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Chapter 128: What is this if not a water weapon?
Everyone became even more confused!
They were supposed to see a boat, but instead, there were several carts filled with cargo.
However, nobody asked further questions and watched quietly.
Under the command of Lin Beifan, the students started bustling around.
On one of the carts, there were long and short wooden sticks, which the students quickly assembled into a huge wooden frame resembling the keel of a ship, but laid flat.
Surprisingly, the other cart was filled with airbags used to make hot air balloons.
However, these airbags, when inflated, were much smaller than regular balloons, only big enough for two people to embrace.
The students swiftly filled the small airbags with air, sealed the openings, and placed them into the wooden frames, securely fastening them.
Each wooden frame contained a small airbag, forming neat bubbles.
Then, they covered it all with a wooden board.
This scene left everyone puzzled.
They were supposed to be building a ship, but there was absolutely no resemblance to a ship.
If it’s not a ship, how will it float?
Someone couldn’t help but ask, “Director Lin, what exactly are you doing? I’ve been watching for a long time, but I still can’t understand…”
Lin Beifan smiled mysteriously, “Sir Zhao, please be patient. You’ll understand soon!”
Thus, everyone could only continue watching with patience.
After about an hour, under Lin Beifan’s command, the students created a massive flat panel measuring 5 zhang in length and 5 zhang in width, then pushed it into the river, where it floated on the water surface.
(1 zhang = 3.3 meters)
Lin Beifan reported loudly, “Your Majesty, I present to you the water weapon I have developed, the hovercraft. Please have a look, Your Majesty!”
The Empress and all the officials were dumbfounded.
They were all stunned, looking at the massive wooden board floating on the river.
After a while, the Empress pointed at the large wooden board on the river and asked, “Sir Lin, is this the water weapon you mentioned?”
“Exactly!” Lin Beifan replied with a slight smile.
Qian Yuan, the Minister of the Ministry of Revenue, looked confused and pointed at the large wooden board on the river, “Sir Lin, didn’t you say you were going to build a giant steel ship? Is this… the giant steel ship you were talking about?”
Lin Beifan’s expression turned serious, “Minister Qian, you must have remembered incorrectly! I have always emphasized the concept of water weapons and never promised to build a giant steel ship! Moreover, with only three months’ time, it is impossible to gather enough steel for shipbuilding. Where do you expect me to build a steel ship for you?”
The Minister of Revenue was left speechless.
It seemed that the other party had always emphasized water weapons and never mentioned building a giant steel ship!
It’s just that when it comes to water weapons, everyone couldn’t help but associate it with a giant steel ship!
Because only a giant steel ship can be considered a water weapon!
However, now another question arises.
“Sir Lin, you say this is a water weapon, but it doesn’t look anything like a water weapon. What can it do?” The Empress was very perplexed.
It was called a hovercraft, but it didn’t resemble a boat at all.
It looked like it was just a combination of wooden boards that could be easily scattered by a few big waves.
The officials nodded involuntarily.
Lin Beifan smiled and said, “Your Majesty, don’t judge it by its appearance! In fact, it can carry cargo and people very effectively. I assure you, even if a hundred people stand on this hovercraft, it won’t sink!”
“Is that so?”
“Your Majesty, you can try it yourself!”
The Empress immediately waved her hand and said, “Let’s start with 10 people!”
Immediately, ten soldiers stepped onto the hovercraft and remained safe.
Ten more soldiers stepped onto the hovercraft, still safe.
“Add another twenty directly!”
Twenty soldiers stepped onto the hovercraft, and it still floated steadily on the river.
In this way, the number of soldiers increased, but the hovercraft continued to float steadily on the water.
Until reaching 100 people, there was no sign of sinking.
This time, everyone finally looked at it with different eyes.
“On this small surface, it can actually carry over a hundred people!”
“These are all fully grown men, and if we calculate each weighing 150 jin, it means it can bear a load of 150,000 jin! It’s astonishing!”
(1 jin = 0.5 kg)
“It doesn’t even look like a boat, so how can it carry so many people?”
“What is the underlying principle? Could it be those airbags?”
Lin Beifan smiled and said, “Your Majesty, there are still plenty of spaces on top. Why not send more soldiers to see how many people it can accommodate?”
“You make a valid point, Minister!” The Empress waved her hand.
And so, ten more soldiers stepped onto the hovercraft.
In this manner, the number of people continued to increase.
Until finally, there were almost 200 people standing on it.
Everyone was shoulder to shoulder, with no space left to stand, yet the hovercraft still didn’t sink.
“This… truly is a miracle!”
“This boat, constructed with just a few wooden boards, can actually carry over 200 people!”
“Its carrying capacity is already comparable to a regular large ship!”
“How is this even possible?”
Everyone was greatly shocked.
“As you can see!” Lin Beifan smiled and said, “One of the greatest advantages of my hovercraft is its ability to carry cargo! Even if we double the number of soldiers, it’s unlikely to sink! Here, I want to ask Your Majesty and esteemed officials a question. How much silver do you think it would cost to manufacture such a hovercraft?”
