Bombers evolved at the same time as the fighter aircraft at the start of World War I.
The Germans used Zeppelins as bombers since they had the range and capacity to carry a useful bomb load from Germany to England. With advances in aircraft design and equipment, they were joined by larger multi-engined biplane aircraft on both sides for long range strategic bombing especially by night. The majority of bombing was still done by one-engined biplanes with one or two crew-members flying short distances to attack the enemy lines and immediate hinterland.
The world's first four-engined bomber was the Russian Il'ya Muromets created in 1914 and successfully used in World War I.
During World War II bombers often looked dramatically different from other aircraft. Because of the lack of power in aircraft engines at the time, bombers needed to have multiple engines in order to carry a reasonable load, in turn leading to much larger aircraft.
With engine power as a major limitation, combined with the desire for accuracy and other operational factors, bomber designs tended to be tailored to one particular role. By the start of the war this included
- dive bomber
- light bomber, medium bomber and heavy bomber
- torpedo bomber
- specialized ground attack designs
Bombers are not intended to actively engage in combat with other aircraft. The majority have been relatively large and unmaneuverable – although some smaller designs have been used as the basis for specialist fighters, such as night fighters.
List of Aircraft Bomber in World War I and World War II: