Tag Archives: Spaceship

The Dragon of the Spaceways

Dragon-class Battlecruiser of the Blacktron Alliance

Ever since I built my Elemental Dragon of Classic Space back in January of 2017, I’ve been contemplating a Blacktron counterpart, but so far I haven’t produced. I’ve made a couple of abortive false starts, but nothing that’s actually any good.

This past week, however, it occurred to me that the hypothetical Elemental Dragon of Blacktron wasn’t the only way to combine Blacktronian spacecraft design with the idea of dragons.

Borrowing some of the more ornamented design ethos of the Sunhawk-class (but with a vastly different actual design), this Blacktron battlecruiser was designed around that decorative dragon’s head form of the upper frontal hull and then took in the bat-wing vanes toward the rear. I was initially half thinking about a raised dragon’s tail at the rear as well, but then I built the ship’s engine section a little differently to what I had thought after those rather Y-Wing styled engines took shape, but then I realised that I could still add the tail so I did.

But it didn’t look as good as I had first hoped so I removed it again.

At 32 1/2 inches long (which this handy LEGO stud calculator calls 103 studs), the Blacktron Dragon-class battlecruiser turns out to actually be a SHIP. I was slightly surprised at this because I’d got hold of the idea from somewhere that 100 studs was 37 1/2 inches, not 31 1/2, so some of my previous SHIPs and near-SHIPs get their stud length estimates revised upwards. The horribly designed Liberator is still 101 studs long (I measured that in studs to begin with), and Dark Pegasus clocks in at 126 studs.

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The Blacktron Alliance’s smaller absolute size compared to its sprawling Federation adversary has made it far more aggressive in its interstellar dealings due to its perception of the size disparity as a disadvantage.

When it comes to large combat ships, however, the size disparity tends to go the other way and pile it on: Blacktron spacedoing dreadnoughts and battlecruisers are often more powerful on a class-by-class basis than their putative Federation Space Fleet counterparts, and almost always proportionally larger to make up for the smaller number of hulls that the Alliance is able to field.

Federation officers going toe to toe with Blacktron dreadnoughts often report the ship size disparity to be somewhat intimidating, and it is perhaps due to awareness of this fact that later Blacktron vessels have the designs that they do, a prime exemplar being the latest generation of Blacktron battlecruisers of the Dragon class.

It should be said, however, that the Blacktron Alliance has always had a more flamboyant design ethos than the stark functionality favoured by the Federation (compare the Federation’s Galaxy Explorer class with the similarly-sized Blacktron Renegade), and many observers see the more ornamental design of the Dragon-class as merely a continuation of that flamboyant attitude.

The class is recogniseable not only for the characteristic dragon’s head design of its upper forward hull, but more importantly for its massive spinal graser weapon system. For more conventional weapons, the Dragons are armed with 2 dreadnought-calibre antimatter accelerators and 12 battlecruiser-calibre laser cannons in dual-mounted turrets, backing these up with smaller secondary weaponry serving as antifighter and antimissile defences.

The initial production run of the Dragon-class currently stands at twelve vessels: Jormundgand, Ouroboros, Tiamat, Smaug, Weng Chiang, Mnementh, Gojira, Quetzalcoatl, Night Fury, Leviathan, Kongyong and Strabo.

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Snowbird

VX925 Snowbird

Inspired by the shape of the original 928 Space Cruiser but sized more like the 924 Space Transporter, I’m calling this neo-Ice Planet shuttlecraft the “VX925 Snowbird”.

Having a limited range of available trans neon orange windscreen elements, several parts of this spaceship were necessary adaptations of that original design to what I had available; in particular the two separate compartments.

The overwing engines and cranked-arrow delta wing obviously reprise the 928 Space Cruiser/497 Galaxy Explorer, but on a smaller scale because a lot of my blue elements are still in use on the Auriga.

I guess the VX925 Snowbird would be a sort of slightly larger stablemate to the Blizzard Baron, with a more realistic enclosed cockpit. It’s possibly a bit overengined for its size, actually, so presumably it serves the Ice Planeteers as a kind of fast courier.

