Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The Battle of the Denmark Strait an Amazing Fact

Sometimes you come across actually a quite common known fact to others that had totally passed you by, but when others kindly retell it to you, it just simply stops you dead in your tracks. I knew that after the destruction of HMS Hood her consort, HMS Prince of Wales, had been hit on its bridge by a German 15" shell during the engagement. The shell tore through the unarmoured bridge without exploding leaving behind it a trail of carnage. On the bridge at that time were Captain Leach of HMS Prince of Wales along with fifteen officers of his bridge crew. Of the sixteen, thirteen were killed outright and one left badly wounded and completely blind. Captain Leach was one of the two standing survivors and managed to con his battleship out of harms way under cover of a smokescreen. The blinded bridge gunnery officer eventually regained the sight in one eye but only after a whole year convalescing. During that time HMS Prince of Wales had sailed off to the Far East to fight the Japanese and had been lost along with HMS Repulse as part of Force Z, taking with it Captain Leach.

After the war, when it came to filming Sink The Bismarck, an ex-naval officer who had returned to his pre-war profession of acting was cast in the role of Captain Leach, as seen in the iconic still from the film (see below). That actor was a one Esmond Knight, who in fact was the former gunnery officer whom had been blinded on the bridge of HMS Prince of Wales. Knight had stood by Captain Leach during the whole engagement and only by being so severely wounded was given the perverse chance by fate to escape death in the sinking of HMS Prince of Wales. To me this is totally mind blowing. He is not acting but in a time machine back to that fateful day, his expression carrying across with it the horror and magnitude of event far, far better than any words could describe (see below).


Picture Source:
http://rankandfile1.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/even-more-from-arsenal-stadium-mystery.html

You Tube video of KM Bismarck v HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales (3:24 into the video clip):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuO4BfnlDY8

You Tube documentary link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xX8XGMMXhE

Monday, 27 November 2017

The Battle of the Denmark Straits as we took it to the show (Battleground 2017 - Part 2)

The early ranging shots and salvos of both sides were traded with limited damage (apart from HMS Hood's opening salvo) to the point where HMS Hood historically had made it past her second 20 degree turn. Importantly this meant that the full broadsides can bear for both British battleships, as X and Y turrets cleared their arcs of fire. At this point HMS Hood had survived for longer than the historical counterpart (see below, RN bottom KM in the distant, with the little hands of Admiral  "Lutjens" [KM Admiral "A"] just visible):


Turn four saw a really effective exchange of heavy fire with HMS Hood having many visible (in the sense of shell bursts on her or in her) "battle scars" but these were mainly of the non-penetrating nature or penetrating but superficial (in GQII you can do the hard part of hitting but still do no damage). "Lady Luck" was holding out and smiling today for the Mighty Hood! Straddled by the KM Bismark she was in 'harm's way' but had escaped with just a slight reduction in speed to 9cm but still firing with all her main armaments (see below, HMS Prince of Wales sails on unmolested in the Hood's wake in the background):


By way of contrast the KM Bismarck bears the full force of 18 RN naval barrels (8 x 15" from HMS Hood and 10 x 14" [which if looked at closely had the better penetration power] from HMS Prince of Wales). The KM Prince Eugen by this time had suffered by too much attention from HMS Hood. Initially slowed to 6cm, she was then again hit and slowed to a creeping 3cm. Her main armament was also savaged and reduced to half. At the start of play KM Price Eugen would be hard pressed to hurt a battleship, now it was a sliding mathematical scale towards the impossible. Her torpedoes were now her only real threat and there was no way she could get in range to use them. After a few distracting shots to HMS Prince of Wales she tried to retire under smoke away from the 'battleship only' arena. Unfortunately HMS Suffolk and HMS Norfolk were well placed to make that escape infeasible (see below):


The meat grinder phase of the battle showed that the ratio of 2:1 in RN firepower (when exotic statistical outlier results do not creep in) are brutally unforgiving. There was a steady attrition of straddling and hit (after hit) accumulation began to take its toll on the KM Bismarck's statistics. Before long her batteries were falling silent one by one and her speed slowing down (see below):


