Saturday 31 October 2020

War of the Pacific Ironclads Finished

I managed to finish off the three ironclads for the Battle of Angamos this evening, with a bonus extra of two ASV11 corvettes re-purposed from my Danish squadron as the Chilean O'Higgins and Chacabuco. As I had used the same painting scheme on these as the other Chilean ships it seemed a good idea to switch them over to the War of the Pacific, even though the new model from Tumbling Dice is now available. I will now have a go at adding some basic rigging and appropriate ensigns for both sides but, as I've failed to get this to look good enough before, I'm not holding my breath.

Peru-Chile Painting Progress

I'm whacked up on anti-biotics at the moment so feel a bit funky but have made some good progress with the 1/2400th scale Tumbling Dice ships for the Battle of Angamos. They're about half way now, with a series of base layers followed by an ink wash, so need the highlights added and the bases painted before I can wrap them up. They look okay but I've cut a few corners to get them done, with only the front of the masts painted in due to a lack of definition in the castings on the back, which made it difficult to get a straight vertical line. Otherwise, they're lovely models to paint and really capture the look of the actual ironclad warships. I'll aim to get them finished today.

Friday 30 October 2020

A Billion Suns

Something else I'm looking forward to next year is the publication of these new fleet scale space wargaming rules. I've played a fair bit of Full Thrust in the past but these rules look really different and intriguing, at least from the outline on the rules website.

They only need a handful of ships to start with, mostly merchants, gunboats, frigates and destroyers, with some fighter stands and a single big warship, so a minimal outlay is required. I have some Brigade Models Amrep ships that I never got round to using too.

It just so happens that the Brigade Models online shop has just reopened, so this week's pocket money may well be spent on more 'ooh shiny!' spaceships instead of more Aeronef. They've added lots of new models to the range since I was last around, so I'll be like a kid in a sweet shop!

Thursday 29 October 2020

Base Labelling 'How to...'

1/600th scale Fairmile ML's

I was asked by Jens to explain how I make the base labels for my various model ships, so here we go.

1. I make a table in WORD with the cells sized to fit the space I have left at the end of the bases, which is usually 20mm x 5mm, or thereabouts,

2. I find a flag or ensign online then paste the image into the WORD document, resize it to fit in the cell, make it a Tight Wrap in the formatting options, then position it into the cell on the left hand end.

3. Inside the cells I fill in the names of each ship using a suitable font and centre the text in the middle of the cell. I have to adjust the size of the font to fit the cell and the space next to the flag symbol.

4. After printing put the page on plain paper (you could use adhesive labels) I then use a steel rule and a sharp craft scalpel to cut out each label, often trimming it down to 4mm x 20mm to fit.

5. With an old brush I add a thin wipe of PVA glue to the base then glue down the label. Don't use too much glue! If required, I let it dry then trim off any overlap with a sharp blade.

If you need to replace them for any reason, you can just slice them off with a scalpel blade and start again with a new label. 

Jungle Green

A few years ago I bought some of the Commando Miniatures 28mm British infantry for skirmish wargaming the Malayan Counfrontation or Aden. I was disappointed with the figures, which seemed a bit chunky and lacking in detail, so put them to one side in favour of the 15mm alternative of Peter Pig for my Sandbox Skirmish platoon level project.

I've recently discovered that the Commando Miniatures range, which includes Indonesian para-commandos, Gurkhas and SAS for the Confrontation, has been acquired by Warbases and is now available once again. The painted figures on the website look pretty good too.

I'm thinking of dusting off the figures I already have and ordered a squad worth of the para-commandos or the Arab regulars to do a small post colonial skirmish project in 28mm, alongside my 15mm efforts. The rules would probably be either Fivecore or Danger Close.

I'm leaning toward the Indonesian Confontation, as I have some jungle buildings I've never used and a small amount of jungle terrain that I can expand upon. It's just a possibility at the moment but worth some thought, as it wouldn't be very expensive or time consuming.

