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Volume 2806

Kevin O'Meara art from ERB-dom 10
Descriptions and Artist Interpretations: Part I

Barsoomian Aircraft
Reprinted from Scott Bizar's "The World of Barsoom" the accompanying booklet
 for the role playing game John Carter: Warlord of Mars 
(©Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.)
The 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 weapon. 

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.

David Burton Artist Journal



Blue Book - June 1930Blue Book: July 1930 - A Fighting Man of Mars 4/6

Frank E. Schoonover: Gods of Mars - sepia FP dup of DJ
Ballantine Edition ~ Gino D'Achille artHugh Hutton Wraparound Cover: A Fighting Man of Mars - frontispiece
Robert Abbett art: Ballantine 1964Four Square UK editionGods of Mars ~ Ballantine Edition ~ Robert Abbett artJapanese edition
Blaine Art: What must they have thought when they saw me apparently floating upright upon thin air?Frank R. Paul illlustration for Master Mind of Mars in Amazing


A steel blade pierced the very center of his heart.Turning, the warrior leaped over the rail to his death.

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Modern Airship manufactured in Tarzana, CA
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