The flying-machine is a transport method and weapon used by the Martians in their invasion of earth.
Quoted from the novel:
Of a night, all over there, Hampstead way, the sky is alive with their lights. It's like a great city, and in the glare you can just see them moving. By daylight you can't. But nearer--I haven't seen them—' (he counted on his fingers) ‘five days. Then I saw a couple across Hammersmith way carrying something big. And the night before last’--he stopped and spoke impressively—‘it was just a matter of lights, but it was something up in the air. I believe they've built a flying-machine, and are learning to fly.’
I stopped, on hands and knees, for we had come to the bushes.
‘Yes,’ he said, ‘fly.’ ''
The report states as follows:
During their time on Earth, a major project of the Martians seemed to be the construction of a Flying Machine. The great device was found among their other machineries in the great Pit on Primrose Hill. That it was operational is certain, for it played a decisive part in the Battle of the Thames, the English Navy’s final, desperate bid for victory over the Martians, by raining down canisters of the Black Smoke upon the fleet. There are also reports that it was at least partially functional as little as four days before the invaders succumbed to terrestrial bacteria.
This strange construction, wide and flat and sinuously curved, with a Heat-Ray mounted on top, was seen by the few survivors around London, swooping through the air for brief periods before landing. It was first seen by humans on the Wednesday after the arrival of the invaders. Witnesses in London recall seeing this vast, broad object rushing almost silently across the landscape, adhering to the contours of the terrain, followed shortly after by a roaring crash, like a clap of thunder, that smashed windows and stripped houses of their slates in the monstrous device’s wake. During high-speed travel, the Heat-Ray generator was not apparent, presumably having withdrawn into the main structure of the machine.
The engines which allowed the craft to reach such incredible speeds are of great interest to terrestrial engineers. Like much Martian technology, they too make use of the remarkable properties of viridigen gas. Air from the atmosphere is taken in through several vents in the front surface of the craft, where it is used to burn a fine spray of viridigen fuel in the presence of the catalyst which induces the fuel to release viridigen. The expansion of hot gases from this combustion, composed for the most part of viridigen and the unreactive parts of the air, is used to power the forward movement of the craft. However, immediately before it leaves the engines, a powerful charge is applied to it, causing the viridigen to expand even more and greatly increasing the thrust of the engines. The principles behind these engines are being applied to craft using more terrestrial fuels, such as highly refined kerosene. So far experimentation has provided some compelling results.
The external hull of the craft is constructed from a number of interlocking plates. These plates are not rigidly joined together, rather their attitude in relation to other plates can be adjusted by means of pseudomuscular systems described previously. This allows the Martian pilots to alter the overall shape of their craft to a limited degree, and thus control the flow of air over the hull and the subsequently generated lift with great precision.
An unusual property of the machine was the fact that its weight is substantially less than one might expect considering the size and composition of the thing. It has also been noted that objects held a certain distance above the craft seem lighter than is otherwise the case. This strange effect has been traced to an apparatus within the lower hull of the craft. This mechanism consists of a large number of metal plates, arranged in a manner resembling the adjustable aperture of a camera or telescope. The thin metal plates of which these mechanisms are constructed are coated on their lower sides, in a similar fashion to enamelled tin, with a bluish-grey metal alloy, which seems to have the effect of at least partially blocking the effects of gravity. By adjusting the width of the apertures between these plates and thus the effective area of the blue metal, the Martians could adjust the weight of the craft (and also the strength of the gravity within the craft) to whatever degree they desired, perhaps even making it effectively weightless. Despite the Flying Machine still being heavier than air, the gravity-blocking substance, in combination with the shape of the craft, allows it to take to the air for a time, not only to fly at high speeds, but also to hover over a point.
This substance has yet to yield to analysis in part because, as well as partially blocking gravity, it completely blocks all forms of radiative energy, including light, heat, Marconi and Roentgen Rays, and magnetism, meaning that spectroscopic analysis in ineffective. Examination under powerful microscopes has revealed an intriguing fact that its crystalline patterns are unlike anything seen before, and are extremely complex. Attempts to replicate the properties of this substance have universally met with failure.
It has become apparent that the higher gravity and denser atmosphere of Earth rendered their machine difficult to operate for extended periods of time without certain adjustments. Evidently the Martians underestimated the effect that these environmental differences would have on the operation of their machine. It is thought that the denser atmosphere meant that the engines produced more thrust than expected, and that at high speeds the shape of the craft rendered it unstable and difficult to control. Had this not been the case, then with control of the air the Martians could quite easily have spread across the face of the globe and totally dominated Mankind.
It states that the flying machine had an was a flat, broad vehicle whose hull was made out of interlocking plates which can be moved to change the shape of the craft to a limited degree. To fly, it induces a combustion of hot gases combined with the expansion of the Viridigen gas. It also contained a shield on the bottom with a gravity-blocking substance to assist in weightlessness. Unfortunately, Earth's denser atmosphere made it more unpredictable to control, and the Martians weren't able to master it before dying.
One flying-machine was spotted where the HMS Thunder Child took out two tripods. The machine is able to release the black smoke. It is unknown if the flying-machine requires a Martian to pilot it, as the tripods and handling-machines do.
Jeff Wayne's The War of the WorldsEdit
Jeff Wayne's version of the Flying Machine is very different from the original description. Instead of being a flat bulkhead the Flying Machine is a large round hull (similar to the Fighting Machine) surrounded by four large pods and an undermounted Heat Ray turret. The Flying Machine makes very minor appearances throughout Jeff Wayne's Live on Stage tour making only one on-screen appearance (The Red Weed prt 1). The 2010 live version displays the Flying Machine more frequently on-screen but is never directly mentioned by the narrator. In the 1998 game based off of the Musical Version, the Flying Machines are constructed via the Suspension Field Site available after completed research.