ITEM (2): "The Clapham Junction..." Illustrated London News, 1919. 10x13 inches. Fine. $45
Full descriptions below.
I've written earlier in this blog about odd things found in the sky, some of which is imagined (holes, extra Earths, blank Heavens, disembodied hands/feet/eyes/ears,proto-human empty aliens, rat) and some of which were/are possibily real (like this fabulous aircraft with an escape pod for women, located here). [Both of these images are available from our blog bookstore, here.]
These images present incredible, indelible ideas to us here in 2010, images of creations that look more like created steampunk for a retro-futurist novel than something real. But they were actually state-of-the-art techno advances for their times, decent ideas, solutions for knotty problems that had no better answers than those presented.
The first is "The Clapham Junction of the Air, a Cloudland Signal-box", seen in The Illustrated London News for 15 March 1919. The idea was simple--cloud cover prevented aircraft from seeing their objective (lacking RADAR, which wouldn't appear for another 23 years) and so something needed to be done to communicate with them above the clouds to relay data on ground conditions. And so we have the tethered kite balloon with a mobile travelling car, the man in which would relate the necressary info to the waiting aricraft above. (The description of the image notes that the aircraft is "one of a coming type".)
The second image appears in The Illustrated London News for 1 March 1919 and is entitled "Launching an Aeroplane from an Airship, an Experiment", and shows a helium-filled airship ("of the near future") about to drop an aircraft. The airship would have risen to some height with the aircraft already at tether, travelled a distance far beyond the normal range of the airplane-in-tow, and then release it--after a fall of a thousnad feet or so, the engines would start, and the plane would be operational. that was one way of advancing air cover far beyond what woul dhave normally been feasible.
The set of problems encountered here woul de remedied in relatively short order, say with a few years of the publication of these pictures--but for teh time being, in 1919, this was the best that could be offered.