Monday 28 December 2020

WoFun and Games

 Marauding Highlanders with a lone piper in the foreground. I am really pleased with the small footprint of the units in the collection which is very handy when used in conjunction with a grid.

I was able to spend some time this morning sorting out the 18mm figures I received in error and I am now even more convinced that switching scales is the best option for me! So much so that the 28mm collection has now been disposed of and will be delivered to its new cantonment later in the week.

The forces I have are as follows:

4 x 48 figure highlander regiments

1 x 48 figure Irish regiment

2 x 48 figure red coated regiments

2 x 48 figures white/grey coated regiments

1 x 48 figure yellow coated regiment

2 x 48 figure Scottish Covenanters regiments

1 x 27 figure Ironsides cavalry regiment

1 x 27 figure Scottish cavalry regiment

Command, characters and casualties

As you can see this is an impressive amount of material that needs very little to finish. I already have an order in for required bits and pieces and so will be well set up with an impressive looking collection. 

I have yet to assemble the main bulk of the above but will do so once I have the rest of the collection to hand. All Ewing well this should be in a few weeks which means that I can get some more work in on the ships - as well as hopefully introducing my grandson into the delights of naval wargames!

Sunday 27 December 2020

ECW WoFun and further thoughts

 Following on from my post of yesterday I spent a little time assembling a couple of 18mm units for comparison purposes. 

Infantry - the same unit in two scales....

....and the aerial view showing the ‘footprint’

The grid in the pictures is 4” across and you can see that the 18mm version sits snugly in it. This is important because it leaves sufficient space within the grid area for any terrain. It also means that I can use full sized units which, because they are using smaller figures, still preserves the all important mass effect.

A cavalry unit of four bases (24 figures)....

....and the aerial shot showing the ‘footprint’

A further refinement - and this is a personal choice - I would look to use model guns rather than the supplied cannons simply because they look better in my opinion.

I am now fully reconciled to using 18mm Wofun and in many ways it has made a number of ideas far more achievable - the fact that you get twice as many figures for the money is a powerful incentive as well as the fact that I can deploy full sized units within a grid area and still have space for terrain (I will be looking at 15mm scaled models for this).

As far as the 28mm collection is concerned the full break down of this is as follows:

8 x 48 figure infantry units (each of 6 x 8 figure bases)

8 x 24 figure cavalry units (each of 4 x 6 figure bases)

8 x guns and crews

2 x Dragoon Regiments (each of 12 mounted and 12 dismounted figures plus horse holders)

Mounted command

Again, should anyone be interested in this drop me a comment with an email address I will contact you to discuss further.

Saturday 26 December 2020

Seasons Greetings and A Delicious Dilemma

My good lady wife received the above from our daughter - it is an exercise ball - to help with her back problems. My first thought when I inflated it was along the lines of  “That’s no moon...that’s a space station!” Very handy for suppressing rebels and destroying planets....or even the odd game of X Wing!

 First of all the complements of the season to one and all - it is getting to the end of what has been an extraordinary year so I hope everyone has celebrated in the best way they can. We were fortunate in that the whole family was assembled - the four of us plus our grandson - and so all was well. We have enjoyed a great couple of days - ate too much, probably drank rather more than was necessarily good for us and exchanged presents. There was also the seasonal family game of Monopoly - this year with a twist, it was the Mega edition with extra streets to buy and with skyscrapers to build. I actually rather like this version as it gets to the business end of the game rather more quickly than the traditional edition. Once a year only though! We also had a family walk to get some air and feed the squirrels in a small nature reserve near us - the small furries will even take monkey nuts from your hand!  

I received a a welcome and useful crop of presents of which the Dremel 3000 (with 15 accessories), a copy of Frostgrave 2nd edition and half share of an Amazon gift card are the ones of immediate interest. 

All in all it has been a very pleasant couple of days and has provided a welcome break from the daily diet of doom and gloom we have been used to for most of the year.

28mm on the left and 18mm on the right....

....with an aerial view so that you can see the base sizes - 40mm x 30mm for the 28mm range and 30mm by 20mm for the 18mm.

The delicious dilemma referred to in the title is a complete curve ball thrown at me by WoFun. If you recall I mentioned that I was going to complete the 28mm ECW collection by adding the Scots. By virtue of some selective disposals I ordered the pieces I needed and so on Christmas Eve in the afternoon, a parcel arrived from Romania. I did not open it straightaway as I had a few things to do but when I did there was a small problem. The entire order was of 18mm figures and not 28mm.

First of all I know that WoFun have been under a lot of pressure with office moves, expansion of the business as well as some Covid induced problems and so the odd mistake will be the result. My initial thought was to be a swift email to return the order and all would be well. Lucian at WoFun (the boss) is a top chap so I had no fears if this was the option I settled on.

I had not seen the 18mm versions of the figures before but I have to say that they are even better in my opinion! What I mean by this is that for my set up the 18mm figures are a much better proposition given my preferred gaming style and home set up. I thought about this and weighed up the pros and cons and so have made a decision. I am going to build up the 18mm collection to what I was going to do with the 28mm and so the larger collection will now be for disposal!

This may seem like a bonkers idea but it works for me for all kind of reasons. The terrain will be a better bet as I will use 15mm which will suit my 4” grid far more readily due to the reduced table footprint compare to 28mm. You get roughly double the number of figures for the same price as for the 28mm so the armies will look even more impressive.

