Monday 30 July 2018

Battle of Jasmund Scenario Scribbling

It's been a week since we went on holiday and I have yet to pick up a brush, which is shameful but excused by the lovely weather we've been having, except for the last couple of days. We're now off camping for a few days in the rain, so nothing is going to get started until the end of the week at the earliest. Instead, I thought I'd start working on a scenario for the Battle of Jasmund / Rugen, to use with the 1/2400th scale Tumbling Dice ships. I have these with me so could run a playtest with the unpainted models (the horror!), when I get back from camping in the Ile de Crozon. 

It's a relatively simple scenario which primarily involves the Prussians running away in various different directions but there is definite scope for some 'counter factual' outcomes if the Danish and Prussian commanders decide to do things differently. The rules are Long Face Games fast play Broadside and Ram, so ideal for this sort of thing, although I may well write the scenario to allow individual ships or gunboat flotillas to have some independent control, rather than just having an overall squadron commander for each side. 

Sunday 29 July 2018

Memorial to the loss of the Droits de Homme 1797

Yesterday I tracked down the location of a monument to a famous frigate action in the Bay of Audierne in January 1797. This action resulted in the destruction of a French 74, the Droits de Homme, by the frigates HMS Indefatigable and HMS Amazon, although the latter was also run aground in the process:

The stone commemorating the loss of the Droits de Homme was put in place by one of the survivors of the wreck, who returned in 1840 to commission a memorial to the French and British crew who died in the battle and subsequent wreck. The only ship to escape destruction was the Indefatigable of Sir Edward Pellew, who became one of the most famous captains and later admirals of Nelson's navy.

Saturday 28 July 2018

By Sea and River in 1/600th

It's been way too hot and sunny to be sitting indoors painting, so I have yet to start on the 1/2400th scale ships for the 1864 project, let alone magnet basing any 1/600th scale Battle of Britain aircraft. I have, however, been reading up on the rules for both projects, with particular reference to Broadside and Ram by David Manley, which is the set I'll be using for the Second Schleswig War. I have also downloaded the By Sea and River supplement for the Dahlgren and Columbiad rules, with a view to finally starting a riverine and coastal ACW ironclad project in 1/600th scale. 

Over the last decade or so I've been gradually acquiring a shedload of Peter Pig and Thoroughbred models for this, with a long term plan to sort out some riverine and coastal wargaming. I must have upwards of twenty ships for the Confederates and Union, both sea going warships and river gunboats, so I have no shortage of kit. The Peter Pig models are cheap and cheerful, while the more expensive Thoroughbred models are absolutely stunning. I used to have some Navwar 1/1200th scale ironclads for the ACW years ago but I have no idea where they are now, so it's 1/600th scale instead. 

I would use 1/1200th scale if I was starting out, especially as the Rod Langton models are so nice, but I have too many of the Peter Pig and Thoroughbred models now to start again in a smaller scale. I will dig them out when I get home and hope to start on a new ACW ironclad project at some point in the latter half of the year. I am going to concentrate almost exclusively on naval wargaming for the next six months, with the 1/2400th scale ironclads and 1/600th scale ACW ships at the front of the queue.

Friday 27 July 2018

Magasin de Presse

We had to go into town this morning to pick up a T-shirt the lady wife had ordered from a fashion shop, so I nipped into the newsagent next door and got a copy of the latest Vae Victis, complete with a solo play game of LRDG patrols in North Africa, aptly if unimaginatively title Qui Ose Gagne! (Who Dares Wins!). The game comes with a sheet of pre-punched high quality counters, a decent A3 sized colour map and a rules booklet in French. You can download an English version of the rules from the Vae Victis website, however, so any head scratching and dodgy translation is easily avoided. It looks like a neat little game and I'm hoping to give it a run through at some point over the holidays, when I get the time.

Thursday 26 July 2018

Alexander Kircher Naval Paintings

I've been looking for pictures to use as painting reference material for the 1/2400th scale Prussian and Danish warships when I found these paintings by the Austrian artist Alexander Kircher. He was a very successful naval artist and painted a wide selection of scenes depicting Austrian, Prussian and German warships from the 1860's through to the First World War. I'd seen his painting of the Battle of Jasmund before and his depiction of the Battle of Lissa, but not the one with the Prussian paddle steamer and shore landing party, which has given me all sorts of ideas for scenarios. 

