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

One Twelfth of 2020 has Passed

Wow. What a January! Well, actually, what a late December that segued into January. A mix of a a stressful, bloody annoying, frustrating, painful (physically and emotionally) and downright crappy period. Sliding into February and it does not really look any better. I am too stressed even to paint at the moment so I have fallen back on a plan B and have been building (badly) a 1/35th scale kit.

What has happened. Those of you that know me well, will know that I spent Christmas back in Oz with mother, but also visited or were visited by my kids and grandkids. Of course, Christmas was full-on bushfires all over the east coast and particularly near mum. Lots of smoky air. I returned to Manila (not missing the flight this year) and was teasing mum about being back in clean air when Taal Volcano decided to pop its cork, or at least let off a lot of steam. Ash fall it was, and a new expression as I had not experienced ash fall like that at all before. Still, now for the Philippines I can tick off from my list:

  • typhoon
  • earthquake
  • volcano

Volcano quietens down and along comes 2019-nCoV (new Coronavirus). Masks were already scarcer than hen’s teeth here because of bloody Taal and also now in rapid short supply is isopropyl hand wash and anti-bacterial soap. Fortunately, I had some isopropyl alcohol on my modelling desk (acts as a flow improver for airbrushing, although I have not tried that yet).

Work has been particularly stressful. I don’t normally talk about work here and I will refrain again however, suffice it to say it has been particularly crappy. Lastly, a short trip to Bangkok last week for work was a nice break, back to talking to potential clients. I am hoping for more of that in the coming future, if only for my ongoing sanity.

In the meantime, the plan is to deal with the last of the crappy work issues, get some action working with new clients, get the three book reviews I have read to write written and posted (one is the Battle of Manila from World War 2 so with much familiar ground), finish that damned 1/35 scale tank and paint it and then get back into some figure painting – Anglo-Saxons up next. Lastly keep reading the historical fiction for both sanity and insanity (insanity as it keeps leading me to thinking about new plans and projects for wargames and therefore more spending on figures – did I mention Late Romans, Patricians, Scots, Irish, Picts, Sub-Roman British?). I also need to spend more time with my local family. By the time I get to see them it will have been two months 😦

Lastly, some good news … grandchild number 5 arrived last week. Welcome aboard young Oswald!

Images of War — Battle of Midway — America’s Decisive Strike in the Pacific in WWII – Review

Anyone with an interest in military history or history generally will know the Battle of Midway. Following Japan’s attack on the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, the US Pacific aircraft carriers were undamaged, leaving the US with three effective carriers in the Pacific.

The Battle of Coral Sea in May 1942 saw one US carrier lost so effectively only two carriers remained. The Japanese Combined Fleet commander, Yamamoto, decided then to lure the remaining carriers into a battle where they could be destroyed. This would give Japan a free hand with its expansion plans across Asia and the Pacific.

Location of Midway Atoll (image from Google Maps)

Yamamoto targeted the Hawaiian Island chain again with the target this time being the Naval Air Station on Midway Atoll. The Japanese then launched an attack on Midway on 4 June 1942. Unfortunately for the Japanese:

  1. The Americans had deciphered Japanese signals so knew exactly where the Japanese attack would fall
  2. Admiral Nimitz had three aircraft carriers in his command, not just the two that the Japanese expected
  3. The americans had more aircraft available than the Japanese, although about one third of those aircraft were land-based

The battle ran over the period 4 to 7 June 1942 and at the end the Japanese had lost all four of their aircraft carriers engaged to one US carrier lost. As a result of those losses, Japan was forced onto the back foot and never recovered its previous naval dominance through the rest of the war. The Battle of Midway is considered by most to be the turning point in the war with Japan.

There are many images and photos from the Battle of Midway, many of them on the Internet illustrating web pages or in museum collections. Frontline Books has published a book of these photographs in their Images of War series. The Battle of Midway — America’s Decisive Strike in the Pacific in WWII was written (compiled?) by John Grehan and is published as a paperback. It is 164 pages long and contains 150 illustrations and photographs. ISBN: 9781526758347 it was published on 23 September 2019.

The photographs in the book are ordered into the following chapters:

  • Map List
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction: The Build-up to Battle
  • 3 June 1943
    1. First Contact
  • 4 June 1942
    1. Bombs Fall on Midway
    2. Attacking the Japanese Fleet
    3. The Japanese Hit Yorktown
    4. The Torpedo Bombers Strike
  • 5 June 1942
    1. Operation MI Cancelled
  • 6 June 1942
    1. Last Shots
  • 7 June 1942
    1. The End of the USS Yorktown
    2. After the Battle
  • References and Notes

I have no hesitation recommending this book to any naval or military historian, modeller or wargamer. I have spent quite a few hours looking at the photographs in this work. In addition to the photographs there is a reasonable interpretation and map how the battle played out.

Battle of Playa Honda

I received a nice comment on a recent article in Thomo’s Hole so went and had a look at that bloggers blog. The blog is Subli. The author is Rosalinda and she is writing about the the Philippines – its history, its culture, and its people.

A couple of days ago she posted Olivier van Noort and other early Spanish-Dutch conflicts in the Philippines. OK, so that was going to be too much for me to ignore so I had a read., as I knew the Dutch hovered around this area, they had a colony on what is today Taiwan for example so I was not surprised they were involved in the Philippines as well.

Olivier van Noort sailed into the Pacific and on to the Philippines during the Eighty Years’ War between the United Provinces and Spain. He was one of many captains who fought the Spanish in these waters (and at the entrance to Manila Bay as well) with Galleons. The Spanish were similarly equipped with Galleons and some Galleys. I need to do  a lot more research on the vessels involved as this particular war and location is not within my usual area of reading.

The area of modern Botolan (in the province of Zambales) was known in those days as Playa Honda. There were three known minor conflicts during the Eighty Years’ War between the United Provinces and Spain held in Playa Honda in the Philippines. All the battles were won by the Spanish. The first battle occurred in 1610. The second, the most famous, took place in 1617. The third battle took place in 1624.

Interest piqued, now for some bright, shiny searching! Oh, and do stop in to Subli, there is some interesting posts in that blog, particularly about early Philippine history.

Historical Fiction is Costing me a Fortune!

And not so much for the cost of the book. Almost all fiction and about half the non-fiction I read today I read on my Kindle, tablet or ‘phone. I’ve gotten over missing the tactile feel of a new or old book as well as the lack of smell of digital editions so more and more I am downloading my books. The problem is not the cost of the book but rather the cost of the wargame figures in dollars, time and paint that results from reading the book. Within Thomo’s Hole, for example, I have noted the following projects that came from reading:

And that is just over the last 12 months. The list goes on however.

Currently I am reading two historical novels – one on my ‘phone and this one, Divided Empire on my Kindle. I had read part of this before then got distracted but I can’t recall where I got up to so I am sure I never finished. Of course, the biggest problem is that this is set in the period of the Later Roman Empire, around 400 CE and of course I am now thinking of Late Romans, Goths and what have you. This particular temptation is not helped by the fact that I have Goths left over and laying idle in the spares box after sorting and getting things ready for the Dark Age project.

Worse, there are another few books in the series and I can see myself at the minimum putting together a small set of some 6mm late Romans and Goths. Of course, if one is doing some Romans, one really should do two armies of them so that a quick civil war becomes in order so that would be a small set of three armies. Then really, one should at least have a fourth so a Big Battle DBA becomes possible. I can see where this is leading.

In a moment of laziness, I was looking through some new releases and The Black Sheep by Peter Darman popped up. I had read most of the Parthian series until Pacorus started to annoy me so thought “here is a good one to have on the list ready for when I finish Divided House, I’ll just have a quick look at the opening pages.”

The Black Sheep is set in the time of the War of Sicilian Vespers, a war I knew about in passing but not in any detail. As is usual in these things, one thing led to another and I started reading up on the Sicilian Vespers. Now I am thinking 1282 to 1302 CE and Byzantines, Sicilians, Anjou, Aragon, France, and Naples. Toss in some Turks and we have a campaign set. Best of all, some galleys as well for the Battle of the Gulf of Naples.

This will be a challenge in 6mm (and 1/1200 for the galleys I think) but hey, life is a challenge isn’t it! One a positive note, it could be the second part of a series of sets based around Sicily.

More lead for the pile! I have to stop reading.

Planning

I am currently in the middle of something all wargamers love to do … plan something. Normally it is a new period, or a battle reenactment, or a new army for competition, or a painting schedule, or something similar. So, I am planning something.

The last couple of nights as I have been thinking (OK those 10 minutes before sleep), I was thinking that blogs still provide a good, easy to search, record of something, especially something that changes over time. Of course, being as I am a boomer, I can still do things like add numbers in my head and use a pen and paper. Them young whippersnappers these days, well, they are all into Vlogs and such. I have a couple of favourites I will admit. Some I watch for fun, some for wargame painting and terrain building technique and ideas. Others are more along the line of a series that would not be amiss on TV as part of the History Channel or similar.

I then got to thinking about the past – the episodes of Callan where our hero was painting figures or playing an evil enemy across the wargame table, or BBC 2’s Time Commanders and one or two others.

Lastly, it occurred to me that once something is on the Internet … it never truly dies. Whether it is a blog on a shared service that lives on long after the writer departs, or as an echo from the past in the Wayback Machine, or from being shared by people who enjoyed it and it ends up copied across many social media platforms, it just seems to survive.

So, I thought I would combine the best of a both worlds at the moment. Wargaming, especially figure gaming, is something I can talk about. There are other things I can discuss, such as economics, business practices, banking and such, but to do that I would need to get clearances from my employer, so wargaming it is. I have been blogging in one form or another since the late 1990s (OK, so back then it was a home page with new content added when I could get around to writing it in HTML). Over the past year or two I have also started to upload a few videos to YouTube. These have been rough and ready affairs and mostly covering parcels received from various figure suppliers.

I am going to start to put an effort into the Videos. They will cover my view of wargaming and my general interests and occasionally, anything that pops up and gets up my nose. At the same time, I will back the videos with blog posts here. I will keep book reviews on the blog as well as any bizarre travel tales or food stories. The YouTube channel will mostly be wargaming.

So, Thomo’s Hole will expand. As I am almost out of space here in WordPress, I am also looking at buying more space and maybe going back to self hosting so there will be plenty to keep me busy in the evening hours, er, when there is not a good Aussie Rules or Rugby (either version) match on and a beer on the bar! Oh, and I am not planning on trying to monetize the channel, not unless a bazillion subscribers turns up! 😉

Australia Post and the Royal Post Work! – Navwar and Forgotten Orders

On December 31, 2019 I posted two letters, you know, those old fashioned things in envelopes with stamps on them – you must have seen them on the Classic Movie channel! One letter was addressed to my bank in Singapore, then other to Navwar in Seven Keys, Ilford, Essex, England!

I’ve not heard anything back from my Singapore bank yet. Perhaps they do not know how to deal with a letter.

I did notice today, however, that the balance of my credit card had depleted by approximately £100.00. That can only mean one thing – Navwar have packed my order and are about to post it. Ships ahoy. Now in the post 2019 … That’s a Wrap I intimated that I had not ordered any 1/3000 ships. I lied! I did. I can’t remember all I ordered and as the order was made by a letter, I do not have any email confirmations 😦

I do recall that I think I added some US and French World War One vessels as I was a bit light on in that area. Still, it really will be like Santa delivering a Christmas gift (or at least PhilPost) as I will not have a complete idea of what is in the parcel until I open it!

Interesting semi-Military Modern Army Training Video

One of my favourite YouTube channels at the moment is the Jolly channel. The main two characters of this are Josh and Ollie (hence Jolly). Josh is quite well known in Korea as the Korean Englishmen as he is fluent in Korean. Occassional guests on his channels are Reverend Chris and Major Charles – one a minister of the church (Church of England I believe) and the other a major in the British Army (Commandos). These two are identical twins. On the Korean Englishmen channel a series has been made where Rev. Chris and Maj. Charles are taken to various places in Korea. One such location was a Korean Army base.

