Author Topic: Aerial Battleships  (Read 1151 times)

Offline Small brown dog

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Aerial Battleships
« on: September 12, 2019, 06:21:49 PM »
I mention aerial battleships in the overview of my Alt universe time line but don’t go into much detail.  Its because of this genre of steam/diesel punk that my crap came about.  I can't live with a super lighter than air gas filled Hull so got to thinking about Nikola Tesla and others that had wild electrical levitation theories. I posted more of this somewhere but it’s not important.

Anyway, I'm thinking internally of colossal diesel electric motors/generators and accumulators to feed the power hungry lift generators and drive the electric motors for the props.  So I guess much the hull, less the superstructure is just full of diesel engines, power station grade electrical gear and seriously large amounts of diesel fuel.



So anyway, here we are in an alternative early 1942 and capital ships are still the pride of a nation. Here are the Predator class Battle cruisers: Huntress and her sister ship, Tigress, 2 hours out from the Scapa Flow sky dock and looking for trouble.

I'm not sure that the Royal Navy would approve of such flamboyant markings like I have on the Tigress but this is my alternative world and I'll hang furry dice off the rudder if I want to :)

Re looking at this I think that the whole era may well have passed by the time of the second world war so they don't sit well with me but are fascinating.
With that in mind I thought it time to kill them off:



In 1939 aerial battleships still held place of honour and the pride of a nation. There were however, growing concerns during the the 1930’s that the quantum leap in aerial electrical applications would challenge the superiority of the aerial battleship. Others considered them obsolete as a deterrent and offensive weapon by the outbreak of the Second World War.

In 1927 The Royal Navy commissioned the first of the Predator class ships, The Huntress, followed by her sister the ship, the Tigress the following year. Huntress was laid down in early 1928 and sky launched in 1930 with final fitting out taking place over much of that year.  However, although a formidable ship of her time, the technical advancements in aero electrical applications made her obsolete in terms of speed and lifting power. Amidst much governmental uproar with regard to costs both Huntress and Tigress were grounded for special refit.

The rest of the pre-war period saw both ships policing the empire and showing up at prestigious events around the world. By the Munich crisis both ships were brought to war standard and repainted in standard camouflage although the Tigress was allowed to keep her Tiger head motif on the bow. As a marauding pair both caused some concern to the Air arm of the Kriegs marine which found most of their time devoted to defensive operations around coastal installations such as U Boat pens that were a frequent target of both Royal Navy airships.

In the meantime German company Henschel were developing a radio controlled glide bomb with a rocket engine, the Henschel 293. This weapon was air dropped from a point outside the range of accurate anti-aircraft fire and flown in by an observer who was able to maintain eye contact with the missile by means of five flares fitted to the tail or a light for night operations.

Although this missile was developed for use against light or unarmoured shipping a more powerful, prototype, the Hs 293Z, was developed for use against aerial battleships. This version had a larger explosive charge and rocket motor with an additional fuel cell to give the weapon an extra “push” in the final seconds.  It was not considered to be a main hull penetrating weapon as the armour was too thick but several weak points had been identified as being potentially damaging enough to make the breaking off of attack a wise decision by the captain. Such weak points were the bridge and other command positions, the propeller nacelles and flight control surfaces.
An ideal target was the large lift generators that protrude from the hull. Although lightly armoured the electromagnetic field on mass effect acted as a deflector. However, the field is very weak at the point where the lift unit is secured to the hull but had proved almost impossible to target precisely.

Much success had been achieved in making aerial battleships break off attack with the 88mm canon armed Me 626 Donner Vogal and a highly modified version of this aircraft was chosen to carry the Hs293z. These modifications included removing the 88mm and replacing with shackles to mount the Hs293Z and a second observer/missile guide cockpit added.

The all up weight of the ME 626 in this configuration was only slightly more than the original 88mm with a full shell magazine drum but  with no need for the recoil dampening energy storage which could now be used for additional lift and thrust. Because of its original design as an artillery class canon mount it was also a very steady gun platform making it idea in the “stand off and guide in” role.

