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BY KENNETH CHAFEE MCINTOSH
A LEAN, quiet man pushed his way through the crowd into the open of the parade-ground at Fort Myer, and perched himself uncomfortably in the midst of a bundle of sticks. A weight crashed down from the top of a derrick, and the bundle, with droning, whining propeller, was thrown into the air, and stayed there. Breath was drawn in with sharp, audible gasping, and eyes grew round in upturned faces. The impossible had happened. Orville Wright was proving to the army that he could fly.
When the air-plane had landed clumsily on its two sled-like runners, and the reporters surged around, we have record of the following queries and replies:
How fast can you fly?' 'Forty miles an hour.'
already affecting the lives of every one of us, that is forcing upon us changes as vast as those forecasted when the apeman first discovered that, by swaying erect on his bent legs, he could see his enemies and his victims farther, and have two arms free for fighting.
In the immense development of aviation forced by the war we are apt to forget the tremendous strides made in the first faltering years. As usual, figures and statistics are deceptive, and performances seemed to confirm the opinion of those who saw in the airplane nothing but a toy and a mankiller. Three years after the Fort Myer flight, it was still a remarkable performance to remain in the air for fortyfive minutes, or to climb to an altitude of six or seven thousand feet. After six years of flying, it was still a dare-devil
'How fast do you think air-planes feat to loop an air-plane three times in can be made to fly?'
'Much faster. But, of course, the flyer would be blown out of the machine at anything over a hundred miles an hour.'
'How high can you go?'
'High as I want to. But even in war you would never have to go over one thousand feet. No known gun could hit you at that altitude.'
'What uses can you make of your machine?'
'Sport mainly, and scouting in war.' Of the thousands who saw that afternoon, and of the millions who read of the flight next morning, probably not one had the least dim perception that a mighty power was born, a power that is
one flight; and the first man to fly upside down made his name as well known as that of a champion heavy-weight, and known among much the same classes of people. Pilot after pilot was featured on the sporting pages of the newspapers as he succeeded in remaining aloft five minutes longer than the hero of the month before, reached an altitude fifty feet higher, or somersaulted his vibrating little kite once oftener. And with deadly regularity pilot after pilot was killed his effort to find out how far he could stretch the capacity of his machine being successful.
During those years, however, clumsy skids gave place to wheels and pontoons, or actual boat-hulls; and, while.
planes remained rickety toys, the root- come a screaming leap from continent idea of every practicable type we have to continent, and air-planes now cross to-day was discovered and demon- half a world with little comment.
. strated, waiting only for some impera- Similarly, the projected uses of airtive necessity to force its development. craft as 'scouts' and for ‘sport' have Rotary and V-type motors began to widened as greatly. Well-appointed appear.
municipal flying-fields are multiplying Before the war began, aviation had rapidly, but the air-plane has far outreached the point where its future could grown the present possibilities of a be confidently predicted by the initia- Sporting craft. Possible speed has be ted as a matter of improvement of ex- come so great that a private field capisting types, of betterment of existing able of handling the newest planes is design, rather than as a new departure. about as inaccessible to the average Then came the World War, with its man as a private eighteen-hole golfpressing demands on air-craft designers links; and the only sporting air-craft and pilots, and its almost limitless that are within the reach of moderate money for experiment.
wealth are small flying-boats along Aviation has attained in fifteen years lake shores and landlocked bays. a degree of progress which can hardly A great future is claimed for airbe matched by any other epoch-making borne commerce, and the claim is, posinvention in centuries. One hundred sibly, justified. At present, however, and eighteen years since the Clermont, planes and dirigibles are enormously one hundred and fifty since Franklin's expensive, both in first cost and in upkite, and aviation is already as ad- keep in relation to durability; and the vanced, relatively, as steam and elec- small amount of freight they can carry tricity. John Hawkins and Francis will for some time keep cargo and pas Drake revolutionized naval warfare by senger rates above the bearing-power of fighting broadside instead of head-on, the market. The problem of commerand once for all made the
the mas- cial aviation is, nevertheless, plainly ter of surface ships; and the all-big-gun stated, and once stated, problems are battleship, throwing a heavy broad eventually solved. The need is for a side, is the legitimate child of Drake's weight-carrier of considerable durabilweatherly little Pelican. Three hundred ity, simple of operation and of low fueland sixty years were required to pro- consumption. This is naturally an enduce the modern battleship after Drake gineering problem, and the appearance had shown the way; and there is yet no of a lightweight, heavy-duty motor of more difference visible than already dis- 'fool-proof' design may be confidently tinguishes the army's new Verville- expected sooner or later. Wings and Packard from the original Wright air- body are already made of light, durable, plane hanging in the National Museum rustproof metal; and the commercial at Washington. Orville Wright's forty- air-plane a generation hence will probmile speed has become three miles a ably resemble a plump-bodied 'blanketminute, and the end is not yet. His one fish' or 'giant ray,' of slow landingthousand-feet altitude has become seven speed and
and excessive stability — a miles, and there halts momentarily machine as essentially a worker as a while we safeguard the gasoline and oil tramp steamer, too clumsy for sport, system against the bitter cold of the
too helpless for aggressive war. The black upper air. His twenty-two min- power-plant problem once solved, airute, eighteen-mile endurance has be
tramps will probably become as stand
ardized as fabricated ships or Ford cars. is stronger than we, the attack is more Air-fleets will then increase so rapidly difficult, but more than ever imperative; that a new difficulty will be encoun- and to a battle of weapons is added a tered — how to spare enough valuable battle of wits. We must outwit him, building-space in and around great outmanœuvre him, outshoot him; but cities to create ports of call for them. to have even the faintest hope of vicThe answer will probably be found tory, we must attack him, put him on in huge high platforms covering ware- the defensive — make him do the guesshouses and elevators and docks. ing and take the weight of the first blow.
