Battle of Brisbane

I've previously mentioned the Holden airship. At the moment it is at Brisbane, and there are concerns that it will be flown over the Gabba during the first Ashes test next month.1 The problem is that Holden isn't paying Cricket Australia anything for the privilege of flying a billboard over the cricket ground, where it might well catch the eye of 40000 spectators bored with Australia's on-field drubbing of the puny English team. So the Queensland state government is planning to introduce legislation to ban such overflights of major sporting events, along with skywriting. Otherwise, the downfall of Australian civilisation could result, or something.

Now, I've said it before and I'll say it again: there's no need for legislation here. It would likely just impose a fine for infractions, anyway, which might not be an effective deterrent to a sufficiently determined advertiser. A FAR more effective solution would be a belt of anti-aircraft guns around the Gabba, along with a squadron or two of Sopwith Camels and a system of sound locators and ground observers in surrounding suburbs. It worked in the First World War; it can work again.

Of course, the enemy advertisers may adapt, seeking to overwhelm the defences with masses of airships, or to escort the raiders, perhaps with trapeze fighters. Maybe the blimp will always get through, in which case a deterring counter-advertising strategy might well be called for -- holding a force of airships in readiness to instantly fly over sporting events sponsored by the opposition, should they dare to use their airships in a hostile manner. Perhaps the ultimate solution is the international control of all airships, which would then only be used over stadiums as directed by the League of Nations -- I mean, United Nations.

At any rate, I'm available, for only a moderately immoderate fee, to consult with any sporting venues wishing to develop a state-of-the-art-c.-1918 air defence system.

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  1. Note to journos: outside of a few not-notably-successful experiments, blimps AKA airships do not rely upon hot air for lift. This one has 5 million litres of helium inside it. []

12 thoughts on “Battle of Brisbane

  1. Given the inevitable panic and social breakdown that the appearance of the blimp will cause amongst the degenerate lower Australian social orders (possibly a redundant adjective in that phrase), I think that you'd better make allowance for the deployment of the Barmy Army in aid of the civil power.

    Shame that blimps don't rely on hot air for lift: ex Aussie cricketers seem to be able to supply a limitless quantity.

  2. Post author

    Well, I don't know. Seems to me there's no lower social order as likely to keel over in fright at the sight of an airship as the English one :) We even have a comparative datum -- the phantom airship waves in Britain and Australia in 1909 played out very differently. In Britain, they were thought to be threatening German zeppelins; in Australia, secret Australian inventions. This suggests to me that the English fans will squeal before the Australian ones!

    On the other hand, it must be admitted that the Barmy Army is formidably disciplined, and this must count for a lot when it comes to preventing panic and maintaining unit cohesion. We shall see.

  3. Chris Williams

    That's the first time I've heard the Australia state - yet alone the state of Queensland - described as a 'civil power'. Yesterday the Shadow Chancellor had to apologise to the Mother of Parliaments for using the word 'effing'. Yet in one of the Mother's wayward daughters, phrases like "I am not like the Leader of the Opposition. I did not slither out of the Cabinet room like a mangy maggot..." and " all through question time those pansies over there want retractions of the things we've said about them. They are a bunch of nobodies going nowhere.""are uttered with abandon.

    [Both from the Paul Keating insult archive at

  4. Post author

    Fair crack of the whip, Chris! Keating may have been rough as guts in his expression, but he certainly drew inspiration from the Imperial Parliament. Compare his description of a verbal attack by the leader of the Opposition, John Hewson, as 'like being flogged with a warm lettuce', with Denis Healey's (earlier) characterisation of an attack by Geoffrey Howe as 'rather like being savaged by a dead sheep'. OK, so Keating generally took his insults a bit further than that. We're just somewhat less restrained down here. Very somewhat.

    Thanks for the link -- I do miss Paul!

  5. Christine Keeler

    Oh steady on! We do not need legislation! Just get a few of the chaps up in those spiffing new Sopwith Camels and we'll show the blasted airship rotters what for.

    Avenge brave little Belgium!

  6. Chris Williams

    Did anyone ever shoot down a helium-filled airship?

    (Googles, answers own question - yes, U-134 shot down K-74)

  7. What happens if you shoot down a helium airship? I have a mental image of a slow descent to earth whilst the crew scream in unnaturally high-pitched voices.

  8. Christine Keeler

    "...whilst the crew scream in unnaturally high-pitched voices."

    Only if they're Bosch.

  9. Chris Williams

    On the other hand, according to wikipedia, one of the crew of K-74 managed to fall into the so far unique category of 'Only Bloke To Be Shot Down In A Helium Airship And Subsequently Eaten By A Shark', so it probably wasn't overly funny at the time. Still, the rest of the crew was rescued.

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