Over the Front – original aircraft footage (b&w, silent)

It features original footage of aircraft from the First World War being prepared for take off and in flight. This was used as reference material for the video produced by Peter Jackson for the film, light and sound show for the Over the Front exhibit at the Australian War Memorial.

The following footage is a compilation of the following collection search/accession numbers:

These can be searched on the Australian War Memorial Website here: https://www.awm.gov.au/advanced-search

For further information see:

41 thoughts on “Over the Front – original aircraft footage (b&w, silent)

  1. Paul Crombie says:

    In the early part of the war,
    they used to drop bricks or large darts on each other in order to split their canvas or smash the airframe of these flimsy planes, true!

  2. Paul Crombie says:

    In the earliest days, they used to drop bricks on other aircraft .
    Sometimes, they dropped big darts.
    This was in order to split their canvas covering, or to break their wooden frame,
    the aircraft would simply break up and fall to the ground.

  3. Paul Crombie says:

    Great footage.
    Do you know that parachutes were available for pilots, but in the RFC they weren't allowed them for fear they might get cold turkey and jump from their plane in fear!
    Aeroplanes were too expensive to lose.
    "poor lads".
    And i mean that.

  4. wraith444 says:

    Look at how small those little bombs they carried were. By comparison, the "small" general purpose bombs carried by the USAF today are about 7 feet long, almost a foot in diameter, and weigh 500 lbs.

  5. Horses Don't Fly: A Memoir of World war 1, an Autobiography of Frederick Libby, the first American to become an ace, while flying for the RFC

  6. TheJman445 says:

    you know it amazes me how then they needed like 50-100 feet to take off and now we need like 10 miles of runway for civilian aircraft or some shit the Sikorsky illya muromets was a civilian/Heavy bomber in the war and after it didn't need that much runway

  7. ThatDutchguy says:

    Yes, the Dutch Fokker Aircraft company did make some nice machines for Germany and the first timer for a machine gun to shoot in between the propellor.

  8. johnathon handy says:

    if you like this video, try ace academy black flight for Android. It's a very good ww1 flying game

  9. stephen laws says:

    I do have a fondness for historic films , you do find yourself thinking how on earth did that shot happen?.Remember, when this footage was shot ,this was cutting edge technology, both subject and movie camera .

  10. LloydDutch Smiley says:

    Thank you very much for the upload, that was fantastic footage and you really got a feel for life in the skies back then.

  11. Mollusc1954 says:

    While I have no proof, it appears that the majority of ground footage of Allied aircraft are featuring the Australian Flying Corps squadrons in 1918. This is likely to be newsreel footage by official film crews.  No.1 Sqn AFC on a dusty airfield in Palestine had a mixture of F2B Bristol Fighters and Martinsyde G100 (single-seat) bombers. They had some RE.8 reconaissance two-seaters also;  No.2 Sqn AFC in France operated SE.5a single-seat fighters throughout 1918;  No.3 Sqn AFC in France flew RE.8 two-seaters;  No.4 Sqn AFC in France started the year with Sopwith Camels as seen with boomerang emblems. A month before the war ended, the unit re-equipped with Sopwith Snipes.

  12. Robert pendergast says:

    This documentary film is top quality. I am not sure how they filmed some close ups. Maybe they had telephoto lenses.

  13. Showering with dad says:

    The F22 Propeller Raptor was a really good plane back in the day.

  14. Anton Allen says:


    I wish there was a way to tell all those people who appeared on camera that we are grateful to be able to see their faces and efforts 100 years in the future.
    That they are NOT forgotten!

  15. Hadi Al-Saadoon says:

    Yes, William Avery Bishop and some mates from 60 squadron RFC. Recent evidence suggests that Bishop claimed several victories that were unverifiable including shooting up the German aerodrome in his Nieuport 17 which garnered him a Victoria Cross. Britain needed good news around that time.

  16. Vaughan power says:

    I wonder if the air balloon catching fire was a drill or not.

  17. Im researching ww1 aviation for my History Assignment it was hard to concentrate then i realised o wait i will just watch a video so THANKYOU FOR KEEPING ME SANE!

  18. TheFunkhouser says:

    Only 100 years ago, look at what we have now!  Imagine how we are going to be in another 100 or even 200 years from now! Amazing!

  19. Lord Nelson says:

    14,166 pilots died during ww1 half of that total died during training such was the difficulty in controlling these flimsy craft made of skin, canvas and wood, rest in peace men.

  20. charles lalonde says:

    I read alot about WW1 flyers when i was a kid ,never heard anything about the australians

  21. cohjets982 says:

    TrueBlogge777 this is cohjets982. I have received your response and thanks for answering to me. Now about this video of the Red Baron (Manfred Von Richthofen) is this a movie like what you would see in a theater or on dvd or this just a video any person can film by camera and upload to youtube. If it's a dvd/theater type movie I belive I may have seen something like that in the list of videos on youtube. Also in my first comment about those videos with the two part 34mins I have found the videos and they are just lovely :() Once again thanks for the response and I shall enjoy your Red Baron video very much and the long video I watch is mostly about the Red Baron and a little bit of Eddie Rickenbacker and Raoul Lufberry.

  22. Douglas McCarty says:

    BeeryUSA. The film didn't run at 6x the normal speed.When this was filmed ,film going thru the camera was at a much slower speed than it was in later years

  23. charles lalonde says:

    yes they were generally young red baron was 25 when he was killed werner voss 19 the u.s. changed its age requirement from 25 to 271/2 to allow eddie rickonbacker to fly,. frank luke and rickonbacker would be great material for a movie.

  24. Beryl Price says:

    aircraft at 5.52 is German the pilot has a rubber rim and crown on the helmet

  25. gallantrycross x says:

    The average lifespan of an Allied pilot on the Western front in WWI was only 11 days.  The engines only lasted 18 hours before a rebuild was needed.

  26. gallantrycross x says:

    Silent film was shot at around 16fps, sound film is 24 frames a second for the sound, so silent film shown on modern projectors will be too fast.  That's why everything appears jerky and speeded up.

  27. gallantrycross x says:

    Great footage!  Wow!  The British RE 8 recon plane is shown a lot–it's the ugliest airplane of the war, was built and designed by bureaucrats and was dangerous to fly.  The worst plane of the war.  It's the one with the two smokestacks sticking up and the 4 bladed prop.

Leave a Reply