There was a brief phase when both sides seemed to throw bad dice but then at the end there was a maelstrom of violence directed at the KM Bismarck. In the exchange HMS Hood had lost half her armament and survived an interesting critical hit but the KM Bismarck was left travelling at 3cm with a lonely solo turret firing. Her end was in clearly sight (see below, "the flashes" indicated critical hits which resulted in extra hull and armament boxes being lost):


In the end it was the HMS Prince of Wales (even with an extra dice roll to see if all her guns worked) that provided the "coup de grace" with a final massive hull critical which that wiped out the KM Bismarck's flotation and then some. The battle ended how the RN Admiralty had intended the historical version to end. No German 'swan-song' on this occasion. Both player admirals shook hands at the end and departed still "best of friends"! It was a good participation/demonstration game, plenty of spectator comment and nice to see the scenario played through to the end.

Second re-fight (without pictures): As the traders were starting the long process of packing up, myself (Admiral "M" RN) and one of the other game organisers (Admiral "I" KM) decided to do another quick replay, not as tied to the historical event, with more latitude of action shall we say. Here HMS Hood decided to concentrate on hitting and dispatching the KM Prince Eugen who seemed to be intent to close to torpedo distance. This meant taking several hits from the KM Bismarck, leaving HMS Prince of Wales to fight her battle for her. HMS Hood was thus reduced to 6cm but thankfully nothing worse. HMS Prince of Wales sadly did not even scratch the paintwork on the KM Bismarck. Admiral "I" KM was happy to play a long distant gunnery duel game with the British battleships. The speed advantage was in his favour (HMS Prince of Wales 11cm and HMS Hood 6cm to KM Bismarck's 12cm). As the range lengthened Admiral "M" RN (me) deemed it prudent to disengage and resume shadowing with the cruisers (HMS Suffolk and HMS Norfolk) and regain contact with her "lost or misplaced" RN destroyer screen (the four escorting destroyers that could not keep pace with the battleships in the bad weather). This would also give the British time to organise a Swordfish torpedo attack from HMS Victorious (as historically happened) and allow perhaps a damaged KM Bismarck to be re-engaged by the combined force of one battleship (HMS Prince of Wales), two cruisers (HMS Suffolk and HMS Norfolk) and three destroyers (assuming that one is left to escort the damaged HMS Hood). In addition there were the additional heavy units of the Home Fleet (HMS King George V and HMS Repulse with Tovey) closing in "with all haste" or even those heavier ships still on convoy escort duty (the battleships HMS Rodney, HMS Ramillies and HMS Revenge, plus the cruisers HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Edinburgh) that could come into play. Force H from Gibraltar may or may not be needed (probably used as insurance a policy). If not they may have been on hand strategically to help out (or be sunk) in the Mediterranean, as the invasion of Greece and Crete was in full swing at this point.

Wow. All good fun and a very, very enjoyable day out. In between battles I managed to pick up a few other bits and pieces, but more of them later. Also a huge thank you to Renko for kindly lending me the dark blue North Atlantic playing surface and those very useful plastic hit (orange 3D explosion) and critical (red exploding star) markers. The very effective looking smoke came from tumble-dryer belly button fluff! With three kids I seem to have an endless supply of the stuff ;)

Sitting back with a relaxing cup of "RN Cocoa" I was thinking on what the "lessons learned" were for the whole day/experience (but that is for another post).

:)

Sunday, 26 November 2017

The Battle of the Denmark Straits as we took it to the show (Battleground 2017 - Part 1)

I have to confess that I got a huge buzz from Battleground 2017 (Stockton, UK) today as for the first time I was involved in a demonstration game (The Battle of the Denmark Straits 1941). Normally when I go to a Wargames Convention I spend most of my time circulating around the traders and "Bring and Buy" looking for essential purchases and bargains, trying desperately to stick to a "budget". My conversations with other wargamers are very restricted to comments to other shoppers and the 'talkative' stall owners. I scan the demonstration games (huge battlefields crammed with excellently painted figures ranging from 28mm to 6mm), consume the vista and move on. I have never as yet really participated in any of the participation games being more keen to move onto the essential shopping and get back to the family before it is too late. This year was different as I had babysitters (although my kids are now not babies) arranged and a full afternoon pass (the wife was also away enjoying herself on a University reunion).

