In short, the Portuguese invaders have arrived on the New World to meet a more organized coalition of native city-states that fields giant lizards to the battlefield.

The main weapon of battle for them are big dragon-like flying reptiles that carry an assortment of fiery bombs, the males are considered small with only about ten meters in size while the females can reach more than thirty meters in size.

The males are the smallest flying creatures available to the natives, they have nothing smaller.

The Portuguese, however, bring their own flying mounts, a combination of giant eagles, gryphons, and hippogryphs that have been the common flying mounts in Europe since the Romans.

The eagles are used as scouts, the gryphons are light cavalry carrying soldiers with leather armor and crossbows, and the hippogryphs are heavy cavalry carrying armored soldiers with long scythes, grappling hooks, and arquebuses.

Gryphons are about 1,6 meters tall and as large as a warhorse, with hippogryphs being about 2,5 meters tall and almost 5 meters long.

How could the much slower and heavier dragons be protected from the European's fliers?

  • $\begingroup$ Could you provide details about how big gryphons and hippogryphs? Related both to the human and to the dragons. $\endgroup$ – ADS Feb 16 '18 at 17:48
  • $\begingroup$ @ADS eddited the response with some approximated estimates on size. $\endgroup$ – Sasha Feb 16 '18 at 17:54
  • $\begingroup$ In regards to the weapons choice of arquebuses...how effective are these in downing a dragon? Do the Gryphons need to get into hand to hand combat, or can they safely drop dragons from a range? If so, what range? Makes a big difference if you're protecting dragons from melee vs range $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Feb 16 '18 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Sasha - as a second question after reading the answers...what exactly do you think these Gryphons / hippogryphs could do to the larger dragons that would make it need protection? $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Feb 16 '18 at 21:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Twelfth The dragon's scales would probably be equivalent to steel plate, so Crossbow's bolts could hurt a dragon in close range, a single bolt would be a minor incovenience, but enough of them could seriously hurt one of the dragons. Arcabuses would be a bigger threat, being to hurt a dragon from long range. $\endgroup$ – Sasha Feb 17 '18 at 5:01


The native-city army could use lighter animals or type of dragons to escort the bombers, the same way P-38 used to escort B-17 bombers.

You said that the males are smaller, maybe they could be the escort. Equip them with lighter weapons so they are faster and more agile. The female dragons will carry the bombs and rely on the males for protection during the approach flights.

If they don't have any other bird they can fly on, they could train unmanned birds for protection. Just like dogs are trained to protect a sheep herd. In the Americas, condors and albatross are large and fierce. Smaller birds could rest on the dragons until the enemy engages the fight to solve the problem of long distance flights.

In the same spirit, you could carry swarms of smaller birds (or wasps even) on the dragons and release them when needed. The enemy could be outnumbered. Kind of aircraft carrier's style. For instance, for night fight, Barred Owl might be a good choice.

Special skills

You could also equilibrate the fight by giving your dragons some skills that the opponents don't have as much. For instance:

  • Ability to fly higher
  • Better night vision, so they would attack at night
  • Better overall vision, so they could spot the enemy from further away and avoid the fight.
  • Better camouflage, they might be adapting their colour to the sky's mood, like chameleons (they are lizards as well after all).
  • $\begingroup$ The ten meter males would be the smallest flyer the natives will have, they won't have any thing lighter. $\endgroup$ – Sasha Feb 16 '18 at 17:46
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    $\begingroup$ @ Sasha, They are some fierce birds in south america, look at the condors. Even if not manned, they could be trained to defend the dragons. Like dogs defending the herd. I edited my answer with that. $\endgroup$ – Legisey Feb 16 '18 at 17:49
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    $\begingroup$ That's an interesting idea, thanks! $\endgroup$ – Sasha Feb 16 '18 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ When you say P-38s, do you mean P-51s? Those were better known as bomber escorts. $\endgroup$ – Geoffrey Carlton Feb 16 '18 at 19:48

How are elephants protected against lions?

They are simply bigger. Dragons are much larger than the mounts available to the Portugese. They have a scaly hide that resists crossbow and arquebus alike, and they carry an entire platoon on soldiers on their backs. In fact, the dragon is so large that it can afford to mount particularly dangerous equipment, like a small net-launching ballista. Any flying animal touched by the enveloping threads of a fine net will plummet, riders and all.

