So with the coastal forces wargame project this year (memo to self … get off a*** and get painting) I happened across an interesting piece on YouTube tonight. I came home exhausted and whilst waiting for the butter to thaw ready for dinner, I turned to YouTube and thought I would look at some others 1/1200 coastal forces painting. Well one thing led to another and before I knew it I was watching an English film from around the time of the Second World War, made with the crews from a couple of MBTs and/or MGBs that covered getting the boats ready, a little training then onto some missions in an area known as the Broad Fourteens.
The Broad Fourteens were an area of the North Sea just off the coast of Europe where the depth of water was 14 fathoms over a wide area and where a lot of these coastal actions took place.
The YouTub video is below:
And just to remind those folks who do not play with little toy soldiers and boats, here are some of my boat collection, waiting for paint (refer to the first paragraph).
I know John Jordan works from the wonderful Warship series, Warship 2017 sits on my bookshelf waiting for me to get some spare reading time. Jordan has been the editor of that publication for a number of years. Recent books of his for Seaforth Press include French Battleships 1922-1956, followed up with French Cruisers 1922-1956 and lastly French Destroyers 1922-1956. This book then is a prequel to those.
It is, simply, wonderful. French World War One Battleships were perhaps the most stylish, certainly the most distinctive of the period. The large tumblehome, pronounced “ramming” bows and the eccentric grouping of funnels give French Battleships of the First World War such a unique look that it is impossible to mistake them for any other’s battleships.
Philippe Caresse co-authored this work and is himself a respected author of matters nautical, in particular the German Navy of both World Wars.
That Jordan has spent many years researching French warships, especially of this period and immediately before the war, is clear from reading the text. Caresse provided the historical background as well as many of the photos. This book is worth having for the photo collection alone. That is also has line drawings of the class leaders b Jordan, many in both elevation and plan as well as cross-sectional drawings, discussions of propulsion machinery, hull form and superstructure as well as technical tables of the vessels, and periodically comparisons between the main competitors from other navies makes this book an invaluable sourcebook for French Battleships of the period 1890-odd to the mid to late 1920s.
To the above, add 8 pages of watercolour paintings of various vessels from Jean Bladé and here is a book that I will happily sit and just flick through, looking at a picture here, reading some text there, but all the while admiring the style that was the French battleship of the time.
The book has chapeters on:
PART I TECHNICAL SECTION
The Flotte d’Echantillons
The Charlemagne Class
Iéna and Suffren
The Patrie Class
The Courbet Class
The Bretagne Class
The Normandie Class
The Projects of 1913
PART II HISTORICAL SECTION
The Fleet and its Ships 1900-1916
The Great War 1914-1918
The Interwar Period 1918-1939
The Second World War
The chapter on the Second World War is because many of the vessels from the First World War were still in service.
If I had to give this book a rating out of five stars, then I would not hesitate to give it 5-stars. Did I mention that it is wonderful?
Another book that I would recommend to anyone interested in the pre-Dreadnought and Dreadnought periods of battleships, a must have on the naval historian’s bookshelves and under the naval enthusiast’s coffee table.
I first came across the British Pacific Fleet when I read Peter C Smith’s Task Force 57, published in 2001. I was working in Ulaanbaatar at the time and was looking for anything that referred to the sea to read. I had become interested in some of the British formations, Task Force 57 and Force H for example. I have picked up various works on the British Pacific Fleet since.
The British Pacific Fleet (BPF) has a connection to Australia and Sydney and other Australian bases in particular as its logistical base was Australia and much of the training of aircraft was performed at Schofields, Nowra and Jervis Bay.
The BPF was born from the British desire to re-exercise some power in eastern waters. The Royal Navy (RN) had been expelled from the Pacific by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) and raids by the IJN on the then Ceylon ensured the RN presence was restricted to the edge of the Indian Ocean, essentially protecting the supply lines from Australia to the Middle East.
Churchill suggested to Roosevelt in September 1944 that a British fleet should become involved in the operations in the main theatre against Japan. The BPF was formed in November 1944 under Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser and its main base was established at Sydney.