Everyone began to ponder.
Among them, Minister of Industry, Wang Rushui, spoke first: “To build a large ship capable of carrying 200 people, based on the expenses of our Ministry of Industry, it would require over 1,000 taels! If we were to entrust it to a private shipyard, the price would be slightly higher, around 1,400 taels! Taking a middle ground, I speculate it would require 1,200 taels!”
Lin Beifan smiled and shook his head, “No, guess again!”
Minister of Revenue, Qian Yuanshen, stepped forward, “This hovercraft appears so rudimentary, it shouldn’t cost that much! Therefore, I speculate it would require around 500 taels!”
Once again, Lin Beifan shook his head, “No, it’s less, guess again!”
“Even less than 500 taels?” Everyone was astonished.
An elderly official stood up, “I speculate it would require 300 taels to build this ship!”
Once again, Lin Beifan shook his head, “Still too much!”
“Sir Lin, please stop keeping us in suspense and tell us the actual cost!” the Empress couldn’t help but ask.
“Yes, Your Majesty!” Lin Beifan smiled proudly, “To build this hovercraft, it cost less than 100 taels in total!”
Everyone was shocked and pale.
“Such a hovercraft capable of carrying over 200 people, and it cost less than 100 taels?”
“Not even one-tenth of the cost of an ordinary large ship!”
“Sir Lin, are you joking?”
“How is that possible?”
“It’s indeed true!” Lin Beifan explained in detail, “This hovercraft may appear ordinary, but it mainly consists of wood and airbags! The total cost of the wood used to build the frame and planks of the ship was less than ten taels of silver!”
“The most expensive part is the airbags! We used airbags similar to those used in making large balloons! These airbags are flexible, waterproof, airtight, and even fire-resistant, so they incurred significant expenses, totaling 80 taels!”
“Therefore, the total cost of this hovercraft is approximately 90 taels!”
This time, everyone finally believed it!
It really only cost less than a hundred taels to build this hovercraft capable of carrying over 200 people!
“Your Majesty and esteemed officials, allow me to ask you another question!” Lin Beifan smiled and said, “How much time do you think it took to build such a hovercraft?”
Once again, Minister of Works, Wang Rushui, spoke first, “Based on the information from our Ministry of Industry, building a large ship capable of carrying 200 people would take anywhere from three months to half a year!”
“It should take around a month!” Minister of Personnel, Gao Tianyao, said.
He played a trick because Lin Beifan had delivered it within a month.
So obviously, the shipbuilding time couldn’t exceed a month.
Many agreed with this timeframe.
“In less than a month, a large ship capable of carrying over 200 people was built, saving over 60% of the time! Sir Lin, impressive skills!” One minister raised his thumb in admiration.
Lin Beifan shook his head and raised a finger, “Esteemed officials, all of you guessed wrong! In fact, it only took one week!”
Everyone was shocked once again, “It can be done in just one week?”
Lin Beifan explained, “The wooden frame for constructing the hovercraft follows standardized specifications and is easy to manufacture! Hand it over to skilled craftsmen, and they can build it within a week! As for the airbags, they also take about a week to manufacture! Once these two components are ready, as you all witnessed earlier, it only takes an hour to assemble and float steadily on the river!”
This time, everyone finally believed it!
In just one week, a hovercraft capable of carrying over 200 people could be built!
This achievement moved them!
“Your Majesty and esteemed officials, do you know what it means to be able to build a hovercraft capable of carrying over 200 people in less than a week and at a cost of less than a hundred taels?” Lin Beifan asked.
“What does it mean?” Everyone had already figured it out, their hearts pounding.
“It means…” Lin Beifan’s eyes gleamed with fervor, “We can rapidly manufacture a batch of hovercraft in a short period of time, navigate them on various waterways, even in coastal areas! We can quickly enhance the strength of our navy, dominating the major water systems!”
Everyone’s breathing became rapid.
“It can also strengthen logistical support during wartime!”
“In warfare, logistics are crucial. As the saying goes, ‘An army marches on its stomach!’ How to quickly transport a large quantity of food to the front lines within the shortest time has always been a concern for us!”
“And our logistical transportation primarily relies on water transport! In the past, we were limited by ships, and the transport capacity could not keep up with the demand! But now, with hovercraft, it’s different. In the same amount of time, we can transport more food and supplies!”
“Thus, our logistics will be stable, right?”
Everyone’s breathing became even more rapid.
“In addition, it can promote economic development and increase imperial revenue!”
“Keep in mind that within our Da Wu territory, we have an extensive network of waterways! Our transportation relies mainly on water transport! However, we have been limited by shipbuilding capacity, and the transport volume has been relatively low!”
“Now, with hovercraft, we can transport more goods, promoting economic and trade development! As the economy develops, people’s lives improve, and the imperial revenue increases, isn’t that right?”
Lin Beifan pointed at the hovercraft, his voice resolute, “Everyone, this hovercraft possesses so many advantages! If this isn’t a waterborne weapon, then what is it?”