JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
I've bumped into three interesting instances of using replacements for the actual equipment in preparing for war. When you think of the action and order and behavior expected of them, and then observe the materials they were given to prepare to do so, it is absolutely remarkable to think of how they responded, and of the enormous valor and courage with which all of this was accomplished.
Case A: Flight Simulator, 1911
Just three years after the Wright Brothers arrived in Europe to revolutionize European flying, and following an order of magnitude series of advancement and achievement, the British Navy was already beginning to train classes of sailors as aviators in dynamic flight-free devices. This idea of simulating flight enabled the training (and more importantly, the selection) of aviators before anybody actually got into a plane, speeding the process of determining who was fit for flight and who was not, quickening the British pace to form a fighting force in the air.
This interesting graphic appeared in The Illustrated London News for 29 July 1911, and was entitled "Jack Goes Aloft--New Style...Trying to Keep a Stationary Machine Steady in a Wind; Sailors Practicing with a Dummy Aeroplane". This was five months before the establishment of the Royal Naval Flight School, but more importantly, just a few months after the historic flight of Eugene Ely, who took off in his aircraft from the deck of the USS Pennsylvania in the Mare Island Navy Yard--of more profound interest perhaps is the fact that Ely landed his plane on the same restricted deck space. (In a way the primitive stopping mechanisms use by Ely are sort of in use today. ) I am sure that few naval people missed the significance of this event--I know that across the ocean Winston Churchill was instantly at work on the idea of using aircraft on ships. But it seems that after all of the initial successes in the U.S. that when everything was said and done, the Brits took the lead in modernizing their navy to include aircraft.