Thursday 22 June 2023
Taking the Plunge
S.M.S Scharnhorst in her colonial, pre war colour scheme.
I have previously waxed lyrical about the famous Madasahatta Campaign devised by the late Eric Knowles way back in the late 1970’s in which myself, a mere callow youth still in his teens, took part along with such luminaries as Bob Cordery, Messrs. Fox and Hardman and various others. The campaign on the fictional Indian Ocean island of Madasahatta at the outbreak of the Great War featured a degree of naval activity which at the time was fought using 1:1200th scale models from Eric’s collection (still with his son, Bill, I believe) and the rules of choice were those of Fletcher Pratt. It was all great fun - mainly as the number of models in use was fairly modest - unlike the fleet scale actions fought in the later South East Asia naval campaign.
Anyways, fast forward to more recent times and I have previously mentioned about a rather roundabout idea I had to revisit the island but with an expanded theatre of operations. This would include the East coast of Africa and the Red Sea along with the Arabian Peninsula. The basic idea is that both the British and the Germans have a presence on the island and that the events in East Africa and the Arab Revolt have a bearing on the overall scheme of things.
To make this work I have allowed the German Pacific Squadron to have sailed West rather than East and that the Goeben and Breslau were able to escape down the Suez Canal to join them, based on Madasahatta. Obviously the Konigsberg in East Africa and the Royal Navy Red Sea squadron would feature along with such assets as can be spared from the Mediterranean and North Sea. The Turks would be present in the shape of the two ex German pre-dreadnoughts and a handful of torpedo boats.
The focus will be very much on a kind of ‘fleet-in-being-whilst-commerce-raiding’ type of set up with the Royal Navy in their best ‘hunting-the raider-and-bringing-the-enemy-fleet-to-battle’ guise. In other words a kind of diluted North Sea scenario.
The forces deployed will be largely League One or Championship level rather than Premier League although alongside all the second and third line scrap metal there will be a smattering of more modern stuff available. There will be no dreadnought battleships although battlecruisers will feature.
What I have not mentioned about this is the l-o-n-g drawn out decision making that needed to be made in respect of the models. My plan originally was to build them myself but after a lot of soul searching I have reluctantly abandoned the idea. The insurmountable obstacles presented - time taken as well as the design of the relevant parts - meant that it really would have been a project that would have taken a long time to come fruition. On the back of a few selected disposals I decided instead to buy the models in 1:2400th from Tumbling Dice from their Age of Battleships range. The rationale behind this decision is speed of execution as all that will be required is the painting and I have a speedy technique for this.
This is not the first time I have been down this path but the critical advantage now is that Tumbling Dice have added to their range to capture some of the early war vessels so the collection can be better rounded out. There is nothing worse than a range that has some key elements missing - be it model ships or figures!
To give you a taste of the forces for this the models I have acquired are as follows:
MSP 9 British China/Pacific
ABB1a Centurion (rebuilt)
ABB 5 Canopus
ABB 12 Monmouth
ABB 15 Drake
ABB 20 Arrogant
ABB 22 Pelorus
MSP 11 German Pacific
ABG 12 (x2) Scharnhorst
ABG 14 (x2) Bremen
ABG 16 (x2) Emden
ABM 2 Tramp Steamer
MSP 12 British Falkland Islands
ABB 42 (x2) Indefatigable
ABB 12 Monmouth
ABB 13 Devonshire
ABB 38 Bristol
ABM 10 Otranto
Aside from these battle packs I also ordered the following:
ABB 9 (x2) Swiftsure
ABB 14 Cressy
ABB 38 Bristol
ABG 2 (x2) Brandenburg
ABG 24 Moltke
ABG 30 Magdeburg
The nautically inclined amongst you will have noticed that there are no torpedo boats present. I shall be adding a smattering of these in due course but to be honest I have not decided on the types or the numbers involved - they will however be older and fewer than for, say main fleet formations. This is after all primarily a reinforced cruiser style conflict.
Initially the Admiralty were satisfied that the forces on station, old and arthritic though they were, would be more than sufficient for patrol and containment purposes. The arrival of the German Pacific squadron was in turn countered by the assigning the two Swiftsure class battleships to the region but the stakes were raised again when the Goeben and her escort arrived. A pair of Indefatigable class battlecruisers were then ordered on station. The pieces were in place.
I am spoilt for choice here as there are many commercially available sets I could call upon but my first thoughts are looking at the rules in Bob Cordery’s Gridded Naval Wargames and seeing where that takes me.
In any event it is a while away yet as firstly the models need assembling and painting.