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Question: What area of the defence force would air ships fall under?
Navy
Army
Air Force
None of the above

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Author Topic: Air Ships in defence forces  (Read 1257 times)
Sammiannnz
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« on: March 21, 2016, 08:47:22 am »

I'm just curious to see what you guys think, because I'm putting together a persona was thinking about military rank and realised that all three branches of the defence force have different rank orders. Some have the same rank, but in different orders.
Like here in NZ, the rank of 'lieutenant'  in the army is one rank lower than in the navy, and in the air force, it's at the same level as the navy, but under the title 'flight lieutenant'.
I was just curious because I'm curious to see where you would put 'air ships' in these categories.
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« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2016, 09:20:44 am »

I'm just curious to see what you guys think, because I'm putting together a persona was thinking about military rank and realised that all three branches of the defence force have different rank orders. Some have the same rank, but in different orders.
Like here in NZ, the rank of 'lieutenant'  in the army is one rank lower than in the navy, and in the air force, it's at the same level as the navy, but under the title 'flight lieutenant'.
I was just curious because I'm curious to see where you would put 'air ships' in these categories.


I'd say that Airship military ranks would follow Naval convention...  It seems to be that way at least in real life. Although in your poll above I jotted "Navy," I think it could be a separate military service equivalent to the Air Force.  Perhaps the Airship services originate in the Navy (because of their use in transatlantic voyages, and their ability to fight over water? Just an idea) and eventually they become a service branch of their own? At that point, they change their rank system?

http://www.militaryfactory.com/ranks/air_force_ranks.asp
http://www.militaryfactory.com/ranks/navy_ranks.asp
http://www.militaryfactory.com/ranks/army_ranks.asp

It's curious that in the US, five-star generals/admirals only exist during wartime.  I wonder if the same would happen in a Steampunk timeline.

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« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2016, 10:05:20 am »

I'd think it'd be referred to as air force, yet follow naval organisation if that makes sense.

I just can't get to think as airships having a pilot instead of a captain.
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« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2016, 11:05:49 am »

Historically, so presumably the same genesis occurs in SP, that nations start off with an army [even if it was just a tribe all holding pointy sticks, evolving to knights and a peasant horde, then on to a modern Army], and if they have a sea-coast a navy [similarly starting as fisherfolk with pointy sticks etc etc], then as aerial flight is employed in military operations, either or both the Army or Navy can form their own 'aerial branch' which may [or not, depending on internal politics] seperate into it's own AirForce.
Thus an AirForce can follow the rank conventions of either parent service or create its own when it seperates.
There may be an instance of a wholly seperate AirForce springing up without either Army or Navy parentage, but it would be rare to do so.

e.g. The UK Army and RN both formed aerial branches in WW1, the RFC and the RNAS. The RFC seperated to become the RAF after the WW1 and then developed their own ranks for both officers and airmen, the RNAS stayed as part of the RN with naval ranks.

Similarly, in the US the Army created the USAAC in WW1 which stayed in Army until after WW2 then became the USAF keeping army ranks for officers but making unigue ranks for lower ranks, Naval Aviation stayed part of the USN, and just to complicate thing further, during WW2 the USMC decided they weren't getting enough air support from the USN Aviation and started their own USMCAviation.

So, basically you can pick any of the 3 options and still not be as convoluted as RL military infighting and politics.
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Sammiannnz
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« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2016, 11:23:35 am »

I'd say that Airship military ranks would follow Naval convention...  It seems to be that way at least in real life. Although in your poll above I jotted "Navy," I think it could be a separate military service equivalent to the Air Force.  Perhaps the Airship services originate in the Navy (because of their use in transatlantic voyages, and their ability to fight over water? Just an idea) and eventually they become a service branch of their own? At that point, they change their rank system?


It's interesting to contemplate having a fourth branch of defence forces as I've only even known three, and the fourth, while being it's on branch with separate politics etc, still boils down to being a combination of two others. It's interesting to consider.
Personally I view it as a naval thing, but that may just be the fact that in many sci-fi novels I read, the space military is all naval. Once again, no real rhyme or reason there, only the fact that it was called 'ships' thus the navy kind of claimed it.




