Deutsche Dirigible

Our second new release of this week is related to the first; this is the German Schleswig-Holstein class battleship, a huge steel-framed dirigible. A number of Schleswigs were sold to the Ottoman Aerial Navy, which promptly converted them into the Abdül Aziz class.

This replaces the old Schleswig model – the new version is a single piece resin casting.

The Schleswig is discounted by 7.5% (64p), and for each sale we’ll also donate the same amount to HEROES, a fund set up to help frontline NHS staff as they battle the Covid-19 outbreak. This will run until April 24th.

VAN-310 – Schleswig-Holstein class Dig Battleship – £8.50 £7.86

Ottoman Flagship

So, here we have it – the first of this year’s not-Salute releases. As an opener, we have the might of the Ottoman Air Fleet – the Abdül Aziz class Dig Battleship. This model replaces the older design of the same vessel.

The Aziz is large semi-rigid airship with an armoured superstructure. The main armament consists of two huge circular turrets, with an impressive secondary battery in the superstructure and the lower gondola.

As mentioned earlier this week, all of our new releases which had originally been intended for Salute will be discounted for the first three weeks of sale by 7.5%; in addition, the same amount will be donated to HEROES, a fund set up to help frontline NHS staff as they battle the Covid-19 outbreak. So the Abdul Aziz will be discounted by 68p, and for each sale we’ll donate the same amount to HEROES – this will run until April 24th.

VAN-2001 – Abdül Aziz class Dig Battleship – £9.00 £8.32

New German Escorts

Today it’s the turn of the Kaiser’s aerial navy to get an upgrade. All of our German Aeronef destroyers, frigates and patrol craft are being replaced, and we’ve taken the opportunity to sneak in a new model as well.

The Seydlitz winged Dig Gunboat has been beefed up with a larger fuselage, while the larger Brandenburg dig destroyer comes in two variants with different gondolas.

The new model is the Frauenlob class AA destroyer, equipped with three triple AA turrets amidships – seen below next to the new Karlsruhe destroyer leader model.

The VA-7 and SA-15 have been reclassified as frigates, and the DA-19 torpedo frigate also gets an upgrade.

At the bottom end of the size scale, the TA-127 torpedo Nef and BA-97 patrol Nef now come in strips of three models (at the same price per model).

There are three flotilla packs available – escort, dig escort and torpedo – all containing the new models.

VANFP-311 – German Escort Flotilla – £9.00
VANFP-312 – German Torpedo Squadron – £4.50
VANFP-313 – German Dig Escort Flotilla – £10.00
VAN-302 – Seydlitz class Dig Gunboat – £1.25
VAN-304 – VA-7 class Frigate – £1.00
VAN-305 – SA-15 class Frigate – £1.00
VAN-308 – TA-127 class Torpedo Nef (x3) – £1.50
VAN-309 – Brandenburg class Dig Destroyer – £2.75
VAN-311 – Karlsruhe class Destroyer – £2.00
VAN-313 – BA-97 Patrol Nef (x3) – £1.50
VAN-315 – DA-19 class Torpedo Frigate – £1.00
VAN-327 – Frauenlob class AA Destroyer – £2.25

And in case anyone missed it yesterday, we’re back up and running after a two day hiatus for machinery repairs.

Pacific Torpedoes

Quite high on our list of ‘Aeronef models we really must remake’ are some of the small torpedo craft – the US and Japanese ones particularly, for which we’ve never had a reliable production mould. They’ve now moved from the must remake list to the finally done list, and at the same time we’ve been able to add a patrol boat to each nation’s fleet. We’ve also gone for the 3-models-on-a-sprue plan that we’ve used with other small boats, which makes handling easier for us and allows us to get moire models in a mould.

The US Great White Fleet get a replacement for the Hunley torpedo boat, which is slightly bigger than the original, along with the River class patrol boat on the same hull.

Japan gets replacements for the K-37 bomber and S-12 Torpedo boat, and gains the C-64 patrol boat, which is built on the K-37 hull.