While in the Indian Ocean the precursor to the BPF had been conducting operational training and equipping its units which included a large increase in aircraft carriers and changes to the operation of the Fleet Air Arm. The fleet also equipped with an expanded floating supply organisation with about 60 vessels being included in the RN “Fleet Train”.
The BPF eventually was built with vessels from the Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy, Royal New Zealand Navy and Royal Canadian Navy, as well as blue funnel line vessels requisitioned.
The Allied commanders in the Pacific, General Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Chester Nimitz had differing opinions on where the fleet shout be deployed. MacArthur wanted it in and around the Philippines and Borneo area whilst Nimitz wanted it covering the invasion of Okinawa and the advance on Japan. Nimitz was backed by London and the politicians and so the BPF covered the invasion of Okinawa.
While Smith’s book covers Task Force 57 at a fairly high level, Hobbs goes into detail. He covers:
Planning and training
Strikes against Sumatran oil refineries
Australia and logistical support
Operations Iceberg I and II
Replenishment in Leyte Gulf
Repairs in Australia and improved logistical support
Submarine and mine warfare
Strikes against the Japanese mainland
Repatriation, trooping and war-brides
Peacetime fleet and retrospective
There are a number of appendices covering, among other topics:
the composition of the fleet in January 1945, August 1945 and January 1948
Air stations and air yards
Commanding and flag officers
This is a very complete look at the BPF amply illustrated throughout – one of my favourites being HMS Vengeance in Sydney Harbour with the bridge as a back drop, no Opera House, no tall buildings, just a lot of bush around the foreshores.
If you are at all interested in the days when Britain had more than two aircraft carriers at sea, the British Pacific Fleet by Hobbs tells a tale of politics, organisation, operations and dogged persistence. That Hobbs’s writing style is easy to read is added bonus.
This is British Warship Recognition – Volume II: Armoured Ships 1860-1895, Monitors and Aviation Ships under the Seaforth Imprint, (ISBN: 9781848323865, published on 5 September 2016 of 224 pages).
I noted before in previous reviews that a Perkins volume is not for everybody but for those who “get it”. I grew up with the wireless as dinner table entertainment; when to make a telephone call you needed to speak to an operator; and indeed, where telephone numbers were prefixed with the name of the exchange.
Perkins’s hobby was photographing Royal Navy ships. He was such a keen amateur photographer that he photographed and ended up with one of the largest collections of photographs of warships. His collection of photos was bequeathed to the National Maritime Museum where it can still be seen today and where it forms the core of the historic photos naval section.
While he was photographing he found many photographs were neither identified nor accurately dated. He then decided to compile an album of his own drawings incorporating as much detail as possible on the individual ships. He really looked closely at the details, the differences between ships of the same class and then differences in a vessel over time and used his drawings as a catalogue of his photographs.
This book is one of what hopefully will be 8 volumes. It is a photographic reprint of Perkins’s original art books where he set about to draw and paint the British fleet. There is really no other way this could be reproduced, even with the technical marvels available today and that still amaze this listener of the wireless.
Perkins noticed over time that vessels changed – davits were moved forward, funnels thinned or thickened, smaller calibre weapons moved around the vessels, masts removed or changed, funnels added and so on.
The ship illustrated in this review, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle, is shown as she appeared in 1920 and then again later in 1923-1929. Also shown is the photograph of HMS Eagle held at the National Maritime Museum, N10504.
The books are big but with Volume II and the rest of the collection they provide a unique view of the Royal Navy in the later 19th and early 20th centuries, a view that you will not see in a Brassey’s, a Conway’s or indeed a Janes. You may need a larger bookshelf or broader coffee table but the payoff is enjoying a cup of NATO standard, and flicking through the drawings and admiring his talent.
Actually, here in Makati City, he rarely rings. It takes about a week for a parcel to arrive in the Philippines from England. It then takes another week for the parcel to travel a few kilometres from the main Post Office to Makati Central Post Office. It then takes between two weeks and a month or two for the notice of arrive to travel the one kilometre from Makati Post Office to the condominium or the office.
