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AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

BY W. H. BERRY 



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THE NEV/ VorK 

PUBLIC L.1:-.RA'Y 

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AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND 
COMMERCE 



W. H. BERRY 



WITH A FOREWORD BY 

LORD MONTAGU OF BEAULIEU. C.S 



ILLUSTRATED 




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NEW YORK 
GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY 



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957386A 



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I.LN/X A>'U 







COPYRIGHT, 1918, 
BY GBORGB H. DORAN COMPANY 



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PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OP AMERICA 



62.3.74- 



A FOREWORD 

By Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, C.S.I. 



THE FUTURE OF AIRCRAFT CONSTRUCTION 

THERE are some who think that the airship 
is going to be entirely superseded by the 
aeroplane, and others who deny that there is any 
00 function that the airship performs to-day which 
^ the aeroplane cannot equally well carry out. I 
t- am not inclined to agree with such a view. For 
■^ Naval work, at any rate, the airship must always 
J? be useful, for here it is not a question of speed 
^M^ in going from place to place, but of hovering 
^1 for many hours in the air for reconnaissance 
H purposes, and assuming that airships can always 
^M be protected by fighting aeroplanes as scouts, 
H there is no reason why every Fleet should not 
possess its own airships, and save the wear and 
tear of ships, men and material in carrying out 
reconnaissance. I am still a believer, therefore, 

Lin the airship for Nava! work. 
I am a believer also, after the war, in airships 
for commercial work, and, to a limited degree, 
. 



A FOREWORD 

for military work. The ability of the airship 
to undertake voyages of 2,000 to 3,000 miles 
without any petrol being expended on resisting 
the force of gravity must make the airship su- 
perior in some cases to the aeroplane, especially 
in regard to long distances. 

The present drawback of the expensiveness of 
airship accommodation will, I believe, be got 
over by movable shields and the anchoring of 
airships behind them, so that whichever way the 
wind blows the breakwater, so to speak, will al- 
ways cover the nose of the airship and prevent 
any great pressure of wind upon it. This will 
help very much, for it is the airship shed rather 
than the airship which costs money and is diffi- 
cult to build and expensive to maintain. 

There are some who seem to think that the 
German Zeppelins have been a failure through- 
out, instead of which they have been of immense 
use to the German army, a use which we shall 
only learn oiEcially after the war, and they did 
the Germans much good in the earlier days of 
the war by diverting from the Front a certain 
amount of men and material, owing to the out- 
cry raised by those who were bombed at home. 
Indirectly, German airships and aeroplanes 
have both been of immense service to us in 
bringing home to this country the importance of 
air warfare and the fact that England is no 



J 



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A FOREWORD 

longer an island in a Naval or Military sense, 
the Channel not being now the protection it used 
to be a good many years ago. Invasion, after all, 
is invasion, whether it takes place from the sea 
or from the air, and the bombardment of towns, 
both coastal and inland, produces the same effect 
on the population, whether the projectile comes 
from a gun or from a bomb-dropping apparatus 
in the air. It must be conceded, therefore, that 
had it not been for airships as well as aeroplanes, 
the Germans could not have invaded England 
and inflicted the casualties they have. Though 
these casualties are small compared with the 
weelily or even daily casualties at the Front, they 
have had some effect on the morale of the popu- 
lation of certain areas, especially in towns, for 
urban populations have more excitable tempera- 
ments than dwellers in rural areas. 

Nor has the last word been said as to airships. 
Many improvements are likely, and it is certain 
that higher speeds will be attained combined 
with greater buoyancy and arrangements for re- 
newing the gas in the envelope. The airship is 
therefore by no means obsolete, and it has, in my 
opinion, a considerable future. 



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CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAOB 

I Historical 15 

II The Aeroplane and its Development 

IN England up to 1914 ... 31 

III Development on the Continent be- 

fore 1914 51 

IV The Influence of War on the Aero- 

plane 69 

V Bombing, Reconnaissance, Spotting 

AND Photography • • • • 95 

VI The Seaplane and Airship and their 

Uses 121 

VII The Construction of the Modern 

Aeroplane 147 

VIII Engines .171 

IX Accessories . , 197 

X Raids 211 

XI Future Commercial Development . 239 

XII Great Britain Mistress of the Air 

AND Sea ....... 271 



IX 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

A Squadron of Allied Aircraft . Frontispiece 

PAGE 

The Destruction of a Submarine by a Sea- 
plane ... 22 

A German Seaplane Returns to its Base . 22 

Specimens of Aircraft 40 

A Simple Stunt! . . . . . . 40 

One of the B. E. Aeroplanes .... 80 

Allied Aircraft on a Bombing Raid . . 80 

A Sunset Silhouette Showing a " Blimp " . 102 

A *' Dud " or Unexploded Bomb . . . 102 

A Zeppelin Bomb .. ,. ,. ,. ,., ,., 102 

A Zeppelin Starts on a Cross-country 

Flight 102 

Interior of a Zeppelin 128 

The Framework and Bombs of a Zeppelin . 128 

The Cars and Gas-balloonettes of the 

Zeppelin 136 

Probationary Flight Qfficers Landing a 

Kite Balloon 136 

An Army Observation Kite Balloon . . 136 

An American High-speed Scouting Aero- 
plane 152 

A British Naval Observation Balloon 152 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

JPAGE 

The i8-Cylinder Water-cooled Sunbeam- 

CoATALEN Aircraft Engine . . . 172 

An American Seaplane Returning to its 

MoTHERSHip 172 

An Instructive View of a Rotary Air-cooled 

Aeroplane Engine 172 

A Representative American Aircraft 

Engine 184 

A Bombing Raid by Aeroplane . . .212 

Bombing Raid on Beyrout by Aeroplane . 212 

A Fokker Diving for an Allied Aeroplane . 228 

An Italian Aeroplane which Secured 

Many Records in 1917 . . . ,. 228 



Xll 



HISTORICAL 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND 
COMMERCE 



k 



CHAPTER I 



HISTORICAL 



BECAUSE during the war the aeroplane has 
been developed to a very remarkable state 
of eiEciency in Europe, there is a tendency to 
overlook the fact that it was essentially and 
wholly an American invention. It is not a mat- 
ter of vital importance to correct any mistaken 
impression here, and the reference is only made 
because it is well that the great Republic of the 
United States should have whatever credit is 
due even now, in addition to the credit that will 
be awarded to the genius of two of her sons in 
the histories of the future. 

The Great War must undoubtedly rank as one 
of the supreme events in the world's history, but 
there are not wanting those who are of the opin- 
ion that important as is the war itself, tremen- 
dous as will be its effect on the world and the 
15 



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AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 



lives of I 



aft will have i 



the I 



men, aircrai 
even greater influence. The war has cost mil- 
lions of lives and very many millions of money, 
and it will have a direct bearing on the lives of 
the world's peoples for many generations to 
come. When it is only a memory — an addi- 
tional source of annoyance for the student and 
the schoolboy and a field of research for the 
learned antiquarians — aircraft will still be one 
of the most potent factors in the world. 

The aeroplane has come on us so suddenly 
and in its development has been so rapid in so 
few years that few imaginations are equal to 
the task of visualising all that its conquest means. 
The land and sea have for long belonged to the 
dominion of man. To these the dominion of 
the air must now be added. Aeroplanes have 
already flown 700 and 900 miles without need 
of landing for the replenishment of the fuel 
tanks, at a mean speed of between 65 and 80 
miles per hour. These machines were built 
primarily for military purposes and not spe- 
cially for long-distance flying. They had to 
carry guns and ammunition for defence against 
the attacks of hostile aircraft, in addition to 
pilots, camera and wireless sets. It is obvious, 
then, that if such performances are now every- 
day matters, as indeed they are, that so soon as 
designers and engineers can turn their attention 
16 



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HISTORICAL 

to the development of the aeroplane apart from 
war purposes machines will be built capable of 
flying the Atlantic and even the Pacific. There 
can be no reasonable doubt of this. But as to 
the details of this long-distance flying, the many 
special landing stations that must be built, the 
laws of the air that must come into being, the 
navigation laws that must be followed, and all 
the thousand and one big and small problems 
still needing solution, problems involving 
science and engineering and mechanics and 
many other things, these are things to be treated 
later on in this story of aircraft. 

So quickly do events move that only by an 
effort do we realise that this year of 1918 is only 
the fifteenth since the first actually controlled 
flight in a power-driven aeroplane was made by 
Orville Wright, on December 17th, 1903, at 
Dayton, Ohio, U.S.A. Numerous uncontrolled 
flights had, of course, previously been made by 
many experimenters and investigators in various 
types of gliders. But to Mr. Orville Wright — 
an American citizen flying an American-built 
machine — belongs the honour of being the first 
actually to control a power-driven, heavier-than- 
air aeroplane. The first aeroplane had many 
limitations; looking backwards it seems hard to 
find any special advantages it possessed, though 
it must be placed on record here that even now, 
17 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

when so much greater knowledge is available,' 
the first Wright machine was, considering all 
things, remarkably efficient in flying and lifting 
powers. 

News of the Wright experiments came across 
to Europe after a space, and although the world 
in its usual way ridiculed the stories and spoke 
slightingly of the reports, other investigators, 
iuUy aware that the problem of mechanical 
flight was almost automatically solved with the 
advent of a suitable power unit, re-doubled their 
exertions. Even the first tentative flights in 
Europe, however, were made on machines re- 
sembling in many of their features the Wright 
construction. When at last the brothers were 
persuaded to bring their aeroplane to Europe 
for the purpose of demonstrating and proving 
their claims, there were already in existence a 
number of other machines which had achieved 
actual flight, but the performance of the Wright 
biplane quickly put the others into the shade. 

For a few months America held supremacy in 
the air, and in a most unaccountable way, con- 
sidering the resourcefulness, the mechanical in- 
genuity and the farsightedness of the American 
nation as a whole, the invention was allowed to 
slip through their fingers until, in the fourth 
year of the Great War, the United States as an 
actual aerial power was not worth serious con- 



HISTORICAL 

^ideration. Her potential power along these 
lines, however, with her unlimited wealth, her 
accumulation of money and power during the 
first three years of war, and her enormous manu- 
facturing resources, undoubtedly greater than 
any others in the world, were quite another 
thing. 

The Wrights' machine embodied definite fea- 
tures which were exclusively the invention of the 
brothers, and to which the protection afforded 
by the patent laws of the leading countries un- 
doubtedly have been extended. With an in- 
vention of smaller calibre, of a lesser potential 
influence on the world's progress, it is possible 
that these patent rights would have been in- 
sisted on. Now, looking backwards, it would 
seem that, even had the civilised nations granted 
the Wrights their just protection, Germany 
would have avoided the obligations imposed on 
her by her own laws and regulations, and would 
have neutralised the patent protections granted 
in other countries. In point of fact, however, 
the brothers very generously placed their in- 
vention at the disposal of the world in general 
for an absurdly-inadequate consideration. 

French inventors so improved on the Wright 

ideas that soon aerial supremacy passed to 

France. The fertile brains of her engineers 

quickly seized on the immense potential value 

19 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

of the aeroplane, and development followed 
rapidly on development. 

There were at that time no schools of aviation 
where intending pilots could become familiar 
with all the details of flight with the minimum 
of risk and expense. Each man taught himself 
to fly, and, as theories did not all agree and the 
machines were differently controlled — some- 
times in marvellous and weird ways which the 
inventors themselves did not bother about ex- 
plaining, being content with the fact that the 
machine did fly and, in the air, was more or less 
controllable — none of the early pilots could give 
much assistance to others. Fatal accidents, con- 
sidering all things, were relatively few. The 
air itself was an unknown quantity, and the first 
navigators of the uncharted seas did not conjure 
up more extravagant bogies, none the less real 
because they were not based on fact, than the 
pioneer airmen. Wind gusts were a terror, air- 
pockets a nightmare; aerial eddies, whirlpools 
and temperature were carefully studied in theory 
and as carefully avoided so far as limited ex- 
perience allowed, in actual flight; the modern 
maxim about safety being in height was un- 
known in practice for the simple reason that the 
machines could only reach heights which many 
a pilot to-day would regard as merely a mild 
flirtation with suicide. 



r 



HISTORICAL 



I 



The bulk of the early experimental work in 
the air was carried out under conditions which i 
barely allowed a one per cent, margin of safety. 
But in a few years tremendous progress was 
made. Hardly ten years later Lord Montagu 
of Beaulieu published a small booklet called 
The PForld's Air Routes and their Regulation, 
in which he laid out actual working plans for the 
establishment of air lanes, traffic regulations and 
conditions which must govern night flying in the 
near future when aerial services between the 
great centres of the world are an established fact. 
This little publication bids fair to become a 
standard work, for every civilised Government 
in the world became possessed of copies, foreign 

■ newspapers and periodicals re-published por- 
tions and extracts, and numerous reviews were 
printed. 

When actual flight had once been achieved 
there were three main points confronting the 
designer: the weight of the machine, with pilot, 

• oil and fuel; its velocity in the air; and the 
power of the engine, the latter being determined 
very largely by the first two factors. There were 
dozens of other matters to be considered. Take 
the question of materials. Should the frame- 
^L work of the wings of the body be of wood or 
^1 metal? If of the former, what woods would be 
^1 best for particular sections, what sections, how 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

should the struts and spars be housed, anchored, 
stiffened and tensioned? Metals had their own 
peculiar advantages, but the aeroplane builders 
asked more than the tube makers, to take only 
one case, were prepared to give. Only very 
limited quantities of materials were needed — a 
few pounds worth at the outside — and the busi- 
ness instincts of the metal dealers forbade them 
to start costly experimental work, and to lay 
down new plant on the off-chance of securing a 
fifty pound order from men who were engaged 
in the elusive heavier-than-air flying machine 
business. What was true of the tube makers 
was equally true of other suppliers. 

The early flight enthusiasts partly solved the 
problem by using anything that came to hand 
which, by any stretch of the pioneer imagination, 
could be termed suitable. So far as the engines 
were concerned matters were vastly different. 
Here the aeroplane designers were almost en- 
tirely in the hands of other people, and it was 
quite impossible for the private experimentalist 
who could erect a machine complete but for the 
engine in a shed or tent, practically unaided if 
need be, to build the necessary power unit. 
Orders, then, had to be placed with outside con- 
structors. Fortunately engineers as a class, and 
particularly those who had given attention to 
the extraordinary progress of the petrol engine 



I 
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HISTORICAL 

in its application to motor-cars, were enthusiastic 
about the future of the unit, and they could see 
at the worst that even if the aeroplane failed to 
materialise into a commercial success, the ex- 
perience gained in the search for power, light 
weight and trustworthiness could hardly fail to 
benefit the car engine proper. The pioneer 
aeroplane builders, then, had the choice of two 
courses in regard to their engines. They could 
go to an engineer and give, along broad lines of 
weight, power and reliability, their ideas about 
the engine needed for their particular aeroplane, 
or, failing this, they had the choice of purchas- 
ing one of half-a-dozen makes of engine which, 
in the opinion of their respective designers and 
builders, were suitable for use in aeroplanes. 
Very broadly speaking this was the position of 
those who had great faith in the future of the 
heavier-than-air flying machine a few months 
after the Wrights arrived in Europe. 

When the brothers arrived in France short 
flights — flights, that is, during which the ma- 
chine could be to some extent controlled in the 
air, a feature which distinguished them from 
mere hops from the ground — had already been 
made, and a few months previously Henry Far- 
man had flown a mile in a closed circuit. The 
achievement was hailed as a great historic per- 
formance — as, indeed, it was, being the first real 
23 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

mechanical flight of any importance to take 
place in Europe — but it was quite eclipsed by 
the Wright machine, which, after some amount 
of exasperating delay due to need of adjustment 
to petty detail, flew, piloted by Wilbur, 30 and 
40 miles in single flights (August, 1908, to April, 
1909) as quite a regular performance. 

French designers and experimentalists were 
the first to pay full and graceful tribute to the 
work of the brothers, and then they turned to 
with the idea of improving the machines, either 
by eliminating the weak points in the Wright 
biplane or by developing entirely new designs. 

One of the first and most important improve- 
ments was the fitting of wheels to the under- 
carriage or chassis of the aeroplane, in place of 
the construction used by the Wrights, which 
called for the use of a special launching plat- 
form. Wheels and better shock absorbers en- 
abled the machine to land or take the air on 
or from any large-sized, level and fairly smooth 
ground. Then came the battle of design. 
Which was it to be: the monoplane, with its 
single pair of wings, speedy, light, but rather 
tricky to fly and, because at that time the ele- 
mental of construction and materials were not 
so well understood, more likely to collapse in the 
air owing to the greater load the wings were 
called on to support; or the biplane, slower but 
24 



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HISTORICAL 

more stable and stronger; or the triplane, which 
had most of the advantages of the biplane with- 
out some of the disadvantages, but which the 
engine builders were unable to rise to? 

Every now and again came along an inventor 
with a machine which seemed, for the moment, 
to upset all the earlier ideas. M. Santos-Du- 
mont, for example, built and flew a little 
machine, fitted with a twin-cylindered engine, 
the total area of the main plane being only 115 
square feet, and the complete aeroplane weigh- 
ing, without pilot, 242 lbs., which caused an 
amount of surprise. Nowadays it would without 
doubt have been spoken of as the forerunner of 
an aerial Ford. The inventor got about 65 miles 
per hour out of it, but only one other pilot, M. 
Audemars, followed his example. 

With increased experience problems which 
at first seemed almost insurmountable became 
simply matters of mechanical calculation. The 
first pilots in their desperate efforts to preserve 
flying balance — they had grave ideas in those 
days about centres of gravity, action of gauchisse- 
ment, critical velocities, head resistances, and so 
on, things which the modern designer accepts as 
part of his multiplication tables — adopted a 

L prone position when in the air. Improvements 
in general design soon made this unnecessary, 
and, after a while, the attachment of an odd 



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AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 
hundredweight or so to any part of the machine, 
so long as the controls were not interfered with, 
made little difference to its behaviour in the 
air. Then some inventors thought that the tail 
would be better placed in front of the main 
planes, and others had curious ideas about " in- 
herently stable " machines, some tried locating 
the pilot above the wings and others placed him 
below, there were attempts to secure lateral 
stability by fitting fins to various parts of the 
machines. It was a period of chop and change; 
much money and time was wasted, and many 
cranks were proved hopelessly wrong in their 
ideas; but there were under-currents of well- 
informed serious work and experiment, and, a 
year after the Wright brothers had demonstrated 
the possibilities of mechanical flight, far-seeing 
men were convinced of the future opening up 
for the aeroplane, and were prepared to give 
time and money to its development. 

The Antoinette, Esnault-Pelterie and the 
Bleriot monoplanes were early French machines 
which gave much excellent experience to their 
pilots and designers, and the Voisin and Farman 
biplanes showed the possibilities of slower type 
machines. M. Bleriot flew across the English 
Channel on July 25th, 1909, in a Bleriot mono- 
plane fitted with a three-cylindered 22-28 h. p. 
air-cooled Anzani engine, but the biggest step 
26 



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HISTORICAL 

wrward since the Wright invention was the pro- 
duction of the rotary, air-cooled engine which, 
though extravagant in fuel and lubricating oil, 
developed far more power, weight for weight, 
than any other engine previously tried. Many 
good designs of aeroplane had, before the advent 
of the Gnome rotary engine, remained on the 
ground because there was no engine light and 
powerful enough to take them into the air. 
After the world-famous meeting at Reims, in 
August, 1909, all this was changed. Pilots be- 
gan to spend hours instead of minutes in the air, 
and the available knowledge of flying grew 
daily. Here is the evidence thereof. On the 
last day of 1908 the distance record of 77 miles 
was held by Wilbur Wright. In August of the 
following year the record went to Henry Far- 
man, who, using a Gnome engine, covered 112, 
increased, about two months later, to 150 miles. 
For two years afterwards practically all: the 
records were made by machines using this type 
of engine. 




27 



THE AEROPLANE AND ITS DEVELOP- 
MENT IN ENGLAND UP TO 1914 



CHAPTER II 



THE AEROPLANE AND ITS DEVELOPMENT IN 
ENGLAND UP TO 1914 



AMERICA, then, invented the aeroplane. 
France developed it, and demonstrated the 
vast possibilities of the discovery. And Eng- 
land — what of England? Well, like most other 
countries, great and would-be great, England 
first of all said the aeroplane was a fool thing 
and complacently adopted an ofBcial attitude 
which was, in effect, that fools who were deter- 
mined to break their necks might just as well 
break them in aeroplane experiments as in any 
other way, providing only that they paid their 
own expenses. " Of course," said the bigwigs 
in Parliament, who drew big salaries for know- 
ing things, but who preferred to interpret the 
terms of their agreements as " drawing our sala- 
ries for keeping the common people from know- 
ing things," — "Of course," they said, "we are 
watching developments. You wouldn't have us 
spend public money on experiments, would you? 
My dear sirl the people would never stand for 
The Government is losing enough elections 

31 




AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

as it is I No, we'll let the other nations do the 
costly experimenting, and then, my dear sir, why, 
we'll just come in and start building the very, 
very latest machines in any number — just as we 
did with motor-cars, you know. It's so exceed- 
ingly simple. Those annoying men who get up 
in the House of Commons and the House of 
Lords — they're not politicians. Lord Montagu 
is always warning us about the danger of the 
aerial invasion, but then, you see, Lord Montagu 
doesn't have to think about his constituents — i 
votes don't interest him." 

So there was no official encouragement of the 
aeroplane in England for years after the success 
of the invention and its infinite possibilities had 
been proved beyond all doubt. A few civilians 
went over to France and learned to fly at their 
own cost. Some brought machines over to Eng- 
land and did their best to inform the public of 
what was going on abroad. One or two officers 
in the Army and the Navy followed the example 
and, obtaining leave specially for the purpose 
if they were in favour with the authorities, but 
more often than not giving up their already 
hard-earned holiday, went over to the French 
flying school and entered their names as intend 
ing pilots. 

For years practically every record in aviation 

was French out and out. Take the duration 

32 



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DEVELOPMENT IN ENGLAND UP TO 1914 

record in 1906, when M. Santos-Dumont flew 
for 21 seconds on November 12th. Dumont, of 
course, is a Brazilian, yet, so far as his flying ex- 
perience goes, he is French enough for all prac- 
tical purposes. The duration record stayed in 
France for nearly two years — on September 6th, 
1908, it was held by M. Delagrange with 29 
mins. 35 sees.; and then Wilbur Wright took the 
honour with a flight of i hour 31 mins. 21 sees. 
Less than a year afterwards the lead again passed 
to France — Paulhan, flying a Voisin machine, 
who put up 2 hours 43 mins. 24 sees., on 
August 27th, 1909. Germany had to wait five 
years to get the duration record, and then it went 
to her for a flight of just over 14 hours, on 
February 4th, 1914. So with the speed record, 
which stayed in the hands of Frenchmen and 
Americans — meaning the Wright brothers, 
mostly — until 1914, when a Mercedes engine 
broke all records for Germany. In fact, pre- 
cious few records went to Germany at all until 
1914. The reasons were simple enough; they 
will be discussed later. 

As for the British aviation records, these were 
almost without exception by Continental aero- 
planes and engines piloted by Britishers. It was 
France and America almost all of the time. 
France kept the game mostly in her own hands, 
but, every now and again, when so much money 
33 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

had been spent in experiments that the banks 
were asking about paying off the overdrafts, she 
sent an odd machine or so over to the United 
States accompanied by French or English pilots 
for the purposes of (a) showing the natives that 
all the wings in the world didn't belong to the 
eagles on the currency notes, and {b) that money 
fliesi Lots of it flew back to France after the 
early exhibition flights. 

After the first sensation of the aeroplane as 
an actual achievement had passed, most people 
gave it only casual attention, and outside money 
for experiment and development became almost 
impossible to obtain. Enthusiasts, however, 
spent their private fortunes, and up-to-date 
townships, anxious for publicity, organised 
" Flying Weeks." On the Continent Interna- 
tional Cross Country races had a vogue, and 
visits to England were occasionally included. 
These races and competitions gave Britishers 
some idea of how the aeroplane was developing. 

It was due, however, to the foresight and en- 
terprise of one man, who fully appreciated the 
trend of events, that an effort was made to arouse 
the British national conscience. The same man, 
as much as anyone else, had given early encour- 
agement and financial aid to the motor-car 
pioneers, and so was instrumental in laying the 
foundations of one of the biggest British in- 

34 



DEVELOPMENT IN ENGLAND UP TO 1914 
dustries. It will be left for future generations 
to pay what homage is due to Lord Northcliffe, 
whose newspaper, the Daily Mail, set out to 
warn Great Britain and the world in general 
of the danger that was threatening, and, by offer- 
ing princely monetary prizes amounting to many 
thousands of pounds, endeavoured to create a 
British aircraft industry capable of meeting the 
aerial needs of the country both in peace and 
war. There was the prize of £i,ooo offered for 
the first flight across the English Channel, in 
which there were no restrictions as to nationality 
of either machine or pilot. Following this was 
the £10,000 prize for the first flight between 
London and Manchester, and the further prize 
for an aeroplane race round Britain. Neither an 
English pilot nor an English machine succeeded 
in winning one of these. When the war broke 
out the seaplane race round Great Britain, or- 
ganised by the Daily Mail, in which the main 
stipulation was that the flight should be com- 
pleted within a period of 72 hours, was inter- 
rupted. The prize in this case was £5,000. 

Private enterprise in England, although not 
possessed of adequate funds, was not neglecting 
any opportunity, and during the years 1909-14 
British designs were equal, and superior to, the 
Continental attempts. In 1910, for example, 
Mr. A. V. Roe, who is now one of the most sue- 



k 



3S 




AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

cessful builders of aircraft in the world, pro- 
duced a biplane which had both engine and 
propeller located in front of the wings, a design 
which has directly influenced aeroplane con- 
struction ever since. Many of the same builder's 
ideas in regard to triplane construction are em- 
bodied in the ultra-modern machines, although, 
at that early period, the type was dropped for 
reasons which had nothing to do with the excel- 
lence or otherwise of the aeroplane itself. In 
1914 a second British constructor, Mr. T. Sop- 
with, built a seaplane for the Schneider Cup 
competition, contested at Monago, which proved 
far and away superior to ail competing ma- 
chines. In March, 1914, the Aero and Marine 
Exhibition was held in London, and a Sopwith 
seaplane, under its older name of " batboat," 
was exhibited. What's in a name, however? 
To the German Admiralty nothing — for it 
bought the machine at a figure which was said 
to be the highest ever paid for an aeroplane. 
At the same time the " Wight " seaplane was 
purchased. This machine was also outstand- 
ingly good and superior to anything owned by 
the British Admiralty. This was in March. 
Germany declared war in August! 

The continued successes of the aeroplane in 
the period 1909-12 forced even the British 
Government to admit that something ought to 

36 



r 



DEVELOPMENT IN ENGLAND UP TO 1914 

be done about it. Questions were being asked 
in Parliament, reports of progress abroad were 
being given space in the newspapers, and there 
were people, not without influence, both in and 
outside Parliament and the Services, who fore- 
saw the future clearly enough, and who never 
tired of warning the nation of aircraft's growing 
power. But to persuade a usurer to forego in- 
terest on loans advanced without security is a 
childishly simple business compared with ask- 
ing a popularity-hunting Government in any 
country fo allocate money for the national de- 
fence in Peace-time. The Press raised a sum of 
money for the purpose of buying for Great 
Britain an airship of French construction. The 
ship was bought, the voyage across the Channel 
successfully undertaken and — nothing very much 
further happened — only that the ship was 
wrecked. Private interests also offered large 
money prizes for aeroplanes winning races and 
competitions. 

Thus forced by pressure of public opinion, the 
Government began to buy, slowly, cautiously 
and not over-wisely, aeroplanes of both French 
and British construction. 

LThe Royal Aircraft Factory was re-organised 
— in its very early days it was the Balloon Fac- 
tory, and was supposed to be interested in build- 
ing airships for the Army — alleged airships un- 



I 
I 



2 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE \ 

kind critics called theml — and was supposo 
to include or comprise an experimental depart- 
ment for testing and experimental work. The 
idea was good, but soon the R.A.F. got it into 
its head that it was a born designer of new ma- 
chines. It was. But some of its aeroplanes re- 
fused to fly at all, and others gave anything up 
to a 50 per cent, worse performance than those 
designed by private constructors. In place, 
therefore, of devoting itself to experimental 
work, the official factory set up as a builder of 
aeroplanes. The fact was repeatedly, and quite 
unnecessarily, denied, for there was one school 
of thought which maintained that national air- 
craft needs could best be supplied by outside 
contractors, while there were also those who 
argued that the Government could build its own 
machines in its own shops just as it built some of 
its own battleships. There was something to 
be said for both sides, and, if wrong there was, 
it was in the evasive and deceitful attitude offi- 
cially adopted. The factory was supposed to be 
the servant of the Flying Corps, but it made it- 
self master. The army pilots knew quite well 
what was wanted in the way of machines, but 
the Factory could admit no virtue in any un- 
official design. It laid down scores of machines 
all of which, when awkward questions were 
asked in Parliament, were said to be purely ex- 

38 



^m in t 



DEVELOPMENT IN ENGLAND UP TO 191* 
perimental. What would happen to any private 
builder who laid down a score of machines 
simply for experimental purposes may best be 
left to the reader's own intelligence. Briefly, 
hundreds of thousands of pounds were frittered 
away, and although some good designs were oc- 
casionally evolved, their cost, including previous 
experimental work, was enormous. Easy proof 
lies in the fact that privately-owned concerns 
have not spent one-twentieth the money on ex- 
perimental work and yet have produced far bet- 
ter machines. An official report not favourable 
to the Factory was issued by a Commission ap- 
pointed to inquire into its working so late as 
1916. 

The time was, of course, much too early to 
achieve any high degree of type standardisation 
so far as the complete machine went, for im- 
provements were of weekly occurrence, and radi- 
cal changes, always a possibility, might have 
involved scrapping on a huge scale; but there 
was no good reason why standardisation within 
types could not have been attempted. Skilled 
men were retained on the pay-roll of the Royal 
Aircraft Factory who made such things as turn- 
buckles, which could have been bought, as 
standardised products, from numbers of firms 
at less than one-quarter the cost of production 
in the official works. 



39 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

In deference to those critics, an ever-growing 
number, who thought that private constructors 
should be encouraged in order that their works' 
organisations should not be lost to the country, 
which, in case of need, would want them very 
badly indeed — the time came sooner than most 
people anticipated! — outside firms were asked to 
tender for the building of the machines to 
official designs. Under this scheme most of the 
orders placed went to firms who were quite in- 
dependent financially of any official assistance. 

But there is this to be said for the British au- 
thorities : they, in common with all other nations, 
were suddenly asked to accept a comparatively 
new and startling invention which, should the 
claims made for it prove true, would revolution- 
ise all existing ideas of defensive and offensive 
warfare. For years the national policy had been 
considered, checked and elaborated by the most 
competent professional fighters and strategists. 
These fighters, who had made a life-study of 
the handling of men in the field, of artillery, of 
cavalry, and of sea power, were suddenly asked 
to revise all their life-long theories and to help 
by every means at their disposal the progress of 
a new weapon which, should the claims made 
for it prove true, would render much of their 
own knowledge and training obsolete, and call 
for the substitution of a tried for an untried 
40 



I 



J 





the CEiitrB IhE lale CaloDpl Cudy's huge mH<:IUDe. which uan first priie of £5,000. 
'ove, the D^wrdiuain MoDnpbps: helow. s Hanriot MonopLnnr, 
d in the distincf one ol the B.E.2 BipLnofi, 



^ 



I 



H aero 



DEVELOPiMENT IN ENGLAND UP TO 1914 
scheme of defence. It was asking too much of 
human nature, and, to those who urge that the 
country and its needs stand first always, it may 
be pointed out that successful strategy prefers 
certainties to risks, that active service generals 
are not supposed to be either dreamers or in- 
ventors but soldiers, trained in the use of such 
weapons as the country^ not themselves, can pro- 
vide, and that, whatever be the faults or virtues 
of the Britisher, nobody would accuse us of 
originality in thought or mental quickness. It 
would be obviously unjust to blame a general 
who, told in 1912 that the greatest war in the 
world's history would break out barely a year 
later, and that, in four or five further years, that 
war would be lost or won in the air, regarded 
the speaker as a mistaken enthusiast at best and 
a fool at worst. 

In 1912 the British War Office organised a 
series of aeroplane trials in which the late S. F. 
Cody, flying a biplane of his own design and 
construction, carried off the first and most im- 
portant prize of £5,000. The Royal Aircraft 
Factory also produced a biplane which was ad- 
mittedly superior to any of the privately-de- 
signed competing machines. In 1914 the au- 
thorities, impressed by the fact that they were 
practically dependent on Continental makers for 
aeroplane engines, organised a Naval and Mili- 
41 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

tary Engine competition, in which, to this day, 
reference has to be made to unofficial records 
for accurate particulars of the units entered, 
the officials, apparently, being unable to dis- 
tinguish between air and water-cooled engines. 
A unit described by its makers as of 90-120 h.p. 
was, in the official communique issued to the 
Press, split up into two engines, one of 90 h.p. 
and the other of 120 h.p. A first prize of £^,- 
000 was offered and was won by a firm whose 
units had already done exceedingly well in 
various record-breaking flights, but the authori- 
ties had not previously seen their way to offer 
this or any other British maker suitable encour- 
• agement prior to the competition. The mone- 
tary inducement did real good in persuading 
some of the big engineering firms already pos- 
sessed of every manufacturing facility, and with 
extended experience of internal-combustion en- 
gines, to turn their attention to the building of 
aero motors. Every well-informed aviator al- 
ready knew that some of the British engines 
were in no way inferior to the best of the Con- 
tinental products, but evidently the authorities 
did not believe it. For want of official encour- 
agement their builders, prior to 1914, might 
just as well have turned their attention to other 
work. The war broke out before the results of 
the competition were published, and so the 
42 



I 



I 



DEVELOPMENT IN ENGLAND UP TO 1914 

country had no opportunity of seeing what the 
authorities were prepared to do for the native in- 
dustry when its merits had been conclusively 
proved. 

But England was beginning to wake up. A 
number of private concerns, the majority having 
been handicapped by lack of funds for years, 
were just getting on their feet by the year 1914, 
and at the International Aero Exhibition held 
at Olympia previous to the outbreak of war 
British aeroplanes and engines showed up well 
in comparison with the best efforts of their 
competitors. Foreign Governments were buy- 
ing the latest designs of British makers, and 
these, the financial pre^ssure eased somewhat, 
were the better able to experiment and carry 
out their ideas, with the result that British ma- 
chines were securing quite a number of prizes, 
both in Great Britain and abroad. A number 
of flying grounds and schools came into being for 
the training of pilots, and the public began to 
take a more intelligent interest in the progress 
of aviation. 

Early in 1914 the British War office pub- 
lished its requirements from privately-designed 
aeroplanes before their purchase by the authori- 
ties could be considered. It is interesting now 
to look backwards and see what was expected 
by the military rather less than four years ago. 
43 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

A light scout, carrying pilot only, had to carry 
petrol for a flight of 300 miles, have a speed 
range of between 50 and 85 miles an hour, climb 
3,500 feet in five minutes, and have an engine 
which could be started by the pilot unaided. 
A light-type reconnaissance machine had to have 
a tankage sufficient for 300 miles of flying, carry 
pilot and observer together with an 80 lb. wire- 
less set, have a speed of between 45 and 75 miles 
per hour, and climb 3,500 feet in seven minutes. 
A heavier biplane of the same type had a smaller 
fuel capacity and a lower speed range. A 
fighting aeroplane was required to carry petrol 
sufficient for 200 miles, together with pilot, ob- 
server and gunner, plus 300 lbs. for gun and am- 
munition. The speed range was to be between 
45 and 65 miles per hour, 3,500 feet was to be 
reached in ten minutes, and there was to be a 
clear field of fire in every direction up to 30 
degrees from the line of flight. This was the 
sort of machines the War Office wanted. Some- 
times, when the aeroplanes were new and nicely 
tuned up, it got them. Afterwards? — well, 
that was an entirely different matter. Had the 
first machines which went over to France all 
been up to these standards their pilots would 
have been happier men . , . and possibly some 
of them would have lived longer. 

In 1917 the machines could climb 12,000 feet 
44 



1 



DEVELOPMENT IN ENGLAND UP TO 1914 
in ten minutes, 22,000 feet in 22 minutes, and 
travel at 130 miles an hour at 15,000 feet. 

What was the position of Great Britain imme- 
diately before the war so far as her aircraft 
went? The Royal Flying Corps was created in 
1912. It incorporated the Naval Wing, al- 
though this latter was managed from the Air 
Department at the Admiralty. The Royal 
Naval Air Service was not created as an inde- 
pendent arm until July, 1914. The R.F.C. was 
divided into eight squadrons with reserves 
which, in reality, were non-existent. The squad- 
rons were located in widely-separated parts of 
the country; they held no communication each 
with the other; and their efforts were not, in con- 
sequence, co-ordinated. The Army Ma- 
ncEuvres of 1914 called for a concentration of 
the squadrons with a view both to the pilots 
gaining actual experience of working with troops 
in the field and as a means of giving the troops 
themselves an idea of what aeroplane work could 

I do for an army. The German and Austrian 
Army Staffs took advantage of the concentration 
to visit Salisbury Plain, where the machines 
were housed, and, being afforded every facility 
to make a thorough inspection of British aerial 
preparedness, or lack of it, by the obliging 
British authorities, were evidently enabled to 
advise Berlin to " let the war begin." 



I 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

In 1913 considerable criticism was levelled 
against the Secretary of State for War about the 
state of the Royal Flying Corps. It was alleged 
that the strength of the arm was dangerously 
low; that many machines were out of action, 
either through acciclent, prolonged usage, or 
lack of spares; that others were of unsuitable 
design and dangerous to fly; that no provision 
had been made for the supply of spare parts; 
that many army officers who were, on paper, 
shown as active pilots, were otherwise employed. 
On the whole the criticism was well founded, 
despite repeated official denials. The Secretary 
of State for War claimed that the R.F.C. had 
120 efficient aeroplanes; but a month later it 
was shown that of these only 43 were actually 
fit for service. A month or two earlier. May 
of 1913, King George inspected at Farnborough 
all the aeroplanes of the British Army then 
available at the moment for active service. 
They numbered 17! 

Considerable progress was made during the 
next year, but when the country declared war 
against Germany the Royal Flying Corps could 
only muster something like 80 machines fit to 
take the air. Nor, of these, was each and every 
one fit for active service judged even by the 
standards of 1914; all of them, however, could 
fly, and of many that is about all that can truth- 

46 



I 
1 

J 



I 



^B acme 



DEVELOPMENT IN ENGLAND UP TO 1914 

fully be said. Not a single machine was fitted 
with a British-built engine. There were 80 h.p. 
Gnome engines, 70 h.p. Renaults, and one or 
two Antoinette motors^but not one British. 
Although this was bad enough, the Royal Naval 
Air Service was in even worse plight and because 
the British Navy was the only sure thing be- 
tween Germany and World Dominion, because 
it was the weapon that was to gain breathing 
space for the Allies, matters were not improved 
by its aerial unpreparedness. The month before 
war broke out the R.N.A.S. had about 20 ma- 
chines, most of them land-going aeroplanes with 
the landing wheels removed and floats fitted in 
their place. The Fleet had been mobilised in 
July, 1914, and the King had arranged to review 
the ships and the seaplanes which, it should 
be remembered, belonged to a new arm only a 
week or two old. Affairs of State prevented the 
Royal visit, but the ships and aircraft carried 
out the arranged programme. The result was 
that most of the seaplanes and aeroplanes went 
into dock after a few hours of flying to effect 
necessary repairs. 

What of the British airships? The Royal 
Flying Corps had one or two small and very 
inefficient craft judged in the light of later 
knowledge about what enemy countries had then 
achieved in airship construction, which, some 
47 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

time before the outbreak of war, had been 
handed over to the Admiralty. That depart- 
ment had itself previously achieved a certain 
amount of aeronautical notoriety by having had 
built a rigid airship, modelled after the Conti- 
nental practice, which, on launching, broke its 
back! It was called the " Mayfly," and it will 
probably go down to fame as one of the most 
expensive jokes ever perpetrated. 
Then the war came . . . 



48 



DEVELOPMENT ON THE CONTINENT 

BEFORE 1914 



CHAPTER III 



DEVELOPMENT ON THE CONTINENT BEFORE 1914 

UP to igi2 there was no doubt at all about 
the decisive lead France had secured in 
the development of the aeroplane. A favourite 
topic in military circles was the influence of the 
aeroplane on warfare, and while some main- 
tained that aircraft would make war impossible 
either because, developed to its logical conclu- 
sion, it would make it too terrible for civilised 
nations to contemplate, others argued that 
strategy, when every move made by a com- 
mander could at once be made known to his 
opponent, would become impossible. France, 
however, was taking no chances, for she had 
lived too long next door to Germany volunta- 
rily to run any risks. The development of the 
aeroplane on the Continent is a topic full of 
interest. 

The Wright brothers used a biplane, and 
Henry Farman also favoured this type of ma- 
chine, while Bleriot achieved his successes with 
a monoplane. .Various types of automatically 



k. 



SI 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

Stable aeroplanes made their appearance; some, 
if not exactly so successful as their builders 
could have wished, provided a vast amount of 
data which was invaluable to later designers 
who, as a matter of fact, eventually achieved 
stability by following known laws and with 
little radical departure, so far as general appear- 
ance went, from the machines successfully flown 
by the early experimentalists. As experience 
was gained, designers became able to guarantee 
results from the drawing board. Sometimes an 
apparent improvement in one direction brought 
about serious disadvantages in others. The ma- 
chines became " tractors " or " pushers " accord- 
ing to whether they had a screw located before 
the main planes, or a propeller behind them. 
Biplanes and monoplanes, pushers and tractors, 
these became the most popular types of aero- 
plane. Each had and has its peculiar advan- 
tages. The pusher type gives the observer a 
clear view in almost every direction, and, if the 
pilot be located well forward, he, also, is more 
comfortable with the engine and propeller be- 
hind him. Against this must be set the danger 
of the engine's breaking from its housing in case 
of a crash and crushing the pilot to death when, 
otherwise, he might escape lightly. Enclosed 
and streamlined bodies received attention, and 
builders began to produce more compact ma- 
52 



p 



DEVELOPMENT ON CONTINENT BEFORE 1914 

chines. Collapsible and folding wings were a 
favourite study, and various types of drive be- 
tween motor and propeller were tried in at- 
tempts to combine the advantages of pusher 
and tractor machines. The engine, for example, 
would be mounted in front of the wings, and the 
drive transmitted through shafts and chains to 
the propeller located behind the main planes. 

■ Elevators, tails, fuselages, landing chassis and 
each and every part were the subjects of con- 
tinued experiment. Many kinds of wings, pro- 
pellers, fins and air brakes were tried, and the 
scientific design and construction of propellers 
was made a specialised job after the first year 
or so of actual flying experience. 

■ Materials provided their own little problems 
from the beginning. Wood was used in the 
earlier machines practically throughout. It 
was comparatively cheap, it was easily worked 
with the existing machinery, it was elastic as a 
whole and withstood considerable shocks with- 
^L out breaking, and, further, fractures were local- 
^B ised. When a wing, for example, was smashed, 
many of the wooden ribs survived and could 
again be used. Aviators with an engineering 
training soon turned their attention to the use 

Lof metal in aeroplanes, and as the supplies of 
suitable woods became limited — a stage that was 
early reached in France — this type of construe- 
^_ 



AIHCRAPT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

tion received more and more attention. All- 
metal machines made their appearance at an 
early date. 

Metals, of course, can be made stronger weight 
for weight than wood, and climatic conditions 
affect them less; but metal working is an ex- 
pensive job, and in aeroplanes their use is at- 
tended with several disadvantages. Joints, to 
take one instance, must be welded, and a welded 
joint is always a source of weakness. Nor can 
metal repairs be so easily carried out, while it 
is impossible to say how far weakness extends in 
case of local fracture. A mishap in landing 
when a metal wing is used means, as often as not, 
that an entirely new wing will be needed; but 
when the wing frame is of wood possibly go 
per cent, of the parts can be used again. The 
alternative to welding is to bolt the parts to- 
gether, an expensive and complicated business 
which, if the joints be not designed by a well- 
trained engineer, is apt to be dangerous, and al- 
though the respective parts can be standardised, 
fractures are not so localised as with the more 
elastic wood. 

Wing coverings were the subject of endless 
experiment before satisfaction was given. The 
making and application of the waterproof 
varnish known as " dope " is highly specialised 
work. The wings of the early machines were 
54 



DEVELOPMENT ON CONTINENT BEFORE 1914 

covered with unproofed cotton, which soon 
sagged — became " soggy " as the pilots have it — 
and was neither water, oil, petrol nor air-proof. 
The cotton later was rubberised as a defence 
against water and air pressure, and although 
this improvement helped, the oil thrown off from 
the engine caused decomposition of the fabric. 
Various paints and varnishes were next tried; 
shellac tightened the fabric, then slackened it, 
and later caused brittleness, and white lead 
paints were too heavy. The first really satis- 
factory dope had for its base a substance known 
as acetyl cellulose, which, properly applied to 
suitable fabrics, gives weather, oil and spirit 
proofness, together with a smooth finish which 
reduces skin friction to a minimum when the 
machine is in the air. Applied in suitable con- 
ditions the modern dopes have practically no 
ill effect on the health of the workers, being in 
this respect infinitely superior to some of the 

■ older dopes which were poisonous. 
Engines improved step by step with the aero- 
planes. The Wrights used an adapted car en- 
gine giving 12 h.p. in their first machine, but 
a year or so later two French makers were build- 
^^ ing a 35 h.p. four-cylindered water-cooled en- 
^K gine which was standardised by the brothers, 
^H and in which the most striking features were the 
^m simplicity, the obvious desire not to save weight 



I 
I 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

at the cost of weakness, and the absence of a 
carburetter. Mr. A. V. Roe, now one of the 
foremost British builders, flew a tractor biplane 
in 1908, in which a 9 h.p. engine was used. In 
his little " Demoiselle " M. Santos-Dumont used 
a two-cylindered, water-cooled engine of the 
opposed type, developing 25 h.p., and M. 
Bleriot, in his famous cross-Channel monoplane, 
used a semi-radial, three-cylindered, air-cooled 
motor rated as about 25 h.p. The call for more 
power was insistent, and in 1909 the most strik- 
ing departure in engine design was first made 
public at the Reims Meeting, when the GnSme 
rotary engine made its appearance. 

Power and lightness governs the outlook of the 
aero engine designer, and in the Gnome weight 
was saved by gearing the whole of the connect- 
ing rods to one crank-pin on a crank-shaft 
which remained stationary, the cylinders, ar- 
ranged radially or star fashion round the crank- 
case, themselves revolving, together with the 
case, to which the propeller was bolted. In the 
important matters of weight, vibration, balance, 
and mechanical simplicity giving trustworthi- 
ness in use, the Gnome radial engines marked a 
tremendous advance on all other types of engine. 
The first units distinguished themselves in sev- 
eral ways. Numbers of machines which it had 
been impossible to persuade off the ground took 
S6 



J 



r 



DEVELOPMENT ON CONTINENT BEFORE 1914 
the air with their help, and other aeroplanes 
which had successfully flown with other engines 
became record-breakers when Gnomes were 
fitted. Despite mechanical deficiencies, which 
ought, by all the rules, to have made these 
engines extremely poor performers, their run- 
ning power was affected little if at all; the waste 
of lubricating oil — the best castor oil was the 
favourite lubricant l^was tremendous. Out of 
every loo gallons supplied about 35 were use- 
fully employed in engine lubrication, the re- 
mainder being blown out of the exhaust valve. 
Cooling was a simple matter, for the cylinders 
whirling through the air at a speed of 1,000 
revolutions per minute did all that was neces- 
sary. But because only one side of the cylinders 
were presented to the cooling air currents, dis- 
tortion followed, and special piston rings to en- 
sure gas-tightness were needed. Fuel was fed 
to the cylinders through the hollowed crank- 

■ shaft, each piston drawing its cylinder supply 
from the crankchamber through an automatic 
inlet valve located in the piston head. Some 
very interesting problems in design were in- 
geniously solved in the early Gnome engines. 
In the later units by this maker some of the early 

L disadvantages and weaknesses have been over- 
come so that, for certain types of aeroplane, the 
rotary air-cooled engines are still preferred de- 



I 



AIRCRAPT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

spite the enormous improvements made in the 
water-cooled stationary engines. 

An engine similar in many outward respects 
to the Gnome was the Esnault-Pelterie, which, 
however, had fixed cylinders. The type, how- 
ever, had definite limitations and as improve- 
ments in other engines were made and the 
advantages conferred by the " R.E.P." were ob- 
tained in other ways, its manufacture was even- 
tually abandoned. 

Naturally, many freak engines made their ap- 
pearance, together with others which employed 
some ingenious system but which for some reason 
or other could not be developed, although they 
may yet be. There were two-cycle rotary 
engines, and eight-cylindered units which had 
the cylinders in groups of two, fitted radially 
and at an angle of 90 degrees to the crank-shaft, 
the maker's aim being to secure long working 
stroke with low piston speed. There were to 
be had in the year 1910, vertical, semi-radial, 
V's, opposed and two-cycle type engines, rang- 
ing in rated horse-powers between 12 and 200, 
and costing from £75 to £960. Fifty makers 
were represented and these, between them, built 
about 90 different types of engine; the weights 
per horse-power, ranged as low as from 1.48 to 
as much as 10, and the number of cylinders 
varied between 2 and 14. Many of the units 



I 
I 

J 



DEVELOPMENT ON CONTINENT BEFORE 1914 

advertised at that time, it is to be feared, made 
their only bow to the public on paper, yet, leav- 
ing these out, the aeroplane constructor had a 
good range to choose from within a very few 
years of the first mechanical flight having taken 
place in Europe. 

The majority of the engine builders were 
French and, of course, there were more builders 
of successful aeroplanes in France during the 
period 1909-12 than in any other country. Our 
great Ally, however, made the mistake of rush- 
ing development, and although she soon had big 
numbers of machines, they were of such diversi- 
fied types that, for war purposes, many were of 
no value. There were the usual somewhat un- 
dignified quarrels between the constructors and 
the Government, spiced, also, with a dash of that 
irregularity without which the Frenchman, it 
seems, would find life much too dull and solemn 
a business to be endured. In the ordinary way 
no great harm would have been done either by 
mistaken French enthusiasm or stodgy, slow- 
witted British intellect, providing only that 
Franco-British quarrels and love-making were 
purely family concerns. The two nations have 
quarrelled and made friends for centuries; 
French wit has sharpened itself at British ex- 
pense, and British commercialism has retaliated 
in pompous gibes about frog-eating for more 
59 



AniCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

years than most of our history memories will 
carry us. 

Unfortunately, France and Great Britain and 
every other civilised nation had Germany, with 
her dreams of world conquest and her ape-like 
cunning and morals, to deal with. Count Zep- 
pelin had built numbers of his airships, which 
had practically no commercial value and were 
expensive to build. At length, when the Count 
accomplished flights which were in effect mili- 
tary tests, the value of the huge airship as a war 
weapon forced itself on the German view, and, 
possibly because Gennany had no idea of war 
and was a peaceful race, only desirous of living 
in peace with her neighbours ( ?) , a huge national 
fund was raised following a mishap to one of 
Zeppelin's efforts, and in less than three months 
a sum of £300,000 was placed at Count Zeppe- 
lin's disposal. Enormous sums for airship and 
aerodrome constructions were additionally 
granted by the Government, and the Kaiser gave 
the old man his blessing — for what it was worth. 
" Der Tag " was drawing steadily nearer by this 
time. 

Germany's efforts, although conducted in 
semi-secrecy, did not pass entirely unnoticed in 
other countries, but France, who had tried many 
airships, and who, in fact, supplied the original 
idea of the rigid ship, was developing the aero- 
60 



DEVELOPMENT ON CONTINENT BEFORE 1914 

plane, and Great Britain, indeterminate as al- 
ways and having the Navy to fall back on, quite 
overlooked the fact that naval power would be 
of little use against air attack, and so did noth- 
ing, or what amounted to nothing. Again and 
again such authorities as Lord IMontagu, who 
had absolutely no axe to grind, warned the 
Parliament and the nation of the coming danger. 
Figures of the performances and powers of the 
German airships were given, and it was pointed 
out how easily the towns of Great Britain, in- 
cluding London, would be at the mercy of the 
attacking airship in case of war. These were 
not imaginative efforts but were based on hard 
facts. Because Great Britain made not the very 
slightest serious attempt to meet possible danger 
of this kind, it can only be assumed that the 
country had no belief in the possibility of war. 

It was not in the actual number of airships in 
her possession on the outbreak of war that Ger- 
many was so well placed. Rather it was in the 
long experience her engineers and builders had. 
The navigation of a big airship, for example, 
calls for a highly-skilled crew, and several Ger- 
man ships were lost in the early days simply 
because the crews were not sufficiently skilled in 
their handling. Again, the training of an air- 
ship crew is a lengthy matter. It is obvious, 
also, that workshops and plant for the building 
6i 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

of monster airships cannot be called into exist- 
ence in the course of a few weeks, especially 
when the work is being done by people with no 
previous experience. 

A striking illustration can easily be supplied. 
Suppose the U.S.A. had built no ocean-going 
steamships of any kind, had no docks of any 
description, and owned factories accustomed 
solely to building such things as mill engines, 
sewing machines, mining machinery, and so on. 
Supposing, further, that a 5,000-ton triple-ex- 
pansion-engined steamer were sent over to New 
York, and the U.S.A. were asked to build, say, 
one dozen similar vessels in the space of six 
months and, having built them, to supply crews 
capable of navigating the ships in safety to any 
port in the world, from men who never in their 
lives had been to sea. The task would be 
frankly impossible. But both France and Great 
Britain were presented with a very similar prob- 
lem when war broke out, and although some 
number of the latest type German airships came 
into the hands of the Allies practically undam- 
aged, and closely-guarded German secrets were 
secrets no longer, and although the ships were 
repaired and even re-built and were put in com- 
mission against Germany, that nation still re- 
tained a most decided airship superiority even 
in the fourth year of war. That a successful 
62 



! 

I 

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DEVELOPMENT ON CONTINENT BEFORE 1914 
defensive was evolved affects the question very 
little. 

In aero engine construction German manu- 
facturers and engineers had such long experience 
owing to the work they had done for the airships 
that when the progress of the aeroplane could no 
longer be safely ignored, and it was decided to 
build a war fleet of heavier-than-air machines, 
Germany started in many respects on at least 
equal terms with France and Britain. In other 
respects she was even superior. For example, 
she was at once able to build water-cooled en- 
gines equal to any others so far as power and 
weight went, while in mechanical trustworthi- 
ness there was no doubt about the German supe- 
riority. The factories, such as those building 
the Mercedes, -Benz and IMaybach engines, were 
standardising their products and outputs when 
the French and British works were still experi- 
menting, and when the rotary air-cooled engine 
made its appearance and proved its worth, 
arrangements were soon made for its manufac- 
ture in Germany. As a matter of fact, selling 
agents were first appointed, and then the en- 
gines were built under licence; but who will 
dispute that Germany would have stolen the 
engine had any obstacle been placed in her way? 

As to the value of the experience gained in 
building airship engines, one example will suf- 

63 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

fice. When an aeroplane engine was needed in 
quantity the big makers received hints which 
were more in the nature of commands than any- 
thing else. The Benz people had no need to 
experiment; when the drawings of the first 
engine were completed, the works instructions 
were for its production in batches, and the first 
unit to leave the works carried off as a beginning 
the special prize of 50,000 marks offered by 
the Kaiser! As another count in the indictment 
against Germany of having prepared for and 
forced the war stands the fact that, after put- 
ting up an excellent performance, the whole 
output of the Benz factory was commandeered 
for war aeroplanes in 1913. And again. For 
some years the German motor-car manufactur- 
ers had held out of the world's famous races. As 
The Day approached, and final details were 
being overhauled and tested, it became neces- 
sary as a last precaution to put the German war 
engines against the best and most powerful 
products of future victims. So the German fac- 
tories again took the road with their cars and 
engines. The Mercedes team entered for the 
Grand Prix, the world's premier car race, in 
1914, had engines guarded from curious eyes 
like State secrets, as, indeed, they were. The 
race was won. The engines demonstrated their 
marked superiority. Germany's leaders were 

64 



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DEVELOPMENT ON CONTINENT BEFORE 1914 

satisfied, for engine improvements are not made 
in a day, and this was to be a quick, smashing 
war, giving victory before the nations attacked 
could get breathing time. Since then numbers 
of enemy aircraft have fallen into Allied hands, 
all fitted with the 1914 Grand Prix type of car 
engine I There is no need for diplomatic sub- 
tlety in drawing up the indictment against Ger- 
many. Let the plain man judge, and let him 
base his judgment on simple facts which he can 
understand. Such facts as these we have cited. 
And how did the German authorities encour- 
age the native aeroplane industry when it was 
decided the machines must supplement the Zep- 
pelin fleet? Let plain facts speak again. Take 
the prizes offered by the German National 
Aerial Committee for cross-country flights. 
The first was of £5,000, and was won by a flight 
of 1,290 miles; the second was of £3,000, won 
by a flight of 935 miles; and there were five 
further prizes ranging in value from £2,500 to 
£500, and, with one exception, every one of the 
winning machines used a 100 h.p. standardised 
Mercedes engine. These munificent awards 
were only part of a series, for time was the 
essence of the contract. What were a few hun- 
dred thousands of pounds when world conquest 
and dominion and thousands of millions of 
pounds in indemnities were the final aims? 
6s 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 
Other countries offered monetary inducements 
but none made military requirements and tests 
so vitally important as Germany. 

In the beginning of 1914 Germany had six- 
teen Zeppelin sheds, nine of these holding more 
than one airship. Her pilots were constantly 
practising night flights, and, although the figures 
are naturally not available, it would not be sur- 
prising to know that Germany spent as much 
money on the provision of night landing stations 
alone as England spent on aeronautics altogether 
in the years immediately preceding the war. 
During the first months of 1914 practically all 
the flight records, in speed, duration, passenger 
carrying, height and distance, were taken by 
German pilots. The Allies, however — good 
easy peoples — were hurt in their feelings, and 
taken by surprise, when Germany went to war, 
for, you see, they had received no warningl 



66 



THE INFLUENCE OF WAR ON THE 

AEROPLANE 



CHAPTER IV 



I 



THE INFLUENCE OF WAR ON THE AEROPLANE 

THE aerial preparedness of the belligerent 
nations on the actual outbreak of war is 
a matter of outstanding interest. Great Britain's 
position has already been hinted at; she had 
precious few serviceable machines in the 
memorable August of 1914, but, by a tremen- 
dous effort eighty-two were scraped together and 
sent over to France. They were a strangely- 
mixed lot and included most of the types the 
British Army had been experimenting with for 
quite a long time. There were 80 h.p. Farman 
biplanes, and an assortment of Royal Aircraft 
^^ products, Caudron and Short biplanes, and 
^P Bleriot, Nieuport and Deperdussin monoplanes, 
together with several of what the Americans call 
"orphan" machines. An enthusiastic aircraft 
collector would give his ears for a representative 
collection of these aeroplanes, and he would 
make a bargain at the price. 
^H Most of the machines, alas! went West in the 

^m very early days, but not before they had given 
^H invaluable service to the sorely-pressed Allied 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 
armies. A pilot of the British Royal Flying 
Corps took news to General Sir H. Smith- 
Dorrien, who had taken over part of the line 
with his advanced Division, that he was faced 
by three German Army Corps, with strong re- 
serves, instead of the three German Divisions 
he had been given to understand were opposing 
him. When other scouting aeroplanes had con- 
firmed this news, the disposition of the British 
Forces was changed, and the wonderful retreat 
from Mons, which is commonly said to have 
saved the whole of the Allied armies in France, 
was begun in time only because of the news 
brought by aeroplanes. 

The spares needed for the mixed lot of Brit- 
ish aircraft were enough to daunt the heart of 
the most hardened army storekeeper, but a lot 
of work in booking, indenting and checking was 
saved by the simple fact that none existed. The 
machines themselves were slow and outmatched 
by the German aircraft, but, fortunately, the 
enemy was engaged further south in his scheme 
of crushing the life out of France — a little job, 
by the way, he is just as far from finishing as he 
was in the beginning — and so the British air- 
craft managed, in some miraculous manner, to 
outlive the storm until reinforcements were sent 

France went into the war with between 500 

and 600 fairly serviceable machines in which 

70 



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INFLUENCE OP WAR ON THE AEROPLANE 
the chief defect was type diversity, calling for 
thousands of different spare parts, and leading 
to much confusion and delay in the factories, 
which, while they were engaged in keeping their 
own products in the air, could not get ahead with 
any systematised programme, and so production 
suffered. On the other hand, France had a 
well-trained and numerous personnel and a 
splendid auxiliary equipment. Little was heard 
of the doings of the air service in the first few 

• months for the reason that the French Army is 
no puhlicity lover, and also because it was too 
busy fighting to bother about fine writings. The 
Germans tried to overwhelm the French from 
the beginning, but their machines were not 
numerous enough. The use of aircraft in war 
^m was not so well understood then as it is now, 
^P and the Germans thought that something like 
a 50 per cent, superiority in aircraft would turn 
the trick. They were wrong, as was quickly 
demonstrated. Completely to blind the French 
^L commanders while keeping themselves informed 
^M of every move and throwing big armies against 
^M the weakest places was the German plan. They 
^M needed a 300 or 400 per cent, superiority in air- 
^H craft to do it, and this they had not got; there- 
of fore the plan failed. 

^P The mentalities of the two peoples also had 
^F much to do with the result. The German fought 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 
to numbers, orders and the military text-books; 
he ran no avoidable risks; and the individual 
pilots avoided battle whenever possible because 
their definite instructions were not to waste val- 
uable machines and trained pilots. On the other 
side, the French airmen went about seeking 
whom they might devour. They raked and 
harassed and annoyed the enemy in the air and 
on the ground; they threw bombs at him — miss- 
ing for the most part, but upsetting German 
nerves quite a lot, for the Hun likes every other 
nation to fight according to the text-book, while 
he himself thinks out new forms of frightfulness 
— and worried his aeroplanes with the quick- 
firing 75mm. guns, and took photographs of 
him, and shot his pilots in the air with rifles. 
Altogether the Germans had a very thin lime, 
and although they had superiority in the air 
they had not supremacy, and so they could not 
keep news of their movements and concentra- 
tions from the French observers. When the 
Hun threatened any part of the line the French 
commanders were able to scurry up reinforce- 
ments in time to parry the threatened attack. 

Germany had well over 600 aeroplanes, 
mostly two-seaters, when war was declared. 
These were standardised throughout, and the 
factories behind the line were turning out num- 
bers of similar craft to make good losses and 
72 



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INFLUENCE OP WAR ON THE AEROPLANE 

increase the German superiority. Each machine 
was fitted with bomb-dropping gear and cam- 
eras. The Hun also possessed a few fast single- 
seated scouts which could be used as occasion 
demanded. But where the German scored most 
was in his method, his training and his or- 
ganisation. 

The German commanders knew exactly what 
their aircraft could do from the day war was 
declared. For example, the aeroplanes were 
to go scouting, and, in addition to securing news 
of enemy movements, photographs had to be 
taken of field and permanent fortifications; this 
done, the aircraft had to "spot" for the guns, 
signalling, by means of coloured lights and evo- 
lutions in the air, the ranges and results of the 
firing. All detail had been previously arranged. 
This was where previous training was so val- 
uable, and, unless the French or British aero- 
planes took a hand in the game, as often enough 
they did, the plan worked well. 

The German aerodromes were strategically 
well placed close to the frontiers so that full 
striking force could be brought to bear without 
delay, and the production of training machines 
went on automatically. From the first day of 
war the system was working behind the lines to 
supply both aeroplanes and pilots and observers. 
So well did it work, in fact, that the wonder 

73 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

about the whole thing is that the German scheme 
did not go through. Perhaps, on the whole, it 
was too perfect, too delicately balanced, and 
when opponents preferred to fight in their own 
instead of the German way, the cogs began to 
slip a little. The French, to give an instance 
of what happened, quickly saw where the Ger- 
man aircraft and system had the advantage, and 
set themselves to build machines superior to the 
enemy's. Because the French manufacturing 
organisation was fairly fluid and was backed by 
superior technical brains, the machines were 
produced, and the German factories were forced 
to halt a little in the set scheme in order to 
think out some effective reply. It meant dis- 
organisation, a thing the methodical Hun 
loathes. 

The German flying grounds were absolutely 
unique, and still are so far as available infor- 
mation goes. In any case, they were superior 
in 1914 to some of the Allied aerodromes three 
years later. Lighting systems had been so care- 
fully studied, and the penetrating powers of 
various lights, colours and lenses considered 
that, before the war, night-flying and landing 
was a part of the German army pilot's regular 
instructional course. Towers and light-houses 
had been erected up and down the country, thick 
sheets of glass, illuminated from beneath, were 

74 



J 



INFLUENCE OP WAR ON THE AEROPLANE 
set in the landing grounds, and the pilot was 
supplied with information as to the direction 
of the wind, his position above the aerodrome 
and other useful knowledge by means of painted 
rings, arrows and other warning signs shown 
on the glass and in the aerodrome. How the 
Germans must have laughed when, following 
the Zeppelin raids on Allied towns, many ar- 
ticles appeared to the effect that the aeroplane, 
the most effective reply to the airship, could not 
be used at night because it was purely a machine 
for use in the daylight The Allies have gone 
a long way since then, and when the Zeppelin 
menace was finally overcome and the Germans 
began their raids by aeroplane, hundreds of 
machines went up to beat off the attack; the mis- 
haps caused to the defending machines either 
by the ground defences or by landing in the 
dark were well under one per cent. 

Twenty-one illuminated aircraft stations were 
admittedly in existence in Germany before the 
war. That at Bernkastel-Kues gave a flash of 
250,000 candle-power, while the light near Dres- 
den gave the same; the one near Neustadt in 
Hanover was one of 300,000 candle-power. The 
most powerful of the lot was at Weimar, and 
consisted of a revolving electric flash, located 
15 metres above the aerodrome, which gave 
27,200,000 candle-power! The Hun made prac- 
75 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 
tically all his aeroplane tests of a military nature 
from the beginning. He invited civilians to 
enter for the sake of appearances only. For 
example, there was a surprise test carried out in 
May of 1914, when 24. two-seated machines, be- 
longing to the Army, started from widely- 
separated centres in Germany to fly to Doberitz, 
an average distance of 300 miles. All the ma- 
chines arrived safely, and all returned without 
accident. Curiously enough, the majority of 
the reliability tests carried out by army pilots 
seemed to involve a great amount of Frontier 
flying. 

The Zeppelins did not fly over France so fre- 
quently as they did over England for the simple 
reason that the French anti-aircraft gunnery was 
an unknown quantity, while the British powers 
in this direction were well known and the Ger- 
mans were not impressed. But even at night 
time powerful airships cannot fly over any 
country without attracting some attention, and 
when the Zeppelins had been over Britain on 
half-a-dozen occasions the Northcliffe news- 
papers got a little tired of the thing and insisted 
that the Government should take notice of what 
was happening. Germany had good friends in 
England then as she has now. The Free Trad- 
ing newspapers who seemed to make a specialty 
of the " Everything German is good enough for 

76 



INFLUENCE OF WAR ON THE AEROPLANE 

us" song, made great play of 'what they called 
the " scareships." Some of the editors had been 
over to Germany by express invitation and had 
been given dinners and decorations. The Kaiser 
used to lunch with Labour Leaders when it 
suited the German book to do so. Despite much 
German-inspired writing, however, the country 
was really aroused, and had some tangible and 
definite proof been forthcoming, Germany 
might have been in the war some months before 
the day she had arranged. The " scareship " 
newspapers gave the Hun an idea to throw Eng- 
land off the scent. Paul Brodtmann, the head of 
the Continental Tyre and Rubber Company in 
England, who was also a prominent man in the 
German spy organisation, started out to allay 
any suspicions that had been aroused. He ob- 
tained one or two small cigar-shaped airships 
and, after having fitted them up with a simple 
device which would, soon after they were re- 
leased, ignite a ball of wool suspended below 
the ship, and draw the attention of people to 
the light in the sky, he sent them up. All but 
one were blown out to sea. The exception came 
to earth in Wales, was discovered, and, lo and 
behold! the great spying German airships were 
nothing more or less than a stupendous adver- 
tisement for a firm of tyre manufacturers. So 
said the " scareship " newspapers. The Con- 
11 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 
tinental Tyre and Rubber Company was, it 
should not be forgotten, the concern which tried 
to " corner " aeroplane fabric before the war, 
and only failed more by bad luck than bad 
management. 

Belgium could put very few machines in the 
air, certainly not more than forty, and of these 
barely 50 per cent, could be termed fit for active 
service. The few machines which went up, 
however, did splendid work before the Hun put 
them out of action. Belgium had not considered 
it necessary to spend big money on aerial pre- 
paredness, although as early as i8go a small 
Military Balloon School had been formed, and 
in the year before the war ^20,000 had been 
granted for the purchase of aeroplanes, mostly 
French, and the general improvement of the 
service. The French have since supplied Bel- 
gian aviators with all their machines, with 
the exception of some seaplanes and a very 
few land-flying machines sent over from Eng- 
land. 

Italy has been building first-class aero engines 
for many years, such firms as Fiat and S.C.A.T. 
being in no way behind any of the Allied coun- 
tries in engine design. Many of the long-dis- 
tance records and performances in 1917 were by 
Italian machines and pilots. The Fiat Com- 
pany is one of the most important of its kind in 

78 



INFLUENCE OP WAR ON THE AEROPLANE 
the world, and employed in the fourth year of 
war approximately 25,000 people. In pre-war 
days numbers of French machines were bought 
by Italy, and for a time even the native-built 
products were copies of French designs. Later 
some very successful all-Italian machines were 
built, and the Services relied almost entirely 
on Italian constructions. 

The Russian aircraft equipment was like most 
other things Russian. Enormous sums were 
spent to provide machines, and those which 
actually reached the scene of the fighting gave 
a good account of themselves. Hundreds of 
French aeroplanes, however, never got any 
nearer to the fighting than the docks and rail- 
way sidings. There they stayed with the motor 
equipment, ammunition, guns, clothing and 
other materials sent from France and England 
and the United States. Efforts were made to get 
Russian aircraft factories in operation during 
the war, and some progress was made, but, even 
at best, they were dependent on the Allies for 
magnetos and much other gear. The Russian 
declaration to the effect that the country was 
tired out and must have a rest while the Allies 
took the load off her shoulders was — well, words 
are hard to find. France, according to this,.only 
entered the war somewhere in 1917, and such 
little affairs as the Marne, the Aisne and Vcr- 
79 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

dun were holiday jaunts more in the nature of 
picnics! Belgium, naturally, hardly knew there 
was a war on ; and the first British Expeditionary 
Force, the best part of 200,000 strong, which 
died to stop the German drive for the Channel 
ports, were under the delusion that they were 
helping at some kind of fashionable garden 
party. Nor did the British Navy know about 
the war, presumably. But Russia picked her 
own course, and the time is too early for judg- 
ment to be passed. But it is hard not to reflect 
that the country has achieved something of a 
reputation for never having finished any war 
begun by herself! 

The United States was in an entirely different 
position to Russia. Until the value of the aero- 
plane in peace and as an asset to humanity was 
proved, the U.S.A., straining every nerve to re- 
main neutral and believing that the war in the 
air would be confined to Europe, made no at- 
tempt to provide an aerial fleet commensurate 
with its standing as a great Power. At the Peace 
Conference, when Germany urges, as she will, 
that the States was preparing to join the Allies 
for a long period before diplomatic relations 
were broken off, this point may well be remem- 
bered. Anyhow, whatever the reason, America 
had no airfleet. But, unlike Russia, the U.S.A. 
is a manufacturing and engineering country, and, 
80 



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INFLUENCE OF WAR ON THE AEROPLANE 

when put to it, can possibly equal in output the 
rest of the Allies put together. The designing of 
the Liberty engine inside a month, the building 
of over 20,000 aeroplanes, the training of over 
100,000 men to form the personnel, plus the pro- 
vision of an enormous amount of auxiliary 
equipment, all this in a year, demonstrates what 
the country can do. 

As for the other countries of the Alliance, 
they have relied for their aircraft on France 
in the beginning and, later, when the factories 
became organised, also on England. Intensity 
of air fighting was confined mostly to the West- 
ern Front, and a dozen machines operating in, 
say, Egypt had a life of months as compared 
with weeks in Europe. The race for over- 
whelming aerial supremacy from the beginning 
was between England and France against Ger- 
many, and for three years it was a neck-and-neck 
race. If the United States keeps its conduct of 
the war free from those paralysing political in- 
fluences which have been so expensive to France 
and England, the race should soon be turned into 
a procession. 

Germany put her standardised two-seated bi- 
planes up against France in great numbers ; their 
pilots and observers had received a more inten- 
sive and extensive military training than those of 
any other nation ; they knew exactly what was ex- 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

pected of them, and the machines were better 
equipped in detail and accessories for the job. 
Germany lost the war, however, amongst other 
reasons, for the sake of an extra quarter of a mil- 
lion pounds, a minute fraction of the money she 
had spent in preparation. In other words, such 
a sum would have provided a thousand extra 
aeroplanes with which to begin, and had these 
been available they could have blinded the 
Allied commanders, the German hordes could 
have been thrown against the weakest links in 
the defensive chain, and there was nothing to 
stop a march straight through to smashing, un- 
questionable victory. The sentimentalist likes 
to talk about never accepting defeat, but of 
going on forever rather than acknowledge Ger- 
man mastery; but the defeated country does not, 
in strict fact, go on fighting — its conqueror does 
not let it! 

As a class the Allied pilots were far more bril- 
liant than their enemies, but, unfortunately, 
while one French machine was engaging a Ger- 
man unit, a second Boche, the odd number of 
German superiority, continued its work of 
observation or " spotting " practically without 
interruption. This, of course, was in the days 
when the "specialist" machine was unknown. 
The " general purpose " unit was exactly as im- 
plied by the name, and being looked on as an 
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INFLUENCE OF WAR ON THE AEROPLANE 

all-round machine it was thought that should 
any unexpected need arise it would be possible 
to detail some number of these standardised 
craft for the job. Some few leaders were con- 
vinced that the day would come when aeroplanes 
would be as many-typed As naval ships, and used 
in as many different ways for as many purposes. 
Lectures expressing views of this kind were 
given in the leading European countries before 
the war, and it was urged that aircraft could 
not be considered merely as a weapon for the 
uses of armies and navies in the same way as 
the artillery, but that it was an entirely new arm 
in itself. These views, however, did not find 
immediate favour with the responsible authori- 
ties, and it was only in the fourth year of war 
that the British War Office agreed to the estab- 
lishment of an Air Council for the administra- 
tion of the Air Force and the Defence of the 
Realm of Air, with a Secretary of State at its 
head, thus putting the air service on an equal 
footing with Foreign, Home, Colonial, Indian 
and War affairs. 

The German machines were much better 
equipped than those of the Allies. All the 
early German 'planes had the swept-back, 
curved wings which gave the name to the type. 
At first the untechnical observers believed that 
the Taube machines were by some one particular 

83 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 



naker, and it \ 



i not until 5 



I some time later that 
the truth was generally known. The enemy 
authorities were quick learners, and the war 
had hardly begun before the obvious disadvan- 
tages of the Taube type were realised, but, as 
considerable numbers were on hand, they had 
to be used. Improved tractor biplanes were soon 
coming from the enemy shops in comparatively 
big numbers, and these were no more copied 
from Allied designs than the latter themselves 
were copied, the truth of the matter being that 
in the search for efficiency any competent de- 
signer will take advantage of improvements 
made in other directions ... he would not 
be competent otherwise. 

The great point about the first machines of 
the German Army was their complete equip- 
ment. They had a hand-operated magneto 
engine starter which was about 50 per cent, 
efficient, and which was, despite this little weak- 
ness, anything up to a hundred times more 
efficient than the Allied engine starters, which 
were, in fact, in existence, but not on the army 
aeroplanes I A small independent screw, 
mounted on one of the main planes, furnished 
power to the dynamo used for the wireless set, 
the transmitter being located in front of the 
observer. To make full use of these equipments 
Germany had, in addition to the wireless sets 

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INFLUENCE OF WAR ON THE AEROPLANE 

which travelled with the armies in the field, 
established a complete interlapping chain of 
wireless stations along her frontiers and coast- 
line. A map published in November, 1914, 
showed thirty-four, so that, although the wire- 
less sets of the aircraft had a somewhat re- 
stricted range as compared with later appliances, 
there was little chance of enemy aircraft being 
attacked and overwhelmed before they could 
manage to get an " S.O.S." in somewhere. The 
radiators were of a sectional type to facilitate 
repair and to allow of maximum efficiency in 
engine operation whether in winter or summer. 
Cameras were common to practically every ma- 
chine, and dual control was also fitted, so that in 
case of the pilot's being wounded the observer 
had a chance of landing safely. There were 
accurate compasses and pressure petrol gauges, 
height and speed recorders, bomb-dropping ap- 
paratus, and a whole range of other detail equip- 
ment and accessories. These " gadgets " were 
not perfect; they have been greatly improved 
since; but the point is that the German pilots 
had them for what they were worth and the 
Allied machines had them not. 

What the Allied machines lacked in equip- 
ment their pilots made up in sheer impudence 
and daring. They were at a big disadvantage 
in any case and so, argued the airmen, they 
8s 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

might just as well cause as much trouble as pos- 
sible. They took up rifles and hand grenades 
and automatic pistols; they bought accessories 
and extra fittings, often enough at their own ex- 
pense, from the private manufacturers, and they 
achieved what came to be called the " Christmas 
Tree " aeroplanes. Already at a disadvantage 
in speed and climbing powers, and harassed by 
the superiority of the enemy anti-aircraft guns, 
which made matters worse, the extra weight of 
the fittings slowed the machines and made every 
flight, especially over the lines, a sheer gamble 
with death. The German pilots did not like the 
individual air duels ; it was not in the text-books ; 
but the French and British " had to go through 
it " in any case, and they made a point of taking 
as many Boches with them as could possibly be 
managed. It was the period when, as Sir John 
French put it in a famous report: " Our airmen 
had established a personal ascendancy over the 
enemy." 

Those at home who knew the truth choked 
back their curses and set to work to provide the 
finest pilots in the world with machines which 
should be worthy of their skill and bravery. 
But the inertia of the Government Departments 
acted like a blight, and although matters im- 
proved slowly the enemy was again and again 
able to put new machines in the air which, 
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INFLUENCE OF WAR ON THE AEROPLANE 
for a time, regained for him aerial superior- 
ity. 

The French sent out some excellent machines 
in the early part of 1915. There were Bleriots 
which gave an excellent chance for observing, 
photography, and fighting with pistol and rifle; 
big Caudrons, which were fine, steady and trust- 
worthy machines for reconnaissance and bomb- 
ing work; Farmans, incorporating the best ideas 
of the brothers, Henry and Maurice — Horace 
was the common name for the co-operative ma- 
chines — which did splendid maid-of-all-work 
service ; Morane-Saulnier monoplanes, called 
" parasols " because of the wing mounting and 
the location of the pilot, and which were speedy 
little machines; Nieuports, fast craft that the 
Hun pilot liked to avoid; little " Spads," single- 
seated machines and amongst the best of their 
class; and big, well-protected, bomb-dropping 
Voisin biplanes. All these machines did not 
materialise immediately, nor are the types 
roughly indicated all that the makers produced 
during the war. Other makers contributed their 
quota, and improvements and improvements 
were made of which it would be inadmissible to 
supply details in case the enemy has failed to 
secure sufficient data to aid him in reproducing 
the best features. In modern war, alasl aircraft 
secrets are soon common property, but as the 

87 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

thing cuts both ways, matters balance about 
equally. 

The faster French machines soon began to 
make matters very uncomfortable for the " gen- 
era! purpose " German craft, and a reply be- 
came necessary. The Fokker monoplane was 
effective for a while. The very first Fokker was 
a "gas-pipe" machine, a name sufficiently ex- 
planatory, and was offered to several European 
Governments who, perhaps in the hope of saving 
the inventor's feelings, did not see their way to 
acquire any rights. The later Fokker to be used 
by the Germans was a compromise machine hav- 
ing a lot of the French " Morane " in its build. 
The engine was a German version of the Gnome 
incorporating several improvements. A fixed 
machine-gun, firing through the propeller, was 
mounted and, because the machine was fast and 
a good climber, it played havoc with the slower 
Allied craft until a reply was evolved. 

Synchronisation of machine-gun and engine 
had not then been perfected and the tips of the 
propellers were armoured with metal plates 
which deflected towards the ground those bullets 
which failed to clear the blades. The favourite 
Fokker game was to climb to a great height and 
to swoop unexpectedly on the slow, low-flying 
Allied aircraft. So serious were the Fokker 
raids and so deadly their attacks that their vie- 



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INFLUENCE OF WAR ON THE AEROPLANE 

tims could only make any show of defence by 
going up in twos and threes, the duty of the odd 
machine being to look out for the death-dealing 
Fokker and to engage and detain it while the 
observation craft streaked for home. These 
tactics imposed a great strain on the Allied com- 
manders, who were already handicapped by an 
insufficiency of aeroplanes. It was not until the 
British B.E.2C. aeroplanes arrived in France in 
any quantity that much progress could be made. 

But the Fokker was not really a good ma- 
chine; it was faster than any the Allies then 
possessed, that was all. Soon the reply came, 
the British found the de Haviland and some of 
the later Fighting Experimental (F.E.'s) ma- 
chines, and the day of the Fokker of the early 
type was over. New biplanes of the same make 
made their appearance and were favourite ma- 
chines with the crack German pilots; otherwise 
they were no better than several types flown by 
the Allies. 

The Albatros biplanes were much used by the 
Central Powers for war purposes, and a num- 
ber of improved designs was put out. Captain 
Baron von Richthofen's famous " travelling 
circus," manned entirely by selected star pilots, 
used this make of machine. At first this maker 
produced comparatively slow craft with ample 
and comfortable accommodation, to the military 



^^'irars: ^t ^teo ^^m i&tmt*. 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

specification, but very trustworthy and of good 
weight-carrying powers. Later, however, some 
very fast small machines, very similar to an Eng- 
lish design which was always about three months 
ahead of the Germans, made its appearance and 
did a lot of damage until better Allied machines 
came through in something like adequate quan- 
tity. The Aviatik biplanes did well, and the 
Halberstadt fighting scout, a fast, cleanly-de- 
signed machine, using a powerful engine, came 
into prominence during the third year. The 
L.V.G. machines (built by the Luft Verkehrs 
Gesellschaft) were hefty products distinguished 
more by their all-round usefulness than by any 
grace of line ; a clever Swiss engineer was chiefly 
responsible for their production. These were 
some of the more widely used German aero- 
planes. The big Gotha bombing machines were 
built after a big English machine had fallen into 
German hands, by the Gotha Waggonfabrik 
people, who had first of all produced seaplanes 
and, later, a small and fast single-seated scout 
which was a good specimen of its class. 

So had the race been from the beginning. 
Superiority, not supremacy, has ebbed and 
flowed from one side to the other, and many ex- 
cellent chances were lost on both sides. Jeal- 
ousies, department muddling, poor official de- 
signs, ineffective production methods have all 
90 



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INFLUENCE OF WAR ON THE AEROPLANE 
added to the tale of delay and loss. But in spite 
of all the aeroplane has steadily improved both 
in performance and trustworthiness until, when 
peace returns, the commercial chances of air- 
craft cannot possibly be overlooked by any Gov- 
ernment which desires to play any part of im- 
portance in the world's history. Added to this, 
our knowledge of the air and its conditions have 
been greatly extended and thousands of skilled 
pilots have been produced. 

To sum up the influence of war on the aero- 
plane, the Germans began the war with stan- 
dardised aircraft more remarkable for their 
general all-round reliability and complete de- 
tailed equipment than for any power of ma- 
nceuvre, speed or climb. The Allies began with 
numbers of machines, some fast, some slow, some 
poor, some good, but without any definite scheme 
either of working or production. After a while 
came a demand for improved weapons both for 
attack and defence. Next came a call for ma- 
chines giving a better view for the observer and, 
afterwards, a call for designs which allowed of a 
bigger field of attack and which presented fewer 
vital spots to the attack of the enemy. Bomb- 
dropping apparatus had to be bettered, detailed 
equipment improved, accessories made more re- 
liable, and all the time the pilots called for more 
and ever more powerful engines, speed always, 
91 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

greater ease in manoeuvring and climbing. The 
German raids against the Allied towns led de- 
signers to produce heavy weight carriers of 
moderately high speed and climb and of great 
flight range. 

The requirements of the military authorities 
prior to the war have already been given: three 
years later machines having a speed in excess of 
150 miles an hour had been produced, and as to 
height, reports were common during the battles 
of 19 17 of machines engaging enemy aircraft 
at a height of between 17,000 and 22,000 feet! 



92 



BOMBING, RECONNAISSANCE, SPOT- 
TING AND PHOTOGRAPHY 




CHAPTER V 



f BOMBING, RECONNAISSANCE, 'SPOTTING AND 
PHOTOGRAPHY 
ripHE first bombing from the air was primi- 
X tive in the extreme. The German specifi- 
cations called for their Army machines to be 
fitted with bomb-dropping apparatus, and it is 
to be presumed from this fact that the Hun 
knew more about this particular work than most 
other people, especially as the Zeppelin de- 
veloped its greatest frightfulness as a bomber. 
Despite this, the fact remains that the enemy 
aeroplane bombing was, in the beginning of the 
war, just about as poor as that of any other 
nation. Even the aircraft enthusiasts them- 
selves believed that bombing from aeroplanes 
would only be a side issue at least for many 
years to come. One prominent British officer 
was of the opinion so late as June, 1914, that 
aeroplanes could do considerable damage to air- 
craft on the ground by sweeping down suddenly 
and launching bombs from a low altitude, ad- 
vantage being taken of the ground contours, but 
he believed that attacking troops from above 
9B 



I 





AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

was still very far in the future, as the amount 
of damage done would not balance the risk of 
the loss of the aeroplane. 

Bomb-dropping was not given very serious 


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J authorities before the war. 
ilots were allowed, as a sort 
good boys, to make a few 
ts, and at those aerodromes 
96 





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BOMBING, SPOTTING AND PHOTOGRAPHY] 

which depended on the shillings of the public, 
to some extent orange-dropping " stunts " were 
occasionally a feature of a flying day. Under 
very favourable conditions the pilots registered 
a fair number of hits, but dropping oranges on 
marked circles in a friendly aerodrome and 
placing bombs on an enemy shipyard are two 
vastly different matters. Anti-aircraft guns 
ranging at 15,000 feet, together with the pres- 
ence of enemy aircraft, give the attacking pilot 
little time to manceuvre for position or to glide 
down to i,ooQ feet in order to make the aim 
fairly certain. 

The French and British pilots did some very 
daring bomb-dropping in the first year of the 
war. Arrived over their objectives they dived 
to heights counted by a few hundreds of feet 
with the engine full on, reaching almost in- 
credible speeds as speeds were then regarded, 
and released their bombs at what they thought 
the crucial moment before making the best of 
their way out of the danger zone. Some results 
were, of course, achieved — for example, there 
is good reason to believe that Germany lost some 
few airships and sheds through Allied bombing 
attacks soon after the war began — but in the 
whirl and excitement of the moment it was 
almost impossible for the pilots to see what 
actual damage had been done. Probably a lot 
97 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

of the noise they heard wag the sound of their 
own engines and the bursting of shells in their 
near vicinity, while the smoke and dust on the 
ground gave the impression that great damage 
had been done. Bombs missing their objectives 
by a few feet often enough do very little damage, 
and there are only enough exceptions to prove 
the rule. 

A bomb dropped from the air leaves the ma- 
chine at a velocity equal to the flying speed of 
the aeroplane at the moment the bomb is re- 
leased, and, in practice, it has been found that 
with a speed of loo miles an hour, a bomb, 
dropped at 10,000 feet, reaches the ground about 
12,000 feet in front of the point over which it 
was dropped. This information may be of 
value to New Yorkers who are apprehensive — 
very rightly so in the opinion of many competent 
judges — of a German air raid against the city. 

Many things had to be considered by the 
bombing pilot, who needed to be something of 
a lightning calculator and iirst-class mathema- 
tician. The height, speed and angle of the aero- 
plane, the direction and velocity of the wind, 
and the weight, shape and size of the bomb it- 
self all have to be taken into account. The first 
bombs to be used in warfare were very primitive 
arrangements, and were almost as dangerous to 
the machines carrying them as to the enemy. It 



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BOMBING, SPOTTING AND PHOTOGRAPHY 
was impossible to secure a safe landing with 
them on board, and no pilot, until very great im- 
provements in various directions had been made, 
ever tried to effect a landing until all the bombs 
had been discharged irrespective of whether 
they fell on friendly or enemy territory. The 
shape of the first bombs compelled an over-and- 
over movement so soon as they left the aeroplane, 
which prevented accurate aiming, and engineers 
saw that to overcome this tendency it was neces- 
sary to construct the missiles so that the centre 
of resistance lay behind the centre of gravity. 
Any kind of a tail on the bomb would do what 
was wanted in this respect, and tails were accord- 
ingly fitted, but then came the problem of ensur- 
ing that the explosion took place at the proper 
moment. A little experiment soon overcame 
this trouble also, and the makers so arranged the 
balancing tails of the missiles that after the 
bomb had fallen some feet through the air a 
safety catch was released, with the result that 
the bomb became an ordinary concussion shell, 
exploding on coming into contact with any re- 
sisting body. 

The German aeroplanes in their later raids 
carried bombs weighing i lo and 26j^ lbs. ; these 
were torpedo shaped, the largest measuring 5 
ft. 7 ins. in length and 7 ins. in diameter. Ger- 
man airships carried both high explosive and 
99 




9573864 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 
incendiary bombs, varying in weight between 
I lo and 660 lbs. The body of the latter was 
made of thin steel filled with potassium per- 
chloride in benzol, wax holding the stuff to- 
gether. Tow soaked in pitch was wrapped 
round the bottom part, and running through the 
middle of the whole was a thermit-containing 
iron tube. An ordinary percussion cap ignited 
the thermit, which, because of the intense heat 
generated, set the whole bomb going, each 
pleasant little constituent doing its best to add 
to the pleasures of the night. Some blood- 
thirsty people, who were in London during a 
German air raid, were heard to express an im- 
pious wish that the Kaiser and the Crown 
Prince, before being strapped together and 
dropped from a height of 10,000 ft., should have 
one of these bombs attached in situ! 

After a while the mathematicians attached to 
the armies began to plot out curves and charts 
for the bomb-dropper's benefit, and these, to- 
gether with improved bomb sights, releasing 
gears and greater experience, did a great deal 
towards making for accuracy. As to bomb- 
dropping at night it is inadvisable to give any 
details, for although presumably the enemy 
knows as much about the work as the Allies, 
there is always an outside chance that he does 
not As against this he has always made a point 



I 
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BOMBING, SPOTTING AND PHOTOGRAPHY 
of specialising in night raiding behind the 
Allied lines so that he may be further advanced 
than the Allies themselves in this particular 
form of " strafing." 

Considerable difficulty was at first experi- 
enced in housing the bombs taken up in the early 
machines. In the early days the observer pre- 
ferred to have them in a small box, carefully 
packed to avoid the possibly disastrous effects 
of concussion, and convenient to his hand. A 
somewhat later development was to suspend the 
missiles rather crudely from various parts of the 
under-carriage and the wings — a dangerous 
practice which made it practically impossible 
for a landing to be effected without an explo- 
sion occurring. Later on designers improved 
the carrying apparatus, but further difficulties 
arose when the bombs which should have fallen 
clear of the machine caught on some part of the 
under-carriage and called for thrilling mid-air 
gymnastics on the observer's part in order to 
release them. The later machines of 1916 were 
fitted with very satisfactory bomb racks and 
releasing gear, which were practically forgotten 
by the pilots so far as their own safety went and 

L which were very trustworthy and reliable in 
operation. 
During the war reconnaissance flying devel- 
oped so rapidly, and proved of such great value, 
lOI 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

that only experienced officers of the staff could 
appreciate the niceties of the work. On the 
day of great aircraft activity many squadrons 
and individual machines were detailed to par- 
ticular jobs and each proceeded on the day's 
work without intense curiosity about other air- 
craft met with so long as they were not hostile. 
A pilot flying a long-range, two-seater recon- 
noitring machine, on starting, might have 
glanced upwards and seen a protecting convoy 
hovering some thousands of feet above him. 
To right and left other squadrons similar to his 
own and flying at the same height would be pro- 
ceeding in directions different from his own 
over the enemy lines. Some 2,000 or 3,000 
feet below, " spotting " machines would be at 
work signalling to the guns the effects of the 
firing ; lower still, aircraft would he photograph- 
ing the enemy lines; while still lower could be 
seen one or two daring machines gunning and 
bombing the enemy trenches and gun emplace- 
ments. Nor were these all the uses found for 
aircraft in modern war. 

Tactical reconnaissance flying may be de- 
scribed as searching the area behind the enemy's 
lines to an extreme depth of zo miles, while 
strategic reconnaissance flying may extend so 
far back into the enemy's country as 70 or 100 
miles. The tactical aeroplane searches for 

102 



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BOMBING, SPOTTING J^D PHOTOGRAPHY 

" blind " positions of importance in the rear of 
the enemy lines, and makes a note of every move- 
ment and enemy activity likely to be of imme- 
diate importance. Quite a lot of fish, so to 
speak, comes to the net of the tactical recon- 
naissance aeroplane. Railheads, ammunition 
dumps, food convoys, bivouacs, headquarters 
and other places of importance are all searched 
for and noted by the eagle eye of the observer. 
In consequence the art of concealment is prac- 
tised more. The Hun becomes quite expert in 
concealing his movements from Allied aircraft, 
and camouflage, or the art of concealing objects 
of value, became quite an art. Guns were 
painted to merge into the ground scheme, bat- 
teries were concealed by artificial foliage, and 
many other ingenious effects were thought out to 
deceive the observing aircraft. Only in times of 
Very great pressure was it the German practice 
to move troops by road and in the daylight, his 
favourite hours for this work being at night and 
in the very early half-light of the first morning 
hour, when aerial scouting was difficult. Occa- 
sionally, however, it was essential that he should 
rush up his troops quickly, speed being the 
essence of the contract, and a few men killed by 
aircraft bombs were of less importance than the 
presence of more troops in the firing line. On 
these occasions the daring Allied pilots had 
103 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

quite a " joy day." Flying at almost danger- 
ously-low altitudes, the machine-guns were 
turned on the marching troops who generally 
took to the nearest cover, the phantastic evolu- 
tions of the aeroplane minimising to a very great 
extent the possibility of pilot or observer being 
shot down by rifle or machine-gun fire from the 
ground. Many instances were recorded of 
Allied aircraft following railway trains, bomb- 
ing the engine and carriages until the train 
stopped and the troops descended and scurried 
across country to shelter while the machine-gun 
of the hunter was brought to bear with telling 
effect. There is a classic story in the Royal 
Flying Corps of an impatient pilot returning 
from a flight meeting the staff car of a Hun 
general and following it along the road, bomb- 
ing and machine-gunning it until the Hun gen- 
eral and Hun chauffeur took to their heels and 
ducked under cover like startled rabbits. The 
pilot returned and wrecked the car with a 
bomb! 

Strategic aeroplanes are constructed with a 
view to undertaking longer flights. They are 
bigger machines than the tactical craft and have 
a greater cruising capacity and a more powerful 
engine, the extra power being needed so that the 
speed may not suffer. Information sent back 
by these machines is carefully collated and cross- 
104. 



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BOMBING, SPOTTING AND PHOTOGRAPHY 

checked by the officers of the General Staff. So 
valuable did this strategic scouting become that 
it was necessary to evolve a special course of 
instruction and training for the observers, who 
were required to gain a working knowledge 
of practically every branch of military work. 
In addition to being able to appreciate the im- 
portance of fortified positions, rolling stock, 
railways and stations, roads, ponds and woods, 
the powers of deduction had to be cultivated to 
a remarkable degree. A column of smoke had 
a meaning which must be read ; a trampled road, 
for example, or suspicious-looking trees that 
never grew in the ground but were manufac- 
tured in a workshop, each and every item which 
the casual person would overlook entirely, had a 
story and a meaning for the aircraft observer. 
In addition to finding out what the enemy did 
not wish him to know, the strategic observer had 
to be wise enough not to be deceived by the de- 
vices of the enemy calculated deliberately to de- 
ceive him. The news-seeking scout is essentially 
not a fighter, although he must have a moder- 
ately high speed and some means of attack and 
defence. It is far more important that a scout 
should return home with its information than 

Lthat it should risk destruction and the loss of 
the information gained. If attacking enemy air- 
craft can be defeated and driven down, however, 
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AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

SO much the better. Therefore means of attack 
and defence must be provided. The modem 
tendency is to arm such machines lightly and to 
protect them fairly heavily. So far as was 
possible without reducing speed and lifting 
powers to any great degree, the vital parts such 
as controls, fuel tanks, engine and also the pilot's 
and observer's seat, were armoured with chilled 
steel capable of turning aside machine-gun bul- 
lets and shrapnel fragments. A direct hit by a 
shell must always destroy an aeroplane, no mat- 
ter how heavily it be armoured, just as a well- 
placed shell can sink the mightiest Dread- 
nought. 

Whenever possible scouting aeroplanes were 
accompanied by fast-flying machines whose duty 
it was to drive off threatened attack by hostile 
aircraft. Experience taught that squadron fly- 
ing in strategic work was preferable to scouting 
by single units, for there is then more oppor- 
tunity to check the reports made and a greater 
chance also of one pilot discovering what an- 
other misses. Views of the same position are 
obtained from slightly different angles, and 
while the squadron is flying in formation it is 
better prepared to resist attack. 

War experience proved that the " maid-of-all- 

work " aeroplane, although extremely valuable, 

compared unfavourably with the " special pur- 

io6 



1 



BOMBING, SPOTTING AND PHOTOGRAPHY 

pose " machine. No commander has yet, how- 
ever, been in the enviable position of having as 
many machines of every type as he can use, and 
so, often enough, machines are used for different 
work. Despite the increased rate of aircraft 
production, it is doubtful whether supply will 
ever equal demand, for, naturally, any com- 
mander who once realised the value of aircraft 
would indent for thousands on thousands of ma- 
chines and pilots, if he thought there was the 
slightest chance of getting them. 

The " spotting " aeroplanes, whose particular 
duty it is to report to the artillery the exact effect 
of the firing and to check the calculations and 
ranges of the artillery ofKcers, were soon all 
fitted with wireless apparatus — as, indeed, prac- 
tically every machine but the fast single-seated 
fighters was, after the first two years of war — 
and the old primitive signalling methods, such 
as the use of coloured lights and air evolutions, 
have gone for ever. The British developed 
wireless telegraphy for aircraft to a greater pitch 
than the Germans. The latter, however, started 
the war with a great deal in hand, for the Ger- 
man airmen were well trained and had had 

much experience, whereas the Allied pilots had 

^K to take the air and find out all about it for them- 
^H selves, not on manceuvres, when the operation 
^H was unattended with danger, but in actual serv- 

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AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

ice, when the ever-ready anti-aircraft " Archie " 
was hungry for spoil. The " spotting " aero- 
planes led to great improvements in long-range 
guns, which previously were only occasionally 
used, and then more in the hope that lucky shots 
would terrorise the enemy. Nowadays long- 
range shooting is a cold, mathematical business 
which is part of the gunner's ordinary training 
and which enables him to wipe out any spot 
against which his fire is directed as completely 
as though it had been wiped over by a monster 
sponge. Superiority in "spotting" soon passed 
to the Allies, and probably this was due to that 
mental distinction between the peoples which 
led them to take such a different view of the use 
of aircraft in war. The German is a methodical 
animal, and he is a scientific fighter, but coward- 
liness has no part in his composition despite the 
silly reports which occasionally appeared in the 
Allied Press. For some reason best known to 
himself the German did not, as a rule, run any- 
thing like the same risks with his aircraft as the 
Allies. Occasionally a high-flying black-crossed 
machine flew into enemy territory on a recon- 
naissance or scouting flight, and now and again 
photographing machines also made their ap- 
pearance, but the proportion of flights of all 
types of machines over enemy lines was always 
in the near neighbourhood of two to one in 



1 



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BOMBING, SPOTTING AND PHOTOGRAPHY 

favour of the Allies. Some war correspondents 
would have had their readers believe the Ger- 
mans flew in considerable numbers and in battle 
formation because he was afraid to fly singly. 
As a matter of fact, the German did nothing of 
the sort. He is a scientific fighter and realises 
that he had a much better chance of aerial vic- 
tory when he could pit two machines against 
one, and when he had the machines he used 
them. In the future the " spotting " aeroplane 
will be so heavily armoured as to make it prac- 
tically invulnerable to anything but direct hits 
by shells. Such a machine will have no great 
need for speed, excessive height or engine power, 
although the bigger the machine the more pow- 
erful must the engine be in order to sustain the 
increased weight of the armouring. 

When fighting in the air first began, the pilots 
took up rifles and revolvers, but the chance of 
bringing down an enemy machine with a single 
bullet was exceedingly slight. The machine- 
gun was an improvement; it enabled a stream of 
bullets to be directed against the enemy craft, 
and the chance of hitting some vital part of the 
pilot was thereby greatly increased. Develop- 
ments in gun mountings, which enabled the gun 
to be fired from practically any angle, and the 
multiplication of the guns, increased the power 
of the oflfensive to a still greater degree. 
109 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 
In the beginning it was not generally believed 
that much individual fighting between aircraft 
would take place. The idea seemed too crude 
and the chances of the respective aircraft meet- 
ing too small. Probably in some of the older 
wars, where manoGuvring on a large scale was 
practised, something might have been said for 
this theory, but when the German and Allied 
armies locked on the Western Front, practically 
within arms' length, naturally the opposing 
aircraft could hardly take the air without meet- 
ing each other. There were few air scraps dur- 
ing the years 1914-15, but in 1916, at the bat- 
tles of the Somme, individual fighting increased 
in intensity. Star pilots arose who added num- 
bers of victims to their score, and these were not 
confined to any particular side, for both the 
French, British and Germans had their pilots 
whose air victories numbered 40, 50 and 60, and 
the brilliant individual fighter who, possibly, 
was merely a good average pilot when it came 
to reconnaissance flying or spotting, was a recog- 
nised feature in the air fighting by the end of 
191 7. Later, however, the individual fighter 
became merged in the flying squadron, on the 
theory of greatest good to the greatest number, 
but the individual stars always, when possible, 
fought their battles unaided. The Germans put 
up their famous flying circus, which played 



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BOMBING, SPOTTING AND PHOTOGRAPHY 

havoc with the Allied aircraft for a time and 
which was only suppressed when the Allies re- 
ceived quicker and more powerful fighting ma- 
chines and sent them up in squadron formation. 
Aerial photography proved to be one of the 
most interesting developments in the world war. 
There is some amount of satisfaction to be found 
in the fact that the Allies achieved a higher de- 
gree of skill in this direction than the enemy. 
At first the cameras used were of the ordinary 
long-focus type, and many experiments were 
made with various automatic plate changers and 
similar apparatus. Experience demonstrated 
that the simpler the camera the greater the suc- 
cess, and the later photographing machines were 
equipped with cameras built into the fuselage 
and of the wide angle, long-focus type having 
iron frames. These were operated by the simple 
pulling of a lever, which exposed and removed 
the plate, and snapped a new plate into position, 
with little chance of error. In one branch of 
war photography the machine flies over a given 
area and the resultant pictures obtained give, by 
means of a small overlap, removed in the fin- 
ished picture, a continuous view of the area 
photographed. The enlarged prints show the 
commanders very vividly the condition of the 
enemy line. Pictures of another kind were taken 
to show the results of bombardments, and these 
III 



AIRCRAPT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 
proved of the utmost value. Speed is the thing 
the pilot must bear in mind. Photography for 
the illustrated papers in peace times was credited 
with some rapid work, and the cinematograph 
has also put up one or two records in this direc- 
tion, but the work of the photographic section 
of the Royal Flying Corps put these in the shade. 
In less than half-an-hour a photograph can be 
taken of an enemy position, a flight of some miles 
made, and the finished and enlarged print pre- 
sented to interested staff and artillery officers. 
Curiously enough the camera shows up some 
things not seen by the naked eye or even through 
long-range glasses. For instance, a body of men 
may have crossed a grass-grown area, and if they 
have marched with care, at 5,000 or 6,000 feet 
the marks of their going would not be noticeable 
to an aircraft observer. A photograph of the field 
taken within a few hours of the movement would 
leave no doubt as to the troops having marched 
over. Before any big offensive, thousands and 
thousands of photographs were taken by the 
army on the offensive, and how eagerly the pic- 
tures were scanned and checked and the results 
of the bombardment and the over-night bombing 
noted none without actual experience can fully 
appreciate. Maybe there was an isolated strong 
point somewhere in the enemy defensive system, 
and for the benefit of the advancing troops the 



J 



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BOMBING, SPOTTING AND PHOTOGRAPHY 

part is treated with twenty minutes of high ex- 
plosive. Afterwards a photograph is needed to 
show if the position is still intact or what dam- 
age has been done it. The print shows the 
stronghold to be practically untouched. The 
bombardment is repeated, and so the work goes 
on until the staff is satisfied. 

The aeroplane pilot prefers height just as the 
seaman prefers the open sea. Height means 
power to mancEuvre, and it is extraordinary how 
many times crippled machines have returned to 
the safety of the friendly lines when trouble de- 
veloped at what the pilot would call a satisfac- 
tory height. Aeroplanes are so designed that 
they have a gliding angle of between i in 7 to 
I in 10. In other words, with the engine shut off 
the machine glides towards earth at the rate of 
I ft. in 7 ft. to 10 ft. Assuming, then, that for 
some reason or other the engine goes out of action 
when the pilot is at a height of, say, 15,000 ft. 

■ it becomes possible for him, barring attack from 
hostile aircraft, to glide for many miles before 
descending to earth. In the early machines it 
was necessary for the pilot constantly to watch 
for wind gusts and other disturbing elements, 
and to correct their effect on the machine by the 

Luse of his controls. Nowadays, however, de- 
signers have so much increased knowledge and 
experience that the automatically stable ma- 
"3 



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AIHCIIAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

chine is an accomplished fact. The pilot can 
ignore his controls for long periods, and should 
any atmospheric disturbance affect the machine 
in any way its design is such that the movement 
is immediately corrected. The inherently stable 
machine returns always to its correct gliding 
angle, and the 1917 aeroplanes, if taken up to a 
height of 10,000 ft., and turned upsidedown or 
sideways and flung into the air, would, after . 
falling for some little distance, come to a level 
keel and resume the proper gliding flight, de- 
scending at an angle of i in 7 to 10. In actual 
flight the pilot may stall the machine suddenly, 
stand it on its tail, on its wing tips, or indulge 
in a vertical nose dive, but, if left to itself, the 
machine automatically recovers and flies again 
on an even keel. Height, however, is necessary 
for this mancEUvring, for a machine does not 
pull itself out of a nose dive in 50 to 100 ft. In 
case of a sudden dive or sideslip the machine 
flying at low heights is liable to crash to the earth 
before the power to return to proper flying posi- 
tion can be exerted. 

This automatic stability was taken advantage 
of by those designers who produced single- 
seated machines in which the armament con- 
sisted of a machine-gun firing through the pro- 
peller. The guns on these machines were not of 
the swivelling type, but were clamped in posi- 
114 



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BOMBING, SPOTTING AND PHOTOGRAPHY 

tion, aim being taken with the machine itself, 
which continued in flight while the pilot fired. 
The power of the modern aeroplane to perform 
all sorts of complicated manoeuvres in the air 
was taken full advantage of in air fighting, and 
although before the war the man who de- 
liberately looped the loop or stood his machine 
on a wing tip was regarded as an adventurous 
fool asking for trouble, later on no pilot was 
considered reasonably efficient unless he had 
every air manoeuvre at his fingers'-ends. Loop- 
ing, tail sliding, nose spinning, diving, stalling, 
every trick in the vocabulary of the airman was 
used in " air scrapping." Most machines have 
a blind spot, probably a position from which the 
pilot has not a clear field of fire, or from which 
attacking hostile craft cannot be seen, and the 
problem of designers was to produce machines 
giving an all-round view and field of fire under 
all circumstances. The speeds achieved by the 
single-seated fighters in the fourth year of war 
were stupendous. 

When the Allies began to develop the artillery 
barrage in a scientific way it was necessary for 
the guns three or four miles behind to know 
exactly the effect of their firing. Co-ordination 
between guns and infantry was, therefore, an 
essential factor in the scheme. Theoretically the 
idea was for the artillery to put up such a smash- 
115 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AKD COMMERCE 
ing barrage that every part of the defence was 
smashed out of all recognition, dug-outs knocked 
in, emplacements powdered and wrecked, and 
the fire trenches piled up into heaps, and every- 
thing worked by the clock. The heavy barrage 
opened at seven o'clock and at eight o'clock 
exactly the range lifted by loo yards and the 
attacking infantry crept forward and took the 
first line of enemy trenches. At 8.15 the range 
was again lengthened by loo yards, and a second 
wave of troops passed over and took the second 
trenches; the battle continuing in this way until 
the fixed objectives had been reached. Unfor- 
tunately, it occasionally happened, despite all 
the spying of the aeroplanes, that some strong- 
hold was left in a position to inflict casualties on 
the attackers, and some means of conveying in- 
formation about this unsuspected obstacle to the 
guns was needed. The aeroplanes pointed the 
way out of the difficulty. " Contact " machines 
the aircraft so engaged came to be called, the 
name being obviously coined because they were 
a means of contact between guns and infantry. 
These machines, flying at incredibly low heights, 
so low sometimes as 100 and 150 ft., kept in 
touch with the advancing infantry, and having 
a considerable view were enabled to signal back 
to the artillery exactly how aflfairs were progress- 
ing. When the infantry experienced an unex- 
ti6 



BOMBING, SPOTTING AND PHOTOGRAPHY 

pected check the men took what cover was avail- 
able, the aircraft signalled the range and location 
to the guns, and salvoes of shells were put down 
on the obstacle. These contact machines were 
available also for scouting in the immediate 
vicinity of the enemy's lines, and could signal 
information of any attempted concentration of 
troops for a counter attack, the guns being then 
enabled to disperse such a concentration with- 
out delay. There was a big and certain element 
of danger in this low flying, for an engine fail- 
ure would crash the machine to the ground, and 
the aeroplane and pilot were subject at all times 
to rapid fire from the enemy's rifles, machine- 
guns and light field guns. Their speed and the 
machine-guns and the bombs carried made them 
quite formidable opponents at close range, and 
there is also this to be said for the low-iiying 
aeroplane; that a big calibre gun, having a high 
trajectory, cannot reach it; while when the 
machine is moving in undulating or wooded 
country it has flashed into view and passed out 
of range almost before a rifle can be lifted 
against it. 

Startling as the new offensives developed by 

the Allies were, they would have been quite im- 

L possible without the aid of aircraft. Week by 

I week the need for machines increased as new 

I employments were found. Many competent 

I 117 



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AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

authorities are now of the opinion that in the 
future there will be an air cavalry comprising 
tens of thousands of aeroplanes, which, imme- 
diately on war being declared, will fly over 
enemy country and bomb the towns practically 
out of existence. We shall see. 



II 8 



THE SEAPLANE AND AIRSHIP AND 

THEIR USES 



CHAPTER VI 



THE SEAPLANE AND AIRSHIP AND THEIR USES 



THE seaplane is a weapon which must have 
peculiar attractions for nations having a 
coastline and any pretensions to naval might. 
Because of the simple truth of this statement it 
follows, almost as a matter of course, that the 
British Admiralty needed a lot of convincing. 
The same explanation of this official conser- 
vatism holds good for the navy as for the army. 
To have accepted the claims of the aircraft en- 
thusiasts would have meant considerable revision 
of all the existing plans, and, because admirals 
are not created at the ages of thirty and forty, 
most of those in power were too old to learn 
new tricks. The difficulty of convincing a 
British admiral of 1914 that a fleet of seaplanes 
or a few submarines, commanded by officers with 
less than a quarter of his sea-going experience 
and only half his age, could harass and annoy 
him and keep him to harbour with his squadron 
of battle cruisers, or sink his ships if he put to 
sea, can easily be imagined. 

At the commencement of the war the naval 




AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

authorities were only just beginning to realise the 
possibilities of the seaplane, and less than two 
years later it was agreed that without aircraft the 
British Navy had about as much value as a hole 
in the floor. The German Navy was no better 
off at first, and in the purely naval tussle of the 
opening weeks the British Navy won, hands 
down, for the seas were swept clear of enemy 
ships in quicker time than had ever been hoped 
for. Remembering, however, the damage done 
by the few isolated raiders that did escape be- 
fore they were rounded up, there can be no 
reasonable doubt that had it been possible to do 
so the Germans would have sent out every unit 
of their navy to take even an outside sporting 
chance of getting through the cordon. Only 
aircraft made it possible to maintain ceaseless 
watch and guard, for there were not enough 
ships in the world to police the North Sea alone 
if ships were all the Allies had to rely on. Day 
by day the air patrol carried out its work. There 
was not a mile of the British coastline — and very 
few German — that was not under constant 
watch. The seas were sectionalised, and in each 
square the air and water patrols swept back- 
wards and forwards, around and across. A hint 
of danger, a suspicious occurrence, and the wire- 
less got to work and the patrols closed in. Very, 
very occasionally the enemy risked a lightning 

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SEAPLANE AND AIRSHIP AND THEIR USES 

raid. Very, very occasionally he got in a blow 
and returned safely. More often he did not. 
Of these things, however, the public heard little. 
Sea power is silent and remorseless. 

No great progress had been made in the de- 
velopment of the seaplane before the war. One 
or two private firms had built a number of ma- 
chines; the German Admiralty, it may be re- 
membered, had bought two— a Sopwith and a 
Wight — which were exhibited at the Aero Show 
in 1914, and a number of others were experi- 
menting with various designs. Adequate engine 
power and suitably-designed floats were the 
chief difficulties confronting the builder. The 
floats had to be strong enough to stand a buffet- 
ing in comparatively heavy seas, have buoyancy 
sufficient to sustain the weight of the wings and 
engine when the machine was at rest in the 
water, and be so shaped as to afford the mini- 
mum of resistance when the transference from 
water to air was made; conversely, they had to 
present a suitable surface for returning to the 
water at the end of the flight. The need for 
greater engine power in seaplanes may easily 
be demonstrated: an ordinary rowing boat may 
be pushed through the water with slight pres- 
sure, but to lift it clear from the water needs the 
combined effort of several strong men. The 
floats and under-carriage of a land-flying ma- 
123 




AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

chine, the lifting power necessary to hoist the 
floats from water to air, dictated a bigger wing 
spread, the engine itself needed to be more pow- 
erful, the fuel tanks of greater capacity, and all 
these and other considerations meant an increase 
in the total weight of the seaplanes. So the craft 
were bigger than the aeroplanes. Yacht build- 
ers eventually evolved suitable floats, aeroplane 
constructors designed satisfactory under-car- 
riages, and the engineers prodliced engines de- 
veloping horse-powers far in excess of the wild- 
est dreams of the early seaplane experimentalists. 
Credit must be given to Lord Northcliflfe's 
newspaper, the Daily Mail, for its encourage- 
ment of the machine prior to the war. Indeed, 
when the war broke out a seaplane race round 
Great Britain, for which a prize of £5,000 had 
been offered by the paper, was actually under 
way. The machines built for this event did 
well in war service, and, apart altogether from 
the fact that it is more than probable that they 
would never have been built at all without this 
generous inducement to the constructors, there 
remained the extremely valuable experience 
gained in their building — experience which must 
have been worth very many thousands of pounds 
to the Allied cause. It was hoped that the race 
would demonstrate to the British Admiralty the 
value of the seaplane; as it happened the hands 
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SEAPLANE AND AIRSHIP AND THEIR USES 
of the Admiralty were forced without so much 
as a " by your leave." 

In its action the seaplane has much in common 
with the aeroplane. Both are set in motion by 
the action of the propeller or screw which 
pushes or draws along the machine at an ever 
increasing speed, until at last the rush of air 
under and above the wings exerts sufficient 
pressure to lift it clear of the earth or water 
and into the air. Differences of opinion exist, 
of course, as to the best type of under-carriage. 
The desirable features are simplicity, strength-j 
with great elasticity in order to take up the shock' " 
of landing, and the least possible amount of ex- 
posed surface when in flight. Aeroplane build- 
ers, although their under-carriages differ much 
in detail, have no option but to fit wheels for 
the run along the ground, and to this extent all 
designs are similar. Seaplane constructors, how- 
ever, have evolved two totally different types; 
the first, known as the twin-float, is exactly as 
the name implies, and has floats of suitable shape 
attached to the under-carriage in the place of 
the wheels of the land-fiying aeroplane. The 
second has received the general title of " flying 
boat." This latter carries its engine, crew and 
armament in a single cabin slung centrally be- 
low the wings. Very powerful craft of this type 
have been evolved during the war, and although 

T25 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

had been discovered and applied — even the 
raiding aeroplanes made a wide detour to avoid 
Dunkirk. But with the most carefully-laid 
plans in the world the German aeroplanes now 
and again ran into Allied machines from Dun' 
kirk and from seaplane bases on the British 
coast, with the result that the hawks paid the 
penalty to the eagles. The submarine can be 
picked out from a height even though it be sub- 
merged. A similar thing happens when, if one 
is looking into a river from a bridge, lurking fish, 
quite invisible from the bank, are plainly seen. 
The seaplane pilots were fully aware of the fact, 
and numbers of U-boats have failed to return tc" 
their bases in consequence. 

Some competent authorities held that the sea- 
plane was and is of the greatest value as a scout 
for the battle and cruiser fleets. A seaplane took 
news to Admiral Beatty, in charge of the " Cat '* 
squadron (battle cruisers), at the time of the Jut- 
land battle, that the whole German Fleet was 
out The news was of vital importance to the 
British Admiral and led to a change of plans 
which, but for failing visibility, would inevi- 
tably have led to the complete destruction of the 
Hun fleet. The naval Zeppelins informed Ad- 
miral von Hipper of Beatty's strength, and sup 
plied news of the advance of Sir John Jellicoe's 
battle fleet in time to enable von Hipper to 
128 



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SEAPLANE AND AIRSHIP AND THEIR USES 
break off action and dash for his home base 
before the big British ships could arrive in full 
strength. Consideration of the respective value 
of the airship and the seaplane in naval scouting 
is the next step. The former can keep the air 
for a longer period, and its cruising radius is 
much greater; it carries heavier guns and a 
greater load of bombs; and for long periods in 
calm weather can husband its fuel by shutting 
off the engine and drifting with whatever wind 
there be. Its outstanding disadvantages are that 
it must return to a fixed base, that its huge bulk' 
makes it more vulnerable to hostile attack and' 
sudden storm, while, should it be necessary, in 
manoeuvring to avoid any of these, to rise to a 
height greater than the level of flotation, its 
powers are crippled for the remainder of the 
cruise. 

The airship rises owing to the lifting power of 
the gases contained at atmospheric pressure in its 
envelope, or, to put it another way, the ship dis- 
places a volume of air greater than its own 
weight. As height increases, the density of the 
air, because the atmospheric pressure lessens 
with height, decreases, and so, obviously, the ship 
will rise until it reaches a point when the volume 
of air displaced is equal in weight to that of the 
ship itself. Mechanical means must then be 
adopted to force the ship higher. The decreased 
129 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

air pressure on the envelope causes the gas 
within it to expand, and, although the modem 
airship has reserve gas space within its outer 
envelope into which some of the expanded gas 
can be directed, the lime comes as the ship con- 
tinues to rise, when some of the gas must be ex- 
hausted into the atmosphere unless the whole 
envelope is to burst from internal pressure. 
When the ship returns to a lower level it is im- 
possible for it, owing to the amount of gas lost, 
to reach the same level of flotation as before, 
and when, through loss of gas, the weight of the 
air displaced at sea level is approximately equal 
to the weight of the ship itself, all buoyancy is 
lost. No further ascent is then possible until a 
fresh supply of gas has been taken in. 

This weakness of the airship was dramatically 
illustrated on the occasion of the Zeppelin raid 
against England in October of 1917 when, 
caught by a storm in the higher air levels, the 
ships, unable to fly lower with safety because of 
the English anti-aircraft guns, rose to an 
enormous height to escape both dangers, and lost 
so much gas that the ships became unmanage- 
able, and, in this condition, were unable to set 
a course for their Belgian bases, drifting over 
France at a low height some hours later and 
being either shot down or captured by the 
French. The airship is handicapped in a fight 
130 



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SEAPLANE AND AIRSHIP AND THEIR USES 

with aeroplanes owing to less speed in flight 
and slowness in manceuvre, its only advantage 
here being the quickness at which it can rise to 
the level of flotation. The highly inflammable 
gas in the envelope holds possibilities of a sud- 
den and fiery ending when an incendiary shell, 
fired either from an attacking aeroplane or from 
the ground, explodes anywhere in the near 
vicinity. Some very ingenious ideas of this sort 
were used by the Allies during the later period 
of the Zeppelin raids, and about ten millions of 
people in the London district used to look for- 
ward to thrilling firework displays from prop- 
erties supplied by Wilhelm & Co., the whole 
being stage-managed by British Aircraft. 

As a naval scout the seaplane also has disad- 
vantages. It must have sleeping accommoda- 
tion either on battleships or in a special mother- 
ship, for, when a flight is finished, the heavier- 
than-air machine must descend; it cannot hover 
for prolonged periods like the airship. The real 
object of a battleship, that of serving as a floating 
big gun fort, is circumscribed to the extent of 
the accommodation ofifered to the aircraft; if 
the latter method be favoured a special type of 
ship is needed, an expensive job at best. Against 
this can be set the cost of the airship sheds, 
which, no matter how ingeniously they be con- 
structed, cannot accompany a fleet to sea. The 
131 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 
mothership, however, can, and should be big 
and fast enough to accompany a battle fleet on 
a world cruise, of a speed sufficient to maintain 
station, and of an armament heavy enough to 
repel attack from anything but capital ships. 
The seaplane mothership can be equipped with 
repairing facilities and a full battery of spares, 
so that numbers of seaplanes can be housed. 
The combined cruising radius, in this case, would 
be greatly in excess of that of an airship, while, 
obviously, a dozen seaplanes could scout in more 
directions than an airship, and their greater 
speed is another important factor; nor would 
the loss of anything up to 70 or 80 per cent, of 
the machines carried by a mothership necessarily 
mean that the fleet commander was quite with- 
out news, for the information brought by one 
machine could be as full as that brought by a big 
airship, and the actual loss of money and trained 
men would be lighter. 

The failure of the Zeppelin as an oflfensive 
weapon to the end of 1917 must not, however, 
be regarded as the complete failure of the giant 
airship, for the future will probably bring 
immense improvements. Because the famous 
paddle steamer the Great Eastern failed com- 
mercially was no condemnation of the big power- 
driven ship as a type. The idea was, and is, per- 
fectly sound, but the first few attempts to carrj; 
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SEAPLANE AND AIRSHIP AND THEIR USES 
it into practice were wrong. It is more than 
probable that the same thing will happen in the 
case of the airship. 

The British used big numbers of airships of 
one sort or other during the war, including 
the " S.S." (submarine scout), vulgarly the 
" Blimp." The " Blimp " is a cross between 
balloon and aeroplane; its upper half (gas bag) 
is about 150 feet in length, with a diameter of 
about 30 feet, and its lower structure is prac- 
tically that of a medium-powered scouting aero- 
plane. The oiled silk bag is cigar-shaped, and 
has a capacity of about 70,000 cubic feet, giving 
a total lift of about 5,000 lbs., while the safety 
height is in the neighbourhood of 7,000 feet. 
The two-bladed propeller has been replaced by 
a four-bladed screw, and the speed has been re- 
duced by gearing to about 700 r.p.m. A small 
blower engine, independent of the main power 
unit, serves to keep the envelope inflated with 
air in order to preserve the designed shape — a 
necessity in the case of non-rigid airships. The 
average speed of the " Blimp *' is about 35 m.p.h., 
and it can carry pilot and observer, together with 
a load of bombs, and fuel for a ten-hours' flight 
at cruising speed. In addition to its bombs the 
craft is fitted with wireless and, when necessary, 
with cameras and observing instruments. In the 
British Navy they say the " Blimps " had a 
133 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

bigger bag of U-boats to their credit than all 
the other devices put together. Hundreds of 
these ships keep watch and guard round the 
British and French coasts, and every visitor to 
coast towns saw them in dozens. They are 
economical to build and maintain, and, in their 
particular sphere of activity, were of the utmost 
value. There is a wicked story to the effect that 
the "Blimps" came about because a gas bag 
was the only way to get one of the aeroplanes 
designed by the Royal Aircraft Factory off the 
groundl The story ought to be true, but prob- 
ably isn't. In any case there is a big future for 
this type of airship as a sort of quiet family craft. 
A larger type of airship which went further 
afield than the " Blimp " came to be known as 
the Coast Patrol ships, shortly the " C.P." 
These did excellent work in locating mine fields, 
assisting the armed patrol in the search for 
U-boats, keeping a watchful eye on German 
naval movements, and acting as convoys to mer- 
chant ships. There were not enough suitable 
craft in commission at the beginning of the war 
to supply all the convoys needed, and the de- 
velopment of the seaplane and smaller airships 
for this purpose was one of the things not fore- 
seen by the German military leaders. The air- 
craft took over their charges from the light 
cruisers and destroyers anywhere between 50 and 

134 



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SEAPLANE AND AIRSHIP AND THEIR USES 

150 miles out to sea. The British authorities 
made spasmodic attempts to build one or more 
big airships of the rigid type, and there were 
rumours that one of the captured Zeppelins had 
been rebuilt and put in commission. It seemed, 
however, that the authorities were unable to 
make up their minds, and work was sometimes 
rushed ahead and again was stopped, the top 
and bottom of the matter being that airship 
building and piloting is an extremely ticklish 
job calling for experience, specialised training, 
and ample constructional facilities. The British 
authorities had neither one thing nor the other, 
and they were apparently unable to distinguish 
the types of German ships to fall into their 
hands. Some official ass, jealous it would seem 
of the Waterloo fame of Mr. Bill Adams, made 
the British Government the world's laughing- 
stock by discovering that the extensive employ- 
ment of wood in a German Schutte-Lanz air- 
ship indicated a shortage of aluminium in Ger- 
many, when for years this maker's general 
practice had been to build his ships of wood. 
Whatever else the Central Empires were short 
of it was certainly not aluminium, which, by 
a special process perfected during the war, the 
Boche produced by the hundred tons. 

The French were never lovers of the airship. 
It was too crude and limited as compared with 

135 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

the heavier-than-air machine, but this is not 
say that the French did not experiment largely. 
They did, and with a varying amount of success. 
Some of the airships fell in the streets of towns, 
some blew away to sea and were never again 
heard of, but others did quite a lot of satis- 
factory work, and, from time to time, other 
countries, unable to build airships of their own, 
bought typical French productions. No other 
nation built airships of any practical or out- 
standing merit. 

Airships may, along broad lines, be divided 
into two classes: the rigid and the non-rigid. 
The former is bigger, its shape in the air is re- 
tained by a framework which may be of wood, 
aluminium or other light metal or wires, or a 
combination of both. Over this framework is 
stretched the outer envelope, while the interior 
is filled with a number of balloonettes which 
vary in size and shape according to the cross 
section of the part of the ship in which they are 
fitted. 

A general description of the construction of 
the latest type German airships to fall into the 
hands of the Allies will not be out of place 
here. The first to be brought down in flames in 
England was a Schutte-Lanz, and was a pre-war 
model; its hull was a true streamline shape, and 
the main members consisted of fifteen circular 

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SEAPLANE AND AIRSHIP AND THEIR USES 

wooden hoops' set transversely and at approxi- 
mately equal distances along the hull; spiral 
latticed wooden trellis work, held the members 
in position, and the whole was bound with steel 
wire in great quantity. The Schutte-Lanz has 
no keel, the weight of its cars being distributed 
over the whole of the construction. Each car 
carries a Maybach motor of 240 h.p., which 
drives, through a clutch and reduction gearing, 
a " pusher " propeller located at the stern of the 
car and giving a speed of 53 m.p.h. There are 
no means of communication between the mem- 
bers of the crew housed in the respective cars 
other than by telephone. The cubic capacity of 
the 1913 Schutte-Lanz ships is about 921,000 
feet, giving a lifting capacity of 17,600 lbs., and 
the gas bags are of unusual shape to fit the in- 
terior and to allow for the strengthening cross- 
sections and braces. The length of the ships is 
470 feet and the diameter 60.5 feet. Two of the 
bags are uninflated at the beginning of a voyage, 
and as the ship rises the gas expands and flows, 
assisted by a circulating pump, into the empty 
bags until, at a height of between 6,000 and 
7,000 feet, all the bags are filled. When the 
Germans standardised their airship construction 
for rapid building it is believed that the best 
points of the Schutte-Lanz and the Zeppelins 
were incorporated in the one type of ship, and 

137 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 
it is true that the super-Zeppelins were super- 
ficially very similar to the wooden ships. 

As to the constructional details of the later 
Zeppelins, for all practical purposes the L33 
was typical. The official dimensions supplied 
of the L33 gave the length as 640 feet, the maxi- 
mum diameter 72 feet, the approximate capacity 
2,000,000 cubic feet, the gross lift 56 tons, the 
total horse-power 1,300-1,400, and the speed as 
about 55 m.p.h. Like other official figures, some 
slight adjustment and correction are needed to 
arrive at absolute accuracy. Examination of 
the framework of the wrecked Zeppelins showed 
many evidences of standardisation and hasty 
construction, and it is evident that the enemy 
has produced numbers of very special machines 
for bending, shaping and riveting the metal 
structure of the ships. Some of the lay journals 
have made ridiculous suggestions that, after a 
voyage, mechanics take a dustpan and brush and 
sweep hundredweights of rivets, loosened during 
the voyage, from the interior of the ship. 

An inverted keel, "A" shaped, runs from end 
to end of the hull, very similar in its general 
construction to the other latticed girder work in 
the structure, the "A" projecting inwards. The 
two bottom main longitudinals form the base of 
this keel, which serves as a " cat-walk," by means 
of which, if due care be exercised to avoid 

.38 



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I 
I 
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SEAPLANE AND AIRSHIP AND THEIR USES 

Stepping off the girderwork and through the 
fabric of the envelope into space, the crew can 
pass from each compartment into the others. 
Also, this latticed " cat-walk " stiffens up the 
construction, gives storage space for the fuel and 
oil, and provides anchorage for the cars with 
their complements of engines, guns and crews. 
The outer hull is covered with heavily-var- 
nished cotton fabric, and a space is left between 
this covering and the inner gas bags, which are 
separate to each compartment and which are 
shaped at the bottom to accommodate the " cat- 
walk." Automatic and hand-controlled valves 
are fitted for regulating the buoyancy of the 
ship. Four cars are fitted. In the foremost are 
the controls for the water-ballast tanks and the 
hand valves, and, this being the commander's 
car, there are also the engine-room telegraphs 
and the controls for the electrically-operated 
bomb-dropping gear. Telephones and speaking 
tubes for the other compartments are also led to 
this car. The rear car is slung about 200 feet 
from the stern, and the dead weight of the 
rudder and elevating gear takes what lifting 
power there is. This rearmost car contains three 
engines, each of 240 h.p. Maybach six-cylin- 
dered water-cooled type; the rearmost centrally- 
located motor drives a geared-down propeller 
of the " pusher " type, while the others, through 
139 



AlHCRAPT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 
very cleverly-designed bevel and shaft gearing, 
drive propellers housed in brackets and located 
well up on the sides of the hull. The careful 
streamlining of the propeller brackets, which 
are built up of aluminium tubing — the placing 
of the three-ply wood used gives the desired 
streamline — the attachment of the brackets to 
the hull by ball-joints, the arrangements made 
to absorb propeller thrust, and the stiffening 
of the whole by cross-braced wire cables, also 
covered with wooden fairing, are extremely in- 
teresting specimens of German love of detail 
and thoroughness. The German practice of 
sheathing the tips of the propellers with brass 
edging and overcoming any tendency of cen- 
trifugal force to throw this off by running bind- 
ing wire from the metal edge of one blade, right 
through the boss to the metal edge of the oppos- 
ing blade was ingenious. The two smaller cars 
are about i8 feet in length, and are in the main 
simply engine-rooms, although each is fitted 
with a machine gun. They are slung side by 
side by girder work from the hull with the " cat- 
walk," whence they are reached, in between and 
approximately amidships. Each contains an 
engine of similar type to those contained in the 
other cars, and these drive through a clutch and 
reduction gearing; there is also a hand-brake to 
contain the propellers in the horizontal position 
140 



1 



SEAPLANE AND AIRSHIP AND THEIR USES 

when landing — a " pusher " type propeller. 
Each of these central cabins is also provided 
with red and green navigation lights. 

There has been no fully-accepted ruling as 
to the load of bombs carried, and no doubt this 
varies according to the distance of the threatened 
area from the airship base, for reserve fuel and 
oil means less bomb accommodation. For short 
voyages up to four tons can be taken, but for 
longer journeys anything up to two tons of 
bombs would be usual. As to armament, a cor- 
rugated aluminium platform let into the top 
of the hull about loo feet from the bow provides 
accommodation for three machine guns of fairly 
heavy calibre, a second gun platform is pro- 
vided at the rear immediately above the extreme 
tail and aft of the rudders — about the most 
thankless job on the whole ship for the gun 
operator, located as he is on a lonely platform, 
reached by a most precarious climb, right on 
top of the structure, and over 200 feet from the 
nearest of his fellows! — while six further guns 
are divided between the respective cabins. The 
full crew numbers 22 men. Various observers 
whose statements are worthy of credence main- 
tain that bigger ships, having a power plant con- 
sisting of seven or eight 240 h.p. Maybach 
motors, giving a speed of 68 m.p.h., a volume of 
over 2,400,000 cubic feet, with a total lift of 77 
141 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

tons and a useful lift of 28 tons, maximum alti- 
tude 16,500 feet, mounting ten machine guns 
in all, and carrying four tons of explosives in 
addition, have already made their appearance. 
Indeed, there is a widely-held belief in military 
circles that the Zeppelins shot down in the raid 
on November aSth-zgth, and which dropped 
into the sea off Durham and Norfolk, were of 
this type. 

The non-rigid ship is smaller and lighter, and 
while the envelope is designed to afford mini- 
mum resistance to the air, its shape is main- 
tained in flight by the gas contained within it. 
Room for expansion or contraction of the gas is 
provided by fitting an air bag inside the main 
envelope which can be filled with air from a 
fan or blower driven from the engine, while the 
rush of air caused in flight is also taken advan- 
tage of for the same purpose. Engine and crew 
are contained in a cabin or fuselage slung be- 
neath the ship. The cruising capacity of the 
non-rigid airship is considerably less than its 
bigger rival, and it is also more of a fair-weather 
craft; on the other hand, it is cheaper to build 
and maintain, its housing needs are not so ex- 
travagant, and, having no rigid framework, it 
can be packed within a space which enables it 
to be transported by sea in any ordinary cargo 
ship. During the war great improvements were 
142 



SEAPLANE AND AIRSHIP AND THEIR USES 
made in travelling gas-producing plants for field 
use, and, because of these, armies were able to 
take with them both non-rigid airships and kite 
balloons. These latter were also developed to 
a great extent during the war. They were 
originally conceived as an aid to long-range 
artillery firing, and were used by the Japanese 
at the siege of Port Arthur. Their greatest dis- 
advantage was instability in the air, where, sub- 
ject to every vagary of the wind, and held by a 
cable to the ground, they bumped and leapt and 
spun and dived sickeningly in giant contortions 
until even the most hardened sea-dog was re- 
duced to a limp, bruised and battered bundle 
in the course of a few minutes in the observation 
car. The object of the later inventors was to 
design a balloon which, despite its being held to 
the ground, would remain steady in the air even 
in fairly windy and changeable weather. By 
changing the shape and fitting stabilising fins 
some good was done, and later on wind scoops 
proved an even greater improvement. The pro- 
vision of a streamlined surface was something 
of a problem, but even this was more or less 
successfully attempted, and, as other improve- 
ments were made in hauling gear and transport 
lorries, the kite balloons were more and more 
used. Each army organised a special section, 
and on all fronts a long row of these grim spies 
143 



CHAPTER VH 



THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE MODERN AEROPLANE 



I 



NOT for some considerable time did the 
manufacture of aeroplanes have any at- 
traction for the business and commercial world. 
The early pioneers may, somewhere in their 
make-up, have had business instincts, but the 
work of producing machines that would actually 
fly took up all their time and most of their 
money. Some, naturally, visualised the pros- 
pects opening up for the aeroplane once the 
initial difficulties were overcome, and perhaps 
this vision of a tempting future had its effect in 
making them more determined to go on with 
the work. Those who could see so far ahead 
were obviously men of imagination and action; 
and these two qualities combined lead, in com- 
mercial life, to big things. In France there were 
men like the Farmans and Bleriot, in England 
there was A. V. Roe, and in the United States 
men like the Wrights and Curtiss. All these 
and others were pioneers of the aeroplane who 
are now business men with big commercial and 
147 




AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

financial interests. Not always was it so, how- 
ever, for in the early days would-be flying men 
had perforce to be jacks-of-all-trades and, con- 
trary to the old saying, masters of a good many. 
They practically built the first machines with 
their own hands ; their workshops were old barns 
and sheds, or iron-roofed constructions knocked 
up without regard to appearance; low cost was 
the main governing factor. Carpentry, joinery, 
lathe-work, engine-testing, wiring, fabric sew- 
ing, painting, blacksmith's work, and a dozen 
other jobs had to be done, and done without 
paid help for the most part because there was 
no money to pay the labour with. Practically 
every repair had to be done in the ramshackle 
sheds with make-shift tools, and often enough 
the painstaking work of weeks was wrecked in 
a few seconds — wrecked before the new idea 
could be given a fair test, and all the slow, heart- 
breaking work had to be done over again. The 
unimaginative commercial man and manufac- 
turer can be forgiven for his refusal to invest 
money in the aeroplane industry during the first 
few years of its existence. 

After a while, and when the aeroplane was an 
established fact with a certain element of danger 
about it, numbers of wealthy amateur sports- 
men were attracted, and the situation was some- 
what eased in certain quarters, which then wel- 
148 



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CONSTRUCTION OF MODERN AEROPLANES 

corned a few pounds and a few years later dealt 
in hundreds of thousands. At a later date, when 
business men could be shown the machines in 
actual flight, capital became rather less coy; 
Governments bought some few machines and 
placed orders for more . . ., and it is axio- 
matic that money for official contracts is more 
easily obtained than for such things as " making- 
a -flying-machine " or " jumping-over-the-moon," 
these things being thought to have much in com- 
mon at the beginning of the century. 

Some engineers realised early enough that 
powerful and reliable motors were really 
needed, and as most of these firms were already 
established, matters were speeded up by so much. 
Engine building was only part of the job, how- 
ever, and while some of the early experimental- 
ists started their own woodworking shops, mostly 
out of their profits as exhibition pilots, others 
drifted away from the building of the com- 
plete machines and began to specialise in such 
things as propellers, fuel tanks, and other things 
needed in aeroplane construction. So the indus- 
try which was destined to have a revolutionary 
effect on the world's progress came slowly into 
being. Always it was hoped that some day the 
Governments would wake up to the possibilities 
of aircraft and order the building of big air 
fleets — a move, incidentally, which would set the 
149 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

baby industry on its feet. The Governments 
had a ruder wakening than many bargained for, 
and when aeroplanes were needed, not in odd 
dozens but in thousands, there was room for 
thankfulness that aeroplane builders had re- 
fused to be crushed out of existence by official 
ineptitude and neglect. It then became possible 
to manufacture aeroplanes on a commercial 
basis. 

The first essential in quantity manufacture is 
some degree of standardisation, and in this re- 
spect Germany had a big start over any other 
European Government. Already, when war 
broke out, there were practically only four en- 
gines being manufactured on any big scale in 
Germany: there was an air-cooled rotary, an im- 
provement on the Gnome, the Benz and Mer- 
cedes water-cooled units, and the Maybach 
engines which had been developed side-by-side 
with the German airships. Other makers were 
experimenting, of course, but the Government, 
with its eye on current events and a plan of cam- 
paign pigeon-holed, had encouraged the quan- 
tity production of the units mentioned. When 
war was declared — even some time before it was 
declared — the order was full speed ahead with 
the standardised engines, and outside makers 
were ordered to stop work on their own desij 
and divert their workshop plant to helping 
150 



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in ■ 



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CONSTRUCTION OF MODERN AEROPLANES 
the manufacture of the officially-approved 
models. 

