Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 90.djvu/708

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692

��Popular Science Monthly

��exactly as if it had been dropped from a destroyer.

I have seen it stated in print that Captain Alessandro Guidoni, of the Italian Navy, experimented with such an invention two or three years ago and that he hit the target nine times out of ten at a distance of three thousand yards. Not having an aeroplane large enough to carry a heavy, long distance tor- pedo, he used a light short distance tor- pedo suitable for the size of his craft.

I received private information from Europe about a year ago that a lieutenant in the British Navy made four flights over the land into the Sea of Marmora in an aeroplane un- der which a White- head torpedo was secured and that he sank four Turkish vessels, using four- teen inch torpedoes, weighing seven hun- dred and thirty-one poundseach. Forthis service, hewasaward- ed the much coveted medal of the Distin- guishedServiceOrder.

��while the torpedoplane can be shot full of holes without much damage, unless hit in a vital place.

The aviators tell me that they see no difficulties whatever in doing their part of the work.

For an attack on battleships, the large

size torpedo, weighing about a ton, would

be the best. It can be fired from a distance

of five sea miles or

���Pulling the lever releases the torpedo, which is securely held under the aeroplane

��Why the Fighting Ship Would Be Helpless

Naval officers and many aviators agree with me that it would be very difficult, in- deed, for the guns of a ship to hit a torpedo- plane, for the reason that accurate firing of guns from a rolling ship at an aeroplane that is neither overhead nor on the surface of the water is almost impossible.

The greatest single difficulty in firing from a rolling ship at anything near the sur- face of the water is to find the range at which to fire; and a rapidly approaching ill-defined aeroplane makes finding the range almost impossible. The sudden changes in the height of a torpedoplane as she would swoop down would increase the difficulty tremendously. Besides, in a contest between a torpedoplane and a ship, in which the torpedoplane seeks to strike the ship below the water, the ship, if she is struck there is disabled, if not destroyed;

��more. We now have a number of aero- planes in this coun- try large enough for carrying such tor- pedoes.

But battleships would be accompan- ied by a vast array of other vessels which are verj^ im- portant, such as de- stroyers, colliers, am- munition ships, scout cruisers and trans- ports — vessels which are lightly built and which have sides so thin that a torpedo would be thoroughly effective against them. A destroyer would be especially helpless in an at- tack, because a de- stroyer's motions in rolling and pitching are so quick that her gun fire would of necessity be extremely inaccurate. There- fore, torpedoplanes could with comparative safety approach destroyers and discharge their torpedoes from a distance of a few hundred yards.

In our present state of unpreparedness, it would be a great thing if we could bring out something as revolutionary and effective as the "Monitor," something that could be got ready in the limited time that may be granted us. We cannot hope to catch up with any of the leading powers in ship or submarine building. Their output is enormous compared with ours, and their experience is greater. We are far, far be- hind; but I believe that our national se- curity could be hopefully improved by keeping say fifty torpedoplanes at each of the ten important naval districts, and on aeroplane mother ships, which would go with the fleet.

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