Castles in the Sky is the title of the latest Osprey release in the blue book wargames series, written by Eric Farrington. Rather than us telling you what it’s about, this is what their website has to say about it:
A wargaming ruleset for epic pre-WW1 battles in the sky.
It’s the dawn of the 20th Century and the Great Powers turn to war. Since the development of the air screw, leading to the creation of flying warships, the navies of the world have comprised an ever-growing number of these aerial ironclads. So fire up the turbines, ready the aether drives, and take to the air in Castles in the Sky: A Wargame of Flying Battleships.
Featuring all the rules required to fight battles with fleets of flying behemoths. Assemble your fleet from 8 nationalities and fight through a variety of scenarios. With a full campaign system, Castles in the Sky contains everything adventurous aeronautical admirals need to find victory in the skies.
The 48-page softback has a number of photos featuring our Imperial Skies models, plus other unique artwork. Today is the official release date, and we’ve just added it to our website. The Imperial Skies range now numbers well over 250 different flying machines of various types from 21 different nationalities, plus merchant vessels, giving you lots to choose from.
The Imperial Skies South America project reaches halfway with the release of the fifth national fleet. The Oriental Republic of Uruguay is a small country, the second smallest on the continent, but we decided that it deserved a decent fleet (mainly because we came up with a nice design style that we wanted to make the most of…).
The fleet consists of six models, from the General Artigas battleship and Montevideo battlecruiser down to the ROU-22 torpedo pinnace. There’s the obligatory fleet pack and torpedo flotilla, and no fewer than four flags (Uruguay has three official flags plus a naval jack).
I had a go at painting a 3-colour dazzle camouflage on the larger vessels (the small ones were too fiddly) using an airbrush and random wedges of masking tape. They didn’t come out exactly as I’d seem them in my mind’s eye (they’re a bit darker) but overall I’m pleased with the result.
VANFP-3401 – Uruguayan Fleet Pack – £23.00 VANFP-3411 – Uruguayan Torpedo Flotilla – £4.00 VAN-3401 – General Artigas class Battleship – £8.00 VAN-3402 – Montevideo class Battlecruiser – £8.00 VAN-3403 – Capitán Miranda class Cruiser – £2.75 VAN-3404 – Paysandú class Destroyer – £1.75 VAN-3405 – Flores class Frigate – £1.25 VAN-3406 – ROU-22 class Torpedo Pinnace – £0.50 VANF-3401 – Uruguayan National Flag – £0.50 VANF-3402 – Naval Jack – £0.50 VANF-3403 – Artigas Flag – £0.50 VANF-3404 – Flag of the Treinta y Tres – £0.50
We did promise recently that we’d give a few clues about what we have coming in 2022 (beware what you say in a Facebook comment…). As always, our release schedule will be fairly fluid (there are weeks when we’re scrabbling round to find something that’s ready!) and the recent cancellation of Salute means that we’ve had to rewrite it again 🙁
But we do try to have some sort of plan, while also leaving some deliberate gaps just in case we have a flash of inspiration somewhere along the line.
We’ll be moving on with the South American fleets, with the Uruguayans making their appearance very soon (they’re ready apart from the final production mould for the small ships). Once the local fleets have been finished we want to add British, French and Dutch units for their respective colonial fleets.
The first HS models of 2022 will be 6mm versions of the Sincanmo dune buggies that came out in 15mm at the end of last year. Then we have a pair of matched forces that come from the same story (chapter 2 of The Warrior if you’d like to read ahead) – the Han Black Banner and Hindi National Army. The Han use lots of 8×8 wheeled vehicles and laser main armaments, along with 1-man trikes for command and liaison. The Hindis on the other hand have tracked tank destroyers and heavy anti-tank guns. The plan is to release the 6mm forces one week followed by the 15mm versions the next (or maybe the other way round). After that … who knows? There is an unusual 10-wheeled tank destroyer somewhere in the mix too…
The first project of the year (apart from a couple of odd EuroFed models) will be a batch of new capital ships for the German fleet to replace the existing ships. After that we’re planning a redesign of another of the remaining fleets, and (drum roll here…) releasing a brand new fleet – the first in a long time. This was supposed to have happened last year, but events overtook us. We also have to finish off some space stations, another partially completed but delayed project.
Small Scale Scenery
This releases in this range tends to be more random, Phil now does much of the design work so what comes out depends on his mood…
What we already have lined up starts with six forts/castles, including a very impressive Polish Baroque fortress. There’s a set of distinctive buildings for the Free City of Hamburg in case anyone fancies creating a northern European port. Phil’s also embarked on a series of buildings from days gone by in our home town of Maidstone – well, we say ‘series’, so far it’s just the one, but I’m hopeful…
There should be some additions to the Squadron Commander range of starfighters – some will be larger vessels such as shuttles or assault craft, which will have a crossover with the 6mm range.
We should add some more small forts to the 1/700 range, plus a set of generic houses which we’ve been asked for several times.
