Flying Bomb Guided by Man Pilot (Aug, 1938)

Why this would be any better than a dive bomber? The pilot is screwed either way. If he misses the ship they are just going to blow up his little raft and if he hits the ship then he’ll be floating around in water that is filled with all of the people who jumped off the ship. They might hold a grudge. He might as well just fly it right into the ship, at least that way it’ll be quick.

Flying Bomb Guided by Man Pilot

GUIDED by a human pilot, a “flying bomb” designed by Lester P. Barlow, well known aerial munitions expert, would enable one man to destroy a battleship and escape alive, according to the inventor. The new aerial weapon consists of a small airplane-like structure, featuring wings, rudder and elevator controls, to which a 3,500-pound bomb is fitted as a nose. Released from a bombing plane at an altitude of 10,000 feet, the “flying bomb” would be glided to a position directly over its objective, whereupon the pilot would place the craft in a vertical dive, release the bomb nose-piece and escape by parachute to the surface of the sea where he would float about on a specially designed rubber raft until picked up by a patrol boat.

  1. Neil Russell says: February 9, 20086:11 am

    Charlie, I’m still laughing at your comment on this one. I can see that poor schlub floating out there with those other guys and one of them says “and you are?”
    Truly a Larry David moment.
    Of course the idea would come back later by the Japanese who seemed to have only translated half of this article before they put the plan into practice

  2. Firebrand38 says: February 9, 20088:33 am

    Charlie and Neil
    Actually the idea came back to the United States in WW2 as the BQ-7 drone http://www.designation-… and…
    It was one one of these missions in 1944 that Joe Kennedy Jr was killed.

    Myself I wonder what the “special design” of the rubber raft was supposed to be in aid of.

  3. striatic says: February 9, 20081:48 pm

    “Why this would be any better than a dive bomber?”

    because it’d be less expensive, theoretically.

    no engine, no landing gear. small size.

    it could operate from long range bombers based out of range of a carrier counterattack.

    it is a deathtrap, sure . but there’s a chance for survival. the japanese developed a similar plane late in WWII without an ejection system.

  4. Firebrand38 says: February 9, 20082:36 pm

    “less expensive” and a “deathtrap, sure”? Makes me wonder what value you put on the pilot’s life.

    Alright, even at the time this was written the Navy has carrier launched Grumman FF-1 biplanes that had a service ceiling of over 22,000 feet. So coming in at 10,000 feet isn’t much of a plus.

    Unlike the cruisers in Star Trek battleships didn’t just float around alone. 🙂 They had tenders, destroyers and other escorts. So of course they just sit there waiting to see what happens while you dive in on the battleship. No, I think the “theory” is that if this is deployed they are going to do their level best to shoot you out of the sky.

    Then of course you wind up bobbing in your specially designed rubber raft in the middle of this battlegroup you attacked.

    But as proven in WW2 you didn’t need this gimmick to sink battleships.

  5. Neil Russell says: February 9, 20088:41 pm

    “Makes me wonder what value you put on the pilot’s life”
    Wouldn’t you like to get assigned this duty? LOL
    Probably we are all reading way too much into something that was just designed to fill the pages of Mechanics Illustrated.
    But after FB pointed out the “specially designed” rubber raft, I decided I would want it designed with a 200hp engine to get me the heck away from the destroyer I just sunk!

  6. jtobako says: February 12, 20084:24 am

    You have to remember that early in WWII ‘gentlemanly behavior’ was normal, with early sub attack victims given supplies for rescue.

  7. Firebrand38 says: February 12, 20081:43 pm

    What’s your source for that?

  8. Firebrand38 says: February 26, 20089:29 am

    Fourteen days and no answer? I thought as much…..

  9. KHarn says: May 29, 20088:54 am

    What sort of bomb is that supposed to be? Where are the stablizing fins when it’s in the “plane”?
    Also, the text says that it’s a 3500 lb bomb, but the picture says that the HE load is 200 pounds. The standard US bombs of WWI had a HE load of 45% while the load was upped in the late thirties to 51%. The Armor-Piercing bombs had a load of about 25%.
    Look, let’s just send a dozen B18s loaded with eight 250 pounders each and forget about this crazy thing.

Submit comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.