I have been working a little on two of the Fujimi ships as well as the equivalent Navwar vessels, getting them ready for paint in between bouts of coughing, sneezing, sleeping and putting up with a nose running like Usain Bolt. The Fujimi vessels came from Hobby Link Japan. The metal vessels are Navwar. The vessels are the carrier Shōkaku and the battleship Yamato. They have been attached to bases and the start of a sea surface added. I will get around to painting later this week or early next week.
A friend here (hi Servillano) put me on to Fujimi’s 1/3000 ships. Now, having a sizeable collection of Navwar 1/3000 vessels plus some from War Times Journal, I was curious to see how Fujimi’s efforts stacked up. Now up front I will admit the GHQ’s 1/2400 vessels are the crème de la crème of model vessels around this scale however Navwar provide, in my opinion, a better value for money being considerably less expensive than GHQ.
Fujimi adds another dimension. For a coupe of thousand Yen, I could pick up the 5th Carrier Division consisting of the carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku as well as 6 destroyers. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:
I will of course display both again after painting but clearly the plastic from Fujimi has greater detail. It also has deck decals to add later 😁
Lastly, I also picked up a second box that contained a Yamoto. Unassembled, the Navwar and the Fujjimi Yamoto’s, side by side:
One of my favourite YouTube channels is the Little Wars TV channel. I come home from work, late at night, set the TV to YouTube and tune in to see what is up with the guys this week. The guys re-fight battles, review rules and generally behave and talk like wargamers behave and talk. This week I enjoyed the refight of that well-known battle of Hannibal’s – Trebbia. The Romans were defeated historically in this, Hannibal’s first battle on Italian soil and most ancient wargamers know the Battle of Trebbia so it is hard to get the Romans to walk into the trap that is set there. The Little Wars guys do it well. It is also great looking at the way they have based and used 6mm figures for the game – with all figures based in 40mm square bases. They do give the impression of two armies facing off against each other.
Waiting for me at the Post Office today was a parcel from the Naval Institute Press. Posted on 20 July 2018 in the US it arrived at my local post office here about a week ago I guess and the note from the Post Office telling me I had a parcel was received last Friday.
Now I will admit that over the last few weeks I have been reading a Naval Institute Press publication, the brilliant Maritime Operations in the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905, Volume 1 by Julian S Corbett. That was tossed aside as soon as I had a quick flick through Italian Naval Camouflage of World War II by Marco Ghiglino. This has been published by Seaforth Publishing in 2018 and is a book of some 240 pages. The ISBN for this is:
- 978 1 5267 3539 3 (Hardback)
- 978 1 5267 3540 9 (ePub)
- 978 1 5267 3541 6 (Kindle)
What a book! Firstly I should note that the actual size of the book is the same as each of Mal Wright’s British and Commonwealth Warship Camouflage of WW II series so sits nicely next to them on the bookshelf. Secondly, this is the first major work on Italian Naval Camouflage of World War 2 in English that I am aware of. There have been some minor publications over the years and references in books ostensibly on other topics as well as Italian language publications (such as La Mimetizzazione della Navi Italiane 1940-1945) but this is the first in English and that makes this information more generally available.
The book is broken up into 12 major chapter:
- The Early Period and the Experimental Phase
- Standard Camouflage Schemes
- Evolution and Exemptions
- The Dark Grey Factor
- MAS, Motor Torpedo Boats and VAS
- Other Warships
- The Greek Factor
- Merchant Ships
- The Armistice
- Ship Profiles
Ghiglino follows the development of camouflage in the Regia Marina from the peacetime colourings and aerial markings through to wartime practice. He also includes a section covering the change of camouflage with vessels captured by the Germans and those remaining in Italian hands and employed by the Allies
One particular area of interest to me in among many areas of interest were the colours used on MAS, Motor Boats and VAS along with the colours used by Italian submaries which carried a number of different schemes.
