21
$\begingroup$

I am writing a steampunk novel and am working on a scene where an enemy quickly overwhelms and destroys a US airship. The enemy has flying gyro sleds and a large airship of their own that is armed with rockets, air cannon and possibly electricity weapons. They need to destroy the US airship's communication and then quickly destroy the airship itself.

I am aware that during WWI, due to bullet holes leaking too slow, the Brits had trouble "shooting down" the German airships until they had incendiary ammunition but that worked because the Germans were using hydrogen. How would you all overwhelm and take down a helium airship?

Answers simply need to be plausible. I write from the H. G. Wells view point when it comes to tech.

Some specific background: Target airship is USAS Nathan Hale, a Military Airship designed primarily to fight other airships, but since Fixed wing aircraft has not been seen yet unprepared for an attack of flying Bob Sled like craft. Terrain: Over the American-Canadian border, near the St. Lawrence Seaway.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Aug 17 at 5:13
  • $\begingroup$ FWIW, the Hindenburg explosion was not primarily due to being filled with hydrogen gas, but rather to the highly flammable "dope" that had been used to paint the canvas exterior. This "dope" collected static electricity and then the static discharged and set the "dope" afire as the airship approached it's moorings. $\endgroup$ – Hot Licks Aug 17 at 22:50
  • $\begingroup$ In the Dam Busters book Paul Brickhill recounts a story about Sir Arthur Harris when he was CO of a squadron in France in WW1. An inventor had an idea to trail a bomb on a line under an aircraft to destroy zeppelins, but Harris's squadron found the trailing line was more of a hazard to the airplane than to zeppelins. Harris suggested doing away with the line. The inventor agreed this would be a good idea. Harris pointed at an airplane and said "So what do you think those are?". "Those" were little anti-zeppelin bombs under the wings. $\endgroup$ – Paul Johnson Aug 19 at 11:16
  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by a "flying gyro sled"? Something like an autogyro? Tethered like a kite? $\endgroup$ – Paul Johnson Aug 19 at 11:18

18 Answers 18

13
$\begingroup$

Condensed Gas Bombs

Popping holes in the gas cells won't do much. But, on the other hand, supposed you sent in a gas canister filled with a condensed heavy gas, like carbon monoxide. Put the canister in some harpoon-like projectile with catches on the side to the tip punches through the skin but the rest get caught on it, at which point the canister releases a massive amount of heavy gas, which vents out the helium and pumps in your heavy gas. The air cells are now filled with heavy gas, the helium is displaced, and the airship goes down.

Notes on heavy gases: I recommended carbon monoxide, as it's a bit less dense than carbon dioxide, (meaning that it displaces more helium at the same weight) but carbon dioxide can be stored as dry ice, whereas carbon monoxide can't, unless you dip below -200 Celsius, so it might be the better choice. (Credit to Logan R. Kearsley for pointing it out.) Then I did a search, and found this, which is a long list of fascinating suggestions of various fluoride derived gases, ending in WF6 or Tungsten Hexafluoride, all of which are highly reactive. So, maybe just something like SF6 if you want to go exotic.

$\endgroup$
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ Carbon dioxide would be better. Its heavier, much less dangerous to handle, and has a higher freezing point, so it's practical to package into armaments as dry ice. $\endgroup$ – Logan R. Kearsley Aug 16 at 1:31
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @LoganR.Kearsley's frozen CO2 is going to be better than even compressed SF6, because you can sore so many more molecules in a given volume. You may even be able to overpressurise enough to burst the gas bag. SF6, btw, is quite common. It's a very good electrical insulator and is used in large high voltage transformers $\endgroup$ – Chris H Aug 16 at 10:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Even better is to store the "heavy gas" in solid form and have the gas generated/converted once it enters the airship's gas cell. When that happens fast enough, it's called an explosion. The downside of an explosion is that the result is usually hot, which will make it lighter than it would be at ambient temperature. OTOH, having large amounts of gas rapidly generated in an enclosed space often exceeds the structural integrity of the containing cell, which causes the cell to have large ruptures, allowing the gas to rapidly dissipate. $\endgroup$ – Makyen Aug 16 at 17:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Mark that depends how fast you deliver the gas. Use something like a scaled-up airbag charge and you'll overwhelm the pressure relief valve before the volume compensating system can get going. Dry ice should do the same if you can make it sublime fast enough $\endgroup$ – Chris H Aug 16 at 21:02
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ The gas-venting process here is going to result in a more buoyant gas cell than before the venting starts. The process starts with canister+heavy gas+helium in the cell, and ends with canister+heavy gas+no or less helium, which is less mass than before. It's not going to shift the overall weight-vs-buoyant-force balance of the target craft by more than the weight of the projectile. Heck, it might be easier to just try to make a solid projectile get stuck in the target. $\endgroup$ – user2357112 Aug 17 at 9:26
25
$\begingroup$

