Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A tale of two sister-ships: Messudieh and HMS Superb

In the 1860s the Ottoman Navy experienced a resurgence that led to the building of several ironclad battleships. These were ordered from a number of shipbuilders, including Thames Ironworks of Blackwall, London. This company had already built several ironclads for the Royal Navy (including HMS Warrior) and was more than willing to accept a contract for two modern battleships to be named Messudieh and Hamidieh. The ships were designed by Sir Edward Reed and were launched in 1874 and 1875 respectively.

During the Russian war scare of 1878 the Royal Navy found itself in need of some additional modern warships and Hamidieh was compulsorily purchased from the Ottoman government – along with several other warships that were being built in the UK for foreign navies – and renamed HMS Superb. The Messudieh was not purchased as she had already been delivered and commissioned into to the Ottoman Navy.

Subsequently these two sister-ships had very different careers in their respective navies, as outlined below.

MESSUDIEH
Messudieh was commissioned in December 1875 following her trials, and at the time she was considered to be one of the most powerful warships in the world.

Messusieh as completed.
Her specifications when she was built were as follows:
  • Displacement: 8,990 tons
  • Dimensions: 348’ 0” x 59’ 0” x 25’ 11”
  • Machinery: 1-shaft Maudslay horizontal direct-acting engine (7,800 IHP) powered by steam from 8 rectangular boilers
  • Speed: 13.5 knots
  • Armament: 16 x 10-inch MLR guns, 4 x 7-inch MLR guns
  • Armour: Belt: 7-inch to 12-inch; Battery: 10-inch to 12-inch; Control Tower: 8-inch; Bulkheads: 10-inch
  • Complement: 600
In the 1890s 4 x 10-inch MLR guns and 4 x 7-inch MLR guns were removed and replaced by 3 x 5.9-inch BLR guns.

By the end of the nineteenth century it was obvious that Messudieh was obsolete, and between 1898 and 1903 she was completely reconstructed by the Ansaldo shipyards in Genoa, Italy.

Her three masts were replaced with a single military main mast that was stepped aft of the funnels, and two turrets were fitted. The remaining 10-inch MLRs in her central battery were replaced with modern 5.9-inch BLR guns, but her new heavy guns (2 x 9.2-inch BLR guns) were not ready to be fitted when the reconstruction was completed and wooden guns were fitted in their place.

Messusieh after reconstruction.
Her specifications after her reconstruction were as follows:
  • Displacement: 9,250 tons
  • Dimensions: 338’ 0” x 59’ 0” x 27’ 3”
  • Machinery: 2-shaft Ansaldo vertical triple expansion engines (11,000 IHP) powered by steam from 16 Niclausse boilers
  • Speed: 16.0 knots
  • Armament: 2 x 9.2-inch BLR guns, 12 x 5.9-inch BLR guns, 14 x 3-inch QF guns, 10 x 6-pounder QF guns
  • Armour: Belt: 7-inch to 12-inch; Battery: 10-inch to 12-inch; Control Tower: 8-inch; Bulkheads: 10-inch; Turrets and Barbettes: 6-inch
  • Complement: 640
During the First Balkan War Messudieh took part in the bombardment of Varna (12th November 1912) and in two battles with the Royal Hellenic Navy (Elli on 16th December 1912 and Lemnos on 18th January 1913).

When the First World War broke out Messudieh was sent to act as a floating battery just south of the Dardanelles Narrows at Chanak. There her guns were able to cover and protect the minefields that had been laid to protect the Dardanelles.

On 13th December 1914 the British B-class submarine B11 entered the Dardanelles, and just before noon she torpedoed Messudieh from a range of approximately 850 yards. The torpedo caused Messudieh to immediately begin to heel over, and within ten minutes she had capsized and sank. A total of thirty seven crew (ten officers and twenty seven men) were killed.

HMS SUPERB
Before being taken over, HMS Superb had originally be called Hamidieh.

HMS Superb as completed.
Her specifications when she was built were as follows:
  • Displacement: 9,710 tons
  • Dimensions: 348’ 0” x 59’ 0” x 26’ 6”
  • Machinery: 1-shaft Maudslay horizontal direct-acting engine (6,580 IHP) powered by steam from 9 rectangular boilers
  • Speed: 13.25 knots
  • Armament: 16 x 10-inch MLR guns, 6 x 20-pounder MLR guns
  • Armour: Belt: 7-inch to 12-inch; Battery: 10-inch to 12-inch; Control Tower: 8-inch; Bulkheads: 5 inch to 10-inch; Deck: 1½-inch
  • Complement: 640
From 1880 to 1887 HMS Superb served in the Mediterranean and took part – in 1882 – in the bombardment of Alexandria.

In 1885 the 6 x 20-pounder MLR guns were replaced by 6 x 4-inch QF guns and 4 x 14-inch torpedo tubes.

Between 1887 and 1891 HMS Superb was reconstructed. Her original masts were replaced by military masts and the existing engine and boilers were also replaced. As a result her speed increased to 14.5 knots. She was also rearmed but nowhere near as extensively as Messudieh had been.

HMS Superb after reconstruction.
Her specifications after her reconstruction were as follows:
  • Displacement: 9,710 tons
  • Dimensions: 348’ 0” x 59’ 0” x 26’ 6”
  • Machinery: 1-shaft Humphrys vertical triple expansion engine (8,500 IHP) powered by steam from 5 cylindrical boilers
  • Speed: 14.5 knots
  • Armament: 12 x 10-inch MLR guns, 10 x 6-inch BLR guns, 6 x 6-pounder QF guns, 10 x 3-pounder QF guns, and 4 x 14-inch torpedo tubes.
  • Armour: Belt: 7-inch to 12-inch; Battery: 10-inch to 12-inch; Control Tower: 8-inch; Bulkheads: 5 inch to 10-inch; Deck: 1½-inch
  • Complement: 640
In 1904, after serving in the Reserve, she was reclassified as an accommodation ship. On 15th May 1906 she was sold as part of Admiral ‘Jacky’ Fisher’s campaign to scrap ninety obsolete ships that he described as being ‘too weak to fight and too slow to run away’, and ‘a miser's hoard of useless junk’.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Heard in the Sudan: The answers

