"For that matter, what was our world like in 1926?"

The world of the 'Flying Cloud', our world, and worlds that might have been.

Re: "For that matter, what was our world like in 1926?"

Postby miles » Thu Apr 08, 2010 5:25 am

Woah. Just spent an instructive couple hours reading the wikipedia articles on Battleships, Dreadnoughts, The Battle of Jutland and the Washington treaty.

Looks like the real limitations on battleship size and capability were economic. They effectively projected force, but only at a very small point. To control large areas, you didn't need bigger battleships, you needed lots of battleships. The greatest force magnifier of aircraft carriers was not the ability to deliver precise damage hundreds of miles away, their huge advantage was that they could swiftly redeploy that force anywhere within about 1500 square miles. You would need an entire fleet of battleships to achieve that kind of coverage and mobility.

Hmm this alternate world thing is going to take some more thought.

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Re: "For that matter, what was our world like in 1926?"

Postby Kona » Thu Apr 08, 2010 6:30 am

It’s been my impression for some time that big guns are more symbolic than tactical, but if deterrence is your objective, then perhaps symbolism is enough. The limitations of ballistic projectiles are many: they achieve their highest velocity at the muzzle of the gun; thereafter they are subject to not only wind resistance but a large number of subtle but eventually significant disruptions to their intended trajectory. Payload and range reach their practical upper limit well before any respectable cruise missile. The biggest guns, which required railway cars and were therefore easy targets themselves, were more terror weapons than anything else, since they only had to hit Paris, not a particular building in Paris. Actually, they only had to show up to be effective, as it turns out. But enough French bashing.

Since we are dealing with an era before the guided missile was invented, it’s quite remarkable how advanced naval gunnery became. Our 5” guns, designed in the 1930’s and not improved significantly since, were quite accurate at their maximum range of about 12 miles. During the Vietnam war, we received a large quantity of Rocket Assisted Projectiles (RAP) which, just as it says on the tin, had an extra two inches of length containing a delayed-burn rocket that kicked in near the apogee of flight, extending the range to about 15 miles with little loss of accuracy.
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Re: "For that matter, what was our world like in 1926?"

Postby PaulGazis » Thu Apr 08, 2010 6:44 am

The situation is every bit as complicated on land. I believe you're right about Very Big Guns. The thought hadn't occurred to me, and I will most certainly work it into the story. But Captain Everett's world lagged behind ours in tank development, for its War ended before the great armored offensives of 1917, and even in our world, the large-scale production of heavy self-propelled artillery is arguably a post-WWII development.

So how would they move this vast arsenal of super-heavy artillery? And in a world that had never developed alternatives to trench warfare, how would armies plan to use it? One weird possibility might be air-mobile artillery. The Krupp 420 mm howitzer -- Big Bertha of WWI fame -- weighed 'only' 43 tons fully assembled. In broken-down form, it could certainly have been moved by airship. The long-range Paris gun might have been more of a challenge at 256 tons, but with some clever design and a bit of ingenuity, who knows? At 1,350 tons, I suspect that the Schwerer Gustav was out of the question :)
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Re: "For that matter, what was our world like in 1926?"

Postby asgaard aardvaark » Mon Apr 12, 2010 7:02 pm

FYI
I know that it's a few years late on your time line, but ingenuity won't be denied--especially if there is a market. Anyway, I copied this from Wikipedia under "Kettering Bug"

During World War I, the United States Army aircraft board asked Charles Kettering of Dayton, Ohio to design an unmanned "flying bomb" which could hit a target at a range of 40 miles. Kettering's design, formally called the Kettering Aerial Torpedo but later known as the Kettering Bug, was built by the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company. Orville Wright acted as an aeronautical consultant on the project, while Elmer Ambrose Sperry designed the control and guidance system. A piloted development aircraft was built as the Dayton-Wright Bug.

The aircraft was powered by one 4-cylinder, 40-horsepower De Palma engine. The engine was mass-produced by the Ford Motor Company for about $40 each[1]. The fuselage was constructed of wood laminates and papier-mâché.

The Bug was launched using a dolly-and-track system, similar to the method used by the Wright Brothers when they made their first powered flights in 1903. Once launched, a small onboard gyroscope guided the aircraft to its destination. The control system used a pneumatic/vacuum system, an electric system and an aneroid barometer/altimeter.

To ensure the Bug hit its target, a mechanical system was devised that would track the aircraft's distance flown. Before takeoff technicians determined the distance to be traveled relative to the air, taking into account wind speed and direction along the flight path. This was used to calculate the total number of engine revolutions needed for the Bug to reach its destination. When a total revolution counter reached this value a cam dropped down which shut off the engine and retracted the bolts attaching the wings, which fell off. The Bug began a ballistic trajectory into the target; the impact detonated the payload of 180 pounds (81 kg) of explosives.

[edit] Flight test

The prototype Bug was completed and delivered to the Aviation Section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1918, near the end of World War I. The first flight on October 2, 1918[2] was a failure: the plane climbed too steeply after takeoff, stalled and crashed.[3] Subsequent flights were successful, and the aircraft was demonstrated to Army personnel at Dayton.

"The Kettering Bug had 2 successes on 6 attempts at Dayton, 1 of 4 at Amityville, and 4 of 14 at Carlstrom." [4]

Despite some successes during initial testing, the war ended before the Bug could enter combat. By that time, about 45 Bugs had been produced. The aircraft and its technology remained a secret until World War II.

During the 1920s, what was now the U.S. Army Air Service continued to experiment with the aircraft until funding was withdrawn.

A full-size reproduction of a Bug is on permanent display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

From April 1917 to March 1920 the US Government spent about $275,000 on the Kettering Bug.[5]

[edit] Specifications
Wingspan: 15ft (4.5m)

Length: 12.5ft (3.8m)

Height: 7.7ft (2.3m)

Weight: 530lb (240kg)

Warhead: 180lb (81kg)

Engine: 40hp V-4

Cruising speed: 120mph (193km/h)

It seems like a lot of work to deliver a small payload with poor reliability--but hey, I am reminded of a story in which two men are watching the asscent of one of the first Montgolfier hot air balloons near Paris. "Very nice," said one, "but what use is it?"
To which his companion, Benjamin Franklin, replied. "What use is a newborn baby?"
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Re: "For that matter, what was our world like in 1926?"

Postby e of pi » Mon Apr 12, 2010 10:14 pm

I've seen the Bug in person (I'm a University of Dayton aeronautical engineering student, so the USAF museum is someplace I enjoy hanging out every now and again) and it seriously looks like someone sent a description of the V1 back in time. The deployment strategy and guidance mechanisms were along the same lines, basically a self-piloted aircraft that at its target shuts of the engine and falls from the sky. The technology (nav/guidance and propulsion) wasn't really ready when the Bug concept was developed, but the concept is essentially the same as a modern cruise missile, just with less accurate guidance and targeting.
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Re: "For that matter, what was our world like in 1926?"

Postby PaulGazis » Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:44 am

Aargh! You've guessed what's coming! The Aerial Torpedoes weren't due to show up until
sometime in Season Three. So much for the element of surprise :) Oh well, now you know
what to watch for. In air-to-air, air-to-ground, and anti-shipping versions...

I too have visited the USAF Museum in Dayton. They have so much Neat Stuff! I was in
serious, "Wow, look at that! I never thought I'd have a chance to see the real thing!" mode
the whole time I was there. This may be one of the reasons my girlfriend broke up with me
a few weeks later. Some people just don't seem to appreciate aerial torpedoes :)
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Re: "For that matter, what was our world like in 1926?"

Postby asgaard aardvaark » Tue Apr 13, 2010 4:19 pm

I too have visited the USAF Museum in Dayton.

I'm envious. Dayton is one of the places on my "bucket list" (along with the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum). I missed the Fleet Air Arm museum while I was on vacation in Portsmouth Hamps., UK. It was just across the bay in Gosport, but I thought I'd rather spend another day reveling in the glory of the fully restored HMS Warrior (1859) instead. I also forewent a side trip to the De Havaland Museum in Hatfield just to make sure I wasn't late for my return flight (I spent the night in the terminal at Gatwick instead--happy-happy, joy-joy).
Still, I have three good avation museums within an easy day's travel. There is the world class Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinville, just about a half-hours drive down the road (The sight of an SR71 tucked under one wing of the "Spruce Goose" is something to behold). The Museum of Flight in Seattle is about three hours drive and on the coast, about an hour away, is a little-known gem--the Tillimook Aviation museum, a nice collection of old aircraft and engines displayed in the last remaining blimp hanger on the west coast. LTA buffs take note. Oh, make that four--another hidden jewel is the Pearson Airpark in Vancouver, WA., just across the river. There aren't many aircraft there, but it is of high historic importance, because that's where the first Russian trans-polar flight landed back in June 1937 (the base commander at the time was Gen. George C. Marshal--of whom greater things would later be heard).
On the subject of ATA weapons--let's not forget the LePrier rockets that the French would attact to the interplane struts on Nieuport 17s for "balloon busting. They might have been nothing but glorified skyrockets, but they had the potential to be deadly if used against Hydrogen filled airships as well.
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Re: "For that matter, what was our world like in 1926?"

