Military Aviation History: The First Anti-Aircraft Gun

Baloon Kanone

The Prussian made “Ballon Kanone” was the first Purpose Made AA Gun 

The first untethered balloon flight took place on Nov. 21, 1783, with the first military use occurring during the French Revolutionary Wars. A century later during the Franco-Prussian War, the French again deployed observation balloons — and when Prussian troops besieged Paris, they became a vital lifeline out of the encircled city.

Which is why the Prussians developed the Ballon Kanone—history’s first purpose-made anti-aircraft gun.

The Prussians cut all communications between Paris and the provincial French forces and the first balloon, Neptune, left the city on Sept. 23, 1870, with regular flights beginning three days later. These flights carried supplies, 164 passengers and mail at a cost to senders of 20 centimes per letter.

Sixty-six balloon flights carried approximately 2.5 million letters during the siege. The French established two factories in Parisian railway stations to build and maintain the city’s small armada of balloons.

Read the Remainder at War is Boring