I realise thus all seems a little radical but fortunately I am not so far into the project that this change would be a major issue. I need to order around 8 units to complete the entire collection - which now includes slightly more Scots than English - which can be readily funded from the proceeds of the 28mm set up - which is huge.

Best of all is the fact that the 28mm collection will be sold for less than half the cost of buying a comparably sized force new as much of the collection was gratis. I would not be looking to make a killing out of a sale - just to be able to finance the missing elements I need. There is a bargain to be had for sure so should anyone be interested leave me a comment with an email address and we can discuss ‘off piste’ so to speak.

In he meantime though, enjoy the rest of the holidays - I feel the lure of my Grandson’s laser tag game coming on!

Thursday 24 December 2020

Different Similar Ideas going and looking Forwards

MDFefinitely a good idea!

 A few years ago, at Salute to exact, I saw a range of 6mm figures laser cut from MDF and produced by a company called Commission Figurines.  I was certainly intrigued at the time - Napoleonics and ACW were the ranges produced but the start of an ancient offering.

Fast forward to the present day and I was giving some thought to how best to represent the land side in conjunction with my ships models for the ACW. My first thought was to use the block armies - I have done this before - but a couple of articles by fellow blogger Steve J pointed me back at the range of figures produced by Commission Figures. Without too much persuasion I placed a small order for some ACW samples and the figures duly arrived yesterday.

These are flat figures and have the details etched on the surface. They are closer to 8mm than 6mm which unfortunately means that they a little too large to use with ship models in the way I planned but certainly they could happily fight as part of a combined arms style set up. Originally I had thought to use the gun crews for any deck mounted artillery but will not be able to (and yes, I do have a plan B for this) as they are too large. In many ways they remind me of WoFun figures but of course they will need to be painted or coloured in.

Coloured in? I have something I want to try with these and believe it or not is has been inspired by my Wofun ECW figures and also some message exchanges I have had with Peter Dennis. Peter uses fine pens for a lot of his work and so I thought perhaps colouring the figures in might be a better option for me given my aversion to painting. Actually even painting these would not be beyond me...

Oh yes indeedy! I am looking forward to spending some time with this over the festive period. A welcome addition to the Portable stable and by virtue of its collaborative construction augurs well for future titles covering other periods. Great cover photo as well....:-)

Mention of WoFun, and the timely arrival of Bob Cordery’s latest title in the Portable Wargame series - The Portable Pike and Shot Wargame - has given me much to think about for the new year. I have a final 28mm ECW order currently being readied by WoFun - this will be the Scots - and then I am set fair for some games in the new year once I have made provision for some suitable terrain. Long term I will look to change the basing of the collection but I want to get some games in first of all and Bob’s book, with its cast of thousands (3 actually!) will be a great place to start along with the Command and Colours variant produced by MSFoy.

Taking all this into consideration....

Despite my ongoing protestations and best efforts to avoid doing so the looming spectre of figure painting is once again rearing its ugly head. I want the MDF figures to work out with my colouring technique because if it does it will open up a number of avenues for me to explore. The scale is such that colour conversions would be easy enough and whilst the selection currently available is quite limited - Napoleonics, ACW and a small Roman range - for what I am planning they are sufficient. A small ACW force initially - when I say small I am thinking Command and Colours sized so around a dozen infantry units, 3 or 4 mounted and the same for artillery organised with a base of models per strength point - and then I may tackle similar for the Russo Turkish War. I will have to see how the colouring works out.

Work on the ships has eased right down to ‘care and maintenance’ levels but is still heading in the right direction. I feel very positive about the shape these two projects (soon to be three....) are  taking and so I am looking forward to completing the remaining models as soon as I am able. Adding the land dimension using MDF figures is an option that is well suited to me and I am genuinely excited about the potential they offer.

Madasahatta will feature next year and work will commence in earnest once I have the ironclads out of my system. I have an idea about the land side as well which will tie in with what I shall be doing for WW2.

I plan to dilute the above with some ad hoc Skirmishy style offerings - forces of around a dozen or so models so well below the Rampant series in terms of scale.

Final, final thoughts....

It only remains for me to take this opportunity to wish you and yours all the very best for the Christmas holiday and here’s hoping that 2021 will be a little kinder than this year has been.

Take care and stay safe all.

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Half Speed Ahead

The dynamic duo. The newer of the two is in the foreground and you can see the similarities between them.  The technique I am using allows for a number of variations to the basic configuration which is very handy when representing the bewildering variety of river craft pressed into service historically. Note that the funnels are not fixed in place so may look slightly askew as they are in effect free standing at present. 

Work on the building phase of what I am able to get completed for the ACW project is gradually easing down - work of the other four hulls will be complete as far as I can today - but I have finished the near sister of the first paddle steamer I built. I say near sister as she has a similar superstructure shape although sporting more funnels and with the paddle boxes moved further aft. The angle on the front of the superstructure is not as sloped as the original and so she appears rather more stately. The two hulls sporting an untouched Jenga block will look even more ponderous as befits this type of vessel.

I want to use fairly nondescript paint jobs for these ships as the plan is for them to be used for either side and as rams, transports or gunboats as required.

Both of thee models have been sealed and will be undercoated today. The paint job should only take a few hours so these will be ready for Christmas. Work on the Russo Turkish ships will continue as these are far more readily buildable with the material I have currently in stock.

Whilst the painting is underway I will look to get flags for the rest of the ACW collection organised.

Plenty to do but not quite in the way I planned!