Mixed type flights were used with a 2:1 ratio in favour of the 88mm equipped ME262. Once the HS293z was released the modified ME 626 became a fast and surprisingly agile aircraft and with 2 x 20mm canon in the nose, able to take care of itself and often protect the 88mm armed versions.

On the morning of 4th April 1942 9 ME626, 3 were carrying the Hs293z, were ordered to intercept The Huntress as she hovered off shore at 4000ft firing her main battery at the Lorient U-boat pens.
The first strikes were by 88mm armed ME626 placing shots just below the bridge and causing much internal damage.  The first Hs293z drop suffered rocket motor failure and fell into the sea. The second two missile armed aircraft dropped almost simultaneously with the pre-planned aim of placing both missiles in the same location on the steering gear.

By this time Huntress was heading for cloud cover which was quite thick in places but patchy. Both missiles were tracking well when at about the half-way point the first lost radio control. The controller of the second had to make a quick course deviation in order to avoid the first and was now low and in danger of undershooting. With main fuel and guide flares almost exhausted, the controller slammed the controls over to port and fired the booster fuel cell leaving everything else to chance.

The Hs293z came in at roughly 40 degrees from below and slammed perfectly into the mounting ring just behind the starboard rear lift generator and penetrated 18” before exploding. The explosion ripped out the capacitor conduit head mounting resulting in a massive uncontrolled energy discharge powerful enough to melt the close by bulkhead.
During the 1931 Huntress refit, the additional room required for the upgraded lift generator compartment meant that the compartment was only one bulkhead away from the rear magazine. The energy discharge vaporised the bulkhead and ignited the magazine resulting in an explosion that tore the huntress apart.

684 men lost their lives that day and the tragedy was compounded 10 days later when the Tigress fell to another Hs293z strike again on a lift generator mount but this time on the bow. Tigress came down under control and most hands were able to escape in the air life boats. Tigress was doomed before the missile strike however as several very accurate 88mm strikes had damaged her steering gear, put the bridge out of action and ruptured her main fuel oil cell.

On 14th April 1942, just 10 days after the loss HMAS Huntress, The Tigress suffered a similar fate some 120 miles out to sea south off Cork, Ireland.



Although mortally wounded Tigress had descended under control and, unlike the Huntress, most of her crew escaped. Survivors who later recounted the event describe how even though she was severely damaged she was still generating lift  and came down quite steadily not hitting the water hard and, for a second or two, seemed to float before slowly disappearing below the waves.

In the early 1980’s there had been two attempts to find the wreck of the Tigress but each had failed largely because her position was plotted by means of a best guess.  Air life boats in the 1940’s had only a charged capacitor for short duration flight. Even so, as much as 100 miles could separate the launch and landing points. Crews were in shock and in fear for their lives and so not so concerned about the whereabouts of the vessel they had just escaped from. Those that would have been aware, the Captain and his first officer, were aboard the air life boat that failed to launch properly and plunged directly into the sea and was lost.
In 1989 all the available information was reevaluated and cross checked and it was found that the likely position of the Tigress was not that far distant from the second exploration of 1984 only that her likely position was more to the north.

In July of 1989 the third exploration finally got underway after unimaginable delays and equipment malfunctions. The exploration Vessel, Deep huntress, was still not fully functional when she arrived at the first search location. The generator for the ROV’s,  Explorer 1 & 2,  would not  produce peak power and so repairs were be made that took 36 hours off the available search time.

On day 3 the first side scanning radar sweep was made and 3 hours into the sweep a contact was made. Explorer 1 was launched and on the control room monitors there came into view the undeniable shape of an air life boat. This could only be the Captains air boat and so surely the Tigress must be close by as the air boat had failed almost immediately upon launch. The area was logged and the day ended on a high note of confidence in their endeavors.

The following days brought no luck and halfway through the last day of side scanning the equipment just gave up. The mood among the crew of the Deep Huntress was now at an all-time low. To have been so seemingly close but now reduced to only what amounted to searching the sea bed with a big torch was just too much to take in.

