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Shadowless Flying Ship Design by wingsofwrath Shadowless Flying Ship Design by wingsofwrath
EDIT: this is an older piece of art, so the war is rendered as having taken place between 1899 and 1905, while in the meantime I decided to extend it by two years, thus bringing it's conclusion to 1907. Just one of those things which show this project is still very much in progress, I suppose.

Further EDIT: The excerpt quoted below is from a fictional book. I'm pretty sure neither Amazon or your local library have it...

Even further EDIT:

Unfortunately, the concept of these flying ships evolved yet again due to my comic concept developing a more realistic turn.
They are now smaller and more "believable" (even though still in gross violation of the laws of physics do the inherent inefficiency of the steam powerplant, but we'll let that slide) and operate as wing-in-ground-effect vehicles (WIG, or Ekranoplan) rather than true flying ships.
This means that, while the ships can "hop" to an altitude of maybe a couple hundred meters for a limited amount of time and with great expenditure in fuel, they spend most of their time skimming a few meters above the water like real life ekranoplans.
This still means they are much, much faster than normal "surface ships", and they will prove to be game-changers in terms of naval tactics, but they won't be able to significantly affect the land battles, because they can't function over land for more than a coastal "hop", so raids deep into the enemy territory are out of the question. The two opposing forces have to contend with lighter-than-air craft for that.

This, however, does not completely negate the designs shown here or the text below.


"[...] In the first year of the war, just as the soldiers in the two camps were relinquishing their colourful uniforms for the bleu horizont and khaki that will dominate the rest of the conflict, the navies too found it useful to tone down the garish colours of their pre-war paint-schemes and introduce camouflage patterns.

Unfortunately, at first the change caused considerable confusion amid the air defence crews leading to a few friendly fire incidents, so prominent painted renditions of the national insignia were soon introduced to supplement the flags flying from the stern.

By 1904, The French had also changed their pre-war identification system comprising of the first two letters of the ship's name for two digit numbers like their British counterparts, with the addition of tactical Squadron markings in the shape of coloured "playing cards", a scheme already in use with the Tank Corps since the previous year.

[...]

Ship design evolved quite a bit throughout the conflict, with several odd experiments such as "steam-electric" propulsion and multi-blade counter-rotating propellers standing out from the rest. Unfortunately, both designs failed to deliver the promised performance and thus the ships were relegated to second line duty before being scrapped at the end of the conflict.

[...]

Shipborne weaponry also evolved and the first year of the war saw the deletion of most mortar emplacements and the addition of free-fall bomb launchers due to the imprecision of plunging fire both against enemy ships and ground targets.

Although the first engagements proved the complete unsuitability of the flying torpedo for its intended purpose of ship-to-ship combat, for the most part the torpedo launchers were retained in an anti-ground role, with penetrating time delay warheads proving especially devastating against fortifications when launched in a steep dive.

[...]

The end of the war saw the emergence of the armed scout plane, an evolution of the basic flying torpedo into a piloted aircraft capable of independent action.

The few mixed engagements of the war were somewhat inconclusive due to the imprecision of launching bombs by hand and small payload of these novel flying machines, but rapid technology advances all but promise that the scout plane will overshadow the flying ship in the next few decades.

Despite its inherent vulnerability to even small arms fire, the speed and manoeuvrability of this otherwise flimsy flying apparatus, as well as the low cost and ease of production, mean that even the poorest of navies could well afford considerable hitting power in the near future.
The process has already begun with the "Bearn" and "HMS Engadine" being converted in late 1906 into flying scout plane carriers, with a further five ships undergoing transformation before the end of hostilities."

