The Development of Naval Aviation, 1908–1975
During the World War I period, naval aviation made its first appearance in Russia. In 1914 Russia possessed an interest in naval aviation only as a reconnaissance tool and an organizational nucleus. When one is looking at the development of naval aviation in Russia and the Soviet Union, it is important to keep in mind the traditional patterns and problems of their naval forces. The role of naval aviation evolved gradually during the course of the war; only in 1917 did the Naval Ministry issue a general directive covering the operations of the Naval Air Service. Naval aviators scored their greatest success in January 1916, when fourteen planes attacked and sank a 7,000-ton Turkish transport in the port of Zonguldak. Naval aviation had become valuable in both the Baltic and Black Sea fleets. Increasingly, reconnaissance had given way to other missions, including air defense and attack.