Each chapter is lavishly illustrated with contemporary photographs, some in early colour. Unlike other publications concerning World War 2 the photographs used to illustrate here are good quality, and the detail in those photographs is quite clear.
By far, however, the best section of this book is the one dealing with ship profiles. Profiles are provided for:
- Torpedo Boats
- Escort Ships (Auxiliary Cruisers)
- MAS and MTB
- Gunboats, Minelayers adn Minesweepers
- Landing Vessels
- Auxiliary Ships
Looking at the section on battleships (and who doesn’t like these Queens of the Seas) there is a brief discussion of battleship camouflage, noting that Littorio was the first battleship to receive a camouflage scheme in March 1941. Other ships receiving the camouflage are then listed. Also noted in this short section is the repainting of Veneto, Italia (ex-Littorio) Duilio and Doria in the Allied two-colour livery later in the war.
What then follows is the best part of the book – the CAD drawings of vessels and their camouflage schemes. The drawings generally show the starboard side of a vessel and provide a brief description of the camouflage scheme used, including, where possible, the creator of the scheme. The CAD drawing also displays the scale of the drawing and there are multiple drawings of the same ship indicating the changes to the camouflage scheme used over time. For example, Guilio Cesare is illustrated at 1:900 scale as she appeared in December 1941, January 1942, May 1942, June 1942 (this time with port and starboard views), June 1943 (also port and starboard views) and lastly in 1949 when she was transferred to the Soviet Navy, renamed Novorossiysk and painted Soviet grey.
Other vessels that were captured by the Germans are shown in both Regia Marina camouflage as well as Kriegsmarine camouflage.
I am certain that this book does not illustrate every vessel in Regia Marina Service but it certainly appears to cover all vessels from gunboat size and above.
The book also contains a useful (if you speak Italian) bibliography, acknowledgments and best of the reference sections, an index of ships throughout the book.
Given the number of clashes between the Royal Navy and the Regia Marina in the Mediterranean in World War 2, Mal Wright’s British and Commonwealth Warship Camouflage of WW II series would be a perfect companion.
I really can’t find enough superlatives to describe this book. It certainly belongs on the bookshelf of anyone interested in World War 2 naval history, particularly either the Regia Marina or naval camouflage. If I needed to rate this book out of five, I would have no hesitation giving it 6 stars out of 5. Brilliant book, simply brilliant.
It is that time of the year again, time for the Great Wargaming Survey for 2018. It has a focus on tabletop miniature wargaming.
As with previous surveys the purpose is to answer questions that come up regularly in discussions. As before, the results will be published online only for everyone to read, not just readers of Wargame, Soldiers and Strategy.
There are some sponsors to the survey so there are prizes to be won. In any case, all who answer the survey will get a 15% discount voucher for use at Karwansaray Publishing.
Filling out the entire survey should take around 5-10 minutes, and the survey remains open until 5 September 2018.
Click on the Link – The Great Wargaming Survey 2018
Every so often I buy a book forgetting that I already have that book on the bookshelf. Friend Anthony suffers the same problem from time to time and as a result we both get additions to our libraries as we give the other our duplicated purchases. These books are, in many cases, in areas where we normally do not read (enjoy the naval history books when I get them to you Anthony!). 🙂
One such book was Battlefields in Miniature by Paul Davies, published in 2015 by Pen and Sword Books. It looks like the hardback version of this book is out of print however Pen and Sword have an ePub and Kindle version listed (ePub, Kindle) in their catalogues.
There are a number of books published on wargames terrain making, many from the makers of various figure ranges and while normally books like this only provide a passing interest to me, this is one book I will refer to again and again, especially as I pursue my hobby here in the Philippines where there are limited wargaming clubs.
So, why this book? The 287 glossy colour pages make the book enjoyable to flick through. Better though is the organisation f the book with 18 chapters dealing with generalities, tools, materials and then a discussion of 17 types of terrain. The chapters included are:
- Welcome to the Workshop
- What’s Everyone Else Doing?