Phil is putting the finishing touches to a 28mm Belgian artillery piece for the Great War range. This will be a departure for us in that it will be released as a 3D printed model, created on a hi-res resin printer. He’s also part way through a stretcher team for the Surgeon General fundraiser range.
Speaking of which, it will see some other new medically themed additions, these will generally be single models that appear as part of a larger release.
In other news, the EU shipping solution should go on line this week – our account is set up and we’re ready to go with the shipping agent. I’ve made the website changes but was wary of uploading them just before the Christmas holiday when I may not be on hand to make any fixes.
Militarily, the three most powerful nations in South America have always been Argentina, Brazil and Chile. Having already released the latter two Imperial Skies fleets, we’re completing the alphabetical trifecta with the Argentines.
There are seven models in the fleet with replacements for the existing five vessels, plus two new additions in the shape of the Libertad battlecruiser and Guerrico frigate. The new models are in line with our other upgraded fleets, with better detail, separate turrets and resin hulls for the heavier ships.
VAN-1301 – Moreno class Battleship – £8.00 VAN-1302 – Buenos Aires class Heavy Cruiser – £3.00 VAN-1303 – Patagonia class Light Cruiser – £2.50 VAN-1304 – Mendoza class Destroyer – £2.00 VAN-1305 – Rosales class Torpedo Frigate – £1.00 VAN-1306 – Libertad class Battlecruiser – £8.00 VAN-1307 – Guerrico class Frigate – £1.00
As this post is published, we’ll be loading the van ready for the drive to ExCel where we’ll be setting up for Salute tomorrow.
We have some last minute additions to the roster; the 15mm Sincanmo dune buggies get some heavy support in the shape of this 8×8 armoured car, with several turret options. There are also three new buggy variants – a 4×4 scout, plus 6×6 and half-track command vehicles.
We also have a new Celtos figure,a Vanir Healer sculpted by Jeremey. He doesn’t have a name yet, but might get one later.
Finally (yes, really finally), drifting majestically into view we have the Nightingale class hospital ship for Imperial Skies.
This seems like a good time to summarise all of the new models that we plan to have tomorrow (on the assumption that we remember to bring them with us – yes, there has been the odd occasion when we’ve managed to leave all the stock of one of our new releases behind…). The models with an (M) after the price are part of our charity fundraiser – 50% of the ex-VAT price of these models will be donated to Macmillan Cancer Support.
Making their debut at Salute 2021 are the redesigned Argentine Imperial Skies fleet. There are seven craft in all – replacements for the existing five models, plus a new battlecruiser, the Libertad, and a frigate, the Guerrico. They retain the design style that Phil came up with many years ago with the intersecting circular deck layouts, and which at the time he carefully crafted by hand. These new versions are all digitally designed, which makes life much easier !
Progress is slower than we hoped on the South American Imperial Skies project, but the next of the fleets to get a makeover is the largest of the countries, Brazil. It has a total of 12 different models in the fleet, including four brand new ones, ranging from the Timbira class Torpedo Sloop at the smaller end of the scale up to the imposing Rei Andreas class battleship.
The new ships are the aforementioned Rei Andreas and Timbira, the Amazonas Light Armoured Cruiser and the Japura destroyer. The Brazilians also get a second fleet pack and a torpedo flotilla pack. Most of the ships are metal, with the exception of the resin-hulled Sao Paolo and Rei Andreas.
I’ve experimented with the painting on these, both in choice of colours and paints. Rather than the usual white or grey superstructures, black hulls etc, I’ve used muted versions of the flag colours – so green superstructures and yellow turrets. These don’t look too outlandish, and almost create a sort of camouflage scheme from above. I also decided to try painting them with Citadel Contrast paints. Over a Grey Seer spray basecoat (white was too light) I painted the hulls Basilicanum grey, the turrets Nazdreg Yellow, Militarum Green for the superstructures and Skeleton Horde for the decks. Normal paints were used to finish off the guns, masts, windows and other bits. It’s given a good enough result for the tabletop and was fairly quick, although you still have to be quite neat and avoid painting over the wrong areas.
VAN-801 – Sao Paulo Class Battlecruiser – £6.50 VAN-802 – Minas Gerais Class Heavy Cruiser – £3.50 VAN-803 – Gustavo Sampaio Class Light Cruiser – £2.00 VAN-804 – Barroso Class Patrol Sloop – £0.50 VAN-805 – Pernambuco class Frigate – £1.00 VAN-806 – Júlio de Noronha class Cruiser – £3.00 VAN-807 – Tamandare class Torpedo Cruiser – £2.00 VAN-808 – Paraná class Frigate – £1.00 VAN-809 – Rei Andreas class Battleship- £8.00 VAN-810 – Japura class Destroyer – £1.50 VAN-811 – Timbira class Torpedo Sloop- £0.50 VAN-812 – Amazonas class Light Armoured Cruiser- £2.50
Next will be the Argentine fleet – all of the production moulds are in place, we just have to paint up the samples for the website. Beyond that, Uruguay is looking good, there are a pair of rather cool looking pre-production battlecruisers on my painting desk…
We’re currently working hard on the redesigned Brazilian and Argentine fleets for Imperial Skies. They’re almost ready to go in fact, with the first samples waiting to be painted, and production moulds lined up at the workshop in anticipation.