Still, it is great when the notices arrive and you can step back into 1954 to collect the parcels from the Post Office.
Four Parcels containing three different wargaming periods
Cold War Commander Indonesians
Box number one (large, top right) contained some goodies from Brigade Models of the UK . The box contained Aeronefs and Cold War Commander Indonesians in 6mm. The Aeronefs the Spanish Fleet Pack #2, Item #: VANFP-1702; Spanish Fleet Pack #1, Item #: VANFP-1701; Spanish Torpedo Flotilla, Item #: VANFP-1711; Indonesian Army Group, Item #: IC-1401; and some bits and pieces.
I am trying to clear my painting queue now to get into both these sets. The Spanish ‘nefs in particular are sweet.
In the small flat box to the bottom right is a Belgian World War 2 army from Scotia Grendel. I built these from the Blitzkreig Commander III lists before noticing some basic problems with that list, like the missing 75mm guns!
Anyway, there is some nice stuff in there and I can always find an excuse to send off for some more figures from Scotia, and order the missing 75mms then.
Some More British
Here come the Italians
The white parcel contained reinforcements from Magister Militum for the little coastal project, namely some more Germans, a few more British and the Italians. The Motoscafo Armato Silurante, (MAS boats), were a class of fast torpedo armed vessel used by the Regia Marina and the models from Hallmark are sweet. More competition for the painting queue.
Lastly, the big box underneath contains three books for review. These will be coming up soon.
I had hoped to get to look at Volume 2 but the day job got in the way and I missed that release. Along came Volumes 3 and 4. Unfortunately because of the size of the book, I can’t get a physical copy for review. Really, it is a very big book.
However, Pen and Sword books were happy to give me access to the electronic version of Perkins Volume III, Part 1, Cruisers 1865-1939. Perkins Volume III part 1 is published under the Seaforth Publishing imprint, is 192 pages long, ISBN: 9781473891456 and was published on 31 January 2017. It is available in hardcopy, as well as Kindle and ePub versions. I received the Kindle version for review.
Pen and Sword books also provided access to the electronic version of Volume IV, Part 2, Cruisers 1865-1939. Perkins Volume IV part 2 is also published under the Seaforth Publishing imprint, is also
192 pages long, ISBN: 9781473891494 and published on 14th June 2017. It is available in hardcopy, as well as Kindle and ePub versions. I also received the Kindle version for review.
Perkins was a keen amateur photographer and he photographed and ended up with one of the largest collections of photographs of warships. His collection of photos was bequeathed to the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich where it can still be seen today and where it forms the core of the historic photos naval section. While he was photographing he found many photographs were neither identified nor accurately dated. He then decided to compile an album of his own drawings incorporating as much detail as possible on the individual ships. He really looked closely at the details, the differences between ships of the same class and then differences in a vessel over time. The British government asked him to stop is hobby at the commencement of World War 2 as they worried his works would provide valuable information to enemies.
The Perkins Collection comprises some 11,000 photographic negatives and 8 illustrated recognition albums. The photographic negatives are from a time when a film allowed for 8 to 36 photographs so one can get an idea of the dedication of Perkins to his hobby.
The publications are photographs of the pages of Perkins drawing books. This was seen as the best and probably only way to make these images available to modern readers.
The two volumes for review cover the cruisers from 1865 to 1939. For example, the page to the right shows HMS Calliope Castor as she appeared in 1915 to 1917. He notes the “Calliope 6” included Calliope, Cambrian, Canterbury, Castor, Champion, and C0nstance. He notes the differences between the various ships in the class, as well as a watercolor painting of the vessels (only Caster is shown here).
I must be honest, when I thought about reviewing the electronic versions, I wondered how well they would render on electronic devices. Pen and Sword kindly sent me links for the Kindle Version so I loaded both volumes to Kindle on my phone (LG G4 with a 5.5-inch screen), my tablet, (LG V700 tablet with 10-inch screen), and my PC. The images in this review came from the LG G4 (the top three) and the V700 (the last image).
