Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Airships - The Aerial Leviathans

One of the books I have in my collection is a large format illustrated history of the German airship – the Hindenburg. I picked this up as a boot sale a couple of years ago for the princely sum of 20p and it is an absolute goldmine of information for the budding airship commander. The book is chock full of photographs and technical stuff about this massive airship and also features a very good history of the vessel type in general – from the first Zeppelin up to some of the modern airships in use today. There are lots of wonderful pictures of many of the early powered airships – even tracing their history back to the Montgolfier brothers hot air balloons. Within the world of Aeronef I have always preferred the use of dirigibles and so this book is a welcome reference to the nuts and bolts of how these flying leviathans ‘did their stuff’. Some of the earlier vessels depicted have a wonderful ‘Heath Robinson-ish’ quality and are crying out to be modelled and gamed with. I am thinking particularly of Henri Giffards airship of 1852 – this is a wonderful looking device and it would not take too much of an imaginative leap to expand it into a war machine of some kind.

The book also contains a number of photos of airships from other nations and so there is much inspiration contained in here for the modeller.

Revel produce a lovely plastic clip together ‘mini kit’ of the Hindenburg that comes up at about 3” long and so is ideal for use with Aeronef – indeed, I have used the model as the basis for a number of vessels in my first Ottoman Turkish and Greek air fleets (currently in the collection of Steve Blease). Currently this model is available for around the £1.99 level which is disappointing as only two years ago you could pick them up for 99p! The hull is split in two halves along the latitude of the model with the north and south tail fins separate from the hull and the east and west cast on the top half. The four engine pods are also separate; as are the nose and tail cones. Being a plastic kit it can easily be chopped about and even if you did not want to bother with this it is easy to bore a hole into the underside to mount it on a flying base and give it a paint job for use as a merchant ship.

In the past I have cut a section out of the upper half of the hull and then decked the resultant gap over. On to this newly decked area funnels, gun turrets, masts and even aircraft launching rails can all be added – very easily and very cheaply. I picked up one of these kits at a boot sale on Saturday just gone for 50p and it has certainly got the creative juices flowing again – especially as I had in mind some dirigible based scratch builds for the aforementioned Ottoman Turks.

Of course, this does not address the subject of lateen-rigged Barbary Corsair aerial Xebecs and how best I can make them……………………………..;-)


Paul O'G said...

An Aeronef Handbook!

David Crook said...

Hi Tas,

Some of the pictures are incredible and it certainly has much in the way of inspiration.

All the best,