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Flying Tigress

The Tiger Squadron ostensibly presents itself as an independently operated mercenary-privateer outfit in the employ of the SinoCorp Conglomerate, the Kommersant's most strategically significant ally in the colonial territories. The largest and strongest of the Free Djong-Kok corporate states, the Conglomerate rules over dozens of subsidiary port-cities and tributary clans in addition to its extensive direct holdings. In the ongoing proxy wars between the great powers of the colonial frontier, the Conglomerate's battle fleets and martial levies are a frequent sight, whether deployed in support of Kommersant interests or to further the expansionist directives of the Conglomerate's own Chief-Executive. Typically equipped with obsolete, decommissioned, and surplus Kommersant arms and vessels, the combat-cadres of the Conglomerate are continually pressing its Kommersant liaisons and sponsors for more modern weaponry and battlefield assets. In particular the Conglomerate's battle fleets are considerably hindered in comparison to their Kommersant equivalents by their lack of integral air support and aerial reconnaissance elements.

To address this pressing need, the Kommersant established the Foreign Volunteer Air Group, a unit consisting of volunteer Wingmen drawn from the 1st Colonial Aero Corps, and transferred it to the frontier to serve under Conglomerate command, exclusively in direct support of Conglomerate forces. With their flight gear and aircraft stripped of Kommersant national insignia and repainted with equivalent Conglomerate markings, the Wingmen of the Volunteer Air Group were soon employed by Conglomerate High Command in combat operations against adversaries with whom the Kommersant could not risk provoking open war. The plausible deniability provided by the nominal renunciation of Kommersant corporate affiliation, combined with the Conglomerate letters of marque granted to the Volunteer Air Group in token observance of the Five-Nation Privateer Act, constituted enough of a legal smokescreen to prevent the deployment of the Volunteer Air Group from instigating many a Kommersant diplomatic crisis in the subsequent years of hard fighting with the enemies of the Conglomerate.

Although still nominally under Kommersant command, the operational independence and officially-recognized foreign affiliation of the Volunteer Air Group quickly made the unit a refuge and haven for those recalcitrant Wingmen who refused to fully submit to Kommersant rule and persist in aspiring to the dream of an independent Three Wings nation. In particular, rebellious pilots with tribal descent and affiliation linking them to the long disbanded Tiger Squadron of olden times came to constitute a high proportion of the annual volunteer intake for the Volunteer Air Group, to the point that the unit has become colloquially referred to as the Tiger Squadron, even by outsiders. Much to the chagrin of the Kommersant fleet admirals, it has proven difficult to stamp out the independent character and spirit of the Tiger Squadron. For one thing, Conglomerate High Command is greatly appreciative of the Squadron's combat effectiveness and highly protective of the Squadron's unit integrity and cohesion as an elite outfit in order to maintain that combat effectiveness. Thus, Conglomerate High Command refuses to dismiss and deport politically seditious but tactically competent Squadron officers at the behest of Kommersant diplomatic authorities. Secondly, the Conglomerate's Chief-Executive deeply resents any perceived Kommersant political interference in the Squadron, as it is considered a matter of great national pride to have the Squadron directly subordinated to Conglomerate High Command and integrated within the Conglomerate order of battle. Lastly, attempts to dilute the rebellious spirit of the Squadron by increasing the proportion of Kommersant-loyal Wingmen in the outfit have failed, as the unit is regarded as a generally undesirable posting to most Wingmen as a result of the fact that the Squadron is forced to make do with second-line aircraft, munitions, and fuel.

Confronted with the immutable reality of the Tiger Squadron as a hotbed for politically seditious Wingmen, the Kommersant does as little as it can to support the unit, short of reducing the Squadron's combat effectiveness and offending its Conglomerate allies. Resupply shipments of spare parts, munitions, and tools from the Kommersant's colonial logistics depots are notoriously slow to reach the Tiger Squadron, with the result that frequently required components and supplies are often locally manufactured in the form of unlicensed copies through quiet cooperation between Squadron Wingmen and Conglomerate corporate magistrates. Those Wingmen pilots identified by Kommersant military liaisons as being politically suspect are placed on reduced-pay wages by the Kommersant quartermasters to punish them for their sedition, with the result that Conglomerate High Command has taken to offering generous combat bounties for Squadron Wingmen in order to supplement their meager Kommersant wages and further incentivize battlefield success. A Wingman can earn thousands of Adjusted Dollars in a single interdiction sortie against pirate sailskimmers or by delivering a particularly effective air strike in support of Conglomerate ground forces, more than compensating a competent pilot for the dangers faced in combat against the enemies of the Conglomerate.

