Real Life Dieselpunk Shit

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Real Life Dieselpunk Shit

Postby AcetheSuperVillain » Sun Jan 29, 2017 2:15 am

Recently, I've been falling in love with a design style called "dieselpunk". It's like steampunk, but instead of victorian era, dieselpunk mimics the aesthetics of the WWII era, and goes a little bit crazier than the real thing.

Or at least, it tries to go crazier. But real life WWII technology got pretty fucking apeshit. And I'd love to share it with you. I might do a dieselpunk game at some point, so this will help me collect ideas.



Let's kick it off with an amazing Nazi aircraft, the Lippisch p.13a:
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It looks more like something out of space opera than WWII. Did it use some kind of super fuel? Plutonium? Dilithium? Nope, coal! That's right, with Nazi Germany running short on all supplies towards the end of the war, the designer Lippisch came up with the idea of a coal-powered ramjet. Ramjets rely on forward momentum to compress air and create fuel, thus they cannot produce any thrust at zero speed, so the P.13a would have needed a secondary engine system to lift it into the air, like the tow aircraft depicted above. The war ended before testing was complete, and the aircraft never flew, but they apparently got far enough along to start working on a sequel, I imagine by someone shouting, "No, no, no! Make it sexier!"

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This thing, the P.13b was also never used in the war. It was designed to take off with the help of rocket pods attached to the wings. Although it's not clear if the plane was ever built, military manifests listed a P.13b being shipped back to America as a spoil of war. Ultimately, the United States captured the designer Lippisch and his team and put them to work designing American aircraft.



But when you think of WWII aircraft, you think propellers, right? Sure a coal powered ramjet is fucking awesome, but it just doesn't feel right for our first look at real life dieselpunk shit. So let's check out one more plane, the air racer, Bugatti 100:
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This was a racing plane designed by Ettore Bugatti living in France. And yes, that's the guy who ran the car company that now makes the fastest production cars ever. The plane was actually built before WWII broke out, and Bugatti hid the aircraft on his estate after the invasion of Paris, and died before completing it. Like a surprising number of dieselpunk-era aircraft, the Bugatti 100 was made of wood, to save weight and increase speed. It was twin engined with contra-rotating propellers, meaning one prop spun clockwise, the other counterclockwise, a difficult engineering feat that resulted in a various aerodynamic advantages. The French government proposed making a military version of the aircraft, but it never happened.
Last edited by AcetheSuperVillain on Sun Jul 16, 2017 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Real Life Dieselpunk Shit

Postby AcetheSuperVillain » Wed Feb 01, 2017 11:34 pm

My personal favorite WWII fighter is the good ol' American P-38 Lightning. This is frankly one of the most famous aircraft of the period, the only American fighter to be in production from the beginning of the war to the end, but for those who aren't familiar with the time, it can look pretty whacky:

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Twin super-charged engines made it one of the fastest planes of its day, and 5 machine guns in the nose gave it the power to rip up any target. My favorite story is when Lightnings were used to assassinate Japanese Admiral Yamamoto. USA spies got wind of Yamamoto's travel plans, and sent 18 P-38s on a 1000-mile mission flying less than 50 ft above the sea to avoid detection.



The USAAF briefly considered making a sequel to the P-38 Lightning, the XP-58 Chain Lightning. I would say, sweet D&D reference, but D&D hadn't been invented yet:
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The Chain Lightning was made as a prototype, but constant engine trouble canceled its construction, and even so, it probably wouldn't have been finished by the end of the war. They had planned to test different armament configurations. For comparison, the already powerful Lightning was equipped with a central 20mm cannon and 4x 0.5inch machine guns. Potential armament for the Chain Lightning included 4x 37mm cannons in the nose, or a central 75mm cannon with twin 0.5in machine guns. 75mm is same caliber used on the M4 Sherman tank's main gun. The modern A-10 has a 7 barrel 30mm rotary cannon. A flying 75mm cannon was a seriously crazy idea. There were also remote controlled machine gun turrets in the rear of the plane.
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Re: Real Life Dieselpunk Shit

Postby AcetheSuperVillain » Thu Feb 02, 2017 12:49 am

But it's not fair to let airplanes have all the fun. There's nothing like the Nazi's giant tank and gun collection to remind the world that Adolf Hitler was a short man with a tiny penis.

