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  #31  
Old 07-29-2009, 07:30 PM
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Hmm, it's not as if airships could be considered as "rapid response units" when airlifting troops. Anyone waiting for the airships cargos, whatever they are, will have to expect it's not going to be quick. Might actually be faster in some cases to load up a few trucks and send a few light AFVs for protection. Not necessarily as economical, but faster...

Airships have the benefit of being able to access remote areas away from roads, bypass ground obstacles, and fly above the effective range of small arms. Definately a place for them, but they'll never replace ground based transportation options in the majority of cases.
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Old 07-29-2009, 08:06 PM
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Hmm, it's not as if airships could be considered as "rapid response units" when airlifting troops. Anyone waiting for the airships cargos, whatever they are, will have to expect it's not going to be quick. Might actually be faster in some cases to load up a few trucks and send a few light AFVs for protection. Not necessarily as economical, but faster...

Airships have the benefit of being able to access remote areas away from roads, bypass ground obstacles, and fly above the effective range of small arms. Definately a place for them, but they'll never replace ground based transportation options in the majority of cases.
No the airship wouldn't be my first choice either. In fact it wouldn't be a choice. The point is it would be a cheap show and tell tool. I wouldn't personally want one near a battlefield, too big of target for anyone who isn't in a panic state.

Many areas will still have Armored/Mechanized/Motorized reactionary force that would be able to get there much faster. What I was thinking about, were threats that were much larger force in which the initial unit and the reactionary force can't repel. Remember the units can only control is limited to where their troops are at the moment, but claim to control a much larger area.

Also remember the type of force that may be large enough carry off significant attacks, would be full of troops that are unreliable. Even a Platoon or Company size force coming onto the field from the flank could throw a good size of any attack force into a panic.
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Old 07-29-2009, 08:16 PM
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I wasn't meaning JUST troops though but urgent medical supplies, important documents, etc, etc, etc.
Yes, the airship is vulnerable in combat if it gets too low and the enemy have decent weaponry (even an old blackpowder rifle might cause some problems). However, they can still be used as effective weapons platforms by simply flying them at a few thousand feet and dropping hand grenades and explosives. Even tipping buckets of stones and shrapnel might cause issues to ground targets provided the aim is right...

Close up they're slow, big and unweildy bullet magnets. Altitude and the ability to move over inacessible terrain is their strength.
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  #34  
Old 07-30-2009, 02:44 AM
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Definately a place for them, but they'll never replace ground based transportation options in the majority of cases.
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The point is it would be a cheap show and tell tool. Many areas will still have Armored/Mechanized/Motorized reactionary force that would be able to get there much faster.
“We need information. We need to know who these people are, where they got the factories and workers to build airships. We need those things for ourselves. God knows it would be nice to move troops and supplies around the country and not have to fight damned marauder bands at every river crossing!” (Airlords of the Ozarks, p.7)

I doubt I could say it any better. Regardless of how the New Americans use their airships, the airship is a platform for strategic mobility. If well-armed truck convoys were both practical and practicable for connecting non-contiguous MilGov enclaves, the convoys would be rolling. I agree that truck convoys (and maybe even rail) are probably possible between Colorado and many area of Oklahoma. I’m sure a special effort could be made from time to time to collect enough trucks, AFV, and other necessities for a rolling convoy to move from Oklahoma to southern Illinois. Given the state of the country in late 2000/early 2001, do we really believe that any truck convoy that could be fueled and maintained on the road could be forced through from the Mississippi to New Jersey or Virginia? These Atlantic seaboard locations might be linked with MilGov cantonments along the Mississippi with sea traffic moving through the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi, except that doesn’t seem to be happening, either. Another way has to be found. I think you both are dead right about the total misapplication of the airship as a tactical weapon or even as a tactical transport. Legbreaker, I think you are hearing what I am trying to say. The airship a slow, fuel-stingy, unglamorous and somewhat dangerous airborne cargo hauler.

