SMS Kaiser

We showed some preview screen grabs of the USS Lexington battlecruiser a few weeks ago, one of the four stretch goal models we agreed to produce as part of the Imperial Skies Kickstarter campaign. Today we’re showing another, the German Kaiser class Dreadnought. It follows similar design lines to the existing Blucher and Markgraf, just bigger !

The turrets are all new and will be made available as separate packs.




USS Lexington

The Lexington is one of the new models we pledged to produce as a result of the Imperial Skies Kickstarter campaign. It’s a battlecruiser class, and we decided to do something a bit different, going for a cross between a Civil War ironclad and a stealth submarine ! It has four very large main guns in semi-circular armoured citadels, a broadside battery of secondaries either side and two aerial torpedoes.

These are screen grabs of the 3D model, it won’t be going off for printing until the other three models are ready.




Out of Africa

As a bit of Monday morning eye-candy, here are some photos of an Aeronef game run at the Houston Beer and Pretzels club recently. The game, as the name suggests, was a Mediterranean encounter featuring some splendidly painted Ottomans, Austro-Hungarians and British. We’ve put a few photos below, but you can go the the HBP site for more (and other Aeronef galleries besides).

UPDATE – an AAR has been added to their blog which is a bit of fun 🙂




Breaking Radio Silence

It’s been a busy few days, what with travelling over to Belgium for Crisis and then a week full of restocking orders for Pico Armor and Scale Creep.


It meant that last week’s new releases have been delayed until now (which in turn will push this week’s intended new items back – but they’ll all come out in the end !). What we have for you are a couple of Aeronef models from foes either side of the Adriatic. The Austro-Hungarians get the Kaiserin class Dig Aircraft Carrier, a giant airship with a flight deck on top and capacious hangars inside the gasbag. The deck boasts a couple of cranes, and these are also available separately in an accessory pack.


The Italians meanwhile get the Ricardo PR-46 seaplane, a bizarre 3×3-winged beast used for transport and (when desperate) bombing raids.

I had a little bit of a varnish disaster on a damp evening last week, so please excuse any odd frosty white spots on the models !

VAN-713 – Kaiserin class Dig Carrier – £9.00
VAN-1808 – Ricardo PR-46 Tri-deck Seaplane – £1.50
VAN-7005 – Deck Cranes (x12) – £1.50
VANFP-703 – Austro-Hungarian Carrier Pack – £22.00

Crisis Imminent!

This coming weekend sees our last show of the year – Crisis in Antwerp, Belgium. This is a superb show, second only in size to Salute and we always enjoy our trip over.

Flyer 2-A5.CDR

I’ll have the full range of Celtos figures (including packs), 15mm SF (vehicles, figures, buildings and accessories), 2mm buildings, Great War Belgians and Magpie Miniatures.

I’ll also have good selection of Aeronef, 6mm SF and Squadron Commander packs available and Spaceship fleet packs plus individual stock of the British, Neo-Soviet, Indonesian and Merchant spaceship fleets and some selected individual Aeronef – unfortunately there isn’t room to bring individual stocks of the rest of the ranges.

There is still just about time to get in an order to collect at the show if you wanted to reserve anything specific – you have until I leave for the workshop Thursday morning (around 8am) to get the orders in. You can either send us an email with a list and pay on the day, or use the Collect in Person shipping option on the website if you would like to pay in advance.

This year I’ll be accompanied by Robin Fitton of Rotten Lead Publishing (author of the Gruntz 15mm SF rules). He’ll be next to the stand running games of Imperial Skies, his upcoming Victorian SF airship game using our Aeronef models which you can join in.



I should hopefully have some new Aeronef and 15mm releases this weekend – photos to follow if possible…

Jutland Aeronef

My contribution to the recent Jutland Aeronef refight was a division of German battleships – specifically the 5th Division of the 3rd Battle Squadron, consisting of the SMS Koenig, Grosser Kurfurst, Kronprinz and Markgraf. Since we had pretty much free reign over what models we used, as long as they looked the part (there were some heavily modified Russian Borodinos as part of the German fleet !) I chose to use some of our Prussian ships, the Konigsberg and Manteuffel, modifying and painting two of each. I also painted two von Dobschutz cruisers and four Wavre frigates, although in the end they didn’t make the table.

I’ve always been very impressed by the conversion work that Jon Rogers did on his US and Japanese fleets for his Pacific Aeronef game, with additional turrets, funnels, masts and rigging, and wanted to attempt something similar. To this end, I created a bunch of turrets, new funnels, masts, AA guns, searchlights and ventilators and ships boats as 3D models and had them printed by Shapeways. As is always the way, these then sat in a box for months until I finally got round to starting the build !