Here are the answers to the quiz I set a couple of days ago.
  • Ansar: Followers of the Mahdi (Arabic, helper or follower).
  • Ardeb: A unit of capacity used in many Islamic countries. In the Sudan it was about 5.5 bushels.
  • Ashraf: A name given to the relatives of the Mahdi.
  • Asida: Sorghum mixed with water into a paste onto which was poured a strong sauce of spices and peppers. In the Sudan it is eaten with meat and milk.
  • Aziba: The tail of turban that hung behind left ear and served as a mark of being a Madhist.
  • Baggara: Cattle-owning Arab tribes living south of Darfur and Kordafan.
  • Beia: The oath of allegiance to the Mahdi.
  • Bimbashi: A Major in the Egyptian Army.
  • Curbash: A whip made from rhino hide.
  • Dem: A Madhist camp.
  • Dragoman: An interpreter or guide who speaks Arabic, Turkish, or Persian. It was used especially in the Near East (Aramaic: turgemana).
  • Durra: A kind of millet eaten in the Sudan.
  • Effendi: A man of property, authority, or education in an eastern Mediterranean country (Turkish: effendi = master).
  • Farda: A cotton or woollen shawl.
  • Fellah: The common soldiers in the Egyptian Army. Also used for Arabic or Egyptian peasant (Arabic: fallah).
  • Fellahin: Plural of fellah.
  • Felucca: A lateen-rigged coasting vessel of North Africa (Italian: felucca).
  • Gellabas (or Jellabas): West African pilgrims working their way across the Sudan on their way to Mecca.
  • Hamattan: A dry, Saharan wind.
  • Imma: A turban.
  • Jebel: A hill or mountain.
  • Jibbah: A Sudanese robe. The were originally rough, patched garments worn by all, but eventually they became highly embroidered when worn by the Mahdist leaders.
  • Jihadiyya: The Mahdist rifle units pre-1892.
  • Kadi: A judge during the Mahdiya.
  • Kaimakam: A Lieutenant Colonel in the Egyptian Army.
  • Karaba: A straw belt.
  • Khalifa: The deputy (or caliph) of a Sufi shaikh, in the Sudan the term described the Mahdi’s successor. He termed himself Khalifat al-Mahdi, or successor of the Mahdi.
  • Khedive: A Turkish ruler of Egypt from 1867 to 1914 (Turkish: hidiv)
  • Mahdi: The Sudanese messiah (Arabic: mahdIy = one guided by Allah)
  • Mahdiya: The period from 1885 to 1898 when the Sudan was ruled by the Mahdi and the Khalifa.
  • Mudiria: A building in which the district governor lived or worked.
  • Mulazem: A servant/bodyguard who served the Mahdi and Khalifa.
  • Mulazemin: Plural of mulazem.
  • Mulazimiyya: The Madhist rifle units post-1892.
  • Muslimaniya: Christians who had converted to Islam.
  • Ombeya: A horn made from an elephant tusk.
  • Pasha: A man of high rank or office in Turkey or North Africa (Turkish: pasa)
  • Ras: An Ethiopian prince.
  • Ratib: The book of sayings of the Mahdi.
  • Rayya: The flag used to designate Mahdist military groupings (e.g. the Black Flag force or the Green Flag force).
  • Rekuba: A small hut.
  • Sayidan: Sandals.
  • Shebba (or Shaybe): A forked pole that was fastened to the necks of slaves to prevent their escape.
  • Siraral: White trousers.
  • Sirdar: The commander of the Anglo-Egyptian army (Hindi/Persian: Sardar).
  • Sudan: An Arabic term meaning ‘Land of the blacks’.
  • Taggia: A skull cap
  • Tarboosh: A fez-like hat (Arabic: tarbush)
  • Turkiya: The period from 1821 to 1885 when the Sudan was ruled by Egypt.
  • Voyageurs: French-Canadian boatmen brought over to Egypt for the Nile expedition.
  • Xebec (or Zebec): A North African coasting vessel that had masts that carried a combination of lateen and square sails. (Modification of French: chebec and Arabic shabbak).
  • Zariba: An improvised enclosure constructed from thorn bushes (Arabic: zaribah = enclosure).
I have plans for one more of these quizes ... and the next one will probably appeal to anyone who has read any of the FLASHMAN books.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

‘Too weak to fight and too slow to run away’

This was the way in which Admiral ‘Jacky’ Fisher described much of the Royal Navy’s Reserve Fleet when he became First Sea Lord. He inherited a fleet that looked powerful on paper, but which was dependant upon old ironclad and early pre-dreadnought battleships to make up the numbers. Not only that but they required expensive maintenance to keep them in reasonable condition and absorbed trained personnel who could otherwise have been used to crew newer, more effective ships.