Tuesday 22 December 2020

A Slight Change of Plan

On the stocks at present. The two Jenga blocks on the left requiring cutting as do the two hulls next to them. There are three models currently with the superstructure only in place whilst the pieces on the right are for two Turkish river monitors. Note the dowel rod from which I shall be furnishing eight funnels.

 Hmm - I should have checked my supply of building materials before deciding on the building programme in the run up to Christmas! I do not have enough of the requisite parts to build the six paddle steamers for the ACW project although I am able to partially build them. Essentially it is a question of paddle boxes. I am using the stern section of the 4” long hulls - making them 3” - which are effectively off cuts. They are a nice shape to use and by backing them with some balsa wood I can get a pretty good paddle box assembly. The problem I have is that I do not have enough 4” x 1” hulls section to cut down to make the boxes - I have but a single one left over. 

I will go as far as I can go with them - I can complete the ‘sister’ ship to the model of yesterday - but will need to get some bits and pieces from Warbases in the new year. I will be able to get the next pair of Turkish ships completed and indeed, I should be able to make more progress with the Russo Turkish War models than for the ACW.

One thing I will do over the holiday period though, will be to give all the ACW models the appropriate flags. Tony at Brigade Models did a sterling job on these and I am really pleased with them. I will point out in advance that the Confederates do not have the later naval ensign - the one with the white field. I will be using the earlier version as well as the well known battle flag.

Taking all the above into consideration it means that work will continue over the festive period with the models for both projects but with a definite easing down of effort. However, this will give me time to attend to a couple of other associated tasks - the rules I plan to use as well as getting a game in. There is also the small matter of getting my next Warbases custom order organised - and this is going to be a large one!

Monday 21 December 2020

Messing about on the River

A generic looking paddle steamer for use on the river                                       

This was not quite the series of models that I wanted to finish off but it does form part of the ACW project and so still counts! Working on models between two periods certainly keeps one on one’s toes! Given that everything for the ACW I have built so far is more coastal facing than inland I wanted to address the river side at some point for completeness. I had a little spare time today so I had a play around and the picture above is the result. I have a further similar model also under construction but one thing occurred to me in that the same basic design can be varied quite easily to produce different looking models.

For example, the paddle boxes can be centrally located or placed towards the rear of the model, there can be one or two funnels that again, can be positioned forward or centrally. The superstructure can be ‘wedged’, square or ‘arrowhead’ and gun ports can be added or not to suit.

I am thinking around half a dozen variants of this basic design will serve for what I want to build and they can function as gunboats, rams or transports as required.

Another view showing the MDF outer paddle box cover and the balsa wood inner section

The hull was a cut down 5” by 1 1/4” (down to 4”) with a single Jenga block for the superstructure. The paddle boxes were fashioned using the off-cut from a 4” by 1” hull as the former with balsa wood backing. Having the MDF on the outside helps to protect the softer balsa and you can simply file it to match the outer layer. The hatches and gun ports/window shutters are card and the funnel is a piece of dowel rod. The pilot house is also a piece of balsa wood. Now that I have the basic technique worked out (again that is - I made rather a lot of these types of ships years ago) I will get the other five built in the series. That will then leave me with around half a dozen models to finish the project.

Onwards and upwards!

Saturday 19 December 2020

Floating Turkish Delight

There is something rather majestic about painting black hulled ships! Reduced rig for inshore use and with the flag of Turkey fluttering bravely from the mainmast. 

The first two ships for the Russo Turkish War mini project are now finished. They are also the first of all the models I have built so far to have their flags. The ships represent the Luft-u Celil class river monitors, one of which was sunk by Russian shore based heavy (6”) mortars. I am really pleased with this although as usual they are ‘based upon’ rather than museum quality scale models. As is my standard I have depicted them with their reduced sailing rig for inshore work as they were based on the Danube.

Close up profile showing the overall size - 5” by 1 1/4”

I have six Turkish gunboats to build next although two of these will be for the Russians. Then it will be on to the spar torpedo boats and a Russian steamer to act as a tender. Circular Russians and Turkish ironclads will be next year once Warbases are back in action.

One of the class as depicted in the Illustrated London News

Now that we are in tier 4 I reckon I will have a lot of time over the next few weeks to get the other models finished - as well as a further half a dozen or so for the ACW.

Bring it on!

Friday 18 December 2020

Projecting the Projects

Wargaming is like a butterfly - it goes where it pleases and brings joy where it lands....How very apt!

I can offer nothing by way of an excuse. I now have a list of projects to attend to and indeed, have just landed myself with another for the new year. Whilst the paint is currently drying on the two Turkish river monitors I thought it would be a good idea to take stock, so to speak, of what I am up to and where I am at. So without further ado.

28mm ECW WoFun

I am waiting on the final order to complete this project in terms of the figures. I am leaning towards rebasing the entire collection which will involve time, effort and expense. I have no problem with this but as I am still on furlough I do have to watch the finances and so some careful thought about this will be required. In the meantime though, I am reading about the period and thinking about suitable terrain but as mentioned, this may not take shape until the spring although Bob Cordery’s Portable Pike and Shot Wargame may change all this!


Initially this will require a ship building programme and so I have been making plans for this. I will need to mobilise Warbases for some bits and pieces but when I can get to it then it will not take a lot of work to get to the table (at least this part anyway). I will be using the block armies for the land stuff although I have a couple of ideas about this. Nothing concrete and well down the batting order though.

WW2 Pacific

At the moment the only plans for this involve Memoir ‘44 and Flat Top. I need to spend some more time researching this before I can move in any particular direction model wise.