- Before You Get Started
- Terrain Cloths
- Terrain Tiles
- Custom or Sculpted terrain
- Rivers and Ponds
- Islands, Cliffs and Hills
- Fences and Screens
- Cultivated Fields
The author, Paul Davies, will be recognised by many for his regular series of “how-to” articles in Wargames Illustrated. Throughout this book however he has combined techniques he had illustrated before and added new ones such that most wargamers should have little or no trouble constructing their own terrain by following his guidelines presented here.
As mentioned, I have the hardback version and it looks like only ePub and Kindle versions are currently available from Pen and Sword. I certainly will unashamedly be stealing some of Davies’ ideas when constructing my next batch of terrain and I am glad to have the book in my library (thank you Anthony). I do recommend this book to wargamers.
In When Inspiration is Failing Along Comes Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy 97 I mentioned that I was developing an interest in the Anarchy – Stephen and Mathilda’s brawl with each other over the English crown in the period 1135 to 1153. I spoke of Normans. I also mentioned that it was leading me to consider another wargames project so last night I did some more reading and research.
The Anarchy was some 70 years after William’s invasion of England so in fact, we are not talking about Normans as such but rather the Anglo-Norman successors of William’s invasion. The English barons supported Stephen so we are dealing with the Anglo-Normans.
Mathilda’s supporters included Robert of Gloucester and the Battle of Lincoln in 1141 pitted Robert against Stephen so Anglo-Norman vs Anglo-Norman army. Later Henry, Mathilda’s son, invaded with some knights so I can find an excuse to add a Feudal French force. The Normans also invaded Sicily so add a Sicilian opponent. Other enemies over the period involved include the pre-Feudal Scots and Scots Common, the Welsh, and lastly the Anglo-Norse. A fine collection of forces for a matched set.
Like all good wargamers I have about 30 half-started; half-completed; or part-planned projects either in the painting queue (that will be those boxes over there), or scratched as notes on a piece of paper as the planning sessions start (and the figures for those will be in those other boxes over there or manufacturers catalogues filed away in the file system here).
And then along came Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy Issue 97 and I was saved – or at least project number 31 started to take shape in my mind’s eye.
The main theme of this issue is “Weird War”. Basically, alternate outcomes or what-if scenarios based around World War 2, and there are seven articles on that subject, articles such as a “What if?” assassination mission – Kill Stalin; Weird War II airborne operations – Operation Redrow; or Weird War II pulp adventures – Lieutenant Liberty and the Doom Platoon.
However, there were some other more mainstream articles included such as the perils of Ptolemaic Pachyderms – Elephant Archos; the Swedes vs. the Dutch in North America – The Battle at Fort Mosquito, 1655; and the one that caught my imagination, the Empress Matilda’s flight – Bitesize battle: escape from Oxford.
The article about Stephen and Mathilda caught my eye principally because several days before I had watched an historical piece on Netflix on the Empress Maud and Matilda. Coupled with that is a desire to have a reason to get some Normans (not that I ever really needed an excuse to buy more figures). The article discusses the escape of Mathilda from Oxford Castle in the winter when the castle was invested by Stephen’s forces. I am sure this provided the idea for Sansa’s escape from Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones.
Anyway, I digress, and who doesn’t like a good digression? Mathilda and Stephen tilted for the English crown in the mid 12th century. Both were Normans and this period of Norman history makes a change from William’s Wars or the Normans in Sicily. Anyway, as the tale goes, Mathilda was the daughter of King Henry I of England, and was his sole legitimate child after the death of his son Prince William in the ‘White Ship’ disaster.
She was married to Henry V of the Holy Roman Empire (hence the title Empress), and then when he died in 1125, to Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou.
She was supposed to be the heir to the English throne, however in 1135 Stephen of Blois claimed that Henry I had changed his mind on his deathbed and recognised Stephen as successor to the throne. The English barons backed this claim.
That is when the trouble started and a period known as The Anarchy commenced.
