Monday, May 2, 2016

1:2400 scratch-built First Balkan War fleets

The First Balkan War naval project is in full gear with all the capital ships completed. All have been scratch built using PVC modelling sheet and tube.

The fleets represent those engaged at the Battle of Elli or İmroz Deniz Muharebesi (Battle of the Dardanelles) that took place on 16 December 1912.

The battle was the largest navel battle of the First balkan war and saw the Hellenic flagship - Georgios Averof - almost single-handedly drive off the Ottoman fleet.

Here are a few pictures of the capital ships for the Ottomans and the Greeks.

The Hellenic Aetos Class Destroyers underway.
Thanks for looking.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Somewhere in Palestine, 1916 ... If the Lord Spares Us

A bloke needs a shed. I have one, but it has been perpetually full of junk for years now (good junk, but full nonetheless). But, after a number of merciless 'chucking sessions' in recent weeks, I have finally come to the point where the shed becomes a plausible gaming venue – even if it is somewhat lacking in creature comforts (e.g. leaking roof (not over the tables), hot in summer and cold in winter).
A New Hope! Wargaming in the shed!
I've been keen to get some serious gameplay under my belt using the Too Fat Lardies classic, If the Lord Spares Us (WW1 in the Middle east). Previously, trying to war-game in a busy household had led to rushed set-ups, late at night when all was quiet, only to have to pack up after a few turns to clear the decks for morning. No longer shall the domestic needs of the many curtail the wargaming needs of the few (well, me).

So, my first decent attempt at ITLSU with my Eureka Miniatures 15mm troops, was a 'somewhere in Palestine' encounter where a brigade of British infantry supported by a troop of armoured cars, assault and Ottoman stronghold surrounding an Oasis town of El-Gouna. The British have occupied a small Oasis from where they will launch their attack.  but not enough to maintain their current position. Their only hope is to capture the wells held by Johnny Turk, a few miles to the 

The task of capturing El-Gouna and its wells, intact, fell to Brigadier-General A.W. Tufnel (classified as an Eaton commander) and the 126th East Lancashire Brigade:
  • 1st Battalion, 4 companies of 4 bases, infantry + 1 x MG (Jolly Good Fellows, spunk rating 0)
  • 2nd Battalion, 4 companies of 4 bases, infantry + 1 x MG (Saturday Boys, spunk rating 1)
  • 3rd Battalion, 4 companies of 4 bases, infantry + 1 x MG  (Saturday Boys, spunk rating 1)
  • 2 Armoured cars (1 base, Jolly Good Fellows, spunk rating 0)
Initial deployment with the Ottoman forces deployed in two redoubts overlooking the oasis. I randomly allocate troops to each blind once they are spotted or choose to come out of cover. The Empire troops have limited water at this oasis (bottom of picture) but must push on to secure the more reliable water supply at El-Gouna.
The Empire troops advance cautiously across the open ground before El Gouna. On the British left cover is taken behind a rocky hill.

The Empire forces are spotted from the air by a lone Taube (due to the Biggles card turning up this turn). 
I've never found time to finish this post so will upload the pictures I have to hand. Ultimately, the British force managed to push the Turks off the hill on their left (by sweeping around the wire). However, the Turks managed to hold the hill on the British right flank.

The 3rd battalion of the East Lancs in the British centre manages to push along the wadi with support from a pair of armoured cars on their left. This was the beginning of the end for the Turkish defence.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Scratch built Barbaros Hayreddin, Turgut Reis and Georgios Averof (update)

The learning experience from my first attempt at 1:2400 naval scratch building has been that with moderate effort I can produce something equal to or better than the ships I have been used to purchasing.

While I aspire to greater detail and refinement, there is also something to be said for building wargame quality ships that make it to the table in reasonable time!

Here is the current state of the Ottoman pre-dred battleship the Barbaros Hayreddin.

