Which country has made the greatest contribution to Aviation?

Profile picture for user j_jza80

Member for

8 years 6 months

Posts: 1,540

I've been considering recently which country has made the greatest contribution to the advancement of military aviation. My initial thoughts are that it's the USA, as ever since the Wright Brothers, they've constantly pushed the boundaries of what is possible. I'd like to nominate the UK for a close second though, given the number of great aircraft we have produced, often very innovative. (ie deHavilland Mosquito and Hawker Siddley Harrier) Russia would probably be next, and possibly France after that? I'd like to hear others ideas and opinions :)
Original post

Member for

19 years 9 months

Posts: 3,208

I'd like to nominate the UK for a close second though, given the number of great aircraft we have produced, often very innovative. (ie deHavilland Mosquito and Hawker Siddley Harrier)
Both pretty much dead-ends technology-wise. Undoubtedly, the single most significant contribution of the UK to aviation has been the jet engine. I'd put Germany ahead of France and Russia, let's not forget that they were the first to fly a jet, and they gave us the swept wing.

Member for

14 years 2 months

Posts: 655

I would go for France as #1. They set the ball rolling with their balloon ascents. and pioneered the monoplane. Lovely though it is, I cannot think of anything about the Mosquito that can be called innovative.:)
Profile picture for user Al

Member for

9 years 8 months

Posts: 1,190

Since you specifically mention military aviation, Germany was usually at the forefront of new technology in both World Wars. In the first, they introduced the prop-synchronised machine gun, and the first monoplane fighter. In WW2 they were the first to introduce jets, intercontinental ballistic missiles, smart bombs, and cruise missiles, and some of their designs were years ahead of the allies, to the extent a lot of their captured technology and experimental work was put to use in the Korean and Cold Wars. This was the case in the fields of submarines and battle tanks too. In contrast, the USA contributed very little to new military aviation technology until the 1950s...
Profile picture for user D1566

Member for

13 years 6 months

Posts: 2,020

I cannot think of anything about the Mosquito that can be called innovative.:)
It could be contended that it was early use of 'composites' ...

Member for

9 years 7 months

Posts: 4,993

I would go for France as #1. They set the ball rolling with their balloon ascents. and pioneered the monoplane.
I would go along with France, as well as Italy, and of course England. For the early days anyway. As for more recent times, it depends on how you define innovative. Russia and China would certainly get first prize for copying western designs and technology.

Member for

8 years

Posts: 797

Easy... The answer is easy. Germany. Not because of any of their advanced work, - but since it was their two world wars that twice in twenty years propelled aviation by huge leaps that otherwise would have taken decades longer....:diablo:
Profile picture for user pagen01

Member for

12 years 2 months

Posts: 10,647

Lovely though it is, I cannot think of anything about the Mosquito that can be called innovative.:)
The Mosquito was innovative in ushering in a new concept of a successful and aerodynamically advanced multi-role combat type, fighter, night figter, fighter bomber, fast bomber, strike, photo recce, path finder, torpedo bomber, trainer. Of course the Beaufighter similar but wasn't as successful in regard of crew disposition, variety of roles, and performance. Canberra and Tornado followed in the footsteps. The Harier certainly was innovative, especially when seen in the context of other VTOL ideas at the time, it managed to use a single vectored engine intead of multiples of lift and thrust engines. 40 years of British service and longer elsewhere shows the idea worked, and the fact that the legacy lives on in new VTOL designs such as the F-35 I do think that the UK was the most innovative when it came to aircraft and aviation concepts, but not always the best at following up the ideas into fully successful production types.
Profile picture for user mark_pilkington

Member for

15 years 4 months

Posts: 1,732

The answer is easy. Germany. Not because of any of their advanced work, - but since it was their two world wars that twice in twenty years propelled aviation by huge leaps that otherwise would have taken decades longer....:diablo:
+ Smiles, I like it Although as an Australian I'm proud of the efforts of some aussies in the early pioneering days, I'm able to perhaps be a bit more impartial as Australia is clearly not in the running for this title, and therefore I'm certainly unlikely to be accused of being biased. I personally think the French inch out Germany pretty easily for the early hot air balloon and flying machine efforts but then both are then clearly left well behind by the UK and USA. Its a difficult call between the UK and the USA, there is firstly Cayley and Hiram Maxim against the exploits of Chanute and the Wrights, and de Havilland is out there on his own in my mind, but the US have Douglas and others too. Personally the UK made such a major contribution to aviation in its formative years from 1907 through to the mid 1930's that it is the stand out nation, even though from the late 1930's through to today the US has dominated aviation development (but not exclusively done it all). Although the Mosquito is my favourite aircraft and its innovative I dont think its an important link on the critical path of aircraft development, but if you took all the designs of Geoffrey de Havilland off the table I suspect aviation would not be where it is today, even though wooden bi-planes are not the norm today. Rolls Royce might be a similar company to take off the table and see the effect on history. The UK's contribution as against the USA is even more impressive considering the differences in population size, and of course after the Blitz and debt of war, its surprising the UK was still able to lead in a number of areas (VTOL) well into the post war period. And of course population scales with wealth and then Defence spending and so its not surprising the US has led the post war aerospace industry, and also see it as a strategic defence advantage. In fact if not for a politician prematurely calling the end of manned aircraft due to the Bloodhound missile etc the UK may have lead in many areas for much longer. BTW I was responding to the headline question and not limiting my view to Military Aviation as seems to be a refinement implied in the body of the original post. regards Mark Pilkington
Profile picture for user j_jza80

