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.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Dahlgren and Columbiad

My latest set of quick play naval rules have hit the streets - or at least the servers at Wargame Vault. "Dahlgren and Columbiad" is a set of ironclad rules aimed at battles in the American Civil War and the ironclad wars in South America. It is aimed at games involving a small handful of ships and so it compliments "Broadside and Salvo" which was aimed more at fleet actions such as Lissa. It comes with a range of representative ship data for the ACW and South American wars

Dand C is supported by two theatre-specific booklets.

"By River and By Sea" covers the American Civil War in more detail, with two campaign systems and comprehensive ship data for over 175 ships and classes of the Union and Confederate navies.

"War of the Pacific" is something I've been working up to for decades and comprises a campaign system, ship data and brief campaign history covering the War of the Pacific, 1879-1883 between Chile, Peru and Bolivia, and also with my “Iron and Fire” more detailed rules from A&AGE. Ship data for the complete Peruvian and Chilean fleets is provided. Having visited Chile in 1994 and stood on the decks of the Peruvian / Chilean ironclad Huascar this is the culmination of over 20 years planning, and something I'm rather pleased and proud of :)

The third element of this project is the Paraguayan War, or the War of the triple Alliance, which again will feature a campaign system and comprehensive fleet data. This is all set to tie in with the excellent range of 1/1200 models from Spithead.

All three are available from Wargame Vault for a fiver. Links below if anyone is interested.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Naval Wargames Weekend 2018

I have just been advised that  that the UK's Naval Wargaming Weekend will take place on June 30th/1st July. The venue this year has moved, and we will be at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton, so at least one game that weekend will have a strong FAA/RNAS theme to it (I'm dusting off my "Wings of Glory" seaplanes, flying boats, coastal airships and Langton 1/200 coastal craft!)

There will be a small charge for participation to cover the hire of the facility in which the games will be played - £5 for one day, £7.50 for both. If anyone is interested in putting on a game please drop me a line.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Burma Skirmish (1)

Long term readers will remember having seen numerous mentions of my "Burma Skirmish" project in 20mm, something that never seemed to be progressing. Well, progress has been made, with the various British, Australian and Japanese vehicles that I've collected over the years finally paintd up and finished. Here's a few shots of some of my favourites.

The Matildas are 1/72 die cast models from Russia that were being sold off at The Works for a couple of quid each. The Stuarts are the recent(ish) release from PSC, and the "Jalopy" is made up from the many spare biys and pieces from the SC kit.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

War of the Pacific (2) - A Second Huascar

I've always had a soft spot for the Huascar since stepping on her decks in Tulcahuano in 1994. My old Houstons model from the 1996 trip to the US was painted up in Peruvian markings, but I really fancied having a Chilean version too. las it seems that, whilst Stone Mountain have all of the old Houstons ACW molds they don't hav the South American models to sell. I mentioned this on TMP and John Kelly from the US very kindly offered to send me one of his unopened kits, and free of charge too! The generosity of wargamers never fails to amaze me.

Anyway, here she is, in rather more muted colours than the Peruvean "Victorian" scheme, and lacking the foremast which was removed in the early months of the war.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

War of the Pacific (1)

One of the elements of the 2018 "Plan" is to cover off the naval side of the War of the Pacific, fought between Chile, Peru and Bolivia from 1879 into the early 1880s. I'm doing this in 1/1200 (ish) using Houstons /Stone Mountain models. I bought the Huascar, Blanco Encalada, Cochrane, Manco Capac and Atahualpa from Campaign Headquarters in Norfolk whilst I was in the US for the 1997 NWS holiday, but it was only last year that I picked up another load of models from the ACW range to convert into the various Chilean and Peruvian wooden ships. I've also added a couple of large British steam frigates (the Stone Mountain models come in packs and I needed the smaller ships bundled with the large US frigates), and the Peruvian fleet has a few additional ironclads in the form of the Independencia (converted from a Davco 1/1200 ironclad), the Loa (converted from a Navwar Charleston), and the monitor Victoria, converted from a Navwar Monitor.

The model aren't strictly accurate but I'm pleased with the way they've turned out. Now to work up ship cards for them for "Iron and Fire", and to get the campaign system sorted out!

Saturday, 6 January 2018

The Plan, 2018

So, here is the plan for 2018. Experience suggests I'll get about half the "big ticket" items done, many of the smaller ones, and that one or two new "big tickets" will emerge mid-year. But here it is for now.....

1. Iron and Fire – I will sort out all my remaining 1/1200 and 1/600 models, in particular my Chilean and Peruvian collection (most of which are just about done in the new year's time off painting frenzy). I’ll also develop a campaign system for the War of the Pacific, and I’ll create pre-made ship cards for that war and some of the more common American Civil War ships.

2. Coastal Forces – I will review and repair my 1/600 collection, and also look to do some development work on my quick play rules. I will also create some pre-made ship cards for more common types for Action Stations

3. WW2 Skirmish. 20mm (Burma/Pacific) and 15mm (Eastern Front/Ardennes). I will finish all the models I have for these, and decide on what rules I’m going to use.

4. Form Line of Battle – Review and repair my 1/450 ships, come up with a handy, not entirely serious but fun campaign to provide context for some games at Berkeley Vale

5. “Project X” – yes, there is another Project X. Its all a bit secret just now but if it comes off it’ll be great, so I have a pile of groundwork to do on this. Target to complete this initial bit – end of May.

Other stuff

Wings of Glory – get a few games in, finish off the few unmade kits I have 

Fire and Fury – I have the second edition so I’d like to give them a decent try

DBA – I want to resurrect this old favourite, both as far as its original setting is concerned but also my ECW stuff.  Oh, and actually get into DBA 3 (I’m still on 2.2 without those hideous BUAs)

AoS Fleet action – something of an “off an on” project, but I’d like to take the ideas I had last year on command and control and apply them to a set that fills the current gap between my renaissance and Ironclad fast play rules

Renaissance operational level campaign system – to give my galley warfare games a bit more context
Notes on using “Fire When Ready” with my RJW and Span Am campaign systems

Falklands Conflict and naval supplement for Air War C21

Oh, and i really do need to have a cull of stuff I'm never going to use and flog it of at the Lincombe Barn tabletop sale (as if that will EVER happen :) )

Monday, 1 January 2018


Sometime around the middle of 2017 I bought one of the first boxes of PSC 15mm T55s on a pre-order. They arrived early, I built the first two, then they sat in a box as other projects overtook them. They have become the first models that I've completed in 2018 :)

The PSC model allows you to make a basic T55, T55A or a T55M. I was intending to use mine with my AK47 collection and thus be typical of types seen in Africa, with various mods, mudflaps missing etc. (I saw a few like this in Eritrea in March and, as an aside, one enterprising householder who had build the front wall of his garden entirely out of T55 main road wheels!). So I kind of followed the instructions - but not completely.

The results are, I think, extremely pleasing. I am a big fan of PSC's ranges and these are well up there in terms of quality and ease of build. They also seem to paint up rather nicely too.