Battle of the Plane Tree Pass, 218 BC

Battle of the Plane Tree Pass, 218 BC

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Battle of the Plane Tree Pass, 218 BC

The Battle of the Plane Tree Pass took place during the Fourth Syrian War, between the Seleucid Empire under Antiochus III the Great and Ptolemaic Egypt. Most of the fighting in this war involved sieges, as Antiochus captured a series of Ptolemaic strongpoints. The battle of the Plane Tree Pass was one of the few field engagements of the war, and came while Antiochus was advancing down the Phoenicia coast.

Ptolemy IV had entrusted the defense of Coele-Syria to Nicolaus, an Aetolian general. He had been reinforced by a fleet containing 30 warships under the command of the admiral Perigenes. They attempted to stop Antiochus between Berytus and Sidon, where the width of the coastal plain was reduced by Mount Libanus. Nicolaus created a strong defensive position between the slopes of the mountain and the coast, while the fleet came as close as possible to the shore to present a continuous defensive line.

Antiochus made a four-pronged assault on the Egyptian line. He too was supported by a fleet, under the command of Diognetus, which engaged the Egyptian fleet. On land he split his army into three wings, one to attack along the beach, one across the rocky land between the beach and the mountain and one along the foot of the mountain itself. This last force was entrusted to Theodotus, a former Egyptian general who had changed sides, apparently after a failed assassination attempt on the part of Ptolemy. It was this force that won the battle. While the bulk of the Seleucid army could not make progress against the Egyptian defensive lines, Theodotus was able to break through close to the mountain.

This now placed him in a very strong position, above the Egyptian line, and he took advantage of it, charging the main Egyptian position from above. Outflanked, the Egyptian line crumbled and fled back to the safety of Sidon. Polybius reports the Egyptian losses as 2,000 killed and 2,000 captured. Seeing the defeat of the army, Perigenes called off the sea battle, which was still undecided, and the fleet escaped to Sidon.

In the aftermath of the battle, Antiochus continued his policy of capturing Egyptian held cities in Coele-Syria. This eventually gave Ptolemy and his advisors time to raise a strong army. The following year that new army would inflict a serious defeat on Antiochus at the battle of Raphia (22 June 217). All of his careful efforts in Coele-Syria would go to waste.

The Entire American Gods Timeline Finally Explained

Neil Gaiman has a knack for mythology. For his 2001 novel American Gods, the author pulled stories from varied cultures around the world and wove them into a vibrant tapestry set against the backdrop of middle America. The Starz show created from Gaiman's novel has been nothing short of spectacular in its ability to bring those mythological pages to life onscreen. The struggle for power between the deities of old (those gods American immigrants have brought along with them throughout the centuries) and the rulers of the new world (television, the internet, and technology) is still going strong with its third season on the network, which means Gaiman's universe of gods is getting even bigger.

Who exactly are these gods, both old and new? And how do they fit in to American Gods' central storyline, the one that features Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) and his mysterious cross-country road trip partner, Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane)? American Gods' road is a strange and winding one, but we've sorted out everything you need to know to make sense of it.

Spoiler warning for both the Starz series and the novel is in full effect.

As with the other P-47s in-game, this aircraft should be primarily played using Boom and Zoom tactics. You may need to side climb in order to get into a viable position, given that allied aircraft will be at a higher altitude than you a good amount of the time. It is highly recommended to not try and turn with the aircraft you are trailing, as this is how you will quickly lose energy and become easy pickings. Instead, after your first pass, initiate a relatively steep climb. This will allow you to once again take the altitude advantage on the enemy, which will further give more opportunities for BnZing. When climbing back up, however, pay attention to what aircraft may be around. You are essentially a free kill for anyone in the vicinity if you are not aware of what is around.

This variant of the P-47 does not offer any payload options, so using it in a CAS (Close Air Support) role may not be as effective versus the other P-47 variants.

In Simulator / Enduring Confrontation, bulkier planes that suffer in AB & RB shine and that of course includes the P-47. Sitting at BR 3.7, the lowest BR for rank 3 EC, it can respawn infinitely which makes it a great learning platform for new EC players. In Sim, the P-47 has a stable control handling, all-round unobstructed vision and fast speed. However, as mentioned above, this German P-47 has no suspended armaments, limiting its use to bomber intercepting, traditional BnZ fighting and maybe ground pounding.

Be very careful when hunting bombers, since with the Sim control (whether it be mouse joystick or a real stick) the plane will manoeuvre much more gently, making itself a great target for the bomber's gunners. DO NOT follow behind a bomber's 6 unless you are sure that its tail gunners are unconscious. Chasing behind a bomber makes yourself pretty much stationary for the tail gunners, and you will be showered with bullets. The big radial engine of the P-47 will usually get damaged. Instead, before launching an attack, get an altitude advantage over the bomber by flying around 2 km above it. The bomber should only fill up about 1/6 of your gunsight. The best position for an attack is at the bomber's high 6 so you can adjust the lead much easier. Dive at the bomber, but not directly at it, try to predict where you two will crash by imagining yourself as a missile, that's where you should aim at (deflection shooting). To maximise the damage it is better to aim for their wings and engines, as the fuselage usually soaks up quite some bullets. Only fire when the bomber passes in front of your guns. This short window might seems inadequate to do anything, but the 8 MG on the P-47 are actually quite destructive, as sometimes it only takes one bullet to set the target aflame.

As for dogfighting, because almost all aerial battles in Sim occurs at below 3,000 m, the P-47 can easily climb to this altitude and gather up lots of speed before engaging a battle. The tactic is similar to the RB one above. If, unfortunately, you find yourself being chased at your 6 and you don't know how to do any defensive manoeuvres, do a large, smooth turn towards the nearest friendly airfield to avoid bleeding too much speed. Then shallow-dive towards your airfield. The P-47 can quite easily outrun opponents like the I-16 or IL-2, but might struggle to outrun F6F, P-38 or other P-47. Another way of disengaging is to do a sudden split-S to dodge under the chaser. Average Sim players will now try and see where you went, if not immediately losing track of you. You can then run for your airfield or shallow climb for another attack.

For ground pounding, dive at a shallow angle to approach the target, try to get as close as possible but avoid crashing into the ground. The 8 MGs are perfect for killing trucks, AA guns and artilleries as they have plenty of ammo. However, constantly watch your surrounding, especially your high 6 for any incoming enemies.