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  #35  
Old 07-30-2009, 04:39 PM
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“We need information. We need to know who these people are, where they got the factories and workers to build airships. We need those things for ourselves. God knows it would be nice to move troops and supplies around the country and not have to fight damned marauder bands at every river crossing!” (Airlords of the Ozarks, p.7)

I doubt I could say it any better. Regardless of how the New Americans use their airships, the airship is a platform for strategic mobility. If well-armed truck convoys were both practical and practicable for connecting non-contiguous MilGov enclaves, the convoys would be rolling. I agree that truck convoys (and maybe even rail) are probably possible between Colorado and many area of Oklahoma. I’m sure a special effort could be made from time to time to collect enough trucks, AFV, and other necessities for a rolling convoy to move from Oklahoma to southern Illinois. Given the state of the country in late 2000/early 2001, do we really believe that any truck convoy that could be fueled and maintained on the road could be forced through from the Mississippi to New Jersey or Virginia? These Atlantic seaboard locations might be linked with MilGov cantonments along the Mississippi with sea traffic moving through the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi, except that doesn’t seem to be happening, either. Another way has to be found. I think you both are dead right about the total misapplication of the airship as a tactical weapon or even as a tactical transport. Legbreaker, I think you are hearing what I am trying to say. The airship a slow, fuel-stingy, unglamorous and somewhat dangerous airborne cargo hauler.

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Quite right Mr. Webstral. Airships might not seem to be a good idea, but Strategically and Logistically they are exactly what is needed in a post-Apoc setting. Hell, My Morrow Project game has airships as a way that most large master traders get their products from A to B without getting attacked by 'marauders' and 'radiers' that fill the world.

The ridgid-hulled Zeppelins would be something that could easily be used to get really, really high up. At one time Popular Mechanics had an article that showed the USAF and USN where working on a program that would have used HUGE Zeps for in fight refuelling, and even use them for surveillence or extending the range of communications. If anyone knows where to find that article, i'd love to see it again...
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  #36  
Old 07-30-2009, 04:46 PM
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At one time Popular Mechanics had an article that showed the USAF and USN where working on a program that would have used HUGE Zeps for in fight refuelling, and even use them for surveillence or extending the range of communications.
I remember another PM article on placing a patriot missile battery on an airship. It would have solved the problem of Radar null areas from ground based radars as well as extending range as the missiles would start at altitude.

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  #37  
Old 07-30-2009, 05:10 PM
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I remember another PM article on placing a patriot missile battery on an airship. It would have solved the problem of Radar null areas from ground based radars as well as extending range as the missiles would start at altitude.
Considering how the satellittes in the cannon timeline, the use of those old-fashioned 'weather balloons' from the late-1940s and early-1950s that could be used along with stationary zeps as communications hubs that could expand the range of communications (kind of like Cellphone towers).
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  #38  
Old 07-30-2009, 08:40 PM
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Airships - great for transporting high value, low urgency but vital equipment, information and people.
Terrible for tactical situations, but still combat able in a strategic "bomber" type role.

All in all, very useful but extremely vulnerable when used by the wrong people using wrong tactics.

Resourcewise, they are likely to be expensive to set up and maintain, and other projects (such as repairing rail lines for example) are going to be screaming should too much be allocated to the airships.
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  #39  
Old 07-30-2009, 09:27 PM
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Airships - great for transporting high value, low urgency but vital equipment, information and people.
Terrible for tactical situations, but still combat able in a strategic "bomber" type role.

All in all, very useful but extremely vulnerable when used by the wrong people using wrong tactics.

Resourcewise, they are likely to be expensive to set up and maintain, and other projects (such as repairing rail lines for example) are going to be screaming should too much be allocated to the airships.
Not really... You can operate both at the same time. The Airships use an entirely different set-up of supplies. And could actually be developed side-by-side. The use of airships could get the heavy equipment and supplies into areas where they are needed to repair the railroads (and can provide additional security for the teams doing the repairs).

In all, airships would be a safer method of getting things moved, while railroads could be seen as a faster means. But capable of being hijacked by maraduers who can destroy the rails and bridges. You would have to put guards on those rails to protect them. While airships would only need guarded aerodomes. Putting them into the middle of the secure enclaves would fix that.
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  #40  
Old 07-30-2009, 10:27 PM
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All in all, very useful but extremely vulnerable when used by the wrong people using wrong tactics.
So true! So lamentably true! No doubt there will be some tragic incidents in the years ahead.

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Resourcewise, they are likely to be expensive to set up and maintain...
Also quite true. Provided the resources for investment in a useful number of airships exists, the planners in the Colorado enclave will be looking carefully at the return on investment (ROI). There should be some lively discussions over the next few years in Colorado Springs.

