Finished – the WW1 French are launched … to the US

The fleet - set to sail - about 90 vessels in total
The fleet – set to sail – about 90 vessels in total

I finally finished painting, labelling and varnishing the 1/6000th scale French World War 1 fleet. These were being painted for John  in California. I opted for the simple French mid-grey scheme that the vessels were using in the later way period.

I also looked at “bronzing” one turret (A-turret or Z-turret), at least on the battleships and larger cruisers to account for the French disciplinary practice of having sailors paint a turret in used cooking oil when they were found guilty of a charge. I tried on one vessel and the result was that it was not really visible in this scale, so went just straight grey for the fleet.

The vessels come from Figurehead – from Noble Miniatures in the US and Magister Militum in the UK.

The detail on the vessels really is quite remarkable given their size. I would also recommend that when painting them, use a shade of grey two or three shades lighter than required and then use a black ink wash over the vessel to bring out that detail.

A close-up(ish) of some of the vessels.
A close-up(ish) of some of the vessels.

The close-up will give you an idea of the amount of detail present on the vessels.

You will notice that I opted for white canvas covers to the ships boats. The French used, as far as I can tell, a grey cover however I am assuming a sun-bleached grey that is white here. It is an aesthetic thing to bring out that extra detail and make it visible.

I do not have a sea surface to photograph on here in Singapore so the cutting mat has to do – the square are 1 cm square so yes, some of the vessels are less than 2cm long.

I know John has a US, British and German fleet still to paint up but after doing the French, Italians, Austrians, Turks, Greeks, Russians (both main fleets) and the Japanese Mediterranean Squadron, I’m not sure I want to paint any more 1/6000th ships. The feeling is compounded by knowing that the US was experimenting with dazzle patterns as a camouflage during the First World War. I’ll see how I feel in a few weeks time.

In the meantime, I will have a pleasant evening sitting in the man cave tonight, wireless on, air-con on, cup of tea in hand and starting to ponder what actually will be the next project!

All ahead full!

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Painting Progress – the 1/6000th French – labels

2013-05-01 22.28.25I finally got some time yesterday, May Day, to start on labelling the vessels. I may have mentioned the process before but I’ll cover it again as someone asked me how I did them.

Using Microsoft Word (or any Word Processor really) create a table, in my case I make one 8 columns by 2 rows to start with. Then insert a couple of blank lines in the document and create a second 8 column by 2 row table.

Then a couple of blank lines and create a third table 8 columns by 2 rows.

In the second table, record the name of each of the vessels in the fleet. Record them in columns 2, 4, 6 and 8. Font and font size does not matter at this stage. You can then copy the table over table three (so that in both tables columns 1, 3, 5 and 7 are empty and columns 2, 4, 6 and 8 now contain all the ship names).

Now, to table three. In columns 1, 3, 5 and 7, next to the ship names, insert a code number for the vessel. For example, BB01 goes in column 1, next to the name Bretagne in column 2. DD03 goes next to the destroyer Epee and so on. Now you have two tables with some information in them, the second table with the ship names and the third table with a ships code number. I use the same code numbers between fleets so, for example, BB01 is Bretagne in the French, Hapsburg in the Austrian fleet, Tri Svititelia in the Russian fleet and so on. In the case where you are having a wargame with allied fleets fighting, well, I hope the paintwork will avoid confusion Smile

Highlight column 1 in table 3 (the ship codes). Now copy that and paste it into column 1 of table 1 and column 5 of table 1. Repeat this for column 3 table 3 (copy to columns 2 and 6 of table 1); column 5 of table 3 (copy to columns 3 and 7 of table 1); and column 7 of table 3 (copy to columns 4 and 8 of table 1).

Save the document.

Now there are three tables with only table 2 having empty columns. We now start formatting, Firstly, table 2. highlight the table (all columns) and select font “Calabri”, click on bold, change font size to 6 point or 8 point. The size of the font is something you will need to guess to make sure when finished the label will fit in the bottom of the ship base – so destroyers may need to be smaller than capital ships.

2013-05-01 22.40.25Next, search the internet and find the naval ensign for the World War 1 fleet you are painting (this is of course optional but adds a nice touch). Copy the image and paste it into cell 1, (row 1, column 1) of table 2. It will be very big but resize to until it is small and matches off with the text – you may need to adjust the column width here too. Play around a little and it will work out one way or another. Align the image either Center Left or Center in the cell. When it looks right, copy the image and paste it to each of the empty cells next to the ship names. Format the columns with the flags is to Center Left or Center alignment. Save the document.

