Turkish Air Force

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Master Sergeant
Jan 1, 2010
The Turkish Air Force has a vivid and honorable history. The Turkish military first encountered hostile military aircraft in 1911 when Italy invaded Libya, at that time part of the Ottoman Empire. Italian aircraft performed reconnaissance and bombing missions against the Ottoman Army. Ottoman forces, however, had the honor of being the first to force down a warplane and capture the pilot. Earlier that year, the Turkish Minister of War directed establishment of an aircraft commission in Istanbul. The first airfield was near Istanbul and is now Ataturk International Airport. Two hangars were built, and training on and purchase of French, German and British aircraft began.

The fledgling TAF saw action in the Balkan War in September 1912 to October 1913, with only 17 aircraft, which primarily flew reconnaissance. In 1914, the first U.S. aircraft, a Curtiss seaplane, was sold to Turkey. Soon, however, Europe would be embroiled in the Great War. At the beginning of the war, Turkey had only five aircraft and six pilots. With the help of German and Austrian allies, the TAF expanded to 450 aircraft, many piloted by Germans. At the war's end, Turkey had almost 100 pilots and 17 land-based and three seaplane companies of four aircraft each. During the conflict, Turkish and German pilots had considerable success, sinking several British ships in the Aegean and destroying numerous British, French and Russian aircraft. Following the Armistice, the Ottoman Empire was dismantled, and most of the Army, including the air forces, disarmed.

Western powers moved to occupy many of the regions of Anatolia. Mustafa Kemal, later known as Ataturk, rallied forces against the invaders. In 1919, at the beginning of the national struggle, the Turks had no aircraft. In March 1920, the TAF was reestablished when pilots and others met to assemble aircraft from smuggled parts. Soon there were 17 aircraft, a mixture of Albatros, Breguet, Fiat, De Havilland and Spad models, which made limited strikes and conducted reconnaissance. When the War of Independence ended in 1922, the Air Force had grown to a group consisting of companies at Izmir, Afyon and Bandirma. In 1928, an Air Ministry was established with three battalions raised to regiment level in 1932, and brigade level in 1939. The three main bases were Eskisehir, Diyarbakir and Izmir.

Before World War II, an aircraft factory was built to build American Curtiss Hawk fighters and Turkey purchased Polish PZL and French Morane fighter planes. The Turks also acquired a number of bombers - German Heinkels, British Blenheims and American Martins and Vultees. Turkey remained neutral until the final days of World War II. As a result, the TAF obtained aircraft from axis and allied powers. They even acquired a few American B24 bombers interned after forced landings following the Ploesti raid of 1943.

Due to expansion, the Air Force became an independent service in 1944. After the war, Turkey purchased surplus Spitfires, Mosquitoes and Beaufighters before the United States became a major supplier of modern aircraft. In 1946, after the "Truman Doctrine" was declared, the Joint American Mission for Aid to Turkey was established in Ankara. In 1948, Turkey received P-47, B-26 and C-47 aircraft with training, supply and maintenance systems. In 1951, Turkey entered the jet age with the F-84.
Designed by Louis Blériot and Raymond Saulnier (of Morane-Saulnier), the Blériot XI was a light and sleek monoplane constructed of oak and poplar. The flying surfaces were covered with cloth. The original XI was designed and built in 1908 and made its public debut at a Paris airshow in December of that year. The aircraft's original configuration included a R.E.P. engine spinning a four blade metal paddle type propeller which proved to be unsatisfactory.

The first Bleriot XIs entered military service in Italy and France in 1910 and a year later some of those were used in action by Italy in North Africa and in Mexico. The Royal Flying Corps received its first Bleriots in 1912. During the early stages of World War I, eight French, six British and six Italian squadrons operated various military versions of the aircraft, mainly in observation duties but also as trainers, and in case of single-seaters, as light bombers with a bomb load of up to 25 kg.


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The Fokker Eindecker was a German World War I monoplane single-seat fighter aircraft designed by Dutch engineer Anthony Fokker. Developed in April 1915, the Eindecker ("Monoplane") was the first purpose-built German fighter aircraft and the first aircraft to be fitted with synchronizer gear, enabling the pilot to fire a machine gun through the arc of the propeller without striking the blades. The Eindecker granted the German Air Service a degree of air superiority from July 1915 until early 1916. This period was known as the "Fokker Scourge," during which Allied aviators regarded their poorly armed aircraft as "Fokker Fodder".


