Wednesday 30 April 2014

Victory at Sea French Fleet [7]

The Shapeways aircraft arrived today and they are very, very, very small as you'd expect for 1/3000 scale. They are, however, surprisingly detailed and distinctly different so that it is possible to identify individual types of aircraft to a lesser or greater degree.
I need to get a magnifying glass to clearly distinguish the difference between some of the fighters and biplanes but the wing profile and relative size are a bit of a give away. I'm also not sure how to paint let alone base them but I'm sure I'll think of something.
They are perfect as decoration for my aircraft carriers, so I'll start by painting up a few individual planes to stick onto the flight decks. In other news, my order of 30x70mm mdf bases is on it's way from the ever reliable ERM, so I should be able to start basing up my light cruisers at the weekend.

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Victory at Sea French Fleet [6]

I had a bad head today but have managed to get the submarines finished for the Victory at Sea project. I'm not sure if we're allowed to use subs in the campaign or if they're actually any good but you can't ignore the Surcouf, even if it's a bit of a floating chocolate teapot. I'll crack on with the destroyers tomorrow.

Monday 28 April 2014

Victory at Sea French Fleet [5]

Here's the next instalment of the Victory at Sea French fleet which includes most of the destroyer flotilla, alongside the Jean Bart, Joffre and Surcouf, which will be a bit useless but had be included as it's very cool.  I've also included four Diane class submarines and the Jules Verne submarine tender, although I doubt they'll be much use. I'm planning to get this lot painted and based by the end of the week.

Sunday 27 April 2014

Victory at Sea French Fleet [4]

I wrapped up the first element of the French fleet today although I need to go back and add some touches of white to finish off the bases. I'm hoping to get the destroyers painted and based by mid week, leaving the light cruisers and submarines for the moment. The light cruisers need larger bases than I thought, as the French seemed to have been keen on over sized designs, so I'll have to sort out some 30mm x 70mm bases to accommodate the extra length of the models.

Saturday 26 April 2014

Victory at Sea French Fleet [3]

I've made some good progress on the heavy units for the Victory at Sea French fleet today. The basic painting has been finished and it's now down to some detailing, a bit of a tidy up and the basing. The mdf bases arrived from the ever reliable ERM today, so I can crack on with that tomorrow and may even have them finished by the end of the day. If I do, I'll get started on the light cruisers and the destroyers as soon as I can.

On the Seven Seas

I'm looking forward to this upcoming set of pirate skirmish rules by Chris Peers, which is now available for pre-order from Amazon. It looks like it covers both land actions and ship to ship battles, with around fifteen to thirty figures a side. I have enough figures for a small pirate crew and a scratch built sloop, so have a head start already. This means I can avoid the usual obstacle of painting figures that I don't get round to finishing due to a lack of time and other distractions!

Friday 25 April 2014

The Laptop is Dead. Long live the Laptop!


You may have noticed a slow down in posts over the last couple of months and a lack of decent pictures on the blog. This was due to the death of my laptop as it gradually succumbed to an over-stuffed hard drive and out of date drivers. However, the techies at work were kind enough to wipe it over the holidays and have restored it to it's original super clean and greased polecat speed, for the price of a few beers. As a result, I'm now able to do some decent posting with proper photos and regular updates. Woo hoo!

Thursday 24 April 2014

The Legend of Dead Man's Hand

It's been a long time since I dusted off my Legends of the Old West collection but I have enjoyed a couple of multiplayer club games of Dead Man's Hand since then, although these were quite a while ago. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the tactical card based turn sequence and the flavour of the game, so have decided to splash out on the new campaign supplement to extend the rules.
The real thing that really caught my eye was the inclusion of a Mexican Bandito gang in the line up, which is perfect for my existing but little used posse of sombrero clad miscreants. I'm hoping that the figures that I have already painted will cover all of the options but, if not, I have some extra figures that I can add to the posse to make up the numbers.

