Image of the Air Force wings with the museum name underneath

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Italian Aviation in WWI

In most historical accounts of the early days of military aviation, our reverence for the activities of the American Expeditionary Force and its French and British companions-in-arms on the western front has led us to overlook the immense Italian contribution to the formation of airpower doctrine. Historians do recognize, of course, that the first aerial force projection occurred on Nov. 1, 1911, when Lt. Giulio Gravotta, flying a German-built Etrich Taube monoplane, dropped one bomb on Zard and another on Taciura -- in Libya -- during the Italian-Turkish War. This event occurred little more than a year after the first flight of an Italian-designed and built aircraft.

At about the same time, Gianni Caproni, a young Italian engineer with a passion for innovation and a vast admiration for the Wright brothers, built his first flying machine. By the outbreak of the First World War, in August 1914, Caproni had produced about 30 different designs and had become Italy's leading aircraft designer and manufacturer.

Click on the following links to learn more about Italian military aviation during WWI.

The First World War: The Early Years
About the Caproni Airplane
Strategic Bombing
The Foggiani
Americans Join the Air War in Northern Italy
Caproni Ca. 36 Restoration

Click here to return to the Early Years Gallery.