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History of air warfare

Incidents of the War in the Air

In time, no doubt, volumes will be written on the work of the airmen in the Great War. Except the submarine, no such novel and effective device was introduced into the conduct of this colossal struggle as the scouting airplane. The development of the service was steady from the first day when the Belgian flyers proved their worth at Liège. From mere observation trips there sprang up the air duels, from the duels developed skirmishes, and from these in time pitched battles in which several hundred machines would be engaged on each side. To this extent of development aërial tactics had proceeded by midsummer of 1917. Their further development must be left to some future chronicler to record. It must be noted, however, that at that early day the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, pleading for a larger measure of preparation for the perils of war, asserted that the time was not far distant when this country would have to prepare to repel invading fleets of aircraft from European shores. This may have been an exaggeration. At that moment no aircraft had crossed the Atlantic and no effort to make the passage had been made save those of Wellman and Vanniman. When the guns began to roar on the Belgian frontier there was floating on Keuka Lake, New York, a huge hydro-airplane with which it was planned to make the trans-Atlantic voyage. The project had been financed by Mr. Rodman Wanamaker, of Philadelphia, and the tests of the ship under the supervision of a young British army officer who was to make the voyage were progressing most promisingly. But the event that plunged the world into war put a sudden end to experiments like this for the commercial development of the airplane. There is every reason to believe, however, that such a flight is practicable and that it will ultimately be made not long after the world shall have returned to peace and sanity.

Photo by Kadel & Herbert.

Later Type of French Scout.
The gun mounted on the upper wing is aimed by pointing the machine and is fired by the pilot.

Airmen are not, as a rule, of a romantic or a literary temperament. Pursuing what seems to the onlooker to be the most adventurous and exhilarating of all forms of military service, they have been chary of telling their experiences and singularly set upon treating them as all in the day's work and eliminating all that is picturesque from their narratives. Sergeant James R. McConnell, one of the Americans in the French flying corps, afterwards killed, tells of a day's service in his most readable book, Flying for France, in a way that gives some idea of the daily routine of an operator of an avion de chasse. He is starting just as the sky at dawn is showing a faint pink toward the eastern horizon, for the aviator's work is best done in early morning when, as a rule, the sky is clear and the wind light:

© U. & U.

Position of Gunner in Early French Machines.

Drawing forward out of line, you put on full power, race across the grass, and take the air. The ground drops as the hood slants up before you and you seem to be going more and more slowly as you rise. At a great height you hardly realize you are moving. You glance at the clock to note the time of your departure, and at the oil gauge to see its throb. The altimeter registers 650 feet. You turn and look back at the field below and see others leaving.

In three minutes you are at about four thousand feet. You have been making wide circles over the field and watching the other machines. At forty-five hundred feet you throttle down and wait on that level for your companions to catch up. Soon the escadrille is bunched and off for the lines. You begin climbing again, gulping to clear your ears in the changing pressure. Surveying the other machines, you recognize the pilot of each by the marks on its side—or by the way he flies.

The country below has changed into a flat surface of varicoloured figures. Woods are irregular blocks of dark green, like daubs of ink spilled on a table; fields are geometrical designs of different shades of green and brown, forming in composite an ultra-cubist painting; roads are thin white lines, each with its distinctive windings and crossings—from which you determine your location. The higher you are the easier it is to read.

In about ten minutes you see the Meuse sparkling in the morning light, and on either side the long line of sausage-shaped observation balloons far below you. Red-roofed Verdun springs into view just beyond. There are spots in it where no red shows and you know what has happened there. In the green pasture land bordering the town, round flecks of brown indicate the shell holes. You cross the Meuse.

Immediately east and north of Verdun there lies a broad, brown band. From the Woevre plain it runs westward to the "S" bend in the Meuse, and on the left bank of that famous stream continues on into the Argonne Forest. Peaceful fields and farms and villages adorned that landscape a few months ago—when there was no Battle of Verdun. Now there is only that sinister brown belt, a strip of murdered Nature. It seems to belong to another world. Every sign of humanity has been swept away. The woods and roads have vanished like chalk wiped from a blackboard; of the villages nothing remains but grey smears where stone walls have tumbled together. The great forts of Douaumont and Vaux are outlined faintly, like the tracings of a finger in wet sand. One cannot distinguish any one shell crater, as one can on the pockmarked fields on either side. On the brown band the indentations are so closely interlocked that they blend into a confused mass of troubled earth. Of the trenches only broken, half-obliterated links are visible.

Columns of muddy smoke spurt up continually as high explosives tear deeper into this ulcered area. During heavy bombardment and attacks I have seen shells falling like rain. The countless towers of smoke remind one of Gustave Doré's picture of the fiery tombs of the arch-heretics in Dante's "Hell." A smoky pall covers the sector under fire, rising so high that at a height of one thousand feet one is enveloped in its mist-like fumes. Now and then monster projectiles hurtling through the air close by leave one's plane rocking violently in their wake. Airplanes have been cut in two by them.

For us the battle passes in silence, the noise of one's motor deadening all other sounds. In the green patches behind the brown belt myriads of tiny flashes tell where the guns are hidden; and those flashes, and the smoke of bursting shells, are all we see of the fighting. It is a weird combination of stillness and havoc, the Verdun conflict viewed from the sky.

Far below us, the observation and range-finding planes circle over the trenches like gliding gulls. At a feeble altitude they follow the attacking infantrymen and flash back wireless reports of the engagement. Only through them can communication be maintained when, under the barrier fire, wires from the front lines are cut. Sometimes it falls to our lot to guard these machines from Germans eager to swoop down on their backs. Sailing about high above a busy flock of them makes one feel like an old mother hen protecting her chicks.

The pilot of an avion de chasse  must not concern himself with the ground, which to him is useful only for learning his whereabouts. The earth is all-important to the men in the observation, artillery-regulating, and bombardment machines, but the fighting aviator has an entirely different sphere. His domain is the blue heavens, the glistening rolls of clouds below the fleecy banks towering above the vague aërial horizon, and he must watch it as carefully as a navigator watches the storm-tossed sea.

On days when the clouds form almost a solid flooring, one feels very much at sea, and wonders if one is in the navy instead of aviation. The diminutive Nieuports skirt the white expanse like torpedo boats in an arctic sea, and sometimes, far across the cloud-waves, one sights an enemy escadrille, moving as a fleet.

Principally our work consists of keeping German airmen away from our lines, and in attacking them when opportunity offers. We traverse the brown band and enter enemy territory to the accompaniment of an anti-aircraft cannonade. Most of the shots are wild, however, and we pay little attention to them. When the shrapnel comes uncomfortably close, one shifts position slightly to evade the range. One glances up to see if there is another machine higher than one's own. Low, and far within the German lines, are several enemy planes, a dull white in appearance, resembling sandflies against the mottled earth. High above them one glimpses the mosquito-like forms of two Fokkers. Away off to one side white shrapnel puffs are vaguely visible, perhaps directed against a German crossing the lines. We approach the enemy machines ahead, only to find them slanting at a rapid rate into their own country. High above them lurks a protection plane. The man doing the "ceiling work," as it is called, will look after him for us.

Getting started is the hardest part of an attack. Once you have begun diving you're all right. The pilot just ahead turns tail up like a trout dropping back to water, and swoops down in irregular curves and circles. You follow at an angle so steep your feet seem to be holding you back in your seat. Now the black Maltese crosses on the German's wings stand out clearly. You think of him as some sort of a big bug. Then you hear the rapid tut-tut-tut of his machine-gun. The man that dived ahead of you becomes mixed up with the topmost German. He is so close it looks as if he had hit the enemy machine. You hear the staccato barking of his mitrailleuse and see him pass from under the German's tail.

The rattle of the gun that is aimed at you leaves you undisturbed. Only when the bullets pierce the wings a few feet off do you become uncomfortable. You see the gunner crouched down behind his weapon, but you aim at where the pilot ought to be—there are two men aboard the German craft—and press on the release hard. Your mitrailleuse hammers out a stream of bullets as you pass over and dive, nose down, to get out of range. Then, hopefully, you redress and look back at the foe. He ought to be dropping earthward at several miles a minute. As a matter of fact, however, he is sailing serenely on. They have an annoying habit of doing that, these Boches.

Zeppelins as well as the stationary kite balloons and the swiftly flying airplanes often tempted the fighting aviators to attack. One of the most successful of the British champions of the air, though his own life was ended in the second year of the war, was sub-Lieutenant R. A. J. Warneford, of the British Flying Corps. In his brief period of service Warneford won more laurels than any of the British aviators of the time. He was absolutely fearless, with a marvelous control of the fast Vickers scout which he employed, and fertile in every resource of the chase and of the flight. In an interview widely printed at the time, Lieutenant Warneford thus told the story of his casual meeting of a German Zeppelin high in air between Ghent and Brussels and his prompt and systematic destruction of the great balloon. The story as told in his own language reads like the recountal of an everyday event. That to meet an enemy more than a mile above the earth and demolish him was anything extraordinary does not seem to have occurred to the aviator.

I proceeded on my journey at an increased height [he says]. It was just three o'clock in the morning when all of a sudden I perceived on the horizon about midway between Ghent and Brussels a Zeppelin flying fast at an altitude of about six thousand feet. I immediately flew toward it and when I was almost over the monster I descended about fifteen metres, and flung six bombs at it. The sixth struck the envelope of the ship fair and square in the middle. There was instantly a terrible explosion. The displacement of the air round about me was so great that a tornado seemed to have been produced. My machine tossed upward and then flung absolutely upside down, I was forced to loop the loop in spite of myself. I thought for a moment that the end of everything had come. In the whirl I had the pleasure of seeing my victim falling to the earth in a cloud of flames and smoke. Then by some miracle my machine righted herself and I came to earth in the enemy's country. I was not long on the ground you may be sure. I speedily put myself and my machine into working order again; then I set my engine going.

This time the fortunate aviator returned safely to his own territory. He had then served only four months, had attained the age of twenty-three, and even in so brief a service had received the Cross of the Legion of Honour from France and the Victoria Cross from the British. Only one week after this courageous exploit he was killed while on a pleasure flight and with him a young American journalist, Henry Beach Needham, to whom he was showing the battlefield.

During the early years of the war all of the governments were peculiarly secretive concerning all matters relative to their aviation services. This was probably due to the fact that the flying corps was a brand new branch of the service. No nation was adequately equipped with flyers. Each was afraid to let its enemies know how insufficient were its air guards, or what measures were being taken to bring the aërial fleet up to the necessary point of efficiency. Investigators were frowned upon and the aviators themselves were discouraged from much conversation about their work.

About the beginning of 1916 the British suddenly awoke to the fact that even in war publicity has its value. It was necessary to arouse the enthusiastic support of the people for recruiting or for the conscription which ultimately was ordered. To do this graphic descriptions of what was doing at the front in the various branches of the service seemed necessary. The best writers in England were mobilized for this work. Kipling wrote of the submarines, Conan Doyle of the fighting on the fields of France. The Royal Flying Corps gave out a detailed story the authorship of which was not stated, but which describes most picturesquely the day of a flying man.

In the United States it appeared in the Sun, of New York, and sections of it are reprinted here:

"The following bombing will be carried out by No.—Squadron at night (10 P.M., 12 midnight, and 2 A.M.). At each of these times three machines, each carrying eight twenty-pound bombs, will bomb respectively P——, C——, H——."

Thus the operation order read one evening in France. Just an ordinary order too, for bombing is carried out day and night incessantly. Bombing by night is usually carried out on towns and villages known to be resting places of the German troops, and it is part of the work of the Royal Flying Corps to see that the Hun never rests.

Fritz after a hard spell in the trenches is withdrawn to some shell torn village behind his lines to rest. He enters the ruined house, that forms his billet, and with a sigh of contentment at reaching such luxury after the miseries of trench life prepares to sleep in peace. He dreams of home, and then out of the night comes the terror of the air.

A bomb falls in his billet, exploding with a terrific report and doing more damage to the already ruined walls. Possibly a few of his comrades are wounded or killed. Other explosions take place close by and the whole village is in turmoil.

Fritz does not sleep again. His nerves are jangled and all possibility of sleep is gone. The next day he is in a worse condition than after a night in the trenches. This continues night after night. The damage to German morale is enormous.

From the aërial point of view things are different. A pilot warned for night flying takes it as he takes everything else, with apparent unconcern. He realizes that he will have an uninteresting ride in the dark; the danger from "Archie" will be small, for an airplane is a difficult target to keep under observation with a searchlight, and the danger from hostile aircraft will be smaller still.

Over the trenches the star shells of the infantry may be seen, occasionally the flash of a badly concealed gun glints in the darkness or the exploding bombs of a trench raiding party cause tiny sparks to glimmer far below. Probably the enemy, hearing the sound of engines, will turn on his searchlights and sweep the sky with long pencils of light. The pilot may be picked up for a second, and a trifle later the angry bang, bang, bang of "Archie" may be heard, firing excitedly at the place where the aeroplane ought to be but is not—the pilot has probably dipped and changed his course since he was in the rays of the searchlight. He may be caught again for an instant and the performance is repeated.

Before long the vicinity of the target is reached and he prepares to drop his bombs, usually eight in number. A little before he is over the spot the first bombs will be released, for the trajectory of the bomb follows the course of the machine if the latter keeps on a straight course and when it explodes the airplane is still overhead. Down far below will be seen a tiny burst of flame; possibly a large fire blazes up and the pilot knows that his work is good. He then turns and repeats his performance until all his bombs are exhausted, when he turns for home.

Bombs are usually dropped from a low altitude at night in order to be surer of getting the target. If during the performance any local searchlights are turned on "Archie" gets busy and a merry game of hide and seek in and out the beams takes place. If the airplane is very low, and bombs are sometimes dropped from a height of only a few hundred feet, it is highly probable that the bursting shells do more damage than the airplane's bombs, and it is almost impossible to wing an airplane by night.

Photo by Press Illustrating Service.

A French Scout Airplane.

Over the lines the pilot probably meets more searchlights, dodges them, and gradually descends. Below him he sees the aerodromes of the surrounding squadrons lighted up for landing purposes. Should he be in doubt as to which is his own he fires a certain combination of signal lights and is answered from below. He then lands, hands his machine over to the mechanics, and turns in.

Photo by International Film Service.

"Showing Off."
A Nieuport performing aërial acrobatics around a heavier bombing machine.

So much for night bombing. By day it is different. Though at night it is the billets which usually form the target, by day bombing is carried out for the purpose of damaging specific objects. Railroads, dumps of stores and ammunition, and enemy aerodromes are the favourite targets.

The raiding machines fly in formation and are surrounded by other machines used solely for protective purposes. Generally a raid is carried out by machines from two squadrons, the bomb carriers belonging to a corps wing and the escorting machines to an army wing.

All the machines meet at a prearranged rendezvous well on our side of the line at a certain time and a given altitude. There they manœuvre into their correct formation. A flight commander leads the raid and his machine is distinguished by streamers tied to it.

Once over the target the fighters scatter and patrol the neighbourhood while the bombers discharge their missiles on the objective. Usually, unless anti-aircraft fire is very heavy, they descend a few thousand feet to make surer of the target, and when their work is completed rise again to the level of the escort.

Results can usually be fairly judged by day. An ammunition dump quickly shows if it is hit and stores soon burst into flame. Railway stations or junctions show clearly damage to buildings or overturned trucks, but the damage to the track itself is hard to estimate. Aerodromes may be bombed for the purpose of destroying enemy machines in their hangars or merely in order to spoil the landing by blowing holes all over the place. It is with great delight that a pilot remarks in his report that a hostile machine, surrounded by mechanics, was about to ascend, but that instead he had descended to within a few hundred feet and obtained a direct hit, with the result that the enemy machine, including the surrounding men, seemed to be severely damaged.

One officer on a bomb raid saw his chance in this way, descended to four hundred feet under intense rifle fire, successfully bombed the enemy machine, which was just emerging from its hangar, and then tried to make off. Unfortunately at this moment his engine petered out, possibly on account of the enemy's fire, and he had to descend.

By skillful planing he managed to descend about three quarters of a mile away, in full view of the enemy. Instead of giving up the ghost and at once firing his machine, this officer jumped out and, utterly unperturbed by the German fire or by the Huns making across country to take him prisoner, commenced to inspect the engine. Luckily he found the cause of the trouble at once, put it right,—it was only a trifling mishap,—adjusted the controls, and swung the propeller.

The engine started, he jumped in, with the nearest Hun only a hundred yards off, and opening the throttle raced over the ground and into the air pursued by a futile fusillade of bullets. His engine held out and he safely regained his aerodrome, after having been reported missing by his comrades. For this escapade he received the Military Cross—a well-earned reward.

When all the bombs have been dropped and the formation resumed the machines head for home. It is on the homeward journey that events may be expected, for time enough has elapsed for the Hun to detail a squadron to intercept our returning machines and pick off any stragglers that may fall behind.

It is a favourite Boche manœuvre to detail some of his slow machines to entice our fighters away from the main body, and when this has been accomplished, to attack the remainder with Fokkers, which dive from aloft onto the bombing machines. This trick is now well-known and the fighters rarely leave their charges until the latter are in comparative safety.

Sometimes a Hun of more sporting character than his brothers will wait alone for the returning convoy, hiding himself thousands of feet up in the clouds until he sees his moment. Then singling out a machine he will dive at it, pouring out a stream of bullets as he falls. Sometimes he achieves his object and a British machine falls to earth, but whatever the result, the Hun does not alter his tactics. He dives clean through the whole block of machines, down many thousands of feet, only flattening out when close to the ground.

The whole affair is so swift—just one lightning dive—that long before a fighter can reach the Hun the latter is away thousands of feet below and heading for home and safety. Every Fokker pilot knows that once his surprise dive is over he has no chance against another machine—the build of the Fokker only allows this one method of attack—and he does not stop to argue about it. His offensive dive becomes a defensive one—that is the sole difference.