If I do decide to go for it, I think it'll need a proper project title, so what better then 'Jungle Green':

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Baltic Coastal Battleships

I am feeling a bit ropey today due to an ongoing ear infection but have been cheered up by the arrival in the post of my latest Tumbling Dice order, together with my laser cut ship bases from Warbases. The latter will allow me to finish basing the flotillas of 1/2400th scale Italian torpedo boats, while also giving me enough 55mm and 60mm bases for future projects.

The Tumbling Dice envelope contained the extra torpedo boats for my Italian fleet together with some French and German coastal battleships of the 1880's. I had been reading about the French plan to deploy shallow draft coastal battleships in the Baltic in case of war with Imperial Germany, so decided to add some to my French pre-dreadnought forces.

This obviously led on to adding a small number of German coastal battleships, the only ones in the Tumbling Dice range being the Siegfried class of six warships. I have three of them now and lovely models they are too, with their distinctive side by side fore turrets and stubby, high sided hulls complete with a fairly steep tumblehome.

I've no idea when I'll get round to painting them but I do think they look splendid!

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Boring Base Texturing

I am in the middle of texturing the mdf bases on the Italian pre-dreadnoughts, using some cheap artist's acrylic paste that I bought in a French supermarket. I applied a plastic spatula to create a wave effect, then glued down the models using a splodge of gel superglue. If you slide the model onto the base rather than plonking it down, you can also get a bow wave effect, although you have to be careful not to over cook it. The blank strip at the aft end of the base is for a name label, which I will print out and stick on after the painting had been finished. It's all a bit boring but quite satisfying at the same time!

Back to the Baltic

This is the latest book that I'm reading, following my interest in naval actions in the Baltic, this time in the immediate aftermath of the First World War. Although written in the 1960's it is still a really good account of the Royal Navy campaign to bottle up the Bolsheviks, including the famous torpedo boat raid on Kronstadt. It would make a brilliant little campaign, perhaps in different scales depending on the type of engagement, from cruiser and destroyer actions all the way down to coastal warfare skirmishes.

Monday 26 October 2020

Italian Pre-Dreadnoughts Prepared

I finished assembling the last of the ships today for the Italian pre-dreadnought project, at least until my packs of torpedo boats arrive from Tumbling Dice later this week. Here we have the turret ship Enrico Dandolo in her original configuration, three (very fiddly!) Regioni class protected cruisers and the two ironclad battleships, Re Umberto and Sicilia, which are almost archetypal pre-dreadnoughts in all but armour. I have also based up a couple of the Chinese torpedo boats that I'll be using as 56S class torpedo boats for the Regia Marina, with another eight on the way to make up an effective defensive squadron of several flotillas. I now need to texture the bases, glue the models down firmly and undercoat the whole lot, in the meantime painting the three ironclads for the Battle of Angamos.

Somewhere in a grim, dark, expensive future...

Despite my best efforts to get the boys into historical wargaming, the eldest has now decided that he's going to revive his Warhammer 40K habit, after dropping it a few years ago. He's picking up where he left off with a squad of Crimson Fist space marines, but using the new version of the figures, which are actually really rather good. I've never played 40K and almost certainly never will but it's great to see him doing something vaguely in the wargaming orbit (except for the minor inconvenience caused by him nicking all my tools, paints and brushes!)

Sunday 25 October 2020

Battle of Angamos Ironclads Assembled

Here are the three 1/2400th scale Tumbling Dice ironclads for the Battle of Angamos, all based up and ready to go. The Huascar has had a gaff spar added using a cut down metal staple, but is otherwise straight out of the pack. The Almirante Cochrane and Blanco Encalada have also had spars added to the fore, main and mizzen masts, again using cut down staples glued in place. As I only have these three models to paint, I thought it was worth the extra time and effort to detail them a bit more than usual, especially as the reduced rig and absence of sails makes it fairly obvious when spars are missing.

Italian Pre-dreadnoughts

I've nearly completed the assembly stage of the 1/2400th Italian pre-dreadnought project, with only the Enrico Dandolo and a couple of protected cruisers to glue together, before I can sort out the bases. I actually have the Enrico Dandolo already but in its later re-constructed format, so I have a second model on the stocks in the original design. I'm planning to get it all sorted at some point today, given a bit of free time.

Saturday 24 October 2020

Half Term Holiday Mini-Project

I've now got a week or so of holiday, which is less than I as expecting but I've just had my contract renewed, so it's all swings and roundabouts. This means that I can crack on with my pre-dreadnought project but can also squeeze in a little mini project for completion over the next ten days or so. At the moment I have two front runners for this.

The first option is to assemble, base and paint all of the Chilean and Peruvian ironclads for the Battle of Angamos, with the unarmoured screw warships for the Battle of Iquiqui as a possible extra. This only amounts to six 1/2400th scale models in total, using the new versions from Tumbling Dice, so I think it's more than manageable in the space of a week. The plan would be to use Dahlgren and Columbiad for some fast play ironclad naval gaming.

The second option is to assemble, base and paint either a selection of 1/2400th scale ships for the Anglo Dutch War, based on privateering skirmishes around the Isles of Scilly in the late 1640's and early 1650's, or to finish painting some of the Peter Pig 1/450th scale pirate ships that I have had in my 'to do' box for a few years. The idea with both these would be to use Galleys and Galleons for some piratical games.

I'll give it some more thought today, then get started on one or the other!

Friday 23 October 2020

Torpedoes Away!

56S Class Torpedo Boat

I wanted to include some 1880's torpedo boats in my pre-dreadnought Italian fleet but there aren't any in the Tumbling Dice range, excluding the much larger torpedo cruisers of the Partenope class, which I have on order. Instead, I've had to hunt around in the other sections of the Age of Battleships catalogue for something I can use as a stand in, with the end result being a pack of the Chinese ABC9 Fu Lung torpedo boat models that I just happened to already have for the Sino Japanese project.
Fu Lung as the Japanese Fukuryu

This might seem like a strange choice but the basic hull design was fairly widely used in the 1880's and 1890's, being constructed by the German Schichau company in various different shapes and sizes. As a result, the Fu Lung is close enough to the Italian 56S class to be visually indistinguishable in 1/2400th scale, unless you get your slide rules out and start counting rivets. The only slight difference is in the shape of the whaleback foredeck, but I think I can get away with that? 

The 56S class were built in quite large numbers for the Italians between 1886 and 1887, so spot on for my requirements. I've also got three models spare from the pack of four, as there was only one boat in the class, which means that they can now be repurposed for something useful. I'm now on holiday for a week, so I'm going to get cracking on the painting as soon as I can, once the last of the ships are based and the bases have been textured.

Ironclads: Pre-Dreadnought Wars

I noticed on the blurb that each of the supplements for Ironclads 1860-1918 contains a version of the core rules, specifically tailored to the particular period in question, so I have ordered a copy of the Pre-dreadnought supplement to test them out. This seemed like a sensible way to get a closer look at the rules without spending too much and will help me to get a move on with the 1/2400th scale French and Italian ships.

Wednesday 21 October 2020

China Station

No prizes for working out what I'm reading now, given my naval wargaming and Victorian science fiction focus. This is actually really riveting stuff, if a bit shameful from a British perspective, although the shoe is now definitely on the other foot. Perfidious Albion at her very worst, no less, but very interesting, well researched and immediately engaging. 

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Imperial Chinese Aeronef

Imperial Chinese Cruiser Chen Yuan

I've decided to switch my Aeronef project focus from the Duchy of Brittany to Imperial China, as it is a better option given my existing Portuguese and Japanese fleets. I really like the idea of using an eclectic mix of different dirigible models for this, as I can imagine the Chinese deploying all sorts of inflatable flying machines from foreign yards, giving a slightly less than cutting edge capability. I still plan to do a small Breton flotilla, however, using some old range Netherlands aeronefs that I have unearthed, but the focus for now will be on the Far East, in parallel with my Sino Japanese War pre-dreadnoughts. I have been researching the various battleships, protected cruiser, armoured cruisers and gunboats for the 1/2400th scale project, so at the very least I can find some prototypical names for the flying equivalents!

