British Destroyers & Frigates, The Second World War and After – Review

It just so happened that I was reading Sixty Minutes for St George, a Nicholas Everard Thriller (Book 2) where Nick as stationed aboard HMS Mackerel, a fictional destroyer in World War I. I can recommend the Nicolas Everard series, ripping good yarns with a very accurate nautical theme. Anyway, while reading that, along came a copy of British Destroyers & Frigates, The Second World War and After by Norman Friedman. This edition is published on 17 May 2017 by Seaforth Publishing, has 352 pages and its ISBN is 9781526702821. There are also Kindle and ePub versions available.

Since the Second World War we have seen largely the disappearance of the old classes of cruisers and capital ships, with the obvious exception of aircraft and helicopter carriers. Over that same period destroyers and frigates have merged and whilst we still refer to FFGs and DDGs, these vessels have moved closer and closer, especially as Frigates have got larger. Friedman covers this transition within the British Navy well in this work, dealing with the political, strategic and tactical issues that have brought forward Royal Navy designs such as the Type 45 air defence escort.

The book itself is well illustrated with over 200 photographs (in black and white) of vessels as well as ship plans by A D Baker III and detail drawings from Alan Raven. The book not only covers the Royal Navy but also Commonwealth vessels from Australian and Canada, among others.

The book contains the following chapters:

  • Introduction
  • Beginning the Slide Towards War
  • What Sort of Destroyer
  • Defending Trade
  • The War Emergency Destroyers
  • New Destroyer Classes
  • Wartime Ocean Escorts
  • The Post-war Destroyer
  • The Missile Destroyer
  • The 1945 Frigate and Her Successors
  • The Search for Numbers
  • The General Purpose Frigate
  • The Second Post-war Generation
  • The Post-Carrier Generation
  • The Future

Friedman’s writing style is clear and easy to read and the man knows his subject. A lot of research has gone into this book and it shows from start to finish. This book is a must-have for anyone interested in the development of the Royal Navy through the second half of the 20th century.

I’m ready to start buying some more model vessels to paint after reading through this book.

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A New Project – The Lobster War

A number of posts have been floating around the Internet recently about a game called Cod Wars, set in the period of the Royal Navy’s losses to the plucky Icelanders. The game was developed by David Manley, run at Salute this year and there is a write up on his blog, Don’t Throw Bloody Spears at Me! This had me reading about the Cod Wars. The Cod Wars led on to the Turbot Troubles of Newfoundland (and I learned a lot about Newfoundland’s political history at the same time). All this then naturally enough led to the Lobster War.

Briefly, [from Wikipedia] the Lobster War (also known as Lobster Operation) is a name given to a dispute over spiny lobsters which occurred from 1961 to 1963 between Brazil and France. The Brazilian government refused to allow French fishing vessels to catch spiny lobsters 100 miles off the Brazilian northeast coast, arguing that lobsters “crawl along the continental shelf”, while the French sustained that “lobsters swim” and that therefore, they might be caught by any fishing vessel from any country. The dispute was resolved unilaterally by Brazil, which extended its territorial waters to a 200-mile zone, taking in the disputed lobsters’ bed.

There was, however, two fleets mobilised and involved and it could have got nasty. Best reason yet for this as a project however is the chance to use some 1960s naval technology and by 1960s I mean anything from about 1942 onward. The competing fleets were the Brazilian and French Fleets. The Brazillians utilised:

  • Ipiranga (V17) – a corvette
  • Paraná (D29) – a Fletcher class destroyer
  • Babitonga Pará (D-27) – a Fletcher class destroyer
  • Acre (D 10) – a destroyer
  • Araguari (D-15) – a destroyer
  • Greenhalgh (D 24) – a destroyer
  • Almirante Barroso (C-11) – a cruiser
  • Tamandaré (C-12) – a cruiser
  • Minas Gerais – an aircraft carrier
  • Riachuelo (S15) – submarine
  • 1 Squadron of B-17 maritime patrol aircraft
  • 1 Squadron of P-15
  • 4 x P-16 Tracker

