Friday, September 24, 2010

Squadron Colors

Not necessarily 523rd related, but I thought I would share some color scheme ideas for Galacteer ships. I used Photoshop to colorize digital art originally created by Phil Beauchamp at Hydra Miniatures. I didn't want to add squadron numbers since I've already monopolized Nos 523rd, 987th and 599th, but I figure it wouldn't hurt to add squadron nicknames. The schemes here that are not my own creations (not my ideas, but at least my interpretations) are the red rocket of Ace McGuire's Rough Riders, The Killer Bees, and the Space Tigers, all of which are mentioned in the War Rocket rulebook.

Some of these are captioned with squadron nicknames, others simply describe the design (such as "contrasting fuselage," for example.)

My personal favorite so far here is the Table Rock Air National Guard. Table Rock, Neb., is a podunk little town of 200 people that once had a silver water tower with a bright red top. I figure this incarnation of the TRANG is for the protection of some little podunk little colony of 200 settled on some far-flung planet.
By the way, my mom's side of the family comes from Table Rock. I like to go there for vacations; there's nothing to do but sit around and read. Vacation for me is doing as little as possible. Now that I think about it, I think I might paint up the entire TRANG, all three Class 1s and one Class 2 ships :)

Even though I've added nicknames to these, feel free to copy these schemes and use whatever squadron names and numbers you want- these are by no means official (well, accept maybe the published squadrons such as the Rough Riders, but who's to say you can't have red rockets, too?)

47th Command Squadron Courier Flight escort

Contrasting fuselage

Speed stripes

Swept design

Galacteer Protection Force 75th Star Eagles

Alien planet camouflage

Black Widows

Fire Hunters

Red Wings

987th Happy Gats Intercept 1

987th Happy Gats Intercept 2

Comet pattern


Nebular camouflage

Space Tigers

Killer Bees

Mean Midases

Table Rock Air National Guard

523rd Sagan's Sideshow

599th Marine Escort 1

599th Marine Escort 2

Lightning motif

Jupiter's Jester

The Rough Riders

Plieades Ghosts

Devils Raiders

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The 96 Galactic Deep Space Wing

Here's a visual representation of the 96th Galactic Deep Space Wing. The flights are listed with their official call signs, though all of the flights have their own nicknames.
(Note: I haven't chosen squadron colors for any of these units- if you want to model them, Have at it!! Let me know what you do. First come, first serve. Leave a comment if you do choose to paint up one of these squadrons. The only thing is that I intend the Marine ships to have some sort of camouflage (traditional, interstellar or alien.) And if no one decides to join the 96th Deep Space Wing, that's all right. More units for me to develop! :)
Honestly, I don't think anyone will be chomping at the bit anytime soon. Only a few of you read this blog, since I haven't yet announced it outside of my own little blog neighborhood.And I don't plan to announce it until Hydra gets a War Rocket forum. But for the few who read, I hope you're enjoying the blog so far.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Chapter 4: Routine

     "Here are the day's reports, Admiral."
     Admiral Blake skimmed the infoscreen on the tablet.
     "Do we have data from the 523rd? They were scheduled to begin mapping asteroid Beta Saturi VII in Sector 73 today."
     "Aye, sir."
     The ensign tapped a few keys and brought up Captain Sagan's daily report. Blake expected to see the usual battle chatter that accompanied sortie reports from the 523rd. He didn't mind the Sideshow mixing it up now and again, but the survey ships, despite being old, under equipped and downright ugly, were rare and specialized ships that his task force needed. Blake's command was a deep space exploration task force, and they could not afford to be without their eyes and ears.
    The 96th Galactic Wing was under orders to patrol the outer rim, keep an eye on enemy movements and check up on some of the outer colonies. There were plenty of ships in the task force to complete the mission. The 208th Defense Squadron ("The First Rate" 208) with its mix of 40 ships served as the core of the Wing. With a good mix of craft, the 208th was able to undertake any mission the galaxy could throw at them.
     There was also the 599th "Decatur's Demons" Space Marine Squadron with its core of specialized Class 3 battle transports. Besides being filled to the brim with the toughest intergalactic leathernecks in the fleet, the ships were outfitted with disruptors to disable enemy ships, and grappling hooks to aid in pulling those ships closer so the space marines could take care of business. Among those modified transports, the lead marine ship, the Class IV S.S. Dick Dale, was rigged up with a dense-metal ram on its prow, giving the Demons a potent weapon in their arsenal.
     Serving with the 599th were the rocket troops of 1st Battalion 300th Galactic Grenadiers who have served in almost every conflict since the inception of the original Galactic Protection Force. The 599th also has its own attachment of Class 1 and 2 escort ships that serve close-support roles during  boarding attacks, planetary raids, and colonial and other rescue missions.
     The 47th Command Squadron was Admiral Blake's personal squadron. It was composed of four large Class IV ships besides numerous smaller support craft. Blake's squadron, besides having four Class IV vessels was similar to the 208th in ship composition, serving a multi-task role. Attached to the Command squadron was the 987th Fighter Escort, the "Happy Gats," who have made a small name for themselves, serving honorably in many battles.
     And then there was the 523rd Survey Squadron, "Sagan's Sideshow," whose report the Admirable was troubling over.
     "Ensign, are you sure this is all of it? I see nebular dust counts, radiation numbers from planet Eden, and the mineral report for Beta Saturi...." Blake paused to read more of the report. "And all this chatter indicates the 523rd fulfilled today's scheduled survey without incident."
     Blake stood dumbfounded. He looked at the ensign,  raised his eyebrows and smiled. "I guess the Sideshow will surprise you sometimes, eh, ensign? Finally, I get a day of boring, relaxing routine."
     "Aye, sir. But sir, I have one more report to show you."
     The ensign tapped a few more keys on the tablet bringing up another screen. He handed the tablet to the admiral whose countenance took on the resignation of knowing what he was about to read. The admiral scanned the short report.
     "Two Class IV Imperials?"
     "Aye, sir, listing and afire on the far side of Eden, along with what we think is the debris from several smaller escort ships."
     "Have we taken a count of the 523rd's ships?"
     "All accounted for, sir."
     The admiral's smile was gone, but he was still relieved that he hadn't lost any of his survey ships. He signed off on the tablet, handing it to the young officer.
     "Very well, ensign. Carry on."
     The ensign saluted and walked swiftly back to his duties.
     His fingers intertwined behind his head, the admiral sat back in his chair and looked out the window at the stars toward the planet Eden. He knew the 523rd's handy work, but he forced himself not to think about it. He sat there, cloaking those thoughts by reciting to himself, "Just another routine day. Just another routine day...."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chapter 3: Competent Captain

     General Kur, flanked by his guard, walked up to Captain Sardon who had been waiting at the back of the main bridge.
      "Sardon, do you have that imagery I commanded?"
     "Yes, General. Kur, right here."
     The captain handed Kur a small stack of photos. The general scanned each picture, quickly flipping though the stack; he did everything quickly -- crisp and efficient --  he did not want to fail the Emperor. He appeared indifferent to what he saw, he always appeared indifferent, never betraying his own emotions. Captain Sardon stood patiently at attention. He knew he was in trouble, but he also knew he had good reasons for his recent failure.
     "And these are the ships that attacked your patrol, Captain?"
     "Yes, General."
     Kur pulled a photo from the pack, and handed it to the young captain. Sardon held it as Kur pointed to a portion of the dark image,"
     "Tell me, Captain, what is that under the nose of this vessel?"
     "That seems to be some new secret ultra weapon the Galacteers have rigged to this ship, sir. The enemy squadron was small and isolated. My officers and I concluded it was lost. After a quick analysis of  the enemy, I determined we should commence a full attack in the name of the Emperor. I called for Captain Banipal's squadron to assist, and together we attacked.We did not notice the ultra weapons until it was too late, General."
     "You were correct in your tactical decision, Captain."
     Kur took his eyes off the photo to look at Sardon, "But this is not an ultra weapon on this ship, Captain."
     Kur snatched the photo from Sardon's hands, crumpled it up and dropped it to the ground as he spoke with a kind voice to the young captain.
     "What you think is an ultra weapon is actually a long-range microwave koniscope, used to determine the dust content of a nebula."
     Sardon eye's revealed his new predicament. His horrified mind raced for excuses as Kur pulled out more photos, one at a time, crumpling each while he explained their contents. The general's voice was still gentle.
     "And here we have a beta-gamma actinometer, and here a coronagraph, here a statoscope -- Captain, your ships were destroyed by a squadron of fighter scouts and galactic surveyors."
     "No, sir, they were superior armed enemy warships, um, they ...uh .. space torpedoes, ultra weapons..."
     Kur interrupted, "Captain, do you have a anything  you would like to tell the Emperor?"
     "General? Sir, the Emperor?!"
     Kur snapped a simple motion to the guards, who each grabbed one of Sardon's arms, immediately dragging the terrified captain away. "Please, General! Please no!! NOOOoooo!!"
    Kur looked at one of the photos, the only one he had not crumpled. In his still-kindly voice, he called to one of his subordinates as he examined the image of the small yellow-nosed ship launching it's torpedo payload.
   "Lieutenant, contact the capital. We'll need a replacement to command what's left of the late Sardon's squadron. And make sure they send me a competent captain this time."
   Kur crumpled up the last photo, crossed his arms behind his back and resumed his duties.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A quick look at the ships of the 523rd