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...and other projects (such as repairing rail lines for example) are going to be screaming should too much be allocated to the airships.
I wonder about the priority for rail in early 2001. Granted, the rail infrastructure in Milgov's capitol will have suffered some damage since late 1997. The movement of bulk goods by rail within the Colorado-Oklahoma region certainly makes excellent sense, given the well-known fuel efficiency of rail and the availability of oil in Oklahoma. Beyond that, though, where are the rails going to lead? Attempting to push trains through warlord- and marauder-controlled territory is not likely to yield good results. Rail is even more vulnerable to interdiction than a road network. The same problem exists for all the isolated MilGov enclaves and cantonments.

Once the airships have done their work by improving agricultural output, industrial output, and moving military resources to critical areas, MilGov will enjoy a growing number of contiguous friendly-controlled territories. Then the rail advocates are going to justifiably want a greater allocation of resources. Ironically, the more successful the airships are in a given timeframe, the more quickly their very success will cause them to be replaced as the prime movers of goods and people. I believe Faust experienced a similar phenomenon.

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  #41  
Old 07-31-2009, 01:43 AM
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Rail was just the first example that sprang to mind. I could just as easily have said pretty much anything.

The resources that would be competed for mainly would be people, technical expertise, energy (electricty, etc) and fuel to shift the required materials to the construction areas.

In 2000 and onwards all those resources would be in extremely short supply requiring the leaders and decision makers to make some very tough choices.
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  #42  
Old 07-31-2009, 09:28 AM
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In 2000 and onwards all those resources woudl be in extremely short supply requiring the leaders and decision makers to make some very tough choices.
Agreed. I wonder if the Joint Chiefs will start to experience health problems like the successive presidents after Thanksgiving, 1997.

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  #43  
Old 08-01-2009, 04:21 PM
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Airships are a good idea, but I doubt that what remains of the USAF would be putting all of their eggs -- and resources -- in one basket. Airships may be produced for transport and strategic bombing purposes, but I suspect that we would also see the return of light WWI-style, cropduster-like aircraft (something along the lines of a Curtiss JN-4D Jenny) that can operate from crude landing strips and have been modified to burn regular gasoline. You wouldn't get much airlift out of them, but they would be ideal for providing local air superiority.
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  #44  
Old 08-01-2009, 07:58 PM
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Here in Tucson, with the annual golf tournaments around town (Tiger's been here the last two years), I get to see a variety of blimps floating about on a fairly routine basis. Last year, a semi-rigid frame German airship operated out of the regional airport two miles from where I teach, for about a week.

Anyway, it's surprising how fast they get around. I honestly couldn't tell you the average blimp/airship's top speed, but their ability to overfly tricky terrain types (rivers, hills, swamps, etc.) and bypass roads lets them get to places faster than trucks travelling the same distances.

The other thing they've got going for them is that they are extremely quiet. You really don't know they're around until you actually see them coming. Granted, that's not too hard, but they are really quite stealthy, sound-wise.
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  #45  
Old 08-01-2009, 10:53 PM
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The other thing they've got going for them is that they are extremely quiet. You really don't know they're around until you actually see them coming. Granted, that's not too hard, but they are really quite stealthy, sound-wise.
So night ops would be their preferred MO then?

(Yes I'm having another crack at commenting in this thread - hopefully I'll start making some sense).
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Old 08-01-2009, 11:31 PM
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So night ops would be their preferred MO then?

(Yes I'm having another crack at commenting in this thread - hopefully I'll start making some sense).
Military Airships during WW1 worked primarily at night. If you get a chance to research it, look up Peter Strasser. A WW1 German Airship commander who was one of the best the Germans had. He was actually respected by the British, when he was killed the British treated him to a military funeral with full honors just like they had gave the Red Baron. During WW2 the british flew stationary blimps all throughout london to keep fighters from flying low to the ground.
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Old 08-02-2009, 12:10 AM
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So night ops would be their preferred MO then?

(Yes I'm having another crack at commenting in this thread - hopefully I'll start making some sense).
I have absolutely no disagreement with what Targan said above , In fact I support it.
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Old 08-02-2009, 12:20 AM
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Targan, what I probably ought to have said already is that differing opinions are what makes a final product strong. I get a lot out of being challenged. I'm forced to do more research, and I'm forced to look at things I thought I knew. The more I read, the more I come to believe that it will be many years before Colorado Springs can attempt an Akron class of airship. I've been obliged to look at the Colorado-Oklahoma-western Kansas economy in an attempt to formulate some rational idea of how many people can be freed for industry of every type. Obviously, only a small number of them can be diverted to something like airship production, as every day life requires items like ammunition, soap, and clothes.