France and England were in a different posi- 
tion, for all sorts of makers were building all 
sorts of engines, and as none had been fully and 
fairly tested it was necessary to give all an op- 
portunity of showing what their productions 
could do. This led to delay that had its effect 
even in the fourth year of war. So far as aero- 
planes went the position was that both the 
French and the British War Departments had 
numbers of officially-approved designs in addi- 
tion to many machines from private builders. 
When the need became urgent, orders were 
placed wherever there was a chance of their 
being executed. It was quickly realised that the 
demand greatly exceeded the possible supply 
unless the available manufacturing facilities 
were extended. Private enterprise then proved 
of supreme value. Firms in all parts of the 
country were encouraged to tender for the mak- 
ing of parts, and although there was often 
enough that strangling of initiative by red tape, 
so common in all Government Departments, 
commonsense was also shown in the financial 
and other arrangements made. 

That aircraft would prove the deciding factor 
in the war was not realised for some years; as 
a valuable auxiliary arm there was not dispute 
151 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

from the first, but when some of the Allied 
newspapers demanded that ten thousand aero- 
planes should be built without delay and used to 
bomb German towns, the thing was said to be 
impossible. Many articles were also written to 
prove the impossibility of aeroplane manufac- 
ture on so large a scale; it was pointed out that 
aeroplanes needed engines, that there were only 
80 many engine builders in the country, that 
their output was strictly limited, that it could 
not be greatly increased during the war, that the 
training of thousands of pilots was a long job, 
and that, in short, the job could not be done. 
War, however, is a stern teacher, and in its fourth 
year each belligerent Power was looking for- 
ward to the possession of an air fleet numbering 
hundreds of thousands of machines; the United 
States saw this so clearly that her first aircraft 
programme called for the building of over 
22,500 machines, together with an adequate per- 
sonnel and a completed auxiliary equipment. 

Aeroplane factories began to spring up in 
Europe and America in magical fashion, and the 
romance of the work can only be written in the 
future, when the full story can be told without 
giving information to the enemy. Unimportant 
manufacturers of bone buttons and mouth- 
organs and a hundred and one other things soon 
found themselves employing thousands of peo- 
152 



CONSTRUCTION OF MODERN AEROPLANES 

pie engaged in the production of aircraft parts; 
some men, starting practically without capital, 
built up organisations employing millions of 
capital in the space of months. One genius, 
who had had his natural shrewdness sharpened 
by American experience, started as an aeroplane 
manufacturer in the first year of the war with a 
capital of less than £ioo, and, two years after- 
wards, had a weekly pay-roll of over £8,000! 

Many of the lighter industries, such as piano- 
making, for example, proved to be particularly 
suited to aeroplane manufacture; motor coach- 
builders were turned into propeller makers and 
woodworkers; french polishers were set to ap- 
plying dope to the wings of the machines; and 
scores of other trades proved to have some spe- 
cial value. The most satisfactory thing of all 
was the way women adapted themselves to the 
work, and very soon literally tens of thousands 
were employed in the aircraft factories. They 
looked after the wood and metal-working ma- 
chines; they glued and screwed and shaped the 
struts and spars and ribs; they sewed the fabric 
over the framework; they erected the minor 
accessories; and, a revolutionary performance, 
they proved competent acetylene welders — a job 
which, before the war, was said to be possible 
only to men of long training and experience in 
■ metal-working. The Ministry of Munitions 

I 153 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

arranged that free training should be given in 
the different English munition centres, and, in a 
few months, because it was not a case of artificial 
restriction on output, the women learned to do 
work that was supposed to take years in the case 
of men — incidentally dealing a deadly blow at 
the apprenticeship system in doing so. Wages, 
naturally, are higher for skilled than for un- 
skilled work, and because so many women be- 
came skilled during the war it is more than 
probable that in the future the work will remain 
largely in their hands, for the aircraft indus- 
try can never again sink to an unimportant 
position. 

So the old happy days of " make do " and " do 
it oneself " went sometime between 1914-16, for 
ever. Aeroplane building is now a coldly scien- 
tific job, where costs are calculated to decimal 
parts, times per operation recorded in small time 
fractions, the world searched for raw materials, 
and each individual part, each unimportant com- 
ponent, must, first individually and later col- 
lectively in the completed machine, undergo 
tests leaving no margin for carelessness in con- 
struction nor weakness in material. The work 
is now^ notwithstanding that improvements fol- 
low each other hot foot and that a speed of 150 
miles per hour to-day may seem a crawl next 
year, on the same commercial footing as the 
154 



I 



CONSTRUCTION OF MODERN AEROPLANES 

manufacture of motor-cars or any other stan- 
dardised product in big demand. 

It may be taken for granted that designers 
know practically all there is to know about what 
any machine can be expected to do. A case can 
be stated: certain aeroplanes were subject, under 
certain conditions, to develop a whirling or 
spinning nose-dive which caused the deaths of 
many fine pilots, until a British officer showed 
how it could be pulled out of. Nowadays no 
designer worth his salt would build such a 
machine, unless, for some other end, he re- 
solved to risk the spinning tendency; in any 
case, he would be perfectly aware of what he 
was doing. By this much has knowledge in- 
creased. In war, however, certain risks must 
be taken, and it is not easy to build " fool- 
proof " machines without sacrifice of other 
things quite, and sometimes even more desirable, 
than fool-proofness. Apart from war the matter 
is different, for excessively high speed is un- 
necessary in the commercial aeroplane; but in 
the fighting scout it is the beginning and the 
end of all things. The problem fronting con- 
structors in the future is not so much one of 
knowing how a machine will behave in the air, 
but how to obtain given results with the ma- 
terials to hand, results, that is, making an ad- 
vance on existing practice. 
155 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

Every aeroplane is designed to fly best at a 
certain speed and height. If at i20 miles an 
hour the supporting surfaces are doing most 
work, it follows that at 60 miles an hour the 
machine is approximately only 50 per cent, 
efficient, and at 30 miles an hour the speed 
would be insufficient to support flight; the de- 
signer has to build an aeroplane that will fly best 
at a high speed and yet support itself in the air 
at a very much lower speed in order that the 
pilot may make a landing. A very expert pilot 
can, as a matter of fact, make a landing at 80 
miles an hour, especially when he has a big 
aerodrome to alight in, and also, because to those 
that have, all things are given, the expert pilot 
can, with most machines, land at a very much 
lower speed than an average pilot He can 
judge distances so accurately that within a very 
few feet of the ground his flight changes from 
slightly downwards to the horizontal, the tail 
of the machine is dropped, very gently, until 
contact with the ground is established. The 
wings are then pulled up to the air . . . and 
the pilot climbs out and asks for a " gasper." 
These things are not given to the average air- 
man who, for safety's sake, demands an aero- 
plane able to fly at 100 miles an hour top speed 
and as low as 20-30 miles an hour for landing 
purposes. Speed and slowness, however, make 

.56 



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CONSTRUCTION OP MODERN AEROPLANES 

a poor blending, but the problem is not impos- 
sible and something very near to it can be done 
even to-day. 

Many improvements are still to come and very 
probably in the future it will be possible to vary 
the wingspread. Were something of this sort 
done there would be for top flying speed a very 
small wing area, and for landing a greatly in- 
creased surface to so enable flight to be supported 
at a very much lower speed. There need to be 
telescopic wings under the pilot's control, and the 
all-metal aeroplane seems absolutely essential 
for this sort of construction; alternatively, wood 
reinforced by metal may be used. In addition, 
more trustworthy and positive brakes will be 
fitted to check the speed of the machine on the 
ground just as a car's speed is checked. As an 
illustration of what can be done by simple al- 
terations in design, one of the favourite fighting 
machines used by British pilots in 1917 had, 
when fitted with an 80 h.p. engine, an alighting 
speed of something very near 75 miles per hour. 
The 1918 machines were fitted with 180 h.p. 
engines, and, although the top flying speed was 
greatly increased, the landing speed, because of 
small alterations in the wings and side surfaces, 
was brought down to nearly 60 miles per hour. 
There is an immense scope for clever design, 
and those who believe that the aeroplane has 

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AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

reached finality or anything like it will have 
some very staggering surprises within a remark- 
ably short time of the war's ending. 

Although aeroplane parts in wood were stan- 
dardised so far as was possible, the authorities 
in every country were faced with the difficulty 
that many thousands of spares were needed 
because of the different types of machine flown. 
In war these things seem inevitable. In the 
future the makers will concentrate on well-de- 
fined types of machines for given work, and, 
although the purchaser will have the choice of 
a number of different makes, he will find, be- 
cause manufacture in general tends to become 
more and more scientific, that standardisation 
has been carried much further than ever before 
and, apart from those sections in his machine 
which are essentially the maker's own patents, 
the part that will fit the "B" touring 'plane 
will prove equally suitable for the " C " tourer. 
It will be this need of extreme standardisation, 
together with the growing difficulty of finding 
enough suitable wood for the world's needs, that 
will tell very heavily in favour of the all-metal 
machine. Aircraft for war purposes are not 
long lived, and because it is easier to produce 
special wood-working machinery than to erect 
new works for special metal rolling and bending 
purposes, wood has been extensively used in the 

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CONSTRUCTION OF MOBERN AEROPLANES 
wartime machines. There is no good reason 
why propellers should not be standardised, and 
although there will be no restriction of choice, 
variable pitch propellers will also make their 
appearance. As to engine standardisation, it 
is difficult to lay down any hard and fast 
rule. 

One of the greatest problems facing the engine 
builder is the building of a motor able to de- 
velop full power continuously and for long 
periods without wearing out and breaking down. 
If every working part could be given a diamond- 
hard surface and temperatures were equitable 
and constant, the job would be comparatively 
simple. These things, alas! are not, and as the 
aeroplane calls for both power and lightness in 
its engine, the combination can only be given 
with high speed. A simple multiplication sum 
gives the number of revolutions travelled by an 
engine running at i,ooo revolutions per minute 
during a six-hours' flight, but if the engine could 
be run at one-quarter the speed it would, other 
things being equal, last four times as long with- 
out breakdown. The majority of the machines 
in use in 1917 had the propeller geared direct 
to the engine, and because of this either the one 
or the other was not so efficient as could be de- 
sired. Obviously the solution consists in fitting 
a gearbox just as in car practice — an unscientific 
IS9 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

production which by all the rules and portents 
ought to smash itself up in a remarkably short 
time, but which, in point of fact, works ex- 
tremely well. Worked in combination with a 
variable pitch propeller the gearbox would 
allow the pilot a range in power and speed, and 
it would be possible to "nurse" the engine to 
such an extent that the life of the whole ma- 
chine would be increased and considerable fuel 
economy made. 

A further and most important point is the pre- 
vention of engine failure immediately after 
leaving the ground. At a height of over a thou- 
sand feet the matter is not so serious, for the 
nose of the machine can be put down and for- 
ward changed into a gliding flight, the pilot's 
chief anxiety being the selection of a convenient 
landing ground within the limit of the glide. 
Engine failure between ten and a hundred feet 
means, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, a 
bad crash, for the machine, its forward and up- 
ward flight checked, drops like a stone. The 
difficulty can be overcome by installing two or 
more engines each powerful enough to maintain 
forward flight unaided. Aeroplanes so fitted 
proved very successful during the war, cases 
being known where one of the units was struck 
and wrecked by enemy fire without the aero- 
plane's being afifected to an extent which made 
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CONSTRUCTION OF MODERN AEROPLANES 

it impossible for the pilot to reach the safety of 
his own lines. 

To make doubly sure two or more propellers 
would also be necessary, for even if half-a-dozen 
engines were fitted, all driving the one propeller, 
the risk of smash within a few feet would still 
remain. The gearbox may be " chewed up," 
the propeller-shaft fracture, or the propeller 
itself splinter and break. Duplication of parts 
undoubtedly minimises risk most, but the steer- 
ing gear on a motor-car is not duplicated, al- 
though fracture when the car is travelling at 
high speeds means almost certain disaster. The 
truth of the matter is that makers have had so 
much experience that the required strength to 
withstand every strain likely to be imposed, 
apart from accident, is understood to a fine de- 
gree, and a big safety margin is allowed. Much 
the same result will be reached in course of time 
with the aeroplane. 

The dangers of flying have always been over- 
emphasised because everything that is new and 
of general interest is treated of in the Press. To 
climb thousands of feet in the air has never been 
considered an everyday possibility by the ordi- 
nary citizen, who imagines such a procedure to 
be fraught with disaster. He, good easy man, 
knows that a fall of 10,000 feet means death, and 
considers flying dangerous : yet he will trust him- 
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AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

self in railway trains and ocean steamships with 
never a thought of the potential danger. The 
pioneers were brave, extraordinarily brave, be- 
cause they faced unknown perils, but present- 
day flying calls for no more bravery or personal 
risk than driving a motor-car, travelling in a 
railway train, or crossing the ocean in a liner. 
War flying is much more dangerous than flying 
in peace-time and yet statistics show that other 
branches of the Services are distinctly more 
dangerous. Mining, infantry and artillery each 
have a higher percentage of casualties than the 
aeroplane. Compared with motor-cars the per- 
centage -of deaths per thousand miles covered 
during the first few years of car-driving and 
flying respectively are lower in the case of the 
latter. The statement may be hard of credence; 
it is solemn fact, nevertheless. 

Improved construction and greater knowl- 
edge of safety factors and design, coupled with 
the use of better materials, have all reduced the 
risks of flight. During the war the Govern- 
ments of the Great Powers lavished money in 
research work, partly because better materials 
were urgently needed, and partly because each 
country found itself short of materials for which 
it had previously relied on enemy sources. 
Chemists and metallurgists were supplied with 
abundant funds and given a free hand, and they 
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CONSTRUCTION OF MODERN AEROPLANES 

crammed fifty years' progress into three and 
produced both better materials and improved 
methods of production. So successful were their 
efforts that products which in 1914 could only 
be used sparingly and for special purposes be- 
cause of high cost and limited production were, 
three years later, being used extensively, both 
aeroplane and engine builders coming in for 
direct benefit. 

For future use aeroplanes must be of great 
weight-carrying and flight capacity, and already 
engines capable of running a hundred and more 
hours under full load are available. At a rea- 
sonable flying speed such a performance is equal 
to 10,000 miles. After cleaning and adjustment 
the units are capable of repeating the task, and 
although the time comes when so much wear 
has taken place that the engine must be scrapped, 
the same thing happens to motor-car engines and 
locomotives, and is not held to their discredit 
After 100,000 miles of running the car owner 
can, without feeling that he has made a bad 
investment, scrap his car. In America he is 
encouraged to do so because, although the ma- 
chine is capable of further work, it has become, 
either by wear or the improvement of other cars, 
uneconomical. Modern manufacture dictates 
that it is cheaper and more scientific to build 
new cars than to patch up old ones, and what 
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AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

applies to motor-cars will, to a great extent, 
equally apply to aircraft. When the machines 
have done service sufficient to cover their first 
and upkeep costs, and have paid a dividend in 
addition, they will be scrapped; there will be 
no attempt to build flying machines to last for 
ever or even for a life-time. 

Aeroplane engines arc now as long lived and 
reliable as car engines, bearing in mind the dif- 
ference in the class of work done. The units 
for war service are exceptional and have no more 
relation to the aeroplane proper than has the 
high-speed racing car engine to its more plebeian 
brother in the touring car or motor truck; none 
the less, the experience gained in building air- 
craft for war will be of great value just as is the 
experience gained on the racing track or in the 
great International car races. 

Apart from the question of flying and landing 
speed already treated of, a limit is reached when 
wing surface will support no further weight, 
and if more must be carried bigger supporting 
surfaces must be provided. This can be done 
in three ways. Present designs can be adhered 
to and the wing surface extended; the number 
of wings can be increased; or both suggestions 
can be incorporated in the one machine. Con- 
sidering the first idea: it is not an impossibility 
to have wings one hundred yards long, but the 

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CONSTRUCTION OF. MODERN AEROPLANES 

mechanical difficulties are so many and varied 
that at present it is impractical. There would 
be the problem of housing the monster, of pro- 
viding sufficiently powerful engines, of staying, 
Strutting, wiring and reducing head resistance, 
of designing control gear strong yet delicate 
enough for the pilot to handle, and other in- 
cidental matters. Nor can the number of wings 
be added to indefinitely. The Wrights used a 
biplane in 1909 which supported 2.05 lbs. per 
square foot. M. Bleriot, who believed in me- 
chanical simplicity and who had not the experi- 
ence of other constructors to guide him, be- 
lieved in the monoplane, and his cross-Channel 
machine carried a load of 4.5 lbs. per square 
foot. Modern machines carry loads very much 
greater than either of these, and in addition, con- 
structional methods and materials are vastly im- 
proved. Greater knowledge of design has made 
it possible to reduce the exposed surface to a 
minimum, and in 1917 triplanes were being built 
which had practically no external wires, and 
wind resistance, by careful streamlining, had 
been very greatly reduced. These machines 
achieved tremendous speed and probably indi- 
cated the lines along which the aeroplanes of 
future^ttll be constructed. Greater sup- 
be given by fitting extra 
■'. — an old idea revived, 




AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

experience now having shown how each wing 
may be set to do its full share of work — and by 
having each wing, or possibly the main planes 
only, telescopic. The main planes, and possibly 
the tail, will fold up for convenience in housing. 
Head resistance will be reduced by streamlining 
and by fitting under-carriages which when the 
machine is in flight will telescope into the body 
of the aeroplane. The question of increased en- 
gine power may safely be left to the engineers 
who have doubled and trebled the capacity of 
their power plants in rather less than three years. 

From the foregoing it may seem that the im- 
provements written of are matters for the future 
with quite an element of doubt as to whether 
some will materialise at all, but such an im- 
pression would be entirely wrong. In point of 
fact, much has already been accomplished. In- 
deed, but for the difficulty of writing about 
definite machines without giving offence to the 
authorities, this text could be illustrated by ma- 
chines actually in existence. 

A final word may be said about the construc- 
tion of the aeroplane in the modern way or, if 
the reader prefer it, the modern aeroplane. In 
the future the machines will be standardised and 
built in much the same way as motor-cars or any 
other engineering product in great demand. Or- 
ders for the individual components will be given 
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CONSTRUCTION OF MODERN AEROPLANES 
out to the respective shops; from the stores will 
be taken the finished parts for building the com- 
plete unit; there will be the final testing and 
painting; and . . . the public will apply for 
the maker's catalogue and go home to discuss 
with the feminine members of the family 
whether the new machine shall be a fast two- 
seater or a comfortable and slower " family " 
'bus which will take the children and the lug- 
gage. As with motor-cars the ladies will decide 
the appearance and colour; the men will be left 
to choose engine power and to write out the 
cheques. 



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CHAPTER VIII 



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THE importance of the engine to the aero- 
plane has been repeatedly discussed, and 
it is not going too far to state that had satisfac- 
tory engines been available sooner the practical 
flying machine would have made its appearance 
at a considerably earlier date. The main prin- 
ciples of mechanical flight were known and to 
an extent understood a century and more ago. 
Sir George Cayley, for example, outlined a plan 
which some decades later, in 1843, was carried 
into effect in a model built by later investigators. 
This model had a total of 80 square feet of sup- 
porting surface, it had two propellers, flexible 
wings and tail for controlling movement in the 
air actuated by pulleys and cords, covering 
fabric was laid over the structure as in modern 
practice, a central mast for staying the wings was 
fitted, and wheels were provided for the pre- 
liminary movement over the ground while the 
machine was gathering its flying speed. Alto- 
gether the model was startlingly like many later 
aeroplanes. Calculations showed that a fuU- 
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AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

sized aeroplane to these designs would need in 
all 10,500 square feet of supporting surface, 
which, at a load of J^ lb. to the square foot, 
would carry well over 5,000 lbs. dead weight; 
the 25 h.p. steam engine which was to be used, 
together with fuel and passenger, would make 
the full weight of the loaded aeroplane up to 
3,000 lbs., leaving a margin in hand for profit 
earning! , 

In 1902 Professor Langley, an Americai 
scientist, built a machine which it pleased bin 
to call an " aerodrome," and which was ven 
similar in appearance to the early machines suo 
cessfully flown by other makers. No actua; 
flights were made with it, however, until Ml 
G. H. Curtiss, the well-known American air 
craft constructor, rescued the machine from thi 
museum it was housed in, thirteen years latet^ 
and made successful flights without finding new 
for any radical alteration in the design. Th( 
late Sir Hiram Maxim also built a steam-drivei 
aeroplane which developed appreciable lifting 
powers. From these and other facts it foUowi 
that no real progress could be made until suit- 
able engines were available. At last this statti 
of affairs was reached. 

The development of the internal-combustion 

engine will be recognised by future generations 

as one of the most important steps in the world's •■ 

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progress, tor it made possible both the motor- 
car and the aeroplane. It had many advantages 
over other power units. Power and lightness 
were combined in it, trustworthiness was simply 
a matter of time and mechanical improvement, 
it was compact, and there seemed no good reason 
why it should not be capable of almost infinite 
development. Although there were many diffi- 
cult problems to be overcome and progress 
seemed slow at times, improvements were in 
reality made almost at lightning speed. In a 
year or so the little single-cylindered air-cooled 
engines rated as of 3 or 4 h.p. had given place to 
the two-cylindered water-cooled unit, and this 
in its turn to the four- and six-cylindered affairs 
— allowing for occasional delvings into three 
cylinders and curious groupings — which have 
themselves of late been rivalled by the eight- and 
twelve-cylindered units. Continuously the trend 
has been towards lightness, trustworthiness, fuel 
and oil economy, and greater power. The per- 
fecting of magneto ignition was a great step for- 
ward; in its way and its day it was as important 
as the engine itself. Germany, realising this to 
the full, made a great effort to capture what was 
considered to be a " key " industry, and like so 
many of her other plans this one also nearly suc- 
ceeded. But again Germany failed in not giving 
credit for sufficient intelligence to her enemies. 

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AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

The U.S.A., naturally independent, had no lik- 
ing for buying German magnetos, and her engi- 
neers had succeeded in building parts equally 
as reliable as those originating in Europe; In 
addition they had developed a battery system 
which on the outbreak of war was beginning to 
rival the magneto. What Britain and France 
lost from Germany they made good from 
America. 

The Wrights used an adapted four-cylindered 
car engine in their first practical aeroplane. 
Lightness they knew to be an important con- 
sideration, but power and trustworthiness were 
thought to be more important still. Other en- 
gines were soon being used in Europe but they 
were all adaptations in some form or other of the 
car engine. The first rotary engine which was 
a Gnome marked the most important step in 
the progress of the aeroplane since the Wrights 
first flew at Dayton. It was designed primarily 
with a view to its use in flying machines, and it 
at once doubled the power available and halved 
the weight. Naturally it was not perfect. Its 
extravagance in lubricating oil made it almost 
impossible for the thriftily inclined to consider 
flying as a business ; the valve arrangements were 
so unmechanical that engineers said the engine 
would not run at all, and when actually con- 
fronted with it in operation declared that they 
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'didn't believe it! Fuel was fed to the cylinders 
through a hollow crank-shaft and the crank- 
chamber, and the connecting-rods were all 
geared to one crank-pin through a main connect- 
ing-rod. The exhaust valves were located cen- 
trally in the cylinder heads, and with forced 
lubrication and the revolving mass of the cylin- 
ders whirling round at over i,ooo revolutions 
per minute, it is not difficult to understand 
where a big percentage of the lubricating oil 
went to. The original Gnome engines also pre- 
sented economic difficulties in the matter of fuel, 
for, owing to the automatic inlet valves, any 
throttle control was in effect impossible, and the 
engine ran always at top speed. 

Improvements were effected by admitting the 
gas to the combustion chamber through slots in 
the skirts of the cylinders and by fitting mechani- 
cally operated valves. Naturally it was not long 
before other concerns took this type of engine 
in hand and, so they claimed, improved it. This 
is no place to side with either a yea or nay; let 
it be sufficient that when war came both the 
original inventors and makers and their more or 
less friendly rivals and competitors went on 
making engines for Hun-strafing purposes, and 
did it very well. Coincidentally with the de- 
velopment of the rotary engine other makers 
were giving attention to engines of quite an- 
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AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

Other type — the vertical and V-shaped water- 
cooled units, and by 1914 very remarkable and 
gratifying results had been achieved. 

When war broke out Germany had at least 
three works of considerable output capacity 
turning out well-proved vertical engines and 
other establishments making the rotary units 
under licence from the original patentees. 
France had dozens of makers of both good and 
bad engines. England was in much the same 
position as her Ally, with the difiference that the 
British Government had never been able to see 
any virtue in any British production. In direct 
consequence when war broke out not a single 
aero or seaplane belonging to the British Gov- 
ernment had a British-built engine in iti A re- 
markable record was then set up. One of the 
most successful French engines was dismantled, 
measured to the last detail, drawings and pat- 
terns were put in hand, and seven weeks after the 
start the completed unit was on the test bench. 
It was easier at that time to build engines than 
magnetos, and it was the United States that saved 
the situation until such time as British makers 
could get hold of it, which after a time they 
did so well that it is more than likely Germany 
lost for ever an industry worth millions of 
pounds per annum. 

No startlingly new departures were made in 
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engine construction under the stress of war, un- 
less, of course, acceleration in output from 
nothing in one year to something like i,ooo 
engines per weeic in three years or the doubling 
and trebling of the horse-power be regarded as 
startling. Germany went along steadily, keep- 
ing to her standardised units, which underwent 
steady improvement during the war, and be- 
cause of her carefully set policy doing wonders 
in keeping step with the combined resources of 
the Allies — for a while. France built rotaries 
and a few big-powered V-type engines. Italy 
put out some very excellent units, mostly in the 
vertical and V-type classes, and England began 
to make one or two splendid engines of native 
design, such as the 250 h.p. six-cylindered Rolls- 
Royce, the 6-, 12- and i8-cylindered Sunbeams, 
and the B.H.P. unit, built by the Galloway En- 
gineering Co. The " Raf " engines — Atiglice, 
the designs of the Royal Aircraft Factory of un- 
happy memories — were built by many different 
engineering concerns throughout the country, 
and other makers were encouraged to build en- 
gines of approved design. Although writing 
almost on the heels of the event, it would be in- 
admissible, when writing of aero engines and 
their production in war-time, to omit reference 
to the American " Liberty " unit, which has 
created many world's records and which very 
177 




AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

possibly will prove the deciding factor in the 
war. The United States Secretary for War is 
the most competent to speak of this particular 
unit and its making. He says : — 

" I regard the invention and rapid develop- 
ment of this engine as one of the really big ac- 
complishments of the United States since its 
entry in the war. The engine was brought about 
through the co-operation of more than a score of 
engineers, who pooled their skill and trade 
secrets in the war emergency. . 

" One of the first problems which confronted 
the War Department and the Aircraft Produc- 
tion Board after the declaration of hostilities 
was to produce quickly a dependable aviation 
motor. Two courses were open. One was to 
encourage manufacturers to develop their own 
types; the other to bring the best of all types 
together and develop a standard. The neces- 
sity for speed and quantity of production re- 
sulted in a choice of the latter course, and a 
standard motor became our engineering ob- 
jective. 

" Two of the best engineers in the country, 
who had never before seen each other, were 
brought together at Washington, and the prob- 
lem of producing an ail-American engine, at the 
earliest possible moment, was presented to them. 
», . . For five days neither man left the suite 

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of rooms engaged for them. Consulting engi- 
neers and draughtsmen from various sections of 
the country were brought to Washington to 
assist them. The work in the draughting room 
proceeded continuously, day and night. Each 
of the two engineers in immediate charge of 
motor development alternately worked a 24-hour 
shift. 

" An inspiring feature of this work was the 
aid rendered by consulting engineers and motor 
manufacturers, who gave up their trade secrets 
under the emergency of war needs. Realising 
that the new design would be a Government de- 
sign, and no firm or individual would reap sel- 
fish benefit because of its making, the motor 
manufacturers, nevertheless, patriotically re- 
vealed their trade secrets, and made available 
trade processes of great commercial value. 
These industries have also contributed the serv- 
ices of approximately 200 of their best draughts- 
men. . . . 

" A remarkable American engine was actually 
produced three weeks before any model could 
have been brought from Europe. It was prom- 
ised that this engine would be developed before 
July 4th. Twenty-eight days after the drawings 
were started the new engine was set up. This 
was on July 3rd. In order to have the engine 
in Washington, and in actual running order at 
179 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

the nation's capital on Independence Day, the 
perfected engine was sent from a Western city 
in a special express car. . . . 

" Parts of the first engine were turned out at 
twelve different factories, located all the way 
from Connecticut to California. When the parts 
were assembled the adjustment was perfect, and 
the performance of the engine was wonderfully 
gratifying. Thirty days after the assembling of 
the first engine, preliminary tests justified the 
Government in formally accepting the engine as 
the best produced in any country. 

"While it is not deemed expedient to discuss 
in detail the performances and mechanics of the 
new motor, it may be said that standardisation 
is a chief factor in the development of the Gov- 
ernment's motor. Cylinders, pistons and every 
other part of the motor have been standardised. 
They may be produced rapidly and economically 
by a great many factories operating under Gov- 
ernment contracts. They may be as rapidly 
assembled, either by these plants or at a central 
assembly plant. The new engine amounts prac- 
tically to an international model. It embodies 
the best there is in American engineering, and 
the best features of European models, so far as 
it has been possible to adapt the latter to Ameri- 
can manufacturing methods. . . . 

" The standardisation of parts materially 



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Simplifies the problem of repair and main- 
tenance. Spare parts will be promptly avail- 
able at all times. Even the cylinders are de- 
signed separately. It is possible to build the 
new engine in four models, ranging from four 
to twelve cylinders, and under the standardisa- 
tion plan now worked out an eight-cylinder or a 
twelve-cylinder model can be made, using the 
same standard cylinders, pistons, valves, cam 
shafts, and so on. This will make the question 
of repairs a comparatively simple matter. The 
parts of wrecked eight-cylinder or twelve- 
cylinder engines will be interchangeable, and a 
new engine may be assembled from the parts of 
wrecked machines. 

" The standardisation of the new engine does 
not mean there will be no change in it during 
the war. There will be continuous experimenta- 
tion, as new types and improvements develop at 
the front, and new ideas are born of the war 
emergency. If the engine can be improved, it 
will be improved; but as the motor stands to-day 
it is one of wonderful success, and produced 
under dramatic circumstances. Construction of 
the new standard engine will not interfere with 
the continued manufacture of other serviceable 
models, either European or American, which 
existing plants are already turning out. The 
production of the United States motor will be 
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AIRCRAPT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

carried on almost entirely in a new and expand- 
ing industrial field. 

" The Government is sometimes asked, * Why 
does not the United States adopt one of the suc- 
cessful British or French high-powered ma- 
chines and manufacture them?' British and 
French machines, as a rule, are not adapted to 
American manufacturing methods. They are 
highly specialised machines, requiring much 
handwork from mechanics who are, in fact, 
artisans. It would require a year or more to 
teach American manufacturers and their me- 
chanics to turn out such high-specialised aero- 
planes." 

Few things proved more embarrassing to the 
Allies than the many different aero engines they 
were called on to use. England had, as near as 
makes no matter, about forty different engines 
in use, and France nearly fifty. There was no 
fault to be found with the performance of the 
majority; the trouble consisted in the supply of 
spare parts and in the delay in production in- 
evitable when so many firms, in addition to 
building new engines, had to give part of their 
workshops over to the making of spares in order 
to keep their own machines in the air. In many 
cases not even magneto housings or propeller 
couplings were interchangeable. 

Although experts of many kinds have suffered 



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in reputation during the war there were some, a 
very few, who greatly increased whatever repu- 
tation they held in 1914. Among these are the 
more prominent designers of aero engines who, 
being asked simply to give of their best without 
regard to time, season or the work of rivals, did 
work that, in ordinary times, would have set the 
world by the ears. Therefore, as a summing up 
to this chapter on aircraft engines, it is proposed 
to give the views of Mr. Louis Coatalen, chief 
engineer and designer of the Sunbeam Motor 
Car Company, who designed the famous Sun- 
beam-Coatalen engines which are now being 
manufactured under licence in America by the 
Stirling Engine Company, of Buffalo, N. Y. 

Mr. Coatalen makes the following points, 
amongst others, in regard to aero engines. 
Weight is of prime importance. Cost is not the 
deciding factor provided the necessary amount 
of power is obtained for the given overall dimen- 
sions of the engine, for its weight both as re- 
gards material and fuel, water and lubricant 
consumption; and that the desired degree of 
reliability is obtained. The amount of labour 
necessary to produce a satisfactory aircraft en- 
gine of high output is, and will be, always many 
times what is necessary in the case of a car en- 
gine, and is a matter of secondary importance 
provided the desired results are obtained. No 

■83 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

machining is too expensive if it saves weight 
Silence is relatively unimportant. The aircraft 
engine does all its work at practically full 
power. Flexibility is of very secondary impor- 
tance. 

The aircraft engine of to-day is not akin to 
the standard motor-car one. Admittedly, the 
twain are collaterals, both deriving from a com- 
mon stock, the four-stroke cycle, petrol internal 
combustion engine. For the rest, the aircraft 
engine of to-day is, perhaps, as little like the 
standard motor-car one as that resembles the 
variety used on a commercial motor vehicle or 
that installed in a motor-boat. By contrast, there 
is another type of engine specially built, which 
has much in common with the aero engine. In 
the unit of racing motor-cars: Weight is of im- 
portance. Cost is unimportant. The amount of 
labour and the time necessary for production are 
matters of relative indifference provided the 
maximum output of horse-power is obtained for 
a given size of engine. That demand has led 
manufacturers to employ overhead valves, which 
are also used in aviation service, and which so far 
have been employed comparatively little in stand- 
ard car practice, partly on account of the prin- 
ciple not being so quiet in operation as the side- 
valve system. Every part of a racing car engine 
must be machined. The connecting rods arc 



I 



ENGINES 

milled to the minimum section, and so forth. 
Silence is of no importance whatever. The rac- 
ing car engine does all its work at practically 
full power, but the evenness of its torque has to 
be extended over very much wider ranges of 
speed than is needed so far in the case of an air- 
craft engine. From i,6oo to 3,400 crank-shaft 
revolutions a minute is called for in the former 
case, whereas in the latter the normal speed is 
2,100. The last-named figure chances to be no 
less than 1,300 revolutions a minute slower than 
the capacity of Sunbeam racing car engines. 
Therefore it will be appreciated that the engine 
for racing car service is submitted to bigger 
stresses than the present-day aviation engine; 
but that this period of high stress in the case of 
the vehicle variety is much shorter than obtains 
in that of the aviation type unless, indeed, the 
car is being run on a track. Even in that event 
twelve consecutive hours is considered a very 
long spell, whereas in aircraft service that period 
of uninterrupted power output is held to be all 
in the day's work. The racing car engine re- 
sembles the aviation type in that a very high 
mean effective pressure has to be obtained with 
both. In some racing car engines it has 
amounted to 135 lbs. to the square inch, taken 
from the brake horse-power developed at the 
flywheel. As the problem is power for engine 
i8s 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

weight and volume, and not silence and low cost, 
great freedom is allowed the racing car engine 
designer as regards piston clearances, valve 
timing, compression, largeness of valve area, 
strength of valve springs, and so forth, the op- 
portunities in this connection approximating 
much more to aviation than to standard car 
engine practice. Comparatively large horse- 
power is needed in the case of all engines for 
racing cars, the average being anything from 
80 to 225 h.p. 

To approach the problem from the correct 
point of view, says Mr. Coatalen, we must recog- 
nise that the outstanding desiderata in design- 
ing aircraft engines to-day may be summarised 
thus: — 

(a) Light weight, combined with low fuel 
and oil consumption, per horse-power. 

