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Author: Talbot, Frederick Arthur Ambrose, 1880-
Title: Aeroplanes and Dirigibles of War
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): aerial; aeroplane; zeppelin; airman; airship; dirigible; aircraft; balloon; craft; captive balloon; military; gun; artillery; gas; speed; british; vessel; machine; hostile; aerial fleet; cubic feet; aerial craft
Contributor(s): Carhart, Margaret Spraque, 1877- [Editor]
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Rights: GNU General Public License
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Aeroplanes and Dirigibles of War

by Frederick A. Talbot

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Aeroplanes and Dirigibles of War
Frederick A. Talbot



PREFACE

Ever since the earliest days of the great conquest of the air,
first by the dirigible balloon and then by the aeroplane, their
use in time of war has been a fruitful theme for discussion.  But
their arrival was of too recent a date, their many utilities too
unexplored to provide anything other than theories, many
obviously untenable, others avowedly problematical.

Yet the part airships have played in the Greatest War has come as
a surprise even to their most convinced advocates.  For every
expectation shattered, they have shown a more than compensating
possibility of usefulness.

In this volume an endeavour has been made to record their
achievements, under the stern test of trial, as an axiom of war,
and to explain, in untechnical language, the many services to
which they have been and may be applied.

In the preparation of the work I have received assistance from
many sources--British, French, Russian and German--from official
reports and from men who have played a part in the War in the
Air.  The information concerning German military aircraft has
been obtained from Government documents, most of which were
placed at my disposal before the outbreak of war.

The use of aircraft has changed the whole art and science of
warfare.  With its disabilities well in hand, with its strength
but half revealed, the aerial service has revolutionised strategy
and shorn the unexpected attack of half its terrors.  The Fourth
Arm is now an invaluable part of the complex military machine.

F. A. TALBOT.



                     CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I.     The introduction of aircraft into military operations
II.    The military uses of the captive balloon
III.   Germany's rise to military airship supremacy
IV.    Airships of war
V.     Germany's aerial dreadnought fleet
VI.    The military value of Germany's aerial fleet
VII.   Aeroplanes of war
VIII.  Scouting from the skies
IX.    The airman and artillery
X.     Bomb-throwing from air-craft
XI.    Armoured aeroplanes
XII.   Battles in the air
XIII.  Tricks and ruses to baffle the airman
XIV.   Anti-aircraft guns. Mobile weapons
XV.    Anti-aircraft guns. Immobile weapons
XVI.   Mining the air
XVII.  Wireless in aviation
XVIII. Aircraft and naval operations
XIX.   The navies of the air



CHAPTER I
THE INTRODUCTION OF AIRCRAFT INTO MILITARY OPERATIONS

It is a curious circumstance that an invention, which is hailed
as being one of the greatest achievements ever recorded in the
march of civilisation, should be devoted essentially to the
maiming of humanity and the destruction of property.  In no
other trend of human endeavour is this factor so potently
demonstrated as in connection with Man's Conquest of the Air.

The dogged struggle against the blind forces of Nature was waged
tenaciously and perseveringly for centuries.  But the measure of
success recorded from time to time was so disappointing as to
convey the impression, except in a limited circle, that the
problem was impossible of solution.  In the meantime wondrous
changes had taken place in the methods of transportation by land
and sea.  The steam and electric railway, steam propulsion of
vessels, and mechanical movement along the highroads had been
evolved and advanced to a high standard of perfection, to the
untold advantage of the community.  Consequently it was argued,
if only a system of travel along the aerial highways could be
established, then all other methods of mechanical transportation
would be rendered, if not entirely obsolete, at least antiquated.

At last man triumphed over Nature--at least to such a degree as
to inspire the confidence of the world at large, and to bring
aerial travel and transportation within range of realisation.  
But what has been the result?  The discovery is not devoted to
the interests of peace and economic development, but to
extermination and destruction.

At the same time this development may be explained.  The airship
and aeroplane in the present stage of evolution possess no
economic value.  True, cross-country cruises by airship have been
inaugurated, and, up to a point, have proved popularly, if not
commercially, successful, while tentative efforts have been made
to utilise the aeroplane as a mail-carrier.  Still, from the
view-point of the community at large aerial travel is as remote
as it was centuries ago.

It is somewhat interesting to observe how history is repeating
itself.  When the Montgolfiers succeeded in lifting themselves
into the air by means of a vessel inflated with hot air, the new
vehicle was hailed not so much as one possessed of commercial
possibilities, but as an engine of war! When the indomitable
courage and perseverance of Count von Zeppelin in the face of
discouraging disasters and flagrant failures, at last commanded
the attention of the German Emperor, the latter regarded the
Zeppelin craft, not from the interests of peace, but as a
military weapon, and the whole of the subsequent efforts of the
Imperial admirer were devoted to the perfection of the airship in
this one direction.

Other nations, when they embarked on an identical line of
development, considered the airship from a similar point of view.
In fact, outside Germany, there was very little private
initiative in this field.  Experiments and developments were
undertaken by the military or naval, and in some instances by
both branches, of the respective Powers.  Consequently the aerial
craft, whether it be a dirigible airship, or an aeroplane, can
only be regarded from the military point of view.

Despite the achievements which have been recorded by human
endeavour in the field of aerial travel, the balloon per se has
by no means been superseded.  It still remains an invaluable
adjunct to the fighting machine.  In Great Britain its value in
this direction has never been ignored: of late, indeed, it has
rather been developed.  The captive balloon is regarded as an
indispensable unit to both field and sea operations.  This fact
was emphasised very strongly in connection with the British naval
attacks upon the German forces in Flanders, and it contributed to
the discomfiture of the German hordes in a very emphatic manner.

The captive balloon may be operated from any spot where
facilities exist for anchoring the paying out cable together with
winding facilities for the latter.  Consequently, if exigencies 
demand, it maybe operated from the deck of a warship so long as the
latter is stationary, or even from an automobile.  It is of small
cubic capacity, inasmuch as it is only necessary for the bag to
contain sufficient gas to lift one or two men to a height of about
500 or 600 feet.

When used in the field the balloon is generally inflated at the
base, to be towed or carried forward by a squad of men while
floating in the air, perhaps at a height of 10 feet.  A dozen men
will suffice for this duty as a rule, and in calm weather little
difficulty is encountered in moving from point to point.  This
method possesses many advantages.  The balloon can be inflated
with greater ease at the base, where it is immune from
interference by hostile fire.  Moreover, the facilities for
obtaining the requisite inflating agent--hydrogen or coal gas--
are more convenient at such a point.  If the base be far removed
from the spot at which it is desired to operate the balloon, the
latter is inflated at a convenient point nearer the requisite
position, advantage being taken of the protective covering
offered by a copse or other natural obstacle.

As is well known, balloons played an important part during the
siege of Paris in 1870-1, not only in connection with daring
attempts to communicate with the outer world, but in
reconnoitring the German positions around the beleaguered city.  
But this was not the first military application of the aerial
vessel; it was used by the French against the Austrians in the
battle of Fleurus, and also during the American Civil War.  These
operations, however, were of a sporadic character; they were not
part and parcel of an organised military section.

It is not generally known that the British War office virtually
pioneered the military use of balloons, and subsequently the
methods perfected in Britain became recognised as a kind of
"standard" and were adopted generally by the Powers with such
modifications as local exigencies seemed to demand.

The British military balloon department was inaugurated at
Chatham under Captain Templer in 1879.  It was devoted
essentially to the employ ment of captive balloons in war, and in
1880 a company of the Royal Engineers was detailed to the care of
this work in the field.  Six years previously the French military
department had adopted the captive balloon under Colonel
Laussedat, who was assisted among others by the well-known
Captain Renard.  Germany was somewhat later in the field; the
military value of captive balloons was not appreciated and taken
into serious consideration here until 1884.  But although British
efforts were preceded by the French the latter did not develop
the idea upon accepted military lines.

The British authorities were confronted with many searching
problems.  One of the earliest and greatest difficulties
encountered was in connection with the gas for inflation.  Coal
gas was not always readily available, so that hydrogen had to be
depended upon for the most part.  But then another difficulty
arose.  This was the manufacture of the requisite gas.  Various
methods were tested, such as the electrolytic decomposition of
water, the decomposition of sulphuric acid by means of iron, the
reaction between slaked lime and zinc, and so forth.

But the drawbacks to every process, especially upon the field of
battle, when operations have to be conducted under extreme
difficulties and at high pressure, were speedily recognised.
While other nations concentrated their energies upon the
simplification of hydrogen-manufacturing apparatus for use upon
the battle-field, Great Britain abandoned all such processes in
toto.  Our military organisation preferred to carry out the
production of the necessary gas at a convenient manufacturing
centre and to transport it, stored in steel cylinders under
pressure, to the actual scene of operations.  The method proved a
great success, and in this way it was found possible to inflate a
military balloon in the short space of 20 minutes, whereas, under
the conditions of making gas upon the spot, a period of four
hours or more was necessary, owing to the fact that the
manufacturing process is relatively slow and intricate.  The
practicability of the British idea and its perfection served to
establish the captive balloon as a military unit.

The British military ballooning department has always ranked as
the foremost of its type among the Powers, although its work has
been carried out so unostentatiously that the outside world has
gleaned very little information concerning its operations.  
Captain Templer was an indefatigable worker and he brought the
ballooning section to a high degree of efficiency from the
military point of view.

But the British Government was peculiarly favoured, if such a
term may be used.  Our little wars in various parts of the world
contributed valuable information and experience which was fully
turned to account.  Captive balloons for reconnoitring purposes
were used by the British army for the first time at Suakim in
1885, and the section established its value very convincingly.  
The French military balloon department gained its first
experience in this field in the previous year, a balloon
detachment having been dispatched to Tonkin in 1884.  In both the
Tonkin and Soudan campaigns, invaluable work was accomplished by
the balloon sections, with the result that this aerial vehicle
has come to be regarded as an indispensable military adjunct.  
Indeed the activity of the German military ballooning section was
directly attributable to the Anglo-French achievements therewith.

In this work, however, the British force speedily displayed its
superiority and initiative.  The use of compressed hydrogen was
adopted, and within the course of a few years the other Powers,
realising the advantages which the British department had thus
obtained, decided to follow its example.  The gas is stored in
cylinders under a pressure varying from six to ten or more
atmospheres; in other words from about 80 to 140 or more pounds 
per square inch.  Special military wagons have been designed for
the transport of these cylinders, and they are attached to the
balloon train.

The balloon itself is light, and made of such materials as to
reduce the weight thereof to the minimum.  The British balloons
are probably the smallest used by any of the Powers, but at the
same time they are the most expensive.  They are made of
goldbeater's skin, and range in capacity from 7,000 to 10,000
cubic feet, the majority being of the former capacity.  The
French balloon on the other hand has a capacity exceeding 18,000
cubic feet, although a smaller vessel of 9,000 cubic feet
capacity, known as an auxiliary, and carrying a single observer,
is used.

The Germans, on the other hand, with their Teutonic love of the
immense, favour far larger vessels.  At the same time the
military balloon section of the German Army eclipses that of any
other nations is attached to the Intelligence Department, and is
under the direct control of the General Staff.  Balloon stations 
are dotted all over thecountry, including Heligoland and Kiel,
while regular sections are attached to the Navy for operating
captive balloons from warships.  Although the Zeppelin and
aeroplane forces have come to the front in Germany, and have
relegated the captive balloon somewhat to the limbo of things
that were, the latter section has never been disbanded; in fact,
during the present campaign it has undergone a somewhat spirited
revival.

The South African campaign emphasised the value of the British
balloon section of the Army, and revealed services to which it
was specially adapted, but which had previously more or less been
ignored.  The British Army possessed indifferent maps of the
Orange Free State and the Transvaal.  This lamentable deficiency
was remedied in great measure by recourse to topographical
photographs taken from the captive balloons.  The guides thus
obtained were found to be of extreme value.

During the early stages of the war the hydrogen was shipped in
cylinders from the homeland, but subsequently a manufacturing
plant of such capacity as to meet all requirements was
established in South Africa.  The cylinders were charged at
this point and dispatched to the scene of action, so that it
became unnecessary to transport the commodity from Britain.  The
captive balloon revealed the impregnability of Spion Kop, enabled
Lord Roberts to ascertain the position of the Boer guns at the
Battle of Paardeburg, and proved of invaluable assistance to the
forces of General White during the siege of Ladysmith.



CHAPTER II
THE MILITARY USES of THE CAPTIVE BALLOON

Although the captive balloon is recognised as indispensable in
military operations, its uses are somewhat limited.  It can be
employed only in comparatively still weather.  The reason is
obvious.  It is essential that the balloon should assume a
vertical line in relation to its winding plant upon the ground
beneath, so that it may attain the maximum elevation possible: in
other words, the balloon should be directly above the station
below, so that if 100 yards of cable are paid out the aerostat
may be 100 yards above the ground.  If a wind is blowing, the
helpless craft is certain to be caught thereby and driven
forwards or backwards, so that it assumes an angle to its
station.  If this become acute the vessel will be tilted,
rendering the position of the observers somewhat precarious, and
at the same time observing efficiency will be impaired.

This point may be appreciated more easily by reference to the
accompanying diagram.  A represents the ground station and B
the position of the captive balloon when sent aloft in calm
weather, 300 feet of cable being paid out.  A wind arises and
blows the vessel forward to the position C.  At this point the
height of the craft in relation to the ground has been reduced,
and the reduction must increase proportionately as the strength
of the wind increases and forces the balloon still more towards
the ground.  At the same time, owing to the tilt given to the
car, observation is rendered more difficult and eventually
becomes extremely dangerous.

A wind, if of appreciable strength, develops another and graver
danger.  Greater strain will be imposed upon the cable, while if
the wind be gusty, there is the risk that the vessel will be torn
away from its anchoring rope and possibly lost.  Thus it will be
seen that the effective utilisation of a captive balloon is
completely governed by meteorological conditions, and often it is
impossible to use it in weather which exercises but little
influence upon dirigibles or aeroplanes.

The captive balloon equipment comprises the balloon, together
with the observer's basket, the wire-cable whereby it is anchored
and controlled, and the winding apparatus.  Formerly a steam
engine was necessary for the paying in and out of the cable, but
nowadays this is accomplished by means of a petrol-driven motor,
an oil-engine, or even by the engine of an automobile.  The
length of cable varies according to the capacity of the balloon
and the maximum operating height.

The average British balloon is able to lift about 290 or 300
pounds, which may be taken to represent the weight of two
observers.  On the other hand, the French and German balloons are
able to carry four times this weight, with the exception of the
French auxiliaries, which are designed to lift one observer only.
The balloons of the two latter Powers have also a greater maximum
altitude; it is possible to ascend to a height of some 2,000 feet
in one of these.

The observing station is connected with the winding crew below
either by a telephone, or some other signalling system, the
method practised varying according to circumstances.  In turn the
winding station is connected with the officer in charge of the
artillery, the fire of which the captive balloon is directing.  
The balloon observer is generally equipped with various
instruments, such as telescope, photographic cameras, and so
forth, so as to be able, if necessary, to prepare a topographical
survey of the country below.  By this means the absence of
reliable maps may be remedied, or if not regarded, as
sufficiently correct they may be checked and counter-checked by
the data gained aloft.

Seeing that the gas has to be transported in cylinders, which are
weighty, it is incumbent that the waste of this commodity should
be reduced to the minimum.  The balloon cannot be deflated at
night and re-inflated in the morning--it must be maintained in
the inflated condition the whole time it is required for
operation.

There are various methods of consummating this end.  One method
is to haul in the balloon and to peg it down on all sides,
completing the anchorage by the attachment of bags filled with
earth to the network.  While this process is satisfactory in calm
weather, it is impracticable in heavy winds, which are likely to
spring up suddenly.  Consequently a second method is practised.  
This is to dig a pit into the ground of sufficient size to
receive the balloon.  When the latter is hauled in it is lowered
into this pit and there pegged down and anchored.  Thus it is
perfectly safe during the roughest weather, as none of its bulk
is exposed above the ground level.  Furthermore it is not a
conspicuous object for the concentration of hostile fire.

In some instances, and where the military department is possessed
of an elaborate equipment such as characterises the German army,
when reconnaissance is completed and the balloon is to be removed
to another point, the gas is pumped back into the cylinders for
further use.  Such an economical proceeding is pretty and well
adapted to manoeuvres, but it is scarcely feasible in actual
warfare, for the simple reason that the pumping takes time.
Consequently the general procedure, when the balloon has
completed its work, is to permit the gas to escape into the air
in the usual manner, and to draw a fresh supply of gas from
further cylinders when the occasion arises for re-inflation.

Although the familiar spherical balloon has proved perfectly
adequate for reconnoitring in the British and French armies, the
German authorities maintained that it was not satisfactory in
anything but calm weather.  Accordingly scientific initiative was
stimulated with a view to the evolution of a superior vessel.  
These endeavours culminated in the Parseval-Siegsfeld captive
balloon, which has a quaint appearance.  It has the form of a
bulky cylinder with hemispherical extremities.  At one end of the
balloon there is a surrounding outer bag, reminiscent of a
cancerous growth.  The lower end of this is open.  This
attachment serves the purpose of a ballonet.  The wind blowing
against the opening, which faces it, charges the ballonet with
air.  This action, it is claimed, serves to steady the main
vessel, somewhat in the manner of the tail of a kite, thereby
enabling observations to be made as easily and correctly in rough
as in calm weather.  The appearance of the balloon while aloft is
certainly curious.  It appears to be rearing up on end, as if the
extremity saddled with the ballonet were weighted.

British and French captive balloon authorities are disposed to
discount the steadying effect of this attachment, and, indeed, to
maintain that it is a distinct disadvantage.  It may hold the
vessel steadier for the purpose of observation, but at the same
time it renders the balloon a steadier target for hostile fire.  
On the other hand, the swaying of a spherical balloon with the
wind materially contributes to its safety.  A moving object,
particularly when its oscillations are irregular and
incalculable, is an extremely difficult object at which to take
effective aim.

Seeing that even a small captive balloon is of appreciable
dimensions--from 25 to 33 feet or more in diameter--one might
consider it an easy object to hit.  But experience has proved
otherwise.  In the first place the colour of the balloon is
distinctly protective.  The golden or yellowish tinge harmonises
well with the daylight, even in gloomy weather, while at
night-time it blends excellently with the moonlight.  For
effective observations a high altitude is undesirable.  At a
height of 600 feet the horizon is about 28 miles from the
observer, as compared with the 3 miles constituting the range of
vision from the ground over perfectly flat country.  Thus it will
be seen that the "spotter" up aloft has the command of a
considerable tract.

Various ways and means of finding the range of a captive balloon
have been prepared, and tables innumerable are available for
committal to memory, while those weapons especially designed for
aerial targets are fitted with excellent range-finders and other
instruments.  The Germans, with characteristic thoroughness, have
devoted considerable attention to this subject, but from the
results which they have achieved up to the present this guiding
knowledge appears to be more spectacular and impressive than
effective.

To put a captive balloon out of action one must either riddle the
envelope, causing it to leak like a sieve, blow the vessel to
pieces, or ignite the highly inflammable gas with which it is
inflated.  Individual rifle fire will inflict no tangible damage.
A bullet, if it finds its billet, will merely pass through the
envelope and leave two small punctures.  True, these vents will
allow the gas to escape, but this action will proceed so slowly
as to permit the vessel to remain aloft long enough to enable the
observer to complete his work.  A lucky rifle volley, or the
stream of bullets from a machine gun may riddle the envelope,
precipitating a hurried descent, owing to the greater number of
perforations through which the gas is able to escape, but as a
rule the observer will be able to land safely.

Consequently the general practice is to shatter the aerostat, and
to this end either shrapnel, high explosive, or incendiary shells
will be used.  The former must explode quite close to the balloon
in order to achieve the desired end, while the incendiary shell
must actually strike it, so as to fire the gas.  The high
explosive shell may explode effectually some feet away from the
vessel, inasmuch as in this instance dependence is placed upon
the terrific concussion produced by the explosion which, acting
upon the fragile fabric of the balloon, brings about a complete
collapse of the envelope.  If a shrapnel is well placed and
explodes immediately above the balloon, the envelope will be torn
to shreds and a violent explosion of the gas will be precipitated.
But as a matter of fact, it is extremely difficult to place a
shrapnel shell so as to consummate this end.  The range is not
picked up easily, while the timing of the fuse to bring about the
explosion of the shell at the critical moment is invariably a
complex problem.

One favourite method of finding the range of a balloon is shown
in the accompanying diagrams.  The artillery battery is at B
and the captive balloon, C, is anchored at A.  On either
side of B and at a specified distance, observers O1 and O2 
respectively are stationed.  First a shell is fired at "long"
range, possibly the maximum range of the gun.  It bursts at D.  
As it has burst immediately in the line of sight of B, but with
the smoke obscured by the figure of the balloon C, it is obvious
to B that the explosion has occurred behind the objective, but at
what distance he cannot tell.  To O1 and O2,however, it is seen
to have burst at a considerable distance behind C though to the
former it appears to have burst to the left and to the second
observer to the right of the target.

Another shell, at "short" range, is now fired, and it bursts at
E.  The explosion takes place in the line of sight of B, who
knows that he has fired short of the balloon because the latter
is eclipsed by the smoke.  But the two observers see that it is
very short, and here again the explosion appears to O1 to have
occurred to the right of the target, while to O2 it has evidently
burst to the left of the aerostat, as revealed by the relation of
the position of the balloon to the bursting of the shell shown in
Fig. 3.

A third round is fired, and the shell explodes at F.  In this
instance the explosion takes place below the balloon.  Both the
observers and the artillery man concur in their deductions upon
the point at which the shell burst.  But the shell must explode
above the balloon, and accordingly a fourth round is discharged
and the shell bursts at G.

This appears to be above the balloon, inasmuch as the lines of
sight of the two observers and B converge at this point.  But
whether the explosion occurs immediately above the vessel as is
desired, it is impossible to say definitely, because it may
explode too far behind to be effective.  Consequently, if this
shell should prove abortive, the practice is to decrease the
range gradually with each succeeding round until the explosion
occurs at the critical point, when, of course, the balloon is
destroyed.  An interesting idea of the difficulty of picking up
the range of a captive balloon may be gathered from the fact that
some ten minutes are required to complete the operation.

But success is due more to luck than judgment.  In the foregoing
explanation it is premised that the aerial vessel remains
stationary, which is an ex tremely unlikely contingency.  While
those upon the ground are striving to pick up the range, the
observer is equally active in his efforts to baffle his
opponents.  The observer follows each successive, round with keen
interest, and when the shells appear to be bursting at
uncomfortably close quarters naturally he intimates to his
colleagues below that he desires his position to be changed,
either by ascending to a higher point or descending.  In fact, he
may be content to come to the ground.  Nor must the fact be
overlooked that while the enemy is trying to place the observer
hors de combat, he is revealing the position of his artillery,
and the observer is equally industrious in picking up the range
of the hostile guns for the benefit of his friends below.

When the captive balloon is aloft in a wind the chances of the
enemy picking up the range thereof are extremely slender, as it
is continually swinging  to and fro.  While there is always the
possibility of a shell bursting at such a lucky moment as to
demolish the aerial target, it is generally conceded to be
impossible to induce a shell to burst within 100 yards of a
balloon, no matter how skilfully the hostile battery may be
operated.

The value of the captive balloon has been demonstrated very
strikingly throughout the attack upon the entrenched German
positions in Flanders.  Owing to the undulating character of the
dunes the "spotters" upon the British monitors and battle ships
are unable to obtain a sweeping view of the country.  Accordingly
captive balloons are sent aloft in some cases from the deck of
the monitors, and in others from a suitable point upon the beach
itself.  The aerial observer from his point of vantage is able to
pick up the positions of the German forces and artillery with
ease and to communicate the data thus gained to the British
vessels, although subjected to heavy and continuous hostile fire.
The difficulty of hitting a captive balloon has been graphically
emphasised, inasmuch as the German artillerists have failed to
bring down a solitary balloon.  On the other hand the observer in
the air is able to signal the results of each salvo fired from
the British battleships as they manoeuvre at full speed up and
down the coastline, while he keeps the fire of the monitors
concentrated upon the German positions until the latter have been
rendered untenable or demolished.  The accuracy of the British
gun-fire has astonished even the Germans, but it has been
directly attributable to the rangefinder perched in the car of
the captive balloon and his rapid transmission of information to
the vessels below.

The enthusiastic supporters of aerial navigation maintained that
the dirigible and the aeroplane would supersede the captive
balloon completely.  But as a matter of fact the present conflict
has established the value of this factor more firmly than ever.
There is not the slightest possibility that the captive balloon
sections of the belligerents will be disbanded, especially those
which have the fruits of experience to guide them.  The airship
and the aeroplane have accomplished wonders, but despite their
achievements the captive balloon has fully substantiated its
value as a military unit in its particular field of operations.



CHAPTER III
GERMANY'S RISE TO MILITARY AIRSHIP SUPREMACY

Two incidents in the history of aviation stand out with
exceptional prominence.  The one is the evolution of the Zeppelin
airship--a story teeming with romance and affording striking and
illuminating glimpses of dogged perseverance, grim determination
in the face of repeated disasters, and the blind courageous faith
of the inventor in the creation of his own brain.  The second is
the remarkable growth of Germany's military airship organisation,
which has been so rapid and complete as to enable her to assume
supremacy in this field, and that within the short span of a
single decade.

The Zeppelin has always aroused the world's attention, although
this interest has fluctuated.  Regarded at first as a wonderful
achievement of genius, afterwards as a freak, then as the ready
butt for universal ridicule, and finally with awe, if not with
absolute terror--such in brief is the history of this craft of
the air.

Count von Zeppelin can scarcely be regarded as an ordinary man.
He took up the subject of flight at an age which the majority of
individuals regard as the opportune moment for retirement from
activity, and, knowing nothing about mechanical engineering, he
concentrated his energies upon the study of this science to
enable him to master the difficulties of a mechanical character
incidental to the realisation of his grand idea.  His energy and
indomitable perseverance are equalled by his ardent patriotism,
because, although the Fatherland discounted his idea when other
Powers were ready to consider it, and indeed made him tempting
offers for the acquisition of his handiwork, he stoutly declined
all such solicitations, declaring that his invention, if such it
may be termed, was for his own country and none other.

Count von Zeppelin developed his line of study and thought for
one reason only.  As an old campaigner and a student of military
affairs he realised the shortcomings of the existing methods of
scouting and reconnoitring.  He appreciated more than any other
man of the day perhaps, that if the commander-in-chief of an army
were provided with facilities for gazing down upon the scene of
operations, and were able to take advantage of all the
information accruing to the man above who sees all, he would  
hold a superior position, and be able to dispose his forces and
to arrange his plan of campaign to the most decisive advantage.  
In other words, Zeppelin conceived and developed his airship for
one field of application and that alone-military operations.  
Although it has achieved certain successes in other directions
these have been subsidiary to the primary intention, and have
merely served to emphasise its military value.

Von Zeppelin was handicapped in his line of thought and
investigation from the very first.  He dreamed big things upon a
big scale.  The colossal always makes a peculiar and irresistible
appeal to the Teutonic nature.  So he contemplated the perfection
of a big dirigible, eclipsing in every respect anything ever
attempted or likely to be attempted by rival countries.
Unfortunately, the realisation of the "colossal" entails an
equally colossal financial reserve, and the creator of this form
of airship for years suffered from financial cramp in its worst
 manifestation.  Probably it was to the benefit of the world at
large that Fortune played him such sorry tricks.  It retarded the
growth of German ambitions in one direction very effectively.

As is well known Zeppelin evolved what may be termed an
individual line of thought in connection with his airship
activities.  He adopted what is known as the indeformable
airship: that is to say the rigid, as opposed to the semi-rigid
and flexible craft.  As a result of patient experiment and
continued researches he came to the conclusion that a huge outer
envelope taking the form of a polygonal cylinder with
hemispherical ends, constructed upon substantial lines with a
metallic skeleton encased within an impermeable skin, and charged
with a number of smaller balloon-shaped vessels containing the
lifting agent--hydrogen gas--would fulfil his requirements to the
greatest advantage.  Model after model was built upon these
lines.  Each was subjected to searching tests with the invariable
result attending such work with models.  Some fulfilled the
expectations of the inventor, others resolutely declined to
illustrate his reasonings in any direction.

The inevitable happened.  When a promising model was completed
finally the inventor learned to his sorrow what every inventor
realises in time.  His fortune and the resources of others had
been poured down the sink of experiment.  To carry the idea from
the model to the practical stage required more money, and it was
not forthcoming.  The inventor sought to enlist the practical
sympathy of his country, only to learn that in Germany, as in
other lands, the axiom concerning the prophet, honour, and
country prevails.  No exuberant inventor received such a cold
douche from a Government as did Count Zeppelin from the Prussian
authorities.  For two years further work was brought practically
to a standstill: nothing could be done unless the sinews of war
were forthcoming.  His friends, who had assisted him financially
with his models, now concluded that their aid had been misplaced.

The inventor, though disappointed, was by no means cast down.  He
clung tenaciously to his pet scheme and to such effect that in
1896 a German Engineering Society advanced him some funds to
continue his researches.  This support sufficed to keep things
going for another two years, during which time a full-sized
vessel was built.  The grand idea began to crystallise rapidly,
with the result that when a public company was formed in 1898,
sufficient funds were rendered available to enable the first
craft to be constructed.  It aroused considerable attention, as
well it might, seeing that it eclipsed anything which had
previously been attempted in connection with dirigibles.  It was
no less than 420 feet in length, by 38 feet in diameter, and was
fitted with two cars, each of which carried a sixteen horse-power
motor driving independent propellers rigidly attached to the body
of the vessel.  The propellers were both vertical and horizontal,
for the purpose of driving the ship in the two planes--vertical
and horizontal respectively.

The vessel was of great scientific interest, owing to the
ingenuity of its design and construction.  The metallic skeleton
was built up from aluminium and over this was stretched the
fabric of the envelope, care being observed to reduce skin
friction, as well as to achieve impermeability.  But it was the
internal arrangement of the gas-lifting balloons which provoked
the greatest concern.  The hull was divided into compartments,
each complete in itself, and each containing a small balloon
inflated with hydrogen.  It was sub-division as practised in
connection with vessels ploughing the water applied to aerial
craft, the purpose being somewhat the same.  As a ship of the
seas will keep afloat so long as a certain number of its
subdivisions remain watertight, so would the Zeppelin keep aloft
if a certain number of the gas compartments retained their
charges of hydrogen.  There were no fewer than seventeen of these
gas-balloons arranged in a single line within the envelope. 
Beneath the hull and extending the full length of the latter was
a passage which not only served as a corridor for communication
between the cars, but also to receive a weight attached to a
cable worked by a winch.  By the movement of this weight the bow
or stem of the vessel could be tilted to assist ascent and
descent.

The construction of the vessel subsequently proved to be the
easiest and most straightforward part of the whole undertaking. 
There were other and more serious problems to be solved.  How
would such a monster craft come to earth?  How could she be
manipulated upon the ground?  How could she be docked?  Upon
these three points previous experience was silent.  One German
inventor who likewise had dreamed big things, and had carried
them into execution, paid for his temerity and ambitions with his
life, while his craft was reduced to a mass of twisted and torn
metal.  Under these circumstances Count Zeppelin decided to carry
out his flights over the waters of the Bodensee and to house his
craft within a floating dock.  In this manner two uncertain
factors might be effectively subjugated.

Another problem had been ingeniously overcome.  The outer
envelope presented an immense surface to the atmosphere, while
temperature was certain to play an uncertain part in the
behaviour of the craft.  The question was to reduce to the
minimum the radiation of heat and cold to the bags containing the
gas.  This end was achieved by leaving a slight air space between
the inflated gas balloons and the inner surface of the hull.

The first ascent was made on July 2nd, 1900, but was
disappointing, several breakdowns of the mechanism occurring
while the vessel was in mid-air, which rendered it unmanageable,
although a short flight was made which sufficed to show that an
independent speed of 13 feet per second could be attained.  The
vessel descended and was made fast in her dock, the descent being
effected safely, while manoeuvring into dock was successful.  At
least three points about which the inventor had been in doubt
appeared to be solved--his airship could be driven through the air
and could be steered; it could be brought to earth safely; and it
could be docked.

The repairs to the mechanism were carried out and on October 17th
and 21st of the same year further flights were made.  By this
time certain influential Teuton aeronautical experts who had
previously ridiculed Zeppelin's idea had made a perfect
volte-face.  They became staunch admirers of the system, while
other meteorological savants participated in the trials for the
express purpose of ascertaining just what the ship could do.  As
a result of elaborate trigonometrical calculations it was
ascertained that the airship attained an independent speed
of 30 feet per second, which exceeded anything previously
achieved.  The craft proved to be perfectly manageable in the
air, and answered her helm, thus complying with the terms of
dirigibility.  The creator was flushed with his triumph, but at
the same time was doomed to experience misfortune.  In its
descent the airship came to "earth" with such a shock that it was
extensively damaged.  The cost of repairing the vessel was so
heavy that the company declined to shoulder the liability, and as
the Count was unable to defray the expense the wreck was
abandoned.

Although a certain meed of success had been achieved the outlook
seemed very black for the inventor.  No one had any faith in his
idea.  He made imploring appeals for further money, embarked upon
lecturing campaigns, wrote aviation articles for the Press, and
canvassed possible supporters in the effort to raise funds for
his next enterprise.  Two years passed, but the fruits of the
propaganda were meagre.  It was at this juncture, when everything
appeared to be impossible, that Count Zeppelin discovered his
greatest friend.  The German Emperor, with an eye ever fixed upon
new developments, had followed Zeppelin's uphill struggle, and at
last, in 1902, came to his aid by writing a letter which ran:--

"Since your varied flights have been reported to me it is a great
pleasure to me to express my acknowledgment of your patience and
your labours, and the endurance with which you have pressed on
through manifold hindrances till success was near.  The
advantages of your system have given your ship the greatest
attainable speed and dirigibility, and the important results you
have obtained have produced an epoch-making step forward in the
construction of airships and leave laid down a valuable basis for
future experiments."

This Imperial appreciation of what had been accomplished proved
to be the turning point in the inventor's fortunes.  It
stimulated financial support, and the second airship was taken in
hand.  But misfortune still pursued him.  Accidents were of
almost daily occurrence.  Defects were revealed here and
weaknesses somewhere else.  So soon as one trouble was overcome
another made itself manifest.  The result was that the whole of
the money collected by his hard work was expended before the ship
could take to the air.  A further crash and blasting of cherished
hopes appeared imminent, but at this moment another Royal
personage came to the inventor's aid.

The King of Wurtemberg took a personal interest in his subject's
uphill struggle, and the Wurtemberg Government granted him the
proceeds of a lottery.  With this money, and with what he
succeeded in raising by hook and by crook, and by mortgaging
his remaining property, a round L20,000 was obtained.  With this
capital a third ship was taken in hand, and in 1905 it was
launched.  It was a distinct improvement upon its predecessors. 
The airship was 414 feet in length by 38 feet in diameter, was
equipped with 17 gas balloons having an aggregate capacity of
367,000 cubic feet of hydrogen, was equipped with two 85
horse-power motors driving four propellers, and displaced 9 tons. 
All the imperfections incidental to the previous craft had been
eliminated, while the ship followed improved lines in its
mechanical and structural details.

The trials with this vessel commenced on November 30th, 1905, but
ill-luck had not been eluded.  The airship was moored upon a raft
which was to be towed out into the lake to enable the dirigible
to ascend.  But something went wrong with the arrangements.  A
strong wind caught the ungainly airship, she dipped her nose into
the water, and as the motor was set going she was driven deeper
into the lake, the vessel only being saved by hurried deflation.

Six weeks were occupied in repairs, but another ascent was made
on January 17th, 1906.  The trials were fairly satisfactory, but
inconclusive.  One of the motors went wrong, and the longitudinal
stability was found to be indifferent.  The vessel was brought
down, and was to be anchored, but the Fates ruled otherwise.  A
strong wind caught her during the night and she was speedily
reduced to indistinguishable scrap.

Despite catastrophe the inventor wrestled gamely with his
project.  The lessons taught by one disaster were taken to heart,
and arrangements to prevent the recurrence thereof incorporated
in the succeeding craft.  Unfortunately, however, as soon as
one defect was remedied another asserted itself.  It was this
persistent revelation of the unexpected which caused another
period of indifference towards his invention.  Probably nothing
more would have been heard of the Zeppelin after this last
accident had it not been for the intervention of the Prussian
Government at the direct instigation of the Kaiser, who had now
taken Count Zeppelin under his wing.  A State lottery was
inaugurated, the proceeds of which were handed over to the
indefatigable inventor, together with an assurance that if he
could keep aloft 24 hours without coming to earth in the
meantime, and could cover 450 miles within this period, the
Government would repay the whole of the money he had lavished
upon his idea, and liquidate all the debts he had incurred
in connection therewith.

