Basic information about various hobby and craft topics.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Kite History - World War 2

As late as World War II, kites had a role to play in warfare. Sauls' Barrage Kite was a sort of double box kite which was a strong, stable flying kite. A man named Harry Sauls designed the kite to be used to fly advertising banners over tourist areas. The kite found a use during World War 2 as a means of protecting merchant ships from enemy airplane attacks. A wire, similar to piano wire, was used to hold the kite aloft over the ship. The wire was invisible to enemy warplanes and was strong enough to destroy the prop or cut off a wing. Strategically placed, these kites deterred enemy dive bomber attacks. In addition, explosives or bombs were attached to the wires to further deter attack.

Lieutenant Commander Paul E. Garber served on the aircraft carrier USS Block Island during World War 2. An avid kite flyer, he watched as the carriers gunnery crews practiced target shooting using clouds as targets. He decided to find a better method, so he built a kite and threw the gauntlet down to the gun crews. Hit the kite, was the challenge. The gunnery crews found this to be a difficult task. The ships captain, seeing the improvement in the accuracy of the gun crews shooting, ordered Garber to build more kites for target practice. He eventually came up with a design which allowed him to mimic an airplane's movements as it approached the ship. It became standard practice for gun crews to use kites to practice and much credit is given to the target kites saving many ships due to the gunnery crews improved accuracy.

Another device used during the war was called the Gibson Girl. It consisted of a box kite, antennae, and hand crank radio. It was packed in with life rafts, to be used in an emergency. The kite both acted as a beacon to signal rescue aircraft to the location of the raft, and as a support for the antennae. The hand cranked radio, of course, was used to signal rescuers. Back To All About Kites History of Flight and Avaition © 2012 Hobby Hobnob

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