Sky High

Posted by on Feb 1, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Sky High

Written by Spartan Franco | Tags:

Next to the pilots of the Britannian aerial fleets, the Sky Hussars are easily the most glamorous arm of the Kingdom’s military machine. Many of the Britannian army’s former cavalry regiments have long since traded their horses for Rocket-Assisted Transit, or RAT-, Packs, allowing them to continue to add new chapters to their glorious histories in the Sturginium Age.

Rocket troops have been part of the Britannian military for nearly twenty years, since the Brunel Academy first perfected the RAT-Pack design, using blueprints for similar machines supplied by the Covenant’s international knowledge exchange programme. The powerful device uses E-270 enriched alcohol as a fuel source. They require only a tiny amount of this compound, nicknamed ‘Lucifer’s Gin’, to achieve startling speed and endurance.

The first rocket troops were informal organisations with infantry, cavalry and marine units, and were mainly deployed on the great war engines of the Three Armadas. However, successful operations were carried out from 1862 by Royal Marines rocketeers against pirate vessels and enclaves in the tension-ridden East Indies islands.

Experimental rocket units from the 9th Bangalore Lancers also found great success operating against bandits in the wild North-West Frontier regions of India, garnering respect from even the hardy tribes inhabiting these remote areas. Some units even began to acquire recruits from among their erstwhile opponents; such was the fascination with which these soldiers were regarded!

Sky Hussar Section

Sky Hussar Section

The 11th and 12th Hussars were the first Britannian cavalry regiments to fully re-equip with rocket troops in 1864, for more than just military reasons. Many cavalrymen had transferred to the Air Armada or the Royal Flying Corps, which they felt suited their treasured traditions of personal combat much better than the increasingly harsh and mechanical meatgrinders of land-based combat.
However, the growing sense of awe in which rocket troops were held encouraged cavalry troopers to stay with their regiments instead of seeking transfers. As one senior officer put it, “there’s nothing like appealing to a chap’s urge to show off to get him to do something damn dangerous!”

The Sky Hussars are now a regular part of the Britannian military. A hit with the crowds during military parades and reviews during peacetime, they are now ‘earning their wings’ in Britannia’s conflicts around the world. The 21st and 25th Bengal Lancers gave sterling service during the Blazing Sun’s first devastating assault on the Malay Peninsula after their destruction of Singapore, with the regiments seemingly everywhere at once. Their strategy of igniting great firestorms at key points and conducting ferocious ambushes against probing Blazing Sun infantry forces proved vital in allowing hard-hard pressed Britannian forces time to establish strong lines of defence further north in Burma.

Similarly, Hussar units saw extensive service in Belgium and Southern England during the great battles in north-west Europe of 1871. Unlike infantry and armoured regiments, the cavalry units were rarely deployed en masse. Rather, individual companies and squadrons were attached to foot and tank units to provide fast-moving shock forces.

Their fearsome flame weapons proved highly effective in assaults on bunker complexes in Southern Zeeland and immobilised French tanks at High Halden in Kent. Sky Hussar squadrons played a key role in the combined-arms Anglo-Russian assault across the River Scheldt, dropping in large numbers from Air Armada flying machines to attack Prussian positions in the port of Vlissingen.
Here, Hussar squadrons pitted the fury of their Flamebelchers and Ricardo III firethrowers against the crackling electro-spears of their opposite numbers, the Prussian Luftlancers. After ferocious street-fighting the Hussars eventually forced their enemies out of Vlissingen, providing yet another measure of revenge against some of the very troops who had arrogantly draped Big Ben with the Prussian flag during the London Raid.

Undoubtedly, the most spectacular engagement involving massed Britannian rocket troops from Hussar regiments and Aerial Armada soldiers was the incredible mid-air assault on the giant French sky fortress Mazarin over the fire-torn battlefields of south-east England.

Hundreds of rocketeers were involved in the epic struggle around this veritable flying castle. Although they suffered heavy losses from French ack-ack and defence troops, the Britannians managed to detonate part of the fortress’s stockpiles of aviation fuel and ammunition, forcing it out of the fight and contributing greatly to the eventual Britannian victory.

The Sky Hussars regard themselves as elite forces within the Britannian army. As much as they might be ribbed and sometimes resented by the regular troops, every Britannian footsoldier looks to the skies when his unit is hard-pressed. The flaming fury of a Hussar assault, perfectly timed and placed, has helped turn the tide of a thousand battles in Britannia’s favour!

HMG Section

The Royal Artillery Regiments of the Britannian army have many duties, not all of which involve servicing the bombards and great artillery pieces of the heavy artillery batteries. Artillerymen also provide local battlefield support to the Britannian infantry, in the form of Automatic Artillery Field Batteries equipped with rapid firing multiple-barrelled weapons fitted to lightweight field carriages.

The Britannian army has always had a rather neutral attitude towards machine-guns. Such is the skill and training in musketry of the Line Infantry that many commanders feel that massed riflemen are already well-capable of delivering heavy, accurate fire over long distances without burdening themselves with bulky support weaponry.

Some more conservative staff officers felt the use of automatic artillery on the frontline would have a negative effect on the morale of the riflemen who “would not appreciate the idea that their skills were being called into question.” Not surprisingly, front-line field officers were quick to disagree!

Wiser heads also argued that with the army growing larger, training standards might not be practical to maintain on such a scale. Further actions in various ‘imperial brush-fires’ around the world, and during the far more serious Australian Mutiny of 1842, eventually convinced even the most stubborn traditionalists among the top brass that more firepower was well worth any sense of injured pride.

Kingdom of Britannia HMG Section

Kingdom of Britannia HMG Section

Britannian machine-guns are based on the Brunel-Nordenfelt model, a sturdy, fully mechanical multi-barrelled design. Some of these weapons can be very large indeed. The huge fixed emplacements mounted on Britannian fortifications and battleships are monstrosities with twenty or more barrels, but the field version is the lightweight Model V, easily manageable by a two-man team.

Although foreigners see the use of this weapon as rather unusual given that gas-operated machine-guns are commonly employed by the Britannians as aeroplane weapons, the infantry demanded a machine that could emulate the traditional rifle volleys on a larger scale.
This is why the Kingdom’s heavy machine-guns are operated by artillerymen. The Britannian view is that ground based machine-guns are for supporting the riflemen in the same way as other field guns, hence their classification as ‘Automatic Artillery’.

The unusual firing system of Model V can create zones of heavily beaten ground even more effectively than fully-automatic weapons in the right circumstances. Gun crews often time their volleys so that groups of weapons fire in waves, creating a modern equivalent to the incessant clouds of arrows loosed by archers of a former age.

Often, Automatic Artillery units will deliberately fire concentrated barrages that can last for hours at a time into enemy positions to soften them up for assaults. Survivors of Britannian machine-gun barrages describe the constant pulsing roars of gunfire and terrifying rains of lead cutting down whole sections at a time.

Massed Model Vs have proven their worth time and again, especially during engagements where Britannian forces have been heavily outnumbered. Fortified machine-gun nests exacted a heavy toll on Blazing Sun troops in South-East Asia as they pushed through the tight terrain of Malaya and the East Indies, their crews fighting to the last bullet at point-blank range before their positions were overrun.

On several occasions, Ashigaru regimental commanders were forced to call in elite Shinobi units – an action never taken lightly – to clear out stubborn redoubts that had resisted all other assaults, or else employ full-scale artillery bombardments to silence the lethal “Lion’s Roar”, as the regular Blazing Sun troops nicknamed the guns.

In the Low Countries, dense columns of Prussian infantry have often only been held back from breaching the ‘thin red lines’ by efforts of the less exalted but ever-dependable crews of the Automatic Artillery Field Batteries. Even the fearsome and resolute Armsmen of the Teutonic Order hesitate before marching into the teeth of Brunel-Nordenfeldt bullet-storm!