Sunday 18 October 2020


Italian Weekend

I grabbed some time today to assemble the core of the Italian pre-dreadnought squadron using the excellent Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale range. These are lovely models and go together very easily, without as many of the fiddly funnels and masts that the French pre-dreadnoughts are festooned with, so assembly was a fairly painless task. I have some more to add to the selection on display, including some more protected cruisers and battleships, which I'm hoping to build over the coming week. I also need to texture the bases and glue the ships in place but I'll do that in one production line workbench session. The plan will then be to paint them up over the half term break alongside the French. 

Saturday 17 October 2020

Ironclads 1860-1918 Rules

These popped up on eBay of all places a while back and I thought I'd take a closer look. Although designed for 1/2000th scale and the publishers own range of resin model ships, I suspect I could easily convert them to 1/2400th scale without too much difficulty. They also have a  range of supplements for specific periods and a scenario book which might well be useable for other rules systems. I've put in a bid for a copy so will have to wait until I win it to find out more, assuming I do of course. I do wonder why they aren't available on Wargame Vault but I'm sure he has a good reason to use eBay instead?

Friday 16 October 2020

15mm Sandbox Skirmish Terrain

I spotted this bundle deal the other day via the Wargames Website and was sorely tempted to add some more lasercut mdf buildings to my Sandbox Skirmish modern and post-colonial project, even though I have quite a lot of similar ones from Blotz. These look really good, especially the multi story compound buildings, which with a little bit of detailing would fit in very well. The price tag is quite high, however, so it will have to wait until the end of the month. I really should give this project a boot up the bum and get it going again, perhaps in 2021, as it's got a lot of potential for a relatively small outlay in terms of cost and time, with the solo play aspect being a big factor in the current coronavirus climate.

Thursday 15 October 2020

Normal Service Will Be Resumed

Those of you of a particular vintage will remember the test card from long, boring afternoons in the '70's, when the TV only had three channels, was black and white and you had to get out of your sofa to push the buttons, albeit when it hadn't either blown up or gone all fuzzy. Anyway, I digress, as the message is the same, with a temporary black out due to work and family life resulting in my absence from the workbench.

Fear not, as I have a free weekend ahead (I hope?) and a couple of days off at the end of next week to make up the shortfall. I've also received my small but perfectly formed order of Aeronef from Brigade Models, which will form the nucleus of my Breton aerial squadron. I've gone for a dirigible theme, as they're underrated and not often deployed as an entire fleet, even though there are some lovely models in the range. 

These are an eclectic mix of Russian, Swiss and Turkish digs, but I think they look pretty good when mixed together. I've also got a lovely French 'Les Arc' class aircraft carrier from the old range which I may add to the fleet, together with some more of the Turkish Class Four and Five models, so there will be a nice balance to the whole shebang. I can also pull it together with a consistent 'look', especially if I paint them up in black and white Breton colours.

Monday 12 October 2020

One Bullet Away

I've been reading this over the weekend, having finished Generation Kill last week. This is an auto biographical account of a career in the US Marine Corps, which wouldn't have been of particular interest were it not for the fact that the author played a pivotal role in the events described in Generation Kill. I'm not that keen on reading about recent conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan, as many of the books that have emerged from both conflicts lean toward the sensationalist, elite special forces vicarious end of the literary spectrum. This, however, is different and written by someone with a background in history and the classics, which lifts it above the run of the mill. A really well written and reflective account.

Sunday 11 October 2020

1/2400th ACW Riverine Project Finished

I wrapped up my 1/2400th scale ACW riverine project yesterday by speed painting the rest of the gunboats and a single casemate ironclad, giving me enough models for a decent set of games. I didn't spend much time on these so they're a bit messy but I think they'll do. I decided to label two of them as generic Union gunboats and the rest as Confederate, with the only historical model being the scratch built CSS Louisiana. I now have twelve models in total, so enough for a decent range of scenarios using Dahlgren and Columbiad or the Noddy Fast Play rules and my home made river terrain modules. 

