How Much Do You Know About Planes Flown in WWI?

By: Robin Tyler
Image: State Archives of North Carolina via Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

Those magnificent men in their flying machines!

Well, they certainly were magnificent but they had one intention in mind while up flying among the clouds in the pale blue yonder... hunt down the enemy and KILL them! 

Often called Knights of the Sky, air warfare was brutal and often a battle was over just as fast as it began. The aircraft at the time were the at the cutting edge of technology and were constantly improved as the war went on. Although their engines were not that powerful, World War I fighters were incredibly maneuverable and if you could out-turn your opponent, you certainly had an advantage.

The public soon began to latch onto these pilots, almost hero-worshipping them while the normal soldiers on the ground often loathed them and their flying machines.

Pilots would count how many aircraft or observation balloons they had managed to bring down, and soon a race was on to see who would end the top ace of the war.

But just how much do you know about these machines? Many countries flew and fought in the war, but the main protagonists were Britain, France, Germany, Italy and from 1917, America, each with their own designs that took to the air.

This quiz will test your knowledge of a time long gone, where brave men in their creaky planes flew high above the earth.

Let's see how you fare!


The planes at the start of World War I had a two sets of wings with one placed above each other. Planes designed like this were called _____?

Most aircraft during World War I and even after it, were biplanes. Other designs were tried, however. Some were also very successful but generally, designers stuck with what they knew.

In 1915, Dutch designer Anthony Fokker designed a fighter for the Germans. It only had one set of wings. What aircraft type did this fall into?

The plane designed by Fokker was the Eindecker, which roughly translated means one wing. It was a very successful fighter aircraft and terrorized the Allies in 1915 leading to the phrase, the "Fokker scourge."

Fokker wasn't only willing to try one-wing designs. He even used three wings on the Fokker Dr 1. What was this configuration called?

The Fokker Dr 1 was a triplane design with three wings. The plane itself was made famous by Manfred von Richthofen, or the Red Baron as he was known. He was the top scoring ace of the war with 80 victories.

At the start of the war, aircraft did not shoot each other down. What were they used for?

Early World War I aircraft were not armed. They were used to spot enemy troop movements.

Aviators soon realized that aircraft could perform another purpose that could aid the war effort. What was that?

The next logical step was taking bombs on flights and dropping them out of the cockpit on enemy positions The observer or pilot did this,

Soon there were so many planes in the air, pilots started carrying ______ to attack the enemy.

Although they carried guns and rifles, shooting down another aircraft with them was virtually impossible.

During the war, German airships were used to bomb targets in Great Britain. What were these airships called?

These airships were called Zeppelins thanks to the man who designed them, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin

A very clever gadget by Anthony Fokker allowed pilots to mount machine guns to the front of their planes firing through the propeller. What did it do, exactly?

This gadget cleverly stopped the guns from firing when the propeller shaft was in the way. Early versions often failed, however.

What was the name given to this clever piece of wizardry?

Logical right? It interrupted the bullet from being fired, hence the name.

In their construction, the fuselage, wings and tail section of a World War 1 plane was made from what material?

Yes, World War 1 aircraft were made out of wood. One, however, an experimental aircraft made by Junkers, the Jr1 was not only a monoplane but it was made from metal.

What material was used to cover the frames of these aircraft?

All wooden structural components were covered with canvas. These aircraft, as long as they had received no major structural damage in combat, were fairly easy to fix.

What was the maximum speed of a World War I fighter aircraft?

If we look back now, performance wise, these aircraft were not that impressive. Back in those days, however, they were the forefront of technology.

Reconnaissance planes at the start of the war would have how many occupants?

Four eyes are better than two, right? Plus the pilot has other things to concentrate on ... like flying!

What was the extra occupant in a reconnaissance aircraft called?

Yes, the second occupant of the aircraft was called the observer. Later, when they attached guns to the rear of the aircraft, they were the observer/gunner.

Which of these is NOT an aircraft from World War I?

Yes, the Spitfire, although it is a fighter plane, does come from World War II.

Which of these IS an aircraft from World War I?

The Sopwith Camel is one of the deadliest fighters of World War I. It was incredibly maneuverable and a match for any German fighter.

How many aircraft is it credited with shooting down during the war?

In the hands of all the pilots that flew it, the Sopwith Camel destroyed over 1,300 enemy aircraft during the war.

During the course of World War I, how many different aircraft were used by both sides in total?

Yes, around 70 different aircraft were used duing the war. These included reconnaissance, fighters and even bombers.

Shooting down enemy observation balloons was commonplace on both sides. For the allies, this was called ___________

Observation balloons were used to track enemy troop movements. These proved easy targets for fighter pilots.

What was the term used for a pilot who had shown skill in combat and shot down a certain number of enemy machines?

Pilots that showed true skill in combat and recorded a certain number of victories quickly became heroes to the public back home. They were dubbed 'aces'.

How many enemy aircraft would they have to shoot down to be called this?

Any pilot that dispatched 5 enemy aircraft became an ace!

Which of these is NOT a World War I aircraft?

The Gloster Gladiator, although a biplane, served in the Royal Air Force in the 1930s and early 1940s.

Which of these IS an aircraft from World War I?

Perhaps the most famous aircraft of World War I, the 'Red Baron' Manfred von Richthofen was flying one of these when he was shot down and killed.

When aircraft met high about the front lines and attacked each other, it was said that they were having a _______?

Aerial encounters quickly became known as dogfights, a term that is still used in combat today.

How could pilots pick out German aircraft during these twisting, turning battles?

Aircraft identification was very important during a dogfight. Although planes were designed differently, having markings on the wings made them more visible.

It wasn't only enemy aircraft that a pilot had to worry about. His plane could be destroyed by anti-aircraft guns firing from the ground. British pilots had a term for these weapons. What did they call them?

'Archie' was to be feared and certainly was responsible in bringing down many aircraft during World War I.

How could pilots pick out British aircraft during a dogfight

Aircraft identification was very important during a dogfight. Although planes were designed differently, having markings on the wings made them more visible.

Which of these is NOT a World War I aircraft?

The Fairey Swordfish, although a military aircraft and a biplane, served in World War II.

How could pilots pick out American aircraft during a dogfight

Aircraft identification was very important during a dogfight. Although planes were designed differently, having markings on the wings made them more visible.

Which of these IS a World War I aircraft?

The Sopwith Triplane first entered service with the Royal Air Force in 1916. Its design is said to have inspired the Fokker Triplane.

Which engine type was fitted to most aircraft during World War I because its relative light weight?

Rotary engines were the go-to power plant for aircraft designers during World War I thanks to the fact that they were light. Unfortunately, at higher altitudes they were severely under powered.

What life-saving devices were NOT carried in World War I aircraft as there was not enough space and they were too bulky?

Yes, although the parachute was invented in 1912, pilots simply could not use them as they were bulky and took up too much space.

Which of these IS an aircraft from World War I?

The SE 5, produced by the Royal Aircraft Factory, first entered service in March 1917. It was an amazing fighter and quickly became a favorite with British pilots.

Which of these is NOT an aircraft from World War I?

The Dornier D17 was a medium bomber used by Germany during World War II.

Who was the top scoring ace of World War I? He flew many different aircraft, always painting them bright colors, particularly red.

Manfred von Richthofen or the 'Red Baron' as he was known, shot down 80 enemy aircraft during World War I.

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