Sunday 31 May 2015

Danish Baltic Flotilla 1864

Tordenskjold, Sjaelland and Skjold

Thor, Heimdal, Freya and Rolf Krake

The long drawn out 1864 Second Schleswig War naval project is still making headway, although it's about all I have managed to get done this holiday thanks to all the DIY. I've now completed the assembly and basing for most of the Danish Baltic flotilla, with only the ironclad Dannebrog to finish off. The three large warships are the screw ship of the line Skjold, the screw frigate Sjaelland and the screw frigate Tordenskjold, all re-purposed from the Tumbling Dice French and British range. 

Merchants and Coastal Craft

The four smaller ships are the screw corvettes Heimdal and Thor, together with the armed merchant paddle steamer Freya and the turret coast defence ship Rolf Krake, which looks very small by comparison. It's a Hallmark model and supposedly to 1/2400 scale but it doesn't seem to fit well with the Tumbling Dice ships, so I may have  ago at a scratchbuilt coversion instead. I've also based up some generic merchant ships and coastal sailing craft for blockade running scenarios or just as things to blow up!

Friday 29 May 2015

Normandy Firefight Project [2]

I won an old Tamiya US gun and mortar set on eBay today for a very small outlay, so now have enough kneeling and prone figures to equip a US half squad. I really like these old Tamiya box sets, many of which I glued together and painted up back in the 80's. This means I now have the potential bits and pieces to do either the Americans or the British for Normandy Firefight. I'll have to give it some serious thought while I paint my pirate ships for Galleys and Galleons over the weekend.

Mad Max Fury Road

I went to see this last night and was suitably impressed. It's a bit more fantasy than Mad Max 2, which is a better film I think, but the action is amazing and Tom Hardy isn't bad in the lead role. The various post-apoc cars and vehicles are brilliant, especially the spikey ones and the cars with the truck spearing harpoons. I'm tempted to bash together some cars and a war rig truck using my garage full of Hot Wheels now. I must resist the temptation though as I have plenty of other things to do!

Thursday 28 May 2015

Normandy Firefight Project [1]

I've decided to give next month a Normandy Firefight focus in 1/35th scale. This will initially involve the assembly and painting of six British infantry figures for NW Europe in three poses each including an NCO, a Bren gunner, three riflemen and a PIAT operator. If I can squeeze a seventh figure out of the various kits that I've gathered together, I'll probably add either a fourth rifleman, a sniper or a medic. I have some insignia for the 43rd Wessex Division so they will all be 5th Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, One and All.

Wednesday 27 May 2015

Galleys and Galleons [20]

I've spent the day painting the kids bedrooms as the boys are both away for the week, one on a scout camp in Dorset and the other on a sail training week somewhere in the Channel Islands. The bloke in the local Co-Op told me I looked like a smurf, being covered in a fine mist of azure blue emulsion paint, but at least that bit is done and I can now move onto the woodwork.

As a result, I only had an hour or so this evening for wargaming stuff, so I've assembled the last (?) of the Peter Pig pirate ships for Galleys and Galleons. This is the biggest model in the range and is a resin casting with metal masts and sails. It went together really easily and I've added some heavy guns and crew to the maindeck to turn it into a large man o'war.

I'll start on painting the fleet tomorrow, although I'm only going to start with the schooners sloops, as theses can be painted up together being relatively small.  I want to put on another playtest game for Gary and Mike in a couple of weeks time, so it would be only decent to get at least half a dozen of the ships painted up beforehand if I can.

Tuesday 26 May 2015

263 Squadron Whirlwind Missions [7]

The BTH2 scenario playtest was a bit 'hit and miss' this evening, with one of the scenarios working out fine and the other falling a bit flat. The first one, 'Itching to Mix It', only needs a slight ammendment, with the addition of an increasing die roll to the No Fuel to Duel special rule. If the Luftwaffe players had been a little more aggresive it would have been a really good game.

The second scenario, 'Moral - Don't Straggle' needs a more fundamental re-think as it was too difficult for the Luftwaffe and too pedestrian for the RAF. I may even ditch it and work on the convoy and coastal shipping attack scenarios that were origianlly my focus. I have two of these on the 'to do' list, so will get around to then at some point next month.

In the meantime, it's back to painting up the Galleys and Galleons pirate ships!

Normandy Firefight Revisited

We ended up in Hobbycraft at one point yesterday and I tried in vain to find some 1/32 Airfix multipose figures, having been inspired by Steve Blease and his Kohima project for Normandy Firefight. However, I didn't have any luck so picked up a box of 1/35 Tamiya US infantry instead, which work out cheaper than 28mm!

