For a long time I have wanted to give my Arab slavers a little more punch and flair as bad guys. The problem was none of the vehicles or other fantastic contraptions I was coming up with really fit them. In most of the games we gave them “captured” vehicles and heavy weapons of other colonial powers. I always felt that this was sort of lame and that being the proud Arabs they were they would disdain using Western equipment if possible.
Well Allah has smiled upon them in the form of P.E. Rajasthan recently returned to his tribe after being educated in England for many years. Messer PE Rajasthan is the son of one of the powerful clan leaders under their supreme leader Omar the Magnificent (formally known as Omar the tent maker). In fact his father is Mustafa the carpet weaver. Punji Rajasthan was immediately put in charge of Omar’s armory and charged with developing great and powerful weapons to counter the colonial dog armies. Punji a firm believer in the slavers cause worked hard at his task. Despite his hard work he found himself severely hampered by the lack of modern machinery and raw materials to construct such weapons. He kept at it and with ingenuity overcame many of his problems to come up with some fantastic machines.
On this page we find pictures of one of his first great efforts, the Arab Land Dhow or Sand ship as the British called it.
Players of that game called Warhammer will immediately recognize this vehicle to be a dwarven steam cannon. Of course as usual I made several modifications and improvements to make it my own. The main transformation is in the paint job, that’s really what gives it its arabesque flavor. The picture shows the Arab “ironwood” panels used by Punji because of weight and the inability of Arab forges to make large light sheets of armor for the vehicle. The ironwood panels were installed by Punjis father Mustafa who covered the with beautiful carpet from his shop. There are more than a few tales of cannon balls literally bouncing off the side of one of these Sand Ships much in the manner or the American ship Constitution “Old Ironsides”. Ironwood was not only tough but had a certain amount of flex that helped absorb the cannon balls energy.
The brass dragons head holds the protruding iron cannon manned by two crewmen inside the Dhow. There are ports in the Ironwood panels to allow the crew inside to fire small arms out them. The commanders cupola has a large brass gauge required by all Victorian Science fiction vehicles and to allow Punji to keep an eye on his Steam power. The hatch cover was modified to open via a extendable hydraulic tube that gives an appearance of an umbrella, very middle eastern looking. The smoke stack was extended and another “big brass gauge” added back there too. Punji is mounted on a brass rod as to be removable and the hatch can be closed.
I added removable smoke for the cannon and the engine for looks and game mechanics and also a removable “Arab” style flag. This flag like most of my flags is handmade from copper sheet and hand painted.
This project was not really planned like most of my stuff but sort let to evolve as I went. I was cleaning of my work table and saw the parts of this Warhammer vehicle sitting there, I had bought it at the flea market on one of my pilgrimages to Historicon. It only took two years to figure out what I wanted to do to it, and even then I was not sure until I put the last stroke of paint on it. I am very happy with the results and it shows that some times you just have to let yourself go and see what comes out! Just for grins here is a picture of the vehicle as I bought it. I can’t wait to take it into battle!