Stephen was more popular than Mathilda, as she was viewed as a foreigner and a woman who was married to one of the hated Angevin enemy. She was also proud and overbearing, arranging everything as she thought fit, according to her own whim.
Trouble started in 1141 when the Battle of Lincoln took place between Stephen and Matilda’s half-brother Robert, Earl of Gloucester. After fighting bravely, Stephen was overcome and captured and taken before Matilda who immediately had him imprisoned in Bristol Castle. He was later released.
Both Stephen and Mathilda were captured at various stages and escaped (the escape from Oxford being one such).
Henry, Mathilda’s son by the Count of Anjou also got involved, bringing some knights to England but they were defeated by Stephen’s men.
In 1153 Stephen agreed to the Treaty of Westminster with Henry of Anjou. This stated that Stephen should remain king for life (in the event this was less than one more year) and then Henry should succeed him.
Upon Stephen’s death in 1154, Henry was crowned King Henry II, the first of the Plantagenet line of kings.
So, what’s not to like about this period? A few armies of similar structure bouncing around England and a reason to expand the lead-pile … curse you Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy!
As for figures, well it will be 6mm scale for the space challenged and Normans of an appropriate ilk are available from:
- Heroics and Ros – a range I remember from many years ago – Normans, Saxons, Vikings and a Medieval range
- Baccus 6mm – a lovely range of 6mm Normans, Vikings and Saxons
- Irregular Miniatures – a large range of figures but where the casts as not as clean or detailed as H&R or Baccus
For those interested, Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy have a number of well known folks from the wargaming world writing regular columns in the magazine as well such as Rick Priestley and Henry Hyde.
The magazine is recommended … as are the Normans!
Apart from reading Great Battles of the Classical Greek World by Owen Rees, at the same time I was also reading A Naval History of the Peloponnesian War – Ships, Men and Money in the War at Sea, 431-404 BC published by Pen & Sword Maritime in 2017, ISBN 978 1 47386 158 9.
The book is the result of DeSantis’s research for his previous book, Rome Seizes the Trident, where he looked at Rome’s eventual defeat of Carthage at sea by the application of simple tactics against a more skillful opponent along with steadfast resolve. The Athenian fleet (skillful mariners) were brought low by Syracusan blunt force, prow-to-prow tactics.
The Peloponnesian War was largely decided by battles and a strategy at sea. When Athens’ control of the sea crumbled, so did its empire. The classical sources used for the book are Thucydides, Plutarch, Diodorus and Xenophon.
The Naval History of the Peloponnesian War commences with a number of maps of the area of operations as well as a map of the Battle of Arginusae. The book is then divided into 5 main parts parts 3 to 5 consisting of the usual split of the war:
- The Trireme
- The Archidamian War
- The Sicilian Expedition
- The Ionian War
There are also a Preface, Conclusions, Notes, Bibliography and Index. The itself book covers the naval history of the 27 years of conflict that was the Peloponnesian War.
DeSantis outlines the struggle in the Introduction, noting that Sparta supported by Persian gold eventually overcame Athens although it was the loss of the Athenian fleet at Syracuse that signaled the end for Athens rather than any action of Sparta.
DeSantis traces the war from the sources, first looking at the causes of the war presented by Thucydides as he saw it and he mostly relies on Thucydides’s narrative to 411 BC. Xenophon picks up the tale from then along with Diodorus of Siculus. Plutarch of Chaeronea writing some 500 years or so later in his Parallel Lives looks at the biographies of the Athenians Themistocles, Cimon, Pericles, and Alcibiades along with the Spartan Lysander. Lastly the Hellenica Oxyrhynchia also mentions wartime events including the Athenian seaborne campaign in Asia Minor in 409 BC and the Battle of Notium in 406 BC. These then are the classical references used by DeSantis.
DeSantis covers the economics of the naval build-up of Athens, noting that the 100 talents (600,000 drachmae) in silver extracted from the Laurium silver mines was sufficient to build 200 triremes. He then notes that Pericles estimated the same cost for each year of war against Sparta.
