The Airship Could Have Saved the Confederacy... !

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TSCLowe

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Has anyone read this?

'Aeronautics in the Union and Confederate Armies: With a Survey of Military Aeronautics Prior To 1861' by Frederick Stansbury Haydon

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0405121814/?tag=civilwartalkc-20
1098

A tad pricey for the hardcover...
USS ALASKA
Yes, I have duplicates of ALL books, articles, etc relating to Civil War Aeronautics . . . . Haydon wrote the "Bible" of CW
Aeronautics: Military Ballooning During the Early Civil War. It is very detailed and technical is Volume I of what would have been a two volume set, however Haydon passed away before he completed and published Volume II. Military Historians use this work to teach "footnotes" and documenting their research as there are 183 in chapter 1 which is only 37 pages.

Haydon.jpg


Other books cover include Confederate Aernoautics:

The Air Arm of The Confederacy.jpg
The Air Arm of the Confederacy by Joseph Cornish III

Lincoln's Flying Spies.jpg
Lincoln's Flying Spies by Gail Jarrow THE BEST BOOK FOR ALL AGES! it is only 107 pages long and includes lots of pictures.

War of the Aeronauts.jpg
The War of the Aeronauts by Charles Evans. Less technical and easier to read than Haydon's Military Ballooning . . .


Respectfully submitted,
TSC Lowe, Aeronaut
Civil War Balloon Corps Living History
 
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5fish

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FOR THE ENGINEERS, INVENTORS, AND GADGET FANS AMOUNG US I FOUND A MUSEUM FOR YOU BUT ITS IN PARIS, FRANCE...

Here is a link to Wiki...
Musée des Arts et Métiers - Wikipedia

Here is an Article on the museum...

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/best-little-museum-you-never-visited-180956025/

Snip...

At the heart of Paris, in a former monastery dating back to the Middle Ages, lives an unusual institution full of surprises whose name in French—le Musée des Arts et Métiers—defies translation.

Snip...

Many describe the musée, which was founded in 1794, during the French Revolution, as the world’s first museum of science and technology. But that doesn’t capture the spirit either of the original Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers, created to offer scientists, inventors and craftsmen a technical education as well as access to the works of their peers.

Snip...

The surprising juxtaposition of artful design and technical innovation pops up throughout the museum’s high-ceilinged galleries—from the ornate, ingenious machines of 18th-century master watchmakers and a fanciful 18th-century file-notching machine, shaped to look like a flying boat, to the solid metal creations of the industrial revolution and the elegantly simple form of a late 19th-century chainless bicycle.

Summary:

This ‘arts and crafts’ museum is, in fact, Europe’s oldest science museum, founded in 1794 by constitutional bishop Henri Grégoire, initially as a means to educate France’s manufacturing industry in useful scientific techniques. Housed in the former Benedictine priory of St-Martin-des-Champs, it became a museum proper in 1819 – and contains a vast, fascinating and attractively laid out collection of treasures. Here you’ll find beautiful astrolabes, barometers, clocks, weighing devices, some of Pascal’s calculating devices, striking scale models of buildings and machines that must have demanded at least as much engineering skill as the originals, the Lumière brothers’ cinematograph, an enormous 1938 TV set, and still larger exhibits like Cugnot’s 1770 ‘Fardier’ (the world’s first powered vehicle) and Clément Ader’s bat-like, steam-powered Avion 3.

I was looking for early planes and found this place... I just showing a little ingenuity by the Confederacy could have changed the war the tech was there...

A steamed powered plane...
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Can YOU just picture steamed powered airships flying above the union forces bombing them, dropping troops behind the lines, and plain old observation work...




 

Saphroneth

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Can YOU just picture steamed powered airships flying above the union forces bombing them, dropping troops behind the lines, and plain old observation work...
Even observation work is pushing it, as I noted upthread - the payload/range performance simply isn't there.
Bombing? Forget it.

The Avion 3 isn't even verified to have successfully taken off, and that's with 1890s performance. Consider if you will the difference in engine performance between an 1860s steam locomotive and an 1890s one, or a ship, or indeed aircraft from 1940 compared to those from 1910.

