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Airships: Part Two - Military Airships

Tabac Iberez

Impetious
Published by SLP
The airborne carriers were always a wonderful concept to my mind, and they aquitted themselves well in Fleet Problems, but the devil is that they had massive sustainment issues both short and long term; the former in that aviation fuel was a very limited store, and later that a flying airship carrier with four planes cost about as much as a twelve pack of Catalinas and a seaplane tender. That said, if one had liberty to mount weapons as they saw fit, I'd happily engage a Spitfire nose to nose- by the time his 20mm cannons come about, my Bofors or possibly a 3"/50 will have made a mincemeat of him. The structural budget can be there, if an engineer was willing to accept certain limitations on the gun armament.

That all said though C3ISTAR just sounds like goobdlygook. C3 was perfectly fine, and this newfangled ISTAR sounds like someone in a radio Hut trying to buy a new transceiver set or somesuch.
 

David Flin

Voila, a viola.
Many thanks. I will, of course, be devouring this for reference with Nor Shall My Sword, where airships are taking centre stage.

Do airships take centre stage?
 

Coiler

Connoisseur of the Miscellaneous
Published by SLP
Location
Nu Yawk
Pronouns
He/Him
I know airships value as persistent surveillance platforms-but have to admit I want to see an absurdist dogfight between airships.

There'd be Top Gun-style fast music as these two lummoxes fly around very slowly.
 

AndyC

No
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
I've been thinking - it may be a bit too technical, but to aid authors using airships, maybe I should do an article with a (very) brief overview (almost a bluffers guide) to air navigation, air meteorology, and stuff like how to identify the inversion layer (and the difference above an below it), what thermic air is like to fly through, and the like?

Obviously the next article is civilian airships, but the nav/mat/feel of the air thing could be useful?
 

David Flin

Voila, a viola.
I've been thinking - it may be a bit too technical, but to aid authors using airships, maybe I should do an article with a (very) brief overview (almost a bluffers guide) to air navigation, air meteorology, and stuff like how to identify the inversion layer (and the difference above an below it), what thermic air is like to fly through, and the like?

Obviously the next article is civilian airships, but the nav/mat/feel of the air thing could be useful?
You know my answer to that. Nor Shall My Sword is right there, with four airships in play.
 

Balaur

Active member
Location
Australia
Trying to keep things "balanced" so that I can have my Congreve-rocket-spewing air battleships without them just murdering everything on the ground when not opposed by enemy airships, or being so fragile that they're useless, has been one of the bigger pains in the neck with Broken Lance's wordbuilding. Almost enough to make me want to ditch the things in the rewrite, but they're so damn cool...
 

Tabac Iberez

Impetious
Published by SLP
Trying to keep things "balanced" so that I can have my Congreve-rocket-spewing air battleships without them just murdering everything on the ground when not opposed by enemy airships, or being so fragile that they're useless, has been one of the bigger pains in the neck with Broken Lance's wordbuilding. Almost enough to make me want to ditch the things in the rewrite, but they're so damn cool...
They're launching Congreves; with a weapon that terrible they're already balanced. A barrel bomb with a retarding fin would get you more bang for your buck, and odds are would be more accurate too.
 

David Flin

Voila, a viola.
Trying to keep things "balanced" so that I can have my Congreve-rocket-spewing air battleships without them just murdering everything on the ground when not opposed by enemy airships, or being so fragile that they're useless, has been one of the bigger pains in the neck with Broken Lance's wordbuilding. Almost enough to make me want to ditch the things in the rewrite, but they're so damn cool...
A few thoughts.

If the airships are close enough to hit them with any chance of hitting anything, then they are close enough to hit the airship if they've got the weaponry to do so. People on the ground are small targets that can take cover. An airship is not a small target, and there's not a lot of cover it can find.

If the airship is out of range of anything that can hit it, then it's in the position of "dropping a marble at arm's length trying to hit a scurrying mouse". If the target is large and not dodging (like a port), that's not too much of a problem (Caveat: See WW2 bombing accuracy). If you're trying to hit a formation of troops, it's a problem.

