Friday, 21 November 2014

"Dust yourself off, brush yourself down....and start all over again"

Well not quite but the new plan with the varnish-damaged ships now looks something like this:
  • The original 8 ships will be undercoated to start again - from scratch
  • The 4 models that were finished will be undercoated rather more carefully and repainted
  • The final 6 models for the RN will be included with the above - so in effect I will be painting 18 ships in total which will finish the RN capital ships for the Jutland project.
If I am honest I have gone through the angry phase and am now at the 'coldly efficient and keen to get started' version.

The plan as it stands then, will be to get all 18 finished by the close of play next Sunday so I best get a wriggle on....;-)

Monday, 17 November 2014

"We want 8 - but we'll have to wait!"

I am not a happy bunny.

By the close of play Saturday evening the current batch of 8 Royal Navy battleships had been finished and but for the lack of any varnish would have only needed yours truly to finish the bases which was to have been the Sunday job. In fact, this post was to have been the photo shoot.

I should also point out that I had needed to make some very minor changes to 4 other battleships to bring them into line with the two additional models I had painted to complete the classes - basically I had 4 of the 6 Bellerophon/St. Vincent types and needed the other two for the project as all 6 were at Jutland. The shading/highlighting on the last two was slightly more noticeable so I fine tuned the other 4 models to bring them up to the same standard.

The varnish had dried up so I opened one of the two new tins I had (I was using Humbrol enamel). Being mindful of the potential problems with a new tin I took all manner of precautions - stirring and shaking the tin thoroughly - so was confident that all was well. To be even more sure I tested the varnish on an older model just to make sure. It dried perfectly....or so I thought.

The next morning, before we went out Christmas shopping, I made a point of varnishing the 8 new models and 4 touched up others after having checked the test sample - rather too quickly as it turned out.

Six hours later, upon our return, I came home to an absolute horror story.

The varnish had dried to a milky white in all the crevices - around the bases of the superstructure and funnels as well as between the gun barrels. Under close inspection the same thing had happened on my test sample only I had missed it. I was distraught. There was absolutely no way to amend the damage easily - remember my technique involves generous amounts of dry-brushing which is awkward to carry out locally on a specific part of the models without it looking out of place.

After having scrutinised the whole sorry batch the only conclusion I could make was that the 8 models will need repainting from the main deck upwards and to make matters worse, the 4 I was merely touching up will also need the same treatment.

I could not bring myself to tackle it last night - it was too painful to contemplate!

I know on the global scale of things this is small beer - after all no-one has died - but my painting time is really precious these days and so this this is a bitter, bitter blow to my timetable.

I have never had this happen before - my only varnish dramas were restricted to the odd matt coat coming out gloss which is easily rectified or the very occasional metallic paint lift although the latter was firmly exorcised when I adopted acrylic metal colours some years ago.

My mood is dark but hey ho, onwards and upwards and back in the saddle once again - I shall be tackling these later in the week.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

H.M.S. Agincourt - The Big Battleship


H.M.S. Agincourt - in 1/350th scale. Very impressive indeed!

I happened to be reading Bob Cordery's blog Wargames Miscellany earlier when I was reminded of a book I read many years ago by Richard Hough - The Big Battleship. The book was the story of the only battleship ever built with seven main turrets housing 14 x 12" guns. I had forgotten about this book so Bob's post was a welcome reminder - and needless to say it is on the 'to get' list.

Coincidentally the ship is currently on the painting tray along with seven other models as the penultimate batch of ships for the Royal Navy comes to a close.

She had an interesting career and no mistake as she was originally ordered by Brazil and then taken over by Turkey - only to be requisitioned by the Royal Navy at the outbreak of the Great War. The RN were less than impressed by the ship for a number of reasons and the model shown depicts her after the great flying bridge over the two turrets amidships was removed.

I remember commanding her in a game using Fletcher Pratt many years ago - and sinking an unfortunate destroyer with 14 x 12" 'all in' - in other words every shot was set to the same range. I was aiming at a battleship a little further away but had underestimated the range....

