Eugenides

Steam Powered airships?

4 posts in this topic

Hey all, so I'm working on a steampunk project and I had a question, and so I figured I might come to one of the nerdiest groups I know of with it. Alright, here goes. So, hypothetically if you had a metal that was as strong as steel but 1/100 of the weight(I am following in the path of all creators everywhere in making a stupid name for a metal cough cough Avatar, cough cough Transformers, mine is ingravisteel). And if you had unlimited helium, could you build a pheasible zeppelin? I'm thinking 150-200 feet with ingravisteel armor plating and rotary guns of the same material. Is this even possible scientifically or should I follow another grand tradition-if science doesn't allow you to do cool stuff, do cool stuff anyway and call it magic?

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Posted (edited)

I did a little bit of research (please note that I am far, far from an expert in any of this stuff), and it seems like it would depend heavily on things like the elasticity of the metal and how thin it can be without breaking. Looking at the material Tedlar which is used for blimps (it was hard to find a point of reference for zeppelins in particular), it is typically used in thicknesses of 1-3 millimeters for aircraft and layered with a couple of other fabrics, so it would need to be able to have a very strong tensile strength to avoid being brittle, especially when in very cold temperatures. If you keep the same tensile strength of steel for the new metal, it would be a little iffy even if it weighed a lot less so I’d consider possibly changing it to be stronger. The weight of the metal would also be 10 times more than that of fabric even at 1/100 of steel, so it might be an issue, though could likely be made up for by the lessened weight of the metal frame holding it together. The fabric used for zeppelins is also typically stretched tight over a metal frame, so the ingravisteel would have to be cut very precisely in order to allow for it to have a consistent thickness and tight fit. Having stuff like rotary guns should be perfectly fine, zeppelins oftentimes had extra attachments like gondolas. Overall I’d say it’s probably feasible with a few tweaks if your world is advanced enough to have been using that sort of material. Also ingravisteel is a really cool name :P

Edit: I saw your post on the other thread (you can hide duplicate topics by going to options at the bottom of the post, by the way :)), and it seems that the number of propellers heavily depended on their efficiency, so you could feasibly have eight if you were willing to make them advanced enough. A cool thing to consider would be allowing them to turn 180° degrees in order to increase maneuverability, or possibly just adding more, if the ship is going to be used for military purposes.

Edited by Lunamor
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Thanks! I'll think about that

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Myth busters made a balloon out of lead foil!

 

Ultimately, what you are saying is quite possible, it is just more difficult and less effective than the alternative. Airplanes and helicopters are faster and can fly much higher than any airship capable of useful payload.

 

Now, if a society never figured out heavier than air flight or how to make effective internal combustion engines, that is a complete different story.

- Mars

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