Friday, 31 December 2010
Somewhat behind schedule I know but above is the picture of the first three side wheel paddle steamers for my ACW naval scratch build project. They measure a shade over 2 inches in length and as usual have a balsa wood hull, craft stick superstructure and paddle boxes and plastic fittings - the forward hatch, the pilot house and the funnels. The design is a very common river type of paddle steamer used by both sides and the next batch will follow the same general layout but will have more in the way of armour protection - the 'tinclads'. I cheated with the paddle boxes as the outside panel is merely the top of a craft stack used as a former to shape the balsa wood behind. These models had also been prepared over ten days ago and it was only today that I was able to sit down to stick them together. I really need to start painting this little lot as with the other models I have ready I now have a dozen constructed.
Many thanks to all for the good wishes over the household plague which is finally showing signs of clearing up although SWMBO has spent most of the day in bed - as has my daughter whilst I have very gingerly and with no great enthusiasm kept the place ticking over. I feel pretty grim with the throat and feverishness but was determined to end the year with something positive to report!
Mention of the year end gives me the opportunity once again to thank everybody that has commented on my posts or even just dropped by for a browse - I have found that the encouragement I have received and the ideas that have spawned as a result have served to greatly enrich my enjoyment of our hobby and so I hope that in 2011 I can continue to provide posts that invite such comments - a kind of wargaming perpetual motion.
To one and all then - have a very happy, peaceful, prosperous and safe 2011.
Thursday, 30 December 2010
Sadly the area I am moving back into has been greatly reduced in size so it means that a large chunk of the collection has had to go into deep storage in the loft. The task was not difficult but time consuming, physically demanding and most certainly not what you should be doing when feeling as rough as I have been - commuting between the loft, the first floor and the ground with units, boxes and books etc is less than ideal when all you want to do is collapse under a duvet with a Lem Sip and hibernate until next April!
Still, it is pretty much done now and the single positive is that I have been able to put away some items that would have only been a distraction. What I have available and readily to hand is that which I should be concentrating on so I suppose it has done me a favour after all.
Sunday, 26 December 2010
Friday, 24 December 2010
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
The very serious looking gentleman in the picture is none other than the celebrated naval strategist A. T. Mahan. His most famous work was of course The Influence of Sea Power upon History 1660 - 1783. His theories of the use of large fleets found a ready audience in the shaping of the naval policies of the US, Great Britain, Germany and Japan. Time and the technological impact of the submarine and of aircraft reduced the effectiveness of some of his ideas but his influence on the strategic planning of the navies above was far reaching and of considerable longevity.
The reason this has come up is simply down to me trawling through a couple of free ebook sites to add to my reader. I have never read Mahan's work although am aware of it. I was delighted then, to not only find a copy of this to download but also some of his other work. He wrote many other works of naval interest including titles covering the naval operations of the American War of Independence and, much closer to my current interest, the naval actions along the Mississippi during the civil war. This formed volume 3 of a naval history of the civil war and was devoted to the actions along the inland waterways to the Gulf. Needless to say, a full report will be made once I have read this title and I am very pleased to have had the chance to add this to my collection.
Sunday, 19 December 2010
After a day of Xmas activity - including a visit to the cinema to see the new Narnia film (more of which later) - not helped by the second downfall of snow; I was able to get some more work done on the gunboats and rams for the ACW collection. Looking through my copy of Gibbon's Warships and Naval Battles of the Civil War you can see that there is an absolutely bewildering variety of ships pressed into service on either side, all with a greater or lesser degree of protection and weaponry. This gives the scratch builder almost a blank canvas upon which to work as for every documented and illustrated ship there is probably a dozen that we have no idea about! I will be making models that are best described as typical of their types, rather as I did with the casemate ironclads, and so the naming of these models will be an exercise in educated guesswork!
Last Wednesday was my daughter Holly's birthday and as part of her celebrations we went to see the new Narnia film - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I must confess that aside from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe I was unfamiliar with rest of the Chronicles of Narnia but judging by this film (and the previous: Prince Caspian - we watched this a couple of weeks ago as my daughter has the DVD) I may well have to rectify this omission as it was great fun. I was aware of C.S.Lewis being great friends with Tolkein but I have never read any of his works. Happily my daughter has all of these so I will be borrowing them from her - all in the name of research of course!
Saturday, 18 December 2010
As a result of this work related activity I have been less than productive on the modelling front although I have managed to cut and shape eight more hulls for the various side wheel gunboats and rams I am building next. I have given some thought to monitors and have decided that the turrets are going to be made from plastic tube with plastic card for the roof. I have sourced a supplier for this as well which is handy -http://www.model-dockyard.com/index.html - especially as the turrets will be around half an inch wide. Tubing of this size will be doubly useful when I start on the pre dreads in due course.