The envelope of the airship is a red herring. As noted by other commenters, it is extremely hard to destroy because you're just hitting a giant pillow full of non-flammable nothing.

(There have been several instances in the modern era when stray aerostats have proven impossible to shoot down with 20mm cannon, rockets and missiles)

Go for the gondala. Go for the fuel tanks. Go for the ammunition. You are basically trying to down a WWII bomber: you don't try to make little holes in the wings to reduce its lift you kill the people on board and set off secondary explosions.

If you're feeling fancy, have chain shot to specifically target the attachments that keep the gondala suspended and cut it free from the envelope.

If you want to take out the communications first, your electricity weapon sounds like an excellent way of broadband jamming any radio signals.

$\endgroup$
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ That is assuming that the gondola is seperate from the gasbags. Many airships have the gasbag surrounding things like walkways and cabins throughout the ship, makes it easier to balance and get to important parts of the gasbag. Otherwise good answer. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Aug 16 at 10:33
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Chain shot could give multi-yard long rips, not just bullet holes, in the gasbags. Result wouldn't be instant, but the other team won't be flying home. $\endgroup$ – Brian Drummond Aug 16 at 19:00
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @Mazura : before you really get so excited with your patriotism and about how superior you think your nation's aircraft were, please note that the example was about WW I airships. There were no P-51 Mustangs in 1918, no matter whether they would have been good or bad at shooting down airships. $\endgroup$ – vsz Aug 17 at 8:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @vsz - There were no helium filled airships until 1921, either. I'll admit, I skimmed passed this being WWI, but the real problem was probably that it was dark, and that radar sucked until well into WWII. - Also, shooting a moving object traveling below your stall speed is difficult. Maybe they should have used crop dusters; why Nazis had trouble downing Night Witches. - Furthermore, my excitement about US aircraft shouldn't be mentioned in the past tense, however we have for the most part +30M dead Russians to thank for why we aren't all fascists $\endgroup$ – Mazura Aug 17 at 19:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Mazura The actual problem was that airships also had a much higher ceiling than most of the early-WWI fighter planes. $\endgroup$ – fgysin Aug 19 at 10:43
18
$\begingroup$

You can use a method similar to what was used in the glorious time of sailing and wooden ships. Also in that case a single bullet was not enough to damage the shrouds and the sails, so the solution was to connect the cannon balls among them with a chain, shooting the so called chained balls.

When fired together the resulting bullet was much more effective at destroying the shrouds, the sail and the wooden parts needed for navigation.

In your case the chain made with cannon ball and their connection will:

  • open a larger hole in the ship shell
  • damage one or more gas cells
  • take along any unfortunate crew member who happen to be on the trajectory
$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ 'Chain shot' as it's known is the solution, but in its original form is quite short range. You'd have to have two airships going at it broadsides to use it. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 16 at 12:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Separatrix Except as airships, one can increase range by increase altitude. $\endgroup$ – wolfsshield Aug 16 at 13:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @wolfsshield, range is more complex in this case, chain shot doesn't fly well. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 16 at 13:11
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @wolfsshield, due to the nature of their loading, cannon don't take well to being aimed much below the horizontal, also chain shot is a smaller ball than the equivalent round shot so would suffer even more. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 16 at 13:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Separatrix Muzzle loaded cannons...yeah, downward angles would be difficult unless you had some latch system in place or used just enough extra wadding to prevent the shot from sliding out...but then firing in that configuration would reduce the cannon's life expectancy...and likely the users life expectancy too. $\endgroup$ – wolfsshield Aug 16 at 13:20
12
$\begingroup$

Large airships are made up of 'gas cells' held up within a support structure frame such that they displace more normal air than their own weight. Thus, they float.

