The Germans built their first aircraft bomber bases in occupied Belgium at Ghistelles and Zeebrugge, near Ostend, followed by St Denis and Gontrode. The German ‘fliegerkorps’ used the bases to launch attacks on enemy lines on the western front and the British naval forces in the straits of Dover. In 1915, the Kaiser finally agreed to aerial attacks on London but German aircraft, especially the giant Zeppelin airships, were dangerous to fly and often missed targets. In 1917, the St Denis and Gontrode airfields were expanded to accommodate 36 Gotha G.IVs: heavy, high-flying bombers with two sets of wings, which required larger runways. The Gotha G.IV, replaced by the Gotha G.V in August 1917, covered greater distances and had better target accuracy than its predecessors. A further airfield was constructed at Marialerle to maximize capacity and make space for a flotilla of lighter, single-person bombers.
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