  • Me 264 (mixed battle): This giant is one of the few bombers who get air spawns in Sim, so it usually flies higher than you think. On top of this, the Me 264 is armed with large calibre machine guns and cannons all over it, therefore tailing a 264 is basically suicide unless all of their gunners are knocked out. You can treat the 264 almost like a B-29 or B-17 as they are very similar in both design and defensive capabilities. It is best to head-on the 264 if you can as you can easily knock out the pilots due to its glazed nose while also taking minimal damage. However the bomber lacks a ventral turret on its belly, making it easy to deal damage from below, but be wary of the downwards facing rear 20 mm cannon near the tail. The safest way to attack is from a higher altitude, dive at an oblique angle and focus fire on the wings and nose. Never engage if you have no altitude advantage.
  • Bf 110, Ki-45, A-26: As mentioned before, those twin engine aircraft are a big threat since their lack of manoeuvrability comparing to single engine fighters are minimised in Sim. They are usually armed with heavy guns & cannons in the nose, so an accurate burst will tear any plane apart, including the P-47. The P-47 manoeuvres rather sluggishly and you might get out-turned from even those heavy fighters, so engage them with either altitude or speed advantage to avoid being targeted. If they are not manoeuvring aggressively, aim for their wings or engines. If the fight is intense and you cannot smooth the aim, just burst anywhere as long as you hit them, the 12.7 mm bullets will damage their flight models quite a bit.

Manual Engine Control

MEC elements
Mixer Pitch Radiator Supercharger Turbocharger
Oil Water Type
Controllable Controllable
Auto control available
Not auto controlled
Not auto controlled
Separate Controllable
1 gear
Auto controlled

Pros and cons

  • Great at diving and Boom & Zoom
  • Impressive speed, great engine performance above 6,000 m
  • Very rugged construction can keep the plane flying despite damages
  • Impressive firepower of 8 x 12.7 mm M2 Browning machine guns with also impressive ammunition pool
  • Very fast for its rank
  • Low repair cost
  • Terrible turning time (overall manoeuvrability) at low altitude/low speed
  • Mediocre climb performance (side climbing recommended)
  • Big target, larger than average fighters
  • Very limited capability to ground pound targets, limited to softer targets which 12 mm guns can penetrate

West Point and Early Military Career

When Sherman was 16, John Ewing secured him a position at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. There he met and befriended several future military leaders who he would fight alongside – and against – during the Civil War.

Sherman graduated in 1840, ranked sixth in his class. He excelled in the academic side of his training, but was dismissive of West Point’s strict set of rules and demerits, a trait he would carry with him throughout his military career.

He was stationed in Georgia and South Carolina, and fought in the Second Seminole War in Florida. This first introduction to life in the South left a lasting favorable impression.

Unlike many of his West Point classmates, Sherman did not see action in the Mexican-American War. Instead, he was stationed in Northern California, which was just on the verge of the California Gold Rush. He spent several years there as an administrative officer, eventually rising to the rank of captain.

But with little combat experience, Sherman realized future advancement was unlikely. He resigned his commission in 1853, but remained in California with his growing family.


The zone before Cataclysm

Before World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, two versions of the Hyjal zone were present in the game. The first one in terms of lore-chronology is the map used for the Caverns of Time instance "Battle for Mount Hyjal". This map, however, was a retouched version of the zone which was already present in the game from the very beginning but was inaccessible via normal means. Nevertheless, it used to be possible to access the pre-Cataclysm zone, known then only as Hyjal, via Winterspring with some skillful rock climbing, or a glitch that allowed you to die close to the zone's entry gate then resurrect on the other side. ⎥] However, after patch 2.1.2, Blizzard implemented a " [ No Man's Land ] " teleport that removed players from the zone. It was still possible for a shaman to chain-cast [ Far Sight ] from neighboring zones such as Winterspring to see inside Hyjal.

The ruins of the Alliance and Horde bases from the Battle of Mount Hyjal do not appear in the Cataclysm-era Hyjal, most likely either due to retconning or game mechanics. In place of the former Alliance bases are the Grove of Aessina and the Shrine of Goldrinn, and the Verdant Thicket is located in place of the former Horde base.

In the early alpha, Hyjal was concepted to be "an ultra high-level raid zone", filled with demons and dragons battling each other. The challenge would have been to re-purify the Well of Eternity, with a "familiar skeleton chained to a rock" nearby. ⎦]

The "Hyjal" zone as it appeared as part of Kalimdor until Cataclysm.

The "Hyjal Summit" zone as it appears during the Caverns of Time instance Battle for Mount Hyjal.

Map of Hyjal Summit in the Battle for Mount Hyjal instance.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

Description from official site

In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, players will have the opportunity to explore the newly reopened Mount Hyjal as Azeroth's heroes, with the help of Ysera, Malfurion Stormrage and Hamuul Runetotem, are called upon to push back the armies of the Firelord, banish Ragnaros to the Elemental Plane and lay waste to the twilight dragon stronghold in nearby Darkwhisper Gorge. This all-new level 78-82 zone will feature multiple quest hubs, phased terrain and quest lines, portals to micro-zones within the Firelands, an all-new raid dungeon, and much more.

The World Tree

Players will be able to enter Hyjal by way of Moonglade, to take on a series of high-stakes quests in a historic location alongside some of Azeroth's most renowned heroes. With a longstanding rivalry among the night elf leadership threatening to undermine the campaign against Deathwing, players will quickly discover the task of defending Nordrassil is more daunting than they had anticipated. In order to succeed, they must seek out the help of extremely powerful allies: the Ancients.

The Ancients

To protect Nordrassil and heal the devastation the invading fire elementals are causing across Mount Hyjal, players must first recapture the shrine of the wolf god Goldrinn. The ogres surrounding the shrine will not leave peacefully, but seizing the shrine will allow players their first opportunity to infiltrate the Firelands and shut down a key Twilight portal, slowing the advance of the nearby Twilight's Hammer in Hyjal. With the first portal dismantled, players will soon be sought by the wilderness spirit Aessina to assist in cleansing and healing the nearby forest, ultimately returning the land to its former splendor. This small victory, however, isn't enough to deter the Twilight Remnants from attempting to scorch the forest once more. As you struggle to keep these foes at bay, you'll also need to help the Guardians of Hyjal -- a new neutral faction of druids and worshipers of the Ancients—repopulate the forest with animal life. It's even rumored that Malorne has been spotted in the wilderness. Perhaps further investigation is necessary. Amid the chaos, the Druids of the Talon will need players' assistance to resurrect the goddess of winged creatures. Players begin the process by helping to slay a group of black dragons and closing a second Firelands portal from within. Just when you think things might be heating up, you'll need to fight through a burning night elf town to shut down the third and final portal with the assistance of the turtle god Tortolla.

Darkwhisper Gorge

Your successes in Hyjal will ultimately lead you to the assembly of the Ancients, who have set a plan in motion to bring a powerful ally and demigod back into this realm. Before that can happen, however, you will need to infiltrate Darkwhisper Gorge disguised as a follower of the Twilight's Hammer, acting quickly to sow discord within the entrenched faction, weakening it for the coming struggle. Only time will tell if the Ancients' plan is a success—but you'll need to do your part if there's any hope of saving Mount Hyjal from the twilight dragons, Ragnaros, and his minions of the Elemental Plane. ⎧]

Jamaica PM: CARICOM at risk

Bruce Golding the Jamaica Prime Minister has warned that CARICOM is at risk.

When he goes on to say, "There are a number of things that are happening now that are destabilising and threatening the existence of CARICOM," and that, "The political integration that is being pursued by Trinidad and a number of countries in the Eastern Caribbean may very well be commendable, but I believe that it is at the detriment to the deepening and strengthening of CARICOM," this is a clear indication that something is already very wrong.

