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November 15, 2013
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HMS Python by wingsofwrath HMS Python by wingsofwrath
EDIT, 05.02.14: Here you can find the French counterpart design.

Finally, I can say I finished with the design of the Shadowless flying ships. It's been a long road, and they went from steampunk flying ships to more realistic WIG - wing in ground effect, or "ekranoplans"- craft capable of skimming a few meters over over the waves rather than true flight. For examples of the earlier incarnations of these designs, you can see here.

The ship itself is based on the "torpedo boat destroyers" of the late 19th century with elements from the first hydrofoils. In real life, British boat designer John Thornycroft, the man who built the first torpedo boat for the British Royal Navy in 1876, also experimented with hydrofoils between 1899 and 1901, so it's not actually that far fetched that his experiments might have resulted into a craft like this, especially when paired with Sir Charles Parsons' 1884 invention of the steam turbine.

Basically, while the ship is at anchor it floats to the waterline, but, as it gathers speed, it rises out of the water, first on the hydrofoils and then completely out of the water, skimming 6 meters (20 ft) above the waves. To help the ship rise out from the water,  the planing surface is stepped just forward of the aft wing set, another design feature first introduced in real life by John Thornycroft. 
Propulsion is provided by two Parsons steam turbines connected via gear boxes (so there is no need for additional, "reversing" turbines and the propellers can be driven at a different speed to the turbines) to a pair of shafts containing two four bladed wooden aerial propellers each, set at 45 degrees to one another. The two shafts revolve in opposite directions, thus annulling any gyroscopic force that might arise.
Since flying uses a lot of fuel, for extended patrols the ship can cut power and drop back down on the hydrofoils, thus maintaining a cruise speed of "only" 40 knots.

There are two colour schemes presented, one based on the real life late Victorian "black, white and buff" livery and the other a wholly fictional camouflage design, however with colours used in real life by the RN during WW2.

The name, "HMS Python" was also used in real life for one of the members of the "Viper Class", the first turbine driven destroyers of the Royal Navy. Following the loss of the other two ships in accidents (HMS Viper foundered on rocks in fog during naval manoeuvres near Alderney on 3 August 1901, while HMS Cobra broke her back in a storm in the North Sea on 18 September 1901) HMS Python was renamed "Velox" and served until 1915 when she was sunk by hitting a German submarine deployed mine off the Isle of Wight.
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JDunk1971 Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014
Are these hydroplanes, or are they designed to come out of the water under their own lift?
There's one small problem: no sensible captain would allow manned guns so close to spinning propellers, one wrong step and the unfortunate guy is turned into mincemeat.

So either the propellers are to be set on long outriggers at least 3-4 yards outside the hull on each side, or the rear gun platform has to be moved.
wingsofwrath Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm not sure what you're seeing, but the way I drew them the propellers ARE on outriggers and you certainly can't reach them from the aft gun platform, even if you were to purposefully stretch yourself towards them, because they're the better part of two meters away.

The only place from which you could conceivably reach the propellers from the deck would be the very tip of the maintenance walkway in between the propeller sets, by reaching your arm through the railing (since the propeller axis is about level with the middle wire of the railing), but that area isn't manned during the normal operation of the ship and the railing there also has canvas "dodgers" (canvas screens fixed to the railing, also present on the gun platforms, which I omitted for clarity in my drawing) to make sure that doesn't happen.

Sure, even that wouldn't stop a purposeful idiot from managing it if they really tried, but you can't idiot-proof everything in this world and this is a warship after all...
Arianod Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
The depth and detail of your world-building never ceases to amaze me ~w@ Would these machines really be able to "fly" like ekranoplans if they existed?
wingsofwrath Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Actually, if their engines were powerful enough, I think they would. Probably not very well since I haven't done any aerodynamic study on their shapes, but...
Arianod Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Well, of course: more power is always the answer! :D
wingsofwrath Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
As the pilots of the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, dubbed "the triumph of thrust over aerodynamics" can testify... :D
Armored-Cross187 Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
These ships look great!

I can see these ships to be exceptionally fast and deadly to large battleships which probably couldn't respond fast enough.
but I don't really see any Anti-air armament to counter supporting fighter escorts.