Even so, the crew were not about to pack it all in and leave. They had six hours left and so Explorer 1 was lowered and an almost painfully slow exploration of the sea bed began. Nothing but silt, rocks and small marine life broke the endless gloom on the monitors and six hours later – still nothing.

A further 20 minutes just gave more of the same and the order was given to bring up the ROV.
The operator, tired and extremely ill tempered by this time threw procedure out the window and just brought Explorer 1 about ready for surfacing and extinguished the lights as he did. In that micro second between light and darkness was there something there as the ROV spun round?

The operator called out and scrabbled for the spotlight array switches and resumed the video feed. There was nothing but a cloud of silt stirred by the violent about turn of the ROV but then as the operator reversed his path the silt began clearing and there, disappearing into the dark was the unmistakable bulk of a Predator class aerial battleship.

She was a rusting hulk but still intact and just as impressive as she was all those years ago when she ruled the skies with her sister ship. Her discovery caused quite a stir as, other than her own rotting wreck, there is not another such intact example of an aerial battleship anywhere in the world. All were scrapped upon decommission some being converted to troop carriers for a short period of time before giving way to the scrap man’s torch.

Two more dives were made on the Tigress and in the 30 odd years since her discovery there have been some crazy ideas to salvage her that even included powering up one of her remaining lift generators – apparently feasible once you get over the problems of men working on her at that depth and a million other minor inconveniences.   

The final dive, the first in 16 years, found her in an accelerated state of decay. Her port engine nacelle has now broken away as has the mast. A lift generator has also dropped from its mounting and a hug crack appeared running from the mounting ring vertically.

Sleep well Tigress






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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Aerial Battleships
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2019, 03:20:50 AM »
 :smiley:
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Aerial Battleships
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2019, 03:38:38 AM »
That's an impressive combination of story and art and, given the basic premises, quite plausible.   Using lifting units rather than lifting gas makes a lot more sense for steam-punk aerial vehicles like the battleship in War of the Worlds, Goliath.

BTW, I love the way the bow of that class reminds one of a shark's nose.  That is definitely a very aesthetic touch.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2019, 05:56:25 AM by elmayerle »

Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: Aerial Battleships
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2019, 06:02:43 AM »
Wicked cool steampunk vibe!
 8)
Brian da Basher

Offline Small brown dog

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Re: Aerial Battleships
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2019, 10:33:51 PM »
Thanks guys.
I've not done much with concept although I have got two projects started. One is a second gen Dreadnought class so early WW1 era.
The other is a ... dunno really :)
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Offline tankmodeler

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Re: Aerial Battleships
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2019, 01:00:50 AM »
If I may be so bold, and having thought about aerial battleships a bit in another, Cavourite, universe, the water-typical armament layout doesn't make a lot of sense for these things leaving, as your image shows, large areas under the "waterline" that are completely incapable of being defended by the airship. Any "ship" I've conceptually designed has really needed at least a couple of the main battery guns able to address targets below the horizon plus a modest number of the secondary armament able to reach there as well.

My, admittedly middling, thinking has been that yes, big enemies are unlikely to get too close without being seen, so most of the big guns can be above (where servicing them is very much easier than below) but to completely discount an enemy getting close, in clouds, say, and to allow small enemies, even destroyer size, much less fighter size, free reign below you strikes me as exceptionally unlikely.

And, while you show a Henshel early war guided missile, I can just as easily posit a much earlier, more simply guided or stabilised aerial torpedo, much along the same lines as regular water torpedoes, that would have to be dealt with from below by a capital ship.

Plus, given the physics of ballistics, the airship that is operating the highest will have a significant advantage, in both range and impact kinetic energy, over any adversary at lower altitude. By this thinking, in fact, it would suggest that an aerial capital ship would fight as high as possible and that their design should have _most_ of their small armament on the underside along with one or two main gun turrets, with the other main gun turrets and some smaller weapons arrayed on the upper deck such that they can shoot directly not just upwards and horizontally, but at some reasonable angle downwards, say 30 deg, to permit direct fire against targets that are trying to maneuver below you. You end up with a turret looking not so much like an old battleship turret, but more like a bomber's front or rear turret with their greater fields of fire. Except with 12" guns, 15" of armour and a crew of 60...