Command and Colours: Medieval and Jacobite Rising

I will certainly be getting some games in with these and whilst I like the idea of using figures I am unlikely to do so. In the case of the former I doubt if there will be much activity before the Crusades expansion is released.

Command and Colours in general

I rather like the idea of setting up a game board and 3D terrain for my Command and Colours games but as yet I have not made any definite plans. No doubt it will involve copious amounts of MDF though!

ACW and the Russo Turkish War

When I have completed this batch of models for the Russo Turkish War I will be a little over halfway through both projects. The remaining ships will need bits and pieces from Warbases so will have to wait until the new year. I am aiming at around 24 models for each project. The land side will be tackled using the block armies although I do have something in mind for the former which, if successful, will also port over into the latter.


I am quite content with my lot in respect of what I am doing and how I am doing it. I will need to get rather a lot of material from Warbases but since this will not be until the new year things are quite nicely spaced out. I have a good variety of rejects to keep me busy and with enough variety to ensure that I do not get bogged down in one particular area.

There is one more thing that has taken my fancy that will also involve some work from Warbases but  need to think this through in a little more detail.

Taking all this into consideration I am thinking that next year will feature some interesting games and will also see the realisation of a number of projects - and that is something I will be properly pleased about!

Thursday 17 December 2020

First of the Russo Turkish Warships

So far, so good. The masts, bowsprit, turrets and funnel are not yet fixed in place as I prefer to paint them ‘off piste’ so to speak. 

 Depicted above is the first of the two sea going monitors - the Luft-u Celil class - the Turks employed along the Danube during the war of 1877. The second of the class is at the same stage of construction. I opted for the reduced rig as these were used primarily inshore (where one of the two was sunk by Russian shore based heavy mortars) and I have made a conscious decision to reserve the full sailing rig for ocean going vessels. In due course this will mean that the half dozen or so Turkish ironclads will have the full sailing rig. The models are loosely based on the picture from the Illustrated London News but as usual, the emphasis is on the ‘based on’ rather than being strictly accurate representations.

As featured in the Illustrated London News

These will be sealed and undercoated today with the plan to have them painted and varnished in the next few days. I then have a further six gunboats to build - two for the Russians and four for the Turks - before tackling the spar torpedo boats. At this point I may add a couple of Russian armed steamers but for the most part that will be it until I can get the pieces I need from Warbases in the new year. Even the two circular Russian gunboats will need to wait as well....

All in all then it has been a positive start to this ‘side hustle’ and to add to the fun I have settled on a source of some quite superb data for my rules plan. No details on this as yet but it will save me a huge amount of time - time that can used to build even more models!

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Ironclad Plans and Rules of the Game

The ever increasing folder of rules by David Manley! 

Busy day today as we celebrated our daughter’s 25th birthday with a ‘pre-tier 3’ lunch out. As a result it was just as well we did it today! 

The plans for the current building project have moved forward and so I have a better idea of what I will be  making. I am looking at a further eight ships for the ACW and a dozen for the Russo Turkish War. Once Warbases are back in custom cutting mode I can then get the final ships built for both projects finished. This means that the current build is now at around twenty or so models - a lot to be sure but fortunately many of these are quite straightforward. 

In the meantime though, I have also been spending some time looking at rules. I am really spoilt for choice in respect of what is available commercially but with the degree of perversity I am renowned for (when it comes to rules that is....) I have this burning desire to do my own thing in some fashion. I have previously started on a variant of Bob Cordery’s Gridded Naval Wargames ACW set but seem to have hit a dead end with them. One conclusion I have been coming to though is that I want to use a square grid rather than hexed so this will have a bearing on things for sure. I fully intend using the models with any kind of rules - gridded or otherwise - but am really keen to devise a square grid based set.

I like the idea of using eight natural compass points for directional headings rather than the six of hexagons. My favourite age of sail rules - Ship ‘O the Line by S. Craig Taylor - use squares with ships occupying two of them. Turns were made by swinging the stern in the opposite direction to the prow of the ship and the rules also included provision for diagonal moving and firing. Some time ago I thought about tweaking these into an ironclad set but it would have needed way too much work to be worthwhile.

I have been looking long and hard at the two sets for the period produced by David Manley as well as his really useful campaign supplements. Needless to say I have been looking at the one featured in the picture above! They have given me a number of avenues to think about in much the same way as Bob’s rules and also those of Andy Callan. I certainly have rules comfort blanket if my own ideas do not work in the way I would like.

Monday 14 December 2020

Naval Developments in the ACW and Russo Turkish Projects

Feth-Ul-Islam class river monitor - there were 5 in the class, 2 of which were captured by the Russians and commissioned as the Nikopol and the Sistovo

 It has been a busy weekend with a number of domestic chores to attend to so gaming/modelling time has been at a bit of a premium. I have made some progress though and not quite in the direction I thought I would! In fact, the progress I have made has taken me along a rather unexpected path but a welcome one all the same.

Research wise I have been looking long and hard at the Russo Turkish War and am happy that I have sufficient material to build the Danube stuff and also some of the Black Sea vessels which means, for the Turks anyway, ironclads. I am looking forward to building some old friends in their original configuration - I say old friends because most of them were rebuilt and served in the Balkan War or even the Great War! The last quarter of the 19th century was not kind to the Turkish navy but in the !870s they had a sizeable fleets of ironclads - certainly better than anything the Russians had in the Black Sea - but the perennial problems of finance, manpower and overall inertia reduced their advantage. 

