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France

 

 

Though Great Britain seized an early lead in the development of military ether flyers with the construction of the mighty Duke of York- class ether battleships, the Great Powers of the Continent have not been idle. France, Germany, and Russia have all come up with plans to challenge British dominance of the ether.

"Cloudships and Gunboats" by Frank Chadwick

Idaeus Fons: The Tricolor Over Mars

Crown Colony of Syrtis Major and Surrounding Territory

From "Idaeus Fons: The Tricolor Over Mars" by Michael Sangemino published in Transactions of the Royal Martian Geograhical Society Volume Three, Edited by Dr. Mark Clark.

Aerial Flyers (Aeronef)

Though Great Britain seized an early lead in the development of military ether flyers with the construction of the mighty Duke of York- class ether battleships, the Great Powers of the Continent have not been idle. France, Germany, and Russia have all come up with plans to challenge British dominance of the ether.

Balaclava French Aeronef

The Aerial Flyer (Aeronef) Balaclava was designed by a group of eminent French scientists following a proposal from the eminent designer Marcus L. Rowland at a meeting at the ENAC or Ecole Nationale de l’Avation Civile in 1883.
In the 1880s, the "Jeune École" doctrine had a more powerful influence within the French Navy than elsewhere. Derived from the traditions of privateer warfare, the Jeune École emphasised small, manoeuvrable craft such as torpedo boats and cruisers carrying shell guns, and prematurely deemed the battleship obsolete.  This doctrine was also applied to Aeronef design resulting in the Balaclava Class which was originally envisaged as a fast flying torpedo boat, lightly armed and featuring three steam-powered lifting screws, three aft propulsion screws and retractable metal-clad. The Balaclava design was also one of the very first to feature a fully enclosed hull and cabin assembly.


Creating this design required a number of revolutionary (and at the time, untested) technologies, some of which would later become commonplace, however placing all of these untested features on one design proved difficult. Particularly noteworthy are the retractable metal-clad wings which supplemented lift when in normal flight reducing the amount of Liftwood required by this design.

The situation was further complicated when French Corps d’Aerostiers became involved and made quite dramatic changes to the offensive armaments. The main changes to this plan were the huge metal ram which changed both the handling and weight of the design plus the addition of two 4 inch, forward facing, pneumatic breach- loading guns; a single rear facing 4 inch gun and a machine gun mounted on the bridge roof completed the offensive armament. The machine gun particularly was never truly successful and on more than one occasion did more damage to the lifting screw assembly than any enemy.

In January, 1886 the newly completed Balaclava conducted tethered flights at a secret location in Northern France, with full flight taking place during the Spring of the same year. On Bastille Day 1886, Balaclava was unveiled to the French public and the world’s press at a fly-past over Paris.

Although seen as a great success and having successfully tested the new technologies inherent in the design, Balaclava was ultimately ahead of its time and is now considered as being adequate in many respects, but not exceling in any. Balaclava made many publicity voyages across France, but was unable to sustain flight for any length of time and reports of 100 mile-per-hour top speeds were vastly exaggerated. At best, and in level flight, Balaclava achieved 84mph and this only for a short time. French authorities were loathe to admit that this ‘white elephant’ was anything other than a spectacular success and were constantly making exaggerated claims about her performance.

At a time when many in authority were happy to see this ‘Nef’ condemned to the scrap heap, there was a massive and unexpected change in fortune. The newly established French colony in the city-sate of Idaeus Fons on Mars needed a ‘sabre-rattling’ gunship to quell native unease and in a surprisingly quick decision process Balaclava was partially dismantled, stored in the hull of the Ether Flyer “la France” and shipped off to Mars to supplement the aging Idaeus Fons cloudship fleet.

In 1887 Balaclava landed on Mars and although always mentioned favourably in dispatches and seen by the native Martians as an example of French colonial supremacy, she has never once performed a truly heroic or successful action.
Therefore the myth of the Balaclava continued. There were plans for a heavier and better equipped Balaclava Class Aeronef, with a longer hull and four lifting screws, but there is little evidence that these plans ever got beyond the drawing board. That said, there are at least two photographs of the larger Aeronef in existence and also one of Balaclava without the forward ram. Naval analysts believe that these may be ‘doctored’ photos of the actual Balaclava and not separate airships!