Sometimes a large squadron of German machines, composed of various types of airplanes, intercepts a returning formation. If it attacks a grand aërial battle ensues. The British fighting machines spread out in a screen to allow the bombing machines a chance of escape and then attack the Huns as they arrive. In one place one British airplane will be defending itself from two or three German machines; close by two or three of our busses will be occupied in sending a Hun to his death; elsewhere more equal combats rage and the whole sky becomes an aërial battlefield, where machines perform marvellous evolutions, putting the best trick flying of pre-war days very much in the shade. No sooner has a pilot accounted for his foe, by killing him, forcing him to descend, or making him think discretion the better part of valour, than he turns to the help of a hard-pressed brother, surprising the enemy by an attack from the rear or otherwise creating a diversion.

A single shot in the petrol tank proves fatal; loss of pressure ensues, the engine fails, and the pilot is forced to descend. He can usually land safely, but should he be in enemy territory he must fire his machine and prepare for a holiday in Germany. Should he be fortunate enough to plane over our lines little damage is done; the tank can be repaired and the machine made serviceable again. But for the time being he is out of the fight. Sometimes the escaping petrol may ignite and the pilot and observer perish in the flames—the most terrible fate of all.

The aërial battle ends in one of two ways: one side is outmanœuvred, outnumbered, and has lost several machines and flies to safety, or, the more usual ending, both sides exhaust their ammunition, only a limited quantity perforce being carried, and the fight is of necessity broken off. Meanwhile the bombing machines have probably crossed the line in safety, and their duty is finished. Should they be attacked by a stray machine they are armed and quite capable of guarding themselves against any attack except one in force.

During these bomb raids photographs of the target are frequently obtained or should the staff require any district crossed on the journey and taken they are generally secured by bombing machines. It is wonderful what minute details may be seen in a photograph taken at a height of from eight to twelve thousand feet, and our prints, which are far superior to those taken by the Hun, have revealed many useful points which would otherwise have remained unknown.

When it is remembered that a single machine crossing the line is heavily shelled it may be conceived what an immense concentration of "Archies" is made on the raiders on their return. It is remarkable what feeble results are obtained considering the intensity of the bombardment, but rarely is a machine brought down, though casualties naturally occur occasionally.

Lieutenant C., in company with other machines, had successfully bombed his target and had meanwhile been heavily shelled, with the result that his engine was not giving its full number of revolutions and he lagged a little behind the rest of the formation. No hostile aircraft appeared and all went well until he was about to cross the lines, when a terrific bombardment was opened on him.

He dodged and turned to the best of his ability, but a well-aimed shell burst just above him and a piece of the "Archie" hit him on the head, not seriously wounding him, but knocking him unconscious. The machine, deprived of the guiding hand, immediately got into a dive and commenced a rapid descent from ten thousand feet, carrying the unconscious pilot with it, to be dashed to pieces on the ground.

Whether the rush of air, the sudden increase of pressure, or the passing off of the effect of the blow caused the disabled man to come to his senses is not known, but when the machine was only a few hundred feet from the ground, Lieutenant C. recovered his senses sufficiently to realize his position and managed to pull the machine up and make a landing. He then lapsed into unconsciousness again. Had he remained in his state of collapse half a minute longer, he would inevitably have been killed.

Another curious case of wounding was that of Lieutenant H., who was also returning from a bomb raid. When passing through the heavily shelled zone his machine was hit by a shell, which passed through the floor by the pilot's seat and out at the top without exploding. Lieutenant H. thought it must have been very close to his leg, but he was so fully occupied with manœuvring to dodge other shells that he had no time to think of it.

He crossed the line and began to plane down when he was aware of a feeling of faintness, but pulling himself together he landed his machine, taxied up to the sheds, and attempted to get out. It was only then that he realized that his leg was shot almost completely off above the knee; the lower part was merely hanging by a piece of skin.

Incredible as it may seem the shell which hit his machine also tore through the leg—luckily without exploding—unknown to Lieutenant H. Probably the force of the blow and excitement of the moment caused it to pass unnoticed and the torn nature of the wound helped to close the arteries and prevent his bleeding to death. He recovered, and though no longer flying is still engaged in doing his duty for the duration of the war.

Raid on a Troop Train
by John E. Whiting.

The courage and dash of the American aviators, serving with the French Army, led the Allies to expect great things of our flying corps which should be organized immediately after our declaration of war. About the time of that declaration Major L. W. B. Rees, of the British Flying Corps, came to the United States for the purpose of giving to our authorities the benefit of British experience in raising and equipping aërial fleets and in the development of the most efficient tactics. Major Rees in an official statement set forth many facts of general interest concerning the various flying services of the belligerent armies. The British, he said, fly on three levels with three different kinds of machines. Nearest the ground, about six thousand feet up, are the artillery directors who hover about cutting big figure eights above the enemy trenches and flash back directions by wireless to the British artillerists. These observers are, of course, exposed to attack from anti-aircraft guns, the effective range of which had by the middle of war become as great as ten thousand feet. Yet, as has already been noted, the amount of execution done by these weapons was surprisingly small. The observers are protected from attack from above, first by the heavy fighting planes, flying at ten thousand feet, carrying two men to the plane and able to keep the air for four hours at a time at a speed of 110 miles an hour. They are supposed to use every possible vigilance to keep the enemy's fighters away from the slower and busy observing machines. In this they are seconded by the lighter one-man fighting machines which cruise about at a height of fifteen thousand feet at a speed of 130 miles an hour and able to make a straight upward dash at the rate of ten thousand feet in ten minutes. The aviators of these latter machines came to describe their task as "ceiling work," suggesting that they operated at the very top of the world's great room. They are able to keep the air only about two hours at a time.

Americans, perhaps, gave exaggerated importance to the work of the Lafayette Escadrille which was manned wholly by American boys, and which, while in service from the very beginning of the war, was the first section of the French Army permitted to display the flag of the United States in battle after our declaration of war. It was made up, in the main, of young Americans of good family and independent means, most of them being college students who had laid down their books for the more exciting life of an airman. They paid heavily in the toll of death for their adventure and for the conviction which led them to take the side of democracy and right in the struggle against autocracy and barbarism months, even years, before their nation finally determined to join with them. In the first two and a half years of the war, seven of the aviators in this comparatively small body lost their lives.

Harvard College was particularly well represented in the American Flying Corps—although this is a proper and pertinent place to say that the sympathy shown for the allied cause by the young collegians of the United States was a magnificent evidence of the lofty righteousness of their convictions and the spirit of democracy with which they looked out upon the world. When the leash was taken off by the declaration of war by the United States the college boys flocked to training camps and enlistment headquarters in a way that bade fair to leave those institutions of learning without students for some years to come.

But to hark back to Harvard, it had in the Lafayette Escadrille five men in 1916; three of these, Kiffen Rockwell, Norman Prince, and Victor Chapman, were killed in that year. A letter published in Harvard Volunteers in Europe  tells of the way these young gladiators started the day's work:

Rockwell called me up at three: "Fine day, fine day, get up!" It was very clear. We hung around at Billy's [Lieutenant Thaw] and took chocolate made by his ordonnance. Hall and the Lieutenant were guards on the field; but Thaw, Rockwell, and I thought we would take a tour chez les Boches. Being the first time the mechanaux were not there and the machine gun rolls not ready. However it looked misty in the Vosges, so we were not hurried. "Rendezvous over the field at a thousand metres," shouted Kiffen. I nodded, for the motor was turning; and we sped over the field and up.

© U. & U.

A Burning Balloon,
Photographed from a Parachute by the Escaping Balloonist.

In my little cockpit from which my shoulders just protrude I have several diversions besides flying. The compass, of course, and the map I keep tucked in a tiny closet over the reservoir before my knees, a small clock and one altimetre. But most important is the contour, showing revolutions of the motor which one is constantly regarding as he moves the manettes of gasoline and gas back and forth. To husband one's fuel and tease the motor to round eleven takes attention, for the carburetor changes with the weather and the altitude.... The earth seemed hidden under a fine web such as the Lady of Shalott wove. Soft purple in the west, changing to shimmering white in the east. Under me on the left the Vosges like rounded sand dunes cushioned up with velvety light and dark masses (really forests), but to the south standing firmly above the purple cloth like icebergs shone the Alps. My! they look steep and jagged. The sharp blue shadows on their western slopes emphasized the effect. One mighty group standing aloof to the west—Mount Blanc perhaps. Ah, there are quantities of worm-eaten fields my friends the trenches—and that town with the canal going through it must be M——. Right beside the capote of my engine, showing through the white cloth a silver snake—the Rhine!

What, not a quarter to six, and I left the field at five! Thirty-two hundred metres. Let's go north and have a look at the map.

While thus engaged a black puff of smoke appeared behind my tail and I had the impression of hearing a piece of iron hiss by. "Must have got my range first shot!" I surmised, and making a steep bank piqued heavily. "There, I have lost them now." The whole art of avoiding shells is to pay no attention till they get your range and then dodge away, change altitude, and generally avoid going in a straight line. In point of fact, I could see bunches of exploding shells up over my right shoulder not a kilometre off. They continued to shell that section for some time; the little balls of smoke thinning out and merging as they crossed the lines.

In the earlier days of the war, when the American aviators were still few, their deeds were widely recounted in their home country, and their deaths were deplored as though a personal loss to many of their countrymen. Later they went faster and were lost in the daily reports. Among those who had early fixed his personality in the minds of those who followed the fortunes of the little band of Americans flying in France was Kiffen Rockwell, mentioned in an earlier paragraph, and one of the first to join the American escadrille. Rockwell was in the war from sincere conviction of the righteousness of the Allies' cause.

"I pay my part for Lafayette, and Rochambeau," he said proudly, when asked what he was doing in a French uniform flying for France. And pay he did though not before making the Germans pay heavily for their part. Once, flying alone over Thann, he came upon a German scout. Without hesitation the battle was on. Rockwell's machine was the higher, had the better position. As aërial tactics demanded he dived for the foe, opening fire as soon as he came within thirty or forty yards. At his fourth shot the enemy pilot fell forward in his seat and his machine fell heavily to earth. He lighted behind the German lines much to the victor's disgust, for it was counted a higher achievement to bring your foe to earth in your own territory. But Rockwell was able to pursue his victim far enough to see the wreck burst into flames.

Though often wounded, Rockwell scorned danger. He would go into action so bandaged that he seemed fitter to go to an hospital. He was always on the attack—"shoved his gun into the enemy's face" as his fellows in the escadrille expressed it. So in September, 1916, he went out after a big German machine, he saw flying in French territory. He had but little difficulty in climbing above it, and then dashed down in his usual impetuous manner, his machine gun blazing as he came on. But the German was of heavier metal mounting two machine guns. Just as to onlookers it seemed that the two machines would crash together, the wings of one side of Rockwell's plane suddenly collapsed and he fell like a stone between the lines. The Germans turned their guns on the pile of wreckage where he lay, but French gunners ran out and brought his body in. His breast was all blown to pieces with an explosive bullet—criminal, of course, barbarous and uncivilized, but an everyday practice of the Germans.

Rockwell was given an impressive funeral. All the British pilots, and five hundred of their men marched, and the bier was followed by a battalion of French troops. Over and around the little French graveyard aviators flew dropping flowers. In later days less ceremony attended the last scene of an American aviator's career.

Another American aviator, also a Harvard man, who met death in the air, was Victor Chapman of New York, a youth of unusual charm, high ideals, and indomitable courage. At the very outbreak of the war he enlisted in the French Foreign Legion—a rough entourage for a college-bred man. Into the Foreign Legion drifted everything that was doubtful, and many that were criminal. No questions were asked of those who sought its hospitable ranks, and readers of Ouida's novel Under Two Flags  will recall that it enveloped in its convenient obscurity British lordlings and the lowest of Catalonian thieves. But in time of actual war its personnel was less mixed, and Chapman's letters showed him serving there contentedly as pointer of a mitrailleuse. But not for long. Most of the spirited young Americans who entered the French Army aspired to serve in the aviation corps, and Chapman soon was transferred to that field. There he developed into a most daring flyer. On one occasion, with a bad scalp wound, after a brush with four German machines, he made his landing with his machine so badly wrecked that he had to hold together the broken ends of a severed control with one hand, while he steered with the other. Instead of laying up for the day he had his mechanician repair his machine while a surgeon repaired him, then, patched up together, man and machine took the air again in search for the Boches.

In June, 1916, though still suffering from a wound in the head, he started in his machine to carry some oranges to a comrade lying desperately wounded in a hospital some miles away. On the way he saw in the distance behind the German lines two French airmen set upon by an overwhelming force of Germans. Instantly he was off to the assistance of his friends, plunging into so unequal a fight that even his coming left the other Americans outnumbered. But he had scarce a chance to strike a blow. Some chance shot from a German gun put him out of action. All that the other two Americans, Lufbery and Prince, knew was that they saw a French machine come flying to their aid, and suddenly tip and fall away to earth. Until nightfall came and Chapman failed to return none was sure that he was the victim.

The part played by young Americans as volunteers for France before the United States entered upon the war was gallant and stimulating to national pride. It showed to the world—and to our own countrymen who needed the lesson as much as any—that we had among our youth scores who, moved by high ideals, stood ready to risk their lives for a sentiment—stood ready to brave the myriad discomforts of the trenches, the bursting shrapnel, the mutilating liquid fire, the torturing gas that German autocracy should be balked of its purpose of dominating the world.

And the service of these boys aided far more than they knew. The fact that our countrymen in numbers were flying for France kept ever before the American people the vision of that war in the air of which poets and philosophers had dreamed for ages. It brought home to our people the importance of aviation before our statesmen could begin to see it. It set our boys to reading of aircraft, building model planes, haunting the few aviation fields which at the time our country possessed. And it finally so filled the consciousness of our people with conviction of the supreme importance of aviation as an arm of the national armed service that long before the declaration of war the government was embarrassed by the flood of volunteers seeking to be enrolled in the flying forces of the nation.

Some Features of Aërial Warfare

As devices to translate German hate for England into deeds of bloody malignancy and cowardly murder the German aircraft have ranked supreme. The ruthless submarine war has indeed done something toward working off this peculiar passion, but it lacked the spectacular qualities which German wrath demanded. As the war proceeded, and it became apparent that the participation of Great Britain—at first wholly unexpected by the Kaiser's advisers—was certain to defeat the German aims, the authorities carefully inculcated in the minds of the people the most malignant hatred for that power. As Lissauer's famous hymn of hate had it—

French and Russians it matters not,
A blow for a blow, and a shot for a shot.
............
We have one foe and one alone—
England!

By way of at once gratifying this hatred and still further stimulating it the German military authorities began early in the war a series of air raids upon English towns. They were of more than doubtful military value. They damaged no military or naval works. They aroused the savage ire of the British people who saw their children slain in schools and their wounded in hospitals by bombs dropped from the sky and straightway rushed off to enlist against so callous and barbaric a foe. But the raids served their political purpose by making the German people believe that the British were suffering all the horrors of war on their own soil, while the iron line of trenches drawn across France by the German troops kept the invader and war's agonies far from the soil of the Fatherland.

© International Film Service.

The U. S. Aviation School at Mineola.

The first German air raids were by Zeppelins on little English seaside towns—Scarborough, Hartlepool, and Harwich. Except in so far as they inflicted mutilation and death upon many non-combatants, mostly women and children, and misery upon their relatives and friends they were without effect. But early in 1915 began a systematic series of raids upon London, which, by October of 1917, had totalled thirty-four, with a toll of 865 persons killed, and 2500 wounded. It seems fair to say that for these raids there was more plausible excuse than for those on the peaceful little seaside bathing resorts and fishing villages. London is full of military and naval centres, arsenals and navy yards, executive offices and centres of warlike activity. An incendiary bomb dropped into the Bank of England, or the Admiralty, might paralyze the finances of the Empire, or throw the naval organization into a state of anarchy. But as a matter of fact the German bombs did nothing of the sort. They fell in the congested districts of London, "the crowded warrens of the poor." They spread wounds and death among peaceable theatre audiences. One dropped on a 'bus loaded with passengers homeward bound, and obliterated it and them from the face of the earth. But no building of the least military importance sustained any injury. It is true, however, that the persistent raiding has compelled England to withhold from the fighting lines in France several thousand men and several hundred guns in order to be in readiness to meet air raids in which Germany has never employed more than fifty machines and at most two hundred men, including both aviators and mechanics.

It is entirely probable that the failure of the Germans to strike targets of military importance and the slaughter they wrought among peaceful civilians were due to no intent or purpose on their part. Hitting a chosen target from the air is no matter of certainty. The bomb intended for the railway station is quite as likely to hit the adjacent public school or hospital. If the world ever recurs to that moderate degree of sanity and civilization which shall permit wars, but strive to regulate them in the interest of humanity this untrustworthiness of the aircraft's aim will compel some form of international regulation, just as the vulnerability of the submarine will force the amendment of the doctrine of visitation and search. But neither problem can be logically and reasonably solved in the middle of a war. And so, while the German violation of existing international law had the uncomfortable result for Germany of bringing the United States into the war, the barbarous raids upon London caused the British at last to turn aside from their commendable abstention from air raids on unfortified and non-military towns and prepare for reprisals in kind.

From the beginning of the war the British had abstained from bombing peaceful and non-military towns. They had not indeed been weak in the employment of their air forces. General Smuts speaking in October, 1917, said that the British had, in the month previous, dropped 207 tons of bombs behind the lines of the enemy. But the targets were airdromes, military camps, arsenals and munitions camps—not hospitals or kindergartens. The time had now come when this purely military campaign no longer satisfied an enraged British people who demanded the enforcement of the Mosaic law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, against a people whom General Smuts described as "an enemy who apparently recognizes no laws, human or divine; who knows no pity or restraint, who sung Te Deums over the sinking of the Lusitania, and to whom the maiming and slaughter of women and children appear legitimate means of warfare."

And Premier Lloyd George, speaking to an audience of poor people in one of the congested districts which had suffered sorely from the aërial activities of the Hun, said:

"We will give it all back to them, and we will give it soon. We shall bomb Germany with compound interest."

