Two Type 95 Chi-Ha Japanese Tanks

I finished two of these, as a sort of prototype. I have some that are GHQ models and some that are CinC. When viewed alone, the CinC models look fine. When you put them next to GHQ they look, well, a little simple. The photos below are of the two. The GHQ model is the one on the left in all photos.

Parthians — or the NRL All-Stars Cataphracts — Finished!

Over the last week or so, when the stress levels have been peaking, I’ve been reaching for the brushes to finish off some half finished projects here, even if that meant a new focus for those projects. The Parthians were one such army. Originally I had planned to make these a Warmasters Ancient army but recently having been yet re-invigorated for DBA, decided to reorganise it as a DBA Army. I like the way these guys look so much that I am thinking of a 6mm Parthian DBMM Army … just thinking mind.

I had originally planned on 6 to 9 cataphracts per base but in the end decided on two ranks of 6 cataphracts, looking sufficiently heavy. I will also admit that reading Peter Darman’s The Parthian series left me thinking “regular looking irregular forces” — hence the regular colour schemes per base. I also needed some generic Auxilia type troops so pressed some Romans I had laying around unpainted into that role.

So, I give you, the NRL All-Stars Cataphracts — also known as DBA II/37 Parthian.

Slingshot — Issue 290 — Sept-Oct 2013

Slingshot 290 -- Sept-Oct 2013

Slingshot 290 — Sept-Oct 2013

The Society of Ancients is catching up. Slingshot for Sept-Oct 2013 appeared in the letterbox here in Singapore on Monday. I believe that Issue 291 has gone off to the printers already so should arrive shortly completing 2013. It’ll be time for a renewal of membership then and hopefully the 2014 printing schedule will catch up with the passing of the actual months. In this issue, however, are some interesting articles:

  • Ruspne 46 BC — Reconstructing the battle using Lost Battles – Part 2
  • The increasingly long “A Short History of the Iberian Peninsula from 400 to 1100 AD – Part 6″
  • A piece on the Battle of Hastings
  • The Campaign and Battle of Sambre in 57 BC
  • Army Selection and Gaming Style
  • Chinese Dynastic Colours — a really interesting piece from Duncan Head
  • The Battle of Montaperti 1260 AD — the SOA Battle Pack

The only problem with the issues coming out so quickly at the moment? Instead of savouring the journal I’ll need to read it somewhat more quickly that I had planned.

Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy

WSS 71So I mentioned how good Wargames, Soldier and Strategy was as a magazine on my Facebook timeline and as a result have had a couple of comments about it. I thought then a brief mention of Issue 71 was well in order.

Rather than waxing lyrical, I thought the simplest way is to show the contents page (which should also ensure that I am using it for fair use). The theme for this last issue is the Conquest of the New World and there are articles on:

  • Conquest of the New World (an historical overview)
  • Xochimilco (I wish I could pronounce that)
  • The Skulking Practice of War (17th Century New England)
  • In Search of El Dorado
  • Tlaxcala, The Aztecs’ Enemy (and another name I wish I could pronounce)
  • Creating and Aztec House
  • The Halls of Montezuma (that I can pronounce)
  • The Night of Sorrows (painting the diorama that is on the front cover

There are then the regular features, which are normally an interview with a personality from within the wargames world, Pillage in the Village (Viking raiding for fun and profit and probably topical given the start to Vikings Series 2 recently), Mohnke Business (work that out yourself) and some Steampunk skirmish rules.

The Regular Departments which include reviews of miniatures, Rick Priestly’s column (always a good read), game reviews, road test of rules, boardgame reviews and book reviews.

The last section is hobby general and usually covers tasks such as painting big armies, making terrain, flags etc.

All in all, it is a great read and delivered digitally, brilliant value. The digital edition comes as a PDF and you can view it anywhere you can view a PDF file.

Highly recommended and my a long-shot, my favourite general wargaming magazine currently. My only criticism is that it only comes around every two months!

Fleet Admiral – Volume 1 Naval Warfare – 1890-1924

fleetAdmiralMy old mate Bill Madison, designer of the odd game such as Dawn of the Rising Sun — the Russo-Japanese War (and one of my favourites I must admit) and self confessed tragic of the history of the Russian-Japanese War of 1904-1905 (see the Russo-Japanese War Research Society) has turned his hand to writing rules for one of my favourite periods of naval warfare — the pre-Dreadnought period.

Fleet Admiral – Volume 1 Naval Warfare – 1890-1924 is a set of naval wargame rules designed specifically for that period starting about 15 years before the appearance of HMS Dreadnought and running to 1924, when aircraft started to play more of a role in naval warfare other than perhaps as interested observers and spotters. At the start of this period, admirals envisaged ship combats based around a range of 4,000 yards ship-to-ship and by the end of this period, lessons had been learned and big ship guns were opening fire at ranges hitherto thought impracticable.

The rules are divided into a number of broad sections – based on general principles; an example game outlining the various rule mechanisms; specific rule sections covering things such as movement, firing, torpedos, damage and such; and finally a section of tables and charts for use during the game.

The rules themselves adopt a couple of principles that we have generally moved away from. For example, recent rules have adopted the “I go, you go” method of movement (or variations on that) and cumulative damage points affecting flotation, speed and the ability to fight. These simplifications have kept games moving quickly but lose some of the flavour of these queens of the seas battling like the behemoths they were against each other, where a ship can heroically carry on fighting even when pounded to little better than flotsam.

The game scale used is either 1″ or 1cm being equal to 1,000 yards and makes the simplifying assumption that a nautical mile is 2,000 yards or 1,829 metres1. This scale gives a sea area for the standard wargames table (6′x4′) of around 860 square nautical miles, and a greater area of course for those gamers fortunate enough to have a larger area available.

Fleet Admiral also adopts a variable time scale of three minutes for surface moves and one minute per turn for aerial moves. Simultaneous movement is written into the rules and governed by both sides writing movement and firing orders at the start of each move. This may seem a reversion to the practices of the past but it does add the refreshing dimension of trying to second guess your opponent, an ability admirals of the past either possessed and successfully managed to find themselves in better tactical positions than their opponents or missed.

I like this slight, added complication, enabling as it does, for one to do the unexpected and not necessarily to be ground down by all your moves being shadowed by the second player to move.

The ships of the time are split into broad bands based on their size. This is a simple way to work out detection and movement but given the amount of smoke generated by the average coal-burning vessel of the time, I would have thought that apart from heavy fogs, the enemy ships were located where there was a big cloud of coal smoke. Admittedly whether or not they were battleships or destroyers was not so clear until the distance had been closed somewhat.

Vessels are further defined by:

  • length (useful for torpedo attacks and gunnery resolution)
  • speed
  • whether they carried ASDIC, hydrophones, anti-submarine weapons
  • the number of their main and secondary gun directors
  • aircraft carried
  • armour:
    • belt
    • deck
    • barbette
    • main and secondary battery
    • casemates
    • conning tower
    • magazine
    • vitals (important for protected cruisers who tended not to have belt armour but rather armour around the vital areas of the vessel – magazine etc)
    • bulges
  • armament:
    • main, secondary and tertiary batteries
    • light batteries
    • anti aircraft
    • torpedos (whether deck mounted, hull above waterline or hull below waterline)

As mentioned there is a variable move time and so the sequence of play is 1 or 3 minutes in length and follows the general order of writing orders for movement and/or firing with movement occurring simultaneously; combat; detection; reactive fire phase (for recently detected vessels); and damage control.

The rules are explained by an example game (a well known World War 1 battle) which is the next best thing to having someone who knows the rules play with you. They are well cross-referenced.

There is also some degrees of specific period flavour or change. For example, from 1910 onwards ships may engage multiple targets with different batteries depending on the number of directors that are carried. Generally more directors give more accuracy.

