Airship versus sail ship combat - how would it work?

Hey all.  I'm working on a steampunk novel and have come to this question, how exactly would a Georgian era naval battle work if one side was airborne?  And I thought it would make a fun exercise for people to flex their minds as well as ease my research ;)

In your opinions how would it play out?  What factors would effect both sides?  What would be the likely outcome?  Obviously a lot of this depends on many variables, but let's just leave the absolutes out for now.

The way I'm seeing it, the weather would be a major factor.  Too little wind and the sea-based ships would be becalmed, making easy targets for the airships, unless of course the airships don't have their own mode of propulsion.  Too much and the reverse would be true; the airships would be harder to control.

The there is the actual manner of contact; how could one side damage the other?  The regular batteries of a frigate would be useless against airborne targets, and it would seem sensible that some kind of deterrent measures would have evolved to ward off airships.  Likewise, what kind of weapon would an airship be able to carry would could damage a much larger, more solid warship?  Perhaps they would have to rely on hit and run tactics against sole ships, attempting to board and overrun them with weight of sailor numbers before other ships in the fleet came to their assistance?

Anyway, those are my beginning thoughts.  What are yours?

Views: 133

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I've been reading a lot about airships lately. I'm not even sure that such a thing as an 'airship' as I understand the term would be even remotely possible. By that I mean you would  have a tough time wrangling fact and fiction to encourage the required suspension of disbelief, although that might not matter to others. If you had balloons and frigates, then yes, but wouldn't a better story come from how such a battle would be disrupted by the weather and the narratives that would result?

Airships are large targets and rather fragile. This has two implications. First, they cannot carry heavy ordinance themselves. The recoil would tear the airframe to pieces. Second, they would easily be damaged by enemy fire.

One might assume that the airship would stay at considerable altitude to avoid being hit and drop high explosives on the targets below. Rockets migh also be used in place of cannon since rockets do not have a recoil (though they do have that dangerous tail flare).

The warships would probably use a variation of grape shot to respond. Do not underestimate the ability of ocean-going vessels to fire back. Even though their guns are not be designed to fire at airbourne targets, sailors are experts with rope and rigging. Give them enough motivation and they will have cannon pointed skyward is short order. Also, ships at sea might be able to hide there exact location using smoke.

On the whole, considering the amount of abuse a sailing ship is designed to endure, it would be difficult for the airship to do any significant damage to the hull or deck except by a lucky shot. The sails, on the other hand, might be a better target. Greek fire might do the trick.

Well, if you're talking about the real world, an airship might make a somewhat effective bombing platform, though to do so from a safe range would mean extreme inaccuracy. The nice thing about bombs is that they can be almost all payload since they don't need to survive the rigors of being fired. Since an airship is attacking decks, not armor bands on the side and waterline, it is much easier to score crippling hits. That's why in WW2 dive bombers replaced torpedo planes. And incendiaries are effective because fire is always a nightmare to ships. 

If you're talking about a world where there is a better way to float airships than hydrogen or helium, how the fight goes really depends on you. With enough lift concentrated in a small enough place, airships could, theoretically, mount cannon that are effective.  Of course, unless you're going completely bonkers, even the most effective system of lift won't be able to float the tonnage of a surface ship. 

As for firing back, surface ships would probably mount smaller secondary batteries, like they did in WW2, to deal with aerial attackers.  If surface ships have been vulnerable to airships for a while, you'd also see a redesign to include armored and enclosed decks. 

RSS

SWAG Support Fund

Visit us on:

TWITTER                          TUMBLR

FACEBOOK                 

GOOGLE+                       

Latest Activity

magassia promotions posted a blog post

New Music Video “Shake That Ass” by International Artist Boxa Thug

Boxa Thug is a new international artist with a sugar sound like no other. Earlier this year he released his EP "Sugar Sound" that is available on all digital platforms Boxa Thug is the next international artist to watch out for years to come. He released a new music video from his single off his EP titled “Shake That Ass” that’s available on YouTube. Are you having a bad, long stressful day? Listen To Boxa Thug and your frown will turn upside down.Get Connected With Boxa Thug On Social…See More
12 hours ago
magassia promotions posted a blog post

C BIGGS - CASE ( Prod.By Kid Ocean Beats )

C Biggs is a hip-hop artist from Hoboken, NJ and Jersey City, NJ but currently lives in Winter Haven, Florida. He just release his new single "Case". Through his music he is able to define different styles and characteristics of everyday life experiences.Connect With C Biggs On Social Media:Instagram: www.instagram.com/real_cbiggsTwitter: www.twitter.com/LOYALTYBIGGSSee More
Sep 14
magassia promotions posted blog posts
Sep 12
Profile IconVenetta Bright and Per den Stigandr joined S.W.A.G
Aug 22
Professor Xavier Pendennis commented on Professor Xavier Pendennis's blog post The Meticlous Accounting of Xavier Pendennis
"Please allow me a brief interlude  in order to collect my notes........My story shall begin momentarily."
Aug 21
Professor Xavier Pendennis posted a blog post

The Meticlous Accounting of Xavier Pendennis

I have without fail, created most everything in the known world, even, unfortunately an alter ego, which has taken the stance of my Nemesis. I will share my saga with you,if you allow me too. Pleased be forewarned, women and children and those with weak constitutions should avoid reading my account of these events. Sincerely X PendennisSee More
Aug 21
Don Beyer posted a blog post

Steampunk Western shorts with Vampires, Zombies, action, and more!

An excerpt from "Dust and Blood" - the first story in the Tales from the Brymlight Observer short story anthology currently on Kickstarter.In this riveting short story, the sinister Jeremiah Wilkins partners up with Sheriff Ethan Drake to lift a curse from Knuckles Gap, one that demands a horrible price each dawn…http://www.brymlight.com/excerpt-from-dust-and-blood-1/Enjoy!DonSee More
Jul 26
Don Beyer posted a video

Tales from the Brymlight Observer - Grimpunk Stories

Tales from The Brymlight Observer are dark, alt-history adventures, chronicled by the fictional underground tabloid. Blending steampunk, gritty realism, and ...
Jul 24

Click here for SWAG badges for websites

Small Press, Indie & Anthology Covers


© 2018   Created by Lia Keyes.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service