So I spent a whole afternoon "virtually" in the Denmark Straits or talking about the battle and other other naval stories. I was amazed by the level of detail other people had on the subject and also some fascinating anecdotes and personal connections (in particular with HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales). After we set the game up I was called upon to start the General Quarters II (GQII) demonstration. To help me I had two young admirals rolling the dice. We'll call them "P" for the RN and "A" for the KM. The forces were placed on the table (see below, the Germans on the 1/3000 plot approaching at bearing 300 degrees to North):


We also had a 1/1200 representation of the local tactical arrangement, whereby most of the markers would be placed to keep the 1/3000 plot clear of unnecessary 'clutter' (see below, KM Prince Eugen leading the KM Bismarck):


Admiral "P" leads the RN in on their historical 220 degrees to North bearing (see below, both sides have pink "Post-It" notes close to the respective ships with their GQII characteristics on so damage can be easily marked off. Also note the small flag denoting nationality):


Standing back and the table area revealed the 1/3000 'battle area' (middle), the top section of the table with a laptop running various videos and also 1941 facsimile documents [something I discovered in a "remnants shop" one day while I was mooching] and the "messy bottom" area with the GQII rules and also the two 1/1200 tactical areas (see below, you can just see the 1/1200 model of HMS Hood bottom right):


History was immediately rewritten as RN Admiral "P" hit the Prince Eugen with a salvo from HMS Hood (10% chance, don't leave 'dice' in the hands of small children as they can do the impossible) causing a massive two hull box damage and immediate reduction in speed to 6cm. As the KM Prince Eugen slowed and veered away the KM Bismarck passed her and masked her from additional RN shots. It was now a stand up fight between two RN battleships (one old 'The Mighty Hood' and one [too] new the 'PoW') and a KM one at the peak of its efficiency (see below):


The KM held a brief advantage in penetration capability at this long range but the RN battle line was closing fast. The "battle royale" was about to begin!

Next: Let the "big guns" speak!

Saturday, 25 November 2017

The Battle of the Denmark Strait 1941: Battle Set-Up - It is all in the Angle of Attack (80 degrees of separation)

Reading through the historical accounts of the battle from various sources and studying the maps has been really interesting. From this the consensus seems to suggest the following battle set-up (see below):
  • Germans enter bearing 220 degrees
  • British enter bearing 300 degree
  • Range 26, 500 yards at first shot from HMS Hood
  • German ships will be slightly ahead making British X.Y turrets "out of arc"
The last pre-show run through of the rules and kit we've put together and ever so kindly been lent. It revealed that the odds show the Bismarck "gets it" (again) unless she gets 'lucky' early on. The final fate of the KM Bismarck is shown below (Note: We used the 1/3000 ships are used for the gunnery "plot" and the 1/1200 ships to indicate how the ships appeared to be damaged and when they are being straddled [and by whom]):


The higher level plot showed the 'bird's eye view" (see below, RN at bottom, HMS Hood (left) leading slightly damaged [down a turret but at full speed] and an untouched HMS Prince of Wales (bottom right) whereas the KM Bismarck is well and truly battered laying dead in the water (top right) with only one turret working. The KM Prince Eugen (middle left) is desperately trying to close to a "good" torpedo range on the Hood [aka to slow her down] before trying to make a run for it):


