Monday 31 March 2014

HMS Implacable's Sails and Deck (1/1200 Navwar)

 The painting programme of HMS Implacable continues (see below):

Three colours of (Game) Vallejo paints:
  • Plague Brown (Shade)
  • Off White (Mid-Tone)
  • Dead White (Highlight)
Next: I need to work on the outer hull.

Friday 28 March 2014

HMS Implacable Takes Shape (1/1200 Napoleonic Naval)

The third 'ship of the line' in the British Squadron, HMS Implacable, is on the stocks (see below):  

Early days yet, but the metal has been cleared of flash and the hull has been drilled for the rigging lines, the model under coated and given a base shade. All the sail bits go together nicely and it is now a case of painting her up, working her inside out and fitting the rigging (see below):

Despite being nominally "British" HMS Implacable is another example of a ship that fought on both sides in the Napoleonic Wars, starting life as the French Duguay-Trouin, but being captured in 1805 and then used by the British (notably in the 1808 Anglo-Russian War, when she captured a Russian 74).

Note: The capture took place post Trafalgar (which she fought in) at the subsequent The Battle of Cape Ortegal

This means on her completion the naval actions can move to a 2:1 ships against the (elite crews of the) Royal Navy.

Thursday 27 March 2014

Blog with very nice Napoleonic Ships (1/1200) in it

Space: Planets (2) 'Six' Outer Planets

A distance shot of a trio of planetary curios (see below):

  • A barren "Rusty Red"
  • A fiery "Lava Orange"
  • A gaseous "Sickly Blue"

Close up and I think that the "Sickly Blue" one has a distinct gaseous or water feel to it. The "Lava Orange" meanwhile has obvious plate tectonic activity (see below):

The "Rusty Red" seems to have a high iron content which should doubtless prove of high interest to the intergalactic mining fraternity and the associated lawlessness that comes with an asset striping 'free for all' (independent or with corporate sponsorship).

My final trio of planets are "studies in Green" (see below):

  • A "Sickly Green"
  • The (snow capped) Twin Jungle Greens"

After closer inspection the "Sickly Green" is in fact a montage of dirty coloured gases from brown to blue, passing through green in rather a mucky fashion (see below):

A closer inspection of one of the "Twin Jungle Greens" reveals obvious 'growth' resembling what you would expect from the GW 40K "Tyranids" or Hollywood "Alien" home worlds (see below):

A pressing unanswered question is how do I mount them? If their final resting place is to be a bedroom ceiling(s) in diorama form, then embedded 'hooks' are probably the best bet, but I would like to hedge my options and be able to mount them table-top in order that I deploy then for 'as yet unspecified' space fleet battles. They just seem too useful to be 'just' pretty ornaments.

Monday 24 March 2014

Space: Planets (1) "Big Ones"

In the immortal words of Dr. Spock, "It's life Jim but not as we know it". I bring to the conclusion a pet wargame, Science or Science Fiction project that I must have started a decade ago having come across some interesting (as in full of potential) polystyrene haberdashery "balls". I covered the balls in PVA glue and rolled them in sand, then let id set and undercoated it in cheap acrylic paint. I then layered further acrylic paints layers to suit style and mood of the moment. The first of my creations id "Big Blue" , a water world of sorts (see below):

She looks "Earth-like" to my eyes although the painted continents are nothing like our planet (see below):

Now comes a rather clumpy looking desert planet, which has a Saturn like appeal to it. Yes that is the "Mark 1" hanging hook (see below):

A more prosaic planet without said attachment methinks (see below):

As well as 'big balls' I managed to pick up some smaller ones, I obviously had plenty of paint left from the Saturn planet to finish off these two smaller moons (see below):

It was fun as I could be creatively messy after taking inspiration from pictures of planets from out Solar System and old episodes of Star Trek and Star Wars (see below)

Next: The outer planets

Friday 21 March 2014

The Secret Mission (cont) Napoleonic Naval Rules Test (Part 2 of 2)

The two Third Rates bear down on each other in a truly aggressive fashion. The Frenchman is determined to put up a spirited fight despite her "secret cargo" (see below):