Amongst the old and obsolete battleships that were still in service – in some form or another – in 1900 were:
  • HMS Defence (Broadside ship: completed 1861; refitted 1867 and 1872 to 1874): 1890: Floating workshop; 1935: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Hector (Broadside ship: completed 1864; refitted 1867 to 1868): 1900: training ship; 1905: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Achilles (Broadside ship: completed 1864; refitted 1868 and 1874): 1902: Depot ship; 1923: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Northumberland (Broadside ship; completed 1868; refitted 1875 to 1879 and 1885 to 1887): 1898: Training ship; 1909: Coal hulk; 1927: Sold for commercial use; 1935: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Bellerophon (Central battery ship: completed 1866; refitted 1881 to 1885): 1904: Training ship; 1922: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Scorpion (Turret ship: completed 1865): 1901: Target ship (sunk); 1903: Refloated and sold for scrap.
  • HMS Wivern (Turret ship: completed 1865): 1904: Workshop and distilling ship; 1922: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Hercules (Central battery ship: completed 1868; reconstructed 1892 to 1893): 1905: Depot ship; 1914: Training ship; 1932: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Monarch (Turret ship: completed 1869; refitted 1871 and 1887; reconstructed 1890 to 1897): 1902: Depot ship; 1905L Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Audacious (Central battery ship: completed 1870; refitted 1880 to 1883 and again 1889 to 1890): 1901: Training ship; 1929: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Invincible (Central battery ship: completed 1870): 1901: Depot ship; 1906: Training ship; 1914: Sank.
  • HMS Iron Duke (Central battery ship: completed 1871; refitted 1877 to 1878 and 1883 to 1885): 1900: Coal hulk; 1906: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Swiftsure (Central battery ship: completed 1872; refitted 1881 and 1886 to 1888): 1901: Store hulk; 1908: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Triumph (Central battery ship: completed 1873; refitted 1882): 1900: Depot ship; 1914: Store ship; 1921: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Sultan (Central battery ship: completed 1871; refitted 1876 and 1879; reconstructed 1893 to 1896): 1906: Training ship; 1940: Deport ship: 1946: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Cerebus (Breastwork monitor: completed 1870): 1900: Depot ship; 1924: Sold and sunk as a breakwater.
  • HMS Magdala (Breastwork monitor: completed 1870; rearmed 1892): 1903: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Abyssinia (Breastwork monitor: completed 1870; rearmed 1892): 1903: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Glatton (Breastwork monitor: completed 1872): 1903: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Hotspur (Breastwork monitor/ram; completed 1871: reconstructed 1881): 1904: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Rupert (Breastwork monitor; completed 1874: reconstructed 1891 to 1893): 1907: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Devastation (Turret ship: completed 1873; refitted 1879, 1891 to 1892, and again in 1904): 1908: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Thunderer (Turret ship: completed 1877; refitted 1881, 1889 to 1891, and again in 1903): 1909: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Dreadnought (Turret ship: completed 1879; refitted 1894 and again 1895 to 1897): 1902: Depot ship; 1908: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Cyclops (Breastwork monitor: completed 1874; refitted 1887 to 1889): 1903: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Gorgon (Breastwork monitor: completed 1877; refitted 1888 to 1889): 1903: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Hecate (Breastwork monitor: completed 1877; refitted 1885 to 1886): 1903: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Hydra (Breastwork monitor: completed 1876; refitted 1888 to 1889): 1903: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Alexandra (Central battery ship: completed 1877; reconstructed 1889 to 1891): 1903: Training ship; 1908: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Temeraire (Central battery and barbette ship: completed 1877; refitted 1892 to 1894): 1902: Depot ship; 1915: Reformatory ship; 1921: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Inflexible (Turret ship: completed 1881; refitted 1885): 1903: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Ajax (Turret ship: completed 1883; refitted 1886): 1904: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Agamemnon (Turret ship: completed 1883; refitted 1886): 1903: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Belleisle (Central battery ship: completed 1878): 1900: Target ship (sunk 1903); 1904: Refloated and sold for scrap.
  • HMS Orion (Central battery ship: completed 1882; refitted 1890 to 1893): 1902: Depot ship; 1913: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Superb (Central battery ship: completed 1880; reconstructed 1887 to 1891): 1904: Accommodation ship for infectious patients; 1906: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Neptune (Turret ship: completed 1881; refitted 1886 to 1897): 1903: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Colossus (Turret ship: completed 1886): 1904: Depot ship; 1908: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Edinburgh (Turret ship: completed 1887): 1908: Target ship; 1910: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Conqueror (Turret ship: completed 1886): 1907: Sold for scrap
  • HMS Hero (Turret ship: completed 1888): 1907: Target ship (sunk 1908).
  • HMS Collingwood (Barbette ship: completed 1887; refitted 1897): 1909: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Anson (Barbette ship: completed 1889; refitted 1896): 1909: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Camperdown (Barbette ship: completed 1889; refitted 1896 to 1897): 1911: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Howe (Barbette ship: completed 1889): 1911: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Rodney (Barbette ship: completed 1888): 1909: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Benbow (Barbette ship: completed 1888): 1909: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Sans Pareil (Turret ship: completed 1891): 1907: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Nile (Turret ship: completed 1891): 1912: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Trafalgar (Turret ship: completed 1890; refitted 1891 and 1905): 1911: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Empress of India (Barbette ship: completed 1893): 1911: Target ship (sunk 1913).
  • HMS Ramillies (Barbette ship: completed 1893; refitted 1903 to 1904 and 1906): 1913: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Repulse (Barbette ship: completed 1894; refitted 1903): 1911: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Resolution (Barbette ship: completed 1893): 1914: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Royal Oak (Barbette ship: completed 1893; refitted 1902): 1914: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Royal Sovereign (Barbette ship: completed 1892; refitted 1903): 1913: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Revenge (Barbette ship: completed 1894; refitted 1902): 1914: On list of ships to be sold but retained and used as a bombardment ship (renamed Redoubtable); 1919: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Hood (Turret ship: completed 1893): 1911: Target ship; 1914: Sunk as blockship off Portland.
  • HMS Barfleur (Barbette ship: completed 1894; reconstructed 1902 to 1904): 1910: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Centurion (Barbette ship: completed 1894; reconstructed 1901 to 1903): 1910: Sold for scrap.
  • HMS Renown (Barbette ship: completed 1897; refitted 1904 to 1905): 1909: Training ship; 1914: Sold for scrap.
Part of the Royal Navy's Reserve Fleet can be seen moored in the background of this photograph of young sailors under training. Such ships required high levels of costly maintenance to keep them in anything approaching reasonable condition as well as a cadre of trained seamen who could be put to better use manning more modern ships.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Heard in the Sudan

I recently found a glossary of words in a book about the Sudan campaigns that took place during the latter part of the nineteenth century, and it struck me that it would be an interesting exercise to see how many of them my regular blog readers knew.
  • Ansar
  • Ardeb
  • Ashraf
  • Asida
  • Aziba
  • Baggara
  • Beia
  • Bimbashi
  • Curbash
  • Dem
  • Dragoman
  • Durra
  • Effendi
  • Farda
  • Fellah
  • Fellahin
  • Felucca
  • Gellabas (or Jellabas)
  • Hamattan
  • Imma
  • Jebel
  • Jibbah
  • Jihadiyya
  • Kadi
  • Kaimakam
  • Karaba
  • Khalifa
  • Mahdi
  • Mahdiya
  • Mudiria
  • Mulazem
  • Mulazemin
  • Mulazimiyya
  • Muslimaniya
  • Ombeya
  • Pasha
  • Ras
  • Ratib
  • Rayya
  • Rekuba
  • Sayidan
  • Shebba (or Shaybe)
  • Siraral
  • Sirdar
  • Sudan
  • Taggia
  • Tarboosh
  • Turkiya
  • Voyageurs
  • Xebec (or Zebec)
  • Zariba
(Please note that this is not a proper quiz and there is no prize for who knows the most words! It is intended to be a bit of mental exercise in the aftermath of Christmas.)

Friday, 27 December 2013

History is all around us: The answers

Here are the answers to the quiz I set on Christmas Eve about street and pub names in the Woolwich area:

