Monday, 20 February 2017

The Italian seaplane carrier Giuseppe Miraglia

The Spanish Navy was not the only Mediterranean Navy to operate a seaplane carrier. The Royal Italian Navy's Giuseppe Miraglia began life as a railway ferry called the Citta di Messina, but in 1923, before she was completed, she was bought and converted into a seaplane carrier. Just before she was completed in 1925 she sank during a storm, and she was not salvaged and completed until 1927.

Ship’s characteristics:
  • Displacement: 5,400 tons normal
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 397’ 8” (121.22m)
    • Beam: 49’ 3” (15m)
    • Draught: 19’ (5.82m)
  • Maximum Speed (when new): 21 knots
  • Armament: 4 x 4” (102mm) (4 x 1); 12 x 0.5” (13.2mm) Machine Guns (12 x 1)
  • Complement: 396
  • Aircraft carried: 17 seaplanes
  • Aviation facilities: 2 catapults
Giuseppe Miraglia took an active part in operations during the Spanish Civil War and the Italian invasion of Abyssinia as well as the Second World War. In December 1943, as one of the conditions of the Armistice, she sailed to Malta with the other units of the Royal Italian Navy. She was taken over by the British to be used as a Motor Torpedo Boat depot ship, and returned to the Italians in 1945. She was then used as a barracks ship and floating workshop until she was scrapped in 1950.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Other people's Portable Wargames

Although I have been busy doing other things, some of my fellow wargamers – Ross Mac and Tradgardmastare in particular – have been fighting PORTABLE WARGAMEs.

The results look quite stunning, and if you haven't already done so, I would thoroughly recommend that you visit their respective bogs.

Whereas Ross Mac has been concentrating on the Colonial ...

Ross Mac's 54mm Zulus attacking some of his red-coated British troops.
... and mid twentieth century ...

Yet another major border incursion. Naryatrian forces moving into Roscian territory ... again!
... in his battles, Tradgardmastare's battle took place during the seventeenth century.

25mm Minifigs showing that they can still look good on the tabletop!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Listening whilst I work

When I am working on wargames figures, vehicles, and terrain in my toy/wargames room, I like to listen to the spoken word as it seems to help me to concentrate on what I am doing. During the summer this usually involves listening to Test Match Special on the radio, but at other times – when the weather or the time of year prevents cricket from being on air – I listen to recorded books and radio plays.

Over the past few years my favourite recordings have included:
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'Sherlock Holmes' stories
  • John le CarrĂ©'s books and the BBC radio play adaptations of them
  • Margery Allingham's 'Campion' books
  • The Father Paolo Baldi Mysteries (radio plays about the amateur sleuth – and Franciscan priest – Father Paolo Baldi)
  • The Charles Paris Mysteries (radio plays about the amateur sleuth – and actor – Charles Paris)
  • The Inspector Mclevy Mysteries (radio plays about the criminal cases dealt with by a Police Inspector in the Leith area of 1860s Edinburgh)
  • Recordings of Dorothy L Sayer's 'Lord Peter Wimsey' books and the BBC radio play adaptations of them
More recently I have 'discovered' recordings of Terry Pratchett's books, and I am about one third of the way through THE TRUTH.

I know that some wargamers like to listen to music whilst they work, and that others watch TV or DVDs, but I find both of these activities distracting when I am trying to concentrate.

My 'discovery' of Terry Pratchett's work is only recent because of a number of factors. One of these relates to the fact that for over ten years I shared an office with a serious Terry Pratchett fanatic ... and this rather coloured my perception of the books. My colleague was such a fan that he bought a limited edition resin model of the Unseen University that was so big that it covered the top of a large coffee table! When you have worked with someone who is that dedicated to the work of a particular author it can – and in my case did – rather put you off their work.

Another factor was down to my own sheer cussedness. I was told by all sorts of people how great the stories were and how much I would enjoy them ... so I didn't even bother to look at them.

More fool me, as I have now discovered.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Ships of the Nationalist and Republican Navies during the Spanish Civil War: Delado-Class Seaplane/Airship Tender

Originally built as a merchant ship (ex-Neuenfels) at Swan Hunter in 1901. She was interned in a Spanish port during the First World War and taken over by the Spanish Government in 1918. She was converted to a Seaplane/Airship Tender in 1922 and was in Republican hands during the Spanish Civil War.

