Allied Coastal Forces of World War II – Volume I – Book Review

Allied Coastal Forces of World War II – Volume I, written by John Lambert and Al Ross deals with Fairmile Designs and the US Submarine Chasers. It was published on 12 December 2018 by Seaforth Publishing, an imprint of Pen and Sword Books, is 256 pages long and has ISBN: 9781526744494.

I do love naval history and I have a particular interest in small boats (and big ships and all in between truth be told). This volume deals with some of my favourite vessels, the Fairmiles.

Fairmile Marine was a British boat building company founded in 1939 by the car manufacturer Noel Macklin using his garage at Cobham Fairmile in Surrey for manufacturing assembly. His company was run as an agency of the Admiralty, the company carrying out business without turning a profit, the staff being in effect part of the civil service.

Fairmile B – Admiralty Light Modification Scheme

His first design was the Fairmile A Motor Launch (ML) but the most ubiquitous of the Fairmiles was the Fairmile B ML. Over 600 of these were built over the period 1940 to 1945. Originally designed as submarine chasers the Motor Launches were fitted with ASDIC. Later versions of the Fairmiles (the C, D and F versions) were fitted out as gunboats with the Ds also rigged as Motor Torpedo Boats.

Coastal naval warfare in both the North Sea and the Mediterranean were fiercely fought skirmishes between the Allied MLs, MGBs and MTBs and the Axis E-Boats, R-Boats, MAS boats and the like. The Fairmile boats made up a considerable portion of Coastal Command and fought in all theatres.

Fairmile B – Admiralty Dark Modification Scheme – a harbour defence ML

The illustration here are some of the vessels illustrated with differing camouflage designs are taken from the book. Apologies for the quality, I photographed with my tablet and one hand and it is a heavy tome.

The detail, drawings, plans and photographs in this book are super. The authors cover the details of the vessels, the equipment that was present on the vessels, selected weapon systems and additional data, including the fate of most of the vessels. For example, we can see the builder, when a vessel was completed and its fate. In the case of ML 400, this vessel was built in New Zealand and completed on 18 November 1942. It served in the RNZN where it sailed as HMNZS Kahu, being sold in 1947 and sailing then as the Dolphin.

US Submarine Chaser, SC497, part of a class of 110′ sub chasers in measure 14 camouflage

The US Submarine Chasers are covered as well, although not in as great a detail.

The table of contents, apart from the usual sections of Forewards, Authors Notes, Prefaces, Abbreviations and the like  covers:

  • The Fairmile company
  • The Fairmile B ML
  • The Canadian Fairmile B ML
  • The Fairmile C motor gunboat
  • The Fairmile D MTB/MGB
  • The Fairmile F MGB
  • The Fairmile H Landing Craft
  • The SC 497 class 110 ft sub chaser
  • Depth Charges and anti-submarine equipment
  • British Coastal Forces radar
  • British Coastal Forces camouflage
  • Engines and engineering
  • Weapons systems (depth charge projectors, flares, machine guns, 1- and 2-pounder guns, 4.5in guns and the like

The extensive appendices include:

  • Schedule of British Builders
  • Fairmile production analysis Yard analysis Consumption of major materials
  • Area comparisons
  • Building times

all in all, 12 appendices.

The writing in the book is clear an easy to both follow and understand. Best, most of the book is in shorter chapters making it easier to read and follow over shorter reading sessions. I have learnt so much from this work that I am really itching to start on their volume 2 which covers perhaps the most famous of the Allied coastal vessels, the Vosper MTBs and US Elcos. There is a third volume being prepared covering the British Power oat 70ft MTBs and MGBs which were very successful boats.

This really is a must have book for anyone interested in coastal warfare. There is nothing I can think of that is really missing from this coverage. Best, it is on special at the moment (20 July 2019)  at Pen and Sword.

 

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The Perfect Captain – Wargames Rules

I have tried some of the Perfect Captains rules before and enjoyed. In fact, I seem to recall interacting with them what seems a lifetime ago. I thought I would give a shout out to them however here, especially as they have a number of different types of rules for different periods. I can recommend getting into them, most work well and those that are a little obtuse become clear after a little reexamination.

I am thinking of using these for my hoplite project, I’ll let you know how that goes.

Do slip out and have a look, the Perfect Captain.

More Ships – Ancient Galleys

While I was back in Australia visiting mother, I thought it would be a good idea to buy some more ships. Not modern warships, not World War II, World War I or Russian Japanese War. Not Napoleonic but rather ancient vessels. OK, I did buy some World War I ships, an American fleet pack, however everything else was ancient.