Both side’s torpedo flotillas have been updated as well – they go up slightly in price, but you now get six torpedo craft per pack instead of five.

VANFP-211 – US Torpedo Squadron – £4.50
VANFP-612 – Japanese Torpedo Squadron – £4.50

VAN-206 – Hunley class Torpedo Boat (x3) – £1.50
VAN-217 – River class Patrol Boat (x3) – £1.50
VAN-608 – Type K-37 Nef Bomber (x3) – £1.50
VAN-609 – Type S-12 Torpedo Nef (x3) – £1.50
VAN-618 – Type C-64 Patrol Boat (x3) – £1.50

Formidable!

You have to say the title in a French accent for it to work properly!

Today, we’ve completed the redesign process for the first of the major powers of the Aeronef world. With the release of nine new escort vessels, all of the French models have been replaced with new, 3D-printed versions (in case anyone was thinking that we’d already finished the British fleet first, there are still a couple of odd models that need to be done).

Today’s batch of new models includes two destroyers, three frigates, three patrol craft and a monitor. The smaller vessels are one piece castings with separate masts where appropriate, while the three largest vessels have separate gun turrets and (in the case of the Suffren monitor) side guns. The patrol craft are now supplied as a sprue of three vessels instead of singly.

VAN-405 – Le Brouchet Class Torpedo Frigate – £2.00
VAN-407 – Hussard Class Motor Torpedo Nef (x3) – £1.50
VAN-408 – Descartes Class Destroyer – £1.00
VAN-409 – Vaillante Class Destroyer – £1.00
VAN-411 – Perigeaux Class Patrol Nef (x3) – £1.50
VAN-412 – Hoche class Patrol Nef (x3) – £2.00
VAN-413 – Suffren class Monitor – £2.50
VAN-414 – Regnault class Destroyer – £2.00
VAN-415 – Siroco class Fast Torpedo Boat – £1.00

We’re hoping to get the German escorts replaced as well in the very near future – there’s just one mould to go.

Waifs and Strays

Back in April, we upgraded the cruisers and escorts of the British Aeronef fleet when they were released at Salute. However, not all of our planned releases made the cut – two models, the replacement for the Agamemnon monitor and the brand new Orion class light cruiser, weren’t released at the time because of casting issues. It’s taken a while, but we’ve modified both and they’re finally available for release. It was the tails of both models which were causing the problem – an increase in thickness of just 0.25mm made all the difference, resulting in castings that are getting on for 100% reliable (or as close as we get) as opposed to around 10% previously.

The Orion is a light cruiser design which the British fleet has been sorely missing. It comes in two variants – the basic Orion gun cruiser, fitted with two single and two twin turrets, or the Sirius AA cruiser with four triple-AAA turrets. Both types also have two twin torpedo tubes.

The Agamemnon monitor has two inverted howitzer turrets on the bottom of the hull for surface bombardment, along with some conventional light armament for self defence.

VAN-106 – Agamemnon class monitor – £3.00
VAN-129 – Orion class Light Cruiser – £3.00
VAN-129a – Sirius class AA Cruiser – £3.00

At some point soon (probably after the end of the show season in November), we’ll update the contents of our British fleet packs to take account of the various new releases this year, and the Orion (and Medusa) will filter into these packs.

Fallen Giants

I recently made some wreck markers for a game of Imperial Skies; they don’t serve any game purpose, but they look good 🙂

I was fielding a small but powerful French fleet, so I modelled my two capital ships (a Gaulois dreadnought and a Massena battleship), and while I was at it I added a Loire and one of the new la Verde class Italian battlecruisers.

The resin hulls were cut off at odd angles and the Gaulois was cut completely in half. They were then severely distressed with knives, clippers, files and a Dremel fitted with a grinding head. Some of the turret mountings were drilled out and gun barrels removed. The metal turrets, funnels and other bits were similarly attacked, gun barrels and masts bent before sticking them to the hulls.

They were based on textured plastic Land Ironclads bases, and the Massena’s tail was cut off and stuck at an odd angle.