Victory at Sea French Fleet [2]

Here's the initial phase of the French fleet ready for painting, consisting of the battleships, heavy cruisers and the aircraft carrier. I have the Dunkerque as well but the Navwar model has a rather strange B turret, which has the 16'' guns pointing into the back of A turret (!), so I'm going to leave it out for the moment.
The heavy cruisers are all excellent models, although the fourth Suffren class ship had a miscast so has been ditched, but the battleships required quite a lot of sanding and filing to remove the casting lines. They are, however, much cheaper than the equivalent Davco ships, so I'm not bothered as now they're cleaned up and undercoated they look fine.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

What if?

I've sorted out the various elements of the French fleet ready for painting and have decided to fill in some gaps with 'what if' warships that were either proposed or still under construction in 1940. This is in line with the campaign rules which allow us to play around with counterfactual parameters in order to create fleets that are reasonably matched.
The first addition is the Jean Bart, incomplete sister ship to the Richelieu, which was virtually finished in 1940 and did actually see some action, if only as a floating battery in Dakar. In my fleet, it will be operating with the Free French having been completed in time for the war, with all of it's main armament operational.
The second addition is the proposed fleet carrier the Joffre, which was afloat in 1940 if only as an incomplete hull. This will add significant air cover and strike capacity to the fleet which, otherwise will have to rely on the obsolete and slow Bearn. It's a lot less likely to actually have seen action but will be helpful when I'm up trying to fend off air attacks and launch strikes against enemy shipping.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

The French Fleet Arrives

It's back to work today where I located the package from Navwar containing my nascent French WW2 fleet for Victory at Sea. I'm now waiting for some mdf bases to arrive from ERM so that I can crack on with basing them up. I'm not sure if I'll paint the ships then bases them or vice versa but, for the moment at least, I'm sorting out which ships to do first. I have some 30mm x 80mm mdf bases for the heavy cruisers so can start on them straight away but the rest will have to wait a couple of days. I'm not going to hang about and hope to get a decent sized fleet completed by the end of the month.

Friday 18 April 2014

1/3000 French Aircraft from Shapeways

As I would like to have model planes rather than counters for my French Aeronavale carrier wing, I've been searching for some suitable 1/3000 or 1/2400 scale models with little success. I finally decided to compromise and use the generic Davco models, as they're tiny anyway so wouldn't look out of place, even when inspected at close range.

However, a tip off from a fellow gamer at the club has led me in the direction of Shapeways, which has a lot of 1/3000 scale stuff if you're prepared to do a bit of sifting. The end result of my search is a very comprehensive set of French, British and US aircraft covering pretty much everything I could possibly need for both my Royal Navy and French fleets:

I've only used Shapeways once before and with limited success, as the models I ordered failed to print correctly. This time I'm hoping for a better result, especially as I've forked out just over £20, some of which I can probably recoup by selling on the spare USN planes to the relevant players in the VaS campaign.

With plenty of aircraft to deploy, I might now invest in a projected Joffre class carrier to augment my rather feeble carrier component, which consists of the less than up to date Bearn. The campaign umpire is happy for us to use anything that may have been afloat before 1945, so a modern-ish aircraft carrier wouldn't be too far to stretch, although only 25% complete in 1940!

Bank Holiday Books

I really enjoyed reading the Battle of Matapan so polished off Warspite by Iain Ballantyne on the ferry journey back to Plymouth yesterday. Neither book was particularly heavy weight but that's a good thing sometimes, especially when you're looking for some period flavour rather than masses of technical or historical detail. I'm itching to get cracking on the Navwar models when I get home, so at least the reading fills a gap for the moment.

I'm now reading the Rising Sun, Falling Skies, which is also a lightweight but we'll written account of the Java Sea Campaign, so of direct relevance to the Victory at Sea project. A trawl of the Osprey catalogue has also turned some titles of interest, especially the New Vanguard series on British battleships and cruisers, which include some very handy colour profiles for painting reference purposes. It's a shame there's nothing as yet on French warships but that would be a long shot even for Osprey I suspect?

