Feeling a little like Robinson Crusoe – Day 17 of Community Quarantine

Needing a beard trim and a haircut … or a coconut palm and a Man Friday!

Needing a beard trim and a haircut … or a coconut palm and a Man Friday!

Robinson Crusoe is a novel by Daniel Defoe, first published on 25 April 1719, so 301 years ago this month. It was one of my favourite novels in my late teen years but now I am starting to feel like Crusoe, and indeed look like Crusoe. 

We have just completed 17 days of extended community quarantine here in Manila where we are working from home and only permitted out to collect food, medicine, see a doctor, or in my case, walk to the office if there are machines that need resetting. My only exposure to the outside currently then is the daily collecting of a can of beer from the local convenience store and to collect dinner from the Grab food delivery guy around 6:00 pm. Funnily, it is very tiring in this environment but hopefully, once we get past Easter here, we will be able to get out and about more often as restrictions ease up. Hopefully also we will have “flattened the curve” and life will be safer for the elderly and those with medical conditions.

Now, all I need is a visit to a gentlemen’s hairdresser – or a beach, a coconut palm, and a Man Friday!

Sea Bases

Magnet attached to Base

Making the Sea Bases is a fairly straightforward, although slightly messy process. To be totally honest, I stole the method from the GHQ website but adapted what was there for the bases under the vessels. I also used Vallejo or Citadel paints for colouring the bases then varnished with Vallejo or Army Painter varnishes.

The method, starting from scratch. I found some brilliant board in Art Friend, Singapore, that I have not found elsewhere . It is, I am sure, a plastic of some sort but behaves in many respects like a cardboard. If you are reading this Doug, I seem t recall showing you a piece in Canberra one or two lifetimes ago 🙂 

Anyway, the process should work well with MDF or other materials as well although I am not sure I would try with cardboard (does anyone base on cardboard anymore?).

Magnetic strip is added under the base for those times transporting. The Navwar metal ships are probably robust enough to handle some bouncing around during transport but Fujimi plastics, and I guess GHQ Micronauts are a little more fragile with more parts that can break off.

Flex Paste spread across base, ships pressed in

The next step is to spread some of the flex paste across the base. This is kind a hit and miss at the start until you get used to working with it but I reckon a depth of approximately 1mm is good. I then wait a couple of minutes for it to start to dry a little. 

Next step is to lightly tap a finger across the top. This will add the wave shapes to the surface. the surface can be shaped as well to make a more regular wave pattern or wakes for the vessels (remembering the Kelvin angle of 19 degrees from centre line).

The ship can then be pressed into the surface, perhaps even sliding it forward a little to add a little dimension to the wake on the bow.  

If not able to get Woodland Scenics Flex Paste, which is great for this and some other modelling tasks, maybe the same can be achieved with something like Polyfilla, although I have not tried that. This jar of Flex Pastes has lasted me about 5 years so far and has not dried out greatly yet.

Ship on base. The paste is usually enough to hold it in place

Taking a closer look to the image to the right and below and you can see the rippled surface.

At this point, I leave the vessel embedded in the base overnight to let the Flex Paste dry properly and cure. I have not had any warping on the bases of any of the ships I have based this way.

I guess it would be possible to paint after a couple of hours.

I should add as well that when doing this, it is useful to have a damp rag handy to wipe finger on as the Flex Paste will build up there. I have not had any problems either just using a naked finger and/or a coffee stirrer to do these bases. 

A better close up of the surface prior to painting

For painting the bases, firstly I undercoat the base and the ship in water undercoat suits the painting style I am using. For recent vessels this has been grey. I then use four colours in the following order:

  1. Dark blue
  2. Light or fluorescent green
  3. Light blue
  4. White

The process is to first paint the base in dark blue as a foundation coat. Next the green is thinned down, to almost invisible – say 1:5 or 1:6. The base is then washed in the green. When that dries, a dry brush of light blue followed by a light dry brush of white.

Paint the ship, then using white again, run it down the side of the vessel, letting it thin as you drag it down to make the wake on the side of the ship. When dry, the sea can be varnished, other in satin of gloss varnish, depending on what you prefer. The vessel can also be varnished, in matt or satin. Voila, you have a ship that looks like it is at sea.

The final result – in this case, satin varnish on the sea surface

Two Weeks Locked Up, Two Weeks to Go!

Two weeks of extended community quarantine have now passed and while the daytime has mostly been taken up with work from home tasks, late night to relax I have been working on some 1/3000 scale Fujimi models of modern Japanese warships.

These are delightful models, full of character and detail. When compared to the humble Navwar models I painted a couple of years ago, well, there is no real comparison. Admittedly these are somewhat more expensive, maybe 1.5 times the cost of Navwar and plastic so lack the reassuring heft of metal models, but the final result of a little work, and they look absolutely wonderful.

The decals that come with the models really make these too, even down to hull numbers on the vessel, something that is far above my painting skill. 

I am becoming a big fan of decals for 1/3000 scale models and the flight deck decals that are produced for the 1/3000 scale Navwar aircraft carriers are brilliant, really making the model stand out, however, they are really only available for aircraft carriers.

The decals for these Fujimi vessels perform the same magic, marking the landing spot for the ships’ helicopter(s).  This box represent the first flotilla of the modern Japanese fleet, circa 1995. I have another box of Fujimi ships that represent the same flotilla several years advanced, including a full-on helicopter carrier, a DDH that is currently under conversion to become an aircraft carrier.

As for the community quarantine, it is tough residing in 42 square metres. In the afternoon I walk to the local convenience store for “food” – in my case, a large can of beer. It is my only outside time unless I am called into the office. I do hope that after the month that Metro Manila, indeed, Luzon, has spent locked up flattens the curve enough for us to rejoin the world outside, and safely for us old-timers.

So, for sanity’s sake, my late evening, after work, was spent adding just one colour to the models, followed by the can of beer then sleep. Last weekend was the first one off as well and that allowed me to finish the vessels. You can see the progress below:

Next task, in the late evening, tidy up my work/hobby table. Yes, it is a shared space. Then decide on the next painting project.

Prisoner — Inmate No. 6

The Statistics from 00:30 on 20 March (Philippine Standard Time)

With apologies to Patrick McGoohan – trapped, inside the idyllic Legaspi Village — actually, not entirely sure how idyllic, however this COVID-19 “community quarantine” is starting to get on my goat a little as we stretch into Day 5 here of the extended quarantine. Firstly, I find that I am becoming addicted to the statistics, and each morning before ablutions and breakfast, I check the stats.

Last thing at night, yep, check the stats again. I will also confess that I check the buggers at lunch time and dinner time as well (now, at lunch today, 12 hours after the stats on the left were taken, the total cases has hit 244,517 cases – with the US rocking up the charts, having overtaken the French they are now rapidly closing in on the Germans).

Legaspi Street these days

As the apartment I am in is a massive 42 square metres in size, and as the amenity area in the condominium building is closed for “disinfecting”, cabin fever* sets in fairly quickly. For those unaware, “Cabin Fever” (according to Wikipedia) refers to the distressing claustrophobic irritability or restlessness experienced when a person, or group, is stuck at an isolated location or in confined quarters for an extended period of time. A person may be referred to as stir-crazy, derived from the use of stir to mean ‘prison’.

To relieve that, each day I slip out on to Legaspi Street, normally a busy thoroughfare, and head to the local convenience store where I buy 1 can of beer. As beer is food for Aussie, if stopped by police or military I can claim I am merely outside getting some food!

Ayala Avenue – where the office is

The cable guy … sorry, network guy, from the office is stuck outside of Metro Manila and can’t pass through the checkpoints. This results in me heading up to the office from time to time in shorts and t-shirt, to act as first junior assistant trainee network engineer and follow to the letter his commands over the phone.

No air conditioning in the office, and basically the building is deserted except for a few people and the security guards so I feel safe from viral infestation. 

