Tuesday 19 July 2011

World War 1 Naval via the Bismarck and Friends with Fletcher Pratt

A Most Welcome Return - My only problem is how many sets to order!

I was perusing various blogs yesterday when I came across this from Tim Gow:


Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I have had some truly epic games using Fletcher Pratt's rules on a dining table with fleets made up of models converted from any one of these kits for use in a WW1 setting. I am referring to the South East Asia WW1 naval campaign that was set up and run by Eric Knowles just after the conclusion of Madasahatta - which I was also fortunate to have taken part in - albeit at the very end of the campaign. Sadly, to  the best of my knowledge there are no photos left of the campaign (I am sure some were taken though), nor were any of the actions documented but the stars of the show were the models - and what an eclectic  (read motley) bunch they were! At the top end we had some stunning examples of Neptune, Navis and Mercator (the games were in the only proper scale for a naval wargame - 1/1200th) models, a hole heap of scratch builds, some Minifigs ships (donated by Bob Cordery), assorted 'cheap' 1/1200th models - destroyers and such like - and the final source being the then new range of Airfix 1/1200th waterline models. These were hoovered up in quantity and were used as the basis for a whole host of ships - most of which were far removed from the original intention.

Taking the Turkish fleet as an example (my own - at the time it was the only navy that nobody was using!) a converted HMS Hood - with the addition of a further 15" turret - became the fleet flagship, the Sultan Fineghar the 1st.....

The upturned hulls of the tribal class destroyer after some TLC became  the two Turkish cruisers Hamidiye and Mecidiye and I used various parts from the Bismarck kit to build a Goeben.

The campaign was great fun but did not make it much past January 1915 as the central powers had been thoroughly hammered into the world's largest salvage operation and had, in truth, run out of ships.

The one incident from the campaign that will stay long in the memory (and still raises a chuckle even now) was when the Austrian coast defence squadron was set upon by the Russians - including a Gangut class dreadnought. The Austrians had nothing larger than a 9.4" amongst the 6 ships. Eric was umpiring and had decreed that the visibility was not great (it was early morning) and so the maximum range anybody could see was one metre. This was exactly the range that the Gangut appeared at, cautiously nosing out of an aesthetically placed bank of cotton wool mist. The Austrians needed no second invitation to this unexpected piece of intelligence - every ship estimated the range to the centre of the unfortunate Russian almost to the millimetre. When we returned into the dining room after having plotted out firing the sight of the dreadnought festooned with golf tees as everything bar the saluting guns registered a hit was the stuff of which wargaming legends are made....

To this day I am unsure if revealing the exact visibility distance was an intentional slip on Eric's part or not - the central powers had been on the end of an almost unbroken chain of defeats and so perhaps he felt sorry for us!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the regular posts..and the exciting developments in the 'Jutlandesque' rules. I'm also working a hex based amalgam of Carter/Hague & Skytrex WW1 and had a few writer's blocks...your use of the Jane's calibre classifications for ranges was like a menthol decongestent for me....ahhh that's much better..more power to your elbow!

David Crook said...


Many thanks for the support although I can safely say I have never been referred to as a menthol decongestant before!

Jutlandesque will be tested over the next few days with the after action report appearing on the blog as usual.

I am really interested in the rules you are working on and will happily share thoughts and ideas etc if that would be of help.

All the best,