Red Alert 3 concept art

Weapons of Red Alert

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.

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Schwerer Gustav German railway gun

Wonder Weapons of the Third Reich

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.

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Horten Ho IX German flying wing artwork

Strange Aircraft of the Third Reich: Real and Imagined

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.

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Airliner by Norman Bel Geddes

Norman Bel Geddes’ Fantastical Airliner

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”

British navy airship

Airships in War: Not So Successful in the Real World

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”

Vickers Company airship

Airships: True Liners of the Skies

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”

Panzer 88 concept art

Panzer 88: Nazi Madness in the Snow

After the “Ottensian” Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004), maybe we will soon have a real “Piecraftian” dieselpunk movie as well.

Panzer 88 is an upcoming horror film that tells the story of a German Tiger tank in retreat from Russia in the winter of 1944. The five-man crew of the panzer stumbles across a Jewish town that was previously the target of an SS purge. There they become the target of a vengeful supernatural entity “that will stop at nothing until they’re destroyed.”

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