A Steampunk History of a World at War

Britain's Navy (1870-1879)

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Saturday, 1 January 1870 to Wednesday, 31 December 1879
Table of Contents 

During this period the Royal Navy was a little slow on the uptake. But with rising tensions across Europe they took action with a new series of ships.

Faraday Ships

Using [Bad Link: Plugin Not Found] it became possible to build huge sea vessels, with one proviso: Their engines must never shut down or they would instantly sink.

The first "Faraday Battleship" was the [Bad Link: Plugin Not Found].


Shortly after Faraday's death in 1867 Faraday it was suggested that the Royal Navy consider the creation of air vehicles using the Faraday Principle. This was primarily a reaction to the work of Count von Zeppelin in Germany.

When considering the development of an airborne counterpart to the sea-going vessels the Royal Navy researchers examined the current state of airborne flight. They were unwilling to follow the balloon approach of the late 18th century French (simply because they did not wish to be seen to be copying the French) and the recent developments by Zeppelin in Germany using a combination of lighter-than-air craft plus the Faraday Principle. As a result they decided to follow the design of the fixed-wing gliders that had been developed from as early as the 9th Century.

Being able to nullify 71% of the vehicle's weight meant that large powered gliders could be built, driven by steam power, using air-screws for propulsion, and launched from short runways. Within a year of the decision to go ahead, the Navy had a number of working designs. The best being the Sea Eagle design produced by [Bad Link: Plugin Not Found] (son of Isambard Kingdom Brunel) which was adopted for production and Brunel's company (Brunel Air-Borne Vessels) given the exclusive contract to produce the Royal Navy Air-Borne Fleet (colloquially known as the Birds).

Into Space

In the late 1870s that one of the foremost engineers in Brunel's company hit upon a new idea: A vehicle that could break its earthly bonds completely, a space-going vessel.

While the Air-Borne Fleet proved its usefulness rapidly, the Royal Navy could not see any great advantage in going into space and it was not until 1886 that space-going Royal Navy vessels went into service.