Arrayed against this formidable force were the French forces offshore Brazil and the west coast of Africa:

  • Offshore Brazil:
    • Tartu (D636) – escort vessel (I guess like a frigate)
    • Paul Goffeny – despatch boat
  • Offshore West Africa:
    • Clemenceau – aircraft carrier
    • De Grasse – cruiser
    • Cassard (D623) – escort vessel
    • Jauréguiberry – escort vessel The Picard – destroyer
    • Le Gascon – destroyer
    • L’Agenais – destroyer
    • Le Béarnais – destroyer
    • Le Vendéen – destroyer
    • La Baise A625 – tanker

What’s not to like about this – could make for some fun wargaming. Now to hunt up my Navwar catalogue!

WIP – 1/1200 Scale Aircraft – Part 3

The three airfleets
The three air fleets

I managed to get some more time at the work table Sunday and decided that as I was progressing well with the 1/1200th aircraft, I should get the first batch based and ready for painting. The photo to the right shows the three air fleets, such as they are, ready for painting. I am planning on painting next weekend, social engagements permitting.

At the rear, the Japanese, the Chinese to the fore and the Indians off to the left.

Close up of the Indian air force ... well, my little portion of it at least :-)
Close up of the Indian air force … well, my little portion of it at least 🙂

The Indians are shown to the left. Two maritime patrol aircraft – an Ilyushin Il-28 and a Tupolev Tu-142 Bear – which I finally got to stand on a base.

Also present are the Ka-28 and Ka-31, and the Sea King helicopters. The Sea Harriers, MiG-29K and Breguet BR1050 Alizes round out that little force.

The Chinese aircraft
The Chinese aircraft

To the right are the Chinese aircraft. Ka-28 and Ka-31 helicopters provide the ‘copters carried by the Chinese naval vessels. A Tu-26 Badger provides maritime patrol. For some aerial punch there are some MiG-21s in the guise of Chengdu J-7s, Sukhoi Su-30s and Shenyang J-15s.

The MiG-21 is small relative to the later aircraft and is modelled with no fuselage under the wing level which is not quite right, however, at 1/1200th scale, I don’t have any rivets to count and for wargaming purposes, it looks like a J-7.

And finally the Japanese
And finally the Japanese

Lastly, the Japanese. As the Chinese have taken Russian designed aircraft and localised them to Chinese requirements, so the Japanese have been building American aircraft under license.

For maritime patrol the Japanese have a Kawasaki P-2J (a licensed version of the Lockheed Neptune). Helicopters are Sikorsky Super Stallions and a local version of a Sikorsky Sea Hawk, the Mitsubishi H-60. For some punch there are a couple of older F-4 Phantoms and some newer Mitsubishi F-2s.

A couple of F-4s bounce a couple of MiG-21s
A couple of F-4s bounce a couple of MiG-21s

Of course, being a wargamer, it is too difficult to pass up the opportunity of having a couple of Phantoms bounce a couple of MiG-21s. However it seems like one of the MiGs has managed to get itself a firing solution whilst the wing man to the Phantom hopes his leader will get a hurry on and get a firing solution on the other MiG.

The last bit of dog fighting before painting
The last bit of dog fighting before painting

Lastly, something a little more modern.

OK, enough playing. Next step with these is to undercoat next weekend when I hope to finally try out my new air brush.

WIP – 1/1200 Scale Aircraft – Part 2

The bases prepared, magnetic tape underneath and then labelled
The bases prepared, magnetic tape underneath and then labelled

I mentioned previously my modern fleets (Chinese, Indian and Japanese) built from Navwar vessels. I also mentioned before that I was putting together some Cap Aero 1/1200th scale aircraft from Magister Militum to go along with the vessels. I had set the Japanese aircraft up, but have not got around to painting them yet. I am looking at just doing two of each of the aircraft/helicopter types. I reckon I am not ready for a wing of MiG-29Ks to come sweeping across a fleet yet – two seems enough to handle at the moment.

