Pre-Imperial Ship Designs

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Pre-Imperial Ship Designs

One of the things discussed during the planned reboot of the Sector, was the state of ship design prior to the Imperial age. Ship design during the Dark Age of Technology was probably not relegated solely to the gothic designs that are a familiar sight in 41st millennium. The novels of the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy mention human cultures with radically different designs and technology encountered by the crusade fleets. Even older than these references are those from the story of the crusade of Lord Commander Solar Macarius.

In the discussion of earliest exploration it was agreed that the earliest design conventions would probably focused on a modular platform with large sections open to space. The Habitable sections would be compact and might use spin or acceleration to achieve gravity. Such ships may have been long lattice structures into which any manner of module could be inserted, to meat the needs of the mission. This open would provide strength, while keeping down mass, which would be important, because the less mass, the less effort needed to propel the ship through space.

Such open lattice designs may eventually give way to fully enclosed designs, that are more like what most people think of when they think of space ships. A possible early example, that is somewhere between the lattice structure and the closed design might look something like the USS Cygnus from the movie The Black Hole.

http://www.fromscripttodvd.com/black_hole_screening_enlarge.htm

http://www.fromscripttodvd.com/black_hole_screening.htm

The design is reminiscent of large exhibit halls of the 19th Century (like the Crystal Palace) made out of cast iron and steel. The architectural tradition of large glass enclosures continues even today with such structures as the atrium of the Tokyo International Forum (see link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ok2smile/4182244020/

Of course the materials used to make such a ship need not be glass and steel. Advanced composites can easily replace these materials (improving their performance and saving weight) while maintaining a similar architectural motif. Such materials could be something like the transparent aluminum of Star Trek fame or something more realistic, like an aerogel composite. It may be put into place to provide a flexible membrane, which will hold in an atmosphere, while also keeping in the heat and keeping out the radiation (see link below).

http://www.appliedseparations.com/supercritical/lab_inst/bench_top/x-aer...

Later designs, more in line with the lines of 40k ships might look something like the Nautilus, from the interesting, yet forgettable movie league of Extraordinary Gentlemen…Whit some basic modifications (adding engines and other bits) it could easily be used to represent and earlier ship design or possibly the personal ship of a Rogue Trader or a luxury liner.

http://www.modelshipmaster.com/products/submarines/nautilus.htm

http://employees.csbsju.edu/rsorensen/modelcitizen/workbench/Movies/LXG/...

Granted, there is a lot of time and history between these two examples that I have given, but this thread is meant to offer a potential for examining alternate ship designs that may exist or may have once existed among human cultures.

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Do note that several of the Imperial ship designs are from pre-Imperial times, some of the Grand Cruisers and Battleships if I'm not mistaken are quite ancient designs. Furthermore, most Imperial technology is based on the STC designs, which are also pre-Imperial. Whilst there are of course many different designs out there which might be totally different from what is being used in the Imperium, the 40k universe does work somewhat limiting when looking at it. You can design ships which look totally different, but would then look totally alien, would they then still fit in?

Human aesthetics (in the 40k universe at least) does not really include sleek designs, stuff tends to be rather blocky and not very aerodynamic looking, the "flying brick" Thunderhawk of the Adeptus Astartes (from now on I will refuse to call them "Space Marines") is the most famous example of this. That in itself isn't really a problem because science today still doesn't fully understand aerodynamics (if the theories of today are fully true insects should not be able to fly, food for thought...).

So it should remain somewhat blocky and very modular.

Pre-Imperial technology wouldn't have the gothic flavour Imperial (and more specifically post-heresy) technology has, it would look a lot more hard sci fi rather than flying cathedrals.

One good example would be the ships from the Alien franchise:

http://abqscalemodelers.com/Sulaco.JPG

http://www.fantastic-plastic.com/SULACO%20MAIN.jpg

http://www.starshipmodeler.com/tech/SULACO_-_11.JPG

If I'm not mistaken the design of the Sulaco was basically the design of a scifi rifle, but then turned into a ship.

Human technology in the 40k universe tends to be rather sturdy and durable, not in the sense of environmentally friendly, but more that it is somewhat blocky and crude looking, but it won't break down when some rain or snow falls on it, it can really take a punch. I can definitely imagine some Soviet influences in the designs and ingeniering.

 

EDIT: I don't have the BFG books nearby so the info might be a bit sketchy.

  • The Despoiler Class Battleship is based on the designs of the Terminus Est, the infamous ship of the Death Guard's First Captain Calas Typhon (later known as Typhus).
  • The Desolator Battleship is also designed on pre-Imperial designs, well...it was designed in the founding days of the Imperium, based on lost Adeptus Mechanicus plans.
  • The Emperor Class Battleship is probably one of the older designs, according to the BFG rulebook one of these ships was found in M36, data from the ship indicated that it had been lost for no less than 10 millennia, does would mean that the should would be at least from M26.
  • The Apocalypse Class Battleship is the predecessor of the Retribution Class Battleship, which was created in the very early days of the Imperium. We could assume that this means that the Apocalypse Battleship is of pre-Imperial design.
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The BFG background is somewhat confusing and contradictory regarding the continuity between different ship designs and some of what is said about them regarding dates in the BFG rulebook should probably be taken with a pince of salt.  It is generally considered that the 'Chaos' ship patterns are older than the 'Imperial' ones, and indeed this is stated in the entries for the Vengeance class grand cruiser and its variants which combine elements of both designs and are taken to fall between the two in development.  However if you read the blurb about the Despoiler class battleship it states that it was developed in M36 as part of the 'Gareox Prerogative', while as Malika has correctly quoted the Emperor class battleship Divine Right is stated to have been commisioned in M36 based on a hull that was taken from a space hulk that had been drifting for 10 millenia (i.e. since M26).  Indeed a number of the 'Chaos' ships suggest they were in regular use in the Imperial Navy up to around the Age of Apostasy.

Thus while there is a plausible developmental process linking the 'Chaos' designs like the Despoiler to the Vengeance variants to the 'Imperial' designs like the Retribution the timing of these developments is somewhat confused and contradictory.  Given that the forces of Chaos use primarily the 'Chaos' designs while the Imperium uses primarily the 'Imperial' designs with the Vengeance variants used by both the developmental timeline that makes most sense is that the 'Chaos' designs were developed mostly before the Great Crusade with the Vengeance variants being a fairly new development at the time of the Horus Heresy.  Thus the vast majority of those vessels that defected to Chaos would be of the 'Chaos' designs with some of the Vengeance variants.  After the Heresy Imperial ship design developed and the 'Chaos' designs were gradually phased out with most phased out completely by the time of the Age of Apostasy.  If you ignore the dates mentioned in the entry for the Emperor class battleship then this is mostly in line with what is given in the BFG rulebook.

The question then becomes, how old are the 'Chaos' designs?  If you assume there was little in the way of development in ship building during the Age of Strife then they might date back to the Dark Age of Technology.  They might also though have been only really put into production, or even developed, for the Emperor's Great Crusade and thus not date back much beyond the later parts of the 3rd deca-millenium (M20-M30).

Either way the craft of the Dark of Age of Technology would reasonably be expected to show some similarity of design to the 'Chaos' designs.  Though it would be reasonable perhaps that some of the blocky-ness and what Malika suggests as slightly Soviet inspired ugly-but-functional comes in at the closing stages of the Dark Age of Technology and the beginning of the Age of Strife when humanity's galactic civilisation is starting to crumble and solidity, reliability and ease of maintainence were desired above other qualities.  I could certainly see something like the Sulaco falling into this developmental chain but I think open-truss work type designs are either going to be a different spur of design philosophy off the main tree that didn't survive or a very early stage in ship design dating back to before the Dark Age of Technology.

Dragon Lord

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Do note that several of the Imperial ship designs are from pre-Imperial times, some of the Grand Cruisers and Battleships if I'm not mistaken are quite ancient designs. Furthermore, most Imperial technology is based on the STC designs, which are also pre-Imperial. Whilst there are of course many different designs out there which might be totally different from what is being used in the Imperium, the 40k universe does work somewhat limiting when looking at it. You can design ships which look totally different, but would then look totally alien, would they then still fit in?

I’m not going for a different look just for the sake of being different. I also agree that some ship designs predate the formation of Imperium…Although, I think it is important to point out that the persistence of those designs across the Imperium may also have something to do with assembly line manufacturing and interchangeability of parts. Standardizing designs just make good sense.

What I was looking towards was a progression of ship design, from what we have today or in the near future vs what we see in 40k. I’m also not trying to suggest that the blocky design structure is a bad thing. The blocky design structure may not be solely for design aesthetics. Maybe it has something to do with the creation of the Geller Field or the compact solidness helps with transition from real space into warp space.

Human aesthetics (in the 40k universe at least) does not really include sleek designs, stuff tends to be rather blocky and not very aerodynamic looking, the "flying brick" Thunderhawk of the Adeptus Astartes (from now on I will refuse to call them "Space Marines") is the most famous example of this. That in itself isn't really a problem because science today still doesn't fully understand aerodynamics (if the theories of today are fully true insects should not be able to fly, food for thought...).

I would not confuse modeling conventions with the true Imperial aesthetics. Yes the Thunderhawk is blocky, but that started out as modeling issue (creating the miniature) more than outright “hey lets make a flying brick, because in the far future you don’t need aerodynamics, they be kept up in the air by anti gravity drive or the will of the emperor (or some such nonsense). The reboot (for me at least) is about visiting wonky things like the flying brick design of the Thunderhawk and seeing if we can improve upon it, while retaining the spirit of the design.

This rough sketch (http://paperblue.net/?mid=Gallery_001&listStyle=list&document_srl=8235), for example, looks to me like something between a Thunderhawk and a Imperial Guard Valkyrie (http://www.40kimperialguard.co.uk/imperial-guard-imperial-valkyrie-skyta...). Then there is always the Helghast Dropship from Killzone 2 (http://www.kempart.com/sgallery/pics/KZ2Dropship2d_POST.jpg), which retains the blocky look of other Imperial vehicles. Below are a couple of other nice pieces of concept art that could be useful in updating the Thunderhawk design.

http://cnc.wikia.com/wiki/File:CNCTW_Dropship_Concept_Art_7.jpg http://cnc.wikia.com/wiki/File:CNCTW_Dropship_Concept_Art_11.jpg

The first one looks to have a reconfigurable cargo bay, so you could potentially remove the cargo pod in order to carry a tank or other payload. The second design reminds me a little bit of Serenity (http://www.galacticabbs.com/index.php?showtopic=1279).

Pre-Imperial technology wouldn't have the gothic flavour Imperial (and more specifically post-heresy) technology has, it would look a lot more hard sci fi rather than flying cathedrals.

Yes, and that is what I am trying to examine here. We did not just go directly from the space shuttle and use of rockets directly to the ships of the 41st millennium. I’m interested in looking at the ship designs that may have occurred between then and now…in essence, what led to this design convention. There is also another possibility to consider, that the later gothic look was built onto / over / replaced the previous structure of the ship.

It is not unusual during retrofits for ocean going vessels and airplanes to undergo structural changes. Ocean going vessels are sometimes cut in half, to allow for new sections of hull to be added thereby increasing their overall length. Internal compartment and structural bulkheads may also be reconfigured. New more powerful engines may either need more space or smaller more efficient engines that provide the same amount of power could free up space for other uses.

In the case of a space vessel, you might have to “tear it down to the space frame”…similar to gutting a house to the studs. The ship would then be rebuilt with new components or salvaged components from other scrapped vessels. Stripping it down to the space frame may be needed to remove such components as the computer core or engines. In this way, you retain the primary structure of the vessel, but the redesigned interior and exterior may bear little resemblance to the vessels original design.

Example: The MD-10 Program

The MD-10 program allowed operators to retrofit DC-10s with a new, advanced common flight deck (ACF). Benefits of the retrofit include a two-person flight deck, weight savings, increased reliability, and commonality with the MD-11 fleet. The conversion also replaced approximately 50 line replaceable units (LRU) with 19 state-of-the-art LRUs, improving reliability and decreasing inventory costs. The MD-10 conversion achieved a weight savings of approximately 1,000 lb (454 kg). Additional maintenance and labor savings resulted from commonality in the MD-10/MD-11 fleet, including same type ratings for pilots who fly either airplane. This program was undertaken by Federal Express (FedEx) in the late 1990s, as part of its conversion of DC-10s from Passenger liners to Freighter haulers. Other changes that occurred during this conversion were the installation of a main deck cargo door and a main deck rigid cargo barrier. Other structural changes increased the maximum takeoff gross weight, allowing the converted airframe to carry more cargo.

