1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 72

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 72

“Let’s face it,” said Minnie Hugelmair. “What we ought to do is turn this hangar” — she gestured at the structure that had been erected in the square to shelter the plane while the repair work on it was done — “into the world’s first aviation museum. Because that’s all this fancy airplane is anymore, a museum exhibit.”

Eddie was pretty sure she was right. At least, until the civil war was over.

It didn’t occur to him that the term “civil war” was a misnomer. Everywhere else in the USE, people might be starting to make wisecracks about the “phony civil war.” But not in Saxony. By now, Banér’s army had savaged much of the province except in the vicinity of Leipzig where von Arnim’s forces ruled the roost. Swedish cavalry patrols never ventured into the countryside any longer except in large numbers. Georg Kresse and his Vogtlanders had organized a large irregular army that operated on the Saxon plain as well as in the mountains. After the atrocities they’d committed, God help any Swedish mercenary who fell into their hands.

Prague, capital of Bohemia

“What an utterly charming idea,” said Francisco Nasi. He spoke softly, barely more than a murmur, because he was talking to himself. There was no one else in his office at the moment.

He left the radio message he’d just gotten on the table and went to a window.

He’d established his headquarters in the Josefov, as Prague’s Jewish district was coming to be known. That was perhaps the single most ridiculous side effect of the Ring of Fire that Francisco had yet encountered. In the history of Prague in the world the Americans had come from, the Jewish district had gotten that name in the course of the nineteenth century. The name was in honor of the Austrian emperor Joseph II, who’d emancipated the empire’s Jews in the Toleration Edict of 1781. Somehow or other — probably through Judith Roth — that anecdote of a world that didn’t exist and if it did was hundred and fifty years in the future had spread through the Jewish district. And now, more and more people were calling the district by that name.

The situation would simply be amusing, except that Francisco — and Morris Roth, he knew — were worried that Wallenstein might find out about it. The man sometimes had a volatile ego, and he might take offense that the Jews weren’t naming the district after him. It was Wallenstein, after all, not some phantasmagorical Emperor Joseph, who had emancipated Bohemia’s Jews in this universe.

Nasi had situated his headquarters in the Jewish district for several reasons. Those ranged from simple prudence — Wallenstein’s edicts notwithstanding, no sensible Jew was yet prepared to assume that pogroms were entirely a thing of the past — to his decision that he needed to find a wife, a project that wouldn’t be helped in the least if he distanced himself from the community in which he hoped to find the blessed woman. That said, he was very wealthy, so he’d obtained a building close to the river that gave him a good view of the Hradcany and the hills behind the Mala Strana. He found looking out over that very pleasant scenery helped concentrate his thoughts.

He wondered, for a moment, by what circuitous route that message had come to him. Through Rebecca Abrabanel, of course — the message itself had come directly from her. But how and from whom had she gotten it?

Given the content of the message itself, it had to have come from Luebeck. He couldn’t think of any other plausible explanation.

He’d read the message enough times to have it memorized by now, and went over it again in his mind.

May soon need aircraft available for important passengers within two weeks. Military aircraft not suitable. No other civilian aircraft available in time. What are possibilities at your disposal?

He couldn’t keep from grinning. “What an utterly charming idea!”

It would cost him a small fortune, though. Not even Richter would agree to demolishing entire city streets without recompensing those dislocated. There wouldn’t be any immediate return, either, most likely. It would just have to be written off as a loss.

On the other hand…

Ultimately, when all was said and done, he was in the business of exchanging and facilitating favors. The actual collection of information — espionage, as such — was simply the first step in the process. Most spies and spymasters never went beyond that step, of course. That was not the least of the reasons that most spies died young and poor and most spymasters lived in garrets. The real profit was all in what you did with the information.

He was sure he knew what lay behind that message. So, what was it worth to have a very large favor owed to him by two people who might someday be the two most powerful people in the world? The two most influential people, at any rate, power being an increasingly elastic phenomenon.

Quite a lot, he decided. Easily worth a small fortune.

He went back to the desk and rang the little bell that sat there. A moment later, his secretary appeared.

Nasi was already writing the message. “I need to have this sent immediately by radio. Well, by nightfall, at any rate. It’s going to Dresden so we may need to wait for the evening window.”

He had his own radio in his headquarters. Quite a good one, too. But radio transmission and reception was what it was, and Dresden was on the other side of the Erzgebirge.


