In our post, you will find an in-depth review of steampunk airships. This means that we will answer those key questions such as what is a steampunk airship, where do they come from, and which are the most known steampunk sculptures around the world. Keep reading to find out more.
What is a Steampunk Airship?
Steampunk airships are often called “lighter than air”aircraft. Basically, they are the initial creations of human in a race to dominate the ability to fly during the post -Victorian period.
Steampunk airships are often classified. They can be separated into non-rigid, semirigid and rigid aircraft. But we prefer to talk in other terms.
According to Jim Cambias, a steampunk and aircraft fan, steampunk flying devices can be classified into three groups.
Steampunk Hot Air Balloons
Steampunk hot air balloons are the initial attempts of people to travel through the air. Hot air balloons were created by the Montgolfier Brothers in 1783. They realized that this difference between air temperatures could be englobed so that this force could lift the tiny basket.
Right after this invention, the discovery of certain gases such as methane, helium, and hydrogen enabled the creation of lighter than air balloons. As you might have guessed, these type of balloons have an additional issue: These type of gases are flammable.
Balloons have a particular issue regarding control. They are lifted up in the air but it is impossible to know where you will land. Once you are up in the air, it depends exclusively on the wind direction.
This is one of the main reasons why hot air balloons are not as popular as we might have guessed in the steampunk culture.
Steampunk hot air balloons can be found in Jules Verne ” Voyage Extraordinaire”, published in 1863. It is also mentioned in HG Wells, “The time machine”, as one of the inventions that could be used to travel through time.
For this reasons, we believe there are not as much steampunk hot air balloons as we might want in the steampunk literature.
But when it comes to airships as we know, it was not until 1852 that some look-alike project was created. Brought up by a famous steam engineer of that time, Henri Giffard designed a 144-foot airship that could be powered by a 3 horsepower steam engine.
As amazing as it sounds, it was the first post-victorian aircraft project. And the thing is that this aircraft was not easily steerable on the skies. Once again, certain hazards prevented this airship from becoming a main 19th-century technology.
Nevertheless, this airship was the Kickstarter for the imagination of many authors. Now that they’d seen it, it was another element to be used in many forms for their steampunk novels.
Also, there was a steampunk dirigible attempt in 1863 created in New Jersey by Solomon Andrews. This man took the previous idea of hot air balloons that we were talking about and created a system to be able to steer it in the air.
The interesting thing about this story is that this airship actually worked in its first flight. But for unknown reasons, he dismantled his creation right after his first trip.
It was only in 1884 that the first airship dirigible flew consistently the skies. Charles Renaud and Arthur Krebs flew a 165 ft long 2 ton electric powered aircraft.
Further developments in France allowed Alberto Santos Dumont to cruise his #6 aircraft through the French skies. This was now a 109 feet long 1 ton aircraft. A little lighter than its ancestors.
Now, if we could place ourselves back into Paris in 1900, we would have had a zip of what a true post- victorian period would have been like. Steampunk roots rely on descriptions from this period.
Unfortunately, the next main historical event, The WWI, made a 180º turnover to what could have been a true steampunk development in history.
Zeppelin aircraft are named after their creator, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, a wealthy retired military officer from Bavaria.
Von Zeppelin was considered a hero at that time for a mission he accomplished during the Franco-Prussian war in 1871. He retired as a lieutenant general early in his career. And because of this, he started engineering his own aircraft.
He realized that technological developments regarding aircraft were focused on building small airships. He realized that through the square-cube law, he could create a much bigger airship that could effectively fly through the skies.
That is the reason why he started creating his personal aircraft: The Zeppelin. His initial creation, de LZ1, was 400 feet long and held 400.000 ft3 of hydrogen gas in its main chamber.
This design was further refined into the LZ2 and LZ3 zeppelins. These last ones could hold more passengers in the inside.
Zeppelins were an outstanding development at that time. It is a technology that was further developed throughout the next 40 years. It was not until WWII that airplane developments surpassed the zeppelin technology.
Steampunk dirigibles and zeppelins can be found in various novels. Homunculus, by Jaime Blaylock and Infernal Devices by KW Jeter, include a steampunk dirigible in their plot. But the most known steampunk novel for its dirigibles is Oswald Bastable by Michael Moorcock.
You can find more about this type of steampunk classification of airships in James Cambias posts: the real steampunk airships. The link is here.
Steampunk airships in games
There are several games where you can find steampunk dirigibles.
Guns Of Icarus Online
One of the most known actually is “Guns Of Icarus Online”. In Guns of Icarus Online, you will find yourself cruising around the skies with your steampunk team inside an enormous steampunk airship.
This steampunk aircraft resembles a big sea-ship crafted in wood, brass, and iron. They are usually powered by steam technology. This is a war game. You will ride across other teams in the skies. Try to destroy your enemies in order to keep it on! Because if you don’t, they’ll go down that way with your team.
Not only is a fun game, but it also demands lots of interaction with your team players. It is a game where team coordination and individual skills define who will be the winner.
Steampunk Mod in Ark
Yes, there is a steampunk mod in ARK where you will find steampunk airships. You will also find steampunk submarines. These enhancements enable crazy raids and battles in this mod.
The steampunk mod for ARK is only available to PC players. Sorry to tell you that, console guys.
There are certain users that have claimed that this Steampunk mod can get laggy and buggy. As far as we know, this might have to do with individual servers rather than with a global thing. It must be considered case by case.
The steampunk mod for ARK can be found in this link. Lots of steampunk airships await for you!
Steampunk Skyship and Airship commander
There are a couple of steampunk VR games that are about steampunk airships which are pretty cool. They are available on Oculus Rift and HTC vibe.