Street names
  • Academy Road: Named after the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich that is located on that road.
  • Alma Terrace: Named after the battle of that name during the Crimean War.
  • Anglesey Road: Named after Field Marshal Henry William Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey, KG, GCB, GCH, PC (17th May 1768 – 29th April 1854) who – as The Earl of Uxbridge – lead the charge of the heavy cavalry against d'Erlon's column during the Battle of Waterloo. He later served twice as Master-General of the Ordnance (1827 – 1828 and 1846 – 1852).
  • Armstrong Road: Named after William George Armstrong, 1st Baron Armstrong, CB, FRS (26th November 1810 – 27th December 1900) who worked at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich as well as founding the armaments and shipbuilders W.G. Armstrong & Company and Elswick Ordnance Company.
  • Baker Road: Named after Ezekiel Baker (1758 – 1836) the inventor of the Baker Rifle, which was tested at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich before being introduced into service with the British Army.
  • Beresford Square: Named after General The Rt. Hon. William Carr Beresford, 1st Viscount Beresford, 1st Marquis of Campo Maior, GCB, GCH, GCTE, PC (2nd October 1768 – 8th January 1856) a general in the British Army and Marshal in the Portuguese Army. After the Napoleonic Wars he held the office of Master-General of the Ordnance (1828 – 1830) and served as Governor of Royal Military Academy, Woolwich.
  • Beresford Street: See above.
  • Bloomfield Road: Named after Lieutenant-General Benjamin Bloomfield, 1st Baron Bloomfield GCB GCH (13th April 1768 – 15th August 1846). He was educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and was joined commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery in 1781. After extensive service he was promoted to the rank of Major General in 1814, and by 1826 he was Commanding Officer of the garrison at Woolwich. He later became Colonel Commandant of the Royal Horse Artillery.
  • Borgard Road: Named after Colonel Albert Bogard, the first commander of the Royal Artillery.
  • Cambridge Barracks Road: Named after the Cambridge Barracks, which were – in turn – named after Prince George, 2nd Duke of Cambridge, KG KT KP GCB GCH GCSI GCMG GCIE GCVO VD PC (26th March 1819 – 17th March 1904) who served as Commander-in-Chief of the Forces from 1856 to 1895.
  • Cornwallis Street: Named after Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis KG (31st December 1738 – 5th October 1805) who – besides surrendering his army at Yorktown in October 1781 during the American War of Independence – served as Master-General of the Ordnance from 1795 until 1801.
  • Duke of Wellington Avenue: Named after Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG GCB GCH PC FRS (1st May 1769 – 14th September 1852) who – beside all of the other military offices that he held – was Master-General of the Ordnance from 1819 until 1827.
  • General Gordon Place: Named after Major General Charles George Gordon, CB (28th January 1833 – 26th January 1885) who was born in Woolwich and educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich before being commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1852.
  • Grand Depot Road: Named after the Grand Depot that was set up there during the latter part of the nineteenth century. The Grand Depot held sufficient stores to equip an Army Corps for overseas service.
  • Herbert Road: Named after Sidney Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Lea PC (16th September 1810 – 2nd August 1861) who, as Secretary at War during the Crimean War, sent Florence Nightingale to Scutari. After the Crimean War he and Florence led the movement for Army Health reform.
  • Macbean Street: Named after Lieutenant General Forbes Macbean (28th June 1725 – 1800) who was educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich before being commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1745. He took part in the Battle of Fontenoy (1745), the Siege of Carlisle (1745), and the battle of Minden (1759). In 1762 he was sent to Portugal and was appointed Colonel of Portuguese Artillery, followed – in 1765 – by his appointment as the Inspector-General of Portuguese Artillery. He then commanded a company of artillery in Canada from 1769 until 1773, when he returned to Woolwich. In March 1778 he was appointed to command the artillery in Canada, in succession to Major General Thomas Phillips, and in 1780 he was given command of a brigade consisting of the 31st, 44th, and 84th Regiments. He later became Colonel-Commandant of the Royal Artillery.
  • Mulgrave Road: Named after Henry Phipps, 1st Earl of Mulgrave GCB, PC (14th February 1755 – 7th April 1831) who reached the rank of General in the British Army and was Master-General of the Ordnance from 1810 until 1819.
  • Paget Rise: See above.
  • Pett Street: Named after Peter Pett who was Master Shipwright for Woolwich during the seventeenth century.
  • Prince Imperial Road: Named after Napoléon Eugène Louis Jean Joseph, Prince Imperial (16th March 1856 – 1st June 1879) who was the only child of Emperor Napoleon III of France and his Empress consort Eugénie de Montijo. He was educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and killed during the Zulu War.
  • Raglan Road: Field Marshal FitzRoy James Henry Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan, GCB, PC (30th September 1788 – 29th June 1855) who commanded the British Army sent to the Crimea in 1854. In 1852 he was appointed Master-General of the Ordnance and remained in post until 1855.
  • Red Barracks Road: Named after the Red Barracks that was formerly located there. The Red Barracks was so named after the Woolwich Division of the Royal Marines who wore red (as opposed to blue) uniforms.
  • Repository Road: Named after the Military Repository (i.e. stores) that was built there.
  • Ropeyard Rails: Named after the rope-making and storage area that originally occupied the site.
  • Warspite Road: Named after the Royal Marine Society’s Training Ship Warspite which was moored at Woolwich from 1862 until 1901.
  • Wellington Street: See above.
  • Whitworth Road: Named after Sir Joseph Whitworth, 1st Baronet (21st December 1803 – 22nd January 1887), who created an accepted standard for screw threads (the British Standard Whitworth system) and who also designed the very accurate Whitworth rifle.
Pub Names
  • Earl of Chatham: Named after General John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham, KG, PC (9th October 1756 – 24th September 1835) who served as Master-General of the Ordnance twice (1801 – 1806 and 1807 – 1810).
  • Lord Clyde: Named after Field Marshal Colin Campbell, 1st Baron Clyde GCB, KSI (20th October 1792 – 14th August 1863) who led the Highland Brigade in the Crimea – and the ‘Thin red line’ at the battle of Balaclava – in particular as well as one of the armies that brought an end to Indian Mutiny of 1857. The name was also given to an early ironclad that was built in 1864.
  • Lord Herbert: See above.
  • The Director General: Named after the office of Director General of Ordnance Survey, which was originally part of the Board of Ordnance.
  • The Great Harry: Named after the flagship of Henry VIII’s fleet (also known as Henry Grace à Dieu ["Henry Grace of God"]) which was built at Woolwich.
  • Wellesley Arms: See above.
  • Woolwich Infant: Named after the 35-ton Rifled Muzzle-loading Gun that was built at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. It was called the ‘Infant’ because it was so large.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Christmas presents

My wife Sue bought me a very useful present that I can see that I am going to enjoy learning how to use ... a bridge camera! This is halfway between the simple 'point and click' digital cameras that I have been using for the past few years and a traditional SLR (single lens reflex) camera of the sort that I used to use.


The Fujifilm Finepix S8200 has the usual LCD screen display found on digital camera but also has a digital viewfinder that should make taking photographs on very sunny days a lot easier. (Most 'point and click' digital camera users have problems with this, and often end up holding their cameras in all sorts of odd ways to try to frame their shots when the sun is reflecting back off the LCD screen.) It also has a 24mm wide angle Fujinon lens that has 40 x optical zoom and a 16 megapixel BSI-CMOS sensor, all of which should allow me to take much clearer photographs of things that are some way off as well as close-ups of stuff on my wargames table!