Another craft was built, larger than its predecessors, and
equipped with two motors developing 170 horse-power.  Upon
completion it was submitted to several preliminary flights, which
were so eminently successful that the inventor decided to make a
trial trip under conditions closely analogous to those imposed
for the Government test.  On June 20th, 1908, at 8:26 a.m.  the
craft ascended and remained aloft for 12 hours, during which time
it made an encouraging circular tour.  Flushed with this success,
the Count considered that the official award was within reach,
and that all his previous disasters and misfortunes were on the
eve of redemption.

The crucial test was essayed on August 5th, 1908.  Accompanied by
twelve observers the vessel ascended and travelled without
incident for eight hours.  Then a slight mishap demanded
attention, but was speedily repaired, and was ignored officially
as being too trivial to influence the main issue.  Victory
appeared within measurable distance: the arduous toil of many
patient years was about to be rewarded.  The airship was within
sight of home when it had to descend owing to the development of
another motor fault.  But as it approached the ground, Nature, as
if infuriated at the conquest, rose up in rebellion.  A sudden
squall struck the unwieldy monster.  Within a few moments it
became unmanageable, and through some inscrutable cause, it
caught fire, with the result that within a few moments it was
reduced to a tangled mass of metallic framework.

It was a catastrophe that would have completely vanquished many
an inventor, but the Count was saved the gall of defeat.  His
flight, which was remarkable, inasmuch as he had covered 380
miles within 24 hours, including two unavoidable descents, struck
the Teuton imagination.  The seeds so carefully planted by the
"Most High of Prussia" now bore fruit.  The German nation
sympathised with the indomitable inventor, appreciated his
genius, and promptly poured forth a stream of subscriptions to
enable him to build another vessel.  The intimation that other
Powers had approached the Count for the acquisition of his idea
became known far and wide, together with the circumstance that
he had unequivocally refused all offers.  He was striving for the
Fatherland, and his unselfish patriotism appealed to one and all.
Such an attitude deserved hearty national appreciation, and the
members of the great German public emptied their pockets to such
a degree that within a few weeks a sum of L300,000 or $1,500,000
was voluntarily subscribed.

All financial embarrassments and distresses were now completely
removed from the Count's mind.  He could forge ahead untrammelled
by anxiety and worry.  Another Zeppelin was built and it created
a world's record.  It remained aloft for 38 hours, during which
time it covered 690 miles, and, although it came to grief upon
alighting, by colliding with a tree, the final incident passed
unnoticed.  Germany was in advance of the world.  It had an
airship which could go anywhere, irrespective of climatic
conditions, and in true Teuton perspective the craft was viewed
from the military standpoint.  Here was a means of obtaining the
mastery of the air: a formidable engine of invasion and aerial
attack had been perfected.  Consequently the Grand Idea must be
supported with unbounded enthusiasm.  The Count was hailed by his
august master as "The greatest German of the twentieth century,"
and in this appreciation the populace wholeheartedly concurred.
Whether such a panegyric from such an auspicious quarter is praise
indeed or the equivalent of complete condemnation, history alone
will be able to judge, but when one reflects, at this moment, upon
the achievements of this aircraft during the present conflagration,
the unprejudiced will be rather inclined to hazard the opinion
that Imperial Teuton praise is a synonym for damnation.

Although the Zeppelin was accepted as a perfect machine it has
never been possible to disperse the atmosphere of disaster with
which it has been enveloped from the first.  Vessel after vessel
has gone up in smoke and flame: few craft of this type have
enjoyed more than an evanescent existence; and each successive
catastrophe has proved more terrible than its predecessor.  But
the Teutonic nation has been induced to pin its whole faith on
this airship, notwithstanding that the more levelheaded engineers
of other countries have always maintained the craft to be a
"mechanical monstrosity" condemned from its design and principles
of construction to disaster.  Unshaken by this adverse criticism,
Germany rests assured that by means of its Zeppelins it will
achieve that universal supremacy which it is convinced is its
Destiny.

This blind child-like faith has been responsible for the
establishment and development of the Zeppelin factories.  At
Friedrichshafen the facilities are adequate to produce two of
these vessels per month, while another factory of a similar
capacity has been established at Berlin.  Unfortunately such big
craft demand large docks to accommodate them, and in turn a large
structure of this character constitutes an easy mark for hostile
attack, as the raiding airmen of the Allies have proved very
convincingly.

But the Zeppelin must not be under-rated.  Magnificent
performances have been recorded by these vessels, such as the
round 1,000 miles' trip in 1909, and several other equally
brilliant feats since that date.  It is quite true that each
astounding achievement has been attended by an equally stupendous
accident, but that is accepted as a mere incidental detail by the
faithful Teutonic nation.  Many vivid prophecies of the
forthcoming flights by Zeppelin have been uttered, and it is
quite probable that more than one will be fulfilled, but success
will be attributable rather to accident than design.

Although the Zeppelin is the main stake of the German people in
matters pertaining to aerial conquest, other types of airships
have not been ignored, as related in another chapter.  They have
been fostered upon a smaller but equally effective scale.  The
semi-rigid Parseval and Gross craft have met with whole-hearted
support, since they have established their value as vessels of
the air, which is tantamount to the acceptance of their military
value.

The Parseval is pronounced by experts to be the finest expression
of aeronautical engineering so far as Teuton effort is concerned. 
Certainly it has placed many notable flights to its credit.  The
Gross airship is an equally serviceable craft, its lines of
design and construction closely following those of the early
French supple airships.  There are several other craft which have
become more or less recognised by the German nation as
substantial units of war, such as the Ruthemberg,
Siemens-Schukert, and so forth, all of which have proved their
serviceability more or less conclusively.  But in the somewhat
constricted Teuton mind the Zeppelin and the Zeppelin only
represents the ultima Thule of aerial navigation and the means
for asserting the universal character of Pan-Germanism as well as
"Kultur."



CHAPTER IV
AIRSHIPS OF WAR

So much has been said and written concerning the Zeppelin
airship, particularly in its military aspect, that all other
developments in this field have sunk into insignificance so far
as the general public is concerned.  The Zeppelin dirigible has
come to be generally regarded as the one and only form of
practical lighter-than-air type of aircraft.  Moreover, the name
has been driven home with such effect that it is regarded as the
generic term for all German airships.

These are grievous fallacies.  The Zeppelin is merely one of a
variety of types, even in Germany, although at the moment it
probably ranks as the solitary survivor of the rigid system of
construction.  At one time, owing to the earnestness with which
the advantages of this form of design were discussed, and in view
of the fact that the Zeppelin certainly appeared to triumph when
all other designs failed, Great Britain was tempted to embrace
the rigid form of construction.  The building of an immense
vessel of this class was actively supported and it was aptly
christened the "May-fly."  Opponents of the movement tempered
their emphatic condemnatory criticism so far as to remark that it
MAY FLY, but as events proved it never did.  The colossal craft
broke its back before it ever ventured into the air, and this
solitary experience proving so disastrous, the rigid form of
construction was abandoned once and for all.  The venture was not
in vain; it brought home to the British authorities more
convincingly than anything else that the Zeppelin was a
mechanical monstrosity.  The French never even contemplated the
construction of such a craft at that time, estimating it at its
true value, and the British failure certainly served to support
French antagonism to the idea.  Subsequently, however, an attempt
at rigid construction was made in France with the "Spiess"
airship, mainly as a concession to public clamour.

Even in Germany itself the defects of the Zeppelin were
recognised and a decided effort to eliminate them was made by
Professor Schutte in co-operation with a manufacturer of
Mannheim named Lanz.  The joint product of their ambitions, the
Schutte-Lanz, is declared to be superior to the Zeppelin, but so
far it has failed to justify any of the claims of its designers. 
This vessel, which also favours the colossal, is likewise of the
rigid type, but realising the inherent dangers accruing from the
employment of metal for the framework, its constructors have used
wood, reinforced and strengthened where necessary by metallic
angle-iron, plates, and bracing; this utilisation of metal is,
however, carried out very sparingly.  The first vessel of this
class was a huge failure, while subsequent craft have not proved
much more successful.

In fact, one of the largest German airships ever designed, L4,
is, or rather was, a Schutte-Lanz, with a capacity of 918,000
cubic feet, but over 6,000 pounds lighter than a Zeppelin of
almost similar dimensions.  I say "was" since L4 is no more.  The
pride of its creators evinced a stronger preference for Davy
Jones' Locker than its designed realm.  Yet several craft of this
type have been built and have been mistaken for Zeppelins owing
to the similarity of the broad principles of design and their
huge dimensions.  In one vital respect they are decidedly
inferior to their contemporary--they are not so speedy.

The most successful of the German lighter-than-air machines are
those known respectively as the semi rigid and non-rigid types,
the best examples of which are the Gross and Parseval craft. 
Virtually they are Teutonic editions of the successful French
craft of identical design by which they were anticipated.  The
Lebaudy is possibly the most famous of the French efforts in this
direction.  The gas-bag has an asymmetrical shape, and is pointed
at both ends, although the prow is blunter or rounder than the
stem.  The gas-bag comprises a single chamber for the inflating
agent, the distended shape of the envelope being sustained by
means of an air-ballonet.  By varying the contents of the latter
through the agency of a pump the tension of the gas in the
lifting envelope can be maintained, and the shape of the inflated
balloon preserved under all conditions.

Beneath the gas-bag is a long strengthened girder, and from this
in turn the car is suspended.  It is the introduction of this
rigid girder which is responsible for the descriptive generic
term of "semi-rigid."  On the other hand the "non-rigid" type may
be roughly described as a pisciform balloon fitted with
propelling machinery, inasmuch as the car containing the driving
machinery is suspended from the balloon in the manner of the car
in the ordinary drifting vessel.  So far as the French effort is
concerned the Bayard-Clement type is the best example of the
non-rigid system; it is represented in Germany by the Parseval
class.

The Gross airship has been definitely adopted as a military
machine by the German authorities, and figures in the "M" class. 
The "M-IV" completed in 1913 is the largest of this type, and
differs from its prototypes in that it carries two cars, each
fitted with motors, whereas the earlier machines were equipped
with a single gondola after the French pattern.  This vessel
measures 320 feet in length, has a maximum diameter of 44 1/2
feet, displaces 13 tons, and is fitted with motors developing 450
horse-power, which is sufficient to give it a speed of 47 miles
per hour.  This vessel represents a huge advance upon its
predecessors of this design, inasmuch as thelatter were about 245
feet in length by 36 1/4 feet in diameter, and displaced only six
tons, while the single car was provided with a motor developing
only 150 horse-power, the speed being 28 miles per hour.  Thus it
will be seen that a huge development has suddenly taken place, a
result due no doubt to the co-operation of the well-known
engineer Basenach.  The "M-IV" is essentially an experiment and
great secrecy has been maintained in regard to the trials which
have been carried out therewith, the authorities merely
vouchsafing the fact that the airship has proved completely
successful in every respect; conclusive testimony of this is
offered by the inclusion of the vessel in the active aerial fleet
of Germany.

But it is the Parseval which is regarded as the finest type of
airship flying the German flag.  This vessel is the product of
slow evolution, for it is admitted to be a power-driven balloon. 
Even the broad lines of the latter are preserved, the shape being
that of a cylinder with rounded ends.  It is the direct outcome
of the "Drachen-Balloon," perfected by Parseval and Siegsfeld,
the captive balloon which is an indispensable part of the German
military equipment.

The complete success of the suspension system in this captive
balloon prompted Parseval to continue his researches and
experiments in regard to the application of power to the vessel,
so as to induce it to move independently of the wind.  The
suspension system and the car are the outstanding features of the
craft.  It is non-rigid in the strictest interpretation of the
term, although, owing to the incorporation of the steadying
hollow "mattress" (as it is called by its inventor), the strength
of the suspension system, and the substantial character of the
car, it conveys an impression of great solidity.  The thinnest
rope, both manilla and steel, in the suspension system is as
thick as a man's finger, while the car, measuring 30 feet in
length by 6 feet in width, carried out in wood, is a striking
example of the maximum of strength with the minimum of weight,
being as steady and as solid as a boat's deck.  The propellers
are collapsible, although in the latest craft of this class they
are semi-rigid.

The mechanical equipment is also interesting.  There are two
propellers, and two motors, each nominally driving one propeller. 
But should one motor break down, or motives of economy, such as
husbanding of fuel, render it advisable to run upon one engine,
then the two propellers may be driven by either of the motors.

The inventor has perfected an ingenious, simple, and highly
efficient coupling device to attain this end, but to ensure that
the propeller output is of the maximum efficiency in relation to
the engine, the pitch of the propellers may be altered and even
reversed while the engine is running.  When one motor only is
being used, the pitch is lowered until the propellers revolve at
the speed which they would attain if both engines were in
operation.  This adjustment of the propeller pitch to the most
economical engine revolutions is a distinctive characteristic,
and contributes to the efficiency and reliability of the Parseval
dirigible to a very pronounced degree.

Steering in the vertical plane is also carried out upon
distinctive lines.  There are no planes for vertical steering,
but movement is accomplished by tilting the craft and thus
driving the gas from one end of the balloon to the other.  This
is effected by the manipulation of the air-ballonets, one of
which is placed at the prow and stem of the gas bag respectively. 
If it is desired to descend the gas is driven from the forward to
the after end of the envelope, merely by inflating the bow
ballonet with air by means of a pump placed in the car.  If
ascent is required, the after-ballonet is inflated, thereby
driving the gas to the forward end of the balloon, the buoyancy
of which is thus increased.  The outstanding feature of the
"Drachen-Balloon" is incorporated in the airship.  This is the
automatic operation of the safety valve on the gas-bag directly
by the air ballonets.  If these ballonets empty owing to the
pressure of the gas within the envelope, a rope system disposed
within the balloon and connecting the ballonets and the gas-valve
at the top is stretched taut, thereby opening the gas-valve.  In
this manner the gas-pressure becomes reduced until the ballonets
are enabled to exercise their intended function.  This is a
safety precaution of inestimable value.

The Parseval is probably the easiest dirigible to handle,
inasmuch as it involves no more skill or knowledge than that
required for an ordinary free balloon.  Its movements in the
vertical plane are not dissimilar to those of  the aeroplane,
inasmuch as ascent and descent are normally conducted in a
"screwing" manner, the only exception being of course in abrupt
descent caused by the ripping of the emergency-valve.  On one
occasion, it is stated, one of the latest machines of this type,
when conducting experimental flights, absolutely refused to
descend, producing infinite amusement both among the crowd and
those on board.

The development of the Parseval is directly attributable to the
influence and intimate interest of the Kaiser, and undoubtedly
this represents the wisest step he ever made in the realm of
aeronautics.  It certainly has enabled the German military
machine to become possessed of a significant fleet of what may be
described as a really efficient and reliable type of dirigible. 
The exact number of military Parsevals in commission is unknown,
but there are several classes thereof, in the nature of aerial
cruisers and vedettes.

The largest and most powerful class are those known as the B
type, measuring about 240 feet in length by 40 feet maximum
diameter, of 223,000 cubic feet capacity, and fitted with two
motorsand two propellers.  This vessel carries about 10
passengers, can climb to a maximum height of approximately 8,500
feet, and is capable of remaining in the air for twenty hours
upon a single fuel charge.  While this is the largest and most
serviceable type of Parseval designed for military duties, there
is another, the A class, 200 feet in length with accommodation
for six passengers in addition to the crew of three, which is
capable of attaining a maximum altitude of 6,700 feet, and has an
endurance capacity of 15 hours.  This class also is fitted with
twin propellers and motors.  In addition there are the C and
E classes, carrying from four to eight passengers, while the
vedettes are represented by the D and F classes, which have a
maximum altitude of 2,000 feet and can remain aloft for only five
hours upon a single fuel charge.  These smaller vessels, however,
have the advantage of requiring only one or two men to handle
them.  The present military Parseval dirigible is made in one of
these five standardised classes, experience having established
their efficiency for the specified military services for which
they are built.  In point of speed they compare favourably with
the latest types of Zeppelin, the speeds of the larger types
ranging from 32 to 48 miles per hour with a motor effort of 360
to 400 horse-power.

So far as the French airships of war are concerned, the fleet is
somewhat heterogeneous, although the non-rigid type prevails. 
The French aerial navy is represented by the Bayard-Clement,
Astra, Zodiac, and the Government-built machines.  Although the
rigid type never has met with favour in France, there is yet a
solitary example of this system of construction--the Spiess,
which is 460 feet in length by 47 feet in diameter and has a
displacement of 20 tons.  The semi-rigid craft are represented
by the Lebaudy type, the largest of which measures 293 feet in
length by 51 feet in diameter, and has a displacement of 10 tons.

One may feel disposed to wonder why the French should be
apparently backward in this form of aerial craft, but this may be
explained by the fact that the era of experiment had not been
concluded at the time war was declared, with the result that it
has been somewhat difficult to determine which type would meet
the military requirements of the country to the best advantage. 
Moreover, the French military authorities evinced a certain
disposition to relegate the dirigible to a minor position,
convinced that it had been superseded by the heavierthan-air
machine.  Taken on the whole, the French airship fleet is
inferior to the German in point of speed, if not numerically, but
this deficiency is more than counterbalanced by the skill and
ability of the men manning their craft, who certainly are
superior to their contemporaries in Germany, combined with the
proved character of such craft as are in service.

The same criticism may be said to apply to Great Britain.  That
country was backward in matters pertaining to the airship,
because its experiments were carried out spasmodically while
dependence was reposed somewhat too much upon foreign effort. 
The British airships are small and of low speed comparatively
speaking.  Here again it was the advance of the aeroplane which
was responsible for the manifestation of a somewhat indifferent
if not lethargic feeling towards the airship.  Undoubtedly the
experiments carried out in Great Britain were somewhat
disappointing.  The one and only attempt to out-Zeppelin the
Zeppelin resulted in disaster to the craft before she took to the
air, while the smaller craft carried out upon far less ambitious
lines were not inspiritingly successful.  Latterly the non-rigid
system has been embraced exclusively, the craft being virtually
mechanically driven balloons.  They have proved efficient and
reliable so far as they go, but it is the personal element in
this instance also which has contributed so materially to any
successes achieved with them.

But although Great Britain and France apparently lagged behind
the Germans, appreciable enterprise was manifested in another
direction.  The airship was not absolutely abandoned: vigilance
was maintained for a superior type of craft.  It was an instance
of weighing the advantages against the disadvantages of the
existing types and then evolving for a design which should
possess the former without any of the latter.  This end appears
to be achieved with the Astra type of dirigible, the story of the
development of which offers an interesting chapter in the annals
of aeronautics.

In all lighter-than-air machines the resistance to the air
offered by the suspension ropes is considerable, and the
reduction of this resistance has proved one of the most
perplexing problems in the evolution of the dirigible.  The air
is broken up in such a manner by the ropes that it is converted
into a brake or drag with the inevitable result that the speed
undergoes a severe diminution.  A full-rigged airship such as the
Parseval, for instance, may present a picturesque appearance, but
it is severely unscientific, inasmuch as if it were possible to
eliminateor to reduce the air-resistance offered by the ropes,
the speed efficiency might be raised by some sixty per cent and
that without any augmentation of the propelling effort.  As a
matter of fact Zeppelin solved this vexatious problem
unconsciously.  In his monster craft the resistance to the air is
reduced to a remarkable degree, which explains why these vessels,
despite all their other defects are able to show such a turn of
speed.

It was this feature of the Zeppelin which induced Great Britain
to build the May-fly and which likewise induced the French
Government to stimulate dirigible design and construction among
native manufacturers, at the same time, however, insisting that
such craft should be equal at least in speed to the Zeppelins. 
The response to this invitation was the Spiess, which with its
speed of 45 miles per hour ranked, until 1914, as one of the
fastest dirigibles in the French service.

In the meantime a Spanish engineer, Senor Torres, had been
quietly working out a new idea.  He realised the shortcomings of
the prevailing types of airships some eleven years ago, and
unostentatiously and painstakingly set out to eliminate them by
the perfection of a new type of craft.  He perfected his idea,
which was certainly novel, and then sought the assistance of the
Spanish Government.  But his fatherland was not adapted to the
prosecution of the project.  He strove to induce the authorities
to permit even a small vessel to be built, but in vain.  He then
approached the French Astra Company.  His ambition was to build a
vessel as large as the current Zeppelin, merely to emphasise the
value of his improvement upon a sufficiently large scale, and to
enable comparative data concerning the two designs to be
obtained.  But the bogey of expense at first proved insuperable. 
However, the French company, decided to give the invention a
trial, and to this end a small "vedette" of about 53,000 cubic
feet displacement was built.

Although an unpretentious little vessel, it certainly served to
emphasise the importance of the Torres idea.  It was pitted
against the "Colonel Renard," the finest ship at that time in the
French aerial service, which had proved the fastest airship in
commission, and which also was a product of the Astra Company. 
But this fine craft was completely outclassed by the puny
Astra-Torres.

The builders and the inventor were now additionally anxious
to illustrate more emphatically the features of this design and
to build a far larger vessel.  The opportunity was offered by the
British Government, which had been following the experiments with
the small Astra-Torres in France.  An order was given for a
vessel of 282,500 cubic feet displacement; in this instance it
was ranged against another formidable rival--the Parseval.  But
the latter also failed to hold its own against the Spanish
invention, inasmuch as the Astra-Torres built for the British
authorities exceeded a speed of 50 miles per hour in the official
tests.  This vessel is still doing valuable duty, being attached
to the British air-service in France.

The achievements of the British vessel were not lost upon the
French Government, which forthwith placed an order for a huge
vessel of 812,200 cubic feet capacity, equipped with motors
developing 1,000 horse-power, which it was confidently expected
would enable a speed of 60 miles per hour to be attained.  Thus
France would be able to meet the Germans upon fairly level terms,
inasmuch as the speed of the latest Zeppelins does not exceed 60
miles per hour.  So confident were the authorities that a second
order for an even larger vessel was placed before the first large
craft was completed.

This latter vessel is larger than any Zeppelin yet built, seeing
that it displaces 38 tons, and is fitted with motors developing
1,000 horse-power.  It has recently been completed, and although
the results of the trials, as well as the dimensions of the craft
have not been published, it is well known that the speed has
exceeded 60 miles per hour, so that France now possesses the
speediest dirigible in the world.

The Torres invention has been described as wonderful,
scientifically perfect and extremely simple.  The vessel belongs
to the non-rigid class, but the whole of the suspension system is
placed within the gas-bag, so that the air-resistance offered by
ropes is virtually eliminated in its entirety, for the simple
reason that practically no ropes are placed outside the envelope. 
The general principle of design may be gathered from the
accompanying diagram.  It is as if three sausage-shaped balloons
were disposed pyramidally--two lying side by side with one
super-imposed, with the bags connected at the points where the
circular sections come into contact.  Thus the external
appearance of the envelope is decidedly unusual, comprising three
symmetrical ridges.  At the points where the three bags come into
contact cloth bands are stretched across the arcs, thereby
forming a cord.  The suspension system is attached to the upper
corners of the inverted triangle thus formed, and converges in
straight lines through the gas space.  The bracing terminates in
collecting rings from which a short vertical cable extends
downwards through a special accordion sleeve to pass through the
lower wall of the envelope.  These sleeves are of special design,
the idea being to permit the gas to escape under pressure arising
from expansion and at the same time to provide ample play for the
cable which is necessary in a flexible airship.

This cable emerges from the envelope only at the point or points
where the car or cars is or are placed.  In the British airship
of this type there is only one car, but the larger French vessels
are equipped with two cars placed tandem-wise.  The vertical
cable, after extending downwards a certain distance, is divided,
one rope being attached to one, and the second to the other side
of the car.  The two-bladed propellers are disposed on either
side of the car, in each of which a 500 horse-power motor is
placed.

The Astra-Torres type of dirigible may be said to represent the
latest expression in airship design and construction.  The
invention has given complete satisfaction, and has proved
strikingly successful.  The French Government has completed
arrangements for the acquisition of larger and more powerful
vessels of this design, being now in the position to contest
every step that is made by Germany in this field.  The type has
also been embraced by the Russian military authorities.  The
Astra-Torres airship has a rakish appearance, and although the
lines of the gas-bag are admitted to increase frictional
resistance, this is regarded as a minor defect, especially when
the many advantages of the invention are taken into
consideration.



CHAPTER V
GERMANY'S AERIAL DREADNOUGHT FLEET

Although Germany, as compared with France, was relatively slow to
recognise the immense possibilities of aircraft, particularly
dirigibles, in the military sense, once the Zeppelin had received
the well-wishes of the Emperor William, Teuton activities were so
pronounced as to enable the leeway to be made up within a very
short while.  While the Zeppelin commanded the greatest attention
owing to the interesting co-operation of the German Emperor, the
other types met with official and royal recognition and
encouragement as already mentioned.  France, which had held premier
position in regard to the aerial fleet of dirigibles for so long,
was completely out-classed, not only in dimensions but also in
speed, as well as radius of action and strategical distribution of
the aerial forces.

The German nation forged ahead at a great pace and was able to
establish a distinct supremacy, at least on paper.  In the light
of recent events it is apparent that the German military
authorities realised that the dawn of "The Day" was approaching
rapidly, and that it behoved them to be as fully prepared in the
air as upon the land.  It was immaterial that the Zeppelin was
the synonym for disaster.  By standardisation its cost could be
reduced while construction could be expedited.  Furthermore, when
the matter was regarded in its broadest aspect, the fact was
appreciated that forty Zeppelins could be built at the cost of
one super-Dreadnought, so that adequate allowance could be made
for accidents now and then, since a Zeppelin catastrophe, no
matter how complete it may be, is regarded by the Teuton as a
mere incident inseparable from progressive development.

At the beginning of the year 1914 France relied upon being
strengthened by a round dozen new dirigibles.  Seven of these
were to be of 20,000 cubic metres' capacity and possessed of a
speed of 47 miles per hour.  While the existing fleet was
numerically strong, this strength was more apparent than real,
for the simple reason that a large number of craft were in
dry-dock undergoing repair or overhaul while many of the units
were merely under test and could not be regarded therefore as in
the effective fleet.  True, there were a certain number of
private craft which were liable to be commandeered when the
occasion arose, but they could not be considered as decided
acquisitions for the simple reason that many were purely
experimental units.

Aerial vessels, like their consorts upon the water, have been
divided into distinctive classes.  Thus there are the aerial
cruisers comprising vessels exceeding 282,000 cubic feet in
capacity; scouts which include those varying between 176,600 and
282,000 cubic feet capacity; and vedettes, which take in all the
small or mosquito craft.  At the end of 1913, France possessed
only four of the first-named craft in actual commission and thus
immediately available for war, these being the Adjutant Vincenot,
Adjutant Reau, Dupuy de Lome, and the Transaerien.  The first
three are of 197,800 cubic feet.  All, however, were privately
owned.

On the other hand, Germany had no fewer than ten huge vessels,
ranging from 353,000 to 776,900 cubic feet capacity, three of
which, the Victoria Luise, Suchard, and Hansa, though owned
privately, were immediately available for war.  Of these the
largest was the Zeppelin naval vessel "L-1" 525 feet in length,
by 50 feet diameter, of 776,900 cubic feet capacity, equipped
with engines developing 510 horse-power, and with a speed of 51.8
miles per hour.

At the end of 1913 the effective aerial fleet of Germany
comprised twenty large craft, so far in advance of the French
aerial cruisers as to be worthy of the name bestowed upon them--
"Aerial Dreadnoughts."  This merely represented the fleet
available for immediate use and did not include the four gigantic
Suchard-Schutte craft, each of 847,500 cubic feet, which were
under construction, and which were being hurried forward to come
into commission early in 1914.

But the most interesting factor, apart from the possession of
such a huge fleet of dirigible air-craft, was their distribution
at strategical points throughout the Empire as if in readiness
for the coming combat.  They were literally dotted about the
country.  Adequate harbouring facilities had been provided at
Konigsberg, Berlin, Posen, Breslau, Kiel, Hamburg, Wilhelmshaven,
Dusseldorf, Cologne, Frankfort, Metz, Mannheim, Strasburg, and
other places, with elaborate headquarters, of course, at
Friedrichshafen upon Lake Constance.  The Zeppelin workshops,
harbouring facilities, and testing grounds at the latter point
had undergone complete remodelling, while tools of the latest
type had been provided to facilitate the rapid construction and
overhaul of the monster Zeppelin dirigibles.  Nothing had been
left to chance; not an item was perfunctorily completed.  The
whole organisation was perfect, both in equipment and
operation.  Each of the above stations possessed provision for   
an aerial Dreadnought as well as one or more aerial cruisers,
in addition to scouts or vedettes.

Upon the outbreak of hostilities Germany's dirigible fleet was in
a condition of complete preparedness, was better organised, and
better equipped than that of any of her rivals.  At the same time
it constituted more of a paper than a fighting array for reasons
which I will explain later.  But there was another point which
had escaped general observation.  Standardisation of parts and
the installation of the desired machinery had accomplished one
greatly desired end--the construction of new craft had been
accelerated.  Before the war an interesting experiment was
carried out to determine how speedily a vessel could be built. 
The result proved that a dirigible of the most powerful type
could be completed within eight weeks and forthwith the various
constructional establishments were brought into line so as to
maintain this rate of building.

The growth of the Zeppelin, although built upon disaster, has
been amazing.  The craft of 1906 had a capacity of 430,000 cubic
feet and a speed of 36 miles per hour.  In 1911 the creator of
this type launched a huge craft having a capacity of 627,000
cubic feet.  In the meantime speed had likewise been augmented by
the use of more powerful motors until 52 miles an hour was
attained.  But this by no means represented the limit.  The
foregoing vessels had been designed for land service purely and
simply, but now the German authorities demanded similar craft for
naval use, possessed of high speed and greater radius of action. 
Count Zeppelin rose to the occasion, and on October 7th, 1912,
launched at Friedrichshafen the monster craft "L-I," 525 feet in
length, 50 feet in diameter, of 776,900 cubic feet capacity, a
displacement of 22 tons and equipped with three sets of motors
aggregating more than 500 horse-power, and capable of imparting a
speed of 52 miles per hour.

The appearance of this craft was hailed with intense delight by
the German nation, while the naval department considered her to
be a wonderful acquisition, especially after the searching
reliability trial.  In charge of Count Zeppelin and manned by a
crew of 22 officers and men together with nearly three tons of
fuel--the fuel capacity conveys some idea of her possible radius
of action--she travelled from Friedrichshafen to Johannisthal in
32 hours.  On this remarkable journey another point was
established which was of far-reaching significance.  The vessel
was equipped with wireless telegraphy and therewith she kept in
touch with the earth below throughout the journey, dropping and
picking up wireless stations as she progressed with complete
facility.  This was a distinct achievement, inasmuch as the vessel
having been constructed especially for naval operations she would
be able to keep in touch with the warships below, guiding them
unerringly during their movement.

The cross-country trip having proved so completely successful the
authorities were induced to believe that travelling over water
would be equally satisfactory.  Accordingly the "L-I" was
dispatched to the island of Heligoland, the intention being to
participate in naval manoeuvres in order to provide some reliable
data as to the value of these craft operating in conjunction with
warships.  But in these tests German ambition and pride received
a check.  The huge Zeppelin was manoeuvring over the North Sea
within easy reach of Heligoland, when she was caught by one of
those sudden storms peculiar to that stretch of salt water.  In a
moment she was stricken helpless; her motive power was
overwhelmed by the blind forces of Nature.  The wind caught her
as it would a soap-bubble and hurled her into the sea,
precipitating the most disastrous calamity in the annals of
aeronautics, since not only was the ship lost, but fifteen of her
crew of 22 officers and men were drowned.

The catastrophe created consternation in German aeronautical
circles.  A searching inquiry was held to explain the disaster,
but as usual it failed to yield much material information.  It is
a curious circumstance, but every successive Zeppelin disaster,
and their number is legion, has been attributable to a new cause. 
In this instance the accident was additionally disturbing,
inasmuch as the ship had been flying across country continuously
for about twelve months and had covered more miles than any
preceding craft of her type.  No scientific explanation for the
disaster was forthcoming, but the commander of the vessel, who
sank with his ship, had previously ventured his personal opinion
that the vessel was over-loaded to meet the calls of ambition,
was by no means seaworthy, and that sooner or later she would be
caught by a heavy broadside wind and rendered helpless, or that
she would make a headlong dive to destruction.  It is a
significant fact that he never had any faith in the airship, at
least for sea duty, though in response to official command he
carried out his duties faithfully and with a blind resignation to
Fate.

Meantime, owing to the success of the "L-I" in cross-country
operations, another and more powerful craft, the "L-II" had been
taken in hand, and this was constructed also for naval use. 
While shorter than her consort, being only 487 feet over all,
thisvessel had a greater beam--55 feet.  This latter increase was
decided because it was conceded to be an easier matter to provide
for greater beam than enhanced length in the existing air-ship
harbours.  The "L-II" displaced 27 tons--five tons in excess of
her predecessor.  In this vessel many innovations were
introduced, such as the provision of the passage-way connecting
the cars within the hull, instead of outside the latter as had
hitherto been the practice, while the three cars were placed more
closely together than formerly.  The motors were of an improved
type, giving an aggregate output of 900 horse-power, and were
divided into four separate units, housed in two engine-rooms, the
front car being a replica in every detail of the navigating
bridge of a warship.

This vessel was regarded as a distinct improvement upon the
"L-I," although the latter could boast some great achievements. 
But her glory was short-lived.  In the course of the Government
trials, while some 900 feet aloft, the huge vessel suddenly
exploded and was burned in the air, a mass of broken and twisted
metal-work falling to the ground.  Of the 28 officers and men,
including members of the Admiralty Board who were conducting the
official trials, all but one were killed outright, and the
solitary exception was so terribly burned as to survive the fall
for only a few hours.

The accident was remarkable and demonstrated very convincingly
that although Count Zeppelin apparently had made huge strides in
aerial navigation through the passage of years, yet in reality he
had made no progress at all.  He committed the identical error
that characterised the effort of Severo Pax ten years previously,
and the disaster was directly attributable to the self-same cause
as that which overwhelmed the Severo airship.  The gas, escaping 
from the balloons housed in the hull, collected in the confined
passage-way communicating with the cars, came into contact with a
naked light, possibly the exhaust from the motors, and instantly
detonated with terrific force, blowing the airship to fragments
and setting fire to all the inflammable materials.

In this airship Zeppelin committed an unpardonable blunder.  
He had ignored the factor of "internal safety," and had
deliberately flown in the face of the official rule which had
been laid down in France after the Severo disaster, which
absolutely forbade the inclusion of such confined spaces as
Zeppelin had incorporated.  This catastrophe coming so closely as
it did upon the preceding disaster to the pride of the German
aerial fleet somewhat shook public confidence in these craft,
while aeronautical authorities of other countries described the
Zeppelin more vehemently than ever as a "mechanical monstrosity"
and a "scientific curiosity."

The Zeppelin has come to be feared in a general manner, but this
result is due rather to stories sedulously circulated, and which
may be easily traced to Teutonic sources.  Very few data of a
reliable character have been allowed to filter through official
circles.  We have been told somewhat verbosely of what it can
accomplish and of its high degree of efficiency and speed.  But
can credence be placed in these statements?

When Zeppelin IV made its unexpected descent at Luneville, and
was promptly seized by the French authorities, the German War
office evinced distinct signs of uneasiness.  The reason was
speedily forth coming.  The captain of the craft which had been
captured forgot to destroy his log and other records of data
concerning the vessel which had been scientifically collected
during the journey.  All this information fell into the hands of
the French military department, and it proved a wondrous
revelation.  It enabled the French to value the Zeppelin at its
true worth, which was by no means comparable to the estimate
based on reports skilfully circulated for the benefit of the
world at large.

Recently the French military department permitted the results of
their expert official examination to be made public.  From close
investigation of the log-book and the diagrams which had been
prepared, it was found that the maximum speed attained by
Zeppelin IV during this momentous flight was only 45 miles per
hour!  It was ascertained, moreover, that the load was 10,560
pounds, and the ascensional effort 45,100 pounds.  The fuel
consumption had averaged 297 pounds per hour, while the fuel
tanks carried sufficient for a flight of about seven hours.  The
airship had attained a maximum height of about 6,230 feet, to
reach which 6,600 pounds of ballast had to be discarded. 
Moreover, it was proved that a Zeppelin, if travelling under
military conditions with full armament and ammunition aboard,
could carry sufficient fuel for only ten hours at the utmost,
during which, if the slightest head-wind prevailed, it could not
cover more than 340 miles on the one fuel charge.

This information has certainly proved a revelation and has
contributed to the indifference with which the Parisians regard a
Zeppelin raid.  At the outbreak of war the Zeppelin station
nearest to Paris was at Metz, but to make the raid from that
point the airship was forced to cover a round 500 miles.  It is
scarcely to be supposed that perfectly calm weather would prevail
during the whole period of the flight, so that a raid would be
attended by considerable risk.  That this handicap was recognised
in German military circles is borne out by the fact that a
temporary Zeppelin hangar was established at a point considerably
nearer the French capital, for the purpose of enabling a raid to
be carried out with a greater possibility of success.

The capture of Zeppelin IV revealed another important fact.  The
critical flying height of the airship is between 3,300 and 4,000
feet.  To attempt a raid at such an altitude would be to court
certain disaster, inasmuch as the vessel would have to run the
gauntlet of the whole of the French artillery, which it is
admitted has a maximum range exceeding the flying altitude of the
Zeppelin.  That the above calculation is within reason is
supported by the statements of Count Zeppelin himself, who has
declared that his airships are useless at a height exceeding
5,000 feet.  Confirmatory evidence upon this point is offered by
the raid upon the British East Coast towns, when it is stated
that the aircraft were manoeuvring at a height not exceeding
2,000 feet.



CHAPTER VI
THE MILITARY VALUE OF GERMANY'S AERIAL FLEET

Although the Zeppelin undoubtedly has been over-rated by the
forces to which it is attached, at the same time it must not be
under-estimated by its detractors.  Larger and more powerful
vessels of this type have been, and still are being, constructed,
culminating, so far as is known, in the "L-5," which is stated to
have a capacity of about 1,000,000 cubic feet, and to possess an
average speed of 65 miles per hour.

While it is generally maintained that the Zeppelins will prove
formidable in attack, greater reliance is being placed upon the
demoralising or terrifying effect which they are able to
exercise.  Owing to the fact that from 3 to 5 tons of fuel--say
900 to 1,500 gallons of gasoline or petrol--can be carried
aboard, giving them a wide radius of action, it is doubtful
whether they could travel from Cologne to London and back upon a
single fuel charge, since such a raid would entail a journey of
about 600 miles.  The latest types of this craft are said to
possess a high ascensional speed, which offers a distinct
protection against aeroplane attack.  According to such official
information as has been vouchsafed, a Zeppelin, when hard
pressed, is able to rise vertically 3,500 feet in about three
minutes.  This is far in excess of the ascensional speed of even
the speediest aeroplane.  of course, the penalty for such a
factor has to be paid: the loss of gas is appreciable and may
lead to the craft's ultimate undoing.  At the same time, however,
it is able to maintain the superior position as compared with
the aeroplane for a considerable period: the upper reaches of the
air are its sanctuary.

Nor must the nocturnal activities of the Zeppelin be overlooked. 
So far as night operations by these vessels are concerned, little
has leaked out, so that the possibilities of the airship in this
direction are still somewhat hypothetical.  The fact remains,
however, that it is night movements which perhaps are the most to
be dreaded by the enemy.  According to official German sources of
information the latest types of Zeppelins are engined by
"noiseless" motors.  There is nothing remarkable in this feature,
since the modern motor-car virtually answers to this description,
although in this instance quietness is obtained for the most part
by recourse to the sleeve-valve engine.  Still, the ordinary
Otto-cycle internal combustion engine can be rendered almost
silent by the utilisation of adequate muffling devices, which, in
the Zeppelin, are more possible of incorporation than in the
aeroplane, because the extra weight imposed by this acquisition
is a minor consideration in comparison with the lifting power of
the vessel.

Night operations, however, have not proved eminently successful. 
The very darkness which protects the aerial prowler also serves a
similar purpose in connection with its prey.  But aerial
operations under the cover of darkness are guided not so much by
the glare of lights from below as betrayal by sound.  The
difference between villages and cities may be distinguished from
aloft, say at 1,500 to 3,000 feet, by the hum which life and
movement emit, and this is the best guide to the aerial scout or
battleship.  The German authorities have made a special study of
this peculiar problem, and have conducted innumerable tests upon
the darkest nights, when even the sheen of the moon has been
unavailable, for the express purpose of training the aerial
navigators to discover their position from the different sounds
reaching them from below.  In other words, the corsair in the
skies depends more upon compass and sound than upon compass and
vision when operating after dark.  The searchlights with which
the Zeppelins are equipped are provided merely for illuminating
a supposed position.  They are not brought into service until
the navigator concludes that he has arrived above the desired
point: the ray of light which is then projected is merely to
assist the crew in the discharge of the missiles of destruction.

The Zeppelin, however, owing to its speed, both in the horizontal
and vertical planes, is essentially a unit for daylight
operations.  The other airships which Germany possesses, and
which for the most part are of the non-rigid type, are condemned
to daylight operations from the character of their design.  Owing
to their low speeds they may be dismissed as impossible aerial
vessels for hazardous work and are not regarded by the German
authorities as all-round airships of war.

Craft of the air are judged in Germany from the one standard
only.  This may be a Teutonic failing, but it is quite in keeping
with the Teutonic spirit of militarism.  Commercialism is a
secondary factor.  To the German Emperor an airship is much what
a new manufacturing process or machine is to the American. 
Whereas the latter asks, "How much will it save me on the
dollar?" to the War Lord of Germany--and an airship
notwithstanding its other recommendatory features is judged
solely from this standpoint--the question is "What are its
military qualifications?"

When the semi-rigid airship "V-I" was brought before the notice
of the German military department the pressing point concerning
its military recommendations arose at once.  The inventor had
foreseen this issue and was optimistic.  Thereupon the
authorities asked if the inventor were prepared to justify his
claims.  The retort was positive.  Forthwith the Junkers decided
to submit it to the test.

This ship is of quite a distinctive type.  It is an aerial
cruiser, and the inventor claims that it combines all the
essential qualifications of the Zeppelin and of the competitors
of the latter, in addition to the advantage of being capable of
dissection, transportation in parts, and rapid re-erection at any
desired spot.  The length of the vessel is about 270 feet;
maximum diameter approximately 42 feet, and capacity about
300,000 cubic feet.  The outstanding feature is a rigid
keel-frame forming a covered passage way below the envelope or
gas-bag, combined with easy access to all parts of the craft
while under way, together with an artificial stiffening which
dispenses with the necessity of attaching any additional cars. 
The frame is so designed that the load, as well as the ballast
and fuel tanks, may be distributed as desired, and at the same
time it ensures an advantageous disposition of the steering
mechanism, far removed from the centre of rotation at the stern,
without any overloading of the latter.

The lifting part of the airship comprises a single gas bag fitted
with two ballonets provided to ensure the requisite gas-tension
in the main envelope, while at the same time permitting, in times
of emergency, a rapid change of altitude.  Self-contained blowers
contribute to the preservation of the shape of the envelope, the
blowers and the ballonets being under the control of the pilot. 
Planes resembling Venetian blinds facilitate vertical steering,
while the suspension of the keel is carried out in such a manner
as to secure uniformity of weight upon the gas bag.  The
propelling power comprises two sets of internal combustion
engines, each developing 130 horse-power, the transmission being
through rubber belting.  The propellers, built of wood, make 350
revolutions per minute, and are set as closely as possible to the
centre of resistance.

But the most salient characteristic of this machine is its
portability.  It can be dismantled and transported by wagons to
any desired spot, the suspension frame being constructed in
units, each of which is sufficiently small to be accommodated in
an ordinary vehicle.  Upon arrival the parts may be put together
speedily and easily.  The authorities submitted the airship to
exacting trials and were so impressed by its characteristics and
the claims of the inventor that undoubtedly it will be brought
into service during the present crisis.

At the same time the whole faith of the German military staff so
far as airship operations are concerned, is pinned to the
Zeppelin.  Notwithstanding its many drawbacks it is the vessel
which will be used for the invasion of Great Britain.  Even the
harbour question, which is admitted to be somewhat acute, has
been solved to a certain degree.  At strategical points permanent
harbours or airship sheds have been established.  Seeing that the
airships demand considerable skill in docking and undocking, and
that it is impossible to achieve these operations against the
wind, swinging sheds have been adopted.

On water the practice is to anchor a floating harbour at one end,
leaving the structure to swing round with the wind.  But on dry
land such a dock is impossible.  Accordingly turntable sheds
have been adopted.  The shed is mounted upon a double turn-table,
there being two circular tracks the one near the centre of the
shed and the other towards its extremities.  The shed is mounted
upon a centre pivot and wheels engaged with these inner and outer
tracks.  In this manner the shed may be swung round to the most
favourable point of the compass according to the wind.

In the field, however, such practices are impossible, and the
issue in this connection has been overcome by recourse to what
may be termed portable harbours.  They resemble the tents of
peripatetic circuses and travelling exhibitions.  There is a
network of vertical steel members which may be set with facility
and speed and which are stayed by means of wire guys.  At the top
of the outer vertical posts pulleys are provided whereby the
outer skin or canvas forming the walls may be hauled into
position, while at the apex of the roof further pulleys ensure
the proper placing of the roofing.  The airship is able to enter
or leave from either end according to conditions.  The material
is fireproofed as a precautionary measure, but at the same time
the modern aerial bomb is able to penetrate the roofing without
any difficulty and to explode against the airship anchored
within.

The one great objection to the Zeppelin harbour is the huge
target it offers to hostile attack, which, in the event of a
vessel being moored within, is inevitably serious.  Thus, for
instance, upon the occasion of the air raids conducted by
Lieutenant Collet and of Squadron Commander Briggs and his
colleagues at Dusseldorf and Friedrichshafen respectively,
little difficulty was experienced in destroying the airships
riding at anchor.  The target offered by the shed is so extensive
that it would be scarcely possible for a flying enemy to miss it. 
A bomb dropped from a reasonable height, say 500 feet, would be
almost certain to strike some part of the building, and a
Zeppelin is an easy vessel to destroy.  The firing of one balloon
is sufficient to detonate the whole, for the simple reason that
hydrogen gas is continuously oozing through the bags in which it
is contained.  According to a recent statement the Germans are
said to be utilising an inert or non-inflammable gas, equal in
lifting power to hydrogen, for the inflation of military craft,
but scientific thought does not entertain this statement with any
degree of seriousness.  No gas as light as hydrogen and
non-explosive is known to commerce.

Will Germany invade Great Britain by air?  This is the absorbing
topic of the moment--one which has created intense interest and a
certain feeling of alarm among the timorous.  Although sporadic
raids are considered to be possible and likely to be carried out
with a varying measure of success--such as that made upon the
British East Coast--eminent authorities ridicule an invasion in
force.  The risk would be enormous, although there is no doubt
that Germany, which has always maintained that an invasion of
this character will be made, will be compelled to essay such a
task, in order to satisfy public opinion, and to justify official
statements.  It is a moot point, however, whether the invaders
ever will succeed in making good their escape, unless Nature
proves exceptionally kind.

The situation is best summed up in the unbiassed report of
General George P. Scriven, Chief Signal officer of the United
States Army to the U.S. Secretary of War.  In this report, which
deals exhaustively with the history, construction and
achievements of airships, such an invasion is described as
fantastic and impracticable.  Writing on November 10th, 1914,
the officer declares that "he is not prepared to recommend the
American Army to take up seriously the question of
constructing dirigibles, as they are not worth their cost as
offensive machines, while for reconnaissance or defence they are
of far less value than aeroplanes."  In his words, "Dirigibles
are seemingly useless in defence against the aeroplane or
gun-fire."

In order to be able to make an invasion in force upon Great
Britain's cities extremely favourable weather must prevail, and
the treacherous nature of the weather conditions of the North Sea
are known fully well both to British and Teuton navigators. 
Seeing that the majority of the Zeppelin pilots are drawn from
the Navy and mercantile marine, and thus are conversant with the
peculiarities and characteristics of this stretch of salt water,
it is only logical to suppose that their knowledge will exert a
powerful influence in any such decision, the recommendations
of the meteorological savants not withstanding.

When the Zeppelin pride of the German Navy "L-1" was hurled to
destruction by a typical North Sea squall, Captain Blew of the
Victoria Luise, a Zeppelin with many great achievements to her
credit, whose navigator was formerly in the Navy, and thus is
familiar with the whole issue, explained that this atmospheric
liveliness of the North Sea prevails for the most part in the
latitude of Norway, but that it frequently extends as far south
as the gate of the Channel.  He related furthermore that the rain
squalls are of tropical violence, while the vertical thrusts of
air are such that no dirigible as yet constructed could ever hope
to live in them.  Under such conditions, he continued, the gas is
certain to cool intensely, and the hull must then become
waterlogged, not to mention the downward thrust of the rain. 
Under such conditions buoyancy must be imperilled to such a
degree as to demand the jettisoning of every piece of ballast,
fuel and other removable weight, including even the steadying and
vertical planes.  When this has been done, he pointed out,
nothing is left with which to combat the upward vertical thrusts
of the air.  To attempt to run before the wind is to court
positive disaster, as the wind is certain to gain the mastery. 
Once the airship loses steering way and is rendered
uncontrollableit becomes the sport of the forces of Nature, with
the result that destruction is merely a matter of minutes, or
even seconds.

Every navigator who knows the North Sea will support these
conclusions.  Squalls and blizzards in winter, and thunderstorms
in summer, rise with startling suddenness and rage with terrific
destructive fury.  Such conditions must react against the attempt
of an aerial invasion in force, unless it be made in the
character of the last throw by a desperate gambler, with good
fortune favouring the dash to a certain degree.  But lesser and
more insignificant Zeppelin raids are likely to be somewhat
frequent, and to be made at every favourable climatic
opportunity.



CHAPTER VII
AEROPLANES OF WAR

Owing to the fertility of inventors and the resultant
multiplicity of designs it is impossible to describe every type
of heavier-than-air machine which has been submitted to the
exacting requirements of military duty.  The variety is infinite
and the salient fact has already been established that many
of the models which have proved reliable and efficient under
normal conditions are unsuited to military operations.  The early
days of the war enabled those of doubtful value to be eliminated,
the result being that those machines which are now in use
represent the survival of the fittest.  Experience has
furthermore emphasised the necessity of reducing the number of
types to the absolute minimum.  This weeding-out process is being
continued and there is no doubt that by the time the war is
concluded the number of approved types of aeroplanes of military
value will have been reduced to a score or less.  The
inconveniences and disadvantages arising from the utilisation of
a wide variety of different types are manifold, the greatest
being the necessity of carrying a varied assortment of spare
parts, and confusion in the repair and overhauling shops.

The methodical Teuton was the first to grasp the significance of
these drawbacks; he has accordingly carried standardisation to a
high degree of efficiency, as is shown in another chapter.  At a
later date France appreciated the wisdom of the German practice,
and within a short time after the outbreak of hostilities
promptly ruled out certain types of machines which were regarded
as unsuitable.  In this instance the process of elimination
created considerable surprise, inasmuch as it involved an embargo
on the use of certain machines, which under peace conditions had
achieved an international reputation, and were held to represent
the finest expression of aeronautical science in France as far as
aeroplane developments are concerned.

Possibly the German machine which is most familiar, by name, to
the general public is the Taube, or, as it is sometimes called,
the Etrich monoplane, from the circumstance that it was evolved
by the Austrian engineer Igo Etrich in collaboration with his
colleague Wels.  These two experimenters embarked on the study of
dynamic flight contemporaneously with Maxim, Langley, Kress, and
many other well-known pioneers, but it was not until 1908 that
their first practical machine was completed.  Its success was
instantaneous, many notable flights being placed to its credit,
while some idea of the perfection of its design may be gathered
from the fact that the machine of to-day is substantially
identical with that used seven years ago, the alterations which
have been effected meanwhile being merely modifications in minor
details.

The design of this machine follows very closely the lines of a
bird in flight--hence its colloquial description, "Taube," or
"dove."  Indeed the analogy to the bird is so close that the ribs
of the frame resemble the feathers of a bird.  The supporting
plane is shaped in the manner of a bird's distended wing, and is
tipped up at the rear ends to ensure stability.  The tail also
resembles that of a bird very closely.

This aeroplane, especially the latest type, is very speedy, and
it has proved extremely reliable.  It is very sharp in turning
and extremely sensitive to its rudder, which renders it a
first-class craft for reconnoitring duty.  The latest machines
are fitted  with motors developing from 120 to 150 horse-power.

The "Taube" commanded attention in Germany for the reason that
it indicated the first departure from the adherence to the French
designs which up to that time had been followed somewhat
slavishly, owing to the absence of native initiative.

The individuality of character revealed in the "Taube" appealed
to the German instinct, with the result that the machine achieved
a greater reputation than might have been the case had it been
pitted against other types of essentially Teutonic origin.  The
Taube was subsequently tested both in France and Great Britain,
but failed to raise an equal degree of enthusiasm, owing to the
manifestation of certain defects which marred its utility.  This
practical experience tended to prove that the Taube, like the
Zeppelin, possessed a local reputation somewhat of the paper
type.  The Germans, however, were by no means disappointed
by such adverse criticism, but promptly set to work to eliminate
defects with a view to securing an all-round improvement.

The most successful of these endeavours is represented in the
Taube-Rumpler aeroplane, which may be described as an improved
edition of Etrich's original idea.  As a matter of fact the
modifications were of so slight, though important, a character
that many machines generically described as Taubes are in reality
Rumplers, but the difference is beyond detection by the ordinary
and unpractised observer.

In the Rumpler machine the wings, like those of the Taube, assume
broadly the form and shape of those of the pigeon or dove in
flight.  The early Rumpler machines suffered from sluggish
control, but in the later types this defect has been overcome.
In the early models the wings were flexible, but in the present
craft they are rigid, although fitted with tips or ailerons.  The
supporting truss beneath the wings, which was such an outstanding
feature of its prototype, has been dispensed with, the usual
I-beam longitudinals being used in its stead.  The latest
machines fitted with 100-120 horse-power Mercedes motors have a
fine turn of speed, possess an enhanced ascensional effort, and
are far simpler to control

Other German machines which are used in the military service are
the Gotha and the Albatross.  The former is a monoplane, and here
again the influence of Etrich upon German aeroplane developments
is strongly manifested, the shape of the bird's wing being
retained.  In the Gotha the truss which Etrich introduced is a
prominent characteristic.  The Albatross is a biplane, but this
craft has proved to be somewhat slow and may be said to be
confined to what might be described as the heavier aerial
military duties, where great endurance and reliability are
essential.  As the war proceeds, doubtless Teuton ingenuity will
be responsible for the appearance of new types, as well as
certain modifications in the detail construction of the existing
machines, but there is every indication that the broad lines of
Etrich's conception will be retained in all monoplanes.

There is one point in which Germany has excelled.  Wood is not
employed in the construction of these heavier-than-air craft. 
Steel and the lighter tough alloys are exclusively used.  In this
way the minimum of weight consistent with the maximum of strength
policy is carried out.  Moreover the manufacture of component
parts is facilitated and accelerated to a remarkable degree by
the use of metal, while the tasks of fitting and repairing are
notably expedited by the practice of standardisation.  Germany is
also manifesting commendable enterprise in the perfection of
light powerful motors for these dynamic machines.  The latest
types of explosion-motors range from 100 to 150 horse-power; the
advantages of these are obvious.

Upon the outbreak of hostilities the French possessed an enormous
number and variety of aeroplanes and this aerial fleet had been
brought to a high standard of organisation.  The aerial fleet is
sub-divided into squadrons called "escadrilles," each of which
comprises six machines and pilots.  These units are kept up to
strength, wastage being made up from reserves, so as to maintain
the requisite homogeneity.

But ere the war had been in progress many weeks an official order
was issued forbidding the employment of the Bleriot, Deperdussin,
Nieuport, and R.E.P. monoplanes.  Those which received official
approval included the Caudron, Henry, and Maurice Farman,
Morane-Saulnier, and Voisin machines.

This drastic order came somewhat as a thunderbolt, and the
reason for the decree has not been satisfactorily revealed.  
Suffice to say that in one stroke the efficiency and numerical
strength of the French aerial navy were reduced very appreciably. 
For instance, it is stated that there were thirty escadrilles of
Bleriot monoplanes together with pilots at the front, in addition
to thirty mixed escadrilles of the other prohibited types with
their fliers.  Moreover a round 33 escadrilles of all the various
types were in reserve.  The effect of the military order was to
reduce the effective strength by no fewer than 558 aeroplanes.

Seeing that the French aerial force was placed at a great
disadvantage numerically by this action, there seems to be ample
justification for the hostile criticism which the decree of
prohibition aroused in certain circles, especially when it is
remembered that there was not an equal number of the accepted
machines available to take the place of those which had been
ruled out of court.  One effect of this decree was to throw some
400 expert aviators upon the waiting list for the simple reason
that machines were unavailable.  Some of the best aviation skill
and knowledge which France possesses were affected by the order. 
It is stated that accomplished aviators, such as Vedrines, were
unable to obtain machines.

It will be seen that the ultimate effect of the French military
decree was to reduce the number of types to about four, each of
which was allotted a specific duty.  But whereas three different
bi-planes are on the approved list there is only one monoplane--
the Morane-Saulaier.  This machine, however, has a great turn of
speed, and it is also able to climb at a very fast pace.  In
these respects it is superior to the crack craft of Germany, so
that time after time the latter have refused battle in the skies,
and have hurried back to their lines.

The Morane-Saulnier is the French mosquito craft of the air and
like the insect, it is avowedly aggressive.  In fact, its duties
are confined to the work of chasing and bringing down the enemy,
for which work its high manoeuvring capacity is excellently
adapted.  Its aggressive armament comprises a mitrailleuse. 
Unfortunately, however, the factory responsible for the
production of this machine is at present handicapped by the
limitations of its manufacturing plant, which when pushed to the
utmost extent cannot turn out more than about ten machines per
week.  No doubt this deficiency will be remedied as the war
proceeds by extension of the works or by allotting orders to
other establishments, but at the time of the decree the
manufacturing capacity was scarcely sufficient to make good the
wastage, which was somewhat heavy.

As far as biplanes are concerned the Caudron is the fastest in
flight and is likewise extremely quick in manoeuvring.  It is a
very small machine and is extremely light, but the fact that it
can climb at the rate of over 330 feet per minute is a distinct
advantage in its favour.  It supplements the Morane-Saulnier
monoplane in the specific duty of the latter, while it is also
employed for discovering the enemy's artillery and communicating
the range of the latter to the French and British artillery.  In
this latter work it has played a very prominent part and to
it is due in no small measure that deadly accuracy of the
artillery of the Allies which has now become so famous.  This
applies especially to those tactics, where the field artillery
dashes up to a position, discharges a number of rounds in rapid
succession, or indulges in rafale firing, and then limbering up,
rushes away before the enemy can reply.

As is well known the Farman biplanes possess high endurance
qualities.  They can remain aloft for many hours at a stretch and
are remarkably reliable.  Owing to these qualities they are
utilised for prolonged and searching reconnoitring duties such as
strategical reconnaissances as distinct from the hurried and
tactical reconnaissances carried out by fleeter machines.  While
they are not so speedy as the monoplanes of the German military
establishment, endurance in this instance is preferable to pace. 
A thorough survey of the enemy's position over the whole of his
military zone, which stretches back for a distance of 30 miles or
so from the outer line of trenches, is of incalculable value to a
commander who is contemplating any decisive movement or who is
somewhat in doubt as to the precise character of his antagonist's
tactics.

The French aerial fleet has been particularly active in its work
of raiding hostile positions and submitting them to a fusillade
of bombs from the clouds.  The machine which is allotted this
specific task is the Voisin biplane.  This is due to the fact  
that this machine is able to carry a great weight.  It was
speedily discovered that in bomb-raids it is essential for
an aeroplane to be able to carry a somewhat large supply of
missiles, owing to the high percentage of misses which attends
these operations.  A raid by a machine capable of carrying only,
say, half-a-dozen projectiles, is virtually a waste of fuel, and
the endurance limitations of the fast machines reacts against
their profitable use in this work.  On the other hand, the fact
that the Voisin machine is able to carry a large supply of bombs
renders it an ideal craft for this purpose; hence the official
decision to confine it to this work.

So far as the British efforts in aerial work are concerned there
is no such display of rigid selection as characterises the
practice of the French and German military authorities. 
Britain's position in the air has been extensively due to private
enterprise, and this is still being encouraged.  Moreover at the
beginning of the war Britain was numerically far inferior both to
her antagonist and to her ally.  Consequently it was a wise move
to encourage the private manufacture of machines which had
already established their value.  The consequence is that a
variety of machines figure in the British aerial navy.  Private
initiative is excellently seconded by the Government
manufacturing aeroplane factory, while the training of pilots
is likewise being carried out upon a comprehensive scale.
British manufacture may be divided into two broad classes--the
production of aeroplanes and of waterplanes respectively.
Although there is a diversity of types there is a conspicuous
homogeneity for the most part, as was evidenced by the British
raid carried out on February 11-12, when a fleet of 34 machines
raided the various German military centres established along the
coast of Flanders.

Considerable secrecy has been displayed by the British Government
concerning the types of machines that are being utilised,
although ample evidence exists from the producing activity of the
various establishments that all available types which have
demonstrated their reliability and efficiency are being turned to
useful purpose.  The Avro and Sopwith warplanes with their very
high speeds have proved remarkably successful.

So far as manufacturing is concerned the Royal Aerial Factory may
be said to constitute the back bone of the British aerial fleet. 
This factory fulfils various purposes.  It is not only engaged in
the manufacture of machines, and the development of aeroplanes
for specific duties, but also carries out the inspection and
testing of machines built by private firms.  Every machine is
submitted to an exacting test before it is passed into the
service.

Three broad types of Government machines are manufactured at this
establishment.  There is that designed essentially for scouting
operations, in which speed is the all-important factor and which
is of the tractor type.  Another is the "Reconnoitring" machine
known officially as the "R.E." to-day, but formerly as the "B.E"
(Bleriot-Experimental), a considerable number of which are in
commission.

This machine is also of the tractor type, carrying a pilot and an
observer, and has a maximum speed of 40-50 miles per hour.  If
required it can further be fitted with an automatic gun for
defence and attack.  The third craft is essentially a fighting
machine.  Owing to the introduction of the machine-gun which is
fixed in the prow, with the marksman immediately behind it, the
screw is placed at the rear.  The pilot has his seat behind the
gunner.  The outstanding feature of these machines is the high
factor of safety, which attribute has astonished some of the
foremost aviation experts in the world.

Great Britain lagged behind her Continental rivals in the
development of the Fourth Arm, especially in matters pertaining
to motive power.  For some time reliance was placed upon foreign
light highspeed explosion motors, but private enterprise was
encouraged, with the result that British Motors comparing
favourably in every respect with the best productions upon the
Continent are now available.  Development is still proceeding,
and there is every evidence that in the near future entire
reliance will be placed upon the native motor.

Undoubtedly, as the war progresses, many valuable lessons will
be learned which will exercise an important bearing upon the
design and construction of warplanes.  The ordeals to which the
machines are submitted in military duties are far more severe
than any imposed by the conditions of commerce.  Accordingly
there is every indication that the conflict upon the Continent
will represent a distinctive epoch in aeroplane design and
construction.  Many problems still await solution, such as the
capacity to hover over a position, and it is quite possible
that these complex and baffling questions will be settled
definitely as the result of operations in the field.  The
aeroplane has reached a certain stage of evolution: further
progress is virtually impossible unless something revolutionary
is revealed, perfected, and brought to the practical stage.



CHAPTER VIII
SCOUTING FROM THE SKIES

From the moment when human flight was lifted from the rut of
experiment to the field of practical application, many theories,
interesting and illuminating, concerning the utility of the
Fourth Arm as a military unit were advanced.  The general
consensus of expert opinion was that the flying machine would be
useful to glean information concerning the movements of an enemy,
rather than as a weapon of offence.

The war is substantiating this argument very completely. 
Although bomb-dropping is practised somewhat extensively, the
results achieved are rather moral than material in their effects. 
Here and there startling successes have been recorded especially
upon the British side, but these triumphs are outnumbered by the
failures in this direction, and merely serve to emphasise the
views of the theorists.

The argument was also advanced that, in this particular work, the
aeroplane would prove more valuable than the dirigible, but
actual campaigning has proved conclusively that the dirigible and
the heavier-than-air machines have their respective fields of
utility in the capacity of scouts.  In fact in the very earliest
days of the war, the British airships, though small and slow in
movement, proved more serviceable for this duty than their
dynamic consorts.  This result was probably due to the fact that
military strategy and tactics were somewhat nonplussed by the
appearance of this new factor.  At the time it was an entirely
unknown quantity.  It is true that aircraft had been employed in
the Balkan and the Italo-Ottoman campaigns, but upon such a
limited scale as to afford no comprehensive idea of their
military value and possibilities.

The belligerents, therefore, were caught somewhat at a
disadvantage, and an appreciable period of time elapsed before
the significance of the aerial force could be appreciated, while
means of counter acting or nullifying its influences had to be
evolved simultaneously, and according to the exigencies of the
moment.  At all events, the protagonists were somewhat loth to
utilise the dirigible upon an  elaborate scale or in an
aggressive manner.  It was employed more after the fashion of a
captive balloon, being sent aloft from a point well behind the
front lines of the force to which it was attached, and well out
of the range of hostile guns.  Its  manoeuvres were somewhat
circumscribed, and were carried out at a safe distance from the
enemy, dependence being placed upon the advantages of an
elevated position for the gathering of information.

But as the campaign progressed, the airships became more daring. 
Their ability to soar to a great height offered them complete
protection against gun-fire, and accordingly sallies over the
hostile lines were carried out.  But even here a certain
hesitancy became manifest.  This was perfectly excusable, for the
simple reason that the dirigible, above all, is a fair-weather
craft, and disasters, which had overtaken these vessels time
after time, rendered prudence imperative.  Moreover, but little
was known of the range and destructiveness of anti-aircraft guns.

In the duty of reconnoitring the dirigible possesses one great
advantage over its heavier-than-air rival.  It can remain
virtually stationary in the air, the propellers revolving at just
sufficient speed to off-set the wind and tendencies to drift.  In
other words, it has the power of hovering over a position,
thereby enabling the observers to complete their task carefully
and with deliberation.

On the other hand, the means of enabling an aeroplane to hover
still remain to be discovered.  It must travel at a certain speed
through the air to maintain its dynamic equilibrium, and this
speed is often too high to enable the airman to complete his
reconnaissance with sufficient accuracy to be of value to the
forces below.  All that the aeroplane can do is to circle above a
certain position until the observer is satisfied with the data he
has collected.

But hovering on the part of the dirigible is not without
conspicuous drawbacks.  The work of observation cannot be
conducted with any degree of accuracy at an excessive altitude. 
Experience has proved that the range of the latest types of anti-
aircraft weapons is in excess of anticipations.  The result is
that the airship is useless when hovering beyond the zone of
fire.  The atmospheric haze, even in the clearest weather,
obstructs the observer's vision.  The caprices of this obstacle
are extraordinary, as anyone who has indulged in ballooning
knows fully well.  On a clear summer's day I have been able to
see the ground beneath with perfect distinctness from a height of
4,500 feet, yet when the craft had ascended a further two or
three hundred feet, the panorama was blurred.  A film of haze
lies between the balloon and the ground beneath.  And the
character of this haze is continually changing, so that the
aerial observer's task is rendered additionally difficult.  Its
effects are particularly notice able when one attempts to
photograph the view unfolded below.  Plate after plate may be
exposed and nothing will be revealed.  Yet at a slightly lower
altitude the plates may be exposed and perfectly sharp and
well-defined images will be obtained.

Seeing that the photographic eye is keener and more searching
than the human organ of sight, it is obvious that this haze
constitutes a very formidable obstacle.  German military
observers, who have accompanied the Zeppelins and Parsevals on
numerous aerial journeys under varying conditions of weather,
have repeatedly drawn attention to this factor and its caprices,
and have not hesitated to venture the opinion that it would
interfere seriously with military aerial reconnaissances, and
also that it would tend to render such work extremely hazardous
at times.

When these conditions prevail the dirigible must carry out its
work upon the broad lines of the aeroplane.  It must descend to
the level where a clear view of the ground may be obtained, and
in the interests of safety it has to keep on the move.  To
attempt to hover within 4,000 feet of the ground is to court
certain disaster, inasmuch as the vessel offers a magnificent and
steady target which the average gunner, equipped with the latest
sighting devices and the most recent types of guns, scarcely
could fail to hit.

But the airman in the aeroplane is able to descend to a
comparatively low level in safety.  The speed and mobility of his
machine constitute his protection.  He can vary his altitude,
perhaps only thirty or forty feet, with ease and rapidity, and
this erratic movement is more than sufficient to perplex the
marksmen below, although the airman is endangered if a rafale is
fired in such a manner as to cover a wide zone.

Although the aeroplane may travel rapidly it is not too fleet for
a keen observer who is skilled in his peculiar task.  He may only
gather a rough idea of the disposition of troops, their
movements, the lines of communication, and other details which
are indispensable to his commander, but in the main the
intelligence will be fairly accurate.  Undulating flight enables
him to determine speedily the altitude at which he is able to
obtain the clearest views of the country beneath.  Moreover,
owing to his speed he is able to complete his task in far less
time than his colleague operating in the dirigible, the result
being that the information placed at the disposal of his superior
officers is more to the moment, and accordingly of greater value.

Reconnoitring by aeroplane may be divided into two broad
categories, which, though correlated to a certain degree, are
distinctive, because each constitutes a specific phase in
military operations.  They are known respectively as "tactical"
and "strategical" movements.  The first is somewhat limited in
its scope as compared with the latter, and has invariably to be
carried out rapidly, whereas the strategical reconnaissance may
occupy several hours.

The tactical reconnaissance concerns the corps or divisional
commander to which the warplane is attached, and consequently its
task is confined to the observation of the line immediately
facing the particular corps or division.  The aviator does not
necessarily penetrate beyond the lines of the enemy, but, as a
rule limits his flight to some distance from his outermost
defences.  The airman must possess a quick eye, because
his especial duty is to note the disposition of the troops
immediately facing him, the placing of the artillery, and any
local movements of the forces that may be in progress. 
Consequently the aviator engaged on this service may be absent
from his lines for only a few minutes, comparatively speaking;
the intelligence he acquires must be speedily communicated to the
force to which he is attached, because it may influence a local
movement.

The strategical reconnaissance, on the other hand, affects the
whole plan of campaign.  The aviators told off for this duty are
attached to the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, and the work has
to be carried out upon a far more comprehensive and elaborate
scale, while the airmen are called upon to penetrate well into
the hostile territory to a point thirty, forty, or more miles
beyond the outposts.

The procedure is to instruct the flier either to carry out his
observations of the territory generally, or to report at length
upon a specified stretch of country.  In the latter event he may
fly to and fro over the area in question until he has acquired
all the data it is possible to collect.  His work not only
comprises the general disposition of troops, defences, placing of
artillery, points where reserves are being held, high-roads,
railways, base camps, and so forth, but he is also instructed to
bring back as correct an idea as possible of what the enemy
proposes to do, so that his Commander-in-Chief may adjust his
moves accordingly.  In order to perform this task with the
requisite degree of thoroughness it is often necessary for the
airman to remain in the air for several hours continuously, not
returning, in fact, until he has completed the allotted duty.

The airman engaged in strategical aerial reconnaissance must
possess, above all things, what is known as a "military" eye
concerning the country he traverses.  He must form tolerably
correct estimates of the forces beneath and their character.  He
must possess the ability to read a map rapidly as he moves
through the air and to note upon it all information which is
likely to be of service to the General Staff.  The ability to
prepare military sketches rapidly and intelligibly is a valuable
attribute, and skill in aerial photography is a decidedly useful
acquisition.