Warning against the support of a rival organisation, Golding said: "I believe that the membership of ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), which now engages three CARICOM countries, is going to have a destabilising effect on CARICOM. It is going to distract, it is going to divert and it is something that I believe that CARICOM leaders need to examine."

What is shocking about this statement is the fact that the Prime Minister saw it fit to raise these views at a public function and not in a private meeting of or with fellow CARICOM leaders. The PM can sense, like so many of us Caribbeanists, that the Caribbean agenda is going askew. This is a desperate and commendable plea by the Jamaican Prime Minister to his colleagues in CARICOM that the Caribbean ship, if not sinking, is at the very least sailing in the wrong direction. Or is it trying to sail in too many directions all at once!

In his conclusion the Prime Minister shared his most foreboding observation when he said, “I do not believe that any of us can believe that we are going to be better off trying to swim in this Caribbean sea on our own, but it is time for us to stop playing games, for us to stop mouthing integration and professing our commitment to this process when the pragmatic demonstration of that commitment is so often not being brought to the fore."

And so I too concur with all that PM Golding had to say. As a post-grad student of International Relations – Globalisation and Governance, and as someone who has worked at the EU Regional level for the past six years, I have found it extremely difficult to understand any linkages or alignment between the myriad of regional-integration initiatives being pursued by the Caribbean region at this given time. Today the main drivers of Caribbean regional-integration appear to be CARICOM, OECS, OECS+T&T, CSME and ALBA.

My every commentary for BBC Caribbean or for any other Caribbean News network has highlighted the confusion for the Caribbean citizenry to make sense of all of these different initiatives. As a senior policy person I find this totally confusing and disconnected. How then is the average Caribbean citizen supposed to make sense of these?

The obvious danger with all these different initiatives is not just the simple fact that they all lead down different paths and not towards a shared common goal or objective, but it is the fact that finite regional resources are having to be spread too thinly in servicing all these initiatives.

Therefore no one initiative receives enough concentrated resource and focus to truly deliver real integration for the Caribbean. Because of the spread between and across CARICOM, OECS, OECS+T&T, CSME and ALBA, not enough time and energy are available to truly deepen any one of these to achieve real integration.

We are therefore left with a Caribbean region besieged with a plethora of good regional-integration intentions but no real substance and leadership to allow for true integration. Policy statements launching new regional initiatives coupled with haphazard attempts at a fragmented delivery does not make up for real regional-integration strategy/policy.

I should know because I have been the Regional Economic Strategy Manager at a UK Regional Development Agency for the past six years - now the Senior Planning and Performance Advisor, covering a region of 5.2 million people with a 5 year budget of £2.2billion.

The above article was written with extracts and quotes from Jamaican Observer - Wednesday, June 10, 2009.

Hannibal at the Gates adds two new Historical Battles: the Battle of Cannae (216BC) and the Battle of Zama (202BC). Both battles marked key points in the 2nd Punic War, with Cannae representing the high point of Hannibal's invasion of Italy, and Zama marking the completion of Rome's victory and dominance over Carthage.

In addition to mighty Carthage and Rome, players can fight the 2nd Punic War as three new factions: the Arevaci, the Lusitani and Syracuse, each one featuring its own faction traits, characteristics, unique units and campaign start-position. If Hannibal at the Gates is owned, these factions are also playable in the ROME II Grand Campaign.

The Arevaci
Imperialist expansion has brought both Carthage and Rome to the Arevaci's door, although it is Hannibal that currently shares a border with the warlike Celtiberian tribe. As the campaign begins, the Arevaci are neutral but have a clear choice before them: unite with Hannibal and risk genocidal retaliation from the Romans, or remain on good terms with Rome and face the certainty of Carthaginian wrath. Despite their knowledge of the terrain and superb fighting prowess, the Arevaci cannot take on both superpowers at once. For now, they maintain their neutrality, but it cannot last. Someone must control the Iberian peninsula, could it be the Arevaci?
Read more about this faction
The Lusitani lived in Iberia long before Carthage or Rome disturbed the region. They are, like their distant cousins the Suebi, not a single clan but a confederation of smaller tribes, working together for defensive and mutual gain Fierce and agile warriors, the Lusitani are well suited to guerrilla warfare. As Hannibal’s Carthaginian army marches through lands previously controlled by Rome, there is opportunity for the Lusitani to expand beyond their bounds and claim back Iberia from its invaders. However, though there may be prudence in caution, even fraternisation with the enemy at first, eventually they must be expelled from the land!
Read more about this faction
The city-state of Syracuse is renowned throughout the ancient world as a centre for culture and science. It is also rich Syracuse benefits greatly from its prime position in the central Mediterranean. A string of tyrants dominate its history, defending the city's autonomy against fellow Greeks, Carthaginians and threats from within. In 218BC, both Rome and Carthage would like to see Syracuse under their control once and for all. As the two superpowers go to war again, it stands on a precipice - will Syracuse forge its own destiny or fall into obscurity as just another colonial possession?
Read more about this faction

6 Sempronius Densus, 69 AD

"No man resisted or offered to stand up in his defense, save one only, a centurion, Sempronius Densus, the single man among so many thousands that the sun beheld that day act worthily of the Roman empire, who, though he never received any favor from Galba, yet out of bravery and allegiance endeavored to defend the throne."
- Plutarch, Lives

Sempronius Densus was a grizzled old war veteran who took his job as a Roman Imperial Guard very seriously. So he wasn't about to run when he saw a few thousand mutinous Roman soldiers marching on the palace preparing to execute the Emperor. It's important to keep in mind that Densus had no particular loyalties to the Emperor Galba. He just knew that his job description called for him to put his life on the line to save the son of a bitch, and he didn't fuck around when he was on the job. So Densus walked towards the mob, brandishing his Centurion Whacking Stick--a short cudgel that Roman officers used to administer back-breaking corporal punishment to out-of-line soldiers--and ordered the advancing men to stop.

Seeing that the blood thirsty, sword carrying mob of 1,000 wasn't listening to the one dude with a stick, Densus pulled his pugio--a short dagger roughly half the size of the standard Roman sword. Thinking that should convey just how much business he meant, Densus once again screamed at them to stop. Again, they kept on marching. Certain that they'd been able to hear him that last time, Densus shrugged, probably said, "You asked for it," and lunged on the posse.

Completely surrounded, Densus fought the entire army by himself to defend a man he hardly knew. Hardened by years of combat, he slashed his way through the army, as Plutarch puts it, "for some time." His courageous stand ended when he was brought down by a blow to the back of the knee and enthusiastically murdered by the mob. Unfortunately for the guy he was guarding, the men operating his carriage were so awestruck by Densus' giant balls that they dropped their gear and ran for it, face-planting the Emperor in the turf. Galba was killed, decapitated and his head was paraded around town on a spear. Plutarch fails to mention what the mob did with Sempronius Densus' body, though we have to imagine it involved very little parading, and a whole lot of staying the hell away. As slasher films would go on to teach us, you should never assume you've actually killed anyone who can kill that many people with just a knife.