Job done!

Saturday 10 October 2020

Nautical Nicknacks

I noticed that Blotz have some inexpensive but very useful new accessories for naval games in their catalogue, no doubt designed for Black Seas and the like, but perfect for my Broadside and Ram games. The two that I picked out are an 8'' movement ruler with 45 and 30 degree turn angles on either end, and a rather nice 40mm round compass rose, which I can use for wind direction, current and smoke drift, amongst other things. The neat thing is that they are available in a smorgasbord of acrylic colours, so I have chosen clear ice blue to match the acrylic Warbases firing templates that I use for my ironclad naval games. Cool!

Yazoo River Scenario

As a follow on from my Battle of Baton Rouge game yesterday, I thought I'd have a go at a scenario from Iron and Fire, which I can adapt for Dahlgren and Columbiad. This involves about half a dozen ironclads and gunboats which I will use substitutes for, apart from the CSS Arkansas of which I have a scratch built 1/2400th scale model. 

The plan will be to have the USS Benton and a fictitious sidewheel gunboat, the USS Robinson, as the Union flotilla, accompanied by another generic gunboat acting as the transport. The Confederate flotilla will use my two other hypothetical gunboats, the double ender CSS Starling and the sidewheel paddler CSS Thornton. This will keep the scenario within it's original parameters.

The terrain is the easy bit as I have all the river modules required to lay out the bend and the tributary for the CSS Arkansas to hide in. I just need to paint a model to represent the Union transport, write up the record sheets for the various gunboats then set it all out ready to go. I'll aim to run the game tomorrow if I can find the time, although I suspect I'll have other less interesting things to do?.

Friday 9 October 2020

The Battle of Baton Rouge 1862

The Set Up

CSS Arkansas

USS Essex

Opening Shots

Another Broadside

Scraping Past


Stuck Fast

I played the modified Dahlgren and Columbiad INWARD 2020 scenario with the lad this morning, with his command being the CSS Arkansas and mine the USS Essex. I'd re-jigged the scenario briefing to convert it into centimetre measurements for 1/2400th scale, to adjust the play area to the modular river terrain boards and to clarify the objectives for each side, but other than that it was identical. The CSS Arkansas had to escape down river while the USS Essex had to stop her. Simple, or so it seemed?

In the game, which we both really enjoyed, the CSS Arkansas managed to slip past the USS Essex despite having an engine breakdown in Turn Three which left her drifting down river toward the blockading Union fleet. This was exactly what happened in the actual engagement, so pretty accurate in historical terms: 

''On the morning of 6 August, Essex came in sight, and Arkansas moved into the stream to meet her. Just at this time, crank pins on both engines failed almost simultaneously, and Arkansas drifted helplessly to the shore''

She did suffer some light damage to her steering and some hull damage from the USS Essex's broadsides as they passed, but this was balanced by the Union ironclad's light damage from the aft 6.4'' Brooke rifles of the CSS Arkansas. The CSS Arkansas had also managed to point her bows directly downstream so had no worries about running into the shallows or going aground.

The crunch point came when the USS Essex attempted to turn in the river channel and promptly ran aground in the shallows, despite almost scraping through. She did manage to unstick herself but then proceeded to do it all over again on the opposite side of the river. The problem she faced was her low manoeuvre rating rather than the width of the river channel, which meant she could only turn in 30 degree increments. A double ender or sidewheeler would have had no problem, so the terrain did work despite my worries that it might be too restrictive.

The outcome of the battle was a clear Minor Victory for the CSS Arkansas, which was now adrift and floating downstream toward the rest of the Union river fleet. I'm pretty sure that Lieutenant Stevens would have decided to abandon ship and rig the CSS Arkansas for destruction, just as he did in the actual engagement, sending her drifting into the midst of the Union fleet where she promptly blew up in a spectacular explosion!


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