SD+SB in Middle Earth

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Postby The Duchess of Zeon » 2003-02-23 06:52pm

I am a licensed pilot, incidently, though I haven't done anything involving LTA. I could probably learn as we went. Certainly the guys who flew these things to start out with did. Ideally we would want several people with experience flying handling the ship, as the controls would be nothing like those of a normal aircraft - you need one crewer on the elevators and another on the rudder controls - and we'd need several watches. In my dreams, a total of nine people and better yet twelve or more with previous flying experience would be great.

We could, however, make do with three. Or if drastically necessary, two, but I'd hate twelve hour watches while trying to train people. Initially we could limit her to short runs of course - And we'd be limited to wherever we have a shed anyway in terms of landing.
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Postby The Duchess of Zeon » 2003-02-23 06:57pm

Oh yes, that's another important thing. We'd need a very strong ground crew, and preferably skilled. Unfortunately we can basically rule out skilled. They'd have to learn as they go. This means that taking the airship out will rely almost entirely on gut instinct about the weather. We'll have to be very cautious like that - A strong wind when she's halfway out of the shed and we're screwed. We'd also need a very large clear area around the shed so it isn't blown into any trees whilst close to the ground turning approach or takeoff.

If we could arrange for some elves with radios to live in surrounding villages as a sort of Mk.I eyeball meteorology system, maybe that would be the most helpful thing in terms of avoidance of disaster we can do.

Also, if it's our intention to land her anywhere other than our home base, we'll need another shed, another ground crew, and tanks of hydrogen for topping off the cells in place there before her first arrival.
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Postby Darth Wong » 2003-02-23 07:05pm

I think it's important that we are all mindful of the many disasters that have occurred during the developments of new technologies and techniques. Without people who have prior knowledge in a given field, we court catastrophe by trying to develop anything new in this venue, even if we have some vague knowledge of general principles from history. The best plan is one that requires the least number of innovations and sticks to what we have and the skills we already possess.
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Postby The Duchess of Zeon » 2003-02-23 07:10pm

Darth Wong wrote:I think it's important that we are all mindful of the many disasters that have occurred during the developments of new technologies and techniques. Without people who have prior knowledge in a given field, we court catastrophe by trying to develop anything new in this venue, even if we have some vague knowledge of general principles from history. The best plan is one that requires the least number of innovations and sticks to what we have and the skills we already possess.


That's why I advocated against building an airship in the first place.
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Postby Darth Wong » 2003-02-23 07:16pm

At the risk of sounding Machiavellian, I would say the best course of action is to try to educate the locals into fabricating this stuff for us, using plans and blueprints we provide. This puts the risk of disasters and catastrophes upon them, not us.

We can have them making primitive versions of our weapons, and we simply explain that the superior quality of manufacture and performance of our weaponry is due to magic, which we cannot share (they should be used to that attitude already). Same goes for the airship; we can give them the idea and see if they run with it, but I wouldn't depend on it for our own plans.
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Postby The Duchess of Zeon » 2003-02-23 07:51pm

We can do it, of course, but we're talking about a massive construct. We have to fly it from our base into Mt. Doom and back, carrying something we need to deliver into the mountain against opposition. We need it to survive the questionable air currents around the mountain, which will be extreme.

This kind of engineering has been able to do that - WWI Dirigibles flew incredible distances and over desert - But the end result is that we can't build some small airship (of which there weren't very many in the dirigable category anyway). The least I would accept would be a semi-rigid like the Norge, which was still 350 feet long.

If we had the plans to the Norge I would feel safe; anything that could fly over the north pole with twenties technology and go from Spitzbergen to Teller (near Nome) without landing is probably going to work for what we need.

If we're going for a rigid airship, then I'd probably want an SL.10 - a WWI era Schutte-Lanz which would 571 feet long, speed fifty-eight mph, ceiling 11,500 feet. Capacity of 1,370,000 cubic feet hydrogen.

Despite the size involved there, it might be a better choice, as the Norge type would involve a metal keel.

What's the h.p. on our engines? I'm hoping it's somewhat more than 200 h.p. each, as then we can probably do a one-for-one on the installations with any design we might settle on if we do want one of these. Using engines not designed for aircraft bothers me, and using engines that would be underpowered and potentially excessively heavy would be disastrous. Overpowered we can hope to work at.
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Postby The Duchess of Zeon » 2003-02-23 07:54pm

Darth Wong wrote:At the risk of sounding Machiavellian, I would say the best course of action is to try to educate the locals into fabricating this stuff for us, using plans and blueprints we provide. This puts the risk of disasters and catastrophes upon them, not us.

