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GERMANY'S AIR FORCES.

A SUPREME EFFORT. (By Frederick A. Talbot, author of "Aeroplanes and Dirigibles of War" —in the "Daily Mail") The recrudescence of German aerial liveliness upon the Western front is of far more significance than the reported triumphs over British aeroplanes superficially convey. They emphasise the salient fact that once again Germany has been able to forestall her adversaries to her own advantage and, with machines which are the direct product of the experience of actual warfare. The Teuton aeroplanes which swarmed the air during the first few weeks of the campaign have virtually disappeared. They have been relegated to minor duties or dispatched to remotet corners of the far-flung battle-line where modernity of design and construction is not essential for the aerial duties. It is well known that Germany has been labouring feverishly for many months past in building a new aeroplane fleet. The various manufacturing- organisations adapted to this service have Deen urged to a supreme effort. One firm which in pre-war days specialised in Pullman cars for railways has concentrated the whole of its plant upon this scheme, and it advanced the statement that when an adequate supply of plates and patterns was available it would be in a position to produce fifty complete machines per week. In order to avoid delays in delivery arrangements were completed for the supply of the Mercedes water-cooled flight motor upon a more extensive scale than the parent firm could undertake. Accordingly duplicate designs and patterns of the engine were supplied to other fcnotor manufacturers, including , ,Krupps. The machine Ipf the mf>ment f which has aroused the greatest measure of atention, is the Fokker. It is admitted to be a wonderful machine, not so much from its design, its engine power or its speed, but; from the 'materials of which; it is constructed , In this machine the Germans have introduced a new steel, the salient characteristics of which are extreme lightness and very great strength. As a result of this discovery, a higher ratio of horsepower per pound of weight has been secured, while the carrying capacity per square foot of wing surface has also reached an unprecedented figure. This combination has enabled a higher powered engine to be installed, which in turn secures higher speeds, while at ! the same time it has conduced to I the mounting of a more formidjable type of quick-firing gun for defensive and aggressive tactics. Formidable Fokker. The Fokker is not a bombdropping- aeroplane, although, if necessary, it can be utilised for this purpose within certain limits and neither is it adapted to recor.noitring and kindred duties. It is essentially a "chaser" being the German defensive measure to the more formidable battleplanes which the Allies have brought into activity. By virtue of its rapid climbing capacity and high speed it is able to swarm to the attack and to engage the enemy at its own range as a result of heavier gun-power and greater mobility. Concentration upon the construction of this machine seemed necessary for several reasons. In the first place, the Germans, through their elaborate espionage system in the United States, became fully conversant with the fact that high powered motors were being built in that country for the Allies—engines ranging fn m 150 to 175 horse power. The Fokker engine develops 150 horse power, and the machine is interesting for the reason that th.. Teutons have assimilated the. self same lesson as the Allies namely, that one engine of 160 ho rye power is superior to two motors each developing 100 horse power, no matter how perfect the system of coupling and transmission, It also demonstrates the preference of the German aeronautical depart men I for the stationary engine, evolved from an automobile type an opinion now shared by the flying experts of the Allies. This aeroplane was hurried forward at the instigation of Krupps The early German aeroplanes, in common with our own, wore armed with rifle-calibre machine jguns, the efficiency of which is influenced by range, They also suffered from the system of mounting. But the essential weakness of the armament was the ri/le calibre missile. J Krupps accordingly concentrate

Ed their attention upon a 37----millimetre—liin.— quick . firer, somewhat similar to our pompom, which figured so prominently in the South African War. The Essen firm, by -the use of improyed metallurgical methods, succeeded in reducing- the weight of this weapon together withs it mounting, which was also a novel design and adapted to installation in aerial craft. But notwithstanding these improvements, it was too heavy for arming the types of aeroplanes then in vogue The Essen firm then sought for a very light tough steel adapted to the framework of the aeroplane, and in this quest they have succeeded to a remarkable degree. In fact, this success has so surpassed anticipations that the Krupp firm are sanguine of being ! able to provide the newer aeroplanes—improved Fokkers —with ia modified 7.5 centimetre —3in.-~-quick-firer and to bring the i weight of the gun, its mounting, and an adequate supply of ammunition within the carrying capacity of the aeroplane. Not [only has the armament been ren- , dered additionally formidable, but also the system of mounting the weapon enables it to be trained through a very wide horizontal arc. Zeppelin's Need of Defence. Another factor has also hurried the appearance of this craft, Count Zeppelin and his collaborators have constantly urged that the Zeppelin, being the aerial counterpart of the Dreadnought of the water, should be accompanied and protected by an adequate screen of high powered speedy aeroplanes. In raiding operations., such as the great aerial assault in force which is contemplated upor London, the airships on the outward journey must necessarily travel at a comparatively low al titude —about 5000 ft. —owing to the weighty r loads of bomb; which will have to be carried Should such craft be attacked bj a strong force of swift aero planes before the former have reached their objective, thej will be caught at a fatal dis advantage. Escape is only pos sible in the one plane—-ascent To secure this end the airshii wil be forced to abandom noi only its load of bombs, but alsc its safety and very possibly, it; "manoeuvring" ballast, the latte] if especially hard pressed. The latest Zeppelins are particular!} mobile in the vertical plane, be cause by discarding bombs anc the "safety" ballast an ascension al speed in a direct vertical line of 4500 ft. per minute may be attained. This is far in excess oi the climbing powers of any aeroplane which has yet been designed. \ In these circumstances a Zeppelin raid in force 'will be accompanied by a number of highspeed aeroplanes to shepherd the aerial Dreadnoughts. They will not be required to participate in bomb-dropping operations, but will cary a large supply of ammunition for their guns. Owing to their sped and mobility, they will be able to provide the airships with all the protection the latter require. They will attack, engage, and seek to destroy any hostile aeroplanes swarming to the destruction of the Zeppelins, and, in particular, will frustrate [any attempts to get above the airships. The commanders of the airships on their part, during their bomb-throwing operations, being relieved of attack from the air, will be concerned only in eluding one other hostile force— anti-aircraft guns stationed upon the ground.

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http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AMBPA19160314.2.10

Bibliographic details

GERMANY'S AIR FORCES., Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXV, Issue 3527, 14 March 1916

Word Count
1,226

GERMANY'S AIR FORCES. Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXV, Issue 3527, 14 March 1916

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