The “community quarantine”, a lock-down by any other name, is restrictive and designed to slow the spread of the virus so the medical system dies not get overloaded.

Ayala Avenue – the other way

The main conditions are:

  1. No public gatherings
  2. Remain in home and work from home where possible
  3. Metro Manila is closed to the rest of the world now with international visitors banned (except Filipinos and permanent residents and families) and no domestic travel in by land, sea or air. Police and Army are manning checkpoints at the entry points to ensure rules are followed
  4. Cities within Metro Manila may also close their municipal boundaries
  5. A State of Calamity over the entire country has been raised by the president

Emergency and front line services plus necessary deliveries can pass through the checkpoints (doctors, nurses, police, food deliveries etc) and grocery, supermarket, convenience and drug stores have been asked to continue operating. Shopping malls however, are closed. And all this is to last until 12 to 14 April (just after the Easter break). The bottom line is, stay at home and maintain social distancing of a metre (in Australia, 1.5 metres, 2 metres in the US).

Condo Management Assisting with Social Distancing

The condominium management, I guess they are living in now, have been assisting with social distancing. Last night I arrived back from my network support and beer run to see the elevators had been enhanced.

Not quite a metre apart and to be honest, I thought it would have been more efficient to have the foot prints all facing away from each other for that reduced social distancing to work … I have not heard of transmission from bum to bum bumping!

To break up the day, after shower and breakfast I change into dark shorts and t-shirt. When it is quitting time for the day, I change shorts and t-shirt again. sort of breaks the day up between work and me time.

Two modern Japanese Warships (Izumi and Kirishima)

For relaxing in the evening, I should be painting a pile of half painted aircraft however some small (1/3000 scale) plastic ships were delivered to me from Japan Hobby. The ships are kits, small kits I will admit, but are quick to build. The detail is superb so I am thinking of building them all this week, then paint, then sell my older metals hips.

Best, these ships are also quite inexpensive relative to other similar models. The image below will give an idea of the size and scale of these vessels. 

In the meantime, stay safe, take care and wash your hands … again!

Mag-ingat at tandaan na hugasan ang iyong mga kamay.

Japan Ship Izumi – model about 9cm long, fat thumb mine

 

In Action with Destroyers 1939–1945 — The Wartime Memoirs of Commander J A J Dennis DSC RN — Review

In Action with Destroyers 1939–1945 — The Wartime Memoirs of Commander J A J Dennis DSC RN by Alec Dennis, Edited by Anthony J Cumming was published by Pen & Sword Maritime on 2 November 2017 (ISBN: 9781526718495).

This book contains the wartime memoirs of Alec Dennis, who served on four destroyers during the Second World War, two of them as the commanding officers.

The destroyers were the workhorses of most navies during the Second World War and Commander Dennis saw action in the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Indian Oceans. The two vessels he commanded were HMS Valorous (the fifth HMS Valorous, ex-HMS Montrose, a V-class flotilla leader of the British Royal Navy that saw service in World War I, the Russian Civil War, and World War II) and HMS Tetcott (a Type II British Hunt-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy during World War II. She was the only Royal Navy ship to be named after the Tetcott fox hunt).

HMS Tetcott on Russian Convoy Duty

Commander Dennis was mentioned in Despatches three times (Norway, sinking the Scharnhorst and in the North Sea) and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (Greece 1942).

The experiences of Commander Dennis provide a great read, reading like a Boy’s Own tale. The text is very easy to read and the book is difficult to put down. The editor, Anthony Cumming, has taken pains to preserve most of Dennis’s recollections although he does admit that Dennis removed some recollections that, fairly or unfairly, were not very complimentary to senior officers.

The book was unfortunately released after Dennis’s death. It is split into the following sections, following Acknowledgements, a Foreword, Maps and Editor’s Introduction:

  1. The End of Peace and the Phoney War
  2. The Finest Hour
  3. Crisis in the Mediterranean
  4. The Far East ann Back
  5. The Tide Turns
  6. The Final Victory

This is followed by the Editor’s Historical Notes, End Notes, Bibliography and an Index. There are around 20 illustrations in the centre of the book as well.