But whether undertaken as part of a general programme of frightfulness or as reprisals for cruel and indefensible outrages air raids upon defenceless towns, killing peaceable citizens in their beds, and children in their kindergartens, are not incidents to add glory to aviation. The mind turns with relief from such examples of the cruel misuse of aircraft to the hosts of individual instances in which the airman and his machine remind one of the doughty Sir Knight and his charger in the most gallant days of chivalry. There were hosts of such incidents—men who fought gallantly and who always fought fair, men who hung about the outskirts of an aërial battle waiting for some individual champion of their own choosing to show himself and join in battle to death in the high ranges of the sky. Some of these have been mentioned in this book already. To discuss all who even as early as 1917 had made their names memorable would require a volume in itself. A few may well be mentioned below.

There, for example, was Captain Georges Guynemer, "King of the French Aces." An "ace" is an aviator who has brought down five enemy aircraft. Guynemer had fifty-three to his credit. Still a youth, only twenty-three years of age at the time of his death, and only flying for twenty-one months, he had lived out several life times in the mad excitement of combat in mid-air. Within three weeks after getting his aviator's license he had become an "Ace." Before his first year's service had expired he was decorated and promoted for gallantry in rushing to the aid of a comrade attacked by five enemy machines. He entered the combat at the height of ten thousand feet, and inside of two minutes had dropped two of the enemy. The others fled. He pursued hotly keeping up a steady fire with his machine gun. One Boche wavered and fell, but just then an enemy shell from an "Archie" far below exploded under Guynemer, tearing away one wing of his machine. Let him tell the rest of that story:

I felt myself dropping [he said later]. It was ten thousand feet to the earth, and, like a flash, I saw my funeral with my saddened comrades marching behind the gun carriage to the cemetery. But I pulled and pushed every lever I had, but nothing would check my terrific descent.

Five thousand feet from the earth, the wrecked machine began to turn somersaults, but I was strapped into the seat. I do not know what it was, but something happened and I felt the speed descent lessen. But suddenly there was a tremendous crash and when I recovered my senses I had been taken from the wreckage and was all right.

Two records Guynemer made which have not yet been surpassed—the first, the one described above of dropping three Fokkers in two minutes and thirty seconds, and rounding off the adventure by himself dropping ten thousand feet. The second was in shooting down four enemy machines in one day. His methods were of the simplest. He was always alone in his machine, which was the lightest available. He would rather carry more gasoline and ammunition than take along a gunner. The machine gun was mounted on the plane above his head, pointing dead ahead, and aimed by aiming the whole airplane. Once started the gun continued firing automatically and Guynemer's task was to follow his enemy pitilessly keeping that lead-spitting muzzle steadily bearing upon him. In September, 1917, he went up to attack five enemy machines—no odds however appalling seemed to terrify him—but was caught in a fleet of nearly forty Boches and fell to earth in the enemy's country.

One of the last of the air duels to be fought under the practices which made early air service so vividly recall the age of chivalry, was that in which Captain Immelman, "The Falcon," of the German army, met Captain Ball of the British Royal Flying Corps. Immelman had a record of fifty-one British airplanes downed. Captain Ball was desirous of wiping out this record and the audacious German at the same time, and so flying over the German lines he dropped this letter:

Captain Immelman :

I challenge you to a man-to-man fight to take place this afternoon at two o'clock. I will meet you over the German lines. Have your anti-air craft guns withhold their fire, while we decide which is the better man. The British guns will be silent.

Ball.

Presently thereafter this answer was dropped from a German airplane:

Captain Ball :

Your challenge is accepted. The guns will not interfere. I will meet you promptly at two.

Immelman.

The word spread far and wide along the trenches on both sides. Tacitly all firing stopped as though the bugles had sung truce. Men left cover and clambered up on the top to watch the duel. Punctually both flyers rose from their lines and made their way down No Man's Land. Let an eye witness tell the story:

From our trenches there were wild cheers for Ball. The Germans yelled just as vigorously for Immelman.

The cheers from the trenches continued; the Germans increased in volume; ours changed into cries of alarm.

Ball, thousands of feet above us and only a speck in the sky, was doing the craziest things imaginable. He was below Immelman and was apparently making no effort to get above him, thus gaining the advantage of position. Rather he was swinging around, this way and that, attempting, it seemed, to postpone the inevitable.

We saw the German's machine dip over preparatory to starting the nose dive.

"He's gone now," sobbed a young soldier, at my side, for he knew Immelman's gun would start its raking fire once it was being driven straight down.

Then in a fraction of a second the tables were turned. Before Immelman's plane could get into firing position, Ball drove his machine into a loop, getting above his adversary and cutting loose with his gun and smashing Immelman by a hail of bullets as he swept by.

Immelman's airplane burst into flames and dropped. Ball, from above, followed for a few hundred feet and then straightened out and raced for home. He settled down, rose again, hurried back, and released a huge wreath of flowers, almost directly over the spot where Immelman's charred body was being lifted from a tangled mass of metal.

Four days later Ball too was killed.

But the Germans, too, had their champion airmen, mighty fliers, skillful at control and with the machine gun, in whose triumphs they took the same pride that our boys in France did in those of Chapman, Rockwell or Thaw, the British in Warneford, or the French in Guynemer. Chief of these was Captain Boelke, who came to his death in the latter part of 1917, after putting to his credit over sixty Allied planes brought down. A German account of one of his duels as watched from the trenches, will be of interest:

For quite a long time an Englishman had been making circles before our eyes—calmly and deliberately.... My men on duty clenched their fists in impotent wrath. "The dog—!" Shooting would do no good.

Then suddenly from the rear a harsh, deep singing and buzzing cuts the air. It sounds like a German flyer. But he is not yet visible. Only the buzz of an approaching motor is heard in the clouds in the direction of the Englishman. More than a hundred eyes scanned the horizon. There! Far away and high among the clouds is a small black humming bird—a German battle aeroplane. Its course is laid directly for the hostile biplane and it flies like an arrow shot with a clear eye and steady hand. My men crawl out of the shelters. I adjust my field glasses. A lump rises in our throats as if we are awaiting something new and wonderful.

So far the other does not seem to have noticed or recognized the black flyer that already is poised as a hawk above him. All at once there is a mighty swoop through the air like the drop of a bird of prey, and in no time the black flyer is immediately over the Englishman and the air is filled with the furious crackling of a machine gun, followed by the rapid ta-ta-ta of two or three more, all operated at the highest speed just as during a charge. The Englishman drops a little, makes a circle and tries to escape toward the rear. The other circles and attacks him in front, and again we hear the exciting ta-ta-ta! Now the Englishman tries to slip from under his opponent, but the German makes a circle and the effort fails. Then the enemy describes a great circle and attempts to rise above the German. The latter ascends in sharp half circles and again swoops down upon the biplane, driving it toward the German trenches.

Will the Englishman yield so soon? Scattered shouts of joy are already heard in our ranks. Suddenly he drops a hundred yards and more through the air and makes a skillful loop toward the rear. Our warrior of the air swoops after him, tackles him once more and again we hear the wild defiant rattle of the machine guns over our heads. Now they are quite close to our trenches. The French infantry and artillery begin firing in a last desperate hope. Neither of them is touched. Sticking close above and behind him the German drives the Englishman along some six hundred yards over our heads and then just above the housetops of St. A. Once more we hear a distant ta-ta-ta a little slower and more scattered and then as they drop both disappear from our view.

Scarcely five minutes pass before the telephone brings up this news: Lieutenant Boelke has just brought down his seventh flyer.

Methods of air-fighting were succinctly described in a hearing before the Senate Committee on Military Affairs, in June, 1917. The officers testifying were young Americans of the Lafayette Escadrille of the French army. To the civilian the testimony is interesting for the clear idea it gives of military aviation. The extracts following are from the official record:

Adjt. Prince : Senator, there are about four kinds of machines used abroad on the western front to-day. The machines that Adjt. Rumsey and myself are looking after are called the battle machines. Then there are the photography machines, machines that go up to enable the taking of photographs of the German batteries, go back of the line and take views of the country behind their lines and find out what their next line of attack will be, or, if they retreat from the present line, then everything in that way. Probably we have, where we are, in my group alone, a hundred and fifty photographers who do nothing all day long except develop pictures, and you can get pictures of any part of the country that you want. When the Germans retreated from the old line where they used to be, by Peronne and Chaulnes, we had absolute pictures of all the Hindenburg line from where they are now right down to St. Quentin, down to the line the French are on. We had photographs of it all.

Senator Kirby : When they started on the retreat?

© Kadel & Herbert.

Miss Ruth Law at Close of her Chicago to New York Flight.

Adjt. Prince : Yes, sir. So we knew exactly where their stand would be made. Then, besides that, those photograph machines do a lot of scouting. They have a pilot and a photographer aboard. He has not only a camera, but quite often he has a Lewis gun with him in order to ward off any hostile airmen if they should get through the battle planes that are above him; in other words, should get through us in order to fight him. They do a great deal of the scouting, because they fly at a lower level. The battle planes go up to protect photography machines, or to go man-hunting, as it is called; in other words, to fight the Germans. We fly all day, like to-day, as high as we can go, or as high as the French go as a rule, about 5500 metres, about 17,000 to 18,000 feet.

© International Film Service.

A French Aviator between Flights.

Adjt. Rumsey : I think 5500 metres is about 19,000 feet. Some go up 6000 metres, which makes about 20,000 feet.

Adjt. Prince : We go up there, and we have a certain sector of the front to look after. If we are only man-hunting, we go backward and forward like a policeman to prevent the Germans from getting over our own lines. We usually fly by fours, if we can, and the four go out together, so as not to be alone. We are usually fighting inside of the German lines, because the morale of the French and English is better than that of the Germans to-day; and every fight I have had—I have never been lucky enough to have one inside of my own lines—they have all been inside of the German lines.

Senator Kirby : What is the equipment of a battle plane such as you use?

Adjt. Prince : I use the 180 horse-power machine. It is called a "S. P. A. D.," which has a Spanish motor. But a great many of the motors to-day are being built here in America.

Senator Kirby : How many men do you carry?

Adjt. Prince : We go up alone in these machines. We did have two guns. We had the Lewis gun on our upper wing and the Vickers down below, that shoots through the propeller as the propeller turns around. Then we gave up the Lewis above. It added more weight, and we did not need it so much. The trouble with the Lewis gun is that it has only ninety-seven cartridges, while the Vickers has five hundred, and you can do just as much damage with the Vickers as you could with them both.

Senator Sutherland : You drive and fight at the same time?

Adjt. Prince : Yes, sir.

Adjt. Rumsey : The machine gun is fixed.

Adjt. Prince : It is absolutely fixed on the machine, and if I should want to adjust it to shoot you, I would adjust my machine on you.

The witness then took up the nature and work of some of the heavier machines. He testified:

Adjt. Prince : Then comes the artillery regulating machine. That machine goes up, and it may be a Farman or a bi-motor, or some other kind of heavier machine, a machine that goes slowly. They go over a certain spot. They have a driver, who is a pilot, like ourselves; then they have an artillery officer on board, whose sole duty it is to send back word, mostly by Marconi, to his battery where the shots are landing. He will say: "Too far," "Too short," "Right," or "Left," and he stays there over this battery until the work done by the French guns has been absolutely controlled, and above him he has some of these battle planes keeping him from being attacked from above by German airmen. Of course, they may be shot at by anti-aircraft guns, which you can not help. That is artillery regulating.

The Chairman : Are you always attacked from above?

Adjt. Prince : By airplanes; yes, sir. It is always much safer to attack from above.

Then you have the bomb-dropping machines, which carry a lot of weight. They go out sometimes in the daytime, but mostly at night, and they have these new sights by which they can stay up quite high in the air and still know the spot they are going at. They know the wind speed, they know their height, and they can figure out by this new arrangement they have exactly when the time is to let go their bombs.

Senator Kirby : Something in the nature of a range-finder?

Adjt. Prince : A sort of range-finder.

Adjt. Rumsey : It is a sort of telescope that looks down between your legs, and you have to regulate yourself, observing your speed, and when you see the spot, you have to touch a button and off go these things.

Adjt. Rumsey : In a raid my brother went on there were sixty-eight machines that left; the French heavy machines, the English heavy machines, and then the English sort of half-fighting machine and half-bombing machine. They call it a Sopwith, and it is a very good machine. They went over there, and the first ones over were the Frenchmen, and they dropped bombs on these Mauser works, and the only thing that the English saw was a big cloud of smoke and dust, and they could not see the works so they just dropped into them. Out of that raid the fighting machines got eight Germans and dropped them, and the Germans got eight Frenchmen. So, out of sixty-eight they lost eight, but we also got eight Germans and dropped six tons of this stuff, which is twenty times as strong as the melinite. We do not know what the name of the powder is. The fighting machines on that trip only carried gasolene for two hours, and the other ones carried it for something like six hours, so we escorted them out for an hour, came back to our lines, filled up with gasolene, went out and met them and brought them back over the danger zone.

Adjt. Prince : Near the trenches is where the danger zone is, because there the German fighting machines are located.

Senator Kirby : How far was it from your battle front that you went?

Adjt. Rumsey : I think it was about 500 miles, 250 there and 250 back; it was between 200 and 250 miles there.

Senator Kirby : Beyond the battle front?

Adjt. Rumsey : Yes; or, to be more accurate, I think it was nearer 200 than 250.

The Chairman : What do you think of the function of the airplane as a determining factor?

Adjt. Prince : There is no doubt that if we could send over in huge waves a great number of these bomb-dropping machines, and simply lay the country waste—for instance, the big cities like Strassburg, Freiburg, and others—not only would the damage done be great, but I guess the popular opinion in Germany, everything being laid waste, would work very strongly in the minds of the public toward having peace. I do not think you could destroy an army, because you could not see them, but you could go to different stations; you could go to Strassburg, to Brussels, and places like that.

The Chairman : Then, sending them over in enormous numbers would also put out of business their airplanes, and they would be helpless, would they not?

Adjt. Prince : Absolutely. You not only have on the front a large number of bomb-dropping machines, but a large number of fighting machines. When the Somme battle was started in the morning the Germans knew, naturally, that the French and British were going to start the Somme drive, and they had up these Drachens, these observation balloons, and the first eighteen minutes that the battle started the French and the English, I think, got twenty-one "saucisse"; in other words, for the next five days there was not a single German who came anywhere near the lines, but the French and English could go ahead as they-felt like.

Admiral Peary : Have you any idea as to how many airplanes there are along that western front on the German side?

Adjt. Prince : There must be about 3000 on that line in actual commission.

Admiral Peary : That means, then, about 10,000 in all, at least?

Adjt. Prince : I should think so; I should say the French have about 2000 and the English possibly 1000, or we have about 2500.

Adjt. Rumsey : If they have 3000 we have 4000; that is, right on the line.

Adjt. Prince : We have about 1000 more than they have, and we are up all the time. The day before I left the front I was called to go out five times, and I went out five times, and spent two hours every time I went out.

It would be gratifying to author and to reader alike if it were possible to give some account of the progress in aërial equipment made by the United States, since its declaration of war. But at the present moment (February, 1918), the government is chary of furnishing information concerning the advance made in the creation of an aërial fleet. Perhaps precise information, if available, would be discouraging to the many who believe that the war will be won in the air. For it is known in a broad general way that the activities of the Administration have been centred upon the construction of training camps and aviation stations. Orders for the actual construction of airplanes have been limited, so that a chorus of criticism arose from manufacturers who declared that they might have to close their works for lack of employment. The apparent check was discouraging to American airmen, and to our Allies who had expected marvellous things from the United States in the way of swift and wholesale preparation for winning battles in the air. The response of the government to all criticism was that it was laying broad foundations in order that construction once begun would proceed with unabated activity, and that when aircraft began to be turned out by the thousands a week there would be aviators and trained mechanics a-plenty to handle them. In this situation the advocates of a special cabinet department of aeronautics found new reason to criticize the Administration and Congress for having ignored or antagonized their appeals. For responsibility for the delay and indifference—if indifference there was—rested equally upon the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of War. Each had his measure of control over the enormous sum voted in a lump for aviation, each had the further millions especially voted to his department to account for. But no single individual could be officially asked what had been done with the almost one billion dollars voted for aeronautics in 1917.

But if the authorities seemed to lag, the inventors were busy. Mention has already been made of the new "Liberty" motor, which report had it was the fruit of the imprisonment of two mechanical experts in a hotel room with orders that they should not be freed until they had produced a motor which met all criticisms upon those now in use. Their product is said to have met this test, and the happy result caused a general wish that the Secretaries of War and of the Navy might be similarly incarcerated and only liberated upon producing plans for the immediate creation of an aërial fleet suited to the nation's needs. If, however, the Liberty motor shall prove the complete success which at the moment the government believes it to be, it will be such a spur to the development of the airplane in peace and war, as could not otherwise be applied. For the motor is the true life of the airplane—its heart, lungs, and nerve centre. The few people who still doubt the wide adoption of aircraft for peaceful purposes after the war base their skepticism on the treachery of motors still in use. They repudiate all comparisons with automobiles. They say:

It is perfectly true that a man can run his car repeatedly from New York to Boston without motor trouble. But the trouble is inevitable sooner or later. When it comes to an automobile it is trifling. The driver gets out and makes his repairs by the roadside. But if it comes to the aviator it brings the possibility of death with it every time. If his motor stops he must descend. But to alight he must find a long level field, with at least two hundred yards in which to run off his momentum. If, when he discovers the failure of his motor, he is flying at the height of a mile he must find his landing place within a space of eight miles, for in gliding to earth the ratio of forward movement to height is as eight to one. But how often in rugged and densely populated New England, or Pennsylvania is there a vacant level field half a mile in length? The aviator who made a practice of daily flight between New York and Boston would inevitably meet death in the end.

