Saturday, 27 August 2016

Ile de Batz

A few photos from our camping week which included a day trip to the Ile de Batz, just off shore from Roscoff. The first few are a small bunker complex on the SE corner of the island, over looking the approaches to the old port of Roscoff. The water was a fantastic shade of aquamarine as you can see. The second lot are of a small two gun redoubt on the adjacent point, which was originally constructed in the 1600's to control the anchorage and harbour approaches. They had a bit of a pirate problem at the time, so the battery was a useful deterrent and was subsequently used throughout the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. A nice day out!

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Torpilleur 275

I spotted this fantastic model of a French torpedo boat in the local maritime museum across the river a couple of days ago. It's about 1/40th scale or thereabouts and entirely scratch built. There's a very interesting set of explanatory notes alongside the display which details its service as a patrol, anti-submarine and life boat during the First World War. I wouldn't fancy going to sea in one of these, especially in bad weather, as it must have been like riding a torpedo armed metal surfboard.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Iron Stars

Colin of the Down Amongst the Lead Men blog has invited me to have a go with Iron Stars, the VSF space warfare game published by Majestic 12. When this set of rules and miniatures from Brigade Models was first released, a fellow club player tried to get me to take the plunge but my will power was too strong. 

Now, I quite like the idea of a small flotilla of British spaceships, especially as a new version of Iron Stars is soon to be published, which means that there may well be some new ships on the horizon from Brigade Models. Colin already has Russians and Austrians, so the British Empire seems like an obvious choice.

At the moment it looks as though the Iron Stars range has been sidelined, with the British battleship out of production leaving only the light cruisers and destroyers. I think I will be able to get away with these as a small flotilla, however, without the need for anything heavier? There's a nice little flotilla set to start me off too.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Chateau Taureau

We visited this fantastic coastal fort in the estuary approaches to Morlaix on our camping trip last week. I've always wanted to see this particular fort, so jumped at the chance to take the boat from Roscoff for a tour there and back again. The fort itself was designed by Vauban but constructed after his death, with a few cost cutting changes to the plans which made it less than effective. The lower case mates for the cannon filled with gun smoke, for example, which meant that the gunners couldn't see anything for at least half an hour after firing.

The fort was upgraded several times over the following three hundred years including the installation of Gribeauval mounted cannon on the upper level in the revolutionary period, followed by quick firing Hotchkiss anti-torpedo boat guns in the 1890's and even 20mm anti-aircraft flak cannons by the Germans in WW2. All of these developments were clearly explained in the various display boards  and the visitors guide, which isn't always the case in my experience of visiting sites like this in France. It was very similar to the English Heritage approach, which made it a very informative visit.

It's well worth a trip if you are in the area.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The Great War at Sea

A 99p purchase for the Kindle a while ago that I saved for reading over the holidays. The author has written a  well paced chronological account of the course of the First World War at Sea, which I'm hoping will follow the narrative approach taken in his study of the Russo Japanese War, The Fleet That Had To Die. This is an interesting subject which should make for an engaging read, while I continue to ponder my pre-dreadnought, Victorian naval options.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Rise of the Battleships

I've been off camping for a few days so have been off the radar with no access to the internet. As a result I missed the chance to download these new pre-dreadnought rules for free. However, they are now only two quid at Wargame Vault, so it's not a big deal.

They are designed for fast play with a handful of ships per side, so look very suitable for the sort of thing I'm thinking about. They also cover a broad time frame from the 1860's through to around 1900, so spot on for my 1/2400 Tumbling Dice 'what if?' British and French ironclad fleets.

The author, Rory Crabb, has also published a set of modern naval rules that look like they might be more user friendly than some other rules for the period. There are some good after action reports on his website which are well worth a look if this is your cup of tea:

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Sail and Steam Navies

This set of rules has had some excellent reviews and is available as a bundle with several sets of colour 'print and play' ship counters on Wargame Vault. It's not cheap but does give you everything you could possibly want for ACW naval and riverine games in one package. I decided to get the bundle as a result, although it wipes out any other major acquisitions this month.

The ship counters are really well done but I think the ship record sheets are even more impressive, as they are full colour and very well designed. This is a good excuse to get some ACW naval warfare underway in the near future, which is something I've meant to do for years. I have a box of Peter Pig and Thoroughbred 1/600 scale ship kits somewhere too, so this is a good opportunity to make use of them!

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Magasin de Presse


As usual I've collected a few interesting magazines while on holiday, with the latest Special Edition of Aerojournal and Los! on top of the list. These are both packed full of colour profiles, plans and photos, so excellent reference material for painting and scenarios, even if you have to do a bit of translation.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Grand Fleets: Tsar and Emperor

I've added this Russo Japanese War naval rules supplement to my existing collection of rules, as I really liked the look of them from the preview and thought they'd fit in well with my tentative plans for pre-dreadnought era games.

I particularly liked the fact that they come with a set of pre-prepared ship data cards to use with plastic card holders and wipe off pens, which will save a lot of hassle. I had to do this myself for Victory at Sea, which was a bit of a pain.

The main Grand Fleets rules are also designed for both WW1 and WW2, so there's plenty of scope to use them with my 1/3000 scale French fleet too, for example. They are also on special offer at Wargame Vault, so well worth it even if only for scenario material.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

The Fleet That Had To Die

This is the latest book on the holiday reading list and it really is very good indeed. The author has a narrative style that really brings the extraordinary voyage of the Russian Second Pacific Squadron to life but without sacrificing historical detail or depth. It's a fascinating if tragic story that I was familiar with already but that I now have a much more developed understanding of, especially the various stages of the voyage and the difficulties faced by Admiral Rozhestvensky, many of which were caused by his own government.

Of course, this is inevitably tugging me towards an RJW naval or, as an alternative, a pre-dreadnought imaginations 'what if?' project of some sort. I have a stockpile of potential rules that I've accumulated but would need to decide which of the several miniatures ranges and scales would be the best fit? In the meantime, I've been rifling through my pre-dreadnought rules collection and scouring the catalogues of Tumbling Dice, War Times Journal and Navwar, to name but a few of the manufacturers with potential miniatures in a variety of scales.

I also found this, which has really grabbed my attention!