Both crewmembers are sporting what I’m considering for an adapted Ice Planet standard gear, adding blue epaulets and replacing the airtanks with a backpack that presumably includes airtanks but which looks much more rugged. Technically I suppose the epaulets ought to desigate a commander, but Commander Bear is still on my list of “need to get this but haven’t yet” minifigures (which also includes Space Police 1 troopers, yellow and black Classic astronauts and the legendary Ice Babe).

Whatever. It was eighty-something Fahrenheit in Texas last weekend, and so I naturally built an Ice Planet spaceship.

NCS’ Wingèd Chariot

Auriga-class Heavy Fighter

The Auriga-class heavy fighter is a transatmostpheric attack craft of the Galactic Federation. Named after the ancient Terrestrial constellation depicting a charioteer, one of the distinguishing visual identifiers of the Auriga is the pair of disclike force shield generators located aft.

It is not every Federation fightercraft that is large enough and has a powerful enough energy plant to operate a force shield generator of this size, let alone mount two of them, and it is this dual shield and its power requirements which make the Auriga so comparatively large a fightercraft. Indeed, Hoplite was considered as a class name, but this would have broken with Federation tradition of naming fightercraft after Old Earth constellations.

The Auriga-class is sparsely armed for all its well-protected nature, but the weapons it does possess are relatively powerful. A pair of 10cm laser cannons form the primary weapon system; these are considerably more powerful than the 5cm mounts usually found on fightercraft, but there are only two of them. Backing these up are up to four standard small-craft torpedoes, usually Mark 7s with proximity-fused plasma warheads or bomb-pumped laser warheads, though occasionally a mix of Mark 7s and Mark 11 Electronic Warfare torpedoes are carried.

The Auriga-class is less manoeuvrable than many pure-space fightercraft designs, but has the advantage that it can freely enter the atmosphere. Auriga squadrons have been known to take advantage of this by entering the outer atmospheric layers of gas giant worlds to hide and ambush aggressors like space pirates or the Blacktron Alliance.

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Something of an homage to the old Minbari Transport from 1990s TV show Babylon 5, my Neoclassic Space version is necessarily smaller but has the same sort of overall shape.

I liked Babylon 5, and I remember the Minbari ships in particular with much fondness. Their transport was almost pedestrian-looking beside their vertically-oriented angelfish-like cruisers and trilaterally symmetrical space fighters, but it still had the same sweeping curves and flowing grace. Compared to the ugly box ships that the human race flew, the Minbari showed you how it’s supposed to be done.

There are some obvious differences, notably the prominent trans yellow windscreen and general Classic Spaceity, but that was the original source of inspiration. I hope you like my adaptation of the basic configuration.

A Solar Bird

Sunhawk-class War Frigate of the Solarian Empire

ISS Royal Falcon is a Sunhawk-class heavy war frigate of the Solarian Empire’s Imperial Space Navy.

In the Imperial age of Human expansion, “war frigate” has come to mean a heavy warship of capital ship class whose design emphasises manoeuvrability (compare “battleglobe”: a heavy capital warship whose design emphasises armament and defence over manoeuvre).

The Sunhawks are armed with six powerful antimatter beams – Imperial capital ship beam weapons akin to grasers but using antiphotons – with enough destructive potential to crack the crustal plate of a smaller Earthlike world. Backing this up are a pair of dorsally-mounted graser turrets and the usual anti-small craft defensive lasers.

Missiles have largely been superseded in the imperial age: even the Solarian Empire’s finest minds have not thus far been able to cram a supraluminal-velocity drive and the power plant to run it into a hull even remotely missile-sized. However, the Sunhawk-class carry a bank of ten of what would once have been classified as missiles that employ standard reactionless sublight drives and antimatter warheads. Doctrinally, however, these are “mines”; their sublight speed makes them ineffective as direct weapons but they can be dropped in prepared positions as a defensive measure.

ISS Royal Falcon is the third ship of its class, following her sister ship ISS Condorine and ISS Sunhawk herself. Imperial tradition is for Naval vessels to be painted predominantly white; at the distances and stellar irradiation levels at which spatial combat takes place colour is largely irrelevant, and white has been the Imperial colour since the ascension of the Averon dynasty.

The Imperial Space Navy is not simply a war-fighting body, however. As one of the most visible arms of the Imperial state, they are often called upon to fly the Emperor’s banner in internal diplomatic functions, and for that a certain amount of visual impressiveness is called for.

