Zeppelin Warfare

Attack Of The Zeppelins appears to be a Channel4 production and is offered in the UK, but I can’t see that from here 🙁 However, it is on the National Geographic Channel (for the US?) and SBSOnDemand for Australia.

Design and Construction

All the Zeppelins were build using Aluminium frames because of the relative lightness when compared with iron or steel. This makes the ability to refine Aluminium a necessary precursor technology to enable lighter than air flight.

Zeppelin gas bags were made from cow’s intestines, which are relatively gas tight, loosing a little more than the modern 10-15 cubic meters per day. Typically, a zeppelin would have multiple gas-bags, so that if one failed the others could still keep the airship afloat.

During WW1, the volume of cow’s intestines needed stopped the eating of the national dish, the bratwurst. Rain on skins, would increase the weight of the Zeppelin and reduce it’s ceiling altitude.

At an altitude at 21,000 ft. the effects on the human body! are quite pronounced. The example they give in the program show that the lack of oxygen reduce muscular strength and cognitive function. (ie the presenter had problems standing and spelling words)

The Germans used sub-cloudcar, to guide the zeppelin it to the target. An operator would sit below the cloud layer and radio up directions to the hidden Zeppelin. They were loaded two types of unguided bombs high explosive and Incendiary.


To counter the Zeppelin threat the British used Sound Mirrors placed along the coast. The sound mirror was a concert structure that captures and directs sound waves to a listener, who would then direct the Flak guns. However, this proved ineffective as the gun would have to match angle and distance to score a hit.

Then the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) tried using the BE2c aircraft with a Lewis machine gun to attack the airships from below. The machine gun was too weak leaving just small holes from which the gas would leak out, but at such a slow rate that the airships could still continue with their mission.

A flaming bullet was developed for the machine gun to ignite the Hydrogen gas in the balloon. The incendiary bullets made from Phosphorous, but this did not explode the Hydrogen because there was not enough Oxygen to cause a fire.

Explosive bullets made with nitro glycogen were designed to blow holes in the Zeppelin skin. These were alternated with the incendiary bullets in the machine guns, but it still required concentrated fire (A technique pioneered by Leaf Robinson) to cause the fire to down a Zeppelin.

Additional Sources of Information

Osprey’s London 1914–17 The Zeppelin Menace provides a great over view of the Zeppelin attacks on London. Osprey has other Zeppelin related books, but I have not read them yet. The Zeppelin Base Raids – Germany 1914 and Zeppelins: German Airships 1900–40.

Birth of bioware

Jewelry That Harvests Energy From Your Veins. It’s very Cyberpunk, although it was know as bioware. In Cyberspace, it was the expensive power system for most of your implants. And I don’t remember Shadowrun talking about it, but it’s hard to tell from all the Elves and Dragons running around in the future.

It’s interesting and kind of cool to see the technology we are developing emerge from the games I’ve played. It’s added to the list along with;

  • the cyber eye created at Berkeley, well an external camera wired into the visual cortex, and
  • the neural-switch invented elsewhere.

Oxygen stripper

The science behind this weapon is a crystal that absorbs Oxygen (See Science DailyIFLScience or PopSci) for release later. The fact “A bucket full (10 litres) of the material is enough to suck up all the oxygen in a room.” is not much use on the surface of a planet, but in confined spaces like airlocks, or small rooms where it will take some find for the oxygen (O2) to return to breathable levels it has some potential. The other important thing about this substance it that it will release the O2 when there is a lack of oxygen or when heated.

One option is for the long term storage of O2 on spaceships, or for oxygen scrubbers that strip out the oxygen of the carbon dioxide (CO2.) to enable better life support systems. With heat releasing the oxygen when needed. A similar system could be create for deep sea exploration to remove the O2 from the water for use in the submarine.

Another option is a 2 kg aerosol canister can release this in a powdered form as a knock-out weapon for boarding actions on spaceships. Although the clean up would be difficult with the substance getting everywhere. A better idea maybe a trap, where the canister is opened the characters enter the room.

This will result in Hypoxia to the body and brain (Cerebral hypoxia). According to Wikipedia the list of symptoms for hypoxic hypoxia are: Cyanosis, Headache, Decreased reaction time, Impaired judgment time, Euphoria, Visual impairment, Drowsiness, Lightheaded or dizzy sensation, Tingling in fingers and toes, & Numbness. All of which can be experienced by mountain climbers and other people who are about 10,000 feet.