References and sources used to date are as follows:
  • The Loss of the Bismarck: An avoidable Disaster (Graham Rhys-Jones)
  • Hood and Bismarch: The Deep Sea Discovery of an Epic Battle (David Mearns and Rob White)
  • King George V Class Battleships (V.E. Tarrent)
  • German Capital Ships and Raiders in World War II, Volume 1: From Graf Spee to Bismarck 1939-41 
  • Hunting the Bismarck (C.S. Forester)
  • Pursuit (Ludovic Kennedy)
  • The Bismarck Chase: New Light on a Famous Engagement (Robert J Winklareth)
  • Battleship Bismarck: A Survivor's Story (Baron Burkard Von Mullenheim-Rechberh)
Naturally any additional sources of information would be greatly appreciated

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Atlantic Fleet Computer Game: Part of the Battle of the Denmark Straits Project

Well given the heightened interest I have in all things naval and in particular I decided to plunge into my Steam game account and purchase Atlantic Fleet. It is placed in the simulation rather than online game-play (World of Ships), but the graphics are sufficiently detailed for my interest and to see things "come to life" gives me a buzz (see below):


Naturally, even though a novice at the controls, I jumped straight into The Battle of the Denmark Strait (and in the urgent sense of shiny freshness I played it four times, twice as British and twice as German). It was really nice to see all the ships moving in the battle.

Results from four "Play Tests"

HMS Hood leading HMS Prince of Wales into battle (see below, screen shots from the start of the game):



Three as the British (Human Player) and German (AI):

  • All three times the KM Bismarck and KM Prince Eugen are sunk with HMS Hood heavily damaged (twice noted as being scuttled).
KM Bismarck with her consort KM Prince Eugen (see below, screen shot from the start of the  game): 



Two as British (AI) and German (Human Player):
  • Once, KM Bismarck was sunk and took HMS Hood sunk with her, but KM Prince Eugen "disengaged" [although she had nowhere to go and would have been "hunted down"]. HMS Prince of Wales was untouched in all three. 
  • Then in the other simulation the KM Prince Eugen was sunk (as a battleship broadside from HMS Prince of Wales took her out in one fell swoop) but she did manage to launch an annoying spread of torpedoes that worried the British battleships. However the RN (AI) should have been more worried about the KM Bismarck as she sunk both HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales (by crossing their collective "T" - Artificial Dumbness rather than intelligence methinks) albeit at the cost of heavy damage to the paintwork on her hull (OK and some flooding inside to slow her). Note: The Bismarck's heavy armament was firing 8 x 15" for most of the game, only dropping right at the end to 6 x 15". HMS Prince of Wales seemed to go down very quickly one the Bismarck got her range. I am not sure if it was a lucky hit or is she just easier to sink?
The KM Prince Eugen in (one of her many) her death throes (see below): 


I think I might get up to twenty replays before Xmas ;)

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Denmark Strait Scenario Notes: 24th May 1941 (Wargame) - Quite a big post

Scenario specific details/notes to self on playing The Battle of the Denmark Strait:

Contact: Set-up: 05:35 24/5/41
KM Bismarck and Prince Eugen sailing at 28 knots on course bearing 220 degrees

The German lead in (see below, but not quite the final set-up, PE leading Bismarck following):


Range between RN and KM when smoke first detected: 34,000 yards (17 nautical miles)

Note: German hydrophones on the KM Prince Eugen picked up the approach of two ships while "over the horizon". Lutjens believed them to be additional shadowing cruisers and was amazed to discover two RN capitol ships bearing down on them. One identified as HMS Hood. This was the worst case scenario wargamed by the Germans as despite her age they knew they could not out run the Hood. In fact Admiral Holland in HMS Hood had asked Captain Leach in HMS Prince of Wales if she could make more speed. To which the reply was, "not without damaging her", The crew report HMS Prince of Wales was "rattling herself to pieces" as it was while she tried to keep up with the Hood (28knots). In effect HMS Prince of Wales was still very much "working up" (with civilian contractors and dockyard hands aboard).

HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales sailing at 28 knots on course bearing 240 degrees
At 05:38 turn of 40 degrees to 280 degrees course heading
At 05:49 turn of 20 degrees to 300 degrees course heading

The British set-up (see below):


Both fleets are on converging courses. The KM are moving away from the Greenland ice shelf being shadowed by HMS Suffolk and HMS Norfolk under the command of Vice Admiral Wade Walker RN. The HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales under the command of Admiral Holland are intercepting. The screen force of four destroyers are still to the east of the BCF (Battle Cruiser Force).

Note [Other RN Forces, HMS Suffolk and HMS Norfolk, plus the BCF screening destroyers (4)]: In this scenario both the shadowing cruisers and destroyers play no active part other than after a certain time limit they would have to be factored in as ready to engage. The Germans (KM) needs to have "won" by that point.

At 05:53 HMS Hood opens fire on Prince Eugen at extreme range, historically 26,500 yards, nearly over the horizon shooting.


The range is converted from inches to cm is 106 (so4cm per 1000 yards) due to the constrained playing area (this makes the ships appear overly large in context - maybe 1/6000 would be a better representation?)

HMS Hood (leading) and HMS Prince of Wales (astern at 80 degrees) are in a quartered formation (see below, given the large size of the ship in proportion to sea space this is done more for visual effect than simulation accuracy):


Because X and Y turrets on HMS Hood and Y turret on HMS Prince of Wales historically could not bear the German fleet is pushed some 12" in from the 'table edge' (apologies for mixing imperial and metric measurements) placing it slightly ahead of the British BCF (Battle Cruiser Force). The angle between the two fleets should be 80 degrees with the Germans slightly ahead, enough to mask the British rear turrets from firing.

Note [British Erroneous Targeting]: Historically HMS Hood fired first and she was targeting the wrong ship (KM Prince Eugen). The reason for this being that the shadowing cruisers had last seen KM Bismarck leading the German formation and it was assumed that this was still the case. However Bismarck had discharged her main battery at the cruisers and in so doing so "knocked out" her own radar. The KM Prince Eugen therefore took the lead.

Note [German Command and Control "Freeze" and Poor British Gunnery Mechanism on HMS Hood]: The British fire from HMS Hood is a freebie as historically Lutjens froze giving no orders to return fire. owever given the antiquated WWI Dreyer fire control system on HMS Hood only a roll of "0" on a d10 would hit (GQII WWI Gunnery Rule). The first opening salvo from HMS Hood misses much to the consternation or relief to the crew of the KM Prince Eugen. In fact Holland (in the Hod realised by observation of the Prince of Wales he was shooting at the wrong ship and ordered "shift to second ship" but this order historically did not come into effect as the Hood blew up. To simulate this lag HMS Hood has to fire on the Prince Eugen  for the first three turns. If Hood makes a radical turn of 45 degrees or more her Dreyer gunnery tables need time to recompute, so she suffers -10% chance of hitting for that turn (as the Dreyer tables were poor when the rate of change varies greatly, strictly speaking this could apply if the target was changing course and speed to but I am trying to keep it 'relatively' simple).

Note: [The "Weather Gauge" disadvantages the British.] HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales were running into a heavy sea and the light advantage was to the German favour (dark horizon and silhouetting the RN). In particular HMS Prince of Wales (and all KGV class ships) were very "green" and took in lots of water over their forecastle. "A" turret was ankle deep in icy water for the whole battle. Hence British Gunnery is reduced by 10% in its chance to hit.   

Note: ["Crack" German Gunnery] "Until" the first successful straddle the Germans gain a 10% modifier chance to hit a British ship. This is to reflect the initial sharpness of the German guns on the day of the battle as they straddles their targets almost immediately.

Note: [HMS Prince of Wales erratic gunnery, "teething problems"] Due to her status of "reporting for duty" but in fact was not fully yet worked up HMS Prince of Wales has gunnery problems. At the time of the battle she had never initiated a full broadside. Something always broke. The quadruple 14" gun turrets were the problem. The RN did not solve these problems in KGV class battleships until mid 1943. Hence when HMS Prince of Wales hits a d6 is rolled:

1: 50% of armament boxes
2: 100% of armament boxes
3: 100% of armament boxes
4: 100% of armament boxes
5: 100% of armament boxes
6: 100% of armament boxes

On reflection this might be actually "too" generous?

