T.T.A. "Beaumaris" Shuttlecraft . The Beaumaris was the first of the Castle Class Single-Stage-To-Orbit shuttlecraft. Serial number LL588ap. .
The first ventures of the Tarren Trade Authourity into space involved satellite launch and repair. The cost of single use rockets made repair visits incredibly expensive and so the T.T.A. commissioned Llwyngwril Space Systems to design a reusable Single Stage To Orbit vehicle to lower costs.
The ship featured a large bubble canopy for the pilot, affording unrivalled visibility when compared with its contemporaries. Power came from four Rolls-Royce Seiont engines.
Long hatches in the underside of the ship covered a pair of Keckler & Hoch auto-cannons for shooting at stuff. There was also a fold out radar and a fold out spotlight, both used for searching for the satellites that needed to be repaired.
Re-entry was achieved by dropping tail first into the atmosphere. The engines slowed the descent rate and the stern was covered with a large heat shield.
The cargo bay of the Beaumaris contained a manipulator arm to enable it to launch or rescue satellites. In this rare photo the cargo is a Piloted Integrated Modular Manoeuvering System or PIMMS. Most satellite repair was done with robotic flyers and PIMMS pilots spent a lot of time hanging around in bars, waiting to get work. Strangely their favourite drinks were fruit flavoured liqueurs.
The PIMMS was lifted out of the cargo bay on the manipulator arm, before flying to the repair site under its own power.
PIMMS were fitted with a pair of manipulator arms, a small searchlight and a search radar to home in on broken satellites.
The rear of the PIMMS was covered in thrusters, which enabled it to be flown accurately around satellites and space stations.
To save weight, the Castle Class ships had no landing gear. This meant that they had to be launched from and return to a specially built tower. Crew access was via the Special Tower Access Ingress Removable System or STAIRS, built by the newly formed LLwyngwril Ladder Systems company. The payload was loaded into the cargo bay whilst the shuttle was horizontal. The shuttle was then raised into the launch position, as shown in this ancient archive footage:
Once the shuttle was in position, the shuttle could be launched. The Launch supervisors' hats would blow away in the wash from the shuttle's engines and the company would have to buy new ones. This increasingly expensive problem was solved by issuing the Launch Supervisors with glue to stick their hats onto their heads. Two months later, every Launch Supervisor was bald from ripped-out hair and the ensuing law suits bankrupted Llwyngwril Launch Systems. The company was absorbed into the increasingly powerful Tarren Trade Authourity.
Landing a Castle Class ship could be a stressful business, as can be seen fron the pilot's face in this last photo. The cost building the launch towers, repairing dents in the ships and towers and providing the ground crew with new hats, meant that the next generation of shuttle craft were equppied with wheels and operated from normal runways.
This build draws on many influences. Firstly, it is the result of my experiments with the techniques that castle builders use to create round towers. I found the ideas in the articles on Classic-Castle.com to be very helpful. The core of the ship is based on this design by Rod Gillies on Flickr but I had come up with my own solutions to solve some of the engineering problems caused by putting a castle tower in space. Castle designers donít build their towers to be swooshed, for some reason. You can get away with a lot when your model just sits on a nice, stable base! Playability and swooshability are always important to me in my builds. Iíd like to have another go at this technique and produce a smoother hull.
With all of these castle influences, it seemed obvious to choose the name of a castle for the name of the ship. My nearest castle is Castell y Bera, but I thought "Beaumaris" was a prettier name, so I went for that, though itís an English castle built in Wales. The shipís LL serial number is, of course, the post code for Beaumaris Castle (put LL58 8AP into Google Earth). I also had a Castle Class GWR Hornby engine as a kid.
The shape and colour came from my usual influences of Chris Foss and Peter Elson. The art from the Eagle comic of the 1950s and 1960s, which has been published in this book also influenced me, especially the cutaway diagrams. I like hidden and fold-out functions and tried to fit as many as I could into this build, including the cockpit: