In an attempt to create semi-believable pre-dreadnought gunnery duels fought in the air instead of the sea for a story of mine, I ask you all a question: how do flying battleships work?
Do know that I am not an expert in naval or aerial matters or in physics so feel free to correct anything I say.
I will narrow done possibilities with the following parameters, but you are free to discuss or answer the question without taking them into account or point out why they are not believable. Who knows, I may just use your ideas instead .
Steel-hulled ships are able to achieve lighter-than-air capability by use of an unobtainium called “pairelite”. Its processed and refined form is capable of permanent lift. It is sealed in ballast tanks evenly spread out on a ship and can change altitude if heated or cooled.
The hulls of the ships take the form of naval vessels. While this is probably not optimal for flight I like the aesthetic so meh. You are free to put any other part of the ship anywhere you see fit. It is currently the age of the pre-dreadnought and naval experimentation (and arms races).
The cutting edge form of naval propulsion are steam engines. If coal powered engines are not believable enough to move the ships, I may have to make another unobtainium and throw steam turbines into the mix to achieve the necessary force for propulsion.
My current problems with suspension of disbelief are with propulsion and fire control. There may other problems which I haven’t considered like the effect the unobtainiums may have on other areas rather than flight.