As you may remember, I reviewed a few books here on ancient naval battles, Rome Seizes the Trident – The Defeat of Carthaginian Seapower and the Forging of the Roman Empire – Review; A Naval History of the Peloponnesian War – Ships, Men and Money in the War at Sea, 431-404 BC – Marc G DeSantis – Review and Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World by Owen Rees – Review in particular. I have always had a love for triremes, quinquiremes and the like so I decided that I should engage in some scenarios from those books.

I already had a Roman and a Carthaginian fleet pack pack in Australia so packed that and brought it back to Manila. Each pack has about 20 vessels in it. An order was sent off to Navwar for more galleys – there are never enough – and I purchased:

  • Hellenistic pack (Greek Warships mostly with a couple of large vessels) – about 20 vessels
  • Phoenician pack (same but a little different enough to make it a little more interesting on the tabletop – about 20 vessels
  • two packs each of:
    • Greek Triremes
    • Carthaginian Quinquiremes
    • Greek Pentekontors
    • Quadriremes
    • Roman Merchantmen
    • Roman Liburnians
    • Roman Quinquiremes
    • Greek Merchantmen
    • Hemiolas
  • four packs of Lembus

This should provide a nice basis for some galley on galley action. I like the Navwar galleys for their cost, and painted they look the business. I may add a couple of Langton galleys in the future as flagships and such. Biggest decision prior to painting will be to paint them with sails up (colourful) or sales down (historically more correct).

Right, well that’s another project to get going on with – only about 100 other projects to finish before these little beasties turn up from England.

Dark Age Campaign Set – the Figures ordered

These will serve as the Andalusian cavalry.
Photo taken from Baccus website (http://www.baccus6mm.com)

To begin the process of adding more lead to the pile, I mean, after all, you can never have enough lead, I looked at all the figures I would need then though, I should by these in groups as they will cost a bloke an arm and a leg. I then received a bonus at work and thought, “what wargaming items can I spend this on … after all, it’s mine, allllll mine”!

These will be the core of the East and West Franks. Photo taken from Baccus website (http://www.baccus6mm.com)

Damn it if it did not seem like a great idea to get all the lead for this project, after all, it was only going to be another 1,800 figures or so. Best part was, when I looked at the order, I calculated that there would be enough left over to purchase a World War 2 French army for Blitzkrieg Commander IV. This was important as I had picked up a paint set in Sydney from Hobbyco. Even though the store was disappointing, the paint was not. French armour from World War 2, paints were Ammo by mig. I have wanted to try these paints for a while and yes I know, I could have purchased a set for early war British or something but the French seemed so, well, colourful and best, it means I will have a WW2 and a Modern French force.

I digress.

What exactly did I purchase. Remember that I was looking to build the project around six armies:

  • Viking
  • Andalusian
  • Anglo-Saxon
  • West Frankish
  • East Frankish and
  • Leidang

So, what did I purchase I hear you ask? Here is the order list of pack numbers I purchased:

Andalusian

1 x CIS17 – Saracen Command
1 x CIS01 – Seljuq Turk Heavy Cavalry
1 x CIS04 – Seljuq Turk Light Cavalry – Gallop
1 x CIS09 – Fatamid Spearmen
1 x CIS16 – Sudanese Spearmen

East and West Frankish

1 x EMC – Early Mediaeval Casualties
2 x EMN01 – Norman Armoured Cavalry, charging
1 x EMN02 – Norman Armoured Cavalry, stood
1 x EMN03 – Norman unarmoured Cavalry
1 x EMN04 – Norman armoured infantry
1 x EMN05 – Norman Archers
1 x EMN07 – Norman Crossbowmen
1 x EMN06 – Norman Leaders
1 x AGO03 – Gothic Heavy Cavalry

Anglo-Saxon

1 x EMA01 – Huscarles with Spear
1 x EMA02 – Huscarles with Axe
2 x EMA03 – Fyrd Spearmen
1 x EMA04 – Anglo Saxon Archers
1 x EMA05 – Saxon Leaders and command

Viking and Leidang

2 x EMV01 – Armoured Spearmen
2 x EMV02 – Unarmoured Spearmen
1 x EMV03 – Armoured Axemen
1 x EMV04 – Viking Archers
1 x EMV05 – Viking Luminaries and Loonies
1 x AGO01 – Gothic Infantry
1 x AGO02 – Gothic Archers

Anglo-Saxon huscarles.
Photo taken from Baccus website (http://www.baccus6mm.com)

The armies will morph as well. I can make Irish Viking out of these figures for a bit of variation. I can also manage the Finns as well

The entire armies will be Baccus and I will admit to looking forward to their arrival. I am trying to clear the painting table and queue in anticipation. Mind you, I am not sure that ordering 1,800 figures in one hit, even 6mm figures, is the smartest thing to do. Still, wargamers will understand.