Firing begins and something of interest almost immediately happens. HMS Hood is straddled by the Bismarck losing a turret and a hull box plus a "critical" is rolled (see below, will history come alive"?):


With bated breath we see extensive boiler room damage and she is reduced to half speed (6cm) becoming an annoying blocking hazard to HMS Prince of Wales (see below)


More smoke is added for aesthetic purposes (see below):


Heavy blows indeed against the RN on the first turn. No hits were landed on Germans in return. Holland (in HMS Hood) performs a radical turn towards the enemy to allow HMS Prince of Wales to fire this turn and pass by her next turn. This allows HMS Hoods "T" to be crossed by both the KM Eugen and KM Bismarck (see below):


The Germans look Teutonic and menacing, while in the distance smoke is belching from HMS Hood (see below):


The ships move and fire again. HMS Hood this time lays into the KM Eugen, despite the adverse weather gauge and her old RN 15" gun she takes two hull boxes and halves her speed in return (down to 6cm). KM Bismarck suffers from good gunnery from HMS Prince of Wales, losing a turret and a hull box (see below, note RED indicates visible damage to the enemy [such as a destroyed turret], BLACK not so obvious damage that is not disclosed to the enemy or simple no damage but a straddle):


Hoods "T"has been well and truly crossed. She is punished losing another turret [A] and taking another hill damage reducing her speed further (3cm). HMS Prince of Wales however is cleared for action (see below):


More damage on the KM Prince Eugen sees HMS Hood take out an eight inch turret (see below, note both German ships have been reduced to 6cm and HMS Prince of Wales is making steady progress to cross the Germans "T" in the not so distant future):


HMS Hood is hammered. More critical damage to her boilers stops her in the water and she is reduced to a single forward turret firing. The German battle line however has been hammered. KM Prince Eugen is really only a threat with respect to her torpedoes and Bismarck has just to say got two functioning main turrets. The (erratic) gunnery from the Prince of Wales is hurting (see below, the poor battered Hood):


HMS Prince of Wales finally bring the KM Bismark to her knees reducing her to 3cm speed. There is no way she can either become a commerce raider or even realistically escape additional units of the RN. Especially as HMS Prince of Wales is untouched (albeit with implicit gunnery problems). KM Eugen cannot escape either. The game is called a RN victory. The German ships do not have enough umpf left (see below, the broken and battered HMS Hood lies to the top left, but the unbroken HMS Prince of Wales steams off to the right ready to administer the "coup de grace"):


Additional smoke is now seem from HMS Suffolk and HMS Norfolk closing. The KM Prince Eugen is their target. Admiral Holland issues a visual lamp order to the destroyer escort which now arrives on the scene: "Execute torpedo attack on German Battleship Bismarck". Her fate is sealed.

An enjoyable play test. A few things were played wrong on the night but corrected in hindsight. Nothing that would have changed the outcome of the above.

Final Rule Notes:
Basic GQII: Multiple ships firing at same target, 2nd+ ships -10% to hit target
House Rule: If your ship is straddled then it is -10% chance to hit (being put off by shell splashes)

Result: Comprehensive RN Victory

HMS Hood should be "salvageable" although perhaps a constructive loss
The KM Bismarck and KM Prince Eugen look "doomed" their loss of speed being the biggest factor that weighs against them. They are now targets for destroyers, cruisers, submarines, swordfish and that is not to mention the fully functioning HMS Prince of Wales. In addition HMS King George V in accompaniment of  HMS Repulse with HMS Victorious will soon be within striking range.