The criticism is a shrewd and searching one. But it is based on the airplane and the motor of to-day without allowance for the development and improvement which are proceeding apace. It contemplates a craft which has but one motor, but the more modern machines have sufficient lifting power to carry two motors, and can be navigated successfully with one of these out of service. Experiments furthermore are being made with a device after the type of the helicopter which with the steady lightening of the aircraft motor, may be installed on airplanes with a special motor for its operation. This device, it is believed, will enable the airplane so equipped to stop dead in its course with both propellers out of action, to hover over a given spot or to rise or to descend gently in a perpendicular line without the necessity of soaring. It is obvious that if this device prove successful the chief force of the objections to aërial navigation outlined above will be nullified.

The menace of infrequent landing places will quickly remedy itself on busy lines of aërial traffic. The average railroad doing business in a densely populated section has stations once every eight or ten miles which with their sidings, buildings, water tanks, etc., cost far more than the field half a mile long with a few hangars that the fliers will need as a place of refuge. Indeed, although for its size and apparent simplicity of construction an airplane is phenomenally costly, in the grand total of cost an aërial line would cost a tithe of the ordinary railway. It has neither right of way, road bed, rails, nor telegraph system to maintain, and if the average flyer seems to cost amazingly it still foots up less than one fifth the cost of a modern locomotive though its period of service is much shorter.

Just at the present time aircraft costs are high, based on artificial conditions in the market. Their construction is a new industry; its processes not yet standardized; its materials still experimental in many ways and not yet systematically produced. A light sporting monoplane which superficially seems to have about $250 worth of materials in it—exclusive of the engine—will cost about $3000. A fighting biplane will touch $10,000. Yet the latter seems to the lay observer to contain no costly materials to justify so great a charge. The wings are a light wooden framework, usually of spruce, across which a fine grade of linen cloth is stretched. The materials are simple enough, but every bit of wood, every screw, every strand of wire is selected with the utmost care, and the workmanship of their assemblage is as painstaking as the setting of the most precious stones.

© International Film Service.

A German "Gotha"—their Favorite Type.

"REMEMBER THE LEAST NEGLIGENCE MAY COST A LIFE!" is a sign frequently seen hanging over the work benches in an airplane factory.

When stretched over the framework, the cloth of the wings is treated to a dressing down of a preparation of collodion, which in the jargon of the shop is called "dope." This substance has a peculiar effect upon the cloth, causing it to shrink, and thus making it more taut and rigid than it could be by the most careful stretching. Though the layman would not suspect it, this wash alone costs about $150 a machine. The seaplanes too—or hydroaëroplanes as purists call them—present a curious illustration of unexpected and, it would seem, unexplainable expense. Where the flyer over land has two bicycle wheels on which to land, the flyer over the sea has two flat-bottomed boats or pontoons. These cost from $1000 to $1200 and look as though they should cost not over $100. But the necessity of combining maximum strength with minimum weight sends the price soaring as the machine itself soars. Moreover there is not yet the demand for either air-or seaplanes that would result in the division of labour, standardization of parts, and other manufacturing economies which reduce the cost of products.

To the high cost of aircraft their comparative fragility is added as a reason for their unfitness for commercial uses. The engines cost from $2000 to $5000 each, are very delicate and usually must be taken out of the plane and overhauled after about 100 hours of active service. The strain on them is prodigious for it is estimated that the number of revolutions of an airplane's engine during an hour's flight is equal to the number of revolutions of an automobile's wheels during active service of a whole month.

It is believed that the superior lightness and durability of the Liberty motor will obviate some of these objections to the commercial availability of aircraft in times of peace. And it is certain that with the cessation of the war, the retirement of the governments of the world from the purchasing field and the reduction of the demand for aircraft to such as are needed for pleasure and industrial uses the prices which we have cited will be cut in half. In such event what will be the future of aircraft; what their part in the social and industrial organization of the world?

Ten or a dozen years ago Rudyard Kipling entertained the English reading public of the world with a vivacious sketch of aërial navigation in the year 2000 A.D. He used the license of a poet in avoiding too precise descriptions of what is to come—dealing rather with broad and picturesque generalizations. Now the year 2000 is still far enough away for pretty much anything to be invented, and to become commonplace before that era arrives. Airships of the sort Mr. Kipling pictured may by that period have come and gone—have been relegated to the museums along with the stage-coaches of yesterday and the locomotives of to-day. For that matter before that millennial period shall arrive men may have learned to dispense with material transportation altogether, and be able to project their consciousness or even their astral bodies to any desired point on psychic waves. If a poet is going to prophecy he might as well be audacious and even revolutionary in his predictions.

Mr. Kipling tried so hard to be reasonable that he made himself recognizably wrong so far as the present tendency of aircraft development would indicate. With the Night Mail, is the story of a trip by night across the Atlantic from England to America. It is made in a monster dirigible—though the present tendency is to reject the dirigible for the swifter, less costly, and more airworthy (leave "seaworthy" to the plodding ships on old ocean's breast) airplanes. If, however, we condone this glaring improbability we find Mr. Kipling's tale full of action and imaginary incident that give it an air of truth. His ship is not docked on the ground at the tempest's mercy, but is moored high in air to the top of a tall tower up which passengers and freight are conveyed in elevators. His lighthouses send their beams straight up into the sky instead of projecting them horizontally as do those which now guard our coasts. Just why lighthouses are needed, however, he does not explain. There are no reefs on which a packet of the air may run, no lee shores which they must avoid. On overland voyages guiding lights by night may be useful, as great white direction strips laid out on the ground are even now suggested as guides for daylight flying. But the main reliance of the airman must be his compass. Crossing the broad oceans no lighted path is possible, and even in a voyage from New York to Chicago, or from London to Rome good airmanship will dictate flight at a height that will make reliance upon natural objects as a guide perilous. The airman has the advantage over the sailor in that he may lay his course on leaving his port, or flying field, and pursue it straight as an arrow to his destination. No rocks or other obstacles bar his path, no tortuous channels must be navigated. All that can divert him from his chosen course is a steady wind on the beam, and that is instantly detected by his instruments and allowance made for it. On the other hand the sailor has a certain advantage over the airman in that his more leisurely progress allows time for the rectification of errors in course arising from contrary currents or winds. An error of a point, or even two, amounts to but little in a day's steaming of perhaps four hundred miles. It can readily be remedied, unless the ship is too near shore. But when the whole three thousand miles of Atlantic are covered in twenty hours in the air, the course must be right from the start and exactly adhered to, else the passenger for New York may be set down in Florida.

It is not improbable that even before the war is over the crossing of the Atlantic by plane will be accomplished. Certainly it will be one of the first tasks undertaken by airmen on the return of peace. But it is probable that the adaptation of aircraft to commercial uses will be begun with undertakings of smaller proportions. Already the United States maintains an aërial mail route in Alaska, while Italy has military mail routes served by airplanes in the Alps. These have been undertaken because of the physical obstacles to travel on the surface, presented in those rugged neighbourhoods. But in the more densely populated regions of the United States considerations of financial profit will almost certainly result in the early establishment of mail and passenger air service. Air service will cut down the time between any two given points at least one half, and ultimately two thirds. Letters could be sent from New York to Boston, or even to Buffalo, and an answer received the same day. The carrying plane could take on each trip five tons of mail. Philadelphia would be brought within forty-five minutes of New York; Washington within two hours instead of the present five. Is there any doubt of the creation of an aërial passenger service under such conditions? Already a Caproni triplane will carry thirty-five passengers beside guns—say, fifty passengers if all other load be excluded, and has flown with a lighter load from Newport News to New York. It is easily imaginable that by 1920 the airplane capable of carrying eighty persons—or the normal number now accommodated on an inter-urban trolley car—will be an accomplished fact.

The lines that will thus spring up will need no rails, no right of way, no expensive power plant. Their physical property will be confined to the airplanes themselves and to the fields from which the craft rise and on which they alight, with the necessary hangars. These indeed will involve heavy expenditure. For a busy line, with frequent sailings, of high speed machines a field will need to be in the neighbourhood of a mile square. A plane swooping down for its landing is not to be held up at the switch like a train while room is made for it. It is an imperative guest, and cannot be gainsaid. Accordingly the fields must be large enough to accommodate scores of planes at once and give each new arrival a long straight course on which to run off its momentum. It is obvious therefore that the union stations for aircraft routes cannot be in the hearts of our cities as are the railroad stations of to-day, but must be fairly well out in the suburbs.

A form of machine which the professional airmen say has yet to be developed is the small monoplane, carrying two passengers at most, and of low speed—not more than twenty miles an hour at most. In this age of speed mania the idea of deliberately planning a conveyance or vehicle that shall not exceed a low limit seems out of accord with public desire. But the low speed airplane has the advantage of needing no extended field in which to alight. It reaches the ground with but little momentum to be taken up and can be brought up standing on the roof of a house or the deck of a ship. Small machines of this sort are likely to serve as the runabouts of the air, to succeed the trim little automobile roadsters as pleasure craft.

© International Film Service.

A French Monoplane.

The beginning of the fourth year of the war brought a notable change in aërial tactics. For three years everything had been sacrificed to speed. Such aërial duels as have been described were encouraged by the fact that aircraft were reduced to the proportions needful for carrying one man and a machine gun. The gallant flyers went up in the air and killed each other. That was about all there was to it. While as scouts, range finders, guides for the artillery, they exerted some influence on the course of the war, as a fighting arm in its earlier years, they were without efficiency. The bombing forays were harassing but little more, because the craft engaged were of too small capacity to carry enough bombs to work really serious damage, while the ever increasing range of the "Archies" compels the airmen to deliver their fire from so great a height as to make accurate aim impossible.

Photo Press Illustrating Service.

A German Scout Brought to Earth in France.

But Kiel, Wilhelmshaven and Zeebrugge are likely to change all this. The constant contemplation of those nests for the sanctuary of pestiferous submarines, effectively guarded against attack by either land or water, has stirred up the determination of the Allies to seek their destruction from above. Heavy bombing planes are being built in all the Allied workshops for this purpose, and furthermore to give effect to the British determination to take vengeance upon Germany, for her raids upon London. It is reported that the United States, by agreement with its Allies, is to specialize in building the light, swift scout planes, but in other shops the heavy triplane, the dreadnought of the air is expected to be the feature of 1918. With it will come an entirely novel strategic use of aircraft in war, and with it too, which is perhaps the more permanently important, will come the development of aircraft of the sort that will be readily adaptable to the purposes of peace when the war shall end.

The United States at War

The entrance of the United States upon the war was the signal for a most active agitation of the question of overwhelming the enemy with illimitable fleets of aircraft. Though the agitation was most vociferous in this country whence it was hoped the enormous new fleets of aircraft would come, it was fomented and earnestly pressed by our Allies. France sent a deputation of her leading flyers over to supervise the instruction of our new pilots. England contributed experts to advise as to the construction of our machines. The most comprehensive plans were urged upon Congress and the Administration for the creation of a navy of the air. A bill for an initial appropriation of $640,000,000, for aircraft purposes alone, was passed and one for a Department of Aeronautics to be established, co-ordinate with those of War and the Navy, its secretary holding a seat in the cabinet, was introduced in Congress. Many of the most eminent retired officers of the navy joined in their support. Retired officers only because officers in active service were estopped from political agitation.

There was every possible reason for this great interest in the United States in wartime aviation. The nation had long been shamefaced because the development of the heavier-than-air machines, having their origin undoubtedly in the inventive genius of Professor Langley and the Wrights, had been taken away from us by the more alert governments of France and Germany. The people were ready to buy back something of our lost prestige by building the greatest of air fleets at the moment when it should exercise the most determinative influence upon the war.

But more. We entered upon the war in our chronic state of unpreparedness. We were without an army and without equipment for one. To raise, equip, and drill an army of a million, the least number that would have any appreciable effect upon the outcome of the war, would take months. When completed we would have added only to the numerical superiority of the Allies on the Western Front. The quality of a novel and decisive contribution to the war would be lacking.

So too it was with our navy. The British Navy was amply adequate to deal with the German fleet should the latter ever leave its prudent retreat behind Helgoland and in the bases of Kiel and Wilhelmshaven. True it was not capable of crushing out altogether the submarine menace, but it did hold the German underwater boats down to a fixed average of ships destroyed, which was far less than half of what the Germans had anticipated. In this work our ships, especially our destroyers, took a notable part.

The argument for a monster fleet of fighting aircraft, thus came to the people of the United States in a moment of depression and perplexity. By land the Germans had dug themselves in, holding all of Belgium and the thousands of square miles of France they had won in their first dash to the Marne. What they had won swiftly and cheaply could only be regained slowly and at heavy cost. True, the Allies were, day by day, driving them back from their position, but the cost was disheartening and the progress but slow.

By sea the Germans refused to bring their fleet to battle with their foes. But from every harbour of Belgium, and from Wilhelmshaven and Kiel, they sent out their sinister submarines to prey upon the commerce of the world—neutral as well as belligerent. Against them the navies of the world were impotent. To the threat that by them Germany would starve England into cowering surrender, the only answer was the despairing effort to build new ships faster than the submarines could sink those afloat—even though half a million tons a month were sent to the bottom in wasteful destruction.

Photo by Levick.

A Caproni Biplane Circling the Woolworth Building.

Faced by these disheartening conditions, wondering what they might do that could be done quickly and aid materially in bringing the war to a triumphant conclusion, the American people listened eagerly to the appeals and arguments of the advocates of a monster aërial fleet.

© International Film Service.

Cruising at 2000 Feet.
One Biplane photographed from another.

Listen [said these advocates], we show you a way to spring full panoplied into the war, and to make your force felt with your first stroke. We are not preaching dreadnoughts that take four years to build. We are not asking for a million men taking nearly a year to gather, equip, drill, and transport to France, in imminent danger of destruction by the enemy's submarines every mile of the way.

We ask you for a cheap, simple device of wood, wire, and cloth, with an engine to drive it. All its parts are standardized. In a few weeks the nation can be equipped to turn out 2000 of them weekly. We want within the year 100,000 of them. We do not ask for a million men. We want 10,000 bright, active, hardy, plucky American boys between 20 and 25 years of age. We want to give them four months' intensive training before sending them into the air above the enemy's lines. In time we shall want 25,000 to 35,000 but the smaller number will well do to open the campaign.

And what will they effect?

Do you know that to-day the eyes of an army are its airplanes? Cavalry has disappeared practically. If a general wishes to pick out a weak point in his enemy's line to assault he sends out airmen to find it. If he is annoyed by the fire of some distant unseen battery over the hills and far away he sends a man in an airplane who brings back its location, its distance, and perhaps a photograph of it in action. If he suspects that his foe is abandoning his trenches, or getting ready for an attack, the ready airmen bring in the facts.

And of course the enemy's airmen serve their side in the same manner. They spy out what their foe is doing, and so far as their power permits prevent him from seeing what they are doing.

Now suppose one side has an enormous preponderance of aircraft—six to one, let us say. It is not believed, for example, that at this moment Germany has more than 10,000 aircraft on the whole western front. Let us imagine that through the enterprise of the United States our Allies were provided with 25,000 on one sector which we intended to make the scene of an attack on the foe. Say the neighbourhood of Arras and Lille. For days, weeks perhaps, we would be drawing troops toward this sector from every part of the line. Through the reports of spies the enemy's suspicions would be aroused. It is the business of an efficient general to be suspicious. He would send out his airplanes to report on the activities of the other side. Few would come back. None would bring a useful report. For every German plane that showed above the lines three Allied planes would be ready to attack and destroy it or beat it back. The air would be full of Allied airmen—the great bombing planes flying low and inundating the trenches with bombs, and the troops on march with the deadly fléchettes. Over every German battery would soar the observation plane indicating by tinsel or smoke bombs the location of the guns, or even telegraphing it back by wireless to the Allied batteries safe in positions which the blinded enemy could never hope to find. Above all in myriads would be soaring the swift fighting scouts, the Bleriots, Nieuports, Moranes or perhaps some new American machine to-day unknown. Let the wing of a Boche but show above the smoke and they would be upon him in hordes, beating him to the ground, enveloping him in flames, annihilating him before he had a chance to observe, much less to report.

What think you would be the result on that sector of the battle line? Why the foe would be cut to pieces, demolished, obliterated. Blinded, he would be unrelentingly punished by an adversary all eyes. Writhing under the concentrated fire of a thousand guns he could make no response, for his own guns could not find the attacking batteries. Did he think to flee? His retreating columns would be marked down by the relentless scouts in the air, and the deadly curtain of fire from well-coached batteries miles away would sweep every road with death. If in desperation he sought to attack he would do so ignorant whether he were not hurling his regiments against the strongest part of the Allied line, and with full knowledge of the fact that though he was blinded they had complete information of his strength and dispositions.

The argument impressed itself strongly upon the mind of the country. There appeared indeed no public sentiment hostile to it nor any organized opposition to the proposition for an enormous appropriation for purposes of aviation. The customary inertia of Congress delayed the actual appropriation for some months. But the President espoused its cause and the Secretaries both of War and the Navy warmly recommended it, although they united in opposing the proposition to establish a distinct department of aeronautics with a seat in the Cabinet. Being human neither one desired to let his share of this great new gift of power slip out of his hands. Leading in the fight for this legislation was Rear-Admiral Robert E. Peary, U. S. N., retired, the discoverer of the North Pole. Admiral Peary from the very outbreak of the war consecrated his time and his abilities to pushing the development of aeronautics in the United States. He was continually before Congressional committees urging the fullest appropriations for this purpose. In his first statement before the Senate Committee he declared that "in the immediate future the air service will be more important than the army and navy combined," and supported that statement by reference to utterances made by such British authorities as Mr. Balfour, Lord Charles Beresford, Lord Northcliffe, and Lord Montague. In an article published shortly after his appearance before the Senate Committee, the Admiral summarized in a popular way his views as to the possibility of meeting the submarine menace with aircraft, and what the United States might do in that respect. He wrote:

We are receiving agreeable reports as to the efficiency of the American destroyer flotilla now operating against submarines in the North Sea. An unknown naval officer, according to the newspapers of May 30th, calls for the immediate construction of from 100 to 200 additional American destroyers.

