Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Merchant Navy


The Merchant Navy Assembles
Even before Spartan Games released their excellent Merchant Navy Convoy Fleet set, I saw the importance of building and painting some civilian vessels for Dystopian Wars. The Merchant Navy can be used in scenarios, as allies for your own fleet or as terrain, enhancing the gaming experience without complicating it. In this article, I will look at some of the vessels I have built and painted over the past few months.

The Merchant Ships available from Spartan Games - lovely models, and with a huge variety of pieces to make many different configurations
You may have already seen many of these vessels in the various Battle Reports, often acting as scenery to make the board look more interesting. Though perhaps a terrible waste of their potential, the rules for the Merchant ships do not need to be used every time!
The vessel in black and red has been subtly altered with a Republique of France mast attached behind the bridge
The resin Merchant Navy vessels were painted in a variety of colours and equipped with different loadouts to show the huge number of pieces supplied with the Convoy Fleet. They were a real joy to paint - it was especially nice to try some different colours and also experiment with weathering. The experience would later pay off when painting more complex projects in the time since.
The Large Merchant Vessels
The Large Merchant vessels were constructed before the Convoy Fleet was originally released, inspired heavily by the work of Spartan Games forum member Myth28, whose work on both scratchbuilt ships and terrain were a huge inspiration for myself. Most of the pieces are from the Spartan Games bits service, most especially the Landing Craft multi-nation drop-ons, though the more technological looking pieces of cargo are taken from Firestorm Armada terrain sets. The containers and crates used for the dedicated cargo ships are taken from Tri-ang Minic Ships, a great resource for parts at the correct scale. The hulls are taken from the Airfix Pontoon Bridge set.
Black Company pirates pursue the Merchant Navy for plunder
Painting wise, I wanted them bright and bold, but also worn and rusted, obviously strained from constant travel across the oceans during a World War. I was greatly inspired by a huge container ship I passed while fishing in the Irish Sea over the summer of 2013 - it was undoubtedly impressive, but battered and scoured by the elements and I wanted to replicate this. As with the smaller Merchant vessels, the colour scheme is deliberately unlike the rest of my fleets, reinforcing their status as civilians and non-combatants.
Small Merchant ships - these were made to give the Merchant Navy vessels in each size class
The Small Merchant vessels were made with spare parts from Tri-ang Minic and the Convoy Fleet set, intended to act as tugs, pilot boats or small floating cranes that could help out their big brothers in times of need. For the most part, they do their job by making the big ships look even bigger!
Apollo-class Support Carriers - most commonly found supporting my Australian fleet
The Apollo-class Support Carriers were a nice distraction from the greys of the Australian fleet - a bold red and white scheme for one contrasted with the pale greens of the second. Even their flight decks are painted differently, hinting at different origins and a long history of mercenary work across the world.
Titan-class Troop Ships - really nice models to paint!
There is less to say about the pair of Titan-class Troop Ships given they come straight out of the box. I favoured two similar yet different colour schemes to make them look more interesting, and I think if I purchased a third I would paint it white as a hospital ship.
The Titan makes a tempting target for the Red Viper
I would advise caution so close to the icebergs...
The latest addition to the Merchant Navy, the Tugboats are fantastic little models, and useful to boot! 
The Tugboasts were purchased with the excellent Amphibious Landing Set - a future project I will crack on with once everything else is done! For now, they can drag the giant container ships a little bit faster across the sea...

Thanks for reading,


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