Page 3801

3801 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

with her crew. Another was brought down

in the Alps, and was set on fire by her crew,

who were captured. A fifth was chased by

French aviators out over the Mediterranean

near Frejus, and was believed to have fallen

into the sea. A sixth, the L-50, was forced

to descend near Dammartin in the Haute Marne Department, but reascended after

some of her crew had disembarked and one

of her gondolas had been cut loose.

As anti-aircraft guns were now able to do

good practice at objects even three or four

miles high, the Zeppelins, which furnished

enormous marks, were forced to remain at

very great heights, hence at night could not

determine their location by the contour of

the land. The L-49, which carried eighteen

men and two tons of bombs, reached a height

of four and a quarter miles above London,

and then encountered not only a strong north

wind but a temperature falling as low as 33

degrees below zero centigrade. The crew

had frozen hands, and were almost stupefied

by the cold. The water ballast was frozen,

although a certain amount of alcohol had been

mixed in it to prevent this from happening.

As no means for calculating drift was

known and the compass was practically useless without this, Zeppelins flying at such

heights were forced to depend for guidance

almost wholly upon wireless stations in

Germany and Belgium. Shrewd Britons had

managed to solve the German wireless code

used in such work, and British and French

wireless stations, using this code, were able

to delude the raiders, with results already

described.

The Zeppelins engaged in this raid were

about 650 feet long, over 100 feet high, and

had a capacity of about 183,000 cubic feet

of gas. Eighteen separate compartments, or

balloonets, were used, being contained inside

an outside envelope. These balloonets were

made of gold-beater's skin combined with a

cotton lining. Between the balloonets were

a number of chimneys designed to carry out

at the top any leakage of gas. A passage

within the envelope contained the ballast,

petrol, bombs, and several beds. There were

four cars, and five motors. These Zeppelins

were normally able to make forty-five to

sixty miles an hour.

Great ingenuity had been expended upon

these aerial monsters, but the difficulties

were almost insuperable. Their inventor

had been on the wrong track. To the

Wright brothers, of Dayton, U. S. A., not to

Count Zeppelin, belongs the honor of

conquering the air. After this disaster to

the Zeppelins, the German Government

practically ceased building them and concentrated its efforts upon aeroplanes. One by

one the devices upon which the War Lords

had counted upon to help conquer the world

were proving unequal to the test.

It is a relief to turn from the murder

of non-combatants by German Zeppelins

and aeroplanes to legitimate aerial warfare.

During 1917, there was a marked increase in

the use of planes for military purposes, both

on land and sea. An interesting feature of

such warfare was the growth of mass fighting

by squadrons of planes flying in fixed formation and attacking and maneuvering according