Greece was the first to use aircraft to bomb ships, a breakthrough that led to the Pearl Harbor raid—and to today’s aircraft armed with ship-killer missiles.
While the first reported incident of aircraft bombing ships was long thought to have happened during the Mexican Revolution, it turns out that the Greeks, who pioneered so much else in Western civilization, can also lay claim to that honor.
It happened 105 years ago to the day, during the First Balkan War of 1912–13, that warm-up act for World War I that saw the fading Ottoman Empire defeated by a coalition of Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia. On February 6, 1913, a French-made Maurice Farman two-seat aircraft, equipped with floats to convert it into a seaplane, took off into the morning sky. It belonged to the Royal Hellenic Navy, and aboard were the pilot, Greek army 1st Lt. Michael Moutoussis, and the observer, navy Ensign Aristidis Moraitinis.
(Historic photo: Farman MF.7 of Moutoussis, Moraitinis collected by the destroyer Velos, after their reconnaissance operation over the Dardanelles, 24th January 1913)
Their mission was to reconnoiter Turkish fleet dispositions at Nagara Point in the Dardanelles. Circling over the target at 1,350 feet, they observed Turkish ships and shore installations. Then on their last orbit, Moraitinis dropped four grenades over the aircraft’s side.
A Turkish military report recorded that three of the grenades fell into the sea, and the fourth left a six-inch hole in the ground. “Apparently, no damage or casualties were inflicted, and the report did not identify any of the Turkish ships in the area, since none were hit,” according to writer Jon Guttman. “Turkish personnel subjected the Farman to rifle fire, turning the incident into a genuine air-sea engagement—albeit an extremely minor one—and reported that ‘the aircraft was hit and landed on the sea after 40 minutes of flying in the air.’”
In fact, the Farman hadn’t been hit. But engine failure forced it to land in the Aegean, where the crew was rescued.
Source used: nationalinterest.org