I have enough figures to assemble half a dozen US infantry figures using the box sets I already have in the plastic kit pile. These will include an NCO or junior officer, a couple of riflemen, a BAR gunner and a bazooka team or sniper. I'll also put together a vehicle of some sort as a focus for scenarios, probably a scout car or light tank.

I'm not sure when I'll get round to doing this but I really like the scale and focus of the rules, so it may be a another project for the summer holidays or the autumn. The terrain is a bit of a challenge but I'm sure I can come up with something that will not be too daunting. I was even thinking of Tunisia or the Italian Front to keep things simple.

Monday 25 May 2015

263 Squadron Whirlwind Missions [6]

Despite a *&^%! laptop that keeps crashing and a very busy day, I've managed to type up the draft briefings for two of the scenarios that I'm playtesting tomorrow night. I don't think I'll get time to type up the third one as I still need to DTP the cards for the first two, but I may be able to squeeze it in after I've painted one of the kids bedrooms. If I don't, I'll run the ones I've got and then do another scenario for the last game, probably using my late war Soviet fighters against the Luftwaffe somewhere on the Russian Front.

Sunday 24 May 2015

263 Squadron Whirlwind Missions [5]

You may not remember the first four installments of this thread, as they were posted about a year ago, but here's number four in the search for Westland Whirlwind themed scenarios for Bag the Hun.

I've now done  a rough draft of three of the potential playtest scenarios for the club game on Tuesday, with the working titles of 'Itching to Mix It', 'Moral - Don't Straggle' and the slightly less prosaic '109's - Beat It! There's a final scenario involving a more complex Roadstead mission to scribble up, then all four need to be turned into neat, word processed scenario briefings tomorrow, together with some basic turn cards for each one.

Fw190 A4 (left) Fw190A8 (right)

I've also been busy reverse engineering four Leading Edge Fw190 A8's into Fw190 A4's, which involves shaving off and sanding away the cannon blisters on the top of the fuselage and the ventral bomb rack on the underside. This sounds easy but is a bit tricky, as you need to avoid cutting away too much of the surface detail or sanding it off by mistake. I only need two of these for the pilots of III/JG2 to be shot down in, but I thought I'd do a full schwarm while I was about it. Why not?

Fighting Sail First Impressions

This arrived in the post a couple of days ago but I haven't had time to give it more than a quick flick through until now. It's a solid looking set of fleet level rules, designed for 1/1200 scale but easily adapted to 1/2400 by halving the measurements. This makes it ideal for larger battles where numerous ships have to be managed.

It includes all the usual aspects that you'd expect alongside a set of fleet lists for most of the naval powers, although there's no list for the Danes or Swedes. There are also six generic scenarios from a basic encounter on the high seas, through convoy escort and blockade to evasion amongst others, all of which look like they would give a good game. 

There is also a mini-game for one on one frigate actions, which I think I will use as a first port of call, especially as it only requires a couple of models. The rules are beautifully illustrated with colour photographs, diagrams and markers, together with some fantastic Peter Dennis color plates from various Osprey titles. 

These are so good that I've also downloaded the Osprey Duel British Frigate vs French Frigate book, from which many of the pictures are sourced. A bit of an indulgence but we'll worth it. I'm thinking of 1/2400 scale for this set of rules using Tumbling Dice ships, so I'll have a go at painting a couple of frigates along with my 1864 ships.

Saturday 23 May 2015

Jacques 'Jaco' Andrieux

I've got three definate scenarios sketched out for the Bag the Hun No263 Squadron 'Whirlibomber' project, so all I now need to do is write them up, then mock up some cards for the different units involved. This shouldn't take too long as two of the scenarios are very simple, leaving only the last one involving anything complicated. I'm planning to write up the first two scenarios tomorrow.

As a bonus, I also have a fourth 'sprog' level scenario that I could turn into an additional game, although it doesn't really feature the Whirlwinds. This is a 'bounce' by F/O Jacques 'Jaco' Andrieux of No130 Squadron on two unsuspecting Fw190's of JG2 on 28th February 1943. The Fw190's were in turn attempting to intercept a pair of straggling Whirlwinds of No263 Squadron which had just attacked Maupertus airfield.

Acting alone, Andrieux succeeded in shooting down one of the Fw190's in his Spitfire VB (PJ-Z) and succesfully scared off the other, this being his first aerial victory and eventually leading to his status as a Free French ace by the end of the war. It would make an excellent starter scenario and would be ideal as an introduction to the use of bogeys, so I may well write it up too.