Balaclava Design by Marcus L. Rowland for "Forgotten Futures", Additional material adapted from "The VSF Aeronef - Balaclava" by Tony Harwood published in The Ansible, Issue 04 pp39-47.

Armament of Balaclava

Location Weapon Type
Fixed Aft Mount One 4" Guns
Fixed Forward Mount Two 4" Duns
Bridge Mount One Nordenfeld Machine Gun

Balaclava ForeBalaclava Aft

 

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Ether Flyers

Though Great Britain seized an early lead in the development of military ether flyers with the construction of the mighty Duke of York- class ether battleships, the Great Powers of the Continent have not been idle. France, Germany, and Russia have all come up with plans to challenge British dominance of the ether.

Avignon Ether Skiff

The Avignon was the first French ether-skiff built at the Toulon Arsenal. Its design clearly shows it's experimantal roots.

 

Ether Flyer

 

Île-de-France Ether Cruiser

"The French ether cruiser Île-de-France is nearing completion at the Toulon arsenal. Its intriguing design sacrifices armor and armament in favor of speed. The American-built propellor can drive it at up to four million miles per day. So the Île-de-France can outrun anything it cannot outfight. The high interplanetary speed also means that in a crisis, a cruiser could be on the scene weeks before units of the other Great Powers. Her bomb load and troop capacity make the Île-de-France very effective at projecting French power to other planets.
The Île-de-France is scheduled for completion in June of 1890. After trials, she will voyage to Mars in October of that year, with courtesy calls planned at Thymiamata and Hecates Lacus. The French Government has approved funds for three more ships in this class. The Bretagne is due to be completed in the summer of 1891, and the Normandie and Gascogne will follow in 1892 and 1893. Though the French have declared that the cruisers are intended only to protect French interests on Mars and to guard commerce, it is feared that a "naval race" in ether flyers could be beginning. ."

From "The New French Ether-Cruiser" by James Cambias published in Transactions of the Royal Martian Geograhical Society Volume Two, Edited by Dr. Mark Clark.

Armament of Île-de-France

Location Weapon Type
Ventral Turret Two 6" Guns
Fixed Forward Mount One 3-lb. HRC
Forward Sponsons Two 6" Guns
Aft Sponsons Two 6-lb. HRCs
Wing Sponsons Four 3-lb. HRCs
Troops 90 men (one battalion)
Bomb Racks Two bomb racks with two reloads each

IdF UpperIdF Underside

 

Lyon Ether Frigate

"Initial rumours that the French were building the first Lyon Class Ether Frigate at the Toulon Arsenal were first heard in 1885. Its design is based around an armoured hydrogen-lift balloon. The American-built propellor can drive it at up to two and a half million miles per day and her weapons loadout suggest that the Lyon could be a very effective anti-ship vessel.

Lyon Concept

The Lyon was completed in July of 1887 and revealed to be somewhat different from the early concept sketches. The French Government has approved funds for three more ships in this class. Although the French have declared that the ether frigates and planned cruisers are intended only to protect French interests on Mars and to guard commerce, it is feared that a "naval race" in ether flyers could be beginning. ."

From "The New French Ether-Frigate" by Mateen Greenway.

 

Lyoin Fore viewLyon Aft View

 

 

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"What was that chap's name again, Sah Major?"
"The Yank, sah? John Carter, sah."
"Oh, yes. A Virginian. Gone native, eh?"
"Yes, Sah. Marshies say he's more more Martian than they are. 'He is made of the sands of the deserts, with the waters of the canals flowing through his veins.' What rot."
"Pity. But what can one expect from an American..."

Science-Fiction Role Playing in a More Civilized Time.

Space: 1889 is Frank Chadwick's registered trademark for his game of Victorian Era Space-faring.

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