If you had an absolute savant who skipped three decades of incremental engine improvement and hand-built an 1890s steam engine, taking years, what you'd get is perhaps a single vehicle with marginal powered performance and the ability to scout behind enemy lines. But that's simply not plausible; you may as well postulate someone building a turbine-equipped torpedo destroyer.


Troop movement is simply ridiculous. A short platoon of twenty troops is more than a ton of man weight even before you count their weapons, and twenty men is practically too small to be noticed on the ACW operational scale. To shift a ToE regiment (actual brigade) with supporting guns is about 1,200 men and a gun battery, which comes to:

6 12-pounder guns 7,200 kg (7.2 tons), plus ammunition
1,200 men at about 70 kg each = 84 tons
1,200 personal kit loads (est. at about 18 kg each) = 21 tons
Basically you're talking about more than 110 tons to move an operationally useful force. Given that a decade later air-transport in the Franco-Prussian War struggled to move 125 kilos downwind this would imply about a thousand individual transport vessels required, or a thousand round trips, or some combination of the two.

I think even Nelson with his eyepatch on the wrong side would notice before it could do any good...
 
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Saphroneth

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Incidentally, when looking at the above, consider that there were generally not continuous lines in the ACW - and where there were it was generally defending a geographically small area. Under normal circumstances cavalry could penetrate between the main armies - if not exactly at will, at least quite easily, and cavalry raids a considerable distance behind enemy lines in at least regimental strength took place fairly often.

This means that it's going to be much more feasible, in terms of technology, unobtrusiveness, cost and even possibly speed, to just buy several hundred horses and mount a cavalry raid. If the enemy lines are dense enough to preclude the use of cavalry they'll certainly notice (and thus be able to prevent landings from) airships going overhead.

In another few decades, once you have airships with a long range able to consistently go upwind, their utility changes - you can scout with them, and you can also actually seriously consider conducting resupply with them. (Though remember to take ballast as well...)
 

Saphroneth

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I suppose Gattling guns would have been too heavy to carry.
Given that in the 1870s the useful payload for a balloon transporting news in and out of Paris was on the order of "one person or a large sack of mail", I don't think a Gatling would have been feasible - not so much because of the weight of the gun itself, which is on the order of that of a person, but because a Gatling requires a minimum of two people to operate (the cranker is a full time job). Four is preferable.

Given how comically anaemic a powered airship capable of round-trip flight would have to be to even exist in 1864, two decades before La France first did it, I don't think you could manage a Gatling with the crew and the ammunition required to actually use it. And if you did, how would you use it?

A less stable firing platform than a lightweight airship is hard to imagine, and if you're close enough for the Gatling's rounds to reach the enemy you're close enough for the enemy's rounds to reach the airship!
 
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Dead Parrott

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Could airships (self-mobile, not simply balloons) have helped Lee with visibility before the battles of Antietam, Gettysburg, and Grant crossing the James? That's about the only way I think such (far-fetched) vehicles could have changed anything (I admit I may be inflating their potential contribution a bit...)
 

Saphroneth

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Could airships (self-mobile, not simply balloons) have helped Lee with visibility before the battles of Antietam, Gettysburg, and Grant crossing the James? That's about the only way I think such (far-fetched) vehicles could have changed anything (I admit I may be inflating their potential contribution a bit...)
If he had them thanks to Basically Magic, then yes.

Practically, no.

The basic problem is that the process of doing the scouting is:

Generate sufficient lifting gas for the airship.
Load the airship with everything it needs to conduct a powered flight, including the fuel and engine required to fly upwind (at least some of the journey will be upwind) at a speed sufficient to do the scouting run.

Altitude helps, but the higher you want the airship to be (for a greater vision area) the harder it actually is to generate enough lift gas and the easier it is to miss something - don't forget that according to modern plot analysis one Japanese scout aircraft at Midway flew directly over the American fleet without seeing them!

Now, as it happens, we know the date of the first airship to conduct a powered round trip flight - take off from a location, return to the same location.

That airship was French and was launched in 1884, and it conducted seven flights (five of them round-trip flights); the first flight was a total distance travelled of five miles. This is Not Very Useful.
Functionally to do useful air recon you're probably looking at 1890s tech.


Now, if we assume an airship more than two decades ahead, here's how that could be useful in the battles in question.

