British and Commonwealth Warship Camouflage of WW II: Vol 2, Battleships & Aircraft Carriers – a Review

coverI was very much looking forward to my last trip back to Australia. Apart from getting to see mother, I had a review copy of British and Commonwealth Warship Camouflage of WW II: Vol 2, Battleships & Aircraft Carriers (ISBN: 9781848322530) written by Malcolm Wright and published on 23 September 2015 waiting for me. This volume covered Capital Ships, namely Battleships and Aircraft Carriers of the British Commonwealth, something I have had an interest in since reading up on Task Force 57 and so I really could not wait to open the package. Whilst most will recall the British Commonwealth Navies efforts in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, their exploits are less well known in the Indian and Pacific Oceans at the time.

What is also not often realised is that by the end of the Second World War, the United Kingdom had more aircraft carriers under steam than any other navy with the exception if the US Navy. The British Pacific Fleet in 1945 for example consisted of 6 fleet carriers, 4 light carriers, 9 escort carriers and 2 aircraft maintenance carriers, with a total of more than 750 aircraft. It also contained 4 battleships.

HMS Malaya
HMS Malaya

The current volume from Mal covers the Aircraft Carriers and Battleships of the British Commonwealth Fleets, often with their pre-war colours as well as their active service camouflage in the Second World War.

I should state at the beginning that I have known the author, Malcolm Wright, for a number of years and you can see my name on his acknowledgements page, not from any addition to the story of the ships and camouflage he is writing about but more from being his part-time technical geek when things go wrong with the computer when he is working on the drafts.

I mentioned that I could not wait to open the parcel containing the book. Wow! I was impressed with Mal’s first volume but this volume surpasses even the high standard of Volume 1. Perhaps it is because it is a book about the battlewagons and carriers or perhaps it is Mal’s drawing ability and the new tools he is using but this volume now sits on top of my book pile for easy reach when I have an hour spare and a hot cup of lapsang souchong in hand.

The book follows the format of Volume 1, with sections on the Reference Sources Mal has used, Paint Types and Schemes, a glossary of Symbols used with the drawings then the vessels themselves. The 5 chapters covering the ships deal with the World War 1 era battleships and battlecruisers, the modern battleships, the monitors, then aircraft carriers and lastly fleet carriers.

Some of the colour chips
Some of the colour chips

Before starting on the ships, Mal discusses the various paint types and schemes, both the official Admiralty schemes and the unofficial. He also looks at Admiralty special schemes and the Admiralty Standard Scheme. Mal also provides a page covering British and Commonwealth Warship Paints During WWII being a page of paint chips, very useful for ship modellers and wargamers. This is also of interest to those with just an interest in warships to see an example of the colours used on British Commonwealth ships during WWII although as Mal will agree, the colours are at best an approximation of the colours, subject both to the limitations of printing as well as there being no extant example of the colours – see for example the discussion on the Mountbatten Pink colour scheme.

Aircraft gloassary
Aircraft glossary
Gun and equipmwent glassary
Gun and equipmwent glassary

There are two pages of, for want of a better term, a glossary for the drawings. The first covers aircraft symbols used in the book to indicate the aircraft carried by various vessels although the markings and colours may vary. The second page is a glossary of the symbols used for weapons and electronics in the book.

There are multiple views of the different vessels reflecting the changes in camouflage over the years. For examples, HMS Queen Elizabeth is illustrated in 1915 as she appeared when providing bombardment support at Gallipoli, then her 1936 colours, followed by 1941 (port and starboard), 1943 (port and starboard), 1943-44 (port and starboard) and then 1944-5 (port and starboard) – ten illustrations showing the progression of camouflage schemes and colours on this vessel over its service life. This pattern is repeated through the book.

HMS Victorious - 1945
HMS Victorious – 1945

To book not only concentrates on British Commonwealth vessels but also covers those vessels transferred to other navies, for example, the Royal Sovereign, which was transferred to the Soviet Union and was re-christened Archangelsk.

There are top views of some vessels as well. The top views become even more valuable with the aircraft carriers. For example, the illustration of HMS Victorious when she was serving in the British Pacific Fleet.

HMAS Albatross
HMAS Albatross

The book is rounded out with a chapter on the escort carriers, some of the more colourful of the capital ships in the British Commonwealth forces and with a discussion of HMAS/HMS Albatross.

I highly recommend this book and it is available from:

Pen and Sword Books (the publisher)


The Book Bug

WIP – More WW2 Japanese Being Prepped

Two battalions ready for sand on the bases. Rear one is GHQ Models, front battalion is Ros and Heroics

I had prepared one Japanese World War 2 infantry battalion along with three AA elements. I decided to prepare the next, as well as starting to set up the third for painting along with the rest of the heavy weapons, the artillery and  such.

The first battalion was made up of GHQ models. The second is from Ros and Heroics. There is a nice flag bearer in the Ros and Heroics pack so that does for the command base. I also glued to a base three Medium Machine Gun (MMG) units. As the base is large compared to the figures I based some transport with the MMG.

Next prep will be the third infantry battalion and a large chunk of heavy weapons. I want to be able to start adding sand to the bases next Thursday whilst the APEC holiday is on here.

The Ro and Heroics Command Group
The Ro and Heroics Command Group


How Big is the Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank?

Panther on the left, Pershing on the right and the Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank in the iddle
Panther on the left, Pershing on the right and the Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank in the middle

I was curious about exactly how small the Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank so I grabbed the hulls from two other kits I have here to build. A Dragon Panther on the left and a Trumpeter Pershing on the right.

The Type 95 Ha-Go is in the centre. It is tiny.

It occurred to be tonight how much I like Tamiya modelling tools. The modelling knife has a tab on the side, the only purpose of which an be to stop the knife rolling across the modelling bench. This I appreciate as I have managed to stab myself in the thigh a couple of times in the past as a tool drops from the table and my legs react and snap together before my brain can get the message to the legs of “noooooo!”

I appreciate the forethought Tamiya.

Another Kit

Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank
Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank

I had to go collect my laptop from a PC repair after I dropped it at home here a while back. Unfortunately the hard drive was spinning up when I dropped it so the drive had to be replaced. The repair was going to take about a week but I needed a laptop for work so I bought a cheap one to use and put this repair off until the next payday.

I collected it a few days ago. The repair shop is in the Greenhills area of Manila in V-Mall. Also in V-Mall is a good model shop. I saw the Dragon kit of the IJA Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank. I have some in 1/285 scale so thought it would be nice to get one in 1/72 scale as well.

Big Box for small tank
Big Box for small tank

When I got it home I had to have a look inside (actually, a quick inspection was made at the shop to ensure it was all there before bringing it home). The model is tiny, especially when viewed inside the packaging. You can see how tiny the hull is in respect of the box in the picture to the right.

The parts look crisply cast though and I like the use of etched brass for the exhaust cover on the tank. I’m looking forward to building this wee beastie. I will document the build when I do it.

One Japanese Battalion Prepped

The pieces are made ready
The pieces are made ready

I mentioned before that I got some time on Saturday. Apart from setting up the trees, I also managed to finish prepping a battalion while reading some stuff on then Internet (OK, I was looking for some information somewhere else in Thomo’s Hole).

The organisation I am using for Blitzkrieg Commander II, the rules I am using, is 12 bases per battalion, three battalions per regiment. This compares to the 9 bases per battalion of the Russians.

I’m also going to mix up as many different types of infantry on the bases as I can for variety, and because it looks so good.

The battalion is based
The battalion is based

The bases contain a mix of standard infantry, some officer looking chaps just standing to attention (why do you make figures like that GHQ, in a mix of other figures in action poses?) as well as some light machine gunners and Type 89 grenade launchers. They are the things that look a bit like a small trench mortar.

Lastly, a close up of the 20mm anti-aircraft bases. Gunner plus truck for transport.

Figures for the infantry are all GHQ, the 20mm AA and trucks are from Ros and Heroics.

Close up of the Ros and Heroics 20mm AA
Close up of the Ros and Heroics 20mm AA

Some Trees

The trees - and this is how they usually look in battle
The trees – and this is how they usually look in battle

I managed to get a little time today to spend on the hobby so decided that I would sort out some of the Woodland Scenics Trees I had purchased in Singapore. These are plastic and quite light so I decided a little weight under them would do them good. I looked for washers but really, here, the 10 centavo and 25 centavo coins seem to do the trick quite nicely. The 10 centavo coin is worth less than a cent (US, Aussie or SGD, it is less that a cent). The 25 centavo coin is also worth less than a cent.