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Going home

We're heading home via a brief stop off in Cornwall, so I'll be off the radar for a couple of days. Normal service will be resumed on Saturday.

Monday 14 April 2014

Aerojournal 40

This is always worth getting hold of if you're on holiday in France. This issue has a really thorough article on the Iraq Insurrection in 1941, including colour profiles for the RIAF, RAF and Luftwaffe Fliegerfuhrer Irak. On paper, it doesn't look like there's much potential for a Bag the Hun game but there were at least three decent air engagements, with RAF Gladiators facing off against BF110' s and CR42' s.

It would make a really interesting 'what if' mini-campaign as well, allowing the air force's of Iraq, Vichy France, Britain, Italy and Germany to take on each other for control of the skies over Iraq. The obvious scale for this is 1/600, as most if not all of the aircraft involved can be found in the Tumbling Dice range. There's a good basis for a campaign system in the TFL East Africa supplement for IABSM as well. Worth a thought?

Sunday 13 April 2014

Victory at Sea British Fleet

I finally decided on the simplest option for my second fleet and have ordered a bargain pack from Skytrex for a Royal Navy force based in the Eastern Mediterranean. I've added a handful of additional ships including both Rodney and Nelson, the Renown and a couple of extra heavy cruisers, so it should be a well rounded fleet. It will be ideal as opposition for my Vichy French if they make a sortie or for the club's Italians, Japanese or Germans. It's the French fleet first though as soon as I get back from holiday.

Friday 11 April 2014

Ragnarok 60

The latest edition of the splendid SSFFW journal, Ragnarok, has just been published and, as I mentioned awhile back, I have an article in it too. It's a write up of the campaign system that I used for the club Scramble for Africa campaign which we played a few years ago, so you may find it of interest if Aeronef is your thing. The rest of the contents look really good, so I'm looking forward to reading my copy when I get back home. Nice job on the cover as well!

Victory at Sea Soviet Black Sea Fleet?

It's great being on holiday but it's also frustrating, as I really want to be starting on my French fleet for the Victory at Sea Campaign which, I expect, is now sitting in a parcel on my doormat at home. In the meantime, I'm keeping busy reading the rules and devising additional forces that I can use as opposition for my principal 1/3000 scale French fleet.

One of these is the Soviet Black Sea Fleet, which is quite powerful and has some really interesting elements. There's only one battleship but three heavy and two light cruisers to make up for it, with numerous modern and not so up to date destroyers, some of which are quite effective especially the larger destroyer leaders. There are plenty of subs and lots of fast torpedo boats as well.

With one or two minor gaps, everything is available in the Navwar range and you can also get a pack of Soviet aircraft in 1/2400 scale from GHQ, which would provide some much needed land based air cover. I'm not sure what the Soviets would be doing fighting the French Mediterranean fleet but it would be an interesting 'what if', with the Russians sending a task force through into the Eastern Med for some reason or other.

I'll probably just stick with the French but it's interesting to work out some alternatives, even if they're all a bit theoretical!

Thursday 10 April 2014

VaS and the NWS

I've been thinking of a second, much smaller fleet or task force for Victory at Sea, so that I can set up some games for the boys at home and also run some pre-campaign practice games for my own experience. This would be a relatively small selection of ships, perhaps a dozen or so, with an emphasis on lighter units rather than capital ships. I've been narrowing down the options from early war British to Black Sea Fleet Soviet, but it's up for grabs.

One possibility at the moment is a Dutch led taskforce for the Netherlands East Indies, which would also include some British, US and Australian ships. This could be used against the Vichy French and obviously against the Japanese. Although there are no lists for the Dutch in the rules or supplement, there is a list to download from the Naval Wargames Society website, so there's no obstacle to putting together a small cruiser based task force.

