Small Scale Figures – A Great Blog

I don’t often promote other blogs here – rather, I leave them in the sidebar as a link for folks to explore and enjoy at their will. However, today I came across a great blog and so I am going to mention it here as a post.

The blog is called SteelonSandBlog, and is a blog concentrating on one gamer’s efforts and interests in, well, small scale figures. These are figures in 2mm, 6mm, 10mm scale as well as 1/3000th and 1/1200th and 1/300th (5-6mm) scale.

If you are a wargamer, especially into the smaller scales, then this blog is quite inspirational. His posts are articulate and his photos are great, especially given that some of the content is 2mm in height.

One of his projects has a real appeal to those of use that enjoy pre-dreadnought naval wargaming. He has decided to refight the Boxer Rebellion … but at sea. Follow the 55 Days at Sea link and remember to read from the bottom post to the top (oldest to newest).

A highly recommended site.

My Ship’s Come In

Well, several thousand of them really. My ships, in periods from the Russian Japanese War with a couple of extra pre-dreadnoughts through World War 1 and on to World War 2. They have arrived back from Mongolia. So, what came back? There are a couple of pre-dreadnoughts that need painting from WTJ, namely the following vessels:

  • Saiko Maru
  • Kumano Maru x 2
  • A ship with the code 0033101 (Spanish?)
  • Yakumo
  • Navarin
  • Carlos V
  • Asahi

Some of these vessels were extras after doing my Russian Japanese War collection, others are samples that Jim from WTJ sent me. Of course, these came back in company with my painted Japanese and Russian vessels from that War.

Also back and ready for paint is the Italian and Austrian fleets from World War 1. These were a set I put together when I was in Mongolia. I have plans to expand that set to include the French fleet as well as the Turks and Greeks.

In the collection for a while and ready for me to start painting is the Grand Fleet and the High Seas fleets from Jutland. I’ve had these for a few years now and it is time they were painted. Elsewhere here in the Hole you’ll find the article from Mal Wright about warship colours of World War 1 ships. Also there is a link to the collection in the US of World War 1 (in particular) dazzle schemes for merchant vessels. I may need to get a few merchants for the odd World War 1 convoy.

We then move forward to World War 2 where I think, if I look hard enough, I’ll find some German U-Boats, destroyers and other surface vessels as well as some British – but this is still be be confirmed. Definitely in the collection is the return of my French and Italian vessels of World War 2 – two smallish fleets but certainly enough for playing some games with. These are complemented by the Battle of Matapan set – all the vessels from the Battle of Matapan. These, along with all the others that a manufacturer is not specifically identified for, are from Navwar in the UK.

To round out the vessels needing paint, there is the Allied (mostly American) and Japanese fleets from the Battle of the Philippine Sea. There are a bucket-load of vessels for this to paint.

To complement that as well as doing something a little different, I also built a collection of all the vessels from Task Force 57 – the British and Commonwealth Pacific Fleet. Also included in that collection is a large number of 1/3000th scale aircraft. Originally I was going to mount these on a flying style of base – some thing brass wire about 5 cm tall, a metal washer for the base and a tiny hole drilled into the plane. Perhaps even three models would be glued to a single upright. However, after a closer examination again today, maybe I will glue the aircraft to the flight decks of the aircraft carriers.

There is some latitude being taken with the aircraft. Navwar does not make a 1/3000th scale Seafire or Spitfire so a Corsair is going to have to represent them. In any case, Corsair’s were used by a number of squadrons in that fleet.

This then is the plan – along with working on and finishing the Victorian Science Fiction. I’ll blog later on their progress although I will say here that two Aeronef fleets are just about finished.

BB17 – USS Rhode Island

USS Rhode Island passing through Panama Canal
USS Rhode Island passing through Panama Canal

One of the search terms that returned no value was BB17. Now, again, as I think I know most of the readers of Thomo’s Hole’s tastes, I suspect that the search for BB17 was not for “BB17, The largest adult community … “, but rather for the USS Rhode Island, BB17.

The USS Rhode Island was a 14,948-ton battleship of the Virginia class. She was built in Massachusetts at Quincy by the Fore River Shipbuilding Company and was commissioned in February 1906. She was known in Australia at the time as she was one of the vessels of the American Great White Fleet that circumnavigated the globe, stopping in at Australia on the way. The picture to the right is the Rhode Island passing through the Panama Canal.

The Rhode Island had a limited involvement in World War I, and was decommissioned in June 1920. Soon after that the Rhode Island was given the hull number BB-17 but saw not further active service. She was sold for scrapping in November 1923.

