Issue: 1
System: Space 1889
Publisher: GDW

H.M.E.F. Sir Galahad
An interplanetary troopship for Space 1889
by Simon Evans


Work on a new class of Etherflyer specifically built for the transportation of troops began om 1884, with detailed designs emerging in early 1886. The original plans for vessels capable of carrying a full battalion of troops had to be shelved because of the problems involved in maintaining an adequate air supply, and consequently a smaller ship emerged as reality.

The design teams opted for a vessel that could transport an infantry company at full strength with all its associated equipment plus up to six hundred tons of cargo and stores, and to do it in the smallest possible hull configuration. In this way there would be important weight and cost savings and should a vessel crash or be lost in transit, the loss of men and equipment could be considered acceptable. This was an important consideration as etherflyers carried no lifeboats and explosive decompression was a lot more efficient at shortening the nominal role than 'Birkenhead drill' ever was.

Production of a single prototype was authorised by the Admiralty in August 18886 and H.M.E.F. Sir Galahad was commissioned in January 1888. Her maiden voyage began on 23rd February 1888, when she lifted off from Portsmouth Naval Ether Station with a cargo of five hundred tons of machinery and sixty-five men of the Royal Horse Artillery. Sir Galahad reached Mars on April 25th, her safe arrival being reported to Earth by the Mars Orbital Heliograph Station. Two weeks later the Admiralty authorised a further three ships of the same design, followed in April 1889 by a further four; the intention being to have enough of the class to be able to lift a full battalion en masse.

By November 1889 three more Etherflyers were in service, one fitting out and four more under construction, providing the Admiralty and the General Staff with an important and flexible power projection asset.


As noted above the Sir Galahad class ships are quite small; they measure approximately 370 feet in length with a beam of 78 feet, making them somewhat less than half the length of the Duke class battleships.

Power is provided by a solar boiler and an Armstrong patent Etherpropeller for interplanetary travel, and by a forced draught boiler and twin airscrews for atmospheric flight. Emergency power comes from a bank of batteries which will keep the ship functional for seven days if necessary. Lift is by means of standard liftwood panels and slats.

The troopships are unarmoured and armament is restricted to a turret mounted Hotchkiss rotating cannon and a pair of .45" Gatling guns which can be mounted on the bridge wings in atmosphere. Use of this class of vessel as assault craft is not envisaged; they are intended only for use between proper transit points such as Ether Stations - insertions into 'hot' landing sites is the job of gunboats.

Crew comprises of the Captain, four Officers, eight Petty Officers and sixty four ratings. In addition each ship can accommodate a full infantry company of one hundred and twenty Officers and men, together with all their weapons, ammunition and equipment, including transport wagons. In addition hold space is available for a maximum of six hundred tons of mixed dry cargo, although this capacity is rarely used to its maximum.

The Sir Galahad class have a cruising speed of 800,000 miles per day, which gives them an average transit time from Earth to Mars of about sixty days. In an atmosphere the airscrews give a speed of twenty knots, which is fairly average speed for large aerial vessels and considered perfectly adequate for a transport vessel.

The class has been well received by the Royal Naval Air Service, and they have proved their worth by releasing the Duke class battleships from the troop transporting role for which they were completely unsuited. They also mean that the Government no longer has to requisition commercial etherflyers, of which there are only a small number; meaning less disruption of trade.

Plans are underway for a larger class of vessel capable of transporting a half battalion, although much work is still needed on a prototype air recycling system before the design is ready for construction.

Ships in the Sir Galahad class are: Sir Galahad, Sir Tristam and Sir Lancelot, all of which are in service; Sir Bedivere which is being fitted out, and Sir Lamorak, Sir Gawain, Sir Percivale and Sir Geraint which are under construction.

Game Information

Hull Size - 20. Lift - Liftwood. Max Weight - 200 tons. Cost 400,000.

Ether Propeller - Armstrong Patent. Efficiency - 20. Power Level - 80. Weight - 80 tons. Cost 40,000. Speed - 800,000 miles per day.

Solar Boiler. Power Level -80. Weight - 160 tons. Cost - 40,000.

Atmospheric Propulsion - Forces Draught Boiler with twin airscrews. Engine size - 14. Weight - 70 tons. Cost 28,000. Coal Bunker Size - 30. Weight - 300 tons. Endurance - 21 days. Speed - 4.

Armour Value - nil.


Emergency Power - Batteries. Power Level - 4. Endurance - 7. Weight - 28 tons. Cost - 280.

Crew - Captain plus four Officers, Helmsman, Trimsman, six Petty Officers, four Gunners, forty Engineers, twenty Deckhands, six Midshipmen.

Crew Quarters - for 203. Weight - 193 tons. Cost - 5790.

Control Room . Weight - 1 ton.

The above information is compiled from a combination of the etherflyer design rules in GDW's Ironclads and Etherflyers and Space 1889 rulebooks and the Cloudships and Gunboats supplement. It will allow you to field a Sir Galahad class Etherflyer in any of the sub-system games of Space 1889 as well as the RPG itself, either in a campaign or a one off encounter.

Uses include rapid reinforcement of outposts, or their evacuation; in concert with gunboats as an airborne reconnaissance or search and destroy force; long range exploration - just about any task that requires a large vessel capable of lifting men and supplies over long distances. Think of the class a 19th Century equivalent of the C-130 Hercules and the uses will suggest themselves. After all, there's a whole solar system out there...


Plans Key

Bridge Deck

  1. Bridge
  2. Bridge Wings
  3. Chart Room
  4. Flag Locker
  5. Green House

Upper Deck

  1. 6 pounder HRC Turret
  2. Troop Assembly Area
  3. Green House
  4. Troop Assembly Area
  5. Green House

Orlop Deck and Hold

  1. Storerooms
  2. Hold and Coal Bunkers
  3. Engine Room

Lower Deck

  1. Wardroom Stores
  2. Stores
  3. Chest Room
  4. Midshipmen's Cabins
  5. Officers' Head
  6. Officers' Bathroom
  7. Wardroom and Officers' Cabins
  8. Captain's Day Cabin
  9. Captain's Sleeping Cabin
  10. Accommodation for Deckhands and Gunners
  11. Instrument Store
  12. Sick Berth
  13. Bag Racks
  14. Laundry
  15. Bathroom for Stokers Only
  16. Engineers' Berth
  17. Cable Store
  18. Bag Racks
  19. Cells
  20. Engine Room

Main Deck

  1. Men's Head
  2. Rocket Gear
  3. Band Intruments Store
  4. Paint Store
  5. Chronometer and Compass Room
  6. Rum Store
  7. Dispensary
  8. Galley
  9. Other Ranks' Mess
  10. Gunroom Store
  11. Gunroom
  12. Shop
  13. Petty Officers' Cabins
  14. Company Commander's Cabin
  15. Accommodation for 56 infantry
  16. Cabin for 2 Sergeants
  17. Cabin for 2 Sergeants
  18. Colour Sergeant's Cabin
  19. Men's Head
  20. Officers' Head
  21. Lieutenants' Head
  22. Accommodation for 56 infantry
  23. Lieutenant's Cabin
  24. Engine Room