With the arrival of the first British envoys on Mars came the discovery of what is called Liftwood. This wondrous tree was capable of the amazing ability to lift heavy objects into the air. The native Martians had been using the special wood for hundreds of years and with the arrival of earthmen the demand for this rare wood increased dramatically. Much of the effort of the various earth nations that had stations on Mars went to the acquisition of the incredible and extremely rare wood.
For the first few years the British purchased wooden hulled airships mostly from the Parhoonese and equipped them with modern earth weapons. It was not until 1882 that the first purpose built iron clad aerial warships (The HMS Aphid & HMS Ladybug) were completed at the new naval yards in Syrtis Major.
In 1885 control of the newly formed Royal Aerial Service was given to the Royal Navy. The governmental decision caused much bitterness among the officers of the aerial service. Many of these officers resigned their commissions and returned to private life. The group referred to as the Red Captains is now full of these officers and men formerly of the aerial service.
The design of the Aphid and her sistership Ladybug proved to be incredibly successful though they both suffered from engine difficulties. The ships were easy to manufacture and both were refitted in 1886 with better force draught engines. Later vessels in the Aphid class were also equipped with a 4 inch Long front gun adding a bit stronger punch to the vessels firepower.
Note that the Aphid class ships were meant as patrol gunboats and only carried a small crew of 15. They were just over 90 feet long and while armor plated offered little protection to the open deck gun crews.
How she was built:
Unlike most of the other vehicles and ships in my collection the Aphid is almost completely scratch-built. I spent a bit of time pouring through the various Space 1889 rulebooks and supplements and settled on this particular design. I scaled it for 28mm and then proceeded to the actual building phase. The basic ship was built from a pine block and covered in sheet styrene. All of the superstructures, boilers, fins, and ladders were also built from styrene. The liftwood portions underneath were cut from wooden clapboard and stained a “Martian” red. The riveting was done by hand. The decking was purchased from a hobby shop and is cut from wooden planks that were glued together with dark glue so the individual planks show up well. All the guns were ordered from The London War Room and Riveresco. The rail stanchions were from billings boats and the handrails themselves bent from brass rod. This ship has participated in several dozen tabletop battles with various different players in command and has yet to suffer a serious mishap. Those Brits build a damn sturdy ship!
More questions? Just let me know!