It probably comes as no surprise that out of all of the fleets covered in ‘A Call to Arms’, that of the Earth Alliance is by far and away the largest in terms of the number of models. In fact, it grew to be so large that Mongoose felt it would be more practical to divide the collection up into three entirely separate fleet lists; those being ‘The Early Years’, ‘Dawn of the Third Age’ and finally the ‘Crusade Era’
The range of ships available to the budding Earth Force Admirals is restricted to those with ‘In Service’ dates between 2230 – 2247, which pretty much restricts it to a lot of the somewhat ‘veteran’ vessels in service such as the Artemis Frigate or Olympus Corvette, both as it happens shown in the photo above. They are certainly not bad ships by any stretch, but put up against the more advanced ships of the Centauri or worse, Mimbari, they will almost certainly be a little outclassed.
That’s not to say the list is not worth fielding, far from it. The EA Early years list does contain some real gems, such as the iconic Hyperion Cruiser, Nova Class Dreadnought and a carrier all at ‘Raid’ level (Note: For those that don’t play, ships are categorised by level with each ‘roughly’ twice the ability of the level preceding. They are from the lowest Patrol, Skirmish, Raid, Battle, War and Armageddon). All of the above I will feature later, but for now, I thought I would assemble a small core force with which to build around.
Orestes class systems monitor
At the heart of the fleet I selected an Orestes. This is a ‘Battle’ level ship which is designed to be the core of any Earth Alliance task force. Equipped with a main bore sighted battery of Heavy and Medium Laser Cannons, forward railguns and all round pulse cannons, the Orestes-Class can more than hold its own in the centre. Fighter support is also available in the form of two Starfury wings.
Painting wise the Orestes is very straight forward consisting of dry-brushing NATO black and wolf grey for the rear section and working up from a black primer and adeptus battle grey (GW Foundation range), through stonewall grey (Vallejo), wolf grey (Vallejo) and finally ghost grey (Vallejo) for the main hull of the ship. The final highlights were a mix of ghost grey and white. For the banding I started with a dark stripe of night blue (Vallejo) which I then added Prussian Blue (Vallejo) to for the highlights.
The Starfury fighters were somewhat trickier in that Mongoose supply all of the fighters with special black plastic hexagonal box-bases. They look very smart when mounted on them, however, the problem is I really don’t like the look. So, I ditched the supplied bases in preference of a standard small flying base into which I mount each of the fighters individually using a length of steel pin (aka a paperclip!). This gives me the advantage of matching all of the bases within the fleet as well as varying the height and positions of the fighters on each base for a more natural look. The downside however is it means clipping the stems off, filing, pinning and mounting a huge number of fighters individually. there are times I will admit that I wish I hadn’t chosen this method. Especially with one of the earth carriers coming with a whopping sixteen flights!
On initial appearances, the rather ‘stubby’ no-nonsense lines of the Artemis Class Frigate would not normally be my idea of an elegant ship. However, since painting them I have found I have somewhat warmed to this little escort and in particular the copious rail guns it has liberally dotted around its hull
Artemis class frigate
The detailing on the Artemis is quite interesting in that it is textured enough to be dry-brushed, but equally flat enough to be block painted. The trouble is, neither on their own really bring out the best in the model. With that in mind, I settled on a kind of ‘hybrid’ painting approach that combined both techniques. After base-coating both models with a black primer, I began with a dry-brush of Adeptus Battle Grey (GW: Foundation) over which I then added progressive lighter dry-brushes of the following colours; stonewall grey, wolf grey and finally ghost grey. All were from the Vallejo range, however, the GW equivalent will work just as fine. I then gave the entire model a thin black wash to bring back out the fine lines between all the panels and let this dry fully.
Once the wash had dried, I randomly picked out a few panels and block painted them in wolf grey to give a little deliberate contrast in the hull plating, as well as neaten up the finish. The edges of the hull were then lightly dry-brushed again, this time with a 50/50 mix of ghost grey and white. With the main hulls completed, I then re-painted the central section, engines and all of the weapons in NATO black (Tamiya) before picking out the details with chainmail silver and finally mithril for the weapon highlights. The banding was neat regal blue to which I added a drop of prussian blue for the highlights (Vallejo) and that was pretty much all they needed before being ready for deployment.
Sagittarius cruiser and Olympus corvette
Supporting the Orestes with the frigates is all well and good, however it didn’t give me much more in the way of long-ranged firepower. For this task I needed the inclusion of a Sagittarius-class missile cruiser. With an all-round 30″ missile barrage, the ‘Sag’ as it is affectionately known is able to stand-off out of harms way and support the fleet from afar. On the negative though, the Sagittarius doesn’t have jump engines which makes it highly reliant on other jump-capable ships in the fleet to open jump points for it, should it need to make a hasty retreat. Similar to the Artemis above, the Sagittarius Class Cruiser was painted with a mix of dry-brushing and more traditional block painting. Starting with the messy part first, I lightly dry brushed the central super-structure and dorsal weapons batteries in adeptus grey, stonewall grey and ghost grey in that order. For the flat areas you see on the rest of the ship, I began by block painting them in an adeptus battle grey (GW: Foundation range). I then started to build up shading and highlights by layering up a thin coat of stonewall grey over this, focusing on the edges and panels. To this I added increasing amounts of ghost grey, then finally white for the finishing highlighting.
Similar to the ‘Sag’, the Olympus-class Corvette alongside it also comes with a 30″ forward-firing missile battery. However, not being a dedicated barrage cruiser, the Olympus is also a capable short-ranged ‘brawler’ with rail guns and medium pulse cannons. Not the most popular of ships in the fleet, being somewhat ungainly, especially when compared to the more favourable Hyperion-class, both of them nevertheless give me a few more ‘initiative sinks’ being skirmish level ships. Painting the Olympus was rather straight-forward being just a simple dry-brush of adeptus battle grey, stonewall grey and a very light final highlight of ghost grey in the main. To enrich the contrast though, I did add an additional very thin wash of black over the entire model, with a little more attention given to increasing the depth of the shadows. The windows were just pure skull white carefully added at the end and the weapon detailing simply GW Foundation mechrite red with a dot highlight of blazing orange.
Note: Neither ship come with fighters, the Starfury wings are from the next ship in the fleet, the Nova-class Dreadnought. I just added them into the photo because I like them!
This is very much just the start of the Earth Alliance fleet and already I have made a start on a pair of iconic Hyperion cruisers, an Omega destroyer and an Avenger class light carrier. All these will be added in due time, but for now, enjoy.