Anti-airship fighter (also known in the English as AASF) is a military aircraft that is meant to fight airships. Anti-airship fighters are primarily a defensive military machine, which are useful against enemy airship bombing raids; they have little use on the offense however as they are normally unable to target the ground. The anti-airship fighters were primarily used during the Second Great War.
Although there were plans to build fighters capable of fighting airships before, the first aircraft that were meant purely to fight enemy airships were built by a famous Lithuanian aircraft designer Antanas Gustaitis in 1931. The project was part of heavily funded defensive program of Lithuania. ANBO-8 model was later changed by ANBO-11 and ANBO-12. In late 30s other nations experimented with the technology as well, however, as its capabilities were not yet proven in battle, the interest was relatively limited.
The anti-airship fighters performed relatively well during the Thunderstorm War, managing to bring down many Russian airships and making the Russians to temporarily halt the bombings of the major cities that by the time were still deep in the Lithuanian-controlled territory. However, eventually the Lithuanian anti-airship fighters were destroyed due to advances of the land army and other reasons. The anti-airship fighter African division, led by Antanas Audronis, performed even better, bringing down even more Russian airships, and, according to some interpretations, being one of the reasons why Russia proposed the Pakštuvan-Russian peace treaty.
However, the technology was advancing on the other side too - the airships were being made less flammable and harder to bring down (innovations like the gas bag system intended to protect the airships against bullets were invented during the Atlantic Air War) and thus in the later 40s the role of the anti-airship fighters dwindled somewhat.
Later, however, new models of these military machines were developed, that continues to be used, although due to the fact that these new fighters lacks the specialisation of fighting solely airships, they are frequently called just "fighters" or "anti-air fighters".
The anti-airship fighter technology used the fact of the airship flammability for their advantage. Basically, the anti-airship fighter attack on airship consisted of two steps - tearing the outer shield of the airship and then igniting the gas inside it.
The first goal was achieved by the first anti-airship fighters (ANBO-8) using autocannons, and the second goal - by using a kind of burning shells. However, it was hard to take an airship down this way. Thus later both steps were combined by using special bullets that would get through the airship's shield and then ignite it (ANBO-11, as well ANBO-12). Due to the new airships with harder "skin", later the anti-airship fighters improved also, by using special "circle saws" that would be launched from the fighter and cut through the outer shield of the airship.
Modern fighters that are also sometimes titled anti-airship fighters are usually based on different technologies, such as launching missiles, and thus could not really be named anti-airship fighters.
This page was created by Abdul-aziz.