Italo-Turkish War

Italian airships bomb Turkish positions. The Italo-Turkish War was the first conflict to feature aerial bombardment.
Italian airships bomb Turkish positions. The Italo-Turkish War was the first conflict to feature aerial bombardment.

Historical Context

In the years leading up to World War I, Italy became aggressive in pursuing claims to areas in Africa that were once part of the Roman Empire, which it saw itself as a successor to. Libya was the only other territory in Africa not claimed by another European power so it was the only possession Italy had a chance of dominating.

A rise in Italian colonial fervor coincided with the Ottoman Empire's steady decline in the late 19th and early 20th century. Italy sent an ultimatum to the Ottomans on September 28, 1911, and the Ottomans attempted to negotiate, but Italy declared war the following day.

The conflict lasted for a year and led to an Italian victory and control over what became Italian Libya. The conflict was minor in itself but was a significant precursor to World War I, weakening the Ottomans further, surging nationalism in the Balkans and causing the Balkan League to declare war on the Turks before the war had ended.

The war also had its share of technological advancements - including the airplane: on October 23, 1911, the first aerial reconnaissance mission occurred, and on November 1, the first aerial bomb was dropped, both by an Italian aircraft. The Turks did not have anti-air defenses and became the first to shoot down an aircraft with rifle fire alone.

Photo Info


Photographer: Unknown
Location taken: Libya, Ottoman Empire

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Related Events

  • 1911-09-29 Italy declares war on Turkey, starting the Italo-Turkish War
  • 1911-10-23 1st aerial reconnaissance mission is flown by an Italian pilot over Turkish lines during the Italo-Turkish War
  • 1911-11-01 The first aerial bomb is dropped by an Italian pilot on Turkish troops in Libya during the Italo-Turkish War
  • 1912-10-18 The Treaty of Lausanne ends the Italo-Turkish War; Italy annexes Libya

Related Famous People

Historical Photos