Here are the ships of the 523rd, shown in their individual flight. Capt. Sagan pilots Bearded Lady in the First Flight.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

523rd Ship call signs

After months of being called Sagan's Sideshow as an insult by the fleet, Capt. Sagan finally embraced the name, even going so far as to give the ships new carnival/fair/sideshow-related call signs. Rather than being randomly assigned, the names are based on some defining characteristic of the ships.

Rip assigns rookies to the fighter ships, preferring veterans to make the more dangerous torpedo runs in the Class II ships. Thus, the fighters are named after carnival goers who were usually given derisive names by the carnis. There is nothing different about these fighters; the names simply identify which flight they are escorting.

Since the two support ships (a freighter and tanker) carry all the "prized" supplies the squadron needs, they are called Bear and Banana (two popular prizes from Rip's favorite child-hood fair.)

Lastly, a minor note: Rip calls Bag Man and Fixer his Helper Monkeys -- or just the Monkeys -- since they are usually left to do all the duties outside of combat -- fleet shuttles, rescue boats, torpedo transports etc.

Command Flight: "Back yard" (Since the command flight stays back away from the action, it is named using the slagn word for a back lot of a fair or carnival.)
Class III Strong Man (being the biggest ship in the squadron)
Class II Bag Man (This ship and fixer act as smaller command ships keeping an eye on things and setting up attacks and strategy. If Rip doesn't make a torpedo run on his own, he will be in one of these ships.)
Class II Fixer 
Class Is Elmers (gullible carnival goers)

Flight One: "Pretty Ladies"
Class II Bearded Lady (After the large sensor-filled bow of this ship)
Class II Aunt Sally (Antenna from the nose mimicks the pipe from the carni game)
Class Is Chumps (gullible carnival goers)

Flight two: "Oddities"
Class II Freak Show (after the odd satellite dish on the prow)
Class II Hunchback (sensor hump on top of the fuselage)
Class Is Rubes (more gullible carnival goers)

Flight three: "Geeks"
Class II Popeye (port sensor pod has visual equipment)
Class II Cyclops (prow contains a large camera)
Class Is Townies (and more gullible rookies- I mean carnival goers)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chapter 2: Rip the Flagrant

Rear Admiral “Bulldog” Blake threw the scotch glass past Cpt. Sagan who stood at attention. He didn’t flinch.
“You took two Supernovas on a torpedo run against the Tiamat? What the hell were you thinking? ”
“Sir, I was thinking of killing the Tiamat. There’s always a chance. Sir.”
“There’s always a chance I’m gonna kick your ass and demote you to command of a mining hulk Your mission is survey the region, find the enemy, reports his movements and get the hell outta there What part of those orders can’t you handle?”
“Sir, my orders were understood, and my mission was complete. I saw an advantage. My boys and I took it. Sir.”
“Advantage? Advantage? The Tiamat and the entire Fangs squadron, and you had an advantage? What in the hell was this ‘advantage’ you had, pray tell.”
“Sir, we had gumption. Sir.”
Bulldog stopped. He thumbed an itch on his chin and fire-eyed Captain Sagan. The war wasn’t going well, and the rear admiral knew the fleet needed to take chances if it was going to regain any momentum. But high command had been riding him since Sagan’s Sideshow had been attached to his task force. He needed to vent to the younger officers.
That was all part of his plan, though: He knew, Captain Sagan, under that eyepatch, was seething red with fury. He knew Captain Sagan would not show anger to anyone but his own men. And he knew Captain Sagan would take out all that rage against the forces of Marduk.
Bulldog smiled inside. Captain Sagan sensed it, but he didn’t say anything. These were two warrior minds that agreed mentally if not verbally.
The rear admiral sat down, opened the desk drawer and pulled out another scotch glass and a bottle. He poured himself a drink. He softened his voice.
“Rip, if you break any of my ships, I’m gonna send you giftwrapped to Emperor Marduk. Get the hell outta here.”
Captain Sagan saluted, turned and walked out of the Admiral’s quarters. He thought about how lucky he would be to meet the emperor. Before going to the shuttle to bring him back to the Bearded Lady, Captain Sagan would make a quiet stop to the ordinance quartermaster to get a couple torpedoes in trade for the scotch he had just swiped from the admiral.