Those links though. Confused me for a bit. I couldn't (and still can't) tell where in that structure the commissioned officers begin and the NCO's end. Gah. If you're interested, here's a brief list of the Kiwi variations on the ranks.
http://www.nzdf.mil.nz/corporate-documents/badges-of-rank/
Both CO (at top) and NCO (bottom table). Also, as we are technically still under Her Majesty the Queen's rule, only HRH the Prince of Wales and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh can hold the top rank of the command chain, and that applies to all of the CO's. In that case, they're usually honorary ranks as well. And interestingly enough, Wikipedia's page on the matter also says we have a rank between what's on the defence force website, and the honorary ranks.....at the things Wikipedia brings into question.


It's curious that in the US, five-star generals/admirals only exist during wartime.  I wonder if the same would happen in a Steampunk timeline.


I like where you're going with this. I'm just picturing an awesome weekend of steampunk related roleplay, like a real world RPG with elements like this being brought in, like a temporary 5 star general/admiral to command the troops, while random elements like air kraken are being developed......
No? Just me?....I'll be over here then, in the corner....playing with my action figures.....

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Sammiannnz
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« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2016, 11:28:12 am »

Historically, so presumably the same genesis occurs in SP, that nations start off with an army [even if it was just a tribe all holding pointy sticks, evolving to knights and a peasant horde, then on to a modern Army], and if they have a sea-coast a navy [similarly starting as fisherfolk with pointy sticks etc etc], then as aerial flight is employed in military operations, either or both the Army or Navy can form their own 'aerial branch' which may [or not, depending on internal politics] seperate into it's own AirForce.
Thus an AirForce can follow the rank conventions of either parent service or create its own when it seperates.

This is a fantastic way of explaining it, and to be honest, I hadn't actually looked at it from a historical point of view. Shocking for a history major to not do I know.
However would air ships count as airforce though? In modern sort of terminology. Would they completely take over that sector and replace any form of planes, or would planes still be around to be the airforce? I've read steampunk realities where both are true, and neither have really provided a definitive answer.

So, basically you can pick any of the 3 options and still not be as convoluted as RL military infighting and politics.
You have to love politics and infighting don't you? All your points are valid, but surely, in all these years of steampunk persona creating and world building that has been done throughout the communities, some consensus would have been made as to what sort of rank schedule it falls under, even if it is one wholly made up for that purpose?
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« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2016, 11:48:03 am »

One could imagine a reality where the Navy creates an airship-based NavalAirBranch, and for differing reasons [tactical, strategic or sheer bloodymindedness] the Army champions its corps of heavier-than-air aeroplanes [or vice-versa for equally compelling reasons]. Chaos and interservice rivalries then ensue....
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Sammiannnz
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« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2016, 11:57:18 am »

Chaos and interservice rivalries then ensue....

My, sir, you certainly do have a fondness for inter service rivalry. You don't happen to be a part of any of the factions do you sir?
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« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2016, 12:01:36 pm »

As an Historian, when have the Villagers-with-pointy-sticks ever cooperated harmoniously alongside their fellow Fisherfolk-with-pointy-sticks, and each group not argued before the BigChief to be given a greater share of the sharp rocks to fling at the outsider tribes..?
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Sammiannnz
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« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2016, 12:07:27 pm »

As an Historian, when have the Villagers-with-pointy-sticks ever cooperated harmoniously alongside their fellow Fisherfolk-with-pointy-sticks, and each group not argued before the BigChief to be given a greater share of the sharp rocks to fling at the outsider tribes..?

Well..........ah..........I don't suppose I can really name a time. Ah, Athens in mid 4th centure BCE? But I suppose even then the army was commissioning/confiscating the fishermen's boats into being used as naval ships in times of need......in fact....never mind.
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« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2016, 02:55:08 pm »

Well, the US Army Air Corps lasted up until 1947, so that's one route. Actually all four branches (including Space Command, I would think) have their own air vehicles, so the sky's the limit (pun intended) for that scenario. However, there are strange restrictions (Army gets 'coptes and observation planes, while the Air Force is fixed-wing aircraft). Still, it's your world, so you can finesse it any way you want.
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« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2016, 05:46:37 pm »

I am guessing that you are trying to fit in with a real world military, rather than full on make stuff up.

