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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.’ ''

Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds[]

Flying machines

Jeff Wayne's Flying Machines

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 under-mounted 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 part 1). The 2010 live version displays the Flying Machine more frequently on-screen but is never directly mentioned by the narrator.

Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds PC Game (1998)[]

In the game, the flying machines are the fastest unit in the game, capable of reaching the other side of even the largest maps in seconds. Being airborne, they ignore human defences like the Wire Fence, which can usually be a hindrance to most Martian units by causing major damage when their legs get tangled in it, requiring the units to stop and destroy them before passing.

The Flying Machine is a rarity in that it is one of the few Martian units not built at a Constructor. Instead the Suspension Field Site must be researched and built, but rather than most support structures, the Suspension Field site actually builds the units rather than enhancing the building abilities of a Constructor.

The Flying machines are constructed in units of 3, and like most Martian units have 3 generations that can be researched. the Flying Machine has a very weak heat ray in it's first generation, weaker than even that on a generation one Scouting Machine. only it's 3rd generation has a heat ray comparable to that used on a first generation Fighting Machine.

There is also one particular human sector in the game, the Isle of Man, that can only be attacked by flying machines.

Strategic Uses[]

The Flying Machines can be an important asset to a Martian campaign in several ways.

They are useful when taking on Ironclads, as ironclads will sometimes hang back in deep water, too deep for a land based unit to wade out to, and must be drawn inland before being attacked. A Flying Machine however, can simply fly out and attack it regardless of it's position, however an ironclad's guns will make short work of a unit of flying machines if they can hit.

Flying Machines are useful for quick precision strikes once the position of an enemy base has been identified. The Flying machines can fly straight to the base and attack it, and if the base is successfully destroyed, all Fixed defences and gun turrets in the area are destroyed too. Additionally the Flying Machines can also take out enemy builder units to prevent a specific structure of emplacement from being completed, or can be used for hit and run tactics against enemy resource buildings when located at a distance from the more fortified Command Post area, if only to buy time for reinforcements to come in for the Martians.

Flying Machines are also partially resistant (although certainly not immune) to human gun batteries, as they aren't designed to aim at airborne targets. as a result they will have low accuracy when targeting Flying Machines, although if they hit, the Flying Machine's armour is too poor to take more than a few hits, even in later generations.

The only human defence designed to directly attack these units are the Anti-Air cannons, which come in fixed and mobile versions. these units are lethal to Flying machines and can wipe out several units of them in less than a minute.

Superman: War of The Worlds[]

Superman encounters the Flying Machine.

Flying Machine from "Superman: War of The Worlds".

In the comic Superman: War of the Worlds, the Flying Machine does not appear until near the end when Superman is freeing humans from a Martian Concentration camp before fighting a trio of Martian Tripods. This version of the Flying Machine is simply a Tripod that has detached its legs and has use of some kind of anti-gravity system in order to fly.

It still maintains the Tripod's heat ray - which it continues to use against Superman throughout their fight along with blasting the fleeing humans - although it's unknown if this flying machine still has access to its Black Smoke launcher that the other Tripods used in the comic.

A weakness of this flying machine is that if anything comes between the gap between it and the ground, its anti-gravity system will falter or - if the mass of the object is great enough - will fail altogether. Superman worked this out when he fell underneath it and later exploited this by throwing the wreckage of another Tripod underneath the Flying Machine; causing it to crash.  

War of the Worlds: Goliath[]

Flying Machine (War of the Worlds Goliath)

Flying Machine Artwork (War of the Worlds: Goliath).

In the Malaysian Animated film War of the Worlds: Goliath  - which was presented as a sequel to the original novel and takes place in 1914 - the Flying Machines return as the Martians begin their second invasion of Earth.

Also referred to as 'Flying Wing Fighters', the flying machines do appeared to have interlocking armour although its not made clear if this is just the design or if it serves for better maneuverability while flying in Earth's atmosphere. The ship has two sensor antenna on each side, red lenses on the top and front of the craft (likely to enable the Martian to see while flying) and a large heat ray underneath for attacking enemies. It's unknown if this version of the Flying Machine can fire Black Smoke Canisters as the Black Smoke is not used in the film. Finally, the concept art of the cockpit inside the Flying Machine appears to resemble the Handling-machines - although whether this is simply a similar design or if there is actually a Handling-machine inside is not made clear.

The flying machines prove to be an effective force during the second invasion - not only aiding the Fighting-Machines during battles with A.R.E.S Tripods and the Dreadnought-class Battle Zeppelins such as the Leviathan, but also proceeded to dogfight with the Valkyries and Storm Crows of the A.R.E.S Air Force. However, they are ultimately defeated by the A.R.E.S forces. Manfred Von Richthofen commented that the Flying-machines were faster than their aircraft, but did not turn as quickly.


Flying Machine

The flying-machine from Pendragon Pictures.