Historical Events  General
Nieuport 16

When did the first air-to-air missiles appear?

MMDE: 1930

Current: 1916

Another "tech before it's time" has appeared, which some are pointing to as an MMDE because it seems it should have been much more widely known, and appears to suddenly have come from nowhere. 

This time it's air-to-air missiles, i.e. fired from one aircraft and aimed at another. Bearing in mind the first airplane was invented by the Wright brothers in 1902, it comes as quite a shock to many to discover the year the missiles first appeared was 1916.

They were called the Le Prieur rocket and were actually designed to be fired at observations balloons and airships, which were prevalent during WW1. Obviously unguided, they were fairly crude by today's standards being not much more than a cardboard tube filled with gunpowder and a sharp, knife-like projectile for penetrating the balloons/airships.

Dive down

The method of use was for the aircraft firing these weapons to fly down at a 45 degree angle to the target, then release them with an electrical switch.