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"Combat in “age of sail” air ship" Topic

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422 hits since 13 Dec 2017
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Dec 2017 11:52 a.m. PST


"Assume that you've conquered the issue of flotation, probably using some very-much-lighter-than-air gas bladder, allowing your ships to take to the skies.

Assume also that you've invented a way to maneuver effectively in the air using only the wind and sails. The sail (or hull) design isn't necessarily identical to ships of the age of sail, but is limited to that level of technology/materials.

Most importantly, assume that traditional age of sail canons are not possible due to the sheer weight of the metal shot & barrels (and powder too, I guess). The ship can indeed float, but we do have to be relatively weight conscious. I would allow a bit of flexibility here in terms of what was known/possible in the age of sail.

What are some other possible forms of weaponry that these air ships could use to do battle in the skies? And what would you use to defend against that suggested weapon?…"
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Mick the Metalsmith Inactive Member14 Dec 2017 6:54 a.m. PST

Lacking a keel, for resistance, sails would be worthless. One could never tack. You have to have a propeller to be plausible. The hot air balloon would not benefit from any sort of sail at all.

Andrew Walters14 Dec 2017 11:36 a.m. PST

I think there's an inherent problem in asking what's possible if the parameters were different without specifying the different parameters. How you overcome gravity and more importantly how you overcome the useless keel will decide how the ship has to be built and how it can maneuver, which in turn will decide where you can and should position weapons and how the ship will be handled in battle.

Is the floatation or maneuvering apparatus vulnerable to puncture? Entanglement? Fire? Are crews large or small? Do the ships fight in large fleets, small numbers, or singly? Ship design will be a response to these questions, so you need to decide them first and see what kind of ships follow.

Alternately, let's be honest. Sometimes you just want to see a certain kind of spaceship, steampunk gadget, or fantasy ship, either for it appearance or what it evokes. In that case, design the ship you want, make up the physics and cultures that justify it, then ignore your inevitable critics and have fun.

The magic of the keel is that the water is moving one way and the air another, so with the right techniques you can move in any direction without intrinsic power. In the air you only have the air, but I've always wondered if you built a ship that had sails at different altitudes where the wind was blowing in different directions could you "sail" in a direction of your choice? There are *huge* design problems with this, the ship would need a tremendous vertical dimension with great rigidity, but it should be possible.

Charlie 12 Inactive Member14 Dec 2017 8:41 p.m. PST

Mick hit it square on the head. Without some form of propulsion, all you have is a hot air balloon. Interesting that none of the commentators on the blog noticed that inconvenient problem….

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