Saturday, 29 August 2015

20C - British Omnibus

The British GHQ were very impressed by the French Army's taxi fleet. The taxis allowed the troops to race towards battle and for the generals to quickly move forces around behind the lines. Many a British breakthrough had been halted by the untimely arrival of fresh French troops by taxi.

When a Captain suggested that they copy the idea the General in command of transport's immediate response was "We cannot let our young Tommys' get ideas above their station! It is impossible to imagine that one day I will be sharing a taxi with some common man, no matter how heroic he is."

"Exactly General. I am sure that our soldiers would be extremely uncomfortable in a taxi. They much prefer a bus you know" said a Brigadier.

"An excellent idea Brigadier. I am glad I thought of it. Please contact the  nearest Omnibus company and make arrangements to borrow a fleet of their buses for the war effort!"

So it wasn't long before the British soldier was commuting to war in his favorite transport, a double decker London bus.

Below a platoon are lined up and ready to get on their bus to the front.

The buses came with their civilian crew of driver and conductor. The conductor kept his black bag for tickets and change.

A fleet of three buses could carry a company of soldiers. This was much more efficient than the French taxis as it took up less roadway.

Another view from the front of the bus.

During the spring and summer, all the soldiers loved the top deck. But come winter and autumn the lower deck was always the popular one.

Having searched high and low for some early 20 Century buses I had pretty much given up hope of ever finding any at a reasonable price. Then Corgi produced these ones. Just the right size, already painted and in their colours and only $10. All I had to do was add drivers and conductors. Very lucky.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Steam Valley Chapter 3 - Professor Springloose

Professor Springloose

Professor Springloose is a native of the Black Forest in the new German Empire. There he grew up watching his family business of building cuckoo clocks. He has been fascinated with the power of springs and their potential as a driving force in the new age. He is determined to show the world the benefits of spring power over that dreadfully messy coal and steam.

After years of searching for support, Professor Springloose’s big break came when he met General Von Milkee at the Berlin Opera. The Professor and the General were discussing their dreams with each other at the bar of the Opera and they missed the second act as they realised that they had each found the perfect companion.

The General’s study of Clausewitz had convinced him that the recipe for a perfect army was to eliminate the “friction of war” by making everything go like clockwork. Together they developed a terrifying new concept:  ClockKreig

They were able to convince the German General Staff and received financial backing from Prussia’s Royal Bank who were looking to make a quick mark or two to cover some bad investments in Berlin bordellos. The German General Staff even came and waved them off from Berlin’s main railway terminus.

The General and the Professor quickly established their laboratory in an old marketplace building, with a lovely clock tower, and it was not long before the Professor’s and the General ideas were taking shape.

The Professor and General survey the dawn of a new age of war!  A Bavarian Clock Winder stands ready at the rear.

PanzerClockKampfWagen             These terrifying wagons are heavily armoured and carry a large 100mm cannon capable of breaking down the strongest fortresses. Close defence from infantry is provided by wicked spikes. Powered by one of Dr Springloose’s most powerful engines, it still needs to be small to minimise its power to weight ratio.

The PanzerClockKampfWagen rolls past the Professor an General

The small PCKW Mark 1 is able to take cover in terrain easily.

PanzerClockKampfAutomatons    Once the PanzerClockKampfWagen has broken down the walls of the enemy’s fortress the PanzerClockKampfAutomatons will enter the fort and slaughter its helpless defenders. These terrifying automatons are extremely tall and carry machine guns in their torsos and have slicing and dicing machines at the ends of their arms. One in each group is equipped with one of Edison’s new wax roller recorders and plays the latest opera music to further dispirit the defenders of any assault.

The PanzerClockKampfAutomatons will be a scary sight on any battlefield.

FliegerClockKorp              One of the drawbacks of spring powered machinery is its low energy output. This restricts the speed of any machines that need to travel over ground. Professor Springloose decided he needed to solve this conundrum by inventing a spring powered flying machine. Flying at the amazing height of 6 feet, the FliegerClockKorp provide a fast moving, well-armed force who can move quickly across the battlefield for either recon or to drive off the enemy’s light forces.

The FliegerClockKorp troops zoom across the battlefield - their symbol is the wings of a Pegasus.

Bavarian Motor Winders               with a long history of clock winding in Bavaria, a recent recession has led some out of work Bavarians to the Professor’s workshop and team. The Bavarians operate on the battlefield providing emergency power by winding up the motors, for any weapon that runs down prematurely. While it is an extremely dangerous job the Bavarians seem to be happy enough, singing their songs and spending their evenings and their earnings in the village hotel.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Steam Valley Chapter 2 - Madame Curious

Madame Curious

Madame Curious is a world renowned scientist from France. An esteemed member of the French Academy of Scientists, she has made important contributions and exciting discoveries regarding the new wonder elements, radium and plutonium. Her skills in refining these elements has given her a powerful source of energy to experiment with.

