The Ätherbattalion regiments (AR.1 and AR.2) were raised in 1870 to provide colonial troops for the German Empire on other planets. Troops were transferred from Seebattalion and jager units, and the ranks filled with new conscripts. Training included Ätherschiffe boarding, zepellin assault, and the use of advanced weapons designed by the KFG. Both regiments were sent to African colonies to acclimatize them prior to being sent off-planet.
AR.1 was despatched to Neu Berlin in the Venusstadt Kolonie in 1872 after six months in German East Africa. AR.2 spent eight months in the Arabian desert as guests of the Ottoman Turks in preparation for their embarkation to Mars. Both regiments were carried to their respective off-planet destinations aboard the immense KAS Thor, an aetherbattleship.
AR.1 has been involved in numerous small actions in protection of the Venusstadt Kolonie. Their primary function is the protection of the Governor's Palace and the aetherport just west of Neu Berlin. Most of these actions have been against the native lizardfolk of Venus, who seem very hostile to human colonization. There have been a few incidents involving conflict against the parrotmen natives as well, though generally the German relations with these strange creatures have been amicable. Finally, some rumors of attacks against Neu Berlin by strange, plantlike creatures have been made, but are dismissed by British Intelligence as koo-fruit brandy-fueled hallucinations.
Officially, AR.2 has not seen combat action. In truth, it is believed that the regiment participated in the recent rioting in Galfor. Indeed, the uniform of the regiment is supposed to have been the cause of those riots! It is known that AR.2 is training Galforrian troops in modern military techniques, and Her Majesty's Government is afraid that German influence in the Empire may lead to additional troubles from that quarter.
Corporal Bauer demonstrates the powerful Granatwerfer, designed by the KFG
Feldwebel Hans Glick waving his squad of Soldaten forward in the Venusian jungles
The uniform for regular soldaten (privates) and corporals (Gefreiter) of both AR.1 and AR.2 is generally identical. It consists of a white high-collared cotton jacket over a white cotton shirt, with black collar, cuffs, epaulettes and piping. Trousers are feldgrau with a black seam along the outside leg. Boots and leather carrying equipment are brown. Peaked hats, with white crowns, black edges and brown leather brim are worn, and a brass regimental device is attached to the front. Regimental distinction is displayed on the epaulettes: red trim for AR.1, and white for AR.2.
The uniform distinctions for sergeants in the Ätherbattalions includes silver trim on collar, cuff, trouser seam and epaulettes. Additionally, all buttons, buckles and cap badges are silver in place of the regular soldier's brass.
Officers wear uniforms similar to the regular troops, with various distincitons based on rank. All officers have gold trim on epaulettes, collars, cuffs and trouser seams. Buttons, buckles and cap badges are gold rather than silver or brass as for lower ranks. Field grade officers have additional braid on their cuffs and jackets. Officers also wear aguilettes on the left shoulder. The aguilette color code is as follows:
Both cords red - Leutnant
One red, one red and black - Oberleutnant
Both red and black - Hauptmann
One red and black, one silver - Major
One red and black, one gold - Colonel
The troops of Ätherbattalion regiments are generally armed with the Mauser bolt-action rifle Model 1880 and a bayonet. Officers are armed instead with a saber and revolver, as is common practice amongst European armies.
Each regiment has one company of troops supplied with advanced weapons by the KFG (Imperial Secret Weapons Institute). Privates and NCOs are typically armed with an Elektrogewehr, which spits bolts of intense coherent galvanic energy. Some may be armed instead with a variety of heavier weapons such as Granatwerfer, Flammewerfer, Heibestrahlgewehr or Raketenwerfer. Officers are armed with Voltaischepistollen and Kraftschwert (powered swords). Some (usually senior)officers opt for traditional weapons like pistols and cavalry sabers.