Back to my other graphic novel for a while. Since it has a steampunk theme and one of the staple items of steampunk is the flying ship, it was therefore only right I included some in my project as well. To tell the truth, the whole thing started with a single drawing of a flying destroyer I drew during class back in 2004.
So, without further ado, here are some designs I drew from that time onwards. They are all mainly based on real life technology, albeit taken “up to eleven” and their designs parallels those of real world late nineteenth century torpedo boats and torpedo boat destroyers.
And now, some quotes from a fictional book from my fictional universe, relating to the matter at hand. A bit text heavy, but there you have it.
”[…] In the first year of the war, just as the soldiers in the two camps were relinquishing their colourful uniforms for the bleu horizont and khaki that will dominate the rest of the conflict, the navies too found it useful to tone down the garish colours of their pre-war paint-schemes and introduce camouflage patterns.
Unfortunately, at first the change caused considerable confusion amid the air defence crews leading to a few friendly fire incidents, so prominent painted renditions of the national insignia were soon introduced to supplement the flags flying from the stern.
By 1904, The French had also changed their pre-war identification system comprising of the first two letters of the ship’s name for two digit numbers like their British counterparts, with the addition of tactical Squadron markings in the shape of coloured “playing cards”, a scheme already in use with the Tank Corps since the previous year.
Ship design evolved quite a bit throughout the conflict, with several odd experiments such as “steam-electric” propulsion and multi-blade counter-rotating propellers standing out from the rest. Unfortunately, both designs failed to deliver the promised performance and thus the ships were relegated to second line duty before being scrapped at the end of the conflict.
Shipborne weaponry also evolved and the first year of the war saw the deletion of most mortar emplacements and the addition of free-fall bomb launchers due to the imprecision of plunging fire both against enemy ships and ground targets.
Although the first engagements proved the complete unsuitability of the flying torpedo for its intended purpose of ship-to-ship combat, for the most part the torpedo launchers were retained in an anti-ground role, with penetrating time delay warheads proving especially devastating against fortifications when launched in a steep dive.
The end of the war saw the emergence of the armed scout plane, an evolution of the basic flying torpedo into a piloted aircraft capable of independent action.
The few mixed engagements of the war were somewhat inconclusive due to the imprecision of launching bombs by hand and small payload of these novel flying machines, but rapid technology advances all but promise that the scout plane will overshadow the flying ship in the next few decades.
Despite its inherent vulnerability to even small arms fire, the speed and manoeuvrability of this otherwise flimsy flying apparatus, as well as the low cost and ease of production, mean that even the poorest of navies could well afford considerable hitting power in the near future.
The process has already begun with the “Bearn” and “HMS Engadine” being converted in late 1906 into flying scout plane carriers, with a further five ships undergoing transformation before the end of hostilities.”
“The Heyday of the Flying Ship” by Israel BRAYTON, DSO, DFC and Bar, Royal Navy Flying Corps (ret.), Published by John Murray of London, 1912.