The images from the phone are higher resolution than the tablet and this can be seen with the difference between the final two images here.
Having said that, the rendering of the physical book into Kindle format has been well done with the text present in the book resizing well after using the usual two-finger gestures. The images are clear enough in the tablet and PC and can be seen on the phone. Perkins notes really need to be read on PC or tablet however.
Having said that, both books are a wonderful addition to a naval book collection. I will be honest and and say that I would prefer the hard copy of the books, they are the type of books that best savoured over a good java in one’s favourite reading chair, flipping between pages at whim and admiring the talent of Perkins while reaching towards Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships Volume 1 and 2 to verify Perkins details.
I have no doubt that the hard copy of Volumes 3 and 4 are every bit as good as the hard copy of Volume 1. I can recommend the Kindle version for those of us with electronic reading devices, colour screens really being necessary to enjoy these works. I di like to be able to take my book collection with me when I travel and the electronic versions of these types of books have finally become every bit as god as the print versions.
I can recommend these two volumes to anyone with a passing interest in the Royal Navy between the wars.
On the workbench at the moment are my World War 2 German and British 1/1200th scale coastal vessels. These were purchased from Magister Militum and are from the Hallmark range of 1/1200th coastal vessels. Looking through the collection there are S-boats, R-Boats, Torpedo Boats and ferries on the German side. On the British side are some Fairmiles, both gunboats and torpedo boats, MGBs, destroyer, ASW and M/S trawlers and merchant vessels.
Cranes and masts added (which was a pain), they are now based and undercoated. Next step is to paint the sea bases, then the vessels.
To add to this collection there are some Italians coming.
Reading the Pendraken forum on the Blitzkrieg Commander III topic, Pendraken have made a final decision on what will happen with BKC III. The poll run in in the Pendraken forum was clearly in favour a full reprint of BKC III. As I have had a chance to look through the rules, finally, more closely, I can see why this is necessary.
This is commercially a difficult decision for Pendraken as they have decided:
to pull PKB III from sale
to provide a copy of BKC III.1 when it is produced
to attempt to do it all over a three month period
It will of course cost Pendraken moneywise but I can only applaud Pendraken for their commitment to quality. Pendraken notes with regards to their next steps:
The immediate job is to get to work on revising BKC-III into the rulebook we were all hoping for. The army lists will be our starting point, reverting those back to BKC-II and then tweaking and editing them where necessary based on previous BKC feedback. Second will be the scenarios which will also largely revert to BKC-II, unless anything comes up from our new team that requires a change/tweak. And then from there we’ll go through the actual rules of the book, page by page, doing one of three things:
Leaving as is
Clarifying/amending to make it work better/properly
Reverting back to BKC-II.s:
Pendraken have build a core of people, experienced playtesters and members of the original feedback team for earlier versions of BKC. Pendraken are also accepting comments from BKC users on the forum on:
What is the issue?
What would be the fix?
What other areas of the rules would this fix impact on?
What questions does this issue/fix raise?
Lastly, Pendraken noted on the time they expect to take on this,”We want to get this done as quickly as possible, so we’re setting ourselves a timescale of 2-3 months to fix everything”.
Personally I think that is a very aggressive target. I hope they can meet it but I expect it will drift as they get into trying to fix some of the rules that appear to be broken.
Like many, I waited and looked forward to the arrival of Blitzkrieg Commander III. I have enjoyed playing versions I and II over many years, although I will admit, I’ve not played enough games as there was always something else to play, something new and shiny. I also played a bit of Cold War Commander and Future War Commander. I liked the rule system and the way the games flowed, permitting a narrative to develop.
I purchased BKCIII online through Wargame Vault as my preferred method of dealing with printed matter these days is electronically. The hard copy version is available from Pendraken Miniatures, the new owners of the rules.
A furore appears to have erupted over these rules. While there may have been a few errors through the rules, normal enough in published wargame rules, the major part of the furore appears to be around the Army Lists included in the rules, so much so that Pendraken Miniatures on their forum are holding a poll to see how folks want them corrected.