As it turned out, conditions were suitable for immediate transmission. So, to his surprise, Jozef Wojtowicz found himself summoned back to the Residenzschloss by late afternoon, no more than a few hours after he’d left it.

When he got back to Richter’s headquarters, he found her there in the company of a stocky young German. He recognized the man immediately, although they’d never actually met. He was Eddie Junker, the pilot.

“New plans,” said Richter. “Let me show you.”

Again, he came to stand next to her. This time, though, she had a map of the city proper in front of her. Her finger was placed on the big square and then traced a route down the large street leading south.

“We need this entire street widened. For at least fifty yards, maybe a hundred. Remove enough of the buildings to make the street” — she cocked an inquisitive gaze on Junker.

“I want at least sixty feet. That’d give me twice the wingspan of the plane. Anything less gets too risky.”

She nodded. “That means widening it about thirty feet. If we’re lucky, we can do that by just removing the first row of buildings on one side of the street. But if we need to, we’ll level them on both sides.”

Removing the first row of buildings —

Level them on both sides, maybe —

“I’m assigning you and all your Poles to the project,” Richter went on. “I’ll give you as many more people as I can free up. This project takes priority over everything else except defending the walls against a direct assault.”

Back to hauling rocks. Did God have a grudge against Poles in general? Jozef wondered. Or was the Almighty specifically enraged at him for some reason?

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32 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 72

  1. Peter says:

    I have a sneaking suspicion that Jozef will never suceed in escaping the rocks. :-)

  2. dave o says:

    If I recall, Eddies’ plane carried Denise, Minnie, Gretchen and Noell into Dresden. That should be plenty of lift to bring Kristin and Ulrik to Magdeburg.

    Is there someone who knows enough about airplanes to tell if it’s really possible to power a plane this size with the available car or truck engines in Grantville? My guess is it is not, but I don’t know enough to make an educated guess. Comments anyone?

  3. robert says:

    Maybe he can hitch a ride with Eddie to Luebeck, get to meet the future Queen and Consort and be taken into the (future) royal court. Heh!

  4. robert says:

    @2 dave o. There must be a tech article in one of the GG’s about that.

  5. dave o says:

    Back from the internet. For what it’s worth, the Ford 2011 Super Duty truck has a 385 HP engine. The Piper Matrix 6 seater has 350 HP engine. So, it looks like it’s possible. There’s still the question of how the airplane is built. There’s no aluminum or other light weight materials in the 17th century. But at least it isn’t a fantastic idea.

  6. Bret Hooper says:

    @2&5 Dave O: A truck engine is likely too heavy (wt/hp) for a plane. IIRC, the first planes built in Grantville used VW air-cooled 50hp engines, which are very light. IIRC, there was some discussion about suitable available engines at that time.

  7. Johnny Davis says:

    @2 Yep. My dad built a Cozy, an experimental 3 seater that’s basically a wide Long-EZ. He had an airplane motor in it for a while, but that burned out, he didn’t like the price of airplane motors, and so put in a Subaru engine with 150ish HP IIRC. Worked fine.

  8. cmtbear says:

    Early piper Cubs came with a 40hp engine, just about any modern car / light truck engine (4 or 6 cyl, rotary) would have a good hp weight to ratio and enough HP.

  9. willem meijer says:

    Have we thought of using the river as a landing strip? It’s frozen. Would this be doable at night? Or at first light? If you can divert or surprize Banér’s men on the other side… A pair of ski’s would be not beyond the skills of the city’s coopers or carpenters.

  10. Daryl says:

    A respected large manufacturer of light aircraft engines is Lycoming. Their web site is http://www.lycoming.textron.com/engines/series/pdfs/235ci%20Insert.pdf but to summarise their smallest engine produces 115 hp at 2,800 rpm and weighs 247 lbs dry. Most small modern cars rev out to 6000 rpm or more and produce more power at that but if held at similar lower revs (as you would cruising on the road) would produce similar power. The Chev 350 V8 is used in kit planes (like a 2/3 scale Spitfire)as it is an older style push rod engine that has more power at lower revs. Most car engines would power small planes quite well but reliability would not be as high as purpose built aircraft engines.

  11. ronzo says:

    @9. Trying that underfire without practice would probably be just as bad as taking off down the street.

  12. johan says:

    @9 & 10: Not to mention taking off at night without proper lighting is suicidal.
    Seems like we might soon be back with Kristina and Ulrik as they make their move. Yay!
    And I did not know that Joseph II emancipated the Jews that early. I always thought Napoleon was the first to do that.