Everything was sprayed black before they were given the roughest of rough paint jobs – just two additional colours, deck and superstructure. I didn’t bother painting details such as windows that I’d normally spend time over. I gave them a similarly quick drybrush rather than the usual edge highlighting, then lots of dark washes hid the rough edges.

The bases were painted in sea colours and a wash of GW Coelian Greenshade gave a suitably oily-looking surface to the water. The final touch was some fibre stuffing which was lightly sprayed black then superglued to represent smoke billowing out of various orifices.

Although they were just for aesthetic purposes in our game, they could be useful as objective markers in a game – retrieving vital papers or a VIP from a downed ship.

Croiseurs Français

This week we’re updating all of the cruiser classes in our French Aeronef fleet. This includes the cruisers Jeanne la Pucelle and Formidabile, and the commerce raider classes L’Epee and Fléche. Whenever we release one of these updates we always try to add something new as well as replacing the older models; the British got the Minotaur Armoured Cruiser earlier this year and the Germans the Lützow Fleet Cruiser and Hansa Torpedo Cruiser. The French are no exception – they get the brand new 6-turret Jules Ferry Armoured Cruiser class.

French heavy cruisers patrol off a Mediterranean coastal town, watched over by a floating battery
Commerce raiders move to intercept two German merchant vessels under escort.

We’ve followed the layout of the older models for the designs but in detail they’ve all changed considerably (for the better !). All of the models feature one-piece metal hulls and separate turrets. Our existing French fleet packs will have the new designs instead of the old ones.

VAN-403 – L’Epee class Commerce Raider – £4.00
VAN-404 – Jeanne la Pucelle class Cruiser – £3.50
VAN-406 – Formidabile class Light Cruiser – £2.50
VAN-416 – Fléche class Light Raider – £2.50
VAN-421 – Jules Ferry class Armoured Cruiser – £4.00

Flying Batteries

During the Crimean War, the French used a number of Floating Batteries – ironclad hulls with a complement of heavy guns, but no means of propulsion. They were towed into position by smaller vessels – mostly paddle-steamer frigates – and used to bombard Russian coastal forts with some success. They were also deployed to the Adriatic during the 1859 Franco-Austrian War.

They struck me as a great idea for some new Aeronef vessels. Using the same idea of battleship-sized but unpowered vessels with lots of guns, this time flying rather than floating, I’ve come up with two different variants.

The first model is the Redoutable, the early version of the flying battery idea. This has 18 heavy guns in open mounts on the deck and a small deckhouse for the gun crews to shelter in.

The second model is what I imagine to be an updated version of the design – maybe a few years later, the original vessels were upgraded. These vessels, known as the Solférino class, retain ten of their original gun mounts but with the end ones replaced by two heavy battleship turrets and, in recognition of the increasing threat posed by fixed-wing aircraft, two turrets each mounting three rapid-firing small calibre AA guns. The vessels also have a small steam-powered engine to provide power to operate the heavy gun turrets, and a mast with spotters to provide centralised fire control.

VAN-420 – Redoubtable Flying Battery – £7.50
VAN-420a – Solférino Flying Battery – £7.50

Packing Them In

The continued release of new and redesigned models means that occasionally we tweak the contents of our Aeronef and Spaceship fleet packs to accommodate the new vessels and increase the variety across them.

To this end, we’ve just updated the contents of some of our British spaceship and German Aeronef packs. Conveniently we sold out of British spaceship packs at Salute so restocking those was an ideal chance to make changes, and the new German Aeronef cruisers prompted the second change.

The affected British packs are SFSP-104, the heavy fleet pack, which gets the new Triumph heavy destroyers, while the Strike pack, SFSP-105, now has Shark class stealth destroyers to match the Swiftsure cruisers.

Most of the German fleet packs have been updated – VANFP-301, -302 and -304 have all been revamped to fit in the new cruiser designs, as has the Grand Fleet Pack, VANFP-023. We’ve also added a seventh German fleet pack, VANFP-307, with a Kaiser class dreadnought (which has never been in a fleet pack before now) at its core supported by two new Lutzow class Flottenkreuzer.