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Old 08-02-2009, 03:13 AM
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During WW2 the british flew stationary bli@mps all throughout london to keep fighters from flying low to the ground.
Sorry Natehale, those weren't blimps, they were unmanned balloons called barrage balloons. They were used throughout the uk and even off the back of ships. Stormont, the Northern Ireland Assembly building, is near where I live, and along the sides of the driveway up to it you can still see some of the baseplates where barrage balloons were tethered.
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Old 08-02-2009, 04:07 AM
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Sorry Natehale, those weren't blimps, they were unmanned balloons called barrage balloons. They were used throughout the uk and even off the back of ships. Stormont, the Northern Ireland Assembly building, is near where I live, and along the sides of the driveway up to it you can still see some of the baseplates where barrage balloons were tethered.
I knew they where unmanned, i just didn't know what they where called... To me, the pictures i saw looked like what we call blimps here. But thanks for telling me what they where. I have always wondered... didn't they use them to hold up metal nets?
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Old 08-02-2009, 04:29 AM
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Sorry, when you said blimp I thought you meant they'd been manned. Not sure about the nets but I think they did dangle cables from them, as well as the mooring cable. If I'm down towards Stormont anytime soon I'll try and get a photo of the base mountings, although they aren't particularly inspiring, just concrete blocks with rings through time iirc.
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Old 08-02-2009, 05:17 PM
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So night ops would be their preferred MO then?
I'd say a big yes to that.

I had to pick up my son from his preschool last year. I had to drive about 7 miles (averaging about 45mph) and cross through a narrow pass between two high hills to get there. The airship I mentioned took off from the regional airport at about the same time that I got started.

I got to my son's classroom, signed him out and was walking him back to the parking lot when a large shadow blotted out the sun. I looked up, and there, about 300m or so away, was the airship. All I could hear of it was the faint thrumming of its motors. If I hadn't have been outdoors, I wouldn't have heard it at all, I don't think.

I can see blimps/airships being extremely useful in inserting teams by parachute at night.
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  #53  
Old 08-02-2009, 06:42 PM
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I'd say a big yes to that.

I had to pick up my son from his preschool last year. I had to drive about 7 miles (averaging about 45mph) and cross through a narrow pass between two high hills to get there. The airship I mentioned took off from the regional airport at about the same time that I got started.

I got to my son's classroom, signed him out and was walking him back to the parking lot when a large shadow blotted out the sun. I looked up, and there, about 300m or so away, was the airship. All I could hear of it was the faint thrumming of its motors. If I hadn't have been outdoors, I wouldn't have heard it at all, I don't think.

I can see blimps/airships being extremely useful in inserting teams by parachute at night.
I remember when they blew up Three River's Stadium in Pittsburgh to make room for the two new stadia that was being built at the time, the Good Year Blimo covered the implosion from the air. After it was over on TV, the Good Year Blimp went on it's way back to Akron, Ohio and it flew really low over my house. Before I saw it, I heard it's engines, it sounded like a huge swarm of bees, it even scared my poor cats.

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Old 08-02-2009, 08:13 PM
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I remember when they blew up Three River's Stadium in Pittsburgh to make room for the two new stadia that was being built at the time, the Good Year Blimo covered the implosion from the air. After it was over on TV, the Good Year Blimp went on it's way back to Akron, Ohio and it flew really low over my house. Before I saw it, I heard it's engines, it sounded like a huge swarm of bees, it even scared my poor cats.

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Old 02-28-2014, 11:23 PM
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Epic thread necromancy for great justice!

The airship described in this article seems to be of a Lifting Body Airship design like those described in Airlords of the Ozarks: The world's largest aircraft has been unveiled - and it's a mammoth

The title is a bit confusing though. It's not really a mammoth
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Old 03-01-2014, 07:24 AM
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After reading this post again...I love this idea for a comms satellite.

http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/usa/airdef/tars.htm
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Old 03-02-2014, 02:03 PM
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Here is a Nova program about WW One Zeppelin.
Their is a lot of info about how they work.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/militar...or-attack.html
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Old 07-04-2016, 02:09 PM
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Default Care and Feeding of Airships in the Twilight Age

In the name of thread necromancy, I command thee....RISE!!!! (pun intended)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Webstral View Post
Airships need fuel. Whether that fuel is gas is another question.