Precisely in the direction where util- Even to the layman, the necessary ity and necessity have been found ur- characteristics of the fighting air-plane gent, even imperative, is where we find are thus made apparent - speed, snakethe most complicated questions to be like mobility, hitting-power. Speed solved; questions as yet unformulated. and mobility mean small size and imScouting in war remains and will re- mense engine-power. If that were all, main a function of air-craft, but it has this question too would be simple. But already been overshadowed by the to hit hard means weight. Carefully crying need of them in the battle-line. guarded planes now exist in every counWere scouting all we need, a single, try, which can stand a great many hits standardized type would be quickly from any ordinary machine-gun, and procurable-a plane of long endurance, -a
are fairly impervious in any vital spot reasonable mobility, and complete to a glancing blow. A direct hit at pressteadiness. But a machine that answers ent-day maximum speed is a matter of
. these requirements we find to be utterly luck. Air-planes will soon carry canuseless in an air-battle. It climbs slow- non-like machine-guns - in fact, they
ly, it maneuvres badly, and it presents already are carrying 37-millimetre guns an almost unmissable target. We must and straining to attain a practicable have such air-planes to direct artillery 3-inch gun, baulked only by this matfire afloat and ashore, to drop bombs, ter of weight of gun and ammunition. to hunt submarines, to scout, to make Speed and ability to 'stunt' cannot be photograph maps of distant enemy lessened, for the upper-hand' in an airnaval bases. To use them to advantage, fight is as important as was the weather we must, however, have reasonable gauge to sailing-ships. certainty that they will be able to fly This brings the war-plane designer unmolested.
up sharp against his second stumblingIt is the old sea-problem in a new block. The inherent nature of the servelement - to exploit the air in war- ice means that little available weighttime we must command it. In other carrying capacity is left after the pilot words, we must fight for it. Sailors, for and his motor are aboard. That little five thousand years, have died to teach must be given mostly to weapons. And the flyer this lesson, — too often forgot- fuel weighs something, and fuel means ten, that to use our power we must endurance. A line-of-battle plane that first destroy the enemy's power. An at- can stay aloft three hours at battle tempt merely to guard against the speed is a marvelous plane indeed. In enemy's blow may, by extreme good battles between armies, much can be fortune, succeed once or twice. Never done in three hours, especially where three times. Delenda est Carthago, and practically the entire three hours can to destroy we must attack, court a bat- be spent in fighting. Afloat, it is diftle, and fight it to a finish. If the enemy ferent. Battleships of to-day are hard
to sink, and there is no victory until made to order. Eventually, designers they are irrevocably sunk. The battle must find us a machine that can be between fleets may last intermittently one unit of an integral fighting fleet infor days, if there is sea-room; and may stead of one of a number of skillful conceivably commence several thou- duelists.
. sands of miles away from the bases of The underlying necessities of this either belligerent. To get our battle- problem have been made plain by the planes into the battle-line, we must carry history of war on land and sea. The them there; and so one more type is manner of applying them to the air has added to the complicated surface fleets not been found. The root of the matof the world, a type as helpless as a col- ter is that in its infancy every known lier, but one which must have great weapon, from a bare-handed man to a size and battle-cruiser speed - the machine-gun, fights dead ahead. Eyes first non-fighting auxiliary to demand and blow are directed against the nearadmission to the fighting-line. A small est enemy directly in front. The first ship will not do, for her landing-deck
for her landing-deck soldiers, the first ships, and the present must be not-missable at sixty to eighty air-planes have one thing in common miles an hour. A slow ship is worse than they fight 'bows on,' have no time to useless, for the air-plane carrier must watch for signals from their commandbe swift enough to lessen materially the ers, and no space on either side to obey relative velocity of the home-coming a command of movement without hinplane by running away from her, and dering their comrades. Edward III also to keep safely out of gunshot be formed his bowmen into thin lines, prehind the crashing, swaying, hurrying sented the broadside of these formabattle-fleet that she serves and by tions to the enemy, and inaugurated which she is guarded.