However, they're not actually pressurized all that much, so simply punching a few holes in them doesn't do much. Adding more pressure to your lifting gas doesn't make it work any better, you need it to displace normal weight air for your lighter lifting gas, not stuff more of the lifting gas in so it weighs more...

If you do punch a hole in a cell, then the gas will slowly leak out and normal air will mix in, but unless you have some very big holes [or an awful lot of smallish bullet sized ones] that isn't a quick process. Crew members can wander around and patch holes after the fact.


So what do we need to do?

We can specifically target known crew spaces with heavy weapons:

  • If you have some hefty cannon like weapons on your attack craft, and attack from the bow or stern to fire shot the length of the crew compartments with enough shots, then do you even need to bring the whole ship down? [If the crew is probably all dead, and there is no AI to run the airship, then is it even really an airship anymore?]

But that's not overly impressive, and runs the risk of some crew doing the ungentlemanly thing of not actually dying to the attack...


So what about attacking the air cells?

Simple bullets aren't that effective, but what about something more like a broadhead arrow, on steroids?

  • How about "Aerial Torpedoes" - Launched weapons that are long and slender, but when their tips hit the skin of an airship large blades spring out to cut huge gashes. Some might get tangled in rigging/structure lines or frames, but a few lucky shots on several cells at once will have it sinking too quickly to recover.

  • Similar attacks could be designed around slashing cables. Dragging bladed lines across the cells, possibly starting with two aircraft to wrap around, having one plane release their end so the other plane pulls a long gash.


If you have lightening weapons, what about 'frying the frame'? - Airship won't hold up long if you turn its light frame into puddles of liquid aluminum...

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The aerial torpedoes sort of remind me of chain shot. I could see a large bursting shell that was intended to throw weighted lines in multiple directions to make a larger star-shaped gash in the lift cells. Accuracy would be low, but you've got a whole airship to aim at. $\endgroup$ – Cadence Aug 15 at 23:59
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ For a more modern equivalent of @Cadence's chain shot: continuous rod warheads. Against an airship this could be fairly crude $\endgroup$ – Chris H Aug 16 at 10:51
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @ChrisH I had no idea what that was until I read the link, you should write that up as an answer. $\endgroup$ – Mark Aug 16 at 16:39
8
$\begingroup$

Napalm, or a feasible technological precursor.

Wikipedia quote:

Napalm burns at the same temperature as gasoline, and for a greater duration, as well as being more easily dispersed and sticking tenaciously to its targets; these traits make it extremely effective [...] in the anti-structure [...] role.

You can spread it atop the airship structure by means of boom-and-zoom flybys; dive from high altitude, release ignited payload. Now lighter, the airplane can climb back to safety in no time.

As the skin melts, falling burning debris will stick to internal layers and keep opening up cells until the fuel runs out.

The resulting wide gashes will allow helium to leak fast enough to bring the airship crashing.

In the case the enemy implement a more heat-resilient skin you can use white phosphorus.

$\endgroup$
7
$\begingroup$

Oh, we are going to crash an Airship! And make it fast! Yee!

The Skin

First thing you focus on with Airship is the skin, peel that away and the thing will not keep afloat.

  1. Lot's of small bullets. Machine guns? Na, gatling guns!
  2. Napalm, apply once, fire once!
  3. Hooks on ropes, let it rip! (but silly, but why not?)

The Innards

A well build Airship is kind of resistant to a sudden drop off of gasses. And should not be easily set aflame. But cannon with exploding shells will do a number on it anyhow.

  1. Exploding shells.
  2. Incendiary shells.
  3. Grape shot (hello a lot of small holes).
  4. Ball and chain shot.

The Crew

Simply put, bribe (a part of) the crew to set down the thing where you want. They will know catastrophic failure ways you cannot dream of.

(Un) Balance

(Note, not sure this will work) To be able to float in the sky, you need a fine tuned balance of being slightly lighter then the surrounding air, and to float up. And the other way around to get back to earth.