To give an example of how a spaceship might be upgrade over time, let us use the following ship as an example (http://students.autodesk.com/ama/orig/GSinterview_04.jpg). The ship looks like it could be an earlier cousin of a human vessel from the 40k universe. We can tell that this is an “earlier design” by the rotating ring further back on the ship. This could mean that the ship was initially put into service at a time before artificial gravity was perfected by humans (energy efficient enough to use on large space ships). There are of course other possible explanations, but let us assume for now that it is due to the lack of reliable artificial gravity. During the service life of the vessel or when it is brought in for retrofit, the technology has become available. Do you just throw the ship away or do you do a little remodeling on an existing vessel, which still has many years of service life? In the case of a retrofit, you could potentially do away with the habitation ring and redesign the section of the vessel where the ring coupled to the main structure of the vessel.

Going with the “blocky” design motif, below are some inspirations for the design of starships from earlier eras…

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dodproductions/3046635284/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dodproductions/3046634958/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dodproductions/3045801825/

http://www.geekologie.com/2008/01/man_builds_huge_lego_ship_it_i_1.php

EDIT:

Either way the craft of the Dark of Age of Technology would reasonably be expected to show some similarity of design to the 'Chaos' designs.  Though it would be reasonable perhaps that some of the blocky-ness and what Malika suggests as slightly Soviet inspired ugly-but-functional comes in at the closing stages of the Dark Age of Technology and the beginning of the Age of Strife when humanity's galactic civilisation is starting to crumble and solidity, reliability and ease of maintainence were desired above other qualities.  I could certainly see something like the Sulaco falling into this developmental chain but I think open-truss work type designs are either going to be a different spur of design philosophy off the main tree that didn't survive or a very early stage in ship design dating back to before the Dark Age of Technology.

Dragon Lord

Almost missed your post, as it seems we were posting around the same time. I agree about the Sulaco, which shares a similarity in design to some of the ships I posted above. A divergent design philosophy for vessels like the Cygnus or other “non-standard” designs works just as well as any other explanation.

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Either way the craft of the Dark of Age of Technology would reasonably be expected to show some similarity of design to the 'Chaos' designs.  Though it would be reasonable perhaps that some of the blocky-ness and what Malika suggests as slightly Soviet inspired ugly-but-functional comes in at the closing stages of the Dark Age of Technology and the beginning of the Age of Strife when humanity's galactic civilisation is starting to crumble and solidity, reliability and ease of maintainence were desired above other qualities. 

I think it would rather be the other way around. In the older days the Navigators weren't yet introduced, so no (or very limited) warp travel. Humans would travel in generational ships of a sorts, this would be prior to M18. However, in M18 Warp travel was discovered, but these would be limited jumps (like the Tau do), Navigators wouldn't be discovered for another 4000 years. In Flight of the Eisenstein the Ohnyl Colonies are mentioned, large cylinder shaped craft containing human populations who would live in there for generations. I would imagine that ships from the earlier eras, especially those generational ships would be very sturdy and ugly. They have to be fully independent for hundreds if not thousands of years, the ship has to be able to take a punch.

What I was looking towards was a progression of ship design, from what we have today or in the near future vs what we see in 40k. I’m also not trying to suggest that the blocky design structure is a bad thing. The blocky design structure may not be solely for design aesthetics. Maybe it has something to do with the creation of the Geller Field or the compact solidness helps with transition from real space into warp space.

Wouldn't this design have been around before Warp travel as well? Note that from M1 to M15 it was the Age of Terra, after that man started to colonise the stars, early ships would take around ten generations to travel from Terra to the colonies. Ships would have to be tough and durable I guess. Big chunky and thickly armored hulls would then be most fitting I guess?

I would not confuse modeling conventions with the true Imperial aesthetics. Yes the Thunderhawk is blocky, but that started out as modeling issue (creating the miniature) more than outright “hey lets make a flying brick, because in the far future you don’t need aerodynamics, they be kept up in the air by anti gravity drive or the will of the emperor (or some such nonsense). The reboot (for me at least) is about visiting wonky things like the flying brick design of the Thunderhawk and seeing if we can improve upon it, while retaining the spirit of the design.

So it would also include a re-design of the Thunderhawk?

Yes, and that is what I am trying to examine here. We did not just go directly from the space shuttle and use of rockets directly to the ships of the 41st millennium. I’m interested in looking at the ship designs that may have occurred between then and now…in essence, what led to this design convention. There is also another possibility to consider, that the later gothic look was built onto / over / replaced the previous structure of the ship.

I think it would also be interesting (and important) to know when humanity first started to encounter Xenos. One source stated that in M21 humanity started to engage aliens such as the Eldar and Orks in extensive warfare. Of course this is very old information, and with the Eldar being practically omnipotent at that time, it might seem a bit out of place for humanity to actually being able to wage an extensive war against them. But I think that the moment of First Contact, the realisation that man isn't alone in the universe must have brought some radical changes to ship design, turning a lot more militaristic, better defenses, more weapons that sort of thing. Whilst humans probably also fought amongst themselves, I can imagine that they would consider the universe to be a lot of threatening place with all those warlike xenos running around.

Some other designs we might be able to play around with, these are from Firestorm Armada:

http://igwargminis.com/images/dindrenzi1.jpg

http://igwargminis.com/images/dindrenzi2.jpg

http://igwargminis.com/images/terran1.jpg

http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx228/servitob/DSCF0831-1.jpg

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I think it would rather be the other way around. In the older days the Navigators weren't yet introduced, so no (or very limited) warp travel. Humans would travel in generational ships of a sorts, this would be prior to M18. However, in M18 Warp travel was discovered, but these would be limited jumps (like the Tau do), Navigators wouldn't be discovered for another 4000 years.