In the second section the author examines the trireme (triers in Greek) with Thucydides identifying Corinth as the first to construct a trireme although there is a competing theory that the trireme may have actually originated in the east with the Sidonian of Phoenicia (trikrotis naus) or the Phoenicans themselves constructing the first such vessels.
The construction of the triremes of Athens is covered including details of where the wood and pitch was sourced from along with the number of men required to move a trireme up the 1 in 10 ramp into its shed (140) as well as take it back into the water (110). One thing that had not occurred to me before but perhaps should of is that there were different quality triremes. The best were known as exairetoi (selects) while others were identified as first, seconds or thirds. Old vessels were converted for troop transport – with a converted trireme able to transport 85 soldiers.
Tactics are covered with discussions of sailing with the wind and under the power of oars. Masts and sails were generally taken down before battle and preferably left on shore to lighten the load in the trireme prior to battle. The main battle manoeuvres are described, being the diekplous and the periplous. Less skillful fleets relied on coming alongside and boarding the enemy.
Rounding out his review of the trireme, DeSantis covers shipboard fighting, funding a fleet, the officers on board, payment on campaign, and propulsion.
DeSantis then moves on the Archidamian War which started when Corcyra and Corinth came to blows over Epidamnus. He looks at:
- The Battle of Sybota
- The Athenian empire and rival coalitions
- The Battle of Chalcis
- The Battle of Naupachus
- The Attack on Piraeus
- The Revolt at Lesbos
- The Second Battle of Sybota
- Pylos and Sphacteria
- Strait of Messana engagements
- Expeditions to Corinth and Corcyra
- Attack on Nisaea
- Brasidas’s campaign
- The Peace of Nicias
- The Fate of Melos
The next part covers the whole hubristic disaster for Athens that was the Sicilian Expedition.
Lastly the Ionian War is examined. After the defeat in Sicily, the Athenians were spurred on to lock down their Ionian allies, and ensure Euboea in particular remained within the empire. The author looks at:
- Alcibiades’s seduction of Timaea, the wife of King Agis
- Alcibiades’s undermining Persian efforts to assist the Peloponnesians
- The Battle of Cynossema
- The Battle of Abydos
- The Battle of Cyzicus
- Alcibiades and the Athenian plundering expeditions
- Action off Mytilene
- The Battle of Arginusae
- The Battle of Aegospotami
DeSantis concludes with the eventual defeat of the Athenian Empire.
While there were many land battles throughout the Peloponnesian War, it was at sea that Athens was at first strong, then later faltered.
I very much enjoyed this book, especially as I was reading it at the same time as Great Battles of the Classical Greek World. There was some overlap between the two books so taking an alternate view on some matters was a benefit.
If you are a naval tragic like me, and an ancient history addict as well, this book will serve well as an overview of the Peloponnesian War from the naval perspective. Thucydides and Xenophon are still the main sources to read but DeSantis’s book is both easy to read and factual.
This is a good book providing a good amount of detail and covering one the more exciting stories from Ancient Greece. I am now looking for my copy of Thucydides to read further into this conflict again, one that I have not looked at for about 30 years. Recommended.
A book I received some time ago and have been slowly reading is Great Battles of the Classical Greek World by Owen Rees, published by Pen & Sword Military in 2016, ISBN 978 1 47382 729 5. The book is divided into four familiar main subject areas and a conclusion. Each of the parts are then split into between three and six Chapters covering various significant battles:
- The Peloponnesian War
- The Battle of Olpae (426/5 BC)
- The Battle of Delium (424 BC)
- The Battle of Amphipolis (422 BC)
- The First Battle of Mantinea (418 BC)
- The Spartan Hegemony
- Battle of the Nemea (394 BC)
- Battle of Coronea (394 BC)
- The Battle of the Long Walls of Corinth (392 BC)
- The Battle of Lechaeum (390 BC)
- The Battle of Leuctra (371 BC)
- The Second Battle of Mantinea (362 BC)
- Siege Warfare
- The Siege of Plataea (429-427 BC)
- The Sieges of Pylos and Sphacteria (425 BC)
- The Siege of Syracuse (415-413 BC)
- The Siege of Drilae (400 BC)
- Greco-Persian conflicts
- The Battle of Marathon (490 BC)
- The Battle of Plataea (479 BC)
- The Battle of Cunaxa (401 BC)
I have run across some of Owen Rees’s writing before in the Ancient Warfare magazine. Rees’s narrative style makes this book easy to read with discrete footnoting at key points through each chapter. The footnotes are presented as endnotes and so do not distract from the narrative but still enable the reader to check source material or other references at leisure.
