In Command & Conquer: Red Alert (1996), Albert Einstein travels back in time and kills Adolf Hitler. He prevents the emergence of Nazi Germany, but this clears the way for a Soviet invasion of Europe in 1946.
The Soviets are defeated, but they get their revenge three decades later in Red Alert 2 (2000) by attacking the continental United States.
In the third game (2008), it are the Soviets who travel back in time to prevent their defeat at the hand of the Allies. Their trip has unforeseen consequences as well: they inadvertently create a more powerful Japan and trigger a three-way world war.
Throughout these games we get to play with some crazy diesel- and atompunk weapons, from the Soviets’ mighty Apocalypse Tank to Tesla Troopers.
Continue reading “Weapons of Red Alert”
In 1946, the United States Air Force began to study the feasibility of nuclear-powered aircraft. Only one plane, built by Convair, was ever tested. The problem, as Steve Weintz puts it in The National Interest, was that leaders “couldn’t figure out how to pay for it or why they needed it.”
Continue reading “America’s Atomic-Powered Aircraft”
As the Allies closed in on Hitler’s Germany in late 1944 and early 1945, a desperate Nazi regime turned to “wonder weapons” in a final effort to turn the tide in the war.
The best-known as the V-1 and V-2 rockets, which rained down on London by the hundreds but failed to demoralize the British. Others, such as the V-3 cannon and Schwerer Gustav railway gun, were barely used. Others yet, like the German atomic bomb and Die Glocke, either barely advanced beyond the drawing board or never existed at all.
Continue reading “Wonder Weapons of the Third Reich”
Did you know many of the strange German warplanes we see in dieselpunk are based on real designs?
As World War II drew to a close in Europe, Nazi Germany rushed the development of advanced bombers and fighter jets in a final effort to stop the Allies. From the world’s first operational turbojet fighter to a flying wing, some of these technologies were so far ahead of their time that Allied commanders speculated the Germans could have turned the tide of the war if only they had managed to prolong it by a few months.
Continue reading “Strange Aircraft of the Third Reich: Real and Imagined”
America’s first commercially operated monorail was called Trailblazer. Built in Fair Park in Dallas, Texas, this suspended monorail operated from 1956 to 1964. Continue reading “Trailblazer: America’s Forgotten Monorail”
Norman Bel Geddes was an American industrial designer and futurist who had a major influence on the streamlined Art Deco design of the 1930s and 40s.
Few of Geddes’ designs came to fruition. A notable exception was the General Motors Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, also known as Futurama.
One of his unrealized designs was “Airliner Number 4,” a nine-deck amphibian airliner that he sketched in 1929. Continue reading “Norman Bel Geddes’ Fantastical Airliner”
The golden age of the airship began around the turn of the last century, when the first Luftschiff Zeppelin — named after the German Count von Zeppelin who pioneered the construction of rigid airships — was launched.
The possibility that airships might be used in war was quickly recognized. George Griffith’s The Angel of the Revolution (1893) has airship bombing Russia’s major cities. H.G. Wells’ The War in the Air (1908) describes the obliteration of entire fleets by aerial attack. Continue reading “Airships in War: Not So Successful in the Real World”
Although airships are popular in steampunk, their heydays came during the era that is more typically associated with dieselpunk. They shared the skies with that other novelty, the aeroplane. Both coexist elegantly in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004).
Planes represent adventure and perhaps a tad of recklessness. Airships exhale confidence and grandeur. They represent an era that was characterized by progress and great confidence in it.
Continue reading “Airships: True Liners of the Skies”
Probably there is nothing more steampunk than the locomotive — besides the airship, of course. Railways have always represented movement, freedom, human genius, but after their introduction they soon became infected by the germ of war and started serving destructive purposes.
This seems to be the sad destiny of all human inventions, from the ancient chariots to the modern airplanes. Continue reading “Railways and War”
This enormous double-decker train was supposed to connect the major cities of Hitler’s Germany on broad three-meter gauge tracks.
The Breitspurbahn, as it was called, was a personal pet project of Adolf Hitler’s, who enthusiastically embraced a suggestion from his building master, Fritz Todt, to construct a new high-capacity rail system for Germany. Continue reading “Hitler’s Super Train”