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Author Topic: Victorian-era Rocketships of the Great Powers (Update: 1st painted ship)  (Read 1169 times)

Offline Macrossmartin

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Greetings, all!

If you've been kicking around Kickstarter of late, you might have noticed the VSF print-n-play 'Ironclads' spaceship wargame:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tripleacegames/ironclads-space-battles-in-the-victorian-aether?ref=project_link&fbclid=IwAR0Z8zjd9U1JzJI9vaY3uPJxIWsWbQTy-tbLsa4pYd_mFUPv677PIhlpNjA



I've been thoroughly tickled by the concept, and I'm a backer, but the sort-of-chibi-style 'ships in space' look of the miniatures doesn't quite 'do it' for me. However, 'Ironclads' inspired me to recall to mind a vague idea I'd had a while ago for a collection of VSF / Pulp rocketships with naval-style gun turrets and casemates.

I wanted to avoid the phallic 'fountain pen with fins' cliche that dominated pulp covers in the 30's and 40's, and go with a squatter, boiler-like appearance. Part of the rationale of this is that in 'Ironclads' ships can rotate on the spot, and Newtonian physics makes it dangerously clear that bootlegger turns are a bad thing when you're a mile long.

Separate reaction engines on pylons, magnetised, spherical turrets, iron framework, rivets everywhere but NO gears or cogs! (I mean, why would you put those things on the outside where you can't grease them??)

Currently isolated awaiting a Covid test, and with the original Buster Crabbe Buck Rodgers serial playing in the background, I fired up the Babbage Electron Manipulator, and got sculpting.


Spaceclad Destroyer - 'S' (Selene) class




The 'S' class was amongst the first classes of Aether-going warships in commission with the Royal Aether Fleet (RAF). Built in the new yards at Llanbedr, Wales, the 30 hulls of the 'S' class formed the yeomanry of the RAF throughout the 1860's and 1870's.

Although underpowered compared to the faster German or American Destroyers of the period, (An Armstrong 120MW Irradiating Sodium Boiler was the sole powerplant), the 'S' class were the best-protected ships of their size, and surprisingly quick to the helm. The small centrifuge meant cramped living for the crew of 128, made worse by the fact that the Captain's cabin alone occupied a full third of the outmost deck! A single Aetherboat occupied the 'cloaca' in the sternplate. Typically for the era, no lifeorbs were fitted. 



Fitted with two of Brunel's revolutionary 'ball and cup' Universal Turrets, the 'S' class was capable of carrying remarkable firepower; three or four 9-ton guns, firing wide-arc 'birdshot', vacuum shell, or electro-rounds, were the most common main armament, supplemented by four casemate-mounted 13pdr quick-fire guns. Oddly for a destroyer class, no torpedo or rocket tubes were fitted as standard. Both Magna-cannon and Turbine Accelerator turrets sometimes replaced the 9-ton gun turrets, but it seems 'S' class Captains often preferred the old-fashioned but reliable solution of gunpowder over the wondrous but untrustworthy 'damfino' wonder-weapons of science.



Of the 30 ’S’ class Destroyers commissioned, eight were lost in action, three perished in accidents, and two are still listed as ‘missing’ to this day. Ten were sold to Brazil in 1888, while the remainder had all been scrapped by 1900.


Spaceclad Cruiser - ‘A’ (Ares) class




One of the largest designs of Cruiser from the 1860’s, the ‘A’ class was rushed into service as a foil to France’s Cométe class, which was proving decisive in the battles over Niobe Planitia. A solid balance of endurance, speed and protection made the “ ‘andy A’s “ remarkably reliable for British Rocket-Cruisers of the time.



The 288 crewpersons were quartered in a quite generous centrifuge which orbited the two Armstrong Boilers, generating a combined 312MW. Memoirs of ‘A’ class officers and crew universally praised their ships, if only because they were equipped with the first suction lavatories in British service that didn’t leak!

The ‘A’ class is noteworthy alone for the fact that three ships - Ajax, Amphritrite and Astra - were the first to include women in their crews. Each received aboard two women officers and 80 Aetherwomen in June, 1863. (The tale of Midshipwoman Horatia Trumpeter of the Ajax is, of course, the stuff of legends, but I digress.)



The only real weakness of the ‘A’ class was its lack of firepower. Haste had denied the class being commissioned with the planned ‘Size 2’ Universal Turrets, for they had such development issues that the ‘A’ class was revised to take three of the smaller ’Size 1’ turrets. While this did allow them to participate in the war following the Venusian Confrontation, the changes meant they could not be refitted with the bigger turrets post-war. Six QF 13pdr guns in casemates and four torpedo tubes (two forward, two aft), complemented the main battery.