By all means let us have this force—when it can be made ready—but it would take at least two years to construct, equip, and deliver such a heavy additional naval tonnage, while 200 fighting seaplanes, with a full complement of machine guns, bombs, microphones, and aërial cameras, could be put in active service in the North Sea within six months.

Seaplanes, small dirigibles on the order of the English "blimp" type, and kite balloons have already shown themselves to be more effective in detecting submarines than are submarine chasers or armed liners.

Not only have the British, French, German, and Turkish forces destroyed trawlers, patrol boats, and transports by aircraft, but successful experiments in airplane submarine hunting have also been made in this country.

In September, 1916, our first Aërial Coast Patrol Unit, in acting as an auxiliary to the Mosquito Squadron in the annual manœuvres of the Atlantic fleet, detected objects smaller than the latest type of German submarines from fifteen to twenty feet below the surface.

A more complete aërial submarine hunt took place on March 26th of this year. This was the real thing, because the fliers were looking for German U-boats. Inasmuch as the Navy Department is still waiting before establishing its first and only aeronautical base on the Atlantic seaboard, the honour of having conducted the first aërial hunt of the enemy submarines in American history went to the civilian aviators who are soon to be a part of the Aërial Reserve Squadron at Governor's Island and to the civilian instructors and aërial reservists connected with the Army Aviation School at Mineola, Long Island.

These hawks of the air darted up and down the coast in search of the enemy, often flying as far as eleven miles out to sea. The inlets and bays were searched, vessels plotted, compass direction and time when located were given.

No enemy submarines were found. It developed that the supposed submarines were two patrol motor-boats returning from a trial trip. Nevertheless the incident is illuminating, and the official statement of the Navy Department closed with the words: "This incident emphasizes the need of hydroaëroplanes for naval scouting purposes."

It is also interesting to note what happened when Lawrence Sperry went out to sea one day last summer in his hydroplane and failed to return. Two seaplanes and three naval destroyers were sent in search of him. In forty minutes the seaplanes returned with the news that they had located Sperry floating safely on the water. At the end of the day, after several hours of search, the destroyers came back without having seen Sperry at all.

Those who may still believe that we Americans cannot build aircraft and that all the exploits we read so much about in the newspapers taking place on the other side are being done in foreign aircraft will be surprised to know that a large number of the big flying boats now in use in the English navy, harbour, and coast defence work are Curtiss machines, designed and built in this country by Americans, with American material and American engines.

Great Britain wants all the machines of this type that it can get, and sees no reason why we cannot do the same thing in protecting our own Atlantic seaboard. I quote from C. G. Grey, editor of The London Aeroplane :

"Curiously enough, these big flying boats originated in America, and, if America is seriously perturbed about the fate of American shipping and American citizens travelling by sea in the vicinity of Europe, it should not be a difficult matter for America to rig up in a very small space of time quite a fleet of seaplane carriers suitable for the handling of these big seaplanes. If each seaplane ship were armed with guns having a range of five to ten miles, and if the gunners were practised in co-operating with airplane spotters, such ships ought to be the very best possible insurance for American lives and goods on the high seas."

I quote from The Associated Press  report from Paris on May 14th to show the relative importance of aëroplanes in submarine attacks:

"During the last three months French patrol boats have had twelve engagements with submarines, French hydroaëroplanes have fought them thirteen times, and there have been sixteen engagements between armed merchantmen and submarines."

Henry Woodhouse, one of the most distinguished authorities on aeronautics in the United States, in his standard Textbook on Naval Aeronautics, published by the Century Company, has assembled the following data on submarine and aeroplane combats:

"On May 4, 1915, the German Admiralty reported an engagement between a German dirigible and several British submarines in the North Sea. The submarines fired on the dirigible without success, whereas bombs from the dirigible sank one submarine.

"On May 31, 1915, the German Admiralty announced the sinking of a Russian submarine by bombs dropped by German naval aviators near Gotland.

"On July 1, 1915, the Austrian submarine U-11 was destroyed in the Adriatic by a French aeroplane, which swooped suddenly and dropped three bombs directly on the deck of the submarine. The craft was destroyed and the entire crew of twenty-five were lost.

"On July 27, 1915, a German submarine in the Dardanelles was about to launch a torpedo at a British transport filled with troops and ammunition, when British aviators gave the alarm to the transport, and immediately began dropping bombs at the submarine, which had to submerge and escape hurriedly, without launching its torpedo.

"On August 19, 1915, the Turkish War Office stated that an Allied submarine had been sunk in the Dardanelles by a Turkish aeroplane.

"On August 26, the Secretary of the British Admiralty announced that Squadron Commander Arthur W. Bigsworth in a single-handed attack bombed and destroyed a German submarine off Ostend.

"Lieutenant Viney received the Victoria Cross and Lieutenant de Sincay was recommended for the Legion of Honour for having flown over a German submarine and destroyed it with bombs off the Belgian coast on November 18, 1915.

"Early in 1916 an Austrian seaplane sank the French submarine Foucault  in the southern Adriatic. Lieutenant Calezeny was the pilot and the observer was Lieutenant von Klinburg. After crippling the submarine they then performed the remarkable feat of calling another Austrian seaplane and rescuing the entire French crew, two officers and twenty seven men, in spite of the fact that a high sea was running at the time."

It will be noted that Admiral Peary lays great stress on the supreme value of aircraft as foes of the submarine. This was due to the fact that at about the time of his appearance before the Senate Committee the world was fairly panic-stricken by the vigour and effect of the German submarine campaign and its possible bearing upon the outcome of the war. Of that campaign I shall have more to say in the section of this book dealing with submarines. But the subject of the undersea boat in war became at this time inextricably interwoven with that of the aërial fleets, and the sudden development of the latter, together with the marked interest taken in it by our people, cannot be understood without some description of the way in which the two became related.

From the very beginning of the war the Germans had prosecuted a desultory submarine warfare on the shipping of Great Britain and had extended it gradually until neutral shipping also was largely involved. All the established principles of international law, or principles that had been supposed to be established, were set at naught. In bygone days enemy merchant ships were subject to destruction only after their crews had been given an opportunity to take to the boats. Neutral ships bearing neutral goods, even if bound to an enemy port, were liable to destruction only if found upon visit to be carrying goods that were contraband of war. The list of contraband had been from time immemorial rigidly limited, and confined almost wholly to munitions of war, or to raw material used in their construction. But international law went by the board early in the war. Each belligerent was able to ascribe plausible reasons for its amendment out of recognizable form. Great Britain established blockades two hundred miles away from the blockaded ports because the submarines made the old practice of watching at the entrance of the port too perilous. The list of contraband of war was extended by both belligerents until it comprehended almost every useful article grown, mined, or manufactured. But the amendment to international law which acted as new fuel for the flames of war, which aroused the utmost world-wide indignation, and which finally dragged the United States into the conflict, was that by which Germany sought to relieve her submarine commanders of the duty of visiting and searching a vessel, or of giving its people time to provide for their safety, before sinking it.

© U. & U.

An Air Battle in Progress.

The German argument was that the submarine was unknown when the code of international law then in force was formulated. It was a peculiarly delicate naval weapon. Its strength lay in its ability to keep itself concealed while delivering its attack. If exposed on the surface a shot from a small calibred gun striking in a vital point would instantly send it to the bottom. If rammed it was lost. Should a submarine rise to the surface, send an officer aboard a ship it had halted, and await the result of his search, it would be exposed all the time to destruction at the hands of enemy vessels coming up to her aid. Indeed if the merchantman happened to carry one gun a single shot might put the assailant out of business. Accordingly the practice grew up among the Germans of launching their torpedoes without a word of warning at their helpless victim. The wound inflicted by a torpedo is such that the ship will go down in but a few minutes carrying with it most of the people aboard. The most glaring, inexcusable, and criminal instance of this sort of warfare was the sinking without warning of the great passenger liner, Lusitania, by which more than eleven hundred people were drowned, one hundred and fourteen of them American citizens.

© U. & U.

A Curtis Hydroaëroplane.

Against this policy—or piracy—the United States protested, and people of this country waxed very weary as month after month through the years 1915 and 1916 Germany met the protests with polite letters of evasion and excuse continuing the while the very practice complained of. But late in January, 1917, her government announced that there would be no longer any pretence of complying with international law, but that with the coming month a campaign of unlimited submarine ruthlessness would be begun and ships sunk without warning and irrespective of their nationality if they appeared in certain prohibited zones. Within twenty-four hours the United States sent the German Ambassador from the country and within two months we were at war.

At once the submarine was seen to be the great problem confronting us. Its attack was not so much upon the United States, for we are a self-contained nation able to raise all that we need within our own borders for our own support. But England is a nation that has to be fed from without. Seldom are her stores of food great enough to avert starvation for more than six weeks should the steady flow of supply ships from America and Australia to her ports be interrupted. This interruption the Germans proposed to effect by means of their underwater boats. Von Tirpitz and other leaders in the German administration promised the people that within six weeks England would be starved and begging for peace at any price. The output of submarines from German navy yards was greatly increased. Their activity became terrifying. The Germans estimated that if they could sink 1,000,000 tons of shipping monthly they would put England out of action in two or three months. For some weeks the destruction accomplished by their boats narrowly approached this estimate, but gradually fell off. At the same time there was no period in 1917 up to the time of Admiral Peary's statement, or indeed up to that of the preparation of this book, when it was not felt that the cause of the Allies was in danger because of the swarms of German submarines.

It was that feeling, coupled with the wide-spread belief that aircraft furnished the best means of combating the submarine, that caused an irresistible demand in the United States for the construction of colossal fleets of these flying crafts. Congress enacted in midsummer the law appropriating $640,000,000 for the construction of aircraft and the maintenance of the aërial service. The Secretaries of War and the Navy each appealed for heavy additional appropriations for aërial service. The arguments which have already been set forth as supporting the use of aircraft in military service were paralleled by those who urge its unlimited use in naval service.

Consider [said they] the primary need for attacking these vipers of the sea in their nests. Once out on the broad Atlantic their chances of roaming about undetected by destroyers or other patrol boats are almost unlimited. But we know where they come from, from Kiel, Antwerp, Wilhelmshaven, Ostend, and Zeebrugge. Catch them there and you will destroy them as boys destroy hornets by smoking out their nests. But against this the Germans have provided by blocking every avenue of approach save one. The channels are obstructed and mined, and guarded from the shore by heavy batteries. No hostile ships dare run that gauntlet. Even the much-boasted British navy in the three years of the war has not ventured to attack a single naval base. You could not even seek out the submarines thus sheltered by other submarines because running below the surface our boats could not detect either mines or nets and would be doomed to destruction. The enemy boats come out on the surface protected by the batteries and naval craft. But the air cannot be blocked by any fixed defences. Give us more and more powerful aircraft than the Germans possess and we will darken the sky above the German bases with the wings of our airplanes, and rain explosive shells upon the submarines that have taken shelter there until none survive.

The one essential is that our flyers shall be in overwhelming numbers. We must be able not only to take care of any flying force that the Germans may send against us, but also to have enough of our aircraft not engaged in the aërial battle to devote their entire attention to the destruction of the enemy forces below.

From every country allied with us came approval of this policy. At the time the debate was pending in Congress our Allies one after another were sending to us official commissions to consult upon the conduct of the war, to give us the benefit of their long and bitter experience in it, and to assist in any way our preparations for taking a decisive part in that combat. The subject of the part to be played by aircraft was one frequently discussed with them. With the French commission came two members of the staff of General Joffre, Major Tulasne and Lieutenant de la Grange, experts in aviation service. A formal interview given out by these gentlemen expressed so clearly the point of view on aviation and its possibilities held in France where it has reached its highest development that some extracts from it will be of interest here:

"At the beginning of the war the Germans were the only ones who had realized the great importance of aviation from a military point of view," said these officers.

"France had looked upon aviation as a sport, Germany as a powerful weapon in war. This is illustrated by the fact that even in August, 1914, German artillery fire was directed by airplanes.

"It was only after the retreat from Belgium and the battle of the Marne that the Allies realized the great importance of aviation. Between August 15 and 25 the French General Staff thought that the greater part of the German army was concentrated in Alsace and that only a few army corps were coming through Belgium. It was only through the reports of the aviators that they realized that this was a mistake and that almost the whole of the German army was invading Belgium.

"Immediately after the battle of the Marne the greatest efforts were made in France to develop the aviation corps in every possible way. The English army, then in process of formation, profited by the experience of the French. Since that time the allied as well as the German aviation corps has grown constantly.

"A modern army is incomplete if it has not a strong aviation corps. All the different services are obliged to turn to the aviation corps for help in their work. An army without airplanes is like a soldier without eyes. An army which has the superiority in aviation over its adversary will have the following advantages:

"It will have constantly the latest information on the movements of the enemy. In this way, no concentration of troops will be ignored and no surprise attack will be possible. The attack against the enemy positions will be rendered easier because all the details of these positions will be thoroughly known beforehand. The artillery fire will be much more accurate. Many enemy machines will be brought down by the superior fighting machines and the result will be to strengthen the morale both of the aviators and of the army."

The next question put to the French experts was: "Why do we need to make a great effort to obtain the superiority in the air?" They answered with much interesting detail:

"Because the Germans have understood the importance of aviation from a military point of view and have concentrated all their forces to develop this service.

"Owing to the large number of scientists and technicians they possess they are able constantly to perfect motors and planes. Owing to their great industrial organization they are able to produce an enormous number of the best machines.

"The German aviation service is now fully as strong as that of the Allies as far as numbers are concerned. The superiority in the air can only remain in the hands of the Allies because of the spirit of self-sacrifice of their aviators and their greater skill.

"Germany feels that the decisive phase of the war is imminent and the efforts she will make next year will be infinitely greater than any she has made before. She will try in every way to regain the supremacy of the air. Realizing what a formidable enemy America can be in the air, she will strengthen her aviation forces in consequence.

"The aeroplane is by far the most powerful of all the modern weapons. If the Allies have the supremacy of the air the German artillery will lose its accuracy of aim. It is impossible, because of the long range, for modern guns to fire without the help of airplanes. The accuracy of artillery fire depends entirely on its being directed by an airplane.

"This was clearly illustrated during the battle of the Somme in 1916. The French at that time had concentrated such a large number of fighting machines that no German machine was allowed to fly over the lines. On the other hand, the Allies' reconnaissance machines were so numerous that each French battery could have its fire directed by an airplane.

"The destruction of the enemy positions was in consequence carried out very effectively and very rapidly, while the Germans were obliged to fire blindly and scatter their shells over large areas, incapable as they were of locating our battery emplacements and the positions of our troops. Unluckily, a few weeks later the Germans had called from the different parts of the line a good many of their squadrons, and were able to carry out their work under better conditions.

"We need such a superiority that it will be impossible for any German airplane to fly anywhere near the lines.

"Every German kite balloon, every airplane would immediately be attacked by a number of allied machines. In this way the German aviation will not only be dominated but will be entirely crushed.

"If we can prevent the Germans from seeing, through their airplanes, what we are preparing we will be very near the end of the war. It will require a huge effort to carry out this plan. Neither the English nor the French are able to do so by their own means.

"As far as France is concerned, she is able to keep on building machines rapidly enough to increase her aviation corps at about the same rate as Germany is increasing hers. If she wanted to double or triple her production of machines she could do so, but she would have to call back from the trenches a certain number of skilled workmen, and this would weaken her fighting power. She needs in the trenches all the men who are able to carry a rifle.

"If the Allies are to have the absolute supremacy of the air which we have been describing it will be the privilege of America to give it to them. We want three or four or even five allied machines for one German. America only has the possibilities of production which would allow her to build an enormous number of machines in a very short time.

"The airplane is a great engine of destruction. It tells the artillery where to fire, it drops bombs, it gives the enemy all the information he needs to plan murderous attacks. Drive the German airplanes down and you will save the lives of thousands of men in our trenches. As Ulysses in the cavern put out the eye of the Cyclops, so the eyes of the beast must be put out before you can attempt to kill it."

Major Tulasne and Lieutenant de la Grange then outlined what the aviation programme of the United States should be, saying:

"American industry must be enabled to begin building at once. No time must be lost in experiments. America must profit by the experience of the Allies. She must choose the best planes and build thousands of them.

"She must build reconnoissance machines which she will need for her army; she must build a large number of fighting machines because it is these machines that will destroy German planes; she must also build squadrons of powerful bombing machines which will go behind the German lines to destroy the railway junctions and bomb the enemy cantonments, so as to give the soldiers no rest even when they have left the trenches.

"Bombing done by a few machines gives poor results. The same cannot be said of this operation carried out by a large number of machines which can go to the same places and bomb continually.

"Besides the number of men that are actually killed in these raids, great disturbance is caused in the enemy's communication lines, thereby hindering the operations. For example, since the British Admiralty has increased the number of its bombing squadrons in northern France and has decided to attack constantly the two harbours of Ostend and Zeebrugge and the locks, bridges, and canals leading to them they have greatly interfered with the activity of these two German bases.

"It is certain that shortly, owing to this, these two ports will no more be used by German torpedo boats and submarines. What the English Royal Naval Air Service has been able to accomplish with 100 machines the Flying Corps of the United States with 1000 machines must be able to carry out on other parts of the front.

"The work of the bombing machines is rendered difficult now by the fact that the actual lines are far from Germany. But it is hoped that soon fighting will be carried on near the enemy frontier and then a wonderful field will be opened to the bombing machines.

"All the big ammunition factories which are in the Rhine and Ruhr valleys, like Krupp's, will be wonderful targets for the American bombing machines. If these machines are of the proper type—that is to say, sufficiently fast and well armed and able to carry a great weight of bombs—nothing will prevent them from destroying any of these important factories.

"As Germany at the present time is only able to continue the war because of her great stock of war material the destruction of her sources of production would be the end of her resistance. For this also the Allies must turn to America. Such a large number of machines is required to produce results that America must be relied on to manufacture them.

"Every man in this country must know that it is in the power of the United States, no matter what can be done in other fields, to bring the war to an end simply by concentrating all its energies on producing an enormous amount of material for aviation, and to enlist a corresponding number of pilots. But this will not be done without great effort. In order to be ready for the great 1918 offensive work must be begun at once."