Such men must be of considerable stamina, inasmuch as great
demands are made upon their powers of endurance.  Being aloft for
several hours imposes a severe tax upon the nervous system, while
it must also be borne in mind that all sorts and conditions of
weather are likely to be encountered, more particularly during
the winter.  Hail, rain, and blizzards may be experienced in
turn, while the extreme cold which often prevails in the higher
altitudes during the winter season is a fearful enemy to combat. 
Often an airman upon his return from such a reconnaissance has
been discovered to be so numbed and dazed as a result of the
prolonged exposure, that considerable time has elapsed before he
has been sufficiently restored to set forth the results of his
observations in a coherent, intelligible manner for the benefit
of the General Staff.  Under these circumstances it is not
surprising that the most skilful and experienced aviators are
generally reserved for this particular work.  In addition to the
natural accidents to which the strategical aerial observer is
exposed, the dangers arising from hostile gun-fire must not be
overlooked.  He is manoeuvring the whole time over the enemy's
firing zone, where anti-aircraft weapons are disposed
strategically, and where every effort is made by artillery to
bring him down, or compel him to repair to such a height as to
render observation with any degree of accuracy well-nigh
impossible.

The methods practised by the German aerial scout vary widely, and
are governed in no small measure by the intrepidity and skill of
the airman himself.  One practice is to proceed alone upon long
flights over the enemy's lines, penetrating just as far into
hostile territory as the pilot considers advisable, and keeping,
of course, within the limits of the radius of action of the
machine, as represented by the fuel supply, the while carefully
taking mental stock of all that he observes below.  It is a kind
of roving commission without any definite aim in view beyond the
collection of general intelligence.

This work, while productive and valuable to a certain degree, is
attended with grave danger, as the German airmen have repeatedly
found to their cost.  Success is influenced very materially by
the accuracy of the airman's judgment.  A slight miscalculation
of the velocity and direction of the wind, or failure to detect
any variations in the climatic conditions, is sufficient to prove
his undoing.  German airmen who essayed journeys of discovery in
this manner, often failed to regain their lines because they
ventured too far, misjudged the speed of the wind which was
following them on the outward run, and ultimately were forced to
earth owing to the exhaustion of the fuel supply during the
homeward trip; the increased task imposed upon the motor, which
had to battle hard to make headway, caused the fuel consumption
per mile to exceed calculations.

Then the venturesome airman cannot neglect another factor which
is adverse to his success.  Hostile airmen lie in wait, and a
fleet of aeroplanes is kept ready for instant service.  They
permit the invader to penetrate well into their territory and
then ascend behind him to cut off his retreat.  True, the invader
has the advantage of being on the wing, while the ether is wide
and deep, without any defined channels of communication.  But 
nine times out of ten the adventurous scout is trapped.  His
chances of escape are slender, because his antagonists dispose
themselves strategically in the air.  The invader outpaces one,
but in so doing comes within range of another.  He is so harassed
that he either has to give fight, or, finding his retreat
hopelessly cut off, he makes a determined dash, trusting to his
high speed to carry him to safety.  In these driving tactics the
French and British airmen have proved themselves adepts, more
particularly the latter, as the chase appeals to their sporting
instincts.  There is nothing so exhilarating as a quarry who
displays a determination to run the gauntlet.

The roving Teuton scout was considerably in evidence in the early
days of the war, but two or three weeks' experience emphasised
the sad fact that, in aerial strategy, he was hopelessly
outmatched by his opponents.  His advantage of speed was
nullified by the superior tactical and strategical acumen of his
antagonists, the result being that the German airman, who has
merely been trained along certain lines, who is in many cases
nothing more than a cog-wheel in a machine, and who is
proverbially slow-witted, has concluded that he is no match for
the airmen of the Allies.  He found from bitter experience that
nothing afforded the Anglo-French military aviators such keen
delight as to lie in wait for a "rover," and then to swoop into
the air to round him up.

The proportion of these individual scouts who were either brought
down, or only just succeeded in reaching safety within their own
lines, and who were able to exhibit serious wounds as evidence of
the severity of the aerial tussle, or the narrowness of the
escape, has unnerved the Teuton airmen as a body to a very
considerable extent.  Often, even when an aeroplane descended
within the German lines, it was found that the roving airman had
paid the penalty for his rashness with his life, so that his
journey had proved in vain, because all the intelligence he had
gained had died with him, or, if committed to paper, was so
unintelligible as to prove useless.

It was the success of the British airmen in this particular field
of duty which was responsible for the momentous declaration in
Field-Marshal Sir John French's famous despatch:--"The British
Flying Corps has succeeded in establishing an individual
ascendancy, which is as serviceable to us as it is damaging to
the enemy . . . . The enemy have been less enterprising in
their flights.  Something in the direction of the mastery of the
air has already been gained."

The methods of the British airmen are in vivid contrast to the
practice of the venturesome Teuton aerial rovers described above. 
While individual flights are undertaken they are not of unknown
duration or mileage.  The man is given a definite duty to perform
and he ascends merely to fulfil it, returning with the
information at the earliest possible moment.  It is aerial
scouting with a method.  The intelligence is required and
obtained for a specific purpose, to govern a contemplated move in
the grim game of war.

Even then the flight is often undertaken by two or more airmen
for the purpose of checking and counterchecking information
gained, or to ensure such data being brought back to
headquarters, since it is quite possible that one of the party
may fall a victim to hostile fire.  By operating upon these
lines there is very little likelihood of the mission proving
a complete failure.  Even when raids upon certain places
such as Dusseldorf, Friedrichshafen or Cuxhaven are planned,
complete dependence is not placed on one individual.  The machine
is accompanied, so that the possibility of the appointed task
being consummated is transformed almost into a certainty.

The French flying men work upon broadly similar lines.  Their
fleet is divided into small squadrons each numbering four, six,
or more machines, according to the nature of the contemplated
task.  Each airman is given an area of territory which is to be
reconnoitred thoroughly.  In this way perhaps one hundred or more
miles of the enemy's front are searched for information at one
and the same time.  The units of the squadron start out, each
taking the appointed direction according to the preconceived
plan, and each steering by the aid of compass and map.  They are
urged to complete the work with all speed and to return to a
secret rendezvous.

Later the air is alive with the whirring of motors.  The machines
are coming back and all converging to one point.  They vol-plane
to the earth and gracefully settle down within a short distance
of each other at the rendezvous.  The pilots collect and each
relates the intelligence he has gained.  The data are collated
and in this manner the General Staff is able to learn exactly
what is transpiring over a long stretch of the hostile lines, and
a considerable distance to the rear of his advance works. 
Possibly five hundred square miles have been reconnoitred in this
manner.  Troops have been massed here, lines of communication
extend somewhere else, while convoys are moving at a third place. 
But all has been observed, and the commanding officer is in a
position to re-arrange his forces accordingly.  It is a
remarkable example of method in military tactics and strategy,
and conveys a striking idea of the degree to which aerial
operations have been organised.

After due deliberation it is decided that the convoys shall be
raided, or that massed troops shall be thrown into confusion, if
not dispersed.  The squadron is ordered to prepare for another
aerial journey.  The roads along which the convoys are moving are
indicated upon the map, or the position of the massed troops in
bivouac is similarly shown.  The airmen load their machines with
a full charge of bombs.  When all is ready the leader ascends,
followed in rapid succession by the other units, and they whirr
through the air in single file.  It now becomes a grim game of
follow-my-leader.

The leader detects the convoy, swoops down, suddenly launches his
missiles, and re-ascends.  He does not deviate a foot from his
path to observe the effects of his discharge, as the succeeding
aeroplane is close behind him.  If the leader has missed then the
next airman may correct his error.  One after another the
machines repeat the manoeuvre, in precisely the same manner as
the units of a battleship squadron emulate the leading vessel
when attacking the foe.  The tactical evolutions have been laid
down, and there is rigid adherence thereto, because only thereby
may success be achieved.  When the last war-plane has completed
its work, the leader swings round and repeats the dash upon the
foe.  A hail of bullets may scream around the men in the air, but
one and all follow faithfully in the leader's trail.  One or more
machines may fail in the attack, and may even meet with disaster,
but nothing interferes with the movements of the squadron as a
whole.  It is the homogeneity of the attacking fleet which tells,
and which undermines the moral of the enemy, even if it does not
wreak decisive material devastation.  The work accomplished to
the best of their ability, the airmen speed back to their lines
in the same formation.

At first sight reconnoitring from aloft may appear a simple
operation, but a little reflection will reveal the difficulties
and arduousness of the work.  The observer, whether he be
specially deputed, or whether the work be placed in the hand of
the pilot himself--in this event the operation is rendered
additionally trying, as he also has to attend to his machine
must keep his eyes glued to the ground beneath and at the same
time be able to read the configuration of the panorama revealed
to him.  He must also keep in touch with his map and compass, so
as to be positive of his position and direction.  He must be a
first-class judge of distances and heights.

When flying rapidly at a height of 4,000 feet or more, the
country below appears as a perfect plane, or flat stretch,
although as a matter of fact it may be extremely undulating. 
Consequently, it is by no means a simple matter to distinguish
eminences and depressions, or to determine the respective and
relative heights of hills.

If a rough sketch is required, the observer must be rapid in
thought, quick in determination, and facile with his pencil, as
the machine, no matter how it may be slowed down, is moving at a
relatively high speed.  He must consult his map and compass
frequently, since an airman who loses his bearings is useless to
his commander-in-chief.  He must have an eagle eye, so as to be
able to search the country unfolded below, in order to gather all
the information which is likely to be of value to his superior
officers.  He must be able to judge accurately the numbers of
troops arrayed beneath him, the lines of the defensive works, to
distinguish the defended from the dummy lines which are thrown up
to baffle him, and to detect instantly the movement of the troops
and the direction, as well as the roads, along which they are
proceeding.  Reserves and their complement, artillery,
railway-lines, roads, and bridges, if any, over streams and
railways must be noted--in short he must obtain an eye photograph
of the country he observes and grasp exactly what is happening
there.  In winter, with the thermometer well down, a
blood-freezing wind blowing, wreaths of clouds drifting below and
obscuring vision for minutes at a time, the rain possibly pelting
down as if presaging a second deluge, the plight of the vigilant
human eye aloft is far from enviable.

Upon the return of the machine to its base, the report must be
prepared without delay.  The picture recorded by the eye has to
be set down clearly and intelligibly with the utmost speed.  The
requisite indications must be made accurately upon the map. 
Nothing of importance must be omitted: the most trivial detail is
often of vital importance.

A facile pencil is of inestimable value in such operations. 
While aloft the observer does not trust to his memory or his eye
picture, but commits the essential factors to paper in the form
of a code, or what may perhaps be described more accurately as a
shorthand pictorial interpretation of the things he has
witnessed.  To the man in the street such a record would be
unintelligible, but it is pregnant with meaning, and when worked
out for the guidance of the superior officers is a mass of
invaluable detail.

At times it so happens that the airman has not been able to
complete his duty within the time anticipated by those below. 
But he has gathered certain information which he wishes to
communicate without coming to earth.  Such data may be dropped
from the clouds in the form of maps or messages.  Although
wireless telegraphy is available for this purpose, it suffers
from certain drawbacks.  If the enemy possesses an equipment
which is within range of that of the air-craft and the force to
which it belongs, communications may be nullified by the enemy
throwing out a continuous stream of useless signals which "jamb"
the intelligence of their opponents.

If a message--written in code--or a map is to be dropped from
aloft it is enclosed within a special metallic cylinder, fitted
with a vane tail to ensure direction of flight when launched, and
with a detonating head.  This is dropped overboard.  When it
strikes the ground the detonator fires a charge which emits a
report without damaging the message container, and at the same
time fires a combustible charge emitting considerable smoke.  The
noise attracts anyone in the vicinity of the spot where the
message has fallen, while at the same time the clouds of smoke
guide one to the point and enable the cylinder to be recovered. 
This device is extensively used by the German aviators, and has
proved highly serviceable; a similar contrivance is adopted by
French airmen.

There is one phase of aerial activity which remains to be
demonstrated.  This is the utilisation of aerial craft by the
defenders of a besieged position such as a ring of fortifications
or fortified city.  The utility of the Fourth Arm in this
province has been the subject of considerable speculation. 
Expert opinion maintains that the advantage in this particular
connection would rest with the besiegers.  The latter would be
able to ascertain the character of the defences and the defending
gun-force, by means of the aerial scout, who would prove of
inestimable value in directing the fire of the besieging forces.

On the other hand it is maintained that an aerial fleet would be
useless to the beleaguered.  In the first place the latter would
experience grave difficulties in ascertaining the positions of
the attacking and fortress-reducing artillery, inasmuch as this
could be masked effectively, and it is thought that the aerial
force of the besieged would be speedily reduced to impotence,
since it would be subjected to an effective concentrated fire
from the ring of besieging anti-aircraft guns and other weapons. 
In other words, the theory prevails that an aerial fleet, no
matter how efficient, would be rendered ineffective for the
simple reason that it would be the initial object of the
besieger's attack.  Possibly the stem test of experience will
reveal the fallacy of these contentions as emphatically as it has
disproved others.  But there is one point upon which authorities
are unanimous.  If the artillery of the investing forces is
exposed and readily distinguishable, the aerial forces of the
beleaguered will bring about its speedy annihilation, as the
defensive artillery will be concentrated upon that of the
besiegers.



CHAPTER IX
THE AIRMAN AND ARTILLERY

There is one field in which the airman has achieved distinctive
triumphs.  This is in the guidance of artillery fire.  The modern
battle depends first and foremost upon the fierce effec tiveness
of big-gun assault, but to ensure this reliable direction is
imperative.  No force has proved so invaluable for this purpose
as the man of-the-air, and consequently this is the province in
which he has been exceptionally and successfully active.

It will be recalled that in the Japanese investiture of Port
Arthur during the Russo-Japanese war, thousands of lives were
expended upon the retention and assault of 203 Metre Hill.  It
was the most blood-stained spot upon the whole of the Eastern
Asiatic battlefield.  General Nogi threw thousands after
thousands of his warriors against this rampart while the Russians
defended it no less resolutely.  It was captured and re-captured;
in fact, the fighting round this eminence was so intense that it
appeared to the outsider to be more important to both sides than
even Port Arthur itself.

Yet if General Nogi had been in the possession of a single
aeroplane or dirigible it is safe to assert that scarcely one
hundred Japanese or Russian soldiers would have met their fate
upon this hill.  Its value to the Japanese lay in one sole
factor.  The Japanese heavy guns shelling the harbour and the
fleet it contained were posted upon the further side of this
eminence and the fire of these weapons was more or less
haphazard.  No means of directing the artillery upon the vital
points were available; 203 Metre Hill interrupted the line of
sight.  The Japanese thereupon resolved to capture the hill,
while the Russians, equally appreciative of the obstruction it
offered to their enemy, as valiantly strove to hold it.  Once the
hill was captured and the fire of the Japanese guns could be
directed, the fate of the fortress was sealed.

Similar conditions have prevailed during the present campaign,
especially in the western theatre of war, where the ruggedness of
the country has tended to render artillery fire ineffective and
expensive unless efficiently controlled.  When the German Army
attacked the line of the British forces so vehemently and
compelled the retreat at Mons, the devastating fire of the
enemy's artillery was directed almost exclusively by their
airmen, who hovered over the British lines, indicating exactly 
the point where gun-fire could work the maximum of havoc.  The
instant concentration of massed artillery fire upon the indicated
positions speedily rendered one position after another untenable.

The Germans maintained the upper hand until at last the aerial
forces of the British Expeditionary Army came into action.  These
airmen attacked the Teuton aerial craft without the slightest
hesitation, and in a short while rendered cloudland absolutely
unhealthy.  The sequel was interesting.  As if suddenly blinded,
the German artillery fire immediately deteriorated.  On the other
hand, the British artillery, now having the benefit of aerial 
guidance, was able to repay the German onslaughts with interest,
and speedily compelled that elaborate digging-in of the infantry
lines which has now become so characteristic of the opposing
forces.

So far as the British lines are concerned the men in the trenches
keep a sharp look-out for hostile aeroplanes.  The moment one is
observed to be advancing, all the men seclude themselves and 
maintain their concealment.  To do otherwise is to court a raking
artillery outburst.  The German aeroplane, detecting the tendency
of the trenches describes in the air the location of the
vulnerable spot and the precise disposition by flying immediately 
above the line.  Twice the manoeuvre is repeated, the second
movement evidently being in the character of a check upon the
first observation, and in accordance with instructions, whereupon 
the Tommies, to quote their own words, "know they are in for it!" 
Ere the aeroplane has completed the second manoeuvre the German
guns ring out.

The facility with which artillery fire can be concentrated
through the medium of the aeroplane is amazing.  In one instance,
according to the story related to me by an officer, "a number of
our men were resting in an open field immediately behind the 
second line of trenches, being in fact the reserves intended for
the relief of the front lines during the following night.  An
aeroplane hove in sight.  The men dropped their kits and got
under cover in an adjacent wood.  The aeroplane was flying at a
great height and evidently laboured under the impression that the
kits were men.  Twice it flew over the field in the usual manner,
and then the storm of shrapnel, 'Jack Johnsons' and other tokens
from the Kaiser rained upon the confined space.  A round four
hundred shells were dropped into that field in the short period
of ten minutes, and the range was so accurate that no single
shell fell outside the space.  Had the men not hurried to cover
not one would have been left alive to tell the tale, because
every square foot of the land was searched through and through. 
We laughed at the short-sightedness of the airman who had
contributed to such a waste of valuable shot and shell, but at
the same time appreciated the narrowness of our own escape."

The above instance is by no means isolated.  It has happened time
after time.  The slightest sign of activity in a trench when a
"Taube" is overhead suffices to cause the trench to be blown to
fragments, and time after time the British soldiers have had to
lie prone in their trenches and suffer partial burial as an
alternative to being riddled by shrapnel.

The method of ascertaining the range of the target from the
indications given by the aeroplane are of the simplest character. 
The German method is for the aerial craft to fly over the
position, and when in vertical line therewith to discharge a
handful of tinsel, which, in falling, glitters in the sunlight,
or to launch a smoking missile which answers the same purpose as
a projectile provided with a tracer.  This smoke-ball being
dropped over the position leaves a trail of black or whitish
smoke according to the climatic conditions which prevail, the
object being to enable the signal to be picked up with the
greatest facility.  The height at which the aerial craft is
flying being known, a little triangulation upon the part of the
observer at the firing point enables him to calculate the range
and to have the guns laid accordingly.

When the aerial craft has been entrusted with the especial duty
of directing artillery-fire, a system of communication between
the aerial observer and the officer in charge of the artillery is
established, conducted, of course, by code.  In the British Army,
signalling is both visual and audible.  In daylight visual
signalling is carried out by means of coloured flags or streamers
and smoke-signals, while audible communication is effected by
means of a powerful horn working upon the siren principle and
similar to those used by automobiles.  Both flags and
sound-signals, however, are restricted owing to the comparatively
short distances over which they can be read with any degree of
accuracy.  The smoke-signal therefore appears to be the most
satisfactory and reliable, as the German airmen have proved
conclusively, for the simple reason that the trail of smoke may
be picked up with comparative ease, even at a distance, by means
of field glasses.  The tinsel too, is readily distinguishable,
particularly in bright weather, for the glittering surface,
catching the sun-light, acts some what in the manner of a
heliograph.

The progress of the airman is followed by two officers at the
base from which he started.  One is equipped with the director,
while the second takes the range.  Directly this has been found
as a result of calculation, the guns are laid ready for firing. 
In those cases where the enemy's artillery is concealed perhaps
behind a hill, the airman is of incalculable value, inasmuch as
he is able to reveal a position which otherwise would have to be
found by considerable haphazard firing, and which, even if
followed by a captive balloon anchored above the firing point,
might resist correction.

The accuracy of the airman's work in communicating the range has
been responsible for the high efficiency of the British and
French artillery.  The latter, with the 75 millimetre
quick-firing gun, is particularly adapted to following up the
results of the aeroplane's reconnaissance, especially with the
system of rafale fire, because the whole position can be searched
through and through within a minute or two.  According to
information which has been given to me by our artillery officers,
the British system also has proved disastrous to the enemy.  The
practice is to get the range as communicated by the aeroplane, to
bring the artillery into position speedily, to discharge salvo
after salvo with all speed for a few minutes, and then to wheel
the artillery away before any hostile fire can be returned.  The
celerity with which the British artillery comes into, and goes
out of, action has astonished even our own authorities.  This
mobility is of unique value: it is taking advantage of a somewhat
slow-witted enemy with interest.  By the time the Germans have
opened fire upon the point whence the British guns were
discharged, the latter have disappeared and are ready to let fly
from another point, some distance away, so that the hostile fire
is abortive.  Mobility of such a character is decidedly unnerving
and baffling even to a quick-witted opponent.

In his search for hostile artillery the airman runs grave risks
and displays remarkable resource.  It is invariably decided,
before he sets out, that he shall always return to a certain
altitude to communicate signals.  Time after time the guns of the
enemy have been concealed so cunningly from aerial observation as
to pass unnoticed.  This trait became more pronounced as the
campaigns of the Aisne progressed.  Accordingly the airman adopts
a daring procedure.  He swoops down over suspicious places, where
he thinks guns may be lurking, hoping that the enemy will betray
its presence.  The ruse is invariably successful.  The airman
makes a sudden dive towards the earth.  The soldiers in hiding
below, who have become somewhat demoralised by the accuracy of
the British aerial bomb-throwers, have an attack of nerves.  They
open a spirited fusillade in the hope of bringing the airman to
earth.  But their very excitement contributes to his safety.  The
shots are fired without careful aim and expend themselves
harmlessly.  Sweeping once more upwards, the airman regains the
pre-determined level, performs a certain evolution in the air
which warns the observer at his base that he has made a
discovery, and promptly drops his guiding signal directly over
the point from which he has drawn fire.

Operations at night are conducted by means of coloured lights or
an electrical searchlight system.  In the former instance three
lights are generally carried--white, red, and green--each of
which has a distinctive meaning.  If reliance is placed upon the
electric light signalling lamp, then communications are in code. 
But night operations are somewhat difficult and extremely
dangerous, except when the elements are propitious.  There is the
ground mist which blots everything from sight, rendering
reconnaissance purely speculative.  But on a clear night the
airman is more likely to prove successful.  He keeps a vigilant
eye upon all ground-lights and by close observation is able to
determine their significance.  It is for this reason that no
lights of any description are permitted in the advance trenches. 
The striking of a match may easily betray a position to the alert
eye above.

So far as the British Army is concerned a complete code is in
operation for communicating between aeroplanes and the ground at
night.  Very's lights are used for this purpose, it being
possible to distinguish the respective colours at a distance of
six miles and from an altitude of 2,000 feet.  The lights are
used both by the aeroplane and the battery of artillery.

The code is varied frequently, but the following conveys a rough
idea of how communication is carried out by this means under
cover of darkness.  The aeroplane has located its objective and
has returned to the pre-arranged altitude.  A red light is thrown
by the airman.  It indicates that he is directly over the enemy's
position.  A similarly coloured light is shown by the artillery
officer, which intimates to the airman that his signal has been
observed and that the range has been taken.

In observing the effects of artillery fire a code of signals is
employed between the airman and the artillery officer to indicate
whether the shot is "long" or "short," to the right or to the
left of the mark, while others intimate whether the fuse is
correctly timed or otherwise.  It is necessary to change the code
fairly frequently, not only lest it should fall into the enemy's
hands, but also to baffle the hostile forces; otherwise, after a
little experience, the latter would be able to divine the
significance of the signals, and, in anticipation of being
greeted with a warm fusillade, would complete hurried
arrangements to mitigate its effects, if not to vacate the
position until the bombardment had ceased.

Sufficient experience has already been gathered, however, to
prove the salient fact that the airman is destined to play an
important part in the direction and control of artillery-fire. 
Already he has been responsible for a re-arrangement of strategy
and tactics.  The man aloft holds such a superior position as to
defy subjugation; the alternative is to render his work more
difficult, if not absolutely impossible.



CHAPTER X
BOMB-THROWING FROM AIR-CRAFT

During the piping times of peace the utility of aircraft as
weapons of offence was discussed freely in an academic manner. 
It was urged that the usefulness of such vessels in this
particular field would be restricted to bomb-throwing.  So far
these contentions have been substantiated during the present
campaign.  At the same time it was averred that even as a
bomb-thrower the ship of the air would prove an uncertain
quantity, and that the results achieved would be quite contrary
to expectations.  Here again theory has been supported by
practice, inasmuch as the damage wrought by bombs has been
comparatively insignificant.

The Zeppelin raids upon Antwerp and Britain were a fiasco in the
military sense.  The damage inflicted by the bombs was not at all
in proportion to the quantity of explosive used.  True, in the
case of Antwerp, it demoralised the civilian population somewhat
effectively, which perhaps was the desired end, but the military
results were nil.

The Zeppelin, and indeed all dirigibles of large size, have one
advantage over aeroplanes.  They are able to throw bombs of
larger size and charged with greater quantities of high explosive
and shrapnel than those which can be hurled from heavier-than-air
machines.  Thus it has been stated that the largest Zeppelins can
drop single charges exceeding one ton in weight, but such a
statement is not to be credited.

The shell generally used by the Zeppelin measures about 47 inches
in length by 8 1/2 inches in diameter, and varies in weight from
200 to 242 pounds.  Where destruction pure and simple is desired,
the shell is charged with a high explosive such as picric acid or
T.N.T., the colloquial abbreviation for the devastating agent
scientifically known as "Trinitrotoluene," the base of which, in
common with all the high explosives used by the different powers
and variously known as lyddite, melinite, cheddite, and so forth,
is picric acid.  Such a bomb, if it strikes the objective, a
building, for instance, fairly and squarely, may inflict
widespread material damage.

On the other hand, where it is desired to scatter death, as well
as destruction, far and wide, an elaborate form of shrapnel shell
is utilised.  The shell in addition to a bursting charge,
contains bullets, pieces of iron, and other metallic fragments.
When the shell bursts, their contents, together with the pieces
of the shell which is likewise broken up by the explosion, are
hurled in all directions over a radius of some 50 yards or more,
according to the bursting charge.

These shells are fired upon impact, a detonator exploding the
main charge.  The detonator, comprising fulminate of mercury, is
placed in the head or tail of the missile.  To secure perfect
detonation and to distribute the death-dealing contents evenly in
all directions, it is essential that the bomb should strike the
ground almost at right angles: otherwise the contents are hurled
irregularly and perhaps in one direction only.  One great
objection to the percussion system, as the method of impact
detonation is called, is that the damage may be localised.  A
bomb launched from a height of say 1,000 feet attains terrific
velocity, due to the force of gravity in conjunction with its own
weight, in consonance with the law concerning a falling body, by
the time it reaches the ground.  It buries itself to a certain
depth before bursting so that the forces of the explosion become
somewhat muffled as it were.  A huge deep hole--a miniature
volcano crater--is formed, while all the glass in the immediate
vicinity of the explosion may be shattered by the concussion, and
the walls of adjacent buildings be bespattered with shrapnel.

Although it is stated that an airship is able to drop a single
missile weighing one ton in weight, there has been no attempt to
prove the contention by practice.  In all probability the
heaviest shell launched from a Zeppelin has not exceeded 300
pounds.  There is one cogent reason for such a belief.  A bomb
weighing one ton is equivalent to a similar weight of ballast. 
If this were discarded suddenly the equilibrium of the dirigible 
would be seriously disturbed--it would exert a tendency to fly
upwards at a rapid speed.  It is doubtful whether the planes
controlling movement in the vertical plane would ever be able to
counteract this enormous vertical thrust.  Something would have
to submit to the strain.  Even if the dirigible displaced say 20
tons, and a bomb weighing one ton were discharged, the weight of
the balloon would be decreased suddenly by approximately five 
per cent, so that it would shoot upwards at an alarming speed,
and some seconds would elapse before control was regained.

The method of launching bombs from airships varies considerably. 
Some are released from a cradle, being tilted into position ready
for firing, while others are discharged from a tube somewhat
reminiscent of that used for firing torpedoes, with the exception
that little or no initial impetus is imparted to the missile; the
velocity it attains is essentially gravitational.

The French favour the tube-launching method since thereby it is
stated to be possible to take more accurate aim.  The objective
is sighted and the bomb launched at the critical moment.  In some 
instances the French employ an automatic detonator which
corresponds in a certain measure to the time-fuse of a shrapnel
shell fired from a gun.

The bomb-thrower reads the altitude of his airship as indicated
by his barometer or other recording instrument, and by means of a
table at his command ascertains in a moment the time which will
elapse before the bomb strikes the ground.  The automatic
detonator is set in motion and the bomb released to explode
approximately at the height to which it is set.  When it bursts
the full force of the explosion is distributed downwards and
laterally.  Owing to the difficulty of ensuring the explosion of
the bomb at the exact height desired, it is also made to explode
upon impact so as to make doubly sure of its efficacy.

Firing timed bombs from aloft, however, is not free from
excitement and danger, as the experience of a French airman
demonstrates.  His dirigible had been commanded to make a
night-raid upon a railway station which was a strategical
junction for the movement of the enemy's troops.  Although the
hostile searchlights were active, the airship contrived to slip
between the spokes of light without being observed.  By
descending to a comparatively low altitude the pilot was able to
pick up the objective.

Three projectiles were discharged in rapid succession and then
the searchlights, being concentrated, struck the airship,
revealing its presence to the troops below.  Instantly a spirited
fusillade broke out.  The airmen, by throwing ballast and other
portable articles overboard pell-mell, rose rapidly, pursued by
the hostile shells.

In the upward travel the bomb-thrower decided to have a parting
shot.  The airship was steadied momentarily to enable the range
to be taken, the automatic detonator was set going and the bomb
slipped into the launching tube.  But for some reason or other
the missile jambed.

The situation was desperate.  In a few seconds the bomb would
burst and shatter the airship.  The bomb-thrower grabbed a tool
and climbing into the rigging below hacked away at the bomb-
throwing tube until the whole equipment was cut adrift and fell
clear of the vessel.  Almost instantly there was a terrific
explosion in mid-air.  The blast of air caused the vessel to roll
and pitch in a disconcerting manner, but as the airman permitted
the craft to continue its upward course unchecked, she soon
steadied herself and was brought under control once more.

The bomb carried by aeroplanes differs consider ably from that
used by dirigibles, is smaller and more convenient to handle,
though considering its weight and size it is remarkably
destructive.  In this instance complete reliance is placed upon
detonation by impact.  The latest types of British war-plane
bombs have been made particularly  formidable, those employed in
the "raids in force" ranging up to 95 pounds in weight.

The type of bomb which has proved to be the most successful is
pear-shaped.  The tail spindle is given an arrow-head shape, the
vanes being utilised to steady the downward flight of the
missile.  In falling the bomb spins round, the rotating speed
increasing as the projectile gathers velocity.  The vanes act as
a guide, keeping the projectile in as vertical a plane as
possible, and ensuring that the rounded head shall strike the
ground.  The earlier types of bombs were not fitted with these
vanes, the result being that sometimes they turned over and over
as they fell through the air, while more often than not they
failed to explode upon striking the ground.

The method of launching the bomb also varies considerably,
experience not having indicated the most efficient method of
consummating this end.  In some cases the bombs are carried in a
cradle placed beneath the aeroplane and launched merely by
tilting them in a kind of sling, one by one, to enable them to
drop to the ground, this action being controlled by means of a
lever.  In another instance they are dropped over the side of the
car by the pilot, the tail of the bomb being fitted with a swivel
and ring to facilitate the operation.  Some of the French
aviators favour a still simpler method.  The bomb is attached to
a thread and lowered over the side.  At the critical moment it is
released simply by severing the thread.  Such aeroplane bombs,
however, constitute a menace to the machine and to the pilot. 
Should the bomb be struck by hostile rifle or shell fire while
the machine is aloft, an explosion is probable; while should the
aero plane make an abrupt descent the missiles are likely to be
detonated.

A bomb which circumvents this menace and which in fact will
explode only when it strikes the ground is that devised by Mr.
Marten-Hale.  This projectile follows the usual pear-shape, and
has a rotating tail to preserve direction when in flight.  The
detonator is held away from the main charge by a collar and
ball-bearing which are held in place by the projecting end of a
screw-releasing spindle.  When the bomb is dropped the rotating
tail causes the spindle to screw upwards until the projection
moves away from the steel balls, thereby allowing them to fall
inward when the collar and the detonator are released.  In order
to bring about this action the bomb must have a fall of at least
200 feet.

When the bomb strikes the ground the detonator falls down on the
charge, fires the latter, and thus brings about the bursting of
the bomb.  The projectile is of the shrapnel type.  It weighs 20
pounds complete, is charged with some four pounds of T.N.T., and
carries 340 steel balls, which represent a weight of 5 3/4
pounds.

The firing mechanism is extremely sensitive and the bomb will
burst upon impact with the hull of an airship, water, or soft
soil.  This projectile, when discharged, speedily assumes the
vertical position, so that there is every probability that it
will strike the ground fairly and squarely, although at the same
time such an impact is not imperative, because it will explode
even if the angle of incidence be only 5 degrees.  It is
remarkably steady in its flight, the balancing and the design of
the tail frustrating completely any tendency to wobble or to turn
turtle while falling.

Other types of missile may be used.  For instance, incendiary
bombs have been thrown with success in certain instances.  These
bombs are similar in shape to the shrapnel projectile, but are
charged with petrol or some other equally highly inflammable
mixture, and fitted with a detonator.  When they strike the
objective the bursting charge breaks up the shell, releasing the
contents, and simultaneously ignites the combustible.

Another shell is the smoke-bomb, which, up to the present, has
been used only upon a restricted scale.  This missile is charged
with a certain quantity of explosive to burst the shell, and a
substance which, when ignited, emits copious clouds of dense
smoke.  The scope of such a shell is somewhat restricted, it is
used only for the purpose of obstructing hostile artillery fire. 
The shells are dropped in front of the artillery position and the
clouds of smoke which are emitted naturally inter fere with the
operations of the gunners.  These bombs have also been used with
advantage to denote the position of concealed hostile artillery,
although their utility in this connection is somewhat uncertain,
owing to the difficulty of dropping the bomb so accurately as to
enable the range-finders to pick up the range.

Dropping bombs from aloft appears to be a very simple operation,
but as a matter of fact it is an extremely difficult matter to
strike the target, especially from a high altitude.  So far as
the aeroplane is concerned it is somewhat at a disadvantage as
compared with the airship, as the latter is able to hover over a
position, and, if a spring-gun is employed to impart an initial
velocity to the missile, there is a greater probability of the
projectile striking the target provided it has been well-aimed. 
But even then other conditions are likely to arise, such as
air-currents, which may swing the missile to one side of the
objective.  Consequently adequate allowance has to be made for
windage, which is a very difficult factor to calculate from
aloft.

Bomb-dropping from an aeroplane is even more difficult.  If for
instance the aeroplane is speeding along at 60 miles an hour, the
bomb when released will have a speed in the horizontal plane of
60 miles an hour, because momentarily it is travelling at the
speed of the aeroplane.  Consequently the shell will describe a
curved trajectory, somewhat similar to that shown in Fig. 7.

On the other hand, if the aeroplane is travelling slowly, say at
20 miles an hour, the curve of the trajectory will be flatter,
and if a head wind be prevailing it may even be swept backwards
somewhat after it has lost its forward momentum, and describe a
trajectory similar to that in Fig. 8.

A bomb released from an altitude of 1000 feet seldom, if ever,
makes a bee-line for the earth, even if dropped from a stationary
airship.  Accordingly, the airman has to release the bomb before
he reaches the target below.  The determination of the critical
moment for the release is not easy, inasmuch as the airman has to
take into his calculations the speed of his machine, his
altitude, and the direction and velocity of the air-currents.

The difficulty of aiming has been demonstrated upon several
occasions at aviation meetings and other similar gatherings. 
Monsieur Michelin, who has done so much for aviation in France,
offered a prize of L1,00--$5,000--in 1912 for bomb-dropping from
an aeroplane.  The target was a rectangular space marked out upon
the ground, measuring 170 feet long by 40 feet broad, and the
missiles had to be dropped from a height of 2,400 feet.  The
prize was won by the well-known American airman, Lieutenant Riley
E.  Scott, formerly of the United States Army.  He dropped his
bombs in groups of three.  The first round fell clear of the
target, but eight of the remaining missiles fell within the area.

In the German competition which was held at Gotha in September of
the same year the results were somewhat disappointing.  Two
targets were provided.  The one represented a military bivouac
occupying a superficies of 330 square feet, and the other a
captive balloon resembling a Zeppelin.  The prizes offered were
L500, L200, and L80--$2,500, $1,000 and $400--respectively, and
were awarded to those who made the greatest number of hits.  The
conditions were by no means so onerous as those imposed in the
Michelin contest, inasmuch as the altitude limit was set at 660
feet, while no machine was to descend within 165 feet.  The first
competitor completely failed to hit the balloon.  The second
competitor flying at 800 feet landed seven bombs within the
square, but only one other competitor succeeded in placing one
bomb within the space.

