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When I say this I don't mean airships, with their large & vulnerable gas bags. These Skyships have their lift providing method safely within their armour. Regarding their armour, it isn't light. The armour can resist things like 140mm & 152mm tank cannons for the largest ones, although most ships armour can only resist 90mm to 120/125mm cannons.

The ships can get up to the size of naval frigates at their largest. Most are the of modern corvettes with significant amounts of ships around the size of missile boats also existing.

They have a surface celling between 17,500m & 10,000m depending on model. They can go a maximum of between 150kph & 200kph depending on model. They can mount weapons roughly equivalent to their naval size counterparts & have similar endurance to them. These ships are about 1/3, propulsion, fuel & lift.

These ships are expensive & generally the largest ones that are around the size of frigates are around the cost of large naval cruisers. The corvette sized ones are cost as much as a naval frigate. The missile boat sized ones cost about as much as corvettes. Aside from the lift stuff the technology level is near future.

Edit: y do ppl seem to think that having these ships means that you won't have ground forces?

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  • $\begingroup$ To effect warfare means to wage war. To affect warfare means to effect a change in the way war is waged. Since neither of those two words (which have different pronunciations in English, but may have similar pronunciations in American) make sense in the context of the question, I am at a loss understanding what the question is asking. Note that in order to answer how skyships affect warfare one would need to know how the belligerents made war before the invention of skyships, how many skyships the have, etc. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 11:33
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP "how would [thing] affect warfare" makes perfect sense to me. And at this point before the sky ships it was effectively modern warfare. As for other information I've barely figured it out beyond what I have in the question. $\endgroup$
    – OT-64 SKOT
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 11:46
  • $\begingroup$ Are those ships well armored around without particular weak spots, like tanks, or they have vulnerable places like engines which just can not be armored? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 18:57

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They would probably make carpet bombing more diffused, however that won't change the reality that to get a hold of your enemy you would need your troops to set foot on the enemy territory, at which point you can't bomb anymore (if you care about your troops).

This would likely be countered by the enemy by avoid centralization of strategic points when possible, so that the costs vs benefits of bombing would increase on your side.

Until the moment where both sides can have these skyships, when it becomes again a confrontation between force projection.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yeah this almost word for word the answer I was working on. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 6:07
  • $\begingroup$ A peer enemy would be able to modify existing naval anti-ship missiles to counter skyships, so they're only useful against low-tech opponents. Their armor isn't tough enough to resist a 300-400+ kg warhead. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 6:14
  • $\begingroup$ y do u seem to think that having these ships means that you won't have ground forces? $\endgroup$
    – OT-64 SKOT
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 6:24
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    $\begingroup$ @OT-64 SKOT It’s not that you don’t have ground forces, it’s that you need to stop dropping bombs when your ground forces are in the area (otherwise you’ll blow up your own troops along with the enemy, which tends to be unpopular with said troops) $\endgroup$
    – Pingcode
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 7:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Pingcode there's nothing stopping you from using missiles, guns, or guided bombs, its done regularly today $\endgroup$
    – OT-64 SKOT
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 9:39
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Portable Fortress and Territory Control

The big role that these ships play would likely be fortifying already controlled areas. Their altitude would give them tremendous sight lines, allowing for surveillance, direct fire support and giving range for active defences to stop incoming missiles and return fire to direct fire weapons. Further, they can act as a mothership for drones, allowing them to project force and detect hostiles much further out. Because of their endurance, they can loiter over an area for weeks on end before either being resupplied or relieved by another ship, effectively allowing for the permanent defences of a base that can be positioned anywhere.

Offensive Uses

Given how big and valuable these ships will be, they will probably want to avoid taking to direct combat against a similarly armed force. On the offensive I'd expect them to float close to the limit of their service ceiling, providing fire support, intelligence or communications to those on the ground. Notably, these are all functions that can be performed by modern aircraft which would be cheaper and more agile. The skyships would only be used when expecting a long siege or advance, where the advantage of continuous presence outweighs the cost of potentially loosing it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Landing the portable fortress would also be effective, imagine if during WW2 a massive tank/fortress could be plopped down behind enemy lines at the moment you attack the front. Normally landing something that big would be an issue but with the thick armor it has it could probably land itself like a pig diving in to a mud bath. $\endgroup$
    – Kezat
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 0:29
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They won't get used widely enough to have a serious effect on the battlefield. Given the difficulties of gaining a ground victory through airpower using anything short of repeated, saturation, carpet bombing, anything more expensive to field than modern aircraft simply won't get a foot in the door.

