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Transport, air


Subject History » Military History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631168485.1994.x


The idea of using aircraft for the purpose of military transport emerged and was accepted later than most other roles because, in the early days of aviation, the technology was simply not available to allow aeroplanes to carry reasonable payloads over worthwhile ranges. Although the American General William Mitchell conceived a plan in October 1918 to carry and then parachute part of an infantry division behind the German lines in the Metz region, and the British used aircraft in Iraq in 1923 to carry troops to restore order following a Kurdish revolt, it was not until the late 1930s that it became practicable to use transport aircraft in a military role in a systematic fashion. The Nationalist forces in the Spanish Civil War, for example, moved 14,000 men and 500 tons of material from Morocco to the Iberian peninsula between July and October 1936, and the Italians supplied their forward columns in Ethiopia by air. Given their interest in developing airborne forces the Soviets produced a large fleet of transport planes. The Luftwaffe had created one transport squadron before the outbreak of the Second World War. Its role was initially limited to carrying troops into battle, something which was done very effectively during the early German campaigns in Norway and Western Europe, but before the end of the blitzkrieg phase of the Second World War aircraft were also being used to ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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