It makes the events of the battle all the more fascinating and thought provoking given the catastrophic loss of HMS Hood.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Experimenting with Naval Visuals (1/1200) for The Battle of the Denmark Strait (1941)

Like it says on the tin I was experimenting with a "small tactical sea base" to mount 1/1200 ships on to represent their configuration in a long range naval gunnery duel. First up is the KM Bismarck (see below, as yet no foaming wake or cutting white bow spray):


Is this a more dirty looking "Atlantic green sea" (see below, pulling back the shot to get a full profile):


The German "raiding party" together for Operation Rheinuburg on the circular tactical base (see below, a way of reducing the 20,000' General syndrome or is this just another case of wargaming madness?):


The Royal Naval guardians of the Denmark Strait, HMS Hood leading HMS Prince of Wales (see below):


Part of the "cloak and dagger" operation to shadow HMS Suffolk (see below, HMS Norfolk is still suffering from my reluctance to customise the my duplicate HMS Suffolk into a reconfigured HMS Norfolk. The more I look into it I keep seeing more bits I have to do):


A single ship does seem the more sensible basing (see below, you can see that I envisage putting on counters around the outside of the 360 degrees of the "tactical board". Peoples thoughts honestly appreciated!):


Finally something 'caught inbound' on the "Mighty Hood" (see below, the Bismarck fires eight but two "straddle-splash markers" unaccounted for, something is brewing inside HMS Hood. Also note 'X' and 'Y' turrets are about to 'clear arc'):


More thoughts and experimentation to follow and perhaps even a walk-through war game using the old favourite GQII.

Big Boys .. this is just a simulation (or rather a "painting exercise") .. not the start of a collection.

Tim Gow do not get excited I am NOT going 54mm "that is the way of madness" I was only practising some 'painting techniques' on my son's "big toy soldiers". There is no reason to be alarmed gentlefolk of the jury, this was a "one off", despite a curious feeling of enjoyment in not having to squint so much! (see below, two Airfix Australians, a Star Wars Storm Trooper and a Jedi milling around on the painting tray):


Note: I need to be concentrating on my naval for the Denmark Straits battle, you can see a pot of Tamiya Blue in the background ;)

Friday, 17 November 2017

The Battle of the Denmark Strait: The Gathering of 1/3000 forces from the Loft

Pulled out of their respective Navy Boxes from the loft the "extended" order of battle for the Denmark Strait (see below, Navwar 1/3000 with basic colour schemes and "blue sea" - nothing fancy):


Trusty old warriors that have been in my collection for a long, long time. They were painted back in the days when the "sea was always blue" (and probably from a pot of Tamiya paint pot). The intention is to present the historical battle alongside the hypothetical counterfactual scenarios (HMS Suffolk and Norfolk engage, and if the six destroyers had managed to keep up and were not diverted to cover "if" the Bismarck and Prince Eugen had reversed their tracks).

Here is one somebody has prepared earlier, David Manly's link to his re-fight:
http://dtbsam.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/denmark-strait-75-years-on.html

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Letting the youngest DM .. and me being Solo Adventurer!

Having walked the kids through their first D&D adventure I could see the sparkle stay in my youngest's eyes (he's only seven). He so wanted to "play with the toys" I had to let him become the storyteller (DM) and you know what, I think that bright young mind did it far better job than me. I was placed in the precarious situation of being a solo "dungeoneering". "This won't last long" I thought to myself, first monster and he will choose the biggest one in the box (probably the Umber Hulk ... a miniature that has never yet been killed in one of my D&D games)! So there I was walking across the stony floor of a chamber and it was announced that I had encountered a trap. Ooops.  One (failed) skill test later and I was left imprisoned by a falling cage (in true comic book fashion). That was it I thought .. monster meat! However with a benevolent sense of imagination, the monster that appeared was a small mushroom man that befriended me. He (it?) said that it would help me escape as it knew where the special key was for the cage! I then played the mushroom man getting the key from a locked chest. Ingenious. He (or was it, it?) set me free and my new BBF and I explored the next room (see below, we are sneaking around in the background trying not to be seen by a Big Blue Monster and two young hatch-ling Dragons [Red and Blue]):


