Friday, 23 October 2009

My navy dropship project

VALIANT: Vertical Aviation Lander for Insertion of Assaulting Naval Troops
"Oi Guardsman! it's not a dropship- it's a landing craft."
"Looks like a dropship to me, Chief."
"If it was a ship I'd be on better pay, mate. And I've never dropped one of these things yet."

So that I or this blog doesn't dry up waiting for a digicam or some extra cash for more minis, I have decided to start working ahead on a plan I 've had for my Armsmen. Basically, my fluff/GW fluff means that the Navy get no ground vehicles, so they are going to have all their armour in the air. However it makes sense that mass landings are unlikely to use Valkyries for every surface deployment but use heavy transports instead. Landing craft, like the amphibious LCVP barges seen in the Second World War during the Normandy landings were a natural if obvious inspiration.

Even today, a LCVP is still the most efficient way of getting men ashore apart from using helicopters. In WH40K helicopters are basically Valkyries so if I wanted something in the place of LCVPs.... I had to think sci-fi.

Forge World already makes the Gorgon superheavy transport, but this is ground armour - a tank. What I need is an aerial 'dropship' for my landing craft. My idea is that it comes roaring down from orbit in a cloud of jetblast as it slows its descent, within the landing zone, the dustclouds and fumes clear as the naval infantry assault enemy positions directly. No plodding along, treading tank tracks over barbed wire and trenches. My navy landing craft is not meant to move horizontally, but vertically- smack down on the enemy position and then once the cargo has disembarked it acts as a stationary armoured firing position, comms relay, med evac station... even a refuelling depot for Valkyries and VTOL flyers. Basically a forward operations base that can support an entire naval infantry 'platoon' and its air support.

As you can see Forge World's Gorgon is basically a landing craft with tank tracks. I took my aerial lander to the design stage swapping the tank tracks for engines or turbines that would allow a VTOL, but the thing just looks like a dropbrick than a dropship. The open-topped part of the landing craft was something the Gorgon inherited from the LCVP.

Open-topped dropships can be seen in the game Killzone, it is more of an aerial take on a kind of ATV four wheel buggy. Personally, I don't see the science in open-topped sci-fi dropships, it sure would get cold and windy coming through the atmosphere on one of them!

With a close-topped dropship in mind, I realised I was after something with an upper deck- possibly a landing pad. It also made me realise that if I wanted to avoid the look of the dropbrick I would need something more aerodynamic. The vertical drop means that I don't want wings so much as a boat shaped streamline. And so I have begun to lean more towards a u-boat look. It really suits the feel of the Imperial Navy recalling the Soviet and German navies of the Second World War. So I need a hybrid between a LCVP and a u-boat, avoiding the rectangular heavy look of the tank that the Gorgon has.

My main features are a rear conning tower for the commanders to direct fire and communications once the dropship has landed and committed to the battle. I want downward facing turbines along the sides where the Gorgon tank tracks currently are. I want a peaked prow like on a ship to give an aerodynamic look, this means that two landing ramps will fold down at 45° angles rather than a single forward facing ramp. I always thought an open frontal ramp was a bit of a design flaw anyway, since enemy fire could wipe out the men in the hold as soon as the ramp was dropped. Two angled ramps at least gives the guys inside some protection. If I want to be able to game with this thing, I have to form it around the Gorgon rules, I reason, so I am keeping the weapons load-out of the Gorgon (which is quite meagre): four heavy bolters, and four heavy stubbers. I loved the idea of having shooting galleries for the heavy bolters over the engines on the sides, and then a kind of submarine deck gun for the heavy stubbers which would be more or less a quad gun. It would give a cool powerful central armament focus, and a bit of a Anti-Aircraft look to the lander.

I guess that is where the guys at Red Star comic got the idea for their Skyfurnace airships (see opening pic). I am not going for anything near as big scale-wise, but the look is pretty much what I want. I have a couple of A3 sheets of modelling card that I can start using to bulk out the chassis.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Test units

So I recieved all my parcels and I have done as much work as I can without doing any really hard work lol! I will greenstuff, base and paint all my guys later. For the meantime I will keep buying models and complete the actual figures I had in mind, then paint them all in the same phase later. So there will be not much more development there I'm afraid. Also you will notice that I haven't included any pics since all the damn digicams in the flat are crap (2 phones, a laptop and a PC webcam).

Anyway, the results are as follows- about half of the non-GW stuff I bought was pretty much way off scale-wise which is what I feared. I managed to get two decent minies from Reaper Miniatures though, and a third possibly if I do some heavy conversion to bring its stature into line. One of the Reaper guys is going to be in my Bolter-carrying 'Commandoes' for a later part of the project. But the other Reaper mini is a great sergeant or officer for my armsmen.

My West Wind Soviet Naval Infantry in greatcoats was my high hope for my 'Watchmen', but they are just too skinny to use for WH40K. Anyway, I think they will be useful as painting tests. But as I said, I will save painting for a later phase. Anyway as for the westwinds- I carved the hell out of one and tried to add Cadian arms and weapons but they are far too big in comparison. So back to the drawing board on that one. I still have a plan. Basically I need greatcoat infantry that can be easily modified with greenstuff and given IG bits, allowing me to use Cadian weaponry and bulk out a large force for very little cash. I think I have found what I was looking for, and the scale as well as the price is excellent... will document that when I buy them (if possible before Xmas) wallet willing.

So 1 pack of Space Marine sniper scouts and 3 packs of Cadians allowed me to make around 1 and half squads of Imperial Guard veterans that will count as NavSec Corsairs, tactical support armsmen. Shotguns, missile launchers, melta bombs, demo charges, plasma pistols, heavy bolters and sniper rifles etc... I think I will settle on two squads of these. They actually turned out with a Cadian flavour after all, I still need to do some more shaving off the Cadian shoulder pads but the body armour keeps the 'Armsmen' tied to that IG look. I am not sure if that is all that bad really. I think I may greenstuff the torsos, I'm not sure.