But what happens when you attach (with force) one or two auto gyro's to one end of the Airship? Unless I am mistaken, the extra weight will unbalance the whole thing and you have very little time before the whole thing plummets to its demise.

Other Idea:

And lastly, Crimson Skies has something called aerial torpedoes. Think of them like enormous rockets with way to much bang on the landing end...

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ "Lots of small bullets" won't work. During World War I, it was common for British fighters to empty their entire ammunition load into the side of a Zeppelin to no effect. Exploding shells and grape shot would have a similar lack of effect. $\endgroup$ – Mark Aug 16 at 21:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Mark: "Lots of small bullets" can still work - it's just that you need a lot more of them than your average WWI fighter could carry. Blast away at it with enough guns and it'll start leaking gas like a sieve; several zeppelins were actually brought down this way during WWI, although generally by means of being hit over and over and over again by moderate quantities of AAA over a considerable time (usually as a result of becoming lost over enemy territory) rather than lots and lots and lots of firepower all at once. $\endgroup$ – Sean Aug 16 at 22:57
7
$\begingroup$

Using this as a source: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/UsefulNotes/Airships

Airships are extremely resiliant compared to most other aircraft even today. Even the hydrogen filled one's are actually hard to set on fire as you need to wait for the right hydrogen oxygen mixture. A helium filled one is even more resiliant as the outer covering of airships isnt flammable. With heat you could melt the envelope but you would at best melt a big hole for the helium to escape from but if the ship uses individual gasbags the damge is limited.

I'm assuming you are using either a ridgid or semi-ridgid airship. Rather than trying to let the gas leak out I would destroy the structural integrity. If the support structure of the gasbag breaks down then so will the airship.

So your best bet is to use canon strikes at key area's like the ring structure (if any) or whatever skeleton is required to keep the airship stable and in shape. If it loses its shape and stability it'll undoubtedly crash.

As for the radio you would have to do it seperately. A canonstrike into the radioshack? That electric weapon could electrify the area and function like a crude ECM. Cut the radio antannea, sabotage, a stealthy boarding action before the attack... its your call really.

$\endgroup$
7
$\begingroup$

Roman style ballista that was modified for crowd control/riot suppression. The ballista bolt would have a blade on each side up to 6 feet in length. Fire one of those at the lift cell batteries and you'd cut huge gaping holes in the gas bladders. Add a folding feature to the bolt such that it could increase projectile range and initial velocity and deploy the blades in flight upon proximity to target.

$\endgroup$
7
$\begingroup$

Here's an idea that I haven't seen yet. Slice the whole thing in half!

You want it to spectacularly come down quick? That will do it.

The way you could do it would be to drop a razor wire from above with heavy weights on both sides, or else fire a razor cable around the whole thing and hook it back on itself and start cinching it down. You could even have a cable that doesn't expose the razor wire at first until it is really tight, and then it breaks through it's own outer sheath at a certain pressure or maybe the razor wire also has little bombs within the sheath that explode fragments of the sheath into what it is cinched around (the balloon).

In that way they could time when they want to slice the whole thing in half remotely by setting off the charges whenever they feel like it, and the whole thing just falls apart in two pieces. That would make for some drama, especially if the heroes recognize they're being caught and have a little bit of time to try and remove the lasso or bail out before it takes them down.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Two razor wires with motors feeding them through the machines on either side. Basically a chainsaw. $\endgroup$ – Muuski Aug 19 at 20:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Two electrified razor wires! $\endgroup$ – Daniel Gibby Aug 20 at 21:09
6
$\begingroup$

The attackers' main advantage is surprise. Use it to maximum advantage.

Attack on a moonlit night, so your pilots and gunners can see the target.

Attack from above, so the target can perhaps see silhouettes, but cannot clearly identify or range the attackers.

Create a diversion, like a bright flare, fire, or explosion about 10-15 miles away to draw the attention of lookouts and officers while the attack group closes from above and a different direction.

The first attacking sled should use special equipment to identify and slice the radio antenna (often a wire suspended in the air forward of the rear stabilizer), then get clear to observe and control the attack. The raid commander should be in this sled.

