket, and threw each bomb over the side by hand. Although no one was injured and little damage was done, Lt. Gavotti earned his place in history for conducting the first aerial bombing raid ever recorded.

A Taube monoplane as it might have appeared to the Turks
A Taube monoplane as it might have appeared to the Turks

Gavotti made several more bombing raids with nine different planes over the course of the conflict, which apparently had a rather demoralizing effect on the Turks. Nevertheless, the raids were viewed as ungentlemanly around the world and generated a nearly universal public outcry. Military leaders remained skeptical about the effectiveness of the airplane in combat for several more years, and further development of aerial bombers had to wait until World War I.
- answer by Joe Yoon, 13 January 2002

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