Consider what country your character is serving in (You mention NZ for instance, do they have an Air Force?).  Also consider what Era.  As the poster above mentioned, in the US, the Air Force came after 1947 or so.  Thus, in Victorian times, there was just the Navy and the Army, so to speak, in the US.

As the Army might tend to be preoccupied with soldiers and cannons and horses, perhaps it would be the Navy, which has experience in big projects to make things that move around, carrying people and weapons, that would be the first to expand into aerial operations.  Especially as operating a big vessel in combat operation is something they'd have experience at.


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« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2016, 11:17:38 pm »

Historically airships have belonged to both armies and navies. Navies seemed to get a lot more use out of them though, probably because they were very very useful for hunting submarines, at least until fixed wing aircraft had gotten better. In the UK for example the army had its own airship branch until the whole lot were swapped over to the navy.

Don't worry about naming conventions if you decide to keep it army, just follow the commercial convention of having pilots (people who do the flying, as opposed to crew) called other things in addition to that (and it's not like the navy don't have pilots either!)

For example, your average (made up off the top of my head) large airship might have:

3 pilots - Captain (also called Commander, they're in overall charge of the aircraft), First Officer, Second Officer (Flight Engineer).
3 technical officers - Navigation Officer, Communications Officer (aka Signaller), Weapons Officer.
A bunch of others, probably ncos. Loadmaster, Flight Surgeon, Chief Engineer (very different from your Flight Engineer), Bombardier, maybe cook (though that's possibly a rota, depends on the ship size and time aloft), then all the way down to your many and varied airmen, engineers, gunners and so on..
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« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2016, 02:01:07 am »

In the world of airships I have created the ships themselves are just that ships.  They evolved from sea going vessels and still return to the sea to collect seawater which is broken into hydrogen and oxygen for use in lifting and powering the airships.

So Navy is the clear winner.
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Sammiannnz
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« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2016, 02:57:23 am »

Mr Kensington Locke,

I am guessing that you are trying to fit in with a real world military, rather than full on make stuff up.

Consider what country your character is serving in (You mention NZ for instance, do they have an Air Force?).  Also consider what Era.  As the poster above mentioned, in the US, the Air Force came after 1947 or so.  Thus, in Victorian times, there was just the Navy and the Army, so to speak, in the US.

As the Army might tend to be preoccupied with soldiers and cannons and horses, perhaps it would be the Navy, which has experience in big projects to make things that move around, carrying people and weapons, that would be the first to expand into aerial operations.  Especially as operating a big vessel in combat operation is something they'd have experience at.

Well thank you for giving me a laugh today. Yes, NZ May be small, but we do have an airforce, and the rank structure that goes along with it is compared with the navy and army of NZ on many of the links I posted,

As for the rest, you make a good point, and yes, Navy is generally what it falls under for most fiction. Even the 'space military' in si-fi novels is generally naval in structure so it is all consistent.
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Mr Inflatable Friend,

Historically airships have belonged to both armies and navies. Navies seemed to get a lot more use out of them though, probably because they were very very useful for hunting submarines, at least until fixed wing aircraft had gotten better. In the UK for example the army had its own airship branch until the whole lot were swapped over to the navy.

I didn't know this. I must admit though I haven't really delved into it all that much. It seems that the consensus is Navy, though some people are still pushing for Air Force. The thing to consider in a Steampunk universe is fixed wing aircraft. How much would they be a thing, compared to zepplins and other airships of that  ilk. Because if fixed wing aircraft were a thing, then airships would be different, however if they weren't a thing, then technically they could be the Steampunk version of the airforce. Just as something to consider. Smiley
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Mr Maets,

In the world of airships I have created the ships themselves are just that ships.  They evolved from sea going vessels and still return to the sea to collect seawater which is broken into hydrogen and oxygen for use in lifting and powering the airships.

