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Old 01-22-2010, 12:51 AM
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Default Airships

DeaconR 12-01-2005, 08:40 AM The "Airlords of the Ozarks" adventure does not have to be unique or limited to operations in the southern Mississippi Valley region. For instance there is a naval engineering centre in New Jersey which researches such developments.


This presents an interesting alternative to conventional aircraft in the game.

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ChalkLine 12-01-2005, 02:36 PM The great thing about Zeps is that they can use conventional engines for thrust, we had a little Zep from the Swan Brewery toolling about Sydney back in the 80's (hey, it's Australia, it has to be about beer) and it ran on two modified Porsche engines and normal petrol.


Talk about a force multiplier in T2K, the vision range, especially with thermal gear, of this thing would have been immense. Also, it's funky lil' motors could easily have been insulated to the point that they didn't show much heat, making it very hard to engage with missiles (those that were left anyway).


It could carry about twenty people, let's say ten troops loaded with heavy equipment, and prehaps could doodle along upwind and then drift downwind over a target area for insertion, absolutely quiet and by that stage of events, unexpected. Perhaps this could make an appearance in the game to scare the daylights out of the players, and later the powers-that-be could field their own to move the PCs about once or twice.

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copeab 12-01-2005, 07:20 PM Talk about a force multiplier in T2K, the vision range, especially with thermal gear, of this thing would have been immense. Also, it's funky lil' motors could easily have been insulated to the point that they didn't show much heat, making it very hard to engage with missiles (those that were left anyway).



Don't forget that in WWI airships were also used to bomb cities. An airship can easily hover at an altitude out of range of most AAA available in T2K. As someone else pointed out, SAM's will be quite rare. Airships also make wonderful artillery OPs.

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Targan 12-02-2005, 12:36 AM I think the first use in war of any lighter than air aircraft was for artillery spotting. The first mechanically powered airships used steam powered engines!


The dirigibles mentioned in Airlords of the Ozarks are LBAs, whose shape is designed to create lift when there is an airflow from the front of the vehicle. So I doubt insertion would be while moving down-wind, it would probably be upwind (assuming the wind is nice and gentle) so vertical movement could be controlled without any movement forward or backward relative to the ground.


Airships in T:2000 would need to have their gas bladders filled with helium from pre-war stocks, as I doubt more than a handful of nations would be capable of manufacturing helium (or compressing it sufficiently for transport) by 2000. Its easy to make hydrogen, but refrigerating it is a bitch and it has a tendancy to go boom when oxygen is also present.


Heat-seeking AA missiles might have a hard time tracking an LTA craft, but optical and radar homing missiles would have no problem at all. In cold conditions, LTA craft are likely to collect unwanted ballast in the form of ice forming on their skin.

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Webstral 12-02-2005, 08:34 AM I believe the greatest potential for airships is strategic. This thread has come up before, if memory serves. Rather than repeat my assessment in toto, I'll summarize.


The ability to airlift critical supplies and specialists to otherwise isolated cantonments would be more valuable to CivGov or MilGov than any tactical application airships might offer. For instance, we know [from Howling Wilderness] that MilGov is drilling and refining oil in southeastern Wyoming. We also know that the refinery at Cairo, IL has suffered damaged to its cat cracker. If MilGov can move a team of specialists and the right parts to Cairo, the Army brigade at Cairo will be enormously enhanced by the availability of the petroleum fuel coming from the refinery. In turn, Cairo may be able to supply modest quantities of petroleum to MilGov's Colorado base of power.


In short, if MilGov can assemble a fleet of working airships, the isolated assets scattered throughout the country can be brought together to reinforce one another. Excess food, fuel, ammunition, raw materials, processed and manufactured goods, and even key personnel can be moved around the country via airship. Even a limited number of airships with a limited lift capability could move high-value items like electronics, engineers and other skilled personnel, critical parts, and lubricants.


Such a development also gives MilGov leverage over the remaining military assets throughout the country. By late 2000, few cantonments have any reason to be loyal to MilGov other than ideology. MilGov can offer no support. Throw in a (hopefully) growing fleet of airships, and suddenly MilGov's hand strengthens enormously. Colorado is reasonably well located to act as the hub of an airship-based based logistical system spanning the country. With a modest surplus of petroleum products, skilled personnel, and food, the Colorado enclave can corral and succor military cantonments throughout the country. Though the ability to airlift troops tactically and spot for artillery is useful, I believe the most potent use for airships is the transport of key resources.