"The Heyday of the Flying Ship" by Israel BRAYTON, DSO, DFC and Bar, Royal Navy Flying Corps (ret.), Published by John Murray of London, 1912.
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:iconsochiru:
Sochiru Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2014
AMAZING!
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:iconjdunk1971:
JDunk1971 Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014
I like the amount of work you put into the details for the individual ships.
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:iconbrutalityinc:
BrutalityInc Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2014
This is good. This is VERY good. Keep it up!
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:iconsultanofawesomeness:
SultanOfAwesomeness Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I find it very interesting that you chose to make these vessels incapeable of sustained high-altitude flight. Amazing job, especially coming up with the excerpt from "The Heyday of the Flying Ship" :3
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:iconwingsofwrath:
wingsofwrath Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad you liked my designs!
The final form of these ships is located here and I'll probably have to amend some of the text from "The Heyday of the Flying Ship" to keep up with the "official version", although it won't be anything too drastic - the base will still be there.
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:iconsultanofawesomeness:
SultanOfAwesomeness Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the info, the comic looks amazing, by the way.
I just noticed that there is no french Tricolor. Was there never a revolution? o.O
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:iconwingsofwrath:
wingsofwrath Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
There was.
The Shadowless world diverged from our own on the 6 September 1870, in that Jean Auguste Margueritte's heroic cavalry charge against the Prussians at Sedan managed to break through and most of the army and the Emperor Napoleon III escaped encirclement. His son and sucessor, Napoleon, Prince Imperial (in our world died in Natal in 1879 at the hads of the Zulu), later Napoleon IV, married Princess Marie of Orleans (in our world married to Prince Valdemar of Denmark) and then changed the flag from the tricolour to the "fleur the lys" in honour of the final union of the House of Bonaparte and the House of Bourbon.
That of course, is just the in-universe justification for the fact I wanted a red/blue dualism in my comic between the British and the French and especially because the whole thing is so closely based on the story of Joan of Arc I preferred to use variations on the historical flags as they existed during the 100 years war rather than the modern ones.
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:iconsultanofawesomeness:
SultanOfAwesomeness Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Brilliant. ^-^ thanks for the mini-history lesson, I love that sort of stuff.
 +watch
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:iconwingsofwrath:
wingsofwrath Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for the watch and I'm glad you enjoy my work. What can I say, I like to get all my ducks in a row especially story wise, because last time I tried to just "wing it" on the first run of Shadowless, circa 2004, I failed miserably...
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:iconsoaringaven:
SoaringAven Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
What book is this from? I can't seem to find it anywhere and it sounds interesting?
I searched for The Heyday of the Flying Ship by Israel BRAYTON but nothing came up :(
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:iconwingsofwrath:
wingsofwrath Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
*tactical facepalm*

You do realise it says right up on the drawing that this is concept work for a graphic novel, right?
There is no such book, because it relates to fictional (and frankly impossible, but let's not dwell on that too much) flying ships from an alternate universe where the French fought the British from 1899 to 1907.

I never would have imagined that someone would mistake this for a real book, considering the subject matter, but guess I was wrong.
In any case, I've added a disclaimer to avoid this in the future.
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:iconsoaringaven:
SoaringAven Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
A. I really don't see the word concept anywhere . . .
B. I realise that it is impossible but there are already similar books (I love alternate history and fantasy) Do you now the edge chronicles?
C. . . . It's still a cool idea and an even cooler pic ;)
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:iconwingsofwrath:
wingsofwrath Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
A+B: points duly noted. Indeed I should probably have said that somewhere, but it never crossed my mind that what is obvious for me isn't obvious for everybody. Ah, well... next time, definitely. :D

B: No, actually, this is the first time I hear of the Edge Chronicles. Sounds like an interesting series, I'll look into it.

C: Thank you! I'm glad you like them. The actual comic will be along shortly, as I am currently finishing up my publisher submission dossier.
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:iconsoaringaven:
SoaringAven Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Get a move on then! I want to see this project finished. ;)
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:iconwingsofwrath:
wingsofwrath Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, you can now see the first three pages of this comic here (link in the description): [link]

I'm currently working on the fourth one and I hope it will be along in a couple of weeks or so.
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:iconsoaringaven:
SoaringAven Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh yes, I've seen it :D Can't wait ;)
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:iconrajaahsani:
Rajaahsani Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2013
Really nice design! but i have a little question, i've seen many of this 'flying ship' designs featured torpedoes as their main and/or secondary weapon, i always wondered what kind of torpedo used for this kind of ship? 'cause a regular torpedo will simply fell out of sky like rocks right?
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:iconwingsofwrath:
wingsofwrath Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, they're winged torpedoes, in fact a sort of primitive cruise missiles powered by compressed air. The wings are folded inside or along the body and pop out once the torpedo has been released.

Unfortunately, as one can imagine, the fact that the torpedoes can't manoeuvre once launched and are only marginally faster than the ships they're supposed to strike make them absolutely useless at actual ship-to-ship warfare. An added issue is the fact that shipboard artillery is able to shoot them down using nothing more than the standard ship mounted weaponry.

As such, they were quickly phased out, but found a second life as anti-fortification weapons, when fitted with heavy warheads and launched in a shallow dive against targets that can't dodge.