Antietam - it's unlikely it would be operating east of the Cacotins, so it would first "raise the alarm" that McClellan was in the area after McClellan crossed the Cacotins. However, McClellan's column was visible from South Mountain anyway; I'm not sure there's a way you can split McLaws' wing between preventing an escape by the Harpers Ferry garrision and holding the southern South Mountain gaps.

Gettysburg - this would perhaps allow Lee to coordinate his marches better and plan for his armies to meet at Gettysburg, but good cav recon would do that anyway.

Grant's crossing of the James - I'm not sure sufficient force could be got south in time to oppose Grant's crossing. Grant's army was much bigger than Lee's, and if Lee stripped his lines in the north too much it would endanger Richmond.
If it was possible, though, it might compel the Administration to withdraw Grant's army (which wouldn't be the first time the Union army had been ordered north from that area.)

Interestingly though perhaps the greatest value would be noticing that Washington was almost undefended...
 

TSCLowe

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I was looking for early planes and found this place... I just showing a little ingenuity by the Confederacy could have changed the war the tech was there . . . Can YOU just picture steamed powered airships flying above the union forces bombing them, dropping troops behind the lines, and plain old observation work . . . A steamed powered plane...
One can always imagine . . . but as the Resident Balloon Guy I concur with everything @Saphroneth said: It ain't happening! Period.

Also, given the South did not even have professional balloonists operating the balloons they had, your imagination would have to include the North, with nine professional balloonists operating their balloons, would have better tech as they did in real life.

Just a thought . . . .

Respectfully Submitted,

TSC Lowe, Aeronaut
Civil War Balloon Corps Living History
 
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5fish

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That airship was French and was launched in 1884, and it conducted seven flights (five of them round-trip flights); the first flight was a total distance travelled of five miles. This is Not Very Useful.
Functionally to do useful air recon you're probably looking at 1890s tech.
Yes, as you have read through the thread the idea is based on the Space Program( we would be going to the moon this decade if we had followed the normal path into space but cut off 40 years by giving it resources and money) I argue the same thing in this thread the Technology was on the cusp in 1860 if some government had the foresight to put resources, time and money Airships could have been in the sky above civil war battlefields...

but as the Resident Balloon Guy I concur with everything @Saphroneth said: It ain't happening! Period.
I will add in a kicker instead of stream power the internal combustion engine was around in the 1860's... gasoline-driven engine as well... I think we found a more powerful and lighter way to power the airship...

From wiki...

The first commercially successful internal combustion engine was created by Étienne Lenoir around 1859[1] and the first modern internal combustion engine was created in 1876 by Nikolaus Otto (see Otto engine).

Even goes back further... wiki...

Various scientists and engineers contributed to the development of internal combustion engines. In 1791, John Barber developed the gas turbine. In 1794 Thomas Mead patented a gas engine. Also in 1794, Robert Street patented an internal combustion engine, which was also the first to use liquid fuel, and built an engine around that time. In 1798, John Stevens built the first American internal combustion engine. In 1807, French engineers Nicéphore Niépce (who went on to invent photography) and Claude Niépce ran a prototype internal combustion engine, using controlled dust explosions, the Pyréolophore. This engine powered a boat on the Saône river, France. The same year, the Swiss engineer François Isaac de Rivaz built an internal combustion engine ignited by an electric spark. In 1823, Samuel Brown patented the first internal combustion engine to be applied industrially.

The race is on... wiki...

In 1854 in the UK, the Italian inventors Eugenio Barsanti and Felice Matteucci obtained a certification "Obtaining motive power by the explosion of gases". In 1857 the Great Seal Patent Office conceded them patent No.1655 for the invention of an Improved Apparatus for Obtaining Motive Power from Gases.[3][4][5][6] Barsanti and Matteucci obtained other patents for the same invention in France, Belgium and Piedmont between 1857 and 1859.[7][8]In 1860, Belgian Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir produced a gas-fired internal combustion engine. In 1864, Nikolaus Otto patented the first atmospheric gas engine. In 1872, American George Brayton invented the first commercial liquid-fuelled internal combustion engine. In 1876, Nikolaus Otto, working with Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, patented the compressed charge, four-cycle engine. In 1879, Karl Benz patented a reliable two-stroke gasoline engine. Later, in 1886, Karl Benz began the first commercial production of motor vehicles with the internal combustion engine. In 1892, Rudolf Diesel developed the first compressed charge, compression ignition engine. In 1926, Robert Goddard launched the first liquid-fueled rocket. In 1939, the Heinkel He 178 became the world's first jet aircraft.

