Sunday, 19 April 2015

A Very British Landship - The Arms Race Begins!

The Russo-Teutonic Steam Powered Landships created a great stir amongst the intelligence networks of the world and as more information on these mechanical marvels reached the governments of the industrialised nations there was much consternation…
 
Thanks to the 'Affair of the Lone Banana at Great Southern Oasis' British Admiralty Intelligence found themselves in possession of a complete set of blue prints for the new Russo-Teutonic Steam Powered Landship in June 1876. Details of this incident are Top Secret and the only person with a complete knowledge of how the event unfolded on that fateful day was S.O.E. Operative Edward Bigger. Bigger made a comprehensive entry regarding the proceedings in his personal journal perhaps one day the details may see the light of day? The S.O.E. (the Stealthy Overseas Executive) was created at Queen Victoria's behest soon after the start of the Crimean War to carry out clandestine operations for the British Government outside of the British Isles.

Once the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli was informed of the existence of the blue prints he secretly issued a directive to the Admiralty and Army, they were to draw up plans for a British Steam Powered Landship and have a fully operating prototype available for Her Imperial Majesty to view in just ninety days! The admirals and generals were worried the project could not be completed before the deadline and believe much more time was required but their senior engineers assured them with the help of American steam engine designers they could meet the deadline with ease! Royal permission was sought and granted for their allies from across the Atlantic to assist with the design.

So it came to pass that Britain's first class of Steam Powered Landships was designed and the first example was built and ready for review by the end of September 1876! What the designers had achieved in a short period was a vehicle that surpassed the European design in almost every facet; in fact it was a shining beacon of all things British!

The specifications of the machine were impressive and the use of curved rather than sloped bow and stern plates gave a much larger usable deck area. The vehicles speed was impressive due to the latest compact high pressure mini steam turbine power plant supplied by the Americans. It was born on eight rubber clad cast iron wheels using the same technology that the Europeans had employed. The armament was impressive boasting four 32 lb main guns in twin turrets with a secondary battery consisting of two quick firing 6 lb cannons and two of the newly developed rapid fire machine guns in armoured casemates. These secondary weapons were placed higher than on that of the Russo-Teutonic vehicles allowing the crewmen to always stand upright instead of being crouched and leaning across wheel wells for prolonged periods. The conning tower consisted of a heavily armoured circular commander’s compartment was part of a comfortably spacious wood lined cabin for the second in command and helmsman. The armour belt was comprised of the best crafted plates British industry could supply and the standard of workmanship in the construction was unparalleled!

The Queen, her entourage, the military commanders and the members of the press were impressed when the vehicle was revealed to them and tested in manoeuvres on Salisbury Plain on September 1, 1876. Her Majesty buoyant from a hearty luncheon inquired of Admiral Wallis as to the name of this smoke belching contraption before her and he told her it was the Dreadnought first of many vehicles of a class that would bear the name. She seemed amused! Sadly unbeknownst to the crowd she wished Albert with his love of technology had been here to see this triumph of British workmen! A tear welled in her right eye.

Unlike the secretive release of the Russo-Teutonic Landship the launch of its British counterpart was very public and was the centre if much fanfare! The public was supplied with the news by the fourth estate and much was made of the revolutionary machine that it would allow the British Empire to flourish for many years to come...
 
Below are a series of pictures taken of the day of the launch of the first British Steam Powered Landship, the HMLS Dreadnought. The first was taken from an observation balloon above Salisbury Plain and the other by a London photographic Company of some repute Boosey & Sozzled. It is of interest that amongst the soldiers and naval infantry at the scene Captain Darling can be made out in his distinctive blue tunic he was a good friend of Edward Bigger...
 
 

 
Next time…Scenario Four of ‘The Russian’s are Coming’ campaign begins…

6 comments:

  1. Three rousing Huzzahs for Queen and Country!!
    Trust Her Majesties boffins to come up with a superior piece of kit.
    Crikey I think my chest is fit to burst with pride.

    'The Russians are coming'...pah! they wont know what hit em!

    BTW That Bigger chappie deserves a Knighthood.He seems like a thoroughly proper type.

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  2. Egads! That's quite a bit of kit!

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  3. Hey 'J' thanks for taking the time to check my blog out!
    Also I appreciate the 'plug' on your site, which now I know about I'll keep an eye on...

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  4. That. Is. AWE-sum!

    Absolutely brilliant concept, design, and construction/finish! :)

    You are an inspiration.

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