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The first single-seat scout product of the Halberstadter Flugzeugwerke was the 100 HP Mercedes-engined D.I which appeared in late 1915. However it was subsequently modified by installing a 120HP Argus As.II engine. In 1916 the aircraft was again re-engined with the 120HP Mercedes D.II, and in this form it went into production as the D II to supplement the Fokker D type biplanes, which were then replacing the obsolescent Fokker E.I/III monoplanes.

The Halberstadt D.III which followed did not differ radically from the D.II. Powered by the Argus As II engine of 120HP At a later date a 150 h.p. Benz Bz III engine was installed in the D.III airframe and two machine-guns were fitted and it was designated D IV, but only a few were built.By the end of 1916 the Halberstadt D.II and D.III had become obsolescent and were largely withdrawn from the Western Front or relegated to quieter sectors.

D.V was identically similar to D.III in airframe and it was fitted with either Mercedes or Argus engine, and with modified ailerons. 33 examples were supplied to the Ottoman Armed Forces starting on 1917 and they remained in service until the end of the Great War. Those supplied to Turkey were the under-licence built ones by Hannoversche Wagonfabrik.


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In accordance with the Treaty signed at the end of WWI, Germany was forbidden to produce war planes. The German firm started seeking possibilities of warplane production out of Germany. In Fili located near Moscow a production facility was founded jointly with the Russians. Additionally they started negotiating the initiation of airline services in Turkey with the Turkish Goverment in 1925. A production facility in Turkey was also discussed which ended with the foundation of a new company called TOMTAŞ in Kayseri in August 1925 where Hugo Junkers had a share of 50% and the Turkish Goverment 50%.In accordance with the agreement Junkers would also establish an engine production plant and construct four hangars for the assembly of airplanes only two of which came into existence . The aggrement had a validity period of 40 years The plant had an annual capacity of 250 planes and the Turkish Goverment should buy the warplanes from TOMTAŞ. According to Junkers the Turkish Goverment delayed the pending capitals and therefore the aggrement was cancelled in 1928 and Junkers withdrew from the Turkish Aviation scene. In the meantime Junkers shipped unarmed twenty A20s in two batches the first received in March 1925 and the second in 1926. Madsen machineguns were mounted on to the planes in Kayseri. Unfortunately it is not clearly known how many of these planes where A20W seaplanes. According to the photos available at least three of them were A20Ws but their serials are not known. Additionally 45 more A20s were assembled in Kayseri from the parts shipped by Junkers.


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I've always liked the Turks. Their the most "Western" of Muslim / Arab counties. Tough times for them now, they may be slipping closer to fundamentalism and secular government.
In spite of a very successful prewar business, thanks to its chief designer Louis Béchereau, the SPAD (Société pour les Avions Déperdussin) Company had to fold up after serious financial problems. The Company was taken over by Louis Blériot in 1914. The new owner, feeling that he should take advantage of SPAD reputation, managed to twist the new company name into: Société pour l'Aviation et ses dérivés, thus retaining the original SPAD initials. The SPAD design was not particularly innovative compared to aeroplanes such as the Fokker DVII. Its sturdiness was due to a well-engineered wooden fusleage although this was at the expense of an increase in weight.

The design was aerodynamically sound, with its rounded fuselage and high aspect ratio wings, and it was propelled by the rather temperamental 220 HP Hispano-Suiza geared engine. Its main asset was a very good climbing performance, far superior to its British and German counter parts but it did not handle as well as pilots expected. As a matter of fact the SPAD was certainly no easy aircraft, especially in the low speed range where its thin airfoil section often resulted in brutal stalls. On the other hand it could withstand the stress of dives above 280 MPH followed by steep climbs. The aircraft was at ease in vertical manoeuvres rather than tight turns and it gained superiority over the enemy until the arrival of the Fokker DVII. On top of this the SPAD was a very stable firing platform and could take its share of punishment without too many problems. The one-piece twin-spar upper wing has no dihedral, while the lower is built in two parts and also has no dihedral.The top has a slightly wider chord than the lower, the leading edges of all wings are covered with plywood and the wire tailing edge gives the so-called scalloped effect. The fuselage is also made out of wood with numerous metal fittings. The four longerons are tightened by wires with top and bottom rounded deckings.