Ship’s characteristics:
  • Displacement: 10,800 tons normal
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 420’ (128m)
    • Beam: 55’ (16.8m)
    • Draught: 20’ 6” (6.3m)
  • Maximum Speed (when new): 12.5 knots
  • Armament: 2 x 4.1” (105mm) (2 x 1); 2 x 1 pdr (37mm) (2 x 1)
  • Complement: 324
  • Aircraft carried: 20 seaplanes, 2 dirigibles, 2 captive balloons
Delado was laid up at Sagunto when the war broke out, and was sunk by Nationalist aircraft before she could be re-commissioned for service in the Republican Navy. She was scrapped in Valencia in 1940.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Vive l'Empereur: A return to my Napoleonic project!

After a break of nearly three months, I have resumed work on my Napoleonic project.

Sorting through the figures that I had yet to renovate, varnish, and base, I discovered that I had far more to do than I had originally thought. I have at least ten units of French Infantry to do – most of which are destined to represent Garrison or Veteran/Invalid troops – and nearly as many Artillery units. I also found quite a few more French Cavalry ... and the small Russian army that I had totally forgotten about!

The latter are also Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm figures, but were sold as part of the RELIVE AUSTERLITZ! range, which was not sold in the UK. I acquired my figures via eBay, and although there are not a huge number of figures, there are sufficient for my needs ... at present!

The joy of this project is that I can take a break to do other things, and then return to it with new enthusiasm. I find the renovation process quite cathartic, and it gives me time to think about all sorts of things ... including my proposed PORTABLE NAPOLEONIC WARGAME.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Ships of the Nationalist and Republican Navies during the Spanish Civil War: General Mola/Archimede-Class Submarines

These submarines were originally built for the Royal Italian Navy at the Franco Tosi shipyard in Taranto, and were transferred to the Nationalist Navy in April 1937. General Sanjurjo (ex-Archimede) was launched in 1933, and General Mola (ex-Evangelista Torricelli) was launched in 1934.

Ships’ characteristics:
  • Displacement: 970 tons surfaced; 1,239 tons submerged
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 231' 4" (70.5m)
    • Beam: 22' 6" (6.87m)
    • Draught: 13' 6" (4.12m)
  • Maximum Speed: 17 knots surfaced; 8 knots submerged
  • Armament: 1 x 3.9" (100mm) (1 x 1); 2 x 0.5" (13.2mm) Machine Guns (2 x 1); 8 x 21" (533mm) Torpedo Tubes (4 bow, 4 stern)
  • Complement: 55
General Sanjurjo survived the Civil War, and was stricken and broken-up in 1959.
General Mola survived the Civil War, and was stricken and broken-up in 1959.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

But it was a bargain!

I need more Heroscape hexed terrain like I need a hole in the head ... but I saw a lot on sale on eBay and could not resist putting a bid in. I won ... and the parcel containing what I had bought arrived today.

In the box were 26 single hexes pieces (16 x Green, 6 x Grey, 4 x Sand), ...

... 9 double hexes pieces (4 x Green, 3 x Grey, 2 x Sand), ...

... 10 triple hexes pieces (5 x Green, 3 x Grey, 2 x Sand), ...

... 9 septruple hexes pieces (4 x Green, 3 x Grey, 2 x Sand), ...

... 4 twenty-one hex pieces (2 x Green, 2 x Grey)

... and 21 single blue water hexes.

The hexes are 40mm face-to-face, and this is is more than enough to allow me to create a set of portable hexed terrain that I can use with 15mm or 10mm figures.

Monday, 13 February 2017

The Portable Wargame book ... is now on sale at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

I understand that the corrected version of my PORTABLE WARGAME book is now on sale on Amazon ...

... and Barnes & Noble ...

