I had originally planned to start in on the models from the Privateers boxed set after I finished the freighter from the Federation ships box, but a discussion on the starfrontiers.us site put agriculture ships in my brain and, since we had some silhouettes and a counter for these ships, I thought I might make a model of one of those first. Let’s look at these ships.
First of all, here are the images we have to work with:
The black and white drawing is from page 7 of the Knight Hawks Campaign book and the inset is the counter.
Both of these images show a long, spindly fuselage, a bit of a structure at the bow, behind the domes, and at the tail, and of course, the big agricultural domes themselves.
Now, you can debate as to whether or not these ships actually make sense or not. Especially as depicted here. And that’s part of what the discussion on the starfrontiers.us site was all about, but they are included in the game so I figured I’d take a crack at making a model. While I’ll stick with this basic idea, I’m going to make a few changes.
Here’s an image of the final Ag ship model. As you can see, it differs a bit from those silhouettes. Let’s talk about what I did.
First, I decided to make this model a hull size 10 ship, which for these types of ships, is a little on the small size. The rules say that Ag starships are typically hull size 8-16 while system ships have hull sizes in the range of 10 to 20.
As pictured in the silhouette images, the ships seem to have a single large chemical engine mounted at the tail. That sort of makes sense for a system system ship but just barely. If they are just floating out there collecting sunlight, then everything is growing in zero-gravity. On the other hand, if you want some sort of gravity in the ship, you need to be constantly accelerating (no artificial gravity in Star Frontiers). In the latter case, chemical drives don’t really make sense. So I decided to give the ship ion engines instead. For the model, I used the same engine design I created for the minelayer miniature. It the same size (a Class B engine), but I used two struts to attach them to the hull in this case.
The other difference with the engines is that I used three of them instead of just one. The ship construction rules call for three engines on a hull size 10 ship so that is what I went with. I guess a single Class C engine would do the trick but let’s stick to more standard designs for now.
Like the images, this model has a long, skinny fuselage. But it’s kind of hard to see as I added a bunch more to the ship. The bit at the end is modeled on the tail of the ship in the black and white image. You can’t see it in the model image above but the section right under the domes is also thicker like in the silhouettes. And I also used the same style bow.
I modeled the domes on the image from the black and white image rather than the counter and just put four of them on the ship. On a larger ship, I would probably keep them the same size and just add more of them as is represented on the counter.
The main difference between my ship and the images is that I added some large storage tanks below the domes, and piping to connect them. I figure this is where the extra nutrient solutions, air, and water are stored as they are cycled through the domes. I also figure this area contains the processing machinery.
Another thing I added was lights on the underside of the bow. If you click on the model image above, you can just see them. There is one pointing at each dome. These are powerful, full-spectrum lamps that can be turned on to provide illumination to the domes when the ship is not pointed directly at the sun. Or maybe they are used all the time. If you’re flying around the system, constantly keeping the ship at 1 g, there are going to be many times that you don’t have the domes pointed at the star. In any case, they are a small feature on the model.
This model was created at 1/3000th scale, or 3 meters on the ship equaling 1 mm on the model. This is the same scale I used for the sathar Destroyer and CDCSS Nightwind and roughly the scale of the UPF Frigate, Destroyer, & Minelayer. When I start making a new set of ships after finishing the privateers, the models will all be made at that scale. The fuselage of the ship is 240 meters (80 mm) as is standard for a HS 10 ship. It’s a lot skinnier than a typical HS 10 ship, 15-20m diameter compared to 40, but I figure the extra hull goes into the domes and the storage tanks. With the engines added, the model is 92.67mm long, giving the ship a total length of 278 meters. Across the widest point of the domes it is 56.66 mm or 170 meters.
With the model complete, it was time to print it. The image at the right shows the hull size 10 Agriculture ship (black) next to the Nightwind freighter (green) and sathar destroyer (red, painted). Unfortunately, the black resin prints don’t photograph very well.
For the most part, the print came out very well. But it needed a lot of supports under the domes. For this print, I printed it upright, just as pictured (and how I’ve printed all the other ships) and used the default supports that the printing software supplied. Unfortunately, that wasn’t quite enough support under the domes. Mainly, the supports could have been placed better and on the edges of the domes, not just the underside. The result was that the physical shape of the underside of the domes is a little warped, rounded were it should be flat and angled. I think in the future, I will print the model at an angle, tilted 30-45 degrees. It will require much less support material and the surfaces will come out better as the printer has issues with large horizontal surfaces that are not touching the build plate.
Next up is working on the Privateer models. I haven’t done any modeling recently due to all the life changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic but will be getting back to it in the next week or so as life has finally settled down to somewhat of a routine.
I also plan to revisit this ship in the future and create a HS 20 version with more domes. That will probably have to be printed in parts as I don’t think a full scale HS 20 ship will fit on my printer, It’s a bit larger than my print volume, at least printed vertically.
Like all the other models, I’ll be adding this to my Miniatures Price Table if you want me to print you one, and putting the model up on DriveThruRPG on my 3D Models page if you just want to grab the model file and print it yourself.
What do you think of the Ag Ship. Have you ever used one of these in your game? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.