  13. dave o says:

    #6 Bret: I’m totally lacking in knowledge about airplane design. But it would seem to me that, within limits, the weight/power ratio depends more on the total weight of the aircraft than on the engine alone. Remember that nothing produced in the ROF could be called a high performance plane.

    There is an interesting chapter (25) in Bernard Jones’ “The Complete Woodworker” on Aeroplane Woodwork. Jones was a British author, writing in the early 20th Century.

    It’s not relevant to this snippet, but enthusiasts for the capability of 17th century craftsmanship ought to go to the Eli Whitney.org website. Whitney got a contract to make 10,000 muskets in 1798, but took 8 years to complete the contract. And he had more craftsmen and a factory to start with. Downtime armies might get their new weapons by 1640. Of course, breechloaders are a lot more complicated than flintlock muskets.

  14. John says:

    dave o,

    The plane only carried Eddie and Gretchen: Denise, Minnie, and Noell were already in the city. I know you didn’t ask, but it simplifies the discussion on the minimum power requirement of the aircraft.

  15. dave o says:

    #14 John: Thanks for the correction. I thought the reason the air force planes weren’t suitable was that they only had two seaters. At least two and probably four people need to make the trip from Luebeck to Magdeburg. That would mean four trips: hard to remain neutral if that becomes known.

    #10 Daryl: It’s always a pleasure to see a contribution from someone who knows his subject. Thanks.

  16. robert says:

    @15 Four is right. Kristina won’t go without Carolyn and that Norwegian “advisor” needs to come along, as well.

  17. Richard Y. says:

    Yes it is possible to power an aircraft with a car engine. The problem is weight! Most non-jet aircraft engines are air-cooled engines. If there were any old Volkswagon Bugs in Grantville their engines would work fine. They would be “classic” cars by 1998 (When the event occured but if it was in working condition it would power the aircraft OK.

    The “block” of a water cooled engine is usually heaver than an air-cooled engine plus it has to have a radiator and the weight of the liquid coolant. I can’t remember if car manufacturers were making aluminum block water cooled engines as early as 1998 but they might have a low enough weight.

  18. Stewart says:

    Did Eddie arrive in a Belle or a Gustov ?? the Belles had VW air-cooled engines; the Gustov’s had Mazda rotary’s — better HP and top end.

    — Stewart

  19. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Stewart, neither.

    Eddie’s plane is a Dauntless from Kelly Aircraft.

    I forget what type of engine it uses.

    See “Steady Girl” in the deadtree _Grantville Gazette V_.

  20. ET1swaw says:

    IIRC (including pilot): Belles were 2str (dual controls on later builds); Dauntlesses were 3str (power for 4 in a pinch, but not STOL); Gustavs were 4str (with longer range than Belles or Dauntlesses); Monster (Jupiter class with ACLG) was multi-passenger (on normal USE to Venice run); and plane similar to crashed VP plane was 4 passenger/1 pilot with mail planes small 2strs.
    The reason USE AF planes (Belles, Gustavs or the new Dauntlesses) were unsuitable is political not mechanical.
    The reason Nasi is asked rather than renting other civilian aircraft is he can fund it himself letting Simpson and others keep their hands completely clean. Especially important as USE AF took part in Krystallnacht (bombing and recon) and the recent demise of the Mecklenburg reactionary forces (recon).
    So much for Jozef’s ability to sell out to Baner (which IMO he wouldn’t even had contemplated), back to rock duty.
    Some down-time built rotary and hot bulb engines are canon as are down-time built sparkplugs. All propellors have been down-time made.

  21. Bret Hooper says:

    @13 Dave O: You are perfectly correct that “the weight/power ratio depends more on the total weight of the aircraft than on the engine alone.” Actually, it depends entirely on the hp of the engine(s) and the total weight including payload (payload includes pilot and passengers). So a heavier engine with the same hp results in a smaller payload capacity. Thus I would expect that an engine from a Ford Mustang or even a Lincoln V8 would be a better choice than a truck engine.

  22. Robert H. Woodman says:

    I wonder if John Simpson told Mike Stearns who his guests were in Luebeck and whether, as a consequence, this trip to Dresden is, by a circuitous route, Mike’s idea and a plan to give him an opening to put Banér in an even worse position than he’s already in. Or is that simply too convoluted?

