Italo-Turkish War 1911 Airship over Libyan Desert CDV Photo

Product code: 5284
Fine and rare antique CDV by Leifert of Potsdamof an Italian built dirigible used to bomb Turkish positions on Libyan territory during the the Italo-Turkish War. It was the first in history to feature aerial bombardment by airplanes and airships.

Italy built about 20 M-class semi-rigid airships with a bomb load of 1000 kg which it used for bombing and anti-shipping missions. The Italians also used other, smaller airships, some of them British-built.

The claims of Italy over Libya dated back to Turkey's defeat by Russia in the war of 1877-1878 and subsequent discussions after the Congress of Berlin in 1878, in which France and Great Britain had agreed to the occupation of Tunisia and Cyprus respectively, both parts of the then declining Ottoman Empire. When Italian diplomats hinted about possible opposition by their government, the French replied that Tripoli would have been a counterpart for Italy. In 1902, Italy and France had signed a secret treaty which accorded freedom of intervention in Tripolitania and Morocco. However, the Italian government did little to realize the opportunity and knowledge of Libyan territory and resources remained scarce in the following years.

The Italian press began a large-scale lobbying campaign in favour of an invasion of Libya at the end of March 1911. It was fancifully depicted as rich in minerals, well-watered, and defended by only 4,000 Ottoman troops. Also, the population was described as hostile to the Ottoman Empire and friendly to the Italians: the future invasion was going to be little more than a "military walk", according to them.

The Italian government was hesitant initially, but in the summer the preparations for the invasion were carried out and Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti began to probe the other European major powers about their reactions to a possible invasion of Libya. The Socialist party had strong influence over public opinion. However, it was in opposition and also divided on the issue. It acted ineffectively against a military intervention. (The future fascist leader Benito Mussolini - at this time still a left-wing Socialist - took a prominent anti-war position.)

An ultimatum was presented to the Ottoman government led by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) party on the night of 26-27 September. Through Austrian intermediation, the Ottomans replied with the proposal of transferring control of Libya without war, maintaining a formal Ottoman suzerainty. This suggestion was comparable to the situation in Egypt, which was under formal Ottoman suzerainty, but was actually controlled by the United Kingdom. Giolitti refused, and war was declared on September 29, 1911.

Slightly cut down.

Size: 8.5 x 6.5 cm approx

Product Code 5284