SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Facility set up by a unit of the French army whilst under siege at Maubeuge for the production of hydrogen gas to inflate the first military balloon, the L'Entreprenant. In 1794, during the war with Austria, France created the world's first air force with its Compagnie d'Aerostiers to provide aerial reconnaissance of the enemy. The gas was generated using the Lavoisier-Meusnier process where steam is passed over red-hot iron and the resultant hydrogen fills the balloon via a leather pipe.
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