I also joined the Ironclads yahoo group and was delighted to see some of the contents of the files and photos sections. There were several ACW rule and campaign ideas and some fantastic scratch built models so it was all very inspiring.
Tuesday, 14 December 2010
My ultimate aim is to be able to fight a river based land and naval campaign using my scratch builds and the as yet undisclosed land stuff in tandem with rules of a common parentage and that can easily cater for actions fought in either element. I can design the terrain using historical maps superimposed on the sheets of hexed paper with a 13 x 9 grid. I have downloaded some of this in various sizes and it is invaluable for scenario design. Ideally I would like to do these on the PC but I have yet to find a way of doing this as I would have to ‘crack open’ the PDF. I will have to experiment with this as it would certainly make life a lot easier to be able to tackle this on the computer rather than freehand although I am not averse to doing so. It would be a piece of cake to do on a square grid and I could cobble something up using Excel easily enough.
The land side will be fought on my soon to be acquired Hexon green flocked terrain tile set and again, as with my set of blue tiles, this will conveniently cover a 13 x 9 playing area. For those of you unfamiliar with the Memoir 44/Battle Cry/Command and Colours system, 13 x 9 is the size of the playing board. I don't want to sound overly dramatic but for me the acquisition of this Hexon terrain represents a quantum shift in my war gaming aspirations and whilst not everything to everybody, it will allow me to indulge my gaming 'flights of fancy' easily and efficiently.
Sunday, 12 December 2010
I am very happy with the way the squadron has taken shape and am looking forward to painting and basing them as well as the Confederate vessels I completed first of all. I intend building perhaps a further three ironclads (not including monitors) but the next priority will be the side wheeled rams and gunboats. As for naming these models I must confess that I have had a slight change of heart. Originally I was going to invent names for all of them - the Confederate vessels were all to named from places and characters from Gone With the Wind - but have now decided that I shall go down the historical route and use actual names as closely as possible.
Saturday, 11 December 2010
Thursday, 9 December 2010
I have also begun to give some consideration to the hex based rules I shall want to use to support this project. Initially I shall be looking to use Bob Cordery's 1860 to 1870 variant of Memoir of Battle at Sea. To be sure there will be the inevitable tweaks to bring these into the place I want but as usual with Bob C's rules - the core mechanics are sound enough to support any amount of tinkering!
Tuesday, 7 December 2010
I did a little filing of the edges with the Cairo class models and that was it; resisting the urge to tackle anything more detailed given my last experience with the casemate ironclads - once bitten, twice shy and all that!
The plan is to finish the construction of these four models in time to start painting at the weekend if possible - SWMBO is out Saturday night so I will have the unalloyed luxury of several hours free time which I intend taking full advantage of!
Sunday, 5 December 2010
Thursday, 2 December 2010
I will have the opportunity to catch up on a number of other things whilst at home - namely finishing off the casemate ironclads prior to tackling the next batch. Using plastic strip for the fittings is certainly a big help and thus far I have had no major problems with it. The models will need to sealed prior to undercoating and painting and I intend using a coat of diluted Unibond for this. Once this has dried the models can be based and painted.
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Somewhere in the Black Sea....An Account of a Naval Action of Historic Importance by Thomas Royston.
On the morning of November 28th a substantial force of Turkish and German warships was heading East into the Black Sea with the twofold intention of conducting shore bombardments and the laying of minefields in support of the land based operations currently underway in the area and to restrict Russian naval interference of the same. Russian naval activity had thus far been primarily concerned with the disruption the Turkish coastal coal trade. Due to the lack of a coastal railway link, most of Turkey’s coal had to be transported by sea so any interruption of this supply would have a far reaching effect on the Ottoman ability to wage war. Already a number of coastal freighters had been sunk by the Russians and so the Turkish Navy was obliged to regularly patrol the shipping lanes to ensure a safe passage for these vital shipments.