There are extensive rules for torpedos and I particularly liked the section “Torpedo Tactics 101″. This outlined different “phases” of torpedo work by Torpedo Boats, Torpedo Boat Destroyers and Destroyers. The phases are:

  • “Strikes” — where the other to attack is given;
  • “Threats” — where the presence of a large number of torpedo vessels prevented the enemy closing the range — or of the threat becoming accepted, turning it into a strike; and
  • “Melees” — where there is a confused close range encounter with combatants trying to strike each other whilst dodge the other sides launched torpedos.

Hits on vessels, whether by torpedo or gunfire, affect different areas of the vessels and have a different effect. For example, a hit on the bow will reduce the speed of a vessel by 1 knot (3 knots of the gun causing the hit was an 8″ or larger gun). A hit on the vessel may destroy a light battery (reducing that fire-power) or main magazine and so on. Hits on previously destroyed areas cause no further damage but may generate more fires.

One other thing I liked was torpedo hits of vessels with tumblehomes will cause those ships to sink faster — look up the effects of waterplanes2 to see why :-)

The rules also make allowances for those infernal flying machines, both aircraft and airships and the weapons designed over the period to deal with them. Also dealt with are submarines and various anti-submarine weapons such as depth charges3, paravanes, anti-submarine mortars, ASDIC etc.

A series of optional rules also adds further variety and deals with weather effects; the time of year and location (visibility issues); smoke and wind; communications, tactical and otherwise by lamps or flags; mines; and some optional rules from the play-testers.

The rules themselves and the example game take up the first 41 pages; pages 42-52 are some scenarios (Asan and Yalu from 1894; Port Arthur, Yellow Sea and Tsushima from 1904; and Cape Sarych, Dogger Bank and the battle cruisers at Jutland from World War 1 amongst others). The remainder of the book has game tables, aircraft details, airship details, weapon details, blank order sheets and ship information cards.

The ship information cards that need to be completed before the start of battle will require the gamer to have access to Conway’s or Jane’s or the Internet to find the ship information necessary (speed, armour, armament etc).

I played a little test battle on the floor the other night (I haven’t got a wargames table here and double bed was not usable at the time) and the game played well. It was just a couple of pre-dreadnought battleships. It was harder to represent simultaneous movement by myself but it was easy enough playing a scenario from the point where the ships had spotted each other and in the best traditions of navies worldwide, had engaged.

I am not sure whether I would try and play out the full Battle of Jutland as a single wargame with these rules (memo to self – paint those fleets) however that battle tended to break down into a number of separate engagements anyway.

I can thoroughly recommend these rules as an alternative way of looking at the naval battles of the 1890 to 1924 period in 2014. I also like the fact that these rules specifically consider those pre-dreadnought battleships from the Sino-Japanese War of 1894, Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 and the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913.

Bill is working on a companion set to take naval warfare through the Second World War.


Footnotes

1. Well, it’s not 2,000 yards but rather was supposed to be 1 minute of arc along any of the earth’s meridians. By modern agreement and convention, the calculation of that value now is agreed at 1,852 metres or 6,076 feet (2,025 yards). It is a simplifying assumption Bill makes but it works.

2. The horizontal plane which passes through a floating ship on a level with the waterline:

3. They are depth charges Bill … not depth chargers :-)

A Piece of Niceness done to Thomo the Lost

Thomo is unemployed at the moment but looking for full-time work. Currently his bank account is pretty empty and he has been feeling rather stressed lately.

So tonight, young Julius Flywheel (he knows who he is), resident in Melbourne, I believe, sent Thomo the following message:

Apropos of nothing, I was wondering if you were a NWS member?
I replied
Used to be. Have not rejoined for a few years.
Young Julius then wrote:

You’ve done a lot of things over the years I’d have liked to have bought you a beer over. Not likely our paths will cross anytime soon, so was wondering if you would be agreeable to accepting an esub membership of NWS as a thank you from me.

Now, the NWS is the Naval Wargames Society and they do indeed have an electronic membership subscription.

