National Geographic : 1918 Jan
A FRENCH GAS ATTACK BEING LAUNCHED AGAINST THE GERMANS FROM A POSITION MIDWAY BETWEEN THE FIRST AND SECOND LINE TRENCHES: PHOTOGRAPHED FROM A SCOUT AIRPLANE fort is made to carry the maximum load of bombs. But it is evident that this is possible only at the expense of the speed of the airplane and especially of the quantity of gasoline and oil it can carry, thereby limiting its radius of action. Accordingly, two very different types of machines have been invented-one very swift, able to fly at a speed of over 1io miles per hour, but carrying only 700 pounds of bombs (Breguet type); the other very slow, since it can make only 80 miles an hour, but able to carry 4,400 pounds of projectiles (Caproni type). The first type is used day and night on the French and English fronts, where the enemy has his most powerful planes. AIRPLANES WHICH ARE USED AT NIGHT ONLY The airplanes of the second type, be cause of their low speed, can only be used over the front lines by night. They would be brought down, without fail, should they venture within the enemy lines by day, where they would only be the playthings of the swift hostile battle planes. In regard to what may be expected from the entrance into line of American air squadrons, this spring, it may be said that although the Allies have always held the aerial superiority over their enemies, at the cost of very heavy sacrifices, the advantage in our favor has never been great enough for us to risk a decisive battle, that would forever give us the ab solute mastery of the air. Whole squad rons have been beaten down, but the de struction of the enemy's air fleet has not yet been accomplished, owing to the lack of sufficiently powerful means. This is not, however, an impossible con ception, and in the future, when Amer ica's air forces arrive to reinforce those of her allies, it is possible that the an nihilation of the enemy's fleet may be undertaken, after several days of sus tained battle at the outset. In case our forces prove the stronger, the enemy will have no other alternative, to prevent the loss of his air squadrons, than to refuse battle by not flying; but when our bombing squadrons intervene with an effect so deadly as to compel his fighting planes to give battle, he will then bring on the struggle in which the Ger man air fleet must succumb. I do not pretend to foretell the future. I can simply tell you this. The decisive air battle has not yet been fought, al though gigantic land battles have taken place. America will, I hope, have the honor of fighting this battle at the side of her allies, and it is probable that the road to victory will then be opened by way of the air.