Tuesday 30 April 2019

Royal Navy Black Battlefleet Big Guns

I've decided to dive in the deep end with the Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale Royal Navy ironclads, so have selected the big hitters for painting first, leaving the smaller ironclads, rams and turret ships to follow. The line up includes HMS Warrior and HMS Black Prince, HMS Achilles, the enormous HMS Northumberland and HMS Agincourt, the ill-fated HMS Captain and her rival HMS Monarch, together with a single 26 gun screw frigate HMS Aurora, just to add some variety. I'll start blocking these in over the week, if I can find the time, with the aim being to complete them by this time next week. Crumbs!

Ironclad Magnet Basing

I have magnet based all of my French ironclads using self adhesive magnetised strip bought from Poundland, for a pound a roll surprisingly enough, which is a bargain by any standards. There's enough on a single roll to base a whole fleet of ships and it's a convenient 19mm in width, so a perfect fit for my 20mm wide laser cut mdf bases. 

Here's how I do it and it's very, very quick:

1. Cut a length slightly longer than required with a sharp blade and ruler, using a spare base as a template.

2. Unpeel the backing paper and stick the magnet strip to the base, leaving a bit of an overhang at both ends.

3. Invert the model and slice off the excess at either end with a sharp craft knife, using the edge of the base as a line on which to cut.

The tape itself isn't that strong but it's more than enough to take the weight of a 1/2400th scale model ship. You can stick them to the side of your fridge and they don't fall off, which means that a metal sheet lined RUB box or metal tin is an ideal storage option. Not bad for a quid! You can find the tape in Poundland but it's not always there, so worth looking out.

Monday 29 April 2019

French Ironclad Fleet Finished

The French Channel Squadron

Alma Class Ironclad Corvettes

Provence Class Central Battery Ironclads

Magenta Two Deck Broadside Ironclad

Allez les Bleus!

Full Steam Ahead!

Magnet Based for Storage

I've now completed all of the French ironclad fleet that I prepared ages ago but never got round to doing. I could, of course, add some more including the Normandie and Invincible, some more Provence and Alma class ships and another Cerbere class ironclad ram, but I think I've done enough for the moment! I may still add some unarmoured warships - frigates, sloops and avisos, that sort of thing - but I'm happy with what I've got now for 'What If ?' scenarios set in the period c1865-1875. Now, it's on to the Royal Navy, although I still would like to add some paper ensigns to the French when I get a spare gap in the painting schedule. 

Sunday 28 April 2019

French Ironclad Blocking In

I've now completed the blocking in on the eight 1/2400th scale Tumbling Dice French broadside ironclads that I'm painting, to complete one half of my c1865-1875 Anglo-French 'what if?' naval campaign for Broadside and Ram. As there is more to do with these models than that last lot, which included several monitors and rams with no rigging, they are taking just a little bit longer to do. The Alma class ironclads are particularly fiddly for some reason but I'm now ready to ink wash the whole lot, so that I can add the highlights tomorrow, with the aim being to complete them before I go back to work on Wednesday.

Saturday 27 April 2019

Painting Ironclads

I was asked if I could do a run through of my method for painting the 1/2400th scale Tumbling Dice ironclads, so here we go:
  1. Clean up and assemble the models, using gel superglue to fix all the parts in place, including the sea base. 
  2. Glue the completed model to a 20mm wide laser cut mdf base leaving a space at the stern to attach a label.
  3. Spray undercoat with Halfords Satin black car paint.
  4. Basecoat the entire base with Vallejo Dark Sea Blue or similar.
  5. Basecoat the Sails with Army Painter Skeleton Bone.
  6. Basecoat the Masts and Spars with Vallejo Flat Earth.
  7. Basecoat the Decks with Vallejo US Field Drab (working around the deck features)
  8. Drybrush the Ratlines with Vallejo London Grey.
  9. Paint the boot topping, boats, deck features and funnel with Vallejo Matt White.
  10. Paint the funnels Vallejo Yellow Ochre.
  11. Ink Wash - I used an equal three part mix of GW Nuln Oil, Seraphim Sepia and Chestnut Ink.
  12. Highlight the Sails with 50:50 Vallejo Pale Sand and Army Painter Skeleton Bone.
  13. Highlight the Decks with Vallejo US Tan Earth.
  14. Highlight the funnel with a wash of GW Cassandra Yellow Ink.
  15. Pick out the inside of the ship's boats with Vallejo Flat Earth.
  16. Tidy up with a fine brush and Vallejo Black.
  17. Paint the bases with Foundry Union Blue, followed by a drybrush of Union Blue Light and Vallejo Deep Sky Blue. 
  18. Paint the wake and bow wave with Vallejo Matt White.
  19. Varnish with artist's Matt Varnish applied with a brush (this actually gives a satin finish).
  20. Go and have a long drink.
It seems like a lot of work and looks pretty rubbish until you get about half way, when it all starts to come together to look like a ship rather than a mess. The important stage is the wash, followed by the highlights and the tidying up, which pulls it all together and covers up the sloppy paintwork. I'm at stage 7 with the current instalment, so have quite a way to go!

This is what it looks like at stage 7.

Minotaur Class Ironclads for Broadside and Ram

I realised this morning that I didn't have any numbers for the three Minotaur Class broadside ironclads, HMS Minotaur, HMS Agincourt and HMS Northumblerland, despite the fact that I'd actually deployed one of them in a game before. So, here are the relevant numbers, with a reduced AF due to the poor operability of the 7'' MLR main armament in anything other than calm conditions.

Minotaur Class Broadside Ironclad
Type (AS)      CS (4)        MS (5)          AF (4)         DF (6)

I could have bumped up the DF a bit to reflect the improved armour compared with HMS Achilles, on which the design was based, but I think that it's high enough as it is. I also thought about modifying the turn radius by limiting it to less than 45 degrees, as they were notorious for being difficult to turn due to their extreme length?

Broadside and Ram Squadron Sheets

A completed squadron record sheet

The blank version (you can edit the flag too)

I thought I might play a game or two of Broadside and Ram over the weekend, then realised that I didn't have a record sheet to note down the details of the various ships, having used an ad hoc collection of rough notes for previous games. So, without further ado, I've word processed a basic roster which can be used to record the relevant details for four ships, enough for a small squadron or in multiples for a whole fleet action.

I've left a space for recording damage effects and criticals as well as any relevant notes that might crop up in a scenario. There's also a box for some historical information on each ship to add a bit of background fluff and to explain some of the quirks for each vessel. I've filled one in to show what this looks like. It's all in WORD so can be edited as required including the ensign in the top left hand corner, so that it can be used for different sides. 

Friday 26 April 2019

Up the Yalu

It's Friday and pay day, so I splashed out on the latest Osprey Publishing Duel, Chinese Ironclad Battleship vs. Japanese Protected Cruiser, which on first impressions is actually really good even after just a quick thumb through. Many years ago I took part in a big multiplayer game of the Battle of Yalu, using the A and A publishing Tsushima rules and 1/3000th scale Navwar ships. I ended up commanding the Matsushima for the Japanese but didn't cover myself in glory, as I think I blew up fairly early on in the game! I know Tumbling Dice have a very nice Chinese and Japanese range that covers the First Sino Japanese war but it's probably best if I leave that well alone, at least for the foreseeable. I have other plans underway!

Thursday 25 April 2019

HMS Devastation

The hunt for extra ironclads for the Royal Navy squadron continues, with the discovery of a Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale model of HMS Devastation in the bottom of the 'I'll get round to that one day' box. It's just a little bit late for my timeframe of 1865 to 1875 but it was in service, so I'll have one thank you very much. I'm sure it will give the Frogs the fear, which is always a good idea and probably what she was designed for in the first place!

It's also a very simple casting to paint up, consisting as it does of the hull and base, with no nasty masts or sails to tackle. I have also found a single casting of the steam frigate HMS Shah which I may or may not build as well, even though it's definitely pushing the limit of what I can justify. On the downside, I've been really busy at work, so have had no time in the evenings to start on the French ironclads, but I will be sorting that out at the weekend, decorating and DIY permitted.

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Soviet G-5 MTB's for Cruel Seas

I've just got hold of four more reduced price G-5 MTB's via eBay to add to the four that came with the Soviet Starter fleet pack, so have enough for a pretty impressive, if lightweight coastal forces Baltic flotilla. I really like these models and will line them up as the first Cruel Seas boats to be assembled and painted, once I've finished the ironclads project. 

Tuesday 23 April 2019

HMS Scorpion and HMS Wivern


I lined up my based and undercoated Royal Navy ironclads today, to remind myself what I had prepared and also to spot any gaps that I might want to fill. I need no excuse to acquire more Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale ship models but I found one when I realised that I didn't have either HMS Scorpion or HMS Wivern, which would be a handy addition to the squadron as I'm a bit light on turret ironclads. I've put in an order so they'll be added to the painting queue when they arrive.

French Ironclads Part Deux

Here's what's left to paint for the 1/2400th scale French ironclad project, which I've started on by blocking in the sails and bases. They look pants at the moment but they will be much better once I've added a few more layers. The line up consists of the Magenta, four Provence Class ironclads, Flandre, Provence, Guyenne and Revanche, together with three Alma class central battery ironclads, Alma, Armide and Atalante. The plan is to get these painted up over the next few days, work and family permitting, with a deadline after the weekend if all goes according to plan. I could add a few more to the fleet but I think this will cover most of the potential scenarios that I can think off.

Monday 22 April 2019

French Ironclads First Half Finished

Eleven down...eight to go!

Coastal Defence Ironclad Rams

Ironclad Monitor and Ram

Early Ironclads

Later Ironclads and Screw Sloop

Scratchbuilt Casemate Ironclad 
Not too bad a match?

I had a very productive day at the workbench, with half of the 1/2400th scale French ironclads finally painted and finished. I have been 'um-ing' and 'ah-ing' over these for months but decided to bite the bullet and just get on with it, which turned out to be a good idea as they ended up looking not too bad. I also sorted out a sea colour scheme, using Foundry Union Blue as a basecoat with various dry brushed layers on top, which isn't a bad match for the Tiny Wargames blue sea cloth that I'll be using for games. To round things off I also repainted the base on the Onondaga to match the new sea shades, so I now have an extra ironclad monitor to add to the squadron. I'll tackle the remaining ships over the next week or so, then hopefully get on to the Royal Navy sooner rather than later. Full Steam Ahead!

Clear Bases for Cruel Seas

One of the things that spooked me a bit when I played Cruel Seas is the absence of bases for the models, which for some inexplicable reason just seems wrong. I thought that clear acrylic bases would be a good idea, as they would protect the models, which have some fragile parts, from handling and still allow the wake markers to be used. They would also make storing the models easier. I've now found a source of inexpensive laser cut acrylic bases here:


I'm going to get some for my S-100 E boats and G5 MTB's to see if they work.

Sunday 21 April 2019

European Ironclads 1860-75

I pre-ordered this new Osprey a while back and it arrived as a digital copy yesterday, so I read it on the boat over from France. It's actually not bad and better than the companion volume on British Ironclads, at least as far as the artwork is concerned. It does jump about all over the place to begin with but then has clear sections on each of the main European nations and their ironclad fleets, with the French being my particular area of interest. It's in no way a detailed study but as a general introduction and for wargaming purposes it's fine. The best bit is probably the last section on the Battle of Lissa, which is a good wargaming explanation if a very brief one. I am going to use some of the artwork as a painting guide for my French ironclads too.

Friday 19 April 2019

The Siege of Tsingtau

This is turning out to be a very interesting read, as it doesn't just detail the actual siege but covers the establishment of the whole German Far East Asian Empire in the South Pacific and mainland China. There's a fascinating insight into the fundamental role of the Imperial German Navy as a driver and mechanism for colonial expansion, both to obtain coaling stations and naval bases but also to project power in one of the few remaining places that offered 'a place in the sun'. I have a long ferry journey tomorrow so plan to read further and pinch some ideas for a 'what if?' pre-dreadnought solo campaign.

Thursday 18 April 2019

Ironclad Sea Blue Base Shades

I need to match this using Vallejo colours
This is my previous basing for the dark sea cloth...too grey!

I'm on the way back home over the next couple of days but have been thinking ahead, so that I can squeeze some wargaming into the last couple of days of holiday time. One thing I need to do is pick up and finish off my 1/2400th scale French ironclads including repainting the sea bases to match my new Tiny Wargames blue sea terrain cloth. At the moment, they are blocked in with a blue/grey shade to match my other sea cloth which is a darker colour. I wasn't very happy with this as it looked a bit too grey but it has left me with the challenge of finding a colour match using Vallejo or Army Painter shades for the new blue cloth. Any suggestions for a good three stage approach that works would be very welcome!

