Cancon 2013 DBA – Koguryo Koreans – 3

photo (1)

Last night was an easy night working on the Koreans for Cancon 2013. As the glue and superglue had all dried from the night before (and as my fingerprints have almost returned thank you very much for asking), I started on flocking the bases. I spent about 45 minutes overall doing this.

I decorated the bases using a mix of sand and faux roches. As I mentioned earlier, I have not tried this method of painting before where you start by basing the figure and then painting it in situ, as it were, so I am still working my way trough the technique.

The process was then to prepare the figures, glue them to bases and then start the base decoration. If you click on the photo you will be able to see the texture on the bases more clearly. Also apparent in the picture are the materials I was using to prepare the bases.

Next step for the Koreans is tonight with a spray undercoat (and a chance to test my new spray painting chamber).

The rest of the evening last night was spent considering colours for the Koreans as well as looking more closely at the options for the Book III or IV army. I hope to have made that decision tonight and a start on those figures as well.

Cancon 2013 DBA – Koguryo Koreans – 2

2012-11-28 00.39.39 Last night was a night spent gluing. filing and then gluing some more – and not just figures but fingers also got a good run in there as well. So good was my supergluing on fingers that this morning the fingerprint reader that is the security system at the office would not let me in and I was forced to use plan B. Oh well, it is the last supergluing for a while I hope.

I had planned to spend about an hour prepping these figures and getting them ready for base flocking then undercoating with the rest of the evening spent researching the book III or IV army. The evening started well enough with a fine Korean dinner at Todamgol on Tanjong Pagar Road. Apart from the food (excellent), the ambience (Korean rustic), it is the range of fine Makgeolli ((Makgeolli or “Korean rice wine”), is an alcoholic beverage native to Korea. It is made from a mixture of wheat and rice, which gives it a milky, off-white colour, and for a fermented grain, it is quite sweet. It is about 6–8% alcohol by volume. It was originally quite popular among farmers and in the countryside – my first recollection of drinking Makgeolli was sitting outside under a tree beside a Buddhist temple near Kwangju – however recently it has recently started to become more popular in cities, especially with the younger generations. Dongdongju (동동주) is a drink very similar to makgeolli and one that I also fondly recall from Korea. A favourite dish eaten with Makgeolli is Korean pancakes called pajeon(파전) and which Todomgol has quite a range)) (막걸리) that is really attractive.

Good Makgeolli is quite a healthy drink and it is also low alcohol enough that a few bowls of it will not deaden the ability to file, cut, paint or glue little tin soldiers … well OK, maybe there were some glue issues 🙂 . Todamgol stocks good Makgeolli ((in fact they have about a dozen different Makgeollis available, flown in fresh each week from Korea. They also have a range of about a dozen pajeon (pancakes) as well))

2012-11-28 01.53.27 With the Makgeolli we ate pajeon and Budae jjigae (부대찌개) ((which literally translates to “army base stew”)) with the Budae jjigae being a soup or stew made from hot dog sausage, spam, tofu blocks, kimchi, mushrooms, onions and ramen noodles amongst other things. Kind of a clean out the cupboard hotpot. Soup over and it was back to the apartment to start on the Koreans but a fine way to get in the mood.

The picture at top left is the light horse and the cause of my frustration with the superglue. As you can see some of the figures have a separate torso to legs. These are nice because you can vary the way the figures look but a beast to glue together. It took nearly an hour to get one of them successfully glued whilst the other two took about 5 minutes each. Anyway, in the end I was the winner and the torsos were glued to riders.

2012-11-28 01.54.25 The next to get the treatment were the cataphracts or knights. These are difficult as well, especially when trying to squeeze them onto the appropriate base. I must admit though, that after getting them on they do look the business – ready to roll over any wayward Khitan-Liao, Chinese or indeed other Korean.

The general’s element is the one to the left with a suitable looking general (he could have come off one of the Korean historical dramas) and standard bearing. The figures look very much like the one on exhibit in the Seoul War Memorial Museum.

Next to be prepared was the spears (above left) and again they look fairly close to the exhibits from the museum as well as the reconstructions and some of the contemporary illustrations.