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  • $\begingroup$ y do u seem to think that having these ships means that you won't have ground forces? $\endgroup$
    – OT-64 SKOT
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 6:24
  • $\begingroup$ @OT-64SKOT Not at all, I know that you need ground forces regardless therefore any airpower option that is more expensive for the same, or less, firepower density is pointless. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 6:26
  • $\begingroup$ Firepower density isn't everything, these things have extreme endurance compared to most aircraft, armour that is heavier than anything else that exists. and by the logic that firepower density is everything, all naval warships are useless. As well as these ships costing more than their naval counterparts, not their aerial ones. $\endgroup$
    – OT-64 SKOT
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 6:36
  • $\begingroup$ @OT-64SKOT When is the last time there was a decisive direct ship-to-ship combat action? Pacific Theatre opening of WWII, there were a couple of non-aircraft carrier engagements that changed the local battlefield but warships have never won a land battle any more than aircraft have. When it comes to taking and holding territory supply ships are handy gunboats only for diplomacy. If they're more expensive than seagoing ships they are way more expensive than their battlefield deployment value in aircraft. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 6:43
  • $\begingroup$ Aircraft are incredibly expensive. a single squadron of the latest model of F-16 would cost $1,536,000,000 dollars. They aren't cheaper than most things by far. $\endgroup$
    – OT-64 SKOT
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 6:48
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You don't mention how these things fly, but assuming they rely on some kind of anti-gravity system for lift (not unreasonable given the technical issues they must surmount if they don't!) these are the ultimate in airborne assault.

The classic limitation of para-troops is that they don't have any armoured support or artillery, but a battle group of these could fly into contested territory, set down just about anywhere they can physically fit and disgorge hundreds or even thousands of tonnes of armoured fighting vehicles and mechanised infantry while suppressing any enemy armour/artillery in range.

Modern medical evacuation is largely carried out by helicopter, frequently a great risk to aircrew, mainly from small arms fire. The smaller skyships would be ideal in this role - flit in, pick up injured soldiers while remaining largely invulnerable to all but the heaviest weapons and fly away. Their large size relative to helicopters would mean that they would have room for operating theatres onboard (assuming sufficiently stable flight) so there would be even shorter delays between evac and commencing treatment for the most severely injured.

An arms race would begin between SAMs capable of shooting down skyships (probably relying on extremely high velocity missiles) and airborne CIWS capable of destroying those missiles.

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Your concept initially sounds like a more resilient version of the AC-130 gunship. The Spooky is also a relatively slow long-endurance aircraft that performs the ground fire support role. Its lack of speed is actually a bonus in its intended use, because it can slowly loiter around a target while other more conventional aircraft will have to swing around in a wide circle to reengage the same target.

However, since your skyships can be significantly larger, they can also be used to consolidate multiple support roles like AWACS, mid-air refueling or even cargo transport. They can conceivably function as the center of an air fleet, around which typical fighter craft operate.

That being said, they are far from invulnerable despite their thicker hide. The Air Defense Anti-Tank System(ADATS) was a weapon system that combined both short-range anti-aircraft and anti-tank functions onto a single missile. However, that also resulted in a significantly higher per-unit cost than its single role counterparts, which in turn led to only Canada picking it up before the program came to a halt. In a world where armoured skyships are an expected threat, leading military powers will most likely pursue the development path the ADATS pointed to, leading to air-to air missiles with a much heftier punch than what we see in the real world now. These missiles will conceivably take down your skyships without too much difficulty.

The worst foe your skyships face are not enemy weapons but the same ones who slew the ADATS program: accountants. There are many roles that skyships simply cannot perform, and yet they also won't be that resilient in the long run. Ultimately I think whether countries can afford to develop and produce squadrons of them while at the same time maintaining a large air fleet will be the make or break factor. If they are as costly as real world navy cruisers, it is likely they will only be produced in tiny numbers or even not at all.

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Rule Britannia! Britannia Rules the Skies!

Yeah, heavy skyships would not only affect warfare, but a fleet of them could veritably effect warfare all on their own!

As with traditional surface navy vessels, his majesty's Aerocorps's vessels would be made in a variety of sizes and with various functions. Your capital ships would likely be aircraft carriers and large vessels would bristle with big guns and bombs.

During the three day bombing raid on Dresden in WWII, it took 800 bombers to drop 2700 tonnes of explosives on and around the city. One of your city killers, a skyship equivalent in size to a battleship, could carry 10000 tonnes of materials.

The RAF could concentrate on initial anti-aircraft raids and in stead of having to head all the way back to an airfield in Britain or France, they could remain airborne and refuel & reload on the carrier. Several carriers could ring a target city and you could launch offensive as well as defensive squadrons in any direction deep into enemy territory. The RAC could park a fleet of big destroyers that could begin a pummeling assault on the anti-aircraft ground defenses. Meanwhile, your heavy bombardment ships, operating well above the 9000+ metre ceiling of anti-aircraft fire, can safely park over the city and pretty much drop ten or twenty times the amount of ordinance with much greater accuracy than a bomber can. Once properly pummeled, paratroopers could be landed to secure toeholds and perimeters for troop carriers to land (or rather "dock"). Extend the disembarking ramps and tanks, armoured vehicles, troop transport vehicles and all the rest of the paraphernalia can be disgorged at preselected points around the city. Any remaining defense would be broken and unable to withstand the invasion and occupation.

Anybody who doesn't have the lift technology or the ability to build these kinds of ships would pretty much be at the mercy of those who can. I suspect the Empire and the USA (or rather, your in-world analogues) would be in good position to not only affect but also effect this kind of warfare.

I suspect that various clean-up wars that were sparked in Asia after WWII -- in China especially, may have turned out very differently. The war in Japan may have turned out very differently as well.

Regardless, cool as these kinds of ships are, the future for skyship based atomic & nuclear arsenals could be quite terrifying!

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