The War of the Worlds was a book written by author H.G. Wells. It took place in England at the turn of the 20th century, and described an invasion of Earth by aliens from Mars. They built flying machines as part of this invasion.
A deleted scene from ENT: "Storm Front" referred to Orson Welles' radio adaptation of the book, and the ensuing panic. Jonathan Archer also claimed that Tucker once replayed the broadcast for him. The episode's script implied that Archer had actually seen a filmed production of the story and that his claim that it had been an audio recording was because he didn't want to reveal to Sal that he was from the future.
The USS Thunderchild was named after the ironclad warship described in The War of the Worlds, the HMS Thunder Child. The Thunder Child destroyed two of three Martian fighting machines while defending a steamer that was carrying refugees out of England.