One unremitting axiom of dungeoneering is that where you find treasure chests you find big ugly monsters. In this case a green one that came from a very old Warhammer starter pack. I didn't manage to catch his name as he bludgeoned me into the ground (three rounds of combat which I all lost) as I was distracted open treasure chest withe the allure of gold inside it (see below, I was left unconscious as my new BBF did a very good "hide in the shadows" which is perhaps what I should have done):


Luckily my mushroom BBF was on the ball to once again come to my rescue. It(?) sneaked away and opened a chest where he knew there was a secret healing potion in that resuscitated me (see below, my seven year old was definitely out dungeoneering me hands down):


Once I was back on my feet Mr Mushroom introduced me to Miss Mushroom (pink hat, I get it) his girlfriend(?) who would help me from here "as it was too dangerous for him to go on". Not only narrative but he ingested the sense of peril into the storytelling. I was impressed (see below):


There we had to leave it until another time. My only chance of survival is to "follow the mushroom" to find a way to safety. I think my youngest is a bit of a groovy hippy at heart ;)

Monday, 13 November 2017

Dungeon Delve with the Dungeons and Dragons Board Game

It's the classic tale. Two adventurers and a DM. Limited resources, one character each, pretty much their first dungeon delve and a whole load of mysterious experiences for these youngsters to come, my two sons. Bravely they lit their torches and pursued the band of Goblins who had captured the local village sheriff . Opening their first dungeon door (I wonder if they will remember this defining event thirty years hence), they surprised the distracted Goblin guard, wounded him and then watched him run off down the corridor to try and alert his friends (same old story at least guard always gets away to warn the others). Fearlessly they decided to push on (see below):


The guard ran to find his friends and this group of three Goblins turned to face the adventurers outnumbering them 3:2. This bravery turned out to be pure folly as the dwarven-magic-user (interesting) and human fighter's ranged bow felled two breaking the Goblin's brittle morale. Were these the serious monsters who overwhelmed the local village. Searching around the two adventurers found a wealth of magical treasure locked in checks (obviously the Goblins were packing up lot ready to move off). With a new found magic sword in hand, two potions of healing and a strange magic scroll (watch this space) the lucky duo passed into the final hall of the adventure. Deftly avoiding some nasty pit-traps (thanks to the dexterity of the fighter-their) they pinned the remaining five Goblins (four normal and the big sub-leaser) into their lair - but no sign of the "sheriff" (see below):


Here the novice dungeon delvers learned first hand of the power of a "sleep" spell. Four out of five of the Goblins were subdued and the fifth slain by the fighter. The remaining four never "woke-up" (the ethical consideration of this I am still pondering as a father .. but they were evil .. perhaps I should have hinted they could have been "tied-up" as prisoners). The adventure part one is over. As the adventurers sift through the treasure chests "lo and behold" they discover a map to where the "sheriff" is being held. This small band of Goblins were but a mere scouting party for something more bigger and sinister!

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Armistice Day: 11:00 am 11/11/1918 Lest We Forget

The "War to End All Wars" ...


Didn't ... but today we remember all the sacrifices.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Tug of war over what is clearly an "Objective Marker"

There seems to be a dispute growing over this precious artefact. Clearly it is a wargame "objective marker", usable across a variety of rule-sets and scales. Very, very versatile.  Purchased for the princely sum of 50p from a charity shop (see below, a bargain):


However my daughter seems to be misinformed .. she erroneously thinks it belongs with her Lego Friends and small miniature animal set and not part of a Malburian battlefield!

Note: Some of those 'small farm animals' have a "better use" than hanging around with dubious looking Lego Friends!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Interesting US Wargames Research Link on Battles 1939-73

An interesting post from the Simulating War Yahoo Discussion Group posted by bob_david_mackensie (see link to original link below): 
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/simulatingwar/conversations/topics/3210

The essay based on the US Army analysis can be found directly here:  
http://www.testofbattle.com/upload/bob/Benchmarks.htm

The original US Army research is here: 
http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a200036.pdf