We can have them making primitive versions of our weapons, and we simply explain that the superior quality of manufacture and performance of our weaponry is due to magic, which we cannot share (they should be used to that attitude already). Same goes for the airship; we can give them the idea and see if they run with it, but I wouldn't depend on it for our own plans.


Well, we'd need their help in fabricating an airship anyway - But I wouldn't trust them for the important parts of the engineering tolerances and I wouldn't trust them for, well, a lot of it. The smallest one I'd feel safe taking to Mt. Doom would be 350 feet long and use aluminum. The smallest one I'd want to go in using plywood, 570-odd feet, using historical models. We're talking about the production of millions of cubic feet of hydrogen when we have the appropriate reserve, and hijacking someone's fabric industry for the skin.
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Postby Durandal » 2003-02-23 08:23pm

I'd have to agree. If we don't have aluminum, I don't really think it'd be worth it. I only proposed the idea because it'd be nice to just float over Mount Doom and drop our little package in with a little card attached rather than have to storm Mordor. However, a balloon with a small engine attached could do the trick as well.
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Postby The Duchess of Zeon » 2003-02-23 09:00pm

Durandal wrote:I'd have to agree. If we don't have aluminum, I don't really think it'd be worth it. I only proposed the idea because it'd be nice to just float over Mount Doom and drop our little package in with a little card attached rather than have to storm Mordor. However, a balloon with a small engine attached could do the trick as well.


No, it couldn't. Not approaching an active volcano it couldn't. Honestly I'm not even sure something like Norge or an SL.10 type could handle that; we might have to land a raiding party on the slopes. We would have to drop it inside the mountain, which means a stable aiming platform.

Conversely we also need something which can survive the frame stresses imposed by the atmosphere, which is going to be chaotic there due to the heat produced by the mountain. It would be entirely possible for us to shift in altitude by hundreds of feet in a very short period of time while over an active volcano, and a rigid airship could easily be ripped in two by those currents, while a small blimp would be an impossible platform for reliably dropping the package into the mountain from with that kind of turbulence disturbing our aim.

Honestly, perhaps it could work, but the risk involved is extreme. We wouldn't have oxygen masks, we'd be exposing ourselves to hypothermia and oxygen deprivation on the way in - it would be an extreme test of endurance on the human body if the ship could handle it - simply to face heat and massive turbulence over the mountain, all while trying to drop a package into the volcano which could not miss - From one of the most notoriously inaccurate bombing platforms in history.

We would be navigating a craft with seperate rudder and elevator controls and a slow response time, where altitude and trim are further controlled by air cells and if necessary the release of hydrogen from the gas cells (which then cannot be replaced - plus detachable weights or water for ballast which is also rather irreplacable); it is very easy to over- or under- compensate in any of these cases. The sheer power from engines acting on the control surfaces can have an effect as well, but against the size of the craft that's an unwieldy method of manoeuvring and even with better engines we're probably easily underpowered against any severe headwind which may arise in rough weather conditions - It wouldn't be impossible to see ourselves brought nearly to a standstill even with a speed of nearly 60 mph.
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Postby Durandal » 2003-02-23 09:21pm

Oh yeah ... I forgot about the whole volcanic activity part. In that case, a wood-frame Zeppelin might even have trouble. If we used hydrogen, there's a small possibility of it sparking and going Hindenberg on us.
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Postby The Duchess of Zeon » 2003-02-23 10:02pm

Durandal wrote:Oh yeah ... I forgot about the whole volcanic activity part. In that case, a wood-frame Zeppelin might even have trouble. If we used hydrogen, there's a small possibility of it sparking and going Hindenberg on us.


Loss of the Hindenburg probably wasn't primarily caused by hydrogen. However, if the skin catches on fire we're still screwed, and it isn't entirely impossible - We'd have to get down relatively low even with a rigid airship to be sure of our success in dropping the package.

Maybe if we built a large enough airship we could land a raiding party on the slope of Mt. Doom that could put the Ring into the mountain, though, but that's just too risky for my tastes.
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Postby Sea Skimmer » 2003-02-23 10:34pm

Our craft catching fire is the last concern, being flipped over and torn apart by the thermal updrafts or having our engines stalled out by the gases and ash is far more likely. A 45 second pass through one volcanic plum nearly sent a Boeing 737 into the ocean after its engines stalled out, and many other aircraft have been damaged or lost power after brief passes. Hovering an improvised zeppelin over the crater is just insane.