  23. John Cowan says:

    #12 Johan: Throughout Western Europe the Jews were emancipated many times and then the emancipation was revoked or ignored. France was the first to emancipate Jews by law (as opposed to by edict) in 1791. Napoleon’s laws remained on the books after 1815 (the Congress of Vienna) but were not enforced in the German lands. Final emancipation in Germany came in 1871 and in Austria-Hungary in 1867 (except during the Third Reich, of course). There’s a chart at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_emancipation#Dates_of_emancipation .

    The reason the U.S. date is given as 1877 is that a few states had laws excluding non-Christians from state public office, but they were typically ignored during the 19th century. The federal government has never had a religious test for office, nor have Jews ever been under any civic disabilities other than exclusion from office.

  24. Daryl says:

    I just did some Googling on car engine weights. Mazda rotarys range from 224 to 268 lbs, Nissan 2 ltrs are about 290 to 330 lbs for various models, Chev iron V8 are 530 while alloy V8 are about 460 lbs. Thus you can see that the engine weight is not a major concern as it isn’t a lot compared to total plane weight and payload weight.

  25. yorrick says:

    If the Chevy V8 weights 530lbs, that’s alot of the weight of an airplane. Don’t forget, these aren’t Gulfstream 650s, these are pre-WWII type airplanes. Compare it to a WWI fighter, the Sopwith Camel weighed a total of 930lbs unfuelled and unmanned. Your truck engine weighs half the weight of this entire plane!

  26. Bret Hooper says:

    @23 Daryl: The difference between 224 lbs. and 530 lbs. engine weight could mean a difference in carrying capacity of 2 passengers, unless the 530 lb. engine is enough more powerful to offset the additional weight.

  27. Daryl says:

    I agree Brett, and that is why in OTL now we drive DOHC 4 valve 2 ltr turbos that put out as much power (if not more) as the old cast iron pushrod engines, but I’m sure that even the old pushrod cast iron engines would be able to power a basic aircraft. Think of the engines available for WW1 planes and I’m sure even the most basic of today’s car engines would be better.

  28. yorrick says:

    @26 you need a bigger plane for a heavier engine; there’s no aircraft aluminum lying around, you can’t make tubular steel, bamboo and silk have to be imported from Africa and China respectively. If you have to build with lightweight (hence weak) wood and hemp, you’re not going to be able to properly support that big engine as well as if you had magnesium alloys. Is the power to weight ratio better on that 530lbs engine? Or is the 290lbs engine a much better ratio? It’s not raw power, it’s power-to-weight. The weight itself matters, since the heavier it is, the more structure you need to hold it in place, the more weight you need for structure, the more wings you need for lift, the more weight you need for wing structure, the more power you need for lift…

  29. johan says:

    @23 John Cowan: Thanks, I also checked out Joseph’s entry on Wikipedia. Says he also emancipated (by edict, of course) the Jews of Galicia. Such a contrast to his strongly anti-semitic mother.

    Regarding the down-time airplanes. The structure of the planes are some combination of leftover metals and a large helping of wood and cloth. More along the lines of OTL interwar aircraft IIRC. With the addition of a glassed-in cockpit and some mechanical instruments of course.

  30. dave o says:

    If anyone wants to design a 1635 5 or 6 seat airplane, I recommend the USDA “Wood Handbook” which contains an enormous amount of information about weight and strengths of a lot of common woods. Given Grantville’s location, one edition or another might well be in one of their libraries. Or in private hands. Of course European trees have different properties, but the book also tells how to perform the tests.

  31. Daryl says:

    Don’t knock wood as a plane building material, you just need metal brackets to spread the load from heavier components. The Mosquito was made out of wood and was one of the fastest WW2 aircraft at 415 mph with the highest ceiling (Nearest equivalent the P38 models ranged from 395 to 420 mph). I tend personally to prefer smaller high tech engines for this purpose (and in my own cars as well), however the 1635 tech base would have more chance of maintaining a more basic engine in the long term and such engines would still suffice for moderately performing aircraft.

  32. yorrick says:

    @31 softwood or hardwood? softwood is lighter, and less strong, which is why you build ships from hardwood, like oak, but that’s heavy, balsa wood is light and isn’t strong

    Mosquito used hardwood and plywood structures as did the Me-163 Komet.

    Ideally, you would use Bamboo, which is stronger than steel, lighter than steel, and you can make rope and fabric out of it as well, bamboo rope is stronger than hemp.

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