Brass wire trimmed for height for the different aircraft - 40mm for maritime surveillance, 30mm for attack aircraft and 20mm for helos (and the Alizes)
Brass wire trimmed for height for the different aircraft – 40mm for maritime surveillance, 30mm for attack aircraft and 20mm for helos (and the Alizes)

The next cab off the rank for the aircraft is the Indian Naval Air Arm. This is a mix of MiG-29K, Sea Harriers, Breguet BR1050 Alize aircraft, with Sea King, Kamov Ka-28 and Ka-31 helicopters. Ka-27 helicopters are filling in for the Ka-28 and Ka-31 and to be honest, at this scale, I can’t tell the difference 🙂

Two MiG-29K Fulcrums - the landing gear is modelled on the aircraft and has to be hacked off, preferably without damage to wings dihedral or fingers! The squares are 10mm each side
Two MiG-29K Fulcrums – the landing gear is modelled on the aircraft and has to be hacked off, preferably without damage to wings dihedral or fingers! The squares are 10mm each side

I also have an Ilyushi Il-38 May  painted already for the Indians and my most troublesome model so far, a Tupolev Tu-142 Bear, also for the Indians. I say my most troublesome as this particular aircraft has more holes in it now for mounting than your average block of Swiss cheese. Still, I think I have cracked it finally.

As with the Japanese I have been been using the Philippine 10-centavo and 25-centavo coins as an extra base underneath the metal bases I bought when I purchased the aircraft. The hexagonal base, whilst a good weight, is not quite wide enough for stability and the coins provide enough extra width to stabilise the model aircraft.

The aircraft ready for gluing to the stands - that is the next job. Jou can see the Bear off to the left finally accepting a stand.
The aircraft ready for gluing to the stands – that is the next job. You can see the Bear off to the left finally accepting a stand. The Japanese are in the background

I was also looking at covering the coin on the base with some acrylic gap sealant to extend the sea base a little but that has turned out messier than originally expected so after two test bases, the idea has been dropped, leastwise until I can think of something better.

WIP – Modern Naval Japanese – Aircraft

2014-11-11 00.52.24I finally got around to working on the aircraft to support the modern Japanese fleet I built for playing Shipwreck! The ships are 1/3000th scale but the aircraft are 1/1200th scale, purchased from Magister Militum. Magister Militum have two ranges of aircraft, Cap Aero and 617 squadron.with the Cap Aero slightly finer models than 617 Squadron.Having said that, both ranges produce some nice aircraft.

The two ranges cover modern aircraft from the major powers. The aircraft are modelled with wheels.down, I guess as they would have made a good addition to 1/1200 or 1/1250 scale carriers or models of an airfield.

I snipped the undercarriage off in most cases as part of the clean up process. I had some hexagonal bases from Magister Militum as well but I found when mounting larger aircraft they were a little unstable. Enter the Philippine Central Bank The 10 and 25 centavo coins, apart from being magnetic, provide an extra degree of stability.

2014-11-11 00.52.05There are no Japanese Aircraft but fortunately the Japanese companies work with US aircraft manufacturers to produce localised versions. So, the McDonald Douglas F-16 is produced locally in Japan by Mitsubishi with a slightly larger planform (about 25% larger) but to all intents and purposes is an F-16. So, the F-16 doubles as a Mitsubishi F-2.

The Japanese also use F-4 Phantoms so I get to have one of my favourite aircraft on the table. The Kawasaki Company made a local version of the Neptune so the model is filling in for a Kawasaki P-2J Neptune.

The last two aircraft are some helicopters. The Sikorsky Super Stallion, a heavy lifting ‘copter and another MItsubishi local production of an American ‘copter, the Mitsubishi SH-60J Seahawk.