Plutarch. Lives. Trans. John Dryden. Little, Brown, 1905.

Staff, Wellesley K. Year of Four Emperors. Routledge, 2003.

Tacitus. Histories. Kessinger, 2004.

Related: Gear Up Like A Boss For President's Day

Mass-Produced Bricks 

An archaeological site in Mari, Syria (modern Tell Hariri) that was an ancient Sumerian city on the western bank of Euphrates river. 

Jean-Michel Coureau/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

To make up for a shortage of stones and timber for building houses and temples, the Sumerians created molds for making bricks out of clay, according to Kramer. While they weren’t the first to use clay as a building material, “the innovation is the ability to produce bricks in large amounts, and put them together on a large scale,” Jones explains. Their buildings might not have been as durable as stone ones, but they were able to build more of them, and create larger cities.

Second Punic War: Hannibal’s War in Italy

A powerful army stood poised to cross the Ebro River into northern Spain, comprising soldiers from many peoples and cultures. Yet heterogeneous as the force was, most all of them were veterans of two decades of continuous warfare. It was a cohesive army built for speed and shock, and it answered to one man and one will — Hannibal of Carthage. Swift light cavalry from the desert plains of Numidia screened the main body from curious or hostile eyes. Past this barrier the army stretched for miles: massed squadrons of Iberian cavalry and infantry mercenary Balearic Islanders, trained from childhood in the art of the sling archers javelin men from the tribes of North Africa mighty elephants plodding forward like mobile watchtowers veteran Libyan spearmen — more than 80,000 men all told.

Hannibal Barca of Carthage had brought this army to the banks of the Ebro in a fateful year, 218 bc. Ten years earlier, the Senate and people of Rome had forbidden the Carthaginians to cross that river on pain of war. Now nothing could please Hannibal more. The young general was resolved not only to cross the Ebro but also to conduct an epic march across the Pyrenees, on through Gaul, over the Alps and into Italy to threaten Rome itself.

The Romans later believed that Hannibal’s father, Hamilcar Barca, had bequeathed this plan to invade Italy to his son. That great general waged a masterful guerrilla campaign against the legions of Rome in western Sicily during the final seven years of the First Punic War. Undefeated on land, Hamilcar had been forced by a naval defeat to surrender Sicily to Rome in 241 bc. But the end of that war brought no respite for Carthage, which was soon threatened by a bloody mercenary rebellion. Hamilcar ultimately defeated the rebels in 238, but Rome seized the opportunity to annex Sardinia and Corsica. That act of naked aggression, the Rape of Sardinia as the Carthaginians called it, convinced Hamilcar that his home city would never know peace as long as Roman power remained unchecked.

Once the rebels were crushed, Hamilcar embarked on a new expedition to Iberia to carve out an empire that would replace the lost resources of Sicily and Sardinia. Before leaving Carthage, he brought his 9-year-old son Hannibal to a temple to vow ‘never to be a friend of Rome.’ Hamilcar campaigned in Iberia for nine years, until he was killed in battle in 229 bc. The Iberian command passed to his son-in-law, Hasdrubal the Splendid, but it was Hasdrubal whom the Romans had forced in 228 bc to sign the treaty pledging never to cross the Ebro under arms. Hasdrubal continued the expansion of the Barcid empire in Iberia for eight more years until he was felled by an assassin’s blade in 221. The Carthaginian army then acclaimed Hannibal, although he was only 25 years old, as its new commander. So it fell to Hannibal, with his younger brothers Hasdrubal and Mago, to carry out their father’s plan.

Hannibal wasted no time. In two years of hard campaigning he consolidated the Carthaginian hold on southern Iberia and perfected his army. A dispute with the city of Saguntum, allied with Rome but south of the Ebro, provided the pretext he needed to provoke a new war. In 219 bc he laid siege to Saguntum, and after eight months it fell. Rome sent ambassadors to Carthage to demand restitution and Hannibal’s surrender. When the Carthaginian council refused, the Roman diplomats offered a challenge of war — and the Carthaginians accepted. The Second Punic War, or the Hannibalic War, had begun.

In Iberia, Hannibal sent his army into winter quarters and released his Iberian contingents for a final home leave before commencing the great march against Rome. Spies and ambassadors were sent ahead to reconnoiter the route and negotiate with tribal leaders. Gold and silver helped pave the way. Key to Hannibal’s plan was an anticipated alliance with the Boii and Insubres of the Po River valley. These Celtic tribes chafed at their recent subjugation by Rome and eagerly accepted an alliance that promised revenge and freedom. For Hannibal, they offered a base in Northern Italy and manpower.

Hannibal mobilized three armies for his war of retribution. To defend against anticipated Roman invasions, he brought African conscripts to Iberia while dispatching 13,850 Iberian foot soldiers, 1,200 horsemen and 870 Balearic slingers for the defense of Africa. An additional 4,000 infantry garrisoned Carthage, along with the home fleet of about 100 warships. Hannibal designated his brother Hasdrubal to hold Iberia in his absence and provided him with the following forces: 11,850 Libyan spearmen, 500 Balearic slingers, 300 Ligurian infantry, 1,800 Numidian light cavalry, 450 Libyan heavy cavalry, 300 Iberian horsemen, 21 war elephants and 57 warships.

Hannibal’s army in Iberia reportedly totaled 90,000 infantry and 12,000 cavalry, although those figures most probably included Hasdrubal’s forces as well as his own. The expeditionary force would still number as many as 75,000 foot soldiers and 9,000 horsemen. Hannibal departed New Carthage (Cartagena, Spain) in late May, marching 290 miles through friendly territory to arrive at the Ebro by late June. Accompanying him were Mago, his youngest brother Maharbal, his deputy Hasdrubal, the quartermaster general and Hanno, son of Bomilcar. That group of generals would prove to be one of history’s most talented and capable command teams.

Unlike with the Barcid invasion scheme, which had hatched over two generations, Rome hurriedly developed war plans in the crisis atmosphere engendered by the fall of Saguntum in 218 bc. Rome mobilized 64,000 infantry and 6,200 cavalry for the coming year. The Senate planned an offensive two-front war against Carthage. The two consuls elected for that year (who were both chief magistrates and generals) would each lead an invasion.

Publius Cornelius Scipio was assigned two legions (of 4,000 foot and 300 horse each), with 14,000 allied Italian infantry, 1,600 cavalry and 60 warships to do battle with Hannibal in Iberia. The Senate dispatched his colleague, Tiberius Sempronius Longus, to Sicily with a larger force of two legions, 16,000 allied Italian foot, 1,800 cavalry and 172 warships to prepare for invading Carthage, in Africa. Two additional legions with 10,000 allied foot soldiers and 1,000 cavalry were sent to Cisalpine Gaul to overawe the restless Celts.

By the time Hannibal’s army crossed the Ebro, the treaty violation it represented was of little consequence, as Carthage and Rome were already at war. Hannibal conducted a lightning campaign to conquer northern Iberia. Hard fighting subdued four major tribes. The coastal cities were bypassed rather than besieged — Hannibal needed to cross the Alps before winter.