Tumbling Dice make a nice set of long boats with crew in their 1/2400th scale Napoleonic range, so that would be a simple addition to the 1864 project. A little background research also revealed that in 1856, the Prussian paddle corvette SMS Danzig actually landed a punitive shore party on the Moroccan coast near Melilla, in order to supress a nest of pirates that had been attacking merchant shipping. This led to a skirmish in which seven men were killed and several wounded, including Prince Adalbert of Prussia, the supreme commander and founder of the Prussian Navy itself. This is apparently the scene depicted in the painting.

Now there's a scenario!

Wednesday 25 July 2018

Frigates, Sloops and Brigs

I'm re-reading this at the moment. It's a bit of a classic and packed with loads of scenario material for small ship actions in the Napoleonic Wars, a fair number of which happened a stones throw from where I am now. I enjoyed reading this book way back when and it is still just as good. I may well do some 1/2400th scale Age of Sail naval wargaming at some point, with small actions between unrated ships being the perfect portable option. I'm also doing some old school card and paper Napoleonic naval wargaming over on my other blog during the holidays, so there's some semblance of logic to my reading habits for a change:

Tuesday 24 July 2018

Summer Scramble for Britain

The other thing I'm going to be working on over the holidays is the Wings at War Battle of Britain variant Scramble for Britain. This is a follow on from my Wings at War MiG Alley project, which I completed earlier in the year. I really enjoyed doing that, so it seems like a good idea to have a go at a similar sized project in the second half of the year. I had started a Wings at War Desert Spitfires Arab Israeli mini-project a couple of months ago but shelved it when I realised that I couldn't get hold of any 1/600th scale Egyptian decals.

I had a similar problem with Scramble for Britain but have now located a source of squadron codes and insignia from Miscellaneous Miniatures in the USA. These are cheap enough to avoid customs duty and being decals are light enough to be sent airmail for a very reasonable price. I can't stand the thought of my RAF aircraft without squadron codes, so I can now crack on and get started on a Battle of Britain project in 1/600th scale, which will complement what I've already got in 1/300th scale. I can also use the aircraft for Bag the Hun and, in particular, for the campaign supplement Finest Hour.

I'll get started over the next couple of weeks with the cleaning up and magnet basing of both the Luftwaffe and RAF aircraft. I'm planning to assemble enough of the main Tumbling Dice fighters and bombers to equip squadron sized units, which translates to about 12-16 fighters of each type and a slightly smaller number of dive bombers, light bombers and other types. There will also be some night fighters and night raiders, together with mine laying seaplanes and SAR aircraft, just to make things interesting. I just need some emery boards and superglue and I can get cracking!

Monday 23 July 2018

Painting the Prussians

I've just unpacked the 1/2400th scale Tumbling Dice ships, having arrived in Brittany over the weekend. I was pleased to see that they had all stayed in one piece apart from one loose spar on a Prussian corvette, which I can easily glue back in place, once I've been to the Super U to get some super glue. I've now sorted out a painting schedule, starting with the aforementioned Prussian warships for the Second Schleswig War of 1864. These include the squadron for the Battle of Jasmund and the additional gunboats, paddle aviso and frigate for the subsequent skirmishes along the Baltic coast. I'm planning to get started on these over the next couple of days.

Sunday 22 July 2018

Strontium Dog!

How did I miss this? My absolute all time favourite 2000AD strip and some superbly sculpted figures including Johnny Alpha, Wulf and Gronk, not to mention the assorted hangers on! The rules might be OK but, if not, there's always Galactic Heroes to fall back on. Unfortunately, I'll have to wait until I get back to the UK to put in an order for the starter set, by which time I may be able to get a good deal. I can't wait!

British Ironclads 1860-75

I spotted this on the Osprey Publishing website this afternoon. It's not due out until September but should be worth the wait, as it fills a big gap in the New Vanguard series and is written by Angus Konstam, who usually does a pretty good job. It's a shame I'll be painting the Tumbling Dice ships over the summer, as I could do with some inspirational artwork to follow!

GZG Summer Sale

I jumped on to the end of the GZG Summer Sale today and, despite having way too many 15mm hard sci-fi figures already, decided to order a selection of the Outrim Coalition range as  yet another futuristic army.

These are a fully armoured figures and very similar in look to the HALO computer game infantry. I particularly like the grav bikes which come in three different variants, including the tandem two seat version above.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with these figures but they are a good addition to the sci-fi lead pile and a bit of a personal reward for three terms of hard slog at work. It's been a long year to say the least.

It also reminds me that I have an almost complete 15mm sci-fi army that needs some attention. This just needs a few finishing touches, some basing and weathering to be ready to go, so I really should get it done! 

