The Forgotten War Against Napoleon – Review

Gareth Glover’s The Forgotten War Against Napoleon – Conflict in the Mediterranean, published on 26 June 2017 by Pen & Sword Military, ISBN 9781473833951, 265 pages is a survey of the Napoleonic Wars in the Mediterranean over the period 1793 to 1815.

The Mediterranean theatre is one familiar to Napoleonic warfare buffs that but for a few engagements is generally is overlooked.

This book does not have a great deal of detail on any one engagement but rather provides a brief look at 55 or so engagements around the Mediterranean.

I’ll come out of the closet. I am a wargamer and the Napoleonic Wars are a period I keep looking at but never really get a head of steam up on a project – much as I have a deep interest in the uniforms, the ships, the battles, and the campaigns.

Glover has surveyed action around the Mediterranean and he provides between 2 and 7 pages per chapter discussing the various actions of the time. This includes both naval and land actions. Egypt is covered as is Corsica, Naples, Malta, Sicily and such. Each of the chapters provides a reasonable overview of the action and sufficient information to persuade the reader to look deeper.

For example, one action I had not heard about (or at least cannot remember reading about) is Algeciras in 1801. This was an action between the British, lead by Sir James Saumarez (the next book on my reading stack being his biography) and a Franco/Spanish fleet. The British 74s engaged a fleet consisting of 74s and Spanish 112s, capturing or sinking a couple. The following morning the French Formidable beat off the attacks of two British ships of the line and a frigate, so a mixed result for the British.

The book is full of short descriptions (the one above lasting just two pages) but will provide plenty of inspiration for either further reading or, in the case of wargamers, scenarios for future games.

The book finishes with the elimination of the Barbary pirates, using that as the conclusion of the war in the Mediterranean.

For the wargamer, a useful source for information for scenarios in the Napoleonic period. For the general reader of history, a useful summary of what went on in the Mediterranean during the Napoleonic Wars.

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The Broad Fourteens

So with the coastal forces wargame project this year (memo to self … get off a*** and get painting) I happened across an interesting piece on YouTube tonight. I came home exhausted and whilst waiting for the butter to thaw ready for dinner, I turned to YouTube and thought I would look at some others 1/1200 coastal forces painting. Well one thing led to another and before I knew it I was watching an English film from around the time of the Second World War, made with the crews from a couple of MBTs and/or MGBs that covered getting the boats ready, a little training then onto some missions in an area known as the Broad Fourteens.

The Broad Fourteens were an area of the North Sea just off the coast of Europe where the depth of water was 14 fathoms over a wide area and where a lot of these coastal actions took place.

The YouTub video is below:

And just to remind those folks who do not play with little toy soldiers and boats, here are some of my boat collection, waiting for paint (refer to the first paragraph).

The Coastal Fleets

New British Battleships – 1942 – HMS Anson and Howe

I ended up by accident looking at an old Pathe News clip today – the one where HMS Howe had completed her time in the graving dock and was being made ready for sea. The news report showed the final stages of preparation and the workers leaving the vessel, the provisioning of the ship and the HMS Howe sailing down to then under the Forth bridge.  Some great shots of her at sea and firing her 14″ broadside.

Well worth looking at for a blast from the past, not to mention the 1940s newsreader English, “the ship was got ready”.

The British Pacific Fleet – The Royal Navy’s Most Powerful Strike Force – Review

I first came across the British Pacific Fleet when I read Peter C Smith’s Task Force 57, published in 2001. I was working in Ulaanbaatar at the time and was looking for anything that referred to the sea to read. I had become interested in some of the British formations, Task Force 57 and Force H for example. I have picked up various works on the British Pacific Fleet since.

The British Pacific Fleet – The Royal Navy’s Most Powerful Strike Force by Davis Hobbs in 2011, Seaforth Publishing, a Pen & Sword imprint has been released in paperback on 12 April 2017, ISBN 9781526702838 for £13.50.

The British Pacific Fleet (BPF) has a connection to Australia and Sydney and other Australian bases in particular as its logistical base was Australia and much of the training of aircraft was performed at Schofields, Nowra and Jervis Bay.

The BPF was born from the British desire to re-exercise some power in eastern waters. The Royal Navy (RN) had been expelled from the Pacific by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) and raids by the IJN on the then Ceylon ensured the RN presence was restricted to the edge of the Indian Ocean, essentially protecting the supply lines from Australia to the Middle East.

Churchill suggested to Roosevelt in September 1944 that a British fleet should become involved in the operations in the main theatre against Japan. The BPF was formed in November 1944 under Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser and its main base was established at Sydney.

While in the Indian Ocean the precursor to the BPF had been conducting operational training and equipping its units which included a large increase in aircraft carriers and changes to the operation of the Fleet Air Arm. The fleet also equipped with an expanded floating supply organisation with about 60 vessels being included in the RN “Fleet Train”.

The BPF eventually was built with vessels from the Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy, Royal New Zealand Navy and Royal Canadian Navy, as well as blue funnel line vessels requisitioned.

The Allied commanders in the Pacific, General Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Chester Nimitz had differing opinions on where the fleet shout be deployed. MacArthur wanted it in and around the Philippines and Borneo area whilst Nimitz wanted it covering the invasion of Okinawa and the advance on Japan. Nimitz was backed by London and the politicians and so the BPF covered the invasion of Okinawa.

While Smith’s book covers Task Force 57 at a fairly high level, Hobbs goes into detail. He covers:

  • Planning and training
  • Strikes against Sumatran oil refineries
  • Australia and logistical support
  • Operations Iceberg I and II
  • Replenishment in Leyte Gulf
  • Operation Inmate
  • Repairs in Australia and improved logistical support
  • Submarine and mine warfare
  • Strikes against the Japanese mainland
  • Victory
  • Repatriation, trooping and war-brides
  • Peacetime fleet and retrospective

There are a number of appendices covering, among other topics:

  • the composition of the fleet in January 1945, August 1945 and January 1948
  • Air stations and air yards
  • Commanding and flag officers
  • Aircraft

This is a very complete look at the BPF amply illustrated throughout – one of my favourites being HMS Vengeance in Sydney Harbour with the bridge as a back drop, no Opera House, no tall buildings, just a lot of bush around the foreshores.

If you are at all interested in the days when Britain had more than two aircraft carriers at sea, the British Pacific Fleet by Hobbs tells a tale of politics, organisation, operations and dogged persistence. That Hobbs’s writing style is easy to read is added bonus.

British Warship Recognition – Volume II: Armoured Ships 1860-1895, Monitors and Aviation Ships

British Warship Recognition – Volume II: Armoured Ships 1860-1895, Monitors and Aviation Ships

I reviewed Volume I in hard copy (Boy’s Own Battleships – Book Review) and Volumes III and IV in eBook format (British Warship Recognition – The Perkins Identification Albums – Volume III and IV Cruisers 1865-1939, Parts 1 and 2). I am kind of late getting to Volume II but I am enjoying it nevertheless.

This is British Warship Recognition – Volume II: Armoured Ships 1860-1895, Monitors and Aviation Ships under the Seaforth Imprint, (ISBN: 9781848323865, published on 5 September 2016 of 224 pages).

I noted before in previous reviews that a Perkins volume is not for everybody but for those who “get it”. I grew up with the wireless as dinner table entertainment; when to make a telephone call you needed to speak to an operator; and indeed, where telephone numbers were prefixed with the name of the exchange.

HMS Eagle – National Maritime Museum, N10504

Perkins’s hobby was photographing Royal Navy ships. He was such a keen amateur photographer that he photographed and ended up with one of the largest collections of photographs of warships. His collection of photos was bequeathed to the National Maritime Museum where it can still be seen today and where it forms the core of the historic photos naval section.

While he was photographing he found many photographs were neither identified nor accurately dated. He then decided to compile an album of his own drawings incorporating as much detail as possible on the individual ships. He really looked closely at the details, the differences between ships of the same class and then differences in a vessel over time and used his drawings as a catalogue of his photographs.