Rome Seizes the Trident – The Defeat of Carthaginian Seapower and the Forging of the Roman Empire – Review

After reading Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World by Owen Rees recently, it only seemed natural to pick up the story by looking at Rome and Carthage. Carthage was famous for its seafaring having been originally a Phoenician colony, the same Phoenicians who participated (we must assume unwillingly) in the ill-fated Persian invasions of Greece. Rome certainly was not famous for its seafaring.

Where the naval battles were mostly fought in  the Ancient Greek World by triremes and to a lesser extent, penteconters, when Rome and Carthage faced off against each other the vessels had become heavier, consisting to quadriremes and more importantly, the peak of the ancient Mediterranean galleys, quinqueremes.

Pen & Sword Books published Rome Seizes the Trident – The Defeat of Carthaginian Seapower and the Forging of the Roman Empire by Marc G DeSantis. The book is 272 pages long (ISBN: 9781473826984) and was originally published on 16 May 2016. It is available in hardback, Kindle and ePub versions with the electronic versions somewhat cheaper than the printed copy.

Owen Rees noted that in the Battle of Catane, part of the Hegemony period, in the the battle between Syracuse and Carthage it appears that this is where the Carthaginians were first exposed to quadriremes and quinqueremes, noting:

Leptines had already shown himself a capable commander, having been in charge of the fleet since the siege of Motya, at the latest. Within his fleet he is said to have had thirty superior ships, a crack force of the same number which had confronted the Carthaginian armada at the beginning of their expedition. It seems extremely probably that these thirty ships, or at least a proportion of them, were of the new designs: quadriremes and quinqueremes.

When Carthage and Rome finally faced off in the Punic Wars, the standard warships at the stage were the quadriremes and quinqueremes Carthage may have been exposed to in Syracuse.

Marc G DeSantis commences his book by a look at the sources, and for this period , the preeminent source is Polybius. Also important of course were Livy although a much later author and concentrating on the Second Punic War and Plutarch, later still with his Parallel lives. Appian is the main source for the final Punic War and the destruction of Carthage. The Byzantine, John Zonaras was an author from the 12th Century but his value here is the summaries in Epitome Historiarum where he recounts information from the now fragmentary Dio with some naval aspects from the First Punic War that Polybius did not mention.

In Part I of his work, DeSantis breaks that section up into the following chapters:

Part I: Breaking Carthage

Chapter 1 – Sources
Chapter 2 – The Contestants
Chapter 3 – Sicily: Theatre of War, History and Blood
Chapter 4 – War at Sea in the Age of the War Galley
Chapter 5 – Breaking Athens: A Case Study

Chapters 4 and 5 are where DeSantis really gets swinging. The early chapters really set the scene, discussing Rome and Carthage and Sicily, for much of the naval aspects of the Punic Wars, the battleground. In Chapter 4 however he talks about the ways galleys fought, and for once he does not draw a straight dichotomy between ramming and boarding tactics, rather noting that both were used by all sides, depending on situation. He does draw a clear distinction, however, between the skilled seafarers who seemed to prefer ramming over boarding, such as the Athenians, the Phocaeans, the Rhodians and the Carthaginians. However he does point out that “ramming and boarding would have been carried out as the opportunities presented themselves”.

He notes the use of lemboi as a means of transferring signals across a fleet by standing off a little and repeating the signals, much like the frigates of the Napoleonic Wars at sea.

Chapter 5 is a review of the breaking of Athens through the negation of naval superiority in the Peloponnesian Wars. He also recounts a Corinthian tactic where the Corinthians at the Battle of Erineus in 413 BCE, slightly outnumbered by the 33 Athenian vessels, had made changes to their rams and adopted the tactic of a headlong charge at the Athenian fleet, looking to ram their vessels straight on and not giving the Athenians a chance to use their superior seamanship.  While no vessels were sunk from either side so technically a draw, the Corinthians looked on it as a victory and the Athenians saw it as a defeat.

After this survey of early naval tactics, DeSantis starts on the meat of his work – the Punic Wars.

