In Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, the Torumekians abruptly arrive in Nausicaa's peaceful kingdom in giant flying vehicles described as "airships", although they appear more like ordinary jet-turbine aircraft on a large scale. They load goods into their airships, along with some hostages and leave.

Nausicaa running towards Torumekian airships

On the way back, they fly in a bunched formation and seem very tense and edgy. One of the hostages comments that they seem fearful of attack. And that fear proves to be well-founded: shortly they are attacked by a small fighter aircraft called a "gunship" which strafes them with what appears to be machine gun fire.

Although their airships bristle with weapons they seem remarkably fragile, bursting into flames and exploding almost immediately. "Those are some flimsy ships" is heard, showing that this is not only an out-of-universe reaction. Very soon all but one of the five airships are destroyed, and that escapes only because Nausicaa briefly distracts the pilot of the attacking craft.

Airship on fire

In a later scene, another large aircraft of a different nation is also attacked by a gunship. Although it is certainly vulnerable it seems more robust and survives being strafed by gunfire: the enemy has to board it to subdue the crew.

The Torumekians are described as "warlike" and seem to be a militaristic society given to aggression. So why are their craft so fragile? Is it that they normally only attack non-technological nations that don't pose a serious threat to them, or could it be the director's comment on militarism, that it is fragile despite a fearsome appearance? Is there some other known reason?

  • nausicaa.fandom.com/wiki/Tolmekian_airships - AKA Bumblecrows.
    – Valorum
    Apr 30, 2020 at 23:41
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    Interesting, but no information on why they could be so easily destroyed.
    – Batperson
    Apr 30, 2020 at 23:56
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    Indeed, and hence why I didn't post it as an answer :-)
    – Valorum
    Apr 30, 2020 at 23:59
  • It does clarify the relationship of the Valley of the Wind with Torumekia. Unfortunately nothing on design philosophy, military doctrine etc which would shed light on my question :-)
    – Batperson
    May 1, 2020 at 0:18
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    I don’t know that there is an answer for this — and I’ve read all the manga too. Best guess? Warlike people stretched too thin on a post-apocalyptic world with scarce resources tends to make for some hasty and flimsy construction and maintenance quotas. Torumekians are on the verge of collapse, socially and militarily. (I’m pretty sure the manga makes a point of that.)
    – Dúthomhas
    May 1, 2020 at 4:23

1 Answer 1


It's been 9 months now, so I'm not sure if you've already found yourself an answer, but here's my take on it.

These airships seem to be transport aircraft primarily, and very heavy ones at that; they can even load two or three tanks into the things, for goodness sake. Therefore it'd be reasonable to assume that they would require an enormous amount of fuel aboard, just to keep the things in the air; effectively making the airship a ticking time bomb. Perhaps the Torumekians sacrificed armour protection so that the airships would still be light enough to take off with a full load, meaning that if they got hit, that fuel would ignite and turn the aircraft into a burning hulk in seconds. There are examples of many aircraft like this in real life, such as the Mitsubishi G4M, which had a notorious reputation for easily bursting into flames when hit, due to little to no armour.

I may not be correct, maybe the ammunition used by the attacking aircraft was just too powerful, but that's my take on it; I hope I helped.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. What you argue is a possibility, but do you have any evidence that it's true? (That they didn't armour the airships at all in favour of cargo capacity.) You can make this a better answer by adding sources that back this up.
    – DavidW
    Feb 4, 2021 at 1:38
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    Like I said, I may not be completely correct; there's very little out there on these aircraft. However, I remember seeing this image once: 1.bp.blogspot.com/-uc05FQrUbAM/Us_T_LPYSII/AAAAAAAADcg/… As you can see, there's fuel tanks galore in the fuselage and the wings. For the armour, I have no evidence to show for it; in that regard, what I said can only be treated as a reasonable assumption. Thanks for the comment, by the way. Feb 4, 2021 at 2:03

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