Monday 28 July 2014

Just Deserts....

Gotta love this kit!

One of the things I have been pondering in connection with the Hexon desert terrain I am in the process of acquiring are its uses beyond the Middle East in WW1. The next thing for me would be something set in North Africa during WW2 - or rather a good excuse for some kit-bashing. I have always had a soft spot for the Western desert in WW2 going back to making an Airfix 88mm gun and tractor kit with may father when I was a boy. The impression stayed with me throughthe years.

Which is rather embarrassing as last year I offloaded the entire Western desert section of my library so I will need to start again. Fortunately the Works at Lakeside came to my rescue and I was able to pick a copy of El Alamein by Bryn Hammond for a mere £5.99.

Monty, desert rats, Rommel - need I say more....

I have not given this period very much in the way of thought or resourcing but it would be great fun to tackle and will give me the opportunity to tackle once again the Airfix 88mm and tractor kit - Not to mention the Reconnaisance set . It will happen at some point and I suspect that once I get my desert Hexon it may be sooner rather than later!

Friday 25 July 2014

Keeping on keeping on

Pretty much essential reading in support of my collection methinks....;-)

It has been an eventful week for a variety of reasons but careful progress continues to be made with both the Jutland project and the WW1 Middle Eastern collection.

For the former I have placed the order with Stonewall Miniatures for the final four RN Battleships I need - a pair each of the Orion and Queen Elizabeth classes. I also collected from Mr.Fox some Vallejo paints he picked up for during one of his regular forays into deepest Southend - the Buff will be really useful as my wooden deck colour once the Humbrols have dried out.

I have also ordered the last of the bases from Essex Miniatures for the WW1 Middle Eastern collection so the great rebase can get under way. Again, courtesy of Mr.Fox I have added the above title to my collection so the start of the Palestine section of the library has been made and I have already identified a couple of other books I am after in support of the project.

Finally, palm trees. Bob Cordery posted me a link to a site (which I am unable to access at present for some inexplicable reason) from which I have ordered some very atttractive looking but basic palm trees which stand around 3" high and are made from plastic. Obviously they are too small to scale but with the abstract nature of my collection and terrain they will do very nicely indeed with a little TLC.

Many thanks then, to both Mr. Fox and Bob for helping to fill a couple of outstanding holes!

Tuesday 22 July 2014

New Additions

The Deutschland class and friends in line ahead. At Jutland the class and S.M.S. Hessen of the preceding Braunschweig class formed the 2nd battle squadron. Two fo the Deutschlands - Schlesien and Schleswig-Holstein - were modernised and served in WW2

I arrived home yesterday evening to a small cardboard box postmarked from the USA. The parcel contained my latest order from Panzerschiffe and consisted of the last of the capital ships I need from them to complete that category of ship for my WW1 1/2400th scale Jutland project. The parcel contained the following models:
  • H.M.S. Neptune
  • H.M.S. Canada - this is a particularly nice clean casting
  • H.M.S. Indefatigable
  • H.M.S. Invincible
  • 5 x S.M.S. Deutschland
  • S.M.S. Braunschweig
  • S.M.S. Blucher
  • 2 x S.M.S. Scharnhorst
The last three models on the list are to replace the Stonewall metal versions which are really poor quality - especially the Scharhorst which is almost totally devoid of any surface detailing.

I hope to post some pictures of these in the bare resin so to speak at some point and I am hoping to start the painting as soon as the last of the metal models arrive from Stonewall Miniatures. The final ships from them are a pair of Orion class battleships and the remaining two Queen Elizabeth class.

I am pretty impressed with the service from Panzerschiffe as this batch took only around some 8 days to reach me although I will need to go back to them as one of the Deutschland class was missing a funnel - it had snapped off the model. Luckily it was in the bag the models were packed so a quick drop of super glue and all was well.

Sunday 20 July 2014

A Desert-Loving Englishman

The late, great Alec Guiness as Prince Faisal in David Lean's epic film: Lawrence of Arabia

“I think you are another of these desert-loving English – Doughty, Stanhope, Gordon of Khartoum.”  Faisal goes on, “No Arab loves the desert. We love water and green trees. There is nothing in the desert. And no man needs nothing.”

