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.