Sunday 27 August 2017

1/56 VSF 'Zeppelin' Bomber Build - Part Two Completed!

During 1878 Italian General Giulo Douhet 'The Senior' spent hours pondering the new steam technologies while spending time with his nine year old son. He had witnessed in a short period of time the advancement in human flight from the employment of uncontrolled hot air balloons to the introduction of the new steam powered Sopwith and Fokker flyers that defied gravity with ease and careered through the skies.

He postulated that if these avionic contraptions could be enlarged enough to carry large quantities of the new high explosive bombs they could blast enemy countries populations into submission through terror and fear! His ideas were frowned upon by the military leaders of the time and universally ignored.

In France though airship designer Santos Dumont read Douhet's essays with great interest and tried again and again to create an airship that would be able to fulfill the Italians prophets ideas.  Finally his Type IX Santos Dumont Airship design looked to fit the bill. It had a range of 250 miles, a crew of three, two rapid fire riles and eight large bombs! To increase this airships ability to successfully traverse long distances and return safely to its base of origin after releasing its lethal bomb load he added armour plating to the envelope.

When Dumont displayed his airship in early 1879 he soon had orders from eight counties for multiple units. It wasn't long before the Type IX Santos Dumont Airship was being built under licence in four countries...Dumont pockets filled with coin at the expense of humanity but he wasn't then only inventor or industrialist in such a position!

This is a period photograph of the German licence built Type IX Santos Dumont Airship, LSMS Seydlitz coordinating with Imperial Army Troops in action in Eastern was taken by SOE Agent Edward Bigger who had disguised himself as an unladen African Swallow to unobtrusively get into a position where he could 'snap the shot'...

Finishing 'Zeppelin' Bomber the build...

I actually finished this build a while ago but I'm still catching up on posting my VSF stuff! i hope this is of interest to you!

Part one of the Build is on an earlier Post here:

I decided to cover the balloon/envelope with individual armoured panels instead of going down the dope and tissue paper option I was considering in my first post on this build. Even though this is easier to do panel by panel than going down the tissue and dope route it takes forever! The most panels I've done in a day is 4 and there's 64 required!

First up I made two 'nose cones' the actually had a sort of keel along their baseline instead of being perfectly circular but I actually liked that!

I then started adding the panels, this was very time consuming and I averaged four a day as I needed to let the glue to set completely on a panel before I could move onto the next one! Here I'm up to...a quarter done...

How each panel is added, they each need to be secured while the glue sets to conform with the curve...

Okay time to start adding rivets to the armoured panels; 

Now I was thinking it would take about 6 rivets a panel to cover the airship...oh no that was way too few here's the breakdown of what was required:

 32 panels of 10 rivets
 16 panels of 7 rivets
 16 panels of 5 rivets

 512 rivets  CRIKEY! Where's Rosie when you need her!

Once the riveting was completed the balloon got a spray coat of black so I could see where to clean up excess glue and 'grout' from the panels then after that the adding of rivets began.

The envelope was then painted and joined to the gondola! I was going to go with a steel finish for the envelope but I've used that on my Martian Tripods so that was out of the question so I used grey like my other VSF flyers for the base colour...grey the colour of Victorian cities...

Okay the gondola finally met the balloon to support the weight of if I have substituted coat hanger wire for what should be flexible 'cables'....

I tried to use a single piece of rod to secure the Airship but the models weight distribution soon led me to using two rods (in a very slight 'V' shape) on a substantial base plate...but I think it's come out alright...

Now I needed to finish the rudder, I was going to add fabric/tissue paper to the steering tail fin but had a thought that I could use this to attach nationality markings...below you can see the Imperial German fin skin Blu-Tacked into place, I have made up British, Russian and French fin skins too, also included in this picture is the addition of the ballast sandbags these still need a bit of paint work...

Last thing to complete this sucker was to detail the base...

Well another project crossed off my list! I hope you like this airship I think it turned out just to work out how to use it in  FUBAR VSF game!

And a note on pictures in posts I forgot last time to mention that all the Blog's pictures are now restored!

Next time: that AAR I think I mentioned last time!


  1. Great looking project I presive build..........I have been meaning to tackle a barrage ballon for a while......😀

    1. Thanks Matt!
      BTW saw your reply to my message on your Blog expect an email shortly!

  2. What a great piece of kit, great idea for the base to keep it steady.

  3. Excellent work and a great post.
    Dare I say it was riveting?
    Sorry I couldn't help it.

    1. 😃...
      Thanks Ben! Don't worry someone had to say that...can't believe I didn't get it in the text myself!

  4. Impressive and very nicely done!

  5. Good to see you along for the ride Phil...thanks!