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"WIP Master for heavy escort fighter, VSF" Topic

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tsofian Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Jul 2018 4:09 p.m. PST

Having seen my unarmed British assault landing flyers ALF MKI get swept from the sky by the alien flying lancer bugs once too many times I decided to give them some "bodyguards"


This is the WIP of the master for this craft. It is an Aerolyth lift craft for the Hive, Queen and Country universe, but would be fine as a liftwood machine for Space 1889, or an aeronef or other similar piece of kit.

The fuselage is from an old Airfix 1/72 Hawker Sea Hawk. I had been looking for this exact kit and found it second hand at my very cool local hobby shop Mark Twain Hobby Center

I love the shape of the original aircraft, plus its widebody allowed the inclusion of additional lifting panels. I kept the original wing roots. The jet intake and exhaust will be transformed into intakes and exhaust for an internal combustion engine. The outer wing sections are from a 1/100 scale Revell A-10 snap together kit. The horizontal tail came from my parts box and the vertical stabilizers are a 1/72 scale B-25. The ducted fan for the swiveling rotors is a tire from a race car accessory kit.

I'll be vacuforming the two canopies. So far the machine has 4 hardpoints on each wing. It carries rockets as its primary armament. I am figuring each wing will carry three sizes of rockets; 9.2 inch for long range work, a 5-6 inch weapon similar to the Zuni rocket and a number of 3 inch rockets in 19 round pods. In addition it has a tail turret with either 4 rifle caliber machine guns or two heavier ones and a number of forward firing weapons as well. I was contemplating putting on side mounted weapons that can be aimed, like the Boulton Paul Bittern link or the Me 210/410 link

These things will be deadly gunships carrying a lot of ordnance but will not be particularly fast.

Lion in the Stars02 Jul 2018 8:22 p.m. PST

You might want to look at the YB-40 Flying Fortress for inspiration: link . Arm the beast with 1pdr Vickers pom-poms in place of the .50cals, since weight isn't as much of an issue with Aerolyth fliers.

Sure, 1pdr pom-poms are almost 500lbs (410lbs plus ammo), while an aircraft .50BMG is all of 61lbs without ammo (ground-mount 'heavy barrel' .50BMG are 85lbs).

I suppose the other theory would be to give all the ALF Mk1s Vickers MGs like the various WW1 tanks.

tsofian Sponsoring Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 8:32 a.m. PST

I see the ALF MK 1 as being able to carry troops or ordnance, but not both. The most they might get is a door gunner like a Huey in Vietnam. The issue with that is any opening in the hull of a craft is nothing but an invitation to have a Bug try and climb in, which means that a weapon station would be heavier, since it needs to be enclosed in some fashion (like machine gun mounts in a WW1 tank, or the hull mounted gun in a WW2 tank. However those mounts then have issues with arcs of fire, gunner visibility and such which makes them fairly ineffective against a fast flying Bug.

I did look at the YB-40 and the similar version of the Liberator. I didn't want to festoon these craft with turrets, if for no other reason than that means lots of additional clear parts I need to vacuform!

Lion in the Stars03 Jul 2018 3:38 p.m. PST

Maybe adding gun sponsons (like the WW1 female tanks) to the ALFs?

Make each sponson big enough to hold a standard aerolyth plate, maybe a plate and a half (one 4x8 plus two triangular 4x4s on the ends, if triangular plates work), for extra lift.

Another issue is that dud rounds will make make gunners critical. You'd need to be able to clear jams in a hurry or be in trouble. At least for self-powered guns like a Vickers. Externally-powered guns like a Gatling don't care, they just eject the dud and load the next round.

I forget, have reliable time fuses (or Variable-Time aka proximity fuses) been invented yet? If so, then you're much better off with moderately-big autocannon instead of rifle-caliber MGs.

tsofian Sponsoring Member of TMP05 Jul 2018 5:48 a.m. PST

I could add the sponsons with the extra aerolyth panels. Let me think on that. Fights in WW1 had extenders on the charging handles of weapons that were out of reach, so a pilot could chamber their first round or attempt to clear a jam. Later guns got electric charging for their weapons.

VT fuzes don't exist, but time fuzes should become available. They will be of little use against Bugs in air to air combat though, since the lag between setting them and shooting them will be so long the range may have completely changed before they are headed down range.

The ideal weapon is an electrically powered Gatling gun. Folks might say "no way, those don't show up until the 1950s!" Au Contre my friends. There were experiments with electrically powered Gatlings as early as the 1880s. They had rates of fire as high as 3,000 RPM. They didn't go anywhere at the time because who needed a gun shooting that fast at the time.

Against most of the lighter flying bugs a 6,000 round rifle caliber weapon would be ideal. In The Sword and the Flame and my approved version, The Hive and the Flame a standard Gatling firing 500 RPM with a four figure crew will throw 16 dice, so a battery of them throws 48 dice. If a single electric Gatling fires at least 3,000 rounds a minute that is like 6 normal guns, so it would throw 96 dice.

In Vietnam a AC-47 has three miniguns so would throw 288 dice! The A-37 Tweety Bird had a fixed minigun and often carried two wing mounted pods. This would give it the same awesome firepower.

I may just add a house rule that any unit fired upon by an electric Gatling is automatically wiped out!

Lion in the Stars05 Jul 2018 4:07 p.m. PST

The problem with high-speed gatling guns is carrying enough ammunition.

