The Emperor-class airship is the workhorse of the Martellon Imperial Navy. While the huge Juggernaut and Dreadnought-class airships (also called zeppelins, but nobody is really sure why) are the heavy artillery and some of the biggest objects ever to take flight, and the Monitor and Expeditious-class are small, light, and used more often for scouting than actual battle, the Emperor-class is equipped for long-range, extended operations (such as monitoring the borders) with machinery for refilling the ballast tanks with rainwater, as well as several turrets firing machine guns and cannon. Usually, an Emperor-class carries 2 3.5-inch cannon and 10 .50 caliber machine guns.
Commodore Stevens was standing on the control deck of his 'flagship', the 825-foot long HMAS Hammer, an extended-frame Emperor-class. It was about 25 feet longer than usual to accommodate, among other things, a larger landing bay (which could accommodate fighter-bombers and light bombers) and larger crew quarters. While he was waiting for the captains that commanded the 8 Emperor–class under his command, he was thinking that it was good that the Empire was blessed with many natural resources, with oil being the most important; otherwise, His Majesty's Army, Navy, and Air Force would be decidedly inferior and similar to most other country's armed services. For instance, the Ardotians, a small nation to the south of the Empire, didn't even use airships in their military, since they didn't have the materials and industry necessary for duralumin (an alloy made of copper, aluminum, and a few other metals), and they thought that airships made of cloth were too vulnerable to rockets or machine guns, so they just used planes, such as the Imperial Aircraft P-35 "Eagle", which was an inferior fighter and about 5 or 6 years old, long since out of service in the Imperial Air Force except as a trainer. However, the main adversary in any possible scenario was always the Commonwealth of Peragosa, a dictatorship that was socialist, of all things; therefore it was considered by most nations as dangerous. Paregosa was also the only nation that could come even close to matching the might of the Emperor's Army and Air Force. The only thing that saved Peragosa was the fact that the populations of the two powers were roughly equal, about 130 million persons; however, Paregosa had more people in the army and air force.
URGENT MESSAGE TO CMDR. Stevens:
The Paregosan Air Service is reported to be moving out of port to make an attack on the northern flank of the Empire.
You and the commander of 6th Squadron, 5th Air Fleet will proceed to Narthen Airport, which will be used as a home base for scouting to determine whether such a threat exists and, if it does, a home base to use for refueling and reloading.
So the airships proceeded to Narthen, with the squadron of fighter-bombers that could fit in the squadron's landing bays patrolling to the front and the flanks while the squadron, consisting mainly of the Emperor-class airships, lumbered north.
Upon arriving, it was about a week before one of the Expeditious-class blimps stumbled upon its Peragosan counterpart, a Surveyor-class semi-rigid. They traded a few shots from their .30 and .50 caliber cannon before radioing in and speeding off to their respective fleets.
Not too long after the first encounter, a squadron of fighters took off from the lone Peragosan aircraft carrier in the area. These fighters, known as PI-23s, were basically copies of the old P-35, except these were armed with eight .30 caliber guns and 2 20 mm cannon, rather than the 6 .30 caliber and 3 .50 caliber guns of the P-35. Both planes could also carry about 200 pounds of bombs, but these weren't carrying any bombs, for they were hunting for airships.
A bomber out on reconnaissance took pictures of the aircraft and radioed in the time and location. It was carrying a few pounds of bombs, but not enough for much; it flew overhead and a flight of planes took off to intercept it but the bombs it dropped flew wide anyway.
Meanwhile, a Peragosan corps was approaching the coast in transports…
The PI-23s met a Monitor-class semi-rigid and two Expeditious-class nonrigids flying together. They opened fire on one of the smaller 400-foot Expeditious class, believing it's smaller size as evidence of weaker armament. Several planes fell to the 1-inch cannon on the Monitor-class, but after they shot at it a few times with their own cannon, it was silenced and there was nothing left but 6 .50 caliber guns on the Monitor-class and 14 .30 caliber and the same number of .50 caliber guns on the smaller Expeditious-class. After silencing a number of them and losing a total of 4 planes, the squadron sped off, leaving behind them a slowly burning Monitor-class airship.
