Tech level E+ Aerial Recon
The use of observation balloons goes back to the Napoleonic era – and became widespread during WW1. It has not been forgotten in the world of the Morrow Project
The above picture is an Italian design from 1923 : the ”Avorio-Brassone. This balloon has a (hydrogen) gas capacity of aproximately 1100m3 and could be used in wind forces up to 25 m/s. It can rise to to a theoretical height of 2175 m – higher than any earlier design. Note: lack of oxygen can be a problem at this height.
The basket allows a payload of 200kg which usually consists of 2 or 3 observers, their binoculars/telescopes and a telegraph or telephone set for communication with the ground
Construction: canvas lined with 5 layers of “goldbeaters skin” which is made from the gut of an ox, pig or similar animal. This is expensive – it required the product of 100,000 cows to provide enough goldbeaters skin to make a zeppelin in WW1 Germany (and a law banning the production of sausages). The kite balloon is much smaller and only requires the product of 200 cows (or 30 buffs).
Hydrogen production: the simplest method is to run steam over red-hot iron, although dropping iron filings into sulphuric acid can be an option (this method was used in the US Civil War)
Infrastructure and support : this balloon is expensive – a project for a sizeable community. It requires at least 30 personnel to maintain and operate the craft and a steady supply of hydrogen, canvas and ‘goldbeaters skin’. The craft will need to be reinflated about once every 2 weeks.
However, some communities consider the expense worthwhile. In good weather, the aeronauts can see for over 100km in every direction. Groups that use radio can also extend their transmission range