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.