Steampunk Skyship if more of a University of Texas project where you are inside a steampunk airship. You can explore it and move around with a WASD keyboard.
Airship commander is a steampunk airship battle simulator that costs 9.99 USD.
Both of them can be found in this link that is brought to you by www.wearvr.com.
Steampunk airships in board games
Dastardly Dirigibles is a 2 to 5 player steampunk board game that is about crafting a steampunk airship and racing to the end. It is a nice game to play around with the family.
It is easy to understand for young kids, but it has a certain strategy in its design. This means that you can get pretty competitive with your friends if you wish for.
Check out more about Dastardly Dirigibles in our Steampunk Games section.
Zephyr: Winds of Change
Zephyr: Winds of Change is also a steampunk 1 to 4 player board game in which you play the role of an airship captain. You will be able to upgrade your steampunk aircraft and hire crew members throughout the game.
Your main goal will be to accomplish the main mission that is selected before starting the game according to your need. The one who gets there first wins the game.
This game can be found on their Kickstarter page here.
Leviathans is also a steampunk board game about an airship combat experience. It is a 2+ board game recommended for players The game contains 8 exquisite steampunk airship figurines that have been accurately crafted.
Leviathans is a turn-based game that resembles the experience of battleship Galaxies board game in a way. The game ends when a player eliminates the other.
Aside from that, the game is a complete immersive steampunk experience. It comes with two novels, posters, twelve recognition cards that tell the story about every airship, and twelve dices.
Leviathans game can be found on this page. Leviathans Core Box Set.
Steampunk Lego Airships
There is not much about steampunk lego airships out there. But we found this unique lego idea. This steampunk aircraft is pretty tiny in a sense, but it might be the initiator for your lego creativity.
We believe that this might be your lego starting point. From here, you can enhance this steampunk aircraft into something much bigger.
To find out more about this lego steampunk aircraft project, go to their website here.
Steampunk airships in movies and series
This is also an interesting topic because what we found here is not common. There are two main movies which are focused or contain mainly steampunk airships in their plot.
The Adventures of the Steampunk Airship Kiljaik is an independent series that will be released on December 18, 2018. The idea behind the plot is about a steampunk town that is invaded by a diesel-punk civilization. We will have to wait a couple of months before getting to know this series will develop, and how its gonna be the interaction with the steampunk airship Kiljaik.
Airlords of Airia is a Deutsch sci-fi steampunk short film that has been developed by Steam Fiction Film. It is a 13 min crowd-funded film that tells the story about Airlord Karak, a war hero, and admiral of the fleet ship of Aira, that wants to seize the power of the republic through the power he receives from a discovery he makes.
It is quite fun to watch. The ambiance is crafted in an appropriate steampunk manner. Actors are Deutsch, so you will find that translations are not as good as you’d wish for.
Anyways, it’s a 13 min short film worth watching. Check it out in our link here.
Steampunk Airships in Exhibitions
There are a couple of steampunk airships that can be visited in museums around the world.
Steampunk Airship at Hamilton’s Gardens
Hamilton Gardens is a 54 acres territory that is administered by the Hamilton city council in New Zealand. It was developed as a public green space for citizens. Throughout time, Hamilton Gardens has developed specific subsections that account for particular issues.
Actually, there are 23 specific gardens that cover different topics. There is one specific garden which is called “concept garden” that keeps this Steampunk airship for the exhibition.
The Huddleston airship is the newest piece of equipment that can be found in the concept garden. The concept garden opened on Feb 1st, 2018. People are welcome to contemplate this steampunk piece of art throughout the whole year.
Steampunk Airship at Steampunk HQ
If there is a place in the world that must have a steampunk airship, it is steampunk HQ. Our astonishing steampunk museum delights us with this wonderful Steampunk airship sculpture that can be found at the outer side of the museum.
Covered in a gray tone, hanging from a couple of copper pillars, this shark-like steampunk zeppelin is a must see if you are going to this steampunk museum anytime soon.
Airpusher Steampunk Airship
The Airpusher steampunk airship was a zeppelin project that was crowdfunded through IndieGoGo in 2013. It was crafted by Edmundo Landgraf. The idea behind this project was to present this steampunk zeppelin prop in the burning man convention in Black Rock City, Nevada.
The project was so successful that they created a 2.0 campaign in IndieGoGo for 2014.
Take a look at their campaigns at their links:
Steampunk Airship Prop
If you are in need of a steampunk zeppelin prop but you don’t have the time to DIY, then we suggest you get one from www.creativepropshop.com. They created an interesting steampunk prop that is crafted to be placed on the floor. It is made of wood iron and brass.
You must take into consideration that it’s not cheap at all. But you might consider it if you are out of your steampunk airship for your artistic performance and have no time to get it from somewhere else.
Check out their link here.
Where can I find steampunk airship designs and art?
Actually, there is a pretty nice page called The Airship Ambassador. In here, there is a steampunk gallery that grabbed lots of images of steampunk airships that can be useful for your steampunk drawing or prop project.
We recommend you check out the art created by Patrick Reilly, Naomi Robinson, Myke Amend, Jan Boruta, and Andrei Vereshchagin. If you keep looking, you will find lots more of steampunk aircraft designs.
Their website is www.airshipambassador.com.
Steampunk aircraft, airships, dirigibles, and zeppelins: All there is to fly the steampunk air.
Throughout this post, we have thoroughly reviewed everything about steampunk airships. We believe there is not much more out there that we can suggest. If you find there is something we skipped in our post, feel free to comment below.
If you loved our post, and want to find more about steampunk, we recommend you to check out our main page. We have lots of other useful posts.