most important segment of a Martian army is its air fleet. Air power
on Barsoom, as on Earth, is generally the decisive factor in war. For this
reason a large variety of airship types exist on Barsoom with several different
basic weapons systems. The size of the air ships range from small, one
man, unarmed scout flyers to the huge aerial battleships with crews of
ten thousand men. All such ships should be visualized as being similar
to earthly naval vessels with turrets and propellers. Flight is possible
through Barsoomian science and the discovery of the eighth Barsoomian ray,
which repels the ship from the gravity of Barsoom. The eighth ray is contained
in buoyancy tanks on the various aircraft so that wings, wing surface area,
and other similar earthly problems of aircraft design are not applicable
to the Barsoomian air fleets.
The small one-man scout ships resemble surfboards
with propellers at the rear, and with a small wind-screen. The pilot lies
down while in flight and, as on all Barsoomian aircraft, attaches himself
to the buckles on the airship with the leather fastenings on his harness.
Such scout ships are generally faster than the larger battleships and those
of Helium can reach speeds in excess of 1000 miles per hour.
All Barsoomian airships can stop over a location
of target and hover, much in the fashion of a helicopter, because their
speed has noting to do with remaining airborne. Small airships exist to
carry from one ot ten crew members. Such ships serve as scouts, messenger
ships, patrol craft over a city, pleasure craft and transportation for
the wealthier classes, and even for sport. Jeddaks normally have a number
of such ships in their personal hangars and these are usually the fastest
ships in their country's fleet. Small ships of these types are also carried
by the larger warships for use in raids.
In such raids the larger ships operate almost
as aircraft carriers and release swarms of smaller ships. The First Born
made extensive use of this tactic in their raids on the Therns. The larger
ships generally have crews of 100, 1000 or 10,000, following the Martian
system of decimalized military forces. Commanding officers of such ships
also serve on the ground in command of similar numbers of men. Most cities
of the red Martians are well defended from air attack, so nations wishing
to attack such cities use their fleets to blockade the city and land large
numbers of troops for a land siege.
Among the larger class of ships one would also
find large transport vessels capable of transporting the thoats used by
Martian cavalry units. Though such units are few in most red Martian armies,
the ships were used by John Carter to transport his green Martian allies
in the assault on Zodanga. It is assumed similar transport vessels were
used to carry the Green Martians to Okar and to Manator.
Troops can be landed from the large battleships
by either lowering them down ropes dropped over the side or by actually
landing the ships. IN an assault on Gathol ships from Panar even had troops
use equilibrimotors to land.
The weaponry carried by airships is of three kinds
for most Barsoomian fleets. These include rapid-fire guns, which
most closely resemble earthly pom-pom guns and fire explosive radium bullets.
Such guns are found on even ten-man cruisers. The larger radium cannon
is found don the larger classes of Barsoomian aircraft and is similar to
the big guns on Terran warships. In addition to the guns carried on the
decks. Barsoomian airships have the capability of dropping bombs on other
ships or ground targets.
Both rapid-fire guns and radium cannon are found
in the ground defenses of most red Martian cities. These are on the walls
and on taller buildings in the city itself, which helps explain how such
cities were well defended form air attack. Another means of air transportation
is the equilibrimotor. This is a small flying belt, similar to those
used in the Buck Rogers comic strip. Barsoomian cities often
have stations where travellers can rent these flying belts, and quickly
travel to distant parts of the city. They are seldom used in warfare. The
use of Panar of equilibrimotors in a night assault on Gathol was both highly
unusual and highly unsuccessful. The stations renting equilibrimotors often
close down at nightfall and the city guards patrol the streets with their
own equilibrimotors, aiding the air patrols in small air cruisers.
As a final note on airships and their weaponry,
it should be mentioned that a highly unusual weapon was developed by the
city of Jahar in a quest for world domination. The air fleet of Jahar was
equipped with a disintegrating ray that could destroy metals, wood or flesh,
depending upon the setting of the machine gauges. This weapon was fairly
short ranged and could be out ranged by foes with radium cannon who were
forewarned of the power of the disintegrating ray. The only defense against
the ray was a coating of a ghastly blue protective material. Airhips of
Jahar were universally of this colour as only they had developed this awesome
The developer of the disintegrating ray, Phor
Tak, also developed a form of guided missile that could be attracted to
this blue protective substance. This occurred after Phor Tak had been exiled
from Jahar and became determined to destroy the Jeddak of that city, Tul
Axtar. Phor Tak's missiles were never used because his laboratory's entire
stock and equipment for the production of these weapons were destroyed
after the defeat of the air fleet of Jahar by Helium.