Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 91.djvu/546

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The Charge of the Lightest Brigade

��The men in the airplanes swoop down and rake the trenches of the enemy with machine-gun fire — a new military maneuver

By Carl Dienstbach

��CONSIDER well the photograph repro- duced at the bottom of this page, showing French soldiers engaging in a new kind of target practice. They are learning how to shoot at swift, low-flying airplanes. It is an historic document — this photograph. It shows how formidable the airplane has become in an unexpected way. During more than one charge, air- planes have actually flown ahead of the troops and assisted them in the attack. Flying machines have also deliberately swooped down and with their machine-guns raked the affrighted men in the enemy's trenches from a height of scarcely two hundred feet. Only the other day a pilot dropped down from the skies and shot several German staff officers who were riding in an automobile.

All this is in keeping with what we expect of an artificial bird. Before the war, ma- chines flew at a fixed level in order to avoid the eddies and swirls near the ground. Now they are like hawks and eagles. They swoop down and soar up, wheel around,

���The airplane swoops down suddenly like an enraged eagle, rakes the enemy trench with a *■ machine gun and flashes away out of range

circle slowly and perform evolutions which even a swallow could hardly emulate. Nor is any attention paid to high winds or to rain.

All this is largely due to

���French soldiers engaged in a new kind of target practice, in which airplanes, flying low at the rate of about one hundred and thirty miles an hour, are the objects at which the guns are aimed


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