Could a modern society build a dragon? The society has similar funds to the U.S.A and the dragon must be fully working, made without any form of non-existent technology. The dragon must also fulfil the following criteria.

  • Large (Anything heavier than an elephant will do.)
  • Serpentine shape.
  • Beautiful coloured scales which must be very hard, able to deflect small arms fire.
  • Able to breath fire without being damaged.
  • Able to fly, must use wings as some part of their flight. I will accept jets or lighter than air flight with wings for steering.
  • Able to walk.
  • Must look impressive to impress potential enemies and friends.

Edit Some clarification.

The dragon must be mechanical but it does not need to be an AI, it can be controlled by humans through a computer at the central base.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I need you to clarify - does the dragon have to be living or can it be mechanical? $\endgroup$
    – Aify
    Feb 6, 2016 at 0:04
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah that's rather important to know what you mean when you say "build". Are you looking for an answer about genetic engineering, robotic, or anything else? $\endgroup$
    – Nyashes
    Feb 6, 2016 at 1:18
  • $\begingroup$ I've closed it as unclear for now. If you edit the post and specify biological or not for the dragon (and add appropriate tags) then it will go into the review queues and get re-opened. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Feb 6, 2016 at 1:48
  • $\begingroup$ I have added to the question saying the dragon must be mechanical not biological. $\endgroup$ Feb 6, 2016 at 8:54
  • $\begingroup$ What's the intent behind building this dragon? Is this a war machine? $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Feb 6, 2016 at 18:04

3 Answers 3


Yes, modern society could make a dragon to the specs listed but with some really ugly trade-offs.

If you want a flying war machine that breathes fire and comes heavily armored, then have your dragon be an A-10 Warthog. However, the A-10 isn't serpentine and can't walk.

  • Large (Anything over 7000kg will do): Easy. Most heavier than air light combat aircraft are either in this range or slightly above it. With the inclusion of legs for walking, total weight will easily be over the limit.

  • Serpentine shape: No problem here either though if the plane moves in a serpentine fashion on the ground or in flight, the complexity of this aircraft quickly becomes unmanageable.

  • Beautiful coloured scales which must be very hard, able to deflect small arms fire: Easy. A steel or titanium skin painted to look like scales or actually scales. The latter option is a maintenance nightmare with so many individual parts and fasteners

  • Able to breath fire without being damaged: Easy. Flamethrowers have been around for the better part of a century.

  • Able to fly using wings: Easy. Humanity has over 100 years of flying experience on aircraft that weigh little more than a human to the gargantuan Antonov AN-124. Note though, this is only with fixed wing or rotary wing aircraft. We don't know how to build an aircraft that flaps its wings to fly. We have neither the power source, nor sufficiently strong actuators to make this work.

  • Able to walk: Can be done but this imposes huge penalties on the rest of the airframe. Once the dragon is airborne, the legs and some/all the systems to make the legs work become deadweight. If this dragon has to perform air combat against conventional aircraft, it will be at a severe disadvantage. The heaviest sauropods topped out at 27-37 tons. The vast majority of their mass was dedicated to supporting their mass with legs shaped like giant columns...definitely not airworthy. Perhaps, walking would work for a very small dragon but that fails the >7000kg test.

  • Must look impressive to impress potential enemies and friends: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder though I suppose that if all these design challenges can be overcome, whatever it looks like will be damn impressive to anyone who sees it.

So, yes. It's possible to build a mechanical dragon but the results are less useful than a conventional fixed wing or rotary wing aircraft.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer. Such a shame I cant have a dragon with flapping wings, guess this is the best I can do though. $\endgroup$ Feb 6, 2016 at 19:12
  • $\begingroup$ This whole question falls in the same category of questions as "Would mecha be an effective combat unit?" The answer is usually, no. If you want awesome combat robots, there's no shortage of robot combat shows that will give you a good idea of what robot combat would look like. Best of luck! :) $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Feb 6, 2016 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ seriously, why have a dragon when you can have a warthog? ;) Buuuut... if you are willing to add some slight next-day-technology, you may clad your plane of choise inside a holographic picture of a flapping dragon. That isn't as unfeasible as ten years ago any more, but I can't rate the current state of the art technology available at the moment about how it does look without a "cloud" as volumetric body for the projection. But you should use a VTOL for that case. $\endgroup$ Feb 8, 2016 at 12:36
  • $\begingroup$ @ConfusedMerlin Hmmm, warthog vs dragon could work. Also I might consider the hologram idea, might work although seems kinda like cheating. $\endgroup$ Feb 8, 2016 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Sam, there are no rules in war and love, so there can't be any cheating int that case. And beside - you could conceal that plane as a cloud or a (pretty fast) flock of birds o even make it look like the enemies planes. There are tanks, which shape their heat-exhaust to look like a common car. So using such a kind of optical disguise would be something to expect. Still... your robo-dragon will not come to live because of this :( $\endgroup$ Feb 9, 2016 at 6:00

I reckon it could be done. Use synthetic diamond or sapphire for the scales. They're very hard, can be doped with trace elements for colour. Couple of jet engines for flying and a flamethrower at the front. Hard to make it smooth or flexible.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This answer would be better if you could add some explanation of why these things are combinable to make the dragon possible. $\endgroup$
    – ArtOfCode
    Feb 6, 2016 at 18:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Could you add more detail please, also why use these over other materials like titanium? $\endgroup$ Feb 6, 2016 at 19:37

Another idead Would be to take a dragon kite and enhance it to a mini blimp almost like the macys day parade character, however, unlike that character you would have a me hanism remotely controlling the amount of air/helium in it. The wings would need to have fans attached and you would need to be able to control the direction of the fans up down left right. The fans would need to be small lightwight and powerful to allow for gliding and maybe shut off and turned back on again.


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