Mine Craters at Albert Seen From an Aeroplane, 1918, by Richard Carline. This large oil painting shows an aerial view from an aircraft looking straight down at the Albert-Bapaume road on the Somme. The surrounding land is pock-marked by shell craters caused by artillery fire, the scars made particularly evident by the chalky soil. Aerial photography and reconnaissance, which made it possible to depict the land from above, was an important new development which had a significant impact on how the First World War was fought. Once opposing armies could 'see' beyond their immediate horizon, war could be waged well beyond the battlefield.
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The First World War was the first conflict in which air power was used by combatant nations.
Aerial reconnaissance photography became an essential tool in allowing those manning heavy guns on the ground to 'see' far beyond their immediate horizon and to direct artillery fire more accurately. The need to disrupt reconnaissance and achieve dominance over the skies led in turn to the development of mid air combat between individual pilots or formations of aircraft.
Troops were bombed from above in their trenches, with sporadic strikes also made against important supply sources far from the battlefield. Such raids made civilians living near targets unavoidably the victims of what were often seen as indiscriminate terror attacks.
Despite the dangers of being an airman at this time, the rapid technological development of aircraft during and after the First World War meant aviation would become an increasingly effective and integral element of waging war in the future.