The last part of the conversation went something like:

Thomo:
Thanks mate
Julius Flywheel:
Honest to God pleasure thomo really
I’m still feeling stressed but there is a warm feeling inside as well. Thanks again mate, your timing was immaculate and the thought wonderful. And Julius, the next time I am in Melbourne, we will definitely have that beer – hopefully I’ll be working then too and able to pay for it :-)

Notes on Dystopian Wars

After my post Another Parcel — More Dystopian Wars the other day I asked the question about painting the resin models. Specifically, were there pitfalls and traps to be avoided, that sort of thing.

Mark, one of me old mates from the Tring Wargames Club, famous in Tring, Berko and Winkwell, sent back the following information. I will paint some test pieces soon and try our his comments. When I have painted some stuff, I’ll convert it all to a page for future reference. In the meantime, here are his notes.

Hi Ian,

I am not going to give you advice on the actual painting as you are far better than me. :lol:

The thing we have noticed at Tring is that the release agent Spartan games use on the resin is a real B*gger to get off, stopping the paint adhering properly

I did my usual wash with hot soapy water and a soft toothbrush  that I do on all resin stuff before painting and when it had dried started to undercoat with black acrylic and a brush.  It was awful , in fact it looked like I had not washed them at all. Back to the drawing  board (sink)

I put all the models into hot water to soak.

Putting a small drop of washing up liquid direct on a model I brushed the neat soap onto the model getting a good froth, made sure I had scrubbed all the model, then rinsed it in hot water. This seemed to do the trick and paint adhered ok after that.

On speaking to the guys at club, all of them confirmed having the same trouble.  Some had just painted several layers of paint on after a first wash, but with all the fine detail on the models I was reluctant to do this.

I have since found the metal planes also seem to have a bit of a problem with the release agent, but not as much as the resin.

The models have a lot of detail to pick out either by brush or by wash.

Pendraken do I-94 decals on the Minibits site that fit quite nicely for the models . I used the ones for 6mm Aircraft, but I see on the 10mm armour listing are some Japenese flags and roundels of assorted sizes, as well as American white stars and flags.  Its probably worth looking at all of the ranges to see if there are other bits you might want like numbers

http://www.minibits.net/I-94-DecalsTransfers-c23/1150-1012mm-Armour-sc75/

The “bits and Pieces” will be optional weapons/equipment for the models. The Model Assigned Rules(MARS)  will cover this.

You might also want to mention that Tumbling Dice do some 1:600 AA guns that fit in quite nicely , also some of their planes may be suitable

Mark

More Japanese — Type 2 Ka-Mi

Type 2 Ka-Mi

Type 2 Ka-Mi

This is a really neat one. A big tank for the Japanese and amphibious — although to be amphibious pontoons had to be fitted for and aft. The tank was actually the amphibious version of the Type 95 Ha-Ho with some additional modification. The tank was operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy and interestingly, the only amphibous tank vs amphibious tank battle occurred off the coast at Leyte where several Ka-Mis were destroyed by US LVT-1s — both vehicles having similar armour.

There is a surviving Type 2 Ka-Mi at the Russian Kubinka Tank Museum just outside of Moscow – a place I would like to visit one day, if only to see the only surviving PzKpfw VIII Maus.

Type 2 Ka-Mi ready for amphibious work

Type 2 Ka-Mi ready for amphibious work

The view through my painting light - not that I use that magnifying glass often

The view through my painting light – not that I use that magnifying glass often

Paint Schemes of British and Commonwealth Warships of WW2 — Review

Paint Schemes of British Commonwealth Warships of World War 2 - Vol 1 coverMal Wright has been researching and drawing ships (and painting them1, and modelling them, and Wargaming with them) for more years than I have been a wargamer. I believe his researches into ships goes back some 40 years and apart from combining through dusty reference books long forgotten in the back of libraries and using the Internet for more recent searching, his researches have also included talking with many veterans whilst they were still with us. His discussions on that most mysterious of warship colours, Mountbatten Pink2 being a good example of this.

This book is then the first of what will hopefully be a series on warship colours throughout the Second World War, by Mal, via Pen and Sword Books.

Volume 1 deals with Destroyers, Frigates, Sloops, Escorts, Minesweepers, Submarines, Coastal Forces and Auxiliaries of the British and British Commonwealth fleets.

