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"If you don't care about science enough to be interested in it on its own, you shouldn't try to write hard science fiction."
- Frederik Pohl

Aerial Dynamite Ships  
  Using airplanes to drop explosives during war.  

Although there are several descriptions of Austrian forces besieging Venice using gunpowder bombs carried by balloons, the first air raid was conducted in 1911 during the Italo-Turkish War by Italian forces against the Ottoman province of Libya.

The British ærial warships, as well as those of Germany, Russia, Austria, Italy, France, Holland, Greece and Japan, took their signal from the first shot or discharge of dynamite dropped by the “Maine,” and joined forces with the American ærial warships in the total annihilation of Madrid. The scene of destruction that followed the attack of these ærial warships baffles all belief. Indeed, naught may come within the scope of human imagination that can depict the horrors, wholesale slaughter and utter desolation that may be wrought by ærial warships. Ships floating in the air two miles over a city and dropping within its limits huge charges of dynamite, are fearful engines of destruction. In the twinkle of an eye they can turn stately churches, lofty buildings, beautiful homes, hospitals, colleges, parks and pleasure resorts into ashes, and still vastly more terrible would be the loss of life.


(Air Raid from 'Looking Forward' by Arthur Bird)

The bare thought that human beings with souls to save and a God to answer to, might, in a flash, be hurled into eternity by these ærial dynamite ships, without a moment’s warning, and their habitations turned into charnel-houses, is in itself sufficient to make one’s flesh creep.

Technovelgy from Looking Forward: A Dream of the United States of the Americas in 1999, by Arthur Bird.
Published by L.C. Childs & Son in 1899
Additional resources -

Here's what the author thought of this mode of warfare:

Be this as it may, in the year 1924, a Congress of the leading nations was held in the city of Washington, (then situated in the State of Mexico,) and, as a result of its deliberations a solemn compact was entered into, signed by the Ambassadors of every civilized nation, and a treaty of the most binding character was ratified, in which it was stipulated that under no conditions, named or unnamed, would the use of aerial warships ever be permitted as an instrument or medium for waging war among nations.

It was further stipulated between the signatory powers that the punishment meted out to any violator of this solemn treaty would be in the same kind as its offending. In other words, a nation that employed the use of ærial warships and practiced the horrible system of dropping from great heights heavy charges of high explosives upon cities, fleets or shipping, would be wiped out from the face of the earth and annihilated by the same methods of destruction.

George Griffith gives an earlier description in his 1893 novel The Angel of the Revolution - see War-Balloon (Navigable Aerostat).

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Looking Forward: A Dream of the United States of the Americas in 1999
  More Ideas and Technology by Arthur Bird
  Tech news articles related to Looking Forward: A Dream of the United States of the Americas in 1999
  Tech news articles related to works by Arthur Bird

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