Even if its not in a full eruption, since we'd likely be doing this well before the timeframe of LOTR, the risk would be huge. And if we crash and die, then the ring is now a bit too close to Saruon.
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Postby Beowulf » 2003-02-23 11:05pm

Zepplin to foot od mt doom. Hike up quickly. It can't be that far to get to the crack. Drop ring in, run like hell.
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Postby Enforcer Talen » 2003-02-23 11:14pm

wouldnt a big blimp like that cause some sort of activity below?
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Postby Asst. Asst. Lt. Cmdr. Smi » 2003-02-23 11:17pm

Beowulf wrote:Zepplin to foot od mt doom. Hike up quickly. It can't be that far to get to the crack. Drop ring in, run like hell.


I was thinking of something like that. Get the zeppelin as close to the crater as possible without putting the entire ship at high risk, get to a low altitude to send a group down to hike the rest of the way, and have them drop the ring in.
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Postby The Duchess of Zeon » 2003-02-23 11:25pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:Our craft catching fire is the last concern, being flipped over and torn apart by the thermal updrafts or having our engines stalled out by the gases and ash is far more likely. A 45 second pass through one volcanic plum nearly sent a Boeing 737 into the ocean after its engines stalled out, and many other aircraft have been damaged or lost power after brief passes. Hovering an improvised zeppelin over the crater is just insane.

Even if its not in a full eruption, since we'd likely be doing this well before the timeframe of LOTR, the risk would be huge. And if we crash and die, then the ring is now a bit too close to Saruon.


That's the problem. Mt. Doom seems a pretty tame volcano, and our engines might be more reliable around one than jets, but in an airship? I'm just dubious of the chances.

As for landing a party - We could drop them off, but it would be a veritable suicide mission, as they'd be sure to get noticed, and I would not like to wait to recover them, potentially under hostile fire. Dirigibles have been downed by rifle fire, and incendiary arrows don't seem like a stretch. And they might not get the Ring inside. It just seems too risky even that way.

If we go for a long-term plan, a dirigible or two might be useful if we can afford the luxury of building them, but that means we rely on a different method of getting the ring to Mt. Doom, preferably after Mordor is secured, and they become just that - a luxury - not necessary nor vital.
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Postby Knife » 2003-02-24 02:30am

It would probably be best to use the blimp or whatever as a gun platform and a spotter for advancing forces into Mordor. The risks of using it as a vehicle for a raid or insert into Mt. Doom are too high. Unite the free people of ME and march on Mt. Doom (if we can't destroy the Ring ourselves) and use the derrigable for a gunship and CCC. Keep the Ring in the airship until we can clear the way to Mt. Doom and destroy it.
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Postby Coyote » 2003-02-24 05:07pm

The Zepp is too fragile for use directly over Mt. Doom. I'd recommend using it for a landing vehicle to put a ground force on the mountain and then they get up there an dtoss the ring before anyone can reach them.

Remember, that multiple-thousand strong army does not yet exist at this point in the scenario. The commando team will be high-risk, yes. They'll have to get away from Mt. Doom and rendezvous with the ship at another safe zone, which means trudging out of a large section of Mordor on their own. It will take days, if not weeks.

But the Zepp will return and offer air support as needed, or more likely to para-drop supplies (food, arrows, bullets, spell components, etc.). And a column of HumVees can meet the team halfway as well-- at least as far as Gondor. And there is nothing precluding other harassment or strike teams being deposited elsewhere to draw away attention...

And the important fact is, the ring will be destroyed, so the ability of Sauron's forces to command and control the area will be virtually nil.
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Postby Patrick Ogaard » 2003-02-24 05:08pm

If it actually were necessary to produce some kind of primitive air force, it might actually be best to concentrate on two things: a canvas (or poncho material) -covered biplane or triplane using the 150 hp diesel engine of a Humvee. At best, I'd guess that something like that might manage to carry a machine gun or two for strafing ground troops and a sack full of homemade grenades for bombing them.

For the LTA crowd, a few tethered balloons for observation might be a safer use of hydrogen. An encamped force of friendlies could run a balloon up after anchoring it with ground staples and the weight of a Humvee. With sufficient length of cable, the balloon should be well out of range of enemy arrows and, with a telephone or radio link to the ground, would allow for real-time observation of troop movements at fairly long range. Stationing a skilled sniper in the balloon could also allow the deliberate elimination of enemy command elements.

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Postby Patrick Ogaard » 2003-02-24 05:19pm

Another extremely important question is that of medical care. The base is supposed to have a well-stocked medical clinic, presumably with an OR and dental care facilities. All of that is worthless without skilled medical personnel.

