Aeronautica Imperialis: Because Air-power is awesome!

Hey guys! First off, for those who found my content interesting, my apologies for not posting…in, what, 4-5 months? Its been a while. I had some stuff in life that drained my hobby energy while I dealt with it. I’m not sure if I’m fully back to 100% yet but I figured its high time I started blogging again! So with that out of the way….

“Strong men have conquered the land, Bold men have conquered the void, Between land and void lies the sky, and only the Bravest men ever conquer that.” -from the dedication to the Hessenville Aviation Scholam, Phantine.

When I started 40k, and bought my first flyer, it was new; a gimmick, something useful but outside of Forge World and the realm of the casual game, not seen terribly often. Oh, how times have changed. Now, almost every faction has access to some sort of flyer, be it a fighter, bomber, fighter bombers or even the super-heavy titan killers. Forge-World always had the nicest Imperial aircraft however, and for a teenager on a budget, such things were the realm of fantasy. Now, in my late 20s, that has changed. Enter, Ebay.

Slowly, but surely, through ebay purchases and a gift of an Arvus Lighter by a friend, my airpower grew from one Valkyrie to a Vulture, two Thunderbolts, another Valkyrie. Soon, the idea of owning and painting an entire Squadron was no longer a far off dream, but a very achievable reality.

Now, some thought had to be put into painting them, and a good background reference was both real world reference and history books, and Black Library’s admittedly rather limited selection on the Aeronautica Imperialis(Which, by the way, Dan Abnett’s Double Eagle, set in the same area of space as Gaunt’s Ghosts, is a fascinating view of Imperial air combat!). A little more on the Aeronautica; As Guard regiments are not allowed their own air-support, all aircraft are instead an atmospheric part of the Imperial Navy, who jealously guard this niche. As well, Squadrons, like in the real world, do not consist usually of more then one kind of aircraft, both to keep its role focused and to simplify logistics. With this in mind, I started to paint the Thunderbolts as part of the 144th Fighter Wing, a Thunderbolt equipped fighter-bomber squadron tasked with escort duty or ground attack based on the mission profile. The Vulture, subtly different in paint scheme with a slightly more drab look, belongs to the 317th Tactical Air Wing, who operates Valkyrie and Vendetta gunships as well. The Arvus is part of a naval support wing, and shuttles pilots from orbit to aircraft on the ground, as well as basic logistical duties that may come up.

Now this is where the story would end, but as fate would have it, my tax return and a chance eBay find happened within days of each other. After spending most of it on adulting, I then splurged and got something crazy.

The mainstay of the Imperial Navy atmospheric bomber fleet, the Marauder Bomber is a huge chunk of resin, maybe not the biggest ever but by far my heaviest model. Already assembled to a decent standard, it didn’t take long to get the motivation to paint it. Thinking that a bomber would be part of a larger Navy bomber wing, this beast was painted up to be part of the 541st Bomber Wing. An absolute joy to paint.

I decided that the top would be blue, specifically the Fang, as its blueish grey would look realistic while still showing it off as the centerpiece model it is. The bottom was Army Painter’s necrotic flesh, as its nice cream color complemented it nicely. Note, I do not own an airbrush, so the join between the colors was a mix of brush work and rattle-can trickery. While maybe not the best painted bomber ever, I’m still immensely proud of it.

And, its not done! I’ve put the 541st squadron markings on the tail, but I want to get nose art and put it on the front part of the hull. As well, I’m keeping an eye out for a nice large white aquila to put on one of the wings.

All the models I have shown off tonight are being used in a tournament on the 30th of March, held at my “Local” (if one could call an hour and a half drive local) store. While perhaps not as competitive as some other lists, and very easy to table because of boots on the ground, its capacity for high-damage firepower is undeniable. I did actually get a chance to test it against one of my regular opponents.

The flyers did very well, causing massive alpha strike damage, and generally chewing up whatever it was pointed at. While I did lose because of not playing the objective as well as I could have, it was still a good test of the firepower of the Imperial Navy, and I suffered only minor casualties, and didn’t lose a single aircraft.

All in all, this has been a very fun project of mine, and one I don’t see myself ever finishing. Every time I reread Dan Abnett’s Double Eagle, or watch the Battle of Britain or Dunkirk, the need to add to my air-force grows.

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Hopefully you guys enjoyed my little rambling project log, and I hope to see you guys again really soon. Tomorrow, I will be posting some dangerously heretical stuff from Shadowspear. But until then, Ave Imperator!

Confessions of a Lore-Addict: The Importance of Theme and Context

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Fair warning, this post is going to be a bunch of lore and opinions wrapped up in a long rambling wrapper. It won’t be for everyone… and that’s OK, we all have parts of the hobby we like and don’t like as much! So with that out of the way, on with the show!

The world of Warhammer 40k is a large, alien, and dangerous galaxy, and while for some this is merely a backdrop to give their games a setting, for others such as myself it is a huge draw. Unlike Star Wars, or Star Trek, the future depicted in 40k is dire. Humanity is barely holding on, beset on all sides by the Alien, the Heretic, and worse still. It is to live in the worst time of human history. With such a rich backdrop, Games Workshop could choose to hold us to a fixed and pre-set canon, allowing no such deviance. But, for all their faults(And there are a great deal, make no mistake) they have always encouraged the universe as a sandbox, a plaything for the creative to let their ideas run amok. You could go with something silly, a parody, and the hobby is both accepting and encouraging of it. The popularity of the “Angry Marines” is well deserved; It’s hilarious! While on the other hand, one could focus their efforts on collecting a whole Space Marine company in all of its glory, its heraldry flying proudly across the tabletop.

It is this sense of creativity that spawns the truly great hobby content. Stuff like Blanchitshu, Iron Sleet, and Khornes Eternal Hunt all stem from this. Blanchitsu excels both from its almost tacit approval from GW, being featured heavily in the pages of White Dwarf, but also its rich lore and gothic imagery being truly striking.

Of these though, and while he probably has no idea I exist, KrautScientists blog over at https://eternalhunt.wordpress.com/ was possibly the biggest inspiration for my own world-building. In his World Eaters Warband, he has carefully and meticulously crafted a tale of treachery, bloodshed, honor, and martial pride that elevates the 4th Assault Company far above just another “40k Army”. From their birth in the heresy to the tragedy of the Battle of Skalathrax, he makes what could be the least interesting at face value of the Traitor Legions, the World Eaters, into something far more interesting then just pieces for a tabletop game; They’re people.

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There is more tragedy here then one could expect

Another inspiration was Dan Abnett. Of course, Gaunt’s Ghosts is the inspiration here. The novels are far more then just Sharpe in space; He stated once that in the 41st millennium there is not only war, there are people too. Never is this more apparent then in Gaunt’s Ghosts. Eisenhorn, Ravenor, as Inquisitors, they are, by their very nature, detached from the Imperial populace, granted the ability to go where they will, and do whatever it takes to accomplish their goals.

In the Guard, one doesn’t have that freedom of movement. Gaunt and his men travel from warzone to warzone at the whims of Imperial command, and the enemies they face are not the hulking traitor astartes(barring a few, very notable encounters), instead a reflection of humanity as it could be, corrupt and debased. Human characters such as Caffran, Larkin, Cuu, they all show humanity in its flawed glory. There is fear, doubt, but zeal and courage also. As well, the beginning of most of the novels is a piece from what appears to be an imperial textbook, hundreds of years later. The Gaunt’s Ghosts are in fact a historical period piece, in the context of the 41st millennium as a whole. There is a tangible sense of place, something that is sometimes lacking in the codex fluff and the game as a whole.

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The Guard, the most human of factions, both literally and in a more esoteric sense.

It is this backdrop that I decided to base my 40k army on, placing them into the same Crusade Gaunt and his First and Only reside in. In the novel Straight Silver, the Tanith are pulled from the line and sent to another planet. In my own little slice of 40k, my Regiment, the 1st Whitefall Light Infantry took its place on the line, intersecting if only in passing the great Gaunt’s Ghosts. I’ve written up the backstory of their homeworld, the frontier world of Whitefall, and their segregated ranks, with lowlanders, mostly cadian stock from a Regiment being allowed to settle there in the time of Saint Sabbat, and highlanders, zealous hill-folk clad in tartan and obsessed with clan honor. This serves zero purpose in the actual game; but it guides everything I build for them. Two thirty man platoons, 30 lowlanders and 30 highlanders, with their platoon officers being of their respective cultures. Only at the higher ranks does this segregation give way to practicality, with both highland and lowland officers serving together. A corp of Ministorum priests extols the virtues of the God-Emperor, and that of Saint Sabbat, as the world owes its salvation to her intervention hundreds of years prior.

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2 veteran sergeants of the 1st Whitefall; A lowland NCO in typical Cadian pattern equipment, and a highland sergeant in his kilt.
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Painting these guys has taken a backseat to the Vostroyans, but this is a typical highland Guardsman, wielding a local pattern lasgun, as the Cadian pattern equipment is typically given to lowlanders first, with highlanders forced to make do.
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Colonel Silas Hawthorne, Commanding Officer, 1st Whitefall. He uses the Creed rules, and is known for his maverick tactics.
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Lowland officers, one with a Whitefall Pattern Bolter.
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Not sure what he’s going to be used AS, but no Scottish theme guard army is complete without pipes!

Now the Imperial Guard, by its very nature, are a fragmented force. A holdover from the Horus Heresy, each regiment is strictly focused, each with a specific role to play. The 1st Whitefall are light infantry, and thus fight solely on foot, with no armor and IFVs(infantry fighting vehicles, like a chimera) of their own. Of course, in the tabletop an IG army without tanks is like a sandwich without filling, so my armor comes from the 3rd Pardus Armoured, and it is their tanks that serve in my tabletop army. The Vostroyans are from the 78th Siege Regiment, another infantry only force, the only exception being the artillery they need to punch holes in enemy defenses. All my flyers run Imperial Navy colors(or will, once painted) and my Scions are being worked on still, but will be from the planet of Terrax and the Schola Excubitos, one of the largest schola progenium in the galaxy, and known for their hard as nails commissars.

None of this is needed to actually play warhammer, but by naming my regiment and my company officers, and even my more accomplished sergeants, means that my dudes are TRULY my dudes. Sure, everyone has cadian models. But mine aren’t just cadians, they’re the 1st Whitefall! My own little slice of the 41st Millennium, that in the end no-one can take from me. My efforts to convert and kitbash my troops to be uniquely my own means I can take a certain amount of pride in their accomplishments on the tabletop, and their success there invariably leads to me working on them even more.

So, what motivates you to work on your army? Is it making a competitive force on the tabletop? An excuse to make up some half-baked fluff like I have? A mix? I’d love to get some feedback in the comments!(and to make sure comments WORK to start with!) I hope that my long rambling post has not bored you to tears, but instead offered a new way of looking at your little man-dollies!

I’ll be posting hobby content as much as possible, but you will occasionally get a few posts like this, as far as I’m concerned this IS part of the hobby. But, enough for today. Ave Imperator!