Saturday, 6 December 2014

Flying stands

God I HATE flying stands.

Well ok maybe that's a bit too much of a generalisation. I only really hate having to deal with them for Battlefleet Gothic.

Anyway, I finished my second Emissary class starship, the Charlotte Wessels.

 Fun fact, I actually did ALL of the highlighting in one go, over the course of an entire night... and eventually staying up until 4:00 in the morning as a result (though, in my defence, that was largely due discovering a very long youtube series and attempting to watch it all in one fell swoop. I highlighted the model while waiting for the videos to load). I can be kind of hardcore like that sometimes.

This is, however old news. I would have posted about it much, much sooner, but as you might be able to guess from my introduction, I was waylaid by having to deal with the arch-nemesis of Battlefleet Gothic enthusiasts everywhere - flying stands. While cleaning the base of my non-flagship Merchant, the 'Kakapo Kross' (a conversion I invented consisting of four long metal pieces glued to the top of the flying stand's stem to stabilise the model on it) broke off, and I decided to use this opportunity to use a new technique I had learnt to stabilise the ship, cutting off the upper tip of the stem of the flying stand. The holes of a lot of Battlefleet Gothic capital ships (or at least the Tau ones) are too big for a normal unaltered flying stand to fit in, but cutting off the stand's upper tip and using the (much thicker) stem itself provides a much tighter fit. This works well enough for the Kor'O'vesh style ships, but ended up leading to the opposite problem on the Merchant - now it's hole was too small for the flying stem to fit at all. The solution I came up with was to simply shave the top of the stem down until it was the right size, but on my first attempt I ended up removing too much of the stem. You see, the Merchant class starship is a very back-heavy model - the Emissary class starships are too for that matter, but being made of resin they're light enough that it's not really much of a problem (a little bit of liquid green-stuff to the top of the stem is all it takes to solve it). The Merchant, however, is solid metal, and thus much heavier, so while it now fit on the reduced flying stand, it unerringly leaned upwards on it. After a long and frustrating series of see-sawing amounts of green-stuff, both solid and liquid, to try and rectify this, I eventually gave up and started over on a new flying stand, this time being lucky enough to only whittle off just the right amount to keep the ship level. So here she is, the first Merchant class starship I got (well technically second, the first one was badly miscast and this was the replacement), the Tantive IV. And just in time for the newly-released Star Wars trailer (and it's ridiculous new lightsaber), no less!

Kor'vattra Fleet K-42 


Ship Name: T'au'Il'fannor'Vral'Myr'J'Kar'tyr
Gue'la Imperial Designation: Tantive IV
Class: Il'fannor (Merchant)
Configuration: Kel'shan standard
Mission Role: General-purpose Utility, Tactical engagement, Transport, Command and Control, Communications, Diplomatic Emissary, Blockade Runner
Serial Designation Code: T1316K47847O16
Sept of Origin: T'au
Notable Deployments:

- Smuggling of Hermia and Lysander Goshawk, along with their household attendants, following their defection to the Tau Empire
- Transport of clandestine weapons shipments to pro-Tau'va rebels in the Helveitios Cluster.
- Raid on Imperial port Sierra Aleph. 1 confirmed kill on enemy shipping, 3 unconfirmed, all mission objectives completed.
- Retrieval of design blueprints and technical specifications for Imperial Ramilies class starforts and research data on 'Blackstone' fortresses from Adeptus Mechanicus world Imperator Palatine
- Raid on Imperial convoy in the Locken sector. 2 confirmed kills on enemy shipping, 4 confirmed kills on cargo transports.
- Guidammerg relief operation (Cross-reference: Kor'O'T'au Kais'Y'eldi'Aloh, K-42, Relief of Guidammerg)
- Ufa'Li'Sun'yi incident (Cross-reference: Kor'O'T'au Kais'Y'eldi'Aloh, K-42, Ufa'Li'Sun'yi disaster, Ufa'Li'Sun'yi reconstruction program)
- Escort of convoy V-03 (Cross-reference: Kor'O'T'au Kais'Y'eldi'Aloh, K-42, V-03 incident, Y'he, Y'he Vanguard Swarm, Y'he activity, Zone of Silence, Eldar, Eldar pirate activity)
- Fleet action in Thespa system. 3 confirmed kills on enemy shipping, 9 unconfrimed (Cross-reference: Kor'O'T'au Kais'Y'eldi'Aloh, K-42, Battle of Thespa, Thespa system, Grand Thespian Armada, Mont'au Gue'la, Mont'au Gue'la activity, Marc Baeth, Eldar, Eldar pirate activity)
- Re-enforcement of Fio'da (Cross-reference: Kor'O'T'au Kais'Y'eldi'Aloh, K-42, Necron, Necron activity, Tomb World)
- First ATT Station incursion (Cross-reference: Kor'O'T'au Kais'Y'eldi'Aloh, K-42, Shas'O'T'au Kais'ka'Eoro Da'Anuk, 42nd T'au Guards Cadre/Hunter Cadre Kais'Da'Anuk, ATT, Mont'au Gue'la, Mont'au entity, Etheric anomaly, Tzchael, Change incident, Embrace Change)
- Edge Expedition
- Defence of Tan'is. 1 confirmed kill on enemy shipping, 3 unconfirmed (Cross-reference: Kor'O'T'au Kais'Y'eldi'Aloh, K-42, Gue'la, Gue'la fleet activity, Gue'la fleet actions, Destruction of Tan'is)
- Fleet action around Celestial Moon. 1 confirmed kill on enemy shipping, 4 unconfirmed (Cross-reference: Kor'O'T'au Kais'Y'eldi'Aloh, K-42, Gue'la, Gue'la fleet activity, Gue'la Fleet actions, Battle of Celestial Moon, V-47)
- Second ATT Station incursion (Cross-reference: Kor'O'T'au Kais'Y'eldi'Aloh, K-42, Shas'O'T'au Kais'ka'Eoro Da'Anuk, 42nd T'au Guards Cadre/Hunter Cadre Kais'Da'Anuk, ATT, Gue'la, Gue'la terror activity, Gue'la Inquisition, Jotunheim, Jotunheim raid, Vanaheimr, Taleghan, The Emperor Calls Turn Not Away Lest Ye Be Judged)

First Commander: Kor'el'T'au'Vral'Myr
Current Commander: Kor'el'T'au'J'Kar'tyr
Crew: 6,000 Kor, 3,000 Fio, 200 Por, 6 Shipboard Security Cadres, numerous assorted Kor'vessa
Powerplant: Hybrid Fusion/Nova system (4 Fusion reactors, 2 Nova reactors)
Propulsion: Standard Fusion Drive/Gravitic Field hybrid system
Defences: Class 2 multi-tier close-in point defence grid, including 4 mass drivers. Class 1 gravitic shield
Armament: Three light railcannon batteries (Total armament composition: 18 heavy railcannons in 6 2-railcannon turrets, 2 single railcannon turrets and 2 2-railcannon casemates in prow)
Docking Capacity: 2 Gravitic Hooks
Compliment: 2 Kass'l (Orca) class gunships
Status: Deployed to Warzone following extensive repairs


"Gue'la warship Athena this is the T'au'I'lfannor'Vral'Myr. We are a civilian merchant freighter transporting a standard shipment of ores, there is no cause for alarm. We have full authorisation from your authorities to be flying this trade route, and are currently departing Imperial space and entering an officially sanctioned non-militarised neutral zone as established by accords between our two peoples. We pose no threat to you. I respectfully request that you call off your pursuit, there is no need to board this ship for inspection. I repeat, there is no need to come aboard.

[closes communications channel]

Right, navigation prepare to plot an Etheric dive, try and get us closer to Tau space, but put us on a tangent vector, don't make it a linear transit, and make sure it's hard to track. Propulsion, get ready to divert all power into the Ether-drive, black-out the lights if you have to. Make it subtle though, don't tip off their sensors. Helm, prepare for Etheric translation on my mark. Fire control, prepare to target the cruiser, don't lock on or bring any turrets to bare, just plot some firing solutions, charge capacitors, and load the railcannons. Again, make sure they don't notice. Por'vre, if they come aboard stall them for as long as you can, and keep them away from the cargo hold at all costs. All Shipboard Security Cadres to standby positions, things could get violent. All hands prepare to jettison the cargo if needbe, if they find out what we're really carrying none of us will ever see the Empire again!"

- Kor'el'T'au'Vral'Myr, upon being hailed by the Imperial cruiser Athena 

First commanded by the Air Caste captain Kor'el'T'au'Vral'Myr, legendary for his cunning, deviousness and ability to complete even the most daring of missions, the T’au’Il’fannor’Vral’Myr’J’Kar’tyr, or Tantive IV as it is commonly identified as, has an infamous reputation amongst Imperial authorities on the Eastern Fringe for being a notorious blockade runner. Since it was first launched from the T'au shipyards the vessel has been a constant thorn in the side of the Imperium, regularly slipping into human controlled space and performing all manner of clandestine missions, including secret trade exchanges, smuggling operations, extraction of key defectors from hostile areas, discrete long-range observation, transmission of propaganda, transporting stolen technology or information and even raids and strikes on military targets, all before quietly making it's way back to the Tau Empire. Over the span of it's service history the T’au’Il’fannor’Vral’Myr’J’Kar’tyr and the crews serving aboard it have been accused of over 100 instances of illicit activity by Imperial authorities and suspected of numerous more (although little conclusive evidence has ever been found and thus most remain baseless), and on 35 occasions the ship has been pursued by Imperial Navy warships, but has managed to escape capture or destruction every time, albeit with varying amounts of damage.

The innocuous nature of the Il'fannor class starship often works to the advantage of the T’au’Il’fannor’Vral’Myr’J’Kar’tyr in it's escapades. The ship class tends to be remembered more as a cargo freighter than a warship, especially with the introduction of the Kor'O'vesh series of vessels and the widespread phasing out of Kor'vattra ships from active combat duty, and so inexperienced commanders are likely to believe that the T’au’Il’fannor’Vral’Myr’J’Kar’tyr genuinely is on a mundane civilian voyage, and can even cause those who are old hands to the Eastern Fringe to have a moment of hesitation that can mean the difference between escape and failure. Even if the ship is fully identified, the reputation Il'fannor class starships have for being under-gunned can make pursuers underestimate the weaponry the T’au’Il’fannor’Vral’Myr’J’Kar’tyr carries, although Imperial captains and admirals are quick to learn that it is the clever tricks and ploys that the ship's crew invariably proves to be adept at that are a greater strength of the vessel than it's firepower. The ubiquitousness of the Il'fannor in civilian merchant fleets also allows the T’au’Il’fannor’Vral’Myr’J’Kar’tyr to blend in seamlessly with nearby convoys or docked station traffic if it manages to give pursuers the slip, and the vessel carries a wide selection of alternate ident codes and identification signals to aid in such instances.

At the same time, the T’au’Il’fannor’Vral’Myr’J’Kar’tyr also possesses an impressive array of internal alterations. While it is by no means uncommon for Il'fannors to obtain a number of subtle alterations to their internal structure, this is especially pronounced in the case of the T’au’Il’fannor’Vral’Myr’J’Kar’tyr, and the ship's interior is thoroughly riddled with a mind-boggling number of hidden weapon and supply caches, concealed causeways, conduits and other passages, camouflaged entryways, secret compartments, covert observation systems and other such clandestine features. Many of them date back to the early Tau'cyr of the ship's service under Vral'Myr, but every subsequent commander has added their own set of secrets over their tenure. These alterations never cease to prove useful in the sort of missions the T’au’Il’fannor’Vral’Myr’J’Kar’tyr is often sent on, whether by giving the Shipboard Security Cadres on board a decisive edge in boarding actions or, much more commonly, allowing cargo or passengers to be hidden during inspections - after all, there is no need to risk the ship in a costly struggle if the enemy never finds out about it's true mission in the first place. Many of these features are further hidden through the use of various countermeasures and sensor-baffling materials, some of Tau manufacture and others obtained from alien sources.

The frequent incursions undertaken by the T’au’Il’fannor’Vral’Myr’J’Kar’tyr ensure that it's crew inevitably come to possess a wealth of knowledge regarding Imperial space around the Tau Empire, as well as an abundance of insight into Imperial fleet tactics and the capabilities of Imperial warships. This has made the ship an invaluable asset in the ongoing conflict with the Imperium, where such knowledge has proven decisive in several fleet engagements, but is even more useful outside of open battle. The crew's experience with the Gue'la has lead Kor'O'T'au Kais'Y'eldi'Aloh to place the ship at the head of K-42's recently expanded raiding operations against the Imperial offensive, ranging deep into Imperial-held territory to strike at vulnerable supply convoys, fleet bases and other critical infrastructure. These actions have had an extraordinary impact, rendering many Imperial battlegroups unfit for combat or incapable of action due to a lack of supplies or maintenance and delayed or even halted repair efforts on a number of crippled ships and salvaged hulks, and has taken a considerable amount of pressure off the hard pressed Kor'vattra fleet in the face of the seemingly inexhaustible numbers of the Imperial Navy.

But the successes of the T’au’Il’fannor’Vral’Myr’J’Kar’tyr have not come without cost. The ship has recently been out of action for a considerable amount of time after it was nearly completely destroyed during an engagement with an Imperial fleet. Long range gunfire from Imperial capital ships inflicted immense damage on the vessel, which only barely managed to limp home, with little more than it's basic drives and navigation functional and the overwhelming majority of it's crew killed or injured. Such an instance illustrates a new shift in the tactical doctrine being employed by the Imperial fleets arrayed against K-42, with an increasing emphasis being placed on long-range gunnery after suffering heavy losses to the superior ordinance capabilities of the Tau. It remains to be seen how this will be effectively countered.

Nonetheless, the T’au’Il’fannor’Vral’Myr’J’Kar’tyr is once again fully operational, including an upgraded navigation system and grav-stabilisers, and the ship's crew has been re-enforced, the new additions being watched over by the hardened core of veteran survivors. With a combination of luck, cunning and skill, the T’au’Il’fannor’Vral’Myr’J’Kar’tyr should continue to confound the Imperium for some time yet. 

Crew Profiles: Key personnel 

Captain: Kor'el'T'au'J'Kar'tyr 

Throughout its history the T’au’Il’fannor’Vral’Myr’J’Kar’tyr has been commanded by captains with a reputation for being sly, and this tradition is more than maintained with the ship's latest captain, Kor'el'T'au'J'Kar'tyr. A quiet and reserved individual by nature, she has nonetheless proven to be an extremely intelligent and capable captain, having commanded the T’au’Il’fannor’Vral’Myr’J’Kar’tyr on a long string of successful sorties into Imperial space, and is widely regarded to be the most brilliant commander the ship has had since it was first commanded by Kor'el'T'au'Vral'Myr himself. Interestingly, it has been noted that while Vral'Myr's skill and cunning was always centred primarily around clever manoeuvres and devious ploys with the vessel itself, J'Kar'tyr's greatest ability is argued by many to instead be her talent for exploiting trade and diplomatic agreements, and any loopholes they may contain, as well as astute negotiations and diplomatic posturing - in these areas J'Kar'tyr's skill rivals that of many Por'ui and even some Por'vre. She is still fully able to make shrewd use of the ship under her command, as evidenced by both managing to slip the T’au’Il’fannor’Vral’Myr’J’Kar’tyr past nearly the entirety of Battlegroup Ventrue following an incursion into the Venetaris sub-sector, and her masterminding of the T’au’Il’fannor’Vral’Myr’J’Kar’tyr's brilliant escape from the Imperial capital ship Decimator above the desert world Tathicon IV.

While usually non-confrontational, and indeed somewhat elusive, Kor'el'T'au'J'Kar'tyr has been known at times to display a very different temprament. There have been a number of instances where the Kor'el has shown herself to be highly stubborn and opinionated, especially when confronted with moral dilemmas where she believes the appropriate course of action is not being taken. This has lead to conflicts between her and commanding officers in the past, and it is widely believed that this is one of the primary reasons that she was assigned a more prestigious posting on a Kor'O'vesh vessel despite her proven abilities. Nonetheless, command of the T’au’Il’fannor’Vral’Myr’J’Kar’tyr has proven to be the ideal role for her, and the more idealistic nature and pronounced moral compass of Kor'O'T'au Kais'Y'eldi'Aloh means that such instances of conflict are kept to a minimum (indeed reported incidents of critical dispute under Kais's command are lower than with any other admiral that she has served under), although this is helped considerably by the somewhat greater degree of autonomy J'Kar'tyr is often given being commander of a vessel traditionally employed as a blockade runner. As the missions she is usually assigned are often dangerous and frequently require her ship to operate deep in hostile territory away from any support besides the two Orca class gunships that the T’au’Il’fannor’Vral’Myr’J’Kar’tyr can transport, Kor'el'T'au'J'Kar'tyr has also come to be considerably more proficient at direct combat than many other Kor, frequently wielding a pulse carbine rather than the usual pulse pistol when required to use a personal weapon, and is by all accounts an excellent shot with it. Perhaps the most notable demonstration of this was when she engaged in a firefight with a boarding party of elite Tempestus Scions when they managed to uncover her location during a boarding action. While only inflicting a single casualty, J'Kar'tyr was able to keep the Imperial troops tied up long enough for a Shipboard Security Firewarrior team to properly eliminate them. 

Right then, now to paint up that Custodian I have. It is a magnificent model indeed, and painting it will easily be one of the greatest hobby challenges I have yet faced. Here goes...