Like all Imperial Space Navy vessels, ISS Royal Falcon is ornamented with sections of ornate gold paneling and other highlights in the ancient precious metal. Since the advent of asteroidal smelting and the fusion torch which can literally remodel the nuclei of atoms, gold is commoner than its precious metal status would imply, but Humans continue to associate it with wealth and kingship. Besides, it is more attractive than truly rare metals such as the Palladium group.

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I wanted to try my hand at building an ornately decorated spaceship.

Scrollwork and semi-baroque styling are not something you see every day on a space cruiser (unless it’s a steampunk aethergoing dreadnought). It’s a waste of time and resources. Most future-human societies follow the mass-production-derived aesthetic of clean lines and heavy functionalism.

However, given the stylistic changes that have come about in the last couple of centuries, who knows what the aesthetics of the 23rd-27th Centuries are going to look like? A return to ornate decoration isn’t out of the question, especially if it has a psychological role to play in inspiring awe of the central government.

I’d rather have liked to build a larger vessel than this, but I found myself using more white than I initially anticipated in the forward section and then running low as I built the back. That explains the slightly more blockily-shaped rear section and the fact that it’s a mere 60 studs’ length rather than being the SHIP I suspected I wouldn’t manage. SHIPbuilding is hard work.

Ornately decorated space cruisers just seem to say “empire”; Star Wars’ Imperial fleet may have grooved to brutalist minimalism, but I just can’t imagine a basically democratic state like a Federation ending up with semi-baroque ornamented battleships. Therefore the Solarian Empire, with its white-painted war frigates and its golden decorative elements.

LSS Heliotrope

LSS Heliotrope

LSS Heliotrope is a Flower-class space corvette operated by the Earth League as a convoy escort.

Problems with space piracy as the League spread between the stars led to the readoption of the ancient wet navy convoy system, and it quickly became clear that tying up full-scale space cruisers and battleships on escort duty was a waste of resources. Most pirates in any case were only well-armed enough to threaten unarmed merchantmen, and the “privateers” registered with the ragtag “militaries” of various secessionist groups tended to have very limited defensive capabilities for all their formidable offensive punch.

The space corvette was posited as the solution. Smaller even than the frigates serving as fleet escorts and scout ships, space corvettes had small hulls, sturdy high-endurance drives, relatively small but effective armaments and highly effective counterbattery capacity. The Flowers were some of the larger corvettes of the Earth League, massing in with a displacement only a little smaller than a typical frigate. Their maximum velocity was faster than most corvettes, though their jump engines followed typical merchantman pattern: smaller and with a shorter range.

The Flower-class’ armament consists of four dorsally-mounted graser turrets, with a cluster of four light defence lasers forward. The class’ defensive shield generators are configurable to project not only the standard ellipsoidal single-ship field, but also a planar force wall behind which weaker merchant vessels may hide. Though not overlarge, the planar nature of the force wall allows an on-point field strength similar to the ellipsoidal shield at nominal 4x-ship-length diameter.

LSS Heliotrope was the sixth hull laid down of the first flight, joining her sisters Aconite, Sunflower, Hellebore, Snapdragon and Gladiolus. She mostly served on the lucrative Taurean Loop route between 104 Tauri, Xi Orionis and Tau Ceti, being one of the ships deemed responsible for driving out the infamous Blood Clan pirate fleet of Xi Orionis. Heliotrope herself is credited with killing the pirate “cruisers” Jeweled Dagger, Ragnarok and Void Hunter, as well as numerous smaller pirates.

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Built predominantly with studs-forward SNOT construction and on a 45° angle placing one corner uppermost, Heliotrope‘s slender, needle-like construction was initially going to belong to a freighter, before I changed my mind and started to add weapons. By that point I’d done different things with several of the obvious weapons-mount locations, and I liked what I’d built enough to keep it.

With few obvious weapons mount locations, something small like a frigate or escort seemed logical, and having played around with a few names I settled on Heliotrope.

Gemini Unification

LL/BT5601 Gemini Unification

LL/BT5601 “Gemini Unification” is a rare collaborative project between the Federation and the Blacktron Alliance.