Tasmanian Whirlwind

I found this in digital format this morning. It's a mine of useful information for the scenarios I'm developing, especially as the pilot concerned flew on two of them including the first Whirlwind v. FW190 clash. I also found another potential sprog scenario in the book involving a single Spitfire VB flown by a Free French pilot in an escort role taking on two FW190's, one of which he shot down. Good stuff!

Friday 22 May 2015

Axles and Alloys II

I followed a link over on TMP and re-discovered the Axles and Alloys blog, complete with an updated set of the rules. I played a few games of this way back in 2010 against Jon at the club, with some diecast cars that we'd souped up into post-apocalytic carnage machines. I went for the muscle car sleek and dangerous look while Jon went for the rusty, grime encrusted chop shop option.

The games were great fun and suitably bonkers, with ramming, spiking, exploding and blasting all over the place. I really enjoyed converting the toy cars and built up quite a stockpile of Hotwheels ready for bashing but then drifted off into other things. Now, with the updating of the rules and the inspiration from Mad Max: Fury Road, which I'm hoping to catch over the weekend, I quite fancy bashing up some more diecast death machines over the holidays!

Thursday 21 May 2015

Back with Bag the Hun

I've offered to run a game at the club next week, as we're not going anywhere during half term and the sprog is off to scout camp, so there's no rugby. The three options in mind were AK47, a try out of the TFL coastal warfare rules 'Coastal Patrol' or a Bag the Hun 2 game. In the end, I've opted for the latter, as this got the most votes and could be turned into a scenario article for the TFL Summer Special. I also have most of the aircraft based and undercoated, if not actually painted yet!

I have two scenarios lined up, ready to convert into briefings for the players and turn cards, both based on the Operational Records Book for No263 Squadron. The first is from December 1942 and will be designed as an introduction to the Westland Whirlwind for the RAF player. It was the very first Whirlwind clash with the FW190 and involves two pairs of aircraft in a low to high level dogfight. It might not last very long but will help to get new players up to speed with the rules mechanics.

The second scenario is set much earlier in August 1941 and is bigger in scope. This time four Whirlwinds will be tackling half a dozen or so Bf109F's after an abortive attack on Lannion airfield in Brittany. This time, the Whirlwinds might even have some top cover in the form of seven Spitfire IIA's of 66 Squadron, who may or may not come to their rescue. This engagement ended in a rapid withdrawal by the Luftwaffe but, in my version, eveyone will get stuck in to some serious dogfighting.

If I have time, I'll try to find a third historical scenario just in case the other two don't work out or end too quickly, especially as I have a lot of potential games in the pile of research that I've already assembled. It would be great to try out a Roadstead mission, for example, with plenty of opportunity to combine my coastal forces 1/600th scale models with the 1/285th scale aircraft.

I'll write up the scenarios, player briefings and turn cards at the weekend.

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Victory at Sea Campaign

It was great to get up to the club yesterday after an enforced absence of more than six months! There are lots of new faces and some old ones too, so it was good to catch up and meet the new players. I also discovered, having been out of the loop, that the long awaited VAS campaign is about to kick off, which is fantastic news as I'll be able to deploy the French fleet that I assembled last year.
The campaign rules also make it possible for me to upgrade my otherwise bog standard warships with shiny new radar, AP shells and all sorts of other fancy kit, which should give them more of a fighting chance against the opposition. I'm also hoping to get at least one practice game in before the campaign starts, as I have only used the rules a couple of times. This should be a lot of fun!

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Galleys and Galleons Playtest

This went really well and everyone enjoyed the first two scenarios from the rules that we played, Pursuit and Blockade Runner. In the first game the two schooners fought a pretty decisive skirmish, with Gary coming off the worse for wear and striking his colours. However, on victory points, Gary's pirates actually managed to scrape a very slight edge which gave them the game.

In the second game, Mike got his revenge when Gary's captured pirate East Indiaman went aground at full tilt, but only after he had blasted one of Mikes Royal Navy sloops with a raking broadside at medium range. This led to the inevitable Critical Damage rolls, a raging fire and a spectacular explosion, all of which meant that Mike's tactical plan was well and truly scuppered.

The rules worked smoothly and with only a few queries popping up, which we worked out ourselves in most cases. I'll shoot off some feedback to the writer tomorrow but first impressions are a big thumbs up! I'll now get started on the paintwork for the pirate ships, ready for another game next month up at the club. I'm hoping it might catch on!

