Captain Darling's extraordinary exploits and fearless feats of daring do during the Victorian Era of colonial expansion are legendary!
This blog interweaves his fantastic tales of adventure in an alternate late Victorian history with 28mm table top gaming.
The deadly weapons wreaking devastation on battlefields of the First Great Steam War made infantry movement in the open and during charges lethal. Many manufacturers created various types of armour to improve the survivability of foot soldiers most of which helped marginally but the True blue British firm of Sozzled and Pickled went a step further and presented to the Imperial War Departments Provost Marshall their patented Steam Powered Armoured Tri-Ambulator being impressed it was handed over to the highly secretive Military Intelligence and S.O.E. (Stealthy Overseas Executive) for further evaluation.
The machine was accepted but not for infantry use as to supply it to all the troops in the army was cost prohibitive but to the newly mechanised cavalry units. The Armoured Tri-Ambulator Mk I and Mk II where both to be used for reconnaissance ahead of the Landships and Armoured Steam Wagons. The Mk I model was to be armed with a rapid fire rifle weapon, popularly known in the Press as a "machine gun" and the Mk II carried a light auto cannon. Due to their size the Tri-Ambultors were quite fast andmanoeuvrable. The armour offered the single crewman excellent protection and the telescopic viewing blocks used in the vision ports allowed extensive and long range viewing all around, essential for their roll. There were two areas where Military Intelligence and S.O.E. asked for development firstly ammunition storage it was limited and secondly increasing the operational range of the unit. The super high pressure boiler allowed the vehicle to sprint along at a top speed of 15 miles an hour on level open ground but the small fire box which could only be filled by engineers prior to action and could not be accessed by the crewman allowed for a maximum range of 5 miles. This was viewed as sufficient for combat operations but to become a truly great reconnaissance vehicle it would need to be improved.
Captains Darling and Ball evaluated the Tri-Ambulator and gave it the right Royal Thumbs Up! It was quickly deployed to the 1st British Heavy Steam Brigade where it was first photographed when deployed to the village of Little Tinkle, Essex. Below are two pictures of the daring Captains posing by the Tri-Ambulator Mk I they had used during testing...
Building the Armoured Tri-Ambulator Mk I
Well it was Saturday it was wintry and all my chores were done so i came up with the Armoured Tri-Ambulator Mk I. A friend of mine who always passes on model kit stuff he decides he doesn't need gave me a whole pile of 1/35 Panther wheels I thought they'd be good for a VSF vehicle. After some Coopers Pale Ale and nibbles I'd come up with a plan to make a three wheeled armoured car with them using a Trenchworx 1/56 scale FT 17 turret. I picked up four of these ages ago as I knew with Steam wagons and Landships they were bound to come in useful, in fact I just ordered four more to go with Trenchworx WW II late war Kickstarter but that's another story. Anyway this is what I started with...
A bit of assembly and I got things looking okay...
Because I used Super Glue I was able to get some rattle cans of paint out and then use some acrylic highlights and all done!
I like how this worked and will build four of them then I'll have to think about what a Mk 3 would look like to improve the range with a bigger power plant. Anyway red wine and dinner beckon so that's all for this time folks!
Next time the same as my last post before this little project got in the way...
I wanted to try my
Little Wars FUBAR VSF scenario during one of our Monday night soirees
since there’s no Little Wars here in Adelaide this year. This game pits a
superior Martian Tripod against a Human forces featuring Armoured Steam Wagons,
Guns and an Aeronautical Conveyance so there’s lots of variety and hopefully it
looks the business! The objective is simple the Tripod needs to cross the
length of the board and exit from the opposite side to which it entered.
Period Photographs of the action between Flying Column Z and Martian Tripod X...
During the summer of 1875
the (evil) Martian Tripods ravaged the England countryside laying waste to
everything that crossed their paths impervious to anything Humanity fielded
against them. Unbeknownst to Alien Invaders Her Imperial Majesty’s finest
troops were being equipped with the latest weapons of war fresh from docks of Liverpool
and supplied by the United States of America. With these modern machines of war
the British planned to put an end to the Martian Tripod’s rampant destruction
of their homeland!
On June 22nd five
Martian Tripods were identified converging from different directions on the
small Essex village of Little Tinkle. They were being shadowed by Troopers from
the 5th Steam Powered Hussars using the latest Marconi Wireless Sets to keep
their superiors "in the know" as to their activities. In response to
this information foreshadowing a coming together of Martian Tripods the British
Imperial High Command dispatched their elite Flying Columns to intercept them.
One Martian Tripod was hard enough to deal with let alone several working in
coordination! Every effort had to be made to stop the Martian Machine’s joining
into a united force!
Just to the East of
Little Tinkle Flying Column Z commanded by the highly decorated Colonel Puddin
and comprising of elements of the Queens Own Steam Dragoons and a Flyer from
the famous 266 Squadron came into contact with their designated enemy unit
known to them as “Tripod X’. The Colonel roared the order to attack but his
further words of encouragement were drowned out by the thunder of steam engines
powering up…facing the British on the other side of the battlefield with its
unblinking red eye glaring ominously on the metallic monster from Mars glided
effortlessly forward…the stage was set…the battle began…
1 x Wong Flyer from 266
4 x Armoured Steam
Wagons from the Queens Own Steam Dragoons
2 x Rapid Fire Light
Martians: get the
Tripod of the opposite edge of the game table to which it starts within 12
turns any damage is irrelevant.