Built as a demonstration vessel by a loose collective of visionaries in both of Humanity’s major interstellar polities, the vessel is a two-crewmember ship in side-by-side configuration, painted in half Federation Space Service and half Blacktron Stellar Command colours.

Crewed for the Federation by Lieutenant Astrid Garcia and for the Blacktron Alliance by Subcommander David Lurgan, the Gemini Unification was intended as a messenger of peace between the two interstellar empires. The project itself was successful as a starship and as a demonstrator of the possibility of peace, but despised by both empires’ High Commands. In an ironic twist, the vessel met its end at the hands of a combined Blacktron/Federation Special Forces operation specifically to take out the ship which both sides saw as an emblem of treason to their side’s cause.

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This isn’t my first dual-coloured Blacktron/Classic Space build, but the previous one was a bit more positive and optimistic.

This far into the New Year and its ongoing political chaos, apparently my cynicism is showing again.

I’m moderately pleased with that cockpit, but the fact that the astronauts have to sit with their heads together like that isn’t what I was really intending. Still, it adds a certain pseudo-romantic tone to the build, so I left it alone. The fact that the only way to fix it would have meant raising the cockpit canopy by a stud’s width has nothing to do with it, no sirree…

Anyway, there it is. A visionary unification project between the implacably hostile Blacktron Alliance and their arch-foes in the Galactic Federation.

Put like that, it’s definitely doomed, isn’t it?

rocket, Rocket, ROCKET!!!!!

If Benny’s spaceship Spaceship SPACESHIP was a kind of modern distillation of the 1980s’ classic blue and grey ships, I guess this is a rocket Rocket ROCKET!!!

Jenny’s rocket, Rocket, ROCKET!!!

Piloted by a red-suited female astronaut (Jenny, presumably), this is my first honest-to-goodness stands-on-its-tail space rocket built as an AFOL, and I really can’t remember building one as a kid either.

Of course, back in the Days of Yore there weren’t nearly so many cool types of elements to build a rocket with. If you wanted a cylindrical rocket you had to build it out of 2×2 macaronis. And anyway, raised on a steady diet of Star Wars, Buck Rogers and Battlestar Galactica (the original, of course) I thought that mere rockets were primitive. If I was going to Build A Spaceship, then by the mustache of Johnny Thunder it was going to be a galaxy-hopping hyperspace-stardrive evil-alien-butt-kicking Spaceship, not some namby-pamby rocket so primitive it worked by burning chemical fuel.

Engine section detail

These days, my latent retrofuturism is a lot closer to the surface. I actually have a sense of nostalgia now, and the idea of building an “old-fashioned” rocketship is a much friendlier one.

Built in NCS colours because SPACESHIP!!!, this isn’t even the largest Neoclassic Space rocketship I could build. There are several elements in my inventory that are pretty rocket-y and yet I chose not to use them.

But it’s definitely a rocket.

I was surprised to find myself actually using the Technic-tracks-wrapped-wrong-way trick. I’ve seen other people use this before but I’ve never been particularly inspired by it, especially on an NCS creation. But several Classic Space vessels used black (in other locations than the “bumblebee” hazard stripes), for example the Space Dart and the Gamma-V Laser Craft, and I find myself liking the look here. I may even do that again.

Cockpit capsule detail

The diminutive cockpit, capsule or miniature reusable shuttlecraft (I’m not sure which) perched atop the main body is the most conventionally Classic Spaceship-shaped part. Again, this was by design. I could have built this as a pure conventional rocket, but I wanted to build something that had at least one crewmember, and what’s the point of building something with a crewmember if she’s invisible?

If that’s not a capsule of a sort perched on the apex, then this is an SSTO (Single Stage To Orbit) rocket of a type beloved by 1950s sci-fi but which we’ve yet to figure out in practice. I think I prefer that idea, on reflection. It seems a bit of a waste to have that whole glorious bottom section with its ring of drive units and its fins and its minor greebling all be disposable.

3/4 Side angle

I’ve got some eventual ambitions toward a proper 1950s-comic-book-style Dan Dare/Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers rocketship with trilateral symmetry and a fully-fitted-out interior, but that’ll probably have to wait on the acquisition of more bricks. Jenny’s 1980-something rocket, Rocket, ROCKET!!!! is a nice start in that direction, though.

One more time: rocket, Rocket, ROCKET!!!!