controlled volley-fire. Man for man, the There is a third problem upon which chivalry of France fully equaled that of this matter of command of the air de England, and greatly outnumbered it; pends, which as yet has made little but no Roland, no Bayard, could avail progress toward solution. It is not so against the disciplined storm of arrows, much an air-plane problem as a: war: speeding on their deadly errand at the problem, and armies and navies have word of the single commanding brain solved it at terrible cost. The present of the English army. England, too, designs; even the best of them, make an disciplined Spain at sea by an applicaair-battle a matter of individual duels tion of the same principle. The Great and a mêlée, no matter how great the Armada was admirably handled, with air-fleets participating. Tactical forma- consummate seamanship and in strict tion is usually possible only before bat- accord with naval science of centuries; tle. Once joined, battle is man to man, but its tactics were bows-on, ship to plane to plane, and control of a fleet by crush ship with a ramming blow, and a single commander is confined to in- to reduce her by hand-to-hand fighting dividual indoctrination and training on her shattered decks. The English beforehand, must often be suspended relied on broadside gunfire and handiduring contact, and can be resumed only ness. Every phase of that cruelly longafter the fight is over. In other words, drawn-out battle shows a gallant atair-fighting tactics are the land tactics tack bows-on by the Spaniards in line of the Trojan War, the fleet tactics of abreast, met by a single line of closethe Phænicians. Victory depends upon hauled English ships entirely under the supermen, and supermen cannot be control of a single mind, raking ship
after ship with the full weight of their live and work for long periods. It is superior broadside guns.
forcing upon the submarine a new methOn land and at sea, fighting is in one od of underwater propulsion, yet to be plane, however; so broadside fire, with found; for an exploding bomb far outits advantages of manquvring and con- board will cripple the present electric centration of fire and controllability, engine and force the submarine to the is soluble. A flying-machine fighting surface, where she becomes easy prey broadside to the enemy has not been to bomb and shell. found, for the enemy will probably Eight years of devoted, perilous, never be exactly on our own level. We quiet work; seven years of feverish demust find a ship which can fight broad- velopment – that is the history of side
up and down, as well as on either aviation; and it is to-day probably the beam.
most far-reaching existing influence on Command of the air once gained, the future history. Gone forever are the steady improvement of existing types sickly, thirsting expeditionary columns, will serve to exploit it to the discomfit- which in the past have punished raiding ure of an enemy. Torpedo-carrying air- savages in the jungles and deserts of the planes will harass his surface ships; world at hideous cost. A few men, a few spotting-planes will enable us to crush air-planes, a few days, and the chastisehim with gunfire before he can so much ment is complete. Gone is the immunas see us; bombers can destroy his train ity of colliers and repair-ships lagging and cripple his capital ships with ex- in the wake of the sea-borne fleets; and plosives and gas.
gone is the safety of the island cities. Command of the air this is the In fifteen years aviation has supervital problem of military aviation; and posed itself upon civilization. Its future in its wake arise problems and neces- is limitless, not predictable. It is daily sities in the path of every activity demonstrating its ability to extend the ashore or afloat. To armies and to cities scope of our economic fabric to lengths it brings the necessity of bomb-shelters undreamed of, and in ways which were that will not fill up with poison-gas, but yesterday fantastic dreams. And it and of accurate anti-air-craft batteries. has already proved its power to destroy To battleships, still panting from the utterly the world as we have built it; long struggle to make themselves rea- has forced us to take sober and urgent sonably immune to torpedoes under thought as to how this mighty and as water, it brings the new necessity to yet irresponsible force may be subordigrow a tough turtle-back impervious to nated to the common good. The industorpedoes from the air, and to rake the trial changes following the introduction open funnels horizontally, or astern, in of steam and electrical machinery are order that their gaping apertures may trifling and infinitesimal in comparioffer no chance for a luckily dropped son with those already following in the bomb to wreck their vitals, and also to wake of mankind's new-found ability screen the glow of their boilers, now to fly. plainly visible from the air on the dark- The future of all the world is in the est night. It makes imperative a still air -- a future either glorious or terundiscovered gas-mask, in which sol- rible. Your generation and mine will diers, sailors, yes, and civilians, may decide which it shall be.