Although some attention had been given to the military potential of “flving machines”, and a few large craft
had been built, World War I criated a need for rugged, reliable aeroplanes with engines that could withstand arduous battlefront duty. Such aeroplanes were given important supporting roles for the troops on the ground, such as aerial reconnaissance, bombing, and liaison.
The need to protect aircraft performing these duties. or conversely to prevent them front being carried out, led to the development of the “scout” or fighter, and thus air combat was born. Bombers grew in size, conveying the war to cities and towns and inspiring the creation of home-defence forces and nightfighters. The operation of aeroplanes from ships became routine, the mighty aircraft carrier was born, and the flying boat became a useful anti-submarine weapon. Associated technologies, such as engines and armament, developed apace as the
combatant nations vied for supremacy in the skies.