French Armoured Cruisers, 1887 – 1932 — Review

John Jordan, well recognised for his many books on ships over the years, has penned with Philippe Caresse, a volume on French Armoured Cruisers from the late 19th Century to early 20th Century (1887 – 1932).

The armoured cruiser was like other cruisers, with long range and designed to project naval power to the colonies and elsewhere but it was designed with heavier belt armour, so able to stand up to any ships except battleships.

The role of the armoured cruiser was taken by the development of the battlecruiser, and as a result the armoured cruisers dropped in importance, but lasted until 1922 when the Washington Treaty effectively scuppered them and set a 10,000 ton limit for cruisers and a maximum 8″ guns for main weapons.

Jules Michelet at Tanjung Priok, Dutch East Indies

Who doesn’t love the shape, form and style of the French ships around the turn of the last century? Funnels fore and aft, tumblehomes and really, a transition to the steel warships of the 29th Century.

The Jules Michelet to the right here was one of the French armoured cruisers of the time, with her sister ship, Ernest Renan, built for speed. It is also one of the vessels covered in the book. As with all the ships covered by this book the section commences with a general discussion of the vessel and how it came to be. There as a profile and plan drawing of the vessel, drawings of the bridge deck, layout of the magazines, main guns with detail, the Barr & Stroud 2-metre rangefinder, the torpedo tubes, secondary armament and so on. The authors then go on to describe her sister ship, the Ernest Renan and cover the differences between the two vessels. Further drawings of the Ernest Renan follow.

The authors also cover the specifications of the ship including size of main guns (194mm or 7.6″), medium guns, ATB guns and torpedo tubes. Displacement (in this case, 12,600 tonnes), protection, crew and so on. Each the the vessels is also illustrated with many contemporary photographs of the times from the collection of Philippe Caresse.

Vessels covered are:

  • Dupuy de Lôme
  • Amiral Charner class
  • Pothuah
  • D’Entrecasteaux
  • Jeanne d’Arc
  • Dupleix class
  • Gueydon class
  • Gloire class
  • Léon Gambetta class
  • Jules Michelet and Ernest Renan
  • Edgar Quinet and Waldeck-Rousseau
Armoured Cruiser (le croiseur cuirassé) Dupuy de Lôme

There is also a section in the book on organisation and the Great War 1914-1918 and it aftermath.

French Armoured Cruisers — 1887 – 1932 by By Philippe Caresse, John Jordan and published by Seaforth Naval on 4 September 2019, is a large format book of 272 pages with 240 illustrations, ISBN: 9781526741189.

If you have any interest in the development of modern steel warships and their history, or indeed the French Navy of the 19th and 20th centuries, this book is a must. I have never been disappointed with John Jordan’s works and this book is so well illustrated by contemporary photographs from Philippe Caresse, the book is, quite simply, almost impossible to put down.

Well recommended!

Typhoon Ambo and the Manila Bay Cruise Ships

Typhoon Ambo is heading towards Manila even as I type this. It started as a Tropical Depression off the coast of Mindanao and strengthened to a Typhoon as it progressed north then north-west. It will pass near Manila this afternoon or evening and we are currently under Typhoon Warning Signal #2 in Manila. Surrounding areas (Laguna, Rizal, Cavite, Bulacan and Pampanga for example) are also under TWS#2.

The cruise ships that were anchored in Manila Bay returning Filipino crew to the Philippines put to sea last night or early this morning to get some sea room should the waters become rough in the Bay and the wind strengthen. This way they will not break anchor cables and are better able to ride our storms when steaming. The illustration above shows the number of them just  off the coast now. I expect them to return tomorrow.

Painting Wargaming Figures: WWII in the Desert – Review

Andy Singleton is a professional figure painter. After some encouragement, he has penned Painting Wargaming Figures: WWII in the Desert. This has been published by Pen & Sword Military. It contains around 200 illustrations over its 157 pages (ISBN: 9781526716316, published on 7 May 2019).

Singleton has broken the book up into two main sections, the first part dealing with the basics, and the second part dealing with specific forces from within the war in North Africa, namely the armies of:

  • Britain and Commonwealth
  • Italy
  • United States of America
  • Afrika Korps

The last two sections in the book deal with Camouflaged Uniforms and Basing.

Each section is split into three levels of complexity, “conscript”, “regular” and “elite”.

Conscript is like the beginning painter level and will get armies onto the table quickly. As the painter develops their skills, or for readers who have painted figures before, the regular and elite levels provide greater degrees of complexity in painting of the figures.