The availability of materials is an excellent question. One needs a framework for dirigibles, plus a buoyancy ingredient (like helium), and an airbag. The carriage should not be a big deal, although I’m no expert. So long as there is a lighter-than-air mechanism, an airbag, and a framework, one should be able to create an airship.

Several members of the crew of Columbia have long experience with airships. It may very well be possible to turn this experience into practical knowledge regarding basic design, materials, and the like. In any event, there should be written materials in the Denver and Colorado Springs public libraries on LTA ships. Provided the PCs rescue suitable members of Columbia’s crew, they should be able to combine their knowledge with that of surviving USAF personnel, surviving engineers in the Colorado enclave, and printed references.

Based on my reading thus far, I believe the factors to be balanced are the volume of the airbag, the structural strength of the airframe, and the type of gas used to provide buoyancy. The greater the volume of the airbag, the greater the lifting power of the airship. Obviously, greater lifting power is better, all things being equal. However, an airbag of greater volume requires a larger airframe. Larger zeppelin airframes are probably harder to construct than smaller airframes. However, I’m not at the point in my research where I can speak on the matter with any sort of authority whatsoever.

The materials of the airframe might be an issue, as well. Obviously, lighter and stronger are better qualities. Aluminum would seem to be an ideal substance, as it is both light and strong. How difficult an aluminum airframe would be to fabricate in the Colorado enclave in 2000 is beyond my ability to say at the moment. It would seem that there would be a good deal of scrap aluminum around, including unusable airframes. Again, how readily heavier-than-air airframes might be turned into LTA airframes is unknown to me.
Another option might be wood and epoxy. The Germans created an airframe out of wood and epoxy at the end of the Second World War. I’m sure the engineering issues change when one talks about turning the technology for a fighter airframe into the airframe for an LTA a hundred feet long intended to lift fifty tons or more. Still, the possibility exists that wood and epoxy might yield good results. Wood, at least, is still plentiful in Colorado of 2000. How difficult it might be to manufacture the right kind of epoxy is another unknown to me. However, it have more confidence that epoxy could be created in Colorado of 2000 than scrap aluminum could be turned into a reliable airframe.
I'm with you on the epoxy angle, but there are other framing materials suitable and strong enough to form an effective airframe. Pultruded fiberglass/epoxy rods are fiberglass cables/strands stretched lengthwise, encased in epoxy resin, and cured. Think dome tent frame material only longer and thicker. These are being manufactured in at least one factory in Pennsylvania (and were, within the timeframe of the Twilight War). The combination of strength, lightness, and flexibility make the product suitable for heavy-structures--the owner of the factory told me that a large-diameter--around 3 or 4 inches-- model of their product was being used for safety rails at Disney World and had stood up to much punishment and didn't rust or degrade from constant exposure to the elements. Smaller diameter models were also in production, some solid, some with a hollow core. As an aside, I was exploring sources for making spears shafts for the SCA, and pultruded fiberglass was one of the options. Ya never know just when one bit of info comes in handy.
Also, lifting gas can be obtained in small caches from shoppes that offer helium balloons--a tank here, a tank there, and if you can luck into an industrial gas supplier, a whole bunch of tanks there. Also, if helium is the major lifting gas, it could be supplemented by a central hot air ballonet which could provide raw lift when needed, or allow rapid descent without venting precious helium.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Webstral View Post
The airbag is another issue. Still, knowledge of the tensile strength of various materials isn’t exactly a secret. Again, a public or college library should have such information. Getting the right kind of material might be more of a challenge. Hot air balloons probably could be recycled into airship airbag material. I’m a bit more dubious about the ability of MilGov to manufacture more of the right kind of materials from scratch. However, it seems to me that we’re really only talking about extruding polymers for a petroleum-based fabric. MilGov has petroleum in Colorado, if not in large amounts. With the right machines, Colorado should be able to work its magic. This leads me back to missions for the PCs.
Here's where the aramid, et al, fibers and fabrics come in; high-tech ripstop nylon, kevlar, nomex, etc. Racing sail manufacturing has embraced these materials to make relatively invulnerable sails. Modern airship designers have, too.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Webstral View Post
Of course, airships require rather large hangers or some other handling facilities. These would have to be constructed. Altogether, the construction of an airship fleet would be a very significant undertaking. But the payoff! The ability to move men and machines by air from one MilGov cantonment to the other would be gigantic. If MilGov in Colorado had or could make spare parts for the Cairo, IL refinery that could bring the facility back to something like its full production potential, the impact on MilGov enclaves throughout the Mississippi Valley would be incredible.
Webstral
So, I take it Akron, OH, would be a prize location to any wannabe blimp driving organization. The Goodyear blimp and its hangars are still there, AFAIK.
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Old 08-01-2016, 10:13 PM
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Default Airship Construction and Gas Generation