But we’re getting into the swing of our South American adventure with a brand new aerial fleet. Ecuador lies in the north west corner of the continent, bordered by Colombia to the north and Peru to the east and south. During our research (yes, we do research things, we don’t make everything up – well, not all of it…) we learnt that the Galapagos Islands, 1000km out into the Pacific, are part of Ecuador (which, incidentally, just means ‘Equator’ in Spanish). And that, because of the way the planet bulges, the Chimborazo Volcano is the closest point on the earth to the sun.
All that aside, militarily the country is not the strongest in the region. When we were initially assessing the countries to determine the size of their air fleets, Ecuador ranked quite low, coming in just above Paraguay. As a result, the largest class are the Tunguruhua heavy cruisers, supported by a number of smaller craft.
The Ecuadorian airships are all armoured dirigibles, with their self-sealing gasbags supplemented by small Loewe Graviton Engines for additional lift. Only the Tunguruhua class have rotating turrets, with casemate guns on other ships plus flotillas of torpedo-armed small craft. Vessels use the prefix DAE; Dirigivel de la Armada del Ecuador.
The fleet has five models, and there’s a mini fleet pack and torpedo flotilla pack. We’ve also provided two flag sheets – the national flag changed in 1900 so we’ve drawn up before and after versions.
VANFP-3201 – Ecuadorian Air Guard Squadron Pack – £13.00 VANFP-3211 – Ecuadorian Torpedo Flotilla – £4.50 VANF-3201 – Ecuadorian Flag (1860-1900) – £0.50 VANF-3202 – Ecuadorian Flag (1900-2009) – £0.50
VAN-3201 – Tunguruhua class Heavy Cruiser – £3.00 VAN-3202 – Zamora class Light Cruiser – £1.75 VAN-3203 – Chimborazo class Destroyer – £1.25 VAN-3204 – Isla class Frigate – £1.00 VAN-3205 – Isabela class Torpedo Cutter (x3) – £1.50
As you’re doubtless aware if you have more than a passing acquaintance with this blog, we’ve been completely out of flying stands for some time. Our normal supplier’s mould had failed, and injection moulds are expensive, specialist items to repair or replace. So we were stuck…
However, after much searching we’ve finally been able to locate an alternative source of plastic flying bases. They are of a different design, with a circular base rather than a hexagonal one. The post is of a similar height, although fatter, and the peg at the top is of a slightly larger diameter (which means that you will have to open out the cast-in mounting holes at the bottom of our models with a 2mm drill). The plastic they’re made from seems to be a little softer, so they should be less brittle. We’ve already used them to base up a batch of new models and had no problems – in fact the wider post seems to make it a bit easier to balance the model on top while the glue sets. There is a downside – they are more expensive, costing us around twice as much. But at least we finally – finally – have something to base your flying models. Our stock arrived on Friday and we’ve wasted no time in getting them on the website.
Because they’re dearer, we’ve decided against putting them in fleet packs, as we’d have to recalculate the price of all the packs.
Coincidentally, we also received a restock of one or two codes of dice that had been out of stock, particularly the small (7mm) dice that are so handy as markers, along with a new colour (orange).
ACC-025 – Clear round-base flying stand (x10) – £4.00 ACC-003O – Small six-sided dice – orange (x10) – £1.00
This week we have a couple of new sets of merchant vessels for Imperial Skies. Although an unarmed cargo carrier may not seem the most exciting of models, they open up more possibilities for game scenarios. These can range from a simple attack/defend a convoy game, to fleets getting caught napping while replenishing (maybe all of your battleships start the game with no heavy gun ammo and have to spend two turns stationary next to a freighter to reload ?).
We have two US vessels and two Scandinavians – a small freighter and a coaler each. Both have the same basic hull styling of their respective nation’s military vessels so will fit in as fleet auxiliaries. There is also a small Scandinavian Federation crane lighter to aid with loading and unloading, but which could be useful for any nation.
Finally, we have a replacement for the old Amazone patrol vessel. Vessels like this are seen at many civilian air stations, patrolling the skies while keeping an eye out for pirates, anarchists or enemy ships. They are very lightly armed and fairly fragile, being built to civilian rather than military standards.
VAN-5004 – Amazone Patrol Cutter – £0.50 VAN-5014 – Cactus class Light Freighter – £2.00 VAN-5015 – Hudson class Coal Tender – £2.00 VAN-5016 – Visborg class Freighter – £2.00 VAN-5017 – Svalbard class Coaler – £2.00 VAN-5018 – Q-7 class Crane Lighter – £0.75