(b) Reliability. 

If we can but attain those characteristics with 
units of not less than, say, 200 h.p. — better still, 
if we can exploit them in units each up to 600 
h.p.— then we can afford more or less to neglect 
other desiderata as being of minor importance. 
Nevertheless, happily, we can already go a fair 
way towards realising what we might style the 
minor desiderata which at this period of the war 
include: — 

(a) Simplification to the utmost in face of 



ENGINES 



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of a great number of men 
even flying and maintaining 



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these engines being placed, for the most part, 

in the hands 

semi-skilled 

them. 

(b) Fool-proof as much as possible in that 
some of the most daring Service fliers have not- 
either the temperament or the understanding to 
spare the engines of which they are put in 
charge. 

(c) Accessibility in face of the frequent at- 
tention needed by all aircraft engines and of 
the fortunes of war rendering it necessary on 
occasion to replace the most vital parts. 

(d) Standardisation because for the first time 
in the story of motor engineering we are making 
engines of high output in series in place of about 
a half-dozen examples at a time. 

(e) Suitability of exterior form that the 
power plant may be accommodated conveniently 
in the aircraft and occasion the minimum dis- 
placement. 

Thus there are strict limits to the diametrical 
size of radial engines, whether of the rotary or 
of the stationary type, which it is profitable to 
employ for aircraft work; while in regard to 
the vertical, or to the V-type engines, the nature 
of the particular service to which each individ- 
ual engine is to be put likewise imposes certain 
limits. In certain cases strict limits must be 

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AIRCRAFi: IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

set to overall length of the engine, particularly 
at a time of war in the air, when, at need, it is 
essential to lose the minimum time in altering 
the flight path of the machine from a diving atti- 
tude to a very steep climbing one. Again, some 
sorts of aircraft call for the minimum engine 
head resistance, but are less imperative as to 
overall length ; hence the six-cylinder type would 
be suitable for such service, whereas the V-typc 
variety would not be. 

In regard to the general arrangement of air- 
craft engines, there are several main types, each 
of which involves advantages as well as dis- 
advantages. The business of the designer is to 
effect the best compromise possible to fulfil the 
particular class of service that is had in mind in 
scheming the individual engine. 

Of course, multi-cylinders are common to all 
types of aircraft engines. But the arrangement 
of the cylinder groupings and settings differs 
entirely as between one type and another. 
Doubtless the most generally favoured form is 
the V type with either twelve or eight cylinders 
per unit, these being set in two rows on a com- 
mon crank-case whereby one crank-shaft suffices 
because one crank-pin serves for each pair of 
opposed cylinders. 

Undoubtedly next in order of importance 
the radial type, in which the cylinders are set 



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ENGINES 

^^n^'or more planes with axes radiating from 
the centre line of the crank-shaft. 

The two sub-divisions of the radial type of 
engine are the rotating and the fixed variety. 

What we may style the straight-line engine 
constitutes the third main type. In this four, 
more generally six, and, in a few examples, even 
eight cylinders, or twelve, are placed in a line 
and are set vertically on a crank-case, the pistons 
and connecting rods acting as a crank-shaft with 
one crank-pin per cylinder in the orthodox 
fashion of motor-car engine practice. 

Inasmuch as each of these three types has 
advantages peculiar to itself, it follows that 
each is the most suitable so far available for 
some particular form of aircraft. For instance, 
the cross-section or wind resistance area per 
horse-power is least in the straight-line engine 
and most in the rotating radial type. This in- 
cludes the loss of power necessary to rotate the 
engine. The fore and aft length of the engine, 
however, which is of great importance in some 
aircraft, is least per horse-power in the case of 
the rotating radial type and greatest per horse- 
power in the straight-line engine. Moreover, 
when the straight-line engine is water-cooled, as 
is generally the case, the rotating radial type 
gains a further advantage on the score of de- 
creased weight per horse-power. Against this, 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

however, the economy of fuel and oil consump- 
tion which can be obtained with the straight- 
line water-cooled engine is appreciably greater 
than is possible with the rotating air-cooled type 
as designed to-day. 

Somewhere between the two contrasted types 
of engines as regards the problems of wind re- 
sistance and overall length is what is styled the 
V type of motor, wherein weight per horse- 
power is lighter than in the straight-line engine, 
owing, of course, to the proportionately much 
greater crank-shaft size in relation to the num- 
ber of cylinders employed. But if we consider 
the case of the air-cooled V-type engine, under 
the score of weight per horse-power, of course, 
it has to yield place to the rotating radial 
type. 

Yet another type which I have produced 
and standardised during 1917 with highly satis- 
factory results is a development of the V form 
of engine in which more than two rows of 
cylinders are placed on a common crank-case. 
The particular engine had in mind employs 
three rows, each of six cylinders, on a common 
crank-case, each crank-pin being connected to 
three pistons by articulated rods. In this 18- 
cylinder unit the centre lines of the cylinder 
make, in relation each to the other, an angle of 
40 degrees. This allows of a very good firing 
190 



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ENGINES 

diagram. This type of engine is one that is con- 
sidered very promising for units of very large 
power. As regards weight per horse-power, it 
has advantages over both the V and the straight- 
line types of engines. 

With regard to the question of weight, the 
purpose for which the particular aircraft is re- 
quired is of prime importance. Ohviously, in 
the case of the engine in a machine designed for 
short flights only, the consumption of fuel and of 
lubricant is of less importance than the weight 
of the engine itself, whereas in the case of the 
heavier sorts of aircraft with which flights of 
long duration are obtained and for which great 
power per engine is needed, the consumption 
assumes much more importance than the actual 
weight of the engine. In these latter cases effi- 
ciency as regards the weight of the power unit 
has to be arrived at by taking the weight of the 
engine complete with the amount of fuel and 
oil that would be consumed in the course of a 
flight of, say, five or six hours' duration. Thus 
for short flights the rotary type of engine gen- 
erally and the air-cooled varieties are apt to 
show up to advantage, though in them consump- 
tion may be comparatively high, because this is 
offset by the relative lightness of their starting 
weight. To my knowledge, says IMr. Coatalen, 
in the brief period of two years there has been 
391 



AIRCRAFT. IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

obtained with this type a reduction in weight 
from 4.3 lbs. per h.p. to 2.6 lbs. per h.p. 

As applied to aircraft engines, the proposition 
of carburation stands to-day somewhat on a basis 
of compromise. For this reason experiments 
now being carried out are directed towards ob- 
taining more efficient and economical carbura- 
tion. The tests made on Sunbeam-Coatalen air- 
craft engines at the manufacturers' works at 
Wolverhampton have shown a petrol consump- 
tion of .52 pint per h.p. per hour, coupled with 
an oil consumption of .022 pint per h.p. per 
hour. It will be readily agreed that this stands 
for a distinct advance on consumption by en- 
gines using ordinary type carburetters so re- 
cently as at the beginning of the war. 

When this war began there was relatively little 
fighting in the air, and the average flying was 
done at anything from 4,000 feet to 6,000 feet. 
To-day our airmen rarely go over the lines at 
less than 16,000 feet, and fighting has taken place 
certainly at altitudes of 21,000 and 22,000 feet. 
Accordingly, it will be realised that at the out- 
set of the campaign the problem of altitude was 
not thrust to such an extent on the attention of 
the designer and the manufacturer because such 
modest heights were deemed sufficient for aerial 
reconnaissance and other work, whereas in the 
interval it has become imperative to navigate the 
192 



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air at such vastly increased heights that the dif- 
ference in atmospheric pressure can be ignored 
no longer, for the sufficient reason that the alti- 
tudes in question could neither be attained nor 
maintained if the problems presented had not 
been solved, at least in part, already. They con- 
cern both carburation and engine compression, 
as well as the matter of cooling. As to carbura- 
tion, the influence of altitude is quite the most 
important matter now engaging the attention of 
designers. 

Assuredly it is interesting to compare present- 
day achievement with results of, say, three years 
ago, as instance those obtained at the Naval and 
Military Aeroplane Engine Competition in 
1914. As a result, it will be found that then the 
use of aluminium was practically confined to the 
crank-case only. Its application to the construc- 
tion of pistons and other small parts of the air- 
craft engine was not known. Further, we find 
that the maximum mean effective pressure was 
approximately 106.5 'bs. per square inch, and 
that the average fuel consumption was .6 pint 
per h.p. per hour. The weight of the engine 
with fuel for a run of six hours' duration varied 
from 9.55 in the case of the rotary air-cooled 
variety to 11.27 '" ^^^ ^^ ^^ vertical water- 
cooled type. 

By contrast, to-day the mean effective pressure 

193 




aircrjvft in war and commerce 

standardised has been increased to 135 lbs. per 
square inch, measured from the brake horse- 
power and, in some cases, actually through the 
reduction gear. At the same time fuel consump- 
tion has been reduced to .52 pint per h.p. per 
hour, while the weight of the V-type water- 
cooled engine has been brought down to 6 lbs. 
per h.p. per hour with fuel and oil for a six- 
hours' effort, all of which Mr. Coatalen holds to 
represent a notable rate of progress achieved in 
the brief period of less than three years. 

As regards the heart of the aeroplane, its 
power plant, there is no sound reason for adher- 
ing to the general attitude of the British public, 
which is to decry home achievement, praise all 
foreign endeavour and, notably, to set German 
effort on a pedestal as something unapproach- 
able. How erroneous is that idea when applied 
to the aircraft engine proposition you may 
gather from a single instance. Take the latest 
6-cylinder water-cooled German Mercedes air- 
craft engine of the four valves per cylinder type. 
Without radiator and water that weighs 3^^ 
lbs. per h.p. Now in this country there are de- 
signed and produced water-cooled engines 
which, without water and radiator, weigh 2.6 
lbs. per h.p., nearly i lb. per h.p. lighter than 
the best known German performance. 



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194 



ACCESSORIES 



CHAPTER IX 



Accessories 



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THE day of great public interest in acces- 
sories is not yet. It will come when air- 
craft is as much part of the public life as 
the present big parcel delivery concerns; 
when there is a choice of aircraft for the 
same purpose and, more than anything else, 
when the makers, in their desire to attract 
attention to their productions by advertising 
a nice, round attractive figure without cut- 
ting too deeply into profit, begin to sell "bare 
chassis and wings." Then, indeed, will users 
rise in their wrath and hie them to the nearest 
accessory dealer, there to be sold a round dozen 
articles of greater nattiness than serviceability, 
while on their departure the dealer will dictate 
urgent letters demanding new " lines " from 
manufacturers to stenographers whose dreams 
are ever of the old happy days of inflated salaries 
and never-ending afternoon teas in Government 
employ before a disastrous peace broke out! 
What sort of accessories will be needed? Cer- 
tainly there will be demands for improved shocK 

197 



AIRCRAPT, IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

absorbers for landing purposes to begin with. 
It may be argued that the makers of the aero- 
planes will see to such matters. They don't and 
won't, at least not for many years, as witness 
motor-car springing to-day, which, to be really 
satisfactory, needs to be fitted with absorbers 
and grease-retaining gaiters. So that there will 
be needed all kinds of signalling appliances, 
lamps and so forth; indicators by the dozen for 
the convenience and knowledge of pilots and 
passengers; heating appliances, safety belts, 
parachutes, map-holders, ventilators and gear 
of many descriptions. Many years hence a time 
will come, however, just as it has with cars, 
when no very special impedimenta will be 
needed beyond those fitted as standard. In the 
meantime pilots will need tachometers for indi- 
cating engine speed, oil and petrol pressure 
gauges and other gauges to show the petrol level 
in the tank, aneroid barometer, compass (special 
aviation type, an unusually ingenious instru- 
ment), gradometer to show the angle of inclina- 
tion in Jiight, air speed indicator, drift metres, 
lee-way and petrol flow indicators. 

Ten years ago the motorist needed a special 
leather or fur coat when driving, simply because 
his car was not fitted with a wind screen. Now- 
adays the average man, whether he be driving 
himself in an open car or travelling with his 



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ACCESSORIES 
chauffeur, steps into the vehicle in everyday 
attire and has no thought of muffling up for 
" motoring." Much the same thing is happen- 
ing in flying. The first machines carried the 
pilot in a prone position, and it requires no great 
imagination to visualise how much exposed the 
aviator would be if called on to cover two or 
three hundred miles on a cold winter day at a 
height of some thousands of feet. A little later 
the pilot's seat was located well in front of the 
main planes, and served excellently well for 
those pictures of the "intrepid aviator" which 
had a vogue for a time. Curiously enough, none 
of the men who now count in the aviation world 
were public favourites of this type. Nowadays, 
however, both pilot and passenger are protected 
from the weather to a remarkable extent by the 
deep bodies fitted to even those fast fighting 
planes where the pilot, in order to loose off a 
drum at a hostile aircraft, has to stand up. In 
peace time the fully enclosed body will receive 
greater attention than ever from the designers, 
and there will be less need for the pilots and 
passengers to pay detailed attention to the matter 
of clothing although, until some satisfactory way 
of heating the body of the machines is evolved, 
leather and fur will naturally be in demand. 

Accessories in the present sense of the word 
means those fittings and machines which are 
199 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

brought by manufacturers from outside sources 
to complete the aeroplanes. Aircraft building 
is now a huge industry in every first-rank coun- 
try. Dotted all over Britain, France, Italy, the 
United States and, of course, the Central Em- 
pires, are workshops of greater or less impor- 
tance making parts of some kind or other for 
aeroplanes. The industry seems to be settling 
down into very scientific ways of production; 
the engines are built in their own shops, the 
wings and tails and other fuselage parts are also 
built in separate establishments, and the com- 
pleted machines are assembled in centralised de- 
partments. From the auxiliary workshops all 
over the country are gathered the detailed com- 
ponents the making of which needs special plant 
and skilled labour. It may be thought that a 
new industry of the importance of aircraft 
would be quite self-contained and independent 
of outside help, setting up each of its own spe- 
cial departments under the control of the one 
organisation. Such a procedure is practically 
impossible. Take an apparently simple thing 
like rubber tubing. It was soon found that the 
tubing on the market was quite unsuited to use 
on aircraft, and the rubber manufacturers were 
asked to produce a tubing able to withstand 
petrol, lubricating oil, widely varying tempera- 
tures and pressures. Rubber is a most uncertain 



1111 ^H 



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ACCESSOBIES 



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substance, and the only reasonably safe guide in 
its working is prolonged experience, so that an 
enormous amount of experiment was needed be- 
fore a suitable construction was discovered. 
For such reasons the aircraft industry must al- 
ways employ numbers of auxiliary manufac- 
turers, who will specialise in such things as 
radiators, landing wheels, tyres, wires, magnetos, 
lighting and engine-starting sets, instruments 
and other products almost without end. 

The growth of demand has been stupendous. 
Irish linen has been found eminently suited to 
aeroplane use, and in direct consequence thou- 
sands of people are now employed in this direc- 
tion alone. The average quantity needed per 
machine is 175 to 200 yards; when America de- 
clared war against Germany the Irish mills 
undertook to supply 4,cndo,ooo extra yards for 
the 22,500 aeroplanes specified in the official 
U.S.A. aircraft programme. Linen for the 
British aeroplanes, it is interesting to note, must 
weigh not more than 4 oz. per square yard. 

Although the aircraft of the future will be of 
the all-metal type for reasons already discussed, 
it is a fact that the majority of the machines built 
during the war were of wood. The average life 
of a war-going machine was between three and 
four months, and so one of the objections lodged 
against the use of wood — namely, its liability to 
201 



AIHCRAPT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

be affected by climatic conditions — did not 
apply; further, there were stocks of wood in 
hand and machines to work it. So great was the 
demand, however, that even the American and 
Canadian lumber trade felt the pressure. About 
i,ooo feet of selected timber is needed in each 
aeroplane, and of this quantity only about 200 
feet is actually used, the remainder being wasted 
in shaping up the struts and spars and in re- 
jected pieces. Before the war only air-dried 
timber was used, and air-drying is a lengthy 
process. So lengthy is it, indeed, that the de- 
mand had in 1917 caught up with and passed 
supply, and but for the ingenuity of the Ameri- 
cans the Allies would have been in an uncom- 
fortably tight corner. When the U.S.A. went 
into the war things began to move at an unparal- 
leled speed. The lumber trade at once signified 
its ability to provide 75,000,000 feet of selected 
wood for aeroplane bodywork, in addition to 
3,000,000 feet of mahogany and black walnut 
for propeller making, and, what was more, a 
special kiln-drying process was invented on 
which the air-drying business " had nothing," 
as they say in the United States, in regard to the 
value of the finished product, and which was 
also tremendously quicker. 

For years the motorist went short of No. 
petrol, which changed its name unofficially, 



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ACCESSORIES 

lying Spirit" Special carburetters were 
needed to deal with the fuel over a big range of 
engine speeds, air pressures and temperatures. 
American engineers built a special vacuum 
chamber for testing the engines in under condi- 
tions approximating to all air pressures and 
temperatures. Lubrication systems for aircraft 
engines were entirely different from motor-car 
systems; the oil had to be kept cooler and sup- 
plied under greater pressure; therefore the oil 
industry itself underwent considerable changes 
in its effort to supply what was needed. 

The machine-tool and wood-working indus- 
tries found themselves growing out of all knowl- 
edge as the demand for aeroplanes became more 
and ever more urgent. The machine-tools had 
to be " fool-proofer " than ever because so many- 
unskilled workers were drawn into the work- 
shops, but in spite of this tolerances or limits of 
error were finer than ever, and the speed of pro- 
duction was increased. In one workshop, for 
example, which employs 8,000 women on the 
making of aeroplane parts, it was estimated that 
it was necessary for the workers to check over 
40,000,000 different machining processes in an 
ordinary working week of 53 hours. The wood- 
working machine people found themselves 
called on to supply all kinds of uncannily in- 
genious tools. When the production of aircraft 
203 



AIRCRAFT IN- WAR AND COMMERCE 

reached a stage when some degree of standardi- 
sation within types became possible, machines 
had to be built for the automatic shaping of 
struts and spars and propellers and dozens of 
other parts which, previously, had been consid- 
ered hand work throughout and possible only to 
the skilled tradesman. 

In the metal trades the growth was in propor- 
tion. Die-casting, an industry that had strug- 
gled for years to obtain the acknowledgment that 
was its due, suddenly found itself vastly impor- 
tant in the scheme of aircraft matters. Skilled 
die-casting can save a big expenditure in ma- 
chining later on. Its products can be guaran- 
teed to very fine limits of decimal fractions of 
an inch, and when chemists and metallurgists 
had produced alloys and metals particularly 
suited to die-casting, very marked advances were 
made, and other manufacturers began to con- 
sider the advisability of purchasing parts which 
needed practically no machining and could be 
guaranteed for density, durability and size. 

Stamping and forging found itself in much 
the same boat, but in an adjoining cabin. There 
is no sense in machining pounds of metal from 
a heavy forging if the stamping specialist is 
prepared to guarantee his products to be, as he 
supplies them, equal in every way to the ma- 
chined part of the manufacturer; nor is there 
204 



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ACCESSORIES 

serious need to cast, say, an engine base-chamter 
when the stamping process will punch out the 
parts at a degree of the cost. Quantity produc- 
tion gave these things a spur, for the expense 
lies more in the making of complicated dies and 
punches than in the actual work when the pre- 
liminary tools are completed. Nor should the 
accessory side of the metal trade be left without 
mention of the improvements made in the weld- 
ing process. At first this business was possible 
only to men of exceptional training and experi- 
ence, and the results were not always cheap nor 
even reliable. As experience was gained, how- 
ever, the process was speeded up, results became 
surer, and the cost decreased. Engine makers 
found increasing use for welding — although it 
must be admitted that, in the fourth year of war, 
the Germans had nothing to learn from the 
Allies judging by the welding on some of the 
aircraft engines to fall into the hands of the 
French and British! 

In addition to all this, the motor vehicle 
manufacturers found themselves called on to 
build completely equipped travelling work- 
shops for the use of aircraft in the field, and 
lorries for the transport of the aeroplanes over- 
land, to the docks, for example, when the ma- 
chines could not be sent under their own power. 
The making of portable buildings for use as 
205 



&VIHCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

workshops, garages, hangars and field offices 
was speeded up very considerably, and although 
the reader may ask; "What has all this to do 
with aircraft accessories, for, surely, these things 
are purely war-time matters?" the answer 
would be to the effect that the reader would 
be mistaken in his legitimate conjecture. 
These are not purely war-time activities. Al- 
ways there will be a demand, for although air- 
craft will not be concentrated in certain regions 
as during the war, it will increase in volume 
and be widely scattered all over the world and 
in outlandish countries oversea, and even in 
Europe and the United States there will remain 
a demand for buildings, motor lorries and other 
things for the service of the aeroplanes. 

The paint and varnish industry has increased 
in direct consequence of the development in air- 
craft, and the manufacture of dope has almost 
come to be an industry in itself. Steel cable 
making has, naturally, had occasion to increase 
output; the armament firms have produced spe- 
cial light bullet-proof steel for the armouring 
of aircraft, and the makers of silent chains, al- 
though the demand is not anything like so great 
as it may be in the future when every machine 
has gearing between engine and propeller, have 
found it necessary to produce special chains for 
the new industry. 

206 



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ACCESSORIES 

Use has been found for quite a number of 
special proprietary articles, as, for example, a 
bullet-proof glass which is, in addition, prac- 
tically splinter-proof. Where, to give a clear 
all-round view, it has been necessary to cut away 
portions of the main planes, with a bad effect 
on the flying powers of the machine, this special 
glass has been found particularly useful. For 
screens and other similar uses it has, of course, 
immense advantages. Such things could be 
multiplied did space allow. 



207 



RAIDS 



RAIDS 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

some very interesting work was attempted. It 
was a heterogeneous assemblage of Allied air- 
craft that set out to bomb the enemy in the con- 
cluding months of 1914. The bulk of the 
French and British machines were hard at work 
on the Western Front, but there were odds and 
ends of seaplanes to be had, and occasionally, 
by some freak of fortune, it was found possible 
to spare a very few land-going machines, so that 
in the raids against the German Zeppelin bases 
in Belgium, French, British and Belgian air- 
craft all took part. The first raiding was done 
by one or two exceptionally daring pilots, each 
of whom was supplied with a map, and who 
trusted to their own sense of locality and initia- 
tive to ensure success. 

It was very soon seen that one or two aero- 
planes carrying small and comparatively ineffec- 
tive bombs were of practically no use in inflict- 
ing damage against fortified positions, although 
the smallest bomb dropped squarely on a Zep- 
pelin or its shed was capable of doing a very 
great deal of damage. At first it was imprac- 
tical to improve the aircraft or to increase the 
destructive powers of the bombs, but slowly the 
number of aeroplanes taking part in the raids 
increased. There was the disadvantage that the 
machines were not alike in type, nor had they 
the same powers of speed, climb and flight 

212 



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RAIDS 

range. The pilots themselves were not even' 
trained in formation flying, an apparently simple 
thing, this latter, which is, however, not nearly 
so simple as would at first sight appear. Later 
on in the war all the combatants found it profit- 
able to devote great attention to formation flying. 
One of the most thrilling and, be it noted, one of 
the most successful of the early raids, was that 
against the German Fleet lying safely protected, 
as the Germans thought, behind the defences of 
Heligoland, Cuxhaven and the Elbe. A 
squadron of British seaplanes went out, accom- 
panied by a light cruiser force, which hoped 
both to protect the aircraft and to have a little 
scrap on its own in case any of the German 
naval birds were flushed. The ships cruised 
about just outside the effective radius of the 
German defences, the seacraft took the air and 
paid the visit to the German Fleet, doing a con- 
siderable amount of damage, and causing con- 
siderably greater consternation. Out came 
Zeppelin airships and aeroplanes, but the 
British aircraft returned, practically intact, 
to the waiting cruisers. There are all the 
ingredients for an exciting novel in this raid, 
for a well-known British airman fell into 
the sea with his machine, and was rescued 
by a torpedo boat destroyer, and a second pilot 
also came down into the sea and reached Eng- 
213 



AIRCRAFT. IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

land in safety because a British submarine 
popped up in the near vicinity at the crucial 
moment and took him aboard, afterwards sink- 
ing the seaplane, which it was not possible to 
salve. It is difficult to estimate the precise 
damage done to the enemy by a raid of this de- 
scription, for, very naturally, the pilots do not 
stand on the order of their going once the bombs 
have been dropped and the defences are in full 
cry. It is extremely ditEcult even to estimate 
with any great degree of accuracy what new 
strain has been imposed on the enemy who, when 
he finds himself vulnerable in some hitherto un- 
suspected quarter, must considerably strengthen 
his defences in men, guns and aircraft, possibly 
to the detriment of some other part of his line 
where such things might very well have been 
more actively and profitably employed. 

To divert for a moment from actual raiding 
matters, the Germans were guilty of poor 
publicity and bad stage management in their 
official communiques dealing with the Zeppeliti 
and aeroplane raids against England. Again 
and again the Hun reports claimed that Lon- 
don's docks had been fired and destroyed, famous 
buildings hit, big railway termini so damaged 
as to interfere with traffic, inland manufactu; 
ing towns and the fortified towns on the coast 
badly damaged, and barracks and depots an. 
214 



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ast ■ 
md ■ 



r 

I 



ammunition works completely destroyed. It is 
always a mistake to underestimate the intelli- 
gence of an opponent, and it would be absurd 
to assume that the German commanders were not 
kept very well informed indeed as to the exact 
amount of damage done during these raids. 
The chief objects of the raids were to inspire 
terror amongst the civil population, to force 
the British to keep in the country artillery and 
trained gun crews which were urgently needed 
elsewhere, to do what amount of material dam- 
age was possible, and at the same time to impress 
neutral opinion with the story of Germany's 
might and England's impotence. Had the 
enemy reports stated that 50 or 1,000 or 10,000 
guns, and 1,000 or 20,000 trained men to handle 
them, were all detained in England as a de- 
fence against German attack, they would have 
had a much better effect on civilian opinion in 
Germany and neutral opinion elsewhere, and the 
British people themselves would have worried 
considerably more than they actually did. 
These read the German reports, went to see the 
exact damage done for themselves, came to the 
conclusion that the Hun was a boasting liar, and 
went about their business. The lies about the 
destruction of docks, railway termini and manu- 
facturing centres were very soon detected, and 
although at first the stories of London in flames 

215 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

made sensational reading in American news 
papers, it was not very long before the truth 
became generally known and the lies discredited. 
The result is that now, when the countries are 
at war, every American knows full well that 
the, German reports are aimed particularly at 
disturbing him without strict regard for the 
truth — are, in fact, more likely than not, lies 
also, and therefore much of the intended effect 
is lost. An interesting study in the German view 
of the mentality of other peoples. 

The art of knowing when and where and how 
and what to bomb is a complex one which de- 
veloped with every succeeding month of war. 
So far as raids against fixed bases are concerned 
the question of exact date is of no particular 
importance. Towns and railway stations, for 
example, are in the same place to-day as next 
week. But experience demonstrated that air 
raids against mobile positions and bases have a 
value not to be despised, and in the third and 
fourth years of war much of the reconnaissance 
flying was carried out with a view to supplying 
particulars for the raiding aircraft which was to 
follow, and in this, as in other matters, speed 
became the essence of the contract Let us 
assume, for the purpose of citing a case, that 
observer in a reconnaissance aeroplane notes 
ten or twelve locomotives and trains at some 
216 



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an ^M 
otes H 

ome ^M 



railway junction over which he happens to be 
flying, and notes also the presence of other trains 
on the railway system all proceeding towards the 
same junction. There can be only one conclu- 
sion. A big store is being established, food and 
troops are being concentrated, or, very possibly, 
both of these and possibly other things are hap- 
pening. A raid undertaken against the junction 
a week afterwards would have very little or no 
effect, but a raid carried out within an hour or 
two of the concentration being seen would in all 
probability occasion damage and delay. Here 
is only one instance of the use of raiding aircraft^ 
but there are numbers of other cases of particu- 
lar work for the raiding aeroplane. As the war 
continued the raiding aircraft seemed to find 
new work almost every day. The French and 
British were less spectacular and only time can 
show whether they were right or not. In one 
month of 1917 over 400 tons of bombs were 
dropped on one of the enemy submarine bases 
on the Belgian coast 

Valuable as a good defensive in guns, search- 
lights and aircraft may be, it cannot, in the very 
nature of things, be nearly as valuable as a suc- 
cessful offensive undertaken against either the 
works wherein the enemy aeroplanes are built 
or the aerodromes where they are housed. The 
British were great believers in this rule and did 
217 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

splendid work against enemy aerodromes follow- 
ing the aeroplane raids against London which 
followed the defeat of the Zeppelins. Although 
the full story of one particular raid was not told 
at the time it may now be told along very broad 
lines, subject to the Censor's approval. One of 
the British machines, forced to descend in enemy 
country by reason of engine trouble, dropped 
through the ground mist and made a forced 
landing. While the pilot was cleaning the plugs 
the observer took a stroll round, for what specific 
purpose even he at a later date was unable to ex- 
plain. Unexpectedly he found himself facing 
an armed German patrol, but retaining his pres- 
ence of mind and knowing that his leather flying 
costume betrayed no hint of identity he at once 
put a question in German as to the locality of the 
aerodrome wherein the Gotha machines were 
housed, explaining that the ground mist had 
upset all his pilot's calculations and that they 
had decided to ascertain the precise locality. 
Mistaking the questioner for one of their own 
men, the patrol supplied the information, and 
hearing the sudden roar of the engine, the ob- 
server thanked his informants, turned and ran 
for his machine, and, a good ascent being made, 
was behind his own lines within a very short 
time. The information thus unexpectedly ac- 
quired was put to good use, for later on in the 
218 



I 



RAIDS 

same day a surprise raid was carried out against 
the German aerodrome where mechanics were 
hard at work on the fifteen Gothas lined up in 
preparation for the flight to England. The 
attacking squadron divided, and while one party 
bombed the hangars, sheds and field workshops, 
the other gave its attention to the machines on 
the ground. Several times the latter swept up 
and down the line bombing machine after ma- 
chine. No official figures of this raid were 
given, although the bombing of the aeroplanes 
was officially mentioned, but in the messes of the 
Royal Flying Corps it was generally believed 
that twelve of the machines had been destroyed, 
that some further number in the hangars and 
sheds had been wrecked and, in addition, 
damage done to the workshops. Whatever 
truth there may be in the story it is a fact that 
some very considerable period elapsed before 
any further aeroplane raid was made against 
England, although the weather at the time in 
question was ideal for raiding purposes. 

Weather, of course, exercises a very great in- 
fluence in aircraft raiding. Navigation instru- 
ments have now been tremendously improved, 
but no pilot likes flying in fog for several rea- 
sons, one being that he cannot see the country 
he is flying over, and another that a forced 
landing means almost certain disaster, and un- 
219 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 
less high flying is indulged in there is the certain 
danger of collision with unseen obstacles. The 
airship has a very great advantage over the aero- 
plane when flying in fog for it can descend 
slowly and practically without danger, can re- 
ascend if the landing cannot safely be made and 
remain in the air without using up its fuel 
supplies for any period up to twenty or thirty 
hours. The same limitations in regard to 
visibility obtain in both cases. Ideal aeroplane 
raiding conditions consist of a fairly clear night 
with the moon rather less than full, with no, or 
very little, wind and drifting clouds at a height 
of some few thousand feet behind which cover 
can be taken from hostile aircraft and the 
ground defences. Airships prefer a moonless, 
starry night. For daylight raiding the aero- 
plane pilot prefers fairly solid cloudbanks at a 
height of a few thousand feet, above which he 
can fly secure from all danger but attack from 
hostile aircraft suddenly descending from a 
greater height. When these conditions prevail 
sudden dives through the cloudbanks can be 
made, the bombs launched, and a return to the 
cloud cover made before the defences are fully 
aware from whence the danger is coming. For 
such work it is necessary to have a good knowl- 
edge of the country flown over, in addition to 
accurate maps, for only by careful calculation 

220 



i 



j^l 



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RAIDS 

ana me aid of navigating instruments can the 
pilot be reasonably sure of being over the 
objective before the dive is made. Sudden darts 
below the clouds, however, can be made fof the 
purpose of checking position and locality and, 
often enough, there are openings through which 
a bird's-eye view can be taken of the ground 
below before a shell can be loosed. The disad- 
vantage is that the defensive receives warning of 
impending attack and is therefore on the alert. 
What the airman does most thoroughly detest 
are white clouds at a comparatively great height 
against which the aeroplane shows in bold relief. 
Clouds are both friendly and unfriendly to air- 
craft; they can be hidden behind on occasion, 
but, on the other hand, some can be accurately 
gauged in regard to height and velocity, and the 
aircraft caught diving through clouds on which 
the anti-aircraft guns are registered has a very 
sorry time of it. 

Isolated raids are not as a rule of great value, 
for in most cases the damage done can be quickly 
repaired. In order to get the best effect con- 
tinuous attacks are necessary, so that the enemy 
cannot make use of the bombed places, and has, 
in addition, to divert men and guns to the de- 
fensive. In 1917 the Italians raided Austrian 
towns and bases on the Adriatic coast with the 
deadly regularity of a mail service. For hours 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

at a lime Italian aeroplanes flew over at four- 
minute intervals, until the Austrians stopped 
their attacks by air against the Italian towns. 
So thoroughly were the raids conducted that 
the defences were completely disorganised and 
the Italian losses were infinitesimal. The 
French and British also raided places of military 
importance behind the lines on the Western 
Front daily and nightly for months on end, only 
the very worst weather keeping the machines 
in their aerodromes. Railway junctions, flying 
grounds, ammunition dumps, general and divi- 
sional headquarters, each and all were "spotted" 
during the day and bombed by night. The Ger- 
mans also developed this raiding of military 
objectives behind the lines, and, as in most other 
things, they began with some little advantage 
in hand, an advantage that was, however, later 
wrenched from them by the Allies. One lesson 
the German raiders taught when they demon- 
strated to the British the folly of big centralised 
railway junctions and exposed ammunition 
dumps in the beginning of 1915. 