Monday 18 May 2015

Rolf Krake

I couldn't resist adding a model of the Rolf Krake to my Danish fleet for the Second Schleswig War even if she didn't take part in any of the actions in the Baltic. The Tumbling Dice range doesn't feature any of the ships for the 1864 conflict, which is a bit of a shame, so I turned to the Figurehead 1/2400th scale range instead. 

This includes all the warships for the Battle of Lissa and a few extra ones to cover the Battle of Heligoland, although most of the wooden steam warship models for the latter are generic. They're really good models but suffer from very fragile and bendy masts, which makes them less than ideal for ham-fisted wargamers like me! However, as the Rolf Krake has a minimal for and aft rig, I'm sure I can work around this problem.

The Rolf Krake could be a potential game changer if I deployed it for coastal bombardment along the Baltic shoreline, perhaps against one of the Prussian naval anchorages. This would be entirely feasible and would probably have been far more effective than her actual role as floating heavy artillery in support of Danish troops. I imagine the Prussians would have been distinctly worried if she steamed over the horizon!

Here's a brief description from the excellent Danish Military History site:

ROLF KRAKE was a prototype “turret ship” design, for a coast defense role. The first operational “gun turret” warship in Europe – a major advancement and historical precedent not only in Denmark, but also in world naval construction. Also the first warship to employ the patented “Cole” gun-turret, named after its British designer.

The “armored battery” ship ROLF KRAKE was employed, during the German War of 1864 against Denmark, in a historically-significant, precedent-setting naval role in providing mobile, heavy, seaborne gunfire support to assist the Danish army against the invading German armies’ seaward flank.

Sunday 17 May 2015

Prussian Baltic Flotilla 1864 Part Two

I've decided to pick up the Second Schleswig War naval project where I left off back in November when the meltdown at work stopped play. The plan is to get the Prussian and Danish flotillas assembled and based, along with some merchant blockade runners and some shore forts, ready for painting in June. Here's the last of the Prussians, which I prepared and undercoated today, also re-basing the original ships in the flotilla.

The big screw corvette at the front is SMS Vineta, which had only just been completed and saw limited action from Danzig against the Danish Skjold on April  30th 1864. The two 1st class gunboats are the Cyclop and the Habsicht, which sortied alongside the four 2nd class gunboats Jager, Sperber, Salamander and Wolf of the 3rd gunboat division, against the Danish Tordenskjold and Geyser on April 14th.

This gives me at least two more scenarios to re-enact, although neither resulted in any tactical or strategic outcome in real life, except to re-enforce the Danish naval blockade of the Baltic coast. I still have one more Prussian vessel to add, the screw aviso and royal yacht Grille, but I have been unable to track down a suitable model in the Tumbling Dice or Figurehead range, so may have to scratchbuild something instead. If you know of something suitable in 1/2400th scale, I'd be very interested!

Saturday 16 May 2015

1864 on BBC4

The first two episodes of the Danish TV drama 1864 are on this evening, although I'll have to wait until tomorrow to watch them on i-Player, as the kids have a sleepover and have bagged the telly to watch a DVD. This reminded me that I haven't posted the photos that I took in the Danish Army Museum last year, so here they are, with an emphasis on artillery of the period including some very dusty Espignols. 



Friday 15 May 2015

Knights in Miniature

I made the habitual trip into town this afternoon, this time for the kids to get a haircut and to buy a birthday present for one of their friends. As usual, I popped into the Oxfam second hand bookshop and was pleasantly surprised to find this in the hobbies and crafts section. It's aimed at 54mm and above figure painting but has lots of ideas and techniques that could easily be used for 28mm and even smaller scales. It may not improve my medicocre figure painting efforts but, at the very least, will give me some medieval inspiration. Not bad for £1.99.

Thursday 14 May 2015

Galleys and Galleons [19]

I got home late this afternoon, so didn't have time for painting, but I have re-designed, printed and laminated some ship record sheets for the playtests game on Tuesday. The final versions will have picture of the model ships instead of the generic illustration. I'm not sure how useful they'll be or even if they're necessary but at least there will be something to write things down on!

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Galleys and Galleons [18]

I finished off the bulk of the terrain for the playtest game of Galleys and Galleons at the club next week, so can now move on to painting some of the ships at last. I have a couple of rocky shoals left to paint up, along with the fort and harbour sections but these can wait to a later date, as they're not essential for the playtest. I have a busy weekend ahead but should be able to get a couple of the ships painted up in time for the game, if all goes according to plan?


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