Now comes the interesting part. The sea bases I have painted are coloured with a base coat of Prussian Blue then a light blue dry brush and a white dry brush. I have found that a background colour of dark blue works – the colour details are for R:G:B colour 23:54:93. This matches fairly closely with the Prussian blue as you can see in the photo to the right.

Now select all columns of table 1 and change the font to “Calabri”, the size to 6 point, select “bold”, select font colour “white” and then select fill colour –> more colours –> custom and use the R:G:B figures mentioned above. Your sea base labels should be starting to look good. Whilst the table is selected, go to design –> borders and turn borders off.

imageThe last step with the blue labels is to select columns 5, 6, 7 and 8 from table 1 and amend the character spacing, This is done so that the labels will fit the smaller label tabs on destroyers, torpedo boats and so on. Go to home –> font –> advanced and set scale on character spacing to 75%.

It does make the label a little harder to read, but not impossible but also ensures that it will fit most bases.

We have a sheet of labels. Save the document again and now it is ready for printing. Print on standard paper on a colour printer((OK, so I win a prize for stating the bleeding obvious but I needed the line in there for continuity)) and you are ready to stick on your models base.

Note that if you are using spray varnish, go right ahead and stick. If you are using varnish applied by a brush, then test first to see if the varnish will make the label run, especially if you have used an ink jet printer rather than a laser printer.

Simply cut the little blue label from the sheet with a sharp knife (I use one of the ones with a snap-off blade as it is best done with a very sharp knife and paper blunts the knife fairly quickly). I attach the blue labels with a dob of white glue (the stuff that dries clear) and then when the glue is dry varnish the vessels. They can then be separated from the tongue depressors I use to hold the vessels whilst painting.

Now you have labelled and varnished vessels. There is one final step. Using table three as a guide as it tells you which vessel is which code number, cut out and stick the vessel’s name label and ensign to the underside of the sea base. Voila! Finito!

Pick up the ship, look underneath and you know the vessels name. Use the code number on the sea base label to identify for damage and firing results during a game.

austrian_smaller russian_naval_jack italian_small japan_naval_ensign royal-navy-ensign_small sms_navy_ensign_small

Work in Process – the WW1 French Fleet

The second batch of World War 1 Ships - most of the battleships a some Armoured Cruisers - finished and just waiting their labels
The second batch of World War 1 Ships – most of the battleships a some Armoured Cruisers – finished and just waiting their labels

This is progressing nicely with 2/3rds of the vessels complete and a list of ships prepared ready for making labels for the navy. So, that is the destroyers complete and most of the battleships plus a few armoured cruisers.

The rest of the armoured cruisers, the protected cruisers and the Japanese cruisers (can’t remember why I have them) are almost complete – they are the ones shown in the picture below.

All that remains to be done on them is their lifeboat covers and the sooty funnels tops and such.

The remaining vessels that need two more coats of paint to compete
The remaining vessels that need two more coats of paint to compete

All vessels will be given a few days for the paint to really dry (well, the truth is I am off to Indonesia on Tuesday for a couple of days) and then I will glue the labels on the tab at the back of the base.

Vessels are then varnished – I use Vallejo Satin Varnish for ships as it gives them a nice moist appearance.

The vessels are then removed from the tongue depressors and a name tag stuck to the bottom. They should be ready for posting Monday of next week with a bit of luck and a good following wind!

On the workbench – painting in progress

2013-04-17 00.45.27
A bird’s eye view of the painting table – with the completed vessels as seen through the magnifying lamp

I’ve been working on the French World War One fleet pack from Hallmark ((available from Magister Militum in the UK)) for John in the US. These have been on the painting table for over two years now, business trips, the 15mm ACW and life generally having cut back the painting time I had available.

As with the other Hallmark vessels I’ve painted, these models are quite nice with a surprising amount of detail for a vessel that is only 2cms long.

They are quite easy to paint oddly enough and the process I have been using is to undercoat the vessels and bases in white, then wash in black ink (or nurgle gurlge slimy oil – whatever the Citadel black wash from Games Workshop is called these days).

I then paint the sea bases (some on smaller vessels like torpedo boats are already with the vessel, others like the battleships have a separate base. Painting the base first is useful as I am slapping the colour around and it doesn’t matter if it spills onto the vessel at this point.