I have mentioned previously about by plans to acquire the desert Hexon terrain - initially for use with the WW1 Middle East collection. I should add though, that it goes a whole lot deeper than merely the Arab Revolt and my old historical friend T.E. Lawrence. I can honestly see me fighting anything from the time of the Pharoahs up to the Gulf War - simply because I really enjoy reading about military campaigns set in the desert.

At the time of writing the plans for the Middle East will take much of my time but I see no reason why these other periods cannot be tackled - the desert after all has a rich history of conflict to explore. I would certainly like to tackle WW2 for example - certainly in a Command and Colours kind of set up. The various Colonial campaigns in the 19th century would also be a fertile ground for some games - as would the ancient period.

Much to ponder then going forward and at the risk of being cliched I would certainly be happy to be described as a 'desert-loving Englishman'.

Bailing, Bases, Boats and 'Go'ing

Not the set I have just acquired but you get the idea.

It has been a fuuny old day. This morning we were at a bootsale in the sunshine and this afternoon I was helping a neighbour bail out their front drive which was flooded due to the torrential downpour we experienced. As is the norm our garage got slightly damp in the deluge but luckily not in a serious way.

There was very little at the boot sale to speak of although I picked up a very copy of the ancient oriental board game of Go with one of the 'Teach yourself' guides as well. The game is played on a very nice wooden board with two pull out storage drawers for the pieces. The playing pieces are rather useful comprising as they do 360 black and white discs - rather like flattened sweets. Great for hit markers and similar. I am a sucker for old board games so was pleased to get this and the book for a mere £2.

I spent some time organising the WW1 20mm Middle East collection now that the remainder has been listed on Ebay. I will need a few more bases from Essex Miniatures but the organisation is pretty much set. I am also happy to say that the models have a number of bids on them so the desert Hexon terrain is at last becoming rather more viable.

Finally, I must extend a massive thank you to Mel Spence for a whole pile of Jutland and WW1 naval related goodies - my printer is certainly going to be busy for a while!

Friday 18 July 2014

WW1 in the Middle East

When I recently acquired the WW1 Middle Eastern collection the first thing that struck me was that whilst some two thirds of the collection had been professionally painted the remainder had not - and the style was very different. I decided on one or two courses of action - either pickling the figures down and replicating the professional technique as far as possible (time consuming for sure) or offloading them to replace if required. For a variety of reasons I have opted for the latter option and so around some 200 painted foot figures are being disposed of - with the proceeds being used for the next phase of my Hexon collection.

What is left is still far more than I would readily use for my gaming needs but I certainly feel better knowing that the disposed surplus will enable me to (at last) finalise my Hexon to include the desert set up.

My WW1 armies are based around infantry units consisting of 4 bases each of two figures (40 by 20mm); the cavalry are based on units of three bases again with two figures on each (40mm square) and the machine guns and command being based on a 40mm square. Artillery I have not finalised yet but reckon that a 40 by 60mm would be about right. These are the Command and Colours standard unit sizes which will suit my set up nicely.

Each side will have 12 infantry units, around 6 cavalry units and machine guns and artillery to taste. These armies are compact but as I do not expect to fight on anything other than a 13 x 9 Hexon playing area will be just the ticket.

Experience using the block armies has shown that for my set up the average action usually only features around a dozen, perhaps up to 15 or 16 infantry units in total so there is an inbuilt degree of redundancy.

It works for me anyway.

Tuesday 15 July 2014

WW1 taking shape

Rampant Australian horsemen in action - looks suspiciously like Beersheba

I submitted my final order to Panzerschiffe for the remaining 1/2400th scale capital ships for the Jutland project with the exception of the four models coming from Stonewall Miniatures. In total this means that to complete the Germans I need to paint 13 models and for the Royal Navy a further 18. After this it will be on with the cruisers and destroyers.