The extreme secrecy which in this war has characterized the operation of the governments—our own most of all—makes it impossible to state the amount of progress made in 1917 in the construction of our aërial fleet. During the debate in Congress orators were very outspoken in their prophecies that we should outnumber the Kaiser's flying fleet two or three to one. The press of the nation was so very explicit in its descriptions of the way in which we were to blind the Germans and drive them from the air that it is no wonder the Kaiser's government took alarm, and set about building additional aircraft with feverish zeal. In this it was imitated by France and England. It seemed, all at once about the middle of 1917, that the whole belligerent world suddenly recognized the air as the final battlefield and began preparations for its conquest.

All statistical estimates in war time are subject to doubt as to their accuracy—and particularly those having to do in any way with the activities of an enemy country. But competent estimators—or at any rate shrewd guessers—think that Germany's facilities for constructing airplanes equal those of France and England together. If then all three nations build to the very limit of their abilities there will be a tie, which the contribution of aircraft from the United States will settle overwhelmingly in favour of the Allies. How great that contribution may be cannot be foretold with certainty at this moment. The building of aircraft was a decidedly infant industry in this country when war began. In the eight years prior to 1916 the government had given orders for just fifty-nine aircraft—scarcely enough to justify manufacturers in keeping their shops open. Orders from foreign governments, however, stimulated production after the war began so that when the United States belatedly took her place as national honour and national safety demanded among the Entente Allies, Mr. Howard E. Coffin, Chairman of the Aircraft Section of the Council of National Defence was able to report eight companies capable of turning out about 14,000 machines in six months—a better showing than British manufacturers could have made when Great Britain, first entered the war.

A feature in the situation which impressed both Congress and the American people was the exposure by various military experts of the defenceless condition of New York City against an air raid by a hostile foreign power. At the moment, of course, there was no danger. The only hostile foreign power with any considerable naval or aërial force was Germany and her fleet was securely bottled up in her own harbours by the overpowering fleet of Great Britain. Yet if one could imagine the British fleet reduced to inefficiency, let us say by a futile, suicidal attack upon Kiel or Heligoland which would leave it crippled, and free the Germans, or if we could conceive that the German threat to reduce Great Britain to subjection by the submarine campaign, proved effective, the peril of New York would then be very real and very immediate. For, although the harbour defences are declared by military authorities to be practically impregnable against attack by sea, they would not be effective against an attack from the air. A hostile fleet carrying a number of seaplanes could round-to out of range of our shore batteries and loose their flyers who could within less than an hour be dropping bombs on the most congested section of Manhattan Island. It is true that our own navy would have to be evaded in such case, but the attack might be made from points more distant from New York and at which no scouts would ever dream of looking for an enemy.

The development in later months of the big heavily armed cruising machines makes the menace to any seaport city like New York still greater. The Germans have built great biplanes with two fuselages, or bodies, armoured, carrying two machine guns and one automatic rifle to each body. They have twin engines of three hundred and forty horse power and carry a crew of six men. They are able in an emergency to keep the air for not less than three days. It is obvious that a small fleet of such machines launched from the deck of a hostile squadron, let us say in the neighbourhood of Block Island, could menace equally Boston or New York, or by flying up the Sound could work ruin and desolation upon all the defenceless cities bordering that body of water.

Nor are the Germans alone in possessing machines of this type. The giant Sikorsky machines of Russia, mentioned in an earlier chapter, have during the war been developed into types capable of carrying crews of twenty-five men with guns and ammunition. The French, after having brought down one of the big German machines with the double bodies, instantly began building aircraft of their own of an even superior type. Some of these are driven by four motors and carry eleven persons, besides guns and ammunition. The Caproni machines of Italy are even bigger—capable of carrying nine guns and thirty-five men. The Congressional Committee was much impressed by consideration of what might be done by a small fleet of aircraft of this type launched from a hostile squadron off the Capes of Chesapeake Bay and operating against Washington. It is not likely that any foreign foe advancing by land could repeat the exploit of the British who burned the capitol in 1812. But in our present defenceless state a dozen aircraft of the largest type might reduce the national capitol to ruins.

If an enemy well provided with aërial force possesses such power of offence an equal power of defence is given to the nation at all well provided with flying craft. In imitation, or perhaps rather in modification, of the English plan for guarding the coasts of Great Britain, a well matured system of defending the American coasts has been worked out and submitted to the national authorities. It involves the division of the coasts of the United States into thirteen aeronautical districts, each with aeronautical stations established at suitable points and all in communication with each other. Eight of these districts would be laid out on the Atlantic Coast extending from the northern boundary of Maine to the Rio Grande River.

Just what the purpose and value of these districts would be may be explained by taking the case, not of a typical one, but of the most important one of all, the third district including the coast line from New London, Conn., to Barnegat Inlet, New Jersey. This of course includes New York and adjacent commercial centres and the entrance to Long Island Sound with its long line of thriving cities and the ports of the places from which come our chief supplies of munitions of war. It includes the part of the United States which an enemy would most covet. The part which at once would furnish the richest plunder, and possession of which by a foe would most cripple this nation. To-day it is defended by stationary guns in land fortresses and in time of attack would be further guarded by a fringe of cruising naval vessels. Apparently up to the middle of 1917 the government thought no aërial watch was needed.

But if we were to follow the methods which all the belligerent nations of Europe are employing on their sea coasts we would establish in this district ten aeronautical stations. This would be no match for the British system which has one such station to every twenty miles of coast. Ours would be farther apart, but as the Sound could be guarded at its entrance the stations need only be maintained along the south shore of Long Island and down the Jersey coast. Each station would be provided with patrol, fighting, and observation airplanes. It would have the mechanical equipment of microphones, searchlights, and other devices for detecting the approach of an enemy now employed successfully abroad. Its patrolling airplanes would cruise constantly far out to sea, not less than eighty miles, keeping ever in touch with their station. As the horizon visible from a soaring airplane is not less than fifty miles distant from the observer, this would mean that no enemy fleet could approach within 130 miles of our coast without detection and report. The Montauk Point station would be charged with guarding the entrance to Long Island Sound and, the waters of Nantucket shoals and Block Island Sound where the German submarine U-53 did its deadly work in 1916. The Sandy Hook station would of course be the most important of all, guarding New York sea-going commerce and protecting the ship channel by a constant patrol of aircraft over it.

The modern airplane has a speed of from eighty to one hundred and sixty miles an hour—the latter rate being attained only by the light scouts. Thus it is apparent that if an alarm were raised at any one of these stations between New London and Barnegat three hours at most would suffice to bring the fighting equipment of all the stations to the point threatened. There would be thus concentrated a fleet of several hundred swift scouts, heavy fighting machines, the torpedo planes of the type designed by Admiral Fiske, hydroaëroplanes capable of carrying heavy guns and in brief every form of aërial fighter. Moreover, by use of the wireless, every ship of the Navy within a radius of several hundred miles would be notified of the menace. They could not reach the scene of action so swiftly as the flying men but the former would be able to hold the foe in action until the heavier ships should arrive.

The enormous advantage of such a system of guarding our coasts needs no further explanation. It is not even experimental, for France on her limited coast has 150 such stations. England, which started the war with 18, had 114 in 1917 and was still building. We at that time had none, although the extent of our sea coast and the great multiplicity of practicable harbours make us more vulnerable than any other nation.

Some Methods of the War in the Air

The fighting tactics of the airmen with the various armies were developed as the war ran its course. As happens so often in the utilization of a new device, either of war or peace, the manner of its use was by no means what was expected at the outset. For the first year of the war the activities of the airmen fell far short of realizing Tennyson's conception of

The nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue.

The grappling was only incidental. The flyers seemed destined to be scouts and rangefinders, rather than fighters. Such pitched combats as there were took rather the form of duels, conducted with something of the formality of the days of chivalry. The aviator intent upon a fight would take his machine over the enemy's line and in various ways convey a challenge to a rival—often a hostile aviator of fame for his daring and skill in combat. If the duel was to the death it would be watched usually from the ground by the comrades of the two duellists, and if the one who fell left his body in the enemy's lines, the victor would gather up his identification disk and other personal belongings and drop them the next day in the camp of the dead man's comrades with a note of polite regret.

It was all very daring and chivalric, but it was not war according to twentieth century standards and was not long continued.

© U. & U.

A Caproni Triplane.

When at first the aviators of one side flew over the enemy's territory diligently mapping out his trenches, observing the movements of his troops, or indicating, by dropping bunches of tinsel for the sun to shine upon or breaking smoke bombs, the position of his hidden battery, the foe thus menaced sought to drive them away with anti-aircraft guns. These proved to be ineffective and it may be said here that throughout the war the swift airplanes proved themselves more than a match for the best anti-aircraft artillery that had been devised. They could complete their reconnaissances or give their signals at a height out of range of these guns, or at least so great that the chances of their being hit were but slight. It was amazing the manner in which an airplane could navigate a stretch of air full of bursting shrapnel and yet escape serious injury. The mere puncture, even the repeated puncture, of the wings did no damage. Only lucky shots that might pierce the fuel tank, hit the engine, touch an aileron or an important stay or strut, could affect the machine, while in due course of time a light armour on the bottom of the fusillage or body of the machine in which the pilot sat, protected the operator to some degree. Other considerations, however, finally led to the rejection of armour.

© U. & U.

A Caproni Triplane  (Showing Propellers and Fuselage ).

Accordingly it soon became the custom of the commanders who saw their works being spied out by an enemy soaring above to send up one or more aircraft to challenge the invader and drive him away. This led to the second step in the development in aërial strategy. It was perfectly evident that a man could not observe critically a position and draw maps of it, or seek out the hiding place of massed batteries and indicate them to his own artillerists, and at the same time protect himself from assaults. Accordingly the flying corps of every army gradually became differentiated into observation machines and fighting machines—or avions de réglageavions de bombardement, and avions de chasse, as the French call them. In their order these titles were applied to heavy slow-moving machines used for taking photographs and directing artillery fire, more heavily armed machines of greater weight used in raids and bombing attacks, and the swift fighting machines, quick to rise high, and swift to manœuvre which would protect the former from the enemy, or drive away the enemy's observation machines as the case might be. In the form which the belligerents finally adopted as most advantageous the fighting airplanes were mainly biplanes equipped with powerful motors seldom of less than 140 horse-power, and carrying often but one man who is not merely the pilot, but the operator of the machine gun with which each was equipped. Still planes carrying two men, and even three of whom one was the pilot, the other two the operators of the machine guns were widely adopted. They had indeed their disadvantages. They were slower to rise and clumsier in the turns. The added weight of the two gunmen cut down the amount of fuel that could be carried and limited the radius of action. But one curious disadvantage which would not at first suggest itself to the lay mind was the fact that the roar of the propeller was so great that no possible communication could pass between the pilot and the gunner. Their co-operation must be entirely instinctive or there could be no unity of action—and in practice it was found that there was little indeed. The smaller machine, carrying but one man, was quicker in the get-away and could rise higher in less time—a most vital consideration, for in the tactics of aërial warfare it is as desirable to get above your enemy as in the days of the old line of battleships it was advantageous to secure a position off the stern of your enemy so that you might rake him fore and aft.

The machines ultimately found to best meet the needs of aërial fighting were for the Germans always the Fokker, and the Taube—so called from its resemblance to a flying dove, though it was far from being the dove of peace. The wings are shaped like those of a bird and the tail adds to the resemblance. The Allies after testing the Taube design contemptuously rejected it, and indeed the Germans themselves substituted the Fokker for it in the war's later days.

The English used the "Vickers Scout," built of aluminum and steel and until late in the war usually designed to carry two aviators. This machine unlike most of the others has the propeller at the stern, called a "pusher" in contradistinction to the "tractor," acting as the screw of a ship and avoiding the interference with the rifle fire which the pulling, or tractor propeller mounted before the pilot to a certain degree presents. The Vickers machine is lightly armoured. The English also use what was known as the "D. H. 5," a machine carrying a motor of very high horse-power, while the Sopwith and Bristol biplane were popular as fighting craft.

The French pinned their faith mainly to the Farman, the Caudron, the Voisin, and the Moraine-Saulnier machines. The Bleriot and the Nieuport, which were for some reason ruled out at the beginning of the war, were afterwards re-adopted and employed in great numbers.

It would be gratifying to an American author to be able to describe, or at least to mention, the favourite machine of the American aviators who flocked to France immediately upon the declaration of war, but the mortifying fact is that having no airplanes of our own, our gallant volunteer soldiers of the air had to be equipped throughout by the French with machines of their favourite types. After we entered the war we adopted a 'plane of American design to which was given the name "Liberty plane."

It may be worth while to revert for a moment to the distinction drawn in a preceding paragraph between the pusher propeller and the tractor which revolved in front of the aviator and of his machine gun. It would seem almost incredible that two heavy blades of hard wood revolving at a speed not less that twelve hundred times a minute, a speed so rapid that their passage in front of the eyes of the aviator interfered in no way with his vision, should not have blocked a stream of bullets falling from a gun at the rate of more than six hundred a minute. Nevertheless it was claimed during the earlier days of the war that these bullets were not appreciably diverted by the whirling propellers nor were the latter apparently injured by the missiles. The latter assertion, however, must have been to some extent disproved because it came about that the propellers of the later machines were rimmed with a thin coating of steel lest the blades be cut by the bullets. But the amazing ability of modern science to cope with what seemed to be an insoluble problem was demonstrated by the invention of a device light and compact enough to be carried in an airplane, which applied to the machine gun and timed in accordance with the revolutions of the propeller so synchronized the shots with those revolutions that the stream of lead passed between the whirling blades never once striking. The machine was entirely automatic, requiring no attention on the part of the operator after the gun was once started on its discharge. This device was originally used by the Germans who applied it to their Fokker machines. It was claimed for it that by doing away with the wastage caused by the diversion of the course of bullets, which struck the revolving propellers, it actually saved for effective use about thirty per cent. of the ammunition employed. As the amount of ammunition which can be carried by an airplane is rigidly limited this gave to the appliance a positive value.

The Terror that Flieth by Night.
Painting by William J. Wilson.

Reference has been made to the extraordinary immunity of flying airplanes to the attacks of anti-aircraft guns. The number of wounds they could sustain without being brought to earth was amazing. Grahame-White tells of a comparison made in one of the airdromes of the wounds sustained by the machines after a day's hard scouting and fighting. One was found to have been hit no less than thirty-seven times. Curiously enough the man who navigated it escaped unscathed. Wounds in the wings are harmless. But the puncture of the fuel tank almost certainly means an explosion and the death of the aviator in the flame thousands of feet in the air. During an air battle before Arras, a British aviator encountered this fate. When his tank was struck and the fusillage, or body, of his machine burst into flames, he knew that he was lost. By no possibility could he reach the ground before he should be burned to death. A neighbouring aviator flying not far from him told the story afterwards:

Jack was not in the thick of this fight [said he]. He was rather on the outskirts striving to get in when I suddenly saw his whole machine enveloped in a sheet of flame. Instantly he turned towards the nearest German and made at him with the obvious intention of running him down and carrying him to earth in the same cloud of fire. The man thus threatened, twisted and turned in a vain effort to escape the red terror bearing down upon him. But suffering acutely as he must have been, Jack followed his every move until the two machines crashed, and whirling over and over each other like two birds in an aërial combat fell to earth and to destruction. They landed inside the German lines so we heard no more about them. But we could see the smoke from the burning débris for some time.

As the range of anti-aircraft guns increased the flyers were driven higher and higher into the air to escape their missiles. At one time 4500 feet was looked upon as a reasonably safe height, but when the war had been under way about two years the weapons designed to combat aircraft were so improved that they could send their shots effectively 10,000 feet into the air. If the aircraft had been forced to operate at that height their usefulness would have been largely destroyed, for it is obvious that for observation purposes the atmospheric haze at such a height would obscure the view and make accurate mapping of the enemy's position impossible. For offensive purposes too the airplanes at so great an elevation would be heavily handicapped, if not indeed rendered impotent. As we shall see later, dropping a bomb from a swiftly moving airplane upon a target is no easy task. It never falls direct but partakes of the motion of the plane. It is estimated that for every thousand feet of elevation a bomb will advance four hundred feet in the direction that the aircraft is moving, provided its speed is not in excess of sixty miles an hour. As a result marksmanship at a height of more than five thousand feet is practically impossible.

In the main this situation is met, as all situations in war in which efficiency can only be attained at the expense of great personal danger are met, namely, by braving the danger. When the aviators have an attack in contemplation they fly low and snap their fingers at the puff balls of death as the shrapnel from their appearance when bursting may well be called. Naturally, efforts were made early in the war to lessen the danger by armouring the body of the machine sufficiently to protect the aviator and his engine—for if the aviator escaped a shot which found the engine, his plight would be almost as bad as if the missile had struck him.

The main difficulty with armouring the machines grew out of the added weight. The more efficient the armour, the less fuel could be carried and the less ammunition. If too heavily loaded the speed of the machine would be reduced and its ability to climb rapidly upon which the safety of the aviator usually depends, either in reconnaissance or fighting, would be seriously impeded. The first essays in protective armour took the form of the installation of a thin sheet of steel along the bottom of the body of the craft. This turned aside missiles from below provided the plane were not so near the ground as to receive them at the moment of their highest velocity. But it was only an unsatisfactory makeshift. At the higher altitudes it was unnecessary and in conflict with other airplanes it proved worthless, because in a battle in the air the shots of the enemy are more likely to come from above or at least from levels in the same plane. The armoured airplane was quickly found to have less chance of mounting above its enemy, because of the weight it carried, and before long the principle of protecting an airplane as a battleship is protected was abandoned, except in the case of the heavier machines intended to operate as scouts or guides to artillery, holding their flights near the earth and protected from attack from above by their attendant fleet of swift fighting machines. Of these the Vickers machine used mainly by the British is a common type. It is built throughout of steel and aluminum, and the entire fusillage is clothed with steel plating which assures protection to the two occupants from either upward or lateral fire. The sides of the body are carried up so that only the heads of the aviators are visible. But to accomplish this measure of protection for the pilot and the gunner who operates the machine gun from a seat forward of the pilot, the weight of the craft is so greatly increased that it is but little esteemed for any save the most sluggish manœuvre.

