Before Bombs, Pilots Dropped These Steel Arrows On the Enemy
French aviators dropped the arrows or Flechettes which when released on an unsuspecting soldier could piece his body from head to foot.
What exactly is a flechette?
“They are pieces of steel rod about six inches long, sharpened at one end like a pencil, and with the four and a half inches or so at the other end machined out so that the whole thing has the section of a cross…which is, of course, very much lighter than the front end, and so acts just as a feather of an arrow.”
The steel arrows were packed in boxes of 500 and placed over a hole in the floor of the aircraft. When the plane is over the target the flechettes were released in a stream, simply by pulling a string! When they hit the ground, the arrows covered an area of about fifty yards by ten yards.
According to The War Illustrated, the Royal Flying Corps refused to use flechettes against the Germans because, “Our aviators think arrow-dropping is dirty work… because the enemy cannot hear them coming, and because they make such nasty wounds. Also it was not possible to drop them with sufficient accuracy.” The paper then conceded, “nevertheless against cavalry or infantry in any thing like close formation they certainly are effective, as the French have proved.”