Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlefolk.

This blog will be devoted to my literary and cosplay interests and stories set in my own alternative historical steampunk background. I hope people enjoy the stories, as much as I enjoy devising and writing them and that it stimulates their own artistic interests, entertains them or if nothing else fires their own imaginations.

A special note to new readers of this blog, the entries "Nation States" are gazetteers of the nations as they exist in the An Age of Steam, Steel and Iron background, each with a few remarks/observations about each nation as they exist within. Any post headed by the title containing the words "Story Snippet" or "Fragments" is a stand alone, snapshot of the background, they will be developed into fuller stories in future, but at present they serve to give the viewer/reader a measure of what this world is like, what is going on in it and who some of the players are. Full stories, will be headed by their title and a roman number, as they will generally be in several parts.

Comments, suggestions or remarks by readers are welcomed.

I would like to thank the following people:

Yaya Han, for getting me seriously interested in cosplay at a time when things were looking very glum for me back in 2006 with several extended stays in hospital due to illness, and motivating me to get actively involved.

Ashley Du aka UndeadDu, for her unfailing friendship and cheerful support since we first met in 2014 at the Hamilton Comic Con, and for being my Cosplay mentor and advisor.

Sara Marly, for her interest in and support for my writings, since we first met in 2016 at the Hamilton Comic Con and incidently helping me make up my mind to finally do this.

Stephen Thomson, my friend, for his advise and assistance with creating and setting up this blog.

Daniel Cote, my friend and co-worker for his advise and friendship over the years.

The People of the The Aegy's Gathering (particularly Jonathan Cresswell-Jones, Scott Washburn and Jenny Dolfen, all of whom I have kept in contact with over the years), who were brought together in friendship by a certain randomness of chance and a common interest in the Honor Harrington books and stayed together despite distance and the strains of life.

The People of the Wesworld Alternative History website, who gave me the opportunity to sharpen my writing and story telling skills while directing the affairs of Lithuania and briefly France during their 1930s timelines.

My parents Mary Ellen and Logan, my siblings Adam and Danika and various friends both online and at work and play for putting up with me, encouraging and supporting me both in the very good times and the very bad times.

I remain as always yours very sincerely, your obedient servant, Matthew Baird aka Sir Leopold Stanley Worthing-Topper

Monday, February 19, 2018

Some Thoughts on Technology in A.A.S.S.I.: On Turretships, Landships and Skyships

In An Age of Steam, Steel and Iron the most powerful instruments of war nautically speaking are turret ships, the predecessors of the first modern battleships in our history. Although it would be fairer to call the behemoths of the deep that cruise the seas and oceans of A.A.S.S.I. multi-turret ships, as they typically carry their main armaments in as few as one main turret to as many as seven main turrets scattered in various patterns, the lozenge, the quadradical, the hexagonal, the centerline being amoungst the most common arrangements. Bristling with secondary and tertiary armaments in sub-turrets, casemates, sponsons and gun tubs, these battlewagons are capable of wrecking havoc on any opponent of similar or smaller size. Crammed with bulkheads and compartments to back up their thick armour plated hulls, they are resistant to attack both from above and below the waves. They are the last word in naval firepower on the planet.

Skyships, differ from airship dirigibles (non-rigid/blimps, semi-rigid and rigid airships), although they are quite often as large in so far as the later are lighter-then-air aircraft and require compartmentalized cells containing a lifting gas to become airborne, their engines provide directive as well as motive power. Skyships however resemble nautical vessels, although generally smaller then true naval vessels, they can escape the pull of gravity via anti-gravity devices of various designs, the leading type in Europe is the originally Italian (actually the then kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia) derived gravity screw or gravity turbine which was pioneered in the early 1840s and was developed into combat capable if not wholly reliable ariel vessels classed as sky boats, sky vessels and sky sloops or sky corvettes. The Sardinians who had already tested their sky vessels to their satisfaction against Austrian forces during skirmished in the 1840s and 1850s along their common border. The Imperial Russian Navy captured some of the Sardinian craft when they fell out of the air due to mishaps involving their gravity screws, which failed to function if they were not aimed directly at the ground. A heel of more then a few degrees was often enough to cause a sky ship using this method of lift to suddenly be reclaimed by gravity as the drive ceased to intervene and plunge to the earth, often catastrophically for the ship and crew concerned. The Russians copied the gravity drive and managed to get several useful sky boats into service before the end of the First Crimean War of October 1853 to March 1856 and used them to some effect against the French, British, Ottoman and Sardinian forces in the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea Fronts.

The British pioneered, a somewhat different system after the Crimean War, then the widely copied and steadily improved Italian Gravity Screw/Turbine. Their system created by Vickers used specially treated plates, panels or slats of metal fixed on gimbal and hinge systems to the underside of a skyship's hull. The more of these panels that were exposed increased the useful lift of the sky vessel and allowed it to cancel the effect of gravity. The hinge/gimbal system allowed greater control of the panels and keep them more evenly trimmed in reference to the ground. The ship as a result could be piloted more easily and agilely and with greater safety, then the screw/turbine, which in it's early models had to be fixed firmly in line with or adjacent to the vessel in question keel. The third method developed by Thomas Edison uses a gravity sphere mounted near or as close as possible to the center of a sky vessels center of mass, which projects a anti-gravity field around the ship, thus cancelling out gravity, allowing the ship to fly using it's engines to propel itself. The Edison Graviton Sphere does however have a problem, if consistent power ceases to charge the sphere, the ship will immediately crash to the ground, further two gravitonic spheres can not operate on the same vessel unless they have been harmonized otherwise they will burn each other out as their fields interact with one another catastrophically.

Landship, great steam and smoke belching war machines rule the lands as turret ships and sky ships rule the waves and skies. The line between super heavy vehicle and a Landship is a thin and sometimes wavering one, although Landships are themselves divided into roughly three classes: (1)  Landcruisers, the smallest of the breed, typically between two-hundred and fifty to three hundred tons. (2) Landships (which are divided into subclasses; 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th class similar to naval battleships) proper are heavier being typically in the five-hundred ton ranges although some of the more modern ones are larger. (3) Landfortresses , the largest of this monolithic breed of war machines, often weighing in at over one thousand tons; ponderous, seemingly innoxerable as they traverse a battlefield, crushing everything in their path. All of these vehicles are singular for their thick armour, powerful armament and limited mobility, they typically move on massive wheel, mechanized track assembles or massive multi-jointed legs. A fourth classification does exist, that of Landram, pioneered in the American Civil War of 1861-67 by the Union Army in attempt to deal with British, French and Confederate landships. The typical landram, is a low lying, heavily armoured chassis mounted on six or eight massive, treaded or footed wheels. It's armament which mounted in casemates set at the front typically a heavy cannon of between 9" to 11" caliber, sides and backed typically by several smaller cannon of 3" to 4" calibers and backed up by several .58-caliber Gatling machine guns are secondary to the real weapon of the Landram, the colossal steam powered ram mounted in the front of the vehicle. Union Landram tactics involved stalking a much larger landship and then hurtling down upon it from as  short a range as possible at flank speed to collide violently against it, hopefully demolishing the enemy land vessel's suspension system and causing massive kinetic damage to the interior and structure of the enemy from the impact of the steam ram.

While this desperate tactic did work successfully on occasion during the Civil war, it typically also badly damaged the Land ram attempting it by wrecking it's own suspension system, dislodging the ram and dislodging it's own steam engines with the violence of the impact. Consequently the tactic was not widely copied by other nations who observed the American Civil War, most resorted to development of specific and mobile artillery platforms based on heavy or siege artillery guns designed as anti-landship artillery. The Union Army still maintains it's existing Landram fleet for lack of anything better, the bulk of the force being either original Civil War veterans or rebuilds of them.       

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