The first two parts of the book examine battles in two key areas of Classical Greek military history – the Peloponnesian War and the Rise and Fall of Sparta. The third part examines Greek Siege Warfare whilst the fourth section deals with the Greco-Persian conflicts. Including this the fourth section was a decision by Rees because it is clear that “the Greeks did not fight the Persians in the same manner in which they fought one another, but placing this conflict at the beginning allows a false image to arise concerning Greek battle, and Greek tactics in turn” (Rees, 2016, p. xvi). Rees therefore covers the internal conflicts of the Greeks first to develop an image of Greek warfare before dealing with their interaction with the Persians.
The structure of each of the chapters is consistent with the first section being the background and identifying the classical sources used for that battle. This is then followed by a description and location (where possible) of the battlefield. The armies are then examined followed by a description of the battle itself, with specific references to the sources as well as maps outlining the probably deployment of the forces present. The last section is the aftermath of the battle.
For example, chapter 3 deals with the Battle of Amphipolis (422 BC). The Background identifies the sources for this battle as Thucydides, (IV.70, 78-88, 102-V.3) and Diodorus (XII.67.3-68.6, 72-3). The Battlefield is identified as outside the walls of Amphipolis and Amphipolis is located by Rees in a U-Bend of the River Strymon. The armies are discussed and any assumptions about troops presented. So for the Battle of Amphipolis, Brasidas’s army is noted as a conglomerate force of allies under his command, some 6,500 men strong. The size of Cleon’s army is not known but it appears that his force was roughly the same size, or a little larger.
The battle itself is then described with the references for that being Thucydides V.6-11 and Diodorus XII-74. The battle description includes three maps representing the three phases of the battle. The Aftermath of the battle is then discussed:
After Brasidas fell in battle, he was dragged back into the walls of Amphipolis where he held on to life, waiting to hear news from the battlefield. A messenger was sent to inform the city of the Athenian rout and, with victory ringing in his ears, Brasidas was able to release his final breath in the knowledge that his legend had been cemented in the history of his beloved Sparta.
Clearidas brought the army back into Amphipolis and, in full armaments, they buried their commander in a tomb at the front of the agora. This spot became the focus of a hero-cult dedicated to the man the Amphipolitans appointed their new founder of the city – replacing the true founder, Hagnon the Athenian.
For Athens, the defeat, alongside the defeat at Delium, was too much for them to consider continuing the war. Similarly the Spartans were still trying to recover from their embarrassing defeat at Pylos and no amount of success in Chalcidice was enough to compensate for this. A ten-year peace was finally agreed and, although in fact it only lasted seven years, this gave both sides time to recover from their tragic losses (Rees, 2016, p. 40).
Apart from the five parts mentioned above, the book also contains a glossary covering technical words from the book, a section of Notes (endnotes) from each chapter, a bibliography, an index and six useful URLs for further research.
Overall, Rees’s book is well supported with tactical diagrams through each chapter. Rees is also willing to challenge popularly held beliefs, such as the invincibility of the Spartans.
I have no hesitation in recommending this book to those interested in Classical Greek Warfare or the development of Hoplite tactics. The short chapters make the book the perfect companion with a fine coffee and a spare 20 minutes. The book itself has inspired me to look further into Greek warfare again and to start a collection of Ancient Greek armies to wargame these battles.