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Posted 8/25/2009 Printable Fact Sheet

The primary use of aircraft radios developed in the latter part of World War I was for directing the fire of artillery batteries. An observation airplane would circle in the air where its observer could see the enemy target and watch the artillery shells explode in the area. He would then telegraph a message in Morse code to a receiving station near the artillery battery for adjustment of the artillery fire.

Experiments were being conducted at this time with voice radios, but they were even less reliable and at much shorter range than wireless telegraph sets.

Generally speaking, WWI flyers were not too impressed with airborne communications at this early period and many had the radios removed from their airplanes to reduce weight. They continued to rely upon hand-written messages dropped to the ground.

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