More work on the Aludran Air Destroyer Perkunas, a 630-foot aerial battleship converted into a dedicated ground attack vessel. Queen's Lance is there for scaling things like doors and armour plates, since I'm drawing the three Air Destroyers scaled to one another.
Built as a broad-hulled pre-Dreadnought aerial battleship with heavy 14-inch and 8-inch wing turrets, her conversion prior to the Reformation War involved the removal of all of her upperworks, followed by an operation using a series of winches to turn her completely over with one side resting on a sandbank. Following this she was refitted with massive flat armoured panels over her turret rings and a battery of smaller casemate guns, with bomb bays mounted on her flanks. Since there was no time to make solid armour plates of the size required, the panels on her underside were two plates of face-hardened steel separated with massive bolts, with a layer of concrete poured between them.
The complete refit of her interior also allowed for a substantial modernisation, including the fitting of electric windshield wipers, insulation and a dedicated air supply with a sealed cabin and ventilated gun decks. Perkunas had originally been built to use kerosene lamps and steam-hydraulic turret rotation, with power for only the searchlights and anti-collision lamps; the fitting of three additional dynamos made her the first Aludran Leviship to exclusively use electrical lighting, with Queen's Lance becoming the second seven weeks later. Hydraulic drive motors for the casemates were also linked to her mains supply, though elevation was performed with steam hydraulics for the 6-inch guns and manual cranks for the others. Though experiments were performed with the forward 6-inch casemate (which was used as a testbed throughout the refit) the Aludran electric motors of the time were simply too bulky to emulate the fully electro-hydraulic gun laying of period Chiran warships.
Designed purely for ground attack, her main armament was 36 six-inch cannons, along with 20 four-inch guns and 54 37mm quick-firing autocannons. Technological limitations of the time precluded any weapon larger than 3-inch being mounted in an underside turret due to the risk of recoil shock detaching the gunhouse, so her entire armament was mounted in casemates. Like all bomber Air Destroyers her capacity vastly exceeded that of any conventional aircraft, with the four bays giving a total payload of 480,000 pounds of ordnance: typically this was some combination of 500lb, 1,000lb and 2,000lb iron bombs. Her mechanical bombsight was adapted from a unit designed for the Etrusean Dragon heavy bomber.
Little attention was paid to her upper surface and her only armament there was bolted-on gun pits for 8.1mm medium machine guns. Due to being turned upside down, all of her coaling hatches ended up on her upper surface; this plus the two massive rudders added to her sides meant coaling was a difficult operation, and at Hanet she was moored next to a high bridge with her rudders and tail in the river. This is also what allowed a group of saboteurs access to her upper surface; though the damage was severe, it was entirely limited to the exhaust ducts, ventilation system and upper engine gondolas, and repair crews soon rendered Perkunas fully operational again.
Having participated in the Battle of Oaken Mill, Perkunas was finally lost with all hands while assisting in the assault on Janek City. A shot from the Citadel's pinnacle gun Long Tom (which the Aludrans thought had run out of ammunition since it had not fired for a week) tore the port side of the bridge off before exploding between the additional armour panels and the hull, destroying the boiler line above and causing a series of explosions in Perkunas' coal stores that resulted in an almost complete loss of lift. Though mortally wounded, Captain Nichelle sen Emera pulled the Perkunas out of a near-vertical dive and steered the crippled leviathan into the side of Citadel Janek, opening the breech that would ultimately allow for the final assault on the fortress four days later. The impact was so severe it shifted the entire Citadel three inches on its foundations and led to its partial collapse two months after the end of the war, though within a year it had been rebuilt.
Nichelle's final words were the subject of much speculation: initially the garbled radio from the dying Leviship was disregarded and propaganda reported them as "Nir Alud omii," but many years later the old tapes were released and analysed; a voice distorted by a partly-missing jaw saying "you were right" followed by laughter. This remained a mystery until Nichelle's diary was found, with the final entry speaking about her wife's words to her before she left, "I'm certain someday you'll die in that woman's arms."
Perkunas, the ancient goddess of thunder in the old Aludran pantheon, was one of the most powerful of the goddesses of nature; it was said that she set the world in motion with a single blow from her staff, and that she made the earth tremble with her voice. From this comes the most relevant epithet applied to the giant Air Destroyer: Ko Raiz Zul
The Earth Shaker