Thursday, 22 August 2019

French Frigates

Tumbling Dice ASN 10 and ASN 11

32 gun Fifth Rate

40 gun Fifth Rate

I've almost finished assembling the French 80 gun second rates so will be tackling the frigates next, which I'm hoping I'll be able to finish over the coming weekend. I will be assembling and basing up three 40 gun fifth rates (ASN 10) and a couple of 32 gun fifth rates (ASN 11), which shouldn't take too long but will be a bit fiddly compared to the larger ships of the line. There are plenty of frigate classes to choose from but a very large number were captured by the Royal Navy, so it will be a bit more difficult to pick specific ships that can be used for a longer timeframe between the late 1790s and 1805. I'll base both sets of models on 50mm x 30mm laser cut mdf bases, which are 5mm shorter than the ones I've used for the ships of the line but look better with the smaller metal sea bases that are supplied with the models. These will be blended into the 30mm wide mdf bases with filler, when I get back home, both to make them look more realistic and to make them more resilient.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Nelson and the Nile

It's nearly the end of the holiday trip so I'm squeezing in as much quality reading time as possible. I've just started this book on the Battle of the Nile but it's not just about that and is actually a really good introduction to the strategic situation in 1798, as well as the pivotal role played by the Royal Navy at this stage of the conflict.

It's also well written, easy to absorb and full of useful wargaming details, with some fascinating first hand accounts from both the French and British sides. As I have been thinking of pinning my 1/2400th scale Napoleonic naval project to the same year, it is clearly a very relevant source of inspiration, if only to identify some of the ships involved. Excellent!

Monday, 19 August 2019

Magasin de Presse

My usual haul of French military, aviation and wargaming magazines is a bit thin this time, as I have only picked up the latest edition of Vae Victis, albeit the full version with the hex and counter game included. This one has a fast play set of rules and a very nice set of counters for the French Revolutionary war era Battle of Hondschoote in 1793 (no, I hadn't heard of it either but it looks like a pretty decent game nonetheless). The rule book is in French but you can download a translated version in full colour from the website, which is excellent customer service and makes it worth the cover price. I wish they'd do more modern, naval and air warfare games though!

French 118 gun First Rate

It was the usual family Sunday lunch yesterday, so there was little time for wargaming, especially as the weather was lovely for a change. I did complete the assembly of a single 120 gun first rate (ASN2), which will be a 118 gun French flagship for my squadron. As you can see, I added a spritsail from one of the spars that you can get from Tumbling Dice, rather than use the smaller one that came with the model, and also applied a little bit of filler around the hull to blend it in. 

Like most of the French ships of the line, these 118 gun three deck first rates were renamed numerous times, several were captured and one famously blew up, so it's tricky to choose a specific name for this one, but it will probably represent the Océan. To make things easier, I will probably move my time frame either up to 1805 or, more likely, back to 1794, so that I can make it easier to assign specific names for each ship without limiting their use. Who thought it would be this convoluted?

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Galleys and Galleons in 1/2400

As previously mentioned, I've been thinking about reviving my Galleys and Galleons project from a few years ago, as part of my naval wargaming focus this year. I did some playtesting when the rules were being developed and although they have a few quirks they do give a very enjoyable and fast game. The scenarios I ran at the local club certainly went down well and I enjoyed the solo games that I played to learn the rules too.

I used the Peter Pig 1/450th Pieces of Eight ships for my games and plan to do the same again, only this time having painted and rigged them first. I have plenty of these assembled but didn't get round to painting them, despite making a tentative start. Now I have more experience with the much smaller Tumbling Dice models, I'm pretty sure I could do them justice. However I've also been considering the option of scaling down to 1/2400th scale for a 'portable' version of the game.

This would involve the Tumbling Dice Anglo Dutch Wars range of ships, with some extra bits sourced from the Napoleonic range. The idea would be to use the smaller models such as the privateer sloops and brigs (ASN 21 and 22) alongside the fifth rate frigate (ASD24) from the Anglo Dutch War as privateers. The merchant ships and smaller craft like cromsters (ASD 28, 30, 33 and 34) would be used as targets, with the larger warships as Dutch or English anti-privateer forces (ASD 22, 23, 24 and 25).

The idea would be to paint up about half a dozen models for each 'faction' then use them for scenario bases games on a 3' x 3' sea scape, with potential for some terrain modelling of islands, shoals, a harbour and defences, based very closely on the Isles of Scilly. The whole shebang could then be packed in a Really Useful storage box for ease of transport and storage. The models themselves are tiny and therefore very inexpensive, with a basic privateer fleet of six ships (ASD 25, AND 21 and 22) costing only £7.20 plus postage. The merchants and warships are equally affordable.

