8. A Raid That Inflicted Negligible Damage, But Still Revolutionized Warfare
The Cuxhaven Raid was not the first time that German dirigible facilities had been attacked from the air. There had been prior raids, flown by the Royal Flying Corps – the Royal Air Force’s predecessor – against Zeppelin sheds in Cologne, Friedrichshafen, and Dusseldorf. However, the RFC’s airplanes did not have enough range to reach Cuxhaven. A plan was therefore devised for ferries converted into seaplane tenders, escorted by Royal Navy cruisers, destroyers, and submarines, to carry seaplanes to the vicinity of Cuxhaven.
Nine seaplanes, each armed with three 20-pound bombs, were lowered into the water. Only seven managed to start their engines and take off. Their orders were to reconnoiter the area, and if they spotted Zeppelin sheds, to bomb them. Mist, low clouds, fog, and enemy antiaircraft fire hampered the mission. A number of facilities were identified and attacked, but the 20-pound bombs could not do much damage, and the results were negligible. However, the raid was nonetheless a proof of concept that revolutionized warfare because it demonstrated that targets on land could be attacked by airplanes launched from the sea.