HMS Eagle 1920 – as drawn by Perkins

This book is one of what hopefully will be 8 volumes. It is a photographic reprint of Perkins’s original art books where he set about to draw and paint the British fleet. There is really no other way this could be reproduced, even with the technical marvels available today and that still amaze this listener of the wireless.

Perkins noticed over time that vessels changed – davits were moved forward, funnels thinned or thickened, smaller calibre weapons moved around the vessels, masts removed or changed, funnels added and so on.

HMS Eagle in 1923-1929 as drawn by Perkis – note the changes he identified

The ship illustrated in this review, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle, is shown as she appeared in 1920 and then again later in 1923-1929. Also shown is the photograph of HMS Eagle held at the National Maritime Museum, N10504.

The books are big but with Volume II and the rest of the collection they provide a unique view of the Royal Navy in the later 19th and early 20th centuries, a view that you will not see in a Brassey’s, a Conway’s or indeed a Janes. You may need a larger bookshelf or broader coffee table but the payoff is enjoying a cup of NATO standard, and flicking through the drawings and admiring his talent.

This volume contains drawaings of

  • Old Battleships
    • Renown
    • Centurion Class
    • Royal Sovereign class
    • Hood
    • Trafalgar class
    • Victoria class
    • Admiral class
    • Benbow
    • Collingwood
  • Turret Ships including
    • Dreadnought
    • Inflexible
    • Agamemnon class
    • Royal Sovereign
  • Central Citadel Ships
  • Barbette and Battery Ship
  • Central Battery Ships
  • Broadside Ships
  • Floating Batteries
  • Monitors
  • Old Monitors
  • Torpedo Ram
  • Observation Balloon Vessel
  • Kite Balloon Ships – buy the book to see 🙂
  • Catapult Vessel
  • Aircraft Carriers including
    • Anne
    • Ark Royal (1914)
    • Ark Royal (1938)
    • Eagle
    • Hermes
    • Courageous class

Well recommended!

When You Are Looking for Another Tank Kit and Fail

USS Tennessee

I stopped into Lil’s Hobby Shop the other day, looking for a 1/72 scale modern French tank but failed on that.

Of course, if you can’t see what you want, then it is very easy to get distracted. Ships, I thought. I have not built a ship in ages.

I noticed that the 1/700 scale Trumpeter kits came with a full hull or a waterline as an alternative.

The Etched Brass Bits

I purchased one.

Actually,  purchased two. The USS Tennessee and HMS Repulse.

The Tennessee is modelled when she had the lattice masts, hence the etched brass bits to the left.

The kits also have quite a bit of detail.

The aircraft, for example, are moulded in clear plastic. Painting carefully will leave a clear canopy.

The aircraft, however, are also moulded with propellers.

I am wondering now why I bought the ships as they will end up being about 20cm long. Also, I will feel I am not doing the kit justice unless I model the sea and antenna wires 😦

Perhaps I should grab a destroyer to built frst to practice ship building skills. Nah! Just go for it!

The HMS Repulse kit is below.

HMS Repulse

British Warship Recognition – The Perkins Identification Albums – Volume III and IV Cruisers 1865-1939, Parts 1 and 2

Part 1

Back in June last year I was fortunate to get a copy of Volume 1 of the British Warship Recognition – the Perkins Identification Albums originally written/illustrated by Richard Perkins. Volume 1 dealt with Capital Ships 1895-1939 (ISBN 9781848323827).

I had hoped to get to look at Volume 2 but the day job got in the way and I missed that release. Along came Volumes 3 and 4. Unfortunately because of the size of the book, I can’t get a physical copy for review. Really, it is a very big book.

However, Pen and Sword books were happy to give me access to the electronic version of Perkins Volume III, Part 1, Cruisers 1865-1939.  Perkins Volume III part 1 is published under the Seaforth Publishing imprint, is 192 pages long, ISBN: 9781473891456 and was published on 31 January 2017. It is available in hardcopy, as well as Kindle and ePub versions. I received the Kindle version for review.

