A couple of words about airships

Published on June 28, 2018

A couple of words about airships

    For airships, perhaps again the future. They are like drones, they can only be huge and hang in the air for weeks.

    I once promised to tell about the Soviet strategic concept of refueling diesel submarines using airships. The airship was supposed to be a mobile base and immediately a reconnaissance point. But more about that later.

    To figure out how such a cranberry is possible at all, let's first understand what an airship is.


    Wikimedia Commons, Hindenburg disaster, 1937

    First look at the picture. This is the Hindenburg catastrophe in 1937. We can say that it is precisely because of it that the era of passenger airships ended. She is terrible and beautiful at the same time.

    What is a dirigible?


    This aircraft is lighter than air, that is, flying at the expense of Archimedes force.

    It simply displaces upward until the weight contained in its volume is equal to the same weight of air capable of occupying the given volume.

    Simplifying, you can fill the globe with helium (less dense than the surrounding air) on the ground. He will raise you to a certain height. There, bleeding helium, you can begin to descend. If the wind is in the right direction (or you know the height, where it is in the right direction) - you can be where you need it.

    Naturally, in this method a lot of flaws, and the design can be screwed.

    • First, the height control can be done not only by the release of gas, but also by changing its volume or temperature. Hot gas is more rarefied, that is, it has a greater lift.
    • Secondly, it is possible and necessary to take along a special cargo - ballast. And add rudders depth.
    • Thirdly, you can turn the rudders that will help you spin in the air - and get almost a sailboat, that is, move almost in any direction. UPD: I will clarify, if the device is entirely in a uniform stream, then the focus will not work.
    • If you hang on the resulting structure also huge screws with engines, you get not just a balloon or a kite balloon, but a real dirigible balloon.

    It is the steering wheels and the propellers that make the airship airship. Zeppelin in the Russian classification is called such a dirigible, which has a rigid frame (most often they were made of duralumin). That is, yes, it was possible to inflate an iron can from under the soda the size of an area of ​​the city so that it took off. In general, of course, Tsepellin is the name of the manufacturer Ferdinand, but the name has settled.


    Accident (1916). Here you can see this frame.

    What is the result? It turns out an amazing flying vehicle. Very large capacity, measured in tens of tons. Very safe in terms of landing - if something fails at the height, then this thing will just sit down smoothly, and not break. With good redundancy, you can collect gas not in one chamber, but immediately in 5-6 chambers. As the military quickly discovered - silent and not luminous, which makes it an ideal candidate for bombers. By the way, the bombs stuck with them will be enough to level half the city, and not a quarter or two.

    In order for you to understand the perspective of airships in transportation, as early as the 30s their cruising speed was 120 kilometers per hour. That is all the traffic that now lies on the roads and railways, could be let by air. And that was exactly the bright future.

    Hypothetical.

    Getting to the connection with the submarines


    At the beginning of the twentieth century, airships were actively used for military operations. In Germany, there were 11 combat airships. The radius of action of the aircraft, the height of 2400 meters, the target - bombing and reconnaissance.

    Imagine it is such a big flying fortress. On board, you can take two orders of magnitude more bombs than on the largest bomber. Put machine-gun nests around the perimeter of the nacelle, take fuel and supplies for a month - and start moving towards the target. Right idyll of the world from the anime Last Exile. Especially how to recall the concept of calculating the battles "our airship against the enemy board to board" - tactics and boarding, and other charms, perhaps familiar to you from the already mentioned anime.

    But it did not work out.

    However, it turned out that this whole structure is very easy to knock down. To get on the airship is simple, and even ten cameras will not help much if the persistent pilot of an enemy fighter gets caught. And the practice of flying the Z-7 showed that the enemies quickly realized this.

    And the airship is easier to bomb than shoot. Just went higher - and under you an object the size of a city square.

    But the battles showed that airships can also give a couple of surprises. For example, to drop the ballast and sharply "jump" above the height available to the then fighters - this was a key factor in survival. And the airship could hide in the cloud and not hang out. Well, good defensive weapons allowed more or less distinctly fighting off several airplanes.

    The ground stations tried to capture the airship at night with a searchlight so that it could be clearly seen - and then he was covered, because almost everyone could get there.

    On the other hand, let me remind you, airships still have a completely monstrous load capacity. But the aircraft (and submarines) then were very, very limited in terms of range. Began to try to fasten the aircraft to the airships. First three pieces:


    Damn Protoss

    And then more. Who is interested in the history of aircraft carriers - you can see a little more pictures here , there is a striking photograph of the landing of fighters from the side of a large dirigible. How to pour on the city a couple of thousand drones with face recognition and small charges of explosives.

    The upper part of the zeppelin was enough even for organizing a landing strip, as on aircraft carriers, but I don’t know about the combat implementation of these plans.

    Now about the submarine. Then, in the era of airships, the submarines did not have an anti-aircraft periscope. That is, no one thought that it would be necessary to look up. It was an obvious bug, and the exploit was found very quickly - the airship could watch the water area from above for hours and days, from where it was perfectly visible everything that was running under the water for tens of meters.