Several days passed before the main fleets met over Narthen. The Peragosan airship fleet consisted of 3 of their 900-foot 10-engined Gargantuan-class zeppelins, among other, numerous smaller classes, while the Martellon fleet consisted of 3 Juggernaut-class, while there were about 5 Dreadnought-class, 16 Emperor-class, and 30 of the smaller Monitor and Expeditious classes.
First of all, the Paregosans launched their squadrons, and 9 squadrons of Martellon fighter-bombers also launched.
After dropping from their trapezes in the hangar bays, the planes flew at first in broad lines towards each other. Then they formed a wedge and at about 500 yards they opened fire. In the initial blaze, at least 6 planes, or about half a squadron, were lost on either side. Then the individual planes broke up and began to spiral and dive, trying to shoot their counterpart down, while in the case of a few daredevils, headed towards the giant zeppelins that were trading cannon and rocket fire. A few rockets were fired in the direction of the approaching planes but since most of the rockets were fired at the opposing airships, the approaching airplanes could spiral out of the way. Most of the rocket turrets were loaded with anti-airship rockets, with warheads that penetrated the hull and then exploded, rather than exploding after a certain time period, but a few were armed with timed rockets, that exploded after 5 seconds, and others were armed with regular impact-triggered warheads.
For every fighter plane that broke out of the line to attack the enemy airships, usually there were two or three enemy planes that broke out of the line to intercept them. Several were, surprisingly, armed with anti-airship rockets, and once a plane shot a blimp, then it would either explode or collapse and start to fall, depending on whether it was full of hydrogen or helium. A few engines on both sides' airships were destroyed, and one turret fired 12 timed rockets at an approaching Paregosan squadron; none were left after the smoke and flame cleared. Soon the planes broke out of the dogfight line to refuel and rearm, and then the airships approached to within 2000 yards and began trading machine gun and rocket fire. Several timed rockets hit the duraluminum sides of an airship and would bounce off and explode; or, if timed perfectly, then would explode just above the armor plating, hopefully melting a small hole and driving metal fragments into the gasbags.
The fighters, or at least the Paregosan ones, dropped out of their landing bays again, and another Paregosan squadron that appeared out of nowhere was annihilated by the Imperial line-of-battle.
Meanwhile, on the ground, mechanized divisions armed with halftracks and armored divisions equipped with the T-40 and M4 tanks were duking it out. The first Peragosan attack came with dismounted infantry cautiously advancing towards a hill; however, they were cut to pieces by the tanks hiding in the bushes. Soon after the initial brigade was rendered inoperable, the rest retreated to the halftracks and advanced forward. The M4s this time finally got to use their 37 mm and 75 mm guns. Then an anti-tank battalion was brought up and the tanks had to retreat, but they slaughtered the mobile anti-aircraft brigade, paving the way for the P-45s that came flying overhead. As soon as the Peragosans lifted their heads, 200-pound bombs dropped down, not to mention the .50 caliber rounds that carved tracks in the ground, even if they didn't damage the tanks and armored vehicles that much. The Peragosan Field Marshal issued a final call for retreat before his command tank was taken out by a 75 mm anti-tank gun, and the remnants of 2 Mechanized Infantry divisions and 3 Armored Divisions, with approximately 13,750 men left, began retreating. However, about 6785 surrendered, leaving a very small number to head home.
Meanwhile the Air battle was ending in total defeat. The Peragosan ship Gargantuan was slowly falling to the sea burning, while the other two Gargantuan-class ships were aflame but retreating before one was destroyed by attacking fighters. The rest of the Peragosan airship fleet was heading at its full speed of 75 miles per hour back for home. The fleet that was there to support the amphibious landing was very surprised when all of a sudden about 20 Emperor-class ships came over the trees. They started futilely firing their 40 mm anti-aircraft guns, but 2000 pounds of bombs per ship quickly silenced it; the aircraft carrier was sunk, as was the heavy and light cruisers relegated to guarding it, and the destroyers headed home but several of them were sunk. In the end, only the transport carrying the 6785 men and a few destroyers survived, but they survived more because of speed and the lack of bombs; each Emperor-class carried enough bombs (2 1000-pound bombs) to sink an aircraft carrier and not much else; if the 2000 pounds of bombs had been carried in, say, 4 500 pound bombs instead, nothing would have survived completely undamaged.