A Snow Plane is a vehicle designed for cold weather travel, mostly contained to the harsh Rakeoian ice shelf. While operating on flat icy surfaces, the snow plane offers an unparalleled level of mobility, outside of Rakeo, the snow plane has not seen widespread adoption by military forces or civilians. This is likely as a consequence of the rarity of the conditions suitable on Terraconserva.
The standard chassis includes an air intake on top and two blades on the rear side of the fuselage.
Development overview and history
Within Rakeo, an interest in vehicles that could traverse the harsh terrain of the south had been a consistent theme throughout its history. Firstly, dog sled teams were used to scout out the south. However, these sled dogs could not survive the harsh temperatures in southern Rakeo during winter, often dying to frostbite, hypothermia, or exposure. Faced with these difficulties, Rakeoians turned to alternative methods of transportation, and while some where examined more seriously than others (such as the Jinosiá Southern Train Plan), the cost of these plans were prohibitively high.
Abroad, aircraft production was still in its infancy, but rapidly expanding. Imports of aircraft engines from foreign countries sparked the interest of inventor Aleksandro Kristianofilo (who would later go on to become the first and most controversial leader of the Directory of Industrial Matters). He would found the Kompanio de Neĝoplano, and present the concept for a snow plane to government officials later in the year, which earned the company a valuable contract.
Despite the rapid advances of the first snow plane from design to first working prototype, development of the snow plane was a continuous process, first tested by a resident of the city Jinosiá in 1935, the snowplane showed great promise.
Though the new means of transportation was revolutionary, nearly tripling the speed at which people and cargo could be moved across the ice sheets, interest in gas-fueled vehicles declined with the global market crashes in the years ahead. Moreover, the aircraft engine, ironically a component necessary for these vehicles to operate, was also quickly threatening to make the snow plane obsolete. Without interest and funding, development stalled for years, and the original designer, as well as KdN, filed for bankruptcy.
Wood gas conversions
During the § Progressive Revolution of Terranihil, petroleum prices within Rakeo spiked, and within months, the country was facing severe fuel shortages, mirroring the 1920s fuel shortage that was set off by the Morovan revolution. While a government rationing system was put into place, the country would either have to completely move off of gasoline as a fuel, or resume trade with Morova, a political impossibility due to the dictatorial Morovan government's hardline stance against theism.
With Rakeo's economy in chaos, manufactures for automobiles and other fuel consumers across Rakeo scrambled to find alternative fuel sources. The answer to the fuel shortages was found in Olino's vast aboral wealth, and the Arba Potenco Kompanio (APK) was founded. While the process of converting wood into a burnable gas had been previously discovered, it was always considered economically nonviable because of the cheaper and more easily transportable gasoline. Soon it became clear that the processes for converting wood into gaseous fuel was now a cost effective means of obtaining the fuel that the country desperately needed. During the beginning of the Rakeoian civil war, the APK was seized and nationalized as stratocratic APK, or SAPK.
Soon, almost every piece of public transportation in Olino and Paragon was operating with a wood gas engine, and APK became recognized as a government-endorsed monopoly. The one sector of transportation that had not been saved by the wood gas engine was that of aviation.
At the request of the government, the APK began investigating the possibility of using wood gas in high performance engines, but the results of their study were not promising. Firstly, there were serious concerns with the use of wood gas in the aircraft engines used on snow planes. Wood gas is less energy dense, does not clean the engines properly, burns unevenly, and, if not completely combusted, produces harmful carcinogens and other chemicals which can result in immediate poisoning (such as carbon monoxide). Secondly while a typical car engine of the era required around 2300 RPM, a snow plane's engine required the much more strenuous 2700 RPM. Investors began getting nervous and withdrawing funding from the project.
However, the Theocratic government was determined to push on with the research and development of high performance wood gas engines. In the following five years, a joint project between APK and the TRR achieved not only breakthroughs in not only engine performance, but also hit upon a more effective injector design, that could operate at higher power levels. With wood gas being now rated for propeller engine use, a number of companies attempted to implement the new solution in Kristianofilo's old designs. These designs had been made with gasoline in mind, and were ill-suited to the new fuel type- The exposed fuel lines of the 1935 design resulted in wood gas going from a liquid to a gel-like consistency in cold weather, and if temperatures got low enough, the fuel would separate into its components inside the fuel tanks, leading to uneven performance of the engines.
Attempts to solve these issues with thermal insulation had somewhat limited success to due the expense of insulation, and efforts to put antifreeze additives in the fuel only exasperated the existing problems with inconsistencies in engine performance, only multiple years later, and with a new generation of designs would the snow plane have significant prominence again.
At the start of the civil war, snow planes were deployed by both sides to the southern front for cargo and troop transportation. However, limitations were quickly discovered. Without armor, they were vulnerable to ambushes- And without arms, the snowplanes could not fight back. Given the massive threat to the logistics of the southern front that these ambushes posed, hasty conversions (as a stopgap measure), followed by dedicated designs.
Some of these conversion designs were quite crude, consisting of just adhering thick steel plates to the sides, and mounting a G1 Rifle or G2 Rifle with a swivel joint. However, when dedicated designs were built, their speed combined with heavier weapon systems made the snow plane into a formidable force. When G3 rifles came into popular service, the submachine gun provided more than adequate protection against ambushes.