Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Self Directed Project

So... For this project, I know I want to be working on vehicles ive looked at most of the vehicles commonly found in life, however there was a few missing, Hovercrafts, Spacecraft, and Airships.

In these three I have attempted one before, but for a few reasons it didnt go quite as I wanted.

Airships and Aircraft.

Regardless of trying before, this is where I will be directing my focus for this project once again, the first time suffered from being too directly focused with existing airships (of which there were very few that actually survived) which left me bottlenecked eventually and put into a corner.

However, after soaking in a dozen hours of Ghibli animation I wondered about the airship design again, because.. in no way are the airships in any ghibli production capable of flight, yet they do. this is obviously because they are fictional, last time I was so bogged down in reality that the end result of my stuff suffered heavily for that.

The Real ZMC-2

My Transcription ZMC-2

The ZMC-2 was the airship that I used for my transcription in year two. chosen because it was the only airship ever to fly with an entirely metallic envelope, so I naturally thought "for the concept of a combat airship it is the only suitable candidate".

But again, when thinking about it realistically, designing an airship that is heavily based on reality, is destined to fail, because all the airships that ever flew in reality including the ZMC-2... Failed. Haha, true story.

So, I will be untethering the all the ropes and chains making the designs fixed into a position that they cant evolve from.

A fantastic example of what I would want to accomplish for this project, is a series of planes and Airships that fit into a shipline bracket using inpiration from Laputa Castle in the Sky's "Goliath" air destroyer.

"Goliath" (dual screenshot collage)

When looking at this it is clear that it could never fly in reality, yet who cares?! it flies because Miyazaki said it can fly and thats all we need to know. taking that on board Im going to design and make a series of ships using this as inspiration.

I also looked at airships used in his other productions, because Dirigibles are a common theme for most of Miyazaki's works. however the other dirigibles are either far too enchanted looking / magical, or too realistic.

by enchanted and whimsicle I mean they encompass flapping wings and fins like an organic creature. while flapping wings work aesthetically in the setting they are placed in (Howls Moving Castle) because it is a world based heavily on magical spells witches and wizards, It is not the way I personally want to see my productions take shape. here are some examples.

Lots and lots of organic feeling and looking technology here, wings like a bird, and fins like a fish. whereas Goliath is purely industrial looking, It looks like it was designed to be the most powerful thing to ever fly.

It encompasses strong looking rivetted metalic plating symbolic of early metalic steam warships like HMS-Dreadnaught, and other things like the 1916 Mark I "Tank" the first ever self proppeled war machine.
However because its an airborne vessel, it has been given this kind of rounded feel to decrease its aerodynamic profile despite its size.

(the rivets arent propperly clear on this image of Dreadnought :< )

The old Rivetted metal plating can be more easily seen on an unnamed Armoured Train that is also used to further the odd technological setting of the Laputa Castle in the Sky movie.

*snaps fingers* and back to airships

from the enchanted airships of Howls Moving Castle, there was another dirigible refference in Kiki's Delivery Service which was too much like a real world airship to really take any refference from, since im trying to avoid the real world scene again for this project.

Looks very similar to a scaled down version of Hindenburg which as we are all aware, exploded in an infamous explosion resulting in the famous quote "Oh the humanity!"

There are of course other types of airships which take on a even more ancient theme, from the wind sail and galleon ages of the 1600's where literally the gondola of the airship is a Galleon type sailing hull.

(geek insert :> )

on the common looking airship (A) the small box at the bottom of the envelope (the balloon part) is called the "Gondola" on the odd looking super cool quick paint drawing of the air galleon (B) the gondola is still the part that hangs down from the main envelope section.

Airship designs where Galleons are used as Gondola for Airships to make them fly have been used before by various people, the newest incarnation of this kind of airship is from the newest 3 Musketeers film there is a floating galleon with sails on the sides of the ship instead of the top, since the top had been replaced by a large balloon type device.

This kind of airship features more prominantly in the Steampunk genre of film and media, searching in google "Steampunk airship" will grant you an entire catelogue of these types of airship, from renders to models to concepts. Im not too fond of the old galleon sailing ships, whether airborne or not, I just feel that nerdy buzz that I feel when watching Laputa.

Now of course, "Goliath" isnt the only aircraft in the movie Laputa Castle in the Sky, there is also the Tiger Moth, which is a pirate ship, not typically designed as a galleon looking craft, and is actually rather a cute looking small airship. which again, would never fly in real life, but as we have seen, it clearly does fly because Miyazaki says it does.

Its the Metal clad, proppeller driven airship type of craft that really makes me gave a nerdgasm, even though all the others enchanted or not are cool, they are not what I will be looking for in this project.


  1. Hey Dii,

    I want you to have a bash at shape-extraction and form-building using this ace freeware software:


    Follow the link - download - play. That's an order.

    We still need to establish the 'envelope' into which your love of airships etc is going to fit to give your minor project a decent grounding. Try and imagine who is commissioning you to devise these speculative vehicles, and for what purpose...

  2. Not entirely sure why you say all airships that ever flew in reality "failed" when there were several robust and successful examples, many of which never had any operational accidents such as Graf Zeppelins I and II, and the British R-100. Furthermore there were many more successful airships that exhibited good design and only experienced operational accidents due to terribly negligent mishandling.

    Also I would lay dispite to the claim that no aircraft in Ghibli films would fly. Tigermoth is actually a very believable semi aerostatic airship and if you give her a gas turbine power plant with a technology level from about our 20's or 30's, she becomes flyable. All the aircraft in Porco Rosso would easily fly, and of course the airship in Kiki's delivery service is an almost boringly typical example of a medium sized rigid airship. Goliath is an example of a ship that would be far too heavy to fly, and the flapters would be structurally inadequate even if they had a high enough power to weight ratio.

    Miyazaki grew up observing the construction of aircraft.