Whilst I would really like to tackle both fleets in their entirety I have hit a minor problem in that the range of models available in this scale - I am talking about destroyers primarily - is not as comprehensive as I would like and there are a few holes. I have also been thinking about the whole subject of destroyers in terms of how they will be used in the refight. I want to have these based individually as I will use them as such for lower level scenarios. I have already mooted using movement trays for formations (my current thinking is have 4 or 5 actual ships represented on a tray) but am unsure how best to tackle this. I really want to represent every ship but am fast coming to the conclusion that perhaps borrowing the idea from Paul Hague and reducing the number of models to representational levels may be the way to go. As an idea I could have base representing 4 or 5 ships with perhaps a couple of models deployed on it. This would reduce the numbers by at least a half with the damage record for a such a base reflecting the actual ships present. Should a ship fall victim to enemy action this could be recorded rather than taking the models off. It also means that I would be able make use of those models that are available more effectively so the missing files would not be such a problem.

The painting programme for the capital ships is now on a minor two week break as I wait for the final models to arrive. Once they do I shall be tackling the models in three groups of 6 for the RN and one of 6 and one of 7 for the Germans.

In the meantime I shall make a start on the grand rebasing of the WW1 collection. I do not have the desert Hexon terrain just yet but do have my square gridded Portable Wargame set up should I want to tackle a game. The only thing I will need to decide on is the way I will be tackling the bases.

Sand, sand and probably more sand....

Friday 11 July 2014

The Size of the Undertaking

A rather gaudy depiction of one of the pivotal moments of the Battle of Jutland. Note the circling H.M.S. Warspite in the centre foreground

After a short interlude due to a technical issue mt desk top PC is now back with us - much improved albeit rather more noisy when in use. The repairs required meant that an additional cooling fan was needed in order to keep the hard drive suitably chilled. The original drive in fact needed replacing and ordinarily when a repair bill running into three figures was mentioned I would probably have decided that enough was enough and started looking for a replacement but, as our machine was described as being of a high enough spec to be warrant saving, we took the hit and had it repaired. The sobering lesson with this episode though was that whilst all our data (bearing in mind the PC is some 5 years old) was saved it could have been potentially catastrophic and so I shall make sure that a more frequent back up regime is in place.

Enough of this technical stuff....;-)

I have cleaned up and based the remaining capital ships that I have in my 1/2400th collection prior to readying the last of the orders for this class of ship. This will give me 12 for the RN and 7 for the Germans to complete with the remainder being ordered over the weekend. I shall finish all of these before tackling the cruisers - all 42 of them I have included the 8 RN armoured cruisers in this category) allowing for the 3 that I have - and will leave the 140 destroyers (plus the oddments) until last. The destroyers will be based and named individually but I will be experimenting with some movement bases for these as it will make life easier when I tackle 'Der Tag'.

My thoughts at this stage are around using bases of 4 models deployed in two ranks of two ships but I will experiment in due course. The other question I will need to spend some time on is ascertaining the colours to paint the models. There are mentions in the book Death in the Grey Wastes of British ships being painted black (I thought at this period they were grey and the Germans vessels were black - at least until 1917) so a little research may be needed to decide this. Initially I wanted to to paint the RN grey and the Germans black as this makes for easier identification and I have no desire to attempt researching individual ships colours if I can possibly avoid it!

Of the 21 models on the painting tray the  12 RN ships (4 battle cruisers and 8 battleships) are all undercoated and I plan to make a start on painting these over the course of the coming weekend with, as usual, pictures on the blog in due course.

Sunday 6 July 2014

Launching a long term project

Following on from my previous post I have taken the decision to formalise my Jutland project - by which I have set up a dedicated folder on the blog which will contain all posts relating to the progress of the same. To start with, I have drawn up a couple of lists of models needed and models currently owned - whether painted or under the brush. This was also a useful exercise in that it acquainted me with the ship classes involved. Thus far I have tackled every ship type except for the destroyers and the results were mixed to say the least.

Capital Ships: For the Royal Navy I currently have 12 ships under the brush - 8 battleships and four battle cruisers. To complete the capital ship category I will need to buy a further 7 models - 6 battleships (of which 4 are Stonewall metal models and the remainder will be from Panzerschiffe) and a single Invincible class battle cruiser. The Germans are more straightforward in that I have the remaining 7 dreadnoughts in stock and so will only need to buy the ships of the 2nd Battle squadron - the pre dreadnoughts. These will be from Panzerschiffe.