Part 2

Pen and Sword books also provided access to the electronic version of Volume IV, Part 2, Cruisers 1865-1939.  Perkins Volume IV part 2 is also published under the Seaforth Publishing imprint, is also
192 pages long, ISBN: 9781473891494 and published on 14th June 2017. It is available in hardcopy, as well as Kindle and ePub versions. I also received the Kindle version for review.

First, let me note that I loved Volume 1 in hardcopy, it is one of the favourites on my bookshelf.

Perkins was a keen amateur photographer and he photographed and ended up with one of the largest collections of photographs of warships. His collection of photos was bequeathed to the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich where it can still be seen today and where it forms the core of the historic photos naval section. While he was photographing he found many photographs were neither identified nor accurately dated. He then decided to compile an album of his own drawings incorporating as much detail as possible on the individual ships. He really looked closely at the details, the differences between ships of the same class and then differences in a vessel over time. The British government asked him to stop is hobby at the commencement of World War 2 as they worried his works would provide valuable information to enemies.

The Perkins Collection comprises some 11,000 photographic negatives and 8 illustrated recognition albums. The photographic negatives are from a time when a film allowed for 8 to 36 photographs so one can get an idea of the dedication of Perkins to his hobby.

HMS Castor

The publications are photographs of the pages of Perkins drawing books. This was seen as the best and probably only way to make these images available to modern readers.

The two volumes for review cover the cruisers from 1865 to 1939. For example, the page to the right shows HMS Calliope Castor as she appeared in 1915 to 1917. He notes the “Calliope 6” included Calliope, Cambrian, Canterbury, Castor, Champion, and C0nstance. He notes the differences between the various ships in the class, as well as a watercolor painting of the vessels (only Caster is shown here).

I must be honest, when I thought about reviewing the electronic versions, I wondered how well they would render on electronic devices.  Pen and Sword kindly sent me links for the Kindle Version so I loaded both volumes to Kindle on my phone (LG G4 with a 5.5-inch screen), my tablet, (LG V700 tablet with 10-inch screen), and my PC. The images in this review came from the LG G4 (the top three) and the V700 (the last image).

HMS Champion and HMS Canterbury

The images from the phone are higher resolution than the tablet and this can be seen with the difference between the final two images here.

Having said that, the rendering of the physical book into Kindle format has been well done with the text present in the book resizing well after using the usual two-finger gestures. The images are clear enough in the tablet and PC and can be seen on the phone. Perkins notes really need to be read on PC or tablet however.

Having said that, both books are a wonderful addition to a naval book collection. I will be honest and and say that I would prefer the hard copy of the books, they are the type of books that best savoured over a good java in one’s favourite reading chair, flipping between pages at whim and admiring the talent of Perkins while reaching towards Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships Volume 1 and 2 to verify Perkins details.

I have no doubt that the hard copy of Volumes 3 and 4 are every bit as good as the hard copy of Volume 1. I can recommend the Kindle version for those of us with electronic reading devices, colour screens really being necessary to enjoy these works. I di like to be able to take my book collection with me when I travel and the electronic versions of these types of books have finally become every bit as god as the print versions.

I can recommend these two volumes to anyone with a passing interest in the Royal Navy between the wars.

A Self Indulgence – the Wargaming Tasks for 2017

Last weekend I had the time to indulge myself in my fantasy – the painting queue for 2017. I had originally thought it was not that extensive as I had not purchased all that much in the way of new lead in 2016 and besides, I did not have too much left over for painting from 2014 and 2015.

The painting queue follows in not particular order!

World War II Aerial Combat. The aircraft mix in these packets are from Raiden Miniatures and are in 1/285th scale. They are:

  • Russian
    • 6 x Tupolev SB-3
    • 6 x I-16 ‘Rata’
  • Finnish
    • 4 x Fiat G.50
    • 4 x Fokker D.XXI
    • 4 x Brewster Buffalo

Russian/Finnish WW2 Aircraft
The rules are Raiden Miniatures Fast Play Aerial Combat Rules. I have version 1.1.

Any of the World War II aerial combat rules could be used. The beauty with the Winter War is that a mix of aircraft seldom seen on the wargames table is possible with the Finns using equipment from Italy, the Netherlands and the USA, among others.

