Tuesday 22 February 2011

The Battle of the Java sea continued: The "Heavies" trade blows

The IJNS Nachi and HMS Exeter square up to exchange blows. The ABDA line (see below) loses the Dutch destroyer Kortenaer to a barrage of gunfire from the Japanese Second Destroyer Flotilla. Powerless and barely afloat she at least gives HMS Jupiter a chance of firing her torpedoes at the IJNS Nachi.

All working turrets bear from the Exeter and Nachi, simultaneously the order to "Shoot" is given. Six minutes of deadly salvoes exchanging leaves HMS Exeter in a bad way, a dull thud and pall of black smoke from her stern signal the end of "Y" turret (down to her last gunnery box) and several telling hull hits cause Exeter to lose speed, down to 3cm. Nachi in return receives her first hull damage to reduce her speed to 10cm, but still has three quarters of her guns firing. The fight now looks very far from fair, Exeter needs a lucky hit to even the odds and stay in the fight.

It looks grim for HMS Exeter as Nachi's turrets train on her. HMS Jupiter tries to distract the Nachi by attempting to torpedo her (see below) and HMAS Perth comes to the assistance of the Exeter with her 6" broadsides. ADBA's dice are woeful and nothing is scored. The IJN rolls for the 'coup de grace' on HMS Exeter: "6", "6" and a "6", the mark of the beast in GQII terms meaning an internal explosion on the IJNS Nachi. Instead of six minutes rapid firing a forward turret blows the back off her casing, belching smoke and flame to confuse the ships gunnery. The IJNS Nachi is now down to half gun strength, the guns from her front turrets are cocked askew or are mournfully drooped, pointing at the sea. 

The jubilation aboard HMS Exeter is short lived as she shudders from fire from an unexpected quarter. The IJNS Hagero is hidden behind a smokescreen but still has a spotter plane high in the sky. An unwelcome lucky hit brings more hull damage and only heroic damage control maintains her 3cm headway. Strange twists of luck and fate abound. What will happen next? ABDA badly needs the 8" guns of the USS Houston to come into play.

To buy time for this to happen HMAS Perth signals to HMS Exeter, "Attacking enemy with torpedoes".

Sunday 20 February 2011

The Battle of the Java Sea continued: The Kraken Awakes

At the head of the ABDA formation stand the last two ABDA "modern" destroyers with offensive capability (see below). To the left is HMS Jupiter down to just over half strength (but with a loaded torpedo mount intact), and on the right the Dutch Kortenaer having "just to say" some fighting ability, but left with no torpedoes (thanks to the earlier attentions of the IJN heavy cruisers).

(Top above) In the distance the IJNS Nachi pulls across the path of the stricken IJNS Hagero and starts laying a protective smoke screen.

Back on the bridge of the De Ruyter, Admiral Doorman was vexed by his inability to control or participate in the battle. HMS Exeter had taken the van, passing the De Ruyter with all guns blazing in fine style. De Ruyter's engineers worked valiantly amidst the steam and flame below but were crucially precious minutes away from restoring power when a cry of alarm came from a starboard lookout.

Swinging round from his preoccupation of the Japanese heavy cruisers fire, Doorman could not believe the sight multiple white tracks heading towards his ship. The enemy had no destroyer within effective (ABDA) torpedo range, so had he blundered into a cleverly sighted submarine trap? He was in the middle of the ocean, surely impossible? With the few seconds before impact all he could think of was the haunting sea shanty of the "Deadly Kraken off Java that ate unwary sailors". Doorman now saw her evil teeth but there was nothing he could do to save himself or his crew.

The huge explosion that signalled the loss of the De Ruyter with all hands shocked the ABDA line. De Ruyter disappeared in a towering plume of white water in a fantastic series of explosions, some eight separate hits all told (bottom middle: see the cluster of brown explosion markers). The ship disintegrated within the space of two minutes (enough GQII damage to sink the De Ruyter in her damaged state six times over!). ABDA had lost her first line-of-battle ship. Only the existing physical momentum took the ABDA line forward. Anxiously all hands scanned for signs of further danger. The Dutch light cruiser Java at the back of the ABDA line was the only ship to see the cause, additional malevolent torpedo tracks harmlessly passing parallel to her. Unbeknownst to HMS Exeter by choosing to close the range with the Nachi she had successfully evaded the Long Lance torpedoes aimed at her.

Meanwhile another drama was unfolding of the port flank of the ABDA line, with the USS Houston becoming the fixated object of hatred to the IJNS Urakaze (middle left above). Removed of her torpedo armament by enemy gunfire, her captain had the intent to make her a floating ram. In a scene reminiscent of the IJNS Hagero versus HMS Encounter the two ships closed on a collision course, the difference being the USS Houston still answered her helm. This meant all the guns on the Houston were focused on trying to sink the Urakaze leaving nothing to assist HMS Exeter in her moment of need. The Houston's gunfire rolls were atrocious and the Urakaze would get her "ramming" chance. Meanwhile heavy cruisers exchanged hard blows at the head of the ABDA line.

Next: HMS Exeter v IJNS Nachi

Thursday 17 February 2011

The Battle of the Java Sea: The Japanese Destroyers Attack

The ABDA cruiser line of battle braces itself (see below) for the long expected charge of the First Japanese destroyer flotilla. Six attackers in all, still each carrying half a payload of deadly long lance torpedoes.

Thankfully for ABDA the defensive fire from the cruisers was withering. The leading Japanese destroyer that posed the most imminent threat being shattered. All of her upper-works gone, armaments zero, she came on a blazing wreck. Another was left badly damaged, however their heroic sacrifice paved the way for the rest of the flotilla's attack.

On they came. The Japanese numbers meant "something" was likely to get through in the end (see above), if not this turn then maybe the next.

Meanwhile confusion reigned at the head of the ABDA line of battle. The flagship De Ruyter was still suffering from catastrophic loss of power and was barely making any headway. This drew murderous attention from the Second Japanese destroyer flotilla and she suffered yet another critical loss of power leaving her dead in the water.

HMS Exeter chose to plough on into the heart of the battle, lessening the range and confronting the IJNS Nachi to a personal duel. HMS Exeter was down to half gun strength, the IJNS Nachi as well as being a bigger beast to start off with, had three quarters of her guns and was better armoured. HMS Exeter was stalwart, she had been here before, against an even more deadlier foe (Note: The KM Graf Spee in the 1939 Battle of the River Plate) and knew someone had to be "under the guns".

HMS Perth tried gave as much support as possible as she turned in succession.

Ominously the Japanese Second Destroyer Flotilla (led by the IJNS Naka, a light cruiser) split into two torpedo attack groups. One aimed at HMS Exeter (see the three destroyers top right) the other (middle right) at the struggling De Ruyter.

At the requisite GQII phase the Japanese admiral announced: Fish in the water, many, many fish ...

Monday 14 February 2011

The Battle of the Java Sea: Death of another RN Destroyer

Torpedoes exhausted, all guns wrecked and now suicidally close to two Japanese heavy cruisers, HMS Encounter had but one recourse of action left and a rather drastic one at that.

"Hard to port helm, maximum revolutions and brace for impact" were the last commands given from the bridge of HMS Encounter. She sliced through the water at an impressive 10cm, against the now badly limping Hagero with her stiff rudder mustering a mere 3cm in return. The dice were rolled, nothing was certain ... IMPACT.

The IJN Hagero was a very formidable frame but the plucky destroyer torn into her amidships causing more serious  flooding and a precious half hull box to be lost. Quick thinking inside the Hagero saved her from complete loss of power, but she teetered precariously close (half a hull box away) to being just an armoured marker buoy.  

HMS Encounter was not so lucky, or some would say she had run her luck to the full. Four hull boxes damage broke her back and the RN destroyer was despatched to the depths with a final burst of secondary and main armament from the Hagero as her guns bore on the floating wreck astern.

Again the Japanese officers on the bridge saluted the gallantry of their adversaries.

Saturday 12 February 2011

Red Army on the painting tray

The painting tray:

The chaos that surrounds the painting tray:

A time of general house painting means that this all has to be cleared away soon. But to the little "red" men:

Two packets worth of Revell's Stalingrad Russian Summer Infantry. Some in singles, while some are set up for Command Decision on 20mm square bases.

Some were already started (the black under-coat was universal) but all are getting reverted to a Vallejo Russian Uniform WWII green, Tanned Flesh from Games Workshop (yes I am still using them up) and a green tin hat where appropriate (Vallejo Russian Green).

Then an interesting "brown wash" phase is planned followed by some highlighting (see above and below for some test results).

Washes tried so far include Windsor Peat Brown ink, Anita Acrylics Black Metalic and a Earth Brown watery mix, waiting in the wings is highly recommended Devlan Mud from GW (unused as yet).

Highlights were GW Pale Flesh mixed into the GW Tanned Flesh, another coat (selective dabbing) of Vallejo Russian Uniform WWII and then a Vallejo Khaki. I have to work out the greens and the browns of the Russian sacks and belts. I started out with most of them green but that seems wrong looking at pictures and painting guides. Hmm.

Anyhow I have plenty of old Esci, Revell and Italeri plastics to practise on before I turn my attention to the excellent Plastic Soldier Company and Pegasus acquisitions. My plan is to go on a Russian Army painting splurge.

One possible mistake in the above. I have noy PVA'ed the figures (yet). Thinnish PVA wash then a Matt varnish perhaps?

Thursday 10 February 2011

Battle of the Java Sea continued ... The End of HMS Electra

Off to the side in its own little battle/war, the badly damaged HMS Electra (destroyer) tangled fatally with an untouched Japanese light cruiser (the IJNS Jinysu) and a torpedo-less, otherwise fully fit IJN destroyer (the IJNS Hatsukaze).

A forgone conclusion. HMS Electra fired defiantly (or rather ceremoniously) with her remaining gun, before being left a burning wreck, with no guns, no power and no hull floatation boxes, but a flag still flying.

IJNS Jintsu leaves, making all haste to back to the action (now well north of her).

The Japanese captain of the Hatsukaze is ordered to finish her with gunfire. But Electra stubbornly hangs on. He salutes the warrior spirit of HMS Electra, leaving her a floating wreck at the mercy of time and tide. He too is needed elsewhere.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Battle rejoined: Java Sea continued

Anyone remember this little ditty?

The jaws of death start tp close on both fleets. High above from the vantage of a Japanese spotting plane the battle unfolded:

The ABDA fleet (bottom middle) heading uptable, the Flagship De Ruyter pulled over in distress (speed reduced to 3cm from a critical hit) leaving HMS Exeter to lead the charge with a thinned and battered destroyer screen (two) in support.

Seven Japanese destroyers (five shown above) are poised in attack formation (first picture: top left with a Japanese light cruiser chasing down HMS Electra off camera).

Two Japanese heavy cruisers attack a valiant RN destroyer(top right of first picture) and close-up (above).

A close up-of the flotilla of six Japanese destroyers headed by a light cruiser (just coming into view from the right hand side in the first picture).

Finally the WWI vintage US destroyers stay in contact with the ABDA main line of battle, not seen in the first picture. Will their time come?

Rules: GQII, distances for ranges cm, therefore 8cm is one nautical mile.

Action to follow ...

Friday 4 February 2011

The Necron Warrior Hoard

Necrons don't come in ones and two they seem to spring up in large bunches of Alien robotic killing machines and swarms of tiny friends.

Here they are rotated ninety degrees:

One hundred and eighty degrees from behind, is their armour any weaker I ask?

And finally two hundred and seventy degrees

What next?

Well I have looked over the other offerings in the Games Workshop Necron range and I have to say the cash stayed firmly in the pocket. The only exception perhaps being the quirky Tomb Spyder, but no rush to get one of those just yet (the GW shop is thankfully too far away for frequent visits)

So back to those WWII 20mm Russians from Revell methinks. That will help clear the painting desk so I can get a crack at the Fairey Battle.

Thursday 3 February 2011

Return of the metallic Terminating machines: Necrons

Spurred on by their relative ease of painting and the avid interest shown by my eldest (though still very young) son I attacked a batch of Necron Warriors.

A metallic killing machine advances:

Assembly Tip:

For the Green Plasma Tube, I avoided the plastic cement trap of smearing the clear plastic, but was again unimpressed with the GW PVA recommendation (that won't last methinks). I used the thick and gloopy Humbrol Clearfix I use for aircraft canopies, applied not with a brush but a cocktail stick, I kid you not.


The paint job thankfully ebbed away at my thinning stock of Games Workshop paints. I will keep their "three shade" painting guide but but transfer my alligiance to the Vallejo like-for-like alternatives over time (a cheaper price and half again of the amount of paint).

Painting Note to Self:

The undercoat was GW Chaos Black, then mixing in varying amounts of GW Mithril Silver, wet brushed on with a final dry brush of pure GW Mithril Silver. Not that hard to remember after all ;)

A close up:

I was relatively unimpressed with the GW painting guide, over complicating (using more paints than are really necessary) something that looks good essentially in "rotting silver" (from the depths of "Dead Space") with grime and gunk clinging to it. Necron forces are to be viewed from a distance before they get up close and kill you.

Painting alternatives do exist though:

An Indie Way
The GamesWorkshop Way

The bases were PVA and rough sand, then a very watery mix of Anita Acrylic's Dark Earth mixed with Anita's Acrylic's Metallic Black (a bit of a hidden experiment here) to let shiny bits reflect of the red planet dust.

Another Painting Note to Self:

Then followed the GW Terracotta wet-brush, with a GW Bubonic Brown 50:50 mix, followed by a GW Bubonic Brown wet-brush and a final GW Bubonic Brown dry-brush. Not quite satisfied with that so I gave it a GW Skull White wet-brush highlight. All the above GW paints were in their "gelling stage" and needing to be used up. Attrition continued with a a bottle of GW Kommando Khaki being thrown into the bin, solid and useless (a third of it unused).

The little 'bots', for scurrying around, disassembling and repairing 'things' I found quirky and cute. I decided not to use the GW big bases and have them rather as individuals (I'll get better generic use out of them that way in SF RPG games, I may or may not ever play). Painted identically to the Necron Warriors.

Future work: Maybe red/green eyes and perhaps a selective darkening wash with Anita's Acrylic Metallic Black.