"Airships must be powerful masters of the skies as the ultimate symbols of freedom and defiance, roaming the clouds without hindrance and restraint".
-- Nick Ottens
|view from French dirigible (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Firstly the development of non-flammable lifting gas or alternate means of neutral buoyancy. Cavorite comes to mind. With a strong enough lifting force armor becomes possible. Clockwork ailerons could make bombs into self-correcting air torpedoes while dastardly spies guide the attack with wireless telegraphy.