Even without being maneuverable, the (female) dragon is almost ten times the length of a hippogryph; this is like an eagle defending itself from a sparrow. Do sparrows kill eagles? No, they don't.


The dragons doesn't have to be protected from gryphons. Instead, dragons could eat them since they are 5-10 times less than dragons. It's like cat and mouse. The dragons doesn't have to be protected from hippogryphs: dragons are 2-6 times bigger. It's like dog vs cat. Or bear vs wolves. If bear is weak and pack of wolves is big enough then bear would have a problem. But with only several wolves can't stand against bear. And who wins: 3 dragons or dozen of hippogryphs? Nobody knows.

If dragon have strong legs with claws then the value of lances would be mitigated. Even without claws, lances are not such a problem. The main advantage of lances is a formation and in air it would be much harder to hold the line order. It's not a line o square, 3D figure is much harder to keep. Especially when moving. Especially when someone big is falling from the top. Of course, it depends on numbers. How many hippogryphs invaders needs to create a solid formation? Do they know such formation? How many dragons have to sacrify their lifes to tear that formation just by weight?

Arquebuses and crossbows would be the most significant problem. There are pro and contras:

  • It's hard to reload on the fly. But it's possible.
  • It's hard to aim to flying target. In real life, volley shooting was the only solution for a long time (even when target was on the ground).
  • Invaders, surely, have experience in shooting on flying targets.

I suppose it would be again question about numbers. How many dragons and how many shooters do side have? Notice that transfer even single hippogryph across ocean would be problematic.

The other opportunity is a dragon riders. Due to size of dragon, it's possible to have a turrets like installed on elephants. Spears and bows thrown from top to gryphons would cause severe damage.

  • $\begingroup$ It seems I made the dragons too big for any meaningful conflict. $\endgroup$ – Sasha Feb 16 '18 at 18:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Sasha Probably not. A swarm of crows could beat the eagle and pack of shackals would chase the lion. You could play with numbers of pack. Also you could play with the size too :) $\endgroup$ – ADS Feb 16 '18 at 18:51
  • $\begingroup$ Dragons need to have their wing membranes protected since its a large target. Arrows could theoretically pierce it as well as bullets from the arquebus and bolts from crossbows. Can the dragons breath fire or other breath attack that is powerful and long range enough to keep the European airforce at bay? $\endgroup$ – Arkhaine Aug 14 '18 at 5:25

The same way heavy bombers were defended in WW2: gunners.

Assuming your dragons can carry much larger payloads than the faster mounts you can have, along with the bombs, a larger complement of archers/gunners on the dragon. Inventive use of slings could give 360 degree coverage, allowing your dragons to turn incoming attackers into pincushions.

Not only that, but presuably your dragons have very thick skin and formidable claws/teeth. Given that killing an elephant (at 6 m) requires an elephant cannon or a lot of spears I don’t think your dragons actually have much to worry about...

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    $\begingroup$ I hope you had a typo and meant B-17's and B-24's. If the Germans and Japanese were facing USAF B-52 strikes the war would have been over much faster..... $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Feb 16 '18 at 19:14
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    $\begingroup$ I like the flying fortress option here...though it's effectiveness really depends on how effective the arquebuses that the Gryphon riders wield. If the Gryphon rider can drop a dragon or it's archer compliment at a distance greater than the arrow fire coming the flying dragon fortress, then it's a relatively useless tactic. $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Feb 16 '18 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Thucydides : Indeed. Blame the long work week. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Feb 16 '18 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Twelfth: If the Gryphon riders are carrying arquebuses capable of penetrating the hide of a 30 meter long dragon outside the range of a longbowman then really the dragon riders have no chance at all. See my point about elephants. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Feb 16 '18 at 21:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Twelfth : then it becomes an aerial arms race... ooh.. dragon mounted AA flak cannons... $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Feb 16 '18 at 21:57

First, historical background and airplanes

During WW2, bombers were an ESSENTIAL part of the war. Bombers were made to strike directly into the enemy territory's heart and you can repeat those bombing raids over and over again and weaken the territory (much like what happened to Berlin between 1940 and 1945).

