Aerial Traders

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

Upholding the Constitucion

So the South American thing we mentioned earlier in the week… it starts here. We’re getting off the ground gently with a new battlecruiser for the Chilean fleet, the Constitucion class.

You may remember that the Chilean fleet has already been updated with a number of new vessels, but the Constitucion gives it a second capital ship to go with the existing Santiago.

The Constitucion has a pair of new triple-barrelled heavy turrets based on the French style – these are also available in a separate accessory pack.

VAN-1608 – Constitucion class Battlecruiser – £8.00
VAN-7049 – French Triple Heavy Turret (x10) – £1.50

Welcome to the New World

A major change has happened to our website this week – our range of Victorian sci-fi flying craft has moved under the banner of Imperial Skies, to more closely tie them to the rules. All the product codes remain the same, but web addresses have changed – we’ve set up a series of redirects so that hopefully anyone who clicks on an old link should be redirected to the new location. Click on the logo below to go to the new Imperial Skies section of the website.

This is probably also a good time to set out our plans for the range over the remainder of this year (and almost certainly stretching into 2022). When we finished our redesign and remoulding of all of the major powers at the end of 2020, Phil and I discussed two options going ahead. The first was to move onto the remaining European nations that still needed resculpts, such as Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Turks and Belgium. This would also involve some new fleets such as the Greeks, Portuguese and the Balkan countries. Option two was to concentrate on the South American continent instead, resculpting the existing models and adding some smaller nations.

In the end we went for plan B and set course for the New World. This will involve redesigning the Brazilian, Argentinian and Peruvian fleets, who along with the Chileans are the major players in the region. The other six countries – Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Paraguary, Uruguay and Venezuela – will all get fleets of varying size. And during the timeline of Imperial Skies, Britain, France and Holland all still have substantial colonies on the continent (British Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname respectively) so that seems like a good excuse to add some specific new vessels to those fleets.

We’ve divided the nations into three tiers by looking at their relative sizes, populations and GDP at the end of the C.19th, along with their real-life military strength at the time, particularly their wet navies. The most powerful nations will get a couple of capital ships plus cruisers and escorts, the second rank ones will get a battlecruiser or maybe a small or obsolete battleship while the lowliest fleets have nothing larger than a cruiser.

One design decision we made early was exclude fighter carriers. Flying fighter carriers are expensive to build and maintain in the world of Imperial Skies, and we decided that they would be beyond the means of the nations involved here. They will still have fixed-wing aircraft, often sourced from abroad, but they will mainly operate from surface airfields or in some cases water (I have great plans for the Lake Titicaca Seaplane Squadron !).

The first releases were going to be at Salute in April, and then more models were to be pushed out over the rest of the year. But lately we’ve all learnt not to make plans, as any number of things can get in the way ! Salute didn’t happen, and various lockdowns have delayed us a little. We’re a bit behind on our intended timeline, but we’re ready to make a start. We’ve already finished design work and mastering of the Argentinian and Brazilian fleets, and most of the production moulds for those fleets are ready to roll. We’ve also finished the first of the brand new navies, Ecuador. All of these models are just waiting for us to paint up samples for the website, then we’ll be ready to roll. Here’s a look at a new Brazilian battleship, the Rei Andreas:

Blast from the Past

Rooting through some old files recently I came across some designs for US airships that were sent to me many moons ago (the file is dated 2007) by a gamer called Frank Alvarado. One of these caught my attention so I immediately fired up the 3D software and, a few strokes of the mouse later, had the rough layout of a new dreadnought. This was then refined into a final design and sent off to be printed. It’s been modified slightly, mainly to make it fit our existing set of US turrets and other parts, but it’s still essentially Frank’s design which we’ve named after him.

Alvarado class Dreadnought

We’ve tried to contact Frank but to no avail – neither email address we have on file has elicited a response and we’ve had no luck on social media either. So if anyone knows Frank, ask him to drop us a line – we’d like to send him some examples of the vessel he designed all those years ago.

