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Today's air to ground missiles can fly faster and almost as far as 1911 airplanes. Each missile can cost in excess of £100,000. At the cost of a few such missiles an NHS hospital can get a brand new MRI scanner. Instead the hundreds of missiles used in Libya will now have to be replaced. Scanners into missiles you might say.



In Libya exactly 100 years after the first ever bomb was dropped from an aeroplane to no great effect, Nato ended overt military operations in Libya after 9,600 strikes in which more than 1,000 tanks, vehicles, guns, air defence and command and control networks were destroyed. The destruction of people's homes, injuries and deaths remain uncounted but substantial.

The technological distance between these two events is vast. The mental and moral distance even greater. 

The first time that explosives were dropped in war from an aeroplane was during the Italian-Turkish war in Libya. On the morning of November 1 1911 Lieutenant Giulio Gavotti flew over the Taguira Oasis on the Turkish front, reportedly extracting the pins with his teeth, he threw four 4.5lb grenades from about 300ft onto the troops below. This achieved very little but the incident caused an international enquiry and provoked protests from the Turks about the indiscriminate nature of the attack. The first actual bomb, with fins and a detonator, was designed by a Bulgarian soldier in 1912, and two such bombs were dropped from German-made Albatros aircraft on a Turkish railway station during the Balkan War against Turkey. This was the first bomber aircraft and the first true bombs, whose design became standard during World War I.

The Ottoman Empire issued a protest. The dropping of bombs from balloons had been outlawed by the Hague Convention of 1899, but Italy argued that this ban did not extend to aircraft and had not in any case ratified the later 1907 Treaty.