ACE-50P Pilot & Observer, LFG ROLAND CIIa
Early in the first World War, military strategists realized that aircraft could be very useful for spying on enemy troop movements. This led to the Reconnaissance plane.
These aircraft carried a pilot and an observer with a camera, who would photograph troop positions on the ground. The use of aircraft for reconnaissance grew rapidly, and played an increasingly crucial role in achieving victories. As the aerial reconnaissance became more common, so did the need for ways to stop enemy observation planes.
One way was by firing upon them from the ground, which was ineffective until guns could be better adapted for the purpose. The other way was to develop a means for one aircraft to attack another. The first such attempts were made using the observation aircraft themselves, as pilots and observers attempted to shoot at other planes using rifles and even pistols—a method that quickly proved hopeless. Some pilots tried throwing hand grenades, bricks, or even long ropes with grappling hooks at planes below them. The ideal solution was the Machine Gun, which could fire a continuous stream of bullets, significantly increasing the chance of hitting a target.
Eventually the role of the observer changed and a separate gunnery specialist emerged.