The langing gear legs are made of laminated poplar with the usual bungee cord system. The engine coolant flows through the front radiator, with maually operated shutters to adjust the water temperature. The main fuel tank is located at the bottom of the fuselage and has an emergency release system. Two auxillary tanks are located in the top wing centre section, immediately behind the water tank. The oil tank sits in the cockpit next to the pilot's seat. The propeller was either designed by GALLIA or Marcel Bloch, later to become known as Marcel Dassault. The first flight was performed by French Ace René DORME on April 4 1917 and from the beginning it was clear the aeroplane would be a success. The total production amounted to more than 8000 and 81 French and Allied Squadrons flew the type before the end of WWI.


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The LVG B.I was a 1910s German two-seat reconnaissance biplane designed by Luft-Verkehrs-Gesellschaft for the Luftstreitkräfte. LVG had been involved in the operation of dirigibles before it started design, in 1912, of the company's first original design, the B.I. The B.I was an unequal-span two-seat biplane with a fixed tailskid landing gear. It was powered by a nose-mounted 80 kW (100 hp) Mercedes D.I engine. After entering service an improved variant, the B.II was developed with a cut-out in the upper wing to improve visibility for the pilot in the rear cockpit and fitted with a 90 kW (120 hp) Mercedes D.II engine. The B.II entered service in 1915 and although mainly used as a trainer it was also used for unarmed reconnaissance and scouting duties. A further variant was the B.III which had structural strengthening to allow it to be used as a trainer.


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In February 1915, Swiss engineer Marc Birkigt unveiled the 140 h.p. Hispano-Suiza V 8 aero engine, an event which marked the beginning of the end for rotary engines. Nieuport was only the second manufacturer to use this engine and the aircraft they built for it was clearly descended from the Nieuport B=X, which was just entering service at the time. As is common with new designs, both engine and aircraft required extensive work before being ready. The engine was upgraded to 150 h.p. but the problems being encountered with it would only be solved as the aircraft approached obsolescence, late in 1916.

Like many of Nieuport's experimental machines, it doesn't appear to have been given a designation until it was nearing its service entry. In its original form it had a small trailing edge cut-out, an inverted vee type cabane cross brace, and the pilot occupied the rear cockpit. The cowling was bulged, suggestive of its rotary heritage, and it also had the typical Nieuport inversely tapered ailerons and tail skid. Like all the variations that would follow, it carried its fuel and oil in the wing's centre section and had Hazet engine radiators, though these would differ in detail between types. What may or may not have been the same machine was fitted with the 150 h.p. Hispano-Suiza 8A and modifications were made reflecting the operational experiences with the Nieuport B=X. The trailing edge cut-out was enlarged, the cabane brace was curved, and the seating arrangement was reversed. A new cowling and a unique U-shaped pivoted tail skid were fitted, the latter possibly because of structural problems with the standard Nieuport unit. The increasing weight of equipment required for the aircraft's role necessitated an increase in power and wing area.

The 150 h.p. engine was replaced by the new 175 h.p. Hispano-Suiza Aa and the wings were increased in area to 30m² by straightening the trailing edge of the top wing, adding extra ribs and widening the outer bay. The new constant chord wing had washed out ailerons and was essentially a larger, two bay version of the Nieuport XII wing. The cowling was redesigned again to fit closely around this engine and a new larger tailplane later to be used on the other two seaters was fitted. The earlier types had not been fitted with military equipment but operational machines had a blister added under the fuselage to accommodate a camera and an Etévé gun ring (for a single Lewis) and four 120mm Bombs were carried.

The difficulties experienced with the early Hispano-Suizas resulted in Nieuport hedging its bets with an enlarged version.This had a 240 h.p. Renault but this faired even worse than the 14 and never entered service, though it received the designation XV B.2 comparatively early in development. The XV began as a simple development of the 14, and featured lengthened wings, a wider wing centre-section, a larger tailplane, and a new nose to accept the inline Renault. A problem with short coupling necessitated lengthening the fuselage and the opportunity was taken to replace the 240 h.p. Renault with the 250 h.p. version which had a modified exhaust pipe. A final variant with a car type radiator instead of the Hazet radiators was built at roughly the same time as the final variant of the 14, and both were photographed together at Nieuport's airfield. The Nieuport firm again attempted to revive the design with a final version, which had a smaller bomb load and a 220 h.p. Renault but this failed and orders held by the R.N.A.S. and the French were canceled and the type was declared obsolete in 1917.


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The Martinsyde G.100 "Elephant" and the G.102 were British fighter bomber aircraft of the First World War built by Martinsyde. It gained the name "Elephant" from its relatively large size and lack of manoeuvrability. The G.102 differed from the G.100 only in having a more powerful engine. The G100 was built originally as a long range, single-seat fighter and escort machine but on the basis of its size and weight was reclassified as a day bomber. It successfully performed this role from the summer of 1916 through to the closing weeks of 1917. It was also used for long-range photo reconnaissance, where stability and endurance were required (the type was capable of a five and a half hour flight) .


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The airplane production at Pfalz Flugzeurwerke goes back to 1913. In those days the Bavarian Goverment was financing this firm in order to acquire planes that can be used in her flying units. The first design was a plane with a pusher type propeller. This was followed by obtaining the licences for the L type Parasol and H type planes with shoulder mounted wings from the French firm Morane-Saulnier. A 80HP rotary Oberursel engine was mounted on model A.1. This was followed by A.2 which was powered by an 100HP engine. During the early years of the War, model L was copied with some modifications and the E.1 was thus created. These planes were not used extensively in the Western Front. In 1916 E.1 models were despatched to equip the German units, especially FA.300 and the older A.2 were given to the Turkish units. The total number of A.2s shipped are 10.


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The Letov S-16 was a Light Bomber/Long Range Reconnaissance aircraft, built to fulfil the Czech Airforce's requirements for such a plane. The prototype flew in 1926 and production of the machine continued until 1935. With the aircraft in front line service well into 1938. In this time the aircraft took many distance and endurance records in the hands of Czech and Turkish pilots. A total of 115 Airframes were delivered to the Czech Airforce with a further 19 delivered to Latvia and Turkey.


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The Gotha WD.2 (for Wasser Doppeldecker - "Water Biplane") and its derivatives were a family of military reconnaissance aircraft produced in Germany just before and during the early part of World War I. It was a development of the Avro 503 that had been built under licence by Gotha as the WD.1, and like it, was a conventional three-bay biplane with tandem, open cockpits. The landing gear comprised twin pontoons and dispensed with the small pontoon carried under the tail of the WD.1. Machines built for the German Navy were unarmed, but those supplied to the Ottoman Air Force carried a 7.92 mm (.312 in) machine gun in a ring mount on the upper wing, accessible to the observer, whose seat was located directly below it.

In an attempt to increase performance, one WD.2 was built with a reduced wingspan and its Benz Bz.III engine replaced with the more powerful Mercedes D.III. Designated the WD.5, no further examples were built in this configuration, but it served as the pattern for the WD.9, built in a small series. This differed from the WD.5 prototype in having a trainable 7.92 mm (.312 in) machine gun located in the rear cockpit, to which the observer had been relocated. One such aircraft was supplied to the German Navy, with the rest of the batch going to Turkey, albeit with the less powerful engine of the WD.2.

The last member of the family to be built in any quantity was the D.III-powered WD.12, an unarmed version which featured greater attention to streamlining the aircraft, most especially around the engine area, which was now provided with a close-fitting cowl and a spinner for the propeller. Again, this type was supplied to both Germany and the Ottoman Empire. It was followed in production by a small number of WD.13s, essentially similar but for the use again of the less powerful Bz.III. Finally, two WD.15s were built after a considerable redesign of the aircraft. These had plywood-covered fuselages, as opposed to the fabric covering used on all earlier members of the family, and were fitted with Mercedes D.IVa engines.


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Designed by Andre Herbemont and of generally similar configuration to the Type 41, the Bleriot SPAD 51 had fabric-covered metal wings and a wooden monocoque fuselage, power being provided by a 420hp Gnome- Rhone Jupiter nine-cylinder radial. The first prototype, the Type 51-1, was flown on 16 June 1924, a second modified prototype, the Type 51-2, following on 18 March 1925. Powered by a Jupiter IV and carrying an armament of two 7.7mm MAC (Vickers) guns in the upper wing, the Bleriot SPAD 51-2 was ordered for the Polish air arm, the Lotnictwo Wojskowe, 50 being delivered during 1925-26. A further prototype, the Type 51-3, with an improved propeller, flew on 7 September 1926, this offering a 12km/h speed superiority and improved ceiling over the 51-2. On 30 August 1928, the final derivative of the basic model flew, this being the Type 51-4 with a special 600hp version of the Jupiter. Ten production Type 51-4s were completed, one being sold to Turkey and another to the Soviet Union, these having provision for two fuselage-mounted Vickers and two wing-mounted Darne machine-guns, and a 420hp Jupiter 9Ab.