I was just thinking in terms of comparing the ships of the Dark Age of Technology, certainly after the development of warp drive and probably after the creation of Navigators to those of the Age of Strife.  The generational ships of the pre-warp era would be quite a different proposition, and indeed as you say the generational ships would be large, functional and sturdy because of the requirements on them.  You are also right that we should consider the timing of key developments like warp drive and Navigators in relation to the progression in human ship design.  There would also of course probably be significant differences in the design philosophy of the generational ships and the interplanetary vessels of the same period, and indeed even into the present day of the Imperium there might be quite substantial differences between warp capable and non-warp capable vessels.

I think it would also be interesting (and important) to know when humanity first started to encounter Xenos. One source stated that in M21 humanity started to engage aliens such as the Eldar and Orks in extensive warfare. Of course this is very old information, and with the Eldar being practically omnipotent at that time, it might seem a bit out of place for humanity to actually being able to wage an extensive war against them.

Indeed first contact between humanity and alien races and certainly the first outbreak of hostilities between humanity and an alien race would represent a major turning point.  As you say though given the power of the Eldar at this time it seems unlikely that humanity could have had significant conflict with them.

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In Flight of the Eisenstein the Ohnyl Colonies are mentioned, large cylinder shaped craft containing human populations who would live in there for generations. I would imagine that ships from the earlier eras, especially those generational ships would be very sturdy and ugly. They have to be fully independent for hundreds if not thousands of years, the ship has to be able to take a punch.

Yes, I’ve seen several references to this, but as to what it actually is... that’s the million dollar question. Most references that I’ve seen try to equate them with O’Neill Cylinders, one of several designs for space colonies proposed by physicist Gerard K. O’Neill.

Island Three consited of Two counter-rotating cylinders each five miles (8 km) in diameter, and capable of scaling up to twenty miles (32 km) long. Each cylinder has six equal-area stripes that run the length of the cylinder; three are windows, three are "land". Furthermore, an outer agriculture ring, as seen in the picture on the right (see link below), 10 miles (16 km) in radius, rotates at a different speed for farming. The manufacturing block is located at the middle (behind the satellite dish assembly) to allow for minimized gravity for some manufacturing processes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Spacecolony3edit.jpeg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island_Three

These cylinders were orbiting habitats, not spca ships. The manner of rotation designed to create artificial gravity would be disrupted by, thrust induced gravity. Also the mirror needed to focus sunlight through the “window” sections would be useless during travel between star systems.

In his Rama series Arthur C. Clarke, created a gigantic alien spacecraft, similar to O'Neill cylinders, but as a craft for traveling between star systems. Due to its design for interstellar travel, Rama lacks the mirrors and windows of an O'Neill cylinder, replacing them with lights arranged in three trenches, that run down its length, paralleling the placement of the windows. Instead of constantly accelerating, the vessel uses our sun to slingshot itself onto its new trajectory, using that acceleration for interstellar travel. During transit the cylinder rotates to simulate gravity. Arther C. Clarke’s Rama (and not the actual O’Neill cylinders) may therefore be the actual inspiration for the Ohnyl Cylinders mentioned in Flight of the Eisenstein,

The interior of Rama is essentially a large cylindrical landscape, dubbed 'The Central Plain' by the crew, 16 kilometres wide and 50 long, with artificial gravity provided by its 0.25 rpm spin. It is split into the 'northern' and 'southern' hemispheres, divided in the middle by a 10-km wide expanse of water the astronauts dub the 'Cylindrical Sea'. In the center of the Cylindrical Sea is an island of unknown purpose covered in tall, skyscraper-like structures, which the astronauts name 'New York' due to an imagined similarity to Manhattan. At each end of the ship are North and South "Poles". The North Pole is effectively the bow and the South Pole the stern, as Rama is traveling in the direction of the North Pole and its drive system is at the South Pole.

The North Pole contains Rama's airlocks, and is where the Endeavour lands. The airlocks open into the hub of the massive bowl shaped cap at the North Pole, with three massive 8-kilometre long stair systems dubbed Alpha, Beta, and Gamma by the crew leading to the plain. The Northern hemisphere contains several small 'towns' interconnected by roads, dubbed London, Paris, Peking, Tokyo, Rome, and Moscow. The South Pole has a giant cone-shaped protrusion, surrounded by six smaller ones, which are probably the main reactors of Rama's reactionless "space drive". The Horns: A regular grouping of spires at the South Pole, within Rama. Exactly at the Pole is a single large spire dubbed the "Big Horn", and arranged in a hexagonal pattern around this are six other spires (aka "Little Horns"), each shorter and with a smaller diameter. The Horns seem to be used in Rama's enigmatic system of propulsion. The southern hemisphere consists of hundreds of small square-kilometre regions filled with various things, such as hollow tubes, collections of diamond, and empty plowed fields.

Both ends of Rama are lit by six giant trenches (three in the northern hemisphere and three in the south), equidistantly placed around the cylinder, effectively functioning as giant strip lighting.

more details about the “static” space colonies can be found through the following link. These orbital colonies played a large part in the various incarnations of the Mobile Suit Gundan series.

http://www.dyarstraights.com/msgundam/opentype.html

Coincidently, during the reboot process, we had discussed several possibilities for rebooting various ab-human sub-species of humanity. One of these groups was the Squats. Instead of going with the space dwarf motif, and the term “squat” deriving from their stature, it instead derived from their nomadic lifestyle, becoming something akin to tinkers or space gypsies. Squats, became equated with “squaters”…in essence, their ships pull into a system and squat at one of the system’s lagrange points, while smaller vessels move into the system to trade and offer their expertise in fixing mechanical devices or offer news of what’s going on across the galaxy…but that should really be discussed in another thread.

The coincidence that I mentioned above is the cylindar like design of their ships. Essentially the squats were descended from the crews of the first human ships equipped with warp drives. Back then, the technology was fairly new, so the drive systems were much larger and very expensive, putting them out of the range of all but the largest corporations or governments. The basic design was broken down into a drive section, a habitation section, with revolving rings and a large hanger / space dock to ferry vessels through the warp.

The spinning of the rings was as much for creating artifical gravity as it was for generating power for the warp drive (hence the origin of the idiomatic phrase, “spin-up the drive”). Anyway, the vessel design that was suggested for these ships looked like a cylinder pinched in the middle…the image below of a spacing guild highliner is a good representation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Heighliner.jpg

The cylindrical design could just be a continuation of earlier design concepts, like the large Ohnyl Cylinders.

I was just thinking in terms of comparing the ships of the Dark Age of Technology, certainly after the development of warp drive and probably after the creation of Navigators to those of the Age of Strife. The generational ships of the pre-warp era would be quite a different proposition, and indeed as you say the generational ships would be large, functional and sturdy because of the requirements on them. You are also right that we should consider the timing of key developments like warp drive and Navigators in relation to the progression in human ship design. There would also of course probably be significant differences in the design philosophy of the generational ships and the interplanetary vessels of the same period, and indeed even into the present day of the Imperium there might be quite substantial differences between warp capable and non-warp capable vessels.

What you suggest would entail filling in certain gaps in the cannon timeline and not just those parts that affect Anargo. This sounds good with me, even if we just narrow it down to a millenium or two. I also agree in the difference in design philosophies from generation ships to those that are warp capable, hence my mention of their early warp capable ships we had discussed before.

As the technology improved and the drives became smaller, you might see a shift in design philosophy. No longer would you need large spherical or cylindar shaped vessels. You may have entered into a renaissance of design, where engineers began to push the boundaries of what was possible. This may have also occurred if we found the ruins of alien cultures or live civilazations, with who we could trade or whose technology we might replicate. Aditionally I agree about the difference in design for warp capable vessels and “system ships”.

Indeed first contact between humanity and alien races and certainly the first outbreak of hostilities between humanity and an alien race would represent a major turning point. As you say though given the power of the Eldar at this time it seems unlikely that humanity could have had significant conflict with them.

Given the disparity in tech levels, it would have most likely ended up looking like the Earth-Mimbari war from Babylon 5.

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I just wanted to post some quick comments before disappearing off for Christmas and the New Years.

STC and the 40k Aesthetic

I would really love if we can stop hammering each other over the head with the same circular arguments about STC.  The "Dictation of Art" and all that.  With that said the latitude is there to look at this concept as pre-dating many of the designs that might have been motivated by STC but also other, more important, features.  In this case, IIRC, the concept here was that the designs pre-dated the development of the developed Geller Field.  It is this design feature that moves towards more "enclosed designs."

Of course, it would be interesting to develop the pseudo-science logic behind that.

Malika >>> I think it would rather be the other way around. In the older days the Navigators weren't yet introduced, so no (or very limited) warp travel. Humans would travel in generational ships of a sorts, this would be prior to M18. However, in M18 Warp travel was discovered, but these would be limited jumps (like the Tau do), Navigators wouldn't be discovered for another 4000 years.

As above, the generation ships are a separate issue again.  I think that there is sufficient latitude that the spindle/lattice designs could be entirely plausible within the context of the earlier days of warp travel.

Malika >>> ...Ohnyl Colonies...

Oh for crying out loud.  I missed that bit.  40k writing remains as original as ever, I see.

Suffice to say, however, that the longevity of the ship is not going to be directly related to it being a blocky monstrosity.  That dog just don't hunt. Of course, we could just get all Greg Bear on them and throw everything into an asteroid!

Malika >>> Of course this is very old information, and with the Eldar being practically omnipotent at that time, it might seem a bit out of place for humanity to actually being able to wage an extensive war against them.

Bit of humanocentrism coming out there, Malika.  While humanity might have considered it a war, one could offer that the Eldar barely noted it as an engagment.  Or considered it a minor skirmish with an upstart barbaric little race.

Londo Molari (Babylon 5) >>> If you do not bother them, they will not bother you.

Kage

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Just a couple more images for inspiration. The ship on the left on the link below may not have the whole gothic feel of later Imperial ships, but it seems to share a similar design philosophy.

http://benwootten.com/display.php?image=200

@ Kage

It may not have a singularity running through it, but here's an asteroid "colony" ship for you

http://www.weirdwarp.com/2009/11/take-an-asteroid-ark-ship-to-the-stars-...

BTW, Merry Christmas to one and all

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A Rama-like design for the pre-warp generation-ships seems perfectly plausible.

What you suggest would entail filling in certain gaps in the cannon timeline and not just those parts that affect Anargo. This sounds good with me, even if we just narrow it down to a millenium or two. 

Indeed I am going to make a 'timeline' thread at some point so that we can get a decent fix on the date of some of the important pre-Imperial eras as I find it quite annoying having to refer to periods of time by a designation like 'Dark Age of Technology' without knowing properly exacting what time period that refers to.

As the technology improved and the drives became smaller, you might see a shift in design philosophy. No longer would you need large spherical or cylindar shaped vessels. You may have entered into a renaissance of design, where engineers began to push the boundaries of what was possible.

This is what I would see happening during the Dark Age of Technology.  Warp drives had advanced to the point where they were small enough and powerful enough, and Navigators good and plentiful enough that the length of time a ship was going to have to spend travelling between two locations and the size and power requirements of the warp drive were no longer the overriding concerns when designing a spacecraft, allowing designers to explore more innovative designs.  Moving into the Age of Strife ease of maintenance, reliability and solidity became the overriding concerns and the more speculative, perhaps one could say frivolous, designs of the Dark Age of Technology no longer had a place.

With that said the latitude is there to look at this concept as pre-dating many of the designs that might have been motivated by STC but also other, more important, features [such as Gellar fields].

Indeed, as the STC system was, I think, developed during the Dark Age of Technology, any ships before this era would not be influenced by STC concepts.  We had indeed also discussed the Gellar Field as being a factor pushing towards an enclosed design, but as unless you want your ship to end up like the Event Horizon you need a Gellar Field if you are going to be engaging in Warp travel, I think this is only really a concern when thinking about the move from non-warp capable to warp capable vessels.

Oh for crying out loud.  I missed that bit.  40k writing remains as original as ever, I see.

I don't remember that bit myself, but ah well.

Bit of humanocentrism coming out there, Malika.  While humanity might have considered it a war, one could offer that the Eldar barely noted it as an engagment.  Or considered it a minor skirmish with an upstart barbaric little race.

That is a good point that hadn't occured to me.  You could indeed have a conflict between the Eldar and humanity which seems like a really major conflict to humanity but is barely more noticeable than an insect bite to the Eldar Empire.

To echo Kage and Destecado, I hope everyone has had a good Christmas and I wish you all a happy New Year.

Dragon Lord

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Destecado said >>> It may not have a singularity running through it, but here's an asteroid "colony" ship for you.

Aye, I'm familiar enough with them.  In 40k terms "free armour!"  Moving beyond that, they just make a whole lot of sense if dealing with super-massive ships and would be something that I think should be explored.  On the other hand, I don't see a problem with exploring the "framework"-style ship for specific applications.

Dragon Lord >>> Indeed, as the STC system was, I think, developed during the Dark Age of Technology, any ships before this era would not be influenced by STC concepts.  

I think that even for the Apocrypha we have to be careful about putting too much emphasis on some of the more restricted attitudes when it comes down to the STC.  One of the fatal flaws of pro-STC-rules-everything approaches is that it doesn't govern aesthetics, and that's one of the things that is going to remain, I would imagine, even in a society that uses standardised components.  Sure, there are going to be elements of this or that box but... I don't know.  Maybe it's just hopelessly optimistic and naive, but I just don't see people removing themselves that far from the equation.

Dragon Lord  >>> We had indeed also discussed the Gellar Field as being a factor pushing towards an enclosed design, but as unless you want your ship to end up like the Event Horizon you need a Gellar Field if you are going to be engaging in Warp travel, I think this is only really a concern when thinking about the move from non-warp capable to warp capable vessels.

This is yet another one of those edition drifts.  Luckily the cack that comes from the Tau means that you can have "weak Geller Fields" in operation without changing the 'fluff' that much.  I would suggest that we work on this principle.

Right, back to snaring balefully at the snow and wondering whether the cats are going to be fine left on their own for another day and whether "Natural disaster" includes peeved and moody cats when claiming on insurance. 

Kage

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I think that even for the Apocrypha we have to be careful about putting too much emphasis on some of the more restricted attitudes when it comes down to the STC.  One of the fatal flaws of pro-STC-rules-everything approaches is that it doesn't govern aesthetics, and that's one of the things that is going to remain, I would imagine, even in a society that uses standardised components.  Sure, there are going to be elements of this or that box but... I don't know.  

You could well have a point there.  Certainly during the Dark Age of Technology when the STC system was developed I don't think it's influence would have been that huge.  It was, if I remember correctly, developed to help get small 'shake and bake' style colonies off the ground with minimal outside assistance.  The long established colonies wouldn't probably have noticed the development of the STC system that much as they would have had access to the sort of expertise the STC system was supposed to replace for 'shake and bake' colonies and the STC system represented the established technology of the day in any case.  I imagine the STC system would be relatively static with updates or new versions being released every so often whereas for long established colonies there would have been a smooth continuous technological development.  It was only later during the Age of Strife as human civilization fell apart that the store of knowledge contained in the STC system became really important.  As we have discussed with regards to other non-technology based human knowledge in the past I don't expect that the STC system contained much in the way of aesthetics, its designs were intended for functionality, for small colonies that probably had limited resources.  Of course you could impose your own aesthetics on top of the STC designs but I expect the original STC designs to have been relatively basic in that regard, as perhaps evidenced in the STC patterns now used by the Imperium with the Mechanicus using them relatively unaltered from their original as it is more 'pure' that way (though perhaps with the addition of a few more skulls etc.wink)

This is yet another one of those edition drifts.  Luckily the cack that comes from the Tau means that you can have "weak Geller Fields" in operation without changing the 'fluff' that much.  I would suggest that we work on this principle.

Fair enough.  As I believe I have mentioned before I am less aware of the edition drifts as I only came into 40k at the end of the 3rd edition, I have very little knowledge of the really old background other than what I have gleaned from discussion boards like this one.  I had thought that the Tau avoided the Gellar Field problem to some extent due to the fact that they are only just skimming the surface of the Warp, where there are probably relatively few predators to worry about.

Right, back to snaring balefully at the snow and wondering whether the cats are going to be fine left on their own for another day and whether "Natural disaster" includes peeved and moody cats when claiming on insurance. 

There's been quite a bit of that here in the UK too, it has been a very unusually cold December (and the first white Christmas I think I've ever seen, in London at least).

Dragon Lord

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The 40k universe, and more specifially the space ships always seems to have been inspired by historical ones. An interesting feel for pre-Imperial ships might be to look into some warped version of WWII era stuff, dieselpunk. Whilst most dieselpunk stuff is rather sleek, we might want to look into a more "Soviet-aesthetic" version of dieselpunk. I've been having a hard time finding it, but I'll ask a friend of mine (crazy Russian) for some soviet era science fiction for more inspiration on the matter.

As for the current discussion. There must have been a certain transition between the more "modern" looking ships and the blocky designs we know now. I can't imagine that the designs radically switched over night. Here some ideas for transition designs:

http://malaveldt.deviantart.com/art/Scavenger-Arken-Final-Design-111293213

http://malaveldt.deviantart.com/art/Freighter-Bridge-Detail-83987780

 

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I’ve been considering the discussion that we’ve been having so far about the sturdy and blocky design of Imperial ships, and something kept nagging at me. I think I’ve figured out what the problem is. The Gothic style…at least later gothic styles were a departure from the more solid blocky construction of the Romanesque style, to one that more open, allowing for much larger open spaces inside and much larger windows to let in light.

The two main structural innovations of Gothic architecture were pointed arches and ribbed vaulting (ogival). The early Gothic style combined the Romanesque style with elements taken from Islamic architecture… the pointed arch and cross-ribbed vault.

By comparison, Romanesque architecture is known by its massive quality, its thick walls, round arches, sturdy piers, groin vaults, large towers and decorative arcading. It rather than the gothic style is more indicative of Imperial ships, right down to the basic cross shape of the design. It is important to note, that there wasn’t just an immediate shift from one style to another. There are actually several cathedrals and abbeys, which began as Romanesque structures, but which incorporate gothic elements as the construction continued.

Many of the Imperial ship designs seem to bear this transitional structure, possibly marking them from a change in the design ethic or perhaps marking a later redesign of an earlier vessel, opening up the super structure to create a larger open space. Employing such structural engineering on a space vessel may have been a subtle form of psychological warfare used by the Emperor. The creation of such open spaces would display a certain level of technical expertise, beyond the earlier sold design with small portals. Such a design might also give the impression of a vessel not built solely for war, but possibly for diplomacy.

It’s funny how psychology can play an important role in first contact. I’m trying to remember where I read the account, but it was from one of the descendants of I thin Sacagawea or one of the tribes that Lewis and Clarke encountered on their trip. She was more invaluable to them than most people realize. Yes, she could speak the language of the tribes they encountered, but she was also a woman with an infant. If the party had been all men, most of the local tribes would have assumed that they were a war party and might have killed them before even giving them a chance to speak. This might also be part of the reason that Remembrancers were sent out with the various crusade fleets..

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First off, I just wanted to say that Warseer sucks and is truly "Whineseer."   Now that I've got that off my chest, onto the more interesting stuff...

Dragon Lord >>> It was, if I remember correctly, developed to help get small 'shake and bake' style colonies off the ground with minimal outside assistance. 

My own recollection would agree with this.  Over the years the "shake and bake" idea has come to encompass all aspects of G/DAoT technology. 

*stares* "G/DAoT technology."  That seems as redundant as "PIN number."

Anyway, it's just something that I wanted to remind people about.  Again, that "Dictation of Art" gives some flexibility of interpretation.  As someone that is increasingly losing contact with the 40k universe, it strikes me as a shame to lose the myriad of possibilities of a "million" human worlds only to have it replaced by the same boxy aesthetic.  Not that I have a huge problem with the concept of STC, I would just argue that it isn't quite as dominant in the Imperium as some might say.

Again, though, I'm losing contact with the 40k universe so it might be better if I take an increasing back-seat to the project and just try and get the technology to work and then model things with RPG.  More on that in another thread, perhaps.

Dragon Lord >>> The long established colonies wouldn't probably have noticed the development of the STC system that much as they would have had access to the sort of expertise the STC system was supposed to replace for 'shake and bake' colonies and the STC system represented the established technology of the day in any case.

That's a good point and, indeed, question: What purpose did STC have for developed colonies?

Dragon Lord >>> Fair enough.  As I believe I have mentioned before I am less aware of the edition drifts as I only came into 40k at the end of the 3rd edition, I have very little knowledge of the really old background other than what I have gleaned from discussion boards like this one.

Ditto with the "fair enough."  With that said, I'm not sure that my crotchety self is a good yard stick for what is 40k.  In this case, though, I would imagine that trying to keep an integrated approach would be one of the best way forwards.  Thus, for the Tau, they use "weak Geller field" since one is required to sale the warp.  QED.

Malika >>> The 40k universe, and more specifially the space ships always seems to have been inspired by historical ones. An interesting feel for pre-Imperial ships might be to look into some warped version of WWII era stuff, dieselpunk.

My apologies, but I hope not.  Please see the above comments about burnout, though.

Kage

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Destecado makes a very good point.  We shouldn't get too carried away with the 'sturdy and blocky' nature of Imperial ships, yes there are sturdy and blocky elements to it, as there are to a gothic cathedral, that is how they have survived for over a millenium in some cases where the other buildings of the period in which they were constructed have long gone and indeed where even modern buildings have much shorter expected lifetimes.  There are also however, in all of the imagery for Imperial ships, huge open spaces and a lot of ornamentation, both internally and externally.  So yes, Imperial ships are sturdy, but they are also built to impress, they are most certainly not entirely ascetic and functional, there is a lot of unnecessary ornamentation, though they do also have layer upon layer of armour and some very large guns...

In some senses perhaps pre-Imperial ships might be simpler and more functional with less in the way of excessive ornamentation.  This would probably to us make the ships seem sleeker and more 'futuristic' even if they are in other ways just as sturdy and blocky as Imperial ships and would not represent regression from pre-Imperial ships to Imperial ships but in fact further development since Imperial ship builders can afford to put all that extra effort into all of the ornamentation, even if Imperial ships might also be sturdier and more heavily armoured.

First off, I just wanted to say that Warseer sucks and is truly "Whineseer."   Now that I've got that off my chest, onto the more interesting stuff...

Even if not with Warseer itself I'm sure we've all been there, so don't worry about it.  I rarely venture outside the project logs section of Warseer myself.

That's a good point and, indeed, question: What purpose did STC have for developed colonies? 

Very little, other than enabling new 'shake and bake' colonies to be founded more easily, would be my first answer.  Though the promulgation of new versions of the STC system would perhaps also have been a good method of ensuring that new technological developments propagated throughout the empire.  Since there would perhaps be some small number of technologies that even developed colonies would not have much knowledge of, maybe as a result of them not being particularly relevant for the world in question.

Dragon Lord

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Been working on some space ship design, meant to potentially be turned into a prototype. Partly based on some of Philip's concepts (distortion engines and such). But I imagined this also be a bit of a pre-Imperial design.

 

There's one little thing I'm stuck with. At the moment the ship only has torpedo tubes (on the top) and docking bays (on the sides). I've been wanting to also give the ship some energy weapons, however...I'm not a fan of turrets, so anybody got suggestions on how to work around that?

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Big 'ole spinal-mount energy weapon, perhaps?

Something that I've seen suggested before for energy weapons - at least those that don't need a barrel to focus - is having emitters around the ship, or spherical "turrets" with an emission aperature.

Something like this - to steal from Star Trek:

http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120323185332/memoryalpha/en/images/7/79/Kelvin_type_phaser_banks.jpg

And this: 

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-orQqICI0nfU/TVh90UlTedI/AAAAAAAACd8/oAjK0VE_2ig/s400/Picture%2B002.jpg

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I really digging that second link!

I ended up falling for the turrets. Look at the updated design here:

 

http://stefmanovic.tumblr.com/post/57536031530/legion-ship-concept-art-f...

 

I'm not too fond of the turrets yet, might go for the Star Trek design you showed! :D

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Spinal mounted was going to be my suggestion as well, or alternatively you could go with barrels protruding directly from the hull that have a limited traverse.  Mechanically turrets exist for a very good reason, it allows weapons that have a single line of fire to access a wider arc without having to maneouver the whole ship, they only aren't used when the weapon is too large to put in one!

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I'm not too big a fan of big turrets and barrels for this design. The torpedo launchers are spinal mounted (both top and bottom), the sides are used to launch craft. The spine (top + bottom) on the back is still free for weapon systems, I'll try to make these spheres. I like the idea that normally they're inside the hull, but can sort of lift up to be able to aim at all directions (180 degree angle)

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I think by 'spinal mounted' both myself and Falkenburg meant built along the central axis of the ship and fixed forward firing, like the main weapons of the ships in Mass Effect.

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So basically a large singular weapon that only fires forward?

Do you have a picture of an example? :)

 

In the meantime, some new pics! I noticed only the left half of the pics are showing. Simply right click them and check them out in another tab to see the complete versions. :) Otherwise, check them here!

 

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Small update!

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I see you decided to go with turrets after all.  I'm not too sure about the eagle prow, but otherwise they are looking good.

So basically a large singular weapon that only fires forward?

That is indeed what I meant.  It's difficult to find a good picture example because generally the ship is built around the primary weapon.  A search for 'spinal cannon' on Google turns up a few examples of ships that fit that format, the ships in Mass Effect, and if I remember correctly Halo (at least the UNSC ones) both have such weapons.  Typically a ship with a weapon like that will be long and thin (as yours are).

 

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Here're some visual examples of spinal mounts:

http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20101010142025/halo/images/7/75/UN...

http://www.travellerrpg.com/CotI/Gallery/images/16656/1_CL_Silouettes_Spinal_Mount.jpg

And of course, the most memorable spinal mount:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/70/A-10_Thunderbolt_II_firing_cannon_-_September_1998_(USAF,_USDoD).jpg

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Small update on the ship:

http://stefmanovic.deviantart.com/art/Legion-ship-WIP-concept-art-for-SC...

I've removed the eagle head. Whilst I like the megalomaniacal feel of it, there was also something slightly wrong with it. Also the angles I was working with made accuracy something quite difficult (dealing with 0.000001mm stuff).

The prow will get some torpedo tubes and some sort of 'Homeworld-esque' array thing that will stick out forwards.

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A lot of stuff has been happening. Been building different components and such. Here a little teaser...

 

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[INCOMING!!!]

(apologies for the bad quality pictures, I'm not a great photographer)

I must say I'm quite happy with the result, considering this is the cheapest material Shapeways is offering. Most of the details came through, the 0.25mm stuff is almost impossible to see and would get lost after a layer of paint. I would need to update the design in such a way that most 0.25mm stuff is enlarged to 0.5mm, which shouldn't be too difficult (a few exceptions here and there).

Another major flaw in my design was that I didn't leave enough 'moving space' for the different components, meaning I had to file bits of the plastic to fit the model together. What this means is that the components are now stuck to each other, which means you don't need glue to put them together (!!!), but the major downside is that you can take them apart. I liked the idea that players could constantly replace components of their ships, kind of like how I imagined the Legion ships to work in the setting as well. So that's another thing I need to tweak in the next version.

I noticed that the details of the turrets didn't fully come through, whilst not a major problem, I'll try to tweak the design slightly to see if it's still possible to do that.

All in all, I'm satisfied with the result, knowing that my design was too far off. Some fixing will be needed, but then it should be good enough to be printed in a better material so it can be cast.

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Apologies for not being around much lately, I've been writing up my PhD thesis.  That done I should now be around a bit more again, I might even get back to trying to do something about getting an improved website!

The ship has come out really nicely, especially if that's the cheapest material.  Don't be too pessimistic about the 0.25mm details until you've tested out painting one, paint, particularly a light dry-brushing, can do a lot for bringing out small details.

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What's your PhD about?

As for the printing of my ships, I've tweaked the model slightly to make it more printable, also started on some other stuff like boarding pods, and a battleship:

 

In regard to the printing, I think the next step is to print it right, but that will be a lot more expensive (around €300)...

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I'm an astronomer.  My thesis title is 'Debris in planetary systems', one of the main things I do is use debris (asteroids, dust, etc) to study the process of planet formation.

The battleship is looking good, though yeah €300 is a lot for printing.

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I know it's quite the investment, but then you'd have a very fine quality print, none of the details lost and also a smooth surface (something Shapeways isn't really able to do yet). 

Of course, when you have to pay that kinda money for a print, you won't use printing as a means of production, you simply make the protoype with it and then get it cast.

Your PhD project sounds really interesting, will it also be published?

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In the meantime I made a scale picture of the Legion ships I've got so far:
 
And yes, that little fellow is the latest addition to the Legion family...
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Look what arrived at my doorstep...
 
 
First of all, apologies for the bad quality photos. I'm not that great a photographer, and I should perhaps have the models primed/painted to do them true just since this see-through stuff makes the lighting very annoying.
 
I must say that the quality of the FUD print isn't as bad as I expected! I really thought it was going to be a lot worse. However, this doesn't mean that it's suitable for casting, there are still visible print lines and there are some tiny inaccuracies in the prints here and there (which weren't on the model).
 
Looking at the model I'm quite happy how it turned out, some of the smallest details on the ship are around 0.15mm and even they are pretty visible. I wonder how they would look lie with a layer of paint...
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Some of my thesis is already published as papers, and the rest will be eventually, the whole won't be published as a complete book though, that is just the way things are usually done in astronomy.

The new print looks good, it's always difficult taking pictures of transparent objects, but it looks like the detail has come through well.  I can see what you mean about the print lines though, I guess it depends whether they will show up after painting.

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They might disappear after painting, but I prefer them not to be there at all. Depending whether I can find a caster who is willing to produce/sell them, I'll have my models printed at MicroRP who can really deliver that quality.

Meanwhile I've tweaked the cruiser a bit, can't see it too well in this picture. But I basically added a sort of fin on the top and bottom: LINK
 

Also started working on something of the more 'orky' persuasion...