Part II – The First Punic War

Chapter 6 – Trouble at the Toe of Italy
Chapter 7 – Opening Moves
Chapter 8 – Mylae, 260 BC: Rome’s Fleet Sails in Harm’s Way
Chapter 9 – After Mylae
Chapter 10 – Ecnomus, 256 BC
Chapter 11 – The Battle of Cape Hermaeum, 255 BC
Chapter 12 – Rome Tries Again
Chapter 13 – Drepna, 249 BC
Chapter 14 – The Debut of Hamilcar Barca
Chapter 15 – Endgame: The Battle of the Aegates Islands, 241 BC
Chapter 16 – Peace
Chapter 17 – Was Seapower Worth the Cost?

DeSantis starts with the trouble at Messana and Rhegium and the effect of the perceived threat from Pyrrhus. Mercenaries and garrisons revolting and taking over, enter Hiero of Syracuse who placed the city of Messana under siege after defeating the Mamertimes at the Battle of Longanus River in 264 BC. The Mamertimes appealed to both Rome and Carthage for assistance. Rome really stepped in to prevent Carthage developing a toehold in Sicily, fearing that the Carthaginians would use that as a springboard to an invasion of Italy.

From this point in and narrative DeSantis examines the moves and counter moves of the protagonists. The Romans built a fleet, copying a Carthaginian galley that had grounded itself on the coast back in 264 when it was trying to oppose the Roman landings in Sicily. The Roman vessels however were not of the same quality as Carthaginian or Greek vessels. DeSantis the follows the course of the war, the defeats and then victories of the Romans, stopping briefly to discuss the Corvus and its origins. The necessity for the corvus was probably because of the poor quality of the Roman vessels and seamanship. The suggestion for the corvus appears to have come from an unnamed Sicilian Greek. The suggestion may have come from within Messana although there are a number of compelling suggestion that it may have come from Syracuse, given the Syracusans being an enthusiastic practitioner of the Corinthian style headlong rush into the enemy. Grappling from that position was a natural extension of that tactic and building a boarding bride, the next logical step.

DeSantis also examines the negative answer to this version of the corvus mounting as well and provides a good counter argument. His discussion of the corvus and the Roman quinquereme versus the Carthaginian quinquereme is a far argument of both sides of the tale. I will admit that his discussion has me reexamining some of my thoughts and perceptions of naval warfare in those times.

He then discusses the more famous battles, Mylae; Ecnomus; Cape Hermaeum; Drepna; and Aegates Islands. To conclude the section on the First Punic War DeSantis looks at the question, “was the seapower worth the cost?”

Part III: Conflicts Between the Wars

Chapter 18 – Illyria and Gaul
Chapter 19 – The Mercenary Revolt 240-238 BC

The two chapters here deal with Rome’s intervention in Illyria in 229 and the overseas deployment, this time across the Adriatic, of the Roman army. The start of this intervention paralleled that of the start of the First Punic War but in this case it was a bunch of Gallic mercenaries seized control of the city of Phoenice in Epirus. The people of the city asked the Romans for assistance and that coupled with the Illyrian pirates attacking Italian shipping the situation became one that Rome could ignore. Polybius even records that previously the Senate in Rome always ignored complaints about the Illyrians. Rome sent a couple of commissioners to Queen Teuta’s court but she dismissed them and apparently had one murdered while he was returning to Rome.

Naval operations got underway with the Illyrians attacking Epidamnus and Corcyra. The Corcyraeans appealed for assistance to the Achaeans and Aetolians for assistance and 10 Achaean ships were sent (quadriremes it seems). Acarnanians allied themselves to the Illyrians and sent seven galleys. A small inconclusive battle was fought off the Paxi Islands. The Illyrians used lighter galleys than the Achaeans but developed an interesting tactic when they faced the Achaeans. The Illyrians lasd their vessels together in groups of four. This was a tempting broadside target for the Achaeans who dutifully increased the stroke rate to ram speed and hit the Illyrians vessels only then to become entangled with the four lashed vessels and as their crews were well outnumbered (about 4 to 1), the Illyrians stormed the Achaean vessels and four Achaean quadriremes were either lost or captured.

The Roman army and fleet became engaged in the area now and the result was around 20 Illyrian galleys and most of the coastal cities captured by the fleet while the army moved inland and took control of cities there.

Part IV: Strangling Carthage

Chapter 20 – The Second Punic War, 218-202 BC
Chapter 21 – A Second War with Carthage
Chapter 22 – Hannibal in Italy
Chapter 23 – Holding the Line in the Adriatic: The War with Macedonia
Chapter 24 – Sicily and Sardinia
Chapter 25 – Carthage’s Spanish Ulcer
Chapter 26 – Africa
Chapter 27 – Seapower and the Second Punic War

The Second Punic War is one that modern readers mostly associate with Hannibal (with or without his elephants); Scipio Africanus; battles such as Cannae, Trebia, Trasimene and Zama; and a small largely mercenary army spending 16 years in enemy territory undefeated. This is not to ignore the contribution of Scipio, especially with the battles he fought in Spain but mostly the Second Punic War is remembered for land actions.