Bomb-dropping under the above conditions, however, is vastly
dissimilar from such work under the grim realities of war.  The
airman has to act quickly, take his enemy by surprise, avail
himself of any protective covering which may exist, and incur
great risks.  The opposing forces are overwhelmingly against him. 
The modern rifle, if fired vertically into the air, will hurl the
bullet to a height of about 5,000 feet, while the weapons which
have been designed to combat aircraft have a range of 10,000 feet
or more.

At the latter altitude aggressive tactics are useless.  The
airman is unable to obtain a clear sharp view of the country
beneath owing to the interference offered to vision by
atmospheric haze, even in the dearest of weather.  In order to
obtain reasonable accuracy of aim the corsair of the sky must fly
at about 400 feet.  In this respect, however, the aeroplane is at
a decided advantage, as compared with the dirigible.  The machine
offers a considerably smaller target and moves with much greater
speed.  Experience of the war has shown that to attempt to hurl
bombs from an extreme height is merely a waste of ammunition. 
True, they do a certain amount of damage, but this is due to
luck, not judgment.

For success in aerial bomb operations the human element is mainly
responsible.  The daring airman is likely to achieve the greatest
results, as events have proved, especially when his raid is
sudden and takes the enemy by surprise.  The raids carried out by
Marix, Collet, Briggs, Babington, Sippe and many others have
established this fact incontrovertibly.  In all these operations
the airmen succeeded because of their intrepidity and their
decision to take advantage of cover, otherwise a prevailing mist
or low-lying clouds.  Flight-Lieutenant Collet approached the
Zeppelin shed at Dusseldorf at an altitude of 6,000 feet.  There
was a bank of mist below, which he encountered at 1,500 feet.  He
traversed the depth of this layer and emerged therefrom at a
height of only 400 feet above the ground.  His objective was
barely a quarter of a mile ahead.  Travelling at high speed he
launched his bombs with what proved to be deadly precision, and
disappeared into cover almost before the enemy had grasped his
intentions.  Lieutenant-Commander, now Flight-Commander, Marix
was even more daring.  Apparently he had no mist in which to
conceal himself but trusted almost entirely to the speed of his
machine, which probably at times notched 90 miles per hour. 
Although his advent was detected and he was greeted with a
spirited fusillade he clung to his determined idea.  He headed
straight for the Zeppelin shed, launched two bombs and swung into
the higher reaches of the air without a moment's hesitation.  His
aim was deadly, since both bombs found their mark, and the
Zeppelin docked within was blown up.  The intrepid airman
experienced several narrow escapes, for his aeroplane was struck
twenty times, and one or two of the control wires were cut by
passing bullets.

The raid carried out by Commanders Briggs and Babington in
company with Lieutenant Sippe upon the Zeppelin workshops at
Friedrichshafen was even more daring.  Leaving the Allies' lines
they ascended to an altitude of 4,500 feet, and at this height
held to the pre-arranged course until they encountered a mist,
which while protecting them from the alert eyes of the enemy
below, was responsible for the separation of the raiders, so that
each was forced to act independently and to trust to the compass
to bring him out of the ordeal successfully.  Lieutenant Sippe
sighted Lake Constance, and taking advantage of the mist lying
low upon the water, descended to such an extent that he found
himself only a few feet above the roofs of the houses.  Swinging
roundto the Lake he descended still lower until at last he was
practically skimming the surface of the Lake, since he flew at
the amazingly low height of barely seven feet off the water. 
There is no doubt that the noise of his motor was heard plainly
by the enemy, but the mist completely enveloped him, and owing to
the strange pranks that fog plays with sound deceived his
antagonists.

At last, climbing above the bank of vapour, he found that he had
overshot the mark, so he turned quickly and sped backwards.  At
the same time he discovered that he had been preceded by
Commander Briggs, who was bombarding the shed furiously, and who
himself was the object of a concentrated fire.  Swooping down
once more, Lieutenant Sippe turned, rained his bombs upon the
objective beneath, drawing fire upon himself, but co-operating
with Commander Babington, who had now reached the scene, he
manoeuvred above the works and continued the bombardment until
their ammunition was expended, when they sped home-wards under
the cover of the mist.  Considering the intensity of the hostile
fire, it is surprising that the aeroplanes were not smashed to
fragments.  Undoubtedly the high speed of the machines and the
zigzagging courses which were followed nonplussed the enemy.  
Commander Briggs was not so fortunate as his colleagues; a bullet
pierced his petrol tank, compelling a hurried descent.

The most amazing feature of these aerial raids has been the
remarkably low height at which the airmen have ventured to fly. 
While such a procedure facilitates marksmanship it increases the
hazards.  The airmen have to trust implicitly to the fleetness of
their craft and to their own nerve.  Bearing in mind the
vulnerability of the average aeroplane, and the general absence
of protective armouring against rifle fire at almost point-blank
range, it shows the important part which the human element is
compelled to play in bomb-dropping operations.

Another missile which has been introduced by the French airmen,
and which is extremely deadly when hurled against dense masses of
men, is the steel arrow, or "flechette" as it is called.  It is a
fiendish projectile consisting in reality of a pencil of solid
polished steel, 4 3/4 inches in length.  The lower end has a
sharp tapering point, 5/8ths of an inch in length.  For a
distance of 1 1/8th of an inch above this point the cylindrical
form of the pencil is preserved, but for the succeeding three
inches to the upper end, the pencil is provided with four equally
spaced angle flanges or vanes.  This flanging of the upper end or
tail ensures the arrow spinning rapidly as it falls through the
air, and at the same times preserves its vertical position during
its descent.  The weight of the arrow is two-thirds of an ounce.

The method of launching this fearsome projectile is ingenious.  A
hundred or even more are packed in a vertical position in a
special receptacle, placed upon the floor of the aeroplane,
preferably near the foot of the pilot or observer.  This
receptacle is fitted with a bottom moving in the manner of a
trap-door, and is opened by pressing a lever.  The aviator has
merely to depress this pedal with his foot, when the box is
opened and the whole of the contents are released.  The fall at
first is somewhat erratic, but this is an advantage, as it
enables the darts to scatter and to cover a wide area.  As the
rotary motion of the arrows increases during the fall, the direct
line of flight becomes more pronounced until at last they assume
a vertical direction free from all wobbling, so that when they
alight upon the target they are quite plumb.

When launched from a height they strike the objective with
terrific force, and will readily penetrate a soldier's helmet and
skull.  Indeed, when released at a height of 4,000 feet they have
been known to pierce a mounted soldier's head, and pass
vertically through his body and that of his horse also.  Time
after time German soldiers have found themselves pinned to the
ground through the arrow striking and penetrating their feet. 
Owing to the extremely light weight of the darts they can be
launched in batches of hundreds at a time, and in a promiscuous
manner when the objective is a massed body of infantry or
cavalry, or a transport convoy.  They are extremely effective
when thrown among horses even from a comparatively low altitude,
not so much from the fatalities they produce, as from the fact
that they precipitate a stampede among the animals, which is
generally sufficiently serious and frantic to throw cavalry or a
transport-train into wild confusion.

Although aerial craft, when skilfully handled, have proved highly
successful as weapons of offence, the possibilities of such
aggression as yet are scarcely realised; aerial tactics are in
their infancy.  Developments are moving rapidly.  Great efforts
are being centred upon the evolution of more formidable missiles
to be launched from the clouds.  The airman is destined to
inspire far greater awe than at present, to exercise a still more
demoralising influence, and to work infinitely more destruction.



CHAPTER XI
ARMOURED AEROPLANES

The stern test of war has served to reveal conclusively the fact
that aerial craft can be put out of action readily and
effectively, when once the marksman has picked up the range,
whether the gunner be conducting his operations with an anti-
aircraft gun stationed upon the ground, or from a hostile
machine.  It will be remembered that Flight-Commander Briggs, on
the occasion of the daring British raid upon the Zeppelin sheds
at Friedrichshafen, was brought to the ground by a bullet which
penetrated his fuel tank.  Several other vessels, British,
German, French, and Russian alike, have been thrown out of action
in a similar manner, and invariably the craft which has been
disabled suddenly in this way has fallen precipitately to earth
in the fatal headlong dive.

Previous to the outbreak of hostilities there was considerable
divergence of opinion upon this subject.  The general opinion was
that the outspread wings and the stays which constituted the
weakest parts of the structure were most susceptible to gun-fire,
and thus were likely to fail.  But practice has proved that it is
the driving mechanism which is the most vulnerable part of the
aeroplane.

This vulnerability of the essential feature of the flying machine
is a decisive weakness, and exposes the aviator to a constant
menace.  It may be quite true that less than one bullet in a
thousand may hit the machine, but when the lucky missile does
find its billet its effect is complete.  The fact must not be
overlooked that the gunners who work the batteries of
anti-aircraft guns are becommg more and more expert as a result
of practice, so that as time progresses and improved guns for
such duty are rendered available, the work of the aviator is
likely to become more dangerous and difficult.  Experience has
proved that the high velocity gun of to-day is able to hurl its
projectile or shell to an extreme height--far greater than was
previously considered possible--so that considerable discretion
has to be exercised by the airman, who literally bears his life
in his hands.

Although elaborate trials were carried out upon the testing
ranges with the weapons devised especially for firing upon flying
machines, captive balloons being employed as targets, the data
thus obtained were neither conclusive nor illuminating.  The
actual experiences of airmen have given us some very instructive
facts upon this point for the first time.

It was formerly held that the zone of fire that is to be
considered as a serious danger was within a height of about 4,500
feet.  But this estimate was well within the mark.  Airmen have
found that the modern projectiles devised for this phase of
operations are able to inflict distinctly serious damage at an
altitude of 9,000 feet.  The shell itself may have but little of
its imparted velocity remaining at this altitude, but it must be
remembered that when the missile bursts, the contents thereof are
given an independent velocity, and a wide cone of dispersion,
which is quite sufficient to achieve the desired end, inasmuch as
the mechanism of the modern aeroplane and dirigible is somewhat
delicate.

It was for this reason that the possibility of armouring the
airship was discussed seriously, and many interesting experiments
in this field were carried out.  At the same time it was decided
that the armouring should be effected upon lines analogous to
that prevailing in warship engineering.  The craft should not
only be provided with defensive but also with aggressive
armament.  This decision was not viewed with general approbation. 
It was pointed out that questions of weight would arise,
especially in relation to the speed of the machine.  Increased
weight, unless it were accompanied by a proportionate
augmentation of power in the motor, would react against the
efficiency and utility of the machine, would appreciably reduce
its speed, and would affect its climbing powers very adversely.
In some quarters it was maintained that as a result the machine
would even prove unsuited to military operations, inasmuch as
high speed is the primary factor in these.

Consequently it was decided by the foremost aviating experts that
machines would have to be classified and allotted to particular
spheres of work, just as warships are built in accordance with
the special duty which they are expected to perform.  In
reconnaissance, speed is imperative, because such work in the air
coincides with that of the torpedo-boat or scout upon the seas. 
It is designed to acquire information respecting the movements of
the enemy, so as to assist the heavier arms in the plan of
campaign.  On the other hand, the fighting corsair of the skies
might be likened to the cruiser or battleship.  It need not
possess such a high turn of speed, but must be equipped with
hard-hitting powers and be protected against attacking fire.

One attempt to secure the adequate protection against gun-fire
from the ground assumed the installation of bullet-proof steel
plating, about one fifth of an inch thick, below the tank and the
motor respectively.  The disposition of the plating was such as
to offer the minimum of resistance to the air and yet to present
a plane surface to the ground below.  So far as it went this
protection was completely effective, but it failed to armour the
vital parts against lateral, cross and downward fire while aloft. 
As the latter is more to be feared than the fire from the ground,
seeing that it may be directed at point blank range, this was a
decided defect and the armour was subsequently abandoned as
useless.

The only effective method of achieving the desired end is to
armour the whole of the carriage or fuselage of the adroplane,
and this was the principle adopted by the Vickers Company.  The
Vickers military aeroplane is essentially a military machine.  It
is built of steel throughout.  The skeleton of the machine is
formed of an alloy which combines the qualities of aluminium and
steel to ensure toughness, strength, and lightness.  In fact,
metal is employed liberally throughout, except in connection with
the wings, which follow the usual lines of construction.  The
body of the car is sheathed with steel plating which is bullet
proof against rifle or even shrapnel fire.  The car is designed
to carry two persons; the seats are therefore disposed
tandemwise, with the observer or gunner occupying the front seat.

The defensive armament is adequate for ordinary purposes.  Being
fitted with a 100 horse-power motor, fairly high speeds are
attainable, although the velocity is not equal to that of
machines constructed upon conventional lines, inasmuch as there
is an appreciable increase in weight.

The car is short and designed upon excellent stream lines, so
that the minimum of resistance to the air is offered, while at
the same time the balancing is perfect.  The sides of the car are
brought up high enough to protect the aviators, only their heads
being visible when they are seated.  The prow of the car follows
the lines generally adopted in high speed torpedo boat design;
there is a sharp knife edge stem with an enclosed fo'c's'le, the
latter housing the gun.

Another craft, designed for scouting operations, may be likened
to the mosquito craft of the seas.  This machine, while a biplane
like the military aeroplane, is of lighter construction,
everything being sacrificed to speed in this instance.  It is
fitted with a 100 horse-power motor and is designed to carry an
observer if required.  There is no offensive armament, however. 
The fuel tank capacity, moreover, is limited, being only
sufficient for a two or three hours' flight.  While this is
adequate for general reconnoitring, which for the most part
entails short high speed flights, there are occasions when the
Staff demands more prolonged observations conducted over a
greater radius.  This requisition can be met by eliminating the
observer, whose duties in this instance must be assumed by the
pilot, and substituting in place of the former, a second fuel
tank of sufficient capacity for a flight of four or five hours,
thereby bringing the term of action in the air to about 6 1/4
hours.  This machine travels at a very high speed and is
eminently adapted to its specific duty, but it is of limited
service for general purposes.

The arming of an aeroplane, to enable it to defend itself against
hostile attack or to participate in raiding operations upon the
aerial fleet of the enemy, appears to be a simple task, but as a
matter of fact it is an undertaking beset with difficulties
innumerable.  This is especially the case where the aeroplane is
of the tractive type, that is to say where the propellers are
placed in the forefront of the machine and in their revolution
serve to draw the machine forward.  All other considerations must
necessarily be sacrificed to the mounting of the propeller. 
Consequently it is by no means easy to allot a position for the
installation of a gun, or if such should be found there is grave
risk of the angle of fire being severely restricted.  In fact, in
many instances the mounting of a gun is out of the question: it
becomes a greater menace to the machine than to the enemy.

The French aeronautical section of the military department
devoted considerable study to this subject, but found the problem
almost insurmount able.  Monsieur Loiseau met with the greatest
measure of success, and his system is being practised in the
present campaign.  This principle is essentially adapted to
tractor aeroplanes.  Forward of the pilot a special position is
reserved for the gunner.  A special mounting is provided towards
the prow, and upon the upper face of the body of the machine. 
The gun mounting is disposed in such a manner that it is able to
command a wide arc of fire in the vertical plane over the nose of
the machine and more particularly in the downward direction.

The marksman is provided with a special seat, but when he comes
into action he has to stand to manipulate his weapon.  The lower
part of his body is protected by a front shield of steel plate, a
fifth of an inch in thickness, while a light railing extending
upon either side and behind enables the gunner to maintain his
position when the aeroplane is banking and climbing.  The machine
gun, of the Hotchkiss type, is mounted upon a swivel attached to
a tripod, while the latter is built into the bracing of the car,
so as to ensure a fairly steady gun platform.

While the gun in the hands of a trained marksman may be
manipulated with destructive effect, the drawbacks to the
arrangement are obvious.  The gunner occupies a very exposed
position, and, although the bullet-proof shield serves to break
the effects of wind when travelling at high speed which renders
the sighting and training of the weapon extremely difficult, yet
he offers a conspicuous target, more particularly when the enemy
is able to assume the upper position in the air as a result of
superior speed in travelling.  The gun, however, may be elevated
to about 60 degrees, which elevation may be accentuated by the
inclination of the aeroplane when climbing, while the facility
with which the weapon may be moved through the horizontal plane
is distinctly favourable.

But the aerial marksman suffers from one very pronounced defect:
he has a severely restricted survey of everything below, since
his vision is interrupted by the planes.  The result is that an
enemy who has lost ascendancy of position is comparatively safe
if he is able to fly immediately below his adversary: the
mitrailleuse of the latter cannot be trained upon him.  On the
other hand the enemy, if equipped with repeating rifles or
automatic pistols, is able to inflict appreciable damage upon the
craft overhead, the difficulties of firing vertically into the 
air notwithstanding.

In the Vickers system, where the propeller is mounted behind the
car, the aeroplane thus operating upon the pusher principle, the
nose of the car is occupied by the arm, which is a rifle calibre
machine gun fitted upon a special mounting.  The prow is provided
with an embrasure for the weapon and the latter is so installed
as to command an angle of 30 degrees on all sides of the
longitudinal axis of the machine when in flight.  In this
instance the marksman is provided with complete protection on all
sides, inasmuch as his position is in the prow, where the hood of
the fo'c's'le shields him from overhead attack.  The gun is
protected by a special shield which moves with the gun barrel. 
This shield is provided with mica windows, through which the
gunner is able to sight his arm, so that he is not inconvenienced
in any way by the wind draught.

One shortcoming of such methods of arming an aeroplane will be
observed.  Ahead firing only is possible; the weapon cannot be
trained astern, while similarly the line of fire on either
broadside is severely limited.  This is one reason why the
machine-gun armament of aerial craft of the heavier-than-air type
has not undergone extensive development.  In many instances the
pilot and observer have expressed their preference for repeating
high velocity rifles over any form of fixed gun mounting, and
have recourse to the latter only when the conditions are
extremely favourable to its effective employment.

Efforts are now being made to equip the military type of
aeroplane with both forward and astern firing guns.  The urgency
of astern fire has been brought home very vividly.  Suppose, for
instance, two hostile aeroplanes, A and B, are in the air.  A has
the advantage at first, but B is speedier and rapidly overhauls
A.  During the whole period of the overhauling movement the
gun of B can be directed upon A, while the latter, owing to the
arc of training being limited to c d cannot reply.  Obviously in
the running fight it would be to the advantage of B, although the
fleeter machine, to keep behind A (position 1), but the latter is
making towards its own lines.

Under these circumstances A must be headed off, so B crowds on
speed to consummate this end.  But in the overtaking process B
renders his gun-fire ineffective, inasmuch as B passes beyond the
arc of his gun which is represented by e f.  But in so doing B
comes within the firing arc of A (position 9).  To minimise this
danger B ascends to a higher level to obtain the paramount
position.

If, however, B were equipped with an astern gun the aeroplane A
would be within the fire of B when the forward gun of the latter
could not be used.  Similarly if A were also fitted with an
astern gun it would be able to attack its pursuer the whole
time B was to its rear and in this event, if its gun-fire were
superior, it would be able to keep the latter to a safe distance,
or compel B to manoeuvre into a superior position, which would
entail a certain loss of time.

An astern firing gun would be valuable to B in another sense. 
Directly it had passed A or brought the latter within the zone of
its astern gun it could maintain its fire at the most
advantageous range, because owing to its speed it would be able
to dictate the distance over which shots should be exchanged and
if mounted with a superior weapon would be able to keep beyond
the range of A's guns while at the same time it would keep A
within range of its own gun and consequently rake the latter.  In
the interests of self-preservation A would be compelled to
change its course; in fact, B would be able to drive it in any
direction he desired, as he would command A's movements by
gun-fire.

The value of combined ahead and astern firing has been
appreciated, but there is one difficulty which at the moment
appears to be insuperable the clearance of the propeller.  At the
moment astern-firing, if such it may be called, is maintained by
repeating rifles, but this armament is not to be compared with
machine-gun firing, as the latter with its capacity to pour 400
to 600 shots a minute, is far more deadly, particularly when the
weapon is manipulated by a crack gunner.

Up to the present the offensive armament of aeroplanes has been
confined to light machine guns such as the Hotchkiss, Berthier,
Schwartlose, and Maxim weapons.  So far as the arming of
aeroplanes is concerned the indispensable condition is light
weight.  With airships this factor is not so vital, the result
being that some dirigibles are mounted with guns, throwing one
pound bursting shells, fitted either with delay action or
percussion fuses, the former for preference.  These shells are
given a wide cone of dispersion.  Experiments are also being made
with a gun similar to the pom-pom which proved so useful in South
Africa, the gun throwing small shells varying from four to eight
ounces in weight at high velocity and in rapid succession.  While
such missiles would not be likely to inflict appreciable damage
upon an armoured aeroplane, they would nevertheless be
disconcerting to the aviators subjected to such fire, and in
aerial combats the successful undermining of the adversary's
moral is of far greater importance than in land operations, since
immediately ascendancy in the artillery operations is attained
the final issue is a matter of moments.

But the most devastating arm which has yet been contrived for
aerial operations is the light machine gun which has recently
been perfected.  The one objective with this weapon is to disable
the hostile aircraft's machinery.  It fires an armour piercing
projectile which, striking the motor of any aircraft, would
instantly put the latter out of action.  The shell has a diameter
of about .75 inch and weighs about four ounces.  The gun is a
hybrid of the mitrailleuse and the French "Soixante-quinze,"
combining the firing rapidity of the former with the recoil
mechanism of the latter.  This missile has established its
ability to penetrate the defensive armouring of any aeroplane and
the motor of the machine at 1,000 yards' range.  This offensive
arm is now being manufactured, so that it is likely to be seen in
the near future as the main armament of aeroplanes.

At the moment widespread efforts are being made in the direction
of increasing the offensive efficiency of aircraft.  It is one of
the phases of ingenuity which has been stimulated into activity
as a result of the war.



CHAPTER XII
BATTLES IN THE AIR

Ever since the days of Jules Verne no theme has proved so popular
in fiction as fighting in the air.  It was a subject which lent
itself to vivid imagination and spirited picturesque portrayal. 
Discussion might be provoked, but it inevitably proved abortive,
inasmuch as there was a complete absence of data based upon
actual experience.  The novelist was without any theory: he
avowedly depended upon the brilliance of his imagination.  The
critic could only theorise, and no matter how dogmatic his
reasonings, they were certainly as unconvincing as those of the
object of his attack.

But truth has proved stranger than fiction.  The imaginative
pictures of the novelist have not only been fulfilled but
surpassed, while the theorising critic has been utterly
confounded.  Fighting in the air has become so inseparable from
the military operations of to-day that it occurs with startling
frequency.  A contest between hostile aeroplanes, hundreds of
feet above the earth, is no longer regarded as a dramatic,
thrilling spectacle: it has become as matter-of-fact as a bayonet
melee between opposed forces of infantry.

A duel in the clouds differs from any other form of encounter. 
It is fought mercilessly: there can be no question of quarter or
surrender.  The white flag is no protection, for the simple
reason that science and mechanical ingenuity have failed, so far,
to devise a means of taking an aeroplane in tow.  The victor has
no possible method of forcing the vanquished to the ground in his
own territory except driving.  If such a move be made there is
the risk that the latter will take the advantage of a critical
opportunity to effect his escape, or to turn the tables.  For
these reasons the fight is fought to a conclusive finish.

To aspire to success in these combats waged in the trackless
blue, speed, initiative, and daring are essential.  Success falls
to the swift in every instance.  An aeroplane travelling at a
high speed, and pursuing an undulating or irregular trajectory is
almostimpossible to hit from the ground, as sighting is so
extremely difficult.  Sighting from another machine, which
likewise is travelling rapidly, and pursuing an irregular path,
is far more so.  Unless the attacker can approach relatively
closely to his enemy the possibility of hitting him is extremely
remote.  Rifle or gun-fire must be absolutely point blank.

When a marauding aeroplane is espied the attacking corsair
immediately struggles for the strategical position, which is
above his adversary.  To fire upwards from one aeroplane at
another is virtually impossible, at least with any degree of
accuracy.  The marksman is at a hopeless disadvantage.  If the
pilot be unaccompanied and entirely dependent upon his own
resources he cannot hope to fire vertically above him, for the
simple reason that in so doing he must relinquish control of his
machine.  A rifle cannot possibly be sighted under such
conditions, inasmuch as it demands that the rifleman shall lean
back so as to obtain control of his weapon and to bring it to
bear upon his objective.  Even if a long range Mauser or other
automatic pistol of the latest type be employed, two hands are
necessary for firing purposes, more particularly as, under such
conditions, the machine, if not kept under control, is apt to
lurch and pitch disconcertingly.

Even a colleague carried for the express purpose of aggression is
handicapped.  If he has a machinegun, such as a Maxim or a
mitrailleuse, it is almost out of the question to train it
vertically.  Its useful vertical training arc is probably limited
to about 80 degrees, and at this elevation the gunner has to
assume an extremely uncomfortable position, especiauy upon an
aeroplane, where, under the best of circumstances, he is somewhat
cramped.

On the other hand the man in the aeroplane above holds the
dominating position.  He is immediately above his adversary and
firing may be carried out with facility.  The conditions are
wholly in his favour.  Sighting and firing downwards, even if
absolutely vertically, imposes the minimum physical effort, with
the result that the marksman is able to bring a steadier aim upon
his adversary.  Even if the machine be carrying only the pilot,
the latter is able to fire upon his enemy without necessarily
releasing control of his motor, even for a moment.

If he is a skilled sharpshooter, and the exigencies demand, he
can level, sight, and fire his weapon with one hand, while under
such circumstances an automatic self-loading pistol can be
trained upon the objective with the greatest ease.  If the
warplane be carrying a second person, acting as a gunner, the
latter can maintain an effective rifle fusillade, and, at the
same time, manipulate his machine-gun with no great effort,
maintaining rifle fire until the pilot, by manoeuvring, can
enable the mitrailleuse or Maxim to be used to the greatest
advantage.

Hence the wonderful display of tactical operations when two
hostile aeroplanes sight one another.  The hunted at first
endeavours to learn the turn of speed which his antagonist
commands.  If the latter is inferior, the pursued can either
profit from his advantage and race away to safety, or at once
begin to manoeuvre for position.  If he is made of stern stuff,
he attempts the latter feat without delay.  The pursuer, if he
realises that he is out classed in pace, divines that his quarry
will start climbing if he intends to show fight, so he begins to
climb also.

Now success in this tactical move will accrue to the machine
which possesses the finest climbing powers, and here again, of
course, speed is certain to count.  But, on the other hand, the
prowess of the aviator--the human element once more--must not be
ignored.  The war has demonstrated very convincingly that the
personal quality of the aviator often becomes the decisive
factor.

A spirited contest in the air is one of the grimmest and most
thrilling spectacles possible to conceive, and it displays the
skill of the aviator in a striking manner.  Daring sweeps,
startling wheels, breathless vol-planes, and remarkable climbs
are carried out.  One wonders how the machine can possibly
withstand the racking strains to which it is subjected.  The
average aeroplane demands space in which to describe a turn, and
the wheel has to be manipulated carefully and dexterously, an
operation requiring considerable judgment on the part of the
helmsman.

But in an aerial duel discretion is flung to the winds.  The
pilot jambs his helm over in his keen struggle to gain the
superior position, causing the machine to groan and almost to
heel over.  The stem stresses of war have served to reveal the
perfection of the modern aeroplane together with the remarkable
strength of its construction.  In one or two instances, when a
victor has come to earth, subsequent examination has revealed the
enormous strains to which the aeroplane has been subjected.  The
machine has been distorted; wires have been broken--wires which
have succumbed to the enormous stresses which have been imposed
and have not been snapped by rifle fire.  One well-known British
airman, who was formerly a daring automobilist, confided to me
that a fight in the air "is the finest reliability trial for an
aeroplane that was ever devised!"

In these desperate struggles for aerial supremacy the one party
endeavours to bring his opponent well within the point-blank
range of his armament: the other on his part strives just as
valiantly to keep well out of reach.  The latter knows fully well
that his opponent is at a serious disadvantage when beyond
point-blank range, for the simple reason that in sighting the
rifle or automatic pistol, it is difficult, if not impossible
while aloft, to judge distances accurately, and to make the
correct allowances for windage.

If, however, the dominating aviator is armed with a machine gun
he occupies the superior position, because he can pour a steady
hail of lead upon his enemy.  The employment of such a weapon
when the contest is being waged over friendly territory has many
drawbacks.  Damage is likely to be infficted among innocent
observers on the earth below; the airman is likely to bombard his
friends.  For this very reason promiscuous firing, in the hope
of a lucky shot finding a billet in the hostile machine, is not
practised.  Both parties appear to reserve their fire until they
have drawn within what may be described as fighting distance,
otherwise point blank range, which may be anything up to 300
yards.

Some of the battles between the German and the French or British
aeroplanes have been waged with a total disregard of the
consequences.  Both realise that one or the other must perish,
and each is equally determined to triumph.  It is doubtful
whether the animosity between the opposing forces is manifested
anywhere so acutely as in the air.  In some instances the combat
has commenced at 300 feet or so above the earth, and has been
fought so desperately, the machines climbing and endeavouring to
outmanoeuvre each other, that an altitude of over 5,000 feet has
been attained before they have come to close grips.

The French aviator is nimble, and impetuous: the German aviator
is daring, but slow in thought: the British airman is a master of
strategy, quick in thought, and prepared to risk anything to
achieve his end.  The German airman is sent aloft to reconnoitre
the enemy and to communicate his information to his headquarters. 
That is his assigned duty and he performs it mechanically,
declining to fight, as the welfare of his colleagues below is
considered to be of more vital importance than his personal
superiority in an aerial contest.  But if he is cornered he
fights with a terrible and fatalistic desperation.

The bravery of the German airmen is appreciated by the Allies. 
The French flying-man, with his traditional love for individual
combat, seeks and keenly enjoys a duel.  The British airman
regards such a contest as a mere incident in the round of
duty, but willingly accepts the challenge when it is offered.  It
is this manifestation of what may be described as acquiescence in
any development that enabled the British flying corps, although
numerically inferior, to gain its mastery of the air so
unostentatiously and yet so completely.

All things considered an aeroplane duel is regarded as a fairly
equal combat.  But what of a duel between an aeroplane and a
dirigible?  Which holds the advantage?  This question has not
been settled, at any rate conclusively, but it is generally
conceded that up to a certain point the dirigible is superior.
It certainly offers a huge and attractive target, but rifle fire
at its prominent gas-bag is not going to cause much havoc.  The
punctures of the envelope may represent so many vents through
which the gas within may effect a gradual escape, but
considerable time must elapse before the effect of such a
bombardment becomes pronounced in its result, unless the gas-bag
is absolutely riddled with machine gun-fire, when descent must be
accelerated.

On the other hand, it is to be presumed that the dirigible is
armed.  In this event it has a distinct advantage.  It has a
steady gun-platform enabling the weapons of offence to be trained
more easily and an enhanced accuracy of,fire to be obtained.  In
order to achieve success it is practically imperative that an
aeroplane should obtain a position above the dirigible, but the
latter can ascend in a much shorter space of time, because its
ascent is vertical, whereas the aeroplane must describe a spiral
in climbing.  Under these circumstances it is relatively easy for
the airship to outmanoeuvre the aeroplane in the vertical plane,
and to hold the dominating position.

But even should the aeroplane obtain the upper position it is not
regarded with fear.  Some of the latest Zeppelins have a machine
gun mounted upon the upper surface of the envelope, which can
be trained through 360 degrees and elevated to about 80 degrees
vertical.  Owing to the steady gun platform offered it holds
command in gun-fire, so that the aeroplane, unless the aviator is
exceptionally daring, will not venture within the range of
the dirigible.  It is stated, however, that this upper gun has
proved unsatisfactory, owing to the stresses and strains imposed
upon the framework of the envelope of the Zeppelin during firing,
and it has apparently been abandoned.  The position, however, is
still available for a sniper or sharpshooter.

The position in the sky between two such combatants is closely
analogous to that of a torpedo boat and a Dreadnought.  The
latter, so long as it can keep the former at arm's, or rather
gun's, distance is perfectly safe.  The torpedo boat can only
aspire to harass its enemy by buzzing around, hoping that a lucky
opportunity will develop to enable it to rush in and to launch
its torpedo.  It is the same with the aeroplane when arrayed
against a Zeppelin.  It is the mosquito craft of the air.

How then can a heavier-than-air machine triumph over the unwieldy
lighter-than-air antagonist?  Two solutions are available.  If it
can get above the dirigible the adroplane may bring about the
dirigible's destruction by the successful launch of a bomb.  The
detonation of the latter would fire the hydrogen within the
gas-bag or bags, in which event the airship would fall to earth a
tangled wreck.  Even if the airship were inflated with a
non-inflammable gas--the Germans claim that their Zeppelins now
are so inflated--the damage wrought by the bomb would be so
severe as to destroy the airship's buoyancy, and it would be
forced to the ground.

The alternative is very much more desperate.  It involves ramming
the dirigible.  This is undoubtedly possible owing to the speed
and facile control of the aeroplane, but whether the operation
would be successful remains to be proved.  The aeroplane would be
faced with such a concentrated hostile fire as to menace its own
existence--its forward rush would be frustrated by the dirigible
just as a naval vessel parries the ramming tactics of an enemy by
sinking the latter before she reaches her target, while if it did
crash into the hull of the dirigible, tearing it to shreds,
firing its gas, or destroying its equilibrium, both protagonists
would perish in the fatal dive to earth.  For this reason ramming
in mid-air is not likely to be essayed except when the situation
is desperate.

What happens when two aeroplanes meet in dire combat in mid-air
and one is vanquished?  Does the unfortunate vessel drop to earth
like a stone, or does it descend steadily and reach the ground
uninjured?  So far as actual experience has proved, either one of
the foregoing contingencies may happen.  In one such duel the
German aeroplane was observed to start suddenly upon a vol-plane
to the ground.  Its descending flight carried it beyond the lines
of the Allies into the territory of its friends.  Both came to
the conclusion that the aviator had effected his escape.  But
subsequent investigation revealed the fact that a lucky bullet
from the Allies' aeroplane had lodged in the brain of the German
pilot, killing him instantly.  At the moment when Death over took
him the aviator had set his plane for the descent to the ground,
and the machine came to earth in the manner of a glider.

But in other instances the descent has been far more tragic.  The
aeroplane, deprived of its motive power, has taken the deadly
headlong dive to earth.  It has struck the ground with terrific
violence, burying its nose in the soil, showing incidentally that
a flying machine is an indifferent plough, and has shattered
itself, the debris soaked with the escaping fuel becoming
ignited.  In any event, after such a fall the machine is certain
to be a wreck.  The motor may escape damage, in which event it
is salvaged, the machine subsequently being purposely sacrificed
to the flames, thereby rendering it no longer available to the
enemy even if captured.  In many instances the hostile fire has
smashed some of the stays and wires, causing the aeroplane to
lose its equilibrium, and sending it to earth in the manner of
the proverbial stone, the aviators either being dashed to pieces
or burned to death.

What are the vulnerable parts of the aeroplane?  While the
deliberate intention of either combatant is to put his antagonist
hors de combat, the disablement of the machine may be achieved
without necessarily killing or even seriously wounding the
hostile airman.  The prevailing type of aeroplane is highly
susceptible to derangement: it is like a ship without armour
plate protection.  The objective of the antagonist is the motor
or the fuel-tank, the vital parts of the machine, as much as the
aviator seated within.

A well-planted shot, which upsets the mechanism of the engine, or
a missile which perforates the fuel tank, thereby depriving the
motor of its sustenance, will ensure victory as conclusively as
the death of the aviator himself.  Rifle fire can achieve either
of these ends with little difficulty.  Apart from these two
nerve-centres, bombardment is not likely to effect the desired
disablement, inasmuch as it cannot be rendered completely
effective.  The wings may be riddled like a sieve, but the
equilibrium of the machine is not seriously imperilled thereby. 
Even many of the stays may be shot away, but bearing in mind the
slender objective they offer, their destruction is likely to be
due more to luck than judgment.  On the other hand, the motor and
fuel tank of the conventional machine offer attractive targets:
both may be put out of action readily, and the disablement of the
motive power of an enemy's craft, be it torpedo-boat, battleship,
or aeroplane, immediately places the same at the assailant's
mercy.

