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German Observation Balloon, WWIDownload nowEnlargeShow similar images

Title: German Observation Balloon, WWI

Description: German soldiers watch an observation balloon inflated before takeoff during World War I. Reconnaissance balloons, used by both side during WWI, were usually manned by two observers reporting enemy positions and directing artillery fire on those positions. Positioned a few miles behind front lines, balloons were moored to the ground (to spot enemy troop positions and to direct artillery fire) or to a ship (to spot enemy submarines), tethered to a steel cable attached to a winch reeling the balloon to the desired height (as high as 3,000 feet), retrieving it after an observation session. Reconnaissance balloons or blimps were designed for lift and stability, shaped to keep the balloon pointed to the wind. Highly flammable (invariably filled with combustible hydrogen gas), balloons were attacked by enemy planes and the spotters had to quickly escape by parachuting to safety before an enemy bullet ignited the gas and blew up the balloon. Identified early in the war as important observation platforms, balloons were aggressively attacked by enemy planes and hundreds were shot down or exploded. To protect against such attacks, concentrated batteries of anti-aircraft guns were positioned close to the balloons, which were also defended by warplanes. Pilots were encouraged to attack enemy balloons, which counted as “air-to-air kills,” added as a victory to any ace’s overall air victories. Foremost aces in this regard included Willy Coppens (July 6, 1892-December 21, 1986), a Belgian ace, who shot down thirty-four German balloons and three airplanes; German ace Friedrich Ritter von Roth (September 29, 1893-December 31, 1918), who shot down twenty Allied balloons and eight aircraft; French ace Leon Bourjade (May 25, 1889-October 22, 1894), who destroyed twenty-seven balloons and one aircraft; and U.S. Army pilot Frank Luke (May 19, 1897-September 29, 1918), who was credited with destroying fourteen enemy observation balloons out of eighteen air victories.

Category: World War I

Keywords: WWI, World War I, Great War, First World War, German soldiers, German army, German officers, German military personnel, observation balloons, aircraft, aviation, blimps, reconnaissance platforms, intelligence, observers, spotters

Orientation: Landscape

Dimensions: 1725 x 993 (1.71 MPixels) (1.74)

Print Size: 14.6 x 8.4 cm; 5.8 x 3.3 inches

File Size: 4.93 MB (5,168,118 Bytes)

Resolution: 300 x 300 dpi

Color Depth: 16.7 million (24 BitsPerPixel)

Compression: None

Image Number: 0000048594

Source: Jay Robert Nash Collection

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