Sunday, 12 August 2018


Lat week I picked up a few plastic kits from the IPMS Thornbury show. My "prize" was a 1/700 model of LCS-4, USS Coronado. I've been after one of these for a while for my modern coastal collection but only found them on Ebay for ridiculous prices so it was nice t find a more reasonably priced one on my doorstep. To be honest the LCS programme is a bit outside of my modern coastal timeframe which tends to end in the 1980s or early 1990s, but I have a soft spot for the trimaran version (some of my work at UCL went into the design) and it looks suitably outlandish to make a model rather irresistible.

At the same time I used the Delta III model that I got at Thornbury to make an earlier Delta I, an easy conversion that simply needs the missile compartment shortening by 4 missiles. There are probably more detailed differences but for the purposes of wargaming a perfectly acceptable solution. Whilst I painted up the Delta I also repainted an old Oscar II that had been sitting unloved ina box for about 20 years.

Finally I finished off a few packs of 15mm Scots pikemen that have also been in a box for decades, remnants of my WoR campaign plans in the 1990s. These guys went missing and were replaced at the time by some Essex figures but they are done now and will take their place in with their older painted brothers soon. They are nice figures and have a more irregular look than the Essex troops. I wonder if the Falcon figures are still available?

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

INWarD 2018 - The Baltic

My INWarD game 2018 game took place at the local Berkeley Vale club, where six ab initio naval gamers encountered the chilly wastes of the Baltic in Spring 1943. This was a 1/600 coastal saction, with a German scratch force of S Boats, R Boats and an armed auxiliary attempting to sink a crippled Soviet submarine escorted by sub chasers and a couple of G5 MTBs. Scattered ice floes complicated the picture. The game was a fast and furious mix of gunnery, high speed manoeuvring, tenacious torpedo attacks and much hilarity. In the end the Soviets drove off the attackers, sinking one S Boat, crippling an R Boat and the auxiliary. No Soviet craft were lost although a number sustained heavy damage. The Germans launched torpedoes at long range but narrowly missed the submarine, which if successful would have been an automatic victory for them. Good fun was had by all, and we may try an Adriatic action soon. Alas I was concentrating on the game so much I failed to get many pictures!

I followed up the game with a solo refight of River plate. A quiet affair that started as the historical battle with Exeter heavily damaged early on, but a couple of solid hits from Ajax slowed Graf Spee to the point where the British light cruisers could close for a torpedo attack. Achilles was heavily damaged in the approach, but Ajax scored a hit that crippled Graf Spee and left her a sitting duck for a second torpedo attack that sent her to the bottom. No photos of this one as it was late and my phone battery was flat. I really need to get myself a PO(Phot) for these occasions!

Saturday, 4 August 2018

The Swiss, 15mm DBA

Twenty eight years ago Liz and I went on honeymoon to Murren in the Berner Oberland. One day we went on a steamer trip to Thun where we visited the castle, therein was a lovely display featuring medieval Swiss armies (there was also a floor dedicated to Swiss methods of punishing unruly women, but that's another story).  I was also struck by the large number of colourful flags flying all around the region. Swiss national flags, but also lots of Berner Oberlander flags, and flags of each town and village. I was in a bit of a DBA phase at the time so when I got home I wrote to Essex and got myself a 15mm DBA Swiss army. Then we moved house, the unpainted army went into a box and stayed there for nearly 28 years....

Fast forward to 2018 and I'm clearing out stuff to sell at the Lincombe Barn tabletop sale, and I find an old bag full of 15mm figures. They go into the box of odds and ends to sell, but then as I'm at the show I think back to the happy summer days in the mountains, and before long the bag of figures is off the table.....

It still took 2 months to get them on to the painting table, but last week the Swiss finally made it out of the bag and onto the worktop. And here they are, kitted out in the red and yellow of the Berner Oberland, with contingents of pikemen from Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen and Murren (if the army ever expands then Grindelwald and Wengen will get contingents too, but thats for later).