 ;D ;)

Paul

Paul

Offline Small brown dog

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Re: Aerial Battleships
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2019, 05:20:33 PM »
If I may be so bold, and having thought about aerial battleships a bit in another, Cavourite, universe...

Paul

Dwelling too long on the practicalities of such things can drive you mad. The whole concept is crazy but they are so cool - bit like mechs which although I have done one I find to be just too impossible especially for the pre digital age.

My biggest headache is wondering and visualising how they might have developed or mutated in to some kind of smaller hybrid of aerial battleship/large bomber aircraft but everything I have tried I don't like. but I will get there.

The armament layout is of course absolutely daft and then there is the limiting height problem unless the whole damn thing is going to be pressurised which then leads you back to the fact your main armament is pointing in all the wrong directions.

The Guided weapon was modelled some time later on a whim with no real use until I thought of the story so there is no big thinking about its use here. Interested in your "earlier, more simply guided or stabilised aerial torpedo" I assume a liquid or solid state rocket but what about the more simple guidance system?

The physics and ballistics are thoughts that are all valid but they have to be thrown out the window really because when all is said and done you are applying them to a flying battleship ;)

Really love getting this sort of feed back  - thanks Paul :)
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Aerial Battleships
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2019, 01:39:50 AM »
Dwelling too long on the practicalities of such things can drive you mad.

 :smiley: ;D
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

Offline kerick

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Re: Aerial Battleships
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2019, 07:34:08 AM »
If I may be so bold, and having thought about aerial battleships a bit in another, Cavourite, universe...

Paul

Dwelling too long on the practicalities of such things can drive you mad. The whole concept is crazy but they are so cool - bit like mechs which although I have done one I find to be just too impossible especially for the pre digital age.

My biggest headache is wondering and visualising how they might have developed or mutated in to some kind of smaller hybrid of aerial battleship/large bomber aircraft but everything I have tried I don't like. but I will get there.

The armament layout is of course absolutely daft and then there is the limiting height problem unless the whole damn thing is going to be pressurised which then leads you back to the fact your main armament is pointing in all the wrong directions.

The Guided weapon was modelled some time later on a whim with no real use until I thought of the story so there is no big thinking about its use here. Interested in your "earlier, more simply guided or stabilised aerial torpedo" I assume a liquid or solid state rocket but what about the more simple guidance system?

The physics and ballistics are thoughts that are all valid but they have to be thrown out the window really because when all is said and done you are applying them to a flying battleship ;)

Really love getting this sort of feed back  - thanks Paul :)

I always got a kick out of the airship versions of this idea with either heavy guns and superstructure or a flight deck on top of the lifting gas bags. The whole thing would flip over in a second assuming it could get off the ground. I assume Dr Tesla had this part figured out?

Offline Small brown dog

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Re: Aerial Battleships
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2019, 05:46:29 PM »
If I may be so bold, and having thought about aerial battleships a bit in another, Cavourite, universe...

Paul


Dwelling too long on the practicalities of such things can drive you mad. The whole concept is crazy but they are so cool - bit like mechs which although I have done one I find to be just too impossible especially for the pre digital age.

My biggest headache is wondering and visualising how they might have developed or mutated in to some kind of smaller hybrid of aerial battleship/large bomber aircraft but everything I have tried I don't like. but I will get there.

The armament layout is of course absolutely daft and then there is the limiting height problem unless the whole damn thing is going to be pressurised which then leads you back to the fact your main armament is pointing in all the wrong directions.

The Guided weapon was modelled some time later on a whim with no real use until I thought of the story so there is no big thinking about its use here. Interested in your "earlier, more simply guided or stabilised aerial torpedo" I assume a liquid or solid state rocket but what about the more simple guidance system?

The physics and ballistics are thoughts that are all valid but they have to be thrown out the window really because when all is said and done you are applying them to a flying battleship ;)

Really love getting this sort of feed back  - thanks Paul :)


I always got a kick out of the airship versions of this idea with either heavy guns and superstructure or a flight deck on top of the lifting gas bags. The whole thing would flip over in a second assuming it could get off the ground. I assume Dr Tesla had this part figured out?