I think if I bothered to do a cost-benefit analysis of scratch building this fleet, I'd probably find it'd be better to purchase them. But for me it's often more about the journey than the destination!

This weekend I've virtually completed the sister ship to the Barbaros Hayreddin - Togut Reis. They are Brandenburg Class (pre-drednaught) battleships laid down in 1890 and the Togut Reis was completed in 1894 starting her life as the SMS Weissenburg and later sold to the Ottoman Empire in 1910.
Waterline hull and superstructure formed from PVC sheet
Drilling the holes for the fore and aft masts.
Gun barrels (brass rod) fixed and steel masts (old comb teeth) cut to length.
Masts fixed in place with 'spotting tops' made from small sections of PVC tube glued in place with spars of brass rose.
 The Turgut Reis is now ready for texturing of the base (I use acrylic caulking compound) and a paint job!

Next, I'm going to start on the arch nemesis of the Ottoman fleet - the Greek Cruiser Georgios Averof
(Θ/Κ Γεώργιος Αβέρωφ). This Pisa-class armored cruiser was built in Italy and commissioned in 1911. She saw action in the two main actions of the First Balkan War and nearly single-handedly defeated the Ottoman fleet at the battles at Elli (3 December 1912)!
The hull of the Georgios Averof ready for its superstructure. It is formed from a layer of 2mm and 1mm PVC sheet. 
The superstructure is formed and glued in place. Holes are drilled for the fore and aft masts.

The Armoured Cruiser Georgios Averof has been launched and is undergoing her final fit-out and paint job, before being commissioned into the Πολεμικό Ναυτικό (Hellenic Navy)!

Monday, April 11, 2016

1:2400 scratchbuild: Barbaros Hayreddin

My latest project has been inspired by two excellent posts on TMP:
  1. An alternate history of the Ottoman and Greek naval build up in the years leading up to WW1 by Leadhead PhD: The War thet Never Was - The Greek-Ottoman War of 1914
  2. The inspiring (to the point of being intimidating!) scratchbuilding of some 1:2400 pre-drednoughts by Austerlitz06 on TMP.
I wanted to try my hand at a little 1:2400 scratch building and have become increasingly interested in the naval actions of the Balkan Wars leading up to WW1.

As well as the 'what if' scenario around a wider Ottoman-Greek naval conflict, the plan is to build the necessary ships for some naval actions from the First Balkan War. Such as the Battle of Elli (16 December 1912) - an Ottoman defeat in the mouth of the Dardanelles - and the Battle of Lemnos (18 January 1913 - the Ottoman Empire's last ditch effort to regain supremacy in the Aegean by breaking the Greek blockade of the Dardanelles.
OOB for the Battle of Elli (with thanks to the Age of Steam and Coal)

OOB for the Battle of Lemnos (with thanks to the Age of Steel and Coal and Steel)
A quick trip to the model train store for a selection of PVC sheet, and I was in business. My first attempt was the Ottoman pre-dead, the Barbaros Hayreddin - a Brandenberg Class battleship of the Impreial German Navy (1890) sold to the Ottoman Empire in 1910.

My first attempt at 1:2400 scratchbuilding is not in the league off Austerlitz06's work, but I'm pleased with how it's shaping up.
Now, there is nothing like a photo of a miniature to show up its short comings!

The tube used for the funnels is too big and the wire for the main gun barrels is similarly a little too thick. This comes from wanting to finish the first one with available materials rather than holding out for the right stock. That said, I'm quite happy of the look of the masts - made from the 'teeth' of a fine hair comb.

The yards for each mast are next, then lifeboats and the secondary guns in the casements.

Perhaps I'm quietly declaring my bias by building the Ottoman Barbaros Hayreddin first! The Torgut Reis next!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Adobe buildings and some naval gaming from the Tin Shed

At last the Easter long weekend has come and a chap can spend more time in his tin shed!

Having the opportunity now to use larger war gaming tables brings with it the need to increase my terrain holdings. The first project was to construct some more Adobe dwellings (in 15mm) to bulk out my villages for ITLSU.
A few simple cork buildings and the corner towers for a Ottoman fort for use in Gallipoli (in particular Sedd el Bahr castle for V-Beach landings) and Middle East scenarios.
I've been using Woodland Scenics plaster cloth over the cork to give a better textured finish. Here you see the plaster laid over the roofs with the walls to follow.
With the new set-up in the shed, I've been keen to do a little naval gaming and in a moment of creativity decided to create a backdrop on canvas which I can use to improve the feel of the table. I was rather pleased with what was achieved with three acrylic colours and absolutely no pre-planning - I just mixed a few blues and greys on the fly and slapped it on. Now the base cloth looks rubbish - so that is next!
A set-up atmospheric shot of some Panzerschiffe 1:2400 ships taking advantage of the new backdrop.
Battle off Ulsan
A favourite encounter of mine (because it's the only Russo-Japanese War naval scenario I have the ships for!) is the engagement off Ulsan, Korea, in The Sea Of Japan, on 14 August 1904, 0500 Hrs.

I have played this scenario with a number of rule sets (see earlier posts), but this time I return to Coaling Stations, a set of quick play pre-dreadnaught rules by Twylite Games I keep coming back to. I really like the card mechanism for giving orders - it tends to add a little 'fog of war' to solo naval gaming.

Here's a shot of the opening salvo!
Through the light mist that persisted to midday (in this scenario) Admiral Kamimura (right) spots Admiral Iessen's Vladivostok Squadron at a distance of 3.2 nautical miles and opens fire with his 8-inch guns scoring a hit
on the Gromoboi.
I've been working on improving the way I store gaming aids on the table. I've recently transferred all my markers into old tobacco tins as I feel they give a nice feel to the table. In this case, the Capstan Old Navy Cut tobacco tin seems quite appropriate (even if it hales from 30 years after the RJ War)!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Britain Detail and Herald toy soldiers -

Ahh the nostalgia. At the market today my young fella was tugging at my shirt ... "Dad, Dad! Soldiers." He has a good eye for a vintage item and sure enough there was a rag-tag collection of the Britain's Deetail (metal base) and Britain's Herald (plastic base) toy soldiers (circa 1970s-1980s).

They were a bit worse for wear, with a few missing arms (and thus weapons - sigh) but I could not resist for nostalgic reasons alone. I had a few of these when I was a lad - Paras and Modern Brits I seem to recall. They were obtained from a school-chum whose parents were English through one of the endless rounds of 'swaps' we did as kids.

I'd love to be able to get the missing parts - very unlikely - but great to have them for nostalgic reasons alone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Scratch built terrain for WW1 Middle East in 15mm

There is so much to love about the festive season – family (tricky relations ... maybe less so!), holidays, excellent nosh, left-overs ... and time to get stuck into wargaming projects.

The main focus of this Christmas break has been consolidating my collection of (mainly scratch built) 15mm terrain for my WW1 Sinai, Palestine and Mesopotamia gaming with TFL's If the Lord Spares Us ruleset. Rules errata and list of scenarios here.

Here is a selection of the pieces I have created so far:

1. Entrenchments and wire
I have created stands of a simple wire entanglement (see below) using copper wire coiled around a rod, glued to a base and with tooth pick uprights. A dozen of these probably took no more than an hour from start to finish - I'm happy with the overall result from that fairly minimal effort.
Barbed wire entanglements were constructed using cold copper wire (some 1.5mm electrical wire stripped of its plastic insulation).
I am planning on using a felt base mat with a combination of hex-terrain underneath the mat to create different elevations and simple multi-layer hills made of cork. Trenches will be represented using Battlefield Accessories' Hasty Entrenchments as seen in this previous post. While it would be great to have trenches dug into terrain boards, I prefer the flexibility of this arrangement.
Battlefield Accessories 'Hasty Entrenchments' - 12 per pack with each piece individual.
My reading so far suggests that strongpoints and redoubts used by the Ottoman forces in the campaign were largely limited fairly thinly wired trench systems. Bunkers were rarely used with cement being a rare resource in the desert. It's hard to discuss such defensive positions without briefly recalling Tank Redoubt - the shell of a destroyed Mark 1 tank used by the Ottoman troops as a strong point at the Second Battle of Gaza (19 April 1917) – maybe an Irregular Miniatures Mk 1 could be used for this!

Incidentally, I found an interesting (to me, at least) newspaper article about the Imperial Camel Corps (with mention of Tank Redoubt) at Second Gaza here:

2. Buildings

I have created a series of adobe buildings for villages and oasis buildings. I have used Matakishi's building technique using 6mm floor tile cork for the base structure.

This time I've experimented with improving the texturing of the outside by using a layer of Woodland Scenics plaster cloth over the cork. I find the resulting finish worth the extra effort.
I've then painted the dry plaster cloth with Vallejo Iraqui Sand, followed by a wash of dark brown and a dry brush of off white to pick up the highlights. The result, in my opinion is a very passable building that is cheap, easy to make.

3. Wadi
The dictionary definition for wadi is:

  • the bed or valley of a stream in regions of southwestern Asia and northern Africa that is usually dry except during the rainy season and that often forms an oasis :  gully, wash
  • a shallow usually sharply defined depression in a desert region

While some wadi that were encountered during the desert campaigns of 1915-18 were obviously of the larger type – deep ravines and valleys cut by a seasonal riverbed, these are tricky to easily represent on the tabletop.
Margin of Wady Ghuzze at Shellal, Palestine, Australian War Memorial
To represent the smaller wadi that were common during this campaign, I have adopted a fairly simple dry river bed made up of textured canvas (from an old terrain mat I cut up) with gravel lining the edges. I scattered a little flock over this and gave it a solid spray with matt varnish.
Simple wadi terrain
4. Oasis
The oasis and desert wells were locations of strategic importance during this campaign – obviously, due to the limited water supplies carried by the troops. Ion Idriess, in his memoir of his time in Gallipoli, Sinai and Palestine with the 5th Australian Light Horse (The Desert Column), provides many accounts of riding considerable distances to engage the Ottoman forces with only a canteen of water to last a day or more – often shared with their horses! The accounts of infantry mad with thirst is horrible to contemplate.
The groundwork for the oasis was built up using acrylic brown mastic over a textured polystyrene sheet with gravel, flocking and some small stones around the edge. I added some dry grass tufts for a bit of character. The water is just painted at present.

This project has finally provided a use for a pack of 100 plastic palm trees purchased from a supplier on Ebay (for only a few dollars). They could do with a paint job, but don't look too bad.

5. Hills
I've opted for a simple hills made up of layers of flocked and painted 6mm cork tile in the style of those pioneered by Major General Tremorden Rederring's Colonial-era Wargames website - sadly no longer being maintained. I formed the shapes by breaking the cork sheet by hand, giving a rough edge that paints up well as exposed rock and overcomes the issue of getting miniatures to stand up on slopes.

I will also use the wooden hex terrain which I have used for Great War Spearhead II – see this previous post.

6. Terrain mat
This is still a work in progress. I'm planning on using a felt mat from a local (Melbourne, Australia) supplier of felt:

JJ Davies can provide felt in widths of up to 180cm and will cut to order. I'll provide a review once I have purchased it. I will probably use colour # 311 or 318 and may use a few patches of spray paint on it to give some variation. More to follow on this.

That's about it for now. The next step is to get to work on the mounted troops (Australian Light Horse, Imperial Camel Corps and Ottoman cavalry), artillery and some irregular Arab infantry. And, maybe some gaming! Ha ha.

Thanks for dropping by – I hope the festive season has been good to you and thanks for your support in 2015.