Singleton covers both plastic and metal figures and while all the illustrated figures in the book are either 20mm or 28mm figures, certainly the techniques could be used for figures of 10mm or larger. 6mm and 2/3mm figures require a different approach to painting altogether.

Andy uses much the same techniques in the painting sections with a little variation. The paints her iuses are the popular Army Painter and Vallejo ranges of acrylics and for each figure he is illustrating, he provides a paint bill of materials for both Army Painter and Vallejo paints.

I will admit that my preferred size for World War 2 gaming is 6mm (1/300, 1/285) and as mentioned above, painting figures of that size requires a different approach to painting.

However, recently the publications of Too Fat Lardies for Chain of Command and What a Tanker have me considering some 20mm or 28mm forces. North Africa seems a reasonable location to try those rules, especially with the early war equipment from the Italians and Commonwealth Forces, then the Commonwealth and Germany followed by the introduction of the USA and some Free French forces.

The section on Basing is perhaps the simplest section in the book given that the setting for the forces is North Africa where we are dealing with sand, sand and more sand … except for the dust!

I do think that the softback of this book is a shade expensive for, although if puchased in the context of a club library, would be a good edition. The Kindle or ePub version is better value I think.

The painting advice is good and following Singleton’s suggestions will have the gamer producing either quick armies at Conscript level or very well painted forces at Elite level.

Singleton also has a Painting Guide out for Early Imperial Romans (released in November 2019). Keep an eye out for Andy Singleton’s next book as well – Painting Wargame Figures: Rome’s Northern Enemies due for release in June 2020. Both these books will fit nicely for those of us considering the Too Fat Lardies new rules, Infamy, Infamy!

 

Virtual Wargames Club

Last Saturday night (or rather Sunday morning for me) I joined the Virtual Wargames Club’s second meeting. I heard about them from friend Doug so contacted the organiser, Phil Olley, and asked to join. He enrolled me and sent an invitation for 9 May meeting on Zoom. After seven weeks in Enhanced Community Quarantine with between one and three weeks likely to go, I was hanging out for some wargaming company.

I really enjoyed the time, talking with wargamers from England, Scotland, and the USA.

It’s always fun looking at other boys toys, and particularly impressive was Chris’s Stalingrad table. Turns out Martin lives just down the road from Doug (small world moment) and the main topic of discussion, apart from the odd ribbing and teasing, was which was preferred, metal, plastic or resin figures with the consensus being metal over plastic over resin. I am guessing if there is a discussion on the best scale, that could turn into the never ending story.

Doug’s Indian takeaway lunch looked delicious and beverages ranged from coffee (for the Americans it was breakfast time) through to the odd beer or two for those of us at the leading end of the time zones.

I have been thinking about/toying with starting another project (yeah, I know) and was thinking of using Commission Figurines 6mm MDF American Civil War figures. Paul kindly let me know that the quality is as good as in the photos so once I get my job sorted out, I will look to getting enough figures for the two sides.

Lastly Martin liked the name of this blog, “Thomo’s Hole”. I must point out that the name for this came about when I first had a presence on the Internet, around 1996 so now Thomo’s Hole has been around for 23 years. I noted this in a post here in 2012, Thomo’s Hole is 15 Years Old.

It was around 2001/2002 that I moved the blog into my eldest son’s domain, coldie.net, hence the URL of thomo.coldie.net.

Back then, 1996-1997 when the Hole started, a time before Google, the main search engine was Yahoo, and searching Thomo’s Hole at the time brought up early gay websites more often than my homepage. Now I have enough relevance apparently to appear at the top of the search results.

I digress (again!).

I am looking forward to the next meeting.

Images of War — Hungarian Armoured Fighting Vehicles in the Second World War

I’ve been in an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) period for seven weeks now, hopefully this time next week some of the restrictions will be lifted here in Makati City. The ECQ only permits us to go outside, one person only per household, for food and drugs and if in a particular industry. A lifting of that ECQ would permit being outsie for other purposes, although, of course, maintaining social distancing and wearing a mask.

On the plus side, this has given me more time in the evenings to catch up on some of my growing pile of reading. There will be a spate of book reviews coming in the near future.

First cab off the rank is an Images of War series on the Hungarian Army. The Hungarian Army was allied to Germany during the Second World War, at least up until the end. The relationship was not without conflict. The Hungarians were, however, possibly the best of the Axis Allies.

Eduardo Manuel Gil Martínez has written about Hungarian Armoured Fighting Vehicles in the Second World War. This is one of the Images of War series from Pen and Sword Military (ISBN: 9781526753816, Published: 2 October 2019). The book runs to 112 pages with 150 rare photographs from wartime archives

The book covers not just the images, but also provides a good potted history of the Hungarian Involvement. The book is organised into:

  • Introduction
  • The Birth of the Hungarian Armoured Forces
  • The Second World War Begins
  • Action in the Ukraine, 1942
  • Reorganization After the Storm, 1943
  • Defending Hungary, 1944
  • The Swansong of the Hungarian Armoured Forces, 1945
  • Conclusions
  • Bibliography

The author covers the development of the Hungarian armour from the Hungarian 3000B, which was modelled on the Renault FT-17 through the Ansaldo tanks purchased from Italy, then covering the Csaba”tank” (I would have thought a description of Armoured Car more appropriate built as it was on a 4×4 chassis), 38M Toldi, Turan I and II and so on. Also included are photographs of the motorised transport used by the Hungarians.

I did learn about the Hungarian annexation of Transylvania from the Romanians in March 1939, a full six months before the invasion of Poland and the official start of the Second World War. The Reich had tried to stop the Hungarians from this action. The author later covers the Hungarian defence of its territory from the Soviets and Romanians towards the end of the war.

The book does suffer a little from occasional dodgy editing although I suspect that issue may have been from the original manuscript not being written in English but later translated.

Overall, this is a great overview with many brilliant photographs of the World War 2 Hungarian Army and it is inspiring me to drag my unpainted Turan, Csaba and Toldi tanks out of the lead pile and on to the painting table.

Best, it is currently on sale at Pen and Sword Books.

Manila Bay – COVID-19 Isolation Ward of Cruise Ships

When the boat comes in … OK, ship. Three on the horizon arriving, one departing

Over the last week or so of the Enhanced Community Quarantine, I tend to look out (wistfully) several times a day over Manila Bay. I have seen a few ships arriving and the odd ship leaving. Cruise ships, like aircraft, carry transponders so their positions can be logged real time wherever they are in the world. So I did a bit of googling and found the Cruise Mapper website where you can see ships sailing and their courses as well as those docked. More in that later.

Ships parked in the Bay – Ruby Princess highlighted

The now infamous “plague ship” that carried so many COVID-19 infections back into Australia in March, the Ruby Princess, sailed from Sydney to Manila, arriving here a couple of days ago. She is anchored in the Bay (highlighted). The purpose of her trip here was, I believe, to be able to offload the remaining 100 or so Filipino crew still on board, 396 Filipino crew having been flown from Australia back to the Philippines about a month ago on a chartered flight.

120kms off the coast

It hasn’t just been vessels coming, there have been a few going as well.  Over the day about 6  vessels have sailed out of Manila but at the same time, a few have also arrived.

Not all vessels are anchored in Manila Bay however. Carnival Splendour is anchored about 110kms off the coast. This morning Carnival Panorama was also anchored about 15kms away from her. By this evening, Pacific Explorer had anchored about 150kms off the coast having been sailing towards Manila this morning. Carnival Panorama has left. Perhaps they need to wait for a pilot to come to the ship to guide it into the bay, or a spare anchoring position to be available within the bay.

The world view this morning

As seen on this map, there are not so many cruise ships in the Pacific and Indian Oceans currently but still a great number in the Atlantic, most heading towards Europe, and  perhaps home ports and some heading towards the Cape of Good Hope.

The Pink coloured vessels in the Mediterranean and on the coast of Western Europe are ferries. Across the top of Russia, the ice breakers are apparent.

However, Manila Bay does seem to have more than an average number of vessels present, hence the COVID-19 Isolation Ward for Cruise Ships.

There is a similar application on the Internet for tracking aircraft movements, Flight Radar 24, which shows the position of aircraft in real time. Even now, there are a lot of aircraft in the air, but no so many in the busy air corridors over Australia.

Real time flight tracking

Growing Old

I was reminded of my childhood today when someone in a tweet made a passing remark about the night cart! For you youngsters reading this, when I was a kid (and we are talking 1958 to 1960)  the thunderbox was in the backyard and twice a week, in the wee small hours of the morning (pun unattended), the night cart would come around and and the carter would discretely although not so quietly, replace the used pan with an empty pan. The pans appeared to be coated with a black substance, I guess it was tar of some form.

Redback vs Lizard – this is not a big lizard and redbacks are quite small By Calistemon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12853851

As kids we were given a right clip behind the ears if we left any toys in the side passage where the night carter used to pass in the dark – the last thing anyone wanted was that he should slip and fall, especially on the way out.

Also required at this time was whenever heading to the thunderbox, first one would gently lift the toilet seat and check for any redback spiders, which could provide a very nasty surprise if one sat a little too quickly and without checking.

Of course, the redback on the toilet seat is something that as an Aussie, well, it is a cultural thing.

Eventually we had a sullage pit installed and that was the end of the night cart at home, although from 1961 to 1962 one of my chores was to pump the damn thing once or twice a week – and one continued to check the toilet seat until toilets came inside the house.

The old thunderboax, on summer evenings, well, the smell was atrocious and once you performed the redback check, you would them be attacked by swarms of mozzies (mosquitoes). Inside toilets were a long overdue luxury.

Butter, that item that makes pretty much everything better, was item that has changed over my lifetime. The butter is still basically the same as always, churned milk, but these days it comes from the refrigerator rock hard. When I was a kid, it was kept on the bench in the kitchen, covered, ready for use. In winter it was rock hard when you wanted to butter your toast but in summer, you didn’t spread it on but rather poured it onto the toast.

We also had an icebox, and the iceman used to come twice a week to  put another block of ice in the top. It was not so big so the butter remained out but fresh food, meat etc went into the ice box to keep it cool and away from the flies. It didn’t matter than we had fly paper hanging in the kitchen, only about 50% of the flies ever manager to get stuck to the paper and die

Tonight my sister mentioned a kerosene refrigerator, asking did we have one. As soon as she did, my mind remembered the smell of the kerosene in the kitchen. we eventually replaced the ice box with a kerosene refrigerator. The kero fridges work by an absorption process (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absorption_refrigerator for an explanation), although as a five or six year old, I had no idea how it worked, it just did!

So, a load of memories from the mention of the night cart and the smells my memory recalled.

Twang … Whoosh … Thwack

A treat on Amazon Prime, the original “The Adventures of Robin Hood”. Hence the title of “Twang … Whoosh … Thwack”. These were some of the sounds of my childhood as week after week we watched Richard Greene as Robin Hood outwit the evil Sheriff of Nottingham and out shoot every archer in Medieval England.

Among all the other Robin Hoods, with the exception of Errol Flynn’s, Richard Greene is the quintessential Robin Hood.

Tonight I watched episode 4 of the first series which apart from the regular guests, also had Leslie Phillips of “well hello” and “ding dong” fame as the somewhat foppish Sir William.

What’s all this got to do with wargaming and/or Enhanced Community Quarantines? Well, I recently subscribed to Amazon Prime and there are some great time-wasters, er, I mean programs there and I must admit, they have been getting in the way of painting figures and working out the next two or three years of life (more on that in a later blog).

As for the wargaming side of things, I would be a liar if I denied thinking of the old Airfix Robin Hood set. Of course, thoughts then turned to the Sheriff of Nottingham set and the Sherwood Castle. I did have all three sets in the 1970s when I started in Wargaming The Sherwood Castle was to make a castle for 25mm Medieval games (and maybe the Robin Hood and Sheriff sets as well if I got around to painting them which I never did).

Moral of this story? Apart that for an Aussie kid the late 1950s and early 1960s were a reasonably good time, rather it is to get off your bum and get painting  (and the thinking that comes along with that).

Twang … Whoosh … Thwack

Day 49 passing, 13 days to go (hopefully)

It’s grown some more!  Tom Hanks and Castaway definitely comes to mind. There are two photos side-by-side showing the increase in hair length due to the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).

25 days into ECQ 49 days into ECQ

Allegedly hair and beard grows at about 12mm (1/2 inch) per month although my heads current position seems to suggest that statistically, my head is an outlier! It is larger than average head size, one reason I do not often wear a hat as it is difficult to find one that fits.

This weekend is another holiday weekend but it comes on top of a stressful period at work. More on that latter when matters are clearer. Inertia, at least in my non-work life, has been the battle this past two weeks. Most of what I planned to do last long weekend, I never got around to doing. Of the planned items, I started to get my eBook collection in some order and located in one area on my hard drive and in two clouds. I have not loaded the complete library to my tablet yet, but I have started getting it in one place. I have also been looking at eReaders but I still have not finally settled on one. I think what I would like is a hybrid of about three of them. 

I also had a look at multi-platform Apps for cataloging my physical book collection. I have two possible favourites at the moment, just trying to decide which one provides the best multi-platform support – or at least Android, Windows and Linux.  

Last month I listed possible tasks for the near future. They were:

  • build more little ships
  • finish the 1/300 scale Polikarpov I-16s
  • paint the 1/300 scale Tupolev SB-2s
  • read a book
  • paint some 6mm ancient Anglo-Saxons
  • build a large kit
  • start of new wargaming project?

Of those tasks, I have been reading a book (which is pushing me more and more towards a new project) and working on the 1/300 scale Polikarpov I-16s – these are almost finished, requiring just a few more decals (see to the left).

I am determined this weekend to finish setting up Linux on one laptop here and using either IBM or gnucobol, work on brushing up my COBOL skills. I will also clear a table so I can at least game a little over the next week or two.

If all goes well, the ECQ will be raised to a General Community Quarantine (GCQ) in Makati (Metro Manila too maybe) on 15 May, although this is by no means guaranteed, given that Quezon City is a local epicenter and the largest of the 16 cities comprising Metro Manila. There has not really been a significant period of falling new cases in the National Capital Region although some the provinces around the NCR are doing my better (Local figures can be seen here https://covidstats.ph/cases). The only downside I can see of the GCQ those under 21 and over 60 (or pregnant for that matter) are required to stay in the home unless absolutely necessary to be out (food, medicine, permitted industries) 😦

Be safe, relax, keep your distance and wash your hands! I leave you with my Cousin Itt look!

Most Popular Posts in Thomo’s Hole

Amazingly it has been 14 years or so that Thomo’s Hole has been in WordPress in one form or another. Regularly I see the statistics for the day, and there are one or two posts that turn up regularly.

The top post is one from 7 May 2007, concerning Korean Soldiers in WW2 German Army which has had 26,914 views. When I posted it initially, it was from a article I picked up off a blog from Korea.

However, some time after posting this, a Korean Romance movie was produced about a Korean soldier who ended up being separated from his lover in much the same way. Someone was searching “Korean soldiers in German army” and this blog post popped up. They posted a Reddit and suddenly I had 14,000-odd hits in a day, which really screwed my stats for that month 🙂

For the record, Yang Kyoungjong (양경종) is supposed to be the name of the real Korean soldier who apparently fought in the Imperial Japanese Army, the Soviet Red Army, and later the German Wehrmacht during World War II.

Number two on the list was published on 31 July, 2003 and so far has had 14,394 views. Each day this post gets 30 or 40 views. It is Fire and Fury: Idiots Guide to Painting American Civil War Figures. I must admit to being somewhat amazed that a very simple guide for painting American Civil War figures gets so many views.

The third on the list, with 8.966 views, is an old poem I remember from my Infant School days, so the first time I heard it would have been in the 1960s. I posted this on 21 April 2003 and it is the tale of a small child who increasingly behaves more an more like a motor car, The Sad Tale of a Motor Fan by H. A. Field. It seems that many folks from my generation remember that poem from H. A. Field, along with others he wrote.

“Young Ethelred was only three
Or somewhere thereabouts when he
Began to show in diverse ways
The early stages of the craze
For learning the particulars
Of motor bikes and motor cars.”

Number four on the list with 8.966 views was posted 20 February 2008, in fact, it was me re-posting some information provided by my mate Mal Wright concerning Colour Schemes of WW1 Warships. A very informative article and one I refer to from time to time when painting World War One warships.

Number five on the list was posted on 3 December 2005 when I was working in Mongolia. It was winter at the time and bloody cold. Still it has had 3,976 views and deals with When Your Snot Freezes.

Honourable mentions go to Lightning War – Easy Play Rules for WWII Land Warfare  with 3,140 views. There is also a copy of some downloadable rules there.

Funnily, one with 2,500 views is actually a simple recipe I published on 4 October 2003 — Sausages in Tomato Sauce.

On 16 January 2012 I previewed some of the drawings of some World War 2 ships in camouflage, drawn by Mal Wright and included his books on the Paint Schemes of British and Commonwealth Warships of World War 2. There have been 2,293 views of World War 2 Naval Camouflage,

Last on the list of the honourable mentions with 1,958 views is the book review of Mal’s Paint Schemes of British and Commonwealth Warships of WW2 – Review.

Interestingly, yesterday, Fire and Fury: Idiots Guide to Painting American Civil War Figures and Colour Schemes of WW1 Warships had the top views.