2012-11-28 01.55.10

The archers, crossbowmen and psiloi (light troops) were last to base up and they were also the easiest, as there is plenty of room on the base for them and nothing really bendable on the figure itself.

There is one element of bowmen, one of crossbowmen (who shoot the same as bowmen near as I can tell) and one of psiloi or light troops. The psiloi have a mix of figures on their base.

The last figures shown are two of the three elements of light horse (the other was away waiting for the glue to dry).

2012-11-28 01.55.36

All the figures here are Alain Touller Figurines of France and are a good 15mm size (slightly less than the 18mm we have come to be used to) with fine proportions and good animations.

The Koreans do look the part.

The next step with the Koreans is to glue sand to the bases – the start of the flocking process. After the glue has dried there I will then undercoat it with matt black paint and then give the figures a heavy dry-brush with white. That will be followed with a heavy wash of burnt umber on the bases, then dry brushing some lighter shades of brown. After that is completed, the figures will be painted then the bases finished with static grass and the whole kit and kaboodle varnished, ready for battle.

Well, almost ready for battle. I still need to do the camp.

Whilst waiting for the paint to dry after the undercoating and wet brushing I will be researching uniform colours for the troops. Any suggestions for troop colours gladly considered (Karl Heinz – have you any research on that?).

Cancon 2013 DBA – Koguryo Koreans – 1

2012-11-27 00.19.27 Having selected the Koguryo Koreans (book II, list 76) for the Book I or II DBA competition day at Cancon 2013, I started to get around to preparing them for painting last night. The figures come from Alain Touller Figurines of France and are quite neat. The light cavalry horse archers come with a separate torso allowing the figure to be pointed in different directions.

Last night was spent starting to prepare the figures for undercoating and painting (I was doing this whilst installing Windows8 on my laptop – there is another saga). The first step was getting some bases ready. I had some pre-cut MDF bases from East Riding Miniatures that I had purchased a while back. I also had been purchasing packets of magnetic tape from OfficeWorks in Sydney. They do a pack of 50 magnets pre-cut to 40mm x 15mm. What a heavenly size for a wargamer. Four magnets for the Spear and ten for the mounted troops. The Bows and Psiloi bases I used some 20mm wide tape I had purchased at the Stationery Store in the Funan Digital Mall (on the second floor).

2012-11-27 00.45.07 It was then a matter of sorting out the figures and starting to clean up the flash on them. You can see the army laid out to the right here. Psiloi on the left, then two bases of bows (one of bows and one of crossbows), four elements of Spears with two different figures making them up. To the rear are the Cataphracts and to the front the Light Horse.

As far as cleanup went last night, I got as far as getting the Psiloi and bows cleaned, tidied up and stuck to their base.

Tonight’s plan is to clean up the rest, stick them to their bases and then glue sand to the bases before undercoating. I have not tried this method of painting before where you base the figures first then paint them on the bases so I am interested to see how well that works for me.

I will also need to start on some uniform research for the Koguryo and of course, I also have to decide on the Book III or IV army for Cancon 2013.

Lastly, a photo of the Light Horse. The grid in the background is 1cm square – if you click on the picture you should be able to get a reasonable close-up of some of the figures.

2012-11-27 00.45.23

DBA for Cancon 2013 – the naked Koreans

These are the figures for the Koreans – Koguryo – before any preparation or painting. These will be the book 1 or 2 army. Still trying decide on the book 3 or 4 army. Sort of torn between the Poles, Hungarians, Serbians, later Crusaders or the Knights of St John.


Book 1 or 2 Army Decided – Koguryo Korean

I think!

DBA Army List Book 2, List 76 – Koguryo Korean 300 AD-668 AD.

It looks a challenging list and should be fun to play with. It contains two elements of Knights (actually cataphracts), two of Light Horse, 4 of Spear (not the most effective but solid never-the-less), two of Bows and 1 Psiloi (which at the worst can back up the spears I guess).

So, not an inspiring list but tonight it looks like the one I’ll use for the first day of the DBA competition.

The figures I have for this are the Alain Touller Figurines – a French figure maker and they look quite good. Close to what I can recall seeing in the museums in Seoul. So, today they are the selection.