What would torpedo boats do to counter french fighters if they were chased?

wingsofwrath Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I have no idea what happened with my answer, DA formatting goofed up and, since, for some idiotic reason this site still doesn't allow one to modify one's answers  am reposting the text and hiding the other one:

This was indeed their intended role, of fast torpedo flying ships / torpedo flying ship destroyers, thus able to either attack battleships with torpedoes or hunt enemy torpedo flying ships before they manage to launch the friendly battleships, while their speed also makes them superb scouts.

Unfortunately, in practice, attacking battleships is a risky proposition even in the absence of enemy TFSD ("torpedo flying ship destroyers", which I will be calling them from now on to differentiate them from regular "torpedo boat destroyers" or TBDs), because the flying ships are also very flimsy (in fact, HMS python is mainly made of plywood over a steel frame, and, as time goes by, more and more TFS/TFSD start using aluminium as well) and thus can be taken down with massed fire from the battleships' anti-TBD tertiary batteries comprising the same type of guns that HMS Python herself mounts. Another especially deadly proposition for the TFSD are automatic guns such as the British QF 1 pounder "pom-pom" Maxim and the French 37mm M1880 Hotchkiss Revolving Cannon.

The unreliability of torpedoes from the era and the fact, in the "Shadowless" world, they are actually much, much slower than the ships which launches them (a typical British 14-inch MArk X torpedo of the era had a speed between 24-27 knots and a range of about 1,000 yards, whle the HMS Python can reach 60 knots) makes it even worse.

And in our world as well, despite some spectacular achievements (the sinking of the Austro-Hungarian battleship SMS Szent István at the hands of Italian torpedo boats during WW1 springs to mind) such successes were few and far between - during the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-5, the combatants fired roughly 300 torpedoes at each other with only one 1 battleship, 2 armored cruisers and 2 destroyers being sunk by them. The above mentioned battleship, the Russian "Knyaz Suvorov" was on the recieving end of 21 (!) torpedoes launched from 17 TB and TBDs, and, of those, only 3 struck home.

"Flying torpedoes" have also been developed (such as the real world "Kettering Bug") that can reach 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph) and have a range 121 kilometres (75 mi) from its launch point also exist and have been fitted to TFS, but they remain extremely unreliable and too imprecise to hit anything smaller than a town let alone a battleship...

As for fighters, I think you are assuming the combatants have access to fixed wing fighters and bombers capable of attacking a ship, which they don't.

Sure, fixed wing aircraft will make an appearance around the middle of the war, offshoots of the above mentioned flying torpedoes, but, like in our world, they'll be first used for scouting and artillery observation then aerial dogfighting and light bombing, never reaching the level of sophistication needed to bomb ships and especially fast moving ones like TFSD until well after the war. For most of the war aerial bombardment was limited to rigid and semi-rigid airships, including long distance raids against enemy cities.

In our world, the first experiments of bombing battleships from the air were carried in the early 1920s by US General William "Billy" Mitchell, and the lessons weren't learned until the middle of WW2, Mitchell himself being court-martialled for insubordonation after accusing the Army and Navy leaders of "almost treasonable administration of the national defence" for investing in battleships instead of aircraft carriers, because the widely held view was that battleships could survive anything except other battleships, a view which also exists in the "Shadowless" universe and accounts for the slow adoption of air power.

Also, I really think you should research things a bit before claiming you don't see any anti-air armament on HMS Python, because, in our world, the 4.7cm QF 3 pounder and 5.7cm QF 6 pounder were amid the first weapons used in an anti aircraft role during WW1, because they had good range (about 3,000 yards), packed enough punch and had a high firing rate.
In fact you cans see one such gun on a high angle AA mounting in the drawing of the RNAS armoured train, in this case used more against the threat of rigid airships than that of fixed wing aircraft.
Armored-Cross187 Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Ill admit my information isn't really that accurate when it comes to details of specific cannons and weapons of the time period.
Im looking from a WW2 perspective, but again it really isn't that detailed as well.

Thank you for the history lesson nevertheless, both in reality and in your reality.
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