Member for

8 years 6 months

Posts: 1,540

The reason that I wouldn't rate Germany too high is that their input has been minimal (understandably) since the end of WW2 (though the legacy of their huge strides can still be seen today) Again, France has produced some excellent aircraft during the last century, but very few 'Game changers' compared to the USA or UK. As for my comment about the Mosquito, I don't think it should be underestimated just what a huge difference it made. I can't think of another aircraft before the Mossie that was designed to be at the forefront of aircraft performance, but reverted to using materials that had long since been generally considered inferior. It was as fast as front line fighters, yet could carry the same bomb load as a B17 without needing any escort fighters and could absorb large amounts of damage.
Profile picture for user mark_pilkington

Member for

15 years 4 months

Posts: 1,732

As for my comment about the Mosquito, I don't think it should be underestimated just what a huge difference it made. I can't think of another aircraft before the Mossie that was designed to be at the forefront of aircraft performance, but reverted to using materials that had long since been generally considered inferior. It was as fast as front line fighters, yet could carry the same bomb load as a B17 without needing any escort fighters and could absorb large amounts of damage.
Its an amazing aircraft, and my favourite, and of course lead in some ways to the Vampire's ply-balsa sandwich fuselage, but other than that, the Mossies development was unique to itself and not a stepping stone along the path to something else. As against the DH-60 which opened up the skies for private civil aviation and lead to a family of aircraft through to the tigermoth, itself a story in its own right. But I considered this question related to which country had made the largest contribution to the advancement of aviation, not which type was the most innovative or uniquely successful - the mossie would head towards the top of that list. If the mossie contributed something, it was that bigger isnt always better, as against faster. The mossie's capabilities in some ways did lead into the Canberra, but thats more functionally than structurally. regards Mark Pilkington

Member for

14 years 2 months

Posts: 655

The Mosquito was innovative in ushering in a new concept of a successful and aerodynamically advanced multi-role combat type, fighter, night figter, fighter bomber, fast bomber, strike, photo recce, path finder, torpedo bomber, trainer.
As was the Hawker Hart, a decade earlier.

Member for

8 years

Posts: 797

Don't forget.... Mark P, Don't forget that Edgar Percival was an Aussie, even if he did spend a lot of time in the UK...! In the 1930's, Percival was producing what were probably the best light civil aircraft in the world. :)
Profile picture for user mark_pilkington

Member for

15 years 4 months

Posts: 1,732

Mark P, Don't forget that Edgar Percival was an Aussie, even if he did spend a lot of time in the UK...! In the 1930's, Percival was producing what were probably the best light civil aircraft in the world. :)
Harry Hawker was an aussie too, and others such as the Smith Brothers, Hinkler, Kingsford Smith and Ulm played major roles in the trailblazing days and Australia did punch above its weight in those days, but I do think the UK takes the prize. regards Mark Pilkington
Profile picture for user Jur

Member for

16 years 1 month

Posts: 405

In the first, they introduced the prop-synchronised machine gun, and the first monoplane fighter.
Both developments by Anthony Fokker; a Dutchman...:):)
Profile picture for user AutoStick

Member for

8 years 3 months

Posts: 759

UK , Whittle & jet engine . Germany , Delta & swept wing concepts .
Profile picture for user daveg4otu

Member for

10 years 11 months

Posts: 633

Difficult question ...but from the POV of what has most affected our lives today...Douglas for the DC-3 which was the first really successful mass production air passenger aircraft...So the USA ...but equally , the Comet for being the first jet airliner...the aircraft that was the predecessor of the thousands of passenger jets of today ...so for that...the UK

Member for

14 years 4 months

Posts: 3,614

In WW2 they were the first to introduce intercontinental ballistic missiles.
No, they never built an ICBM*... the V-2 was a tactical (or theatre) ballistic missile... with a range similar to the Soviet SCUD. V-2 Operational range: 320 km (200 mi). Scud-A Operational Range: 180 km Scud-B Operational Range: 300 km Scud-C Operational Range: 550 km Scud-D Operational Range: 300 km An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is a ballistic missile with a range typically greater than 5500 km or 3500 miles. The first successful ICBM was the Soviet R-7. On 21 August 1957; the R-7 flew over 6000 km. * The Germans were trying to develop an ICBM (the A9/A10) to strike the US, but they only tested the second stage separately, they never tried to launch an assembled test article.

Member for

7 years 5 months

Posts: 42

you can give germany credit for the jet engine also. Dr. Hans von Ohain had a running engine the same year as Whittle. both are given credit as in inventing it. please correct me if im wrong. I agree Germany did not do much after the war but there scientists did for other countries . look at the USA space race . I think that each time period had great inventions/ developments from all countries. this is definitly a tough question.