Humanity: to prevent
the Martian Tripod completing its objective regardless of losses.
Use the Custom Tripod
Rules (Posted on the Blog 10/2/2016)
Once any Human vehicle
has all of its weapons out of action it is eligible to ram the Martian Tripod!
Initially both sides
advanced to make contact but the British fell afoul of technology early in the
game and one of their Armoured Steam Wagons suffers from a boiler malfunction and
the ultra-advanced super high pressure steam turbine power plant explodes, the
sickening roar was heard far and wide and was a bad omen for the men of the
Queens Own Dragoons!
Meanwhile the gallant boys
of the Royal Avionic Corps flew their Wong Flyer directly toward the Martian
Fighting machine to cover the advance of the Dragoons. Their plan worked and
they took the lion’s share of the Tripods early rocket fire while its deadly
heat ray targeted the Armoured Steam Wagons.
While the Steam Wagons
survived hit after hit the unlucky crew of the Wong Flyer had their Tesla gun knocked
out by one of the Tripods rockets. In stout British fashion these gallant
fliers decided to do their all for Queen Vic and steeled themselves to ram the
The Martian Tripod
moved slowly forward but despite firing salvo after salvo at the Wong Flyer was
unable to shoot it down while the British armoured skilfully used the cover of
a copse to take pot shots at the Martian while taking cover as they reloaded
Finally the British
were able to manoeuvre there flying contraption into a position to ram and
twice they flung themselves at the metallic giant! Both attempts failed to
damage the Martian machine as they were glancing blows unfortunately the
accumulated damage on the Wong Flyer caught up with it and it crashed from the
sky the crew perishing in their brave attempts to save Humanity!
With the pesky human flying
machine out of the way the Tripod now pressed forward but was not getting
everything its own way it had accrued a large amount of damage on its
mechanical legs, one rocket pod was put out of action, its heat ray was no
longer operational and a third of its smoke projectors were damaged. This was a
close run thing!
In a last gasp two
British steam Wagons their guns no longer operational also tried ramming the
Tripod but without success and both were immobilised.
After successfully overcoming
the British gunners the Martian Tripod successfully continued on toward the
village of Little Tinkle!
Martians ONE Humanity
Early turns saw the
Martian Tripod stand back trying to use it long range gunnery to eliminate the human
resistance. Note in the bottom left of the picture the British ASW that broke
The Martian Tripod
stands back while the men of the Royal Avionic Corps charge there flyer
The Gallant British try
to ram the Martian Tripod as their Tesla Cannon was knocked out rendering them weapon
The British aerial contingent
The end game the
Martian Tripod has all but defeated the humans, the gun crews are all dead and
only two crippled Armoured Steam Wagons oppose it!
The Tripod spins its
armoured head around in disdane to survey the wreckage on the battlefield as it moved off toward Little
Stuff! I did not enforce the
time restrictions on this game and this allowed the Martian to leisurely take
on the Humans from long range that was my BAD and won’t do that again next time!
Regarding the rules one
nay sayer in our group moaned endlessly regarding the FUBAR VSFs activation rolls and also the vehicle ‘Breakdown
Table’. At one stage he said he need do nothing and eventually all his opponents
vehicles will breakdown. Well I reckon rules without any sort of Command Control lose a lot during a game as every unit does exactly as you want and I
would love to investigate the breakdown ratios of early tanks and planes with
their ‘reliable’ petrol and diesel motors during the early 20th
Century but life’s too short. I can just imagine what the first steam vehicles
reliability must have been like. Anyway this is water off a ducks back as far
as I’m concerned the FUBAR VSF rules have always given me exiting and out there
games so I’ll continue to use and endorse them…
Next time we go back to
the Great Steam Wars…or perhaps the Imperial Russian Invasion of South
Australia I am not sure!
With my 1/56 village buildings all done and the roads/paving sorted I just need some suitable Victorian town like fencing which can also double as a cemetery fence for my Renedra tombstones. I looked at the various kits/sets of wrought iron fencing available in 1/56 and decided to go with an MDF set from a Polish seller on ebay. The posts are cut into 3mm MDF and the wrought iron sections into 1.5mm MDF. For $20 Aussie dollars including postage I got just under a metre of fencing with a nice gate section. There's a bit of assembly required for the posts and I used a bit of filler on the tops and sides of them to give a bit of texture and hide some of the bigger joints. Once they were done the fence sections fitted nicely into them. I think it's a bit fragile made up as I have in sections so I can change the layout but if glued all the way around to make a fixed structure it would be quite albeit I suspect hard to store!
Here's some pictures of the finished product with my Renedra tombstones but it can be reconfigured as required...
Next time will be a AAR of some FUBAR VSF action...WooHoo!