As the ships pass "long range" shots are exchanged with the British hitting but not getting much from her high aimed rigging shots. The French were again ineffective, just plain missing their target. The Frenchman turns in truly heroic Gallic fashion to engage the British at medium range. Both sides elect to go for the hull after the disappointing results of "mast and rigging shots". The British destroy three French gun batteries (now down to ten from the original thirteen) while the Frenchman "gets lucky" with a critical hit knocking out the whole of the British main mast! A catastrophic blow as HMS Thunderer is left drifting slowly to starboard for two turns (see below):  

The French shark (left of picture below) menacingly maneuvers to the stern of HMS Thunderer as she is haplessly busy cutting away her fallen rigging and mast. The French captain is busily ordering a boarding party to be formed with his marine contingent and spare crew (see below):

But what is this? The French helmsman shows his inexperience. With what little propulsion left available to HMS Thunderer, the Royal Navy elite crew put it to good use (or was it just French over confidence) and Le Franklin receives a shattering bow rake of "double shot" at short range. This wipes out another three gun batteries and worse still a critical hit on the helm is received. Le Franklin sails on straight for two turns (see below):

This means the faster French ship crashes into the slower Royal Navy ship despite frantic last minute application of the helm (see below):

This means another section of the rules can be tested as a furious boarding action ensues. The French have an initial advantage in men, but quality counts in favour of the British. In addition the British rake Le Franklin one more time before the boarding takes place off. The British (led by their captain in true Nelsonic fashion) repulse the Frenchman (see below):

The battle ebbs and flows but once the British gain the upper hand the outcome in inevitable. The Frenchman strikes her colours as a shadowy figure (of the Republic) is seen attempting to burn 'secret papers' in the Captain's cabin of the Le Franklin (which as per true life will become the future HMS Canopus).

The rules were Action Under Sail (4th Edition): Rules for Naval Warfare 1756-1815.

Thursday 20 March 2014

The Secret Mission: Napoleonic Naval Rule Test (Part 1 of 2)

The majestic Le Franklin, a Third Rate 80 Gunner, sails out of Marseilles on a secret mission for the French Revolutionary Republic (see below):

These apparently random scribbles are in fact her vital statistics (see below):

Alarm and consternation ring through the French ship as so early into her voyage another vessel unexpectedly comes into view. Could the French mission really be compromised so soon?

The newcomer is quickly identified as a British Third Rate (the 74 Gunner HMS Thunderer, although the French did not know her name at this point). The game is afoot with both vessels making best speed, quartering as the wind comes from the left hand corner of the photograph (see below):

An uncharacteristic British navigation error (this was very much a learning experience for both player "teams") saw HMS Thunderer inadvertently sail directly into the wind and sustain minor mast damage (sail ripping sound effect). The Le Franklin therefore got an unexpected opportunity to open her account, though be it with an extreme long range shot.

This was taken as the British offered a tantalising chance to the French to "bow rake" HMS Thunderer, hopefully adding additional damage to the British sails and rigging,that is if the Frenchman got lucky (see below):

As seen from the Royal Navy's perspective. As it turned out the French gunnery optimism was totally unjustified as all they managed to achieve was scaring a few roosting seagulls on the British ship, while in turn losing their port side batteries "first fire" bonus modifier (see below):

Golden Rule to remember in Napolronic naval combat:
"Save your 'first fire' for your most effective shot!" 

The two ships closed from extreme to merely "long range" with the French holding the advantage of the weather gauge (see below):

Shame about the tabletop, the sea being a most unusual colour of brown this day, but alas no blue sheet could be found at short notice.

Next: Fire as she bears!

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Greeks and Romans ... tell me who were these Romans?

Whenever one reads about the Greeks (lumping Alexander and the Successors all in as one) there always seems to be a few chapters "comparing and contrasting" the Greeks to the Romans. "Soldiers and Ghosts" is no exception and gives a fascinating recount of the cultural as well as military forces that guided the Roman legionary war machine development (see below):

All these books seem to be drawing me away from WWII modelling intentions (see New Year's Resolutions) but heck "variety is the spice of life". My DBA+ armies of 15mm ancient painting projects 'frozen in time' are now calling me:
  • Republican Romans
  • Hoplite Greeks
  • Early Achaemenid Persia
  • Alexandria Macedonian
But which to start first? The Romans seen to be a bit of a front runner as I already have a Later Carthaginian army in need of the Roman Republican opponent to fight


Tuesday 18 March 2014

The commissioning of HMS Canopus (80 Guns)

