Thursday, 28 July 2011

We do the walk...

One of the notable features of the Invasion of England in 188x was the Imperial German army's increased use of walking fighting vehicles, or Laufmaschines.

The early Laufmaschines tended to be crudely built and attempted to emulate the human bipedal form as closely as possible. Bristling with weapons, the single driver often struggled to balance combat duties with the need to constantly restoke the boiler to maintain steam.

The second generation of Laufmaschines abandoned the humanoid form and went for a quadrupedal egg design. While still bristling with weapons, the more roomy body allowed for a two-man crew compartment, one driver/gunner, one stoker. The PzKLm II "Ludwig" rapidly became the mainstay of the Imperial German fighting forces.

However German dominance in the field of steam combat walkers was soon threatened by British ingenuity and know-how...

Shortly after the Ludwigs had proven themselves on the battlefields of England, Professor Maxwell Pondsmith of the Royal Institute unveiled his new invention, the self-stoking forced-draught boiler, which would automatically regulate its own fuel supply and steam pressure in response to a simple throttle control. A design team was hastily put together to build a fighting machine around the new engine. The result was Professor Pondsmith's Perpendicular Perambulating Paladin, shortened by anyone in a rush to the "P5". Armed with a single 4" naval gun of awesome destructive power and a steam-hydraulic battle fist capable of ripping through armoured plating, the automation built into the P5 made it easy for the single driver to operate. With the German forces pressing hard in the south, P5s were rushed into production and sent to the front, where they quickly proved their worth.

With the P5 clearly a match for the Ludwigs, German scientists went to work on a third-generation Laufmaschine of their own...

Heh, that was fun to write. You have these vague background ideas floating around as you're modelling or painting these things and it's always nice to finally see them put down in black and white.

The German walkers are all resin models from Armorcast, now sadly out of production. I picked them up at Origins 2003, and are another example of those "put in a drawer and forgotten about" things, which wargamers seem to collect. I had originally planned to convert them for 15mm, which would have meant covering up the grinning faces at the viewports. I still don't like those faces, but having found it a fiddly nuisance to try to remove them, I've left them intact.

The P5s are old models, part of a skirmish came I think called Havok, which was an attempt by a toy company to cash in on Games Workshop's market. The boxed set came with two dreadnought type armours and about eight 28mm figures, and a friend got them for me on clearance from a catalogue store at some silly price. I used to use these back in the day in 15mm which made them pretty huge monstrosities, but even in 28mm they're still damned mean looking. The five P5s I've got represent half the armours I have, the other five are a different, blockier design which I'm going to turn into the PzKLm III mentioned at the end of the blurb.

And yes, Professor Pondsmith is a deliberate shout out to "Maximum" Mike Pondsmith of R Talsorian Games, who not only wrote the Cyberpunk RPG, but also Mekton which remains one of my favourite giant-robot anime RPGs and also the Castle Falkenstein Victorian steampunk fantasy RPG. I can't think of anyone better to invent a revolutionary steam-powered mecha for the Invasion of 188x.


  1. Nice looking vehicles shame no longer avaible

  2. I agree, and in the hands of a more talented modeller/painter I think they'd look even better. I'm afraid my quick n dirty drybrushing really doesn't do them justice.