Of the prospective members of the fictional taskforce, which the revised scenario sets as the top 200 SB and top 200 SD posters plus military personnel not in the top 200 on either site, how many people are qualified medical personnel? Going in without medical care would be suicidal, especially since a lot can go wrong in nearly 20 years away from a real emergency room.

At minimum, I would peg the necessary medical personnel at 1 general practitioner, 1 registered nurse or nurse-practitioner, 1 dentist, and 1 general surgeon. That's a tall order, but it would actually be nice to have a radiologist and perhaps a medical specialist or two (like someone capable of dealing with opthalmic complaints). Remember, 20 years without a dentist could be agonizing and potentially fatal.

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Postby The Yosemite Bear » 2003-02-24 05:27pm

I guess your lucky, I happen to know most First aid, folk medicine, some advanced first aid, etc.

(I used to work for fire dispatch, but had to be trained to be a driver/spare medic)
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Postby SirNitram » 2003-02-24 05:34pm

While an airship is definately out for the reasons stated, I would say we might want to think of ultralights again, in terms of insertion craft. They wouldn't handle the air currents around Mt. Doom, but they would get ourselves and any members of the Fellowship we might pick up real close.
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Postby Patrick Ogaard » 2003-02-24 05:37pm

Other skilled support personnel would also be nice to have.

Presumably, the base has a large dining facility and, owing to the fact that the base is supposed to be well supplied with rations, a large warehousing facility full of pallets of MREs, Unitized Group Rations, Long Range Patrol rations, UHT milk, pouch bread, sterile water in 16 oz bottles, health and comfort packets and all the other neat stuff the US military has available. (If French rations are specified, obviously we'll be including a bakery capable of producing fresh baguettes and croissants.) That assumes US materials for the rations, of course.

Similarly, there has to be something along the lines of a Central Issue Facility to store and issue all the uniform items, body armor and such that the members of the taskforce will be supplied with.

What this means is that the base will desperately need skilled cooks and, above all, a small staff of supply personnel under the leadership of a viciously disciplined quartermaster. Otherwise, a multi-year supply of food and gear will go out the window in the first few weeks.

Similarly, the base library, augmented by whatever reading materials the members of the taskforce brought along, should be placed under the administration of a head librarian and at least two assistants. The books will be an effectively irreplaceable resource, and in addition to guarding against loss there is the important consideration of guarding against theft of the books by enemy infiltrators.

A provost marshall with a small force of military police would also be a good idea to keep order. Including at least one person with criminal investigation experience would be a major plus. At some point, someone is going to wig out and do something unpleasant to another member of the group, and it would be nice to find out who did what.

Which brings up the necessity of having someone with knowledge of the law. A basic set of binding laws and regulations would have to be hashed out fairly early on, the compact to be signed by all. That way, if someone gets introduced to a firing squad, it will all be nice and legal. Even if the group's numbers do not go past 500, that's quite enough people to generate all kinds of friction.

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Postby Patrick Ogaard » 2003-02-24 05:45pm

The Yosemite Bear wrote:I guess your lucky, I happen to know most First aid, folk medicine, some advanced first aid, etc.

(I used to work for fire dispatch, but had to be trained to be a driver/spare medic)


That's a good start (especially since the HMMWV fleet should include a few 2-litter and 4-litter ambulances). Now there's the matter of having someone who can extract an impacted wisdom tooth or do a root canal, and another someone capable of doing an appendectomy without resorting to a bandsaw and a blowtorch.

Of course, you might just find yourself as the Base Fire Chief. (Which, considering the way some people in this thread seem to be thinking, should include being in charge of the proper deployment of the flamethrowers and thermite.)

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Postby Patrick Ogaard » 2003-02-24 05:53pm

SirNitram wrote:While an airship is definately out for the reasons stated, I would say we might want to think of ultralights again, in terms of insertion craft. They wouldn't handle the air currents around Mt. Doom, but they would get ourselves and any members of the Fellowship we might pick up real close.


With a decent machine shop and suitable fabrics, it should all work except for the engines. The HMMWV engines would definitely not be suitable for an ultralight, though something like a WW2-vintage scout plane might work out. Make it a pusher type so you don't need interrupter gears, mount a pair of SAWs on the thing with 200 rounds each, and just maybe you've got something suitable for scouting enemy forces and strafing cavalry charges into a broken shambles. Of course, a diesel-powered aircraft would be a novel beast ...


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