Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Build Something Contest - Steampunk Leonardo Helicopter

Leonardo da Vinci's sketch of his idea for a helicopter using an aerial screw
Perhaps unwisely, I decided to enter the Lead Adventure Forum's "Build Something Contest" the other day. I may have bitten off more than I can chew on this, especially since another project deadline recently got accelerated by more than a month.
What looks to be like an MDF model of Da Vinci's helicopter
Nevertheless, I decided to press on, and quickly got an idea when I read the theme was "Flight." Leonardo da Vinci is a personal hero of mine. I tell my students every year that I think he is the most talented and smartest man to walk the Earth, so far. What's more, I own an Italian army for my friend's Victorian Science Fiction/Steampunk games. My friend Tom has written and published his own rules set, For Queen & Planet: The Imperial Wars of Earth and Mars 1845-1930. Check them out -- they're a lot of fun!
One of our games of For Queen and Planet, with fanciful war machines on the tabletop
Tom's rules allow for flying and other war machines, and I had been wanting to scratch-build something for my army to use in our games. The contest is a perfect opportunity. And what better choice for an Italian army than a Da Vinci inspired design?
My Italian army for our Victorian Sci-Fi/Steampunk games
So, my thought is to modify Da Vinci's Helicopter, or aerial screw. With the invention of steam power in our game's time period, his screw no longer needs to rely on man-power to turn the screw's fan blades. I plan on cooking up some sort of lightweight steam power and gear assembly to replace the man powered crank in his design. Obviously, this is steampunk, so it doesn't have to be scientifically accurate or a blueprint for an actual vehicle that could take flight. However, I want to make a nod at the science part of Victorian Sci-Fi, and make it not outrageously unfeasible.
An image I found of a model someone had built, demonstrating Da Vinci's idea of employing human power
 I am still working out what kind of armament it would employ. My first thought was it would be a bomber, able to attack units it overflies by simply dropping bombs down onto them. Anther thought was to make it a helicopter gunship, of sorts, with a gatling gun mounted in some sort of swivel mechanism either beneath the helicopter or out front. So far, no sketches have been made. However, I  have ideas bubbling like the steam engine building up power. Hopefully, something productive comes out of this -- and I actually complete the model, unlike many of Leonardo's designs, which never left paper.

In bocca al lupo!

1 comment:

  1. That's a neat idea. I'd like to see an underslung gatling cannon which would necessitate landing gear inspired by something like the legs of a dragon fly. I think the Maestro would appreciate the allusion to the natural world and the cannon position would echo modern gunships.