Raiden also make a US WW2 aircraft carrier flight deck, the USS Enterprise, for flight and combat operations. It is a kit in 51 parts and I am not sure if it is made or not currently. See http://www.raidenminiatures.co.uk/4.html for details.

Thunderbolt and Lightning Air Combat Rules
Thunderbolt and Lightning Air Combat Rules
Starmada vessels from Brigade Models. In this case, the PacFed fleet. I have a PacFed Future War Commander Army tucked away up here and this is the off-planet version of those. The PacFed are loosely based around a “Pacific Federation” and contain a lot of vessels with Australian type names.

PacFed Starship Fleet
PacFed Starship Fleet
As an opponent to the PacFed I looked to ONESS – loosely based around German forces. Somewhere at mum’s I have the ground fleet to complement this. This also is from Brigade Models.

20170112_225409
The ONESS Starmada Fleet
Baccus 6mm figures make up the rest of my Singapore DBA Project. Armies still to be painted are:

  • II/9a Syracusan in Sicily 410-210BC
  • II/8 Campanian, Apulian, Lucanian and Bruttian 420-203BC
  • 11/39a Iberian 240-20BC
  • II/11 Gallic 400-50BC
  • II/32a Later Carthaginian 275-202BC

The 6mm Ancients
The 6mm Ancients
Speaking of Brigade Models, I acquired a US Aeronef fleet. This was for part of the Peshawar project but with the purchase of Imperial Skies, the project has expanded somewhat (see below for how much). Of course what is illustrated and discussed here does not mention the British, French and Prussian Aeronefs that are already in the collection.

These then are the US Aeronef fleet. Quite a tidy force. I have been trying to think of an alternative paint scheme other that the Great White Fleet colours of, well, white!

US Aeronefs
US Aeronefs
The perfect opponent for the Americans above – the forces of the Rising Sun. Both Fleets (the US and Japanese) are substantial and would be the two most powerful fleets in the collection.

As with the Americans I am trying to think of a colour scheme that is not the Japanese naval vessels at Tsushima!

Japanese Aeronefs
Japanese Aeronefs
I wanted a bit of fun so I added a Scandinavian Union fleet. Dumpy vessels certainly but they have a certain attraction as well. These are also from Brigade Models and I am pondering colour schemes for them.

These were never envisaged for the Peshawar Project however they will make a good opponent for the BENELUX forces described below.

Scandinavian Union
Scandinavian Union
For a little South American Aeronef action I picked up some Argentinians. These look sufficiently different to other ‘nefs to keep the interest up.

Rather than a standard grey or Victorian Livery for these I have been toying with the idea of basing a paint scheme around light blue and white – same colour as the shirts of the Pumas. Again, Brigade Models.

Argentinian Aeronefs
Argentinian Aeronefs
And if the Argentinians are light blue and white then the Brazilians should be both hairless and based around green and gold colours. I have an idea for that with an antique style of gold colouring.

Brazilian Aeronefs
Brazilian Aeronefs
An opponent for the Scandinavian Union, and possibly the Italians. The Benelux Aeronef fleet consists of vessels from Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Benelux Aeronefs
Benelux Aeronefs
The above-mentioned Italian Aeronefs.

Italian Aeronefs
Italian Aeronefs
The last of the Aeronefs in this years paint queue, the Russians. They are also one of the protagonists in the Peshawar campaign. For colours on these I am thinking, maybe, something like Port Arthur 1905.

Russian Aeronefs
Russian Aeronefs
A couple of years ago I picked up two armies for the Great Pacific War. Here are the Chilean/Peruvian Army and the Bolivian forces. I am planning on using these with the 1859, 1866 or 1870 rules. A project that has been on the back-burner for three years now.

10mm Chilean/Peruvian and Bolivian forces
10mm Chilean/Peruvian and Bolivian forces
I have had an interest in both the English Civil War and the 30 Years War for many years and picking up Baccus 6mm‘s English Civil War boxed set seemed like a good way of getting into it. The set gives me two armies, a couple of houses, Polemos rules and 60mm bases.

I am planning on using these with the Baroque Rules from Dadi and Piombo as well.

