Naval operations by the K.u.k. Kriegsmarine began in 1911. The first airfield was at Alturafeld near Pola, but this was moved to St. Catarina Island in Pola harbour the same year. In 1912 a flying school was opened on the island of Cosada, also in Pola harbour, and the following year the southern coastal air station at Teodo in the Bay of Cattaro was opened.
On 10 August 1916 naval operations were formalised as a separate entity with establishment of the K.u.k. Seeflugleitung. On 18 April 1917 the fully independent K.u.k Seefliegerkorps was established.
At the height of its operations, the following were operational:
Kumbor, Parenzo, Pola, Sebenico and Triest, plus Sette Castelli in occupied Italy and briefly Odessa in the Ukraine
Curzola, Durazzo (Albania), Fiume, Grado, Gravosa, Ivanco, Lagosta, Lussin, Rogoznica and Zara
During its seven-year existence, a wide variety of aircraft, mainly flying boats rather than seaplanes, was operated. Only one survives today, in the Swedish Air Force Museum at Malmstätt.
As well as important defence and reconnaissance roles, the Fliegerkorps was used in an offensive role, many air raids be made against Venice in particular. It enjoyed air supremacy in the Adriatic until the summer of 1916. From then on the Allies assumed supremacy through the sending of large numbers of aircraft to support the Italians. The Austro-Hungarian pilots achieved many successes nonetheless, their ace being Gottfried von Banfield, the ‘Eagle of Triest’.
A lasting memorial to the Fliegerkorps exists in footage its pilots took of the sinking of the dreadnought SMS Sankt Istvan in June 1918, sequences which are often shown in World War I doucumentaries.
Further information can be found in:
Greger, R. (1976), Austro-Hungarian Warships of World War I, Ian Allan, Shepperton.
Schupita, P. (1983), Die k.u.k Seeflieger, Bernard & Graefe Verlag, Klagenfurt.