The other attacking sleds should be divided into two groups. Both should wait until the radio is cut, then take turns attacking. Group 1 uses fragmentation grenades dropped on top to shred the gasbags from above. Their goal is at least 50 grenades on target, so they need to plan on many, many more on-hand and a bit of practice beforehand. Group 2 rakes the control cabin with machine gun fire to suppress the defenses. Again, they alternate attacks, controlled by the raid commander from their observation sled. The control method can be radio or flares.

Keep the dirigible in reserve, out of sight behind a cloud unless heavy artillery is needed (which means surprise has failed). One assumes it's your sled rearming/refueling and medical point, so don't expose it unless you must.

Oh, and you should plan a sled or two for rescuing downed airmen.

It will take a few minutes for the gasbags to leak enough to notice (hence the need to suppress defenses), but once buoyancy is lost, the ship will inevitably crash. Continue to attack the gasbags (and suppress defenses) to get the fall rate you desire.

Once the mission is complete, sleds depart upon a vector that gives no clue of their origin or destination.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ British combat experience during World War I says that this would be...less than ideally effective. Fragmentation grenades, machine guns, or artillery shells simply don't put big enough holes in the gasbag to do much. Yes, the airship will eventually make a forced landing, but that forced landing is likely to take place a day or two in the future. $\endgroup$ – Mark Aug 16 at 21:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Mark quite right - edited to make the quantity of firepower needed more clear. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Aug 16 at 22:02
4
$\begingroup$

Releasing the Helium would do it...

Ramming the air ship's lift cells would do it...and possibly not damage the ramming ship if it is designed properly...like galleys of old.

Naval Ram: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_ram

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Even during WWII there were airships that got repeatedly attacked by AAA, lost over 50% of their lift gas and still make it home safely. And if this is a ridgid or semi-ridgid airship you would need something that can cut through massive amounts of helium, aluminium, wood and metal without the users or the engine choking on a sudden helium atmosphere without oxygen. If you can cut that in half... you've already won the war. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Aug 19 at 11:45
4
$\begingroup$

Use a high explosive rocket. The rocket would be designed so the rocket catches on outside skin and seal the entry hole to some extent. When the rocket body catches, the warhead detaches and is fused to detonate three to five meters inside the airship. The warhead would be a shaped charge with two stages. The first stage would direct the blast in a narrow ring, and the second stage would be two cone shaped blasts perpendicular to the ring fired a fraction second after the first stage. An ideal shot would be fired directly behind or directly in front. With luck the first blast cuts through the skin all the way around with the second blast ripping the two separate sections apart. Shrapnel could be added to aid cutting through the skin and any internal chambers.

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

The helium in the ship might not be flamable, but the diesel that feeds the electric generators and the propellers is. Incendiary ammo will do wonders if you hit a fuel pipe.

That requires finesse, and finesse is for the weak. You've got rockets. Fire them at the gondola. Once the gondola is gone the rest of the ship is just a dead balloon drifting downwards.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Diesel isn't very flammable -- that's why military vehicles tend to use it (or the even-less-flammable jet fuel). Incendiary ammo hitting a fuel pipe is likely to just cause a leak. $\endgroup$ – Mark Aug 16 at 21:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Mark care to experiment in a controlled environment? $\endgroup$ – Renan Aug 17 at 0:39
2
$\begingroup$

An updated version of chain shot. It looks like an ordinary large calibre bullet, but is actually made in two halves connected by steel cable. A fuse mechanism keeps the projectile together for .3 of a second after being fired, then the spin from rifling causes the two halves to pull the line tight just before it hits the target.

Edit: Since the activation time for the round is fixed and it has a pretty short range once the cable deploys there is going to be a narrow range of ranges at which this is effective: too close and it will be out of the other side before deploying the line, too far and drag will have slowed it down too much to do damage. Maybe the pilots have a sight akin to the one used by the Dam Busters to tell them when they are at the right distance.

For added horror, consider what one of these will do to a crewmember.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

Simple bombing should do it. Historically fighters would carry 'bomblets' (essentially aerodynamic hand grenades, which of course were time-fused not impact), but in your circumstances I would recommend a shower of small bombs like the 20-lb. Cooper bomb. Fly just above the airship from tail to nose, slightly faster than the target, and you should score several hits that send a shower of red-hot fragments throughout the structure. Probably this would just tear the gasbags apart and cause a controlled crashlanding, but it is not unlikely (since you are writing the story) that one bomb destroys a magazine or fuel store, or perhaps the control bridge or a vital structural part.

