Despite a prehistoric setting, Tales of the Invisible Hand could be described as diesel-punk. That’s because of the aircraft it features—or “airships,” as they’re called here. I’ve always marveled over the aircraft and air combat of World War II, even when considering the many experimental designs that came from that period. While most of those designs might never have seen action, they were fascinating to me just the same.
So, I began to imagine many of the aircraft of Hrtta as my own sort of “what-ifs” of WWII technology. I say many of the aircraft but certainly not all. As the story features advanced civilizations and an otherworldly menace, there are actually a variety of technologies in play at once. As it pertains to the League, at least—a collection of eight ascended nations not unlike our own United Nations—many of the aircraft have specifications and aesthetics weighed against WWII flyers to one degree or another.
As a long-time tabletop gamer, I further imagined these aircraft as having certain advantages over one another based on the nations they hail from, almost as if they were factions in a miniatures game. Accordingly, my earliest notes included liveries, icons, and the tactics they might use in times of war.
- Among the schematics featured, we first see the Black Qinta, a quadrotor airship built by the nation of Korvo. Korvanites favor tilt-rotor airframes above all others, known for unparalleled agility and vertical takeoff. The Black Qinta in particular was commissioned to serve as a reconnaissance airship with the Thae-ano Flotilla and has been further retrofitted with a few artifacts from their lost civilization. This includes a pulse lance, a devastating beam weapon, and a projection sphere housed in the cockpit, a detection device of uncanny vision.
- The next schematic features the Marauder, a two-seater fighter built by the nation of Irz. Irzians were the first to develop jet technology and thus their airships are the fastest among the eight nations of the League. Even so, the state of this technology is more comparable to the earliest jets of the Luftwaffe over jet fighters of today.
- Finally, we see schematics for the primitive fixed-wing airships of Temak, a nation in exile from the League. Having long ago abandoned the League and the science it fosters, Temak’s fixed-wing aircraft are relatively primitive, which includes a dependence on inefficient and range-limiting combustion engines. Temak’s war doctrine seeks to compensate for these shortcomings with overwhelming numbers and brute force. Pictured are their basic Snub Fighter and the Assault Bomber, a lumbering behemoth that dispenses first bombs and then airborne troopers once it’s over the target.
- Crew: 2
- Length: 36.7 ft.
- Wingspan: 44.8 ft. (front), 59.8 ft. (rear)
- Height: 21.3 ft.
- Empty Weight: 13,998 lbs.
- Loaded Weight: 18,452 lbs.
- Powerplant: 4x HV Transverse Tilt-Rotor, 8x Mk2 Power Cores
- Maximum Speed: 405 mph
- Range: N/A
- Ceiling: 24,960 ft.
- Guns: 4x 20mm long-bore Sparkler Cannon
- Ordnance: 1x Md Pulse Lance
- Crew: 2
- Length: 33.5 ft.
- Wingspan: 39.8 ft.
- Height: 12.2 ft.
- Empty Weight: 8,800 lbs.
- Loaded Weight: 14,500 lbs.
- Powerplant: 2x AV Turbofan Screamer, 4x Mk4 Power Cores
- Maximum Speed: 568 mph
- Range: N/A
- Ceiling: 24,650 ft.
- Guns: 6x 30mm Hardpoint Sparkler Cannon (wing), 2x 20mm Point Defense Sparkler Cannon (gunner)
- Ordnance: 2x H-Type Rocket Boxes
- Crew: 1
- Length: 28.5 ft.
- Wingspan: 40 ft.
- Height: 15.4 ft.
- Empty Weight: 8,490 lbs.
- Loaded Weight: 10,500 lbs.
- Powerplant: 1x GV Combustion Type
- Maximum Speed: 375 mph
- Range: 1,020 miles
- Ceiling: 18,000 ft.
- Guns: 4x 15mm Slug Type Cannons
- Ordnance: 4x HV Rockets
- Crew: 16 (Pilot, co-pilot, navigator, bombardier, 12 gunners)
- Length: 92.2 ft.
- Wingspan: 124.6 ft.
- Height: 32.9 ft.
- Empty Weight: 42, 135 lbs.
- Loaded Weight: 60, 500 lbs. (ordnance + Dive troopers)
- Powerplant: 6x HV Combustion Type
- Maximum Speed: 259 mph
- Range: 2400 miles
- Ceiling: 26,000 ft.
- Guns: 19 x Twin 15mm Short-bore Slug Type Cannon
- Ordnance: Max 18,365 lbs. (Multiple Bomb+ Dive Trooper configurations)