The real world counterpart is this: [link]
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:iconrajaahsani:
Rajaahsani Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2013
Ah.. kinda like the BGM-109 tomahawk? it's all makes sense now! thanks for clarifying :)
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:iconwingsofwrath:
wingsofwrath Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Exactly like the Tomahawk!
Well, at least that was the general idea. The results were closer to this: [link]
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:iconrajaahsani:
Rajaahsani Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2013
That's one very cool concept, makes me really want to build one!
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:iconwingsofwrath:
wingsofwrath Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Heh. Thanks. Unfortunately, the concepts evolved yet again due to my comic concept developing a more realistic turn.
They are now smaller and more "believable" (even though still in gross violation of the laws of physics do the inherent inefficiency of the steam powerplant, but we'll let that slide) and operate as wing-in-ground-effect vehicles (WIG, or Ekranoplan) rather than true flying ships.
This means that, while the ships can "hop" to an altitude of maybe a couple hundred meters for a limited amount of time and with great expenditure in fuel, they spend most of their time skimming a few meters above the water like real life ekranoplans.
This still means they are much, much faster than normal "surface ships", and they will prove to be game-changers in terms of naval tactics, but they won't be able to significantly affect the land battles, because they can't function over land for more than a coastal "hop", so raids deep into the enemy territory are out of the question. The two opposing forces have to contend with lighter-than-air craft for that.
Reply
:icontheelevateddeviant:
TheElevatedDeviant Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2012
These are... AWESOME...
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:iconwingsofwrath:
wingsofwrath Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks!
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:iconweter29:
weter29 Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2012
браво!!!
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:iconwingsofwrath:
wingsofwrath Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Спасибо!
Reply
:iconenrico1946:
Enrico1946 Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
You designed the flying vessel really well, I"m impressed of the vintage/retro artwork that you made :D
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:iconwingsofwrath:
wingsofwrath Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you, I'm glad you like them!
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:iconelskanko:
ElSkanko Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2011
Really enjoyable designs, mate.
I am currently working along a similar design of technology and am currently obsessed with this style of design.
beautiful work with all of the rivets. really love that clunky look. keep it up.
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:iconwingsofwrath:
wingsofwrath Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you. These are all somewhat old drawings, from 2005 to 2008-9 but for the most part I kept the basic design and simply refined the details for the actual comic book, but I wanted to create a natural progression by starting with the older stuff before moving on to the current.

As far as the "clunky" look is concerned, I wanted them to look unwieldy, because they are just that - slow, cumbersome and pricey (both to build and to operate) so they would spend most of their time in port, just as the real world navies of WW1 did.
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:iconkittyexplosion:
kittyexplosion Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2011
I've loved flying ships ever since I was little. These ones are really interesting.

Now, what keeps them up?
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:iconwingsofwrath:
wingsofwrath Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Needles to say, in real life, they wouldn't fly an inch, but they look cool, don't they?

From what I know, flying ships have been a mainstay of fantasy from the earliest days of reported history (I believe some ancient Greeks had something to do with it) and has surfaced again and again throughout history.

Most people out there have opted for mystical technology (magical lighter than air gas, lost Atlantean/Alien/Egyptian/Whateverian knowledge, etc.) but I wanted something that at least looks like it could fly (like Jules Verne's "Albatross" in the Robur novels) so I simply went with existing technology and cranked it up to eleven.

In the real world, a guy by the name of Sir Charles Parsons discovered steam turbines in 1884. In my universe, he made them far more efficient, and that inspired boat designer John Thornycroft and Italian inventor Enrico Forlanini (both ow whom had been experimenting with hydrofoils in 1899-1901 and 1910 respectively in our timeline) to create water borne flying machines similar to ekranoplans that then blossomed into full flying ships...

They are, of course, very light, being built mainly of aluminium, use high output liquid (full range naphtha) fired high pressure boilers and have a pitifully low range compared to "normal" ships.

Another drawback is their maximum altitude of 2000 meters (they use external combustion, after all), meaning they are well within range of ground based artillery, so their usefulness is severely limited overland.

They also only operate from water (due to their immense weight) and have a host of other problems -you need water to make steam, right? -if you don't have a water source nearby you need bulky steam condensers (those round things near the bottom of the ships) to reuse the water you've got, but it's still going to evaporate eventually so you will have to replenish it...

All in all it was an interesting exercise in design, though.

Not to mention the whole "Shadowless" project grew from a single "Flying destroyer" drawing back in 2003...
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:iconkittyexplosion:
kittyexplosion Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2011
Love the alternate history stuff. Explorations of technology that seems to have been abandoned in our world is always a very fun topic.
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:iconwingsofwrath:
wingsofwrath Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I quite agree. That's why in my comics I usually try to extrapolate on things that really existed rather than "make up" completely fictitious technologies.

With the added bonus that now you know exactly how it's supposed to work, so you get far more realistic looking designs than the regular sci-fi/fantasy crowd.
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