Anyway, there I was browsing through my copy of The Ottoman Steam Navy 1828 - 1923 when I came across some really helpful plans for some of the ships I was looking to build. Immediately I hit a snag. Some of the MDF Hull pieces I had cut by Warbases - the pieces featuring a central battery - were close to what wanted but annoyingly not quite close enough. It is not a problem though as I will get the appropriate pieces custom cut when they are back in custom cutting mode in the new year. In a way this has actually proved to be a blessing as it now means that I can focus on that which I can build from stock so to speak rather than aiming too far ahead. 

This means that the Danube will be the main focus of my building efforts and there are some real delights to be found. The Turks had a class of five of the ships you see in the picture above and two of these were captured and used by the Russians. I am not building all five - four will suffice. Imagine it, a twin funnelled casemate ironclad gunboat with fore and aft spar torpedoes - what’s not to love? The Turks went one better and built a slightly larger version (only a single funnel with these but the same overall layout as the previous class, just bigger) and finally a pair of twin turreted monitors. That is eight models straight off the bat - with the two twin turreted monitors currently under construction. The Russians and Romanians made use of spar torpedo boats and indeed, in the case of the former, also locomotive torpedoes as well a lot of use of heavy high angle mortars - some of which were mounted aft on their ships. Plunging fire could be very effective against an ironclad where all the protection was concentrated on the vertical surfaces, less so on the decks. In fact the Turks lost the Lutf-u-Celil when’s Russian shore based mortar hit her in the boiler room and the ship exploded.

The two types of Turkish gunboat that were in use were of a similar design but the follow on class was larger overall and I wanted to show this differential but therein I hit a snag. I had worked out the hull shape I was going to use for the larger of the two types - 4” x 1” - but I really wanted a shorter hull for the smaller class. I thought about this  - ordinarily I would have gotten Warbases to the rescue - and then decided on some fairly drastic action. I decided to cut down the larger hull by an inch. 

The hull pieces are stacked four deep but you get the gist of what I did. It has opened up a number of possibilities for the ACW project.

I was very wary about doing this as I have some bad experiences cutting MDF in the past. I am happy to say that it worked like a breeze. Using my trusty X-Acto saw I was able to cut the four hulls down and after some careful filing you would not know the difference! There was also an unexpected bonus.

The offcuts are the ideal shape and size for the boxed in paddle wheel covers that appeared on a number of ACW river steamers.

I had a careful look at this and decided that all I would need to see about building a couple of generic ACW side wheel paddle steamers would be a suitable hull shape. All of my templates are quite traditional hull shapes and are longer than one would expect for a river paddle steamer. Well, I cut down the 4” x 1” hull by and inch so why not the 5” x 1 1/4” then? I did this with four hulls and now have not only the shorter hulls but a further selection of paddle boxes, slightly larger than the previous ones.

So what does this all mean in real terms then? Well, I am in the position whereby I can build some of the Russo Turkish ships - certainly sufficient for some cracking river based games - and also some more for the ACW project. I will not be able to finish both projects until Warbases are back in the custom cutting business but there is more than sufficient variety for me to be getting on with now.

So best I do!

Friday 11 December 2020

And So It Begins....Again!

The first of the Turkish ships under construction and yes, there will be masts.... 

This is not going at all as I imagined it would! The various bits and pieces of MDF I currently have will be more than sufficient for me to be able to build a number of types for the ‘Russo - Turkish lookalike’ mini project I have now embarked upon. I have called it a mini project simply because it will only be the naval side - the land operations will be conducted using the block armies - whereas I am planning something else for the ACW. The number of ships will probably be the same as for the ACW - around two dozen - and there will be a mix of Danube and Black Sea types. As usual scales will be all over the place and the resultant models will be ‘based upon’ rather than accurate representations. I will also be taking some liberties with the historicity in that the Russians will be bolstered by some Baltic types as well as some ships that appeared after the war.

I did say it was ‘lookalike’ project....

This was not what  I expected to be building next but as I need to get some custom pieces of MDF from Warbases and they will not be looking at these types of orders until the new year I have needed to change the running order somewhat. As mentioned previously, Warbases being busy has done me a favour in the short term as it means I can properly plan the extra bits and pieces I need. I still want to keep building though so if I can’t build what I planned then I will build what I can!

40mm circular bases - now I wonder what they can be for?

In the meantime though, I have taken the opportunity to get some bits and pieces in from Peter Pig to use with some of the models I will building - this includes for the ACW as well. I have ordered some of their Hammerin’ Iron 1:600th heavy and medium deck guns along with some ships boats on davits. These will be a big help for the gunboats or indeed anything that has deck mounted (and exposed) artillery.

Once again the Rayleigh dockyard will be a hive of activity and the first of the models are already underway. 

Thursday 10 December 2020

War at Sea in the Ironclad Age

An absolute peach of a book and series although I only have the above title and the volume on the Pacific War (note to self: look out for the others in the series!).

It has been a strange couple of days. The first batch of ACW models have now had their ‘brush’ coat of satin varnish and look splendid. I am pleased I opted for satin varnish as there is a pleasing sheen to them that is not so full on as gloss and so makes taking pictures a lot easier. I have still to attend to the flags but I shall do this once my Christmas present arrives (a Dremel) as I really do not fancy drilling flag staff locating holes by hand (note to self: make sure you drill out ALL the holes you are likely to need before assembling and painting the model!).