The combined Turkish/German force, under the command of Rear Admiral Wilhelm Souchon onboard the battle cruiser Yavuz Sultan Selim, had just cleared the furthermost coaling harbour when smoke was spotted on the horizon. The squadron at his command consisted of the battle cruiser Yavuz Sultan Selim; the cruisers Midilli, Hamidiye and Mecidiye, the old battleships Turgud Reis and Hayreddin Barbarossa and an escort of two destroyers- Muavenet-i Milliye and Yadigar-i Millet - and four torpedo boats – Samsun, Yarhisar (operating on the southernmost beam), Tasoz and Basra (operating on the northerly beam). The three cruisers were deployed in a screen roughly three miles ahead of the main body in an arrowhead formation, centred on the Midilli with the Hamedye to the north and the Mecidiye to the south. The two flanking cruisers were roughly three miles off of the rear port and starboard quarters respectively of the Midilli. The Yavuz Sultan Selim had the two destroyers as close escort – one on either beam - and following her in a line ahead were the old battleships Turgud Reis and Hayreddin Barbarossa. The torpedo boats were split evenly with two operating on either beam of these old ships. The fleet had from the early morning mist and was just about to increase speed when the first shells from the Russian battle line began falling uncomfortably closely to the flagship. Reacting instantly, the Yavuz Sultan Selim accelerated to her best speed whilst swing the helm over hard a starboard. The cruiser screen was ordered to fall in behind her thus providing a link with the slower battleships bringing up the rear. The whole formation was to turn to the south and retrace its steps back to the West and to take advantage of the lingering bank of sea mist from which they had only recently emerged. The quantity and accuracy of the Russian fire convinced Souchon that he was facing the enemy’s entire strength and so a withdrawal would be the safest course of action – particularly bearing in mind the relative slowness of his two battleships. This was the plan of action – a sound one to be sure – but it was to be fatally compromised by the actions of the Russians.
Whilst Souchon and the Turkish fleet were executing their withdrawal from the action, the Russians had exercised a commendable tactical ploy that took the Turks completely by surprise.
The Russian formation approaching from the south east was disposed of thus: the battleships Evstafi, Ioann Zlatoust, Pantelejmon, Tri Sviatitelia and Rostislav in a line ahead with the first two ships heading in a north westerly direction and the remaining three heading due west. The two cruisers; the Kagul and the Pamiat Merkurija had adopted forward flanking positions in their screening role, located some 3 miles off the forward port and starboard quarter of the flagship, the Evstafi. The Pamiat Merkurija was the northernmost of the two cruisers. Directly behind either cruiser followed the destroyers and torpedo boats deployed as follows: following the Kagul came the Bespokoinyi, Gnevnyi, Leitenat Pushchin and Zavetnyi and behind the Pamiat Merkurija came the Gromkiy, Pospeshnyi, Zavidnyi and the Zhivoy. The three battleships and four torpedo boats had only just reunited with the Evstafi and her consorts as the Rostislav had experienced engine trouble that had delayed their departure by several hours. Ordinarily the five battleships would operate as a single formation but in a moment of inspired thinking, Vice Admiral Eberhardt ordered the Pantelejmon division to continue heading on a westerly course, thereby splitting the formation but hopefully catching the Turks between two fires.
As soon as the Yavuz Sultan Selim had turned to starboard and was heading in a south westerly direction she was hit by the twelve inch guns of the Evstafi in one of the port side secondary emplacements, wrecking the gun, killing or wounding most of the gun crew and causing a small ammunition fire which was quickly brought under control. The ten eleven inch guns of the Yavuz Sultan Selim quickly opened their account with a long range hit scored against the Evstafi by way of returning the salutation. The Ioann Zlatoust also opened fire on the Turkish flagship but without success although the Yavuz was surrounded by a veritable forest of shell splashes. Not to be outdone by their larger compatriots both of the Russian cruisers opened fire against the nearest Turkish target, in this case the cruiser Midilli. Despite being the target of a blizzard of shellfire the Turkish cruiser managed to avoid any major damage although she was hit in one of the coal bunker spaces. Her retaliatory fire was both rapid and effective as she overwhelmed the Pamiat Merkurija with a deluge of four point one inch shells. The shot-riddled cruiser staggered out of line, belching smoke and flames and painfully limped off to the north east and away from the action.
The great looping turn of the Yavuz Sultan Selim had taken her across the face of the Evstafi and the Ioann Zlatoust, together with their escorts. She had the two destroyers accompanying her as well as the cruiser Midilli in her wake with the slower cruisers Hamidiye and Mecidiye falling in behind her. This was to prove to be fatal to both the Turkish cruisers as they passed in range of both the two Russian Battleships and given the fact that the Yavuz Sultan Selim was no longer a valid target, they gave the hapless Turks several salvoes of concentrated heavy fire. When the smoke and spray had cleared the Hamediye was down by the bows; battered and sinking and the Mecidiye was effectively out of action and in imminent danger of joining her compatriot.
Whilst the Turkish cruisers at the rear of the line were being mercilessly hammered by the Russian battleships the Yavuz Sultan Selim had made out the looming shape of three other enemy heavy units and so immediately opened out her starboard turn to engage the lead ship – the Pantelejmon. Once again, the ten eleven inch guns opened fire and succeeded in straddling and hitting the lead Russian ship with her opening salvo. The heavy blows sustained by the Pantelejmon were not to have been in vain though as they served to lure the Turkish battle cruiser into a fatal trap.
Mention should be made at this stage of the two old battleships: Turgud Reis and Hayreddin Barbarossa. They had instantly reacted to the opening of the action by turning as tightly as possible and at their best speed in order to conform with the frenzied manoeuvring of the flagship and the leading elements of the fleet. They managed to do this but in doing so were left behind by their escorting torpedo boats as they raced off in support of the flagship.