This is a thing I adore in terms of concept. It makes relatively good sense, and the logic is sound. I'd love to read more about how these ships of yours work, if you have a story or 'documentation' on the ships themselves. It's intriguing.

~Sammiannnz
« Last Edit: March 22, 2016, 03:03:06 am by Sammiannnz » Logged
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« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2016, 02:12:40 pm »

Thanks.  Here is a link to a booklet in the form of a PDF. It shows the airships and discusses some of the "physics" of that world.  Input is welcome as I am always updating this document.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_sCPPm7rPAFUWNiWTZPejVXbVk/view?usp=sharing
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« Reply #16 on: March 22, 2016, 04:05:40 pm »

Mr Kensington Locke,

I am guessing that you are trying to fit in with a real world military, rather than full on make stuff up.

Consider what country your character is serving in (You mention NZ for instance, do they have an Air Force?).  Also consider what Era.  As the poster above mentioned, in the US, the Air Force came after 1947 or so.  Thus, in Victorian times, there was just the Navy and the Army, so to speak, in the US.

As the Army might tend to be preoccupied with soldiers and cannons and horses, perhaps it would be the Navy, which has experience in big projects to make things that move around, carrying people and weapons, that would be the first to expand into aerial operations.  Especially as operating a big vessel in combat operation is something they'd have experience at.

Well thank you for giving me a laugh today. Yes, NZ May be small, but we do have an airforce, and the rank structure that goes along with it is compared with the navy and army of NZ on many of the links I posted,

As for the rest, you make a good point, and yes, Navy is generally what it falls under for most fiction. Even the 'space military' in si-fi novels is generally naval in structure so it is all consistent.

Glad to give you a chuckle, as I certainly meant no insult, I'm not familiar with NZ's history.  Most of what I know about NZ has been summarized on a Lord of the Rings special features disk. Smiley

As Steampunk settings tend to delve into alternate history, if air ships take off in a big way in the 1800s (pun intended), this would alter a nation's military structure, just as the advent of airplanes did in our timeline.  So there is nothing to say that in your character's historical timeframe, NZ has recently move all areonautical military functions to a newly formed branch of the military, primarily run by former Navy officers (and thus emulating navy ranks).

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Hurricane Annie
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« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2016, 06:14:22 pm »


New Zealand  has a long history with airships and aviation.  There is a plethora of information on the Internet and in library books. The Ohakea airbase was initially designed to be a zeppelin  mooring station.  In the 1890s there was airship experiments  and test flights conducted in secret in the South Island . These were represent as UFO.

Early international airship use was for military  use by the naval forces. In New Zealand  however there appears to be a strove aviation link. Modern airship development  internationally is being researched by air defense forces.   Though it would be permissible  to take your own artistic license on the matter.
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« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2016, 11:06:03 pm »

I put "Airforce" in the survey. but in the Texian Republic military from the Steam London RP, I had the Texian's airship navy actually under the purview of the army, since the original use of airships was as "aerial batteries" - and thus would fall under the classification of artillery (similarly to the original French designation of their flying forces in the early days of WWI), although the name for the aerial service is officially "Republic of Texas Air Fleet (RTAF)," which sounds like a navally-derived title.
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« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2016, 03:35:39 am »

In the US, airships (blimps) were in the Navy, as Inflatable Friend correctly pointed out, they were used extensively in submarine hunting in WWII, due to there speed, or rather lack there of. I was born, in California, 16 days after the entrance of the US into the war I remember several photos of  blimps with US Navy in big black letters on the side. As I recall there were a few to be seen even well into the 50's.

The Navy has it all: as well as aircraft it even has it's own "army", the Marines; and then there's the SEALS - paratrooper/frogmen. Though I was in the Navy in the early 60s I was a member of the Seabees (Construction Battalion). Our motto: We build, we fight. The only time I was on board ship was as a passenger.  
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Inflatable Friend
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« Reply #20 on: March 24, 2016, 10:34:39 pm »

Ultimately, while we'll all be able to offer our 2 centimes, the choice is going to be yours.

Critically, your the only one who knows everything about your setting. So, with this in mind the question to ask is what makes the most sense given the politics of your world?

Has your setting undergone the type of upheaval that might create a 3rd arm of the military? Or does it have a non-traditional leadership that might take a chance on new ideas (post revolutionary France for example)?

Prior to (and largely including) World War 1 airforces didn't exist (well, they had. Briefly). Aircraft did though and had been being used by various armies for a long old time. France had a very short lived Balloon Corps as a separate entity, making it the first airforce back in the late 1790's. The American civil war saw both sides use ballons as did the British during the Boer war, but largely they remained under the umbrella of being army or navy who used them for similar purpose. Then you had countless fixed wing things going on, a great example being the Schneider Trophy which saw the birth of many fantastic aircraft.

It took the carnage and the huge leaps in technology and military thinking that the great war provided to push countries to setup an airforces. As others have said it took some nations until the end of the next war to get one setup.

Even if there is an airforce, would it necessarily be the best place for your airship?

Having an air force won't mean that it gets all the aircraft. Navies tend to keep most of the aircraft they need without needing to bother another arm. Largely it's a practical issue, navies tend to be more roaming than land based forces so need to be more independent. Airships being what they are are much more useful to the navy, so even with an airforce you could expect navies to have them for patrols and defence (at least until they're rendered obsolete by more advanced aircraft and weapons). You could conceivably see such ships in use by all three of the armed forces with them all putting them to slightly different uses.

So, all in all what suits your airships role and the politics of your world is more important than what's cool.

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« Reply #21 on: April 11, 2016, 05:30:57 pm »

On the other hand, you could have an airforce (re?)-evolving into a navy with the development of airships...

Historically though, they've been part of the navy - http://www.airships.net/us-navy-rigid-airships/uss-akron-macon
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« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2016, 02:48:52 am »

I believe, but cannot prove, that the large difference in rank betwixt Naval captains and Land ( or Air) Force captains lies directly in the defree of independance that was required by the Naval Captain.

The Naval Captain had absolute authority over his ship and crew, including final rule of Naval Martial Law including the death penalty.
This derived from the fact that the ship was a completely isolated and independant entity after leaving port. There was no communication
with the admiralty outside of messages delivered (usually in coastal waters) by other ships . The only exception was during fleet manuevers with an admiral commanding the Flagship, whereupon commands and orders would be dispersed from the flag vessel via flag signals, later signal lamps.

As such, the Captain of a vessel was in charge of essentially a small martial community, dispensing justice both high and low, and must needs be prepared to act immediately and decisively, document said actions, and answer to the admiralty at a later time.

The Army captain, on the other hand has to deal with direct orders that change real-time as the situation changes, and is not allowed the same authority or initiative; Army field officers are essentially constantly second-guessed by upper-management upper-echelon .

With modern communications, command structure has changed somewhat but The Naval Captain is still the Lord High Soveriegn of his vessel.

One difference is the modern Submarine Commander. He has more discretion due to the fact that his mission is to deploy and often remain
invisible and incommunicado for various ( sometimes long) time periods.

As a civilian I have been yelled at by Naval Captains, Air Force and Army Generals, and Submarine Commanders. The Submarine Commanders are definitely scarier dudes.

With these distinctions in mind, one might organize one's Airship command accordingly, based upon the lines of communication available.

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« Reply #23 on: April 17, 2016, 08:32:32 pm »

I know it's for an astromilitary rather than an aeromilitary, but the Atomic Rockets site has a section of organisation.

If the airships are operating far from home, I would expect the naval model to predominate. However, that's not to say that the army wouldn't have airships - they have aircraft (helicopters) today, after all.
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« Reply #24 on: April 18, 2016, 04:24:18 am »

  The US Navy operated rigid airships between the World Wars, including the two flying carriers USS Akron and USS Macon which each carries five scout planes that could launch and recover in flight!
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