HMS Rattlesnake

HMS_Rattlesnake_(1822)HMS Rattlesnake was a 28-gun  corvette of the Royal Navy launched in 1822. She made a historic voyage of discovery to the Cape York and Torres Strait areas of northern Australia.

This is not the reason I am mentioning HMS Rattlesnake. Nor am I mentioning it because of it’s obvious North American name. The corvette was built after the Napoleonic Wars but managed to find employment through the middle of the 19th century as a survey vessel and the rescuer of young ladies in distress ((Rattlesnake was the ship that rescued Barbara Crawford Thompson, who had been shipwrecked on Prince of Wales Island, North Queensland, aged 13 years in November 1844 and who spent the next five years living with the local Kaurareg people, despite their reputation for being cannibals. The true and certified version of her life story can be found in the book “Wildflower” The Barbara Crawford Thompson Story by Queensland historian Raymond J Warren))

The reason I am mentioning Rattlesnake is that one of her sister-ships, HMS Samarang, surveyed Port Hamilton in 1845 by Sir Edward Belcher in the Samarang. Post Hamilton was named after the then secretary of the Admiralty, Captain W. A. B. Hamilton. I intend to post something about Port Hamilton in Korea in the future and the Samarang will be mentioned but I did not have a picture of her, hence the entry for the Rattlesnake.

Both vessels were members of the Atholl-class of corvettes and were armed with:

Upper deck: 20 x 32-pdr (25cwt) carronades
Quarterdeck: 6 x 18-pdr carronades
Forecastle: 2 x 9-pdr guns

A New Ancient Project

It’s been a few months since I outlined my next wargaming project, to be added to the pile of other projects either planned or underway but not yet completed. Time for an ancient one.

This came about as a result of the three for two sale from Essex Miniatures. I’d bought Hungarians, Poles and Serbs. It felt so good handling 15mm lead again that I thought I should look at something a little Ancient. Having been reading Conn Iggulden’s Mongol series of books recently and noting that the fourth book in the tale of the Mongols has just been released, it felt good to consider a Mongol theme.

The DBA rules have a Mongol campaign in them with the armies being Hungarian, Mongol, Pole, Russian, Chinese and Khwarizm. There is also an eastern based campaign set around the Asian opponents of Kublai Khan (Korea, Sung Chinese, Japan, Vietnam and Burma).

I wanted to start it a little earlier however, starting with the Mongols coalescing into a unified state, to deal with the various tribes first then sort off on worldwide domination. To that end I am looking at a campaign (or at least a series of armies) consisting of:

  • III/44 Tribal Mongolian – two of these armies will be required as the early on the Mongols were fighting each other
  • III/11ab – these are the Uigher and other Central Asian Turkish tribes – one of the early opponents
  • III/42b Sha-t’o Turkish
  • III/15 Khitan-Liao
  • III/66 Hsi-Hsia

These would do for starters. I know that I could easily add the Tang and Sung Chinese into this group, especially as they are dealt with in the first three books of Iggulden’s novels but I think they will keep nicely for a link set.

A second stage would have a smaller campaign consisting of the following:

  • III/44 Tribal Mongolian – only one of these required now as the Mongols are more unified now
  • III/61 Sung Chinese
  • IV/14ab Jurchen-Chin
  • IV/15 Qara-Khitan
  • IV/35 Mongol Conquest – this is what the Tribal Mongol eventually became

The third stage would be to adopt from the rules the Mongol Terror campaign, consisting of:

  • III/67b Early Hungarian
  • III/62b Early Polish
  • III/78 Early Russian
  • IV/35 Mongol Conquest
  • III/61 Sung Chinese
  • IV/24 Kwarizmian

Lastly the Kublai Khan stage where the armies involved would be:

  • III/61 Sung Chinese
  • IV/48 Yuan Chinese (the Mongol Empire in China)
  • III/56 Koryo Dynasty Korean
  • III/54 Early Samurai
  • III/59 Medieval Vietnamese
  • III/9b Burmese

I realise that I could then add in the period of the various Hordes traipsing across Asia in particular but they will need to wait for a later project.