French Commerce Raiders

I have ordered a couple of Tumbling Dice armoured cruisers for my up and coming pre-dreadnought project, which is based in the Far East c1900-1905. These are two Gueydon class armoured cruisers, two of which, Montcalm and Gueydon, were deployed to French Indochina and the South Pacific to fly the flag in 1902-03. I've just started reading the Siege of Tsingtau by Charles Stephenson, in which he sets out the rivalries over the Philippines after the Spanish American War as well as the clashes between the various powers over China and Manchuria. There's loads of 'what if's' to be used as scenario and campaign 'hooks', so a couple of  commerce raiding French cruisers are a very handy addition to the set up. 

Wednesday 17 April 2019


I've just quickly read this new(ish) book on the Battle of Tsushima to refresh my pre-dreadnought project ideas, although in typical Osprey fashion it includes an overview of the whole Russo Japanese naval war. It's not bad at all, despite the strange cover art and limited scope for a detailed historical account. It's not as good as the two volume coverage in the MMP series by Piotr Olender, both of which are excellent from a wargaming perspective, but it's useful as a basic overview, with some good maps and illustrations.

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Pre-Dreadnought Flotilla Basing

One of the things that has held me back on the pre-dreadnoughts project is the basing for torpedo boats and destroyers. The rules I'm thinking of using, Broadside and Salvo or Naval Thunder: Rise of the Battleships, both use flotilla basing for these smaller warships but don't actually specify how to go about it. I've seen it done in different ways including four or five models based on large rectangles, two or three based on smaller rectangles and even individually based models with magnetic strip underneath and magnet lined movement trays. 

I'm thinking that the best way forward would be to use group basing of between two and three models, depending on their size, on square or slightly rectangular bases so that they can be organised into divisions or flotillas. The square format means that they can also be arranged in formations without looking odd or taking up too much space. I'm going to stick with a base width that matches the rest of the warships too, probably 30mm to allow for larger models to fit but also not so big that smaller ships like cruisers end up looking silly.

I think this should work well and avoid having to move loads of individual models each turn?

Monday 15 April 2019

Cruel Seas Soviet MTB's

I really didn't expect to branch out from the Kriegsmarine in Cruel Seas but having just acquired a Soviet Starter Set I suppose I'd better make the most of it! In fact, this makes a lot of sense as the club is currently swamped with Schnellboote, as most of the Cruel Seas players have chosen German flotillas. The Soviet models are also really nice, especially the G5's with their stern launched torpedoes, as copied from the CMB's used by the RN in the Baltic in 1919. 

The other handy thing about the Soviets is that I can make use of the surplus S-38 class S Boats that I have spare, having set aside the S-100 models and a couple of converted S-38's for the 5th S Boat Flotilla. The earlier unarmoured S38's are perfect for either the Baltic in 1941-42 or the Black Sea, where they were used for most of the war alongside various early war types. I can kill two birds with one stone and set up some solo games of my own at home with the Soviets against the Germans.

I will start on this at some point next month, when I'm back home and when I have time to sit down and assemble the G5's. I'll start with these as I really like the models and they are small enough to not take too much time to both build and paint. The 5th S Boat Flotilla will have to wait a little longer, as the Soviets are now going to be my main thrust for the Cruel Seas project. I may even get another set of four G5's, as they aren't exactly packed with much punch!

Sunday 14 April 2019

Tumbling Dice French Pre-Dreadnoughts

I spotted the latest addition to the Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale Age of Battleships range yesterday, thirty two pre-dreadnought era warships for the French navy c1883-1909:


I've been eagerly waiting for these to be launched, having heard on the grapevine that they were on the way after the Italian and Austrian fleets, so I will definitely be ordering a few for my pre-dreadnought collection. I have some British and Japanese ships already but some French 'floating hotels' would be fun!

I've been wanting to make use of my lovely new blue sea cloth, so on reflection it really would be more sensible to concentrate on naval projects this Summer, rather than starting something completely new involving loads of figure painting and terrain construction. My naval projects include both the 1/2400 scale ironclads and pre-dreadnoughts plus the Cruel Seas coastal warfare models, amongst other things.

This is a much better idea for all sorts of very good reasons, so The Men Who Would Be Kings will be shelved for the moment. It will be back at some point in the future but I'm now going to concentrate on the nautical stuff, at least until the Autumn. That's not to say that I won't paint a tank or two to finish off What a Tanker! or perhaps paint some 1/600th scale planes, but these will be on the sidelines.


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