Chapter 1: Battle Chatter

“Bearded Lady, you’ve got two fighters on your six ”
“Got it. Breaking right. Get me a kicker.”
“Rube 3, can you get a visual on Bearded Lady?”
“Roger. Two bogies. I have a shot on one. Gonna take it ... Splash one, splash one. Second bogey breaking off.”
“Thanks, Lieutenant. Freak Show, Hunchback, line’em up. Let’s get this last run done before the rest of the fleet arrives.”
“Roger that. Elmers, flock up.”
“This is Elmer 1 to Elmer flight, pattern beta. Watch the flanks.”
“Lady, Lady I’m hit ”
“Dammit Who is that? ”
“Cyclops, Captain.  Criminy! The torpedo pod is hanging off the wing bouncing around. It won't jettison!”
“This is Rube 3, I can see him, Rip. There’s a heavy fire starboard of Cyclops’ engine ”
“Rubes, get on Cyclops, watch his flank. Strongman, this is Bearded Lady.”
“Go ahead, Lady.”
“Dispatch the monkeys, we may have lifeboats in route.”
“We heard, understood, sir.”
“Cyclops, break off. Try to get to Strongman. Rube 3, stay with Cyclops. Elmers, Rubes, break off. Show is over ”
“Freak Show, Hunchback, stay on the line. And watch that port turret. Marduk definitely trained a gunner over there. Hold tight.”
“Sir, we’re getting crossfire from Ninurta.”
“I got it. Slide heading 10 degrees to port. Dropping torps at 10 clicks.”
“Marking five ”
“Four, three, two one, LET’EM RIP ”
“Torpedoes away ”
“...Ha ha haaaa, Captain, look at her trying to turn She’s not gonna make it. Direct hit! Secondary explosions HA HAAAAA ”
“Hehe, Ok, Hunchback, Freak Show, break three. Engines full. Let’s get back to the fleet, before they miss us.”
“Lady, this is Strongman.”
“Go ‘head, Strong.”
“Fleet has just arrived. A foul-mouthed rear admiral requested you meet him on his ship asap.”
“Old Bulldog. A scotch man. Thanks, Strongman. Freakshow, Hunchback, get back to Squadron. I’ll fly straight to fleet. ”

523rd basics and use in War Rocket

Typical Class II and Class I ships of the 523rd.
The 523rd is a much smaller force in the Galacteer fleet consisting of three flight surveillance teams and a command team. Each flight surveillance team has two Class II Supernova ships with stripped down weaponry to make space for sensory and data-gathering equipment (which, itself, was stripped out of the sensor pods to make space for torpedo targeting systems). Three Class I Comets serve as escort for each flight.

The command flight consist of a Class III Pulsar serving as a command post, and two Supernovas and three Comet as escort, for a total of 21 ships. The force is commonly attached to fleets in active theaters and rarely sees any downtime. Though Captain Sagan is in command, he likes to “get his hands dirty” and will usually pilot a Supernova in one of the surveillance flights rather than stay in the backyard with the Pulsar.

In wartime, the 523rd is responsible for seeking out the enemy beyond the usual combat space patrols with standing orders to find the enemy, observe and report movements, and beat a hasty retreat. Though listed as a surveillance/scout squadron, Rip Sagan has a reputation shirking orders and taking his flights directly into combat once the enemy is found. Galacteer combat units usually only arrive after they hear the battle chatter from Sagan’s pilots. Sometimes, fleet command sends a combat unit to “escort” the scout teams.

Though known as “Sagan’s Scouts,” the fleet jokingly refers to the 523rd as “Sagan’s Sideshow” since the unit always seems to want to put on a little bit of entertainment before the main show begins.

Captain Sagan insists the 523rd IS the main show.