I'm quite pleased with how they have turned out, especially as this is the first DBA army I've painted for ages. Of course between getting them and now DBA 3 has arrived and the army lists are completely different, but I'm not fussed and my Swiss will take to the table with what they've got for now.

Figures are mainly Essex, with a few old TTG and Minifigs (which similarly have sat in a box for nearly 30 years).

Something I'd like to add would be a vignette with a dancing bear and handler (these are the Swss, after all). I know there are suitable figures in 25/28mm but I've not seen anything suitable in 15mm. Anyone got any ideas?

I alsofound this rather nice bombard in a siege emplacement, with some rather nice crew, which I thought I'd paint up as well. Not sure which company makes them - I also have a trebuchet from the same company. Again - any clues?

Sunday, 8 July 2018

INWarD 2018

Only 4 weeks to go until INWarD 2018, the International Naval Wargames Day, when naval wargamers around the world join in mortal combat to celebrate the birth of the founder of naval wargaming, Fred Jane.

I'm planning to run either a modern or WW2 coastal game, either way something set in the Baltic (I need to make use of the craft I've recently been working on, after all), but I'm interested to hear what other naval gamers are planning as well.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Naval Wargames Weekend, 2018

I spent this last weekend at the 2018 Naval Wargames Weekend. After a price hike for the rooms at the Explosion museum in Gosport forced a move the event has relocated to the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton. The new venue is far larger than the previous one (and has a lovely blue floor that is just crying out for a large 1/1200 scale battle with the ground scale the same as the models).

The event was fairly quiet by previous standards, but regardless those that came along were faced with a god selection of games and a good time was had by all. Games included Simon's "Zeebrugge 1918" game that was run at Salute, Rory Crabb's modern naval battles, my "Wings and Waves of Glory" and a WW2 Baltic coastal forces game, Peter Colbeck with a 1/3000 pre-dreadnought fleet action in the Mediterranean, Gary Mitchell's WW2 surface action game and Dave Sharp's armada period game.  A selection of my photos of the games below, although I didn't manage to get pictures of all of them

So, a quiet but fun day with some close actions fought out on the tables, and an unexpected surprise when a  team of wargamers from Catalonia paid us a brief visit - they were visiting Tankfest at Bovington, popped up to Yeovilton and came in to see what we were up to. 

Looking forward to next year's event and hoping to see the old faces and many newbies there as well. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

That's Neat, That's Neat....

.....That's neat,that's neat, I really love my "Tiger Fleet" :)

last week saw me enjoying a few days of R&R, renovating my 1/600 WW2 coastal forces collection. In amongst replacing broken masts, fixing broken gun barrels and basing 40-odd ships and boats that needed doing I also built a pile of models that have been languishing unmade for some time (in some cases 20+ years). Chief amongst these were a handful of Yugoslavian partizan "Tiger Fleet" craft from PT dockyard. These are lovely characterful models, albeit tricky to build when it comes to the various deck guns. But the Adriatic has always been a "thing" for me as far as WW2 coastal is concerned so these were a must have.

Also in there is an old SDD caique, which works well for either a partizan or a commandeered Axis armed transport.

Lovely little models, and hopefully appearing in action at the Berkeley Vale club in the not too distant future :)

Friday, 1 June 2018

Si Vis Pacem

Today is the 102nd anniversary of the return home of the fleets from Jutland, and yesterday the anniversary of the battle itself. The occasion was marked with the release from LFG of "Si Vis Pacem", the fast play rules (developed by myself and Stuart Machin from my "Broadside and Salvo" rules) used in the Berkeley Vale Jutland refight (see the previous post), and Clash of Giants", the campaign material that Stuart put together initially for the NWS centenary game, but developed for the BV game.

SVP wasn't originally on the LFG plot, at least not for this year, but "Jutland in a Day" became something of a cause after the centenary game. That prompted my initial work on the subject and JIAD became a reality early last year as numerous battlecruiser actions were fought out in my campaign headquarters (ok, my shed). Stuart's enthusiasm for the rules saw them developed faster than I expected, culminating in the BV game last month. Stuart has done a grand job, especially on the campaign pack which will be of value to players of any WW1 naval rules, not just SVP.

As usual, both are available via Wargame Vault.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Jutland in a Day

Yesterday whilst most of the UK wargaming population were at Salute I took part in another refight of the battle of Jutland. This was run at the Berkeley Vale club in Slimbridge and was organised by Stuart Machin from the Naval Wargames Society. Stuart and I have been working on a WW1 set of fast play rules for a while now, drawing on my "Jutland in a Day" project, "Broadside and Salvo" (my pre-dreadnought rules) and the extensive work that Stuart put in to organising the NWS Jutland game at the NMRN on the battle's centenary.

Setup was completed at 1000, first moves at 1030 once a few players had downed a hearty breakfast supplied by the venue (the Tudor Arms pub in Slimbridge, home of the BV club and the site of a very nice skittle alley which serves as the games room). The initial setup was not quite as the actual battle as Stuart had run a pre-came mini campaign to determine starting positions. In the end things were not that different from reality, the main difference being that the German pre-dreads were left to guard Horns Reef, rather than being dragged out to slow down the fleet and act as a liability. Thus the High Seas Fleet looked rather small when compared with the Grand Fleet.

The Grand Fleet deployed in squadrons in line ahead. The ships used were Stuart's collection of 1/6000 Hallmark models, so no sneezing!

Ahead of the Grand Fleet, Beatty's battlecruisers and the supre-dreadnoughts of 5th BS probe towards the Germans. Contact has already been made between the light forces of both sides.

The High Seas Fleet - the German plan was to maintain much closer liaison between the main fleet (closer) and the battlecruisers (middle top). This was to prove to be a most useful decision

Initial exchanges proved costly to the light cruisers of both sides, which at times were the only targets for the enemy's battlecruisers. Echoing Heligoland Bight they were often rapidly dispatched.

Pillars of smoke denote the final resting place of two British light cruisers....
To the right of the shot the battlecruisers prepare to engage each other.

Between the line of the German BCs (lower) and the RN's BCs and 5th BS (top) a vicious destroyer melee is fought out. Both sides attempted to launch torpedo attacks on the heavy ships of their opponents, but these were frequently frustrated, the few attacks that were launched all failed at this stage of the battle. 

The battleships of the High Seas Fleet turn in echelon towards the battlecruiser action, seeking to engage 5th BS

Inexplicably, and against the best traditions of the Royal Navy, Beatty turns away from the Germans and opens the range. There will be some busy redrawing of track charts in the official histories (or maybe not....... 

5th BS in trouble. Despite roughing up the head of the HSF's battleline the QE superdreads came in for some punishment themselves. Barham, training the line, was heavily damaged, suffered a "fire" critical hit result and was unable to stem the flames. Damage escalated and the ship was lost! If nothing else this represented a severe moral blow to the RN, and the cheers of the Germans could be heard throughout the pub!

Despite their success at putting one of the QEs on the bottom the HSF found itself in a pickle as the  Grand Fleet hove into view. Discretion now being the better part of valour the decision was made to head for the hills (or at least for Horns Reef) and darkness (night was 3 hours away). However, several of the German dreadnoughts and battlecruisers had been damaged and their speed reduced slightly as a result. A tail chase was about to ensue.

A second disaster for the RN! Beatty decided to re-engage to sow the escape of the German battlecruisers. Lion found herself under heavy fire and she succumbed to multiple salvoes that sent her to the bottom. Beatty himself went down with his ship (so in the event no need to amend those charts!)

At that point your intrepid reported was forced to take his leave as emergent domestic requirements forced me to be elsewhere. Final details of the subsequent action are eagerly awaited from Scapa and Wilhelmshaven!

The game itself ran very well. The objective of fighting "Jutland in a Day" was ably achieved as I was informed by one of the players that the game drew to a suitable conclusion. And the rules worked very well, just one or two minor glitches hat were easy to resolve. Once a few turns ha been played everyone knew what to do and we progressed without many hitches (mostly caused by food and drinks breaks and inadvertent shifting of the tables!). So I think a great success.