Starting with the world's largest ever combat cannon, the 800mm cannon, Schwerer Gustav, "Heavy Gus":

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Besides the obvious impact of scaring the shit out people, the Schwerer Gustav was conceived as a way to penetrate France's Maginot Line. Recall that during WW1, the trenches between France and German were an insurmountable barrier that caused the war to stagnate endlessly. Fearing a new conflict with Germany, France got to work heavily fortifying its border again, with a defense network called the Maginot Line, even defensier than the old trenches. However, Schwerer Gustav never got a chance to actually take on the Maginot Line because that crazy Rommel just drove around it with his panzers. The gun did see some action against the Soviets in the later Eastern campaign.



Towards the end of the war, the Nazis started to imagine that if only their tanks were bigger, they could surely win. While weapons like the Panther, Tiger and Jagdpanzer were working wonders against the crappy American Sherman tanks, the war was still being lost. Despite the engineering troubles of heavier machines and the shortage of strategic materials, the crazy Germans decided that the obvious solution was to build 'em bigger. And thus we have the hilariously large and hilariously named "Maus":
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Only a single Maus was completed before the end of the war. It was captured by Soviets, and now sits in a Russian tank museum. But even wilder designs had been given the go-ahead by Hitler, but later canceled by someone with an understanding of basic physics. One design was relatively straightforward, another 800mm cannon, this time with go-anywhere tank treads instead of railway cars:
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But there was another, far more ambitious project. The Landkreuser P. 1000 "Ratte", a 1000 tonne land battleship:
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Looking at this design, it's tempting to say "oh, that's just fantasy, something like that would never work", but honestly, I'm not sure. It is, after all, basically a land warship, and warships are not fictional and much bigger. Modern tanks the Challenger and Abrams basically have jet engines, which the Nazis were developing for aircraft, so it's conceivable that they might have made the leap to using one in their landship. Modern day construction machines can get to about the same size, and NASA actually has something this big to move space shuttles around. Check 'em out:
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But practical? That's another thing. It probably wouldn't have been practical for the same reason giant battleships were not practical in WWII. Air power. Giant targets just can't avoid getting hit by aircraft, and since warships and tanks are by definition filled with explosive fuel and explosive munitions, it's just a matter of time before a rocket or bomb sets off a huge explosion. And even if they couldn't destroy the tank itself, bombers may have been able to destroy the ground around it to the point where it couldn't move or simply attacked its supplies, as something like that would need shitloads of fuel. That said, Germany did have air superiority in the initial phases of the war, thanks to the Blitzkrieg strategy. And back in those days, anti-aircraft guns were highly effective, since aircraft were slower. So while a 1000 tonne monster couldn't have saved Germany at the end of the war, it might have been a huge success had it been deployed while Germany was at its strongest.
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Re: Real Life Dieselpunk Shit

Postby AcetheSuperVillain » Sun Feb 05, 2017 4:06 pm

The Americans had a very different approach to tanks, but in their own way, equally bat-shit. Americans produced several variations of their M4 Sherman tank for different jobs.

The original Sherman tank was not particularly crazy or interesting:
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It wasn't a particularly good tank either. There were powered by much more explosive gasoline when other tanks ran on diesel, and they spent a lot of time on fire. They were mechanically reliable, but their main gun was too small to penetrate the armor of heavy German panzers, and their armor was too weak to defend against the big guns of heavy German panzers.

To fix this, the Americans introduced Sherman tanks with either longer or girthier guns, the Sherman "Easy Eight" longbarrel and Sherman Howitzer:
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These aren't particularly crazy yet either, but they set the tone for the surprising number of Sherman mods that the US Army came up with for their favorite tank.

The Sherman tank hull was working so well, that they decided to use it for a bunch of other utility vehicles.

One of your tanks stuck in a ditch? Just replace the Sherman's gun turret with a giant winch, and we'll have it back in a jiffy:
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Or maybe you need a bulldozer out in the combat zone? The Sherman Tank will do that for ya:
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Or maybe you need to clear some mines from the battlefield? No sweat! We'll just attach some spinning chains to a good ol' Sherman and clear them out for ya:
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Or better yet, we'll just jack the Sherman up onto some explosion-proof disks and drive the fuck over those mines:
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By the way, I hear you're planning to cross the English Channel and invade Normandy. We've got just the thing! A floating boat Sherman!
Why, with these sensational floating tanks, we'll have the fuhrer licked in no time:
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But back on the frontlines, the American tank brigades still needed newer and whackier guns on their Sherman tanks. One idea was a Sherman flamethrower tank:
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Next was an Anti-Aircraft gun Sherman:
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And finally, the absolutely crazy, Sherman rocket launcher tanks, Calliope and Whizbang:
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Last edited by AcetheSuperVillain on Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Real Life Dieselpunk Shit