Whilst the 1/2400th version I am painting will not look as impressive it is still a bonkers looking battleship and one I am fond of - especially because of the Turkish connection.


Sunday, 2 November 2014

The Crimean War at Sea: The Naval Campaigns Against Russia 1854-56


Things that make you go....'Ooooh Shiny!

This is the title of a really good by Peter Duckers and sure enough, it has given me much to think about! To my eternal shame and embarrassment my knowledge of the Crimean War is very limited with my knowledge of the naval side even more so. I had no idea of the scale of operations carried out in the Baltic and the Black Sea (not to mention the Sea of Azov) and although there was no Trafalgar-like fleet action (there could have been though) the scope of minor actions involving raids and shore bombardments - real combined arms stuff - certainly give plenty of ideas for scenarios.

I really want to find out more about the Turkish side of the conflict - especially as they managed to drive the Russians out of Bulgaria - as the British and French were originally planning on deploying troops in the Balkans in support. Naturally their navies would be covering the seaward flank in the Black Sea. Of course after the Russians had been driven off (and after they had manage to all but destroy the Turkish navy at Sinope) the allied plan was to render Sevastopol unusable and the rest, as they say, is history.

Although very much a transitional period in naval warfare the writing was certainly on the wall for sailing warships - the value of steamers for inshore work had been noted and so paddle steamers and screw sloops etc came to the fore.

I have a couple of ideas of where I might be able to take this and if I am honest, the period has more potential for me than perhaps the history would indicate.

Especially as there are Turks involved....

...and paddle steamers....

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Thoughts on the Jutland Project

With work on the capital ship element of the Jutland project resuming once again (or more accurately speeding up from dead slow) I have again been thinking about the thorny subject of light cruisers and destroyers in the game. There is no doubt that the capital ships will be the stars but the supporting cast must also have their fifteen minutes so to speak.

I have previously mentioned that I will be scaling the numbers down for these elements - in the case of the destroyers this decision has been taken out of necessity as some of the types are simply unavailable in 1/2400th - and have more of less settled on cutting the light cruiser numbers in half. I am undecided about destroyers though.

For a variety of reasons many of the naval games I have fought over the years have usually featured a massed destroyer based torpedo attack. Destroyers then assume an importance in a fleet action out of all proportion to their actual abilities. Of course they are an essential element of a battle fleet but I am unconvinced that many rule sets 'dumb them down' sufficiently when used in large actions. I recall reading that at Jutland a little over a hundred torpedoes were launched in the battle and that the hit ratio was something around the five percent level. This is hardly the great torpedo fest that a wargame would routinely feature!

My feeling is that the threat of a torpedo attack was far greater than the actual effect and so I will aim to factor this in to the rules I ultimately decide upon. The Avalon Hill game Jutland allows for commanders to turn away from a torpedo attack this nullifying it and this works well enough.

Taking all this into consideration I shall be using representative bases for the destroyers based on their actual composition which will cut the number of models down and also ensure that that destroyers are handled with a little finesse than is usual. Torpedoes are effective when they hit - I just do not want that to be too easy to do so.

More to follow and much to ponder methinks....

Sunday, 26 October 2014

H.M.A.S. Australia and Friends


H.M.A.S. Australia in all her 1/2400th glory. She will have a couple of light cruisers and four destroyers for company - just the thing for chasing down German raiders in the Pacific.

After what seems like an age I have finally completed the six early Battle Cruisers for the Royal Navy and that of Australia. Of the two classes - the earlier Invincible and the later Indefatigable - five were present at Jutland (with one from each class being sunk) but I wanted H.M.A.S Australia for my small Antipodean squadron that will be serving in a planned Pacific based 'hunt the raider' type scenario. A potted history of her career can be found here - H.M.A.S. Australia 1911


The other two ships in the class - with apologies for the ever-so-slightly blurred picture. 


The earlier Invincible class. The Indefatigable class was not a great improvement over these ships - it was only when the Lion type came along was any real advance in the battle cruiser concept from the Royal Navy perspective.