It has been a fairly stressful few weeks for me here but a few pages of this book in the evening transports me to those momentous days of the Second World War and a feeling of what life was like on the workhorses of the fleet – the destroyers. A brilliant read!

 

Armies of Celtic Europe — 700 BC – AD 106 by Gabriele Esposito — Review

This particular book is a follow on from Gabriele Esposito’s previous books in the Armies of the Past series, Armies of the Late Roman Empire AD 284 to 476 by Gabriele Esposito – Review and Armies of the Hellenistic States 323 BC to AD 30 by Gabriele Esposito – Review. This book looks at the Celts in Europe from 700 BC to AD 106.

Celtic culture was (and arguably still is) a rich culture with a strong oral tradition. Celtic warriors were renowned for their fierce charges and were one of the few ancient civilisations to successfully invade Rome itself where they were ultimately thwarted by a flock of geese.

Esposito uses members of various reenactment groups to provide the illustrations, photographing them in today’s interpretations of Celtic dress. Nine reenactment groups are used and these are resident in France and Italy. While the photographs of the clothing are excellent and inspiring, one small disappointment is the lack of mounted photographs (two only) and no chariots. I suspect this is due to the cost of owning and stabling horses in modern Europe. The only other lack that I could see are the moustaches and hair of the various warriors illustrated. I guess that is because of the need to hold down a job in modern Europe as well.

Armies of Celtic Europe 700 BC to AD 106 — History, Organization and Equipment by Gabriele Esposito was published by Pen & Sword Military on 23 October 2019 (ISBN: 9781526730336) and is 172 pages long with 102 illustrations.

The book follows a similar format to his Hellenistic one and is broken up into the following chapters:

  1. The Origins of the Celts and the ‘Hallstatt Culture’
  2. The ‘La Tène Culture’ and Early Celtic Expansion
  3. The Celtic Conquest of Italy and the Sack of Rome
  4. The Celtic Expansion in Western and Eastern Europe
  5. The Celtic ‘Great Expedition’ and the Birth of Galatia
  6. The Fall of Cisalpine Gaul and the Invasion of the Cimbri and Teutones
  7. The Roman Conquest of Iberia and Gaul
  8. The Decline of the Eastern Celts and the Conquest of Britain
  9. Celtic Arms and Armour from the La Tène Period
  10. Celtic Warfare and Battle Tactics

The book also has an Introduction, Bibliography Index and a list of the Re-enactors who contributed to the book.

Anyone with an interest in the Celts will find this book useful.

Soviet Naval Fleet — Modern Naval Wargaming

I received some decals from Flight Deck Decals which allowed me to complete my modern Soviet fleet. Pictures below. Vessels are from Navwar and are in 1/3000 scale. These were finished in late 2019 – actually, they are not quite finished. I need to add air support to these – will be sometime in the next couple of months using 1/1200 scale aircraft and helicopters.

The Battle of Actium 31 BC — War for the World by Lee Fratantuono –Review

We all know the Battle of Actium — Antony and Cleopatra’s final act against Octavian and the start of the Augustan Peace in Rome, albeit now with an Emperor. Professor Lee Fratantuono re-examines the ancient evidence and presents a compelling and solidly documented account of what took place in the waters off the promontory of Leucas in late August and early September of 31 B.C.

Rather than present a coherent story cross referencing different sources, Prof Fratantuono has adopted an approach when examining the battle of looking at the sources independently and then analyzing the evidence presented by them to draw his conclusions.

Fratantuono notes in the preface that his,

“interest in Actium has romance as its genesis: the twin lures of poetry and cinema, the poets of Augustan Rome and the cinematic depiction of the battle in Mankiewicz’s 1963 Cleopatra, a film that despite is numerous problems of both film quality and historical accuracy, was a contributing factor to [his] early interest in antiquity”

He goes on later to note that the methodology used in this study “will be to examine closely the surviving literary attestation of the naval conflict at Actium, with a view to reconstruction and analysis of what might have happened”.