I think this would be really fun little project for later in the year. I've even been thinking of writing my own set of fast play rules, perhaps using hex based movement and gunnery, with everything simplified down to a couple of sides of A4. In the meantime, Galleys and Galleons will be ideal, as the flexible range system makes it easy to scale it down to 1/2400th, using centimetres for measuring and the smallest size of range sticks to keep everything nice and compact.

It will have to wait until the Napoleonic and ironclad projects are finished but I'm looking forward to some piratical privateering in some shape or form before the end of the year!

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Form Line of Battle - Vive la France!

We've had relatives staying for the last couple of days, so I've only now been able to catch up with assembly of the Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale Napoleonic ships. Here is the progress thus far, with six 74 gun third rates (ASN5) and a single 100 gun 1st rate (ASN3), although the latter will represent a single 110 gun three decker, probably the Terrible or the Républicain.

I've decided that I'll use this lot as the basis of my French fleet c1798, so the next instalment will be four or five 80 gun 2nd rates (ASN4) and a 120 (118) gun first rate (ASN2), before I move onto the frigates and unrated vessels. It's coming along nicely and I'm hoping to get the whole thing done by the end of next week, although I will have to add some filler to the bases and undercoat them when I get back home.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

The Isles of Scilly 1651

I've been inspired by the excellent 1/2400th scale naval game reports and models on the League of Augsburg Blog to have a closer look at 17th century naval gaming, specifically the Royalist privateering exploits of Sir John Grenville in the late 1640's and early 1650's. The reason for this, aside from the aforementioned blog, is that I spent most of my holidays in the 1970's on the Isles of Scilly, where my uncle was the resident police sergeant.

This meant that we could swap houses for the holidays and so got to know the islands really well over several years of long Summer and Easter breaks, including the defences of Star Castle and the Garrison not to mention Cromwell's Castle. So, with this in mind, I thought I'd have a closer look at the potential for some naval wargaming in the period of the English Civil Wars. Fortunately, I had this book on the Kindle already and I've just finished reading it over the last couple of days.

It's a really good read and has a chapter almost entirely focussed on the Parliamentarian assault on the islands in 1651, which didn't involve any naval engagements but could easily have done so, both with the Dutch and the Parliamentarians against the Royalists privateers and garrison. There's also some scope for scenarios set earlier in the period, when the Royalists used the islands as a base for privateering against merchant shipping in the Western Approaches.

It's all fascinating stuff but something for another time, as I have more than enough to do as it is!

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Tumbling Dice '74' Test Build

HMS Superglue cleared for action

The various bits

Before filing and sanding

Ready for the Superglue

Attaching the sails

Lining it all up

Jib Sails and Sprit Sails added

A Stern View (very old joke that one)

I grabbed half an hour or so this afternoon to test build one of the Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale 74 gun 3rd Rates, prior to starting an assembly line for the eight others that I'm planning to glue together. The various pieces were cleaned up with a craft knife, files and a sanding stick, ready to be glued together from the stern forwards once the hull had been attached to the base. 

The sails went on without too much trouble, although I changed my usual approach and applied the glue to the masts rather than the sails themselves, bending the sails first so that they had a good contact with the masts. The jib sails also had a bit of a trim so that they glued well to the bowsprit at an appropriate angle. This was easily done by truncating the lower points of all three jib sails.

The final bit was adding the fiddly sprit sail to the bowsprit, which I thought about leaving off after looking at the photos on the TD website, but decided to add anyway as it looked weird without one. All in all, it took about twenty minutes to build this one model but I can speed that up with a bit of mass production and better super glue technique. Now I only have eight more to go!

Monday, 12 August 2019

The Sky's The Limit

Today, I was reading Matt H's excellent battle report for INWARD 2019 on his Shell Splash blog, based on the Battle of Pacocha in 1877, which features some lovely Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale ships, not to mention some very professional ship record cards for Dahlgren and Colombiad. However, the thing that caught my eye was his very effective coastal terrain and, in particular, the clever use of a sky background to add some atmosphere and perspective:

I hadn't thought of this before but it reminded me of the model railway sky backscene paper strips that you see being used on layouts for the same purpose. A quick Google and I discovered that you can now get photorealistic sky sheets in 5' long by 15'' tall sections, supplied in packs of two, one of which would provide all the sky you could need in 1/2400th scale. They also come in different themes of overcast, clear sky and with clouds, so you can even represent the weather conditions. I may well give them a try?

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Tumbling Dice Third Rates

I've been on holiday a week now but have yet to start on the 1/2400th scale Napoleonic naval assembly project, so it's about time I got on with it. I'm going to get cracking over the next few days with the core of the project, the 74's and 80's that will form the backbone of the French and British line of battle. I'm hoping to be able to run a bit of an assembly line to get as many of them built and based as I can, assuming I can work out which bits go where?


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