When his tank was struck and the fusillage, or body, of his machine burst into flames, he knew that he was lost. By no possibility could he reach the ground before he should be burned to death. Instantly he turned towards the nearest German and made at him with the obvious intention of running him down and carrying him to earth in the same cloud of fire.
Of these the Vickers machine used mainly by the British is a common type. It is built throughout of steel and aluminum, and the entire fusillage is clothed with steel plating which assures protection to the two occupants from either upward or lateral fire. The sides of the body are carried up so that only the heads of the aviators are visible.
Suspecting that his mate was badly wounded in spite of this achievement, the observer swung one leg over the side of the fusillage and climbed on to the wing figure for a minute the air pressure on his body during this gymnastic feat until he was beside the pilot, faint and drenched with blood, who had nevertheless got his machine back into complete control.
Only lucky shots that might pierce the fuel tank, hit the engine, touch an aileron or an important stay or strut, could affect the machine, while in due course of time a light armour on the bottom of the fusillage or body of the machine in which the pilot sat, protected the operator to some degree. Other considerations, however, finally led to the rejection of armour.