This is the approach he takes with the first part of the book looking at Greek Historical Sources. These are:

  1. the Evidence of Plutarch
  2. The Lost Appian
  3. The Evidence of Dio Cassius
  4. Strabo’s Geography
  5. The Evidence of Josephus

The Second Part deals with Roman Historical Sources

  1. Velleius Paterculus
  2. Lost Roman Sources
  3. Octavian Himself
  4. Florus’ and Eutropius’ Detached Accounts
  5. The Evidence of Orosius

The Third Part looks at Actium in Verse

  1. The Shield of Aeneas
  2. Horace’s Epodes — The Earliest Evidence?
  3. Horace’s Cleopatra Ode
  4. The Evidence of Elegy: Propertius
  5. The Allegorized Actium
  6. The Lost Carmen de Bello Aegyptiaco/Atiaco

Part Four then is Analyzing the Evidence

  1. So What Really Happened?
  2. The Birth of a Romantic Legend

Part Five examines the Aftermath

  1. ‘Death Comes in the End’

The book finishes with an Afterword looking at Actium and Roman Naval Practice.

There is, as well, a preface and introduction as well as bibliography, index, endnotes and further reading. There are also a couple of maps and battle dispositions as well.

All-in-all I enjoyed reading this, especially as it introduced me to some areas I had managed to avoid all these years, namely the literary and poetic evidence – I guess there is more than just Plutarch and Dio Cassius.

Prof Fratantuono concludes at the end that Antony intended to fight and fight he did at Actium. He also discusses the involvement of the Egyptian vessels and concludes that they must have fought that day as well, either as part of the main battle or during the breakout at the end of the day. Prof Fratantuono is certain that Antony was planning on winning the battle that day, and so he is at odds with the views of the previous writer’s on the battle who suggested that Antony and Cleopatra always intended flight, or that they intended to launch a withdrawal that could lead to a strategic victory.

Antony and Cleopatra were planning on winning that day. The withdrawal at the end of the day, tactical or not, was a loss. The fleet remaining would have surrendered quickly and land forces in Greece and the East would also have surrendered to Octavian (and did).

Prof Fratantuono also hazards some estimates of the number of ships involved in the battle by looking at the numbers given in Plutarch, Florus and Orosius. Plutarch, for example, estimated that Antony and Cleopatra had a fleet of 500 ships to Octavian’s 250. Orosius however estimated the Antonian fleet at 200 ships. There were 60 Egyptian vessels, which if added to  Florus’ estimate for Antony’s fleet of 170 ships gives a total of 230 ships. Similar numerical discord exists between Plutarch’s estimate of Octavian’s fleet of 250 vessels and Florus’ estimate of 400 ships. There is some discussion on whether these are beaked vessels only but Prof Fratantuono concludes around 250 vessels for Octavian against 230 in the fleet of Antony and Cleopatra would seem a reasonable estimate. This seems a workable estimate — if outnumbered 2:1 it would be unlikely that Antony would give battle, similarly with Octavian. 

The Battle of Actium 31 BC — War for the World was published by Pen & Sword Military on 31 May 2016 (ISBN: 9781473847149) and consists of 194 pages.

I found Prof Fratantuono’s writing style easy to read and his discussion is, in my opinion, a good discourse of this topic. It now sits on my bookshelf with other ancient naval tomes.

Battle of Manila, Miguel Miranda – Review

I’ve been living in Manila now for over five years. In that time I have visited Corregidor Island (thank you for the tickets Craig), looked out over Manila Bay (and the scene of Dewey’s victory over the Spanish fleet), seen the American Cemetery in Fort Bonifacio (Bonifacio Global City – BGC), Taguig, but never managed to get around to some of the areas where there was fighting during the Battle of Manila in 1945.