H.M.S. Invincible - lead ship of the class and lost at Jutland.


 H.M.S. Indefatigable - lead ship of the class and lost at Jutland. 


The two lead ships from each class for comparison purposes.

The six models are from Panzerschiffe in the US and, if I am honest, are fairly basic even by their standards. I suspect that these are old molds and the presence of some odd pieces of flash and sink holes would tend to confirm this. The rear funnels on the Indefatigable class is a little odd on a couple of the models and is canted over slightly. There is also the curse of the partially cast gun barrel in evidence. Panzerschiffe are happy to exchange models that are not up to standard due to casting problems but if I am honest the hassle of organising transatlantic replacements is not worth it as they are not that bad and have painted up well enough.

I used my usual black undercoat and dry brush in various shades of grey with block painted decks and lifeboats. All were finished in enamels except for the ship's lifeboats which are in white Vallejo acrylic.

As an aside I was really impressed with the Vallejo paint and intend a phased conversion to using them for all my painting going forward - how about that for dragging my painting into the 21st century at long last?!

I now have 14 capital ships remaining for the RN and 13 for the Germans before I tackle the cruisers and destroyers. The next batch of the RN ships (8 in total) are now under way and have had the preliminary grey dry brushing so I am hoping to get them completed over the coming week.


Rather nice and well made - I may even play chess on it....


A very simple looking game by a company I have never heard of....


....but take a look at the map! Instant imagi-nation if ever I saw one! It was also very good value at a mere 75p.

On a separate subject the outdoor boot sale season is winding down but we have a local indoor version that whilst being small has turned up a couple of goodies over the years. Today was no exception as I picked up a rather useful chess board with 6cm squares and a rather handy board game. the chess board will be seeing service for a number of Portable Wargame type ideas and the board game has a very nice hex based mounted map of a fantasy style world. No prizes for guessing what that may be used for!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

4, 3, 2....The Devil May Care

My word how time flies! Since my last post on 28/09 a few things have been on the go but it has been largely underwhelming on the gaming front - much planning and thinking of great thoughts has been the order of the day - with little else to show for it.


Not a bad read - although even for me it is a little cliche-ridden!

I have been extensively gaming albeit in a rather unusual fashion. One of the chaps at the office introduced me to a very good Chess 'app' - Chess with Friends by Zynga - and I have been playing him relentlessly for some time now. I expect most gamers have (or are still playing) played Chess at some point and there are obvious war game connections. It as been challenging and a good work out for the grey matter - so much so that I dusted off a couple of Chess books I have in the collection - so in the absence of a wargame will suffice for my gaming fix for the time being.

I allowed myself the luxury of reading Sebastien Faulks James Bond novel - Devil May Care - and have to say that whilst I enjoyed it (being a huge Bond fan) it did seem to almost catalogue elements of every Bond story written - even using much of the same phraseology - which did grate after a while. It is a good story though and I would recommend it.

The '4, 3, 2' of the title is a reference to the way I shall be organising my 10/12mm collections and represents the ratio of foot to horse to guns I shall be using. I have opted to use 4 bases for infantry, 3 for cavalry and 2 for artillery - which is of course the system in use for pretty much all the Command and Colours system.

I have also been thinking about my ancients 'fix'. If you recall I posted on many occasions about the Greek and Persian war - culminating in Salamis as the naval option. Whilst I like the idea to tackling the armies using figures it is becoming less likely that I will. I have a couple of ideas in mind - the second Punic War for one - but I am having some serious thoughts about the wars of the late Roman Republic - the century leading up to AD. The reasons are compelling - multiple opponents ranging from the usual Celtic and Germanic hordes via Eastern armies and a whole host in between, not to mention the civil war(s). As ever, 10/12mm will be the scale of choice.

I have been pondering the whole Lion Rampant/Cross and Crescent idea and am looking to the El Cid period although the Perry late medieval plastic look really nice....;-)

No progress on the ships sadly although I have all that I need from the capital ship perspective. Time and enthusiasm have been a premium recently but I shall persevere.