Anyway, for today I will finish off with giving you some concept art for the armsmen until I can add some decent pics of my work.

Monday, 5 October 2009

First Parcel

My first parcel has arrived. Three miniatures I don't really recall buying in the frenzy, but really glad I did. Reaper's minis are very good quality, a little bit fiddley compared to GW to paint and convert, but they are very classy. I think I have three squad leaders.

The 'adventurer' (given a new head and pistols) would suit either a commando or an armsmen leader, probably for the marksmen unit. The 'Intergalactic marine' is a bit tall really, dwarfing even a GW space marine, but I am still very happy with him, I think I will replace the Gears of War style skull on the chest with an aquila, and probably not change much else. He would be a good squad leader for my corsair armsmen. The 'mercenary' is just how I imagined my commandoes, although I had planned to buy Urban Mammoth's Viridian Marines, I think now I will just make my own from bits via a Polish WH40k bits site I found. The main plan is to have Space Marine Scout legs with shotguns, sniper rifles, you name it -and commisar/officer bodies, topped with bare heads that I can greenstuff berets onto. But that will have to be for another purchase... if my economy ever recovers.

For now, I think I should concentrate on the Naval Militia Watch unit, if they ever arrive from WestWind. I just got confirmation this afternoon that my Cadian packs are being dispatched so they may arrive within a week. I really should be patient with my armsmen units, since I can really make them look good if I buy those Polish bits, I could also then make several armsmen units as I had planned.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Imperial Guard Rules

So, I can't sleep again (0523 hrs here) and I have been using my insomnia to philosophise over getting my fluff to fit into the Imperial Guard rules. Looking at the 5th Edition rule book for the Imperial Guard, it really does suck that doctrines are gone in my opinion. I felt they gave a lot of character to a regiment. Anyway, there are a lot of options and potential with the freedom of the new rules.

What strikes me first is that the Armsmen are going to be best representing Veterans as well as Heavy Weapons and Special Weapons squads. As for veterans, they carry shotguns and can have as many as three of their number equipped with sniper rifles or grenade launchers, they can also include a heavy weapons team. A heavy bolter team would nicely represent my shotcannons. I can also sprinkle my Marksmen between veteran squads and special weapons squads, even including some as one-off weaponists in infantry squads that are allowed a sniper etc.

Doctrines have been left to veterans alone, and these fit in nicely with my different unit types for the Armsmen. If I assign my own preferences of weaponry along with doctrines I can get the three NavSec armsmen unit types I planned-

Grenadiers, mix carapace with 3 special weapons of meltas, flamers and up tp one heavy flamer.

Forward sentries, mix camo cloaks and mines with 3 sniper rifles.

Demolitions, mix demo charge and melta-bombs with 1 heavy weapon team (heavy bolter or missile launcher)

Since one veteran squad counts as a single troops choice I can have up to 6 of these types of units, in theory.

As for the Watch, I could represent them as ratlings, giving them all low stats but all sniper rifles. However, since the ratlings are a HQ choice, I can only field three squads of ten of these. Which to me, doesn't really represent the feel of the Watch. Although it may be enough to be honest. Also, if I mix ratlings with veterans, I will have no opportunity to include my Field Gun Crews unless I console myself with one and relegate it to my Company Command unit. The best alternative would be having Field Gun Crews as the Heavy Weapons teams in a Company Command unit, a Platoon Command unit and any additional platoon heavy weapons teams. Within the Infantry Platoon I can include at least two units of 'Watchmen' and at least even two more units of armsmen under the special weapons or heavy weapons additional options.

So to summarise, it looks like I will field
1. one company command unit (compulsory HQ choice)
2. one infantry platoon (compulsory troop choice)
a) platoon command unit
b) 2 or more infantry squads
c) heavy weapons squad (up to 5)
d) special weapons squad (up to 2)
3. veteran squads (up to 4/5?)

These will be in naval terms
1. one commanding officer with 6 armsmen, officer of the fleet and master of ordnance-
a) one officer (either with HW/SW armsmen or a field gun)
b) watchmen (possibly with Armsmen carrying special weapons, possible additional field guns)
c) armsmen or field guns
d) armsmen
3. armsmen

For commandoes I could field them as commissars attached to squads. This would allow me
1 (attached to platoon command squad) and 2 or more (attached to watchmen).
Which doesn't really seem like the way I had them planned, perhaps 'Overseer' or 'Masters-at-Arms' armsmen would best fill this role?
Which would leave me with the Commandoes as storm troopers, having 'hot-shot lasguns' and very little variety of equipment. Although not perfect, it is a solution.
It seems to me though that the army overall lacks commissars and psykers, and a lack of armour is going to have me punished by heavy fire and close quarter combat.

As a final note though, according to the force organisation chart, I could potentially field 3 storm trooper units and 6 veteran squads backed up by 3 squads of valkyries (9 flyers in all) one for each unit. Although the HQ unit would be on foot unless I kept it very small and allowed it to ride in one of the air transports. Interesting idea. I would never have money for so many flyers though, and I feel that the fluff and my wallet would be better served by making my own dropship that would count as a Gorgon, and resemble a World War Two landing craft.

So my ideas are a little clearer now. I am realising that I am lacking a lot of bits and bobs though, and just to make up my units and officers I am going to need more models, weapons, arms and heads- all sorts. That is not to mention the fact that I need greenstuff, tools and paints! ...I am supposed to be getting up in two and half hours...