Plan B – Battle of Lissa on Hold

So the other day I noted that I was looking at the Battle of Lissa as a new Project. Over the last couple of days I dragged the fleets out of the boxes and had a look at them. Decided I would start on the Austrians first and the Radetzky and sister ships first.

A close examination of the Redetzkys suggest there will be a lot of work here, especially from the age of the moulds and the poor pouring when cast – see the images below for examples.

So, given the enhanced community quarantine here currently and the fact that I would need to get some green stuff to work on these, it is time for a plan B. Another planning session is in order this evening. And in the meantime, I will at least do some more reading and research into the Battle of Lissa and in fact, the war at sea in those times.

This could, of course, lead into a more full-on attempt at the Third Italian War of Independence on land as well, which was the war between the fledgling Kingdom of Italy and the Austrian Empire fought between June and August 1866, where Lissa was the unexpected win for Austria. The conflict paralleled the Austro-Prussian War and, like that war, ended in an Austrian defeat, with Austria conceding the region of Venetia and the city of Mantua to Italy, the Italians having been persuaded to war against the Austrians by Otto von Bismarck.

My worry is that this will ultimately lead into a desire to look at the Schleswig-Holstein War between Prussia, Austria and the German Confederation on one side and the Danes on the other. It is then only a short step backwards to the Second Italian War of Independence with France and Italy squaring off against Austria and then it all concluding with the Franco-Prussian War, a long forgotten project from my past, which I had started using Heroics and Ros 6mm figures.

Oh dear, time for my anti-megalomania pills again!

Time for a New Project — the Battle of Lissa

Enough plastic for the time being, and regardless of how great the detail is on those 1/3000 plastic vessels from Fujimi, it is time to return to the Real Man’s Wargamer MaterialTM … metal!

David Manley’s Broadside and Ram, published by Long Face Games, was purchased from Wargame Vault when there was a special on some of their other rules.

Sitting here in the enhanced community quarantine, I thought to myself, I have some ships here for Lissa somewhere. A rummage through the lead pile turned up two boxed sets of the Lissa fleets, from Houston’s Ships. I had no recollection of when I purchased these fleets, so a hunt through my emails and I discovered that after trading some emails with friend Doug, I ordered these when I was living in Singapore, on 2 January 2012!.  He was working on his Houston’s Ships in January 2012, mine have remained in the lead pile since.

The Broadside and Ram rules provide a brief history of the naval campaign between Austria and Italy 1866. This resulted in the largest ironclad fleet action in history, just off the island of Lissa on 20 July 1866.  Apart from a brief history the rules also include:

  • a campaign system
  • fast play rules
  • a complete set of ship data for the rules

The two boxed sets I purchased have been carried from Singapore to Manila and remained untouched in the lead pile for the past 8 years. The length of time figures have remained untouched and simply stored in the lead pile can usually be measured by the thickness of the dust layer on the top.

These had recently been cleaned off as a result of a deep clean of the apartment here in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. My cleaner insisted on cleaning everything in the condo … twice.  My grumpiness made no difference, nor did my grumpy explanation that COVID-19 does not live in dust layers on old books or unmade wargame models that have been sitting on the shelf for years, so in the end I simply ran the white flag up the pole and assisted the cleaning a little here and a little there.

The models and therefore the moulds they were poured from are old as well and you can see the amount of metal flash that needs to be removed from around the models to the left.

Houston’s Ships are no longer readily available with the exception of the American Civil War range. Great Endeavours (where I purchased these from) stopped making them sometime in 2017 and the range is dying away as moulds deteriorate. These models are therefore old. Houston’s Ships were always a little dodgy with regards to scale but they do have a lot of character and once the masts are gently straightened out, and the davits and lifeboats, funnels and ventilators are added, the ships will then be begging for paint. Prior to painting, the vessel will be added to a sea base, either like the ones I make for my 1/3000 scale vessels or made using acrylic gel, which will be a new technique for me.

The reference for these vessels is Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships, 1860 to 1905. This is one of four volumes covering fighting ships from 1860 to 1995 and this volume, originally published in 1985, is still available from specialist booksellers with prices ranging fro US $98 to $125+. If you ahve any interest is warships, I can thoroughly recommend obtaining all four volumes from wherever you can source them. They are so good that my Conway’s 1906 to 1926 volume was stolen when I lived in Mongolia in 2005 and even then it was the devil’s own job to get a replacement volume.

Painting reference for these ships will be courtesy of Mr. Google. There are photographs of many art works of the battle in museums and galleries in Europe and they are available to view online.

So, time to put the other projects away and break-in a new one.

18 days to go … and wash your hands!

The Battle of Lissa–Austro-Hungarians

DSC01455Back on March 18th I noted that I had picked up two fleets from Houston’s Ships for the Battle of Lissa. I wrote then of the Italian fleet. The ships are in an approximate 1/1000th scale (don’t look too closely at scale lengths etc) but are quite nice models when completed.

Doug has been working on some Houston’s Ships as well – see Houston’s Ships Part 4 for his progress.

Anyway, at the time I noted that I would update Thomo’s Hole with the contents of the Austro-Hungarian pack. I intend to put that to rights now.

The Austro-Hungarian Fleet box contains the following vessels: Kaiser; Drache; Salamander; Kaiser Max; Prinz Eugen; Juan de Austria; Hapsburg; Erzherzog Ferdinand Max; Radetzky; Adria; Donau; Erzherzog Freidrich and Dandolo.

DSC01456As with the Italians I opened a packet to have a closer look, in this case a centre battery ship, the Kaiser. As with previous packs there is a hull, masts, ventilators, ships boats and davits in the pack. The moulding is a bit rough and ready as on the other models but again, I have the feeling this will clean up and paint up quite well to be used in my Austro-Hungarian fleet. Colours will likely be the Brunswick Green these vessels may have been painted in, on the grounds that they will make a good looking opponent for the Italians.

The rigging instructions are quite basic as well and I suspect that I will need to refer to Conway’s for this as well as further information on the vessels themselves. I think I have also found a good supply of rigging cotton but more on that later.

The Battle of Lissa–Italians

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As if I did not have enough wargame plans for this year, friend Douglas’ foray into 1/1000th scale pre-dreadnought vessels has caused the usual wargamer’s “bright, shiney object” syndrome. Yep, purchased some more ships in yet another scale for yet another period.

In this case, Italians and Austrians of the Battle of Lissa fame. The manufacturer? Houston’s Ships. Houston’s Ships are not known for their extreme accuracy. In fact, some of the vessels, to scale, are longer than the original vessel, others are shorter.

First off, the Italian Fleet. The box I purchased contained models for the Formidable, Terrible, Carignano, Messina, Conte Verde, Re d’Italia, Re d’Portagallo, Regina Maria Pia, Castelfidardo, San MArino, Ancona, Palestro, Varese and Affondatore. Enough vessels to cover the Italian fleet.

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Opening one of the packs, in this case, the Formidable, we can see that there are two hulls and sufficient masts, whale boats and guns to complete two vessels of this case.

The instructions and rigging instructions are basic and I would recommend consulting something like Conways All the World’s Ships for additional information.

Whilst the castings are a bit rough around the edges, a little bit of filler and some clean-up and they should produce some nice models.

More on all this later. In the meantime, I am trying to decide whether to paint these vessels in an Italian Grey or make them vessels of an imagi-nation and paint them in a good Victorian Livery.