Air Anti-Tank Seminar, Naval Postgraduate School 16 - 17 March 1977
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Aircraft and tanks have existed together on battlefields since the first tanks went into combat on the Western Front in September 1916. The British vehicles, which attacked at Pezieres in the Somme region in mid-September, were soon joined by French and later American tanks. By the end of the war in 1918, the Allies had constructed large numbers 3,000, for example, in France alone. Despite the numbers of tanks and even greater numbers of combat aircraft employed during the First World War, no evidence exists of purposeful attacks by significant numbers of aircraft against armored vehicles. The German Army's flying corps, faced with more pressing problems of gaining air superiority against a larger Allied air force, was unable to intervene decisively on the ground. The various flying corps of the Allies, although having greater opportunity for ground attack especially after the German defeats of August 1918, and the impending collapse of the German Army, had virtually no targets to attack. Due to a basically different outlook on the methods by which to break the trench stalemate in the West, the Germans were late in developing tanks and employed only 45 in combat (in 12 engagements) during the First World War, compared with numerous attacks by hundreds of Allied tanks.
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