I have been fortunate to have access to a pre-publishing version of the book and I must admit, I can hardly wait for it to appear on the shelves. This version already has me checking the British and Commonwealth Warships I have at home waiting for paint.

The Second World War was where most of the world’s navies really started to use low visibility camouflage on their ships. This had been tried in the First World War, particularly the “dazzle” schemes of merchant vessels and later some US Navy vessels. The idea behind the earlier dazzle schemes was not so much to hide the vessel but rather to confuse U-Boats in particular on the vessels exact heading and speed. Whether this was actually effective or not is a matter of some conjecture and debate but there are a number of useful references on the World Wide Web to this.

By the time of the Second World War low visibility camouflage was being used on both the horizontal and vertical surfaces of ships to:

  • reduce visibility – trying to blend in with the sea and horizon
  • disguise the identity of ships (make big ships look smaller)
  • disguise the speed (false wakes designed to make the ships look like they are moving faster than they are)
  • or just confuse the viewer – either viewing at sea-level or from the air

To make the writing of a book like this even more difficult, whilst there were some “official” colour schemes and colour chips, what occurred in practice was a little different, with the vagaries of interpretation of the official instructions, the local availability of paint and so on governing what a vessel finally looked like.

There are 144 pages of diagrams in this book (and there are some example pages included here) with a total of 740 illustrations. In many cases, the paint scheme on a vessel may have changed several times throughout the course of the war, especially, for example, where a vessel may originally have been assigned to the Atlantic, then to the Indian and finally the Pacific Oceans. Mal attempts to cover as many of these as possible. He also discusses the changes in armament and electronics that affected the appearance of the vessel.

Rather than simply give an example of the colours of say, the P-class of destroyers, Mal gives two illustrations of HMS Petard (1942 and 1945 colours);  HMSs Porcupine and Panther. He follows this pattern throughout, giving several examples from each class and noting where there were significant changes to the appearance of ships through. As an example of diversity, the Q-class destroyers were originally a class of 8 destroyers built for the Royal Navy. Many were transferred to other navies. In Mal’s book he illustrates HMSs Quail; Quentin; Quilliam; HNMS Bankcert; HMASs Quickmatch; Quiberon; Quadrant; and HMS (later HMAS) Quality – all 8 vessels are illustrated.

The book starts with the old World War One destroyers still in service, then those built in the inter-war years leading into the World War 2 built destroyers. Mal covers all the ships and classes of vessels smaller than cruisers3. Mal even covers the coastal craft, trawlers, minesweepers and such that were such an important part of the war effort but often overlooked.

The best thing I have found about this book however

Four modified Flower-class corvettes from three navies

Four modified Flower-class corvettes from three navies

is that many of the schemes in there I have not seen before and I am sure that it would take me many hours of painstaking research to find them. I can also admit that I have never managed to catch Mal out yet (I thought I had with HMS Quality but reaslised that his illustration is the 1942 version whilst the official web-page for HMAS Quality shows the vessel probably in 1945 colours.

Now that I have had a chance to have a long look through the book, I can recommend it even more strongly than I did back on 7 March 2014 when I first recommended it.

It is available for pre-order (with appropriate discount) until, I guess, sometime in June. It’s release date is set for 30 June 2014.


Footnotes

1. Perhaps not painting the real ships but certainly painting models and maritime art works.
2. Mal relates that he remembers “one ex sailor laughing that HMAS Hobart arrived in Fremantle from the Mediterranean painted pink. In his story he said he thought it was because they had mixed undercoat into grey because they were short of paint, but as soon as the ship arrived in Sydney they painted it grey again. He had obviously never heard of the famous Mountbatten pink scheme and nor had I so I was unsure if he was just telling a tall tale. In later years I realised he what he had seen was a well used camouflage in the Mediterranean theatre of war up till late 1942”.
3. Cruisers, battleships, carriers and such will be covered in later volumes. I have seen some proof drawings of the odd battleship and can hardly wait for its appearance in print.