I hate to play favorites with the artists I feature here, but Tom Kidd’s is the sort of stuff that got me into steampunk. Not only are his paintings beautiful in their own right; they have a richness in detail that makes each a little exploration into a totally different world.
Kidd illustrated editions of The Three Musketeers (1998) and The War of the Worlds (2001) and is working on his own book titled Gnemo: Airships, Adventure, Exploration.
In the real world, airships weren’t successful weapons of war. Zeppelins were terrifying but inaccurate. Navigation, target selection and bomb aiming were difficult under the best of circumstances. In darkness, at high altitude and amid the English clouds, accuracy was too much to ask for.
German zeppelins were initially immune to attack by aeroplane and anti-aircraft guns. As the pressure in their envelopes was only just higher than ambient, holes had little effect. But once incendiary bullets were developed and used against them, their flammable hydrogen lifting gas made them vulnerable at low altitudes. Several zeppelins were shot down in flames by British defenders. Others crashed on the way to England. The Germans started flying higher and higher, but this only made their airships even less effective.
The zeppelin campaign proved to be a disaster in terms of morale, men and material. Many pioneers of the German airship service were lost.
But why let such facts stand in the way of a good story?
Flying aircraft carriers show up in steampunk, dieselpunk and atompunk fiction so often, we can consider them a genre trope. From Castle Wulfenbach in Girl Genius to the British aircraft carriers in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow to the helicarriers of S.H.I.E.L.D., here is a look at these behemoths of the sky.
Dim (short for Dimitris) Martin is a talented artist from Greece. I first found his work when he did one of the covers for the excellent dieselpunk comic series Skies of Fire (our review here). His portfolio includes many more dieselpunk works, spanning the spectrum from decopunk to noir to Weird War.
Egle “Cathy” Zioma is a Lithuanian artist who has done a few steampunk works, including the cover illustration for the first steampunk novel published in the Baltic state: Andrius Tapinas’ Hour of the Wolf.