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Raymond Phillips’ Wireless-Controlled, Remotely-Piloted Bomber Airships.



Hello folks,
Hope this is not old news or wrongly placed – if so, many apologies: for all that the illustration below is an artist's impression, I decided to try this in 'Early Aircraft' (as opposed to ‘Theoretical and Speculative’) because there were at least scale-model versions of this idea tested – at the London Hippodrome theatre no less.

Raymond Philipps in 1910 demonstrated a remotely-controlled wireless guided airship – intended as the prototype for a much larger bombing flotilla. Described thus:

"Torpedoes of the Air: Bomb-Droppers Directed by Wireless", a graphical story that appeared in The Illustrated London News on 6 September 1913, and drawn by W.B. Robinson, describes a sort of two-tier remote controlled aerial bombing arrangement of dirigibles. The "parent" ship hosts a number of smaller dirigibles which are radio-controlled elements sent in to do the actual bombing, which allows for no human interaction with dropping the bombs and exposes only materiel to enemy fire. (I should point out that each one of these early drones were 40' long, making the parent dirigible something like 400' in length if we are seeing about half of it in the illustration, and enabling the thing to carry perhaps 10 of these remote controlled units. This dirigible would have been about as big as the monster Zeppelin LZ1.)
Taken from ‘Archaeology of Bombing, 1913’, JF Ptak Science Books, Post 1472, Link: http://longstreet.typepad.com/thesciencebookstore/2011/05/archaeology-of-bombing-1913.html

See also e.g. ‘Geographical Imaginations: Thomas Raymond Phillips’,
Link: http://geographicalimaginations.com/tag/thomas-raymond-phillips/
Images from: http://geographicalimaginations.com/category/bombing/

Or Brett Holman, ‘The dream of unmanned flight’, ‘Airminded’, 7 May 2011 ,
Link: http://airminded.org/2011/05/07/the-dream-of-unmanned-flight/

Cheers, 'Wingknut'


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I really should change my personal text
Jun 6, 2013
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Though one wonders why Londoners would want to bomb Manchester.


It's turtles all the way down
Senior Member
Nov 6, 2010
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Any defeat of Spurs/West Ham/Arsenal/Crystal Palace/Chelsea by Man United/City?


Hi again, folks,
Oddly enough, another wording of the above attributed to Phillips may have envisaged something less war-like:
"... And make my airship drop a bunch of flowers into a friend's garden in Manchester, or Paris, or Berlin ..."

Taken from ‘Wireless Aerial Destroyer’ (1910) by J. Hartley Knight, 'Technical World Magazine', seen on e-bay:
Cheers as aye, 'Wingknut'.


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Hi again, folks,
A bit more on Phillips and pre-WW1 wireless airships generally:

i) ‘TORPEDO OF THE AIR: Machine Steered by Wireless – Inventors to Fight A Duel’, Grey River Argus, 1st July 1910, page 2.

ii) For a very unenchanted assessment of the Phillips project, see e.g. H. R. Everett and Michael Toscano, Unmanned Systems of World Wars I and II, MIT Press, 2015, page 265.

iii) Finally, Anthony’s Wireless Airship of 1912:
"Official description: A small powered blimp used in 1912 to demonstrate remote control of aircraft by wireless telegraphy. Professor Anthony has exhibited a method of airship control of his own by wireless. He and Leo Stephens recently gave an exhibition of starting, controlling, turning and stopping an airship by wireless which was quite a long distance from the station which controlled its action."


See also: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2209&dat=19090803&id=BgNAAAAAIBAJ&sjid=MaQMAAAAIBAJ&pg=1084,1307243&hl=en

Indeed, Anthony seems to have been ahead of Phillips – see e.g.:

‘Electrical Engineer Who Guides Airship by Wireless’, Los Angeles Herald, Volume 36, Number 293, 21st July 1909.

“A new and wonderful combination of electric and aeronautic science has been discovered by Mark O. Anthony, an electrical engineer, who recently operated a small dirigible balloon over Sandy Hook, controlling its movements by wireless instruments on shore. The balloon went more than a mile out to sea, being directed solely and perfectly by wireless electric power. Mr. Anthony has interested several foreign governments in his discovery and soon will go abroad to demonstrate it. He declares he can operate a full-size balloon quite as easily as the small model with which the Sandy Hook test was made. He believes the device will Be useful in carrying small lines to wrecked vessels, by which larger lines may be hauled aboard. This work is now done with guns, and their range is so limited that life savers frequently are unable to get a line aboard a stranded vessel which lies far out In the surf.”

Cheers as aye, ‘Wingknut’.


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