It is exactly this kind of situation that gets the attention of MG Thomason and the forces of SAMAD. A MilGov airship, freshly captured by special operators working in the Ozarks, brings a message to Fort Huachuca. "All can be forgiven... if you play ball."



Webstral

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DeaconR 12-02-2005, 08:36 AM Hm...the reason I brought it up though Targan is because you, myself and some others are running campaigns set in areas where there are either resources or some infrastructure. For instance, let's take our mutual setting, the Atlantic East Coast of the US. There are several places that may not have been destroyed where recovery efforts could take place simply to keep technology going. For instance, Brookhaven Laboratories on Long Island, or the Naval Base in New Jersey. This certainly shouldn't be easy, but what if you made it the subject of an adventure, either acquiring more helium or the means by which to compress it?


BTW Webstral, cool idea for your campaign setting, and I agree with you on the strategic uses of it.

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copeab 12-02-2005, 09:37 AM Although it's a 90 year old book, this may be of interest to airship enthusiasts:


http://www.blackmask.com/Detailed/Hi...hale_8489.html


Brandon

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DeaconR 12-02-2005, 10:12 AM Very interesting, thanks for posting this link.

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Targan 12-03-2005, 06:16 AM Agreed DeaconR, scrounging for helium would make a cool mini adventure, and I guess maurauders and refugees would have much use for helium filled gas cylinders.


Interesting food for thought, Webstral. The cargo efficincy of LTA craft would be up there with rail and water, but with fewer restrictions over what routes can be used.


Thanks for the link, copeab. Gee, these forums are a gold mine of info sources. You guys are great.

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Blackrider 12-03-2005, 07:38 AM there was in the mid and late 80s the practical idea of developing airships to be used as modern sub hunters, (longer times in the air and with less fuel requirements) truth is thus was done during WWII, with whole fleets of airships operatting off the both coastlines of the US.


just some info i thought you guys would find interesting

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copeab 12-03-2005, 08:35 AM there was in the mid and late 80s the practical idea of developing airships to be used as modern sub hunters, (longer times in the air and with less fuel requirements) truth is thus was done during WWII, with whole fleets of airships operatting off the both coastlines of the US.



IIRC, no convoy escorted by an airship in WWII lost a ship to an enemy submarine.


Brandon

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ChalkLine 12-03-2005, 03:07 PM Summary of bonuses for airships:


Massive endurance, they can stay up for a LONG time. Their battlefield loiter time is unsurpassed.


Large load carrying ability. Hundred of troops, tones of equipment or even light armour can be moved by zep.


Stealth capability in a T2k environment without common working radars.


Low tech capability; they can be flown-by-cable, use normal fuels and because they're slow you can use a map and a sextant for navigation.


Robust construction; a modern zep is suprisingly tough with cellular gasbags, inert lifting gas and a lot of space for shots to go through without truely hitting anything vital. Given that people tend to automatically fire at the gasbags rather than the gondala, it's also a wierd sort of sacrificial armour. Some experiments were made with 'sponge-bags', but these are very high-tech and probably not capable of construction post nuke, you'd be able to wear a lot of fire though as the gas is in a micropocket matrix.


Incomparable sensor platform; Yep, first used as artillery spotters and if trenches are resurrected (a favourite scenario of mine) they can cruise behind the lines calling fire. Thermal gear can dominate the battlefield and spot troop movements and operating vehicles.



Summary of minuses for airships;



Slow and low. The zep to be effective has to fly fairly low, and it's as slow as a wet week. As that guy said in Hamburger Hill, 'Everybody shoots at me'. A big, highly visible target like a zep that is incapable of replying would attract a lot of opportunity fire. They are the ZSU-23-4's wet dream, and one wandering past a ZPU-4 would have the horrid situation of 14.5mm rounds blasting up from underneath while the zep crawled past, if it made it. ANy other aircraft is considered 'nimble' compared to a zep, they can even be shot down by gliders and ground howitzers (ouch!)


