Friday, 18 June 2010

Aquanef: Robur, Master of the World, and the Albatross

Looking rather forlorn and sorry for itself, we see above the VAN-1402 Peruvian Aeronef, the Huascar from Brigade Models, which I had originally purchased with a view to converting it into a sea-going craft as seen in a previous Aquanef post.

The more I looked at it however, and mourned for the barbette guns that had broken off in transit, I realised that this model deserved more than relegation to the bits box, and should take a place alongside the other protagonists in the developing Nemo versus the Militarists project.
The natural progression, of course, would be to introduce it alongside a whole range of the readily available Aeronef miniatures, but I wanted to have something rather more unique.

We started off from the point of view of Nemo and his Allies interfering in the Pacific War between Peru, Chile and Bolivia, and then moved on to the introduction of Militarist super-weapons to challenge the superiority of Nemo's vessels. What could be more natural, then, than for this enigmatic genius to call on a further Ally in the shape of Robur, 'Master of the World', and his sky ship the 'Albatross' in reply.

Jules Verne wrote Robur the Conqueror in 1886, and followed it up with a sequel in 1904, concerning the adventures of an eccentric who prowled the stratosphere in a heavier than air craft, to mysterious ends, a character who has more than a whiff of the water-based Nemo about him:

I had always enjoyed these tales, and in particular Vincent Price's over-the-top portrayal of him in the 1961 movie:

His fantastic flying vessel, the 'Albatross', has had a number of different incarnations, depending upon the illustrator, but to me I think the Aeronef Huascar would make a good starting point; I added on the tail section which comes with the model, and also some plastic bridging parts to act as bases for its means of propulsion at the rear:

Verne's vessel is characterised by a plethora of propellers, as can be seen in some of the excellent model versions showcased here:

So after pinching out some discs of transparent plastic card and attaching them to steel stationery pins, we have the beginning of something rather special, I hope, as below:

To be frank, on close examination, there is a concern that these could look like so many parasols mounted on deck, rather than pulsing powerhouses of propulsion, but hopefully the surrounding paint job should help to bring the whole together. I also had to compromise on the number of propellers, solely for practical purposes, but hopefully it keeps to the spirit of the original:

There's obviously a lot more work to do on my version of the 'Alabatross' before it can take it's place alongside the forces of Nemo, but a decent start, anyway:

You can find a whole slew of of the illustrations from the two novels online, but one of the best collections can be seen here:

(All the pictures are 'clickable' for a larger view.)

Of course, I must also add that I'm not the first to think along these lines when approaching the depiction of Aeronef, one of the most interesting versions can be seen on the Brigade Models' site itself, in the shape of the Konigin Louisa:

Excellent work, that I can only hope to emulate as my own sky ship develops!


  1. Very nice! A bit of paint will solve the parasol effect I believe and it will look great. One very minor quibble - maybe a larger stern propellor?

  2. Looking goo - no great so far and I will look out for how you proceed.

    I have thought about modelling a 1/300th scale Robur Albatross for some time. This may be the push I was waiting for.

    Keep up the good work and keep us informed of progress.


  3. I really like that and the idea of Nemo and Robur interfering in the Pacific War...

  4. Thanks guys as always for your kind comments - nice to get some reassurance that I haven't gone too far 'out there' with my latest flight of fancy!

    @ Steve - yes, I'm hoping they should be a killer combination - plenty of opportunities for changing alliances inherent in it too - what if Robur breaks ranks and sides with one of the Militarist protagonists? :-)

    @ Tony, glad to hear about your ideas for a 1/300th effort - that would look the business - funnily enough, I was just admiring your Justus airship - a class apart - excellent as always!

    @ El G, Roger that, Sir, I shall upgrade the propulsion systems forthwith!

  5. I don't think the broken barbette muzzles is due to shipping.

    My aeronefs had the same problem.

    However a few minutes with some solid wire stock and my dremel tool fixed them. Being as I am the unhandiest person ever, I was rather proud of the results.

  6. Hi there, thanks for the comment, perhaps it's just a weakness in the casting - I'll take you advice about the dremel and have a go at replacing them - can't have Robur outgunned, now can we?