Unmanned Systems of World War I and II. By H.R. Everett. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2015. Photographs. Illustrations. Bibliography. Notes. Index. Pp. 757. $75.00 ISBN: 978-0-262-02922-3
The book is a very comprehensive exploration of unmanned (drone) vehicles envisioned, designed, and, in some cases, used in naval, air, and ground warfare. It is not light reading for the armchair historian. Rather, it is a serious review of a large number of remotely controlled vehicles whose development began in the late 1800s.
Everett, a retired U.S. Navy commander, is Technical Director for Robotics at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego, California. The bibliography is extensive as are the end notes. He explains how the unmanned systems were designed to operate in the context of warfare at the time of their development. The systems explored run the gamut from tethered torpedoes to guided aerial missiles to unmanned land vehicles.
Chapter 4, Unmanned Air Vehicles, will probably be of most interest to readers of Air Power History magazine. It starts with free-flight balloons first introduced in combat at the Austrian siege of Vienna in 1849 during the Italian War of Independence, and touches on the Japanese hydrogen-filled fire balloons riding the...