Indeed just as aircraft, as a factor in war, have come to be more like the cavalry in the army, or the destroyers and scout cruisers in the navy, so the tendency has been to discard everything in their design that might by any possibility interfere with their speed and their ability to turn and twist, and change direction and elevation with the utmost celerity under the most difficult of conditions. It is possible that should this war run into the indefinite future we may see aircraft built on ponderous lines and heavily armoured, and performing in the air some of the functions that the British "tanks" have discharged on the battlefields. But at the end of three years of war, and at the moment when aërial hostilities seemed to be engaging more fully than even before the inventive genius of the nations, and the dash and skill of the fighting flyers, the tendency is all toward the light and swift machine.

Photo by Press Illustrating Service.

A Curtis Seaplane Leaving a Battleship.

The attitude of the fighting airmen is somewhat reminiscent of that of America's greatest sea-fighter, Admiral Farragut. Always opposed to ironclads, the hero of Mobile Bay used to say that when he went to sea he did not want to go in an iron coffin, and that when a shell had made its way through one side of his ship he didn't want any obstacle presented to impede its passing out of the other side.

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Launching a Hydroaëroplane.

The all important and even vital necessity for speed also detracted much from the value of aircraft in offensive operations. It was found early that you could not mount on a flying machine guns of sufficient calibre to be of material use in attacking fortified positions. If it was necessary for the planes to proceed any material distance before reaching their objective, the weight of the necessary fuel would preclude the carriage of heavy artillery. In the case of seaplanes which might be carried on the deck of a battleship to a point reasonably contiguous to the object to be attacked, this difficulty was not so serious. This was demonstrated to some extent by the British raids on the German naval bases of Cuxhaven and Wilhelmshaven, but even in these instances it was bombs dropped by aviators, not gunfire that injured the enemy's works. But for the airplane proper this added weight was so positive a handicap as to practically destroy its usefulness as an assailant of fortified positions.

The heavier weapons of offence which could be carried by the airplane even of the highest development were the bombs. These once landed might cause the greatest destruction, but the difficulty of depositing them directly upon a desired target was not to be overcome. The dirigible balloon enjoyed a great advantage over the airplane in this respect, for it was able to hover over the spot which it desired to hit and to discharge its bombs in a direct perpendicular line with enough initial velocity from a spring gun to overcome largely any tendency to deviate from the perpendicular. But an airplane cannot stop. When it stops it must descend. If it is moving at the moderate speed of sixty miles an hour when it drops its missile, the bomb itself will move forward at the rate of sixty miles an hour until gravity has overcome the initial forward force. Years before the war broke out, tests were held in Germany and France of the ability of aviators to drop a missile upon a target marked out upon the ground. One such test in France required the dropping of bombs from a height of 2400 feet upon a target 170 feet long by 40 broad—or about the dimensions of a small and rather stubby ship. The results were uniformly disappointing. The most creditable record was made by an American aviator, Lieutenant Scott, formerly of the United States Army. His first three shots missed altogether, but thereafter he landed eight within the limits. In Germany the same year the test was to drop bombs upon two targets, one resembling a captive Zeppelin, the other a military camp 330 feet square. The altitude limit was set at 660 feet. This, though a comparatively easy test, was virtually a failure. Only two competitors succeeded in dropping a bomb into the square at all, while the balloon was hit but once.

The character and size of the bombs employed by aircraft naturally differed very widely, particularly as to size, between those carried by dirigibles and those used by airplanes. The Zeppelin shell varied in weight between two hundred and two hundred and fifty pounds. It was about forty-seven inches long by eight and a half inches in diameter. Its charge varied according to the use to which it was to be put. If it was hoped that it would drop in a crowded spot and inflict the greatest amount of damage to human life and limb it would carry a bursting charge, shrapnel, and bits of iron, all of which on the impact of the missile upon the earth would be hurled in every direction to a radius exceeding forty yards. If damage to buildings, on the other hand, was desired, some high explosive such as picric acid would be used which would totally wreck any moderate-sized building upon which the shell might fall. In many instances, particularly in raids upon cities such as London, incendiary shells were used charged with some form of liquid fire, which rapidly spread the conflagration, and which itself was practically inextinguishable.

Shells or bombs of these varying types were dropped from airplanes as well as from the larger and steadier Zeppelins. The difference was entirely in the size. It was said that a Zeppelin might drop a bomb of a ton's weight. But so far as attainable records are concerned it is impossible to cite any instance of this being done. The effect on the great gas bag of the sudden release of a load so great would certainly cause a sudden upward flight which might be so quick and so powerful as to affect the very structure of the ship. So far as known 250 pounds was the topmost limit of Zeppelin bombs, while most of them were of much smaller dimensions. The airplane bombs were seldom more than sixty pounds in weight, although in the larger British machines a record of ninety-five pounds has been attained. The most common form of bomb used in the heavier-than-air machines was pear-shaped, with a whirling tail to keep the missile upright as it falls. Steel balls within, a little larger than ordinary shrapnel, are held in place by a device which releases them during the fall. On striking the ground they fall on the explosive charge within and the shell bursts, scattering the two or three hundred steel bullets which it carries over a wide radius. Bombs of this character weigh in the neighbourhood of six pounds and an ordinary airplane can carry a very considerable number. Their exploding device is very delicate so that it will operate upon impact with water, very soft earth, or even the covering of an airship. Other bombs commonly used in airplanes were shaped like darts, winged like an arrow so that they would fall perpendicularly and explode by a pusher at the point which was driven into the body of the bomb upon its impact with any hard substance.

It seems curious to read of the devices sometimes quite complicated and at all times the result of the greatest care and thought, used for dropping these bombs. In the trenches men pitched explosive missiles about with little more care than if they had been so many baseballs, but only seldom was a bomb from aloft actually delivered by hand. In the case of the heavier bombs used by the dirigibles this is understandable. They could not be handled by a single man without the aid of mechanical devices. Some are dropped from a cradle which is tilted into a vertical position after the shell has been inserted. Others are fired from a tube not unlike the torpedo tube of a submarine, but which imparts only slight initial velocity to the missile. Its chief force is derived from gravity, and to be assured of its explosion the aviator must discharge it from a height proportionate to its size.

In the airplane the aviator's methods are more simple. Sometimes the bombs are carried in a rack beneath the body of the machine, and released by means of a lever at the side. A more primitive method often in use is merely to attach the bomb to a string and lower it to a point at which the aviator is certain that in falling it will not touch any part of the craft, and then cut the string. Half a dozen devices by which the aviator can hold the bomb at arm's length and drop it with the certainty of a perpendicular fall are in use in the different air navies. It will be evident to the most casual consideration that with any one of these devices employed by an aviator in a machine going at a speed of sixty miles an hour or more the matter of hitting the target is one in which luck has a very great share.

There is good reason for the pains taken by the aviators to see that their bombs fall swift and true, and clear of all the outlying parts of their machines. The grenadier in the trenches has a clear field for his explosive missile and he may toss it about with what appears to be desperate carelessness—though instances have been known in which a bomb thrower, throwing back his arm preparatory to launching his canned volcano, has struck the back of his own trench with disastrous results. But the aviator must be even more careful. His bombs must not hit any of the wires below his machine in falling—else there will be a dire fall for him. And above all they must not get entangled in stays or braces. In such case landing will bring a most unpleasant surprise.

A striking case was that of a bomber who had been out over the German trenches. He had a two-man machine, had made a successful flight and had dropped, effectively as he supposed, all his bombs. Returning in serene consciousness of a day's duty well done, he was about to spiral down to the landing place when his passenger looked over the side of the car to see if everything was in good order. Emphatically it was not. To his horror he discovered that two of the bombs had not fallen, but had caught in the running gear of his machine. To attempt a landing with the bombs in this position would have been suicidal. The bombs would have instantly exploded, and annihilated both machine and aviators. But to get out of the car, climb down on the wires, and try to unhook the bombs seemed more desperate still. Stabilizers, and other devices, now in common use, had not then been invented and to go out on the wing of a biplane, or to disturb its delicate balance, was unheard of. Nevertheless it was a moment for desperate remedies. The pilot clung to his controls, and sought to meet the shifting strains, while the passenger climbed out on the wing and then upon the running gear. To trust yourself two thousand feet in mid-air with your feet on one piano wire, and one hand clutching another, while with the other hand you grope blindly for a bomb charged with high explosive, is an experience for which few men would yearn. But in this case it was successful. The bombs fell—nobody cared where—and the two imperilled aviators came to ground safely.

A form of offensive weapon which for some reason seems peculiarly horrible to the human mind is the fléchette. These are steel darts a little larger than a heavy lead pencil and with the upper two thirds of the stem deeply grooved so that the greater weight of the lower part will cause them to fall perpendicularly. These are used in attacks upon dense bodies of troops. Particularly have they proved effective in assailing cavalry, for the nature of the wounds they produce invariably maddens the horses who suffer from them and causes confusion that will often bring grave disaster to a transport or artillery train. Though very light, these arrows when dropped from any considerable height inflict most extraordinary wounds. They have been known to penetrate a soldier's steel helmet, to pass through his body and that of the horse he bestrode, and bury themselves in the earth. In the airplane they are carried in boxes of one hundred each, placed over an orifice in the floor. A touch of the aviator's foot and all are discharged. The speed of the machine causes them to fall at first in a somewhat confused fashion, with the result that before all have finally assumed their perpendicular position they have been scattered over a very considerable extent of air. Once fairly pointed downward they fall with unerring directness points downward to their mark.

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At a United States Training Camp.

It is a curious fact that not long after these arrows first made their appearance in the French machines, they were imitated by the Germans, but the German darts had stamped upon them the words: "Made in Germany, but invented by the French."

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A "Blimp" with Gun Mounted on Top.

One of the duties of the fighting airmen is to destroy the observation balloons which float in great numbers over both the lines tugging lazily at the ropes by which they are held captive while the observers perched in their baskets communicate the results of their observations by telephone to staff officers at a considerable distance. These balloons are usually anchored far enough back of their own lines to be safe from the ordinary artillery fire of their enemies. They were therefore fair game for the mosquitoes of the air. But they were not readily destroyed by such artillery as could be mounted on an ordinary airplane. Bullets from the machine-guns were too small to make any rents in the envelope that would affect its stability. Even if incendiary they could not carry a sufficiently heavy charge to affect so large a body. The skin of the "sausages," as the balloons were commonly called from their shape, was too soft to offer sufficient resistance to explode a shell of any size. The war was pretty well under way before the precise weapon needed for their destruction was discovered. This proved to be a large rocket of which eight were carried on an airplane, four on each side. They were discharged by powerful springs and a mechanism started which ignited them as soon as they had left the airplane behind. The head of each rocket was of pointed steel, very sharp and heavy enough to pierce the balloon skin. Winslow was fortunate enough to be present when the first test of this weapon was made. In his book, With the French Flying Corps, he thus tells the story:

Swinging lazily above the field was a captive balloon. At one end of Le Bourget was a line of waiting airplanes. "This is the second; they have already brought down one balloon," remarked the man at my elbow. The hum of a motor caused me to look up. A wide-winged double motor, Caudron, had left the ground and was mounting gracefully above us. Up and up it went, describing a great circle, until it faced the balloon. Everyone caught his breath. The Caudron was rushing straight at the balloon, diving for the attack.

"Now!" cried the crowd. There was a loud crack, a flash, and eight long rockets darted forth leaving behind a fiery trail. The aviator's aim however was wide, and to the disappointment of everyone the darts fell harmlessly to the ground.

Another motor roared far down the field, and a tiny appareil de chasse  shot upward like a swallow. "A Nieuport," shouted the crowd as one voice. Eager to atone for his copain's  failure, and impatient at his delay in getting out of the way, the tiny biplane tossed and tumbled about in the air like a clown in the circus ring.

"Look! he's looping! he falls! he slips! no, he rights again!" cried a hundred voices as the skilful pilot kept our nerves on edge.

Suddenly he darted into position and for a second hovered uncertain. Then with a dive like that of a dragon-fly, he rushed down to the attack. Again a sheet of flame and a shower of sparks. This time the balloon sagged. The flames crept slowly around its silken envelope. "Touchez!" cried the multitude. Then the balloon burst and fell to the ground a mass of flames. High above the little Nieuport saucily continued its pranks, as though contemptuous of such easy prey.

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Aviators Descending in Parachutes from a Balloon Struck by Incendiary Shells.

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The Balloon from which the Aviators Fled.

It may be properly noted at this point that the captive balloons or kite balloons have proved of the greatest value for observations in this war. Lacking of course the mobility of the swiftly moving airplanes, they have the advantage over the latter of being at all times in direct communication by telephone with the ground and being able to carry quite heavy scientific instruments for the more accurate mapping out of such territory as comes within their sphere of observation. They are not easy to destroy by artillery fire, for the continual swaying of the balloon before the wind perplexes gunners in their aim. At a height of six hundred feet, a normal observation post, the horizon is nearly thirty miles from the observer. In flat countries like Flanders, or at sea where the balloon may be sent up from the deck of a ship, this gives an outlook of the greatest advantage to the army or fleet relying upon the balloon for its observations of the enemy's dispositions.

Most of the British and French observation balloons have been of the old-fashioned spherical form which officers in those services find sufficiently effective. The Germans, however, claimed that a balloon might be devised which would not be so very unstable in gusty weather. Out of this belief grew the Parseval-Siegfeld balloon which from its form took the name of the Sausage. In fact its appearance far from being terrifying suggests not only that particular edible, but a large dill pickle floating awkwardly in the air. In order to keep the balloon always pointed into the teeth of the wind there is attached to one end of it a large surrounding bag hanging from the lower half of the main envelope. One end of this, the end facing forward, is left open and into this the wind blows, steadying the whole structure after the fashion of the tail of a kite. The effect is somewhat grotesque as anyone who has studied the numerous pictures of balloons of this type employed during the war must have observed. It looks not unlike some form of tumor growing from a healthy structure.

Captive or kite balloons are especially effective as coast guards. Posted fifty miles apart along a threatened coast they can keep a steady watch over the sea for more than twenty-five miles toward the horizon. With their telephonic connections they can notify airplanes in waiting, or for that matter swift destroyers, of any suspicious sight in the distance, and secure an immediate investigation which will perhaps result in the defeat of some attempted raid. Requiring little power for raising and lowering them and few men for their operation, they form a method of standing sentry guard at a nation's front door which can probably be equalled by no other device. The United States at the moment of the preparation of this book is virtually without any balloons of this type—the first one of any pretensions having been tested in the summer of 1917.

As late as the third year of the war it could not be said that the possibilities of aërial offense had been thoroughly developed by any nation. The Germans indeed had done more than any of the belligerents in this direction with their raids on the British coast and on London. But, as already pointed out, these raids as serious attacks on strategic positions were mere failures. Advocates of the increased employment of aircraft in this fashion insist that the military value to Germany of the raids lay not so much in the possibility of doing damage of military importance but rather in the fact that the possibility of repeated and more effective raids compelled Great Britain to keep at home a force of thirty thousand to fifty thousand men constantly on guard, who but for this menace would have been employed on the battlefields of France. In this argument there is a measure of plausibility. Indeed between January, 1915, and June 13, 1917, the Germans made twenty-three disastrous raids upon England, killing more than seven hundred persons and injuring nearly twice as many. The amount of damage to property has never been reported nor is it possible to estimate the extent of injury inflicted upon works of a military character. The extreme secrecy with which Great Britain, in common with the other belligerents, has enveloped operations of this character makes it impossible at this early day to estimate the military value of these exploits. Merely to inflict anguish and death upon a great number of civilians, and those largely women and children, is obviously of no military service. But if such suffering is inflicted in the course of an attack which promises the destruction or even the crippling of works of military character like arsenals, munition plants, or naval stores, it must be accepted as an incident of legitimate warfare. The limited information obtainable in wartime seems to indicate that the German raids had no legitimate objective in view but were undertaken for the mere purpose of frightfulness.

The methods of defence employed in Great Britain, where all attacks must come from the sea, were mainly naval. What might be called the outer, or flying, defences consisted of fast armed fighting seaplanes and dirigibles. Stationed on the coast and ready on the receipt of a wireless warning from scouts, either aërial or naval, that an enemy air flotilla was approaching the coast, they could at once fly forth and give it battle. A thorough defence of the British territory demanded that the enemy should be driven back before reaching the land. Once over British territory the projectiles discharged whether by friend or foe did equal harm to the people on the ground below. Accordingly every endeavour was made to meet and beat the raiders before they had passed the barrier of sea. Beside the flying defences there were the floating defences. Anti-aircraft guns were mounted on different types of ships stationed far out from the shore and ever on the watch. But these latter were of comparatively little avail, for flying over the Channel or the North Sea the invaders naturally flew at a great height. They had no targets there to seek, steered by their compasses, and were entirely indifferent to the prospect beneath them. Moreover anti-aircraft guns, hard to train effectively from an immovable mount, were particularly untrustworthy when fired from the deck of a rolling and tossing ship in the turbulent Channel.

Third in the list of defences of the British coast, or of any other coast which may at any time be threatened with an aërial raid, are defensive stations equipped not only with anti-aircraft guns and searchlights but with batteries of strange new scientific instruments like the "listening towers," equipped with huge microphones to magnify the sound of the motors of approaching aircraft so that they would be heard long before they could be seen, range finders, and other devices for the purpose of gauging the distance and fixing the direction of an approaching enemy.

Some brief attention may here be given to the various types of anti-aircraft guns. These differ very materially in type and weight in the different belligerent armies and navies. They have but one quality in common, namely that they are most disappointing in the results attained. Mr. F. W. Lancaster, the foremost British authority on aircraft, says on this subject:

"Anti-aircraft firing is very inaccurate, hence numbers of guns are employed to compensate."

