Amphibious Rigid Airship (that boat can FLY!?!?!)
Cygnus is a triumph of engineering and technology. She appears as a large yacht with an odd domed hunchback. She is, in fact, a rigid airship capable of sea travel and rapid take off. Essentially having two ‘modes’ of operation; A boat, Or an airship.
At around 300 feet long, Cygnus is no mere boat. At least 10 people are required for everything to run smoothly, with her full compliment between 12 and 18 including security and passengers. She has multiple air and water propulsion systems and is considered rather fast in both her classes. Due to solar panels, farming and hydrogen/water processed from seawater; Cygnus can stay at ‘sea’ for months at a time. Her Primary defense is not being seen. With mirrored, radar absorbing coating over most of the exterior, she is a visual and radar anomaly. Add to that long range radar and sonar; and she is likely to detect a threat and quickly escape before being detected herself. In the event of coming under fire, the ship has several offensive and defensive features, including: missile batteries, tri rail gun turret, impact absorbing aerogel and ballistic fabrics(e.g. Kevlar). Her overall construction is based on composite honeycomb framework and aerogel and other foams with a hard shell on the exterior.
As said, Cygnus has two operational modes; Boat or Airship; and thus has many operations. While at sea, she is propelled by twin electric turbines housed within the hull. In essence, jet engines for water. For greater speed, twin hydrogen turbo jets and or quad dual-rotor ducted fans can add thrust. When cruising the world Cygnus passes as one of thousands of strange looking vessels that inhabit the oceans. Fishing often takes place. Runabouts are used for short trips and missions. Watch is kept and the ship will stir into action at the first sign of trouble. Takeoff is a three step process; first, the turbojets start their warm up and hydrogen is pumped from the storage tanks into the ballasts to dramatically increase buoyancy; second, as the ship gets lighter the fans kick in at full blast, all straight down; finally, as it leaves the water with all water drive ducts open to drain, the rotors tilt forward and the jet’s afterburners are engaged. Through this entire process the ship is getting lighter and lighter and once the afterburners are fired the ship continues to gain speed as it slips gracefully into the sky. She can go from ‘wow, that’s a really shiny boat’ to ‘what the f**k?! that boat is FLYING!!’ in less than a minute. While aloft, Cygnus is a mirage, often chasing clouds for cover. The chrome-like mirror finish and shiny blue photovoltaic panels mask it in images of it’s surroundings. Civilian pilots would be likely to think they’ve seen a UFO rather than an airship. Cruising in the air is preferred over the sea due to the amount of surface traffic VS air traffic, as well as greater speed. ‘Landing’ at sea is periodically necessary to extract hydrogen from seawater to refuel the storage tanks. Farming takes place on the rear deck, with an outdoor garden of planting boxes and a lower level of sustainable fish and algae farming. The garden can be inclosed in a canopy that functions as a greenhouse in cold weather. Should combat arise, Cygnus is prepared. If attacked, countermeasures can be released, ‘ground’ to air missiles can be fired, and rail guns and R2D2’s can target multiple enemies or missiles. Her offensive capabilities are the same, with one considerable addition; in the bow, along the keel, is a massive chemical laser. Roughly the same as a Canadian battle ship’s main gun, with the exception of a 45 degree swivel lens at the tip, the ‘Phaeton’ allows versatile firing solutions under many scenarios. Using her four fans and thrust vectored jets, she can make a 180 degree turn in about 35 seconds. She can be firing missiles and countermeasures as she comes about, then the laser can fire on multiple targets in rapid succession. If her enemy is unfamiliar with her(as is likely) she can make quick work of them under most circumstances. She has her weaknesses, and when they are threatened she is most capable of running for the hills(or clouds or down to sea level). If you run into a craft at 20,000 feet, the last place you’ll go looking for it after loosing it in some clouds is at 0 feet . She can Take off pretty fast, but she can descend a hell of a lot faster.
(the work continues….)
The exposed area of the ballasts(the ‘roof’ of the ship)is coated with solar cells. It is divided into panels, which are comprised of small hexagonal modules a few inches across. This allows for easy replacement or repair of damaged sections without loosing much power or time. The hydrogen plant and hydrajets are the main beneficiaries of energy produced this way.
Built into the hydrajet’s cruising intake ducts is a seawater hydrogen extraction plant. After extraction, the hydrogen is stored in three large tanks in the belly of the ship. A series hydrogen fuel cells act as secondary hydrogen storage as well as emergency back-up power.
Just as standard turbojet aircraft use their turbines to generate power as well as thrust, Cygnus uses her hydrogen fired jets to produce large amounts of power, most of which is used to power her four turbofans, as they are usually used in concert.
While at sea, Cygnus is propelled by two turbine water pumps, each consisting of two electric motors spinning fans in opposite directions with ducted, vector-able exhaust. The blades of the fans are specially designed to conduct heat well and excess heat from the ship’s systems are routed into the fans. While being an effective cooling system, it also slightly increases thrust by expanding the water. The main water intakes are two louvered openings on the bottom of the hull in front of the motors themselves. There are also smaller intakes running from both sides of the bow to the turbines. These are opened while cruising to decrease drag and increase hydrajet exhaust speed. They also house the hydrogen extraction plant which runs the length of the ducts.
Acting as lift, propulsion, and maneuvering thrusters, the ship’s four ducted fans are crucial to it’s smooth operation. Each is a set of 2 rotors which spin opposite to each other, set inside a cylindrical housing with vectoring control surfaces. She can hover in circles from a stand-still and gain no forward momentum
Mounted in the stern is a pair of typical turbojets. Typical aside from the fact that they burn hydrogen rather that kerosene. This allows high efficiency and abundant fuel in the form of hydrogen extracted from the sea. Each engine is equipped with thrust vectoring nozzles, providing added maneuverability. Afterburners add additional thrust.
The ship’s upper midsection is where the hydrogen ballasts are housed. Comprised of ten separate balloons, the ballasts are capable of changing the ship’s orientation dramatically. By changing buoyancy from front to back or side to side or other configurations, the ship can be pitched or rolled. She is quite maneuverable for an airship. Unlike a typical airship, Cygnus is not lighter than air while aloft, her ballasts only negate about 75% of her overall mass. The remainder is is compensated by the fans. With multiple power sources, staying in flight for long periods is possible, until the need to refuel arises.
Dynamic Hydrogen Storage Tanks
Cygnus’ ballast control is dependent on the ability of massive amounts of hydrogen to be pumped in or out of the balloons at great speed. This is achieved by a complex system; Consisting of three carbon nanotube fiber tanks, six high capacity pumps and a computer regulation system, separate from the ship’s main computer. Though they are linked, they operate independently. The system requires a dedicated computer due to the high amount variables involved in it’s operation. ‘Hydrogen Control’, as it’s called, must handle fueling the jets, filling or deflating the ballasts, filling the tanks with extracted hydrogen(as well as regulating the extraction itself), refilling the fuel cells after use and it has to do all this in cooperation with the crew. It’s quite the piece of programing. The system has a redundant back up for emergencies.
Cygnus is equipped with a suite of anti missile/anti lock countermeasures. She has typical countermeasure flares, intended to confuse heat seeking weapons. She’s also equipped with radar, laser and radio jammers to thoroughly interfere with most weapons and aircraft she would encounter. Finally, along her hull are a series of smoke emiters, who’s smoke is laced with radar reflecting chemicals, allowing her to vanish in a plume and escape radar contact, after which she would likely dive to the surface.
Radar Absorbing/Mirror Skin
Almost the entire hull, excluding the solar panels, is coated in radar absorbing paint on top of which is a thin coat of a compound that gives the appearance of mirrored chrome. This causes the ship to be a reflection of it’s surroundings, in essence, perfect camouflage. This mirroring is also a good laser countermeasure, reflecting most of the energy away from the ship, while the remaining heat is unable to burn all the way through the ballistic fabric. With a radar signature less than a third of it’s actual size, and looking like a bunch of mercury flying around, she is very likely to confuse and perplex VIs, AIs, and humans alike.
Immediately beneath the ship’s hard shell is an eight inch thick layer of ballistic fabrics encompassing the entire hull. Similar to Kevlar, yet much lighter, it is designed not to stop, but instead, to catch most projectiles. Stopping them is done by the layer beneath the fabric.
Impact Absorbing Foams
The 1.3 meter thick layer beneath the ballistic fabric is made up of several layers of different foams and aerogels. It works in tandem with the fabric to decelerate projectiles very effectively. Though it is very effective at stopping a round, it can only do it so much. If multiple rounds hit a small area, they will likely breach the hull, thus, she is not invincible and should not flaunt at danger. The armor is there to keep her from turning into a ball of fire after a few shots. If damaged, the hull must be repaired by cutting out the damaged portion, replacing it and reinforcing the seams.
On the deck above the bow and stern, are two pairs of ‘R2D2’ minigun turrets. Stowing away below deck when not in use, these can be a surprise to an unprepared adversary. If a radar lock is detected they deploy automatically and use their built in radar to shoot down incoming missiles. They can be controlled manually as well, allowing powerful attacks.
Above the bridge are four SAM batteries, two pointing to port and two to starboard. Each battery holds 16 missiles, for a total of 64 available missiles at all times. The batteries pop up from the hull when needed and can be reloaded and maintained from inside the armory, housed under the batteries and rail guns.
Forward of the missile batteries is a three barrel rail gun turret. Again, it is stowed inside the hull when not in use to avoid unnecessary legal complications and catch pirates and the like off-guard. Fully automated reloading and computer aided targeting make this turret a powerful tool.
‘Phaeton’ Chemical Laser
At almost a quarter of the ship’s length, the Phaeton is it’s largest and most powerful weapon. With it’s 45 degree swivel lens targeting system, the Phaeton is a versatile weapon. Capable of firing on different targets in rapid succession, it is superior to it’s ship-mounted canadian counterparts.
Captain And First Mate Quarters