DeSantis makes a good survey of naval action as well as other theatres over this period. The details of the treaty Hannibal struck with Philip V of Macedon, for example, where the Macedonians would assemble a fleet of 200 ships and harry the west coast of Italy as well as operations on land. Once the Romans had been defeated, Macedon would be given control of the Illyrian coast and Hannibal would assist Philip to defeat his Greek enemies.

Over the period of the Second Punic War there were a number of naval expeditions, mostly in and around Sicily. Bomilcar in 212 with 130 war galleys and 700 transport ships sailing to Sicily to rescue Syracuse from the Romans was one such expedition.  Over this period, Rome maintained some measure of control over the sea between Africa and Sicily but there were many other  areas where control of the sea was not so complete.

DeSantis also notes that the Carthaginians may have been reluctant to try their hand against Rome at sea as the First Punic War and the naval defeats there were only a generation previously.

Part V: Destroying Carthage

Chapter 28 – Roman Naval Operation in the East
Chapter 29 – A Third War with Carthage

Interestingly, DeSantis notes as well about this period, “the First Macedonian War (215-205), fought as part of the larger Second Punic War, had sputtered along once the Romans lost interest in it.” In chapter 28 he surveys the Roman naval operations in and around Greece, especially with regards to the Second Macedonian War and makes mention of the monster galley building of the Hellenistic monarchs (for further detail on those monster galleys, I can suggest Giant Hellenistic warships with more than 7000 crew members).

To conclude his work, DeSantis notes a number of changes in Roman Society as a result of the Punic Wars. He contends that the huge influx on slaves after the First Punic War changed the state from one of yeoman farmers into a state with great inequality among the citizenry. The appearance of the patron-client relationship over this period as well would cause issues for the later Republic. This relationship first appeared in the Second Punic War. As more provinces were added to the Roman Empire, the equites or knights became more and more wealthy as the class that were the tax collectors. This stymied any future attempts of the aristocrats to return Italian peasant farmers to the land as well as causing provincial populations to hate the state as a result of the deprivations of the tax collectors.

The Romans also simplified their ship building (as did the Carthaginians for that matter), preparing premade parts and stockpiling them, building the ship as a large kit. Rome settled on two ship designs over the period, the being based on the Carthaginian war galley that had run aground in 264 and the second on the vessel of Hannibal the Rhodian, captured in 250.

DeSantis’ book is a good survey of Rome’s efforts at sea and the effects of the strategy and tactics involved in the period covered. He discusses the effects of battles and political manoeuvring, including its effects on the struggles underway on land. This is a great read, and one I have been waiting to read since I read A Naval History of the Peloponnesian War – Ships, Men and Money in the War at Sea, 431-404 BC – Marc G DeSantis last year (yes, I know, read them in the wrong order). I am happy to recommend this book to anyone interested in ancient history, military history, naval history, classic naval warfare. I will admit to having learnt a few new things here, especially about Queen Teuta and her conflict with Rome.

Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World by Owen Rees – Review

I have waited for this to be published since receiving and reading the previous work of Owen Rees, Great Battles of the Classical Greek World and A Naval History of the Peloponnesian War – Ships, Men and Money in the War at Sea, 431-404 BC by Marc G DeSantis.

Where DeSantis looked at the trireme then three wars (Archidamian, the Sicilian Expedition, and Ionian War), Rees breaks his work up into the following parts:

Part 1 – The Persian Conflicts
Chapter 1 – The Battle of Lade (494 BC)
Chapter 2 – The Battle of Artemisium (480 BC)
Chapter 3 – The Battle of Salamis (480 BC)

Part 2 – Archidamian War
Chapter 4 – The Battle of Sybota (433 BC)
Chapter 5 – The Battle of the Corinthian Gulf (429 BC)
Chapter 6 – The Battle of Corcyra (427 BC)

Part 3 – The Ionian War
Chapter 7 – Battle of Erineus (413 BC)
Chapter 8 – The Battle for the Great Harbour of Syracuse (413 BC)
Chapter 9 – Battles of the Ionian Coast (412-411 BC)
Chapter 10 – The Battle of Arginusae (406 BC)
Chapter 11 – The Battle of Aegospotami (405 BC)

Part 4 – Turning of the Tide
Chapter 12 – Battle of Catane (396 BC)
Chapter 13 – Battle of Cnidus (394 BC)

The book, Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World was published on 10 January 2019 in Hardback, Kindle and ePub versions. The author is Owen Rees and Pen & Sword Military publish it. The book is 218 pages line and its ISBN is 9781473827301. The URL to the book is https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Great-Naval-Battles-of-the-Ancient-Greek-World-Hardback/p/14504

As you would expect there is also an introduction, glossary, conclusion, endnotes, select bibliography, acknowledgements and index.

