Concept of Air Power
In just one century Australian military aviation has evolved from slow biplanes such as the Bristol Boxkite that could barely lift one person, to large, complex machines capable of placing a bomb precisely on target, tracking enemy aircraft 200 kilometres away, or even transporting large numbers of personnel across the world.
The first widespread use of military aircraft to support warfare was during World War I. While aircraft were used initially for reconnaissance over enemy territory, military commanders started to develop concepts using aircraft in other ways. Aircraft were fitted with guns for use against enemy aircraft, and to bomb enemy targets firstly by pilots simply dropping bombs and then by way of bomb racks mounted under aircraft wings. During the Battle of Hamel in July 1918 the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) even developed a system of delivering ammunition to advancing troops by parachute.
Little attention was given to concepts that employed air power in support of warfare within Australia. One of the few officers who considered air power theory was Captain, later Air Vice-Marshal, Henry Wrigley, who recorded his ideas and published a book ‘The Battle Below’ in 1935.