The first job was a quick cleanup of the casts, removing any flash – the Prussian models are pretty clean casts and this didn’t take long. The next job was to remove all of the funnels on the larger vessels, as these were to be replaced by new plastic ones. I then turned the models over and superglued a washer underneath – the models were to be ‘flown’ on magnetic flight stands so they needed the steel washer as an attachment.

Now it was time to start adding the detail parts. All of the main and secondary turrets were replaced by new plastic models of a different design to the metal ones usually supplied with the models. They are based on the design of the German Brandenburg class pre-dreadnoughts, essentially a hemisphere with a large bustle. I mixed single and twin turrets on the ships, and added some extras on empty areas of deck – the Manteuffels in particular got a third main turret instead of the normal two.

Funnels were also replaced – the new plastic ones were slightly larger, so the Konigsbergs received one while the Manteuffels got two. New pole masts with a fighting top were added, with thinner topmasts and crossbeams made from cut up paperclips (which I figured would be a lot more robust than having such thin pieces 3D printed). I added some ship’s boats to the Manteuffels – unfortunately there wasn’t room for any on the Konisbergs. I also liberally dotted searchlights and small AA guns around the superstructures, but in the end I didn’t use the ventilators. The last addition was some large vertical tail fins from plasticard, glued under the existing tails (there are some handy beams to attach these to).

Once built, all of the models were undercoated with white Halfords automotive primer. The hulls were painted with a Tamiya dark grey and the superstructure mid sea grey. The grey areas were drybrushed with Games Workshop Longbeard Grey, then the whole lot was washed in GW Nuln Oil, which looked good but unfortunately dulled the difference between the two greys – so next time I’d use a lighter grey for the superstructure. The decks were painted Tamiya Buff and washed in Gryphonne Sepia – the wash does a great job of picking out the deck planking and also hides a multitude of sins in terms of less-than-straight edges. A quick drybrush of GW Terminatus Stone accentuated the deck detail. After that I went round and did a bit of tidying up where deck paint had got onto the hull sides and superstructure.

The last bits of the paint were pretty straightforward – funnels were painted dark red and highlighted, with black tops (German battleships had their aft funnels painted red at Jutland), searchlights picked out with yellow faces, masts and boats painted in shades of brown and windows/portholes blue, with GW washes where appropriate. The tail fins of the battleships got a red stripe and Dom’s Decals used for the crosses.

At this point the models were painted and I was able to varnish them using Army Painter matt anti-shine varnish from a spray can. They were ready for the last stages of flags and rigging – but I decided to add some more detail. Jon had added rigged torpedo net-style spars to his ships and I decided I liked the look of that. I’d finished the build earlier than expected (I was surprised how quickly it went) so still had time to go back and add extra details. I drilled out equally spaced holes in the hull sides using a dremel and inserted lengths of paperclip wire. The ends of the were were filed flat to remove any sharp points – as you can see from the rather gruesome photo below, paperclip wire can be sharp when cut… The beams were then quickly painted and washed – I didn’t bother with undercoat or varnish but it all looks OK.

Rigging was done with cotton thread. I found the trick with this was to cut an overlong piece and attach it securely with superglue, and only then start wrapping it round the other beams and spars. The thread was wrapped round each beam and a tiny dot of superglue used to secure it (I used a very narrow applicator that came with some pound shop bottles). Once the glue had all dried I touched a drop of sepia wash around each knot on the rigging to dull down any shiny or fogged glue.

And that was it – I think they looked the business on table, and in fact three of them were some of the few surviving German ships at the end of the game – they fought well and took down several enemy vessels including HMS Barham, one of the largest British ships of the time.

The detailing kit I used is now available on Shapeways – it’s not too expensive (£30 or so) and there are enough parts for half-a-dozen large ships or more smaller ones.

Jutland Refought

Over the weekend, a small but intrepid group of gamers gathered again at Stoke Rochford Hall for our latest Aeronef weekender. Joining the usual crowd all the way from Houston, TX was Andy Bouffard, who had managed to combine a business trip with a weekend’s gaming.


This time the theme was Jutland – or a refight of it using Aeronef instead of wet navy ships. The order-of-battle for Jutland is immense, with a total of 250 ships, and much e-mail discussion had ensued about how to portray this, how many of the escorting ships to use etc. In the end we decided to only portray the heaviest vessels – the battleships, battlecruisers and the eight British armoured cruisers. It was felt that the many other smaller vessels would simply clog up the table without adding much to the fight.

So the British took to the skies with 28 dreadnought battleships, nine battlecruisers and eight armoured cruisers. The Germans on the other hand had 16 dreadnoughts, six older pre-dreadnoughts and five battlecruisers. The stats for the game were derived from the real ships, by using the figures for displacement, armour, weight of broadside and speed to create Aeronef game stats. We only generated figures for hull points, gun dice, speed and turn rate – we ignored the small number of torpedo tubes carried by the capital ships since they were rarely used in battle, and bomb dice were unnecessary since there were no surface targets. I’ve made PDFs available for the Germans and British stats so you can see what we used. The German dreadnoughts were more powerful than all but the largest British vessels, but they were heavily outnumbered – the British ships totalled over 4100 points, while the Germans came to just 2500.