He had expected to meet a Roman invasion army in northern Iberia, but none appeared by late summer. Hannibal decided to press on across the Pyrenees in August, having covered 180 miles since crossing the Ebro. He garrisoned the newly won region with a detachment of 11,000 troops. At the Pyrenees, he released another 11,000 Iberian troops who displayed reluctance to leave their homeland. Hannibal reportedly entered Gaul with 50,000 foot soldiers and 9,000 horsemen.Scipio had indeed hoped to be in Iberia by the summer. In anticipation of Hannibal’s arrival, however, the Boii and Insubres tribes rose in revolt and ambushed the Roman garrison army. The Senate ordered Scipio to dispatch one of his legions, along with 5,000 allies, to relieve the beleaguered force. His invasion had to wait.

Meanwhile, the Carthaginian advance into western Gaul had excited alarm and hostility among the indigenous Celtic tribes. Hannibal arranged a meeting with the Celtic chieftains, and after plying them with gifts, convinced them to allow his army to pass through their territory unmolested. Thereafter, the march from the Pyrenees to the Rhône River, another 180 miles, proceeded smoothly. Arriving at the Rhône in September, Hannibal’s army numbered 38,000 infantry, 8,000 cavalry and 37 elephants.

The Carthaginian army reached a point on the Rhône four days’ march from the sea. The Celtic tribe inhabiting the Rhône Valley, the Volcae, massed on the eastern shore to resist the crossing. Hannibal ordered his men to purchase all available canoes and craft from the Celts living on the west bank, and set about constructing even more boats.

As the multitude of hostile Volcae grew on the far bank, Hannibal realized that a direct assault would likely end in disaster. Therefore, on the third night after reaching the river, he secretly dispatched a detachment of his army, under the command of Hanno, led by native guides on a 25-mile forced march upriver to a suitable crossing point. Gathering a few boats, the column rapidly crossed the river. Many of the Iberians swam across, assisted by inflating the leather bags in which they carried their gear. Hanno pitched a camp on the far shore and allowed his men a day of rest.

Meanwhile, Hannibal openly prepared his army for an assault river crossing, fixing the attention of the Volcae Celts. On the morning of the fifth day, he observed the prearranged smoke signal he had been awaiting from Hanno and sent his men into the water. The largest boats were stationed upstream, to break the force of the current. The cavalry horses swam behind the boats, troopers in the stern of each craft holding their reins. Infantry crossed in canoes and other small craft.

Even with the large number of boats Hannibal had collected, only a fraction of his army could cross in the first wave. As the armada surged toward the opposite shore, the Volcae swarmed out of their camp to occupy the beach. From one bank the Carthaginian army shouted encouragement to their comrades in the water from the other the wild Celts issued their challenge to battle.

Just then Hanno’s detachment stormed into the rear of the Volcae host while a few of his units set fire to the Volcae camp. A few of the Volcae rushed back to save their camp, while the remainder remained focused on repelling the amphibious assault. Hannibal brought his first wave ashore and launched a vigorous attack. The Volcae, under attack from two directions, broke and scattered. Hannibal quickly brought most of his army across the river, save for a rear guard and the elephants. That evening, however, his scouts brought unexpected news — a Roman army had arrived at the mouth of the Rhône. Hannibal dispatched a squadron of 500 Numidian cavalry to reconnoiter the enemy force.

After detaching a legion to suppress the Boii and Insubres in Cisalpine Gaul, Scipio had hurriedly conducted another levy when he received the alarming news that Hannibal had not only crossed the Ebro but was advancing through the Pyrenees. Scipio decided to sail to the friendly Greek city of Massilia (modern Marseille), at the mouth of the Rhône, which he could use as a secure base to campaign against Hannibal in Gaul. Five days at sea brought his 24,200 men and 60 ships to Massilia. There, Scipio was shocked to learn that Hannibal’s army was just a few days’ march upriver. He had never expected the Carthaginians to march so far so quickly. Scipio sent a picked force of 300 cavalry, reinforced with Celtic mercenary horsemen, to scout out the reported enemy.

Getting their elephants across the Rhône posed special problems for the Carthaginians. The animals refused to board boats or small rafts for the crossing. Hannibal directed his pioneers to construct a number of large rafts, 25 feet square. These were lashed together in pairs, and eight pairs were attached to the bank, forming a pier 50 feet wide and extending 200 feet into the river. Two additional rafts were attached to this pier and connected with tow-lines to boats. The rest of the elephants had refused to venture onto boats in the river, so the pier was disguised as dry land, covered with dirt. The elephants were led by two compliant females across the pier and onto the raft. Then the rafts were cut free and towed across the river. The elephants panicked at first but eventually crowded toward the center of the raft and made the crossing safely. The process was repeated a number of times, and though a few of the frightened elephants fell into the water, even they managed to swim across.

Meanwhile, the reconnaissance forces dispatched by Hannibal and Scipio collided. A fierce battle ensued, which the Romans and their Celtic allies won, killing more than 200 Numidians while losing 160 of their own men. The Romans rode on to observe Hannibal’s camp, then hurried back the 50 miles to Scipio’s camp to issue a full report. Without hesitation, Scipio put his army in battle order and advanced to engage the Carthaginian host.

Hannibal briefly considered offering battle to Scipio’s army, but the arrival of Magilus, a chief of the Boii, convinced him to make all haste to cross the Alps. Magilus assured Hannibal that the Boii would rise up in full strength upon his arrival and would minimize his difficulties in crossing the Alps. Hannibal arranged a mass assembly of his army so that Magilus and his delegation could address the troops and encourage them with promises of aid and support in Italy. Hannibal then started his infantry marching north while his cavalry screened the rear.

Scipio’s army arrived at the Carthaginian crossing site to find an empty camp. Hannibal’s rear guard had departed three days earlier. Scipio was not keen to pursue the Carthaginians into the trackless wilderness, so he marched his army back to the coast. He now had to make some hard decisions. The Senate had ordered him to invade Iberia and engage Hannibal, but Hannibal was well on his way to Italy.

Scipio reached a strategic decision that proved to be one of the most important of the war. He dispatched the bulk of his army under the command of his older brother, Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio, to carry on with the invasion of Iberia. Publius Scipio himself hastened back to Italy. He planned to take command of the Roman troops already in Cisalpine Gaul. With that army, he would engage Hannibal when, or if, he emerged from the mountains.

Meanwhile, Hannibal pressed on toward the Alps and his destiny. After marching four days, the army reached the confluence of the Rhône and Iskaras (either the modern Isere or Aygues) rivers. This area was known as the ‘island,’ hemmed in on two sides by rivers and on the third by mountains. There, Hannibal intervened in a local tribal succession dispute between two brothers. With Hannibal’s aid the elder brother, Brancus, became chief. In gratitude, Brancus provided the Carthaginian army with rations, cold-weather gear, guides and escorts. The next 10 days’ marching was uneventful. It had been 160 miles from the Rhône crossing to where the Carthaginians reached the Alps in mid-October. They now entered the territory of the fierce and powerful Allobroges Celts, who were vehemently opposed to allowing any foreign army into their lands.

The Allobroges occupied the high ground dominating the trail into the mountains. Hannibal halted his army and sent out his scouts. They discovered that the Allobroges only manned their outposts during daylight, returning to their villages each night. After dark, Hannibal dispatched light infantry to occupy the key positions. At dawn, as his army advanced into the ravine, the hostile Celts, scrambling to get into position, were dismayed to find Carthaginian infantry already occupying the high ground. The Allobroges hesitated, unsure of what course to follow. Nevertheless, when they observed the long column, strung out and vulnerable, they couldn’t resist launching an attack.

The Carthaginian column was thrown into turmoil, with many of the beasts of burden stampeding. Hannibal’s light troops counterattacked, routing the Allobroges below them, but that only added to the confusion. Both sides suffered heavy losses as men and beasts fell from precipitous cliffs or were trampled or crushed by falling rocks. Hannibal’s light infantry pursued the broken Allobroges back to their villages, capturing food and supplies to make good some of the losses.

Hannibal rested his army for one day and restored order. The Carthaginians were able to march on unmolested for the next three days. Then the elders of another mountain tribe came out to meet Hannibal with gifts and promises of aid. The general remained suspicious, but some of his fears were allayed when the Celts provided him food, hostages and guides to lead them through the next portion of the mountains. At first all seemed well, but the treacherous guides led the Carthaginians into a steep ravine where their warriors waited in ambush. Hannibal, having foreseen that possibility, had placed all his cavalry and baggage at the head of the column, while his infantry brought up the rear. When the ambush was sprung, the cavalry and baggage column got through with few losses. The infantry had some hard fighting, but it was the terrain itself, and the boulders rolled down from above, that resulted in the most casualties. Hannibal eventually brought his army through the ambush.

This proved to be the last major attack the Carthaginians faced, as the higher mountains were sparsely populated. Yet small bands continued to beleaguer his army with occasional raids and skirmishes. The elephants proved their worth during this leg of the march, as the tribal warriors feared to even approach the strange beasts wherever they were stationed along the column. From here on, however, nature itself became the enemy. Soldiers born and bred in the sunny lands of Africa and southern Iberia suffered horribly from the bitter cold, short rations and thinning air — and then the snow began to fall.

On the ninth day since entering the Alps, the army reached the summit and Hannibal set up a camp to rest his weary men for two days. Stragglers and pack animals continued to wander into this camp, following the column’s tracks. The snow was falling heavily, and the army was in low spirits. To restore courage and resolve in his men, Hannibal brought them forward to a point from which they could see the lush green plains of the Po Valley in Italy in the distance.

Though the going was now downhill, it did not become any easier for Hannibal’s tired, hungry troops. The slopes were actually steeper on the Italian side of the pass, and fresh-fallen snow on top of compacted ice made for extremely treacherous footing. Many exhausted soldiers fell and slid to the side of the trail. Some were too tired to get up at once, and many were never to rise again. Adding to the difficulty, a large portion of the trail had been blocked by a landslide. The Carthaginian scouts could discover no detour. Hannibal was forced to send his sappers to work. They cut through a great boulder, first heated with bonfires and then doused with wine and vinegar. A narrow trail was cleared in a day, and the horses and mules were rushed across to reach fodder below the tree line before they succumbed to starvation. Two more days of labor were required to widen the path enough for the elephants, and then the rest of the infantry followed.

The Carthaginians had covered another 140 miles on this last leg of the march through the Alps, bringing the total journey to nearly 1,000 miles. They finally reached Italy in late October, five months after departing New Carthage and 15 days after entering the Alps. Hannibal now took stock of his army. A mere 20,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry remained, but these were the hardiest of men, veterans of brutal conflict with man and nature.

In Rome, the Senate was stunned. All had expected to fight this war in Iberia and Africa, but now a Carthaginian army was in Italy. Hannibal had seized the initiative, and Rome’s leadership, unhinged by this bolt from the blue, could only react. They canceled the invasion of Africa and ordered Consul Sempronius to bring his army from Sicily as quickly as possible to reinforce Scipio.

While Hannibal’s army was approaching the Alps, Scipio had rushed to Cisalpine Gaul to take command of the two legions and allied troops stationed there. Scipio knew he was outnumbered but reasoned that Hannibal’s army must be in miserable condition after crossing the mountains. He also knew that any hesitation to engage the Carthaginians would lead the Celtic tribes into widespread defections, so he hastened toward Hannibal’s reported location. Near the Ticinus River, Scipio led out his 2,000 cavalry and 4,000 light infantry, seeking the enemy.

After a brief rest, the Carthaginians had recovered enough stamina to march once more. Before moving against the Romans, Hannibal staged a display of gladiatorial combat. He brought Celtic prisoners, taken in the Alps, before the army in chains. Hannibal asked the prisoners who would be willing to engage their fellow prisoners in mortal combat, the victor winning freedom and rich prizes, the loser finding an end to slavery in death. All the prisoners excitedly begged for the chance. A few pairs were chosen by lot and fought to the death before the assembled army.

Then Hannibal addressed his men, explaining that this display was a vivid representation of their own situation. They too were offered the same choice: victory or death in battle. Or did anyone think it would be possible to retreat the way they had come? Conquer or die, and the prize was the wealth of Italy laid out before them. The Carthaginians clamored to be led into battle, and Hannibal obliged them.

Hannibal preceded the column with his 6,000 cavalry and met Scipio’s force at the Ticinus. The Carthaginian cavalry was not in the best condition, but it still proved more than a match for Scipio’s conscript horsemen and light infantry. The Romans were routed, and Scipio himself was wounded and nearly captured. Only a heroic charge led by his 17-year-old son and namesake saved the wounded consul. That same youth would one day defeat Hannibal at Zama and earn the title ‘Africanus.’

Scipio fell back to high ground on the Trebbia River, awaiting the arrival of his colleague. Hannibal allowed Sempronius’ army to link up with Scipio’s on the Trebbia. He needed a decisive victory quickly, as it was already December and well past the usual campaigning season. For his part, Sempronius sought a glorious victory before his year as consul came to an end. Hannibal chose the time and the place for the coming battle. He first placed his brother Mago with a detachment in ambush. His soldiers ate an early breakfast, then warmed themselves before fires and rubbed down their limbs with heated oil. Hannibal sent out his Numidian cavalry to provoke the Romans, and Sempronius ordered his entire army out of camp — without breakfast. The Numidians led them back through the freezing waters of the Trebbia River and onto Hannibal’s chosen ground.

Hannibal’s army had grown to 28,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 horsemen as Celtic recruits streamed in. Sempronius’ army comprised 36,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry. The Roman legionaries, wet, cold and hungry, launched a frontal assault. Hannibal’s cavalry, spearheaded by elephants, quickly routed the outnumbered Roman horsemen, then flanked the Roman infantry while Mago’s picked force struck them in the rear. Hemmed in on all sides, the Romans fought on. Some 10,000 legionaries cut their way through the Carthaginian center and reached safety. Nearly all the remaining Romans were killed or captured. Hannibal had achieved the decisive victory he sought on the Trebbia, the culmination of his great march.Over the next two years Hannibal’s army would blaze a historic path of one glorious victory after another over the legions of Rome. Three consuls and a master of horse were humbled and tens of thousands of Romans were slain or captured at the Battles of Lake Trasimene, Geronium and Hannibal’s ultimate tactical masterpiece, Cannae.

