Flat Hexagonal & 'Barn-Door' Kites - The 1860's

by Walt Mathers
(Chesapeake Bay Country USA)

Both the US and CS army signal corps experimented with lantern signals suspended from kites. Kites were also used to offer a searching party the means to identify an established signal station.

Both naval and military communication researchers, along with 1860's period-attired re-enactors, would be interested in knowing if flat hexagonal, 'barn-door' and/or other type kites might have been used for such operations and would also wish to know if either contending armies would have purchased large numbers of these kites, not only for the military but also, for naval stores when vessels would have been beyond normal visual communication being obscured by tree-lined river bends.

Any help you could offer would be appreciated here and aloft at our discussion forum:

civilwarsignals.org

(T.P. - not your usual 'kite story', but it's fascinating to imagine how kites might have been used by the military, back in that by-gone era. I'll highlight this contribution as especially worthy of a comment, if you're reading this and know anything at all about the topic. Plus consider dropping into that discussion forum. Somebody help Walt out, if you can...)

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Wind Speeds


Light air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2    

Gentle breeze
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3    

Moderate breeze
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4    

Fresh breeze
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5    

Strong breeze
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

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50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7