Wednesday, February 11, 2009

USS Kearsarge

USS KEARSARGE A converted Martian Sky ship.

Outside of the British naval yards at Syrtis Major there were no modern (by Earth standards) facilities for building iron armored air ships. Almost all the countries that sent colonies to Mars quickly realized the importance of air travel and air power. Zeppelins were a popular alternative to the rare iron clad air ships but there was another source that was readily available for a price.

The native Martians had been building wooden sky ships for centuries and while their technology stopped progressing, the art of ship building reached heights of excellence. All of the Martian ships were wooden hulled and powered by either the wind or by a crew who spent their time literally cranking the shaft that ran thru the ship to power the propellers. These crew members were called “turncranks”.

Most Martian ships carried at least a minimal armament and those that were purpose built as warships were not only quite heavily armed but many also boasted double hulls with rocks between the two parts of the hull to add a layer of protection to weapons and crew.

The various earth nations immediately began to purchase any ships they could get their hands on and rearmed them with modern earth weaponry. Several countries also added steam powered engines to replace the turncrank method. The Americans were famous for adapting existing equipment to meet their own needs. A perfect example of this would be the airship USS Kearsarge the first ship adapted and rebuilt by the Americans from a Martian design. The turncrank method was replaced by a modern force draught steam engine that drove the ships propeller at a steady speed that Martian turncranks could not match.

The most modern weapons available along with an experienced crew made the small vessel a worthy opponent for all but the largest ships.

How the ship was made: While a good portion of what I do is scratch built this particular ship was adapted from an existing Star Wars tatooine skiff toy model. They are readily available from Ebay and run around $40.00 though you can find them for half of that if you are patient. The original toy came with a 4 inch tall Luke Skywalker action figure so you can see that the ship was not originally scaled for 28mm. A cut here and a hole drilled there and presto! A perfect scale ship to go along with the other flying creations for Mars.

I cut down the rails, built a “steam” engine from plastic for the center, gave it a mast, glued on a planked deck, added a propeller, put the all important liftwood on the bottom of the hull, cut a gun port and added a ram in the front. A fair amount of work all-in-all but the effort paid off with a fine looking model.

The only real issue I ran into was that the main hull of the model was the soft poly plastic and required a special glue to make things stick. CA or epoxy was worse than useless on this type of plastic.

My next project in-the-works is a Martian Hullcutter circa the Space 1889 designs. Anyway thanks for looking and if you have any questions you have but to ask! Damn the Tethers! Full Speed Ahead!



J Womack, Esq. said...


This is an excellent piece of work. I shall, be assured, steal the desing and process for my own Martian airships.

Good stuff!

Eli Arndt said...

Did you use a toy from the action figure line or is that a plastic model kit?

I have seen this same idea used several times and would love to find at least one of these.

Mark said...

Master Womack, steal away! Thank you for your kind words. A fun project from beginning to end.

Eli, Search Ebay for "tatooine skiff". Should turn up several dozen for sale at reasonable to really absurd prices. I paid about $25.00 with shipping for mine and they usually go for around $40.00. Depends on how patient you can or want to be waiting for the right deal.

It is a toy so you can almost use it right out of the box. I will be the first to admit that I stole the general idea from another gamer but the adaption is all mine. As I stated in the article the only real problem was figuring out what glue works well with poly plastics.

Tony said...

I am new to your Blog - sorry for the delay.

The USS Kersarge looks great, well done. I look forward to seeing your Hullcutter.


Tas said...

That Sir, is simply lovely! Well doen old Boy!

Eli Arndt said...

What kind of glue did you use for this?

Mark said...


Look for Super Glue 2 plastic bonder by Loctite. It has a separate activator tube which you rub on the poly plastic that makes it all stick right together. The ship has been in a dozen games and I havn't lost a piece yet.

Paul of the Man Cave said...

If you ever find your gaming room burgled and your wonderful models missing, I might "borrowed" them for a bit!

Simply smashing Sir!