VAN-224 – Alvarado class Dreadnought – £8.50

Luxury Travel in the Skies

Today we take to the skies in unprecedented aerial luxury, with the release of three flying passenger liners. We have newly designed versions of the Majestic, Stirling Castle and Kaiserin Elizabeth class ships, all with resin hulls and metal parts. The largest, the Majestic, even has a small swimming pool on the afterdeck surrounded by sun loungers, for passengers who wish to swim in the sky!

And representing the more grimy, utilitarian face of merchant shipping, we also have a new version of the French Rochefort heavy merchant, featuring a deck festooned with cranes and cargo hatches.

VAN-5001 – Majestic class Passenger Liner – £8.50
VAN-5006 – Kaiserin Elisabeth class Liner – £4.00
VAN-5009 – Rochefort class Heavy Merchant – £8.00
VAN-5010 – Stirling Castle class Liner – £5.00

From Russia With Love

We’ve made it – our final new release of the year, and the last leg in our epic quest to redesign/resculpt the Aeronef models of the six major powers. Today sees the release of the Russian cruiser and escort forces, with six redesigns and two brand new models. You can see all of the new models below, along with the two smaller vessels released last week.

The two new craft are the Kronshtadt Heavy Cruiser, an enormous beast the size of a small battleship with new twin turrets. The other vessel is the Burnyi destroyer, fitted with a forward barbette and torpedo tubes.

There’s a new Fleet pack with a Poltava Dreadnought, an Admiral Nakhimov battlecruiser plus escorts, and a new Russian Escort Flotilla pack with eight destroyers (although I’m afraid we still have no flying stands so the packs are without these for the the moment).

The small Russian barbettes have been redesigned and are available in packs of 12, as is the new cruiser turret on the Kronshtadt. There are even some new flags, the Imperial flag and Naval Jack.

VANFP-502 – Russian Fleet Pack #2 – £21.50
VANFP-513 – Russian Escort Flotilla – 10.00

VAN-501 – Petrapavlovsk Class Cruiser – £2.50
VAN-502 – Archangelsk Class Dig Cruiser – £3.50
VAN-504 – Dobrovolets class Destroyer – £1.00
VAN-505 – Derskyi Heavy Destroyer – £3.50
VAN-507 – Smolensk class Seaplane Tender – £2.50
VAN-511 – Strashchni class Destroyer – £1.75
VAN-516 – Kronshtadt – £4.50
VAN-517 – Burnyi – £1.75

VANF-503 – Russian Imperial Flag – £0.50
VANF-504 – Russian Naval Jack – £0.50

VAN-7051 – Russian Single Barbette (x12) – £1.50
VAN-7052 – Russian Twin Barbette (x12) – £1.50
VAN-7057 – Russian Twin Cruiser Turret (x12) – £1.50

Having finished with the major powers, we’re off in a completely new direction with Aeronef in 2021. News of this coming soon…

That’s it for new releases this year – next Friday is of course Christmas day, and we have better things to do then, as we’re sure you all do!

Flying Fortresses

This week sees the release of new versions of the Russian Raevski Aerial Redoubt and Shevardino Aerial Battery. These heavily armed, static flying defences are positioned to defend harbours and air stations across the huge expanse of Mother Russia. These new versions are resin hulled, making them lighter and much easier to base, and feature the new heavy turrets found on the Russian capital ships. We’ve also released a Defence Battery pack with one Raevski and two Shevardino.

As if that wasn’t enough, we also have new versions of the Russian Murmansk Patrol Nef and Novik Torpedo Nef.

At the same time, the Austro-Hungarians get an updated Lussin Rocket Nef plus a new vessel, the Maros Patrol Nef. The Russian and Austro-Hungarian torpedo flotilla packs have been updated with the new models.