Nevertheless, of course, the disablement of the airman brings
about the desired end very effectively.  It deprives the driving
force of its controlling hand; The aeroplane becomes like a ship
without a rudder: a vessel whose helmsman has been shot down.  It
is unmanageable, and likely to become the sport of the element in
which it moves.  It is for this reason that aviators have been
urged to direct their fire upon the men and mechanism of a
dirigible in the effort to put it out of action.  An uncontrolled
airship is more likely to meet with its doom than an aeroplane. 
The latter will inevitably glide to earth, possibly damaging
itself seriously in the process, as events in the war have
demonstrated, but a helpless airship at once becomes the sport of
the wind, and anyone who has assisted, like myself, in the
descent of a vessel charged with gas and floating in the air, can
appreciate the difficulties experienced in landing.  An
uncontrolled Zeppelin, for instance, would inevitably pile up in
a tangled twisted ruin if forced to descend in the manner of an
ordinary balloon.  Consequently the pilot of a dirigible realises
to the full the imperative urgency of keeping beyond the
point-blank fire of aerial mosquito craft.

The assiduity with which British aviators are prepared to swarm
to the attack has been responsible for a display of commendable
ingenuity on the part of the German airman.  Nature has provided
some of its creatures, such as the octopus, for instance, with
the ways and means of baffling its pursuers.  It emits dense
clouds of inky fluid when disturbed, and is able to effect its
escape under cover of this screen.

The German aviator has emulated the octopus.  He carries not only
explosive bombs but smoke balls as well.  When he is pursued and
he finds himself in danger of being overtaken, the Teuton aviator
ignites these missiles and throws them overboard.  The aeroplane
becomes enveloped in a cloud of thick impenetrable smoke.  It is
useless to fire haphazard at the cloud, inasmuch as it does not
necessarily cover the aviator.  He probably has dashed out of the
cloud in such a way as to put the screen between himself and his
pursuer.

In such tactics he has merely profited by a method which is
practised freely upon the water.  The torpedo boat flotilla when
in danger of being overwhelmed by superior forces will throw off
copious clouds of smoke.  Under this cover it is able to steal
away, trusting to the speed of the craft to carry them well
beyond gunshot.  The "smoke screen," as it is called, is an
accepted and extensively practised ruse in naval strategy, and is
now adopted by its mosquito colleagues of the air.



CHAPTER XIII
TRICKS AND RUSES TO BAFFLE THE AIRMAN

The airman has not been allowed to hold his undisputed sway in
military operations for long.  Desperate situations demand
drastic remedies and already considerable and illuminating
ingenuity is being displayed to baffle and mislead the scout of
the skies.

It is a somewhat curious and noteworthy fact, that the Germans
were among the first to realise the scope of the airman's
activities, and the significance of their relation to the
conveyance of intimate information and the direction of artillery
fire.  Consequently, they now spare no effort to convey illusory
information, in the hope that the hostile force may ultimately
make a false move which may culminate in disaster.

Thus, for instance, as much endeavour is bestowed upon the
fashioning of dummy trenches as upon the preparation of the
actual lines of defence.  And every care will be taken to
indicate that the former are strongly held.  The dug-outs are
complete and at places are apparently cunningly masked.  If the
airman is flying swiftly, he is likely to fail to distinguish the
dummy from the real trenches.  To him the defences appear to be
far more elaborate and more strongly held than is the actual
case.

The advantage of this delusion is obvious when a retreat is being
made.  It enables the enemy to withdraw his forces deliberately
and in perfect order, and to assume another and stronger position
comparatively at leisure.  The difficulty of detecting the
dummies is emphasised, inasmuch as now, whenever the sound of an
aeroplane is heard, or a glimpse thereof is obtained, the men
keep well down and out of sight.  Not a sign of movement is
observable.  For all the airman may know to the contrary, the
trenches may be completely empty, whereas, as a matter of fact,
they are throbbing with alert infantry, anxious for a struggle
with the enemy.

This is one instance where the dirigible is superior to the
aeroplane.  The latter can only keep circling round and round
over the suspicious position;  the movement through the air
interferes with close continuous observation.  On the other hand,
the dirigible can maintain a stationary position aloft for hours
on end.  Then the issue is resolved into a contest of patience,
with the advantage to the airman.  The soldiers in the trenches
fret and fume under cover; confined concealment is irksome and is
a supreme test of the nerves.  Unless the soldiers are made of
very stern stuff, physical endurance succumbs.  Some rash act--
apparently very trivial--may be committed; it suffices for the
vigilant sentinel overhead.  He detects the slender sign of life,
forms his own conclusions, and returns to his headquarters with
the intelligence that the enemy is playing "Brer Rabbit."

It has also become increasingly difficult for the airman to
gather absolutely trustworthy data concerning the disposition and
movement of troops.  Small columns are now strung out along the
highways to convey the impression that the moving troops are in
far greater force than is actually the case, while the main body
is under the cover offered by a friendly wood and is safe from
detection.  The rapidity with which thousands of men are able
to disappear when the word "Airman" is passed round is
astonishing.  They vanish as completely and suddenly as if
swallowed by the earth or dissolved into thin air.  They conceal
themselves under bushes,in ditches, lie prone under hedgerows,
dart into houses and outbuildings--in short, take every cover
which is available, no matter how slender it may seem, with
baffling alacrity.  The attenuated column, however, is kept
moving along the highway for the express purpose of deceiving the
airman.

Advancing troops also are now urged to move forward under the
shelter of trees, even if the task entails marching in single or
double file, to escape the prying eyes of the man above.  By
keeping close to the line of trunks, thus taking full advantage
of the overhanging branches, and marching in such a manner as to
create little dust, it is possible to escape the aerial scout.

The concealment of cavalry, however, is somewhat difficult.  An
animal, especially if he be unaccustomed to the noise of the
aeroplane, is likely to become startled, and to give vent to a
frightened and vociferous neighing which invariably provokes a
hearty response from his equine comrades.  The sharp ear of the
airman does not fail to distinguish this sound above the music of
his motor.  Again, he has come to regard all copses and stretches
of undergrowth with suspicion.  Such may or may not harbour the
enemy, but there is no risk in making an investigation.  He
swoops down, and when a short distance above the apparently
innocent copse, circles round it two or three times.  Still
undecided, he finally hurls a bomb.  Its detonation invariably
proves effective.  The horses stampede and the secret is out. 
Even foot soldiers must be severely trained and experienced to
resist the natural inclination to break cover when such a missile
is hurled into their midst.

Frequently a force, which has laboured under the impression that
it is safe from detection, has revealed its presence unwittingly
and upon the spur of the moment.  If the men be steeled against
the bomb attack, it is almost impossible to resist the
inclination to take a shot when the airman, swooping down,
ventures so temptingly near as to render him an enticing target
almost impossible to miss.  As a rule, however, the observer is
on the alert for such a betrayal of a force's existence.  When
the bomb fails to scatter the enemy, or the men are proof against
the temptation to fire a volley, a few rounds from the
aeroplane's machine gun often proves effective.  If the copse
indeed be empty no harm is done, beyond the abortive expenditure
of a few rounds of ammunition: if it be occupied, the fruits of
the manoeuvre are attractive.  Cunning is matched against
cunning, and the struggle for supremacy in the art of craftiness
is keen.

The French Flying Corps have had recourse to an ingenious ruse
for accomplishing two ends--the one to draw concealed artillery
fire, and the other to pre-occupy the airmen.  Two German aerial
scouts observed a French machine flying at a somewhat venturesome
height over their masked artillery.  Divining the reason for the
hostile intrepidity they  gave chase.  Circling round the French
machine they assailed it with machine-gun fire.  The enemy
appeared to take no notice but continued his gradual descent in a
steady line.

Presently the German airmen, having drawn sufficiently near,
observed that the French aviator was inert.  Had he been killed? 
Everything pointed to such a conclusion, especially as they had
raked the aeroplane fore and aft with bullets.  But still
suspicious they continued their circling movements, their
attention so concentrated upon their quarry that they had not
observed another move.  It was the crash of guns from their
masked artillery which broke in upon their absorption.  Looking
round, they observed three French aeroplanes soaring around and
above them at high speed.  Scarcely had they realised the
situation before a spirited mitraireuse fire was rained upon
them.  One of the German aeroplanes was speedily disabled.  Its
fuel tank was riddled and it sank rapidly, finally crashing to
earth in the deadly dive head foremost, and killing both its
occupants in the fall.  The second aeroplane hurried away with
its pilot wounded.  In the excitement of the aerial melee the
first French aeroplane had been forgotten.  It was now scarcely
100 feet above the German artillery.  A capture appeared to be
imminent, but the Germans received a rude surprise.  Suddenly the
aeroplane exploded and a hail of shrapnel burst over the heads of
the artillerymen.

The circumstance was decidedly uncanny, but after two or three
such experiences of exploding aeroplanes the matter was
explained.  The apparently helpless aeroplane was merely a
glider, which, instead of carrying a man, had a booby-trap
aboard.

It appears that the French airmen have found a use for the
aeroplanes which are considered unsafe for further use.  The
motor and propeller are removed and the dummy of explosives is
strapped into position.  The laden glider is then taken aloft by
means of an airship, and in the concealment of the clouds is
released, the rudder being so set as to ensure a gradual
vol-plane towards the suspicious position below.  The explosive
cargo is set with a time fuse, the arrangement being that the
contents will be detonated while the machine is near the ground,
unless this end is accelerated by a well-planted shell from an
anti-aircraft gun.  The decoy glider is generally accompanied by
one or two aeroplanes under control, which keep under the cover
of the clouds until the hostile aviators have been drawn into the
air, when they swoop down to the attack.  The raiders are fully
aware that they are not likely to become the target of fire from
the ground, owing to the fact that the enemy's artillery might
hit its friends.  Consequently the antagonistic airmen are left
to settle their own account.  In the meantime the dummy machine
draws nearer to the ground to explode and to scatter its
death-dealing fragments of steel, iron, and bullets in all
directions.

Possibly in no other phase of warfare is subterfuge practised so
extensively as in the concealment of guns.  The branches of trees
constitute the most complete protection and guns are placed in
position beneath a liberal cover of this character.  The branches
also offer a screen for the artillerymen, who can lurk beneath
this shelter until the aeroplane has passed.  To complete the
illusion dummy guns fashioned from tree trunks and the wheels of
useless limbers are rigged up, and partially hidden under
branches, the idea being to convey the impression to the man
aloft that they are the actual artillery.

The aerial scout observes the dummies beneath the sparse covering
of branches.  Congratulating himself upon his sharp eyesight, he
returns to his base with the intelligence that he has found the
enemy's guns he indicates their position upon the map, and in
some cases returns to notify the position of the weapons by
smoke-ball or tinsel, when they are immediately subjected to a
severe bombardment.  He follows the shell-fire and sees the arms
put out of action.  He returns to camp satisfied with his
exploit, oblivious of the smiles and laughter of the hostile
artillerymen, who have their guns safely in position and well
masked some distance away.  The dummies are imperfectly concealed
purposely, so that they may be discovered by the aerial scout,
while the real guns are completely masked and ready to belch
forth from another point.  In one or two cases the dummies have
been rigged up in such a manner as to convey the impression, when
seen from aloft, that a whole battery has been put out of action,
barrels and wheels as well as broken limbers strewing the ground
in all directions.

Moving masses of soldiers are also resorting to cunning in order
to mislead the airman or to escape his observation.  At the
battle of Haelen, during which engagement the German warplanes
were exceptionally active, the Belgian soldiers covered their
heads with bundles of wheat snatched from the standing stooks,
and under this cover lurked in a field where the corn was still
standing.  From aloft their forms defied detection: the
improvised headgear completely covered them and blended
effectively with the surrounding wheat.  In another instance the
French misled a German airman somewhat effectively.  What
appeared to be cavalry was seen to be retreating along the
country road, and the airman returned hurriedly to report.  A
German squadron was dispatched in hasty pursuit.  But as it
rounded a copse skirting the road it received a murderous fire at
close quarters, which decimated the ranks and sent the survivors
flying for their lives along the road up which they had ridden so
confidently.  Had the aviator been in a position to observe the
horses more closely, he would have found that what appeared to be
riders on their backs were in reality sacks stuffed with straw,
dressed in old uniforms, and that a mere handful of men were
driving the animals forward.  The cavalrymen had purposely
dismounted and secreted themselves in the wood in anticipation of
such a pursuit as was made.

While the Germans do not appear to be so enterprising in this
form of ingenuity they have not been idle.  A French airman
flying over the Teuton lines observed the outermost trenches to
be alive with men whose helmets were distinctly visible.  The
airman reported his observations and the trench was subjected to
terrific shell fire.  Subsequently the French made a spirited
charge, but to their dismay found that the outermost German
trench was occupied by dummies fashioned from all sorts of
materials and crowned with helmets!  This ruse had enabled the
German lines to be withdrawn to another position in safety and
comparatively at leisure.

Before war was declared the German military experts were
emphasising the importance of trees for masking troops and guns
against aerial observation.  One of the foremost authorities upon
military aviation only a few months ago urged the German Military
Staff to encourage the planting of orchards, not for the purpose
of benefiting agriculture or in the interests of the farmers, but
merely for military exigencies.

He pointed to the extensive orchards which exist in
Alsace-Lorraine and Baden, the military covering value of which
he had determined from personal experience, having conducted
aerial operations while military were moving to and fro under the
cover of the trees.  He declared that the cover was efficient and
that under the circumstances the laying out of extensive orchards
in strategical places should be carried out without any delay.
This, he urged, was a national and not a private obligation.  He
advocated the bestowal of subsidies on the farmers to encourage
the planting of fruit trees.  He suggested that the trees should
be provided by the State, and given to all who were prepared to
plant them; that substantial prizes should be awarded to
encourage the rapid growth thereof, and that annual prizes should
be awarded to the man who would undertake their cultivation and
pruning, not from the fruit-yielding point of view, but for
facilitating the movement of troops beneath their dense branches.

He even urged the military acquisition of suitable land and its
determined, skilful, and discreet exploitation by those who loved
the Fatherland.  He emphasised the necessity for keeping such
orchards under military control, only vouchsafing sufficient
powers to the local authorities to ensure the desired
consummation.  He maintained that, if the work were prosecuted
upon the right lines and sufficient financial assistance were
given, the purpose in view could be achieved without saddling the
war department with any unremunerative or excessive burden.  He
admitted that the process of raising fruit trees to the stage
when they would afford adequate cover would be tedious and
somewhat prolonged, but argued that the military advantages, such
as enabling troops to move below the welcome shelter with
absolute freedom and without physical fatigue, would be an ample
compensation.

The utility of such cover to artillery was another factor he did
not fail to emphasise.  He dwelt seriously upon the difficulty of
rendering permanent gun emplacements and heavy artillery
invisible to the airman by resort to the usual type of gun
shields.  The latter may be located with ease by alert airmen,
whereas if the guns were under cover of fruit trees they would be
able to accomplish their deadly mission without betraying their
presence to the aerial scout.  Moreover, by pruning the trees in
such a manner as to ensure free movement beneath, the artillery
would be able to advance without betraying the fact to the enemy.

This authority vigorously insisted that the work should be
carried out without a moment's delay  as it was vital to the
Fatherland.  In the light of recent events, and the excellent
cover which is offered by the orchards of the territory he cited
as an illustration of his contention, such a disclosure is
pregnant with meaning.  It throws a new light upon the thorough
methods with which the Germans carried out their military
preparations, and incidentally shows that they were fully alive
to every possible development.  Fruit-raising as a complement to
military operations may be a new line of discussion, but it
serves to reveal the German in his true light, ready for every
contingency, and shows how thoroughly he appreciates the danger
from the man in the clouds.



CHAPTER XIV
ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS.  MOBILE WEAPONS.

When the airship and the aeroplane became accepted units of
warfare it was only natural that efforts should be concentrated
upon the evolution of ways and means to compass their destruction
or, at least, to restrict their field of activity.  But aircraft
appeared to have an immense advantage in combat.  They possess
virtually unlimited space in which to manoeuvre, and are able to
select the elevation from which to hurl their missiles of
destruction.

There is another and even more important factor in their favour. 
A projectile fired, or even dropped, from a height, say of 5,000
feet, is favourably affected by the force of gravity, with the
result that it travels towards the earth with accumulating energy
and strikes the ground with decisive force.

On the other hand, a missile discharged into space from a weapon
on the earth has to combat this action of gravity, which
exercises a powerful nullifying influence upon its flight and
velocity, far in excess of the mere resistance offered by the
air.  In other words, whereas the projectile launched from
aloft has the downward pull of the earth or gravitational force
in its favour, the shell fired from the ground in the reverse
direction has to contend against this downward pull and its
decelerating effect.

At the time when aircraft entered the realms of warfare very
little was known concerning the altitudes to which projectiles
could be hurled deliberately.  Certain conclusive information
upon this point was available in connection with heavy howitzer
fire, based on calculations of the respective angles at which the
projectile rose into the air and fell to the ground, and of the
time the missile took to complete its flight from the gun to the
objective.  But howitzer fire against aircraft was a sheer
impossibility: it was like using a six-inch gun to kill a fly on
a window pane at a thousand yards' range.  Some years ago certain
experiments in aerial firing with a rifle were undertaken in
Switzerland.  The weapon was set vertically muzzle upwards and
discharged.  From the time which elapsed between the issue of the
bullet from the muzzle until it struck the earth it was possible
to make certain deductions, from which it was estimated that the
bullet reached an altitude of 600 feet or so.  But this was
merely conjecture.

Consequently when artillerists entered upon the study of fighting
air-craft with small arms and light guns, they were compelled to
struggle in the dark to a very pronounced extent, and this
darkness was never satisfactorily dispelled until the present
war, for the simple reason that there were no means of getting
conclusive information.  The German armament manufacturers
endeavoured to solve the problem by using smoking shells or
missiles fitted with what are known as tracers.  By following the
ascensional path of the projectiles as revealed by the smoke it
was possible to draw certain conclusions.  But these were by no
means convincing or illuminating, as so many factors affected the
issue.

Despite the peculiar and complex difficulties associated with the
problem it was attacked some what boldly.  In this trying field
of artillery research the prominent German armament
manufacturers, Krupp of Essen and Ehrhardt of Dusseldorf, played
a leading part, the result being that before the airship or the
aeroplane was received within the military fold, the
anti-aircraft gun had been brought into the field of applied
science.  The sudden levelling-up serves to illustrate the
enterprise of the Germans in this respect as well as their
perspicacity in connection with the military value of aircraft.

Any gun we can hope to employ against aircraft with some degree
of success must fulfil special conditions, for it has to deal
with a difficult and elusive foe.  Both the lighter-than-air and
the heavier than-air craft possess distinctive features and
varying degrees of mobility.  Taking the first-named, the
facility with which it can vary its altitude is a disconcerting
factor, and is perplexing to the most skilful gunner, inasmuch as
he is called upon to judge and change the range suddenly.

On the other hand, the artilleryman is favoured in certain
directions.  The range of utility of the airship is severely
limited.  If its avowed mission is reconnaissance and conclusive
information concerning the disposition of forces, artillery and
so forth is required, experience has proved that such work cannot
be carried out satisfactorily or with any degree of accuracy at a
height exceeding 5,000 feet, and a distance beyond six miles. 
But even under these circumstances the climatic conditions must
be extremely favourable.  If the elements are unpropitious the
airship must venture nearer to its objective.  These data were
not difficult to collect, inasmuch as they were more or less
available from the results of military observations with captive
balloons, the conditions being somewhat similar.  With the
ordinary captive balloon it has been found that, in clear
weather, a radius of about 3 3/4 miles at the maximum elevation
constitutes its range of reliable utility.

With the aeroplane, however, the conditions are very dissimilar. 
In the first place the machine owing to its diminutive size as
compared with the airship, offers a small and inconspicuous
target.  Then there is its high independent speed, which is far
beyond that of the airship.  Furthermore its mobility is greater. 
It can wheel, turn sharply to the right or to the left, and
pursue an irregular undulating flight in the horizontal plane,
which renders it well nigh impossible for a gunner to pick it up. 
The machine moves at a higher relative speed than that at which
the gun can be trained.  It is the rapid and devious variation
which so baffles the gunner, who unless he be highly skilled and
patient, is apt to commence to fire wildly after striving for a
few moments, and in vain, to pick up the range; he trusts to luck
or depends upon blind-shooting, which invariably results in a
waste of ammunition.

A gun, to be of tangible destructive efficiency when directed
against aircraft, especially those depending upon the gas-bag for
equilibrium, must be of special design.  It must be capable of
firing at an angle only a few degrees less than the absolute
vertical, and in order to follow the rapid and involved movements
of its objective, must be so mobile that it can be trained
through a complete circle at any angle of inclination less than
its maximum.  At the same time, if the weapon is being used in
field operations it must be mounted upon a carriage of adequate
mobility to enable it to follow the airship, and thereby keep
pace with the latter, so that the aerial craft may be sorely
harassed if not actually hit.  The automobile is the obvious
vehicle for this duty, and it has accordingly been extensively
used in this service.

The automobile and the gun mounted thereon follow widely
different lines.  Some vehicles are designed especially for this
duty, while others are improvisations, and be it noted, in
passing, that many of the latter have proved more serviceable
than the former.  Still, the first-named is to be preferred,
inasmuch as necessarily it is designed to meet the all-round
requirements imposed, and consequently is better able to stand up
to the intended work, whereas the extemporised vehicle is only
serviceable under favourable conditions.

The Krupp Company has evolved many designs of anti-aircraft
motor-driven guns--"Archibalds" the British airmen term them with
emphatic levity.  They are sturdily-built vehicles fitted with
heavy motors, developing from 40 to 50 horse-power, with the
chassis not widely dissimilar from that adopted for motor-omnibus
traffic.  Consequently, they are not necessarily condemned to the
high-roads, but within certain limits are able to travel across
country, i.e., upon fields or other level expanses, where the
soil is not unduly soft.

But the very character of the problem rendered the evolution of
the vehicle a somewhat perplexing matter.  There were many
factors which had to be taken into consideration, and it was
possible to meet the imposed requirements only within certain
limits.  In the first place, the weight of the gun itself had to
be kept down.  It was obviously useless to overload the chassis. 
Again, the weight of the projectile and its velocity had to be
borne in mind.  A high velocity was imperative.  Accordingly, an
initial velocity varying from 2,200 to 2,700 feet per second,
according to the calibre of the gun, was determined.

Moreover, as mobility was an indispensable condition, the gun had
to be so mounted that it could be fired from the motor-car even
if the latter were travelling at high speed.  This requirement
entailed another difficulty.  The gun had to be mounted in such a
manner as to enable the gunner to train it easily and readily
through the complete circle and through its complete range of
vertical inclination.  As the result of prolonged experiments it
was ascertained that the most suitable arrangement was a pedestal
mounting, either within a turret or upon an open deck.  To meet
the weight of the gun, as well as the strains and stresses
incidental to firing, the chassis was strengthened, especially 
over the rear axle near which the mounting is placed.

The heaviest gun of this type is the 10.5 centimetre (4 1/4-inch)
quick-firer, throwing a shell weighing nearly forty pounds, with
an initial velocity of 2,333 feet per second.  This "Archibald"
is totally unprotected.  The gun is mounted centrally upon the
carriage over the rear axle, and occupies the centre of the deck
between the driver's seat and that of the gun crew behind.  The
whole of the deck is clear, thereby offering no obstruction to
the gunner in training the weapon, while the space may be widened
by dropping down the wings of the vehicle.  At the rear is a seat
to accommodate the gun crew, beneath which the ammunition is
stowed.  When travelling and out of action, the gun lies
horizontally, the muzzle pointing from the rear of the car.

To reduce the strains arising from firing, the arm is fitted with
what is known as the "differential recoil."  Above the breach is
an air recuperator and a piston, while there is no hydraulic
brake such as is generally used.  The compressor is kept under
compression while the car is travelling with the gun out of
action, so that the arm is available for instant firing.  This is
a departure from the general practice in connection with such
weapons.  When the gun is loaded the bolt which holds the
compressor back is withdrawn, either by the hand for manual
firing, or by the action of the automatic closing of the
breech when the arm is being used as a quick-firer.  In firing
the gun is thrown forward under the pressure of the released air
which occurs at the moment of discharge.  The energy of the
recoil brings the gun back and at the same time recharges the
compressed air reservoir.

The gun is so mounted upon its pedestal as to enable a maximum
vertical inclination of 75 degrees to be obtained.  The mounting
system also enables the weapon to be trained in any desired
direction up to the foregoing maximum elevation throughout a
complete circle, and it can be handled with ease and celerity.  A
smaller "Archibald" is the 7.5 centimetre (3-inch gun) throwing a
14.3 pound shell at an initial velocity of about 2,170 feet per
second.

The turret anti-aircraft gun carried upon a motor-car differs
from the foregoing very considerably.  This is a protected arm. 
The gun of 7.1 centimetres--approximately 2.75 inches--is mounted
in the same manner upon the car-deck and over the driving axle,
but is enclosed within a sheet steel turret, which is proof
against rifle and machine-gun fire.  This turret resembles the
conning-tower of a battleship, and is sufficiently spacious to
house the whole of the gun crew, the internal diameter being
about seven feet.  Access to the turret is obtained through a
rear door.  This gun has a maximum elevation of about 75 degrees,
while its operation and mechanism are similar to those of the
unprotected weapon.

The vehicle itself is practically identical with the armoured
motor-car, which has played such an important part during the
present campaign, the driver being protected by a bullet-proof
steel screen similar in design to the ordinary glass wind-screen
fitted to touring automobiles.  This is carried sufficiently high
to offer complete protection to his head when seated at the
wheel, while through a small orifice in this shield he is able to
obtain a clear view of the road.  The engine and its vital parts
are also adequately protected.  The ammunition is carried in a
cupboard-like recess forming part of the driver's seat, encased
in bullet-proof steel sheeting with flap-doors.  This device
enables the shells to be withdrawn readily from the side of the
car and passed to the crew within the turret.  The caisson is of
sufficient dimensions to receive 69 shells.

The Ehrhardt airship fighting ordnance is similarly adapted to
motor-car operations, one type being especially powerful.  The
whole of the vehicle is encased in armour-plating impervious to
rifle and machine-gun fire.  The driver is provided with a small
orifice through which he is able to obtain a clear uninterrupted
view of the road ahead, while the armouring over the tonneau is
carried to a sufficient height to allow head-room to the gun crew
when standing at the gun.  All four wheels are of the disk type
and fashioned from heavy sheet steel.  The motor develops 40-50
horse-power and, in one type, in order to mitigate the risk of
breakdown or disablement, all four wheels are driven.  The gun, a
small quick-firer, is mounted on a pedestalin a projecting
conning-tower.  The mounting is placed behind the driver's seat,
and is trained and operated from the tonneau.  The maximum
elevation is 75 degrees, and like the gun carriage bearing the
tube guide it can be moved through a complete circle, being free
to rotate in the fixed pivot jack to enable this end to be
attained.

The foregoing may be said to represent the most powerful types of
mobile anti-aircraft weapons used by the Austro-German forces
to-day.  Arms of similar design, roughly speaking, have also been
introduced into the French and Russian services.  In addition
many semi-armoured weapons of this character are in operation,
some specially built for the work, while others have been
improvised.  In the semi-armoured motor-car the carriage follows
the usual lines; it has an open top, the armouring comprising the
body of the tonneau and the diskwheels, which are made of light
bullet-proof steel.  Here again the prevailing practice is to
mount the gun as nearly above the rear axle as possible, and
to work it from the tonneau.  The maximum elevation is also 75
degrees, with training throughout the entire circle.

Another type comprises a very light machine gun of rifle calibre,
and this is intended for attachment to an ordinary motor car. 
There is a pedestal mounting which can be set within the tonneau,
while the weapon is pivoted in an outrigger, the latter being
free to rotate in its pivot jack.  This arrangement enables the
arm to cover a wide range,while it also admits of training
through an extensive angle of elevation.

The Allied forces improvised travelling anti-aircraft offences
by mounting the latest types of Vickers, Hotchkiss, and other
machine guns in armoured motor cars.  Some of these have the
domed turret form, with the gun projecting through the roof,
while others are protected against hostile attack from the side
only, the carriage being panelled with bullet-proof steel
sheeting.  While such weapons are useful, inasmuch as they can
maintain a hot fire ranging up to 750 shots per minute, they are
not to be compared with the "Archibalds," which are able to throw
heavy shrapnel and incendiary shells, and have a vertical range
of about 6,000 to 8,000 feet.

The improvised motor-gun has not proved a complete success,
except in those instances when the hostile aircraft has ventured
to approach somewhat closely to the ground.  The more formidable
weapons cannot be mounted upon ordinary vehicles, inasmuch as the
increase in weight, which is appreciable, impairs the efficiency
of the vehicle, and at the same time enhances the possibility of
breakdown at a critical moment.  For such arms a special and
substantial chassis is imperative, while the motive power and
gearing must be adapted to the circumstances.

Motor-mounted anti-aircraft weapons, however, have not proved an
unqualified success.  The fact that the vehicles are condemned to
the high roads, or at least to comparatively smooth and level
ground, constitutes a severe handicap.  Again, when travelling at
high speed, and this is essential when pursuing a fast aeroplane,
the accurate laying of the weapon is extremely difficult, owing
to the oscillation of the vehicle itself, especially if the road
surface is in a bad condition.  The sighting arrangements are of
a wonderfully complete character, as described elsewhere, but the
irregular rolling movement arising from high speed is a
nullifying quantity.  It is tolerably easy for the aircraft,
especially an aeroplane, to evade successful pursuit, either by
rising to an elevation beyond the range of the gun, or by
carrying out baffling evolutions such as irregular undulating
flight, wheeling, and climbing.  According to the reports of the
British and French airmen the "Archibald" has failed to establish
the glowing reputation which was anticipated, for the simple
reason that, unless it has a clear straight road and can maintain
its high speed, it can easily be out-distanced by the fleet human
bird.

The motor-car suffers from another serious disability.  It cannot
manoeuvre with sufficient celerity.  For instance, if it is
necessary to turn round in a narrow lane, valuable time is lost
in the process, and this the airman turns to account.  In hilly
country it is at a still greater disadvantage, the inclines,
gradients, and sinuosities of the roads restricting its
effectiveness very pronouncedly.  It must also be remembered
that, relatively speaking, the "Archibald" offers a better target
to the airman than the aeroplane offers to the man behind the
anti-aircraft gun on the motor below.  A few well-placed bombs
are sufficient to induce the pursuers to cease their activities. 
Even if the missiles fail to strike the motor-car itself they can
wreak disaster in directly by rendering the road impassable or
dangerous to negotiate at high speed.  On the whole therefore,
the "Archibald" is a greatly exaggerated weapon of offence
against aircraft, and, so far as is known, has failed to fulfil
expectations.  In fact, the Germans have practically abandoned
the idea of using it in the manner of a pursuing arm; they work
the weapon as a fixture, depending upon the car merely as a means
of moving it from point to point.  Thus, in reality, it has been
converted into a light field-piece, and may almost be included in
the category of fixed weapons for combating aerial operations.



CHAPTER XV
ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS.  IMMOBILE WEAPONS

The immobile anti-aircraft gun, as distinct from that attached to
a travelling carriage such as a motor-car, may be subdivided into
two classes.  The one is the fixed arm which cannot be moved
readily, mounted upon a permanent emplacement; the other is the
field-piece which, while fired from a stationary position, may be
moved from point to point upon a suitable carriage.  The
distinction has its parallel in ordinary artillery, the
first-named weapon coinciding with the heavy siege gun, which is
built into and forms part and parcel of the defensive or
offensive scheme, while the second is analogous to the field
artillery, which may be wheeled from position to position.

In this phase of artillery the Germans led the way, for the
simple reason that they recognised the military value of aerial
navigation years in advance of their contemporaries.  Again, in
this field the Krupp Organisation has played a prominent part.
It embarked upon actual construction of weapons while its rivals
in other countries were content to prepare their drawings, which
were filed against "The Day."  But it must not be thought that
because the German manufacturers of armaments were ahead of
their contemporaries they dominated the situation.  Far from it. 
Their competitors in the market of destruction were every whit as
keen, as ingenious, and as enterprising.  Kruppism saw a
commercial opportunity to profit from advertisement and seized
it: its rivals were content to work in secret upon paper, to keep
pace with the trend of thought, and to perfect their
organisations so as to be ready for the crisis when it developed.

The first Krupp anti-aircraft field-piece was a 6.5 centimetre (2
9/16 inch) arm.  It possessed many interesting features, the most
salient of which was the design of the axle of the carriage.  The
rigid axle for the two wheels was replaced by an axle made in two
sections, and joined together in the form of a universal
coupling, so that each wheel virtually possessed its own axle, or
rather half-axle.  This was connected with the cradle of the gun
in such a manner that the wheels were laterally pivoted thereon.

The result is that each axle can be turned forward together with
its wheel, and thus the wheels have their rims brought into line
to form an arc of a circle, of which the rear end of the spade of
the gun carriage constitutes the centre.  This acts as a pivot,
about which the gun can be turned, the pair of wheels forming the
runners for the achievement of this movement.  The setting of the
weapon in the firing position or its reversion to the travelling
position can be easily and speedily effected merely by the
rotation of a handwheel and gearing.

With this gun a maximum elevation of 60 degrees is possible,
owing to the trunnions being carried well behind the breech in
combination with the system of long steady recoil.  The balancing
spring which encloses the elevating screw is contained in a
protected box.  The recoil brake, together with the spring
recuperator, follows the usual Krupp practice in connection with
ordinary field pieces, as does also the automatic breech-closing
and firing mechanism.  In fact there is no pronounced deviation
from theprevailing Krupp system, and only such modifications as
are necessary to adapt the arm to its special duty.  When the gun
is elevated to high angles the shell, after insertioin the
breech, is prevented from slipping out by means of a special
device, so that the proper and automatic closing of the breech is
not impaired in any way.

In such an arm as this, which is designed essentially for
high-angle firing, the sighting and training facilities require
to be carried out upon special lines, inasmuch as the objective
is necessarily at a considerable altitude above the horizon of
the gun.  In other words, in firing at a high inclination,
distance between the gun and the target cannot be utilised
directly for the back sight.  On the other hand, it is essential
that in proportion as the angle from the horizontal increases,
the back sight should be lowered progressively in a manner
corresponding to the distance.

To assist the range-finder in his task of sighting it is
necessary that he should be provided with firing tables set out
in a convenient form, which, in conjunction with the telemeter,
serve to facilitate training for each successive round.  In this
way it is possible to pick up the range quickly and to keep the
objective in the line of fire until it either has been put hors
de combat, or has succeeded in retiring beyond the range of the
gun.

The sighting arrangements of these Krupp anti-aircraft guns are
carried out upon these lines.  Beneath the barrel of the
back-sight is an observing glass with an eye-piece for the
artillerist, while above and behind the observing glass is
another eye-piece, to be used in conjunction with the
manipulation of the back-sight.  The eye-piece of the observation
glass is so made that it can be turned through a vertical plane
in proportion as the angle of fire increases in relation to the
horizontal.  The determination of the distance from the objective
and from the corresponding back-sight as well as the observation
of the altitude is carried out with the aid of the telemeter. 
This again carries an observation glass fitted with an eye-piece
which can be turned in the vertical plane in the same manner as
that of the fore-sight.  By means of this ingenious sighting
device it is possible to ascertain the range and angle of fire
very easily and speedily.

The weight of the special Krupp anti-aircraft field-piece,
exclusive of the protecting shield, is approximately identical
with that of the ordinary light artillery field-piece.  It throws
a shell weighing 8.8 pounds with an initial velocity of about
2,066 feet per second.

Although the German armament manufacturers were among the first
to enter the field with an anti-aircraft gun of this character
they were speedily followed by the French, who devised a superior
weapon.  In fact, the latter represented such a decisive advance
that the German artillerists did  not hesitate to appropriate
their improvements in sundry essential details, and to
incorporate them with their own weapons.  This applies especially
to the differential recoil system which is utilised in the small
anti-aircraft guns now mounted upon the roofs of high buildings
of cities throughout Germany for the express purpose of repelling
aerial attack.

The French system is admitted by the leading artillery
technicians of the world to be the finest which has ever been
designed, its remarkable success being due to the fact that it
takes advantage of the laws of Nature.  In this system the gun is
drawn back upon its cradle preparatory to firing.  In some
instances the barrel is compressed against a spring, but in the
more modern guns it is forced to rest against a cushion of
compressed air contained within a cylinder.  When first bringing
the gun into action, the barrel is brought into the preliminary
position by manually compressing the air or spring by means of a
lever.  Thereafter the gun works automatically.  When the gun is
fired the barrel is released and it flies forward.  At a critical
point in its forward travel the charge is fired and the
projectile speeds on its way.  The kick or recoil serves to
arrest the forward movement of the barrel and finally drives it
back again against the strong spring or cushion of compressed air
within the cylinder to its normal position, when it is ready for
the introduction of the next shell.