AS you can see throughout this thread the tech was there... It would have only taken someone with someone with ingenuity, time, resources and money...
 

Saphroneth

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AS you can see throughout this thread the tech was there... It would have only taken someone with someone with ingenuity, time, resources and money...
Not really. The first example of a technology is far from a workable example of a technology; consider how long it took to go from the first steam engine to the first steam-powered vessel able to do anything useful.
Like most examples of early tech, the first internal combustion engine would have a low power to weight ratio, be unreliable, and generally be in the teething process.

The French pioneers were actively working on getting a power system as small and light as possible, and La France had an electric motor for just this reason - and they didn't get a round-trip flight until 1884.


For example, the largest Otto engine in series production a decade after the ACW could produce only three horsepower and weighed two tons.
By comparison, an 1852 steam engine that could produce three horsepower weighed about 160 kilograms including the boiler - about 1/12 the weight, so twelve times the power-to-weight ratio.

It's a natural tendency to focus on "firsts", and indeed I'm hardly immune from the tendency myself. But when considering a counterfactual which hinges on such a technical issue we should consider the extent to which development that took place over time, incremental and less lauded by history books, made the actual next stage inventions plausible when they came along.
 
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5fish

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It's a natural tendency to focus on "firsts", and indeed I'm hardly immune from the tendency myself.
I used the firsts to show the technology fits the "What if" if within the timeline of our Civil War period...


But when considering a counterfactual which hinges on such a technical issue we should consider the extent to which development that took place over time, incremental and less lauded by history books, made the actual next stage inventions plausible when they came along.
There were a book and BCC TV show that did this 1985 by James Burke... The Day the Universe Changed: A Personal View by James Burke... He made a living off other books that follow his path of reasoning how one invention minor it may have been lead to other greater inventions...

Here a link:

The Day the Universe Changed - Wikipedia

Check it out...

A side note you just like poo-pooing my wishful thought of flight... lol... keep you away from my steampunk notions... lol
 
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Saphroneth

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I used the firsts to show the technology fits the "What if" if within the timeline of our Civil War period...
To an arguably lesser extent than the hydropneumatic recuperator or smokeless propellant.
 
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I used the firsts to show the technology fits the "What if" if within the timeline of our Civil War period...
The thing is you can actually run ahead to look at World War 1 and a fairly mature Zeppelin bomber such as the L30 and what it could achieve. Now the weapons load sounds potentially frightening with up to 8 bombs of 660lbs, 40 bombs of 220lbs and 120 firebombs depending on weather conditions and range to target. The thing was the beast was hardly a precision bomber, aerial bombing was more an art than a science in many ways at this stage anyway and lighter-than-air craft even more so than the kind of aeroplanes we are used to experience dramatic changes in trim when you shed any kind of weight.

Once Union troops got used to it they would likely manage to mostly ignore any attack due to the likelihood of bombs landing in the next county as near them. As a transport its value is close to negligible and as a scout the communications technology of the day would be severely limited, it would likely need to locate a Confederate headquarters unit and signal by lamp or similar visual means or restrict itself to strategic scouting.


A side note you just like poo-pooing my wishful thought of flight... lol... keep you away from my steampunk notions... lol
Now there is nothing wrong with a good fun counter-factual but you need to consider that the Union would not be slow in replicating such an aerial armada if the means were available. Of course asking how an American Civil War with air power might have developed could be an intriguing thought experiment.
 

Saphroneth

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There were actual innovations around at the time that could have helped or saved the CSA, but they're much more basic stuff - the kind of thing that's much less whizz-bang but often much more useful, like better rifle training or imported European artillery on a larger scale. A bonus of this is that it's rather harder for the Union to copy because it's not "something the Union does better than the CSA".
 
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R Black

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Would have been very valuable to the Confederates at Gettysburg during the artillery barrage prior to Pickett's Charge. But, then again, so would a few drones. Apparently, neither technology were available at the battle... just because the balloon technology existed, the lack of accessibility might as well have put that technology 150 years in the future. It's about what you had available at the time of battle.
 
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