…co-starring her best buddy, Alex Baldwin
The Doclopedia #1,315
Well, That’s Different: The Conquest Of The Air
(I’ve gone to several alternate worlds almost identical to our Earth, but at different stages of the past. Sometimes, I’ve caused some changes. Here is one.)
Earth 22-C is at the year 1964 as of today, but when we first visited it, it was the year 1851 and a few people were beginning to get ideas for building airships of one sort or another. I met several of these fellows in London at the Crystal Palace Exhibition. They had some interesting ideas, so I started telling them ways that they could build airships that were much better than anything they dreamed of. I told them about how to keep hydrogen safer from combustion, the theory behind jet engines, what materials they should use, and a bunch of other stuff I pulled up on my handy laptop that was disguised as a book. Our discussions lasted well into the night. The next day, Grace, The Girls and myself left that Earth for Earth 133-D, an Earth with superheroes.
I thought about the whole airship discussion and decided to go back to that reality to see how things turned out after about a dozen years. What I saw amazed me.
Right off the bat, the American Civil War had lasted all of 7 months, because the North sent it’s vastly larger and better airship fleet to pummel the Confederacy into submission. They may have been a bit heavy handed, but the result was an end to slavery and a country that reunited pretty quickly thanks to a bunch of Northerners going south to help get things back on track, mostly by deciding to live there. Factor in the South being way short on men over the age of about 13 and you can see how the reuniting probably went.
The British took a bit longer to get the whole airship thing going, partly because they already had a hell of a regular navy and partly because of political differences. However, when they saw that France, Germany and the United States were getting ahead of them, they started building airships as fast as they could. By the time they were caught up to at least France & Germany, their Air Navy was one of the best. That caused France to convert a goodly number of their fleet to pleasure or cargo vessels. They made a ton of money from that, which came in handy when the First Aerial War started up in 1879.
The War of the Air also took place on the sea and land. It was started by an “Axis of Evil” formed by Germany, Austria-Hungary, Japan and, surprisingly, Mexico. Seems the USA was not only stepping on Mexico’s toes, but was not paying any attention to what all those Germans and Japanese were helping build way out in the desert. And friends, the Germans built excellent military airships. Huge and holding as much weaponry as they could lift, they had the Allies (France, Italy, Great Britain and the United States) on the ropes for about a year.
Then Russia and Brazil joined the Allies, the Brits finally built a working jet engine, and the War did a big turnaround. In the spring of 1881, the Axis powers were defeated and would not get up to anything for about 40 years, at which point the Second World War starts. That war lasted 6 years and airships by then were used mostly for passengers and cargo. By the end of the war, nobody was using airships for military purposes beyond the odd very high altitude bombing run.
As I said, airships were mostly used for cargo, a job at which they excelled, and passenger travel, which they did with far more amenities, comfort, and profit than a jet ever could. Even now, in the mid-60s, most people traveling for pleasure fly on airships.
Airships are also used in construction and for scientific research. There are even smaller airships that people buy and use the way we do recreational vehicles. On Earth 22-C, airships are here to stay.