Flying machine (The War of the Worlds)

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The Flying machine is one of the fictional machines used by the Martians in H. G. Wells' classic science fiction novel The War of the Worlds. It is one of the four types of heavy machine the Martians bring with them when they invade Earth, along with the fighting machine, the handling machine, and the embankment machine.


The appearance of this aircraft in the novel is very vague. The narrator's brother, escaping by sea, glimpses it shortly after the implied destruction of the Channel Fleet. The narrator himself sees the aircraft abandoned on the ground in London, and believes it experimental, until he reads otherwise in a post-invasion issue of the Daily Mail. It is implied the aircraft was used to dispense the black smoke, but there is no clear confirmation of this in the text. In the original Pearson's Magazine serialized version, Wells gave more information:

It has often been asked why the Martians did not fly immediately after their arrival. They certainly did use a flying apparatus for several days, but only for brief flights of a score or so of miles, in order to reconnoitre and spread their black powder... The fact remains that they did not fly fifty miles from London all through the war. Had they done so, then the destruction they would have caused would have been infinitely greater than it was, though it could not have averted the end, of course, even by a day.

It is not known whether this version is considered canon, having only appeared, as noted, in the original magazine serialization; Wells re-edited portions of the novel before it was first published in 1898 as a hardcover book.

In other adaptations[edit]

The appearance of the machine has only so far been depicted once on screen in Pendragon Pictures H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, where it makes an appearance after the battle with the HMS Thunder Child, which is later recounted from the perspective of the artilleryman.

However, it appeared briefly in the live adaptation of Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, though the album itself does not make any reference to the flying machine. Many more of them appeared in the New Generation version of the stage show.

Viewed edge on, the roughly boomerang-shaped war machines of George Pal's 1953 film, which bear no resemblance to the tripods described in the novel, might be an obscure reference to the novel's Martian flying machine; the look of these machines actually derive from the complication of making convincing walking tripod effects and were given "invisible legs" to give the machines support and lift from the ground. In the pilot episode of the War of the Worlds TV series, a sequel to the 1953 film, these same machines are seen but the "legs" are not present and are given more of a look of taking flight, but still possess the speed and movement of their film counterparts.

The flying machines are also featured in both the computer game and the PlayStation game Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds. In the games the flying machines are equipped with one Heat-Ray and light armor, but in turn, are highly maneuverable and extremely fast. A common[citation needed] tactic in the PC game involves the mass production of these units in order to rush an entrenched human sector.

In Sherlock Holmes's War of the Worlds, the Martians only have a single flying machine with them, and it is described as being shaped like a traditional flying saucer. In the postscript, when the Martians invade Venus, the flying machine is shown to have been unable to handle the thicker atmosphere and crashed onto the surface.

In Superman: War of the Worlds, the flying machine is not a separate machine; instead it is actually a part of the tripods as in the climax of the story: Superman tries to bring down a fighting machine by pulling its legs, only to find that the hood of the machine has detached itself and is floating in the air, as the Martians have had time to adjust to Earth's gravity. He destroys the machine by throwing another tripod under it, canceling its negation of gravity.

Scarlet Traces is a sequel based on Great Britain having benefited from the remains of the Martian technology. While spider-like machines have dominated the means of land travel, the Martians' flying machines have greatly influenced air travel, with aircraft by 1908 looking close to modern era planes.

Flying Machines appear in The Asylum's film War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave, the sequel to H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. The "squid-walkers" are a living race of Tripods controlled by a single entity inside the mothership. They each carry a kind of Heat Ray and need human blood to survive, so they transport living humans to the mothership and drain their blood. Their weapons are powerful enough to destroy buildings as well as humans; one scene shows a fleet of squid-walkers completely destroying London and Paris.

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