[Starship Modeler's 23rd on-line modeling contest: Departures]

   Douglas SBT-27 Kestrel Trip Bomber

Scale: Not stated

Here is the departure: In 1898 humanity discovered they were not the only sentient species in the solar system. Martians descended on England nearly devastating the country in an attack. Countless lives were lost to the heat rays and strange gas used by the Martian tripods. In the end only the Martians' susceptibility to Earth microbes saved England. After the attack the United Kingdom collected all the remains of the alien technology to study it, just in case the Martians were to return. One young scientist, Nicola Tesla, was given access to the alien technology. He discovered a new form of energy, anti-gravity, in the gyroscopic devices that the Martians used to keep their tripods upright. He was able to reengineer the gyros into anti-grav emitters that allowed vehicles to hover. Tesla, with funding from both the British and the American governments, began Tesla Company to mass produce these anti-grav units, as well as other devices he reengineered, including heat rays. Other scientists, such as Edison and later Einstein gained access to the Martian technology to create new leaps in science.

For a time peace seemed a real possibility on Earth. Humanity was shocked into realizing the pettiness of their wars when faced with extinction from a superior foe. Scientists kept their eyes raised upward, yet Mars remained silent. Decades passed with no sign from Mars. Soon tensions between the world's powers began to rise. Russia, once part of the European Alliance, began to feel an outsider and soon pulled out to join the Eastern Coalition. Just as it looked like the world would fall to war with itself, the Martians returned, landing near Grover's Mill in New Jersey in 1932. The scientists watching Mars saw the flashes that indicated the second attack wave was coming. Humanity prepared for the Martians, feeling superior with their recent increase in technology. Unfortunately for Mankind the Martians had not been idle. They arrived with new safety measures against Earth microbes, as well as improved tripods and a new vehicle, a large airship.

Still, Humanity was able to hold the Martians from total destruction, but most of New England came under their control. Even with the combined might of the world's military, the Martians entrenched themselves. The ongoing war to remove the Martian infestation continues. In 1941 a new wave of Martians landed just outside Nashville, allowing the Martian controlled lands to grow. The Kestrel is one of a number of weapons that the US uses against the Martians in an attempt to regain the Eastern seaboard.

The Kestrel is a second-generation trip bomber. It uses a reengineered Tesla anti-grav system, giving the Kestrel a maximum operating celling of 100 yards. With the twin Wright firestorm turbo fan-jets, the Kestel is capable of hitting the 600 mph mark. Armed with a pair of wing mounted Browning M2 .50 cal. Machine guns, a single front mounted Tesla Pyro heat ray, two unguided rocket missiles, a single massive 1,000 point bomb, and a rear mounted magnetic grapple with four cable loads, the Kestrel has a variety of options for taking down Martian tripods. Kestrel use the magnetic grapples to wrap cables around the tripod legs, then once they fall, dive bomb them with the 1,000 pound bomb. Should the need arise the Kestrel can also use its rockets, though they are less accurate. Kestrel often work in flights of three, allowing them to take down up to six tripods.

When I read through the contest rules I knew I wanted to do something with War of the Worlds. I recently have become interested in dieselpunk as well, so it felt right to try and combine the two. Now, as I am a third year PhD student in English I did not want to change the ending to one of my favorite novels, so my departure is the fact that the novel itself is a departure from our history, and Wells does not tell us what happened after the invasion. I used an SBD Dauntless for the main body of the Kestrel. The two man crew of the Dauntless with the rear facing gunner seemed perfect for a ship designed to fight like the Rebel speeders from The Empire Strikes Back. The engines and the rear stabilizers come from an A-10 Warthog kit.

The undercarriage come from some 1930s car model that I inherited. I had some special side illuminating fiber optic from a promo order and decided they would make interesting hover devices. That led to sorting out how to light the ship. The headlights are modified pen caps with grain of wheat incandescent bulbs in them. I used blue LEDs for the hover devices and orange for the jets. I used a few greebles from other kits I had around, and some sprue for the skids and the bumpers. I do most of my work by hand with exacto knives and files to get the shapes right. They do tend to be slightly less symmetrical than if I used my dremel tool, but I find I enjoy the simple hand tools better. I have assembled a number of kit bashed models this way.

Painting was a bit of a hassle. Money and space (remember that think about being a graduate student in English?) means I do not have an airbrush. I used classic brush work on the model, basing my colors, olive drab for the top and gunship gray for the bottom, on World War 2 fighter plane colors. I used insignia red, silver, burnt iron and some flat black for the detail work. I finished it off with a thin coat of some clear spray paint, which caused the frosting of the canopy. At first that bugged me, but I think it gives it an interesting look, as well as hiding the less than perfect paint job in the cockpit.

This was a fun build to do. Hopefully I'll find tome to work on other ships from this departure universe.

Image: Right side view

Image: Rear view

Image: Underneath

Image: Left/front view

Image: From above

Image: Right/front

Image: Top/rear



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