$\endgroup$
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Fly above the airship from tail to nose, dropping bombs, and you'll get a bunch of small bomb-shaped holes in the gasbag. Unless you get lucky and score a direct hit on something solid, an airship's envelope doesn't provide enough resistance to trigger an impact fuse. $\endgroup$ – Mark Aug 16 at 21:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Mark Actually during WW1 the RAF had little anti-zeppelin bombs used exactly like this. $\endgroup$ – Paul Johnson Aug 19 at 11:10
0
$\begingroup$

Harpoon it and winch it down.

One or more harpoons are deployed. Possibly these are small and the dirigible might not even know it has been hit. They might be attached stealthily. Once the ground-based winches get going, the dirigible pilot will realize they are losing altitude fast and look for a leak while jettisoning ballast. He will waste time doing that because the harpoons are directly underneath the gondola. By the time the crew figures out what is up the dirigible is on the ground and is being boarded.

Communications are disabled when the boarding party turns them off. The crew is captured alive which they appreciate. The attackers now have a mostly undamaged dirigible (and a lot of perfectly good sailors!) which will surely be useful for something later on in the story.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ One of the supposed advantages of airships is that they could go very high. The "high climber" zeps of WW1 went over 20,000 feet (and yes, lack of oxygen was a potentially lethal problem). However they were vulnerable to air attack when they came back to base. $\endgroup$ – Paul Johnson Aug 19 at 16:34
0
$\begingroup$

Use a fuel-air explosive, or perhaps several all on the same side of the ship. Airships tend to be rather delicate, and don't like being displaced from the side - so you set off your fuel-air bomb(s) close aboard one side of the vessel, which causes the entire vessel to bend - and hopefully to break. If you set if off close to the gondola or control room you might be able to tear the gondola completely off, and/or kill everyone inside due to shock effects. See this YouTube video for an example of one in use (although not against an airship :-)

Also note that touching one of these off in mid-air will be relatively inefficient, as the force of the explosion will be expended spherically. This means either use a BIGGER bomb, or more of them.

Or you could use a tactical nuke. Or, what the heck, use the biggest dang nuke you can find, as long as you don't like anybody in the near vicinity.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Steampunk and nukes don't mix. $\endgroup$ – Mark Aug 17 at 23:30
  • $\begingroup$ Thinking about it, a standard expanding-rod warhead would do a number on an airship, especially if it detonated inside the envelope. $\endgroup$ – Bob Jarvis Aug 22 at 22:33
0
$\begingroup$

Fight helium with helium

Let's imagine a bullet that would pierce the envelope of the target, then explodes to release its content in fine droplet inside the said envelope.

"No point", I hear you say, "helium is not reactive and only and imaginary explosive would blow the envelope".

Yes, but the content of our bullet is liquid helium.It would then quickly vaporize inside the balloon, causing a quick drop of temperature, therefore pressure. That's more like an implosion.

The almost unarmed ship would then plummet from the skies. Possibly make a relatively soft landing as the gas heats up during the fall.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm just going to drop this ice cube in a swimming pool to freeze the occupants to death! Muahahahaha! $\endgroup$ – Muuski Aug 19 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ A back-of-the-envelope calculation says that each gram of liquid helium can cool 40 grams of helium gas by 1˚ C. To cool a helium airship beyond what its ballast can compensate for, you'd need to add on the order of 20 metric tons of liquid helium. $\endgroup$ – Mark Aug 19 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ The problem is that the contents of the bullet would also be expanding, so yes, drop in pressure due to low temperature, but more gas in the bag due to expansion of the liquid helium. Net effect: near zero. You're as likely to cause the gas cell to explode due to overpressure as you are to collapse it due to lowered temperature. $\endgroup$ – Bob Jarvis Aug 22 at 22:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Mark: so a really BIG bullet!!! :-) $\endgroup$ – Bob Jarvis Aug 22 at 22:27

protected by Monty Wild Aug 18 at 5:16

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.