Postby AcetheSuperVillain » Thu May 04, 2017 4:44 am

Back in the air war, the American military got tired of German hogging all the crazy, and held a fighter competition for companies to produce a new machine with the latest and craziest technology, specifically "push-props", propellers on the back of the aircraft that push rather than pull the plane through the air. The USAAF's modern drone aircraft use this configuration. These prototypes would be known as the XP-54 Swoose Goose, XP-55 Ascender, and XP-56 Black Bullet. Unfortunately, none of these radical new designs were able to outperform typical WW2 fighters, so none were developed beyond prototype phase. But they look damn sexy.

First up, the XP-54 was similar to our buddy, the Lightning:
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The XP-55 was very sleek and probably the most futuristic looking of the 3:
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The XP-56 was the most interesting in my opinion, starting out with an upside down tailfin, that didn't work so well, so they added another on top. It used Contra-rotating push-props, meaning one spins clockwise and the other counter-clockwise, tricky to engineer but more balanced in flight. It was also designed to be made of magnesium alloy, in case of aluminum shortage in wartime.
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However, there was a surprising 4th plane that came from the same competition. Although it was not ready in time to compete, the Air Force gave McDonnell's "Model 1" a second chance, resulting in the XP-67 Moon Bat, one of the most gorgeous aircraft ever to fly:
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Re: Real Life Dieselpunk Shit

Postby AcetheSuperVillain » Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:40 pm

We rightly think of WWII as the age of the piston prop, but beknownst to few, it was also the heyday of another amazing aerial engine, the rocket plane.

Unsurprisingly, one of the most ridiculous and ambitious rocket planes was developed and employed in the war by those crazy Germans. The Me162 Komet:
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The Komet was supposed to be a defensive weapon against the American bomber raids that were ripping Germany to shreds in the later years of the war. It was the fastest airplane of the time, the first aircraft capable of exceeding 1000km/h or 621mph. The theory was that the Komet could be launched as soon as bombers were detected, and shoot them down faster than the bombers and escort fighters could shoot down the Komet. The Komet achieved its phenomenal speed by combining a mixture of two liquid fuels. This mixture was so powerful, that if the fuels accidentally mixed while the aircraft was on the ground, the craft would explode. The plane was too small for the landing gear to retract inside, so instead, it ejected the wheels after take off, and landed by skidding to a halt on its belly. If the landing gear bounced back up and hit the plane after ejecting, it could cause the fuel mixture to explode. If the airplane tried to skid land while any fuel was left inside, it would explode, so Komet pilots had to make sure they spent all of their fuel up in the air and come back home gliding.

Deployed in low numbers, the American bomber raids were mostly able to just avoid the Komets, and then escort fighters attacked the Komets after they ran out of fuel or after they had skid-landed on their airfields. Before the end of the war, the Krauts developed a new aircraft that would solve many of these problems, the arguably more bat-shit Bachem Ba-349 Natter (Snake):
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With airfields constantly targeted and destroyed by allied bombers, the Natter was designed to take off vertically, like a missile. The ineffective machine guns were replaced with a nose full of explosive rockets. Due to fuel shortages and the danger of the fuel mixture, it could only sustain flight for about 3-4 minutes, but the rocket plane was so fast, it could reach the bombers' altitude in 62 seconds. The Natter was made mostly of wood, to make it lighter and save on strategic materials and technical labor. Since it was designed to work without airfields, it also had to land without airfields. Once the pilot had launched his rockets at the attacking bombers, he jumped out and parachuted home. The Natter itself would split in two, with the expensive rocket engine parachuting safely to the ground and the less expensive wooden cockpit crashing down wherever.

Although Natter prototypes were successfully launched, the few Natter launch pads were overrun by tank brigades before they could be used against Ally bombers.



Meanwhile, America developed a rocket plane, not for war but for science. The famous Bell X-1 rocket plane flew in 1947 and became the first plane to break the sound barrier.
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Last edited by AcetheSuperVillain on Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Real Life Dieselpunk Shit

Postby porne » Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:25 am

I didn't know that they had turbo-props during WWII, I thought they were all turbojets or piston driven props.
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Re: Real Life Dieselpunk Shit

Postby AcetheSuperVillain » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:07 pm

Doh! You're right, they were not turbo-props, they were piston engines with turbo chargers. Gonna edit.
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