While DeSantis covers various parts of the Peloponnesian War in greater detail than Rees, Rees is working to a broader canvas so appears to concentrate on only those battles he consider relevant to the argument.

Rees, as expected, starts his book with a discussion on the trireme, a tool central to any story concerning Greek naval warfare. He also looks at the differences between the different poleis, noting for examples that while a trireme normally carried a marine complement of 14 (10 hoplites and 4 archers), Athenian triremes generally had less to enable them to maintain their manoeuvrability while Corinthian triremes that specialised in boarding generally had more.

Rees follows with a brief discussion of Naval tactics covering the usual diekplous, kyklos, and periplous. The last section of the Introduction is where Rees discusses what a Great Battle is. He also notes that the Battle of Catane is included as part of the Hegemony period but notes its importance as a battle between Syracus and Carthage is perhaps for exposing Carthaginians to quadriremes and quinqueremes for the first time.

Leptines had already shown himself a capable commander, having been in charge of the fleet since the siege of Motya, at the latest. Within his fleet he is said to have had thirty superior ships, a crack force of the same number which had confronted the Carthaginian armada at the beginning of their expedition. It seems extremely probably that these thirty ships, or at least a proportion of them, were of the new designs: quadriremes and quinqueremes. This ships were bigger and more powerful, propelled forward for four or five men to each oar (an attribute which most likely gave the ships their names).

Rees covers each battle in the same manner, initially with a background, referencing a primary source. He indicates as a heading within the chapter the source used and the chapters within that source. After the back ground, the forces are identified (or estimated). The description of the battle itself follows, again with the source identified. There is a map outlining where Rees believes the opposing fleets deployed and then each battle section finishes with a discussion of the aftermath.

I am really enjoying this book (as I did his Classical Greek Warfare and DeSantis’s Naval Warfare of the Peloponnesian War).

Rees has an easy to read style and his book is a delight to read. I do recommend grabbing a copy of this (which is actually on sale currently at Pen and Sword), grab a good java, put your feet up, and then smell the salt in the air as you read of these classical battles of the past. For a wargamer, this will likely drag you into another period. For the general reader of military history, it will remind you of the importance of naval warfare in Classical Greece, as well as suggesting where the quadriremes and quinqueremes of the Punic Wars may have come from.

Well worth purchasing.

Dark Age Campaign Set – the Figures needed

Baccus Sudanese doubling as Andalusians – photo taken from Baccus Catalogue

I spent some time this week having a look at the figures needed to make up the Dark Age set. Recall in Dark Age Campaign Set I identified six Dark Age armies to build the set around, being Viking, Andalusian, Anglo-Saxon, West Frankish, East Frankish and Leidang.

First decision was the figure range and while both Baccus 6mm and Heroics and Ros have the same ranges available, the pricing of both companies is near enough to the same to just pick one range on appearance.
I do like Heroics and Ros, especially for World War 2 and Modern wargaming but for Ancients, Baccus is a very nice range of figures so I decided to build the set with the various Baccus ranges.

Baccus Goths doubling as Hairy Dark Age barbarians – photo taken from Baccus Catalogue

Some “repurposing” parts of the Baccus range was necessary to achieve the six desired armies (and to be honest I am thinking of adding a Slav army to round it all out … but not yet). For some of the East Franks and the Norse Leidang I am opting to use some Goths from the Roman range. The Andalusians are being drawn from the Saracens in the Crusades range – using mainly the Seljuqs and Sudanese.
I have calculated that to achieve the desired results here, I will need to purchase 30 packets of figures from Baccus. This will amount to around £152.00 not counting postage 😦

The figure count (and therefore the painting queue) will grow by about 1,500 foot figures and 300 mounted figures, plus/minus.

I think I may break the order up into chunks and will plan to develop this project over the coming 12 months. In the meantime, I have a lot of modern naval in 1/3000 scale to paint up (not to mention 1/3000 scale World War 2 and World War 1).

Time for another planning session I reckon – off to the pub!