Accuracy is also a problem when your weapon system is passing through what could well be variable wind patterns. Depending on how much the projectile is affected by wind, aiming could easily be off by some distance, simply because of layers of wind.

Then you've got density of fire power. An airship has a lot of volume devoted to keeping it in the air. That means that it can only pack a relatively small number of weapon systems in it. Furthermore, you need space between airships, so you can't just add airships to increase density. On the ground, you can jam weapon systems pretty much wheel-to-wheel. A lot more can come back at you than you can send their way. If you're relying on the benefits of gravity to keep you out of range, then you're far enough away that accuracy is an issue, and you don't have the firepower density to compensate.

That's without getting into the Health and Safety issues involved in having rockets and airships (presumably using hydrogen) in close proximity. The airship isn't as vulnerable as one might think, but it's still not a weapon-system one uses lightly.

Usually, if one side has a weapon system and platform, the other side will quickly develop a counter to it.
 

Balaur

Active member
Location
Australia
They're launching Congreves; with a weapon that terrible they're already balanced. A barrel bomb with a retarding fin would get you more bang for your buck, and odds are would be more accurate too.
17th century barrel bombs(alongside fletchettes) are pretty much their main anti-surface weapon. Rockets and swivel guns are their main air-to-air weapon.

A few thoughts.
...
Usually, if one side has a weapon system and platform, the other side will quickly develop a counter to it.
That was the conclusion (with the addendum that airships don't actually use hydrogen-it's a fictional magical compound) I eventually came to after much overthinking things. They're also horribly expensive and vulnerable to bad weather, so no-one wants to risk their small airship fleets when they don't have to.
 

Tabac Iberez

Impetious
Published by SLP
17th century barrel bombs(alongside fletchettes) are pretty much their main anti-surface weapon. Rockets and swivel guns are their main air-to-air weapon.
By the point in time you'd actually be in a position to hit something with a low their weight cannon, my honest thought would be to just launch grapnels and board. You can't throw enough chain from the average falconet swivel gun to really garuntee traumatic framing damage, and I'm reasonably certain unless you hit a structural member you wouldn't set off a Congreve with a good head of steam on it. Those things had rather robust fuses, and I know that much better and more sensitive fuses had trouble detonating on doped fabric IRL. Your best bet may very well be a mortar bomb, but then there's the finicky issue of launching one. Considering the lengths the Royal Navy ships went to with using them on bombard ships, they'd make a good general purpose weapon with the caveat you need a good fuse cutter.
 

Balaur

Active member
Location
Australia
By the point in time you'd actually be in a position to hit something with a low their weight cannon, my honest thought would be to just launch grapnels and board. You can't throw enough chain from the average falconet swivel gun to really garuntee traumatic framing damage, and I'm reasonably certain unless you hit a structural member you wouldn't set off a Congreve with a good head of steam on it. Those things had rather robust fuses, and I know that much better and more sensitive fuses had trouble detonating on doped fabric IRL. Your best bet may very well be a mortar bomb, but then there's the finicky issue of launching one. Considering the lengths the Royal Navy ships went to with using them on bombard ships, they'd make a good general purpose weapon with the caveat you need a good fuse cutter.
The swivels are mostly for shooting wyverns, war-dragons and miscellaneous flying critters, basically acting as point defence loaded with grapeshot. The rockets tend to be fired en-masse, and a variety of gimmick rockets are floating around. Airships haven't been around that long in the setting, so everyone is still throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Airship fights tend to be a lot of fireworks with nothing to show for it and then everything is on fire when a magazine gets hit/a rocket with hooks on the tailstick gets stuck in a gasbag/a wyvern rips open the envelope and starts spraying burning venom everywhere.
 

Tabac Iberez

Impetious
Published by SLP
I've long thought that the ASW role of Airships has been criminally underutilised in OTL and in AH writing.
That's more because ASW is boring. You're sitting there on convoy duty, just banging away on your sonar set or dropping the occasional sonobuoy to make sure everything still works. Putting it in a K-blimp with a MAD doesn't really make it better.
 
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