In 1926 TuAF organized a competition for the procurement of new fighter planes. The firms from France and two firms from Germany participated. They were namely as follows:

* Nieuport Delage 42C 62................. (France)
* SPAD 51, 56 61............................ (France)
* Dewoitine D21C-1............................. (France)
* Rohrbach Rofix................................ (Germany)
* Junkers A35...................................... (Germany)

Rofix and A35 were found insufficient and they were eliminated. The French planes which were composed of 2 of Nieupport Delage 42C, 3 of SPAD 61 and 2 of Dewoitine D21C-1 were bought for further evaluation at the operational units. In 1927 further 10 Dewoitines were purchased. The planes were deployed at the 10th Hunter Co., 41st Hunter Co., and 42nd Hunter Co.. They remained in active duty until 1936 then they were replaced by PZL P-24s.


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This aircraft was the outstanding French day bomber/reconnaissance aircraft of World War I. The Bre 14 A2 reconnaissance version and the Bre 14 B2 bomber equipped at least 71 French escadrilles on the Western Front by November 1918 and were also used by units in Serbia, Greece, Macedonia and Morocco. The prototype flew for the first time on 21 November 1916. Production was spread over seven manufacturers, in addition to the Louis Breguet factory at Velizy, near Paris, and some 8,000 of the type were built up to 1926. A robust two-bay unequal-span biplane of mixed construction, it was remarkable for its time in the amount of duralumin used in the fuselage and wing structure. Covering was of fabric. The metal cowling over the 238.5kW Renault 12Fe engine was extensively louvred and a distinctive frontal radiator was fitted. The Bre 14 A2 was armed with a single fixed 7.7mm Vickers machine-gun on the left side of the fuselage and twin Lewis guns in the observer's cockpit. The B2 version could be fitted with an additional Lewis gun that fired downwards through the rear fuselage floor and had a maximum bomb load of 256kg, carried on underwing racks.

The reconnaissance version was followed into production by the bomber in the summer of 1917, the latter differing in having Breguet-designed automatic trailing-edge flaps on the lower wings and transparent panels in the sides of the observer's cockpit. Late production examples of both versions had horn-balanced ailerons, the B2 aircraft thus equipped doing away with the trailing-edge flaps. A single-seat long-range version, known as the Bre 14 B1, was also built in limited numbers during 1918, and was intended to bomb Berlin. In fact it was little used and never mounted an attack on the German capital. Breguet 14 also equipped American and Belgian units during World War I, some powered by Italian Fiat A-12 and A-12bis engines. Breguet 14 remained in service in the colonial/TOE version throughout the 1920s, equipping many overseas units. A number of foreign countries also flew the type. Many ex-French aircraft were handed over to Poland in 1919 and these took part in the fighting with Russia in 1920. The type formed part of the initial equipment of the Czech air arm, and others were operated in Brazil, China (70 with 298kW Lorraine-Dietrich engines), Denmark, Finland, Greece, Japan, Portugal and Spain. The Spanish equipped four squadrons in Morocco in 1922, using them on missions against Riff tribesmen. A further 40 were obtained in 1923. A small number of float variants were also built, mostly with a central main float and small wingtip stabilising floats.

18 examples of Breguet 14 A2s have served the Turkish Armed Forces. The first one was a Greek plane captured on Sept. 21 1921. This plane was named Sakarya. The second one was also a Greek plane which was forced to land by fire on Aug.22 1922 . This plane was named Garipçe. After the foundation of the Republic 16 more Breguet 14 A2s were purchased to France. They were brought in SKD (semi knocked down) form and they were assembled at Gaziemir in December 1914. These planes remained in service until 1926. Concerning the Breget 14 B2, a total of 14 examples were deployed within the Turkish Air Force; 10 of them were bought from the French after the signing of the Ankara Treaty together with their canvas hangars. They were immediately despatched to Konya where old sytle machine guns were mounted on the rear cockpits. These planes were deployed at the 2nd Airplane Company and they were sent to the front at Akşehir. Two of the planes were named Erzurumlu Nafiz and 174.Alay due to their contribution for the procurement of two of the planes. The remaining 4 planes were captured at the Seydiköy airfield after the Greek retreat due to Turkish Great Offensive and the Liberation of Izmir.


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