Saturday, 28 July 2012

Making a Splash

A key aspect of naval warfare involves very large ships lobbing very large shells at each other - and more often that not missing and hitting the water instead.
Here is the Scharnhorst taking a pasting with some shell splashes I made this week.  And this is what I started out with - two dozen random screws from the spares jar stuck to some 1p coins with PVA (my glue of choice).
I then coated them with some Ronseal wood filler - this happens to be walnut flavour.  It's pretty good stuff as it dries hard and can be quite finely textured. Note that I generally tried to make them as narrow as possible at the bottom, widening out as they went up.
After undercoating them in matt black, more to seal them than anything else, I painted the bases Lufthansa Blue (which is a bit glossy) and the water spouts in matt blue-grey.
The bases were then dry-brushed with matt Seegrün and then with matt white to pick out the wave tops.  The spouts were just painted white with the undercoat showing through in places.
They are probably a bit big for 1/3000 scale models but I couldn't make them any smaller really (I wasn't going to buy really small screws specially for this exercise, although I may do so now that I think they've worked out OK) and anyway, I think they look fine.
They are all different of course and I quite like the way the glossy blue with green and then white dry-brushed over it gives the base of the spout a glassy effect.

Friday, 20 July 2012

German East Asia Squadron

I keep thinking about some sort of solo campaign using the Berthier Campaign Manager (now on version 8.0) and it seems to me that a fairly simple naval campaign would be ideal.  In fact I've long thought about the adventures of the Emden and/or von Spee's German East Asia Squadron early in WW1.
SMS Emden
These are some shots of my 1/3000 scale East Asia Squadron that (so far) have only seen action once.
SMS Gneisenau
The models are by Navwar and they are based on card with textured woodflex on them.  I painted the ships before mounting them
SMS Scharnhorst
Waves generally run parallel to each other (perpendicular to wind direction) so that was the first level of texturing.  This was followed by creating the bow wave and the 'residual bow waves' down each side of the ship and finally the wake.
SMS Dresden
I then painted the bases in "silk-matt" (i.e. slightly glossy) Revell acrylic "Lufthansa-Blau", which is actually quite a deep blue colour. When I painted them I had not long come back from a long sojourn in the South Atlantic and a week at sea certainly gives you an idea of what colour the open ocean can be.
SMS Nurnberg
The bases were then given quite a heavy dry brush using matt Revell acrylic Seegrün.
SMS Leipzig
Finally, the bases were finished off with some dry brushing with basic white to pick out the wave tops, the bow wave and the wake.

Now to come up with a campaign.  As I said I was thinking to start with the Emden's course to and through the Indian Ocean, with the merchantmen she hunted and forces hunting her programmed in to Berthier.  On the other hand, it could be run from the Allied side with the movements of the Emden programmed and everyone else looking for her.  Battles will be fought with General Quarters 2, when the time comes.  Needs a bit of preparation I think and I'll post about that when it looks like I'll be up and running.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

ACW Adventures in Basing No.6

A bit more basing of ACW cavalry to show you.
These are some very elderly Hinchcliffe 25mm plus-size cavalry that were picked up at a Claymore bring and buy last century sometime (they weren't repainted - hence the gloss finish).
I rebased these in the usual way - putting them on 40mm by 40mm stands, sticking on coarse shelly sand with PVA and then finishing them off with winter mix static grass.
Overall, they look fine although are a bit big compared to the Airfix/Revell/Esci figures that make up most of our ACW collection.  Nevertheless, they are now based so that's one more thing I can cross off my 'to do' list.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Dreadnought and Castles of Steel

Not much activity of late, other than to to say that, what with my various travels and what not, I have finally had time to finish both volumes of the really rather splendid two-parter - Robert K Massie's twin tomes: Dreadnought and Castles of Steel.
The first deals with the origins of the naval rivalry between the British and German Empires and certainly doesn't portray the Germans/Prussians in a very good light.  As you would imagine, there's also some good stuff on the naval side of the Russo-Japanese War.

What I did find fascinating was the very real concern about Germany's ambitions expressed in Britain and the anticipation that there would be a war eventually.  This to me was interesting as it tied in very nicely with Esrkine Childers' The Riddle of the Sands, which deals with exactly the issue of a supposed build up of German naval forces in the waters around the German islands off East Friesland, poised to invade England.... in 1902.  A fantastic book if you're into sailing, by the way.
The next installment, Castles of Steel, covering the consequence of the development of HMS Dreadnought, Churchill, Jackie Fisher, Tirpitz, U-boats and the whole naval history of the lead up to and progress of the First World War, is great and certainly provides the definitive account of those naval actions.
I am particularly interested in the early action including the Emden, Coronel and the Battle of the Falklands and there is plenty of information on that in this book.

Anyway, both books are a darn good read and I'd also highly recommend The Riddle of the Sands as a ripping yarn in the mould of John Buchan or Rider Haggard (except with much more stuff about the technicalities of sailing without modern instruments).

Thursday, 5 July 2012

D Hewins of Grimsby

Apologies for the long hiatus since I last posted but I've been away in various places recently: some interesting and others... not so interesting.  I will concentrate on the former.

I'm not that well travelled in certain parts of England, being from North of the Border, but a current project at work (relating to offshore windfarm developments in the North Sea - there'll be 5,000 turbines on the Dogger Bank in 10 years, mark my words) has recently brought me to Hull, Scunthorpe and lastly Grimsby.  Of these, I was pleasantly surprised by Hull; Scunthorpe I didn't see much of and Grimsby I was a bit worried about until I discovered a gem: D Hewins Models and Hobbies at 7b East St Mary's Gate, unprepossessingly tucked away in a narrow brick courtyard behind an Italian restaurant. (It has no website).
I have to say that although it was well hidden ("You found us though," said Mr Hewins (I presume that it was he)) it was well worth it.  I love shops like that packed from floor to ceiling with models, books, soldiers, and yes, even railway stuff.

The great thing was that I found something that I'd been looking for for ages, which for some reason I had not been able to get hold of easily (or at least reasonably priced - perhaps it is out of print?): the Osprey Frederick the Great's Army (1) Cavalry.
Not that I have much in the way of Seven Years' War stuff, but it is an interest floating around somewhere.  There were a couple of other finds which I may blog about later (the 3 for 2 offer got me).  The things is, the proprietor clocked me for a wargamer right away, raising an eyebrow at my eclectic choice of books covering WW2, the SYW and the Crusades.  Well, I am the Wishful Wargamer, after all.

Anyway, a highly recommended shop and if you're in the area you should drop by and say the Wishful Wargamer sent you.  He won't remember me but he may recall the bald guy in the suit a couple of weeks ago with the massive suitcase barging about his shop grinning, and about to head off to Romania.....