22 ‘A’ Class Cruisers were built between 1862 and 1869. Five were lost in battle, One went missing, and one was captured by American privateers in 1866, and taken into USAAF service. All had been withdrawn before the War of 1888.


Well, that’s a bit more than I’d intended to write! Where’d all that information come from?!? I really must stop these ouija board sessions, summoning up Mr. Fred T Jane, late of Cavor City, Luna!

Onto more sculpting then, although I don’t know how many of these I’ll make. I’d like a selection of 4-5 per nation, with maybe four of the Great Powers represented.

The sculpts are scaled at 1/1000, making the ’S’ class Destroyer 41mm long, and the ‘A’ class 82mm. All the sculpts are multi-part kits, to make printing quicker and easier, and enable kitbashing and customisation.

Turrets will come as a variety of conventional or ‘damfino’ weapons. Each is pre-drilled to take a 1x2mm magnet, to make swapping weapons easier.

These and other eclectic offerings will be available to print from my myminifactory storefront, just as soon as I get the darn thing open! (Still a week or three away.) More about that soon, I hope,

Thanks for taking a look, folks. I hope you were amused by my rotund retro-rockets and revisionary ramblings. Next time: The huge Hampton that is the ‘H’ class battleship!


*Damfino’ : RAF slang. Shorthand for ‘Damned if I know’, a phrase oft employed by British Aethermen when asked about the science behind certain super-weapons. 

« Last Edit: February 06, 2022, 02:02:33 AM by Macrossmartin »
Operating from an abandoned US spy base somewhere in the Australian outback, Miniature Martin produces games and scale miniatures set in parallel worlds, past and future. He is NOT trying to take over the Earth. This time.

Offline fred

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Re: Spaceclads - Victorian-era Rocketships of the Great Powers
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2022, 07:48:10 AM »
Cool designs, and a great back story!

Offline Macrossmartin

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Re: Spaceclads - Victorian-era Rocketships of the Great Powers
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2022, 11:37:18 AM »
Cool designs, and a great back story!

Thanks, Fred! I'm rather enjoying exploring this setting that's slowly coming together inside my head.  :) 

On now to the latest addition to the fleet!



Spaceclad Battleship - 'H' (Helios) Class




A mainstay of the RAF's wall-of-battle throughout the latter 19th Century, the 12 ships of the 'H' Class formed one of the largest classes of First Rates ever to fly. There were also some of the largest Spaceclads of their day; When Helios was christened in 1861, she was the most voluminous machine in existence.

The 'H' Class were sources of great pride for the British, as evidenced by the considerable memorabilia and souvenirs which commemorate them. Their launches attracted great crowds, including Queen Victoria herself who expressed delight at the sight of Hector rising silently from the Cavorite plates at Prestwick. The loss of Hero and Heracles at First Copernicus were a terrible blow, and led to a spontaneous outpouring of national grief and anger perviously unseen.



However, the "Huge Hamptons" were not perfect. The two spinning, centrifugal quarters were adequate accommodation for the 532 officers and Aethermen, but their rotational gearing was notoriously noisy. A visiting Parliamentarian once describing a troubled night in the fore centrifuge as: "A futile attempt to sleep within the bowels of a snoring carriage clock!" Oddly, when the problem was rectified across the class during refits in the 1870's, old hands grumbled they couldn't sleep, because the unfamiliar silence made them jumpy!



Formidable armaments kept the 'H' Class in service alongside newer, more advanced Battleships for almost 30 years. They were launched with four turret-sockets, two each for Size 1 and Size 2. The early Size 2 Universal Turret sported a pair of 18 ton guns (the largest Aetherborne guns at the time), and a collection of 13pdr, 18pdr and 24pdr guns in single mounts provided the means to cover targets in all aspects. Eight Aetheric Torpedo tubes, split evenly fore and aft, completed the 'H' Classes arsenal.

Four Aetherboats were fitted as standard, and Lifeorbs were finally added after the disaster at First Copernicus, which had seen the loss of every officer and rating of Prince Pratap Singh's squadron. Of the 12 'H' Class Battleships, two were lost in battle, one was wrecked on the surface of Io, and the remainder were sold for scrap after the War of 1888.



I've sculpted the big 'H' Class (132mm long!) as another multi-part kit, to reduce the risk of print failure and minimise printing time. Most of the parts will print without angled orientation, and all the big parts are pre-hollowed to reduce resin consumption.



Here's a quick render of the three ships so far, together, so you can see their relative sizes:



Some might be wondering about the... ample... girths of these ladies. I'm imagining they are essentially steam rockets (it is a thing), and carry BIG water tanks to flash into steam by pumping it over a plasma-hot element at the neck of each thrust nozzle. The explosive result hurls the ship forward with considerable alacrity. But, it requires a lot of water, so each of the nacelles and hulls are mostly water tanks. (Mind you, this makes for pretty nice absorption of incoming energy such as radiation and kenetic rounds before they reach the crew inside.)

