Italy’s Libyan aerial experiments

Bleriot XI 1 1

The Italo-Turkish War (1911-1912), where Italy fought the Ottoman Turks in Libya, saw some important military aeronautical experiments and developments.

The Italo-Turkish war (1911-1912), resulted in some important aeronautical experiments. These were the golden years of pioneering exploits as far as the world of aviation was concerned. The first aeroplane factories sprang up and the new flying machines needed to be tested. In Libya, this meant field trials.

Captain Carlo Maria Piazza completed the first military flight in aviation history on 23 October 1911. It was a reconnaissance flight in the skies over Aziziya, in Tripolitania, aboard a Bleriot XI. Only a few days later the first air strike was carried out by a Etrich Taube aircraft. On 1 November 1911, Lieutenant Giulio Gavotti was the first to experiment with this new form of offensive weapon when Ainzaro, and the Tagiura oasis were targetted. The action caused more surprise than damage.

The following year, Piazza and Gavotti were pioneering another flight operation which was more peaceful. The first night flight on a peaceful moonlit night was carried out on 4 March. In 1912, in Libya, Guglielmo Marconi completed his first radio-reception experiment on board an aeroplane.

The Italo-Turkish war became a driving force in the creation of the first Aviator Battalion which was instituted on the 27 June 1912 by the Aeronautical Service Inspection Offices. In July, the Aviator Battalion was placed under the control of the Army, headquartered in Turin. The first real Aeronautical Corps was instituted on 20 November.