Page 3583

3583 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

First invented by Americans, these machines had been greatly developed by

European experimenters in the preceding

decade, and vast improvements were to

be made in them during the course of the

war. They were of two forms: the monoplane (the German "Taube" was of this

type) and the biplane. In size they

ranged from very small machines capable

of carrying only one person up to monster

battle planes that carried several men

and mounted small cannon. These last,

however, were not produced until months

after the war began.

The Germans-the general public at

least-looked forward most hopefully to

the work of their Zeppelins. It was

popularly supposed that these monsters

of the air would not only drop immense

bombs upon cities and forts, erasing them,

so to speak, from the map, but it was

believed that they would be able to inflict

enormous damage upon the hated British

fleet. Expectations in this direction caused

some ludicrous errors, as, for example, when

an enthusiastic German-American editor

"sank" British dreadnoughts by the dozen

by the simple process of dropping imaginary bombs from imaginary Zeppelins.

Such expectations were destined to

disillusionment. The Zeppelins were able

to execute numerous raids over hostile

countries, but their exploits were mostly

confined to the destruction of peaceful

dwellings and defenseless men, women, and

children. Of their work in this direction

more will be said a little later. So many

of them were destroyed either by the

enemy's fire or by windstorms and accidents of various sorts, that it may well

be doubted whether the Germans were

able to inflict as much damage by means

of dirigibles as the efforts cost them.

Most of the real work in the air was

performed by the heavier than air aeroplanes. It was quickly discovered that

these machines also had decided limitations. In some respects, however, they

proved of immense value. By their use

a commander on one side was able to keep

close watch upon the movements of his

enemy. If the enemy was receiving reinforcements, the watchful airmen of the

opposing army at once made their