I was reading about how you thought one might construct an airship. your concerns about resources are unfounded if you have access to the resources of a military base or air base.

First. The range and speed of the Airships in the posts above are VERY SLOW. Even an improvised prop motor could push a Blimp at 80km to 100km per hour. The typical range at about 90km per hour would EASILY be 1000km with a standard sized fuel tank.

Aluminum would be (and is) the metal of choice. Airships can have multiple Gas Bags inside the superstructure and these bags can be made out of the same fabrics as hot air balloons. Old parachutes would make good material for the bags. You can seal them by simply coating them with either wax or mass produced pine resin. Just double stitch every seam and seal them with the materials above.

The gas is harder but can be generated anywhere IF YOU ARE WILLING TO USE HYDROGEN GAS.

Hydrogen Gas Generation Method 1:

Put an electrical current through ordinary water. If you use salt as an electrolyte, you can generate the gas with as little as 1.5 Volts of electricity. This method generates BOTH Hydrogen Gas AND Oxygen Gas (which is useful in a variety of ways). Carbon Graphite (from a #2 pencil) will make a good "electrode" in order to boost current flow from your electric source WITHOUT
contaminating your gas.

Hydrogen Gas Generation Method 2:

Mix Hydrochloric Acid and Zinc. This dangerous method will generate huge quantities of gas but also harmful byproducts. The reaction and acid byproduct are BOTH dangerous.

Hydrogen Gas Generation Method 3:

Put water in drain cleaner (or any product containing Sodium Hydroxide) or mix water with shredded aluminum foil (or aluminum dust) over low heat.



As you can see, there are a number of ways to make Hydrogen Gas that can be scaled up. You just have to be willing to live with the potential fire hazard of the gas.

As you can see, blimps are a very easy technology to reproduce in Twilight2000.
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Old 08-02-2016, 12:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swaghauler View Post

Aluminum would be (and is) the metal of choice. Airships can have multiple Gas Bags inside the superstructure and these bags can be made out of the same fabrics as hot air balloons. Old parachutes would make good material for the bags. You can seal them by simply coating them with either wax or mass produced pine resin. Just double stitch every seam and seal them with the materials above.
ISTR that the zeppellins used lots and lots of "goldbeater's skin" to line the ballonets to contain the Hydrogen. Luckily they later moved to using gelatine-impregnated cotton layer between two more structurally strong fabrics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by swaghauler View Post
Hydrogen Gas Generation Method 1:

Put an electrical current through ordinary water. If you use salt as an electrolyte, you can generate the gas with as little as 1.5 Volts of electricity. This method generates BOTH Hydrogen Gas AND Oxygen Gas (which is useful in a variety of ways). Carbon Graphite (from a #2 pencil) will make a good "electrode" in order to boost current flow from your electric source WITHOUT
contaminating your gas.

Hydrogen Gas Generation Method 2:

Mix Hydrochloric Acid and Zinc. This dangerous method will generate huge quantities of gas but also harmful byproducts. The reaction and acid byproduct are BOTH dangerous.

Hydrogen Gas Generation Method 3:

Put water in drain cleaner (or any product containing Sodium Hydroxide) or mix water with shredded aluminum foil (or aluminum dust) over low heat.

As you can see, there are a number of ways to make Hydrogen Gas that can be scaled up. You just have to be willing to live with the potential fire hazard of the gas.
As you can see, blimps are a very easy technology to reproduce in Twilight2000.
Sodium Hydroxide="Washing Soda", no?

During the American Civil War, Thaddeus Lowe had gas generators that used sulphuric acid to dissolve iron filings, thus producing H2 gas and Ferric (ferrous?) sulphate, or so my long-ago Chemistry lessons are trying to convince me.
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