Cruisers: I will need to get all of the Royal Navy armoured cruisers (8 in all) and then some 24 of the 26 light cruisers present. For the Germans I can muster 1 of the 11 ships present. All of these models will be coming from Panzerschiffe.

I am planning this project on a top down basis and so the capital ships will be finished first, followed by the cruisers and then the destroyers. Whilst I was pretty happy with the capital ship side I was less so with the cruisers - I will need rather more than I had first thought.

Whilst I have not really given much thought to the rules I shall be using the issue of the space required has given me much to think about. I am hoping to be able to fight smaller actions (perhaps the outlying cruiser fights) on my 6ft by 4ft but anything larger will need an alternative solution. The floor in my man cave in the loft has a rather fetching blue/grey carpet and so this would give me (subject to some furniture being moved around) an area easily of some 7ft by 12ft. As you are already on the floor when you enter the loft it would even save having to get up!

The destroyer issue will be a major consideration as there were so many of them present. Luckily Stonewall feature an M class model in their range which will serve for a variety of types. The Germans are less fortunate though so Panzerschiffe and others will be needed to flesh out their escorts.

Friday 4 July 2014

Future plans and past ideas

I had hoped to have written my post holiday post with a few pictures of a rather interesting couple of forts in Portugal (just over the border from where we were staying) but sadly they are on our desk top computer which has thrown something akin to a hissy fit and is currently in drydock as a result. That particular post will have to wait for a few days then as rather foolishly I deleted the pictures from the camera as soon as I had uploaded them.

What I will do though is to detail the various ideas I came back with in respect of the second half of this year and beyond for my gaming purposes. There is nothing unexpected methinks although one idea may come as a little surprise.

Jutland: I have been thinking about this from the perspective of my 1/2400th collection and I have taken the decision to complete both fleets that fought at the battle in 1916 on a 1:1 basis. My long term goal with this will be to refight the battle during 2016 to mark the centenary. I have a few ideas around rules etc for both the strategic and the tactical side but nothing set in stone as yet. The models will be a mixture of Stonewall and Panzerschiffe for the most part and the biggest part of the undertaking will be the destroyers and the light cruisers. This will be a long term project with occasional posts as and when models are readied or as ideas pop into focus. In answer to the obvious question as to why I can only reply because it is there...;-)

WW1 20mm Middle East: The first task will be the rebasing of the first tier of figures - those that were professionally painted - and then I can consider how to tackle the remainder. I have in mind a campaign style set up for this lot based loosely on the legendary Madasahatta campaign run by Eric Knowles back in the late 1970s/early 1980s. As a knock on of this project I will need to consider the second line naval dimension so lots of old cruisers and pre dreadnought battleships will feature in due course.

I should point out that due to the arrival of the above collection my plans for a WW2 Middle Eastern campaign featuring the Turks have now been shelved, at least until the WW1 project has been tackled.

The Moors in Spain: This was the title of my holiday reading on my Kindle. The title was written by Stanley Lane Poole during the 19th century (he also wrote a good history of the Barbary Corsairs) and whilst is a little dated is a first class read. There is much gaming potential for some really good 9th to 11th century games set in the Spanish peninsula and featuring much in the way of battles, raids, skirmishes etc - even more so when you factor in the whole El Cid thing. I fancy tackling a couple of DBA armies for this for the sheer fun of it.

The funny thing with all of the above is that none of the ideas mentioned are new and all have featured at some point in my planning. Aside from the Moorish collection much work has been done already and I am in no hurry to rush something into completion - I want to enjoy the process and so bite-sized chunks are very much the order of the day!

Thursday 3 July 2014

Back from the sun-kissed Andalusian coast....

...and I survived to tell the tale - despite the best efforts of the creature below (a jellyfish if you had not worked out what it is yet) and several thousand of his compatriots!

This was an average sized sample - the largest one we found measured some 18" across the dome!

Seriously though, lots to tell once we have gotten unpacked so watch this space over the next day or so.