Friday 20 July 2018

We're all going on a...

Not quite Brittany Ferries but you get the idea.

I'm off to Brittany tomorrow and have packed some things to keep me busy over the next few weeks including the Tumbling Dice steam and sail 1/2400th scale ships to paint and some 1/600th scale aircraft to magnet base, ready for painting in the second half of the year. I am absolutely whacked, however, so it may be a while before I pick up a brush or some files. In the meantime, I also have some new 'beer and pretzels' wargames to try out, so you may want to pop over to my other wargaming blog to have a look at what I'm up to?

Wednesday 18 July 2018

Don Troiani's American Battles

I went into town to get my haircut this afternoon, so popped into the Oxfam second hand bookshop, as you do, only to re-emerge with a pristine hardback copy of Don Troiani's American Battles for the extortionate sum of five quid. It's mostly the American Civil War artwork that he's rightly famous for but it also features some War of Independence and French-Indian Wars painting as well. A great find and a cracking addition to my ever expanding library!

Tuesday 17 July 2018

The Black Battlefleet

There's not much to report on the workbench front the last couple of days as I've been busy under coating the assembled Tumbling Dice Danish, Prussian, Austrian, French and British ironclad warships in an overall black scheme, ready for painting in the rapidly approaching holidays. I've used Halfords Satin Black spray so that they've actually come out looking quite shiny, which is a bonus as it means I'll be able to avoid a brushed on basecoat and can go straight onto the blocking in bit. I'm about three quarters of the way through now, so I should be done and dusted pretty soon, if I get a move on and don't run out of the black stuff?

Sunday 15 July 2018

Mid Victorian Royal Navy Channel Fleet c1870

I finally finished off the re-basing and extra 1/2400th scale Tumbling Dice warships for the Royal Navy Channel Squadron today, having originally started to assemble them way back in 2010! They are destined for a 'What If?' blockading action to bottle up the French in Brest, which is exactly what they would have been up to if it had all kicked off in 1860 something.

I re-based the ships that I had assembled on laser cut mdf to match the bases that I have used on the French, Danish, Prussians and Austrians. I also glued together a few more broadside and turret ironclads including HMS Monarch, HMS Prince Albert, HMS Caledonia and HMS Ocean, together with the steam frigate HMS Aurora for the Battle of Heligoland. 

I now need to undercoat the whole lot with matt black primer, ready to be painted up over the holidays, which are starting at the end of the week. I doubt I'll get even half of them painted to be honest, so my priority will be to complete the Prussian and Danish ships for the Battle of Jasmund in 1864. These mainly consist of gunboats, sloops and frigates, so nothing too complicated (I hope!).

I don't like wendyball but....

Mid Victorian French Channel Fleet c1870

I re-based some of my Tumbling Dice British ironclads the other day, so decided to do the same with the French ships that I had assembled years ago, as they've been sitting in a box gathering dust since then. I also added a handful of new models to the squadron including some ironclad rams (thanks for the model Colin). I chose an arbitrary cut-off point of 1870 for the French fleet, which means that I could also do the post Franco-Prussian War reconstructed fleet of the 1880's at a later date. I may well add one or two more ships by the end of the weekend but I'm now off to the garage to base up the matching Royal Navy squadron, so that I can take all of them off to France to paint up over the holidays.

Saturday 14 July 2018

1864 Austrian North Sea Squadron

I had a bit of time this afternoon, having been a taxi driver for most of the morning, so decided to glue together the three Austrian ships for the Battle of Heligoland in May 1864. These are the steam frigates SMS Radetzky and SMS Schwarzenberg, with the gunboat SMS Seehund as an optional extra. The Seehund broke down on the way and did not turn up in time for the battle but I had a spare model so thought I'd add it to the line up. These are all Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale models that I've used as proxy versions of the Austrian ships, with only a minimal bit of conversion required to remove one of the funnels from the Schwarzenberg, along with the substitution of spars made from staples rather than the sails supplied with the kits.

Friday 13 July 2018

No Way Out

I'm not a fan of this sort of thing but, having listened to a good review on Radio 4, I thought it would be an interesting diversion. I found a second hand hardback copy today in the local charity shop after work, so for two quid I now have a book to read over the weekend. It's not too long and printed in relatively large type, no doubt for those who don't like too many words, so I should be able to polish it off in a couple of days. I prefer more 'historical' military history, if that makes sense, but I'm prepared to try out something more contemporary for a change, even if the strapline makes me slightly cringe. Who knows, it might even inspire some modern skirmishing in 15mm?

Thursday 12 July 2018

1864 Prussian Fleet Rebased

I have now re-based most of the Prussian warships for the 1864 Second Schleswig War on longer 20mm wide laser cut bases, leaving space to attach an identification label at the stern. I left the tiny 2nd class gunboats on 15mm wide bases, as these were already large enough to fit a label on, but the larger sloops, corvettes and frigates needed about 5mm more in length. They will all be spray undercoated in matt black next, ready to be painted over the holidays.

1864 Danish Fleet Complete

I'm off work today, as I wasn't needed, so have spent the morning finishing off the last three warships for the Danish fleet. These are the two steam frigates, Jylland and Niels Juel, and the screw corvette Dagmar. I had forgotten just how fiddly a job it is to glue the spars onto the masts, having cut them to length from staples, but I got there in the end after quite a bit of colourful language. I also based up the turret ship HMS Royal Sovereign, which I'll add to the Royal Navy flotilla because it's just cool. 

The Danish fleet for the 1864 Second Schleswig War is now pretty much complete, at least the useful bits of it that actually did things, although I did think of converting a model into the ironclad Danmark, which was fitting out at the time but didn't quite make it into action. I'd also like to find a replacement for the Hallmark Rolf Krake model, which just doesn't look right next to the Tumbling Dice ships? Perhaps I could scratch build it out of plastic card and bits, or even persuade Paul to do one for me?

Naval Command v3.0

Rory Crabb has just updated and republished his Naval Command modern naval rules, which are now in their third and possibly final edition. This is good news as it shows that the rules are being fully supported and developed but bad news in that I may well have to re-print the whole 90+ pages of the rulebook, assuming I want to try out the latest version. A bit of Cold War era naval gaming is one of my projects for later in the year, specifically the Indonesian Confrontation and other things 'East of Suez' in the 1960's, so I am looking forward to using Naval Command as one of my potential systems, the other being Shipwreck! Luckily for me, having bought the original rules way back when they were first published, I get a free copy of the latest version to download from Wargames Vault. There's a link to Rory's webpage here:

Tuesday 10 July 2018

Steam and Sail Ship Basing

I've based all of my Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale models on 20mm or 15mm wide laser cut mdf bases to give me a consistent way of measuring for range and angles of fire. The models come with cast white metal sea bases, which look very nice and cut out all the messy base texturing, but which are all sorts of shapes and sizes making measuring a bit contentious. 

The extra mdf edge protects the bowsprits and sticky outy bits as well, making it less likely that things will bend or snap off in the heat of action. I did wonder about using wider 30mm bases like ones I used for my Victory at Sea French fleet but I don't think it would be worth it. They look nice but only if the whole base is textured to match, as you can see in the photo below:

One downside of the narrower bases is the lack of space for a label to identify the individual warships on most of the bases but I think I can label the base edge instead, which will be more discrete and less of a visual eyesore. I have just ordered some new 20mm wide bases for another project, so I may re-base some of the smaller models on longer sections to allow me to add some proper name labels. 

If not, I can always use numbers or just label the underside of the bases, which is less convenient but just as effective. I'll also have to paint the bare mdf areas with the same base colour that I'll use on the textured bases, so everything blends in rather than adding extra texturing to cover it all up. I should be able to get all of the basing done pretty quickly as a result.

Monday 9 July 2018

What's on the Workbench This Week?

I'm changing tack this week, with some Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale re-enforcements for the Danish and British squadrons in the Second Schleswig War of 1864. I have enough Prussian vessels already but I'm a bit light on Danish warships, so will be assembling the screw frigates Niels Juel and Jylland, using the frigate HMS Phoebe (ASV5) as a proxy. 

I'm also adding a couple of extras to the Royal Navy flotilla, in the shape of the screw frigate HMS Aurora (using ASV6) and the early turret ironclad HMS Royal Sovereign (ASV30), which should add a bit of 'what if?' firepower to the proceedings. The Royal Navy played a minimal role in the conflict but could have been more involved, so why not?

The additional Danish warships and HMS Aurora will allow me to do the Battle of Heligoland, so I will fill things out with the Austrian screw frigates SMS Schwarzenberg (ASV9) and SMS Radetzky (ASV7), together with the absent gunboat SMS Seehund (ASV15), with the rest of the Danish and Austrian ships already ready for painting. 

These are all additions to my set up for the Second Schleswig War of 1864 using David Manley's Broadside and Ram fast play rules, with a few extra bits pinched from his ACW rules Dahlgren and Columbiad. I need to do a bit of re-basing and some undercoating before I can get started on the painting but, in all other respects, this is the Summer Project ready to go.

Sunday 8 July 2018

Flashpoint Tawan ROCAF Painting Finished


I spent a few hours today finishing the paintwork on the Tumbling Dice 1/600th scale ROCAF aircraft, although the bases will have to be done over the week along with the decals. I'm not too pleased with the end result, especially the F-16's as they look a bit 'mushy' and not as crisp as I would have liked, although the F-100 Super Sabres came out looking a bit better. I didn't enjoy painting this lot as much as usual, so that might explain the lack of enthusiasm I have for the end result. I'll get the decals and bases sorted over the week, along with a bit of tidying up and tail stripe painting, then it's on to other more nautical things.

Saturday 7 July 2018

Give Us the Ships Again!

Way back in March, before I was ambushed by What a Tanker! amongst other things, I set out my plans for naval wargaming this year. As is the way with this sort of blatant optimism, none of my four highlighted naval projects have made any progress at all yet, although I did make a promising start on the Fast Attack Craft for Bulldogs Away!

So, it's about time I put that right and actually finished at least one of my nascent projects over the Summer and into the Autumn. I'm going to take one of them off to France this year to actually paint, rather than just assemble, with the 1/2400th scale Broadside and Ram 1864 Schleswig Holstein War project as the most likely option.

This has been hanging around for years, with all the ships and gunboat for both the Prussians and Danes undercoated, ready to be painted. I even have merchant ships and a British ironclad squadron to quite literally go alongside the main protagonists. It's a project that really should be tackled and what better time to do so than the Summer holidays?

I also have some brand new naval wargaming ideas for the rest of the year including a couple of projects that are only just on the drawing board. The front runner of these has just been ordered from Navwar, which might give you a bit of a clue about scale if not the actual focus. Not that I won't also be doing more 1/600th scale air wargaming or 15mm/20mm skirmish stuff, both of which are already on the 'to do' list for the next six months

Flashpoint Taiwan ROCAF Progress

I started the base coating and blocking in on the 1/600th scale Tumbling Dice aircraft for the ROCAF this afternoon, although it's so hot that the paint was drying out faster than I could get it from the brush to the palette. The basic light and mid-grey shades have been wet brushed onto the F-16's and F-5A's, while the F-100's and F-86D's have been given a silver basecoat followed by a Future / Ink wash. I've also blocked in the black on the B-57 and the B-26 Invader night intruders. I'm hoping to continue tomorrow with some white blocking in on the canopies and coloured areas, followed by the blue canopies, the green, red and blue markings and the metallic engine sections.

Gridded Naval Wargames

With International Naval Wargames Day only a month away, I thought I'd have a closer look at Bob Cordery's latest publication, Gridded Naval Wargames, with a view to scratch building some basic ironclad warships for a game on the big day. I like the idea of grid based naval wargaming, as it makes a lot of sense both for movement and gunnery, let alone making hidden movement and underwater submarine operations a lot less complicated than normal. 

I also really like the idea of assembling some home made warship models, which is a perfect activity for the holidays when I'm away from the workbench and don't have access to all my usual tools and paints. There are several sets of rules in the book and full guidelines for constructing suitable model ships out of card and balsa wood, so all I'd need to do is scratch build some ironclads, draw up a grid and get playing. Brilliant!

Thursday 5 July 2018

Tumbling Dice 1/600th French c1939-40

I ordered some Mirage 2000's from Tumbling Dice at the start of the week but, not wanting to pay postage on just one bag of planes, decided to look around for a mini-starter pack from the 1/600th scale range to bulk out the order. I decided to get the one for the French Air Force c1939-40, consisting of the following models:

ISA 320 - Bloch MB-152-1 x6
ISA 321 - Dewoitine D520 x6
ISA 322 - Moraine Saulnier MS406 x6
ISA 323 - Potez 63.11 x4
ISA 323a - Potez 633 x4
ISA 324 - Bloch 200 x3
ISA 325 - Amiot 143 x3
ISA 330 - SNCASE LeO451 x3

These mini-starter packs are good value for money and a bit like a Xmas stocking when you open them, as they contain all sorts of interesting goodies. I can add the French to my existing lead pile of Luftwaffe and RAF planes for the Battle of Britain variant in the Wings at War series, Scramble for Britain and for Bag the Hun. Zut Alors!


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