AIRCRAFT MACHINE GUNS
From "United States Army
Aircraft Production Facts"
COMPILED AT THE REQUEST OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF WAR
Col. G. W. MIXTER, A. S., A. P.
Lieut. H. H. EMMONS, U. S. N. R. F.
Of the Bureau of Aircraft Production
Fighting in the air is entirely a development of the present war, and the adaptation of machine guns for all types of aircraft has practically all taken place since the declaration of war in Europe. During the first year of the war the application of machine guns was being developed, but not until the summer of 1915 was it possible to send out on active service flights airplanes with armament consisting of one or more machine guns.
Records show that a machine gun was successfully fired from an airplane in this country in 1912; also that the French had a few heavy airplanes equipped to carry machine guns at the beginning of the war.
Until almost a year after the war began machine guns were not carried by airplanes on active service, but they were armed with various weapons, such as service rifles, automatic rifles, automatic pistols, shotguns shooting large shot held together by wire, and also equipped with grenades and darts, which were intended to drop on their adversaries. Needless to say, the damage done by these weapons was slight, owing to the great difficulty of one moving object hitting another.
Maj. Eric T. Bradley, United States Army, in August, 1915, was a flight sublieutenant in the British service. He regularly flew over the lines in a B. E. plane, armed with a Lee-Enfield rifle or sometimes with a 12-gauge double-barrel shotgun loaded with buckshot tied together by wire that swished through the air and occasionally hit something. Regular service automatic pistols were carried, and there are many stories of frightening the Hun with Very pistols, which shot Roman candle balls. Later Lewis ground guns were taken directly from the trenches and worked from the observer's shoulder.