When formation flying received the attention 
its importance deserved, the thing became al- 
most a science. Bird flight gave a clue to what 
was needed, and the bombing squadrons in 1917 
took in the air the shape of a triangle flying apex 
forward, the individual machines maintaining 



I 
I 

i 



■"■<£ H 



» 



different heights. The leader takes place of 
honour at the point of the triangle, and the 
others, strung out behind him, have the advan- 
tage of seeing where the first bombs fall and cor- 
recting their own aim accordingly. When air- 
craft fly in this formation it is difficult for the 
ground guns to register on more than one ma- 
chine at a time, for to swamp the whole squadron 
there would have to be very rapid and effective 
means of communication between the ground 
defences. Fast single-seated fighting machines 
accompany the raiding sqifadron, flying on either 
flank, and some thousands of feet above, and it 
is the special work of these to beat off the attacks 
of hostile aircraft while the bombers are register- 
ing on the objective below. A special type of 
fighter is necessary, for it must have a big flight 
range in addition to speed and power of 
manceuvre. The fighting machines used with 
the armies in the field are highly specialised 
units of extremely limited powers. Being never 
very far away from their base, there is no ad- 
vantage gained in carrying unnecessary fuel sup- 
plies, and their work in consequence is sharp 
and sudden. The units accompanying the bomb- 
ing squadrons, however, are in very different 
case, for they must have a flight range equal to 
that of the heavier machines, and no great dis- 
advantage in performance when compared with 
223 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

the fast and lighter scouts sent up by the defence. 
Although the attacking force on starting is 
heavily loaded with fuel and ammunition, dead 
weight has been considerably reduced when the 
objective has been reached, because approxi- 
mately half the fuel supply has been used, and 
when the bombs also have been released, both 
speed and climb increase. A 400 or 500-mile 
round flight in 1917 represented a high-class 
bombing performance, and as it would be folly 
to send up defending machines with fuel in- 
sufficient for at least 100 miles of flying, when a 
single running fight may easily cover 50 or 60 
miles, the advantage to the defenders is not so 
great. Successful defence by aircraft against 
aircraft depends on forcing an engagement be- 
fore the objective has been reached. The 
bombing machines themselves are not fast craft 
as things go, but, on the other hand, they arc 
of distinctly good performance when weight has 
been reduced by consumption of fuel and the re- 
lease of the bombs. They are, however, awk- 
ward opponents to meet in air attack, for the 
latest types are each fitted with several machine- 
guns. A squadron flying at 80 or 90 miles an 
hour, and able to bring concentrated fire to bear 
from anything between 20 to 100 machine-guns, 
is calculated to make things very unpleasant for 
any daring aircraft flying close enough to at- 
224 



i 



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RAIDS 

tempt individual combat. In the latest designs, 
also, the " blind " spots have been almost entirely 
eliminated by careful design, and in the Gothas 
the fuselage is tunnelled out to mount a machine- 
gun for driving off attacks " on the tail." 

The day will undoubtedly come when squad- 
ron fighting in the air will be a recognised 
feature of aerial warfare, and other things being 
equal victory will lie with the squadron leader 
or general most skilful in strategy and the de- 
ployment of his forces. Almost, it will be a 
case of naval manoeuvring again when Nelsons 
of the air will come into their own. A skilful 
general will solve the problem of cutting out 
weaker sections of his opponent's forces and 
destroying them by concentrated attack, and 
every effort will be strained to force the enemy 
into the manoeuvres most desired by his opponent 
— the essence of strategy and tactics, it is said, 
being the power to force manoeuvre on the 
enemy. 

Different type machines and formations will 
eventually be employed for special purposes, 
practically the only rule which can at present 
be laid down is that all the machines compris- 
ing a squadron must be alike so far as speed, 
climb and other matters are concerned. Un- 
like a chain, the speed of an air squadron is not 
equal to that of its slowest unit, but rather to 
225 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

the fastest, the slowest unit simply being in 
need of all the sympathy it can get. In naval 
work squadrons are divided into ships of the 
same class, and any ship which falls out of line 
in action owing to slow speed or injury is prac- 
tically doomed to destruction. The rule was 
well illustrated in the case of the Blucher, sunk 
by the British on the occasion of one of the 
last German cut-and-run raids in any force 
against the English coast 

Raids against big towns during the great war 
caused an amount of confusion and distress quite 
apart from the actual casualties and damage 
done. It became necessary to train and dis- 
cipline the civilian population, and the case of 
London showed how this could be done. A 
considerable percentage of the millions of its 
population was afforded shelter in such places 
as tube railways, underground subways, church 
crypts, and in the basements of bomb-proof 
buildings during the raid periods. The people 
rapidly became accustomed to talce notice of 
the " Take Cover " and " All Clear " announce- 
ments and warnings, and after a while the sys- 
tem worked like machinery. At the best, how- 
ever, this was making the most of the means con- 
veniently to hand, and it is doubtful, even if 
the use of aircraft be prohibited by international 
agreement, whether raids by air will never again 
226 



'&•"" ^m 



take place — the probability being, indeed, that 
they will grow in intensity in the future — build- 
ings, and even cities themselves, must be con- 
structed with a view to being more or less bomb- 
proof. It would be little more expensive to 
build practically a bomb-proof building than in- 
adequately to protect it by means of steel guards 
and other makeshifts. Very probably insurance 
companies will offer special inducements by 
allowing premium concessions on bomb-proof 
buildings, and while the world is not likely to 
witness within the next few years the creation 
of cities armoured like gun-turrets, nor the de- 
velopment of a warren-living populace, there is 
every reason to suppose that there will be a 
growing tendency greatly to strengthen roofs by 
the use of thick layers of steel and reinforced 
concrete. 

There is one aspect of raiding which will in- 
terest even those countries which in the past 
have imagined themselves comparatively free 
from attack by reason of their geographical 
situation and dividing seas. Aircraft will bring 
about a reconsideration of the position of these, 
just as the English have had to readjust their 
views about the impregnability of Great Britain 
because of its salt water defence. Great Britain 
is no longer an island in the military sense, nor 
is either North or South America. The day 
227 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

when great fleets of long-range aeroplanes can 
leave Europe for the purpose of bombing 
American cities is no doubt some considerable 
number of years in the future, but the day when 
New York, Sydney or Cape Town can be bom- 
barded by a European aeroplane is . . . to-day 1 
In writing this there is no sensational desire to 
harrow the feelings of our American Allies, but 
the truth is that the American cities on the coast- 
line are now, in this year of grace, at the mercy 
of Germany, far more so than either London or 
Paris, granted only Germany had the time and 
machines at her disposal. A present-day sub- 
marine could house half-a-dozen seaplanes by 
a little readjustment of internal arrangements, 
and half-a-dozen such craft could unload a very 
destructive air fleet for an attack on New York 
without exposing itself to any great danger other 
than the Allied naval defensive against the sub- 
marines. Within an hour's flight of New York 
the seaplanes could emerge and the bombs car- 
ried by the aircraft would be much heavier and 
far more destructive than those used in the at- 
tacks against London, because there would be no 
need for the aircraft to carry petrol for an ex- 
tended flight. Several trips could be made in I 
the course of one night, the machines returning , 
to their submarine base and replenishing bombs 
and fuel as required, and there would be a dis- 
228 



tinct possibility also of the aircraft escaping ' 
without serious casualties. The fate of the 
submarines would be quite another matter, but 
even yet Germany may decide that the attempt 
is worth the risli. Because the American towns 
are not defended by searchlight or gun the air- 
craft could fly at such low speeds and heights 
that there would not be a hundred to one chance 
of their missing their objectives, and with the 
more destructive missiles used the damage would 
be immensely greater than in attacks again Lon- 
don or Paris. 

In future wars between nations with any pre- 
tence to naval power it will probably be im- 
possible to contain the enemy fleet as the British 
Navy has contained the German, and where 
powerful fleets are at sea accompanied by sea- 
plane motherships there would always be the 
chance of sudden and possibly devastating at- 
tack against cities located anywhere near the 
freeboard of a country. Here a nice problem 
arises as to whether the defence of the future 
will consist in the provision of anti-aircraft guns 
and searchlights, together with the creation of 
a big aerial fleet for defensive purposes, or the 
rebuilding of towns and cities with a view to 
practical immunity from aerial attack. A 
famous novelist, writing of life on one of the 
other worlds, created an underground people, 
229 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

an'd what a few years ago seemed far-fetched 
romance may, in the not too distant future, prove 
stern fact. 

Towards the end of 1917 there was a new de- 
velopment in bombing by aeroplane, which 
reached its greatest intensity in the great British 
victory of the Third Army under the command 
of General the Hon. Sir Julian Byng, the vic- 
tory known to the man in the street as the 
" Battle of the Tanks." General Headquarters 
in France announced that despite considerable 
mist the British aeroplanes worked throughout 
the day in conjunction with the troops. Low 
clouds and mist and a strong westerly wind with 
drizzle and occasional rain throughout the day 
made it necessary for the British pilots to fly at 
50 feet from the ground, and even at that height 
the machines were at times quickly lost to view. 
Continual attempts were made to maintain con- 
tact with the advancing troops, but as this was 
made almost impossible by the weather condi- 
tions the machines had a real joy day in bomb- 
ing anybody and anything of enemy origin com- 
ing within their range. Thousands of bombs 
were dropped on the enemy's batteries, lorries, 
aerodromes, transport and railways, and batter- 
ies and small groups of infantry were attacked 
by machine-gun fire, valuable information being 
gained despite the very difficult conditions. 
230 



The J 



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RAIDS 

work of the bombing and raiding machines in 
this battle, indeed, reached high-water mark for 
1917. 

The question of defence against aerial attack 
must in the future prove a considerable problem 
to the military authorities in any country. In 
the early days of the war the gun was the greatest 
enemy of attacking aircraft, and when the Ger- 
mans first raided Paris they were quite safe from 
ground fire at a height of 4,000 feet, for at that 
time the trajectory of the French shells was, 
with any degree of certainty, in the neighbour- 
hood of 3,500 feet. As a matter of fact the 
German raiders got away uninjured, and the 
Allies were forced 10 console themselves with 
the idea that at 4,000 feet it was impossible for 
calculated aim to be taken, and, therefore, the 
chances of material damage being inflicted were 
exceedingly slight. What, however, had been 
an age-long problem before between the gun and 
the armour-plate became a new battle between 
the gun and aircraft. As the trajectory in- 
creased aircraft began to fly higher, and with 
increased height and greater speed came more 
powerful bombs and a better aim. But continu- 
ally the gun drove the aeroplane farther, and 
continually the latter improved , until fairly 
effective bombing was being done at any height 
between 12,000 and 20,000 feet, and, against this, 
231 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

the guns were registering hits at 15,000 and 16,- 
000 feet. The first anti-aircraft guns were 
simply light field pieces which were given a few 
greater degrees of elevation, and very ineffective 
they proved. As time went on, however, the 
gun, together with the ranging and sighting 
apparatus, improved, and the gun crews became 
more experienced until, unless the pilot proved 
extremely skilful and was assisted by climatic 
conditions, it was a foregone conclusion that a 
direct hit could be made at anything up to 12,- 
000 feet. This, of course, applied to machines 
flying in the daylight on which individual guns 
were registered, and of which the leading 
dimensions were known. At night time it was 
an entirely different matter. The Zeppelins, 
after a while, were comparatively easy game. 
At 10,000 feet the guns chipped off any particu- 
lar part of the airship that the artillery officers 
took objection to, and, driven above this height 
by shell fire, the Zeppelins became the prey of 
the aeroplane and the other weapons of defence 
which everybody in Europe knew and talked of, 
but which could not be written about in war- 
time without grave offence to the authorities. 
But no amount of good individual shooting 
afforded any great protection against the aero- 
plane raiding at night. Their small size, their 
speed, the heights at which they flew, all made it 
232 



I 
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RAIDS 

comparatively easy for them to elude the search- 
lights which, once they had ringed an airship, 
made either destruction or surrender the only 
alternatives to the commander. 

Aeroplanes, however, can dive much quicker 
than airships, and so gun defence against raiding 
aeroplanes was developed to its logical con- 
clusion in the barrage which the British put up 
round London when attack threatened. The 
barrage formed a curtain of fire through which 
no aeroplane could fly without great danger, and 
it also had the advantage of ensuring that enemy 
aircraft flew at approximately known heights, 
with corresponding advantage to the British air- 
craft hovering some thousands of feet higher. 
Before the barrage was complete enemy aero- 
planes flew round in a big radius feeling for a 
weak spot in the defences, and, for a time, some 
of them also escaped destruction by flying at very 
low heights which took them well below the 
fire curtain. When the gun defences were 
completed and numbers of howitzers added, the 
defence became so efficient that instead of at- 
tacking on every favourable night as the Ger- 
mans at one time hoped would be the case, they 
were forced to try the effect of surprise raids 
in the hope of taking the defensive unawares. 
Some additional consolation was found in the 
idea that men and guns were retained in Eng- 

233 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMBIERCE 

land which might possibly have been of greater 
service in France — not to such an extent, how- 
ever, as to call for any special congratulation 
from the Kaiser or Hindenburg. 

Practically every form of raiding and bomb- 
ing by aircraft was resorted to by the belligerent 
nations at some time or other during the war, 
but it was left to the Germans — that race of 
Kuiture — to bomb hospitals in order to ease the 
pressure of an attack on their forces. The offi- 
cial records are in existence. Copies should be 
placed on view in every library and museum and 
public institution throughout the civilised world, 
that all posterity may know the Hun for the 
unclean thing. French hospitals, distinguished 
by the illuminated Red Cross, were repeatedly 
bombed by German airmen at intervals through- 
out several nights during the course of a French 
offensive. There could be no plea of mistake, 
for the airmen descended so low that observers 
from the ground could pick out with the aid of 
night glasses the crosses on their wings and, 
obviously, if these could be seen the Germans 
could have no difficulty in picking out the Red 
Crosses illuminated from below which were in 
size almost equal to the aeroplanes themselves. 
More than this, when the attacks grew so per- 
sistent that it was decided to remove the patients, 
the aeroplanes followed the ambulances along 
234 



I 



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>er- B 
nts, H 



RAIDS 



the roads and bombed them as they went, the up- 
shot of the business being that nurses, doctors 
and wounded men were deliberately murdered 
by attack from the air. Such is one aspect of 
raiding from the cultured Hun point of view. 



235 



FUTURE COMMERCIAL 
DEVELOPMENT 



CHAPTER XI 



FUTURE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT 



WONDERFUL as the work of aircraft in 
war has been, and enthusiastic as are the 
professional soldiers and sailors about its future, 
informed opinion throughout the world holds to 
the view that the aeroplane has most promise 
for humanity in its commercial development 
Indeed, aircraft is no more a special weapon 
of war than is the locomotive or steamship. 
Man is not essentially a fighting animal because 
he has treated war in a scientific manner. He 
fights, and fights well, because he has to, for, 
paradoxical as it may seem, he dies that he may 
live, and although the locomotive, the steamship, 
the spinning machine, machine-tools and the 
motor-car are all used in war, they are of the 
greatest service to man in peace. So it will 
prove with aircraft. Let it not be thought for 
one moment, however, that in this lies a sug- 
gestion that in future wars the use of aircraft 
will be forbidden. Man will not deny himself 
the use of one of his greatest inventions, and if 
aircraft is to be used in times of peace assuredly 

239 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

it will be used in war; but in peace aircraft will 
be developed to the nth degree, and as to the 
precise value of this numeral only the future 
can have an opinion. 

The ordinary man is of the opinion that the 
dangers of flying will detract from its extended 
use in the future. As to this, it is sufficient to 
quote the official British statistics, which are to 
the effect that, excluding war casualties, there has 
been in England during three years, when many 
thousands of civilians have been taught to fly, 
a number of fatal accidents which total out to 
one death in over 125,000 miles of flying — or, 
put in another way, one death for each five 
flights around the earth. Assuming, then, that 
aeroplane work is no more dangerous than 
motoring, its possibilities as a weight carrier 
may be considered. Progress in this respect 
is limited only by strength of materials, avail- 
able engine power and effective design. Such 
things as fuel consumption, running costs, and 
other matters of a similar nature are — although 
to the lay mind it may seem rather absurd to 
say so — in reality matters of everyday detail 
which will be automatically solved as further 
experience is gained. Concrete instances are 
more illuminating than any amount of conjec- 
ture and supposition, and, therefore, in order to 
support the case for the aeroplane as a load 
240 



FUTURE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT 

carrier, it may be said right away tHat a British- 
built aeroplane, carrying 20 passengers, flew' at 
a height greater than 8,000 feet and reached a 
speed well in excess of 70 miles an hour in 1916. 
Very obviously also the peace-time aircraft will 
not need to carry a heavy load of bombs, and 
there are many things at the present time light 
and portable, such, for example, as press mes- 
sages, which could be transported at express 
speed and comparatively profitable rates by 
aeroplane, from England to the Continent, be- 
tween various centres on the Continent, and 
between America and Europe and the other 
continents. 

It is not suggested that these long-distance 
and trans-ocean flights will be accomplished in 
one mouthful, so to speak. There is no particu- 
lar need or urgency — apart altogether from the 
very few and special machines which will un- 
doubtedly do long journays at top speed and at 
an uncommercial cost very similar, indeed, to 
the special trains in which millionaires occa- 
sionally indulge themselves — for long non-stop 
flights, when suitable landing stages can easily 
be provided. Just as for steamships and loco- 
motives docks, stations, sidings, warehouses and 
exchanges are provided, so must adequate facili- 
ties be created for aircraft. Agents must be 
appointed in every country, town and port; re- 
241 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

pairing facilities must be world-wide; regular 
understandings as to the use of aircraft must be 
arrived at by international agreement, and very 
possibly the big sea bases which will no doubt 
be established at various selected points in the 
Atlantic, Pacific and other oceans, will be used 
impartially by all the nations. Undoubtedly, 
also, the respective Governments will be called 
on to assist by subsidy aerial services engaged in 
both passenger or mail transport. There are 
those who would argue that neither the aero- 
plane nor the airship can transport motor-cars 
or grand pianos. To these it might be 
answered, in all logic, that the locomotive itself 
would have difficulty in transporting, say, a sus- 
pension bridge unless that bridge be reduced to 
its simplest parts and transported piecemeal. 
One should look rather at the work the aero- 
plane and the airship actually can rather than 
at what they cannot do. Fog and climatic con- 
ditions are undoubtedly, and possibly always 
will be, something of a handicap, but at the 
same time no more a handicap to aircraft than 
to other forms of transport. The fog holds up 
the railway train and calls, even before very 
limited movement can be indulged in, for the 
instalment of a system costly to set up and 
pensive to operate. So it would be with 
craft in fog, and as to the storm which sinks 
242 



I 



I 



ex- ^1 

inks H 



r 

I 



FUTURE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT 

the passenger liner and the cargo ship without 
distinction of class or kind, the aircraft would 
be able to rise above the disturbed area, and 
while it is possible that mishap in the air may 
lead to complete destruction, there is little 
chance of either the airship or the aeroplane 
smashing itself on a rock. The dangers balance 
out. There is the further advantage in aircraft 
that it is independent of any special track. It 
requires neither rails nor overhead wires, and 
above all is the advantage of speed. Present- 
day speed in itself passes all the imaginings of 
the novelist, and as to operating cost the engine 
is practically the same as a car engine, costing 
the same to buy and the same to operate, power 
against power. There are few who are now 
prepared to dispute the advantages of the com- 
mercial motor as a transport unit, and although 
aircraft may call for greater power than a motor 
vehicle it has a corresponding advantage in 
lower operating cost. It has no tyre costs at 2d. 
per mile to provide for, to give only one ex- 
ample. 

The writer now proposes to quote from a lec- 
ture given by one of the leading authori- 
ties on aircraft, Mr. G. Holt Thomas, before 
the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain in 
May of 1917. Mr. Holt Thomas himself sug- 
gested that his effort was largely one of the 

243 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

imagination, but as he is one of the foremost 
constructors in England, and a far-sighted busi- 
ness man who looks far beyond the war to the 
time when he must find a market for his aero- 
planes other than Governments who desire them 
for war purposes, it may be taken for granted 
that the majority of the statements made are | 
based on fact; — ' 

" The subject I have to deal with in this paper 
is enormous, and of vital importance to the Em- 
pire, but it is only possible to touch very lightly 
on the possibilities of commercial aeronautics 
in the time allowed. My opinion is that it will 
revolutionise the world not only from a com- 
mercial point of view, but from a humanitarian 
point, much more indeed than it has revolution- 
ised warfare, although the effect on that is very 
great. Commercial aeronautics are not going 
to beat railways and other forms of transport 
out of existence, but flying will act as an adjunct 
to the present modes of transport. The ques- 
tion which we have to decide is: ' Can the aero- 
plane, taking into account the advantages of 
speed, etc., which it alone possesses, be regarded 
as a practical means of transport? ' 

" The question naturally arises as to in what 

way will aircraft be used commercially after the 

war. To prophesy for such a new science as 

flying is almost impossible, but many instances 

244 



» 



L 



FUTURE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT 

will crop up for the use of commercial aero- 
planes. Surveying, for instance. I am told by 
my friends amongst the large contractors that it 
would be worth an enormous sum to be in a posi- 
tion not to know where to go, but to know where 
not to go; and the production of some sort of 
cinematograph machine for the purpose has al- 
ready been tried and certainly will be produced. 
For those in a hurry; Nothing can compete with 
the aeroplane for those on special services in 
need of the greatest speed possible. This alone 
opens a very wide field indeed. 

" From a business point of view it must be 
remembered that speed is everything. One saw 
this in pre-war days in the competition between 
the steamship companies in the race across the 
Atlantic. A special aeroplane — i.e., special 
used in the sense of special train, which is per- 
fectly feasible to-day — will enable the business 
man to leave London in the morning, do his 
business in Paris, and be home again to dinner. 
It will take him to Bagdad in a day and a half 
or New York in two days. Many business men 
would smile at the idea of using this mode of 
conveyance to-day, but the only thing is to re- 
mind them that they also smiled in the early days 
of motor-cars, and yet half the business to-day 
would take double the time to do if the motor- 
car were not in existence. 
245 




AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

" A parson in a far-off Colony has already 
proposed to use a seaplane to fly round the coast, 
across the bays, etc., and so visit his parish in 
hours instead of months of tedious travel. 

" Rivers, again, suggest a very probable and 
certainly useful employment of aeronautics, 
using them as a line of flight. Huge districts 
in many localities, such as Africa, are controlled 
by officials who usually employ the river as a 
means of transit, using motor launches, and then 
inland from the nearest point. Think of re- 
placing this by the use of seaplanes doing roo 
miles an hour. This equally applies to mails. 
South America, Canada, Asia, all come into 
this scheme, and no landing ground is required. 
Nature has supplied it in the form of a smooth- 
surfaced river. Again, these ready-made roads 
could be followed at night, with a searchlight 
on the machine, with the greatest ease and no 
danger. 

" The Cape to Cairo Railway again affords 
simply an instance, which occurs over and over 
again in that and other countries, where an 
aerial service might be employed as an adjunct 
to the railway. The present method would 
probably be one's arrival at a wayside station 
and then, say, 50 miles in a bullock wagon, 
perhaps walking, over jolty roads, or no roads 
all, taking one or several days. Compare 
246 



% 



n, or ■ 
ds at ^1 
this fl 



r 



«p 



FUTURE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT 

with stepping into an aeroplane and arriving in 
half an hour. Certainly the development of all 
the Overseas Dominions will be largely affected 
by flying. 

"It would astonish a great many people to 
know that the running costs of an aeroplane are 
not more than those of a motor-car. Some years 
ago I gave particulars of four types and the run- 
ning costs in the air as follows: 

Type A 2j4d. per mile 

Type B ^Hd. " " 

Type C sy^d. " " 

Type D 3j^d. " " 

" These figures, of course, refer to peace times 
so far as cost of petrol, etc., is concerned, but it 
refers to an old type of machine with about half 
the speed of the present-day machine. Repairs 
should cost less, if anything. Here are figures 
of the running cost per mile in the air of later 
types of machines. These may all be put down 
as doing considerably over loo miles an hour, 
but we will take them as covering lOO miles an 
hour, although personally I think that the wind 
will average itself, that is to say, one day it will 
be against and another day with the machine. 
The cost of these machines in the air is as fol- 
lows: 

Per Mile. 

A. Carrying useful load of i,8oo lbs., including 

pilot and fuel 6^d. 

247 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

Per Mile. 

B. Carrying useful load of i,O0O lbs., including 

pilot and fuel 5d. 

C. Carrying useful load of 450 lbs., including 

pilot and fuel. 2^d. 

" Now in talking about the cost of aircraft as 
compared with other forms of transport, I have 
so far only dealt with the running costs, and 
have shown you how very cheap it is, but in 
order that the whole of the aeronautical industry 
should not leave the room to register aerial trans- 
port companies, it is necessary to go into figures 
much more deeply, as there are other costs be- 
sides running costs. On the other hand, it is 
necessary to remember that before you can use 
a motor-car, or a motor-lorry, you must have 
a road on which to run it, and the average cost 
per mile of this road in capital expenditure alone 
may be put down as about £6,000 per mile. 

" A railway train before you can run it re- 
quires a capital expenditure which, taking the 
average of various countries, may be put down 
as £24,000 per mile. Taking, therefore, a jour- 
ney of, say, 100 miles, as we must have some 
unit, the capita! expenditure, apart from running 
cost, comes out as follows: 

Railway £2,400,000 

Aircraft 6o,00O 

" I do not for one moment suggest that, 
the capital outlay on the railway has been mai 
248 



I 



jour- 
iome 

once fl 
lade, ^^ 



FUTURE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT 

it will not carry, to a huge extent, much more 
traffic than the aeroplane line, but until that 
traffic is forthcoming the aeroplane will, firstly, 
do it without such capital expenditure, and, 
secondly, will always do it very much faster. 

" The natural obstacles encountered by the 
railway and the road may be unsurmountable. 
The air is free of any such obstacles. 

" I will how take you through the costs of a 
sample route, and I suggest London-Paris as 
an instance. We can take it that if the journey 
is done in half the ordinary time we shall have 
mails and passengers — some because they want 
to get there quickly, others because they wish to 
avoid the Channel crossing, and a good many, 
at first, for curiosity. Now, to start a com- 
mercial service, we are not asking for millions 
of passengers or tons of mails; we are not think- 
ing of rivalling the Tubes. 

" In putting these before you I would make 
it quite clear that they are costs of to-day, which 
I think it is right I should take, as if I begin 
to prophesy you will doubt me at once. At the 
same time I have not the slightest doubt that 
these figures, as time goes on, will come down 
enormously (just as the cost of running omni- 
buses has come down since the time when the 
first petrol omnibuses nearly ruined every com- 
pany running them) and I would like to say 
249 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

without much misgiving that within a certain 
periodyou may halve them. 

Estimate D. Aerial Service, London — ^Paris. 
One machine each way daily. 
Carrying 2,500 lbs., less petrol and oil and pilot, for, say, 

300 miles. 

Per MQc. 
Capital — s. d. 

9 machines at £2,500. ...(...... £22,500 

vWorking capital, say 12,500 

£35,000 

At 10 per cent, interest per annum, £3,500, 

or £9 6s. 8d. per day for 600 miles. ... o 3^ 
Sheds- 
London £500 

Dover 200 

Calais > 1 200 

Amiens 200 

Paris 500 

£1,600 

Say £4 los. per day for 600 miles. • • . • • • .1 o !2 
Labour — 

London 12 men 

Dover 2 " 

Calais 2 " 

Amiens , 2 " 

Paris 12 " 

Total 30 men 

At £3 los. per week equals £15 per day for 

600 miles O 6 

250 




» 



FUTUKE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT 

Estimate D. — Continued — Per Mile. 

Pilots— s. d. 

3 flights one way per week per pilot requires 
for 14 flights per week 1^/2 pilots, re- 
serve, say, lYi pilots, equals 6 pilots at 
£500 per annum each equals £3,000 per 
annum, say, £8 5s. per day for 600 miles 

=2,000 lbs. for Utility Purposes. 
Machines — 

London 3 

Calais , r 

Amiens ., i 

Paris 3 

Spares 2 

9 

Running Expenses — — 

24 gallons petrol and 5 gallons of oil, taking 

speed at 100 miles per hour , , 

Depreciation and Repairs- 
Allowing complete overhaul every 100 
hours, flying 300 miles per day at lOO 
miles per hour, equals overhaul every 33 
days; 25 per cent, off two machines at 
£2,500 each equals £1,250 equals ; 

per day for 600 miles 

Overhead Charges — 

Management !£3,000 

Clerical work, etc 1,600 

Advertising, etc., each end 6,000 

Offices, etc. 1,000 

Contingencies 2,400 

£14,000 

251 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 



EsTiMATB D. — Continued — 



Per Mile, 
s. d. 



Say £40 per day for 600 miles •• ... .116 

I 3 



Total cost per mile ;• . • • 4 

Estimate F. Paris — ^London. 

Profit and Loss. 

Passengers — 

Cost, say, 3s. per mile. 

300 miles = £45. 

2,000 lbs. = 12 Passengers. 

Cost per Passenger, £3 15s. 

Charge per Passenger, £5. 

Profit per Machine each way daily, £15. 



8 



12 Passengers each way, 4 machines. 
II 



c< 



a 



10 


ii 


ii 




It 


ii 


9 






8 


ii 


ii 


7 


it 


a 


6 


H 


it 


5 


u 


it 







Per annum. 


lachinc 


». Profit. 


. £43iOOO 


it 
it 


it 
« 
ii 


. 30,000 
. 14,000 


it 

it 
a 
it 


Loss . 

it 

it 
it 


. 14,000 
• 29,000 
. 40,800 
. 58,000 



and so on. 
Estimate G. Profit and Loss. 

Mails — 

Load, 2,000 lbs. = 32,000 ozs. 

Cost per oz., %d. 

Charge, say )id. 

Charge, 3 lb. parcel, 2s. 

Full load each way, 4 machines. Profit, £60,000 per annum. 

Three-quarters load each way, 4 machines. Profit, 

£14,000 per annum. 
Half load each way, 4 machines. Profit, £35,000 per annum. 

And so on. 
Totgl cost of 4 machines each way, £130,000.. 

252 



FUTURE COMMERCrAL' DEVELOPMENT, 

Estimate H. London — Marseilles. 

8 hours. 

Passengers, £io. 

Mails, id. per oz. 

Estimate J. London — Constantinople or Moscow. 

20 hours. 

Passengers, £25. 

Mails, zyid. per oz. 

" Now you will have seen from these costs 
that I have put before you that passenger serv- 
ices are not high for the speed of journey, and 
present a really commercial proposition, al- 
though at a competitive price they are slightly 
higher than by train and boat, whilst mails 
present an easier proposition, and it seems to me 
that the solution is a mail service subsidised by 
the Government with the right to carry pas- 
sengers. 

It is certain that the aeroplane is going to be 
used by business men for business purposes. No 
other mode of transport can touch it. Whether 
it costs 5s. per mile or £5, the business which can 
be done on certain occasions will only be done 
by arriving in time. 

" It will be seen from Est. D that the total 
cost per mile of running a machine is 4s. 8d., 
running one machine each way. It is only 
fair to assume, however, the cost would be 
much lower if two, three, or four machines 
are run each way daily, and I think it is fair 
253 



AIRCRAPT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

to assume that between two capitals, such as 
London and Paris, at least four machines each 
way will be necessary. We can therefore for 
the purposes of this paper lake 3s. per mile as 
being a safe figure. 

" Est. F shows how this cost, reduced to pas- 
sengers, wilt come out. It will be seen that the 
charge per passenger to Paris, at a profitable 
rate, so long as the machines are fully loaded, 
comes out at £5, which at the speed he is car- 
ried is certainly a commercial price. It will be 
noticed here by the figures shown at the bottom 
that whilst there is a good profit if the machines 
are full of passengers, a reduction in the full 
load very easily turns the profit into a loss, and 
this is one of the points which will have to be 
considered very carefully indeed. The services 
must be started, and either subsidies or guaran- 
tee against loss must be forthcoming. 

*' Est. G shows that mails are even more com- 
mercial — that is to say, a letter weighing one 
ounce can be profitably carried to Paris for one 
halfpenny in half the time it could reach there 
under the present methods, or a 3 lb. parcel 
for 2S. Here, again, it will be seen that profits 
can be made carrying full loads, but directly 
the load is reduced it is quite easy to make 
heavy loss. 

" From Est. H you will see that, based on 

254 



I 

i 

I 



;ctly ■ 
^e a ^M 

our ^M 



FUTURE COMMERaAL DEVELOPMENT 
London-Paris costs (Est. D), a passenger can 
go from London to Marseilles in eight hours 
instead of 23, at a cost of £ro per head; or that 
mails can be carried at a penny per ounce. 

" Est. J — Constantinople or Moscow can be 
reached in 20 hours, at a cost per ticket of -£25; 
or mails at 2Kd. per ounce, both of which I 
think proves still more the future of commercial 
■aeronautics. 

" For mail services I am certain that the aero- 
plane can by its speed and moderate cost per 
letter compete with existing mail services. I 
have always held these views, and they are ex- 
pressed very simply by the fact that I arranged 
with Mr. Grahame White seven years ago to 
carry mails from Blackpool to Southport, and 
endeavoured to interest the then Postmaster- 
General in it. Specialised services of all sorts 
will exist also. I have taken the cost of London- 
Paris, as it is a familiar route, and probably the 
most expensive, but there is another outlet for 
commercial aeronautics than from capital to 
capital — viz., providing a means of communica- 
tion by which at comparatively small cost a 
moderate-sized community or colony may be 
established, say 100 miles from the railway, in 
many of our Overseas Dominions, and whilst 
small will depend on the aeroplane, and when 
grown large enough will have its railway. In 

2SS 



AmCHAPT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

Other words, the new science of flying may be 
regarded as a means of development, as a feeder 
for the railways existing, or without laying a 
road at all either for motor-cars or railways, 
until development warrants them. Certainly on 
the start of such services a Government subsidy 
or guarantee will be an absolute necessity. 

" Now another thing which you may doubt, 
but of which I have had considerable experi- 
ence, is reliability. You can gauge this in any 
way you like. How many machines cross the 
Channel daily? How many machines fall into 
it? I am afraid I cannot answer these questions. 
But within my own experience, even with ma- 
chines not nearly so reliable as those of to-day, 
I have no doubt about the reliability. My com- 
pany, the Aircraft Manufacturing Company, has 
been in existence since 1911. It has delivered — 
I cannot tell you the number^ — but a great many 
machines to Farnborough. The only stops we 
can record are in four cases, and in every case 
these were only ordinary stoppages, such as in 
the case of a car with a choked petrol pipe, or 
something of that sort. I will also give you a 
few recent instances of practical uses of aero- 
planes, again within my own knowledge, al- 
though I am certain these would be confirmed 
and multiplied if I were to ask outside. 

"A short time ago the War Office required 
256 



1 



FUTURE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT 

one of our managers at Chelmsford for a cer- 
tain purpose. They telephoned at about 11.20 
saying that it was absolutely necessary for him 
to be there by 12 o'clock. Here is an instance 
where aircraft presented the only means of 
transit. Again, a recent instance is a case wTiere 
the War Office telephoned asking Captain 
Hucks to go to Huntingdon to test a machine for 
them. The actual distance there and back is 
116 miles, and Captain Hucks's flying time 
there and back was inside an hour. I believe 
General Brancker, time after time, has visited 
various aerodromes by air, putting in visits dur- 
ing the day which would be perfectly impossible 
with any other mode of transit. I met Captain 
de Havilland one evening at Boulogne by acci- 
dent, he having flown from Farnborough to 
Headquarters in i hour 25 mins., and he tells me 
that this must have been surpassed many times. 

" Another point which will be brought up 
against flying for commercial purposes is 
weather, and this we may, I think, divide into 
wind and fog. 

" Now, as to wind, it is to-day almost safe to 
say that no wind will stop a good pilot from 
flying. Over and over again we find in the 
official communiques that during hail, snow and 
storm our pilots are flying. 

" I should now like to touch on a subject 
257 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

which, in my opinion, is very important to com- 
mercial aviation — viz., the question of landing 
grounds, and my view is that we shall have to 
establish landing grounds all over the country 
and alt over the world not more than, say, lo 
miles apart. In talking, say, of a voyage from 
London to Constantinople, this sounds a stu- 
pendous undertaking, but if analysed one finds 
that it is quite simple. 