Things started badly for the Germans as the battlecruiser scout force got too far ahead of the main fleet and, isolated, was quickly torn to pieces. In a mirror of the historical engagement, the battlecruisers Invincible and Indomitable succumbed to magazine explosions in the same turn (we were using the “There Seems To Be Something Wrong With Our Bloody Ships !” special rule). The slugging match between the two main fleets then panned out as expected, with British firepower proving too much for the Germans, although some nifty German manoeuvring initially saw a large part of the British force left too far away to have much influence on the battle until they were able to close the range. We fought almost to the bitter end, and called a halt with just six German battleships still aloft. The Grand Fleet had been hit hard however, losing seven battlecruisers, several armoured cruisers and half-a-dozen dreadnoughts – so they could really only claim a minor victory in tactical terms, although strategically the loss of almost the whole of the Hochluftflotte would have a major bearing on the outcome of the war.

On Sunday morning we tried out Land Ironclads using Silvio la Verde’s excellently painted Italian and Austrian forces – although this was only a brief skirmish, we all saw enough to want to play more, so next year’s SRH weekend may have more of a land combat theme…

(Almost) Ready for Action

This weekend sees the latest Aeronef weekend at Stoke Rochford Hall in Lincolnshire. The theme this time is a refight of Jutland using Aeronef – we’re hoping to have all of the capital ships that were present at the real action present on the table, although not necessarily all of the cruisers and escorts !


We two Brigadiers are both contributing to the fleets – Phil is painting up four Victoria-class battleships which will play the part of the four heavy Queen Elizabeth-class vessels of the 5th Battle Squadron. For my part, I’ll be taking on the role of Rear Admiral Behncke, commanding the four Koenig-class battleships of the 5th Division, 3rd Battle Squadron.


To this end I’ve been super-detailing and painting my four ships plus some escorts. I’m going to write up a full account of the process later, but this week I’m too busy finishing them off ! In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few photos of the almost complete ships. They’re based on our Prussian Koenigsberg and Manteuffel class models, two of each, and the escorts are also Prussian. I’ve replaced all of the turrets and the larger funnels with bespoke 3D-printed pieces, and added fighting masts, searchlights and ship’s boats. There is some tidying-up work to be done with the painting and they still need decals. I’m also hoping to rig them although this depends on how long I have – there is still normal day-to-day Brigade work to be done as well this week.


Islands in the Sky

I’ve always wanted to make some flying islands for Aeronef games, but never quite seem to be able to get around to it. But the other day I happened to watch Avatar again, and the sequence amongst the Hallelujah Mountains got me thinking again, and spurred me into action.

The basis of the islands was lava rock, sold for barbecues – I’d used it in the past to make perfect asteroids for spaceship games, so I had half a box left from that project. You can get in DiY stores or supermarkets in the UK, or if you live on Hawaii, just pop up the nearest volcano… I selected half-a-dozen pieces which had a flat side which could be used to site buildings on, and drilled a hole to fit a steel screw in the base in each. This screw would then fix the islands to magnetic stands.

The top was smoothed off with ready-mixed wall filler (Polyfilla, Tetrion or similar), which was painted green when dry. This made a flat(ish) base for the buildings.

The pre-painted buildings were attached with clear glue (Uhu, Bostick etc) and the remainder of the green areas flocked. The final touch was to use a hot glue gun to stick on some trees and bushes.

Although there were points during the process when I wondered how well they were going to turn out (but then I get that in every project), on the whole I’m pretty pleased with them. I didn’t make too many this time, I wanted to have six finished ones rather than twelve which I ran out of time on. So I’ll probably make some more later – ideally I’d like to find some larger pieces of lava rock for bigger layouts.

Flying Airfield

Today we’re unveiling a new Aeronef model, and our largest to date in this range. The Langley is an American carrier which supports up to 18 fighters in its capacious hangars. It’s well equipped with anti-fighter batteries for self-defence, although with nothing in the way of offensive armament.


The model has been computer designed and 3D printed, but styled to fit in with the existing models in the US fleet.


The Langley is available on its own, or in a pack complete with escorts, fighters and bases. The new anti-fighter turrets are also available in a pack of 12, along with a second circular AA turret – ideal for conversions or upgrades to your existing models.


VAN-215 – Langley Fighter Carrier – £9.00
VANFP-204 – US Carrier Pack – £22.00
VAN-7003 – Rectangular AA Turret (x12) – £1.50
VAN-7004 – Round AA Turret (x12) – £1.50