The colour used for the sea bases are then a heavy coat of Prussian Blue, a heavy dry brush of mid blue and lastly a dry brush of white – heave around the wake against what will be the side of the vessel and where the wake from the propellers will be seen, light elsewhere.

2013-04-17 00.46.56
A different view of the vessels and a rules to give a true idea of the scale of these wee beasties

For the battleships and cruisers I do a heavy wet brush in a mid grey (uniform grey in this case) followed by a second black wash. A light dry brush of the uniform grey is then done  and yes, I know it is the third time I have added uniform grey to the vessel.

The decks are then picked out and on the French vessels I am using a desert sand colour for the decks. The vessel is then given a brown wash (earthy dirty brown or whatever from Citadel again). The last step is then to pick out the funnel tops and the ships boats. I am using white for the canvas covers of the ships boats as although it was likely a darker colour, on vessels this size it looks right and enables the detail to be seen from a distance.

I decided on uniform grey for the ship colour as the best information I could find on French vessels in World War 1 suggested an all over mid grey. French ships discipline also revolved around painting one turret in used cooking oil from the galley but I haven’t decided whether to go that far yet as to “bronze” one of the turret sides.

Other colours I read about were a dark hull grey hull and a light grey superstructure but I opted for the all-over grey as it seemed to agree with the pictures I saw online.

About 2/3rds of the vessels are now painted. I have about 30 left to paint. After that it is a case of making and printing the ship labels, adhering the ship number to the back of the base and then varnishing the vessels using a satin varnish. The last step is gluing the ship’s name under the base and then they will be finished yay!

Work in Progress

The French World War 1 fleet from Hallmark (with a few extra vessels)
The French World War 1 fleet from Hallmark (with a few extra vessels)

On the bench at the moment, John’s 1/6000 French World War 1 fleet.

Progress today has been good with the sea bases all finished and the ships having had their first wash.

The destroyers and torpedo boats have had paint as well. So have 13 battleships.

Currently there are 44 destroyers and torpedo boats that I expect to have finished tonight (well, finished except for the labels and final varnishing).

Also being worked on is 55 battleships and cruisers. I am hoping to have them finished except for labels tomorrow night, as I am off to Jakarta for a few days again on Tuesday.

For the curious, the squares on the mat on the painting table are 1cm square so that will give you an idea of the size of the vessels.

Vinh Long

vinh long 100 Jim at the War Times Journal has released some more models of ships from around the end of the 19th Century. This latest release includes:

  • Collingwood
  • Monmouth
  • Drake
  • Highflyer
  • Dupleix
  • Vinh Long
  • Wittelsbach
  • Braunschweig
  • Cormoran
  • Arcona
  • Umbria
  • Etna

Along with two shore batteries.

The Vinh-Long particularly interested me as I recalled reading somewhere about the USS Bainbridge (DD-246) having rescued a large number of passengers and crew from the vessel in the 1920s and the skipper of the Bainbridge being decorated for his efforts. A little research was therefore in order.

Off to the US Naval History and Heritage website – one of my favourite sites, especially for US Navy vessels history.

vinh long 105 The Vinh-Long was a 5500-ton screw steamship and was built in 1881. I was one of several military transports needed to support France’s colonial empire. During the First World War the Vinh-Long server as a hospital ship. After the November 1918 Armistice she returned to her previous role as a troops transport.

On 16 November 1922, while carrying 495 persons, including civilians as well as military and naval personnel, the Vinh-Long caught fire in the Sea of Marmora, Turkey. She was carrying armaments in her magazines and as the fire spread, eventually it reached her after magazines causing explosions. This caused the fire to intensify and spread throughout the rest of the ship.

Even though the blaze as intense and there were known risks of further explosions (the forward magazines for example. The USS Bainbrdge (DD-246) pulled alongside the bow of the Vinh-Long and managed to save 482 of the passengers and crew. Thirteen people, among them two women and four children, lost their lives in the fire and subsequent efforts to abandon ship, some having life boats fall on them when they were in the water. One other man died of exposure on board the Bainbridge.

vinh long 106 The Bainbridge was approached eventually by HMS Sepoy but by that time the Bainbridge was underway to Istanbul with the survivors so needed no further assistance.

The rescue of Vinh-Long‘s passengers and crew was widely celebrated at the time. The Bainbridge‘s officers and crew were officially commended for their performance and the captain of the Bainbridge, Lieutenant Commander Edwards, was subsequently honoured with the United States’ Medal of Honor along with the French Legion of Honor and the British Distinguished Service Order.

