Zeppelin trade routes and pirate hot spots

Got history/background for a region in CS? let us know. (Also includes re-interpretations of Canon if you wish)
Coefficientofsnark
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Zeppelin trade routes and pirate hot spots

Postby Coefficientofsnark » Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:05 pm

"What is this nonsense," you say, "Zeppelins are aircraft, it would be silly for them to follow predictable trade routes, especially in the pirate-infested airspace of the former USA!" Well, that's partially true. Zeppelins are aircraft, but they're aircraft that historically had a 3,000 foot pressure altitude. While they had the lifting power to go well above that altitude the pressure differential between their gas cells and the thin outside air strained the valves and brought the cells dangerously close to rupture. The USS Macon was damaged flying over Arizona this way. Using historical zeppelin technology, flying coast to coast in a zeppelin would be too dangerous to be routine.

Image

See? The whole interior of North America is basically a zeppelin-free zone.

But this is alternate history! Historical zeppelins had gas bags made out of doped cattle intestine, were practically hand-made in tiny numbers and had an alarming tendency to explode. CS zeppelins are obviously a finer breed, mass produced, reliable and made of tougher stuff.

In our timeline, polychloroprine synthetic rubbers were first synthesized in 1930, and these are used in high-altitude weather balloons. CS zeppelin gas bags could reasonably be made out of something similar and their pressure altitudes would therefore be much greater, perhaps on the order of 6,ooo-8,000 feet or roughly the same as the Zeppelin NT.

... which still doesn't leave them much clearance when it comes to flying Allison engines made in the ISA to Hughes Aviation factories in the Nation of Hollywood. Looking at that map, I see four options for getting coast to coast in a zep.

1) Swing WAY north over the uninhabited portions of Pacifica, and cross the Rockies over their various low points. Try to avoid attention from warring Russians and grumpy Lakota. This route is good if you have business in Pacifica and the ISA.

2) Go south of the Sierra Nevadas then cut north through Deseret and northwest Free Colorado until you pop out in the People's Collective. Free Colorado is full of pirates, but most of the big population centers are on the opposite side of the Rockies from you, and will thus have difficulty jumping you. This route is direct and you're not flying over anyone likely to charge tariffs, but it's crawling with pirates. The altitude floor is also quite high, so you'll likely only see zeps with the very best gas bags or the most reckless captains along this route. Tramp freighters and priority high-speed shipping would use this route.

3) Straddle the Mexico border along Texas and Arixio. Expect to pay tariffs cross the Texas border. This route is direct and safeish, assuming there's not a shooting war going on along any of those borders that particular day. Probably good for those with business in Dixie or Louisiana.

4) Go through southern Mexico. Expect to pay tariffs to the Mexican government, and it's extremely roundabout, but probably the safest option.

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Re: Zeppelin trade routes and pirate hot spots

Postby Jerba » Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:00 pm

That is most interesting! I had no idea about the altitude limits on real airships. I guess we do have to suspend reality more than I thought. An airship that only flies 3,000 to 6,000 feet isn’t all that fun though is it? Of course, I think it would be fun to meld this info into the story a little. Having the old “cow guts” style airships being used for local runs only in the flatter areas on North America would be a great short story arc.

Also, thanks for referring to Deseret! My preferred name for Utah, too.

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Thom
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Re: Zeppelin trade routes and pirate hot spots

Postby Thom » Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:24 pm

Of course, Zeppelins could be set up to work higher altitudes such as the Rockies, but then they would suffer buoyancy loss at lower elevations unless they took on more gas pressure, it is a tricky subject. For the most part Crimson Skies does not bother with problems of that nature, but it certainly makes sense to account for it in some fashion. Trade routes would need to use certain lower passes through the Rockies and Sierras which would make for natural bottlenecks and pirate hotspots exactly as you describe.

As best I can recall, in CS (or perhaps it was just from our discussions here), British gasbags are made of linen sealed with latex or lacquer, Japanese are made from silk and American from rubberized light canvas. The French actually developed rubberized fabric first (Zodiac) which they used both in Inflatable Boats, Dirigibles & Zeppelins.

Good thread on real world >>Airships<<
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Re: Zeppelin trade routes and pirate hot spots

Postby Coefficientofsnark » Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:57 pm

Oooh, I love the idea of a down-on-his-luck zeppelin captain running pesticide shipments around the People's Collective (which doesn't pay very well; Midwesterners and Communists are both notoriously stingy) trying to save up the scratch to refit the old girl with the latest and greatest synthetic rubber composite gas bags so he can make the big money on exciting and dangerous trans-Rockies shipments.

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The Leviathan
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Re: Zeppelin trade routes and pirate hot spots

Postby The Leviathan » Wed Apr 20, 2011 5:20 pm

Not sure where the perception for limited operating altitude for airships comes from. WW1-era zeppelins could operate at up to 13,000 feet, and by 1917 there were designs that could cruise at 16,500 feet and push up to 21,000 feet when necessary.
There certainly are plenty of factors that would persuade airship operators to stay lower. Weather is a fairly obvious one. In an age when instrumented navigation was still in its infancy, plunging into the clouds could get an airship lost or crashed.
Additionally, above 10,000 feet, human performance begins to degrade without supplemental oxygen. For reference, U.S. Army aviation regulations require supplemental oxygen if operating above above 14,000 feet. It seems that enterprising or foolhardy airship captains could climb as needed to cross all but the highest mountain ranges without incurring inordinate risk, though passenger liners would probably avoid going too high to avoid inflicting altitude sickness on paying customers.
Thoughts?

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Re: Zeppelin trade routes and pirate hot spots

Postby Jester » Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:49 am

My knowledge of American geography is going to put me at a serious disadvantage in this thread, but anyway:

Another consideration is exactly what the Zeps are transporting and where to. Passengers, obviously can be going to and from anywhere (with concentrations going between the major population centres). Aircraft, spare parts and munitions would probably be shipped by Zep a lot as well.

Beyond that trade is obviously going to depend on what the various nations supply and demand, and what is profitable to transport in by Zeppelin (I doubt Iron Ore is for instance).

Also worth remembering are the helium mines in Texas.
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Cyagen
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Re: Zeppelin trade routes and pirate hot spots

Postby Cyagen » Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:40 pm

Another thing to consider is pressurisation.

If I remember well, pressurasation is a technology that got developed at the end of WW2.
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Re: Zeppelin trade routes and pirate hot spots

Postby Coefficientofsnark » Fri Jul 08, 2011 1:39 am

The Leviathan wroteColonNot sure where the perception for limited operating altitude for airships comes from. WW1-era zeppelins could operate at up to 13,000 feet, and by 1917 there were designs that could cruise at 16,500 feet and push up to 21,000 feet when necessary.


Interesting. The Hindenburg is listed as having a pressure height of 4000 feet-ish, but apparently it was not difficult to design airships with far greater operational altitudes using WWI materials?

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Thom
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Re: Zeppelin trade routes and pirate hot spots

Postby Thom » Fri Jul 08, 2011 9:13 am

They did it by using evacuation pumps to remove gas from the bags as they gained altitude (To keep from ascending too rapidly) and then reversing to add more gas for lower altitudes (To keep from falling). The gas was compressed into holding tanks. The sophistication of the system employed (Or lack of) was the controlling factor in operational range of altitude. The Italians rarely bothered with high ceilings, and in their time they were probably the worlds leading airship explorers, logging more miles to more places than just about everyone else combined.

Typically, your operating range is about 4000 feet or so without changing gas volume, you can use the props and your wind speed for loft at lower elevations and then to hold your self down at higher elevations (By literally flying downward!).

Undoubtedly I have oversimplified my explanation, I am sure there are many other factors and processes involved, but I think I have hit the basics.
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Captain Zee
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Re: Zeppelin trade routes and pirate hot spots

Postby Captain Zee » Sat Jul 09, 2011 2:26 am

The great thing about CS is the availability of imaginary geography. None of the maps in the game exist in real life, and why shouldn't canyons cutting through the Rockies or Smokies that are at the tip of an average zeppelins ceiling, yet wide as the Grand Canyon. I know that one of Paladin Blake's stories concerned him flying a military sized zepp through the Grand Canyon to sneak below radar range (or some other reason). And, of course, these canyons or passes would be infested with pirates. However, the playing field is always evened out with limited space to maneuver any sized aircraft to efficiently attack a zeppelin taking up the entire canyon/pass.

And what's the story with radar in this game? I've heard the actors in the PC version yelling about "enemies sighted on radar, captain!" Wasn't radar not invented until the middle of WWII?
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