ARMY ORDERS LARGE NUMBER OF POWERFUL AERIAL BOMBS
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) One hundred years ago today, June 1, 1917, the United States Army put in an order for a large number of aerial bombs of great explosive force.
The Chicago Daily Tribune reported that the top secret bombs were invented by a former coal passer in the U.S. Navy named Lester P. Barlow*. The front page Tribune story read...
"(The) aerial bomb...will spread death and destruction within a radius of several hundred feet."
The bomb was designed to explode about six feet above the ground but could be dropped from an airplane flying at altitudes from 700 to 7000 feet. One of the bombs weighed 100 pounds.
The Tribune said that the bomb was so destructive that the Army was unable to test it with a full charge of explosives.
*Lester Pence Barlow (1886-1967) was born in Monticello, Wisconsin & served in the US Navy. In 1914, he joined Pancho Villa in Mexico where he first experienced aerial bombs.
After his return to the US, LPB worked for the US War Department on aerial bombs for the Army. Patents on his bombs were kept secret during the war & he did not receive payment for his work until 1940.
"Aerial Bomb of Terrific Power Secret of U.S.,", The Chicago Daily Tribune, June 2, 1917.