Airplanes, Zeppelins and Balloons: Aviation Research in 1916 Early Bomber: A Maurice-Farman “Shorthorn” MF11 airplane. The gunner/bombardier sat (or stood) in front of the pilot, the propeller was behind them. The airplane was considered obsolete by the time this image was published. Credits: Scientific American, November 4, 1916
Supplies delivered by air to the besieged British and Indian garrison in Kut (in what is now Iraq) made history, but it was not enough to prevent disaster. The photo shows one of the Australian air force BE2C airplanes with a sack loaded on its wing.
Scientific American Supplement, August 12, 1916
Early Bomber: A Maurice-Farman “Shorthorn” MF11 airplane. The gunner/bombardier sat (or stood) in front of the pilot, the propeller was behind them. The airplane was considered obsolete by the time this image was published.
Scientific American, November 4, 1916
The nose of a Maurice-Farman airplane carried a small supply of bombs,
6-inch artillery shells with fins added. The bombs were dropped tail-first through a nose chute.
Scientific American, November 4, 1916
Innovations in Air Fighting: By 1916 control of the air had become vital to military success. In this story Neal Truslow describes and illustrates a fight between French airplanes (stated as being piloted by the American volunteer squadron) and Germans.
Scientific American, September 2, 1916 Advertisement
Aviation is Dangerous: See previous slide for supporting evidence. The technology of parachutes advanced slowly (inventors tended to die testing their work). This solution from 1916 calls for the parachute to be attached to the airplane.
Scientific American, July 1, 1916
Ship Catapult: Airplane use at sea was limited to launching and landing seaplanes on the water's surface, until the development of the first shipborne catapult in 1916, shown here.
Scientific American, March 18, 1916
Cheap Eyes in the Sky: A British scouting airship used in the Balkans. An airplane fuselage, with engine, pilot and observer, is suspended below a (relatively) small balloon. It had limited range and low speed but was useful nonetheless.
Scientific American, June 10, 1916
Aviation Gas: Here, cylinders of compressed hydrogen gas supplied by the chemical industry are being used by French troops to fill captive balloons. Almost all aerostats (lighter-than-air craft) used hydrogen as a lifting gas in 1916.
Scientific American Supplement, September 30, 2016 Advertisement
Eyes for the Artillery: Kite balloons such as this one in France in 1916 were used for signalling and for observing the effects of artillery fire.
Scientific American, February 12, 1916
Zeppelin Menace: German airships were used for bombing raids during World War 1. The damage they caused was negligible but they were greatly feared. In this imaginative scene, fishermen at night spot the sinister form of a Zeppelin high in the sky.
Scientific American, May 13, 1916
Night Flight: Expanding the time for flying operations, this German light from 1916 was one attempt to guide the aviator back to the landing field in the dark and reduce the chance of accidents.
Scientific American, May 6, 1916
Scientific Exploration: Despite the war raging across the globe, scientists such as Burt M. . McConnell (Canadian Arctic Expedition, 1913-14) pondered the use of seaplanes to explore the Arctic.
Scientific American, September 30, 1916 Advertisement Advertisement
The Great War in Europe had been raging for two years and none of the participants showed any indication that they were nearing the end of their ability to continue the fight. For the nations waging war and desperately searching for victory (or even survival), the leading edge of scientific research had been recruited for the war effort—this trend was especially true for the new technology of aviation. Not only was the science of flight progressing, but the tactical and strategic use of flight was developing by leaps and bounds, as a perusal of these images of aviation research from 1916 can attest.
Our Archive of past issues covers the science and technology of wartime and peacetime flight:
This article was originally published with the title "Airplanes, Zeppelins and Balloons: Aviation Research in 1916"
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