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.

Luft Kreuzers

Our Aeronef update programme continues today with the release of five new German cruisers. Three replace the existing models, while the Hansa and Lützow are new designs.

The Köln is one of the oldest German models in the range and both it and the Emden had small cast-on turrets. The new versions have separate turrets and much more detail. The Prinz Heinrich model has a twin heavy turret up front along with a smaller one aft.

The Hansa is a variant of the Emden hull, but with two larger turrets in place of the latter’s battery of small turrets, plus torpedo tubes along the flanks.

The Lützow is a heavy Flottenkrüzer with five larger turrets.

VAN-303 – Köln class Heavy Cruiser – £3.50
VAN-306 – Emden class Light Cruiser – £2.50
VAN-314 – Prinz Heinrich class Heavy Cruiser – £3.00
VAN-325 – Hansa class Torpedo Cruiser – £2.50
VAN-326 – Lützow class Fleet Cruiser – £4.00

British Escort Update

The last batch of Aeronef release from Salute are the redesigned British cruisers and escorts. The British get eight new models, replacing the Exeter heavy cruiser, all frigate and destroyer models plus as a bonus there is the the brand new Medusa class Armoured Cruiser. The cruisers and the Arethusa destroyer have separate turrets (including new twin and single gun small turrets), and there is a new AA version of the Arethusa called the Bulldog class with three triple-AA turrets.

VAN-102 – Exeter class Heavy Cruiser – £3.50
VAN-103 – Osprey class Patrol Ship – £1.00
VAN-105 – Cygnet class Torpedo Ship – £1.00
VAN-107 – Cossack class Corvette – £1.00
VAN-108 – Steadfast class Frigate – £1.25
VAN-112 – Arethusa class Fleet Destroyer – £2.00
VAN-112a – Bulldog class AA Destroyer – £2.00
VAN-128 – Medusa class Armoured Cruiser – £4.00
VAN-7018 – British Small Twin Turrets (x15) – £1.50
VAN-7019 – British Small Single Turrets (x15) – £1.50

There are also a couple of other new models that didn’t quite make this release (they had rather thin tails that refuse to cast reliably so they’re off being remade) – they should appear sometime in May.

Fighting Falcons

Our final release for this week is another pair of Aeronef, the Spanish Príncipe de Asturias class carrier and Halcón class fighter. The carrier is a multi-part resin and metal kit, while the fighters come in packs of six. There is also a new Spanish carrier packs with a carrier, fifteen Halcón and six escort vessels.

VAN-1710 – Príncipe de Asturias class Carrier – £9.00
VAN-1711 – Halcón class Fighter (x6) – £1.25
VANFP-1703 – Spanish Carrier Pack – £22.00

Italian Stallion

Today we switch from spaceships to Aeronef, as the new Italian battlecruiser Grande Ammiraglio Silvio la Verde steams onto the website. The sleek lines of the vessel mask a powerful armament and ships of the class often form the core of an Italian battle squadron.

VAN-1809 – Grande Ammiraglio Silvio la Verde class Battlecruiser – £8.00

British Fleet Upgrade

After some delay, we’re finally able to preview a major upgrade for the British Aeronef fleet. The Grand Fleet is the first to get their smaller vessels – cruisers and escorts – redesigned to match the standards of the bigger ships. Six vessels have been replaced by updated versions and there’s also a brand new vessel, the Medusa class Armoured Cruiser. The bigger vessels (destroyer upwards) all have separate turrets, and there’s a new anti-aircraft version of the Arethusa with AA turrets. We’ll have stock of all of the models on Saturday, and all of our fleet and starter pack stock has been updated with new models.

And no, these models aren’t quite finished, and they don’t have any masts (guess who forgot to bring some home…?). I’ll update the models and photos as soon as possible.

VAN-102 – Exeter class Heavy Cruiser – £3.50
VAN-103 – Osprey class Patrol Ship – £1.00
VAN-105 – Cygnet class Torpedo Ship – £1.00
VAN-107 – Cossack class Corvette – £1.00
VAN-108 – Steadfast class Frigate – £1.25
VAN-112 – Arethusa class Fleet Destroyer – £2.00
VAN-112a – Arethusa class AA Destroyer – £2.00
VAN-128 – Medusa class Armoured Cruiser – £4.00