Then I got to thinking: But would that get these behemoths off the ground? Wouldn't they drain their tanks just getting to orbit? So, I borrowed from Wells, and decided that the infamous (and original?) unobtanium — Cavorite — is a thing here.

While its all good and fine for jaunts to the Moon, Cavorite depends upon the displacement of the atmosphere above itself in order to lift things off the ground. Therefore, to get one's ship into the Aether, the ship is placed upon an enormous pad of Cavorite plates (kept constantly warm, when unemployed, of course), and when the plates are chilled, up you go. Obviously, the more surface area of the ship which the sudden change of pressure can act upon, the more ship you can lift. Hence, the wide proportions of these rockets are to their advantage.

That's enough of my ravings! Back to the shipyard for me, still have a little sloop / monitor to get built, and then there's the turret options to do, and then I'd better make some German and French ships to challenge the Pax Britannica, hadn't I?

Hand me those rivets!  :D
« Last Edit: January 19, 2022, 12:41:25 PM by Macrossmartin »

Offline Easy E

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Very cool Martin!
Support Blood and Spectacles Publishing:
https://www.patreon.com/Bloodandspectaclespublishing

Offline Macrossmartin

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Very cool Martin!

Thanks, Eric! I wonder if I might find your new rules suitable for these minis? Castles in the Aether, as it were... do your rules have any vector-based movement mechanic?

Offline Nic

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Loving the back story and the designs. I expect to see you and them in action at the next Little Wars Adelaide.
Nic

Offline Easy E

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Thanks, Eric! I wonder if I might find your new rules suitable for these minis? Castles in the Aether, as it were... do your rules have any vector-based movement mechanic?

Sadly, no but I think that could be something you could add.  I am not an expert on Vectored movement. 

Offline Macrossmartin

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Loving the back story and the designs. I expect to see you and them in action at the next Little Wars Adelaide.
Nic

I hope I'll be there, Nic, and thank you for the kind words.  :) If I ever come up with plans to do crews for these flying boilers in 15 or 28, I'll come to Eureka to get 'em cast up. (Hey, I can dream, can't I?)  ;D

Right then, now for one, last ship for the RAF, before I get stuck into sculpting their Kaiserliche Atherflotte counterparts.


Spaceclad Sloop - 'C' (Comet) Class




Britain's early and rapid colonisation of Mars exposed her inability to police and protect the hundreds of scattered settlements across the red planet. While the Mars Station fleet was more than adequate to keep the other major powers from attempting anything truly rash, local flare-ups, border disputes, and quelling native unrest kept the RAF ships scattered and isolated.

A need for a smaller, short-ranged ship to put out these minor conflagrations was apparent. The answer came in the form of a series of sloops, gunbrigs and cutters of which the 'C' class was the most prolific.



Built specifically for service over Mars, the "Crowded C's" had a complement of only 25, but the officers and Aethermen had to share their quarters with as many as 100 soldiers at a time, depending upon the mission. Adding to the discomfort, the 'C' class was too small to be equipped with a centrifuge, and thus all aboard lived and worked in freefall when not accelerating. Having journeyed from Earth in centrifuge ships, many embarked soldiers experienced zero-G for the first time aboard a 'C' class, with results which caused much mirth amongst the Aethermen!

In spite of this discomfort, the 'C' class was generally considered a success. Highly maneuverable and fast, and well-armed for a ship of its size, the 'C' class were commonly pressed into all manner of roles. Many served as escorts for larger ships, particularly in low orbit where First and Second Rates were more vulnerable.



The 'C' class also served on the Moon Station, Io, and Pallas, where they were instrumental in ending the reign of the bandit queen, the Red Amazon.

42 'C' class sloops were built between 1861 and 1868. 19 were lost to various means, including the Cleopatra which infamously exploded while at Pallas Station in 1874, killing 192 people and wrecking the visiting French battleship Acrux. One 'C' class – the Cadmus – has survived to this day, and has recently undergone major restoration at the Imperial Aether Museum at London Olympus.



Annnd, who can guess what might have been the inspiration for the shape of the little 'C' class? Hope nobody will be fury-ous when they realise…  ;)

So, that's the RAF's ships out of the way for now. Test prints come next, then any alterations to the prototypes needed to make them easier to print and assemble. I'm contemplating doing these all in bare metal schemes, with lots of polished brasswork. Maybe no markings as such, but surely ships of this era need flags? Will have to work on that...