Difficult to maintain; they require large, easily damageable ground facilities and their lightweight materials make them real liabilities at dock. They need constant regassing which is an industry in itself, and the engines tend to run for the duration of their long flights, meaning lots of wear.


Vulnerable to weather; a sudden updraft can kill the entire crew, and a sudden downdraft did for the R-101 and splattered them over the French countryside. High winds can blow a zep right out to see past their endurance to return against headwinds. Storms killed more zep crews in WW1 than enemy fire (the accounts in 'The Friendless Sky' are heartbreaking) and docking in bad weather is more than just hazardous.

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Webstral 12-04-2005, 07:16 AM A very nice summary of the problems associated with running airships. I find myself inspired to think of some of the potential solutions. (Okay, I admit I did think of some of them ahead of time.)


I envision MilGov assembling airship hangars to protect their air fleet on the ground. This will consume a fair amount of labor, but I see MilGov as viewing the payoff as equitable. There would be an industry growing up around refilling the gas. I don't have a read on the requirements, so I can't say how many people would be required under what conditions, etc.


I foresee MI in Colorado compiling maps of the hazard zones. Pilots will try to stick to open country as much as possible, especially when they must fly during daylight hours. I don't see the threat from ZSU-23-4s as being intolerable over the continental United States. For that matter, it doesn't seem likely that anti-air fire will be much more than a nuisance on the operational level. It would suck to be on the crew of an airship that happened to fly over a quad-.50 who felt like shooting down an airship would be cool. But overall the risk shouldn't be intolerable if the airship crews follow basic evasive procedures and fly over unpopulated areas as much as possible. I'm revealing my bias here, though. Shipping goods and personnel from cantonment to cantonment is going to necessitate a very different modus operendi than tactical use of airships.



Webstral

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Targan 12-05-2005, 02:00 AM Ironic that the operational altitudes of T2K airships would have to be kept relatively low, because during WWI airships relied partly on their superior operational ceilings to remain beyond the range of enemy aircraft. It might be hard to build a pressurised gondola for an airship and/or keep it pressurizable, but it would be impossible to pressurise the entire accessible area inside the gas cell section, so at higher altitudes the crew would have to either stay within the gondola or have access to portable air tanks, regulators and masks. And it gets mighty cold up there in the great blue yonder.

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DeaconR 12-05-2005, 09:39 AM Another use for them that I thought of is the same that balloons and airships were used for in earlier times, for simply having a command view. For instance, Targan, in our campaigns the Milgov enclave in NJ has two P-3 Orions but they lack fuel for them. If they had an alternate system like a dirigible they could use it to assist with reconaissance.

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Targan 12-05-2005, 11:10 AM Absolutely. And when not deployed away from base or grounded for maintenance an airship could still be of use as a floating crow's nest, tethered on a long cable so its engines wouldn't have to be running and allowing for power to be sent from the ground for systems requiring it (such as heating, lights, comms, avionics, passive and active radar emitters/detectors, counter-battery artillery computers, meteorological sensors, ECM, laser designators and rangefinders, and/or weapons systems).


Oh my, consider the possibilities of an airship Specter conversion.

[Airship Weapons Officer] "Yeah, we call her the Fist of God. She's got a pair of 155s in a dual mount, half a dozen Bushmaster II 30mm rotaries configured in two slaved banks of three, and a pair of MLRS racks for them stubborn targets. She really gives the maurauders hell."

Too slow to orbit a target zone, but I guess a strafing pass would be effective enough. And the locals would probably learn pretty quick not to try and evade paying their taxes.

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ChalkLine 12-05-2005, 07:02 PM Any dedicated AAA system will slaughter a dirigibile because of it's weapons payload, the airburst tungsten balls blown out by AAA rounds are admirable for killing jets but seem custom designed to kill airship gas cells . . .


And it's not like they don't have time to aim and get those rangefinders working!

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copeab 12-05-2005, 08:23 PM Any dedicated AAA system will slaughter a dirigibile because of it's weapons payload, the airburst tungsten balls blown out by AAA rounds are admirable for killing jets but seem custom designed to kill airship gas cells . . .


And it's not like they don't have time to aim and get those rangefinders working!


Some WWI zeppelins could operate at 20,000 feet, which is rather long range for most anti-aircraft guns.


Brandon

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Last edited by kato13; 02-10-2010 at 02:45 AM.
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