Page:Aircraft in Warfare.pdf/56

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Service aeroplanes have already begun to talk of "reconnaissance machines" and "fighting machines;" but the distinction is one that has scarcely yet pene- trated to the field of operations. When all has been said, differentiation of type must, from the Service standpoint, be looked upon as an evil, only to be justified when, and to the extent that, service conditions prove it to be necessary. So far even the broad distinction between machines for strategic reconnaissance and for tactical operations has scarcely been drawn or received recog- nition. The military aeroplane of to-day is something like the frontiersman's knife-made for nothing in particular, used for everything in general.

For the purpose of directing artillery fire the experience of the present war has shown the aeroplane to be effective almost beyond the most sanguine expecta- tion. For this purpose it appears to have established its utility beyond question. Its duties in this respect may be regarded as a special branch of local recon- naissance, its function being to locate the objective and signal its whereabouts to the gun batteries to which it is attached; further to report and correct inaccuracies of fire. The exact mode or modes of signalling adopted do not so far appear to have been definitely disclosed. Some reports give the aeroplane as turning sharply when over the enemny's position; according to other accotunts a smoke bomb of some kind is let fall to indicate the position to be attacked; other reports, again, mention lights as being used. It appears that lamps of sufficient power to be visible in daylight are actually being. employed by the German aircraft. Possibly all these methods are in use experimentally, or different kinds of signals may be used for different purposes, to indicate initially the position, and subsequently to give corrections,

either as to direction or range. Whatever the methods