Tesla is part of the story although its his protege really. It gets involved so if you are interested this may be helpful:
http://beyondthesprues.com/Forum/index.php?topic=8712.0
« Last Edit: September 15, 2019, 06:16:26 PM by Small brown dog »
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Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Aerial Battleships
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2019, 09:00:30 PM »
A simple fix for "Why no guns below?" is the lift generators; the lift effect affects the trajectories of weapons fired within their field & makes aiming them impossible & the weapons, therefore, useless when placed "under" the ship.
"This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and, ah, explode."

Offline Small brown dog

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Re: Aerial Battleships
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2019, 09:17:35 PM »
A simple fix for "Why no guns below?" is the lift generators; the lift effect affects the trajectories of weapons fired within their field & makes aiming them impossible & the weapons, therefore, useless when placed "under" the ship.

Yes, could be some ballistic shielding effect.
I muck about with that idea elsewhere but keep the tech in its infancy  .. it fails a lot ;)
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Offline tankmodeler

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Re: Aerial Battleships
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2019, 01:06:51 AM »
Interested in your "earlier, more simply guided or stabilised aerial torpedo" I assume a liquid or solid state rocket but what about the more simple guidance system?
Solid fuel rockets would be my suggestion as they have been in existence, even in our world., for many hundreds of years and an impetus (say during the First Great Unpleasantness) to shift the development of the original Whitehead torpedo from compressed gas torpedoes against water targets towards a solid rocket "torpedo" against air targets doesn't sound too far fetched. The guidance system wouldn't have to be much more complex than that of a water torpedo: a preset mechanism, based on gyroscopes, that maintains a preset heading and, in this case, flight angle. It doesn't home (at least not initially) and can't be changed once fired, just like an old torpedo. You fire a spread, which in this case would probably be a 2D array of torpedoes rather than the waterborne 1D spread, and hope one or more hit the target, rather like buckshot from a shotgun.

Quote
Really love getting this sort of feed back  - thanks Paul :)
I love going through though processes like this. The very what-if-ness of it all actually helps me in my real world job as a design engineer. It keeps my mind open to possibilities and applies what I know to (very) different situations.

Paul

Offline Small brown dog

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Re: Aerial Battleships
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2019, 05:36:01 PM »
Interested in your "earlier, more simply guided or stabilised aerial torpedo" I assume a liquid or solid state rocket but what about the more simple guidance system?
Solid fuel rockets would be my suggestion as they have been in existence, even in our world., for many hundreds of years and an impetus (say during the First Great Unpleasantness) to shift the development of the original Whitehead torpedo from compressed gas torpedoes against water targets towards a solid rocket "torpedo" against air targets doesn't sound too far fetched. The guidance system wouldn't have to be much more complex than that of a water torpedo: a preset mechanism, based on gyroscopes, that maintains a preset heading and, in this case, flight angle. It doesn't home (at least not initially) and can't be changed once fired, just like an old torpedo. You fire a spread, which in this case would probably be a 2D array of torpedoes rather than the waterborne 1D spread, and hope one or more hit the target, rather like buckshot from a shotgun.

Quote
Really love getting this sort of feed back  - thanks Paul :)
I love going through though processes like this. The very what-if-ness of it all actually helps me in my real world job as a design engineer. It keeps my mind open to possibilities and applies what I know to (very) different situations.

Paul

OK, this has caught my imagination :)
I am thinking on a device similar in length to standard torpedo with most of the body holding the solid fuel. It will be fast which will help stability but do you see bigger stabilizers and perhaps offset to give some spin?

The firing spread seems very wasteful but would look awesome :)

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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Aerial Battleships
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2019, 02:56:01 AM »
I would imagine such aerial torpedoes looking a bit like bigger versions of the Henschel Hs 298:



or even something akin to this:



I am assuming wings would be a must as they would be too small for "electro lift".  Wire or radio guidance would be possible too.
All hail the God of Frustration!!!