There are different types of bombers:

-Light bombers: usually fast, small and with very little payload, they are made to fly directly into enemy territory and retreat quickly (only example I can think of is the Vautour, a french light jet bomber from the 50's)

-Dive bombers: typical light bombers that fly at high altitude then dive onto the target from above, only to release the (little amount of) payload and break off from the dive (for example the Helldivers)

-Front-line bombers: bombers that do not have many bombs and are meant to fly over enemy territory, drop the bombs, and fly back into friendly air (for example the Martin Maryland)

-Heavy bombers: bombers that carry quite a few (even a lot) of bombs and are meant to fly at high altitude and make large-scale bombing raids onto the enemy (for example the B-32)

Heavy bombers and front-line bombers are the ones that are usually vulnerable to enemy fighters as they are usually slow and not very maneuverable.

Now onto the dragons

The same logic would apply. Some dragon bombers would have different roles like the ones above. Fast and small dragons can be used as light bombers or dive bombers. Slightly larger dragons as frontline bombers and large and heavy dragons as heavy bombers.

The two latter dragons need to be escorted by a group of small dragons that can play the role of fighter planes, and can defend the large beast from any enemy attacks by griphons or eagles. They would also need to be mounted with several men that also have bows and arrows or other projectiles, replacing the role of gunners that many heavy bombers in real life had.

According to what you stated, it seems that the Portuguese fleet does not have animals over 5 meters while the natives can have 30 meters long dragons. This gives the natives somewhat an advantage. Since at first the europeans needed to arrive to the Americas by ship, those ships can be obliterated by the heavy dragons that would need to fly very high and can raid the entire naval fleet.

One slight problem

If for instance your B-17 gets shot in the belly by any enemy aircraft (like a Bf-109 for example), the bomb bay door would be damaged with many holes and some hydraulic lines can be severed, but the bomber is still flyable and can be brought back to safety at the home base.

However here we have dragons which are animals not machine. So if a similar situation happened where enemy fighter creatures wound the dragon's belly for instance, it would be worse as it would bleed and be probably painfull, and it would be more difficult to bring back the dragon to home base as it would possibly be weakened.


As you suggest in your title the obvious answer would be smaller, more nimble fighters that could protect the heavier units. For diversity it might be interesting to suggest the dragons have an advantage in intelligence that far outstrips the bird brains. This could lead to their command over a lesser race of flying creatures, one that is riderless but could swarm around their larger masters, providing defensive screening as the dragons dive in for the kill.
Another alternative would be giving the riders a unique skill; perhaps they are superior archers or are able to fit the beasts will more elaborate defensive artillery (again thinking of a tail gunner in a bombers).


I think you might have the wrong question here. Considering the size difference you have, and the various implications that has on the creatures themselves, a better question might be “How can I bring these dragons down?”

To elaborate on this, these dragons are significantly larger than the other flying mounts you have, this means that they are much, MUCH heavier due to the square-cube law which says that every time you square the surface area you cube the volume (I seriously cannot overstate how much more mass this will give these dragons). So if they are that much heavier, then they must also be at least that much stronger to be able to do things like fly, move, or even breathe. So what this means is that a dragon will be able to swat these smaller mounts out of the sky as soon as they close the distance. Your smaller, faster mounts would be better suited to taking out the person controlling the dragon, disabling the equipment, or kiting the dragon until it lands. However these beasts probably wouldn’t be easy to deal with on the ground, as they can focus more of their extreme strength on killing whatever is bothering them. However all is not lost! Look at WWII. Hitler’s forces had the biggest, baddest, most heavily armed and armored tanks but they still lost because the Allies used numbers and maneuverability to cut the tanks off from their supply lines or disable their treads. The same tactic could work here. Force the dragon down, take away its movement and you can kill or even capture it. Moral of the story is that direct attack is not going to be very effective in this case, so your invaders will need to get creative with their tactics.

  • $\begingroup$ "A dragon will be able to swat these smaller mounts out of the sky": not necessarily, because it will be much less manoeuverable. It's not uncommon for much smaller birds to harass and chase off eagles. $\endgroup$ – Peter Taylor Aug 14 '18 at 6:30

Bone armor made from the larger fallen ones.

It's simple to work with, they respect animals and would use all body parts so that would make sense that they would use the bones.

Ribs as armor maybe even lined with leather, strapped on.

Skull as the perfect helmet.

Think like cubone from pokemon style.

Hope that helps.


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