Photo by International Film Service.

German Air Raiders over England.
In the foreground three British planes are advancing to the attack.

That is to say that one or two guns can be little relied upon to put a flyer hors du combat. The method adopted is to have large batteries which fairly fill that portion of the air through which the adventurous airman is making his way with shells fired rather at the section than at the swiftly moving target.

"Archibald," the British airmen call, for some mysterious reason, the anti-aircraft guns employed by their enemies, sometimes referring to a big howitzer which made its appearance late in the war as "Cuthbert." The names sound a little effeminate, redolent somehow of high teas and the dancing floor, rather than the field of battle. Perhaps this was why the British soldiers adopted them as an expression of contempt for the enemy's batteries. But contempt was hardly justifiable in face of the difficulty of the problem. A gun firing a twenty-pound shrapnel shell is not pointed on an object with the celerity with which a practised revolver shot can throw his weapon into position. The gunner on the ground seeing an airplane flying five thousand feet above him—almost a mile up in the air—hurries to get his piece into position for a shot. But while he is aiming the flyer, if a high-speed machine, will be changing its position at a rate of perhaps 120 miles an hour. Nor does it fly straight ahead. The gunner cannot point his weapon some distance in advance as he would were he a sportsman intent on cutting off a flight of wild geese. The aviator makes quick turns—zigzags—employs every artifice to defeat the aim of his enemy below. Small wonder that in the majority of cases they have been successful. The attitude of the airmen toward the "Archies" is one of calm contempt.

The German mind being distinctly scientific invented early in the war a method of fixing the range and position of an enemy airplane which would be most effective if the target were not continually in erratic motion. The method was to arrange anti-aircraft guns in a triangle, all in telephonic connection with a central observer. When a flyer enters the territory which these guns are guarding, the gunner at one of the apexes of the triangle fires a shell which gives out a red cloud of smoke. Perhaps it falls short. The central observer notes the result and orders a second gun to fire. Instantly a gunner at another apex fires again, this time a shell giving forth black smoke. This shell discharged with the warning given by the earlier one is likely to come nearer the target, but at any rate marks another point at which it has been missed. Between the two a third gunner instantly corrects his aim by the results of the first two shots. His shell gives out a yellow smoke. The observer then figures from the positions of the three guns the lines of a triangular cone at the apex of which the target should be. Sometimes science wins, often enough for the Germans to cling to the system. But more often the shrewd aviator defeats science by his swift and eccentric changes of his line of flight.

At the beginning of the war Germany was very much better equipped with anti-aircraft guns than any of her enemies. This was due to the remarkable foresight of the great munition makers, Krupp and Ehrhardt, who began experimenting with anti-aircraft guns before the aircraft themselves were much more than experiments. The problem was no easy one. The gun had to be light, mobile, and often mounted on an automobile so as to be swiftly transferred from place to place in pursuit of raiders. It was vital that it should be so mounted as to be speedily trained to any position vertical or horizontal. As a result the type determined upon was mounted on a pedestal fixed to the chassis of an automobile or to the deck of a ship in case it was to be used in naval warfare. The heaviest gun manufactured in Germany was of 4-¼-inch calibre, throwing a shell of forty pounds weight. This could be mounted directly over the rear axle of a heavy motor truck. To protect the structure of the car from the shock of the recoil these guns are of course equipped with hydraulic or other appliances for taking it up. They are manufactured also in the 3-inch size. Germany, France, and England vied with each other in devising armored motor cars equipped with guns of this type—the British using the makes of Vickers and Hotchkiss, and the French their favourite Creusot. The trucks are always armoured, the guns mounted in turrets so that the effect is not unlike that of a small battleship dashing madly down a country road and firing repeatedly at some object directly overhead. But the record has not shown that the success of these picturesque and ponderous engines of war has been great. They cannot manœuvre with enough swiftness to keep up with the gyrations of an airplane. They offer as good a target for a bomb from above as the aircraft does to their shots from below. Indeed they so thoroughly demonstrated their inefficiency that before the war had passed its third year they were either abandoned or their guns employed only when the car was stationary. Shots fired at full speed were seldom effective.

The real measure of the effectiveness of anti-aircraft guns may be judged by the comparative immunity that attended the aviators engaged on the two early British raids on Friedrichshaven, the seat of the great Zeppelin works on Lake Constance, and on the German naval base at Cuxhaven. The first was undertaken by three machines. From Belfort in France, the aviators turned into Germany and flew for 120 miles across hostile territory. The flight was made by day though indeed the adventurous aviators were favoured by a slight mist. Small single seated "avro" machines were used, loaded heavily with bombs as well as with the large amount of fuel necessary for a flight which before its completion would extend over 250 miles. Not only at the frontier, but at many fortified positions over which they passed, they must have exposed themselves to the fire of artillery, but until they actually reached the neighbourhood of the Zeppelin works they encountered no fire whatsoever. There the attack on them was savage and well maintained. On the roofs of the gigantic factory, on neighbouring hillocks and points of vantage there were anti-aircraft guns busily discharging shrapnel at the invaders. It is claimed by the British that fearing this attack the Germans had called from the front in Flanders their best marksmen, for at that time the comparative worthlessness of the Zeppelin had not been demonstrated and the protection of the works was regarded as a prime duty of the army.

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One Aviator's Narrow Escape.

The invading machines flew low above the factory roofs. The adventurers had come far on an errand which they knew would awaken the utmost enthusiasm among their fellows at home and they were determined to so perform their task that no charge of having left anything undone could possibly lie. Commander Briggs, the first of the aviators to reach the scene, flew as low as one hundred feet above the roofs, dropping his bombs with deadly accuracy. But he paid for his temerity with the loss of his machine and his liberty. A bullet pierced his petrol tank and there was nothing for him to do save to glide to earth and surrender. The two aviators who accompanied him although their machines were repeatedly hit were nevertheless able to drop all their bombs and to fly safely back to Belfort whence they had taken their departure some hours before. The measure of actual damage done in the raid has never been precisely known. Germany always denied that it was serious, while the British ascribe to it the greatest importance—a clash of opinion common in the war and which will for some years greatly perplex the student of its history.

The second raid, that upon Cuxhaven, was made by seaplanes so far as the air fighting was concerned, but in it not only destroyers but submarines also took part. It presented the unique phenomenon of a battle fought at once above, upon, and below the surface of the sea. It is with the aërial feature of the battle alone that we have to do.

Christmas morning, 1915, seven seaplanes were quietly lowered to the surface of the water of the North Sea from their mother ships a little before daybreak. The spot was within a few miles of Cuxhaven and the mouth of the River Elbe. As the aircraft rose from the surface of the water and out of the light mist that lay upon it, they could see in the harbour which they threatened, a small group of German warships. Almost at the same moment their presence was detected. The alarms of the bugles rang out from the hitherto quiet craft and in a moment with the smoke pouring from their funnels destroyers and torpedo boats moved out to meet the attack. Two Zeppelins rose high in the air surrounded by a number of the smaller airplanes, eager for the conflict. The latter proceeded at once to the attack upon the raiding air fleet, while the destroyers, the heavier Zeppelins, and a number of submarines sped out to sea to attack the British ships. The mist, which grew thicker, turned the combat from a battle into a mere disorderly raid, but out of it the seaplanes emerged unhurt. All made their way safely back to the fleet, after having dropped their bombs with a degree of damage never precisely known. The weakness of the seaplane is that on returning to its parent ship it cannot usually alight upon her deck, even though a landing platform has been provided. It must, as a rule, drop to the surface of the ocean, and if this be at all rough the machine very speedily goes to pieces. This was the case with four of the seven seaplanes which took part in the raid on Cuxhaven. All however delivered their pilots safely to the awaiting fleet and none fell a victim to the German anti-aircraft guns.

In May of 1917, the British Royal Naval Air Service undertook the mapping of the coast of Belgium north from Nieuport, the most northerly seaport held by the British, to the southern boundary of Holland. This section of coast was held by the Germans and in it were included the two submarine bases of Zeebrugge and Ostend. At the latter point the long line of German trenches extending to the boundary of Switzerland rested its right flank on the sea. The whole coast north of that was lined with German batteries, snugly concealed in the rolling sand dunes and masked by the waving grasses of a barren coast. From British ships thirty miles out at sea, for the waters there are shallow and large vessels can only at great peril approach the shore, the seaplanes were launched. Just south of Nieuport a land base was established as a rendezvous for both air-and seaplanes when their day's work was done. From fleet and station the aërial observers took their way daily to the enemy's coast. Every mile of it was photographed. The hidden batteries were detected and the inexorable record of their presence imprinted on the films. The work in progress at Ostend and Zeebrugge, the active construction of basins, locks, and quays, the progress of the great mole building at the latter port, the activities of submarines and destroyers within the harbour, the locations of guns and the positions of barracks were all indelibly set down. These films developed at leisure were made into coherent wholes, placed in projecting machines, and displayed like moving pictures in the ward rooms of the ships hovering off shore, so that the naval forces preparing for the assault had a very accurate idea of the nature of the defences they were about to encounter.

This was not done of course without considerable savage fighting in mid-air. The Germans had no idea of allowing their defences and the works of their submarine bases to be pictured for the guidance of their foes. Their anti-aircraft guns barked from dawn to dark whenever a British plane was seen within range. Their own aërial fighters were continually busy, and along that desolate wave-washed coast many a lost lad in leather clothing and goggles, crumpled up in the ruins of his machine after a fall of thousands of feet, lay as a memorial to the prowess of the defenders of the coast and the audacity of those who sought to invade it. But during the long weeks of this extended reconnaissance hardly a spadeful of dirt could be moved, a square yard of concrete placed in position, or a submarine or torpedo boat manœuvred without its record being entered upon the detailed charts the British were so painstakingly preparing against the day of assault. When peace shall finally permit the publication of the records of the war, now held secret for military reasons, such maps as those prepared by the British air service on the Belgian coast will prove most convincing evidence of the military value of the aërial scouts.

What the lads engaged in making these records had to brave in the way of physical danger is strikingly shown by the description of a combat included in one of the coldly matter-of-fact official reports. The battle was fought at about twelve thousand feet above mother earth. We quote the official description accompanied by some explanatory comments added by one who was an eye-witness and who conversed with the triumphant young airman on his return to the safety of the soil.

"While exposing six plates," says the official report of this youthful recording angel, "I observed five H. A.'s cruising."

"H. A." stands for "hostile aeroplane."

"Not having seen the escort since returning inland, the pilot prepared to return. The enemy separated, one taking up a position above the tail and one ahead. The other three glided toward us on the port side, firing as they came. The two diving machines fired over 100 rounds, hitting the pilot in the shoulder."

As a matter of fact, the bullet entered his shoulder from above, behind, breaking his left collarbone, and emerged just above his heart, tearing a jagged rent down his breast. Both his feet, furthermore, were pierced by bullets; but the observer is not concerned with petty detail.

The observer held his fire until H. A., diving on tail, was within five yards.

Here it might be mentioned that the machines were hurtling through space at a speed in the region of one hundred miles an hour.

The pilot of H. A., having swooped to within speaking distance, pushed up his goggles, and laughed triumphantly as he took sight for the shot that was to end the fight. But the observer, had his own idea how the fight should end.

"I then shot one tray into the enemy pilot's face," he says, with curt relish, "and watched him sideslip and go spinning earthward in a train of smoke."

He then turned his attention to his own pilot. The British machine was barely under control, but as the observer rose in his seat to investigate the foremost gun was fired, and the aggressor ahead went out of control and dived nose first in helpless spirals.

Suspecting that his mate was badly wounded in spite of this achievement, the observer swung one leg over the side of the fusillage and climbed on to the wing—figure for a minute the air pressure on his body during this gymnastic feat—until he was beside the pilot, faint and drenched with blood, who had nevertheless got his machine back into complete control.

"Get back, you ass!" he said through white lips in response to inquiries how he felt. So the ass got back the way he came, and looked around for the remainder of the H. A.'s. These, however, appeared to have lost stomach for further fighting and fled.

The riddled machine returned home at one hundred knots while the observer, having nothing better to do, continued to take photographs.

"The pilot, though wounded, made a perfect landing"—thus the report concludes.

When the time came for the assault upon Zeebrugge the value of these painstaking preparations was made evident. The attack was made from sea and air alike. Out in the North Sea the great British battleships steamed in as near the coast as the shallowness of the water would permit. From the forward deck of each rose grandly a seaplane until the air was darkened by their wings, and they looked like a monstrous flock of the gulls which passengers on ocean-going liners watch wheeling and soaring around the ship as it ploughs its way through the ocean. These gulls though were birds of prey. They were planes of the larger type, biplanes or triplanes carrying two men, usually equipped with two motors and heavily laden with high explosive bombs. As they made their way toward the land they were accompanied by a fleet of light draft monitors especially built for this service, each mounting two heavy guns and able to manœuvre in shallow water. With them advanced a swarm of swift, low-lying, dark-painted destroyers ready to watch out for enemy torpedo boats or submarines. They mounted anti-aircraft guns too and were prepared to defend the monitors against assaults from the heavens above as well as from the sinister attack of the underwater boats. Up from the land base at Nieuport came a great fleet of airplanes to co-operate with their naval brethren. Soon upon the German works, sheltering squadrons of the sinister undersea boats, there rained a hell of exploding projectiles from sea and sky. Every gunner had absolute knowledge of the precise position and range of the target to which he was assigned. The great guns of the monitors roared steadily and their twelve and fourteen-inch projectiles rent in pieces the bomb proofs of the Germans, driving the Boches to cover and reducing their works to mere heaps of battered concrete. Back and forth above flew seaplanes and airplanes, giving battle to the aircraft which the Germans sent up in the forlorn hope of heading off that attack and dropping their bombs on points carefully mapped long in advance. It is true that the aim of the aviators was necessarily inaccurate. That is the chief weakness of a bombardment from the sky. But what was lacking in individual accuracy was made up by the numbers of the bombing craft. One might miss a lock or a shelter, but twenty concentrating their fire on the same target could not all fail. This has become the accepted principle of aërial offensive warfare. The inaccuracy of the individual must be corrected by the multiplication of the number of the assailants.

The attack on Zeebrugge was wholly successful. Though the Germans assiduously strove to conceal the damage done, the later observations of the ruined port by British airmen left no doubt that as a submarine base it had been put out of commission for months to come. The success of the attack led to serious discussion, in which a determination has not yet been reached, of the feasibility of a similar assault upon Heligoland, Kiel, or Cuxhaven, the three great naval bases in which the German fleet has lurked in avoidance of battle with the British fleet. Many able naval strategists declared that it was time for the British to abandon the policy of a mere blockade and carry out the somewhat rash promise made by Winston Churchill when First Lord of the Admiralty, to "dig the rats out of their holes." Such an attack it was urged should be made mainly from the air, as the land batteries and sunken mines made the waters adjacent to these harbours almost impassable to attacking ships. Rear-Admiral Fiske, of the United States Navy, strongly urging such an attack, wrote in an open letter:

The German Naval General Staff realizes the value of concentration of power and mobility in as large units as possible. The torpedo plane embodies a greater concentration of power and mobility than does any other mechanism. For its cost, the torpedo plane is the most powerful and mobile weapon which exists at the present day.

An attack by allied torpedo planes, armed with guns to defend themselves from fighting airplanes, would be a powerful menace to the German fleet and, if made in sufficient numbers, would give the Allies such unrestricted command of the North Sea, even of the shallow parts near the German coast, that German submarines would be prevented from coming from a German port, the submarine menace abolished, and all chance of German success wiped out.

I beg also to point out that an inspection of the map of Europe shows that in the air raids over land the strategical advantage lies with Germany, because her most important towns, like Berlin, are farther inland than the most important towns of the Allies, like London, so that aëroplanes of the Allies, in order to reach Berlin, would have to fly over greater distances, while exposed to the fire of other aëroplanes, than do aëroplanes of the Germans in going to London for raids on naval vessels.

However, the strategical advantage over water lies with the British, because their control of the deep parts of the North Sea enables them to establish a temporary aeronautical base of mother ships sufficiently close to the German fleet to enable the British to launch a torpedo-plane attack from it on the German fleets in Kiel and Wilhelmshaven, while the Germans could not possibly establish an aeronautical base sufficiently close to the British fleet.

© Press Illustrating Service.

Downed in the Enemy's Country.

This gives the Allies the greatest advantage of the offensive. It would seem possible, provided a distinct effort is made, for the Allies to send a large number of aeroplane mother ships to a point, say, fifty miles west of Heligoland, and for a large force of fighting aëroplanes and torpedo planes to start from this place about two hours before dawn, reach Kiel Bay and Wilhelmshaven about dawn, attack the German fleets there and sink the German ships.

The distance from Heligoland to Kiel is about ninety land miles, and to Wilhelmshaven about forty-five.

The torpedo planes referred to are an invention of Admiral Fiske's which, in accordance with what seems to be a fixed and fatal precedent in the United States, has been ignored by our own authorities but eagerly adopted by the naval services of practically all the belligerents. One weakness of the aërial attack upon ships of war is that the bombs dropped from the air, even if they strike the target, strike upon the protective deck which in most warships above the gunboat class is strong enough to resist, or at least to minimize, the effect of any bomb capable of being carried by an airplane. The real vulnerable part of a ship of war is the thin skin of its hull below water and below the armor belt. This is the point at which the torpedo strikes. Admiral Fiske's device permits an airplane to carry two torpedoes of the regular Whitehead class and to launch them with such an impetus and at such an angle that they will take the water and continue their course thereunder exactly as though launched from a naval torpedo tube. His idea was adopted both by Great Britain and Germany. British torpedo planes thus equipped sank four Turkish ships in the Sea of Marmora, a field of action which no British ship could have reached after the disastrous failure to force the Dardanelles. The Germans by employment of the same device sank at least two Russian ships in the Baltic and one British vessel in the North Sea. The blindness of the United States naval authorities to the merits of this invention was a matter arousing at once curiosity and indignation among observers during the early days of our entrance upon the war.