With their thick hulls, large transport capacities and formidable arsenals, Arkanaut Ironclads are the pride of their fleet, often chosen to serve as capital ships. Many are the tales told by the Kharadron of Ironclads single-handedly wreaking ruin upon entire armies.
The jewel in the crown of the fleet, the Arkanaut Ironclad is a majestic airship. Bristling with weaponry, its deep cargo holds can be laden with aether-gold orit can be loaded to the gunwales with Arkanaut Companies or Grundstok Thunderers. Although each sky-port maintains larger fighting craft, some of immense proportions, they are costly to maintain. To date, the Ironclad is the largest vessel routinely seen in the airfleets. Such size restrictions are not by choice, but because of necessity. It was long believed by shipwrights that the Arkanaut Frigate was as large a craft as could be held aloft with a single buoyancy endrin, and multiple endrins make fuel consumption prohibitive. However, duardin ingenuity should never be underestimated – a more powerful endrin and highly refined aether-fuel allowed for an incremental gain in the tonnage that could be lifted.[1a]
Expensive to build and maintain, the loss of an Arkanaut Ironclad is a greatblow to the sky-port from which it issued. To better protect the investment it represents, an Arkanaut Ironclad bears thick armour in the form of multiple layers of riveted iron plates. The duardin know, however, that acraft’s best defence is its offensive capability. When an Ironclad sails to battle, a battery of bow-mounted gas carbines rains death upon the foe. With a whoosh followed by the blast of firing jet-endrins, aethershock torpedoes are launched, their streaking contrails terminating in massive explosions. Racks of grudgesettler bombs are released, blasting gaping holes in ground targets. The largest of the Ironclad’s ordnance is housed above the forecastle – either a great sky cannon or great skyhook for eliminating the largest of targets, or an aethermatic volley cannon for raking numerous foes with a lethal hail of aether-shot.[1a]
The crew of the Ironclad include a captain standing at the ship’s wheel; an endrinrigger with various tools, gunners to man the weapon stations and a signaller and Aetheric Navigator, which take turns on the crow's nest. The signaller can transmit orders to the rest of the skyfleet by raising various kinds of flags.[b]
An Arkanaut Ironclad's arsenal includes aethershot carbines, grudgesettler bombs, fragmentation charges, detonation drills, aethershock torpedoes and a supremacy mine. Its main gun is either a great sky cannon, great skyhook or an aethermatic volley cannon. The crew use belaying valves as improvised weapons.[1b]
Normally, an Arkanaut Ironclad can carry 20 warriors, allowing them to move swiftly across the battlefield and in relative safety. However, it can actually carry up to 25 warriors, at the cost of a portion of its normal speed.[1b]