The outstanding feature of this system is that the projectile is
given a higher initial velocity than is possible with the barrel
held rigid at the moment of discharge, because the shell is
already travelling at the moment of firing.

The fixed anti-aircraft guns such as are stationed upon eminences
and buildings are of the quick firing type, the object being to
hurl a steady, con tinuous stream of missiles upon the swiftly
moving aeroplane.  Some of the weapons throw a one-pound shell
and are closely similar to the pom-pom which proved so effective
during the South African war.  Machine guns also have been
extensively adopted for this duty by all the combatants, their
range of approximately 2,000 yards and rapidity of fire being
distinctly valuable when hostile aircraft descend to an altitude
which brings them within the range of the weapon.

The greatest difficulty in connection with this phase of
artillery, however, is not so much the evolution of a serviceable
and efficient type of gun, as the determination of the type of
projectile which is likely to be most effective.  While shrapnel
is employed somewhat extensively it has not proved completely
satisfactory.  It is difficult to set the timing fuse even after
the range has been found approximately, which in itself is no
easy matter when the aircraft is moving rapidly and irregularly,
but reliance is placed thereon in the hope that the machine may
happen to be within the cone of dispersion when the shell bursts,
and that one or more of the pieces of projectile and bullets may
chance to penetrate either the body of the airman or a vital part
of the mechanism.

It is this uncertainty which has led to a preference for a direct
missile such as the bullet discharged from a machine gun.  A
stream of missiles, even of rifle calibre, maintained at the rate
of some 400 shots per minute is certain to be more effective,
provided range and aim are correct, than shrapnel.  But the
ordinary rifle-bullet, unless the objective is within very close
range, is not likely to cause much harm, at least not to the
mechanism of the aerial vessel.

It is for this reason that greater attention is being devoted,
especially by the French artillerists, to the Chevalier
anti-aircraft gun, a weapon perfected by a Swiss technician
resident in Great Britain.  It projects a formidable missile
which in fact is an armour-piercing bullet 1/2- to 3/4-inch in
diameter.  It is designed for use with an automatic machinegun,
which the inventor has devised more or less upon the well-known
French system.  The bullet has a high velocity--about 2,500 feet
per second--and a maximum range of 6,000 to 8,000 feet at the
maximum elevation.  Should such a missile strike the motor or
other mechanism of the vessel it would wreak widespread havoc,
and probably cause the machine to come to earth.  This arm has
been designed for the express purpose of disabling the aeroplane,
and not for the subjugation of the airman, which is a minor
consideration, inasmuch as he is condemned to a descent when his
craft receives a mortal wound.

Attempts have been and still are being made to adapt an explosive
projectile to this gun, but so far the measure of success
achieved has not proved very promising.  There are immense
difficulties connected with the design of an explosive shell of
this class, charged with a high explosive, especially in
connection with the timing.  So far as dependence upon percussive
detonation is concerned there is practically no difficulty. 
Should such a missile strike, say, the motor of an aeroplane, or
even the hull of the craft itself, the latter would be
practically destroyed.  But all things considered, it is
concluded that more successful results are likely to be achieved
by the armour-piercing bullet striking the mechanism than by an
explosive projectile.

The Krupp company fully reahsed the difficulties pertaining to
the projectile problem in attacks upon aerial craft.  So far as
dirigibles are concerned shrapnel is practically useless,
inasmuch as even should the bag be riddled by the flying
fragments, little effective damage would be wrought--the craft
would be able to regain its haven.  Accordingly efforts were
concentrated upon the perfection of two new types of projectiles,
both of which were directed more particularly against the
dirigible.  The one is the incendiary shell--obus fumigene--while
the other is a shell, the contents of which, upon coming into
contact with the gas contained within the gas-bag, set up certain
chemical reactions which precipitate an explosion and fire.

The incendiary shells are charged with a certain compound which
is ignited by means of a fuse during its flight.  This fuse
arrangement coincides very closely with that attached to ordinary
shrapnel, inasmuch as the timing may be set to induce ignition
at different periods, such as either at the moment it leaves the
gun, before, or when it strikes the envelope of the dirigible. 
The shell is fitted with a "tracer," that is to say, upon
becoming ignited it leaves a trail of smoke, corresponding with
the trail of a rocket, so that its passage through the air may be
followed with facility.  This shell, however, was designed to
fulfil a dual.  Not only will it fire the gaseous contents out of
the dirigible, but it has an explosive effect upon striking an
incombustible portion of the aircraft, such as the machinery,
propellers or car, when it will cause sufficient damage to throw
the craft out of action.

The elaborate trials which were carried out with the obus
fumigene certainly were spectacular so as they went.  Two small
spherical balloons, 10 feet in diameter, and attached to 1,000
feet of cable, were sent aloft.  The anti-aircraft guns
themselves were placed about 5,1OO feet distant.  Owing to the
inclement weather the balloons were unable to attain a height of
more than 200 feet in a direct vertical line above the ground. 
The guns were trained and fired, but the one balloon was not hit
until the second round, while the third escaped injury until the
fifth round.  When struck they collapsed instantly.  Though the
test was not particularly conclusive, and afforded no reliable
data, one point was ascertained--the trail of smoke emitted by
the shell enabled its trajectory to be followed with ease.  Upon
the conclusion of these trials, which were the most successful
recorded, quick-firing tests in the horizontal plane were carried
out.  The best performance in this instance was the discharge of
five rounds in eight seconds.  In this instance the paths of the
projectiles were simple and easy to follow, the flight of the
shell being observed until it fell some 18,670 feet away.  But
the Krupp firmhave found that trials upon the testing ground with
a captive balloon differ very materially from sterntests in the
field of actual warfare.  Practically nothing has been heard of
the two projectiles during this war, as they have proved an
absolute failure.

Some months ago the world was startled by the announcement that
the leading German armament firm had acquired the whole of the
interest in an aerial torpedo which had been evolved by the
Swedish artillerist, Gustave Unge, and it was predicted that in
the next war widespread havoc would be wrought therewith.  
Remarkable claims were advanced for this projectile, the foremost
being that it would travel for a considerable distance through
the air and alight upon the objective with infallible accuracy.  
The torpedo in question was subjected to exacting tests in Great
Britain, which failed to substantiate all the claims which were
advanced, and it is significant to observe that little has been
heard of it during the present conflict.  It is urged in certain
technical quarters, however, that the aerial torpedo will prove
to be the most successful projectile that can be used against
aircraft.  I shall deal with this question in a later chapter.

During the early days of the war anti-aircraft artillery appeared
to be a much overrated arm.  The successes placed to its credit
were insignificant.  This was due to the artillerymen being
unfamiliar with the new arm, and the conditions which prevail
when firing into space.  Since actual practice became possible
great advances in marksmanship have been recorded, and the
accuracy of such fire to-day is striking.  Fortunately the airman
possesses the advantage.  He can manoeuvre beyond the range of
the hostile weapons.  At the moment 10,000 feet represents the
extreme altitude to which projectiles can be hurled from the arms
of this character which are now in use, and they lack
destructiveness at that range, for their velocity is virtually
expended.

Picking up the range is still as difficult as ever.  The practice
followed by the Germans serves to indicate the Teuton
thoroughness of method in attacking such problems even if success
does not ensue.  The favourite German principle of disposing 
anti-aircraft artillery is to divide the territory to be
protected into equilateral triangles, the sides of which have a
length of about six miles or less, according to the maximum
effective range of the pieces at an elevation of 23 1/2 degrees.

The guns are disposed at the corners of the triangles as
indicated in Figs. 13-14.  Taking the one triangle as an example,
the method of picking up the range may be explained as follows.  
The several guns at the comers of the triangle, each of which can
be trained through the 360 degrees in the horizontal plane, are
in telephonic touch with an observer O stationed some distance
away.  The airman A enters the area of the triangle.  The
observer takes the range and communicates with the gunner B, who
fires his weapon.  The shell bursts at 1 emitting a red flame and
smoke.  The observer notes the altitude and relative position of
the explosion in regard to the aircraft, while gunner B himself
observes whether the shell has burst to the right or to the left
of the objective and corrects accordingly.  The observer commands
C to fire, and another shell is launched which emits a yellow
flame and smoke.  It bursts at 2 according to the observer, while
gunner C also notes whether it is to the right or to the left of
the target and corrects accordingly.  Now gunner D receives the
command to fire and the shell which explodes at 3 throws off a
white flame and smoke.  Gunner D likewise observes whether there
is any deviation to right or left of the target and corrects in a
similar manner.  From the sum of the three rounds the observer
corrects the altitude, completes his calculations, and
communicates his instructions for correction to the three
gunners, who now merely train their weapons for altitude.  The
objective is to induce the shells hurled from the three corners
of the triangle to burst at a common point 4, which is considered
to be the most critical spot for the aviator.  The fire is then
practically concentrated from the three weapons upon the apex of
a triangular cone which is held to bring the machine within the
danger zone.

This method of finding the range is carried out quickly--two or
three seconds being occupied in the task.  In the early days of
the war the German anti-aircraft artillerymen proved sadly
deficient in this work, but practice improved their fire to a
marvellous degree, with the result that at the moment it is
dangerous for an aviator to essay his task within an altitude of
6,000 feet, which is the range of the average anti-aircraft gun.

The country occupied by a belligerent is divided up in this
manner into a series of triangles.  For instance, a machine
entering hostile territory from the east, enters the triangle
A-B-C, and consequently comes within the range of the guns posted
at the comers of the triangle.  Directly he crosses the line B-C
and enters the adjacent triangle he passes beyond the range of
gun A but comes within the range of the gun posted at D, and
while within the triangular area is under fire from the guns
B-C-D.  He turns and crosses the line A-C, but in so doing enters
another triangle A-C-E, and comes range of the gun posted at E.

The accompanying diagram represents an area of country divided up
into such triangle and the position of the guns, while the circle
round the latter indicate the training arc of the weapons, each
of which is a complete circle, in the horizontal plane.  The
dotted line represents the aviator's line of flight, and it will
be seen that no matter how he twists and turns he is always
within the danger zone while flying over hostile territory.  The
moment he outdistances one gun he comes within range of another.

The safety of the aviator under these circumstances depends upon
his maintaining an altitude exceeding the range of the guns
below, the most powerful of which have a range of 8,000 to 10,000
feet, or on speed combined with rapid twisting and turning, or
erratic undulating flight, rendering it extremely difficult for
the gun-layer to follow his path with sufficient celerity to
ensure accurate firing.

At altitudes ranging between 4,000 and 6,000 feet the aeroplane
comes within the range of rifle and machine-gun firing.  The
former, however, unless discharged in volleys with the shots
covering a wide area, is not particularly dangerous, inasmuch as
the odds are overwhelmingly against the rifleman.  He is not
accustomed to following and firing upon a rapidly moving
objective, the result being that ninety-nine times out of a
hundred he fails to register a hit.  On the other hand the
advantage accruing from machine-gun fire is, that owing to the
continuous stream of bullets projected, there is a greater
possibility of the gun being trained upon the objective and
putting it hors de combat.

But, taking all things into consideration, and notwithstanding
the achievements of the artillerist, the advantages are
overwhelmingly on the side of the aviator.  When one reflects
upon the total sum of aircraft which have been brought to earth
during the present campaign, it will be realised that the number
of prizes is insignificant in comparison with the quantity of
ammunition expended.



CHAPTER XVI
MINING THE AIR

While the anti-aircraft gun represents the only force which has
been brought to the practical stage for repelling aerial attack,
and incidentally is the sole offensive weapon which has
established its effectiveness, many other schemes have been
devised and suggested to consummate these ends.  While some of
these schemes are wildly fantastic, others are feasible within
certain limitations, as for instance when directed against
dirigibles.

It has been argued that the atmosphere is akin to the salt seas;
that an aerial vessel in its particular element is confronted
with dangers identical with those prevailing among the waters of
the earth.  But such an analogy is fallacious: there is no more
similarity between the air and the ocean than there is between an
airship and a man-of-war.  The waters of the earth conceal from
sight innumerable obstructions, such as rocks, shoals, sandbanks,
and other dangers which cannot by any means be readily detected.

But no such impediments are encountered in the ether.  The craft
of the air is virtually a free age in the three dimensions.  It
can go whither it will without let or hindrance so long as the
mechanical agencies of man are able to cope with the influences
of Nature.  It can ascend to a height which is out of all
proportion to the depth to which the submarine can descend in
safety.  It is a matter of current knowledge that a submarine
cannot sink to a depth of more than 250 feet: an aerial vessel is
able to ascend to 5,000, 8,000, or even 10,000 feet above the
earth, and the higher the altitude it attains the greater is its
degree of safety.  The limit of ascension is governed merely by
the physical capacities of those who are responsible for the
aerial vessel's movement.

It is for this reason that the defensive measures which are
practised in the waters of the earth are inapplicable to the
atmosphere.  Movement by, or in, water is governed by the depth
of channels, and these may be rendered impassable or dangerous to
negotiate by the planting of mines.  A passing ship or submarine
may circumvent these explosive obstructions, but such a
successful manoeuvre is generally a matter of good luck.  So far
as submarines are concerned the fact must not be over looked that
movements in the sea are carried out under blind conditions: the
navigator is unable to see where he is going; the optic faculty
is rendered nugatory.  Contrast the disability of the submarine
with the privileges of its consort in the air.  The latter is
able to profit from vision.  The aerial navigator is able to see
every inch of his way, at least during daylight.  When darkness
falls he is condemned to the same helplessness as his confrere in
the waters below.

A well-known British authority upon aviation suggested that
advantage should be taken of this disability, and that the air
should be mined during periods of darkness and fog to secure
protection against aerial invasion.  At first sight the proposal
appears to be absolutely grotesque, but a little reflection will
suffice to demonstrate its possibilities when the area to be
defended is comparatively limited.  The suggestion merely
proposes to profit from one defect of the dirigible.  The latter,
when bent upon a daring expedition, naturally prefers to make a
bee-line towards its objective: fuel considerations as a matter
of fact compel it to do so.  Consequently it is possible, within
certain limits, to anticipate the route which an invading craft 
will follow: the course is practically as obvious as if the
vessel were condemned to a narrow lane marked out by sign-posts.
Moreover, if approaching under cover of night or during thick
weather, it will metaphorically "hug the ground." To attempt to 
complete its task at a great height is to court failure, as the
range of vision is necessarily so limited.

Under these circumstances the mining of the air could be carried
out upon the obvious approaches to a threatened area.  The mines,
comprising large charges of high-explosive and combustible
material, would be attached to small captive balloons similar to
the "sounding balloons" which are so much used by meteorologists
in operations for sounding the upper strata of the atmosphere.  
These pilot balloons would be captive, their thin wires being
wound upon winches planted at close intervals along the
coast-line.  The balloon-mines themselves would be sent to
varying heights, ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 feet, and with
several attached to each cable, the disposition of the mines
in the air in such an irregular manner being in fact closely
similar to the practice adopted in the mining of a channel for
protection against submarines and hostile ships.

The suggestion is that these mines should be sent aloft at dusk
or upon the approach of thick and foggy weather, and should be
wound in at dawn or when the atmosphere cleared, inasmuch as in
fine weather the floating aerial menace would be readily detected
by the pilot of a dirigible, and would be carefully avoided.  If
the network were sufficiently intricate it would not be easy for
an airship travelling at night or in foggy weather to steer clear
of danger, for the wires holding the balloons captive would be
difficult to distinguish.

The mines would depend upon detonators to complete their work,
and here again they would bear a close resemblance to sea-mines.
By looping the mines their deadliness could be increased.  The
unsuspicious airship, advancing under cover of darkness or thick
weather, might foul one of the wires, and, driving forward, would
tend to pull one or more mines against itself.  Under the force
of the impact, no matter how gentle, or slight, one or more of
the detonating levers would be moved, causing the mine to
explode, thus bursting the lifting bag of the vessel, and firing
its gaseous contents.  An alternative method, especially when a
cable carried only a single mine, would be to wind in the captive
balloon directly the wire was fouled by an invading aerial craft,
the process being continued until the mine was brought against
the vessel and thereby detonated.

Another proposed mining method differs materially in its
application.  In this instance it is suggested that the mines
should be sent aloft, but should not be of the contact type, and
should not be fired by impact detonators, but that dependence
should be placed rather upon the disturbing forces of a severe
concussion in the air.  The mines would be floating aoft, and
the advance of the airship would be detected.  The elevation
of the mines in the vicinity of the invading craft would be
known, while the altitude of the airship in relation thereto
could be calculated.  Then, it is proposed that a mine within d
certain radius of the approaching craft, and, of course, below
it, should be fired electrically from the ground.  It is
maintained that if the charge were sufficiently heavy and an
adequate sheet of flame were produced as a result of the
ignition, an airship within a hundred yards thereof would be
imperilled seriously, while the other mines would also be fired,
communicating ignition from one to the other.  The equilibrium
of the airship is so delicate that it can be readily upset, and
taking into account the facts that gas is always exuding from
the bag, and that hydrogen has a tendency to spread somewhat in
the manner of oil upon water, it is argued that the gas would be
ignited, and would bring about the explosion of the airship.

Another method has even been advocated.  It is averred in
authoritative circles that when the aerial invasion in force of
Great Britain is attempted, the Zeppelins will advance under the
cover of clouds.  Also that the craft will make for one 
objective--London.  Doubtless advantage will be taken of clouds,
inasmuch as they will extend a measure of protection to the craft,
and will probably enable the invading fleet to elude the vigilance
of the aeroplane scouts and patrols.  Under these circumstances it
is suggested that balloon-mines should be sent aloft and be
concealed in the clouds.  It would be impossible to detect the
wires holding them captive, so that the precise location of the 
lurking danger would not be divined by the invader.  Of course,
the chances are that the invading airship would unconsciously
miss the mines; on the other hand the possibilities are equally
great that it would blunder into one of these traps and be blown
to atoms.

An English airman has recently suggested a means of mining
invading Zeppelins which differs completely from the foregoing
proposals.  His idea is that aeroplanes should be equipped with
small mines of the contact type, charged with high explosives,
and that the latter should be lowered from the aeroplane and be
trawled through the atmosphere.  As an illustration I will suppose
that a hostile aircraft is sighted by a patrolling aeroplane.
The pilot's companion in the latter immediately prepares his
aerial mine, fixing the detonator, and attaching the mine to the
wire.  The latter is then dropped overboard, the wire being paid
out from a winch until it has descended to the level of the
hostile craft.  The airman now manoeuvres in the air circling
about the airship, dragging his mine behind him, and endeavouring
to throw it across or to bring it into contact with the airship
below.  Naturally the latter, directly it observed the airman's
object, would endeavour to elude the pursuing trawling mine,
either by crowding on speed or by rising to a greater altitude.
The aeroplane, however, would have the advantage both in point of
speed  and powers of climbing, while there is no doubt that the
sight of the mine swinging in the air would exert a decisive
moral effect upon those in the airship.

Attempts to render the mine harmless by discharging it
prematurely with the aid of rifle and machine-gun fire would, of
course, be made by the crew of the airship, but the trawling mine
would prove a very difficult target to strike.  If such a missile
were used against an airship of the proportions of a Zeppelin the
mine would inevitably be trawled across the vessel sooner or
later.  Once the airship had been fouled, the aviator would
merely have to drive ahead, dragging the wire and its charge 
across the gas-bag until at last one of the contact levers of the
mine was moved by being dragged against some part of the vessel,
when the mine would be exploded.  In such operations the aviator
would run a certain risk, as he would be more or less above the
airship, and to a certain degree within the zone of the ultimate
explosion.  But there is no doubt that he would succeed in his 
"fishing" exploit within a very short time.

This ingenious scheme has already been tested upon a small scale
and has been found effective, the trawling bomb being drawn
across its target and fired by contact within a few minutes.  The
experiment seems to prove that it would be simpler and more
effectual to attack a hostile aircraft such as a Zeppelin in this
manner than to drop free bombs at random.  Moreover, we cannot
doubt that the sight of a mine containing even ten or twelve
pounds of high explosive dangling at the end of a wire would
precipitate a retreat on the part of an airship more speedily
than any other combative expedient.

The advocate of this mine-trawling method, who is a well-known
aviator, anticipates no difficulty in manoeuvring a mine weighing
30 pounds at the end of 300 feet of fine wire.  Success depends
in a great measure on the skill of the aviator in maintaining a
constant tension upon the line until it falls across its
objective.

The process calls for a certain manifestation of skill in
manoeuvring the aeroplane in relation to the airship, judgment of
distance, and ability to operate the aeroplane speedily.  The
rapid ascensional capability of the airship, as compared with
that of the aeroplane, is a disadvantage, but on the other hand,
the superior mobility and speed of the aeroplane would tell
decisively for success.

Among the many wonders which the Krupp organisation is stated to
have perfected, and which it is claimed will create considerable
surprise, is the aerial torpedo.  Many of the Krupp claims are
wildly chimerical, as events have already proved, but there is no
doubt that considerable effort has been expended upon this latest
missile, for which the firm is said to have paid the inventor
upwards of L25,000--$125,000.  Curiously enough the projectile
was perfected within gunshot of the British aerodrome of Hendon
and is stated to have been offered to the British Government at
the time, and to have met with a chilling reception.  One fact,
however, is well established.  The inventor went to Germany, and
submitted his idea to Krupp, by whom it was tested without delay. 
Upon the completion of the purchase, the great armament
manufacturers did not fail to publish broadcast the fact that
they had acquired a mysterious new terror of the skies.  That was
some three years ago, and in the interval the cleverest brains of
the German firm have been steadily devoting their time and
energies to the improvement of the missile, the first appearance
of which was recorded, in a somewhat hazy manner, in the closing
days of December.

While the exact mechanism of this missile is a secret, the
governing principles of its design and operation are known to a
select few technicians in this country.  Strange to say, the
projectile was designed in the first instance in the interests of
peace and humanty, but while engaged upon his experiments the
inventor suddenly concluded that it would be a more profitable
asset if devoted to the grim game of war.  At the time the
military significance of the airship and the aeroplane were
becoming apparent; hence the sudden diversion of the idea into a
destructive channel.

This aerial torpedo is a small missile carrying a charge of high
explosive, such as trinitrotoluene, and depends for its
detonation upon impact or a time fuse.  It is launched into the
air from a cradle in the manner of the ordinary torpedo, but the
initial velocity is low.  The torpedo is fitted with its own
motive power, which comes automatically into action as the
missile climbs into the air.  This self-contained energy is so
devised that the maximum power is attained before the missile has
lost the velocity imparted in the first instance, the result
being that it is able to continue its flight in a horizontal
direction from the moment it attains the highest point in its
trajectory, which is naturally varied according to requirements. 
But there is no secret about the means of propulsion.  The body
is charged with a slow-burning combustible, in the manner of the
ordinary rocket, whereby it is given a rapid rotary motion.

Furthermore it is stated to be fitted with a small gyroscope in
the manner of the torpedo used in the seas, for the purpose of
maintaining direction during flight, but upon this point there is
considerable divergence of opinion among technicians, the general
idea being that the torpedo depends upon an application of the
principle of the ordinary rocket rather than upon a small engine
such as is fitted to the ordinary torpedo.  The employment of a
slow combustible ensures the maintenance of the missile in the
air for a period exceeding that of the ordinary shell.  It is
claimed by the Germans that this projectile will keep aloft for
half-an-hour or more, but this is a phantasy.  Its maintenance of
flight is merely a matter of minutes.

The belated appearance of this much-lauded projectile and its
restricted use suggest that it is unreliable, and perhaps no more
effective than the aerial torpedo which appeared in the United
States during the Spanish-American War, and proved a complete
failure.  An effective and reliable means of combating or
frustrating a dirigible attack, other than by gun-fire or resort
to the drastic remedy of ramming the enemy, has yet to be
devised.



CHAPTER XVII
WIRELESS IN AVIATION

In a previous chapter the various methods of signalling between
the ground and the airman aloft have been described.  Seeing that
wireless telegraphy has made such enormous strides and has
advanced to such a degree of perfection, one naturally would
conclude that it constitutes an ideal system of communication
under such conditions in military operations.

But this is not the case.  Wireless is utilised only to a very
limited extent.  This is due to two causes.  The one is of a
technical, the other of a strategical character.

The uninitiated, bearing in mind the comparative ease with which
wireless installations may be established at a relatively small
expense, would not unreasonably think that no serious
difficulties of a technical character could arise: at least none
which would defy solution.  But these difficulties exist in two
or three different fields, each of which is peculiarly complex
and demands individual treatment.

In the first place, there is the weight of the necessary
installation.  In the case of the dirigible this may be a
secondary consideration, but with the aeroplane it is a matter of
primary and vital importance.  Again, under present conditions,
the noise of the motor is apt to render the intelligent
deciphering of messages while aloft a matter of extreme
difficulty, especially as these are communicated in code.  The
engine noise might be effectively overcome by the use of a
muffler such as, is used with automobiles, but then there is the
further difficulty of vibration.

This problem is being attacked in an ingenious manner.  It is
proposed to substitute for audible signals visual
interpretations, by the aid of an electric lamp, the fluctuations
in which would correspond to the dots and dashes of the Morse
code.  Thus the airman would read his messages by sight instead
of by sound.

This method, however, is quite in its infancy, and although
attractive in theory and fascinating as a laboratory experiment
or when conducted under experimental conditions, it has not
proved reliable or effective in aeronautical operations.  But at
the same time it indicates a promising line of research and
development.

Then there are the problems of weight and the aerial.  So far as
present knowledge goes, the most satisfactory form of aerial yet
exploited is that known as the trailing wire.  From 300 to 700
feet of wire are coiled upon a reel, and when aloft this wire is
paid out so that it hangs below the aeroplane.  As a matter of
fact,when the machine is travelling at high speed it trails
horizontally astern, but this is immaterial.  One investigator,
who strongly disapproves of the trailing aerial, has carried out
experiments with a network of wires laid upon and attached to the
surface of the aeroplane's wings.  But the trailing wire is
generally preferred, and certainly up to the present has proved
more satisfactory.

The greatest obstacle, however, is the necessary apparatus.  The
average aeroplane designed for military duty is already loaded to
the maximum.  As a rule it carries the pilot and an observer, and
invariably includes a light arm for defence against an aerial
enemy, together with an adequate supply of ammunition, while
unless short sharp flights are to be made, the fuel supply
represents an appreciable load.  Under these circumstances the
item of weight is a vital consideration.  It must be kept within
a limit of 100 pounds, and the less the equipment weighs the more
satisfactory it is likely to prove, other things being equal.

The two most successful systems yet exploited are the Dubilier
and the Rouget.  The former is an American invention, the latter
is of French origin.  Both have been tested by the British
Military Aeronautical Department, and the French authorities
have subjected the French system to rigorous trials.  Both
systems, within their limitations, have proved satisfactory.

The outstanding feature of the Dubilier system is the production
of sine waves of musical frequency from continuous current, thus
dispensing with the rotary converter.  The operating principle is
the obtaining of a series of unidirectional impulses by a
condenser discharge, the pulsating currents following one another
at regular intervals at a frequency of 500 impulses per second,
which may be augmented up to 1,000 impulses per second.  The
complete weight of such an apparatus is 40 pounds; the electric
generator, which is no larger than the motor used for driving the
ordinary table ventilating fan, accounts for 16 pounds of this
total.  Under test at sea, upon the deck of a ship, a range of
250 miles has been obtained.  The British Government carried out
a series of experiments with this system, using a small plant
weighing about 30 pounds, with which communication was maintained
up to about 20 miles.

In the French system the Reuget transmitter is employed.  The
apparatus, including the dynamo, which is extremely small, weighs
in all 70 pounds.  A small alternator of 200 watts and 100 volts
is coupled direct to the aeroplane motor, a new clutch coupler
being employed for this purpose.  By means of a small transformer
the voltage is raised to 30,000 volts, at which the condenser is
charged.  In this instance the musical spark method is employed.

The whole of the high tension wiring is placed within a small
space so as not to endanger the pilot, while the transformer is
hermetically sealed in a box with paraffin.  The aerial comprises
a trailing wire 100 feet in length, which, however, can be
wound in upon its reel within 15 seconds.  This reeled antenna,
moreover, is fitted with a safety device whereby the wire can be
cut adrift in the event of an accident befalling the aeroplane
and necessitating an abrupt descent.  With this apparatus the
French authorities have been able to maintain communication over
a distance of 30 miles.

In maintaining ethereal communication with aeroplanes, however, a
portable or mobile station upon the ground is requisite, and this
station must be within the radius of the aerial transmitter, if
messages are to be received from aloft with any degree of
accuracy and reliability.  Thus it will be recognised that the
land station is as important as the aeroplane equipment, and
demands similar consideration.

A wide variety of systems have been employed to meet these
conditions.  There is the travelling automobile station, in which
the installation is mounted upon a motor-car.  In this instance
the whole equipment is carried upon a single vehicle, while the
antenna is stowed upon the roof and can be raised or lowered
within a few seconds.  If motor traction is unavailable, then
animal haulage may be employed, but in this instance the
installation is divided between two vehicles, one carrying the
transmitting and receiving apparatus and the generating plant,
the other the fuel supplies and the aerial, together with spare
parts.

The motive power is supplied by a small air cooled petrol or
gasoline motor developing eight horse-power, and coupled direct
to a 2-kilo watt alternator.  At one end of the shaft of the
latter the disk discharger is mounted, its function being to
break up the train of waves into groups of waves, so as to impart
a musical sound to the note produced in the receiver.  A flexible
cable transmits the electric current from the generator to the
wagon containing the instruments.  The aerial is built up of
masts carried in sections.

The Germans employ a mobile apparatus which is very similar, but
in this instance the mast is telescopic.  When closed it occupies
but little space.  By turning the winch handle the mast is
extended, and can be carried to any height up to a maximum of
about 100 feet.  The capacity of these mobile stations varies
within wide limits, the range of the largest and most powerful
installations being about 200 miles.  The disadvantage of these
systems, however, is that they are condemned to territories where
the ground at the utmost is gently undulating, and where there
are roads on which four-wheeled vehicles can travel.

For operation in hilly districts, where only trails are to be
found, the Marconi Company, has perfected what may be described
as "pack" and "knapsack" installations respectively.  In the
first named the whole of the installation is mounted upon the
backs of four horses.  The first carries the generator set, the
second the transmitting instruments, the third the receiving
equipment, and the fourth the detachable mast and stays.

The generator is carried upon the horse's saddle, and is fitted
with a pair of legs on each side.  On one side of the saddle is
mounted a small highspeed explosion motor, while on the opposite
side, in axial alignment with the motor, is a small dynamo.  When
it is desired to erect the installation the saddle carrying this
set is removed from the horse's back and placed upon the ground,
the legs acting as the support.  A length of shaft is then
slipped into sockets at the inner ends of the motor and dynamo
shafts respectively, thus coupling them directly, while the
current is transmitted through a short length of flexible cable
to the instruments.  The mast itself is made in lengths of about
four feet, which are slipped together in the manner of the
sections of a fishing rod, and erected, being supported by means
of wire guys.  In this manner an antenna from 40 to 50 feet in
height may be obtained.

The feature of this set is its compactness, the equal division of
the sections of the installation, and the celerity with which the
station may be set up and dismantled in extremely mountainous
country such as the Vosges, where it is even difficult for a
pack-horse to climb to commanding or suitable positions, there is
still another set which has been perfected by the Marconi
Company.  This is the "knapsack" set, in which the whole of the
installation, necessarily light, small, and compact, is divided
among four men, and carried in the manner of knapsacks upon their
backs.  Although necessarily of limited radius, such an
installation is adequate for communication within the restricted
range of air-craft.

Greater difficulties have to be overcome in the mounting of a
wireless installation upon a dirigible.  When the Zeppelin was
finally accepted by the German Government, the military
authorities emphasised the great part which wireless telegraphy
was destined to play in connection with such craft.  But have
these anticipations been fulfilled?  By no means, as a little
reflection will suffice to prove.

In the first place, a wireless outfit is about the most dangerous
piece of equipment which could be carried by such a craft as the
Zeppelin unless it is exceptionally well protected.  As is well
known the rigidity of this type of airship is dependent upon a
large and complicated network of aluminium, which constitutes the
frame.  Such a huge mass of metal constitutes an excellent
collector of electricity from the atmosphere; it becomes charged
to the maximum with electricity.

In this manner a formidable contributory source of danger to the
airship is formed.  In fact, this was the reason why "Z-IV"
vanished suddenly in smoke and flame upon falling foul of the
branches of trees during its descent.  At the time the Zeppelin
was a highly charged electrical machine or battery as it were,
insulated by the surrounding air.  Directly the airship touched
the trees a short circuit was established, and the resultant
spark sufficed to fire the gas, which is continuously exuding
from the gas bags.

After this accident minute calculations were made and it was
ascertained that a potential difference of no less than 100,00
volts existed between the framework of the dirigible and the
trees.  This tension sufficed to produce a spark 4 inches in
length.  It is not surprising that the establishment of the
electric equilibrium by contact with the trees, which produced
such a spark should fire the hydrogen inflation charge.  In fact
the heat generated was so intense that the aluminium metallic
framework was fused.  The measurements which were made proved
that the gas was consumed within 15 seconds and the envelope
destroyed within 20 seconds.

As a result of this disaster endeavours were made to persuade
Count Zeppelin to abandon the use of aluminium for the framework
of his balloon but they were fruitless, a result no doubt due to
the fact that the inventor of the airship of this name has but a
superficial knowledge of the various sciences which bear upon
aeronautics, and fully illustrates the truth of the old adage
that "a little learning is a dangerous thing."  Count Zeppelin
continues to work upon his original lines, but the danger of his
system of construction was not lost upon another German
investigator, Professor Schiitte, who forthwith embarked upon the
construction of another rigid system, similar to that of
Zeppelin, at Lanz.  In this vessel aluminium was completely
abandoned in favour of a framework of ash and poplar.

The fact that the aluminium constituted a dangerous collector of
electricity rendered the installation of wireless upon the
Zeppelin not only perilous but difficult.  Very serious
disturbances of an electrical nature were set up, with the result
that wireless communication between the travelling dirigible and
the ground below was rendered extremely uncertain.  In fact, it
has never yet been possible to communicate over distances
exceeding about 150 miles.  Apart from this defect, the danger of
operating the wireless is obvious, and it is generally believed
in technical circles that the majority of the Zeppelin disasters
from fire have been directly attributable to this, especially
those disasters which have occurred when the vessel has suddenly
exploded before coming into contact with terrestrial
obstructions.

In the later vessels of this type the wireless installation is
housed in a well insulated compartment.  This insulation has been
carried, to an extreme degree, which indicates that at last the
authorities have recognised the serious menace that wireless
offers to the safety of the craft, with the result that every
protective device to avoid disaster from this cause has been
freely adopted.

The fact that it is not possible to maintain cornmunication over
a distance exceeding some 20 miles is a severe handicap to the
progressive development of wireless telegraphy in this field.  It
is a totally inadequate radius when the operations of the present
war are borne in mind.  A round journey of 200, or even more
miles is considered a mere jaunt; it is the long distance flight
which counts, and which contributes to the value of an airman's
observations.  The general impression is that the fighting line
or zone comprises merely two or three successive stretches of
trenches and other defences, representing a belt five miles or so
in width, but this is a fallacy.  The fighting zone is at least
20 miles in width; that is to say, the occupied territory in
which vital movements take place represents a distance of 20
miles from the foremost line of trenches to the extreme rear,
and then comes the secondary zone, which may be a further 10
miles or more in depth.  Consequently the airman must fly at
least 30 miles in a bee-line to cover the transverse belt of the
enemy's field of operations.  Upon the German and Russian sides
this zone is of far greater depth, ranging up to 50 miles or so
in width.  In these circumstances the difficulties of ethereal
communication 'twixt air and earth may be realised under the
present limitations of radius from which it is possible to
transmit.

But there are reasons still more cogent to explain why wireless
telegraphy has not been used upon a more extensive scale during
the present campaign.  Wireless communication is not secretive.  
In other words, its messages may be picked up by friend and foe
alike with equal facility.  True, the messages are sent in code,
which may be unintelligible to the enemy.  In this event the
opponent endeavours to render the communications undecipherable
to one and all by what is known as "jambing." That is to say, he
sends out an aimless string of signals for the purpose of
confusing senders and receivers, and this is continued without
cessation and at a rapid rate.  The result is that messages
become blurred and undecipherable.