" Allowing £250 per annum as the cost of 
hiring and maintaining a landing ground, it 
means that from London to Constantinople, 
1,600 miles, the landing grounds would be 160, 
which, at £250 per annum each, would be 
£40,000 per annum. What is this spread over 
the countries through which this route would 
pass, assuming the importance of having this 
very vast connection all over the world? But, 
looking at it in another way, even if the cost of 
a landing ground was paid by the machine which 
passed over it, it is almost an infinitesimal mat- 
ter. Taking our previous figures of London- 
Paris, with eight machines per day — i.e., four 
each way, the number of machines passing over 
the landing grounds between London and Paris 
would be 2,920 per annum, and a tax of about 
2d. per mile on each machine would return the 
whole costs of the landing grounds. But the 
London-Paris route will also be the running line 
258 



mib _ 



FUTXJRE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT 
for many other services beyond Paris and 
London. 

" I regard the landing grounds as being of the 
greatest importance. To start with, no country 
can have machines flying over it without con- 
trol, and therefore a landing ground on entering 
a country is necessary, putting it on the lowest 
ground even of smuggling goods into the coun- 
try. Then, again, I believe if I asked anyone in 
this room to fly from London to Tokio they 
would say, 'You will never arrive there,' but, 
on the other hand, if I asked them to fly lo 
miles, they would know that they would cer- 
tainly arrive; and therefore to credit what I 
have told you so far, I am going to tell you it 
is important to regard these long distances as 
merely lo-mile stages. This question of landing 
grounds affects every point in my argument. 
Safety, for instance. The forced landing, the 
bugbear of aviation, will be avoided, as a pilot 
with a machine at a height of 3,500 feet, even if 
he stops exactly in the middle of two landing 
grounds, will arrive at either, but the prob- 
ability is that he would be very much nearer 
one. We may therefore consider London to 
Tokio as aerodrome flying— that is to say, the 
pilot will always have a flying ground to alight 
on. As regards the pilot, he will have no strain 
in keeping his eyes open for a landing. He will 
259 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

simply fly on, passing Flying Ground No. 27, 
28, 29, etc., knowing that he is always safe if 
his motor stops at any moment. 

" Then, again, the question of fog will cer- 
tainly be overcome at once by 10-mile landing 
grounds. Some form of mark will easily be 
developed, such as a smoke signal, some form 
of penetrating searchlight, or some other device 
such as the small kite-balloon I have recently 
devised. 

" The question of night flying is again solved 
by the landing ground, as with a searchlight 
every 10 miles a pilot can fly on regardless of 
maps or routes, always with the searchlight 
guiding him. 

" I am not, of course, suggesting that landing 
grounds should be aerodromes; they would be 
simply suitable fields, which need not be abso- 
lutely on the line of route, with probably a tele- 
phone box, and some with searchlights and some 
with sheds. This scheme has already been car- 
ried out in Italy, and has been entirely success- 
ful, as I believe I am safe in saying that the cost 
of the landing ground has practically been re- 
paid by the saving in smashes on landing in what 
is a somewhat difficult country. Through the 
courtesy of Major Perfetti, of the Italian Flying 
Corps, I have seen an illustration of a portion of 
the map showing the landing grounds, etc. 
260 



f 



w 



J 



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FUTURE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT 

" Now I will ask you to accept this idea of 
the lo-mile landing ground as being perfectly 
feasible from a national point of view and from 
an international point of view, but it is a matter 
in which Great Britain and the British Empire 
should take the lead. 

"The landing-ground scheme also presents a 
method of avoiding collision in the air, which is 
bound to happen if no arrangements are made, 
and it would be very simple for an outward 
pilot to keep to the right and an inward pilot 
to keep to the left. Then, again, once you accept 
this proposition, even crossing the Atlantic be- 
comes feasible. What is to prevent us having a 
ship, not necessarily anchored, but always cruis- 
ing, say, every 50 miles from the Azores to New- 
foundland? On the North Sea you will find the 
pilot cutters which are there from one end of the 
year to another, with the pilots awaiting inward 
and outward bound ships. Compared with the 
enormous scheme a mail between London and 
New York will present, the cost of 10 or 20 ships 
(which may be simply fixed lightships if fea- 
sible, or small cruising ships if necessary) is in- 
finitesimal. 

" I understand that the number of week-end 

telegrams, 4s. 6d. for 25 words, which are not 

able to be sent because the lines are so full, is 

enormous, but this is nothing compared to the 

261 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

tonnage of mails which would be available if 
they could be carried from London to New 
.York and vice versa in two days. 

" It is harking back to a very long time ago 
to the Pony Post in America, but in Mark 
Twain's Roughing It you will find an account of 
letters being carried 2,000 miles in eight days at 
the cost of £1 per letter. This really is very 
much the system of an aeroplane mail, but at 
a commercial rate and enormous speed. The 
rider galloped night and day, winter and sum- 
mer, lo-mile stages, using a fresh pony for 
every stage. They were apparently, even in 
those days, streamlined — that is to say, the mail 
packets were fitted to the rider's body. Again, 
like an aeroplane, they carried no extra weight, 
they used a racing saddle, and wore light shoes 
or none at all. The letters were written on paper 
as thin as gold-leaf, and thus bulk and weight 
were economised. Eighty pony riders were in 
the saddle night and day, stretched in a long 
procession from Missouri to California, forty 
flying eastward and forty westward, and using 
amongst them four hundred ponies. So will the 
Aeroplane Mail soon traverse the world in 
stages, some being stations, others being passed 
over. 

" I will presume that you have now ac- 
cepted this principle, and it is quite possible 
262 



FUTURE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT 

to indicate on a map of the world those 
routes which we assume will be covered with 
ro-mile landing grounds. Once assuming that, 
I believe you will accept my previous figures 
on commercial aeronautics as a perfectly feasible 
proposition. You will see then what an enor- 
mous thing commercial aeronautics represents, 
and what a revolution Jn speedy transit. Ceylon 
becomes zH days from London, Tokio 4^^ days, 
Sydney 5 days. Cape Town 3^^ days, Van- 
couver 3 days, and so on; and once you have 
accepted the premises on which I started you 
will admit that I am only putting before you 
propositions which are perfectly easy to carry 
out. 

" We should see on this map I have mentioned 
Timbuctoo, which sounds the most improbable 
place that anybody would wish to arrive at, but, 
strange to say, it is one of the places where an 
aerial service is already projected by the French, 
which really affords a very good instance of the 
use of the aeroplane. At the present moment it 
takes three to four months from Bordeaux to 
Timbuctoo, and owing to this the many officers 
employed spend half their time going and com- 
ing. The cost of this journey at present is £120, 
and it is estimated by a friend of mine in the 
French Government, who has given me this 
plan, that it could be done by aeroplane for 
263 



AIHCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

£ioo per journey, and taking it in easy stages 
it would only be a matter of days instead of 
months. 

" Instances in the Overseas Dominions, where 
not yet developed, we shall find in hundreds, 
where the aeroplane can be used, but to take 
only one example, look at Australia and note 
the present railway lines there. You will see 
that an aeroplane service on each side of any of 
these lines of 50 to 100 miles would certainly 
mean the establishment of a great many small 
townships, which eventually, when big enough, 
will of course have their railway. This, coming 
down to pounds, shillings and pence, presents an 
absolutely commercial aspect, as can easily be 
seen. A passenger from the township to the 
railway, or vice versa, can be carried profitably 
at four-pence per mile, which is a little more 
than first-class fare in this country. Mails and 
goods can be delivered at 2j^d. per lb., 
and this applies to all the Overseas Domin- 
ions. 

" One point I should like to disabuse every 
one on at once is the discomfort of an aeroplane. 
At the present time it is not, of course, suited 
for carrying a large number of passengers, but 
I have gone carefully into this problem with my 
drawing office, and, allowing for the reduction 
in speed the alterations will necessarily make, 
264 



I 



FUTURE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT 

we find that it is perfectly easy to design a com- 
fortable cabin in which passengers would be 
quite as much at their ease as by any other 
method of transit. When, therefore, you come 
to the discomfort of a shaky train, the dirt, and 
the annoyance of changing from train to boat 
and boat to train, etc., you will find that the 
comfort of the aeroplane is easily superior to 
the discomforts one goes through on an ordinary 
journey to-day. 

" Now, I should like to explain that my figures 
and fancies set forth here have been based on 
present-day machines, but we must take into 
account that the aeroplane has only really been 
encouraged since war began and for war pur- 
poses. It is therefore fair to assume that the 
aeroplane has developed along entirely wrong 
lines from a commercial point of view, and the 
present design is wrong (thinking commer- 
cially) for the following various reasons: — 

" I. Excessive climb demanded in a fighting 
machine, and power thrown away to obtain this. 

" 2. Excessive attention devoted to visibility, 
gun positions, etc. 

" 3. Excessive strength for fighting mancEU- 
vres, etc. 

" The present unpleasant features of an aero- 
plane — i.e., noise, oscillation, cold, cramped 
positions, are all due to war design, and can all 
265 



L 



AIKCHAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

be eliminated in a passenger- carrying aeroplane 
without reducing this speed very much, but only 
by sacrificing climb, visibility, guns, etc. 

" In criticising the cost of running an aero- 
plane service and comparing it with train serv- 
ice or ships, one ought to consider how very un- 
practical and useless the first trains or ships 
were, and how exceedingly unpleasant travelling 
in them must have been. Passengers in the first 
train, I believe, were just as cramped as they are 
to-day in an aeroplane. The oscillation was 
greater, they were covered with smoke and cin- 
ders, and the speed was limited to the rate at 
which a man could walk in front with a bell. 

" The early ships were equally unstable, and 
it was a very doubtful point when a ship set out 
when it would arrive at its destination, if ever. 

" If one reads any of the accounts of the early 
voyages, one is struck by the fact that very fre- 
quently they set out from a place and returned 
six months later, having met adverse weather, 
and it was the custom to say Masses for anybody 
who thought of doing anything so hazardous as 
going a sea voyage. 

" The safety of the present steamship transit, 
I would submit, is due in the first place to engine 
development; also to the fact that every country 
has spent millions of money in harbours, light- 
houses, docks, shipyards, etc., etc., and for 
266 



I 

I 



ran J 



I 



FUTURE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT 

aeroplane service exactly the same steps will 
have to be gone through to ensure success for 
the commercial aeroplane. 

" Looking a good deal ahead one point occurs 
— i.e., that the geography of the upper air is at 
present quite unknown, and assuming the large 
aeroplane comes into use with reliable, power- 
ful and compact engines, it is reasonable to sug- 
gest that steady air currents, etc., may be found 
which would enable the trip to be made at a 
much greater speed and with much greater 
power than is at present even anticipated, and 
consequently much greater economy. 

" Now all I have been able to do is to give 
you something to think over, something to digest; 
but I hope I have proved that flying has come 
to stay, and must from an Imperial point of view 
be supported in every way. Mail services, as 
I have shown you, can be established commer- 
cially; business men can use the aeroplane com- 
mercially for many purposes, and for pleasure 
nothing can beat it. I have projected a 
somewhat imaginative picture of the future — 
something of what an aerial service will look 
like, and the last thing I have to say is this. Re- 
member that we live on an island ; remember that 
we have always depended on the sea for our pro- 
tection; and last, but not least, remember that 
we are an Empire. On all these points it is 
267 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

necessary to maintain a huge aerial fleet, and the 
proper support of commercial aeronautics will 
enormously assist these ends. This time we 
must be first'' 



268 



GREAT BRITAIN MISTRESS OF THE 

AIR AND SEA 



CHAPTER XII 

GREAT BRITAIN MISTRESS OF THE AIR AND SEA 

SENSATIONAL writers have occasionally 
attempted to harrow the feelings of their 
readers by a description of what would happen 
to any country where a powerful enemy, having 
prepared a huge air fleet in secrecy, suddenly 
launches an attack against undefended and un- 
prepared towns and cities. No very vivid 
imagination is needed to visualise the effect ten 
thousand of the biggest British bombing ma- 
chines of the 1917 type, handled by experienced 
pilots and observers, would have on German 
peoples if such a fleet could be put into action 
while the Germans themselves owned not a 
single aeroplane. But this sort of thing is 
frankly quite impossible. Nations have much 
in common with sheep. They follow set leads 
in very curious manner, and as it is quite im- 
possible for any one nation to build and test suf- 
ficient machines to give even local command of 
the air without news of what is going on reach- 
ing rival Governments, it is next to impossible 
to secure sudden aerial supremacy. It does not 
271 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 
follow, however, that when a Government has 
news of the preparations of a rival immediate 
and suitable protective measures are at once put 
in hand; far from it, alas! On the other hand, 
all the big war surprises in the world's history 
have been short-lived, and to every new attack 
there is somewhere or other a good reply, the 
trouble usually being to find and apply the de- 
fensive in time for it to be of service. Indeed, 
the biggest military surprise of the world has 
been witnessed by the present generation, who 
saw Germany spring her huge military machine, 
equipped with its giant howitzers, long-range 
guns, caterpillar tractors, poison gas, airships 
and other frightful weapons on a practically un- 
prepared world in the great and ill-fated bid 
for world supremacy. Most of the other 
weapons developed during the war have also 
depended for their success very largely on the 
element of surprise. It is possible to use new 
weapons entirely or old ones in a new way. As 
an instance of the former the big German 
howitzers, and of the latter the use of the tanks 
in the famous Cambrai battle of the Third 
Army during the concluding days of November, 
1917. There are still to be found those whose 
opinions are worthy of respect who are firm in 
their belief that the secret development of some 
new and powerful type of aeroplane may, in the 
272 



J 



r 



GREAT BRITAIN MISTRESS OF AIR AND SEA 

event of future wars, give quick and crushing 
victory in the minimum of time to the nation 
using it. Other "authorities are disinclined to 
accept this theory. Experience during the Great 
War, on the whole, bears out the opinions of this 
latter school. 

There are idealists and objectors to warfare 
still nourishing the hope that by international 
agreement the use of aircraft and the training of 
pilots may be abandoned in the peace that is to 
come. Were aircraft in its broadest and best 
sense simply a weapon of war, every reasoning 
man would give his support to the proposal, but 
the plain truth is that one of the greatest dis- 
coveries ever made for the benefit of man has 
been perverted in its use and, possibly, has in 
consequence given the slight thinker an excuse 
to urge its complete suppression. There is no 
talk of preventing war by the abolition of rail- 
way systems because armies can be moved with 
rapidity where a good system of strategic rail- 
ways exists, and if any country prove so idealistic 
as voluntarily and " ofT-its-own-bat," so to speak, 
to forego the use of aircraft and railways, that 
country has only itself to blame for what hap- 
pens to it in the case of an attack by any other 
country which looks on the matter in rather a 
different light If Russia, for instance, elects 
to play a lamb-like part in the war, not all the 

273 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

efforts of the combined Allies could save he! 
from being ravished by German aircraft. 

If (his argument be granted, undisputed com- 
mand of the air cannot be secured either by vast 
and open preparation of an air fleet overwhelm- 
ing in number or by the sudden launching of 
greatly improved and powerful machines. Eng- 
land cannot build fifty times as many aeroplanes 
as Germany without stirring up trouble, because 
to do so would imply a direct threat against Ger- 
many; nor would it be unreasonable for other 
nations to assume that such an overwhelming 
fleet may suddenly be launched against them, 
and, naturally, other aircraft programmes would 
be adjusted to preserve the balance. The present 
Great War, however, is being fought with a view 
to the future reduction of armaments, and if it 
fail in this respect, if nations are forever to con- 
tinue spending the bulk of their revenues on 
armament, then the day of a reasoned world is 
over, and it is of little moment as to how or 
why aircraft is developed. It is more than pos- 
sible that armaments of the future will be based 
on the minimum requirements needed by an; 
country to resist sudden and unexpected attacl 
and the relative numbers of the air fleets mail 
tained by each nation will be regulated by 
relative power and importance, commerciallj 
and otherwise, of such nations. Great Britaii 
274 



1 



GREAT BRITAIN MISTRESS OF AIR AND SEA 

because of its far-flung Empire, its geographical 
position, its big overseas carrying trade, its 
coastline, and other causes, will quite logically 
develop an air fleet which, in numbers and 
power, will bear the same relation to, say, the 
Portuguese air fleet as the present British Navy 
bears to the Portuguese Navy. The naval 
analogy, however, cannot be applied throughout, 
and the United States will be in a different posi- 
tion so far as aircraft is concerned than was the 
case when naval power only was in question. 
The small but highly efficient United States 
Navy was considered quite strong enough to 
defend the country in case of threatened naval 
attack by any European Power. Wireless would 
have kept the American naval authorities in- 
formed of the advance of any enemy fleet, which, 
even in the event of its reaching the American 
coastline in safety, could at the worst only have 
attacked by bombardment the undefended cities 
along the coastline, and even the power to do 
this was regulated very largely by the coaling 
stations at the command and in the possession 
of the attacking Power. Any European navy 
attempting to convoy an army to the United 
States would have been comparatively easy prey 
to the United States Navy, which need not have 
risked action in force, but could have gained a 
comparatively easy victory by cutting the lines 
275 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

of communication. Not all the navies of Europe 
could have maintained lines of communication 
sufficient to maintain an amiy of any size in the 
United States, while the latter country itself re- 
tained any semblance of naval power. Again the 
possibilities of the United States in shipbuilding 
could not safely have been ignored by any Euro- 
pean country in the pre-aircraft days, and there- 
fore the Americans, despite their wealth, trade 
and commerce, were in the happy position of 
leaving Europe to stew in its own juice so far 
as concerned the crippling burden of armaments, 
both nava! and military. 

Aircraft has changed this, and in the future 
the United States of America will find it neces- 
sary to maintain an air fleet more in accordance 
with the position of the country as a leading 
Power. For these reasons, well-informed 
authorities hold the view that aerial strength' 
in the future must inevitably remain in 
the hands of Great Britain and the United 
States. 

A satisfactory system for the regulation and 
control of aircraft cannot be organised in a few 
days, weeks or months. Naval laws have come 
into being as the results of some hundreds of 
years of fighting and diplomacy, and are even 
to-day in a state of constant flux, as the Declara- 
tion of London — to take only one instance—* ■ 
276 



f flREAT BRITAIN MISTRESS OF AIR AND SEA 

demonstrated. When aircraft comes into uni- 
versal use there will be many questions to be 
solved. There will be the question of the owner- 
ship of the upper air. Will all air be inter- 
national as are the high seas, or will each coun- 
try forbid the aircraft of other nations to use 
its air unrestrictedly? Every nation has, of 
course, to the best of its power recognised and 
preserved the inviolability of that narrow strip 
of water surrounding its coast known as the 
three-mile limit, but very obviously there can 
be no corresponding strip of air marking a hard 
and fast line which no foreign power may in- 
vade without risk of war. And all sorts of ques- 
tions and queries arise if each country reserves 
to itself its own " upper air." In case of war 
neutrality would be practically unknown and 
impossible if the rights to its own upper air were 
retained by each nation. How, for example, 
could the unintentional infringement of neutral 
air be prevented, only by sending up patrols to 
drive off or attack the infringing craft? And 
were this done a state of war would rapidly fol- 
low. On the other hand, if an apology were 
accepted, what is to prevent the neutral nation 
from being charged with favouring and aiding 
one of the belligerent nations? Further, again, 
to this there is, so far as can be seen, no means 
of preventing huge aerial fleets using the upper 
277 



L 



AinCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 



CE ^M 

veather ^M 

detec- ^M 



air of any neutral country in heavy weai 
should it be decided to run the risk of 
tion. 

In the future, when things have sorted them- 
selves out to some extent, when each country has 
its own recognised alighting grounds, complete 
with customs, repairing sheds, replenishment 
depots and so on, together with a complete 
system of aerial patrols, some of these questions 
may be nearer to solution, but before that time 
comes the question of customs' evasion, smug- 
gling and spying from the air will need to be 
solved. No doubt the aircraft of each nation 
will be called on by international agreement to 
bear some distinguishing mark, and very pos- 
sibly flying limits both in regard to speed and 
height will be established for universal use. 
Further complications will arise in regard to 
private property in the country flown over and 
in regard to forced landings. Obviously some 
agreement must be reached as to liability to 
growing crops, propertty and life in case of 
forced descent or accident in the air, and until 
some satisfactory solution is reached, flying over 
big cities at any rate will be restricted. As the 
law in most countries at present stands, an action 
for damages can be brought against motor-car 
owners, public companies, railways, steamship 
owners and other persons and concerns causing 
278 



I 



GREAi: BBITAIN MISTRESS OF AIR AND SEA 
damage to private property or peoples engaged 
in their lawful vocations, but difficulties can be 
foreseen in bringing an action against the owner 
of any particular aircraft which may have been 
fiying at a speed of 120 miles an hour at a height 
of 10,000 or 15,000 feet and possibly at night, 
who by accident drops, say, a spanner and 
causes injury to property or persons on the 
ground below. Almost it would seem as though 
no satisfactory system to deal with these and 
other matters could possibly be evolved, but with 
the passing of time and with greater experi- 
ence no doubt order will be evolved out of 
chaos. 

No one dreams to-day of prohibiting the use 
of motor-cars, and yet although these vehicles 
are distinctly marked and numbered and regis- 
tered with local authorities, it is still possible for 
an unscrupulous driver to cause damage to lives 
or property and to evade detection and punish- 
ment. Few systems are perfect in this world and 
mankind, it would seem, must be content with 
the nearest approach to perfection possible. 
The person with vivid imagination is often 
enough very one-sided in his imaginings and 
sees only the dangers and difficulties following 
on any great development. In the use of air- 
craft he does not see or will not admit that be- 
fore the first million aeroplanes can be put into 
279 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 
general service throughout the world, many 
thousands of improvements will almost auto- 
matically have been made with a view to lessen- 
ing chances of accident and damage. He asks 
that the improvements all be made beforehand, 
an impossible solution. 

Colonel Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, C.S.I., 
F.R.MetSoc, A.M. I.E., who is recognised the 
world over as an authority on all matters relating 
to motor-cars and aeroplanes, and who has been 
so kind as to write a foreword to this present 
work, developed some exceedingly interesting 
theories in his lecture called " The World's Air 
Routes and their Regulation." He is of the 
opinion that for some time to come flying will 
be more easy over the land than over the sea 
owing to the existence of well-organised landing 
places at every ten, fifteen or twenty miles. 
As an average gliding angle of an aeroplane 
■with the engine shut off is i in 8, it would be 
necessary in order to ensure against disaster in 
case of engine failure to provide landing 
places sixteen miles apart, assuming that the 
majority of the flying was done at 5,000 feet. 
Commercial and financial interests will have 
greater bearing on the height and speed of 
aircraft in the future for, obviously, no ma- 
chine will fly a mile an hour faster or a foot 
higher in altitude than is financially worth 



GREAT BRITAIN MISTRESS OF AIR AND SEA 

while, and wind currents will be of supreme 
importance to air transport companies, both 
as a means of increasing speed and econo- 
mising fuel, just as the trade winds have, since 
the earliest days of navigation, been taken full ■ 
advantage of by experienced mariners. The 
upper air has not been explored and investi- 
gated so thoroughly as the oceans, but there are 
well-defined and persistent air currents already 
known of which will be of great assistance to 
aerial navigation. The importance of these cur- 
rents can hardly be overestimated, for a favour- 
able 30-mile wind would add 1,440 miles in 
every 24 hours' continuous flight, while an un- 
favourable wind of the same velocity would 
naturally reduce the day's mileage by a similar 
distance. Because of this it is argued that future 
air routes will not take the most direct course 
between the respective countries and continents, 
the existing air currents being for the most part 
the deciding factors, and where these can be 
taken advantage of longer mileage is a matter 
of comparative indifiference. 

It is 1,800 miles from a point in County Kerry 
in Ireland to St. John's, Newfoundland, and 
assuming that a flight began from the latter 
place with a 30-mile westerly wind behind it, 
the aeroplane itself being capable of a speed of 
80 miles per hour, the actual speed developed 
281 




AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 
would be no miles an hour, and St. John's 
would be reached between i6 and 17 hours later. 
With an unfavourable wind, however, the actual 
flying speed of the aeroplane in relation to the 
earth's surface would be 50 miles per hour only, 
and the journey, therefore, would take 36 hours 
— more than twice the other time. 

Because of these facts it may be advisable to 
have alternative air routes, and in some states of 
the atmosphere to fly to the North American 
Continent via Iceland and Greenland, and in 
others to fly via France, Spain, Portugal and the 
Azores, because of known and existing air cur- 
rents. Lord Montagu argues that the first great 
world routes to be regularly organised will be 
the overland routes, and he notes that the longer 
the distance the more remarkable the time 
saving. 

In support of his case Lord Montagu pre- 
sents two alternative routes to India, and beyond 
India to Australia and China, the fastest pre- 
war time for reaching these places being about 
15 and 30 days respectively. The northern 
route is possible only if some international 
arrangement in regard to the use of the air over 
foreign countries be reached, for it involves fly- 
ing over five other countries and gives a distance 
from Peshawar of 3,600 miles and from Aus- 
tralia of about 7,000 miles. The alternative 
282 



^dL 



i 



GREAT BRITAIN MISTRESS OF AIR AND SEA 

route would be all-British and would pass 
wholly over the sea and the land of the British 
Empire and the three-mile sea limits round it. 
Very probably, however, arrangements could be 
made with France, Italy and Portugal for the 
use of landing stations in those countries. This 
second route, via Gibraltar, is about i,6oo miles 
longer, giving a total of 5,200 as against 3,600 
miles. Assuming that only flying by day will 
be advisable for some considerable period to 
come, each day's flight is limited to 10 hours, 
and, at an average speed of 120 miles an hour, 
1,200 would be covered between dawn and sun- 
set. Even by thus resting at night, however, the 
times taken in comparison with steam and rail 
services would be greatly reduced ; in the case of 
India by at least 11 days and in Australia by 
23 or 24 days. 

Possibly the first continuous services will be 
those devoted to the carriage of mails. Passen- 
gers would transfer to different aeroplanes 
piloted by fresh pilots at each stage of the jour- 
ney, as a guard against undue fatigue and me- 
chanical breakdown, and probably pilots will 
specialise in the air currents and other 
conditions prevailing over their particular 
stages. 

Lord Montagu so arranges the stages of the 
two suggested routes to India: 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COlfBfERCE 

I. — Southern Route to India. 

Fhrtt Day. 

MILES. TIMB. 

— Croydon (London) dep. ytLm. 

^ .^ .„ ( arr. 12.30 noon. 

625 Marseilles •••"Ij^ * IT^ 

•^ (dep. 1.30 p.in. 

485 Naples arr. 6p.iii. 

1,110 

Second Day, 

— Naples I .dep. 7 a.iii. 

640 West Coast of Crete •(*"'• "•** °~"- 

(dep. I.I5P.IX1. 

485 Alexandria • • . .arr. 5.45 patL 

1.125 

Third Day. 

— Alexandria . . . .i. dep. 7 a.ixi. 

580 Jof \Y^' i2noon. 

I dep. I p.in. 

460 Basra ...arr. Span. 

1,040 

Fourth Day, 

— Basra ........ ... .» dep. 7 a.111. 

575 Bandar Abbas \Y^' " "~n- 

( dep. I p,in. 

680 Karachi ....arr. 6.30 p.in. 

1,255 

284 






GREAT BRITAIN MISTRESS OF AIR AND SEA 

Total distance, 4.530 miles. 

39 hours 15 minutes actual flying time. 

83 hours 30 minutes total time^n journey. 

II. — Northern Route from India. 

First Day. 
MILES. TIME. 

— Peshawar 1 .dep. 7 a.m. 

, „ ,, I arr. 12 noon. 

600 Bokhara < , 

t dep, I p.m. 

62a Gurieff (Caspian Sea) air. 6.15 p.m. 

Second Day. 

— Gurieff dep. 7 a.m. 

600 Lugansk If- "•"""■ 

(dep. I p.m. 
610 Tamopol air. 6p.m. 

1,210 

Third Day. 

— Tamopol dep. 7 a.m. 

600 Leipzig If"- "^"°""- 

^ t dep. I p.m. 

600 Hendon (London) ,. .arr. 6p.m. 

1,200 

I Total distance, 3,630 miles. 

I 30 hours ig minutes actual flying b'mc 

H 59 hours total time on journey. 



AmCRAFX IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

Very obviously some system must be arranged 
for the separation of the air traffic in the various 
levels, and a sound and generally accepted prin- 
ciple for the regulation of air traffic as it is at 
present understood is that slow-speed planes 
should use the lower and high-speed machines 
the upper levels of the air. Whatever arrange- 
ments are made, however, will be in the nature 
of compromise, for each nation and every in- 
terest will advance its own views, and as it will 
be impossible to agree to all there must be quite 
a lot of give and take. A reasonable assumption 
is that no flying can take place below 2,000 feet 
except by permission of the owner of the land 
flown over. Between 2,000 and 4,000 feet should 
be preserved for the use of silent aircraft of a 
speed less than 80 miles per hour. From 4,000 
to 6,000 feet might be used by silent aircraft of 
speeds between 80 and 120 miles per hour. 
From 6,000 to 8,000 feet for aircraft having 
speeds greater than this. From 8,000 to 10,000 
feet could be reserved for Government aircraft; 
and above 10,000 feet to be international. 

The intense cold at high altitudes, not to men- 
tion the danger to persons of weak hearts and I 
constitutions caused by decreased atmospheric ; 
pressure at great heights, will, for the most part, 
keep passenger traffic at the lower levels. The ] 
police, the postal service, naval and military ma- i 
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GREAT BRITAIN MISTRESS OF AIR AND SEA 

chines will almost, as a matter of course, rise to 
the higher levels for obvious reasons, and, of 
course, rules must be drawn up for meeting and 
overtaking and also there must be some standard, 
such as Lloyd's, by which a machine may be 
judged for performance and strength before it 
is licensed to take the air. 

Lord Montagu suggests that the generally 
agreed code of buoys and marks for defining 
sea channels should be imitated so far as prac- 
tical, although, of course, some lighthouses will 
be required to throw their rays in a vertical in- 
stead of a parallel direction, and at sea a system 
of large buoys may be necessary, while our ideas 
as to size will need revision, for a circle lOO 
yards in diameter unless it be very distinctively 
marked or illuminated seems very small when 
flying at a height of 10,000 feet. For daylight, 
flying routes may conveniently be defined by 
ground marks on the right-hand or starboard 
sides, all routes from west to east could be in- 
dicated by marks having a white ring and a 
black centre, while the port or left-hand side 
could be indicated by a black-and-white checker 
pattern, landing places being marked differently. 
At night the routes would be defined by continu- 
ous white lights on the starboard side and red- 
and-white alternating lights on the left side. 
Prohibited areas must, of course, have a very 
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AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

distinctive mark and, additionally, other devices 
must be thought out for the purpose of assisting 
the pilot to make a landing. The aerodromes 
may be circular in shape, rise to a considerable 
height, and have a flat top, a sort of truncated 
cone, the particular advantage of this being that 
an aeroplane, landing at the foot of the hill, must 
needs travel uphill against the force of gravity 
and, when starting off again, would, running 
downhill, have its speed increased by the force 
of gravity and could thus take the air more con- 
veniently. Indicators would show the direction 
and the velocity of the wind during the day, and 
some system of illuminated lighting, such as the 
Germans used even in pre-war days, would be 
needed to help the pilot to alight at night. Nat- 
urally the navigating instruments aboard the air- 
craft would be used for route finding between 
the various aerodromes and landing places, for, 
obviously, it will be impossible to sprinkle the 
whole surface of the globe with route marks, and 
for long journeys across the oceans or the more 
remote countries the pilot will have to guide 
himself by compass and well-defined and natural 
landmarks. Air maps will, of course, be printed 
as a further assistance. In addition to the identi- 
fication marks painted on the aircraft itself, each 
machine will be required to carry navigation 
lights for night flying, and possibly also so ar- 



GREAT BRITAIN MISTRESS OF AIR AND SEA 

range its lighting that the distinguishing iden- 
tity marks are also visible at night, and although 
in the future the majority of pilots will be no 
more inclined to waste fuel than car drivers are 
to-day, it will be necessary, if the agreed-on fly- 
ing levels are to be generally recognised, to 
adopt some system of distinctive ground mark- 
ings for the pilot's information in regard to the 
contour of the ground over which he is flying. 
In hilly countries particularly this is important. 

Lord Montagu finally concludes that there 
are three points of importance to be borne in 
mind when considering the future of aerial navi- 
gation. Firstly, that so soon as the war is over 
and the nations have had time to readjust them- 
selves somewhat there must be both national and 
international laws for the regulation of flying. 
Secondly, oversea and over-Continental routes 
must be defined in the interests of the whole 
world. Thirdly, the winds of the world, in- 
stead of being a drawback to flying, will, if prop- 
erly used, be a very great assistance. 

It will, of course, be necessary for the great 
nations to give a lead to the smaller countries 
in this matter of international aerial navigation, 
and for the reasons already indicated it will fall 
to the lot of Great Britain and the United States 
to assume great responsibility at the conferences 
which must come. No reasonable man would 
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AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

lodge a claim that the mastery of the seas held 
by Great Britain for a hundred years has been 
without fault or flaw, but, fortunately, the diffi- 
culties fronting this country in this respect have 
been better understood and appreciated by other 
nations, who have benefited both commercially 
and financially by Great Britain's sea police, 
than some of those people in this country, who 
are never so happy as when acclaiming the vir- 
tues of other nations and decrying their own 
country, are aware of. 

The mastery of the seas has its powers and 
privileges and its limitations, and i^ was as much 
as anything else because Great Britain did not 
appreciate the limitations in full that one of her 
proudest colonies broke away and acclaimed its 
independence, after supplying a very forcible 
illustration to Great Britain that mastery of the 
seas did not confer world dominion, as some of 
her statesmen were inclined to believe. Britain 
learned the lesson that Germany is learning to- 
day a century and more ago, and there is no 
doubt that the world in general will benefit and 
rise to greater heights in every way, just as the 
United States benefited and rose to power and 
greatness. 

There may be some inclined to argue that a 
great aerial fleet devoted to the pursuit of com- 
merce confers on any country an immense mili- 
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I 



GREAT BRITAIN MISTRESS OF AIR AND SEA 

tary advantage in that the commercial aircraft 
could be transformed and put to military use in 
case of war. It may be so. The commercial 
aircraft, however, could be used only for police 
and patrol purposes, just as so many thousands 
of lighter Allied sea-craft are used to police the 
seas to-day. Some slight means of attack or de- 
fensive may be given at a corresponding reduc- 
tion in their efficiency, but aircraft of this sort 
would stand no more chance against the special- 
ised fighting aeroplane of the future than does 
the steam trawler, armed with a three-inch pop- 
gun, against the light cruiser or torpedo boat in 
the present war. The last few years have shown 
beyond dispute that the fighting aircraft of the 
future must for the most part consist of highly 
specialised units, built for speed, bomb-drop- 
ping, photography, observation, fighting against 
other aircraft or other special purposes, and as 
design will enter very largely into the building 
of future commercial aircraft, the two things 
will be vastly different, and beyond the fact that 
both types use the same element and the same 
source of power, there will be little in common 
between them. Commercial aircraft must be 
designed with an eye to first and running costs. 
An extra speed of ro miles per hour will not be 
given at an excessive expenditure in fuel, and 
although there will be a few fast passenger 
291 



AIRCRAFT IN WAR AND COMMERCE 

craf t| corretpondmg in some degree to the crack 
passenger liners of to-day, the bulk of the com- 
mercial aircraft will he stodgier machines en- 
gaged in a humdrum round of conunercialism, 
and corresponding for the most part — apart, of 
course, from size and carrying capacity — to the 
tramps, cargo carriers and coasting ships of the 
present period. It is for these reasons that Great 
Britain and the United States can and must, with 
a clear conscience to themselves and the other 
countries of the world, assert their rights, each 
in their own spheres, to aerial supremacy in the 
days of peace to come. 



292 



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