Details of the Vessel:

Displacement: 14,948 tons
Length: 441.7 feet
Beam: 76.3 feet
Draft: 23.8 feet
Speed: 19 knots
Complement: 40 officers, 772 men
Armament: four 12-inch (305 mm) guns
8 × 8 in (203 mm) guns
12 × 6 in (152 mm) guns
12 × 3 in (76 mm) guns
12 3-pounder gun
four 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes

USS Rhode Island at night
USS Rhode Island at night

Cancon 2009

The National Tally Room at EPIC in Camberra
The National Tally Room at EPIC in Canberra

I just got back from Cancon 2009. I drove down to Canberra on Saturday and drove straight to the Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC) and the National Tally Room there. This room is where Federal elections in Australia are tallied and decided. In addition it is where the annual convention of the Canberra Games Society is held. Cancon. This year was the 31st Cancon (but I didn’t get the t-shirt). From the outside, the National Tally Room looked quiet, just cars parked around the area indicating that something was on.

It was great to get to the relative cool of Canberra after the heat of Sydney (I left Sydney at 10:00 am and the temperature was already 32 having only fallen as low as 25 the night before). Canberra was also around 32 when I arrived, but without the humidity.

The crowd inside Cancon 2009
The crowd inside Cancon 2009

Once I got inside the hall it was a different matter. There were more people at Cancon this year than I can remember on any of the previous trips I have made to Cancon.

Cancon is one of Australia’s largest Wargames Conventions and whilst small compared to say Salute in the UK or Origins in the US, it is never-the-less arguably the premier wargaming event on the Australian calendar. This year there appeared to be more competitors in competitions (and more wargame rule-sets had competitions around them) than in previous years. This is a good thing for the hobby as a whole and the spirit in which the games were played appeared to be good too.

On top of the increased number of competitors there also appeared to be a larger trader area than in the past with plenty of ways to spend hard earned dollars and even in these days of financial organisation meltdowns the traders seemed to be doing a brisk trade.

WWII demonstration game using Lego blocks and Märklin track
WWII demonstration game using Lego blocks and Märklin track

Over at the competition tables, many of the figures looked superbly painted although with a few exceptions, such as the Aegyptus competition, the terrain was very drab and plain.

However, there were some demonstration games where the scenery was much better. One that took my fancy appeared to be a World War II game set around capturing and holding a dock area. The time was winter, and the scale was 28mm. This was especially memorable as the buildings and machinery areas were made from Lego bricks and the railway tracks were from the Märklin System of model railway tracks. It was an impressive looking game and the Lego actually worked well to help the appearance of the game.

The attacks go in
The attacks go in

Speaking of good scenery and pretty figures, there was a demonstration game based around an amphibious assault of a fortified position. It appeared to contain British and Russian forces (although I will happily be corrected on that). There was a nice headland with beachhead areas, beautifully painted figures and some wonderful scratch built boats and ships. There were the whale boats that were being used to bring troops ashore as well as naval vessels to bombard the position from the sea. Rounding that off were some torpedo boats as well.

The pièce de résistance however of this game was the large cruiser built, I guess, to 28mm scale, that was providing the bombardment of the shore positions. I’ll leave you with that picture, just noting that this Cancon was perhaps the best I can remember and one that will see me heading to Canberra around the Australia Day long weekend in 2010.

The big cruiser, sunk, is removed from the playing field by the hand of god
The big cruiser after being severely damaged in the battle is returned to dry-dock for repairs - actually, this was a very impressive model.

HMVS Cerberus

HMVS Cerebus in 1/1200th scale
HMVS Cerebus in 1/1200th scale

I received a parcel of goodies yesterday from Brigade Models of the UK. One of the items I had ordered was their model of the HMVS Cerberus. This model is in 1/1200th scale and represents the vessel lying in Port Phillip Bay in Victoria, currently acting as a breakwater. A truly lovely model this. Photos of the various parts can be seen by clicking on the album link below. I will post a picture of her when she is painted up finally. In the meantime, if you are interested in getting your own Cerberus, head off to Brigade Models and have a look. Details of the real Cerberus can be found at the HMVS Cerberus Home Page, dedicated to preserving the vessel.

Australian Cerberus class Monitor

I realized that the Cerberus was parked in Port Phillip Bay in Victoria as a breakwater however I did not know that a model of her had been made. Brigade Models of the UK have released a model of the Cerberus (actually, they did it on 3 May 2008). The link to it is Australian Cerberus class Monitor – VLI-180.

There is also a very good web-site as part of the campaign to save the Cerberus at HMVS Cerberus – Home Page. The Cerberus was, a vessel of the Royal Victorian Navy and is historically very significant. The vessel is the last remaining Ironclad monitor of her time and one of the first to have been built. She was certainly the first fighting vessel produced by Great Britain that was powered entirely from her engines, not having any sails.

I came across this model because my interest in Victorian Science Fiction Wargaming was rekindled, see Victorian Science Fiction.

The picture of the model is taken from the Brigade Models web-site.

The Great White Fleet

USS Conneticut leads Atlantic Fleet ships to sea in 1907I noticed earlier today that it is almost the 100th Anniversary of the Cruise Around the World by the United States’ Great White Fleet. This took place between 16 December 1907 and 22 February 1909.

The fleet was farewelled by President Theodore Roosevelt at the Jamestown Exposition. Over 70,000 kilometres later the fleet returned to the Hampton Roads.