I joined the NWS a couple of years ago and have enjoyed the regular issues of All Guns Blazing, which usually has something of interest to read and is well worth the annual membership. This year I'm hoping to get to the NWS show in Gosport in June and will try to persuade the chaps at the club to run a game on one of the days, if the current enthusiasm for naval gaming hasn' t fizzled out my then?

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Spring Cleaning

It's time for the annual spring cleaning of the project backlog, ready for the summer when I usually get at least one big project completed, although it often drags over into the autumn. I have far too many unfinished 28mm skirmish level projects on the go so, in an effort to concentrate on one key effort, I've decided to stuff them back into storage to concentrate on Chain of Command. They will return but only after I've completed the Japanese platoon that I've promised to field.

As I've committed to assembling the Japanese platoon for a club opponent, this will have to be the only 28mm project on the workbench for the next three months or so. I will also be completing my 1/3000 scale fleet for the Victory at Sea Campaign as my immediate project once I get back from my holidays. I doubt I'll have time for much else before the summer holidays but, if I can squeeze something in, it'll probably be my 1/600 coastal warfare project, as I find painting 'things' a lot easier than figures.

One possible new project in 15mm is an ancient army for Impetus but I think this will have to be my summer holiday basing project, as I doubt I'll be able to tackle it before then. The current favourite is a hoplite era army for the Pelloponesian Wars using the excellent Xyston range of figures. I'm not decided on a city state yet but the Spartans are an obvious choice, followed by the Athenians or one of the smaller Allied city states such as Corinth or Argos, all of which feature in the Extra Impetus IV supplement.

Tuesday 8 April 2014

A Few Acres of Snow

A trip to Quimper this afternoon and the local games shop. This jumped off the shelf at me, thanks to both the subject matter and the Peter Dennis artwork, so I now have yet another diversion to contend with. I read a review of the first edition a while back and it sounded like a really well thought out game, so I'll be looking for an opponent to test it out when I get back in a few days time.


I was reading the latest edition of Vae Victis this morning with my coffee when I found a review of this new board game based on the Cry Havoc system. It looks really good, with counters and maps very much in the Cry Havoc style. There's an extension on the way based on the Norman Conquest, so it looks like this old classic has been given a new lease of life. It's a bit pricey at 64 Euros, so I won't be rushing off for a copy any time soon but it's very tempting nonetheless:

Monday 7 April 2014

Vive la France?

Spot the Radar?

I've spent some time today thinking through the strengths and weaknesses of the French fleet in the Victory at Sea club campaign. On paper, the French look like a pretty strong option, which reflects the size of the Marine Nationale Francais as the fourth largest naval force in the world. However, there are some loopholes that have me angling for any advantage that I can squeeze out of the options in the rules.

On the plus side, I have at least one and possibly two very modern battleships with excellent firepower, speed and range. The only issue is a lack of radar but the Richelieu was fitted with a French radar system in 1941, so I can make a case for inclusion of radar capability which has some historical support. The Dunkerque and Strasbourg are also very handy, even without the advantage of radar.

I also have some excellent heavy and light cruisers, especially the Suffren and La Galissonierre class ships, together with some fast, well armed destroyers. There are some issues with both armour protection and anti-aircraft capability but this doesn't detract from the overall strength of the designs. I also have some half decent submarines, which could be very handy in convoy warfare scenarios.

On the minus side, the modernised dreadnoughts are both slow and clunky, with limited range and hitting power. The only aircraft carrier that I can deploy is very slow and poorly equipped, so air strikes are unlikely to have much impact when compared to the opposition. There are some question marks over the older cruisers and destroyers as well, particularly in armour and firepower.

A bit of a mixed bag, which means that I'll have to be on my toes when up against the more technologically advanced fleets in the campaign. I'm making a case for the campaign to be set in 1942 at the latest, which should limit the options open to some players while giving the weaker nations like the Italians and French at least a chance of success. Let's hope the pre-game negotiations pay off?