Following on from here are pictures of Lt Commander Edwards receiving his medal from the US President, Calvin Collidge and then the last three photos are of Edwards’ actually report of the incident.

I can see I will need to prepare and order for Jim shortly.

vinh long 110

vinh long 200

vinh long 201

vinh long 202

De Grasse

The last unsuccessful search term from the unsuccessful searches here at Thomo’s Hole was De Grasse. Now this is an interesting one as there are a number of nautical De Grasse’s in particular and I am not sure whether the reader of the blog was looking for the Admiral or the ship. Well, true to form, I’ll give you both.

Admiral de Grasse

François Joseph Paul, marquis de Grasse Tilly, comte de Grasse
François Joseph Paul, marquis de Grasse Tilly, comte de Grasse

François Joseph Paul, marquis de Grasse Tilly, comte de Grasse (1722 – January 14, 1788) was a French admiral. The potted history of de Grasse really starts in 1776, during the American Revolution. The French Navy was assigned to assist the Americans and de Grasse was a commander of a division. He served under Louis Guillouet, comte d’Orvilliers at the First Battle of Ushant from July 23 to 27, 1778.

In 1779, he joined the fleet in the Caribbean under the command of Count d’Estaing. De Grasse distinguished himself in the battles of Dominica and Saint Lucia in 1780 and Tobago in 1781. He was involved in the capture of Grenada and fought against Admiral Rodney in the Battle of Martinique, where the French were commanded by Guichen.

De Grasse came to the aid of Washington and Rochambeau when he brought 3000 men from Saint-Domingue, landing these reinforcements in Virginia. He then won perhaps his greatest victory when he defeated the British fleet in the Battle of the Chesapeake in September 1781.

His later fortune was somewhat less successful however, being defeated at the Battle of St. Kitts by Admiral Hood and then being defeated and taken prisoner by Admiral Rodney at the Battle of the Saintes.

De Grasse – the Ships

The French Frigate, D612 De Grasse, a frigate of the F67 Type
The French Frigate, D612 De Grasse, a frigate of the F67 Type

There have been five ships carrying the name de Grasse, two in the French Navy and three in the US Navy.

French De Grasse 1

The first French vessel carrying the name De Grasse was an anti aircraft cruiser of the Coubert class. This cruiser was designed in the late 1930s, of a similar design to the preceding La Galissonnière class cruisers although heavier and with improved anti-aircraft equipment. The other two ships of this class, Chateaurenault and Guichen were cancelled.

De Grasse was launched eventually in 1946, commissioned in 1956 and finally scrapped in 1974.

The general characteristics of De Grasse were:
Displacement: 9,389 t (9,241 long tons)
Length: 199.3 m (653 ft 10 in)
Beam 21.5 m (70 ft 6 in)
18.6 m (61 ft 0 in) w/l
Draft: 5.54 m (18 ft 2 in)
Propulsion: 2 × Rateau turbine groups from Chantiers de Bretagne, 27,000 hp (20,134 kW) each
4 × boilers
Speed: 33.8 knots
Complement: 70 officers
160 warrant officers
750 men
Armament: • 8 × twin turrets 127 mm AA
• 10 × twin turrets 57 mm Bofors (later removed)
Armour: Belt: 100 mm (3.9 in)
Deck: 38 mm (1.5 in)

French De Grasse 2

The Second French vessel carrying the name De Grasse is a type F67 frigate, still in service. This vessel is the one illustrated above and was laid down in 1972, launched in 1974, commissioned in 1975 and went into service in 1977. The De Grasse is still in service in the French Navy.

