What were the advantages and disadvantages of fighter planes in WWI?

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Aerial warfare was still in its infancy in WWI, the airplane having been invented only fourteen years prior to the start of the war. One of the greatest disadvantages to fighter airplanes was the pilot's inexperience. Most pilots were killed during training exercises. If a pilot was lucky enough to survive this, he was often killed by pilots more experienced than himself. Fighter planes had limited armament and limited fuel supplies in WWI, meaning they could only inflict a minor amount of damage over a limited space.

The planes did have many advantages. A good fighter pilot could capture the imagination of his country and be used to promote the war and sell war bonds. Fighter aircrafts helped to promote the concept of air war in general and their effectiveness against the dirigibles, ended the idea that blimps would be the primary air arm in future wars. Fighter planes could also be used as reconnaissance, scouting enemy trenches and noting the effects of artillery barrages. Fighter aircraft could also be used to protect the early bombers of the period, though these bombers had limited payloads and range.

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Airplane technology was still in its infancy at the outset of WWI, but despite their lack of complexity they were still able to play a huge role in the war. Early on in the war, planes were used by both sides mainly for aerial surveillance. They could safely scout the enemy's movements from the sky, as well as spot targets for the artillery. Eventually aircraft would be used more and more effectively as they became more complex. Bombers were developed, and fighter planes were built to hunt them in the skies. 

Regardless of the tremendous combat advantages they offered, flying planes in WWI was still very dangerous. No one knew about the stresses and fatigue that can accompany flying, such as hypoxia. The planes were not able to carry much fuel, so they had very limited range, and they were slow and made easy targets if they got too close to the ground. The early planes were also open to the elements, and entire aircrews were lost when they were exposed to freezing temperatures up in the air. 

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