The Japanese attacked the American (and Filipino forces) in the Philippines in 1942. To save casualties to the civilian population and damage to Manila, the Americans declared Manila an open city and the Japanese were able to take control of Manila with little or no bloodshed. Unfortunately, the reverse was not the case in 1945 and the Japanese defended Manila which required the liverating forces to literally move house by house through the city to clear the Japanese. This also meant a lot of artillery support with the resultant damage to buildings. The occupation and the fighting to retake Manila unfortunately resulted in a large number of Filipino casualties. Estimates suggest at least 100,000 civilians were casualties at the time.

Miguel Miranda, a Filipino was a reported and is the author of this ‘History of Terror’ volume. Pen and Sword notes of the author:

Writing about the battle of Manila has been an opportunity for him to confront a very dark period in Philippine history, one that is still misunderstood today. To amass the wealth of research and insight for his latest work he pored over volumes of official histories and archives, assembling a detailed narrative on the topic.

The battle of Manila lead into the total independence of the Philippines in 1946 as well as removing what turned out to be a cruel foreign domination, not that the previous period of Philippines history, the American colonial period (1899–1945) was free of cruelty, quite the opposite. The battle of Manila really was the start of the final movement to independence, ending a long period of conflict and struggle for the Filipinos.

the Battle of Manila — Nadir of Japanese Barbarism, 3 February – 3 March 1945 is one of the volumes in the History of Terror series. Written by Filipino Miguel Miranda and published by Pen & Sword Military on 16 April 2019 (ISBN: 9781526729057), there are about 60 illustrations in this 128 page book.

Miranda’s prose is easy to read, although much of what he describes is disturbing. The book is divided into the following chapters, following from a usefu timeline and Introduction:

  1. MacArthur’s Bitter Defeat
  2. Leyte to Lingayen
  3. Desperadoes
  4. The Angels
  5. Encirclement
  6. The Genko Line
  7. Bloody Hell
  8. Intramuros
  9. A Country in Ruin

The book is then closed with an Epilogue: Facing a Strategic Conundrum; then a list of sources and finally an Index. The Epilogue is a reasonable assessment of the position in the South China Sea currently with the PLAN exercising its muscle as it attempts to dominate the area while the US Naval forces, along with Japan, Australia and the other smaller navies of the region attempting to ensure that the area remains open, international waters, rather than a Chinese lake.

Te timeline commences in 1896 when Filipino revolutionaries in Cavite and Manila launch an uprising to overthrow Spain’s colonial government. This revolution carried over into the period where the US became the colonial overlord and the Introduction discusses that period in more detail.

I must admit that while the book is very well written, and easy to read, it is also a very disturbing work, but one that should be read.

Philippines Bucket List

When I was back in Oz for Christmas it was bush fires. The bush had been burning in my home state of New South Wales since last August-September but mercifully recent heavy rain has either put out or allowed the Rural Fire Service yo being the remaining fires under control, although the rain has brought problems of its own. The fire season is now two-thirds the way through so hopefully there is no more damage to come, especially in the hotter days of February. All us cockroaches hoped for rain, a lot of it but it looks like we got somewhat more than we wished for.

I got back to Manila on New Year’s Eve. The Philippines has been an interesting learning experience for me. I experienced first hand my first typhoon back in either 2001 or 2002 when I was staying at the Sofitel on Manila Bay. Seeing the waves break over the sea wall was quite an experience, from the safety of my hotel room.

Last year it was earthquakes, and one in particular which gave Manila a good shaking, mercifully not causing a great deal of damage, unlike more recent quakes in the Mindanao area of the Philippines.

I was teasing mum about having clean air in Manila while she was suffering from bushfire smoke when Taal volcano decided to blow its top a little, spewing ash, smoke and steam into the atmostphere. Taal (pronounced Ta’al) is one of the most active volcanoes around, and is about 70 km from the centre of Metro Manila. So I got to experience my first ash fall.

The bucket-list? See:

  1. Typhoon – check
  2. Earthquake – check
  3. Volcano – check
  4. and now, Pandemic – check

It is more fun in the Philippines