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The X Gas

By Cyril Plunkett


RECENT developments have shown that there is practically no limit to the size to which dirigibles may be constructed.

The invention and use of new metal alloys with which to cover the dirigible will give it greater and greater stability, and extend by a good measure its operating possibilities.

Of course, the dirigible's field of operation in war is limited because the larger it becomes, the more of a target it makes for the enemy artillery. To offset this, the dirigible can rise to great heights and therefore remain out of range of enemy aircraft. Mr. Plunkett in his thrilling story has shown us what the menace of a dirigible might be.

His story is simply filled with scientific incidents; and he shows in quite a dramatic fashion how in future warfare, waged between either individuals or nations, a new scientific device may suddenly turn the tide of battle.

Mr. Plunkett is a new author and he makes his entry into the field of science fiction in a very convincing manner.


COMMANDER MONTFORT glanced impatiently at his watch and turned again to the three Brazilian envoys.

"My Lieutenant Commander is late. We are already due to sail. However," he looked out of the window of the control cabin and continued slowly, "I might use the waiting time showing you further around the dirigible."

The three foreigners bowed. Relvuez, their spokesman, stepped forward.

"I should enjoy hearing more of your unique X-Gas. We are vitally interested."

Montfort smiled.

"No doubt you are. I'm sorry, Relvuez, but I can give you but little information on that point. Even if I knew the properties of this gas, which I do not, I would not dare impart them to you. Two years ago, in 1947, the American chemist Dunkley announced his discovery. He naturally turned it over immediately to the United States Government and it called by the simple letter "X" to denote, intensify and publicize its mysteriousness. I might add that had we had this weapon five years ago, the war with your country would have been of much shorter duration."

Relvuez bowed again. "And perhaps you would even now be conveying a larger amount of gold back to Washington," he said.

Montfort smiled.

"A war debt is, after all, a war debt. And this trip and the transportation of part of the half billion in gold in the mighty C- 49 is another gentle hint against any more foolishness on the part of your government."

The Brazilians did not reply. An officer passed the door of the cabin. Montfort hailed him.

"Has Lieutenant Grennen arrived yet?" he asked.

"No sir," replied the officer. Montfort again looked at his watch and frowned. He was about to speak when Relvuez interrupted him.

"But the principles of the X-Gas...?"

"Ah, yes," Montfort nodded, "that I can explain. If you will follow me, gentlemen."

He left the cabin and walked down the narrow companion way to the observation deck.

"You will note," he began, "that we have not deviated greatly from the early Zeppelin construction. The so- called bag, however, is smaller in width, manufactured of flexible lumalloy which is proof against storm, lightning, and, in fact, everything except explosives. That is our one vulnerable point—offset by the fact that we can easily navigate at a height of ten miles, at which height shells are notoriously inaccurate. Our vulnerability is therefore negligible. The bag is divided into compartments, ten of them. Six may be destroyed with little result. We generate our own gas, and can remain aloft one month without renewing the chemicals.

"Moreover, the gas can be, and is, burned. The special motor of this ship is the first to be used and it is similar to the Diesel engine still popularly used in airplanes. The gas is used as fuel, eliminating all sound save for a faint hissing, and guaranteeing four thousand horsepower for each engine. Since we have eight of these motors you can realize that our high speed of five hundred miles per hour is not impossible. The front and rear motors are attached to the cabin of the ship. The others, three on each side, are set in gondolas hanging from the bag. These are armored, and so placed for two reasons: First, they protect the vital points of the ship; secondly, the vapor thrown off in quantities by the engines is dangerous. Eight engines attached to the ship would inconvenience us to the extent of forcing us to wear masks continuously, which would detract from our efficiency. In a l...

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