|Barrage Balloon AA Airship|
|Secondary Ability||Activate Gastroburner|
"Those Allied Zasranets are always shooting us blimps down! Let's see how they like it when the glove is on the other hand."
- - Barrage Balloon Pilot
- Protectors of the fleet: Barrage Balloons are the answer to enemy air superiority fighters which keep annoying your Kirovs. They are well armoured, and their three Gatling cannons can spew out enough lead to tear apart fast, lightly armoured aircraft before they do any significant damage.
- War Pigs: In addition to its impressive weaponry, the Barrage Balloon is also equipped with gastroburners which can increase the Barrage Balloon's speed. The Barrage Balloon does not take damage due to its lighter frame, but it is less manoeuvrable in this state.
- Just a balloon: However, the Barrage Balloon does have several key weaknesses. Its Gatling cannons lack the range and targeting equipment to hit ground targets, making ground based AA a real threat to the balloon. Worse still, heavy aerial units such as the Musashi are sufficiently armoured to shrug off the Barrage Balloon’s attacks, and usually carry the weaponry to obliterate Barrage Balloons.
- Rotor Wrecker: Barrage Balloons who have seen much combat are often upgraded with autocannons. While the gun fires explosive shells at a lower rate than the Gatling cannons, the extra damage for compensates it, and the autocannons excel against helicopters and other slow moving aircraft.
It was clear that Kirovs were highly destructive, but they did have one major weakness: any aircraft of any size with anti-aircraft capabilities proved very problematic. Although they could only do a small amount of damage, the only defence for the Kirovs was to run away. A flight of fighters could take down a Kirov. Although MiG Fighters could escort them and deal with enemy aircraft, they still had to return to the airfield to rearm and were often too late to rescue any Kirovs being attacked. Fearing that the Allies would exploit this weakness, Soviet Command ordered Krasna Aerospace to work on an anti-air weapon for the Kirovs to defend themselves with. The first attempt was a failure. Although the Kirov Gunship was (some would say) excessively armed with twelve Gatling cannons, they had a smaller payload of bombs, they were slower than the original Kirovs, and they all had to be scrapped early due to constant mechanical failure. Only 6 of these failed prototypes were produced.
Krasna Aerospace determined that the failure of the Kirov Gunship was due to the recoil the 12 Gatling cannons inflicted on the hull, and the extra weight that made their speed suffer by diverting more power just to keep it aloft. Furthermore, Kirov airships were simply too big and expensive for the role. Krasna determined that in order to solve the recoil problem, the cannons and gondola had to be slung away from the hull, which is only feasible in very small airships. Soviet High Command happily accepted this, as it would make them cheap and mass producible. They did everything possible to make the ship smaller, by giving it huge winglike fins for extra lift, making the engines vectorable, reducing the guns from 12 to 3, fattening the gasbag to allow more gas in less space, and making both the gondola and envelope rounder on top and flatter on the bottom to produce lift. Unfortunately, the latter prevented the Gatlings from being pointed downwards. It was seen as an acceptable sacrifice, as the new prototype performed beautifully against enemy fighters and helicopters in service trials. Thus, the new airship was born. Only later would they find that the airship's single rudder fin performed poorly when the gastroburners were engaged. Krasna has declined comment on the issue.
The new airship was named the Barrage Balloon, due to how much firepower it could direct at a target. With the introduction and rapid, cheap production of the Barrage Balloon, the Soviets had become once again the masters of airship combat. Due to their massive fleet of Kirovs, Zhukovs, and now Barrage Balloons, airships of other powers were nothing compared to the might of the Red Balloons. Due to their portly shape and ability to do savage whatever is unfortunate enough to be nearby like angry wild swine, Barrage Balloons are often referred to as "The Flying Pigs" by their crew, and it is not uncommon for bored maintenance officers to paint hoggish sets of teeth and tusks on the front of their airship.