I know it's a very late weapon to use to compare, but the M51 Skysweeper 75mm AA gun had easy-to-set time fuses (twist a ring on the shell) with an autoloader and linked time-setter. The shell was set right before it was loaded.

Now, the Skysweeper packed all that stuff into a single trailer, including radar, analog gun director, and autoloader. Yeah. 45 rounds per minute of 75mm VT. Too bad the on-mount magazines only held 20 rounds total. link

So I'm sure some boffin is working on a way to automatically set time fuses fast enough to be useful against Bugs. Maybe only for the bigger ships so far.

Oooh, almost forgot. Canister shells!

At the current extreme end is the M1028 canister shell for the Abrams 120mm. It throws somewhere around 20lbs of tungsten balls at over 4000fps!

The US Army made canister shells for the 37mm guns, though those guns used a much larger case than the Vickers 1pdr pom-pom (37x223mmR versus 37x94R for the Vickers). So a pompom firing canister wouldn't have the muzzle velocity of the AT guns. But a pompom should be able to still throw ~120 balls at 1800fps/550m/s.

tsofian Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Jul 2018 6:44 p.m. PST

My father served in a Skysweeper unit. The M51 never worked right. It was a dog and only lasted in service a very few years. All the heavy gun systems from that period suffered from ammunition supply problems. Things like Ratefixer and Green Mace had to have an ammunition truck handy to ensure a decent supply. Naval guns could count on a magazine under the mount, but not weapons supposed to travel with a field army.

The entire idea has serious problems. Engagement time was going to be very small, so they had to throw as many rounds in a few seconds as possible. The hope was to resupply their magazines with ammunition before the next engagement.

The big aerial gunships will carry a lot of ammunition, just like AC-130s do.

About cannister-The 1 inch Gatling gun has a Buck and Ball round. Spherical projectiles lose velocity very rapidly but for the short engagement ranges against Bug fliers that probably wouldn't be as much of an issue.

Here are some additional pictures




I think I can only get three hardpoints on each wing, so that will be a total of 2 triple 9.2 inch rocket pods, 4 7 rounds 5 inch rocket pods and 6 19 rounds 3 inch rocket pods, so a lot of ordnance any way you slice it.

I'm also looking at 6 fixed forward mounted automatic cannons, four in the nose and one in each of the landing gear nacelles. These might be 1 pdr Maxim guns, or 37mm Mcleans or possible COW guns.

There will be either 4 rifle caliber machine guns in a tail turret or a pair of heavier weapons. I've given up on side mounted aimable weapon stations.

Crew is three, Pilot, Navigator/weapons officer and tail gunner

It has a bicycle main landing gear (like a Harrier, a B-47 or a B-52 with lighter outrigger gear on the wings.

If folks think it is too advanced for VSF just think of it as more traditional SF

Lion in the Stars07 Jul 2018 11:28 p.m. PST

So, aerolyth plates under the belly and using the wings for some lift and mostly space to carry things?

tsofian Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Jul 2018 11:13 a.m. PST

There are panels also in the wings. The thick cord of the wings gives enough room for the panels. there is also room for fuel tanks as well.

Lion in the Stars09 Jul 2018 5:53 p.m. PST

High voltage electricity near gasoline… Could be a bit exciting!

Actually, the bicycle landing gear seems like something that would be done in early aviation (hrm… Harriers and B52s are both 1950s products evil grin ). Taildraggers were because it was light, but aerolyth is much less concerned with weight of vehicle.

With that tail turret, how fast are the Flying Lancer Bugs? If this beast is faster than the bugs, it won't need a tail gun.

tsofian Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Jul 2018 6:12 p.m. PST

Bicycle gear showed up far earlier than that


This is from the late 1920s.

Aircraft were full of flammable stuff and ignition sources from the get go, so why would this be worse?

Lion in the Stars11 Jul 2018 2:41 p.m. PST

I guess the B52 and Harrier are the last of the bicycles (and the U2).

Aircraft were full of flammable stuff and ignition sources from the get go, so why would this be worse?

Possibly poorer knowledge of the dangers. How many skyships use internal combustion versus coal/steam?

Granted, the military is going to be more tolerant of the dangers, but a lot of the build regulations for airplanes date to the 1930s. Still applied regulations, at that!

tsofian Sponsoring Member of TMP15 Jul 2018 8:52 a.m. PST

Even the steam-powered ones use liquid fuel. Coal is a pain to deal with under the best circumstances. Coal dust gets everywhere. It takes a long time to refuel.

As time moves on in the setting more internal combustion engines will be available and they will replace steam, especially for smaller craft

Lion in the Stars16 Jul 2018 5:44 p.m. PST

OK, so oil-fired boilers. I'm assuming something less hideous than Bunker C (aka whatever is left after refining all the more useful stuff out of Crude Oil, so preheat to 600degF to make it less than sludge), comparable to kerosene or other heating oil?

Can only imagine how much fun high-voltage electricity would be around coal dust… carbon shorting any exposed conductors, short circuits causing massive dust explosions. (coal dust not specifically required. flour, sugar, or even pollen or mold spores will happily kaboom if you get enough of them into the air!)

tsofian Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Dec 2018 7:24 a.m. PST

Here is a cast up example


Probably "too modern" for a lot of Steampunk gamers but it fits into the Hive, Queen and Country Universe.

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