Monday, 4 February 2008

HMS Pippistrel

Another stunning production by Vanvlak Industries!


Following the destruction of the Nautilus on Mysterious Island, and the invasion of the Martians in 1898, the British Empire had commissioned its agents to collect what technological remains they could. The Mysterious Island expedition, supported by the RN, was organized by an organization which remains unrecorded, although it was rumoured (wildly) that Nemo himself had once been a member. The Martian remains were more abundant, and were collected under the supervision of the newly formed Torchwood Institution. Investigation of the heat ray lead only to disaster, but an improved method of joining metals and an enhanced steam power plant were successfully derived. A hybrid of these technologies and the brainchild of one of the leading designers and Vosper and Vosper, Jarvis Pennyworth, led to the construction of a high speed launch for reconnaissance and special missions. Four were built in great secrecy, and it is believed that a fifth, armed with torpedoes, was constructed and tested against a decommissioned warship. Believed to have been completed by 1905 (although some records indicate an operational record going back to 1903!), the boats were apparently continuously in high demand. One was lost to the Arctic ice packs; a second suffered engine failure in mid-Atlantic during a mission and was utterly crushed by the liner Majestic. A third blew up on a mine in the Eastern Mediterranean in 1916. Like her sisters the survivor, HMS Pippistrel, saw extensive service, and is believed to have served in the Mediterranean theatre as late as in 1944. A rare photograph was taken by an overflying Junkers Ju88, showing the boat cruising at high speed on what is believed to have been a clandestine mission from Malta to the Balkans. Of the fifth vessel, the torpedo boat, there is no further record.


Powered by steam impulse engines, the boats were rumoured to be capable of cruising at 55knots. The louvres over the engine bays had to be opened to permit effective cooling, and closing of the gills in bad weather conditions forced a reduction in power, and consequently speed. The Martian-derived joining technology took its toll of the hull armour as relatively rapid corrosion was induced in the otherwise outstanding armour plate based on the Nautilus design.


Plot hooks to boot:
  • The Nautilus was scuttled inside Mysterious Island by Captain Nemo of course.
  • The War of the Worlds is well known, and the heat ray disasters are mentioned by Welles at the close of his book.
  • Torchwood refers to the Dr Who institution founded by HM Queen Victoria to counter alien threats.
  • Vosper and Vosper is derived from Vosper and Thornycroft, who were already in business back then.
  • Mr. Jarvis Pennyworth (the designer) has a name and surname derived from Alfred's assumed surname and an ancestor's name - Alfred Pennyworth being Bruce Wayne's butler.
  • The organization which recovered the Nautilus plates is of course the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, reorganized after Nemo himself had left.

This, and HMS Pippistrel link the boat to its model origins - a 1:24 scale Revell kit of the Bat Boat. I have faired over the cockpit to reduce the scale to 1:28; added the 3 funnels, and a few other odds and ends, including a bit of windscreen wiper over the cockpit.

She obviously (HMS is a dead giveaway) belongs to the Royal Navy, although, like her Aeronef counterpart HMAS Platypus has also seen service under the Torchwood flag.

4 comments:

Bill said...

Truly inspiring work!

Don M said...

That is stunning!

Justiniel said...

Bravo 'V'
Turned out very nicely indeed

James (J) Womack, Esq. said...

Torchwood Institute... excellent!

An exploration of debauchery, vice and other reasons to be a man!

An exploration of debauchery, vice and other reasons to be a man!