    The submarines were stupidly slower than airships even against the moderate wind.

    On submarines there was no weapon against such flying stuff, and the airship had bombs. At about the same time, the first controlled torpedoes (by cable) began to appear, which could have been very well directed from airships.

    But also did not grow together, the next generation of boats have already been perfectly equipped with everything you need.

    As a result, the airships were ousted on the defensive - they could well repel the attacks of enemy aircraft for some time, plus they had excellent intelligence capabilities, specifically direct observation. The last great doctrine is to use them as a marine supply base. Diesel submarines were not very autonomous, and largely depended on the stock of fuel. The airship could hang where it was necessary, see the enemy's ships from afar, give a tip to their boats, wait for them to return from the mission, refuel from the air and supply them - and leave. It was even supposed that there would be a special drop-down basket for these actions - the airship itself could remain very high.

    But if they were used as reconnaissance for targeting boats, they are no longer as a refueling truck, as I understand it.

    Infrastructure


    To store the airship need a boathouse or mooring tower.


    Conclusion of the dirigible "Moskovsky rubber chemist" from the sheds of the 1920s

    The Germans quickly realized that it was rather difficult to pull out the shed from the shed to solve combat missions, so they used swiveling sheds to solve the side wind problem.

    Everything was good at the mooring towers, except for the fact that the same Germans notably broke off from the Russian winter. The fact is that the snow simply takes and lands the airship, if it is not covered with something. If the snow is a little more than a couple of centimeters, then at the same time the frame also epically cripples.

    On the other hand, the case with R-101 was described, which on the quay withstood the wind of 153 km / h. This is one that usually takes poorly fixed houses.

    For a full landing large airship and install it in a stationary position needed a team of 300-700 people.


    Mobile mooring tower

    Now about why they are longer than wide on a retro photo. Here, too, is an interesting story - at first, in the construction they were guided by deep-sea fish, and made about 10 to 1 in length. Then they began to carry out tests in wind tunnels and came to the conclusion that less drag is achieved at a ratio of 5 to 1. The

    late airships became so large that they began to be supplied with an intercom - first acoustic, then electric.

    Hindenburg


    36 crew members, 61 passengers. 15 cylinders with inert helium, the airship (presumably) could hold a position in the air with 6-7 pierced cylinders. Speed ​​is 135 km / h. This is the perfect luxury passenger liner. It was a "bridge" across the Atlantic Ocean, was used for regular passenger service and was almost the "Concord" of those years. By bling. Here in the wiki nicked carefully from different proofs and lists his flights.

    The problem with Hindenburg was only that helium could not be obtained, and they decided to use hydrogen instead. Hydrogen differs from helium in that it happily and very loudly zhah. Huge tank with explosive gas? Well, then it seemed like a good idea to many. It was necessary only to slightly finish the design and rules to avoid problems. This is how Peter Pavlovich Ionov describes the solution of a similar problem in his book “Airships and Their Military Application” (State Military Publishing, 1937, by the way, I highly recommend as a source of proofs):

    “In order to prevent the ignition of fuel (gasoline), the cabins in which it is placed have special equipment. The entire airship is ventilated to avoid the accumulation of gasoline vapors, and electrical wiring is specially protected from the possibility of short circuits. The danger of electrical discharges during a thunderstorm has also been reduced by the fact that all metal parts are interconnected and can react like a Faraday cage, strongly dissipating an electrical discharge. ”

    That is, yes, they installed a good fire extinguishing on the Hindenburg, gave everyone a special shape, changed the heels on the crew's shoes so that the static from friction on the floor did not accumulate, passengers were taken from everything that could cause a fire. In addition to cigars, they were allowed to smoke in a special insulated-type bathyscaph zone. Do not deprive the cigars noble dons, right?

    Here are a bunch of versions .

    And here is the result of the investigation:
    A group of scientists from the Southwestern Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, concluded that the fire on board the airship, which soon became known as the "Nazi Titanic", occurred because of the static electricity that appeared between the outer shell of the airship and frame as a result of thunderstorms. At the same time, for some unknown reason, a gas leak occurred (probably one of the cylinders with hydrogen was damaged) and the gas penetrated into the ventilation shafts.
    During the grounding of the landing ropes, a spark appeared due to the potential difference between the parts of the outer shell and the frame, and the air-hydrogen mixture on board the airship ignited. Previously, German and American scientists have already put forward a version of the gas leak, but there was disagreement about what caused it to ignite.
    Source .

    As a result, 13 passengers and 22 crew members were killed. One of the ground workers burned down.

    A lot of people watched the landing, so there is a video. This is a stabilized version of a pair of films, the moment of burning itself at about the 26th second:



    It must be said that at that time react to such photos and videos in a completely different way than today. The audience was not accustomed to such spectacles, and this caused genuine horror. Naturally, it was a very scary story, especially in terms of ticket sales to the safest type of transatlantic transport. And about the era of passenger airships ended like this.

    Now nobody builds huge balloons, but they still have the use of these devices. As I said, these are excellent “long-playing” drones. For example, with them you can distribute the Internet .

    Everything, I told about airships)