The coins happen to be magnetic (as are Singapore's new coins). That is quite useful.
The coins happen to be magnetic (as are Singapore’s new coins). That is quite useful.

One of the neat things about the coins is that they are magnetic. Indeed, the new coins in Singapore are also magnetic. I’m sore of wondering whether that is a because of the addition of a rare earth to the coins or something a little simpler. In any case, being magnetic means that I can late a strip of magnetic tape in the scenery box and the trees will stand on that.

The picture below shows the finished, ready for sand to be appied to the base and a coat of paint The trees are way more stable this way. By the way, half the trees are for use with 6mm figures, then other half with 15mm.

The finished product - trees on coins, nicely weighted and ready for some ground texture and paint.
The finished product – trees on coins, nicely weighted and ready for some ground texture and paint.

Next – Some Japanese

The desk, ready with the infantry, heavy weapons and trucks!
The desk, ready with the infantry, heavy weapons and trucks!

I decided that I would start to finish my World War 2 Jaanese. This way I’ll have a local opponent for my early World War 2 Russians. As the armour is mostly done, and the aircraft half painted, it is time to put together the infantry and artillery. Where the Russians are based around 9 bases to the company/battalion, whatever the level is I am playing at, the Japanese will have 12 bases.

Added to that then the heavy weapons support, artillery from the 75mm Field Gun as well as the 70mm and 105mm howitzers, some 20mm anti-aircraft guns and trucks, loads of trucks, 43 of them, then this force will be ready. I also have some fun stuff to add to the army but more on that later.

First off it will be the infantry heavy weapons and artillery. I’ll worry about the trucks and the pack animals later.

Oh, one largely anachronistic item for this army is the beautiful Mistsubishi G4M3 “Betty”. It did not fly over Manchuria/Mongolia but it is a great little aircraft never-the-less.

Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy Great Wargaming Survey 2015

It’s that time of the year again – time for the Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy Great Wargaming Survey 2015. The survey takes about 10 minutes and is a great way for at least part of the hobby to get a feel for the direction the hobby is moving in as well as should be moving in out into the future.

Just to make it more tempting, the nice folks at Karwansaray Publishers  are offering a 10% discount coupon to everyone who completes the survey. I should point out too that Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy is my favourite general wargames magazine currently with interesting articles as well as some interesting columnists.

If you are curious and missed the results of the Great Wargaming Survey 2014, then have a look here for a summary of that survey.

Go on, complete it, you know you want to!

A 6mm Morph – What to Change Into?

The Numidians in for a change
The Numidians in for a change

I was sorting the jumbled figures from the move and in one box I have Numidians and Romans, part based for Baccus’s Polemos SPQR rules. I’ll come back to the Romans later. The Numidians, however, are basic and are extra to my current Numidian needs. I have an all-options 6mm Numidian army already based for DBA. The question becomes, what to do with these blokes?

The stock consists of 80 general javelinmen type figures and 40 general cavalry figures. So all figures are armed with javelins (or short spear in 6mm), a shield and no armour. Tunic Colours are mixed and the figures have a Caucasian appearance.

Any suggestions as to what this can be morphed into. They will be re-based on standard DBA 40mm bases and ideally will have a number of figures backed onto the bases to make them look like there are more than there are.


First Repairs Done

Before I outlined the possible plans for the weekend and they were:

  1. Watch TV
  2. Go out and drink beer
  3. Get back into wargaming items
15mm DBA armies a little jumbled - these are the Hungarians and Koreans
15mm DBA armies a little jumbled – these are the Hungarians and Koreans

Whilst it was a tough choice as one does enjoy the odd tipple, what finally worked was to drink beer of Friday night (way too much as it turned out) and then I got into some wargaming related stuff today. First cab off the rank was to repair the existing figures after their move from Singapore to Manila. They looked a little messed up when I opened their box:

Figures were jumbled all over the place and there were a number of bent spears. I was more worried about anything that had broken off. Fortunately, nothing was broken off, just a lot of bent spears and the odd paint chip. The paint chips were not seriously noticeable so I have decided to leave them as they are. Now these three DBA armies are ready for battle again.

All the figures here are 15mm scale with the Later Hungarians being from Essex Miniatures, the Nubians are old series Gladiator Games and the Koreans are Alain Touller Figurines.