Next, the Germans get in on the fun, and I'll go into the Ironclads rules a little more, and explain what about these new rules appeals to me.

Hope you are enjoying this journey into my coal-fired imagination.  :)

Offline Macrossmartin

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Re: Victorian-era Rocketships of the Great Powers (Update: Printed models!)
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2022, 10:37:56 AM »
I got my ships out of the virtual realm and into reality today! Here's some photos of the first prints, fresh off the gang of Elegoo Mars 2 Pro's at Makerspace Adelaide https://makerspaceadelaide.org.

Helios class 1st Rate








Ares class 3rd Rate







Selene class 4th Rate






Why is it always the Navy that gets to play around in Space...?

I'm also rethinking some of the background for the Spaceclads setting. The more I think about it, the more I am intrigued by the thought of the Great Powers armies – rather than navies – being the drivers of militarisation of the Aether. (After all, these ships launch from the land, not the sea.)

I also have a vision that France's Second Empire was the first to claim large swathes of the Moon as its own. That led to me speculating about the doctrines the Generals of Napoleon III adapted for their forces beyond the confines of Earth...

Firstly, I doubted they would use descriptors such as 'battleship' or 'cruiser' for their iron ships. So, I came up with a list of alternative terms:


Guarde = 1st Rate, battleship
Grenadier = 2nd Rate
Ligne = 3rd Rate, Cruiser

Chasseur = Fast 3rd Rate
Dragoon = 4th or 5th Rate, Frigate
Hussar = Small 5th or 6th Rate, Sloop

Bombardier = Fire support ship, equipped with multiple rocket launchers or a single, huge shell-firing, centreline cannon!

Brigadier = A formation's flagship, primarily equipped for communication, not fighting.

Vitailleur = Supply / depot ship


A 'Squadron' is described as a Brigade de l'Ether and consist of 13 ships:

1 x Brigadier
1 x Guarde or Grenadier
2 x Ligne
3 x Dragoon
4 x Hussar
1 x Bombardier
1 x Vitailleur

Each Brigade has its own distinguishing markings — facings, if you will — traditions, and so on, many of which it can trace back to its parent army unit.

This gives a neat little fleet to collect with trappings and maybe colour schemes that borrow from the colourful army uniforms of the early 19th century. (Not sure if Guards' Brigade ships are expected to wear Bearskins, though...)
 
Like any formation, the exact composition can be tweaked for taste, or to fulfil certain missions. A 'Heavy Brigade' might add another Guarde, or replace the Ligne ships with Grenadiers. An 'Artillery Brigade' might be formed by substituting the big bruisers entirely with Bombardiers, with the Dragoons and Hussars scouting ahead to find them targets.

I like this idea, because it invites a new way of looking at space wargaming, which is usually rooted very firmly in naval history and practice. Of course, it might prove be merely new wallpaper for an old house, but my objective isn't to re-invent the genre, merely look at it from a different angle.

More about this (and more ships!) next time!

Online OSHIROmodels

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Re: Victorian-era Rocketships of the Great Powers (Update: C class Sloop)
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2022, 11:04:19 AM »
I like these  8)

Offline Macrossmartin

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Re: Victorian-era Rocketships of the Great Powers (Update: Printed Models!)
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2022, 02:02:00 AM »
I've just gotten some paint onto one of these 'flying boiler' steam rockets; Here's an Ares class 3rd Rate sporting the bare-iron and brass finish that was so popular with the British public during the 1860's and 70s. (No so popular with Aethermen who had to polish everything!)

Of course, while an Aethership might be as shiny as a new pin while in harbour, in service they quickly acquired a patina from constant heating and cooling, and streaks and stains from leaving and re-entering atmospheres. (And that makes for a more interesting model, of course...)

Anyway on with the photos!













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Re: Victorian-era Rocketships of the Great Powers (Update: 1st painted ship)
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2022, 09:04:02 AM »
Very nicely done  8)

Offline Macrossmartin

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Re: Victorian-era Rocketships of the Great Powers (Update: 1st painted ship)
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2022, 12:40:46 PM »
Very nicely done  8)

Thank you!  :)

This was a first-time, double-experiment; I tried Rub n' Buff metallic wax paste and oils for colour filtering and weathering stains. I'm really happy with the Rub n' Buff, but I think I need more practice with the oils... I was too miserly with the thinners, and some of the dots of oil paint remained too, well, dotty!  lol

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Re: Victorian-era Rocketships of the Great Powers (Update: 1st painted ship)
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2022, 01:40:58 PM »
It works well for the scale  8)

Offline Easy E

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Re: Victorian-era Rocketships of the Great Powers (Update: 1st painted ship)
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2022, 08:34:59 PM »
Very nice looking rocket ship!

 

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