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KS Update 152


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Well we've discussed this in the discord, might as well bring it to the forums. Also gives me a chance to write it up more coherently. 

J'accuse sir! Anachronism most foul indeed. 

While no one is disputing the ancient and venerable art of obnoxious advertising to sprogs in magazines comparable to "Amazing Stories" through out the era, most of the more iconic items we remember from what are now vintage advertisements were post war innovations. The now sadly somewhat forgotten American "pet" that is Sea Monkeys for example didn't exist as a product until 1957. Which is a bit convenient because the modern hovercraft wasn't really a thing until 1959, and Christopher Cockerell didn't coin the term until at least 1955.

Similar ground effect craft had existed previously, with some of the features we now recognize as part of the Hovercraft showing up. Specifically Finnish and Soviet military prototypes, neither of which got particularly far. Wikipedia also lists an aerofoil style flying boat, but while that concept use similar physics, I'd say they're rather divergent in their practical use of said physics. So the idea of military prototypes from the ever open to discussion and the exchange of ideas freely with the world Soviet Union, and Finland influencing a set of DIY blue prints for tykes in the English speaking West with basic access to machine tools seems a bit... out there to say the least.  

While the venerable Konstantin Tsiolkovsky deserves unending amounts of credit more than he received in life for his pioneering work in spacecraft design, aeronautics and more, his one paper on movement via air cushion was theoretical math with a rough design of an air cushion train. Not quite the hovercraft Lexington's looking for. Nor would or did he refer to it by the same name. Nor would the air train concept he devised really be worked on in any serious sense until the 1960s.

One could argue that Charles Fletcher beat Cockerell to the punch with his WW2 invention of a similar machine, but considering it was still classified even when Cockerell was applying for his patents in the mid 1950s, and the invention itself didn't occur until later in the war, we can probably assume that wasn't influencing blue prints being sold to the industrial minded child or warship with a knack for tinkering either.

In conclusion, I find it wildly unlikely, if not completely implausible that either the term hovercraft, or really the concept of the hovercraft in a form where one can simplify it to something kids can make by quietly tearing apart Mom's vacuum with Dad's tools from the garage, would be available circa 1939. 

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Dear @TwoHeavens I only agree on you on the use of the term hovercraft.

The concept itself was in the heads of several minds long before the 1930s and it is only a very small fictional step from rocket science being spread by magazines, including blueprints of DIY rockets - which is a historical fact, without such magazines the manned moon landings would've never been done- to magazines like the Amazing Stories one in which Ziolkowskis stories he apparently wrote (yeah, looked that one up) would fit just fine. 

The other thing is, that we move ina fictional universe and one which was used before by another game. So if Sheherazade gets any hints at hovercraft/glideboats enthusiasts or magazines in the 1931 update (if it ever is released), your point is completely out of the window. 

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Rocketry was a far more wide spread and commonly communicated concept than the obscure concept of a hovercraft. If it wasn't obscure then Cockerell wouldn't get the credit as the father of such devices for the SR-N1 and it's follow up commercial implementations (and later military applications like the US LCAC) in the West. Even then model rocketry as a hobby wasn't really a thing until the 1950s, the the companies that ran and run DIY ads to this day in some cases not really coming about until the late 50s/early 60s. This didn't stop enterprising young men like Homer Hickham and his Big Creek Missile Agency from making their own rocket fuel and cutting deals with adult machinists to have nozzle sections machined for them, but that's a horse of a very different color than ordering away for a kit from a magazine. 

I even went to dig up two archived back issues of Amazing Stories from 1939. The ads ranged from dandruff cures, get rich quick schemes, false teeth and razor blades to literary agents*, radio operator training and regular ads for a Popular Aviation magazine. No DIY kits of any kind though I don't have the rest of '39 to check.

And of course you can always pull the fictional world card, but BCS has always been somewhat serious about it's historical accuracy and this particular detail was so far out of left field it made my eyes roll. Unless someone's got an ad laying around to prove otherwise, the whole thing is still predicated off a US advertisment from if I had to guess, the 70s, maybe the 60s, that stayed around mostly unchanged well in to the 1990s when I was reading similar comics and magazines. 


*Sounds a bit odd compared to everything else but when you consider Amazing Stories was a launch pad for a lot of now legendary sci-fi writers it makes sense.

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And now, a word from the Editing Team:

"You're quite right that the word "hovercraft" is an anachronism, which is annoying that we missed that.  The foundational idea is basically okay: Tsiolovsky did indeed conceptualize a craft floating over projected air (for want of a more technical phrase) in the late `20s.  And, more directly inspirational was the Austrians' Luftkissengleitboot, though it never saw action.

We also consulted Amazing Stories, and there is no DIY aspect of that magazine at all- we used it here for inspiration (a bit too strongly, we might add.)

You *could* say that we're positing that, after the appearance of the Morganas and Belles, nautical technology and innovations became much sexier for nerd culture.  In our timeline, American hovercraft research (though more commonly called "Levitation Engines" in pop culture) was kickstarted by the short-lived but significant fear that Morganas were spreading a kind of acidic algae in the ocean waters, making it generally unsafe for traditional boats.

But...probably the best thing to do is remove the word 'hovercraft' and rework the inspiration slightly so that Lexington can have her fun. ;)

Great comments (and research!)"

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