Friday 27 January 2023

A Battleship Kickstarter

A wise man once said “How do ya like them apples?” Or as Dr. Oscar Parkes himself said on page 689: “To those of us who remember the rigged ironclads in Reserve, and have followed battleship development from the old Royal Sovereign, there is something infinitely pathetic in the passing of man’s most wonderful creation afloat.”

Since the publication of The Portable Ironclads Wargame I have been in something of a funk hobby-wise. I always intended signing off at publication on the ACW project and then looking to tackle something else with the Samurai being the main focus. In the meantime I have fussed around a few other ideas and have also fully intended getting some games in but I have found it very difficult to get motivated in any particular direction. More and more I am realising that I have a degree of unfinished business in respect of the whole ironclads thing and this has really acted as a kind of brake on tackling anything else.

So what do I do?

Well, there are a few models outstanding for the ACW project - ships and terrain - which will serve to draw a line under this particular phase of the overall idea. However I had a couple of other ironclad based ideas to play around with - War in the Pacific, the Boshin War and possibly something Russo Turkish - but these were always planned to be tackled much later.

Further down the line I was also looking to extend the system into the pre dreadnought era but this would require some major building work beforehand as I would be making the models from scratch. 

I am going to tackle the unfinished business of the ironclads project but in a different way than envisaged. There are a couple of book ideas in the planning stage - no details as yet - which will serve to fully wrap up the ironclads. This is something I always intended doing so is not anything new. What is new though, is the choice around the models I shall be looking at building. I had flirted with the idea of something Lissa based but now reckon that I have some rather more fun to look at. 

I can lay the blame for this idea at the feet of two worthies from the blogosphere. In the first instance and the reason for this post, is Mr David Manley.

I met up with him for a couple of beers up in town and as ever the conversation was illuminating and the company convivial. The book you see above, considered by many to be the definitive word on the design and development of the British Battleship, now has pride of place in my naval library, courtesy of the aforementioned Mr Manley. I have no words to describe how gobsmacked I was have been given this - it truly is a magisterial work. Thank you Mr Manley, I only hope that my future naval endeavours will be worthy of this magnificent gift!

The book itself is a great doorstop of a tome. It has 701 pages and 450 plans and photographs. Covering the period from the Warrior to the Vanguard it describes with technical detail every single battleship built for the Royal Navy as well how the designs came about, foreign contemporaries, service histories and much, much more. I can see me getting an awful lot of use from this!

The second source of inspiration would be Jim Jackaman. The reasons for this are simple. He has built many ironclads models for the English and French in 1:2400th and has fought a number of really interesting battles set in the English Channel. I shall be revisiting his blog for further inspiration for sure and will no doubt be perennially distracted by his myriad other projects! For now though, I shall be trawling through his blog for his ironclad stuff.

Just the one for now and due for a change in the paint job. H.M.S. Superb, sister to the Turkish ironclad the Messudieh.

The Plan

I rather fancy building some Royal Navy and French ships for use with the Portable Ironclads Wargame. Some blue water action would make a change from the swampy bayous of the ACW. Most of the ships will be one offs so some careful preparation would be needed but I reckon it is a goer. It would be nowhere near as large as the ACW collection in terms of numbers but the variety of ships will be interesting to build for sure. I already have one for the Royal Navy: H.M.S. Superb.

So it looks like my naval itch will continue being scratched for a while yet - like that was ever even a choice!



Charles Litka said...

I've had Dr Park's masterpiece, along with the matching destroyer volume in my library since the 1960's and my Fletcher Pratt naval wargaming days. My friends and I each built different fleets, mine was the Royal Navy, and fought battles on basement floors. We had our own naval arms race...

Did they ever publish a British Cruiser volume in that series?

David Crook said...

Hello there Charles,

It is a staggering piece of work and no mistake! The destroyer volume is advertised on the back cover. There was not a separate battlecruiser volume that I know of although I have plenty of ‘stuff’ in the library that would cover them.

Fletcher Pratt on the basement floor - now that sounds like fun although I doubt if my legs would thank me if I tried it now!

All the best,


Donnie McGibbon said...

That is certainly an impressive gift to be given and good that has stirred the planning and creative juices!! Have been over to Jim Jackamans blog, very impressive it is to, many thanks for posting the link to it. It will be interesting to see your project come to life.

David Crook said...

Hi there Donnie,

It was a most welcome and unexpected gift and has given me the nudge I probably needed to address the next phase of the ironclad project. Jim’s blog is a real smorgasbord of ideas and projects and all are executed in his own, inimical style!

For now though, I need to set out some ground rules for the building.

All the best,


Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


I have both the battleship and destroyer books, but don’t think that there was ever a cruiser volume to accompany them. If there had been, I would want to buy a copy like a shot!

The battleship book is a mighty tome but has lots of plans that are a gift for any ship modeller.

A great gift, and one I know that you will use.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hello there Bob,

The destroyer book is on my radar now, along with The Black Battlefleet. I am sure I have seen a book on Victorian cruisers that could be useful as well.

I am very taken with the plans and these will certainly help me making some 1880 era ships - there are some foreign ships in the book as well which is handy. I also believe there are a couple of books on the French Navy as well.

Plenty to get my teeth into.

All the best,


Aly Morrison said...

Keep itching that scratch David 😳😁
Franco -British action in the Channel… what’s not to like.
It’s worth remembering that Willian La Queux lists a lot of the ships that could potentially be involved in The Great War in England 1896…

I am looking forward to seeing what you do…

All the best. Aly

Paul O'G said...

Most excellent! Glad to hear you are keeping in touch with DM too

David Manley said...

I'm glad to have been the instigator for another expansive DC project :) All this talk of anglo-French actions in the channel reminds me of my long-held plans to run a game set in the Bristol Channel, with the evil Frenchies trying to penetrate the defensive line of forts from Brean to Steep Holm, Flat Holm and Lavernock to attack the new port at Avonmouth :)

David Crook said...

Hi Aly,

It will need a little research and planning in respect of hull shapes etc but it will be a lot of fun. The models will be in the same style as for the ACW but with a little more detail.

Good shout re La Queux but possibly a little late for me - at least for this phase of the project :-)

All the best,


David Crook said...

G’Day Paul,

Cheers old chap! Beers were had….

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hello there Mr Manley,

Your plan - would it involve a high G climb out at Avonmouth because those forts are lethal…… :-)

Actually I wonder if something similar in the Thames Estuary with Sheerness as the target.

It was a magnificent gift old chap and now I need to get something similar for the French - and I noticed the new 1866 book coming out this year as well.

So many projects, so little time!

All the best,