... as well as

It continues to sell quite well (usually a couple of copies per day), but now that it is available from a larger number of retailers, potential purchasers have more choice as to where to buy a copy.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Jewels and Jackboots: Hitler's British Channel Islands

Sue and I first went to Jersey on our honeymoon back in 1982. One of the reasons why we did was thanks to the then-current TV show, BERGERAC, which starred John Nettles.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time on the island, and since then we have returned many times for holidays. We have travelled around it very extensively, and thanks to my interest in military history we have visited almost every German bunker or gun position that is open to the public. It was therefore a great pleasure when my old friend Tony Hawkins recently gave me a copy of John Nettle's book JEWELS AND JACKBOOTS as a birthday present.

JEWELS AND JACKBOOTS: HITLER'S BRITISH CHANNEL ISLANDS (ISBN 978 1 905095 38 4) was written by John Nettles and published in 2012 by Channel Islands Publishing and Jersey War Tunnels. The book's contents include:
  • A Chronology
  • A Prologue: which gives a brief history of how World War II came to the Channel Islands.
  • Chapter 1: The Bombing: Prelude to an occupation.
  • Chapter 2: Betrayal and Buffoonery: How the Germans took over the Islands.
  • Chapter 3: Shaking hands with the Germans: How the civil authorities reacted.
  • Chapter 4: Those that were left: The treatment of Islanders who were left after the evacuations.
  • Chapter 5: Who are these people and why are they here?: Description of the German invading forces and their leaders Lanz, Aufsess, Huffmeier et al.
  • Chapter 6: The Empire strikes back: Commando raids – Nicolle and Symes, the Basalt raid.
  • Chapter 7: Precious little resistance: Those who resisted and those who suffered. Gould, Le Druillenec, Cohu, and Sherwill.
  • Chapter 8: The Jews in the Channel Islands: The Jews. Story of Steiner, Pitz and Grunfeld. Coutance and Pfeffer, Cyril Orange, Carey, Sculpher.
  • Chapter 9: Festung Alderney: Concentration Camps on British soil, Alderney and the slave workers. Pantcheff and war crimes.
  • Chapter 10: It was over: Liberation: Huffmeier's last throw. Revolt in the German ranks and the arrival of the Bulldog.
  • Chapter 11: Crime and Punishment: Those who were guilty.
  • Epilogue
I understand that John Nettles lost some of the friends he had made on Jersey because the book does not gloss over some of the more unpleasant facts about the Occupation. It is still a sore subject in some quarters in the Channel Islands, although with hindsight it is difficult to see how the people who were not evacuated in 1940 before the Germans arrived could have done things very differently. As I once heard an elderly Islander who had been a boy during the Occupation say, 'The Germans had guns and we did not. They controlled everything, and unless we cooperated, we would have starved. We did resist whenever we could, but in most cases it was a passive rather than an active resistance.'

How many of us can say for definite that we would have done otherwise in the same circumstances?

Saturday, 11 February 2017

A new book about Lionel Tarr's wargames

Although versions of Lionel Tarr's Modern Wargaming Rules have previously been republished in WAR GAMES ...


... the latest offering from the 'History of Wargaming' project – LIONEL TARR’S MODERN WARGAING RULES 1939-1945: THE FIRST MODERN WARGAMER (ISBN 978 1 326 91498 1) – brings together a lot of other material produced by Lionel Tarr.

The contents include:
  • A short biography of Lionel Tarr
  • Introduction
  • Reflections on the Lionel Tarr Game
  • The Lionel Tarr WWII Rules: Donald Featherstone's 1962 Edition
  • The Lionel Tarr War Game (Kriegssiel) Circa 1939-1945 (Note: Originally written in February 1947, these rules were revised through many drafts until June 1967)
  • The ORBATs for Lionel Tarr's Russian and German Armies
  • RETASOL: Tarr's Solo Wargaming Eastern Front Campaign
  • Wargaming the Battle of Stalingrad
  • Air Wargames
  • Attack and Defence in Modern War Games
  • The Lionel Tarr Periscope
  • The Space Size Continuum by Carl Reavley
  • The Lionel Tarr Napoleonic Wargame (Circa early 1960s)
  • A W Saunders' Rules for Modern War Games (1957)
I have been looking forward to the publication of this book, and as I sit here with the snow falling outside, I know that I will have an enjoyable day ahead reading this book.