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 machinery 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 During high-speed travel, the Heat-Ray generator was not apparent, presumably having withdrawn into the main structure of the machine.

Flying Machine

The flying-machine from Pendragon Pictures.

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 enameled 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 radioactive 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

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) Edit

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 Edit

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.

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: The War of the WorldsEdit

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: GoliathEdit

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.