Today, the Tiger Squadron is headquartered in the Conglomerate frontier staging hub of Hsia-Tong City, at the heart of the Kunlung Delta. Individual flights of two to four aircraft are detached for service in the field, scattered among the frontier outposts and battle fleets of the Conglomerate and its subsidiaries. Larger battle formations can be constituted by concentrating multiple flights ahead of general fleet engagements or extensive ground operations. Though mostly employed in aerial fleet reconnaissance, pirate interdiction, and close air support, Wingmen of the Squadron also supplement their regular bounty income through conventional privateering activity against those merchant fleets and corporate concerns of the Free Djong-Kok and Red states that the Conglomerate has designated as belligerent trade rivals. After immobilizing, sinking, or inducing the surrender of a particular rival-flagged merchant vessel, a Squadron Wingman will radio its last known position to the nearest Conglomerate frontier patrol in order to bring in the captured goods and salvage and divide the prize money. Unlike combat bounties, which are typically awarded to individual pilots in recognition of their individual feats, privateering prize money is evenly split up among all the Wingmen participating in the successful patrol sweep.

The scene depicts a hereditary major of the Tiger Squadron, stationed at the frontier archipelago outpost of Kwanghai-Six in the East Cerulean Sea on privateering patrol duty. The picturesque island chains of the East Cerulean Sea are a highly disputed flashpoint between opposing subsidiaries of the SinoCorp Conglomerate and the Red Empire due to the rich nitrate deposits found there, and Tiger Squadron detachments are often seconded to the Conglomerate's 10th Reinforced Garrison Fleet for combat operations in the region. The major's flight gear is stripped of all Kommersant national insignia, though tribal flight patches and decorations (including campaign cuff titles) are retained. A silk identification panel bearing the Conglomerate flag and Sinic text is stitched onto the back of her flight jacket, in the event of a forced bailout or landing in Red-occupied Conglomerate territory. The major is armed with an unlicensed Conglomerate-made copy of the Serrograd cap-and-ball revolver in her hip holster, a last-resort weapon of limited battlefield utility except as a means of saving the proverbial last bullet for oneself in the event of imminent capture.

The major's Rapier fighter-bomber is prepped for takeoff, awaiting the return of the previous patrol flight. Although rightly considered inferior in flight performance to the modern Rapier II fielded by the premiere squadrons of the Kommersant's 1st Colonial Aero Corps, the original Rapier model is still the only mount available to the majority of Tiger Squadron pilots. Slower and less heavily armed and armored than its newer iteration, the original Rapier is showing its age. Indeed, no Tiger Squadron pilot would look forward to pitting the old Rapier against the latest in Texacoran point-defense batteries or massed Red incendiary barrages. Against the typical anti-air assets encountered in combat by Tiger Squadron flights tangling with Djong-Kok pirate clans, security levies, and corporate militia, however, the original Rapier air frame remains a potent weapons platform and adversary. The six gun suite of .50 caliber M3 Windstorm revolver-cannons is a formidable armaments package against lightly constructed pirate sailskimmer hulls, and a wide selection of standard bombs and rockets adds further flexibility to the Rapier's offensive combat capabilities. Frequently converted into a floatplane configuration with the installation of pontoon field kits, the older Rapier is capable of operating from just about any Conglomerate frontier outpost, regardless of the availability of serviceable landing facilities. A unique feature of the older Rapier, the floatplane configuration does impede flight performance characteristics and maximum payload as compared to an aircraft with a "clean" profile, but it remains an almost mandatory requirement for Tiger Squadron pilots assigned to frontier duty owing to the limited availability of Conglomerate flattop aircraft tenders outside of the larger battle fleets. Even with the pontoon float attachments, however, the Rapier still maintains its exceptional maneuverability and fast climb rate at lower air speeds compared to the newer Rapier II, which is of some reassurance to pilots skeptical of the combat viability of the floatplane configuration.
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Freethinker5's avatar

Nice little re-invention of the historical Flying Tigers. Bit of obscure American history not many know about.

ColorCopyCenter's avatar

thanks, glad you spot the source of inspiration

Freethinker5's avatar

As a patriot and history buff, such is always appreciated.

Gustavhistory's avatar
LavaBatA1's avatar
This is in a Sci-Fi setting?
ColorCopyCenter's avatar
yes you can see the other scenes in the setting in this folder:…
She looks quite relaxed, doesn't she?
ColorCopyCenter's avatar
better to catch some rest while there is no action
I know that's right!
I admit, the tech level of the planet seems to be higher and more schizo than the late 19th-century level you mentioned before.
ColorCopyCenter's avatar
there are certainly pockets of higher technology that have been preserved or reinvented, but it is generally not available on a wide scale
WelderFace's avatar
Damn, this is cool as hell. All of it, the art -which is lovely and expansive, so much good stuff to look at- and the write up, which is great reading, too.

Also, that plane's a beast. I'll take ten.
ColorCopyCenter's avatar
thanks, glad you like it
could we see the "older" version too ?
ColorCopyCenter's avatar
sorry, I was not satisfied with the original image. I consider this one a straight upgrade over it, though. Pretty much all the elements are improved while still retaining the original composition and theme.
surely your skills have improved a lot ; anyway, some of your older work retain, how could i say, some freshness and still have their say. i think that your progress is perfectly depicted in bt's arc.
amazonlover08's avatar
Yeah a girl's gotta relax after a hard day of sorties, right?!
ColorCopyCenter's avatar
huberthowhow's avatar
Is this Big Tits before her fall from grace?
ColorCopyCenter's avatar
that's the general idea
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