Aircraft in Warfare by F.W. Lanchester

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Aircraft in Warfare by F.W. Lanchester


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Aircraft in Warfare, the Dawn of the Fourth Arm, by F. W. Lanchester.

New edition of Lanchester’s pioneering 1916 work, complete with new photographic material from the Imperial War Museum and the RAF Museum England. Describes all aspects of the use and operation of aircraft at the time of the first world war. Important chapters on Lanchester’s equations of combat, the foundations of the science of Operations Research and the basis for Japanese developments in marketing strategy

Softcover, 243 pages, 19 chapters, 21 photographs, 21 illustrations, appendix, index. ISBN 1-57321-017-X

From Scientific American

F. W. Lanchester was one of the pioneers of the circulation theory of lift and for that reason is one of the most respected figures in aviation.

From The New Yorker

F. W. Lanchester is an important figure in the history of science of military strategy. His equations of combat described in this book are the foundations of the science of Operations Research (OR). Lanchester is also honored by the annual Lanchester Prize awarded by the Operations Society of America.


In the present war the services of the Flying Corps have, in the main, been confined to scouting and reconnaissance in its various forms, the amount of work which has been done in this direction being very great. According to present reports, a mileage equivalent to many circuits of the globe has already been covered. So far, the casualties have been slight, and the actual risk and danger are considered less than in the other combatant branches of the service. The meaning of this evidently is that the methods of attack on aircraft have not kept pace with the development of the craft themselves. Considering the importance, from the enemy’s point of view, of interfering with the operations of our aircraft (for from a modern standpoint to annihilate the aircraft of an enemy is to virtually deprive him of his power of vision), it is quite certain that the present conditions cannot last. Means will assuredly be found before the next great war, if not during the continuance of the present war, by which the attack of airplane on airplane will be rendered far more deadly than at present, and the air forces of both combatants will be more highly organized to this end than is the case today.It has been remarked that an attack on so swift and, in effect, on so small a moving target as an airplane is by no means an easy problem. We already discussed the difficulties of attack from the ground, and it now remains to examine the problem of attack by air i.e., attack by airplane on airplane.At one time, the author was disposed to be somewhat skeptical as to the possibility, or rather the general feasibility, of such a mode of attack. It seemed as though aeronauts might spend hours maneuvering and firing and between them blow away hundreds of pounds weight of ammunition without any decisive result. On closer consideration, however, it would appear that, if one machine can, either by greater speed, or power of maneuver, force the other to close quarters, there are conditions (as when both machines are moving in the same direction) under which gunfire (especially machine gun fire) could be brought to bear with conclusive effect. We have already been regaled from time to time by the press with florid descriptions in which pilots or observers were said to blaze away at each other with automatic pistols, and it has frequently been stated that the enemy has been brought down by this means. After careful enquiries in quarters believed to be well informed, the author is disposed to discredit these stories. Doubtless attempts have been made by one pilot, or aeronaut, on another by rifle and pistol fire, but there is not, so far as the author has been able to ascertain, and definite record of casualties resulting. — Excerpted from Aircraft in Warfare, The Dawn of the Fourth Arm, by F. W. Lanchester. Copyright 1996, Lanchester Press Inc. Reprinted with permission of Lanchester Press Inc. All rights reserved.Such was the genius of Frederick William Lanchester that his work was often too far-reaching for his contemporaries to fully understand. Indeed, his profound first principles of flight in the early 1890s led to his being advised most strongly that, should he publish those theories, his reputation as a sane engineer would be ruined. Thankfully his work lives on today as this new edition of the legendary Aircraft in Warfare is a most valuable source of knowledge and information for all. — : C. S. Clark, Official Lanchester Historian and author of the Lanchester Legacy Volumes I – II, on the life, times and inventions of F. W. Lanchester and his brothers.

We are pleased to present this new edition of F. W. Lanchester’s landmark work on the strategy and tactics of aircraft in warfare. Written in 1914 and published in 1916 during the first use of combat aircraft in WWI, the book represents a seminal work on the strategy and tactics of aerial combat.

Lanchester’s insights were highly original for his time. He was a visionary who saw the flying machine as a “fourth arm” of the Army, as important a branch as infantry, cavalry and artillery. In his book, Aircraft in Warfare, he outlines his views on the use of air power. His vision of the airplane as a fighting machine armed with machine guns or, as he predicted and illustrated with diagrams, launching torpedoes and bombing submarines from the air was vital to the production of aircraft and their use in later conflicts.

But, at the time of this book’s original publication, Lanchester’s views were highly controversial. Few people saw the potential for command of the air. Most viewed aircraft only as an aid to reconnaissance, with limited use in other areas. The strategic and tactical use of aircraft are argued to the present day, as we revisit the campaigns of WWII and the more recent action in Desert Storm and Bosnia.

This new edition is important to renew our acquaintance with Lanchester’s systems approach to the use of aircraft, his view on the implications of air power, and his insights into all aspects of aircraft design, operations, tactics and strategy.

But, this work is significant for other reasons as well. Lanchester’s work formed the basis of the science and practice of Operations Research (OR) that has had a significant influence on the conduct of military affairs.

Finally, the Lanchester Laws of Combat have been adapted as a potent marketing tool by the Japanese. The conventional wisdom is that the success of Japan is based on attention to product quality and low interest rates. However, the publication in Japan of several million books dealing with the Lanchester strategy of marketing, has, without doubt, had a significant effect.

In this new revised edition, we have retained the look and feel of the original, while incorporating new photographic material from the Imperial War Museum, London, and the Royal Air Force Museum Hendon, England. — Excerpted from Aircraft in Warfare: The Dawn of the Fourth Arm by F. W. Lanchester. Copyright 1996, Lanchester Press Inc. Reprinted with permission of Lanchester Press Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Description

The new edition of Lanchester’s legendary and pioneering work Aircraft in Warfare was originally published in 1916. It is complete with new photographic material from the Imperial War Museum and the RAF Museum in England. This pioneering work describes the use of aircraft in all aspects of warfare at the time of the Great War. It forms the basis of the science of Operations Research and contains two chapters on Lanchester’s Laws of Combat. A must for all aeronautical enthusiasts.

About the Author

Frederick William Lanchester was born in 1968 in London. He studied at the Royal College of science in engineering and mining technology. He began his research in aerodynamics in 1892 and published two definitive works on aerodynamics in 1907. He is co-discoverer with Prandtl of the circulation theory of airfoil lift.

In 1895 he designed and built the first four wheel car in England. He founded the Lanchester car company and consulted with Daimler and Wolseley car firms. He had 256 patents to his name (from over 400 applications). Including disc brakes, four wheel drive, power steering, low voltage ignition, fuel injection and static and dynamic balancing engines.

In 1910 he was elected president of the Institution of Automobile Engineers, and was aearded the Guggenheim gold medal in 1931 for his work in aerodynamics.