Pendraken noted that as far as errors went, the
obvious starting point is the army lists and at the moment I don’t have an answer to that question. The author spent hundreds of hours on the stats to put together the new army lists. When we received them we checked the basics, do the correct nations have the right kit, do the obvious vehicles/guns appear in the right areas, etc. We checked a bunch of units with their BKC-II equivalents and then put together some matching battlegroups using both old/new lists to see how much they differed points wise. Nothing glaring jumped out during that process. Other people went through them and brought back a few queries which were then discussed further and we made some edits. Clearly we didn’t do enough though.
Being an old wargamer (sigh and getting older), I am still amazed at the way gamers get heated over lists. I come from a period of wargaming where if you didn’t like the list, you changed it based on your own research. This begs the question, are wargamers as a group doing less research these days than we did in the past?
To be fair, I can remember the heated debates that erupted in the 1980s and 1990s with the various WRG army lists but if I wasn’t happy with a list, I changed it. If I could justify the change, my opponents generally accepted it.
Pendraken went on to further note that an
annoying number of errors that have managed to get through the extensive checking process, some a result of the last minute tweaks, others a lag over from the merging of BKC-II and the first BKC-III draft. Some simply mistakes.
Again, way back in the 1980s we were used to rules being published and then errata sheets being issued. If I recall correctly even BKCI had one or two errata sheets issued.
Not every change in the rules is an error however. I guess some of the complaints are because folks just don’t like some rule changes. If you don’t like them, then change them!
Pendraken in a refreshingly honest way finally noted that
the end result of all of this is that we’ve not done a good enough job and BKC-III is not up to the standard that everyone wanted it to be.
They go on to point out the cost of the project so far, which is quite significant. Pendraken are calling for opinions on how to “fix” the rules/lists via an online poll and the two favoured options from folks so far are New PDF Lists and Complete Reprint. Personally I am comfortable with PDF lists (and errata sheet where needed) as I am used to this type of solution from the past. I would suggest to Pendraken that as they correct their errors, they can release a new PDF version of the rules to allow those of us with digital copies to have the updates in the rules. Printed copies have the advantage here as the updates can be written in the rules themselves. That will also become the source document for the time they decide to reprint.
My biggest complaint however is that to vote you have to be logged on to the forum so must enrol. I am also a little unhappy that those voting for one solution or other may not have purchased the rules and therefore have no real experience of the problems.
Oh, and one last comment – so far I don’t really have a problem with the lists. In fact, I purchased a Belgian Army the other night from Scotia Grendel Productions, based on the BKCIII lists.
Update on 7 May 2017: OK, so I have had a chance to start to read the rules and the lists. Actually I started with the lsts, with the Belgian list in particular and the 47mm ATG the Belgians had 750 of is missing. A few more days reading this week then I might stay with BKCII until the fixes start appearing.
Last weekend I had the time to indulge myself in my fantasy – the painting queue for 2017. I had originally thought it was not that extensive as I had not purchased all that much in the way of new lead in 2016 and besides, I did not have too much left over for painting from 2014 and 2015.
The painting queue follows in not particular order!
World War II Aerial Combat. The aircraft mix in these packets are from Raiden Miniatures and are in 1/285th scale. They are:
6 x Tupolev SB-3
6 x I-16 ‘Rata’
4 x Fiat G.50
4 x Fokker D.XXI
4 x Brewster Buffalo
The rules are Raiden Miniatures Fast Play Aerial Combat Rules. I have version 1.1.
Any of the World War II aerial combat rules could be used. The beauty with the Winter War is that a mix of aircraft seldom seen on the wargames table is possible with the Finns using equipment from Italy, the Netherlands and the USA, among others.
Raiden also make a US WW2 aircraft carrier flight deck, the USS Enterprise, for flight and combat operations. It is a kit in 51 parts and I am not sure if it is made or not currently. See http://www.raidenminiatures.co.uk/4.html for details.
Starmada vessels from Brigade Models. In this case, the PacFed fleet. I have a PacFed Future War Commander Army tucked away up here and this is the off-planet version of those. The PacFed are loosely based around a “Pacific Federation” and contain a lot of vessels with Australian type names.