The brass rods these are mounted on are at various heights. 4cm is used for maritime patrol aircraft like the Neptune, 3cm for attack aircraft like the F-2 and 2cm for helicopters. I have plans to mount some missiles on a 1cm base but that may need to wait until after I have a sanity check.

I’m looking forward to getting some paint on these on Sunday.

The Modern Japanese Fleet – Complete

Well, complete except for the aircraft.

The painting method of the Navwar ships was simple. I started by cutting some 3mm thick bases to an appropriate size. Added some Woodland Scenics Flex Paste to the base. Tapped my finger across the wet flex paste to give it some texture. I then slid the ship into the paste and waited for it all to dry.

I under-coated the ship and base in white. To see what I was doing, I then covered the whole ship and base in a black ink wash.

The base was then painted a dark blue (use your favourite). Once that was dry, a light blue was made into a thin wash and washed across the base (and I mean thin). When dry a colour like Games Workshop’s Citadel Snot Green (or whatever it is called these days) was also made into a very thin wash and washed across the base.

The ships were painted in Army Painter Ash Grey. I kind of use a wet/dry brush technique. Some black ink again and then a light grey touch on some of the raised detail and the vessels were painted, except for the helicopter markings on the stern. These were painted as much with a fine pen and ruler as possible however as I cannot find a yellow pen (go figure) I used Citadel’s Sun Shining out an Orc’s bottom Yellow and some careful(ish) brush work.

Add some name tags, some white paint, thinned, for the ship’s wash then gloss varnish on the sea surface and satin varnish on the ship. I’m quite happy with the way these have turned out, especially the simple sea bases. I will go back over the Chinese and Indians and gloss varnish the sea surface to make it more reflective.

The photos below were taken with a camera and because of the light, a flash, which has kind of washed the grey out a little like a sunny Pacific Ocean day. Next for the Japanese (and Chinese and Indians) is the aircraft – but that will need to wait until I sort out some employment.

New Naval Bases

Japanese to the front, Chinese in the middle and Indians at the rear
Japanese to the front, Chinese in the middle and Indians at the rear

I started the modern Japanese and for this fleet I am trying a little texture on the base. I will describe the method later (as I have shamelessly stolen it from the GHQ website and a YouTube video I think – more about that later).

In the meantime, Japanese to the front, Chinese in the middle and Indians bringing up the rear. The Chinese and Indian subs are on just a plain painted base, the Japanese on a newly, slightly textured one.

A close-up of the new textured bases
A close-up of the new textured bases

PLAN Complete

The PLAN fleet complete
The PLAN fleet complete

Well, except for a few aircraft!

There, to the left, gentle reader, is the PLAN set ready to take on the Indian fleet. I am tempted now to consider some Japanese, maybe a European fleet of some sort or perhaps a ragtag South-East Asian fleet defending their combined oil interests from the Chinese.

I am a little annoyed however as this time I had some problems with the varnishing. I am using the same Acrylic varnish that I have used for the last two years without any problem however this time it seems to have crazed some of the paintwork – in particular, the flight deck of the Liaoning.

Click on the image to see the crazing on the flight deck
Click on the image to see the crazing on the flight deck

I am not sure whether the varnish is the issue or whether it is because I did not use Games Workshop’s Citadel painting on this one – but rather Army Painter colours. I will need to go back and have a chat perhaps to the nice folks at Paradigm Infinitum here in Midpoint, Singapore to see whether anyone else has reported a similar problem.

I will do some testing of various paints on a flat surface in the next few days, when I get a chance, and report back.

Don’t you just hate it when this happens?

In the meantime, the two fleets are now safely accommodated in their semi-permanent home – a Scottish shortbread tin.

The Indian Navy on the left and the Chinese Navy on the right ... ready for red force/blue force naval exercises!
The Indian Navy on the left and the Chinese Navy on the right … ready for red force/blue force naval exercises!

And yes, that is a spare Russian carrier at the bottom – maybe I should build a fleet around it!