Tourville class frigate

Details of the vessel are:
Class and type:
Displacement: 4580 tonnes (6100 tonnes fully loaded)
Length: 152.75 m
Beam: 15.80 m
Draught: 6.60 m
Propulsion: 2 Rateau steam turbines, double reduction
4 multitubular boilers
Fuel: Gazoil
Propelers : 2 fixed propelers
Power : 58000 hp (42 MW)
Speed: 32 knots
Range: 1900 nautical miles (3500 km) at 30 knots
4500 nautical miles (8300 km) and 18 knots
Complement: 24 officers
160 non-commissioned officers
115 men
Sensors and processing systems: 1 DRBV 51B surface sentry radar
1 DRBV 26A air sentry radar
1 DRBC 32D targeting radar
2 DRBN 34 navigation radar
1 DUBV 23 hull sonar
1 ETBF DSBV 62C sonar
1 DSBX 1 tugged sonar
1 Syva torpedo alert system
Electronic warfare and decoys: 1 ARBB 32 jammer
1 ARBR 16 radar interceptor
2 Syllex decoy launchers bubble belt SENIT
3 SEAO/OPSMER HF, UHF, VHF and SHF liaison systems Syracuse 2 Inmarsat
Link 11
Armament:
Anti-air * 1 Crotale EDIR system (8 missiles on launcher, 18 in magazine)
* 2 x 100 mm turrets (1968 model)
* 2 x 20 mm cannons
* 4 x 12.7 mm machine guns
Anti-surface
* 6 Exocet MM38 anti-ship missiles launchers
Anti-submarine
* 2 x L5 torpedoe launchers, 10 torpedoes on board (L5 mod 4)
Aircraft carried: 2 Lynx WG13

And yes, I have my Conway’s back 🙂

American De Grasse 1

The first De Grasse in the US Navy was the yacht shown below, in service in 1918. Details of this vessel are sketchy and there is no listing for this vessel in Conway’s. The US Naval Historical Center notes:

USS De Grasse, an 81′ 2 1/2″ long section patrol boat, was built in 1917-1918 at Neponset, Massachusetts, as the steam-turbine powered pleasure craft of the same name. Though ordered taken over for World War I Naval service in June 1917, she was not placed in commission until her construction was completed about a year later. De Grasse briefly served in mid-Atlantic coastal waters before being returned to her owner, J.L. Redmond of New York City, in early November 1918.

The yacht, USS De Grasse in 1918
The yacht, USS De Grasse in 1918

American De Grasse 2

The second US Navy vessel to bear this name was a Crater Class Cargo vessel during World War II. With a displacement of 4,023 tons this Liberty ship was active in the Pacific Theatre from November 1943 until decommssioned in April 1946, going on to serve as a general cargo vessel after that date until being scrapped in 1970. The De Grasse was awarded three battle stars.

American De Grasse 3

The third US Navy ship to bear this name was the USS Comte de Grasse (DD-974), named for Admiral Francois-Joseph Paul, Comte de Grasse (1722-1788), was a Spruance-class destroyer built by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries at Pascagoula, Mississippi. She was laid down 4 April 1975, launched 26 March 1976 and commissioned 5 August 1978.

General Characteristics:
Class and type: Spruance-class destroyer
Displacement: 8,040 (long) tons full load
Length: 529 ft (161 m) waterline; 563 ft (172 m) overall
Beam: 55 ft (16.8 m)
Draft: 29 ft (8.8 m)
Propulsion: 4 × General Electric LM2500 gas turbines, 2 shafts, 80,000 shp (60 MW)
Speed: 32.5 knots
Range: 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km) at 20 knots
3,300 nautical miles (6000 km) at 30 knots
Complement: 19 officers, 315 enlisted
Sensors and processing systems: AN/SPS-40 air search radar
AN/SPG-60 fire control radar
AN/SPS-55 surface search radar
AN/SPQ-9 gun fire control radar
Mk 23 TAS automatic detection and tracking radar
AN/SPS-65 Missile fire control radar
AN/SQS-53 bow mounted Active sonar
AN/SQR-19 TACTAS towed arrayPassive sonar
Electronic warfare and decoys: • AN/SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare System
• AN/SLQ-25 Nixie Torpedo Countermeasures
• Mark 36 SRBOC Decoy Launching System
• AN/SLQ-49 Inflatable Decoys
Armament: 2 x 5 in (127 mm) 54 calibre Mark 45 dual purpose guns
2 x 20 mm Phalanx CIWS Mark 15 guns
1 x 8 cell ASROC launcher (removed)
1 x 8 cell NATO Sea Sparrow Mark 29 missile launcher
2 x quadruple Harpoon missile canisters
2 x Mark 32 triple 12.75 in (324 mm) torpedo tubes (Mk 46 torpedoes)
2 x quadruple ABL Mark 43 Tomahawk missile launchers
Aircraft carried: 2 x Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk LAMPS III helicopters.

De Grasse was decommissioned and struck in 1998, eventually being sunk as a target in 2006.

USS Comte De Grasse (DD-974) entering port at the Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia
USS Comte De Grasse (DD-974) entering port at the Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia