HMST Ark Royal (1889)

Completed in July 2014.
Primarily plastic.
1/58th scale.

Hi all. So I wanted to return to my Victorian Sci-Fi theme with another model, but this time instead of 1/35 scale I want to try it in 1/58 scale. Why that scale? That’s 28mm, which is a very, very common scale for miniature wargaming. Not that I do that, but I needed a challenge. To start with I whipped up a 28mm figure to use as a measuring stick of sorts. Please to meet you, Colonel Blobby Blobbington.

This iron beast will complement Her Majesty’s Steam Walker Centaur and Her Majesty’s Ship Eagle, both sturdy bulwarks against the encroachments of the savage Hill Martians against the civilized and honorable settlements of Victoria’s crown possessions on the Red Planet. Word has recently reached the Governor that the unscrupulous warmongers of the Kaiser’s Imperial German colony on another part of the planet have been arming the cannibal Hill Martians with modern muskets and cannons, making them a vastly more dangerous opponent. To this end, the Governor has obtained funding from the Queen to construct a large tank to crush the Hill Martians fortresses before they can become a threat to peace and order. Ark Royal was chosen as the name, a moniker sure to strike fear and reverence in the blackened hearts of the locals. Assembly of parts and pieces began in the summer of 1889 and Her Majesty’s Steam Tank Ark Royal was completed near the end of the year, just in time for the Winter Offensive by the Queen’s Own Martian Rifle Regiment against the savages and their Hun allies. Below is the log of that manufacturing process…

Let’s start with a rectangle 10 inches long by 3.5 inches wide by about 2 inches tall. This is just cut-up plastic “yard sale” and “no parking” signs I bought at Lowe’s, glued to a wooden block I found in the recycling bin at work. This will be the basis of the body of the tank.

The top is planked with local wood from the Martian Plains, which is both lighter and stronger than similar Earth woods. Gutters are left along sides, margins left to help with railing stanchions later. A hatch is put on the back and an offset triangle-shaped thing is put on the bow.

The boiler/furnace/stack combo is based around an old medicine pill bottle and the funnel is a glue stick container. The furnace is thick and squat and I’ve whipped up a coal bin to place near it. Earth coal would not be sufficient to power such a huge boiler, but as we all know, Martian coal has been shown to burn 350% hotter, thus a little goes a long way.

The gunhouse is plastic sheet, and the cannon is a magic marker tube and some bits of Legos. As only a couple hatches will be open, no need to detail it that much, the front opening folds up and down when in use but I‘ve modeled it closed. The cannon will only have about 20% of traverse, but that should be enough as most targets will be static buildings and such.

The cylindrical ram is a old ear plug tube and the horse’s head is from a child’s toy, fitted with a Sculpey horn. A chain will be added later and overall I’m hoping it won’t look too silly once painted. A lot of the Hill Martian villages are surrounded by dirt or wooden stake walls, so I figured the Ark Royal needed an overly dramatic way to breach defenses.

The command deck is plastic sheet with some bits of toys for controls, this is where the drivers stand. I had to overhang it forward a bit to allow the drivers a clear view around the gunhouse, but it looks pretty good there. Might add a canvas awning eventually.

Since this is a Victorian-era vehicle rivets are a requirement! I’m using my standard method of attaching hundreds of tiny rhinestones with Testor’s glue, spaced out artfully. I found some that were perfect for 28mm scale, and cheap to boot.

Moving on to the track assemblies now, which will be similar to WWI British tanks but more open and full of gears and wheels. Two identical sets were made with more plastic sheeting and wheels cut from old broken toys (I have a lot of those with four young boys at home). Interior supports are Legos, which will probably make the tracks a bit too narrow for scale but it will still look good and, anyway, off the Colonial Road system, the arid Martian plains are hard clay anyway so traction is not an issue.

As all the parts are pretty much complete, I can start painting, which I want to do before assembling everything. My primer is Krylon Fusion Satin Khaki in a spray can from Walmart, which will make for nice shadows in the dark recesses. The wooden deck I want to keep that way so I masked it off first. Weathering starts in earnest after that. As shown, the Ark Royal is out on maneuvers with the Royal Martian Regiment, far from her regular maintenance crews and suffering from both the inhospitable Martian weather and the frequent combat actions with the Hill Martians and their Hun allies. Lots of dry brushing and washes, and then I ran out of enthusiasm for this project and called it a day. Two weeks and maybe 30 bucks in supplies, pretty fun way to keep busy on these hot July days.

Here are the final pictures of Her Majesty’s Steam Tank Ark Royal…

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