The Battle of Matapan 1941

Having finished Gone to Russia to Fight, which was a good read if a little narrative at times, I thought I'd start a little naval reading in tune with the Victory at Sea theme this month. I got this book for 99p a few months ago and, given the inspirational cover art, I'm hoping it will be a good read. I wouldn't' like to be that Swordfish crew!

Sunday 6 April 2014


We arrived in Brittany yesterday and, after an overnight stop at the mother in laws, we're now at the flat in Benodet. We're only here for a little over a week, so I'm going to start on the Japanese for Chain of Command tomorrow, aiming to put together a squad each evening once the kids are in bed. No painting yet but at least I should be able to glue all the plastic bits together in relative peace and quiet?

I've also started the habitual trawl for model and military history magazines, the first being this month's edition of Los!, which features an interesting article on coastal warfare boats and on the Swordfish. All very much in keeping with current interest in naval gaming and good reference material for my own Narrow Seas project, which I'm determined to get done at some point this year.

Friday 4 April 2014

Victory at Sea French Fleet [1]

After a bit of a think it looks like the Spanish are not a viable option for the club campaign as everyone else will be deploying battleships and carriers, leaving any cruiser based force at a distinct disadvantage. As a result, I've gone back to my first choice of a Free French and/or Vichy fleet, depending on which side needs my support in the Mediterranean.
This has the advantage of a heavy weight punch, in the form of the Richelieu and Dunkerque class battleships, some decent supporting firepower from the modernised dreadnoughts, some excellent heavy and light cruisers plus some modern, very fast destroyers. There are some weak elements to the fleet but, on the whole, it should have quite a presence.
There's also the Bearn to provide air cover and divebomber strike capability. There's even a decent submarine force, with the Suffren as an unusual, if slightly superfluous extra. To represent this lot, I've ordered a comprehensive selection of models from Navwar, which has a much wider and slightly cheaper range than Skytrex.
Were off France this evening, so I won't get round to painting and basing any of the French fleet until I get back. It'll be sitting on my doormat until then but will be the first thing on my project list for the end of the month. I'm looking forward to tackling this new project and getting some more games of Victory at Sea into the schedule.

Thursday 3 April 2014

Victory at Sea Spanish Fleet?

The club is busy assembling fleets for a Victory at Sea campaign and I've been looking at potential options for the Mediterranean theatre. The obvious first choice would be the French but I've also been thinking about a Nationalist Spanish fleet, based on the naval line up prior to the end of the Spanish Civil War:

This would be an amalgam of the Republican and Nationalist ships that fought each other during the Spanish Civil War, with some juggling to fudge war time losses, together with a few additional German or Italian vessels where gaps appear in capability. All a bit 'what if?' but not beyond the bounds of plausibility.

A less realistic option would be to imagine that the Civil War never actually happened, leaving the Republican government in power and allied with the British and French. This would allow me to deploy the two dreadnoughts and some of the other ships lost in action during the war.

Wednesday 2 April 2014

Victory at Sea Photos

A few aerial reconnaissance photos of the battle between the Regia Marina and the Royal Navy, somewhere to the west of Malta. The ships belong to Gary, who organised and umpired the game, and very nice they are too. I'll have to work hard to match his really effective painting, basing and texturing, although he assures me that it's really easy?

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Victory at Sea Playtest

We had a very enjoyable introductory game of Victory at Sea this evening up at the club and, I'm pleased to report that the Royal Navy won the day against the Regia Marina, although it didn't look like it at the outset. In fact, it was all a bit of a close run thing until the last two or three turns!

A combination of swift destroyer torpedo attacks, combined with the close quarter firepower of heavy cruisers and the longer range punch of a battlecruiser, gave the Italians a fairly decisive thrashing albeit at some cost to the fleet. As darkness fell, the two fleets limped back to harbour, with the Italians definitely the worse for wear.

The VaS bug has definitely bitten at the club, with a probable campaign over the horizon once the various players have organised their fleets. I'm off to the Navwar webshop thingy tomorrow with a shopping list of French warships, so expect much more naval flavour in the next few weeks as we all embark on a mini naval race!


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