This is one of best episodes I have seen but all are well worth the 10 to 15 minutes each one takes. Enjoy watching “British Twins go Training with the Korean Army Commandos…!!??” on YouTube

I Hate You Little Wars TV – 1st Manassas (Bull Run)

There I was, happily minding my own business, preparing some World War 2 1/285 scale aircraft for painting, planning then to move on to my 6mm Anglo-Saxons, and then perhaps off to something nautical, perhaps 1/1200 scale galleys or modern vessels when Little Wars TV presents First Manassas. They show the battlefield, then discuss the tactics and Gen. McDowell’s performance. Just have a look at this.

Now I am getting an almost uncontrollable itch to paint 6mm American Civil War figures. Of course, to do that, I would need to purchase some 6mm American Civil War figures as I do not have any in the lead pile. English Civil War, Ancients, Napoleonics, World War 2 and Cold War figures in stock aplenty but no American Civil War figures. I have several sets of rules on the bookshelf, lots of reference works but no figures.

I hate you Little Wars TV. I must resist!

Preparing the Soviet I-16s and SB-2s

Fat fingers drill little holes

It is and was a fairly straightforward job. Drill a few 3mm diameter holes into a soft metal and glue a 3mm diameter rare earth magnet into the hole.

The other side of the process is to add a rare earth magnet, with the polarity reversed, to the flight stand.

A very straightforward process indeed.

A stack of 3mm rare earth magnets

Of course, it would have been easier and quicker to use a small electric drill or electric screwdriver to make the holes. Unfortunately, I did not have one available so it was out with the trusty twist drill.

This is somewhat of a trial to use, especially for drilling larger diameter holes and plays havoc with the developing arthritis in my fingers and thumbs but, as they say, one should suffer for one’s art!

One magnet, one blade, ready for gluing

Now, as a guide, here are a number of 3mm rare earth magnets in the packet that they are supplied in. Fiddly little things, especially when one has fingers that are just a wee bit fulsome … OK, bordering on fat, thumbs and fingers.

So, the best assistance in this case is the Exacto knife. Use the thin edge of the blade to separate the magnets from the stack by carefully sliding the knife in.

And yes, the blurry I-16 in the background shows where I store the magnets I am about to use to determine their polarity.

Magnet in place

Those that are going in the recess created in the aircraft (see left) are removed from the stack. At this point, the end of the magnet that needs to be glued to the air-frame is the side of the magnet that is against the blade so the magnet will need to be reversed.

The simplest way to achieve this is to let the magnet grip one of the stands that have already had their magnets glued in. Now, sliding it off on the Exacto and the side that required gluing will be facing outwards.

And … it works

A  drop  of superglue then slide the magnet off the Exacto blade by dragging the blade off the magnet while the magnet is pressed either into the hole in the aircraft or onto the surface of the peg in the stand.

What we then have is an aircraft that will magnetically attach to the stand, making transport and storage a breeze.

The aircraft can easily be removed for painting and for storage as it will store flat, saving the need for magnetic sheet under the base. In fact, I am thinking that a thin strip of magnetic metal across the bottom of a storage box will allow for storage secure enough for moving figures from home to game.

Sometimes even I screw up

This is what the bottom of the aircraft looks like when you glue a magnet in the wrong way round. These magnets are quite tough and try as I might, I was not able to dislodge a glued one from the aircraft body, certainly not without some very high powered electric tools and a lot of modelling putty for later repair.

My solution, whack in a second magnet with the correct polarity.

“Why didn’t you just set some bases with the magnets the other way round” I hear you ask? Well, I thought about it but then it makes it a little difficult when setting up as I need to shuffle models and bases around until I get it right. This way all bases can be used for any aircraft.

The bio-metric door locks are screwed tomorrow … or … I am ready for my first bank job leaving no fingerprints

Lastly, this is what my finger looked like after all that super gluing. The bio-metric lock at work’s going to have trouble with me today!

Thank goodness there is some superglue remover available. A few squeezes of that and rub vigorously and voila, finger as good as new (except it didn’t work on the bio-metric locks!

Update 14 January 2020: Bob Flywheel suggested the following on my FaceBook:

“Why didn’t you just epoxy a magnet to the underside? Much easier!

Yes, thank you Bob … don’t you love people who come up with simple solutions right after you’ve gone the full Monty on a complicated, elegant one? Short answer Bob – it looks better 😛