My plan was to next tackle the gunboats and inshore stuff for Madasahatta but this has now hit a small problem. In order to make the models that I need for this project I would need a number of bespoke pieces of MDF cut by those very nice people at Warbases. Sadly they are not taking custom orders now until the new year so that they can focus on clearing the conventional backlog of orders they have. There are two positives from this. Firstly it is good news that they are as busy as they are and secondly, it gives me more time to really think about and plan properly for the next batch of models - both Madasahatta and the next batch of ACW ships.

In truth I am quite pleased that Warbases have this minor delay in place as I want to be really sure about what I want next and so need to plan carefully which takes time. It also means that I can think about the bits and pieces I need for the pre-dreadnought phase.

In the meantime though, I am in the position of having plenty of hulls and bits and pieces for certain types of ship. I want to carry on building whilst the momentum is there and so I have started to look once again at an idea I first mooted before the ACW ships were started. 

My interest in the Russo - Turkish war of 1877 - 1878 has been lurking in the background for sometime - I  refought one of the land actions as a year end game a while back using the block armies - so when this book was published I picked up a copy and was immediately inspired! There is plenty of potential for actions along the Danube and in the Black Sea although my feeling is that these will feel similar to the scale and style of action I would be fighting with the ACW ships. What I really wanted was something on a larger scale. I think I might have a workable idea that moves into the realms of ‘what if’ but would be good fun all the same and would keep me building models.

I am thinking along the lines of an expanded scale of naval activity in the Black Sea and the Danube. By allowing the Russians to gain some heavy units the Turkish naval superiority (more on paper than real) would be offset and it means I can build some decent sized blue water types. 

Another alternative would be to go full on ‘imagi-nation’ and resurrect those two doughty old antagonists of Fezia and Rusland which would open the doors to all manner of things. 

The Russian floating pizza!

Will it mean circular warships for the Russians? You make think that....I couldn’t possibly comment....

Tuesday 8 December 2020

ACW Naval: End of Part 1

C.S.S. Georgia as a floating battery or a very slow ironclad! Note the distinctive hull form that was considered easier for unskilled labourers to build. Apologies for the quality of the picture - it was taken under artificial light at night in the man cave.

With the exception of the brush varnishing and adding the newly arrived flags where possible, the last of the models for this phase of the ACW project are finished. The C.S.S. Georgia has been added to the Confederate strength in two versions - as a pure floating battery or as a very slow (max speed 2 knots!) ironclad. I have yet to christen her/them although needless to say I have a few ideas....They are deliberately different sizes because I wanted whichever version was being used in a game to have some table ‘presence’. This means that the pure floating battery variant - essentially the armoured casemate - is larger than that on the full ‘ship’ variant. As none of the models I have built so far are even remotely close to being in scale it does not really matter.

I plan to run a game with the models later in the week which will of course feature on the blog when fought. I have also been thinking long and hard about rules to use with the models and have come to the conclusion that for naval games it you are going to use a grid then a square version may be better - mainly due to the eight ‘natural’ compass points you can use. I have a couple of ideas around this that I shall be looking further into over the coming weeks. For now though I shall persevere with the hexed set I have been experimenting with.

The next building programme will be for Madasahatta so I have been closely at various gunboat designs and the potential use of armed merchant cruiser types. The only problem is that I have a real urge to build some pre dreadnought battleships!

I will post some pictures of the fleets in their entirety once they have their flags. This may not be until after Christmas though as a number of the ships will need to have flagstaffs added which will require careful drilling as I had forgotten to allow for these. Rumour has it that there may be Dremel kit arriving for Christmas - just the thing for the budding naval architect!

More Risky Business

Battle is joined! Note the use of offset squares

A selection of his Napoleonics (including the infamous kneeling infantryman) with some very attractive conversions

Close up of one of the units

An overview of the action

 A short while ago I was having a clear out of bits and pieces (no surprises there then!) and amongst the items earmarked for disposal was my collection of generic 18th century figures from the board game Risk.  To cut a long story short - and the pictures will do the talking in any event - The entire collection made their way to the home of Mr Chris Jarvis. Aside from being a very nice chap when I asked him if would send me some pictures of his set up he sent me the selection you see in this post.

Chris has raised some very attractive looking armies from what, to be honest, are fairly basic figures and they look quite superb when deployed en masse. 

This is not a new idea as Kaptain Kobold has also raised armies in a similar fashion but I think it goes to show that with a little imagination and some basic modelling skills something quite remarkable can come from pretty modest beginnings.

Chris uses his own rules and recently made an approach to Hasbro to see if these figures could be made available once again. Seeing how good they can be made to look it would be handy if they could - I might even give them a belated spin myself!

Sunday 6 December 2020

The Curious Case of the C.S.S. Georgia

An engraving of the C.S.S. Georgia.

Plans for wooden model of the ship produced by Arcadia Crafts - note the pilot house at one end with the funnel at the rear.

Conjectural plan of the C.S.S. Georgia with the ‘straight line’ fore and aft deck shape

 I really thought this would a straightforward job to do but I can tell you, it has given me pause for thought! The C.S.S. Georgia was a casemate ironclad built in Savannah but fitted with engines that were barely sufficient for the vessel to make two knots against the planned eight. This meant that she was deemed to be incapable of offensive action - the currents around Savannah are apparently quite brisk - so instead she was used a floating battery. That was her career until she was scuttled to avoid falling in to the hands of the advancing Union army under Sherman in 1864. She was built after having been funded by the marvellously named Savannah Ladies Gunboat Association to the tune of some US$ 115,000.00. 

What remains of the wreck is currently being salvaged but aside from a number of period lithographs what she actually looked like remains a mystery. What we know for definite is that she was designed to what became the easy template for an ironclad given the Confederate shortage of properly skilled labour die to wartime shortages. This hull template was similar to that of the C.S.S. Louisiana. What we also know is that the ship was designed so that at speed the fore and aft deck would in fact be submerged - which was also the plan for the C.S.S. Virginia. At a speed of two knots I really could not see this happening somehow! 

I have seen a number of illustration of her which show her with fore or aft decking - just the casemate - but whilst I could understand this from the point of view of a static floating battery surely what was designed as a casemate ironclad ram (although how that would work at two knots is anyone’s guess!) would have some hull form or another? 

I have checked a variety of sources and reckon that what I have settled on is probably as good a guess as anybodies. However, to cover both options I have made two models to represent her - one with a ‘proper’ hull and one that is in effect an armoured box. I have also made the two models different sizes so that the floating battery option looks more imposing than the fully formed hull version. This is merely to make it stand out more.

Floating battery at the top and mobile floating battery at the bottom!

The basic models are pretty much done although I need to add the gun ports and hatch covers. In my set up I am allowing the C.S.S. Georgia to be able to move, albeit very slowly, meaning she will be at the mercy of the tide and current. 

Originally I did not want to model specific ships for the project but this particular vessel piqued my curiosity and so adding her to the Confederate strength as ‘low speed or static floating battery’ would certainly have a degree of historical accuracy. The Confederates suffered from a shortage of suitable power plants and this was also the Achilles heel of the Louisiana and Mississippi - both of which were much larger than the C.S.S. Georgia. The hull shape also has a degree of historical accuracy as it was felt that it would be easier for un or semi-skilled labourers to construct.

As a ship she will certainly look the part but sadly the reality will be a little different as whilst she can fight she certainly cannot flee!

Saturday 5 December 2020

2,000 Not Out!

 After the recent blizzard of activity on the ACW ship building front I realised that this is in fact my 2,000th blog past!

Fron the gaming perspective the last of the current batch of ACW models is underway and I intend having her completed by the close of play tomorrow. It will then be a trip to Madasahatta for the great Colonial gunboat and assorted inshore miscellany build which I am really looking forward to.

Writing and maintaining the blog over the ten years and 2,000 posts has been a hugely therapeutic and beneficial experience for me and is now an essential part of my enjoyment of our hobby. I have been fortunate to gain new friends and ongoing support in my efforts in our hobby as well as during those occasional real life dramas that affect us all from time to time.

To all my occasional readers and commentators and to those that are regular followers I extend my warmest thanks and appreciation - your input has made the blog and my enjoyment of our hobby what it is today.

On with the next 2,000!

Friday 4 December 2020

Last of the Union

The finished model....

....and the inspiration for it. Kind of. Nearly....

There you have it. The final model for the Union for what is in effect the sea end of my intended ACW style campaign - the second batch will be focus on the river based side. The U.S.S. Coeur d’Alene - loosely based on the U.S.S. Galena - operates as part of the blockading squadron tasked with ensuring that the main Confederate seaport of Immobile Bay is closed off to the outside world. The Confederates still have access to the mighty Missenhitti river so the blockade is hard stretched to carry out both the blockade and support of the river fleet. The Confederates, although outnumbered, are very much a ‘fleet in being’ and have the wherewithal to cause the Union all manner of problems. If the Union were to secure control of the river then Immobile Bay would be rendered ineffective as the blockading squadron would possess an overwhelming naval superiority.

The Union fleet, in two columns, heading for Immobile Bay. The starboard column comprises the U.S.S. Old Glory leading the U.S.S. Senator and the U.S.S. Pocahontas whilst the port column consists of the U.S.S. Coeur d’Alene leading the U.S.S. Potomac and the U.S.S. Hiawatha.

Originally I was going to wait until I had finished the final Confederate model and then unveil them both but I hit a number of problems with the Rebel ship and so have scrapped what had been done thus far as it really did not work. The second version will be much better!

Thursday 3 December 2020

What’s in a Name?

U.S.S. Galena in her 1862 rig. My model is a far simpler looking affair!

 The final Union ship for this batch of ACW models is under the brush and all being well will be finished today. The construction was very similar to that of the U.S.S. New Ironsides lookalike the U.S.S. New Glory but with less gun ports, one less layer of MDF for the hull and fewer masts.Once again the reduced rig will be shown which makes the build so much easier.

As my models have been ‘based upon’ rather than being true replicas I have opted to use fictional names for the entire collection. Some of these are whimsical - the Confederate ironclads O’Hara and Butler being a case in point - whilst others have a connection with the historical original that inspired the build. The links are between the two are occasionally tenuous but it all adds to the fun.

The U.S.S. Galena is in fact named after the mineral of the same name and is not just any mineral either. Galena is the state mineral (?) of Kansas, Missouri and Wisconsin. I wanted to use a name that was somehow related and came across the wonderfully named mining district of Coeur d’Alene in Northern Idaho. So, the U.S.S. Coeur d’Alene it is then.

The model is far simpler looking than its historical counterpart and sadly I am unable to replicate the pronounced tumblehome of the original. I have also dispensed with some of the more ‘fiddly’ deatils but this is in keeping with the style of the overall build for this project. Although it has been built to the same length as the U.S.S. New Glory it looks smaller alongside as it sits slightly lower, has fewer masts and I intentionally covered the main deck more with larger hatch covers. It is an optical illusion for sure but it works rather well.

I have the plans for the C.S.S. Georgia lookalike and so will be making a start on this over the next day or so - it will give me something to do whilst the paint is drying!

Wednesday 2 December 2020

The Story so Far and The Final Pair

The Confederate fleet along with....

....their Union opposition

Whilst the final two models are under construction I thought it would be a nice idea to show the two fleets as they currently stand. There are a couple of minor points to be touched up slightly but nothing too major.  I have also yet to give them the full by hand brushed varnish but will do this once the full dozen are ready.

Over the past few days I had been thinking ahead to the final two models I want to build to give me a round dozen ships There was no particular reason for choosing twelve models but I have and so plans needed to be made for the likely candidates. Remember my models can best be described as ‘based upon’ rather than historically accurate and in the case of one of the two ships I have settled on for inspiration it really is anybodies guess what it actually looked like!

For the Union I have opted to use the U.S.S. Galena and for the Confederates the C.S.S. Georgia. 

The building of these two ships will be straightforward but there are a few historical liberties that will need to be taken. The Union ship has a pronounced ‘tumble home’ to the shape of her hull which I am unable to replicate using the laminated MDF. It matters not though as the model I will build is ‘based upon’. In many ways she could thought as being a lighter version of the U.S.S. New Ironsides lookalike shown above.

The Confederate ship is rather more problematic in that there are various interpretations of what she actually looked like. There is also the small consideration of the fact that her engines were so weak she spent the entire time she was in service as a floating battery! Her eventual fate was to be scuttled but she is currently being salvaged from the Savannah river in order to clear the channel for large ships. Interestingly enough part of the haul recovered from the wreckage are a number of engine parts. Given the usually parlous state of Confederate engines it is not beyond the realm of speculation that she maintained her engines but was only able to use them for gentle manoeuvring. They were deemed to be too weak for offensive operations hence her fate to be deployed as a floating battery. In my set up she will have some degree of motive power - for gentle manoeuvres only - but would be at the mercy of the tide and current so would need to be used very carefully, perhaps as part of a combined defence using forts, mines etc.

To be tackles at some point, along with the second dozen ship models, will of course be terrain. For me this will mean forts and shore batteries. I have a couple of ideas to play around with but for now I shall concentrate on getting the last two models built and ready for action.

Tuesday 1 December 2020

....And then there were 10!

C.S.S. Sphinx and Cheops. Although identical they will be sporting different flags once they arrive which will serve to tell them apart. The mast assemblies are functional rather than to scale but they look pretty good to me and certainly add to the look of the thing.

After a busy and surprisingly fruitful few hours with work related stuff I was feeling rather productive so I set about finishing the the final two models from the current batch as a reward. They are now completed! I have finalised - and indeed have started - the designs of the additional two models for this phase of the project and assembly is already under way. I shall get these two models built and painted before the inaugural action but I am looking to be gaming with the dozen of them within the week.

A study in singularity - one of the pair 

The most challenging part of the construction of the two newest models you see above was of course the masts. By being methodical and careful they came together really well. I would also add that frequent ‘dry runs’ are essential, especially when you are in effect making fours masts to the same plan! As with all the models I have built there is a degree of artistic licence and practical compromise.

The masts are a great example of this as by careful positioning of spars and fighting tops one is able to ensure that strength is added to what is a quite fragile looking assembly. This would not be entirely accurate but it does make for a more secure gaming model! I mentioned in the comments of my previous post that I had to use satin varnish rather than matt and I am really pleased I did. I used an initial coat of Games Workshop Purity Seal spray varnish for what I call a ‘handling spray’ but I will follow this up with a hand brushed coat. The satin finish adds to the whole ‘old school’ look of the models which is very easy on the eye.

The ships are very much a hybrid design. I opted for a turret rather than the gun house with pivots so the ships are based upon two types the Confederacy had ordered but, with the exception of the C.S.S. Stonewall, never took delivery of.

I would be less than truthful if I said that I liked all the models I have built equally as I really like the look of these two!

New Glory for the Union

The U.S.S. New Glory in all her, well, glory. Very much of the ‘brute force and ignorance’ school of naval tactics - slow, unwieldy to manoeuvre but packing a punch. She is effectively a mobile floating battery but with a ram bow.

Halfway there! The second model from the four remaining recently constructed ACW ships has finally been finished. The U.S.S. New Glory - based upon the historical U.S.S. New Ironsides - will be used as the overall fleet flagship once I have the remaining models built. I know what I am building for the last Union ship of this batch - no details just yet other than to say it will not be a monitor!

Another view from the port side.

Construction of the model was pretty straightforward. Five layers of 3mm thick MDF for the hull with the top layer having pre cut mast holes and a space for the stump of a bowsprit. The pole masts and bowsprit are from bamboo skewers, the gun ports are plastic card and the hatch covers are thick card. Dowel rod was used for the funnel and the fighting tops are laser cut MDF. The hull and hatch covers were painted using Humbrol enamel Matt 140 (Gull Grey) and the deck in Humbrol enamel Matt 110. The masts and bowsprit are Vallejo Buff and the iron work on the fighting tops are a cheap artists black acrylic. The whole lot has been varnished using Games Workshop Purity Seal satin varnish.

The final two models on the painting tray are the pair of Confederate turret ram types. As mentioned previously these are really a hybrid type as they are effectively a composite of two designs that were ordered and built but never made it to the Confederacy - with the exception of the C.S.S. Stonewall. I am hoping to have these ready in the next day or so and am looking to get a game in with some of them later in the week.