Madame Curious has developed a new engine to power the creations of the Victorian steam age. Her engines use the power of radium and plutonium to directly create electricity. Madame Curious is financially supported by the French bank Comptoir d’Escompte. Madame has also been assisted by the French Army who has willingly seconded General Camembert to advise her on military equipment and requirements and to organise and fight her battles.

Madame Curious’s latest engine is strong enough to power the latest technology developed by da Vinci Industries, the awesome A.T.A.T. The great A.T.A.T. is designed to conquer any forts and bring enemies quickly to their knees. The A.T.A.T. is powered by da Vinci’s patented compressed air technology allowing it to operate far from the sources of water that are required by steam engines. 

Madame Curious’ new engine's power is able to charge the on board compressor units in no time and give the A.T.A.T enormous operating range. Its size and complexity precludes it from being controlled like an automaton so it is crewed by mechanics and piloted by a concert pianist on an organ that uses a complex system of compressed air machinery to command the A.T.A.T.

The A.T.A.T has a gun deck with two cannons and four machine guns. These are all controlled remotely by the pilot in the head of the A.T.A.T. As well as its gun deck, the A.T.A.T. has room for its crew, some passengers, a small drawing room, and a squad of ten automatons, who can either man the decks or debark and assault the enemy from the ground.

Madame Curious’ smaller engines power her automatons. These automatons were designed by the firm of Mr Renault and chosen by General Camembert as his ideal soldier. These automatons are guided by the latest in analytical Babbage machines that have been programmed by Madame’s great friend The Countess of Lovelace.

ATAT Drawing Room

ATAT Engineer

Exterior of the ATAT Control room and bridge

Interior on the control room

ATAT Automatons deploy down the stairs

Profile of the ATAT

Side view showing the gun deck.

Madame Curious and General Camembert on the Observation deck

Madame and General watch the automatons deploy.

Steam Valley Chapter 1 - Background

Somewhere in a dark corner of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, far from any major cities but conveniently located on a spur from a major railway line, a valley of small villages, with an accepting population and a few crumbling castles is playing midwife to the birth of a new age.

Steam Valley made a perfect location for a worldwide collection of inventors, desperados, arms traders, villains, and engineers to hide their secret laboratories and with their venture capitalist backers develop their new weapons of war. All to promote Peace of course.

Each company battled the others, sometimes literally, for the funds, equipment and technology to perfect their dream of the perfect weapons systems.

Inventors who were attracted to this valley, or fled there after misunderstandings in their own jurisdictions, include Professor Springloose, Doctor Funcklestein, Mr James Steven and sons and daughters, Madame Curious, International Brain Machines and the Reverend Darkwin. No doubt many others will be seen as the story unfolds.

With the creation of this valley of invention in arms development many existing arms dealers and manufacturers also had a presence. Da Vinci Industries, whose factory was a week’s travel away in Venice was quick to open an office there. They were quickly followed by offices for Krupps, Enfield, Babbage Analytical Machines, Bofors, Renault Automatons, and many others.

Future chapters of this dreadful saga include one on each of the major inventors plus chapters on some of the various ‘incidents’ that occurred between them and the day to day trials and celebrations that happen when living far from home.

Fracas at the Station.                     Mixed up baggage at the station after the morning train arrives, ends in battle as two companies fight for their bags after a long and tiring trip.

Package for Dr Funcklestein.        A packaged brain is on the way to Dr Funcklestein. He has to get it to his laboratory before it is intercepted by his rival, IBM.

User Acceptance Testing.              One company has a buyer and needs to prove their superiority by taking on all comers at the testing fields.

Moonlight Rendezvous                  Rev Darkwin’s daughter has made arrangements for a secret meeting with Dr Funklestein’s assistant Igor. The Rev has to catch his daughter before Funklestein’s Igor carries her off to the railway station.

A nice day for a picnic.                   One sunny summer’s day two companies decide to go to the picnic area for lunch. But there is only one table available. Words are said and a battle ensues.

Steam Valley Race            Once a year all the companies come together for a friendly race around the village. No shooting and may the fastest vehicle or beast win.

Monster on the loose                     Dr Funcklestein’s monster gets loose. Everyone chases it to capture it and to return it to Dr Funcklestein to get the reward.

Dog Fight                            All the companies with a flyer send them chasing after a carrier pigeon carrying a message about a new investor.

I intend to use GASLIGHT for the battles and will add stats for each of the companies.

More to come soon.