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The First Air Attack in History, over the Dardanelles in 1913

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The First Air Attack in History, over the Dardanelles in 1913

Post by Elfot on Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:04 pm

Air Attack Over the Dardanelles

Although most American aviation historians have come to regard
Didier Masson's attack on the Mexican government gunboat General
Guerrero on May 29, 1913, as the first bombing attack against a ship
from an airplane, another country, in another war, may lay a legitimate
claim to have preceded his achievement–by nearly four months.

The First Balkan War, fought between the Ottoman Empire and the
combined forces of Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece from 1912 to 1913, saw
the use of aircraft for reconnaissance and bombing by both sides. In
mid-November 1912, the Royal Hellenic Navy bought its first airplane, an
Astra tractor biplane, which was christened Nautilus. That acquisition
was followed by a two-seater Maurice Farman pusher. Both aircraft were
equipped with floats.
At 8 a.m. on February 6, 1913 (January 24 by the Julian calendar then
used by the Greeks), the Farman took off on a mission to reconnoiter
the Turkish naval units off Nagara Point (Nara in Turkish) in the
Dardanelles. Upon arrival over the assigned area, the pilot, army 1st
Lt. Michael Moutousis
, circled over Nagara at an altitude of 1,350 feet
while his observer, navy Ensign Aristidis Moraitinis, noted down the
Turkish warships and installations. Before they left the area, Moutousis
flew over the docks one last time and Moraitinis dropped four grenades
over the side of the nacelle.


According to Turkish military records, the Greek plane came from the
direction of Kabatepe and Maydos, and the attack took place between 10
and 10:30 a.m. "Three of the bombs fell into the sea," the Turkish
report noted, "and the fourth hit a field near by a hospital, leaving a
15-centimeter hole in the ground." Apparently, no damage or casualties
were inflicted, and the report did not identify any of the Turkish ships
in the area, since none were hit. Turkish personnel subjected the
Farman to rifle fire, turning the incident into a genuine air-sea
engagement–albeit an extremely minor one–and reported that "the aircraft
was hit and landed on the sea after 40 minutes of flying in the air."

In fact, the Farman had not been damaged in the attack on Nagara, but
during the return flight engine failure forced it down in the Aegean
Sea. Fortunately for Moutousis and Moraitinis, the Greek destroyer Velos
was nearby. Her crew was able to locate their disabled floatplane and
tow it to the naval base at Mudros, on the Aegean isle of Lemnos.

The First Balkan War ended on May 30, 1913–about the same time Masson
was trying to bomb General Guerrero on the other side of the world.
Like Didier Masson, who served in France's all-American volunteer
escadrille N.124 "Lafayette," Aristidis Moraitinis went on to fly and
fight during World War I. He became a licensed pilot, and at the end of
1916, he assumed command of the Greek Naval Flight on Thasos, operating
with No. 2 Wing, Royal Naval Air Service. After Greece formally entered
the war on the Allied side in June 1917, Moraitinis commanded
Independent Naval Flight H2 at Mudros.

He also flew with the Royal Naval Air Service at Mudros in 1917,
piloting Sopwith Camels. During the unsuccessful Allied attempt to bomb
the Turkish battle cruiser Yavuz Sultan Selim (formerly the German
Goeben) on January 21, 1918, Moraitinis saw two British Sopwith Baby
seaplanes, flown by Flight Sub-Lieutenants R.W. Peel and W. Johnston,
under attack by 10 German or Turkish seaplanes. Moraitinis joined the
melee and, although unable to prevent Johnston from being shot down in
flames and Peel from being forced to land in the sea, he was credited
with driving three of the enemy seaplanes into the water.

By the end of the war, Lt. Cmdr. Moraitinis was credited with nine
aerial victories
, making him Greece's only ace. He was also in command
of Greek naval aviation. Unfortunately, while flying from Thessalonka to
Athens in adverse weather on December 22, 1918, Moraitinis and his
plane disappeared over Mount Olympus.

Jon Guttman









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Elfot
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