Airplanes, Zeppelins and Balloons: Aviation Research in 1916

Biplane with rear-facing machine gun
As part of its venerable “100 years ago” feature — which used to be one of my favorite parts of the print magazine — Scientific American has a slideshow of state-of-the-art aviation in 1916.

There’s only 12 images, and not a lot I haven’t seen, but I was struck by this image of a Maurice-Farman Shorthorn (M11) biplane with a pusher configuration and the gunner standing in front of the pilot with the gun rear-facing. It’s a bizarre and counter-intuitive setup. SciAm’s caption said this plane was considered obsolete by the time the photo was published.

It’s good to remember how thoroughly aviation pioneers had to reinvent the wheel. Especially when it came to warfare, nobody was quite sure how to do it.

Lucky for us civilians that warplanes got so damned effective for the next war, huh?

Link: Airplanes, Zeppelins and Balloons: Aviation Research in 1916.