The fleet consisted of 16 battleships and many support ships. During its trip around the world it visited places such as Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), the Suez, Greece, Malta, Algeria, Italy, Gibraltar and South America amongst other places.

As it is the centenary of this feat and as I really do love warships from that period of time, it seemed only natural to mention it here and include some links.

For pictures and story, see the US’ Naval Historical Center (where the picture above came from) – in particular, the article The Cruise of the Great White Fleet with references provides a good discussion of the objectives and successes of the cruise.

Another interesting site is The Great White Fleet, A collection of postcards, medals, photographs, and memorabilia by William Stewart has a nice collection of memorabilia displayed on it. Following the link on this site to “the Cruise” and you can click on a map displaying the route of the cruise and see memorabilia collected from that port – a really interesting site (even if they refer to Australia’s Emu as an Ostrich).

Wikipedia has a description at The Great White Fleet which is a brief overview. For the chronically lazy, click on the following link for the Google Search for the Great White Fleet.

A fascinating piece of history and some wonderful old ships.

The ships involved are listed below:

First Squadron, First Division, USS Connecticut (BB-18), USS Kansas (BB-21), USS Vermont (BB-20), USS Louisiana (BB-19).

Second Division, USS Georgia (BB-15), USS New Jersey (BB-16), USS Rhode Island (BB-17), USS Virginia (BB-13).

Second Squadron, Third Division, USS Minnesota (BB-22), USS Maine (BB-10), USS Missouri (BB-11), USS Ohio (BB-12).

Fourth Division, USS Alabama (BB-8), USS Illinois (BB-7), USS Kearsarge (BB-5), USS Kentucky (BB-6).

The Fleet Auxiliaries consisted of store ships USS Culgoa and USS Glacier, repair ship USS Panther, tender USS Yankton and hospital ship USS Relief.

Torpedo Flotilla – USS Hopkins, USS Stewart, USS Hull, USS Truxton, USS Lawrence, USS Whipple and a tender USS Arethusa.

Lastly, Rich wants me to mention that there is a Great White Fleet Centennial t-shirt available from 🙂

Cyclone in Apia, Samoa, March 1889

Or, The US and Germany Square Up To Each Other In The Pacific

Like a foam flake tossed and thrown,
She could barely hold her own,
While the other ships all helplessly were drifting to the lee.
Through the smother and the rout
The `Calliope‘ steamed out —
And they cheered her from the Trenton that was foundering in the sea.

USS Trenton
USS Trenton

The harbour at Apia on Samoa over the 15th and 16th of March, 1889 was the site of one of the most amazing naval confrontations in the 19th Century. Both the US and Germany were trying to expand their spheres of influence in the Pacific as well as obtain coaling stations in advantageous areas. One such location was the island of Samoa and the harbour at Apia. The Germans had been trying to take over the island, with the permission of the British, it seems, and there are grounds here for some nice little colonial skirmish Wargames.

The ships involved in this event are all described in Conway’s All The World’s Fighting Ships: 1860-1905, probably one of my favourite books. The page references to Conway’s below refer to this edition of Conway’s.

In Apia Harbour on that fateful day were, amongst other vessels, 7 ships of war. The Americans were represented by USS Trention (pg 126), USS Nipsic ((a Kansas Class Gunboat)) (pg 130) and USS Vandalia ((a Galena and Vandalis class sloop)) (pg 127).

The Germans were represented by the SMS Olga ((a Carola class corvette)) (pg 252), the SMS Adler ((a Habicht Class gunboat)) (pg 260) and the SMS Eber (pg 260).

The British were there too with HMS Calliope ((a Calypso class steel corvette)) (pg 54) flying the Union Jack.

The reason the US and German vessels were there was due to the political unrest in Samoa at the time. The US appear to have perceived the German presence at Samoa as contrary to US interests in the Pacific. The British were also there but more in a position of just watching what was going on.

The US commander was Rear Admiral Lewis A Kimberly aboard the Vandalis and he appears to have ignored the threatening weather. Local advice from Samoa was that the hurricane/typhoon/cyclone season ((actually, as it is the South Pacific Ocean I think that it was technically a cyclone)) was past there was no danger. I think that the fact that the Germans were still there and not moving may have persuaded the Admiral to remain in place as well.

The Germans were also remaining in the harbour, presumably because the Americans were.

The cyclone then arrived.

To find out what happened after the cyclone arrived, follow the link to Apia, Samoa, March 1889 – The US and Germany Square Up To Each Other In The Pacific and be sure to read the poem about HMS Calliope written by A. B. “Banjo” Patterson whilst you are there.

How-To Wargames Guides Updated

I’ve managed to get around to updating and labelling the How-To Guides. They are in the now migrated Gallery here.

The guides are:

Or go to to access the gallery directly.

One day I’ll get around to expanding these. Feel free to look.

Note (updated 9 December 2008): The gallery has disappeared and I am not sure where it is or how to get it back again, at least until I can persuade (beg, grovel) Jeffro to have a look. I will update here again when all is well and available.

Later note (21 February 2009): The gallery, and therefore the guides, are back.