Although the Carthaginians would ultimately lose the Second Punic War, for 16 years Hannibal’s army in Italy seemed invincible. His crossing of the Alps, which so unnerved the Romans at the start of the war, would also capture the imagination of generations to come. Hannibal had challenged not only Rome but nature itself, and even the Alps could not defeat his will.

This article was written by Daniel A. Fournie and originally published in the March/April 2005 issue of Military History magazine. For more great articles be sure to subscribe to Military History magazine today!

CHAPTER XI The Future Story of the Air

Since the days when the first man ascended into the clouds in a Montgolfier fire balloon, and since the days when the Wright brothers tried their first gliding experiments and proved that men might hope to soar with wings into the sky, many glorious chapters have been written in the story of the air.

Surely the most inspiring and significant achievement in aerial progress is the great trans-Atlantic flight made in the latter part of May, 1919, by a flying boat of the U.S. Navy. A force of fliers in three airships under Commander Towers attempted the flight from New York to Lisbon by way of Halifax and the Azores, in three “legs” or continuous flights, but on account of disastrous weather conditions, only one of these planes, the NC-4, under Lieutenant-Commander A. C. Read completed the trip successfully. The enthusiasm of the entire world was fired by this feat and it is difficult to estimate fully its epochal significance.

Simultaneous with this flight and even more daring in plan, was the attempt by an Englishman, Harry Hawker, to fly direct from St. Johns, Newfoundland, to England in a Sopwith biplane. Through an imperfect action of the water pump of his machine Hawker was forced to descend and was rescued twelve hundred miles at sea by a Danish vessel. However,[245] the highest honor is due to this man of the air who embarked on so brave an adventure.

The next trans-Atlantic flight was made about a month after the NC-4 had blazed the air route across the ocean. This was a non-stop, record-breaking trip of Capt. John Alcock and Lieut. Arthur W. Brown—an American—in the British Vickers-Vimy land plane from St John's, Newfoundland, to Clifden on the Irish coast. These daring pilots made the distance of 1900 miles in sixteen hours—an average speed of 119 miles an hour.

Although these achievements in heavier-than-air machines were of far-reaching importance, they did not fully solve the problem of trans-Atlantic air passage. It remained for the great dirigible experiment in July to demonstrate that in all probability the lighter-than-air craft will prove more effective for this hazardous game with the elements.

On July 2 the British naval dirigible, R-34, left East Fortune, Scotland, with thirty-one men on board under command of Major G. H. Scott, and made the journey of 3200 sea miles, by way of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, to Mineola, Long Island, in 108 hours. The fact that weather conditions during this trip were very unfavorable adds to the value of the accomplishment. The return trip was made a few days later in 75 hours.

The R-34 is indeed a mammoth of the air. At the time of its flight it was the largest aircraft in the world, having a length of 650 feet and a diameter of 78 feet. It has five cars connected by a deck below the rigid bag[246] and is propelled by five engines of 250 H.P. each. Its maximum speed is about sixty miles an hour.

The year following the Great War will go down in history as a marvelous period in aeronautic achievement. The Atlantic was for the first time crossed by aircraft and within ten weeks of its first accomplishment two trans-Atlantic flights were made, three widely differing types of aircraft being represented.

As a matter of fact we have but begun to explore the possibilities of aerial flight. During the last few years we have been thinking of the airplane solely as an instrument of war, and for that purpose we have bent our entire energies to developing it. When all the wealth of skill we have acquired during strenuous war times is turned to solving the problem of making the airplane useful in times of peace, there will be new and fascinating chapters to relate.

The war has done a lot for the airplane. It has raised up a host of aircraft factories in all the large countries, with thousands of skilled workers. It has given us a splendid force of trained pilots and mechanics. It has resulted in standardized airplane parts, instead of the endless confusion of designs and makes that existed a few years ago. And instead of the old haphazard methods of production it has made the building of an airplane an exact science.

People used to be afraid of the airplane and it seemed a long road to travel to the time when it would play any important rôle in everyday commerce or travel. The war has resulted in making the airplane[247] safe,—so safe that it is apt to win the confidence of the most timid.

Yet the airplanes that we saw and read of so frequently in war time are not likely to be those which will prove the most popular and useful in the days to come. In war one of the great aims was for speed. Now we can afford to sacrifice some speed to greater carrying capacity. The swift tractor biplane may possibly give way to the slower biplane of the pusher type, which has greater stability. The big triplanes, such as the Russian Sikorsky and the Italian Caproni will come into their own, and yet bigger triplanes will be built, able to carry passengers and freight on long journeys over land and sea. The three surfaces of the triplane give it great lifting powers, and on this account it will be a favorite where long trips and heavy cargoes are to be reckoned with. We may expect in the near future to see huge air-going liners of this type, fitted out with promenade decks and staterooms, and with all the conveniences of modern travel.

There is a strong probability that the airship, rather than the airplane, may prove to be the great aerial liner of to-morrow. The large airship of the Zeppelin type, traveling at greater speed than the fastest express train, and carrying a large number of passengers and a heavy cargo, is apt before long to become the deadly rival of the steamship. A voyage across the Atlantic in such an airship would be far shorter, safer and pleasanter than in the finest of the ocean vessels. Gliding along smoothly far above the water, the passengers[248] would suffer no uncomfortable seasickness, nor would they be rocked and tumbled about when a storm arose and the waves piled up and up into mountains of water on the surface of the deep. Their craft would move forward undisturbed by the turbulent seas beneath. We can imagine these fortunate individuals of a few years hence, leaning over the railing of their promenade deck as we ourselves might on a calm day at sea, and recalling the great discomforts that used to attend a trans-Atlantic voyage. It is amusing to think that our steamships of to-day will perhaps be recalled by these people of the future about as we ourselves recall the old sailing vessels that used to ply the deep a generation or so ago.

The airplane, if it is to hold its own beside the airship as a large passenger vessel, will first have to overcome a number of natural handicaps. In the first place, it is not possible to go on increasing the size of the airplane indefinitely, as is practically the case with the airship. For remember that the lighter-than-air machine floats in the air, and only requires its engine to drive it forward: whereas the heavier-than-air machine depends upon the speed imparted to it by its engine and propeller to keep it up in the air at all. Beyond a certain size the airplane would require engines of such enormous size and power to support it that it would be practically impossible to build and operate them. Modern invention has taught us that nothing is beyond the range of fancy, and we have seen many of the wildest dreams of yesterday fulfiled, yet it is safe to say[249] that the airplane which would in any way approximate an ocean liner will not be built for many a year to come. In the meantime, however, we will have huge machines like the Caproni and the Sikorsky triplanes, driven by two or more motors and able to make the trans-Atlantic voyage with a number of passengers, freight and fuel for the journey.