As an opponent to the PacFed I looked to ONESS – loosely based around German forces. Somewhere at mum’s I have the ground fleet to complement this. This also is from Brigade Models.
Baccus 6mm figures make up the rest of my Singapore DBA Project. Armies still to be painted are:
II/9a Syracusan in Sicily 410-210BC
II/8 Campanian, Apulian, Lucanian and Bruttian 420-203BC
11/39a Iberian 240-20BC
II/11 Gallic 400-50BC
II/32a Later Carthaginian 275-202BC
Speaking of Brigade Models, I acquired a US Aeronef fleet. This was for part of the Peshawar project but with the purchase of Imperial Skies, the project has expanded somewhat (see below for how much). Of course what is illustrated and discussed here does not mention the British, French and Prussian Aeronefs that are already in the collection.
These then are the US Aeronef fleet. Quite a tidy force. I have been trying to think of an alternative paint scheme other that the Great White Fleet colours of, well, white!
The perfect opponent for the Americans above – the forces of the Rising Sun. Both Fleets (the US and Japanese) are substantial and would be the two most powerful fleets in the collection.
As with the Americans I am trying to think of a colour scheme that is not the Japanese naval vessels at Tsushima!
I wanted a bit of fun so I added a Scandinavian Union fleet. Dumpy vessels certainly but they have a certain attraction as well. These are also from Brigade Models and I am pondering colour schemes for them.
These were never envisaged for the Peshawar Project however they will make a good opponent for the BENELUX forces described below.
For a little South American Aeronef action I picked up some Argentinians. These look sufficiently different to other ‘nefs to keep the interest up.
Rather than a standard grey or Victorian Livery for these I have been toying with the idea of basing a paint scheme around light blue and white – same colour as the shirts of the Pumas. Again, Brigade Models.
And if the Argentinians are light blue and white then the Brazilians should be both hairless and based around green and gold colours. I have an idea for that with an antique style of gold colouring.
An opponent for the Scandinavian Union, and possibly the Italians. The Benelux Aeronef fleet consists of vessels from Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
The above-mentioned Italian Aeronefs.
The last of the Aeronefs in this years paint queue, the Russians. They are also one of the protagonists in the Peshawar campaign. For colours on these I am thinking, maybe, something like Port Arthur 1905.
A couple of years ago I picked up two armies for the Great Pacific War. Here are the Chilean/Peruvian Army and the Bolivian forces. I am planning on using these with the 1859, 1866 or 1870 rules. A project that has been on the back-burner for three years now.
I have had an interest in both the English Civil War and the 30 Years War for many years and picking up Baccus 6mm‘s English Civil War boxed set seemed like a good way of getting into it. The set gives me two armies, a couple of houses, Polemos rules and 60mm bases.
I am planning on using these with the Baroque Rules from Dadi and Piombo as well.
Navwar 1/3000 scale World War I Austrian ships – battleships to destroyers/torpedo boats. I have their main opponent, the Italian fleet, painted and here already. It must be said that during the war, both the Italian Royal Navy and the Austro-Hungarian Navy kept their most modern capital ships inside their bases (Pola and Kotor for the Austrian Fleet, Brindisi and Taranto for the Italian fleet), leaving mostly submarines, destroyers, torpedo boats and scout cruisers to do any fighting.
Heroics and Ros figures have been used for my Cold War Poles – an opponent for my Cold War Danes.
In addition to all that, there are a few other items on the list including:
Anthony’s 20mm World War II British
Finish off the 1/285 scale World War II Japanese
1/285 scale World War II Hungarians
1/300 scale Cold War Commander Danes to be completed
1/1200 scale Coastal Warfare Ships
The 1/3000 scale Jutland Fleets
Houston Ships Italians and Austrians from the Battle of Lissa
Dystopian Wars fleets, and
Peshawar, 2mm ground forces
So – a painting queue that for 2017 should keep me busy well into 2020!
23 April 2017 – Update: Nothing. Nada. Not done a thing! Maybe I need to motivate myself and buy some more figures.