During the Crimean War, the French used a number of Floating Batteries – ironclad hulls with a complement of heavy guns, but no means of propulsion. They were towed into position by smaller vessels – mostly paddle-steamer frigates – and used to bombard Russian coastal forts with some success. They were also deployed to the Adriatic during the 1859 Franco-Austrian War.
They struck me as a great idea for some new Aeronef vessels. Using the same idea of battleship-sized but unpowered vessels with lots of guns, this time flying rather than floating, I’ve come up with two different variants.
The first model is the Redoutable, the early version of the flying battery idea. This has 18 heavy guns in open mounts on the deck and a small deckhouse for the gun crews to shelter in.
The second model is what I imagine to be an updated version of the design – maybe a few years later, the original vessels were upgraded. These vessels, known as the Solférino class, retain ten of their original gun mounts but with the end ones replaced by two heavy battleship turrets and, in recognition of the increasing threat posed by fixed-wing aircraft, two turrets each mounting three rapid-firing small calibre AA guns. The vessels also have a small steam-powered engine to provide power to operate the heavy gun turrets, and a mast with spotters to provide centralised fire control.