Indeed, though for purposes of long distance travel and commerce the airplane stands a chance of being superseded by the lighter-than-air machine, there are many other important missions that it can perform in the modern world. One for which it is particularly suited is that of carrying the mail. In 1911 a Curtiss airplane flew from Nassau Boulevard, Long Island to Mineola, bearing the Hon. Frank H. Hitchcock, Postmaster General of the United States, “with a mail bag on his knees.” As the machine swooped gently down over the big white circle that had been painted on the Mineola field, the Postmaster-General let fall his bag. That machine was the pioneer of a system of aerial mail which will soon reach every corner of the country. During the war a mail route was inaugurated between New York and Washington. Now, with many fast machines and trained pilots freed from war duties, a system of routes which will traverse our vast territory has been laid out.

It is for work such as this that the small, fast airplanes developed during the war may prove most successful. Traveling over 100 miles an hour, in a straight line from their starting point to their destination,[250] they will be able to deliver the mail with a speed almost equal to that of the telegraph, and far in excess of anything that can be accomplished by the express train. For not only has the express train much less actual speed, but it must thread its way through winding valleys, go far out of its course in order to avoid some impassable mountain district, climb steep slopes or follow river beds in order to reach its destination. The airplane has no obstacles to overcome. Mountains, rivers, impenetrable jungles present no difficulty to it. It simply chooses its objective and flies to it, practically in a straight line. It can jump the Rocky Mountains and deliver mail to the western coast with the greatest ease. Regions like Alaska, where letters from the States took weeks or even months to be delivered, and to which the steamship routes were closed for a portion of the year, will be brought closer home when mails are arriving and leaving every few days.

What use can be made of the large photographing planes that have been developed during the war to such a degree of perfection? In peace times they will have many interesting duties awaiting them. The motion picture producers will no doubt employ them very widely. Flying over our country from end to end they will bring back wonderful panoramic views. They will explore the beauties of the Yukon and show us the peaks of the Rockies in all their majestic grandeur. They will be taken to other continents and sent on photographing flights into regions that have scarcely been trod by human feet, and they will bring home to[251] us remarkable views of jungles where wild animals roam. Pictures which the motion picture man of to-day with his camera has often risked his life to secure, the nimble photographing plane will secure with the utmost ease.

And that suggests another possible rôle of the airplane in times of peace: that of exploration. As we think of Peary, pushing with his valiant party across the ice fields of the far North, struggling month after month to attain his goal, and returning to the same hard effort each time his expedition failed, we cannot help wishing for his sake that the airplane had reached its present state of development when his difficult undertaking of finding the North Pole began. Who knows but that Peary the pilot might have attained his objective many years before he did, providing of course he had had a machine of the modern type to fly in. Certainly one of the coming uses of the airplane will be that of penetrating into unknown quarters of the earth. Acting on the information which we can thus obtain we may be able to open up new stores of wealth and new territories to man.

The enormous boom that has been given to aircraft production by the war ought to have at least one happy result in peace times: it should reduce the cost of the airplane. When that is brought within the means of the average prosperous citizen, we may expect to see flying become a popular sport. The man who now sets forth on a cross country pleasure trip in his automobile, will find still greater enjoyment in a cross country[252] flight. High above the dusty country roads, he will be able to skim happily through the blue, enjoying his isolation and able to gaze out for many miles in all directions over the beautiful panorama of the earth. The plane which he pilots will no doubt be so designed as to possess unusual stability. It will to a large extent be “fool proof.” Its owner will enjoy the comfortable feeling which comes from a sense of security, and at the same time will have all the delightful sensations of an adventurer in the clouds. He will find the air at high altitudes invigorating, and so he will gain in health as he never could have done by motoring over the solid earth.

When men take to flying in large numbers no doubt we will have to have some sort of traffic regulations of the sky, but these will never need to be so strict as upon the ground, for the air is not a single track but a wide, limitless expanse, in which airplanes can fly in many directions and at many altitudes. There will never be any need of passing to the left of the machine ahead of you or signaling behind that you are slowing down for ten chances to one you will never encounter another plane directly in your line of flight, and if you do it will be a simple matter to dive below or climb over him, continuing your journey in a higher stratum of air. There will probably be laws controlling flights over cities and communities, where an accident to the flier might endanger the lives below. What is likely to happen is that certain “highways” of the air will be established legally, extending in many directions[253] over the country. In these directions the private airman will be permitted to fly for pleasure, while at certain intervals along the routes public landing grounds will be maintained.

Landing is still one of the most serious problems the air pilot has to face, and it is to be hoped that the aircraft builders of the near future will help him to solve this difficulty. The reason for it, as we have already seen, is that the airplane secures its buoyancy largely as a result of its speed. Wings which are large enough to support it when flying at 150 miles an hour are too small to hold it in the air when its speed is slowed down. The machine has to be landed while still moving forward at comparatively the rate of an express train, and this forward motion can only be checked after the wheels are safely on the ground. If the engine should be stopped while the airplane is still forty or fifty feet above the ground, the wings would be unable to support it and it would come crashing to the earth. But this situation of course makes matters very difficult for the airman who has not had long experience in landing his machine. He must come down on a small landing field and bring his plane to a full stop before he has crashed into the other machines which perhaps are standing about. His difficulty is added to by the fact that his propeller only works efficiently at the full speed for which it was designed. When he slows down in the air preparatory to landing, it may “slip” backward through the air, instead of driving his airplane forward at the rate necessary to[254] support its weight. In that case he is in danger of going into a spin, from which he may not have time to recover.

For these reasons it is to be hoped that the airplane of the future will have some form of telescoping wings and of variable pitch propeller. While these improvements in construction have not been worked out practically at the present moment, there is every reason to believe that they may be before long.

But whatever structural difficulties have yet to be overcome in connection with the airplane, certain it is that the big birds which we saw so often in the sky during the war, are going to be yet numerous in peace times. As for the purely military machines, let us hope that their work is over, and that they may never be called on to fight another battle in the air. Yet if other wars should come, it is certain that they would play a still more tremendous rôle than they have in the present struggle. We can imagine the war of the future being fought almost entirely above the clouds. The one great contest would be for victory in the air, since the nation which succeeded in driving its enemy from the sky would have complete control of the situation on the ground. All nations will continue to increase their aerial battalions until they possess formidable fleets, and it will be these, rather than armies or navies that will go forth to settle future disputes. It is largely to the aerial supremacy of the Allies that we have to give the credit for the winning of the present war against the Hun, and it will be by maintaining[255] their aerial supremacy that the great nations which have taken their stand for justice and humanity will succeed in enforcing the reign of Right in the world.

Thus we see man's dream of the conquest of the air become a noble thing, while the frail-winged birds his imagination pictured to him throughout so many centuries stand ready to bear him onward and upward to still greater achievements in his struggle to make the world a better and cleaner place in which to live.

Watch the video: Unity of Command 2. Moscow 41 DLC. Mission 3 - Defense of Moscow


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