523rd Surveillance Squadron (for playing War Rocket/entire force: 21 ships, 330 pts)

Surveillance flight 1 (77 pts)
Class I x 3 (30 pts)
Class II x 2, with torpedoes, low tech weapons, one w/Cpt. Sagan (Gallant Cpt.) (47 pts)

Surveillance flight 2 (71 pts)
Class I x 3 (30 pts)
Class II x 2, with torpedoes, low tech weapons, crack pilots (41 pts)

Surveillance flight 3 (71 pts)
Class I x 3 (30 pts)
Class II x 2, with torpedoes, low tech weapons, crack pilots (41 pts)

Command flight (111 pts)
Class I x 3 (30 pts)
Class II x 2 with torpedoes, low tech weapons, crack pilots (41 pts)
Class III with force field, torpedo and atomic engineer (40 pts)

Who is the 523rd

The 523rd is a reconnaissance and survey unit charged with charting possible battlefields among the stars, and keeping an eye on enemy movements. These were not risky missions despite their distance away from the safety of the fleet’s galactic patrols.

Twenty one ships and 50 men rotated in three shifts to maintain a 24-hour watch over the stars. In the early days, the missions were long and dreary, lonely trips through the dark vacuum of space. Nebula borders were mapped, asteroid trajectories charted, and the occasional enemy patrol shadowed. Day after day. Sure, there came the occasional excitement in the routine with the transfer of the squadron to a new task force, or with the discovery of new and unknown stellar phenomena. But those days were far and few between, and rarely even discussed at the watering hole. The men of the 523rd were not proud pilots, nor were they volunteers to the squadron. Many even despised the unit because assignment to the 523rd, since its inception, has always been as a punishment for those undisciplined pilots of other squadrons.

“Give’em a stint in the 523rd. That’ll cool their jets.”

The squadron was piloted by the rejects of the fleet. These were not bad pilots; bad pilots were weeded out at the academy. These were just men who had more fight than the fleet could provide them with. Surly, angry at the galaxy, faces full of each others’ fists, many pilots decided a year in the brig was better than a year in the 523rd.

Then came Captain Dick “Rip” Sagan.
Rip was a flight commander in the 998th Blue Devils until a fist across the face of a rear admiral earned the captain reassignment. It had all been a political move: The rear admiral goaded Rip into the punch. With Rip reassigned, the rear admiral could get his son into the Blue Devils. Rip punched the rear admiral’s son, too.

Rip was a warrior, and he would not let assignment to the 523rd be punishment. It may have been a survey squadron, but as long as the ships had wings and engines Rip could use them in a fight. There were always torpedoes, rockets, and other older weapon systems sitting unused in remote armories. During his stint with the Blue Devils, Rip memorized the location every single Galacteer armory, be it near a colony, on a moon, or secreted away on some remote asteroid. And he had learned the favorite drink of every one of those armories’ quartermasters; One of his first actions after arriving at the 523rd was to fill the squadron’s command ship with cases of liquor. Rip rarely used this ship in combat; the liquor needed to be kept safe.
The men of the 523rd didn’t realize, nor did they care, that Captain Sagan was assigned as their new commanding officer. But they realized they might actually like this commander when, on the day of his first survey mission, Rip had all the sensory equipment stripped from his ships, and torpedoes slung to the wings.

“Sir, what kind of mission is it today?”
“Close in, lieutenant Drummond. Very close in.”
“Close in? Are there new orders then, sir?”
“New orders? No, lieutenant, we’re just going to recon the Phoenix Nebula.”
“Near the Imperial border, sir?”
“Yes, near the Imperial border. And when we arrive, I expect we might find some enemy ships. When we do, I want the fighters to cover our flanks while we’ll drop off these data-gathering pods.”
Rip patted the warhead of one of the old Mk II space torpedoes.
“Data-gathering pods, sir?” the lieutenant said with a smile. “What kind of data do ‘these’ gather?”
“The exploding kind. Now go tell the flight we’re launching an hour early. I think the old Bulldog knows some of his torpedoes are missing.”

Every pilot of the squadron was on hand for the launch of a mission that could otherwise have been routine. They had never seen torpedoes strapped to those smaller class II ships. And it would not be the last time they’d see those ugly yellow and gray ships so armed. Captain Sagan, or just “Rip” to thos around him, made it a habit of extending his missions, to the dangerous delight of his men.