Nerves of Steel–Human-centric Target Practice from 1934

JF Ptak Science Books  Quick Post

This illustrated story from Popular Mechanics for May 1934 seems almost nominal–“Armored Speed Boat is Target for Bombers”–until you realize that it is piloted, and has an engineer and a wireless operator on board. This British crew of three would run around, powered by three 100-hp engines and serve as target/bait for bombers, trolling around, waiting for the aircraft to attack and strike.  Evidently the boat was screamingly fast at 30 knots, and was constructed to both protect and fail: the crew and engine compartments were shielded by half-inch iron plate and shock absorbers, while most of the rest of the 37′ boat was made of lighter material encasing rubber flotation devices. The boat was actually made to be hit by a bomb from the aircraft–if so, the bomb was supposed to pass cleanly through the fore and aft sections, with the rubber parts supposedly keeping the boat afloat. In the event of strike, the wireless engineer would both radio the plane pilots of their success as well as release a smoke screen.  Quite right.  Seems that you’d need steel fibers for nerves in this operation.

Pop Mech 1934 speedboat target

The drawing and cutaway were made by George Davis, a highly prolific and skilled artist who made hundreds of these drawings over the decades.  

By: JF Ptak Science Books
Via: Feedbin Starred Entries

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *