Monthly Archives: February 2011
I recently picked up four products from Airship History.com/Atlantis Productions.
Three were books (one novel and two non fiction) and the forth a DVD.
The Novel is ZRS by Rowan Partridge. This is an alternative history work in which several of the disaster which doomed LTA in our universe did not occur. By 1940 the British Empire has a robust fleet of transport airships (pressed into service as hospital ships) and the United States Navy is flying a number of improved ZRS aircraft carrying rigids. The action centers of USS Long Island ZRS 10 and her air group as they see action after Pearl Harbor. Partridge throws in some very interesting operational details about the airships (A resurrected R101 makes an appearance). He has done significant research into the nuts and bolts of landing and masting a big rigid, navigation, damage and repairs and, central to the story, Heavier than Air aircraft operations. The characters offer a nice change up from the usual stock figures found in such novels, I particularly liked the contrast between the female characters. Partridge weaves historical events from Our Time Line into the novel effectively, using them as a backdrop for his ship and its crew.
For fans of alternative history this will be worthwhile read. The changes are much smaller than many altered time lines so ZRS gives a window into events that probably weren’t terribly unlikely.
Richard G. Van Treuren’s Airships vs Submarines is non fiction. It covers the entire history of sub hunting airships from well prior to WW1 through the early cold war. There is also a chapter devoted to potential uses for non rigids in the conflicts of today. The book begins with an excellent study of one of the last U-Boat kills of WW2. Van Treuren looks at several sources to show how the US Navy’s surface force record of the incident ignores the involvement of the Coast Guard and how the Coast Guard’s report neglects to mention that airships were involved in the battle as well. This helps illustrate how the record of LTA has been overlooked and neglected.
This book isn’t as polished as Blimps & U-Boats: U.S. Navy Airships in the Battle of the Atlantic by J Gordon Vaeth but covers much more ground and is somewhat less of a personal narrative than Vaeth’s book. With those caveats written I recommend this book highly. A large number of primary sources are referenced. Van Treuren has uncovered a large number of interesting facts, photos and stories.
The third book I picked up was recommended by the publishers called The Van Dyk Collection of LTA Plans and Drawings and not surprisingly is a collection of LTA craft drawings and plans drawn by Herman Van Dyk. It is published by The LTA Institute. The drawings are very nice and some familiar vessels, such as LZ 139 are captured. Even more welcome are drawings of several lesser known ships, including the City of Glendale. Extremely interesting is a series of drawings of German WW1 guided glider bombs for use from Zeppelins. These is a section on various marine vessels designed or converted for use at LTA tenders. Some of these ships were built, others (like many other designs) were paper projects only.
Finally there is a section on the Austrian Naval attack on Venice in 1849.
This book was very well produced and was filled with surprising and wonderful drawings and discussion. Of the three books this would probably be of the greatest general interest, since it covers a wide variety of projects ranging from simple barrage balloons built in large numbers to paper projects that were unlikely to have been built-or to have functioned if they had been-under the best of circumstances. Very well done and a great joy to read through!
The DVD was titled The Flying Carriers. It was a compilation of period motion pictures and still photos as well as some modern models and such. Commentary voice over is useful and doesn’t intrude on the value of the images. It was nice to see a production house willing to let the images do most of the talking and not insist on “gilding the lily” with intrusive voice overs. T he video had a large number of segments I had never seen before, as well as others that will be familiar to many students of LTA. I passed a very enjoyable evening watching this disk and look forward to taking a relaxed view of the material in more depth. Again I can recommend this to LTA students.
All in all I was very impressed with Airship History/Atlantis Productions materials. In addition their customer service is very strong. Items were shipped quickly and well packaged. The prices included shipping. Those prices varied from 10.00 for the novel to 35.00 for the DVD. AH/AP is a small press house and prices seem in line with other such efforts. Photo reproduction in Airships vs. Submarines was not great but, again was typical for smaller houses. On the other hand another pleasant surprise was the fine graphic quality in the Van Dyk book; drawings are clear and crisp.
As I mentioned above I can recommend these products to those interested in LTA.