I have been putting this off for a while now but I faced my fears as in "Napoleonic Ship Rigging". HMS Canopus is put through her rigging paces, firstly with her bow-spit (see below):

Then her fore and mizzen masts, see the innocuous spidery threads appearing (see below):

Tip: It was so much easier having pre-drilled (some but sadly not all) 'thread holes' on the ship before I started attaching the masts and sails (see below):  

Tricky business but thankfully I have a cup of char to hand as HMS Thunderer and HMS Canopus share a berth together (see below):

The aft mast and sail is stuck firmly into its place (see below). Sadly I had forgotten to drill the wholes associated with rearmost mast ropes so there was a 'tense moment' as I had to add another couple of holes.With all three masts in place she is coming together rather nicely (see below):

Half of the RN squadron is now constructed, with another (74) and (100 aka HMS Victory) still to do. Both completed ships (HMS Canopus [left] and HMS Thunderer) really need a 'flag' and I need to figure how to put on some "ratlines" running up from the base of each mast to add a touch of class to the model (see below):  

A little closer look at HMS Canopus. The central rigging does add a bit of much needed internal strength to hold the masts together (see below):

Apologies for any incorrect or misuse of nautical terminology. That is two down and just another "six" (Napoleonic battleships) to go, but I am short of "frigates" so I may have to invest in another Navwar "Fleet Pack" nearer my birthday

Note: As this is way off in the autumn it gives me a fighting chance to complete the "six that are on the stocks" first.


Monday 17 March 2014

Post Peloponnesian War and Pre Alexander: Thebes and Xenophon

The Song of Wrath (documenting the first ten years of the of the Peloponnesian War proper) is now read. 

Not an easy read but well worth it, as "The Peloponnesian War" to me now displaces the Persian Wars as the defining period of Greek Hoplite warfare. 

Ancient Greek politics/life was certainly a dark, dangerous and sinister place to visit as your current 'best friends' were never your friends for very, very long.

So in the end (with Persian help) Sparta wins the Peloponnesian War, so then what? Along comes Thebes to challenge its hegemony but where to "read all about it"?

Reading Plan:

Lazenby will tell the history to 'the fall of Sparta at Leuctra' at the hands of their former Boeotian allies the sturdy agricultural Thebans. Victor Davies Hanson tells of the mercurial Epaminondas and his cunning plan in "Soul of Battle".

I am waiting for the latter to travel from America courtesy of an Amazon order. That gives me a chance to look at Xenophon and  where a lot of Greeks found gainful employment in Persia after The Peloponnesian Wars:

It does not look an easy read, so I might well bed myself in first via Manfredi's novel:

And Waterfield's :

Plenty of reading to be done, just as well as I am back on the caffeine ;)

Friday 14 March 2014

Rumaging and Reviewing through some Rules Sets for "Interest"

During the hiatus I caused myself looking for my misplaced "For God King and Country," I discovered some interesting rule sets in "other" peoples's collections I just "had to borrow".

There was something "old" relating to earliest naval times, from the very credible David Manley (see below):

Something "new" to me, as in Phil Sabin's first Society of Ancients (Soc) rules pre-Strategos and Lost Battles, trying to mix board games with miniature rules style of play (see below):

Some thing(s) "borrowed" (as in all three of them) and something "blue" an early [1970's] WWII Pacific naval game ziplock game (see below):

Lots of interest but so little time to cram them all in. It is one fine thing to find them, then quite another thing to read and then quite yet another thing to sit down and play, past the "taster session" stage.

Watch this space to see ow far I get. (Do not remind me of my New Year's resolutions) 

Thursday 13 March 2014

Next RN Napoleonic ship: HMS Canopus (80 Gun)

The next ship in my RN squadron is the 80 gun HMS Canopus currently getting fitted out on my painting tray (see below):

Masts and sails are now painted with the first layer of yellow (classic RN) stripes have been applied, which should help her being distinguished as a "friend" rather than a "foe" (see below):

The hull still needs a bit of dark ink shading and a little yellow touch up before I have another stab at some tricky rigging. This time I have at least "drilled some holes in the hull ahead of super-gluing the masts on,"which is a far, far better order.  

I am looking at the possibilities of using "brush bristles" from the Pound Shop instead of the tricky cotton thread, but have not managed to find the cheap £1 brush yet espoused by my fellow Hartlepudlian wargamers, the quest continues (watch this space).  