ECW - Polemos and Baroque
ECW – Polemos and Baroque
Navwar 1/3000 scale World War I Austrian ships – battleships to destroyers/torpedo boats. I have their main opponent, the Italian fleet, painted and here already. It must be said that during the war, both the Italian Royal Navy and the Austro-Hungarian Navy kept their most modern capital ships inside their bases (Pola and Kotor for the Austrian Fleet, Brindisi and Taranto for the Italian fleet), leaving mostly submarines, destroyers, torpedo boats and scout cruisers to do any fighting.

World War 1 Austrian Fleet
World War 1 Austrian Fleet
Heroics and Ros figures have been used for my Cold War Poles – an opponent for my Cold War Danes.

Cold War Commander Poles
Cold War Commander Poles

In addition to all that, there are a few other items on the list including:

  • Anthony’s 20mm World War II British
  • Finish off the 1/285 scale World War II Japanese
  • 1/285 scale World War II Hungarians
  • 1/300 scale Cold War Commander Danes to be completed
  • 1/1200 scale Coastal Warfare Ships
  • The 1/3000 scale Jutland Fleets
  • Houston Ships Italians and Austrians from the Battle of Lissa
  • Dystopian Wars fleets, and
  • Peshawar, 2mm ground forces

So – a painting queue that for 2017 should keep me busy well into 2020!

23 April 2017 – Update: Nothing. Nada. Not done a thing! Maybe I need to motivate myself and buy some more figures.

WIP – 3 Projects Running – Naturally

Like all good wargamers I am quickly and easily distracted by new, bright shiny objects. As a result, I have three projects on the go at the moment.

Only three projects
Only three projects

Firstly are the 20mm World War 2 figures being painted up for Anthony. Today was spent wrestling with the Platoon 20 6-pdr anti-tank gun. Working out the way it all goes together with no reference works was a wee challenge. I spend some time with Mr Google looking for pictures of completed guns in particular to work out how the shields go on the front and how the trails attach to the rear. Currently the first wheel has been attached.

Then there are the 3mm Napoleonics. An infantry brigade and a cavalry regiment ready for sand and then painting.

Lastly I started with Coastal Forces, commencing with S-26, S-27, S-28 and S-29, German Schnellboot. The boats where cleaned up, machine guns attached to the rear and then added to bases. Bases have had some sea effects added using Woodland Scenics Flex Paste. Painting these will be covered in a later post.

Yep. Back into the groove – too many projects, not enough time (and damn, I super glued my fingers so have no fingerprints. It will be challenging using the bio-metric door locks at the office tomorrow!)

Just What a Wargamer Needs – Another Period

The Hallmark Haul from Magister Militum
The Figurehead Haul from Magister Militum

I sent off to Magister Militum recently for some rare earth magnets. While cruising through the Magister Militum website I browsed across the 1/1200th and 1/1250th scale World War 2 coastal ships and aircraft. I had dabbled a little with 1/600th scale coastal forces before and those models are quite lovely, especially with aerials added. Torpedo boats were large though as were destroyers and some merchantmen. I therefore stopped collecting and working on that project.

So, what does every wargamer need? Yep, one more project. The 1/1200th scale stuff really looked nice. Size was good too and would allow me to play some narrow seas type stuff in the limited space I have in Manila for gaming. Best of all, it is inspiring enough to get me off my rapidly expanding other end and back into painting and modeling.

A few Vosper Power Boats, Fairmile D MGB and MTB, ASW Trawler, M/S Trawler, Sutherland (merchant), Gogovale Steam Merchant, Tramp (Belford), T-22 Class, S-Boat S-18, R-Boat R-41, Bristol Beaufighter MkVI, Lockheed Hudson MkIII as well as some S-Boat and a Torpedo Boat purchased previously for a look and I have another period.

Come Christmas and I will be back home for a while so it will be a good time to pick up my Coastal Forces rules and find what I have available by way of painting references for Coastal Vessels.

If this goes well, then I might look at some Japanese and American forces, or some Italians to pit against the British.

Oh I just love it when a new period takes hold!