The Evstafi and Iaonn Zlatoust turned to the West with the obvious intention of engaging the two Turkish battleships and in order to give them something to think about the four escorting destroyers were unleashed in order to attack them at their best speed. In doing so the two Russian battleships passed within range of the still burning Mecidiye and it fell the Ioann Zlatoust to administer the coup de grace on the hapless and helpless Turkish cruiser.
Meanwhile, The Pantelejmon and her escorts raced ahead at their best speed in order to engage the still turning Yavuz Sultan Selim. In doing, the line became extended – mainly due the Rostislav being unable to keep up with her faster compatriots. The Leitenant Pushchin and Zavetnyi, racing ahead as they did managed to get within four thousand yards of the Turkish flagship and immediately attacked her with torpedoes. All but one of these deadly weapons missed but their bravery was rewarded with the sight of a large explosion against the hull of the giant battle cruiser. Such gallantry soon reaped its inevitable reward as the secondary batteries of the Yavuz Sultan Selim poured a withering fire into the two hapless torpedo boats and they disappeared under a welter of five point nine and three point four inch shells. At a range of less than five thousand yards the great battle cruiser then turned her attention to the Panteljmon and opened fire with all her main guns. In a single salvo the old battleship was stoved in, burning, riven and torn asunder as great gouts of flame shot skywards from her wounds and smoke poured from every opening. She went down fighting, with her flag flying proudly and her guns still firing. The Yavuz Sultan Selim was rocked by several explosions as her gallant adversary sold herself dearly and landed some damaging hits on the great battle cruiser.
The Turkish ship; no doubt inspired by her recent telling shots at the lead Russian battleship and her subsequent demise then decided to administer more of the same against the second ship in the line – the Tri Sviatitelia. At this moment she was having a battle all of her own against the two Turkish destroyers that had managed to move into the gap in the Russian battle line and was thus able to threaten both the Tri Sviatitelia and the Rostislav. Luckily for the Russians no torpedo hits were scored and the Turkish destroyers were engaged and damaged by the remaining two Russian torpedo boats.
To the north the two Turkish battleships had problems of their own as they gallantly fended off the attentions of the four Russian destroyers whilst the Evstafi and Ioann Zlatoust moved up in support. Whilst the destroyers were retiring to regroup, long range shots were traded with two of the small Turkish torpedo boats and these small ships were quickly overwhelmed and sunk. The clash between the two lines of battleships was not long delayed as once the Russian destroyers had cleared the scene the great guns on both sides opened up at a range of some twelve thousand yards. The gallant Evstafi sustained further damage whilst the Ioann Zlatoust emerged scot free from the fray. Of the two Turkish ships The Hayreddin Barbarossa was unscathed in this exchange; not so the Turgud Reis as she was wracked from stem to stern with an assorted fusillade of varying calibre shells from the Ioann Zlatoust that left the old ship down by the bows and burning furiously.
The end was in sight. The Yavuz Sultan Selim, rather than beat a retreat to fight another day chose instead to engage the Tri Sviatitelia at a murderously short range of less than four thousand yards. The great battle cruiser opened fire with everything she had and in minutes the ancient battleship was a pulverised and shattered wreck. Her sinking came at a high price though, as the old battleship fought back magnificently and poured shot after shot into the Yavuz Sultan Selim. In a matter of minutes she also staggered to a halt, blazing furiously and with great rents in her once proud hull. She was finished as a warship and with her damage control parties and pumps a chaotic shambles of twisted and tortured fire blackened metal, the order was given to abandon ship. The last acts of the drama were being played out as the remaining Turkish torpedo boats - Samsun and Yarhisar - attempted to escape the debacle but to no avail as they ruthlessly despatched by the Russian destroyers in a very one sided combat. The Midilli made good her escape by virtue of her speed and the Hayreddin Barbarossa, despite being the slowest vessel on either side managed to make the edges of the mist and so was soon lost to sight. The Russians then contented themselves with picking up survivors and tending to the wounded.
By any standard imaginable this defeat was a catastrophe for the Turks and the Germans. Although a high price was paid by the Russians in respect of the loss of two battleships and a pair of torpedo boats the threat of Turkish naval activity in the Black Sea has, at a stroke, been removed. The Russians conducted themselves magnificently throughout the action and the plan adopted by Vice Admiral Eberhardt was in the finest traditions of Nelson himself. A worthy and historic victory gained by determination, courage and singlemindedness.
THREE CHEERS FOR OUR GALLANT RUSSIAN ALLIES!!!
A series of maps and illustrations to support this account will be made available in a special edition of this journal at a later date. Please see your newsagent for details.