VANFP-511 – Russian Torpedo Flotilla – £4.00
VANFP-512 – Russian Defence Battery – £8.00
VANFP-711 – Austro-Hungarian Rocket Squadron – £4.00

VAN-503 – Murmansk Patrol Nef (x3) – £1.50
VAN-508 – Novik Torpedo Nef (x3) – £1.50
VAN-509 – Shevardino Aerial Battery – £2.00
VAN-510 – Raevski Aerial Redoubt – £5.00
VAN-705 – Lussin Rocket Nef (x3) – £1.50
VAN-716 – Maros Patrol nef – £1.50

Upgrading the Great White Fleet

At the start of the year we had this grand plan to finish upgrading all of the models of the major powers of the Aeronef world. All six had already had their capital ships replaced by new 3D sculpts, and we’ve also added plenty of new designs – but we had all of the escorts and cruisers still to go. We did most of the British, French and Germans in 2019 (not quite all, there are one or two to go), which left Japan, USA and Russia for this year. The Japanese received cruiser and escort replacements earlier in the summer, and now it’s the turn of the USA to be re-equipped. It’s turned out to be one of the most extensive releases of all of the fleets – we’ve replaced nine existing models and added no fewer than six additional cruisers, destroyers and frigates, plus a new fleet pack.

You may notice one or two re-classifications amongst the ships; the US fleet had some anomalies (largish vessels termed as Frigates, etc) which have been corrected, although all of the names remain the same.

The largest vessel is the Kentucky dirigible; this has a new one-piece resin hull with metal bridge, mast and turret.

Three of the new vessels are designed in the same style as the Lexington class battlecruiser, and form a Fast Pursuit fleet – these are the Raleigh cruiser, Augusta destroyer and Huntsville torpedo destroyer. There is a fleet pack containing two each of the Lexington, Raleigh and Augusta.

Another new ship is the Olympia class Light Cruiser, seen below with the redesigned Maryland model.

VANFP-205 – US Pursuit Pack – £21.50

VAN-201 – Tallahasee Class Patrol Nef – £1.00
VAN-202 – Des Moines Class Destroyer – £2.50
VAN-203 – Michigan Class Light Cruiser- £3.00
VAN-204 – Kentucky Class Dig – £4.25
VAN-208 – Brooklyn class Destroyer – £2.00
VAN-209 – Maryland class Cruiser – £3.75
VAN-210 – Decatur class Corvette – £1.00
VAN-211 – Saginaw class Corvette – £1.00
VAN-213 – Baton Rouge class Cruiser – £3.25
VAN-218 – Olympia class Light Cruiser – £3.25
VAN-219 – Nashville class Frigate – £1.25
VAN-220 – Raleigh class Fast Cruiser – £3.00
VAN-221 – Augusta class Fast Frigate – £1.50
VAN-222 – Huntsville class Fast Torpedo Frigate – £1.50
VAN-223 – Scranton class Torpedo Corvette – £1.00

And we should get to the Russians by Christmas – the moulds are done, the sample models painted for the website so barring unforeseen events (global pandemic, anyone?) we’ll hit our target. And we then we’ll tell you our Aeronef plans for 2021…

Anson Ahoy

We had a very good response to the news of the website reopening at the end of last week, which has kept us busy filling orders. However, we want to get back to the business of releasing new models, since we’ve built up quite a backlog over the past few weeks.

We’re starting today with a new Aeronef model, the British Anson class Battlecruiser. It’s comes in at an impressive 110mm long, as large as an Albert class Dreadnought although not as hefty. She mounts two triple turrets and a pair of superfiring twin turrets, along with a more than respectable secondary battery, and boasts an impressive turn of speed for a vessel her size. In Aeronef however, she does suffer from the “There Seems To Be Something Wrong With Our Bloody Ships !” optional special rule.

VAN-130 – Anson class Battlecruiser – £8.00

American Airpower

The last two of the major powers’ Aeronef fleets to be upgraded are the US and Russia. Both are in hand, all of the masters are finished and have been moulded, production tins cast and at least half of the production moulds have been made. So for once we’re well on track to reach our target of having them released by the end of the year.

These are the new US cruisers and escort vessels – fifteen in all. Nine of them replace existing models, but there are also six brand new models. These include a cruiser and two destroyers in the same style as the Lexington battlecruiser, which will form a fast pursuit squadron.

I’ve just finished painting them in the buff and white colours of the Great White Fleet, as you can see below.

I’ll show you the Russians once they’re painted!