The AMX 13 Light Tank – Images of War – Review

The AMX-13 light tank is a French designed and built light tank with a production run from 1952 to 1987. In the French Army it was referred to as the Char 13t-75 Modèle 51. It was named after its initial weight of 13 tonnes and was a tough and reliable air-portable chassis. It was exported to more than 25 other nations. The AMX-13 was fitted with an oscillating turret built by GIAT Industries with revolver type magazines, which were also used on the Austrian SK-105 Kürassier. There are over a hundred variants including self-propelled guns, anti-aircraft systems, APCs, and ATGM versions.

The turret was to the back of the vehicle, with the engine the full length of the vehicle, driver on the other side. Total crew of three. The gun was aimed by rotating the elevating the turret to the target.

Guy Gibeau, Peter Lau, and M. P. Robinson have out together a complete pictorial history of the AMX-13 which is released as:

The AMX 13 Light Tank – A Complete History
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Series: Images of War
Pages: 237
ISBN: 9781526701671
Published: 12th December 2018

The book covers the origins of the AMX-13 and its design and funding then looks at the various builds and marks as well as the export and second hand sales versions of the vehicle (for example, Peter Lau covers the Singapore Army’s AMX-13 that were acquired from Switzerland (150); India (150); and Israel (40).

The AMX -13 is currently deployed by:

  • Argentina: 58 AMX-13/105,24 AMX-VCI, 24 AMX F3 155mm and 2 AMX-13 PDP armoured bridge-layers
  • Ecuador: 108 AMX-13/105s
  • Indonesia: From the total of 275 only 120+ AMX-13/105 are still in service as 2018. Scheduled for replacement by the PT Pindad Harimau jointly developed by Indonesia and Turkey.
  • Morocco: 120 AMX-13/75s and 4 AMX-13 CD armoured recovery vehicles;[2] 5 operational.
  • Peru: 108 tanks; 30 AMX-13/75s and 78 AMX-13/105s
  • Venezuela: 67 AMX-13s; 36 AMX-13/75s and 31 AMX-13/90s

AMX-13 former operators:

  • Algeria: 44 AMX-13/75s
  • Austria: 72 AMX-13/75s and 3 AMX-13 CD armoured recovery vehicles
  • Belgium: 555 AMX-13s
  • Cambodia: 20 AMX-13/75s
  • Côte d’Ivoire: 5 AMX-13/75s
  • Djibouti: 60 AMX-13/90s
  • Dominican Republic: 15 AMX-13/75s
  • Egypt: 20 AMX-13/75s
  • France: 4,300 (of all types)
  • Guatemala: 8 AMX-13/75s
  • India: 164 AMX-13/75s
  • Israel: 400 AMX-13/75s
  • Lebanon: 75 tanks; 42 AMX-13/75s, 13 AMX-13/90s and 22 AMX-13/105s
  • Nepal: 56 AMX-13/75s
  • Netherlands: 131 AMX-13/105s, as AMX-13 PRLTTK (Pantserrups Lichte Tank) and 34 AMX-13 PRB (Pantserrups Berging) armoured recovery vehicles
  • Singapore: 340 second-hand AMX-13/75s
  • South Vietnam: 4 AMX-13 CD armoured recovery vehicles
  • Switzerland: 200 AMX-13/75s
  • Tunisia: 30 AMX-13/75s

The versatility of the tank is apparent from its multiple combat roles, being used as light tank, reconnaissance vehicle, self-propelled artillery platform, ATGM platform among others.

The book contains the following chapters:

  1. Origin
  2. Design, Funding and Production
  3. AMX13 Mle 51 Production Series
  4. Rebuilds and Upgrades
  5. The AMX13 Enters Service
  6. The AMX13 FL-11 and AMX-US
  7. The AMX13 Mle 58
  8. Division 1959
  9. The AMX13 SS-11
  10. The AMX13 C90
  11. The Division 1967
  12. Derivatives of the AMX 13
  13. The AMX13 as an Export Success
  14. Modernising the AMX13
  15. The AMX13 Mle 51 as a Combat Vehicle

The vehicle saw combat in the following wars:

  • Suez Crisis
  • Algerian War
  • Sand War
  • 1958 Lebanon crisis
  • Vietnam War
  • Cambodian Civil War
  • Dominican Civil War
  • Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
  • Six-Day War
  • Western Sahara War
  • Lebanese Civil War
  • Guatemalan Civil War

There were 7,700 vehicles built of which 3,400 were exported.

As we have come to expect with then Images at War series, there are a plethora of photographs of the vehicle at various times and in various roles.

I have always liked the lines of the modern French AFVs, the AMX30; the Leclerc; but the AMX13 is one of my all-time favourite vehicles. This is a recommended work for modern tank modellers and enthusiasts, military historians with an interest in modern AFVs and wargamers wanting background and weapon information on AFVs of the recent past – the last half of the 20th Century.

Available from Pen and Sword Books – the link is:

https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/The-AMX-13-Light-Tank-Paperback/p/13645

Collision Course – DBA Competition

Davis Lawrence is running a DBA competition called Collision Course in Canberra, ACT, Australia on Sunday, May 26, 2019 (See flyer CCV Flyer).  Brief details:

  • Venue: Austrian Australian Club –Heard St Mawson ACT
  • Date: Sunday May 26 th 2019
  • Time: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM – first game starts at 10:30AM
  • Rules: DBA 3
  • Scale: 15mm

Cost to enter is AU $18.00 but there are discounts

You can contact David on:

CCV Flyer

Dark Age Campaign Set

Having studied History at University (when I was supposed to be reading Economics) I always feel a little less than professional when I refer to the Dark Ages as the Dark Ages – but it fits. The glory days of Rome were well past and there were many years to go before the golden age of the Renaissance appeared. Even in China we had just come out of the Tang Dynasty and were heading into Five Dynasties. (907–960) and then Song Dynasty. The glory days of Yuan when the Mongols took over China were not until 1200 C.E. or so.

I have always had an interest in the Norsemen however, especially as I did study the Vikings in those misspent university years. The project Vikings in 6mm – the Project Start came as a result of reading some historical fiction around Erik Bloodave. I have been doing some research over a Tim Horton’s coffee or two and have settled on the following armies. I intend to purchase enough figures to build them so that they can be used for both DBA version 3 and Basic Impetus

Army Name DBA Army Basic Impetus
Viking Army III/40b Viking Army 850-1280 CE 14.8 Viking 789-1066 CE
Andalusian III/34b Andalusian 766-1172 CE 18.3 Later Andalusian 961-1072 CE
Anglo-Saxon III/24b Anglo-Saxon 701-1016 CE 14.9 Later Anglo-Saxon 789-1016 CE
West Frankish III/52 West Frankish/Normans 888-1072 CE 15.3 Normans in Normandy 900-1072 CE
East Frankish III/53 East Frankish 888-1106 CE 15.11 Eastern Franks & Ottonians 898-1125 CE
Leidang (Norse) III/40c Leidang 790-1070 CE Haven’t worked this one out yet 🙂

I had to do a bit of converting troop types and rules to work these together for two different sets of rules. Firstly there was base sizes. I did consider using 60mm base widths with 30mm depth for pretty much everything as both rules would work with that as they both use base widths for measuring ranges and move distances. However one thing I am very short on in the Philippines is space, so a 2′ x 2′ (or 60cm x 60cm) playing area was the first constraint. I then decided that I would use standard DBA/DBM bases of 40mm frontage. As both sets of rules use base width measures it would still work OK.

The second task was to determine a conversion between Basic Impetus and DBA trop types. I settled on the following conversions:

DBA Troop Type Basic Impetus Troop Type
4Bd FP
Sp FP
3Wb FL or S
Ps S
4Bw T
3Cb T
3Ax FL (Irish)
Cv CM
LH CL
3Kn CP2 or CP1
7Hd FB

I reckon by the time I finish I will have a few more to add to the list.

As for basing, as I am using 6mm figures, I am planning on  basing 4 x 6mm figures for what would be a single 15mm figure on a 40mm base for the likes of 4Bd (16 figures to the base). For loose order (3Ax etc) then 12 figures to the base (normally 3 x 15mm figures). Light troops will be 6 to 8 skirmishers. For mounted troops I will be using a ratio of nearly 3:1 for all except Light Horse. So 3Kn will have 9 or 10 figures on the base. LH will be 4 figures on the base.

It just so happens as well that I believe the next issue of Slingshot from the Society of Ancients (Slingshot 324, May/June 2019) will have an article about a Dark Age campaign using 6mm Viking figures, among other things. In fact, just checking their Twitter feed there will be DBA Danelaw Campaigns as well as Tweaking DBA 3. I’m looking forward to that issue (and joining the Society of Ancients is recommended for anyone interested in Ancient Wargaming).

As for figures, I really only have a choice between Baccus 6mm and Heroics and Ros. Both have good ranges of Dark Age figures. For the Andalusians I will need to trawl through the Crusader ranges. Most likely that will be Baccus who have a larger range of Saracens and Seljuqs. Goths (as a nice hairy barbarian type) will also make an appearance in these armies doubling for some of the Finns and Slavs or Rus.

And yes, just what a wargamer needs, another project and more figures. I think I will slip off now and start my modern Soviet fleets in 1/3000!