In the meantime, there are 16 DBA Armies listed above – that will keep this as a running project for some time. The next stage in planning this will be identifying figures, starting with the Early Mongol period.


image One of the recent searches in Thomo’s Hole was the word “imjin”. There are two Imjins I can think of, both military (well three really, there is that Korean river, the Imjin river too, of course).

The first I can recall is the Battle of Imjin River in the Korean War. This was a battle principally between Chinese forces and British and Belgian troops, with support later from Philippine and US troops. Perhaps the most famous incident of this battle was the defence of the “Glosters”, the 1st Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment, and in particular their defence when surrounded on Hill 235. One company of the Glosters, Company D, eventually escaped, the others being killed or captured.

The other Imjin I can recall refers to the Imjin War. These refer particularly to two Japanese invasions of Korea. The first was when Toyotomi Hideyoshi decided to conquer Korea, Ming Dynasty China, the Jurchens and India – just a small easily completed task. This was in 1592 and 1593.

The second invasion of Korea was in 1594 and lasted until 1596. In this second effort Hideyoshi’s expectations had been managed somewhat and his target was only Korea. These invasions finally finished in 1598 so this was Korea’s 7 Year War. The Imjin War is the name this is principally known as (in Korean, 임진왜란).

The part of the Imjin war that interests me the most is the naval aspect, especially in that the Imjin War saw the introduction of then famous Turtle Ship under the control of Admiral Yi SunSin. Perhaps the most significant battle of this was the last battle, the Battle of Noryang Point. In this battle, the Korean fleet under Admiral YiSunSin was joined by a Chinese fleet un Chen Lin. They caught the Japanese with about 500 ships anchored in the narrow straits of Noryang. At about 2:00 am, the Korean and Chinese fleets attacked.

The battle ended with an allied victory. The Japanese lost nearly 300 warships out of the original 500. Unfortunately, at his moment of truimph, Admiral Yi SunSin was mortally wounded and died before the battle and his victory was complete.

Admiral Yi SunSin's crane formation

USS Swatara

Image from Naval History and Heritage Command As it was on this day, 19 May, in 1882 that Commodore Shufeldt landed in Korea from the USS Swatara, and as the Swatara has some connections to Australia, I thought I’d mention her here.

The ship is also quite interesting as she started life as a wooden, screw sloop in the United States Navy. She was named for Swatara Creek in Pennsylvania and was launched on 23 May 1865 by the Philadelphia Navy Yard; sponsored by Miss Esther Johnson; and commissioned on 15 November 1865, Commander William A. Jeffers in command. The details of the vessel are in the table below, comparing her to the rebuilt Swatara.

The first Swatara served with the US European Squadron until 1869, then serving in the Atlantic Squadron until 1871. In 1872, as part of the Secretary of the Navy George M. Robeson’s plans to overhaul and modernize ships of the Navy, the first Swatara was taken to the New York Navy Yard, ostensibly for “repairs.” In fact, the “repairs” constituted construction of a new ship, for Swatara was given a new hull and unused machinery which had been in storage since 1865. Embodying only certain fittings and equipment from the first ship, the second Swatara was launched on 17 September 1873 at the New York Navy Yard and commissioned on 11 May 1874, Capt. Ralph Chandler in command.

The Swatara transported five scientific parties to the South Pacific in 1874 to observe the transit of Venus. The first team landed at Hobart, Tasmania, on 1 October 1874 and then Kerguelen Island; Queenstown, Tasmania; New Zealand; and Chatham Island.

USS_Monongahela_(1862) She returned all but one of the parties, picked up by Monongahela ((USS Monongahela (1862) was a barquentine–rigged screw sloop-of-war that served in the Union Navy during the American Civil War finally being paid-off in 1908))(shown to the left), to Melbourne early in 1875 and then sailed back to the US where she joined the Atlantic Squadron again for a time and was then retired for a while.

Swatara was recommissioned on 24 December 1879 at Boston Navy Yard and departed on 21 January 1880 for the Far East. She visited numerous Mediterranean ports and transited the Suez Canal, eventually arriving at Hong Kong on 17 April 1880. Swatara called at many east Asian ports during her Asiatic Squadron duty, including long stays at Shanghai, Chefoo, and Yokohama. Departing from Yokohama on 7 July 1882, Swatara headed for home waters, via the Cape of Good Hope, and arrived at Hampton Roads on 4 December 1882 for an overhaul. She was eventually struck from the Navy list on 29 July 1896 and sold at public auction on 2 November.