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Back on the Caffeine

Tea or Coffee I care not but I am back on it (see below):

On the caffeine wagon and loving it so the late night modelling madness can resume.

Remember: Drink responsibly!

Tuesday 11 March 2014

"NEW" Toy: (My son's) Telescope

My son is the proud possessor of a mini, National Geographic, starter telescope (see below):

When he goes to bed I get to play with it. So far I have managed to find the moon, so I consider it a huge success :)

Monday 10 March 2014

1644 Battle of Aberdeen (Montrose) Re-Fight under FGK&C Transcript

Apologies for the "long post" (see below) but this is my 28mm ECW (North of the Border) project under "For God, King and Country" rules returned to life after a long hibernation. First off is to collect the figures (mostly looking at Warlord Games) and then stage another re-fight akin to the one I fought back in 2004. Sadly no pictures survive from this memorable encounter (I was the umpire).

The 1644 Battle of Aberdeen, Justice Mills Scenario. 
Re-fight, May 2004, Redcar England.
Notes: Through pre-game player negotiations the Covenanter force was given seven pikes (as per map) instead of the scenario OoB five, but the Irish were factored at Melee 4. Both sides ignored the sunken road terrain feature.

The wind was chilling and carried on it the foreboding foretaste of drizzle, surely the prelude to the ubiquitous Aberdonian rain. The Commander of the Covenanter Army Burleigh looked dismissively at the Royalist forces arrayed below him in the valley. They did not impress Burleigh, they were a rag tag bunch of misfits, ill clad and looking comically irregular, their ranks filled with the Highland rabble that he loathed and worse still "The Irish". With a look of disdain and affront he haughtily declared, “We outnumber them by seven to three in pike, so we shall take the matter to them. Drummer beat the advance.” The matter already seemed to be in motion, for on both wings horse played to and fro in a confused melee, with as yet no side gaining a discernible advantage.

Summing it up nicely from within the Covenanter pike ranks came this remark: 
“Fit like?” “His nibs, the nob, has taken leave of his heed!” “Wa’r to rush at ‘em” “What? At tha’ Irish?” “Aye!” “What’s in his heed must be sawdust.” “Aye, Fine.”
Immediately as the Covenanter Army began their forward movement things began to go awry. The centre advanced slowly and unevenly. The Covenanter C-in-C dashed for one regiment to another chivvying them on in a most ungainly fashion. Montrose could only look on is disbelief and remark, “This goose means to cook itself.”

Just as Burleigh thought his house was in order a peeling crash of thunder spelt disaster as successive cannon shots hit their mark and disintegrated a pike block of Aberdonian levies. Seeing ranks of pike flung to the four winds was too much for the young, raw recruits who turned and fled. A collective shiver went through the Covenanter forces. The Covenanter Army was already well off the sanctuary of their vacated hill and were approaching the deployed lines of the Marquis of Montrose forces, to whom now looked grim with determination and not the rag tag rabble they spied in the morning mist.

The centre became clouded with smoke as the muskets began their staccato chatter, the feeble beck with its trickle of water was lined either side with the opposing forces, discharging volley after volley. The matter did not last long as the Royalists maintained a punishing weight of fire. The Covenanter Army became disordered, recovered briefly, but lost another regiment of Aberdonian levies, who downed pike and ran for it. Then real disaster, under the persistent rain of shot, a unit of the Aberdonian regulars broke and fled.  With gaps appearing in the Covenanter's battle-line the Highlanders now took the opportunity to charge and carried away the Covenanter's cannon. Menacingly the Irish advanced with lowered pike and blood curdling curses.

It did not come to push of pike. The Covenanter "Army Morale" the broke first and they fled towards the supposed sanctuary gates of the city. The crimes that followed on the populace of Aberdeen will not be chronicled here, but Montrose lamented at the behaviour of his troops and the obstinacy of the provost of Aberdeen who earlier dismissed his warning to remove their children and womenfolk to a safe haven as ‘mere bluster’. Montrose could not afford to delay in Aberdeen. He already had news that the third Covenant army was approaching from the south. Already his Highlanders were heading homeward with their plunder. He would follow them, burying the captured cannon en route and take to the highlands where the lowland Covenanter army would be ill suited to follow.

Additional Notes:

Scenario thoughts: We intend to re-play the scenario again with a less audacious Covenanter battle plan. Reading S.R. Gardiner’s History of the Great Civil War: Volume Two 1644-45 (p143-149, ISBN 0-900075-05-8) we are also inclined to alter the scenario by using these optional rules:

(i)            Decreasing the Royalist Cavalry to two bases in total, Rollo(ck?) and Gordon. According to Gardiner’s account there were only fifty-four Royalist horsemen on the day split over two wings (24 horse to the left, and to the 30 right).

(ii)          If the Royalist Horse fight on the same wing there is the option to combine them (taking one action) into a superior unit, of Melee 4. The force could be split at the cost of one action later, with each stand retaining any damage incurred. 

(iii)         Having the Covenanter Cavalry being always acting as if out of command. They seem to have been really poor commanders on the day.

(iv)         The Covenanter Gordon Horse stand is cariole only. The young eighteen-year old Gordon was ill-informed and not schooled in the ways of war, “the boy knew of no tactics other than those which had been long abandoned in England.”  

The general comment was that this was an infantry battle decided in the middle by push of pike. The Covenanter Cavalry though numerous were extremely badly led and a fair portion simply did not engage.

(v)          Allowing the Covenanters to use the sunken road to attempt a spoiling attack on the Royalist Left with a FH and four stands of horse. However this force would have to start out of command of their wing commander.

Note on (v): Montrose did have to react to a pre-emptive Covenanter move like this, by bringing all of his horse to the left wing and deploying a FH shot of his own.

(vi)         Reduce the Royalist Artillery to one gun (or possibly none!). The battle account seemed to imply that the Royalist’s were inferior in artillery.  

The above are only suggestions and dangerously based on the reading of one book. If you have alternative sources of information I would gratefully appreciate any references. As a final footnote the Justice Mills battle site is now a cinema complex at the end of (or rather just behind) Union Street in Aberdeen. It is rather a steep climb as I know from my own personal youthful experience. I had the pleasure of studying, then working in Aberdeen for over six years and have many happy memories from that time. In fact I lived not far from the Castle Gate where the Covenanter soldiers must have run to for safety, but of course to no avail.

Sunday 9 March 2014

Reunited with "For God, King and Country" ECW Rules

After a long separation, I can happily report that the "For God, King and Country" ECW rule set are back in the bosom of  my rule cabinet (see below):

They have returned undamaged (and unread) from their travels. To recap these rules are the source of my ECW inspiration, north and south of the border (with Scotland). I plan to assemble a Warlord Games 28mm series of ECW armies based on the scenarios from this booklet, this means:
  • Parliamentarian
  • Royalist
  • Covenanter
  • Montrose Royalist
The trick is to spot a nice "budding small wargaming force" that has the potential to build upon. Due to the limited size and scope of the northern conflict (the Montrose Campaign) their armies are far smaller than their English brethren which is great. The English battles though tend to be larger affairs and therefore typically require three to four times as many troops. Start with the Scottish you say, the trouble is I am already ahead in the game of English (albeit) unpainted troops at the moment.

My cunning compromise is to concentrate just on a particular "wing" of a larger battle (Naseby, Marston Moor and Edgehill) and perhaps do a bit of light research to try and find smaller ECW small brigade skirmishes. Any research references appreciated.

Friday 7 March 2014

French D2 Infantry Tank circa 1940 (SHQ)

Clank, clank here comes a tank!

This "French D2 Infantry Tank" has spent a long, long time waiting for its assembly, escaping from 'the box of toys in the loft' (approx two years). Nevertheless it is a highly valued asset from the 1940 French "clanky tank" era (the D2 was first in service from 1933). A forerunner of the much more successful Somua S35 and Char 1B models. Characteristics of both of these more successful tanks can be seen from this predecessor.

One thing that kept its assembly at bay is its metal construction with all the filing and super glue that entails. Thankfully it was far more straight forward that previous Propaganda Tank (see below, the turret and chassis are settling with the super glue in a quiet corner of the kichen):     

It certainly looks French in its shape (see below): 

Suitable methinks for an ad-hoc detachment from De Gualle's 4th Armoured Division (DCR). That way I can get away with fielding a singleton in an eclectic company/battalion. Apart from a few wacky French renaissance half-tracks, my only remaining 1940 French want is an FCM tank (not that it was particularly useful on the battlefield, I just "feel" the need for one).

The AFV assembly montage continues ;)