But there is another danger attending the use of wireless upon
the battlefield.  The fact that the stations are of limited range
is well known to the opposing forces, and they are equally well
aware of the fact that aerial craft cannot communicate over long
distances.  For instance, A sends his airmen aloft and
conversation begins between the clouds and the ground.  Presently
the receivers of B begin to record faint signals.  They fluctuate
in intensity, but within a few seconds B gathers that an
aeroplane is aloft and communicating with its base.  By the aid
of the field telephone B gets into touch with his whole string of
wireless stations and orders a keen look-out and a listening ear
to ascertain whether they have heard the same signals.  Some
report that the signals are quite distinct and growing louder,
while others declare that the signals are growing fainter and
intermittent.  In this manner B is able to deduce in which
direction the aeroplane is flying.  Thus if those to the east
report that signals are growing stronger, while the stations on
the west state that they are diminishing, it is obvious that the
aeroplane is flying west to east, and vice versa when the west
hears more plainly at the expense of the east.  If, however, both
should report that signals are growing stronger, then it is
obvious that the aircraft is advancing directly towards them.

It was this ability to deduce direction from the sound of the
signals which led to the location of the Zeppelin which came down
at Lun6ville some months previous to the war, and which
threatened to develop into a diplomatic incident of serious
importance.  The French wireless stations running south-east to
north-west were vigilant, and the outer station on the north-west
side picked up the Zeppelin's conversation.  It maintained a
discreet silence, but communicated by telephone to its colleagues
behind.

Presently No. 2 station came within range, followed by Nos. 3, 4,
5, 6, and so on in turn.  Thus the track of the Zeppelin was
dogged silently through the air by its wireless conversation as
easily and as positively as if its flight had been followed by
the naked eye.  The Zeppelin travellers were quite ignorant of
this action upon the part of the French and were surprised when
they were rounded-up to learn that they had been tracked so
ruthlessly.  Every message which the wireless of the Zeppelin had
transmitted had been received and filed by the French.

Under these circumstances it is doubtful whether wireless
telegraphy between aircraft and the forces beneath will be
adopted extensively during the present campaign.  Of course,
should some radical improvement be perfected, whereby
communication may be rendered absolutely secretive, while no
intimation is conveyed to the enemy that ethereal conversation is
in progress, then the whole situation will be changed, and there
may be remarkable developments.



CHAPTER XVIII
AIRCRAFT AND NAVAL OPERATIONS

When once the flying machine had indicated its possibilities in
connection with land operations it was only natural that
endeavours should be made to adapt it to the more rigorous
requirements of the naval service.  But the conditions are so
vastly dissimilar that only a meagre measure of success has been
recorded.  Bomb-throwing from aloft upon the decks of battleships
appeals vividly to the popular imagination, and the widespread
destruction which may be caused by dropping such an agent down
the funnel of a vessel into the boiler-room is a favourite theme
among writers of fiction and artists.  But hitting such an
objective while it is tearing at high speed through the water,
from a height of several thousand feet is a vastly different task
from throwing sticks and balls at an Aunt Sally on terra firma:
the target is so small and elusive.

Practically it is impossible to employ the flying machine,
whether it be a dirigible or an aeroplane, in this field.  Many
factors militate against such an application.  In the first place
there is a very wide difference between dry land and a stretch of
water as an area over which to manoeuvre.  So far as the land is
concerned descent is practicable at any time and almost anywhere.
But an attempt to descend upon the open sea even when the latter
is as calm as the proverbial mill-pond is fraught with
considerable danger.  The air-currents immediately above the
water differ radically from those prevailing above the surface of
the land.  Solar radiation also plays a very vital part.  In fact
the dirigible dare not venture to make such a landing even if it
be provided with floats.  The chances are a thousand to one that
the cars will become water-logged, rendering re-ascent a matter
of extreme difficulty, if not absolutely impossible.  On the
other hand, the aeroplane when equipped with floats, is able to
alight upon the water, and to rest thereon for a time.  It may
even take in a new supply of fuel if the elements be propitious,
and may be able to re-ascend, but the occasions are rare when
such operations can be carried out successfully.

In operations over water the airman is confronted with one
serious danger--the risk of losing his bearings and his way.  For
instance, many attempts have been made to cross the North Sea by
aeroplane, but only one has proved successful so far.  The
intrepid aviator did succeed in passing from the shore of Britain
to the coast of Scandinavia.  Many people suppose that because an
airman is equipped with a compass he must be able to find his
way, but this is a fallacy.  The aviator is in the same plight as
a mariner who is compelled from circumstances to rely upon his
compass alone, and who is debarred by inclement weather from
deciding his precise position by taking the sun.  A ship
ploughing the waters has to contend against the action of cross
currents, the speed of which varies considerably, as well as
adverse winds.  Unless absolute correction for these influences
can be made the ship will wander considerably from its course.  
The airman is placed in a worse position.  He has no means of
determining the direction and velocity of the currents prevailing
in the atmosphere, and his compass cannot give him any help in
this connection, because it merely indicates direction.

Unless the airman has some means of determining his position,
such as landmarks, he fails to realise the fact that he is
drifting, or, even if he becomes aware of this fact, it is by no
means a simple straightforward matter for him to make adequate
allowance for the factor.  Side-drift is the aviator's greatest
enemy.  It cannot be determined with any degree of accuracy.  If
the compass were an infallible guide the airman would be able to
complete a given journey in dense fog just as easily as in clear
weather.  It is the action of the cross currents and the
unconscious drift which render movement in the air during fog as
impracticable with safety as manoeuvring through the water under
similar conditions.  More than one bold and skilful aviator has
essayed the crossing of the English Channel and, being overtaken
by fog, has failed to make the opposite coast.  His compass has
given him the proper direction, but the side-drift has proved his
undoing, with the result that he has missed his objective.

The fickle character of the winds over the water, especially over
such expanses as the North Sea, constitutes another and seriously
adverse factor.  Storms, squalls, gales, and, in winter,
blizzards, spring up with magical suddenness, and are so severe
that no aircraft could hope to live in them.  But such
visitations are more to be dreaded by the lighter-than-air than
by the heavier-than-air machines.  The former offers a
considerable area of resistance to the tempest and is caught up
by the whirlwind before the pilot fully grasps the significant
chance of the natural phenomenon.  Once a dirigible is swept out
of the hands of its pilot its doom is sealed.

On the other hand, the speed attainable by the aeroplane
constitutes its safety.  It can run before the wind, and meantime
can climb steadily and rapidly to a higher altitude, until at
last it enters a contrary wind or even a tolerably quiescent
atmosphere.  Even if it encounters the tempest head on there is
no immediate danger if the aviator keep cool.  This fact has been
established times out of number and the airman has been
sufficiently skilful and quick-witted to succeed in frustrating
the destructive tactics of his natural enemy.

Only a short while ago in France, British airmen who went aloft
in a gale found the latter too strong for them.  Although the
machine was driven full speed ahead it was forced backwards at
the rate of 10 miles per hour because the independent speed of
the aeroplane was less than the velocity of the wind.  But a
dirigible has never succeeded in weathering a gale; its bulk,
area, and weight, combined with its relatively slow movement, are
against it, with the result that it is hurled to destruction.  
All things considered, the dirigible is regarded as an
impracticable acquisition to a fleet, except in the eyes of the
Germans, who have been induced to place implicit reliance upon
their monsters.  The gullible Teuton public confidently believes
that their Dreadnoughts of the air will complete the destruction
of the British fleet, but responsible persons know full well that
they will not play such a part, but must be reserved for
scouting.  Hitherto, in naval operations, mosquito water-craft,
such as torpedo-boats, have been employed in this service.  But
these swift vessels suffer from one serious disability.  The
range of vision is necessarily limited, and a slight mist hanging
over the water blinds them; the enemy may even pass within
half-a-mile of them and escape detection.

The Zeppelin from its position 1,000 feet or more above the
water, in clear weather, has a tremendous range of vision; the
horizon is about 40 miles distant, as compared with approximately
8 miles in the case of the torpedo-boat.  of course an object,
such as a battleship, may be detected at a far greater range.  
Consequently the German naval programme is to send the Zeppelin a
certain distance ahead of the battleship squadron.  The dirigible
from its coign of vantage would be able to sight a hostile
squadron if it were within visual range and would communicate the
fact to the commander of the fleet below.  The latter would
decide his course according to information received; thus he
would be enabled to elude his enemy, or, if the tidings received
from the aerial scout should be favourable, to dispose his vessels
in the most favourable array for attack.

The German code of naval tactics does not foreshadow the use of
dirigible aircraft as vessels of attack.  Scouting is the primary
and indeed the only useful duty of the dirigible, although it is
quite possible that the aerial craft might participate in a
subsequent naval engagement, as, indeed, has been the case.  Its
participation, however, would be governed entirely by climatic
conditions.  The fact that the dirigible is a weak unit of attack
in naval operations is fully appreciated by all the belligerents.

The picture of a sky "black with Zeppelins" may appeal to the
popular imagination, and may induce the uninitiated to cherish
the belief that such an array would strike terror into the hearts
of the foe, but the naval authorities are well aware that no
material advantage would accrue from such a force.  In the first
place they would constitute an ideal target for the enemy's
vessels.  They would be compelled to draw within range in order
to render their own attack effective, and promiscuous shooting
from below would probably achieve the desired end.  One or more
of the hostile aircraft would be hit within a short while.  Such
disasters would undoubtedly throw the aerial fleet into
confusion, and possibly might interfere with the tactical
developments of its own friends upon the water below.

The shells hurled from the Zeppelins would probably inflict but
little damage upon the warships beneath.  Let it be conceded that
they weigh about 500 pounds, which is two-thirds of the weight of
the projectile hurled from the Krupp 128-centimetre howitzer.
Such a missile would have but little destructive effect if
dropped from a height of 1,000 feet.  To achieve a result
commensurate with that of the 28-centimetre howitzer the airship
would have to launch the missile from a height of about 7,000
feet.  To take aim from such an altitude is impossible,
especially at a rapidly moving target such as a battle-cruiser.

The fact must not be forgotten that Count Zeppelin himself has
expressed the opinion, the result of careful and prolonged
experiments, that his craft is practically useless at a height
exceeding 5,000 feet.  Another point must not be overlooked.  In
a spirited naval engagement the combatants would speedily be
obliterated from the view of those aloft by the thick pall of
smoke--the combination of gun-fire and emission from the furnaces
and a blind attack would be just as likely to damage friend as
foe.

Even if the aircraft ventured to descend as low as 5,000 feet it
would be faced with another adverse influence.  The discharge of
the heavy battleship guns would bring about such an agitation of
the air above as to imperil the delicate equilibrium of an
airship.  Nor must one overlook the circumstance that in such an
engagement the Zeppelins would become the prey of hostile
aeroplanes.  The latter, being swifter and nimbler, would harry
the cumbersome and slow-moving dirigible in the manner of a dog
baiting a bear to such a degree that the dirigible would be
compelled to sheer off to secure ts own safety.  Desperate
bravery and grim determination may be magnificent physical
attributes, ut they would have to be superhuman to face the
stinging recurrent attacks of mosquito-aeroplanes.

The limitations of the Zeppelin, and in fact of all dirigible
aircraft, were emphasised upon the occasion of the British aerial
raid upon Cuxhaven.  Two Zeppelins bravely put out to overwhelm
the cruisers and torpedo boats which accompanied and supported
the British sea-planes, but when confronted with well-placed
firing from the guns of the vessels below they quickly decided
that discretion was the better part of valour and drew off.  In
naval operations the aeroplane is a far more formidable foe,
although here again there are many limitations.  The first and
most serious is the severely limited radius of action.  The
aeroplane motor is a hungry engine, while the fuel capacity of
the tank is restricted.  The German military authorities speedily
realised the significance of this factor and its bearing upon
useful operations, and forth  with carried out elaborate
endurance tests.  In  numerable flights were made with the
express purpose of determining how long a machine could remain in
the air upon a single fuel supply.

The results of these flights were collated and the achievements
of each machine in this direction carefully analysed, a mean
average drawn up, and then pigeon-holed.  The results were kept
secret, only the more sensational records being published to the
world.  As the policy of standardisation in the construction of
aeroplanes was adopted the radius of action of each type became
established.  It is true that variations of this factor even
among vessels exactly similar in every respect are inevitable,
but it was possible to establish a reliable mean average for
general guidance.

The archives of the Berlin military department are crowded with
facts and figures relating to this particular essential, so that
the radius of action, that is the mileage upon a single fuel
charge, of any class and type of machine may be ascertained in a
moment.  The consequence is that the military authorities are
able to decide the type of aeroplane which is best suited to a
certain projected task.  According to the dossier in the
pigeon-hole, wherein the results of the type are filed, the
aeroplane will be able to go so far, and upon arriving at that
point will be able to accomplish so much work, and then be able
to return home.  Consequently it is dispatched upon the especial
duty without any feeling of uncertainty.

Unfortunately, these experimental processes were too methodical
to prove reliable.  The endurance data were prepared from tests
carried out in the aerodrome and from cross-country trials
accomplished under ideal or fair-weather conditions.  The result
is that calculations have been often upset somewhat rudely by
weather conditions of a totally unexpected character, which bring
home vividly the striking difference between theory and practice.

The British and French aviation authorities have not adopted such
methodical standardisation or rule of thumb inferences, but
rather have fostered individual enterprise and initiative.  This
stimulation of research has been responsible for the creation of
a type of aeroplane specially adapted to naval service, and
generically known as the water plane, the outstanding point of
difference from the aeroplane being the substitution of canoes or
floats for the wheeled chassis peculiar to the land machine.  The
flier is sturdily built, while the floats are suf ficiently
substantial to support the craft upon the water in calm weather.
Perhaps it was the insular situation of the British nation which
was responsible for this trend of development, because so far as
Britain is concerned the sea-going aeroplane is in dispensable.  
But the salient fact remains that to-day the waterplane service
of Great Britain is the most efficient in the world, the craft
being speedy, designed and built to meet the rough weather
conditions which are experienced around these islands, and ideal
vessels for patrol and raiding duties.

So far as the British practice is concerned the waterplane is
designed to operate in conjunction with, and not apart from, the
Navy.  It has been made the eyes of the Navy in the strictest
interpretation of the term.  In any such combination the great
difficulty is the establishment of what may be termed a mobile
base, inasmuch as the waterplane must move with the fleet.  This
end has been achieved by the evolution of a means of carrying a
waterplane upon, and launching it from, a battleship, if
necessary.

For this purpose a docking cradle or way has been provided aft
where the aeroplane may be housed until the moment arrives for
its employment.  Several vessels have been devoted to this
nursing duty and are known as parent ships to the waterplane
service.  All that is requisite when the time arrives for the
use of the seaplane is to lift it bodily by derrick or crane
from its cradle and to lower it upon the water.  It will be
remembered that the American naval authorities made an
experiment with a scheme for directly launching the warplane
from the deck of a battleship in the orthodox, as well as
offering it a spot upon which to alight upon returning from a
flight, while Wing-Commander Samson, R.N., D.S.O., the famous
British airman, repeated the experiment by flying from a
similar launching way installed upon H.M.S. Hibernia.  But
this practice has many shortcomings.  So far as the British
and French navies are concerned, the former process is
preferred.  Again, when the waterplane returns from a flight
it is admitted that it is simpler, quicker, and safer for it
to settle upon the water near the parent ship and to be lifted
on board.

As a sea-scout the waterplane is overwhelmingly superior to
the dirigible as events have conclusively proved.  Its
greater mobility and speed stand it in excellent stead
because it is able to cover a larger area within a shorter
space of time than its huge and unwieldy contemporary.
Furthermore, it is a difficult target to hit and accordingly
is not so likely to be brought down by hostile fire.  There
is another point in its favour.  The experience of the war
has proved that the numerically inferior enemy prefers to
carry out his naval operations under the cover of the mist
and haze which settle upon the water, and yet are of
sufficient depth to conceal his identity and composition.
Such mists as a rule comprise a relatively thin bank of
low-lying vapour, which while enveloping the surface of the
water in an impenetrable pall, yet permits the mast-heads
of the vessels to stand out clearly, although they cannot
be detected from the water-level or even from the control
and fighting tops of a warship.  A scouting waterplane,
however, is able to observe them and note their movement,
and accordingly can collect useful information concerning
the apparent composition of the hidden force, the course it
is following, its travelling speed, and so forth, which it
can convey immediately to its friends.

The aeroplane has established its value in another manner.
Coal-burning vessels when moving at any pronounced speed
invariably throw off large quantities of smoke, which may
be detected easily from above, even when the vessels
themselves are completely hidden in the mist.  It was this
circumstance which revealed the presence of the British
squadron in the affair of the Bight of Heligoland.

The German airman on patrol duty from the adjacent base on
the island of Heligoland detected the presence of this
smoke, above the low-lying bank of fog, although there were
no other visible signs of any vessels.  Fully cognisant of
the fact that the German Fleet was at anchor in a safe place
he naturally divined that the smoke proceeded from a hostile
squadron, evidently bent upon a raid.  He returned to his
headquarters, conveyed the intelligence he had collected to
his superior officers, upon receipt of which a German cruiser
squadron was sent out and engaged the British vessels to its
own discomfiture.  But for the airman's vigilance and smartness
there is no doubt that the British squadron would have
accomplished a great coup.

This incident, however, served to reveal that the aerial scout is
prone to suffer from over-keenness and to collect only a partial
amount of information.  Upon this occasion the German watchman
detected the presence of the British torpedo-boat and light
cruiser force.  Had he continued his investigations and made a
wider sweep he would have discovered the proximity of the British
battle-cruiser squadron which routed the German force, the latter
having acted on incomplete information.

While the low-lying sea-fog is the navigator's worst enemy, it is
the airman's greatest friend and protection.  It not only
preserves him against visual discovery from below, but is an
excellent insulator of sound, so that his whereabouts is not
betrayed by the noise of his motor.  It is of in calculable value
in another way.  When a fog prevails the sea is generally as
smooth as the pro verbial mirror, enabling the waterplanes to be
brought up under cover to a suitable point from which they may be
dispatched.  Upon their release by climbing to a height of a few
hundred feet the airmen are able to reach a clear atmosphere,
where by means of the compass it is possible to advance in
approximately the desired direction, safe from discovery from
below owing to the fog.  If they are "spotted" they can dive into
its friendly depths, complete their work, and make for the parent
ship.

Low-lying sea-fogs are favourable to aerial raids provided the
scout is able to catch sight of the upper parts of landmarks to
enable him to be sure of the correctness of his line of flight-in
cases where the distance is very short compass direction is
sufficiently reliable-because the bank of vapour not only
constitutes a perfect screen, but serves as a blanket to the
motor exhaust, if not completely, at least sufficiently to
mislead those below.  Fogs, as every mariner will testify, play
strange tricks with the transmission of sound.  Hence, although
those on the vessels below might detect a slight hum, it might
possibly be so faint as to convey the impression that the aviator
was miles away, when, as a matter of fact, he was directly
overhead.  This confusion arising from sound aberration is a
useful protection in itself, as it tends to lure a naval force
lying in or moving through the fog into a false sense of
security.

The development of the submarine revealed the incontrovertible
fact that this arm would play a prominent part in future
operations upon the water:  a presage which has been adequately
fulfilled during the present conflict.  The instinct of
self-preservation at once provoked a discussion of the most
effective ways and means of disguising its whereabouts when it
travels submerged.  To this end the German naval authorities
conducted a series of elaborate and interesting experiments off
the island of Heligoland.  As is well known, when one is directly
above a stretch of shallow water, the bottom of the latter can be
seen quite distinctly.  Consequentiy, it was decided to employ 
aerial craft as detectives.  Both the aeroplane and the dirigible
took part in these experiments, being flown at varying heights,
while the submarine was maneouvred at different depths immediately
below.  The sum of these investigations proved conclusively that
a submarine may be detected from aloft when moving at a depth of
from 30 to 40 feet.  The outline of the submerged craft is
certainly somewhat blurred, but nevertheless it is sufficiently
distinct to enable its identity to be determined really against
the background or bottom of the sea.  To combat this detection
from an aerial position it will be necessary inter alia to evolve
a more harmonious or protective colour-scheme for the submarine.
Their investigations were responsible for the inauguration of the
elaborate German aerial patrol of harbours, the base for such
aerial operations being established upon the island of
Heligoland.

So far the stern test of war as applied to the science of
aeronautics has emphasised the fact that as a naval unit the
dirigible is a complete failure.  Whether experience will bring
about a modification of these views time alone will show, but it
is certain that existing principles of design will have to
undergo a radical revision to achieve any notable results.  The
aeroplane alone has proved successful in this domain, and it is
upon this type of aerial craft that dependence will have to be
placed.



CHAPTER XIX
THE NAVIES of THE AIR

Less than three years ago the momentous and spectacular race
among the Powers of Europe for the supremacy of the air began.  
At first the struggle was confined to two rivals--France and
Germany--but as time progressed and the importance of aerial
fleets was recognised, other nations, notably Great Britain,
entered the field.

Germany obtained an advantage.  Experiment and research were
taken up at a point which had been reached by French effort;
further experiments and researches were carried out in German
circles with secret and feverish haste, with the result that
within a short time a pronounced degree of efficiency according
to German ideals had been attained.  The degree of perfection
achieved was not regarded with mere academic interest; it marked
the parting of the ways: the point where scientific endeavour com
manded practical appreciation by turning the success of the
laboratory and aerodrome into the channel of commercial
manufacture.  In other words, systematic and wholesale production
was undertaken upon an extensive scale.  The component parts were
standardised and arrangements were completed with various
establishments possessed of the most suitable machinery to
perfect a programme for turning out aeronautical requirements in
a steady, continuous stream from the moment the crisis developed.

The wisdom of completing these arrangements in anticipation is
now apparent.  Upon the outbreak of hostilities many German
establishments devoted to the production of articles required in
the infinite ramifications of commerce found themselves deprived
of their markets, but there was no risk that their large plants
would be brought to a standstill:  the Government ordered the
manufacture of aeroplane parts and motors upon an extensive
scale.  In this manner not only were the industrial
establishments kept going, but their production of aeronautical
requirements relieved those organisations devoted to the
manufacture of armaments, so that the whole resources and
facilities of these could be concentrated upon the supply of
munitions of war.

In France the air-fleet, although extensive upon the outbreak of
war, was somewhat heterogeneous.  Experiment was still being
pursued: no type had met with definite official recognition, the
result being that no arrangements had been completed for the
production of one or more standard types upon an elaborate scale
comparable with that maintained by Germany.  In fact some six
months after the outbreak of war there was an appreciable lack of
precision on this point in French military.  Many of the types
which had established their success were forbidden by military
decree as mentioned in a previous chapter, while manufacturing
arrangements were still somewhat chaotic.

Great Britain was still more backward in the new movement.  But
this state of affairs was in a measure due to the division of the
Fourth Arm among the two services.  A well-organised Government
manufactory for the production of aeroplanes and other aircraft
necessities had been established, while the private manufacturers
had completed preparations for wholesale production.  But it was
not until the Admiralty accepted responsibility for the aerial
service that work was essayed in grim earnest.

The allocation of the aerial responsibilities of Great Britain to
the Admiralty was a wise move.  Experience has revealed the
advantages accruing from the perfection of homogeneous squadrons
upon the water, that is to say groups of ships which are
virtually sister-craft of identical speed, armament, and so on,
thus enabling the whole to act together as a complete effective
unit.  As this plan had proved so successful upon the water, the
Admiralty decided to apply it to the fleet designed for service
in the air above.

At the time this plan of campaign was definitely settled Great
Britain as an aerial power was a long way behind her most
fomidable rival, but strenuous efforts were made to reduce the
handicap, and within a short while the greater part of this
leeway had been made up.  Upon the outbreak of war Great Britain
undoubtedly was inferior to Germany in point of numbers of
aircraft, but the latter Power was completely outclassed in
efficiency, and from the point of view of PERSONNEL.  The British
had developed the waterplane as an essential auxiliary to naval
operations, and here was in advance of her rival, who had
practically neglected this line of eeperiment and evolution,
resting secure in the assurance of her advisers that the huge
dirigibles would be adequate for all exigencies on the water.

Indeed, when war was declared, all the Powers were found more or
less wanting so far as their aerial fleets were concerned.  If
Germany's huge aerial navy had been in readiness for instant service
when she invaded Belgium, she would have overcome that little
country's resistance in a far shorter time and with much less
waste of life.  It was the Belgians who first brought home to the
belligerents the prominent part that aircraft were destined to
play in war, and the military possibilities of the aeroplane.  
True, the Belgians had a very small aerial navy, but it was put to
work without delay and accomplished magnificent results,
ascertaining the German positions and dispositions with unerring
accuracy and incredible ease, and thus enabling the commander of
the Belgian Army to dispose his relatively tiny force to the best
advantage, and to offer the most effective resistance.

Great Britain's aerial navy, while likewise some  what small, was
also ready for instant service.  The British Expeditionary force
was supported by a very efficient aerial fleet, the majority of
the vessels forming which flew across the Channel at high speed
to the British headquarters in France so as to be available
directly military preparations were begun, and the value of this
support proved to be inestimable, since it speedily demoralised
the numerically superior enemy.

France, like Germany, was somewhat dilatory, but this was
attributable rather to the time occupied in the mobilisation of
the Fourth Arm than to lack of energy.  There were a round 1,500
aeroplanes ostensibly ready for service, in addition to some 26
dirigibles.  But the fleet was somewhat scattered, while many of
the craft were not immediately available, being in the shops or
in dock for repairs and overhaul.  During the period of
mobilisation the so-called standing military force was augmented
by about 500 machines which were acquired from private owners.  
The aeroplane factories were also, overhauled and re-organised so
as to be in a position to remedy the inevitable wastage, but
these organisation efforts were somewhat handicapped by the
shortage of labour arising from the call to arms.  France,
moreover, imperilled her aerial strength by forbidding the use of
558 machines which were ready for service.

Germany's aerial fleet was of similar proportions to that of her
Gallic neighbour, but curiously enough, and in strange contrast,
there appeared to be a lack of readiness in this ramification of
the Teuton war machine.  The military establishment possessed
about 1,000 machines--active and reserve--of which it is
estimated 700 were available for instant service.  During the
period of mobilisation a further 450 machines were added to the
fleet, drawn for the most part from private owners.  So far as
the dirigibles were concerned 14 Zeppelins were ready for duty,
while others were under construction or undergoing overhaul and
repair.  A few other types were also in commission or acquired
during mobilisation, bringing the dirigible force to 40 machines
all told.

But the greatest surprise was probably offered by Russia.  Very
little was known concerning Russian activities in this particular
field, although it was stated that large orders for machines had
been placed with various foreign manufactories.  Certain
factories also had been established within the Empire, although
the character of their work and its results and achievements were
concealed from prying eyes.  In Russia, however, an appreciable
number of private aeroplanes were in operation, and these, of
course, were placed at the disposal of the authorities the moment
the crisis developed.

The British and French aeroplane manufacturers had been busy upon
Russian orders for many months previous to the outbreak of
hostilities, while heavy shipments of component parts had been
made, the assembling and completion of the machines being carried
out in the country.  It is generally believed that upon the
outbreak of war Russia had a fleet of 800 aeroplanes in hand, of
which total 150 were contributed from private sources.  Even the
dirigible had not been overlooked, there being nearly 20 of these
craft attached to the Russian Army, although for the most part
they are small vessels.

In comparison with the foregoing large aerial navies, that of
Great Britain appeared to be puny.  At the moment Great Britain
possesses about 500 machines, of which about 200 are waterplanes.
In addition, according to the Secretary of the Admiralty, 15
dirigibles should be in service.  Private enterprise is supported
by the Government, which maintains a factory for the manufacture
of these craft.

During the two years preceding the outbreak of war the various
Powers grew remarkably reticent concerning the composition and
enlargement of their respective aerial fleets.  No official
figures were published.  But at the same time it is a well-known
fact that during the year 1913 France augmented her flying force
by no fewer than 544 aeroplanes.  Germany was no less energetic,
the military acquisition in this branch, and during the self-same
year, approaching 700 machines according to the semi-official
reports published in that country.

The arrangements concluded for the manufacture of additional
craft during the war are equally remarkable.  The principal
factory in Germany, (now devoting its energies to the production
of these craft, although in happier days its normal complement of
4,000 men were responsible for the production of another
commercial article) possesses facilities for turning out 30
complete aeroplanes per week, according to the statement of its
managing director.  But it is averred that this statement is
purposely misleading, inasmuch as during the first fortnight of
the campaign it was producing over 50 aeroplanes per week.  It
must be remembered that Germany is responsible for the supply of
the majority of such craft for the Austnan armies, that country
purchasing these vessels in large numbers, because in the early
days of the conflict it was notoriously weak in this arm.  Since
the declaration of war strenuous efforts have been made to remedy
this state of affairs, particularly upon the unexpected
revelation of Russia's aerial strength.

It is computed that upon the outbreak of war the various Powers
were in the position to show an aggregate of 4,980 aircraft of
all descriptions, both for active service and reserve.  This is a
colossal fleet, but it serves to convey in a graphic manner the
importance attached to the adrial vessel by the respective
belligerents.  So far as Germany is concerned she is sorely in
need of additional machines.  Her fleet of the air has lost its
formidable character, owing to the fact that it has to be divided
between two frontiers, while she has been further weakened by the
enormous lengths of the two battle-fronts.

Russia has been able to concentrate her aerial force, which has
proved of incalculable value to the Grand Duke Nicholas, who has
expressed his appreciation of the services rendered by his
fliers.  The French likewise have been favoured by Fortune in
this respect.  Their aerial navy is likewise concentrated upon
a single frontier, although a pronounced proportion has been
reserved for service upon the Mediterranean sea-board for
co-operation with the fleet.  France suffers, however, to a
certain degree from the length of her battle-line, which is over
200 miles in length.  The French aerial fleet has been
particularly active in the Vosges and the Argonne, where the
difficult, mountainous, and densely wooded country has rendered
other systems of observation of the enemy's movements a matter of
extreme difficulty.  The Germans have laboured under a similar
handicap in this territory, and have likewise been compelled to
centre a considerable proportion of their aerial fleet upon this
corner of the extended battlefield.

It is in this region that the greatest wastage has been manifest.
I have been informed by one correspondent who is fighting in this
sternly contested area, that at one time a daily loss of ten
German machines was a fair average, while highwater mark was
reached, so far as his own observations and ability to glean
information were concerned by the loss of 19 machines during a
single day.  The French wastage, while not so heavy upon the
average, has been considerable at times.

The term wastage is somewhat misleading, if not erroneous.  It
does not necessarily imply the total loss of a machine, such as
its descent upon hostile territory, but includes damage to
machines, no matter how slight, landing within their own lines.  
In the difficult country of the Vosges many aeroplanes have come
to earth somewhat heavily, and have suffered such damage as to
render them inoperative, compelling their removal from the
effective list until they have undergone complete overhaul or
reconstruction.  Upon occasions this wastage has been so
pronounced that the French aviators, including some of the
foremost fliers serving with the forces, have been without a
machine and have been compelled to wait their turn.

I am informed that one day four machines, returning from a
reconnaissance in force, crashed successively to the ground, and
each had to be hauled away to the repair sheds, necessitating
withdrawal from service for several days.  Unfortunately the
French, owing to their decision to rule out certain machines as
unsuited to military service, have not yet perfected their
organisation for making good this wastage, although latterly it
has been apprecably reduced by greater care among the aviators in
handling their vessels.

The fast vessels of the French aerial fleet have proved
exceptionally valuable.  With these craft speeds of 95 and 100
miles or more per hour have been attained under favourable
conditions, and pace has proved distinctly advantageous, inasmuch
as it gives the French aviators a superiority of about 40 per
cent over the average German machine.  It was the activity and
daring of the French fliers upon these high speed machines which
induced the German airmen to change their tactics.  Individual
effort and isolated raiding operations were abandoned in favour
of what might be described as combined or squadron attack.  Six
or eight machines advancing together towards the French lines
somewhat nonplussed these fleet French mosquito craft, and to
a certain degree nullified their superiority in pace.  Speed
was discounted, for the simple reason that the enemy when so
massed evinced a disposition to fight and to follow harassing
tactics when one of the slowest French machines ventured into
the air.

It is interesting to observe that aerial operations, now that
they are being conducted upon what may be termed methodical lines
as distinct from corsair movements, are following the broad
fundamental principles of naval tactics.  Homogeneous squadrons,
that is, squadrons composed of vessels of similar type and armament,
put out and follow roughly the "single line ahead" formation.
Upon sighting the enemy there is the manoeuvring for position
advantage which must accrue to the speedier protagonist.  One
then, witnesses what might almost be described as an application
of the process of capping the line or "crossing the 'T.'" This
tends to throw the slower squadron into confusion by bending it
back upon itself, meanwhile exposing it to a demoralizing fire.

The analogy is not precisely correct but sufficiently so to
indicate that aerial battles will be fought much upon the same
lines, as engagements between vessels upon the water.  If the
manoeuvres accomplish nothing beyond breaking up and scattering
the foe, the result is satisfactory in as much as in this event
it is possible to exert a driving tendency and to force him back
upon the lines of the superior force, when the scattered vessels
may be brought within the zone of spirited fire from the ground.

Attacks in force are more likely to prove successful than
individual raiding tactics, as recent events upon the battlefield
of Europe have demonstrated more or less convincingly.  An attack
in force is likely to cause the defenders upon the ground beneath
to lose their heads and to fire wildly and at random, with the
result that the airmen may achieve their object with but little
damage to themselves.  This method of attacking in force was
essayed for the first time by the British aerial fleet, which
perhaps is not surprising, seeing that the machines are manned
and the operations supervised by officers who have excelled in
naval training, and who are skilled in such movements.

No doubt this practice, combined with the daring of the British
aviators, contributed very materially to the utter demoralisation
of the German aerial forces, and was responsible for that
hesitancy to attack a position in the vicinity of the British
craft which became so manifest in the course of a few weeks after
the outbreak of hostilities.

One of the foremost military experts of the United States, who
passed some time in the fighting zone, expressed his opinion that
the British aerial force is the most efficient among the
belligerents when considered as a unit, the French flier being
described by the same authority as most effective when acting
individually, owing to personal intrepidity.  As a scout the
French aviator is probably unequalled, because he is quick to
perceive and to collect the data required, and when provided with
a fast machine is remarkably nimble and venturesome in the air.  
The British aviators, however, work as a whole, and in the
particular phases where such tactics are profitable have
established incontestable superiority.  At first the German
aerial force appeared to possess no settled system of operation.
Individual effort was pronounced, but it lacked method.  The
Germans have, however, profited from the lessons taught by their
antagonists, and now are emulating their tactics, but owing to
their imperfect training and knowledge the results they achieve
appear to be negligible.

The dirigible still remains an unknown quantity in these
activities, although strange to relate, in the early days of the
war, the work accomplished by the British craft, despite their
comparatively low speed and small dimensions, excelled in value
that achieved by the warplanes.  This was particularly noticeable
in matters pertaining to reconnaissance, more especially at
night, when the British vessels often remained for hours together
in the air, manoeuvring over the hostile lines, and gathering
invaluable information as to the disposition and movements
of the opposing forces.

But it is probably in connection with naval operations that the
British aerial fleet excels.  The waterplanes have established
their supremacy over the naval dirigible in a striking manner.  
British endeavour fostered the waterplane movement and has
carried it to a high degree of perfection.  The waterplane is not
primarily designed to perform long flights, although such may be
carried out if the exigencies demand.  The practice of deputing
certain vessels to art as "parent ships" to a covey of
waterplanes has proved as successful in practice, as in theory.  
Again, the arrangements for conveying these machines by such
means to a rendezvous, and there putting them into the water to
complete a certain duty, have been triumphantly vindicated.
At the time this idea was embraced it met with a certain degree
of hostile criticism: it was argued that the association of the
two fighting, machines would tend towards confusion, and impair
the efficiency of both.

Practice has refuted this theory.  The British aerial raids upon
Cuxhaven and other places would have been impossible, and
probably valueless as an effective move, but for the fact that it
was possible to release the machines from a certain point upon
the open sea, within easy reach of the cooperating naval
squadron.  True, the latter was exposed to hostile attack from
submarines, but as results proved this was easy to repel.  The
aircraft were enabled to return to their base, as represented by
the rendezvous, to be picked up, and to communicate the
intelligence gained from their flight to the authorities in a
shorter period of time than would have been possible under any
other circumstances, while the risk to the airmen was
proportionately reduced.

The fact that the belligerents have built up such huge aerial
navies conclusively proves that the military value of the Fourth
Arm has been fully appreciated.  From the results so far achieved
there is every indication that activity in this direction
will be increased rather than diminished.





End of The Project Gutenberg Etext of Aeroplanes and Dirigibles of War


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