Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Catching Up With Alcovia


The Alcovian government has always suffered from a bit of hesitation on the subject of an air force. In fact, the concept of a dedicated air force has so far escaped the Alcovian military' grasp. Though scouting and courier planes and a few experimental bombers have existed in military service, they have manifested themselves as a collection of curiosities and aborted projects.

The earliest use of aircraft in Alcovia was a small fleet of a dozen Airco DH.2 scout planes purchased after the end of WW1. These planes were used to scout and survey the border between Alcovia and Iqenistan. Though officially unarmed, the pilots of these scout planes seldom left themselves unarmed as there was always a threat that their unreliable craft might leave them stranded in the harsh Alcovian wilderness.

A nuisance to Iqenistani border posts, these planes often came under fire by border guards and on a few occasions even damaged. It was late in June of 1920 that the first Iqenistani plane entered the air, it's pilot taking potshots at an Alcovian scout surveying the upper Borka river. This brief and rather ineffectual clash resonated through Alcovian leadership and prompted a more serious consideration of air power. If Iqenistan had planes, they might make the move to an air force. But, Iqenistan did not escalate their air power and seemed to reflect the same apathetic stance on air power as Alcovia.

By 1922 the aircraft in Alcovian service were showing their age and nearly unusable. The new planes being produced in the rest of the world were starting to capture the imagination of the nobility and military leadership, but had yet to gain favor among the government. Airplanes were still seen as unimportant and the idea of a service of military fliers unneeded. One man, Colonel Chuka Yagirin took the initiative and invited representatives from Italy, Germany, Britain, and Russia all to show off what they had done with airplanes and arranged an air show for the benefit of the government, the nobility and the military. In a clever move, he also invited members of the common population to witness, holding a lottery for tickets to the event.

Chuka Yagirin poses for a photograph at the the 1922 Yagirin air show.

The Yagirin air show was a resounding success. All the participants in the event showed off their latest and greatest, hoping to wow the leadership. Demonstrations of aerial skill as well as ground attack and bombing capabilities were held. In one impressive display a mocked up convoy of wooden vehicles was towed by oxen across the open field where it was riddled with bullets by strafing aircraft and then bombed in a spectacular display. The nobility were impressed, the military interested, and the common folk spellbound, but Alcovian leadership was still not enthusiastic. Col. Yagirin did succeed in securing a small order of a dozen German Fokker D.IX which had been delivered by 1923.

One of the biggest things hindering aircraft use in Alcovia has always been the tendency for the ground to get rather wet and soft, making reliable landing surfaces difficult to maintain. Airstrips that have been built and used are one rainy autumn or spring thaw away from turning into sucking quagmires. One solution to this was the adoption of float planes and flying boats, using the numerous lazy rivers, backwaters and canals throughout the country.

In the 30's Alcovia is having to rethink the concept of an air force. It's patchwork collection of speculatively purchased craft and aging machines cannot possibly carry forward into the modern age of fight that is becoming more and more obvious. With Russia becoming more and more involved with Iqenistan, providing them with weapons and materials, Alcovia must look to the west for designs that fit its needs. There is hope that a number of designs will be found from a single source so that a reliable and easily maintained fleet of new aircraft can defend the country in what seems an inevitable war between Iqenistan and Alcovia.

Several rotating batteries overlooking the bridgehead at Uldiva.
Too many invasion from the east have left Alcovians feeling vulnerable and exposed in the past but the new leadership of the country has promised to strengthen the defenses of the country to make sure that the nation needn't suffer yet another invasion.

Building off of the increased presence of aerial scouts and the always present APA river service, Princes Ukko and Ullo, co-commandersi n chief of Alcovia's armed forces have undertaken a massive construction effort designed to fortify the western bank of the Borka against invasion from neighboring Iqenistan. Included in these plans are bunkered batteries and reinforced block houses on the Alcovian side of all bridges spanning the Borka River.

The construction of these defenses has alarmed the Iqeni people who find themselves suddenly in range of some very large guns. Despite official diplomatic protests, Alcovia has not seen fit to dismantle any of their emplacements and batteries instead offering their assurances that the fortifications are purely for defense and really serve no substantial or effective offensive purpose. In fact, the number of emplaced batteries that can strike at any Iqeni holdings are few and generally only located around the heaviest of bridgeheads. There are still plenty of places where there are no river fortifications or where the type of emplacements are of limited range.


  1. Wow, more good stuff here Eli, pretty impressive. You've definitely got a knack for creating believable backgrounds.

  2. Thanks man. I have a lot of fun doing it but this level of intricacy detail has plagued my RPG fun in the past.

  3. These are great! I love alt. history stuff!

    I have been on a huge WW1 kick recently. I scored a complete CBS WW1 series on VHS at a garage sale, and have been watching those everyday while I draw. I also got a stack of Military History magazines for a couple bucks!
    Best reference ever.


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