Postby Kona » Wed Apr 14, 2010 2:52 pm

Silly me, I thought I could go see the Spruce Goose any time in Long Beach, so I never did. Now seeing that and the SR71 is on my list of things to do before I die, so I HAVE to make travel plans.
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Re: "For that matter, what was our world like in 1926?"

Postby harrier » Mon May 24, 2010 9:43 pm

Hi, there! I've only recently come across the "Flying Cloud" - I spent an entire evening reading the whole set of stories from 1 to 68, and then sat down and read this strand of the forum this evening (something I've left until a quiet evening, beause I knew I'd get drawn in! I have a few comments and questions that have occurred to me as a result.

asgard aardvark raised the point about about Japan in a post recently. I hope I'm not giving away any future plot devices, but I'd assumed from the introduction of Iwamoto that the engines, if not the entire airship, are of Japanese manufacture. This would parallel our world, where Japanese industry got a head start by producing better versions of existing Western machinery (in this case, an improved British airship, and improved German diesels. It would not be unlikely that whoever bought the airship would have a Japanese engineer from the engine manufacturer - just like Honda in Formula 1.

Paul Gazis, our illustrious author (many thanks for these stories, Paul), asks what might have happened to "Franz Kafkaland", which I am going to assume refers to the Czech/Slovak states. I have a bit of an interest in this, being married to a Czech and having made some effort to get to know the country of my in-laws, so I can make some small observations. I'll try to make it as light as possible, at the risk of being over-simplistic:

The key factor here is that there had been a desire for independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the Slavic areas since well before the First World War. Central to this movement was Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. During the First World War, he exiled himself from the German side of the war, and, before the fork in the histories, he got as far as London via Paris. He had made himself useful by providing intelligence to the British military establishment via a spy-ring. He was also a founding member of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, at King's College London (now a part of University College London). However, in our history, Masaryk went to France in 1916 to encourage their support for an independent Czech/Slovak state, in 1917 he went to Russia to organise Czech resistance to the Germans/Austrians, and in 1918 he got Woodrow Wilson's support for an independent Czechoslovak state, which finally happened in 1920. So, how would the early ending of the First World War have affected this? Well, let's assume that Masaryk did not head straight back to his homeland as soon as the war ended, because there is still some sort of Austro-Hungarian Empire in place. With the exception of forming the the resistance movement in Russia, all the other things might well have happened. I'm assuming that the League of Nations still comes into existence, since this was one of Woodrow Wilson's great ideas, and fits with the narrative of peace in the stories (have you mentioned this elswhere Paul? If so, apologies if I'm wrong). As a result of all this. I actually see Czechoslovakia coming into being much the same as it actually did, only perhaps on a different time-scale, since there would not have been as much of a power-vacuum in which to create the new state - so let's say that Czech/Slovak independence came about two years later than in our timeline, making it 1922. It would, however, still be allied more to the Western countries than the old Empire or the Russians, and therefore be able to build up a huge manufacturing base, which Germany did not, still being tied to the old Empire. Czechoslovakia is therefore, at the time of the "Flying Cloud", a major player in Europe, at the expense of the Germanic countries which have declined into introspective decadence like many Imperial countries do. Anyway, that's my theory ... make of it what you will!!
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Re: "For that matter, what was our world like in 1926?"

Postby harrier » Mon May 24, 2010 10:01 pm

OK - I know, new poster syndrome! However, two more points, then I'll shut up for a while.

What impact might the early end of the war have had on the effects 1918 influenza virus? There is the suggestion that having so many soldiers in close proximity, weakened by the war, led to many more deaths than might otherwise have happened. So we could have several million more people populating the world (estimates of fatalities are between 50-100 million worldwide) just as a result of the flu not being as bad in "Flying Cloud"'s timeline.

Finally, I have difficulty buying into the idea that heavier-than-air flight development stagnated after the early end of the war. There were several companies manufacturing aircraft in 1916 in Europe alone, and there was a huge interest in them. Given humans' propensity to keep going faster, I can't see that all the development would go to relatively slow airships, and it would not have gone unnoticed by the-powers-that-be that airships are vulnerable to more manoeuvrable heavier-than-air vehicles. I'm not trying to dash water onto this wonderful alternative history built up by Paul, but I would just be happier with some reason for the idea that aeroplanes weren't pursued after the end of the war.

Right, I'm going now!!
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