Embarkment of
                    the reconnaissance planes in Alexandria Harbour (1915).
Embarkment of the reconnaissance planes in Alexandria Harbour (1915).

Seven years after the first flight of the aeroplane, in 1910, the idea of military aeroplanes came into being. In the following years, planes became the most effectual instrument of an assault.

Ottoman Minister of War, Mahmut Shevket Pasha closely followed the development of aeroplanes and in 1911, he formed the department of military aviation. This department served as the basis of the modern Turkish Air Force.

To provide this flying weapon, Mahmut Pasha donated an important part of his salary and started a nation-wide campaign. On this purpose, Sultan Reshad, the Navigation Society, officers, and many rich people followed the Pasha and the sufficient amount was collected in a short time. As Mahmut Pasha has found the money he bought two aeroplanes from France.

Next, a school of aviation was established, in Istanbul. In addition, another school for seaplanes was established and for this new schools enthusiastic and talented officers were chosen.

When the Dardanelles Assault has begun, Turkish aviation was newly born and was just developing. Nevertheless, the Dardanelles is very important for the development of Turkish aviation. It was the first experience of the air strategies and tactics.

On 2 August 1914, Turkey introduced mobilisation and two seaplanes were sent to Izmir and one was sent to Canakkale. On 25 August 1914, the Nievport type seaplane used by Captain Savmi, first lieutenant Fazil and first lieutenant Cemal- from its disposition in Canakkale Nara Square, observed the activities of British and French ships. Until 18 March 1915, many successful reconnaissanceshave been made.

The report of Turkish pilots on 18 March 1915 is as follows:

"In front of island of Imbros 40 enemy ships were seen. 19 of them are heavy, 3 of them are light cruisers. The others are steamers and aircraft carriers. Submarines were seen as well, but the number is uncertain. 6 English dreadnoughts were noticed, they are advancing in assault order and the French ships are weighing anchors."

After a while, when the Allied Navy has entered the strait, the British planes took of from Ark Royal, assisted the artillery. In the afternoon of 18 March, Turkish reconnaissances were ordered to notify the Allies' positions on the island of Limnos. In one hour, the pilots have reached their target and reported that, on Mondros Cove there were 13 battleships, 14 carriages and 29 coal ships. Moreover, they have informed that, French Gaulois was very seriously damaged in the entrance of the strait.

During the Dardanelles campaign, mutual reconnaissance continued. One of Turkish pilots' succeesses was on 18 March. That day, to destroy 18 ally planes positioned on the island of Imros, an assault had planned. However, allied aeroplanes take off and met with the Turkish planes on the air and after a short struggle without a serious causality, they returned to the airport. Turkish assault failed, but it was the first real air enterprise.

In the same day, the British made a counter-attack with six planes, but as the Turkish planes were hidden the bombs did not destroy any of them.

On 25 June, to the British positions on Anzac Cove, the Turkish planes throw 3000 announcements in English. This was a good example of the importance of air force in a psychological war.

First Lieutenant Ali Riza and Lieutenant Orhan were ordered to destroy a grounded ally cruiser in the entrance of the strait, on 30 November 1915. At the moment of the attack, a French plane came closer but, Ali Riza managed to shot the plane and it was fallen. First Lieutenant Ali Riza was the first Turkish pilot who succeeded to shot a plane by a machine gun and destroy it.

As seen, as in all the steps of the Dardanelles Campaign, the Turks repulsed the air assaults very successfully. Even in the English war history books, this reality is revealed. One of them says, "We admired our enemy's extraordinary defence and final success".

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