Her connection with Korea, however, was in 1882.

The tale of this involvement goes back to 1866 when the US was attempting to spread its influence through the Pacific chasing trade amongst other things. Commodore Matthew C Perry had forced a trade treaty on Japan in a wonderful example of gunboat diplomacy. In 1866 however, the American schooner Surprise foundered in the Yellow Sea (East Sea) off Korea’s Coast and the crew abandoned ship and rowed to shore. The Korean authorities picked them up and returned them across the Yalu River and into Manchuria, being delivered to the American consul at Yingtsze on Liaotung Bay. They were returned from there to the US.

Meanwhile, at much the same time, the American schooner General Sherman was under charter to a British firm and sailed from Chefoo in China to Korea. This was supposed to be a trade cruise. The General Sherman sailed up the Taedong River toward Pyongyang and got stuck on a mud bank when the water lever dropped quickly. She remained stuck fast there. It seems that orders came from Seoul to clear out the problem so the Koreans attacked the vessel. The crew held out for four days until finally being overwhelmed. The ship was burnt.

In January 1867, curious to find out what had happened to the General Sherman, Robert W Shufeldt commanding ordered the USS Wachusett to Korea to find out what had happened. Bad weather forced the Wachusett before being able to receive a response from the Korean king about the General Sherman.

In spring of 1868, John C Febiger in command of the USS Shenandoah sailed to the mouth of the Taedong and made inquiries as to the General Sherman and her crew. He was told that a mob had destroyed the vessel and killed the crew after it had been intimidated. Febinger returned to the US.

In 1870, Frederick Low, who was the US minister to China was instructed by the US Secretary of State, Hamilton Fish, to secure a treaty from the Koreans for the protection of shipwrecked sailors. He was also told to secure an commercial treaty. Low sailed aboard the USS Colorado and along with a squadron of warships and gunboats, set sail for Korea from Nagasaki. They arrived at Chemulpo and contacted Korean officials. On 1 June 1870, four steam launches traversed the Yom-ha (Salée River) to make soundings near the island of Kanghwa at the mouth of the Han River. The Korean shore batteries opened fire and there was a short fire fight.

One year later, on 1 June 1871, Low ordered an attack on the Korean fortifications along the Yom-ha. This happened, the fortifications were destroyed and around 250 Koreans were killed in the process (3 Americans were also killed). The Americans, however, still did not get their trade treaty and left.

In 1876 a flotilla of Japanese warships sailed menacingly along the west coast of Korea and extracted the Treaty of Kanghwa from the Koreans, allowing unrestricted business and trade between the two nations.

h97294 In 1878, the now Commodore Robert Shufeldt left Norfolk in the USS Ticonderoga (pictured to the right in Chinese waters on this trip) with a fleet of American warships undertaking a round the world tour – sort of a precursor of the Great White Fleet. The objective of this fleet was the expansion of US trade. When he got to the east, he used the assistance of Japan to try and negotiate a commercial treaty with Korea (the fleet of warships may also have been of assistance). In 1880, however, the Chinese (the suzerains of Korea at that time) invited Shufeldt to Peking and discussions led to a treaty. Shufeldt eventually sailed from China to Korea aboard the USS Swatara in 1882 and on a hillside near Chemulpo a treaty of amity, commerce, peace and navigation was signed.

That then is the tenuous connection between the Swatara, Korea and Australia.

Details of the Two Swatara’s


Year Type Displacement Length Beam Draft Speed Complement Armament
1865 Steam driven Screw Sloop 1,113 long tons 216‘ (65.8 m) 30’ (9.1m) 13’ (4m) 12 kts 164 officers and men 1 × 60-pounder gun
6 × 32-pounder guns
3 × 20-pounder howitzers 
1879 Steam driven Screw Sloop 1,900 long tons 216’ (66 m) 37’ (11m) 16’6” (5m) 10.2 kts 230 officers and men 6 × 9 in (230 mm) smoothbore guns
1 × 8 in (200 mm) rifle
1 × 30-pounder gun