This year's Christmas present included an interesting selection of books. From my old friend Tony Hawkins I received and copy of Stephen Manning's SOLDIERS OF THE QUEEN: VICTORIAN COLONIAL CONFLICT IN THE WORDS OF THOSE WHO FOUGHT (Published in 2009 by Spellmount [ISBN 978 0 7524 4984 5]).


I was also given copies of DECEIVING HITLER: DOUBLE CROSS AND DECEPTION IN WORLD WAR II by Terry Crowdy (Published in 2008 by Osprey Publishing [ISBN 978 1 78200 331 1]) and ...

... NATIONAL SERVICE: FROM ALDERSHOT TO ADEN: TALES FROM THE CONSCRIPTS, 1946-62 by Colin Shindler (Published in 2012 by Sphere [978 0 7515 4620 0]).


These books all cover topics that interest me, especially the last as I only missed doing National Service by a few years!

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

I would like to wish my regular blog readers (and their nearest and dearest) a Merry Christmas … and to hope that you are enjoying the holiday.


I am doing my best to enjoy myself and trying not to be too much of a GOM (Grumpy Old Man).

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Dardanelles: A submarine wargame: The download

A PDF version of the DARDANELLES submarine wargame can now be downloaded from here.

The internal layout of a B-class submarine

History is all around us

I live in part of South East London that owes its existence to conflict. It started when Henry VIII began building warships for his navy along the stretch of the River Thames that eventually became Woolwich Dockyard and ended when the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich closed in the late 1960s. Even today the town is garrisoned by an infantry regiment (in the old Royal Artillery barracks) and is the home base of the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery. It is also the location of Firepower: The Royal Artillery Museum.

Interestingly the local street and pub names reflect this history, and I wonder how many of my regular blog readers will recognise their origins.

(Please note that this is not a serious quiz and there is no prize for who identifies the origins of the street and pub names … some of which are rather obvious! It is intended to be a bit of mental exercise over the Christmas period ... and is the first of several that I have planned!)

Street names
  • Academy Road
  • Alma Terrace
  • Anglesey Road
  • Armstrong Road
  • Baker Road
  • Beresford Square
  • Beresford Street
  • Bloomfield Road
  • Borgard Road
  • Cambridge Barracks Road
  • Cornwallis Street
  • Duke of Wellington Avenue
  • General Gordon Place
  • Grand Depot Road
  • Herbert Road
  • Macbean Street
  • Mulgrave Road
  • Paget Rise
  • Pett Street
  • Prince Imperial Road
  • Raglan Road
  • Red Barracks Road
  • Repository Road
  • Ropeyard Rails
  • Warspite Road
  • Wellington Street
  • Whitworth Road
… and these are just the ones that I can think of!

Pub Names
  • Earl of Chatham
  • Lord Clyde
  • Lord Herbert
  • The Director General
  • The Great Harry
  • Wellesley Arms
  • Woolwich Infant
Not all of them are still open … but I can certainly remember them being there!

I will publish the answers in a day or two … so please don’t bother to send me yours.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Dardanelles: A submarine wargame: The Umpire's Notes, Umpire's Record Sheet, Umpire's Recognition Chart, and Umpire's Map

DARDANELLES – UMPIRE'S NOTES
  • Each turn = 1 hour.
  • At the beginning of each turn the Player must tell the Umpire:
    • The direction of travel (i.e. North, North-East, East, South-East, South, South-West, West, or North-West).
    • Speed: Maximum Distance per turn = 6 squares on surface/3 squares submerged.
    • Level: Surface, Periscope. Submerged, or Bottom, and any change of Level. 1 additional square of movement is used for every change of Level.
  • If the submarine is within the limit of Tidal Effect ...
    • ... and the submarine is on the Surface or at Periscope Level, the submarine drifts towards the mouth of the Dardanelles at a rate of 1 square per turn.
    • ... and the submarine is Submerged or at Bottom Level, the submarine drifts away from the mouth of the Dardanelles at a rate of 1 square per turn.
  • If the submarine enters a Minefield ...
    • ... and the submarine is on the Surface or at Periscope Level, throw 2 x D6 for each row of mines in the square. (Modifier: Submarine is at Periscope level: -1)
      • 3 or less: Submarine hits a mine and is SUNK.
      • 4 to 8: Tell the Player that the submarine has entered a minefield.
      • 9 or more: Do not tell the Player they are in a minefield.
    • ... and the submarine is Submerged or at Bottom Level, throw 2 x D6 for each row of mines in the square. (Modifier: Submarine is at Bottom level: +4)
      • 4 or less: Submarine hits a mine and is SUNK.
      • 5 to 9: Tell the Player that they can hear the scraping of the mine mooring wires on the submarine’s hull.
      • 10 or more: Do not tell the Player they are in a minefield.
  • If the submarine is on the Surface or at Periscope Level the Player will be given a verbal report by the Umpire as to what is visible.
    • The limit of vision = 4 squares during daytime/2 squares during night-time.
    • If any of the numbered squares marked on the Umpire's map fall within the submarine's limit of vision throw a D6.
      • 2 or less: Nothing is seen.
      • 3 or more The Umpire displays a silhouette of the vessel in the numbered square to the Player and states the distance and bearing of the vessel from the submarine.
    • The vessels in the numbered squares are:
      • Square 1: Cacique
      • Square 2: Cacique
      • Square 3: Cacique
      • Square 4: Patrol Boat
      • Square 5: Patrol Boat
      • Square 6: Patrol Boat
      • Square 7: Transport
      • Square 8: Transport
      • Square 9: Battleship
    • If the submarine is within the Limit of Searchlight Area ...
    • ... and it is daytime throw 2 x D6. (Modifier: Submarine is at Periscope Level: +1)
      • 2 to 6: The submarine has been seen by shore-based Artillery Observers. If in range of shore batteries the submarine comes under fire.
      • 7 or more: The submarine escapes being seen.
    • ... and it is night-time throw 2 x D6. (Modifier: Submarine is at Periscope Level: +1)
      • 3 or less: the submarine has been found by a searchlight. If in range of shore batteries the submarine comes under fire.
      • 4 or more: The submarine sees the searchlights scanning the water.
    • If the Submarine comes under fire and is in range of shore batteries (i.e. within the shaded area on the Umpire's map) throw 2 x D6. (Modifiers: Submarine is at Periscope Level: +1; It is night-time: +2)
      • 8 or less: The submarine is hit Submarine is hit by shore battery fire and is SUNK.
      • 9 or more Shell splashes erupt around the submarine.
  • If the submarine is Submerged or at Bottom Level the Player will be given a verbal report by the Umpire as to what can be heard.
    • The range of hydrophones = 6 squares.
    • If any of the numbered squares marked on the Umpire's map fall within the submarine's hydrophone range throw 1 x D6.
      • 2 or less: Nothing is heard.
      • 3 or more: The Umpire tells the Player that a vessel can be heard moving through the water and states the bearing of the vessel from the submarine.
  • Torpedoes
    • Torpedoes have a range of 3 squares and may be fired at Surface or Periscope Levels.
    • Torpedoes may be reloaded; this takes 4 turns on the surface.
    • To fire Torpedoes the Player must tell the Umpire:
      • The target against which the torpedoes are being fired.
      • The direction they are to be fired in.
    • Firing Torpedoes
      • Throw 2 x D6 for each torpedo fired. (Modifiers: Range is 3 squares: -3; Range is 2 squares: -1)
      • 6 or less: Torpedo fails to hit the target vessel.
      • 7 or more: Torpedo hits target vessel, which sinks.
  • Air
    • The submarine has the ability to stay underwater for 20 hours (20 “units” of air).
    • Air must then be replenished at a rate of 1 hour on the surface = 5 “units” of air replenished.
    • A submarine which fails to replenish its air is deemed to have been lost due to the asphyxiation of the crew.
  • Batteries
    • The submarine has the ability to move up to 36 squares underwater using its electric motors and batteries (batteries store 36 battery power “units”).
    • Batteries may be replenished at a rate of 1 hour on the surface = 6 “units” of battery power replenished.
    • A submarine which fails to replenish its battery power is deemed to have been lost due to loss of power whilst submerged.
  • Night-time lasts from 2200 hrs to 0500 hrs (inclusive).

DARDANELLES – UMPIRE'S RECORD CHART

Please click on the chart to enlarge it.

DARDANELLES – UMPIRE'S RECOGNITION CHART

Battleship Messudieh
Transport
Patrol Boat
Cacique

DADANELLES – UMPIRE'S MAP

Please click on the map to enlarge it.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Dardanelles: A submarine wargame: The Player's Briefing, Player's Notes, Player's Recognition Chart, and Player's Map

DARDANELLES – PLAYER'S BRIEFING

Your task is to penetrate the defences of the Dardanelles and sink any enemy vessels you find. It is vitally important that you take all necessary steps to return from your mission with the most up-to-date intelligence as to the current state of the Dardanelles defences so that future missions can benefit from your experience.

The vessel under your command is a B-class Submarine.

B-class Submarine
Displacement: 287 tons (surfaced)/316 tons (submerged)
Dimensions: 142' 2” x 13’ 7” x 11’ 7”
Machinery: 1-shaft 16-cylinder Vickers petrol engine producing 600 hp = 12 knots (surfaced); electric motor producing 290 hp = 6 knots (submerged)
Armament: 2 x 18” Torpedo Tubes (Bow); 2 loaded + 2 reloads
Complement: 15 Crew

DARDANELLES – PLAYER'S NOTES
  • Each turn = 1 hour.
  • At the beginning of each turn the Player must tell the Umpire.
    • The direction of travel (i.e. North, North-East, East, South-East, South, South-West, West, or North-West).
    • Speed: Maximum Distance per turn = 6 squares on surfacel/3 squares submerged.
    • Level: Surface, Periscope. Submerged, or Bottom, and any change of Level. 1 additional square of movement is used for every change of Level.
  • lf the submarine is on the Surface or at Periscope Level the Player will be given a verbal report (by the Umpire) as to what is visible.
  • lf the submarine is Submerged or at Bottom Level the Player will be given a verbal report by the Umpire as to what can be heard.
  • Torpedoes
    • Torpedoes have a range of 3 squares and may be fired at Surface or Periscope Levels.
    • Torpedoes may be reloaded; this takes 4 turns on the surface.
    • To fire torpedoes the Player must tell the Umpire the target against which the torpedoes are being fired and the direction they are to be fired in.
  • The submarine has the ability to stay underwater for 20 hours (20 “units” of air). Air must then be replenished at a rate of 1 hour on the surface = 5 “units” of air replenished.
  • The submarine has the ability to move up to 36 squares underwater using its electric motors and batteries (batteries start with 36 battery power “units”). Batteries may be replenished at a rate of 1 hour on the surface = 6 “units” of battery power replenished.
  • Night-time lasts from 2200 hrs to 0500 hrs inclusive.

DARDANELLES – PLAYER'S RECOGNITION CHART

Battleship Messudieh

Transport

Patrol Boat

Cacique

DARDANELLES – PLAYER'S MAP

Please click on the map to enlarge it.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Dardanelles: A submarine wargame

Back in 1988 I wrote a map-based submarine wargame about operations in the Dardanelles. It was intended to try to recreate the exploits of the B-class submarines used by the Royal Navy during the early part of the First World War, and pitted a single player against the Umpire-controlled Turkish defences. I demonstrated the wargame at COW1988 and it was subsequently published in NUGGET 46 and – if my memory is correct – one of the issues of Duncan Macfarlane's short-lived WARGAMES WORLD.


I re-discovered the wargame during my recent sort through my clippings collection and thought that – after a bit of re-writing – it would be an ideal Christmas present for my regular blog readers! I intend to spread the sections of the wargame over the next few days, starting with the Player's Briefing and Notes. At the end I will make the whole thing available as a download in PDF format so that you can play it over Christmas and the New Year ... if you are allowed to!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Miniature Wargames with Battlegames Issue 369

The latest issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES WITH BATTLEGAMES magazine arrived in the post late this afternoon.


The articles included in this issue are:
  • Briefing (i.e. the editorial) by Henry Hyde
  • Forward observer by Neil Shuck
  • Tubular temptation: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Fantasy Facts: The latest releases for genre fans by John Treadaway
  • Knock, knock, knocking on Heavenfield's door: The death of Cadwallon by Dan Mersey
  • Command challenge: A ghost story at Christmas by Conrad Kinch
  • Send three and fourpence by Conrad Kinch
  • Writing rules for WWII: Taming the lion's den of rulesets by David C R Brown
  • Four battles to Kimberly: The Battle of Moddeer River 1899 by Stephan Maggs
  • Battle of the Caucasus Mountains 1221: The longest reconnaissance in the world part 2 by Mick Sayce
  • Hitting Ground Zero: One man's recipe for success by John Treadaway
  • Post our paint!: Help us defeat Royal Mail's dotty diktat by Leon Pengilly
  • The unvarnished truth: Protect your figures properly by Martin Stephenson
  • The battle for the Great War: Stand up for the history, not the myth by Graham Evans
  • Recce
  • The Featherstone Annual Tribute
  • The Secret Eye Candy Pages: Warfare 2013 by Henry Hyde
  • The Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal report by Henry Hyde
Coming as it does just before Christmas, I can see this issue giving a lot of wargamers something to inspire and interest them over the holiday period.

Turn counters?

During a recent visit to the local branch of the John Lewis at Bluewater I made sure that I went to the haberdashery department ... and bought some knitting stitch counters. These are designed to fit on the end of a knitting needle and are used to count the number of rows that have been knitted. They come in different sizes (to fit over different thicknesses of knitting needle) and various colours (I bought green and blue stitch counters and I saw smaller red ones on sale).


I intend to use mine to count the number of Strength Points/Flotation Values each side has lost during a battle ... but they could be used for all sorts of other numerical record keeping. I don't know where I saw this idea on the Internet but it struck me as being so simple and effective that when I had the opportunity to buy some, I did.

Some more thinking needs to be done ... but not for a week or two

After giving it some considerable thought I have decided that I am going to put any further development of my ITCHY AND SCRATCHY NAVAL wargame rules to one side for a week or so. In the past - when I have been unable to decide what particular changes to make to a set of wargame rules - I have found that setting the whole thing to one side for a time allows me to review it with a fresh perspective ... and usually leads to a quicker and better solution.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

A bit of a re-think

The work I did re-visiting the play-test of my ITCHY AND SCRATCHY NAVAL rules seemed to confirm that my proposed changes to the Gunfire Results were a good idea ... but overnight I realised that there was a serious flaw in my thinking. Getting rid of the difference between the effects of hits on armoured and unarmoured ships would unduly increase the chance that an armoured ship's speed could be curtailed. Likewise the armament of an armoured ship was going to be as easy to disable as it was if the ship was unarmoured.

Obviously these changes will need to be rejected ... but I still think that the Flotation Values need to be increased to ensure that ships' survivability is increased. I also think that increasing the damage caused by torpedoes needs to be examined. My first thoughts are to increase the damage caused in lost Flotation Value from 1D6 to 2D6 ... but that would make them very destructive ... possibly too destructive. (The average score from 1D6 is 3.5 whereas the average score from 2D6 is 7 ... which is quite a big jump.)

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

A play-test re-visited

One of the advantages of photographing each and every move and dice throw during a play-test is that enables one to go back and look at the effect of changes that might be made to the rules … and that it what I have done today. I wanted to see whether the possible changes that I am thinking about making to my ITCHY AND SCRATCHY NAVAL wargame rules would have produced a very different outcome. I have done the analysis and my results are shown below.

(The analysis has been done turn-by-turn, with the original results shown first and in italics.)

Flotation Values
    Original play-test
    • Tsarina = 10; Monopoli = 6
    New Rules
    • Tsarina = 16 (4 x 2 x 2); Monopoli = 9 (4 x 1.5 x 1.5)
Turn 1
    Original play-test
    • Neither ship fires.
    • Flotation Values at the end of the turn: Tsarina = 10; Monopoli = 6
    New Rules
    • Neither ship fires.
    • Flotation Values at the end of the turn: Tsarina = 16; Monopoli = 9
Turn 2
    Original play-test
    • Tsarina fires: No effect
    • Monopoli fires: No effect
    • Flotation Values at the end of the turn: Tsarina = 10; Monopoli = 6
    New Rules
    • Tsarina fires: Hit on Monopoli – one FV lost
    • Monopoli fires: Hit of Tsarina – one FV lost
    • Flotation Values at the end of the turn: Tsarina = 15; Monopoli = 8
Turn 3
    Original play-test
    • Tsarina fires: Hit on Monopoli – one FV lost
    • Monopoli fires: No effect
    • Flotation Values at the end of the turn: Tsarina = 10; Monopoli = 5
    New Rules
    • Tsarina fires: Two hits on Monopoli – two FV lost
    • Monopoli fires: Hit of Tsarina – one FV lost
    • Flotation Values at the end of the turn: Tsarina = 14; Monopoli = 6
Turn 4
    Original play-test
    • Tsarina fires (Turret): Hit on Monopoli – one Gun Turret knocked out
    • Tsarina fires (Broadside Battery): Hit on Monopoli – one FV lost
    • Monopoli fires: No effect
    • Flotation Values at the end of the turn: Tsarina = 10; Monopoli = 4
    New Rules
    • Tsarina fires (Turret): Two hits on Monopoli – one Gun Turret knocked out and Movement Rate reduced by one grid area
    • Tsarina fires (Broadside Battery): Two hits on Monopoli – two FV lost
    • Monopoli fires: Hit of Tsarina – one FV lost
    • Flotation Values at the end of the turn: Tsarina = 13; Monopoli = 4
Turn 5
    Original play-test
    • Tsarina fires: No effect
    • Monopoli fires: No effect
    • Flotation Values at the end of the turn: Tsarina = 10; Monopoli = 4
    New Rules
    • Tsarina fires: No effect
    • Monopoli fires: No effect
    • Flotation Values at the end of the turn: Tsarina = 13; Monopoli = 4
Turn 6
    Original play-test
    • Tsarina does not fire: -
    • Monopoli fires torpedo: Hit on Tsarina – four FV lost
    • Flotation Values at the end of the turn: Tsarina = 6; Monopoli = 4
    New Rules
    • Tsarina does not fire: -
    • Monopoli fires torpedo: Hit on Tsarina – four FV lost
    • Flotation Values at the end of the turn: Tsarina = 9; Monopoli = 4
Turn 7
    Original play-test
    • Tsarina fires: Hit on Monopoli – one FV lost
    • Monopoli does not fire: -
    • Flotation Values at the end of the turn: Tsarina = 6; Monopoli = 3
    New Rules
    • Tsarina fires: Hit on Monopoli – one FV lost
    • Monopoli does not fire: -
    • Flotation Values at the end of the turn: Tsarina = 9; Monopoli = 3
Conclusions
The result of the battle was not significantly different although under the new rules the Monopoli should have broken off from the action at the end of Turn 4 and not tried to torpedo the Tsarina. By increasing every ship’s Flotation Value it is possible to simplify the gunfire rules, and I think that this is the way forward I would like to explore in future play-tests.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Itchy and Scratchy Naval wargame rules: Possible changes/improvements

In the light of the recent play-test of the first draft of the rules, I have been giving some thought to possible changes that I could make.

The possible changes include:
  • Reducing the movement rates for all ship types by one grid area: This should have the effect of 'enlarging' the currently available tabletop as it would take the models longer to move across it.
  • Allowing ships to turn without having to move forward one grid area first: This should also have the effect of 'enlarging' the existing tabletop as it would enable ships to manoeuvre within a smaller area.
  • Introducing a Flotation Value formula that takes into account a model's dimensions (in inches) and its level of armour: For example a heavily armoured battleship that is 4-inches long and 2-inches wide would have a Flotation Value of 32 (4 x 2 x 4 = 32), a lightly armoured cruiser that is 4-inches long and 1.5-inches wide would have a Flotation Value of 12 (4 x 1.5 x 2 = 12), and an unarmoured torpedo boat that is 4-inches long and 1-inch wide would have a Flotation Value of  4 (4 x 1 x 1 = 2).
  • Revising and simplifying the Gunfire Results table to remove the differences between hits on armoured and unarmoured ships: This change would be dependant upon the introduction of the Flotation Value formula as guns would inflict more hits.
None of these changes should affect the basic mechanics of the rules and hopefully will improve them.

A touch of humour at Christmas

Most Christmases I try to find a humorous book to read. This year my choice has been to buy Al Murray's WATCHING WAR FILMS WITH MY DAD (published by Random House [ISBN 978 1 78 089109 5]).


I have always found Al Murray's 'Pub Landord' an amusing character to watch, but his TV series AL MURRAY'S ROAD TO BERLIN showed his genuine interest in and great enthusiasm for the history of World War II (he actually made a parachute jump over Arnhem with a group of veterans as part of the 60th anniversary commemoration) ... and I suspect that his book will go some way to explaining what I suspect might be his obsession.

The chapters are entitled:
  1. Watching Private Ryan : Watching war films with my dad
  2. War, what is it good for? : Absolutely nothing?
  3. You only sing when you're winning : N-N-N-Nineteen
  4. Armchair Generals : Tea, cakes and flanking manoeuvres
  5. Paintballing : ... and you shall know them by the trail of emulsion
  6. Plastic scale-model kits : For when real life is just too big
  7. Action Man : The moveable fighting man
  8. A spot more Monty : For you the tour is over
  9. Interlude : Historiography: A (very) brief history of History in three Hs
  10. None but the brave : Ooh, you're so brave, going on stage
  11. Dumb down, deeper and down : If it's too hard I can't understand it
  12. Two sides to every story : Would you rather be right or happy?
  13. Always use the butter knife : 'Do as you would be done by'
  14. Watching war films with my kids : Seeing things in black and white
My final thought is that if Al Murray is not a wargamer ... then he certainly should be!

Monday, 16 December 2013

Confrontation in the Fezian Sea: A play-test of the Itchy and Scratchy Naval wargame rules

The following play-test battle was set up to test the first draft of my ITCHY AND SCRATCHY NAVAL wargame rules. It was set in the Imagi-world of 1891 and was fought between warships of the Rusland and Fezian Navies.

Background
After the earlier fighting around the island of Naverona, when ships of the Rusland Navy engaged the Fezian coastal defences twice (see The Guns of Naverona and Return to Naverona), the Fezians bought a new armoured cruiser from the Parker Brothers shipyard. The ship was – in fact – a copy of a similar ship that they had built for the Rusland Navy and was named Monopoli in Fezian service.

Soon after entering service with the Fezian Navy Monopoli was ordered to patrol a disputed area of the Fezian Sea that was known to be frequented by the Rusland battleship Tsarina. The captain of the Monopoli was ordered to confront this 'blatant and provocative aggression into the waters of the peace-loving Fezian people' and to ensure that the Ruslanders were made aware that they could no longer regard the Fezian Sea as their 'Mare Nostrum'.

Not long after sunrise the lookouts on both the Monopoli and Tsarina spotted smoke on the horizon, and their respective captains turned their ships to turn towards the smoke to investigate. A confrontation was now inevitable.


Turn 1
Neither ship altered course or opened fire on their opponent but the crews of both ships began to prepare for battle.


Turn 2
The Tsarina then turned towards the Monopoli and opened fire with her main armament ... but caused no damage.


The Monopoli also turned and closed the range. She then fire at the Tsarina, but her gunfire was equally ineffective.


Turn 3
The Tsarina's captain seemed intent upon maximising the destructive power of his main armament, and brought his ship to almost point-blank range before he ordered his guns to fire. At that range it was almost impossible to miss ... and the Monopoli was holed below the waterline.


The Monopoli's captain tried to move his ship so that it was out of the arc-of-fire of the Tsarina's main guns before opening fire on the Rusland battleship ... but although the Monopoli's guns managed to hit their target, the shells had no effect on the heavily armoured hull of the battleship.


Turn 4
The Tsarina now turned across the stern of the Monopoli and fired at her ... and knocked out the cruiser's rearmost gun.


As the Monopoli was also in range of the Tsarina's starboard battery of light guns, these were also fired at the cruiser ... holing her yet again below the waterline.


The Monopoli turned so as to lengthen the range and to try to come around the stern of the Tsarina. She then fired at the Tsarina ... and missed!


Turn 5
The Tsarina moved abeam of the Monopoli, fired at her ... and missed ...


... and the Monopoli continued to try to go astern of the Tsarina, firing (and missing) as she did so.


Turn 6
Both ships were now trying to get astern of the other. The Tsarina's main armament did no damage to the Monopoli ...


... but a miscalculation on the part of the Tsarina's captain allowed the Monopoli to get astern of the Tsarina ... and to fire a torpedo!


Although the Tsarina was only just in range of the torpedo, the Monopoli's torpedo did not miss ... and caused considerable underwater damage to the Rusland battleship.


Turn 7
The Tsarina's captain realised that his ship was in danger of being sunk by the Fezia cruiser, and decided that he should terminate the action as quickly as possible and get his damaged ship back to port so this could be repaired.

The Tsarina's rear medium gun fired at the Monopoli, which deterred the cruiser from closing the range and continuing the battle ...


... thus ending this short but sharp confrontation.

Conclusions
The rules worked better than I had expected, and the play-test battle was exactly what I had hoped it would be ... a quick, fun, 'knock-about' naval battle that was not too unrealistic. I hope to do some more work developing these rules over the next few weeks, but I do need to build some more model ships before the next play-test.

Now where did I put all that basswood?

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Itchy and Scratchy Naval wargame rules ... or should that be Bangy and Sinky?

I finally managed to put my ideas down on paper ... and here they are. They are totally untested, so please do not complain ... yet!

The point of my ITCHY AND SCRATCH NAVAL wargame rules is that they are designed for a quick and fun 'knock-about' naval wargame that can be fought out on a simple grid (preferably a hexagonal one made from Hexon II) using small, cartoon-style models of 1860 to 1890 warships. The do not profess to be anything else ... and should be regarded in this light.

ITCHY AND SCRATCH NAVAL WARGAME RULES
Ships
  • Ships are allocated a Flotation Value (FV) and a Movement Rate.
  • A ship’s combat ability depends upon the type of weapons that the ship is equipped with and the range at which it is firing.
Flotation Value (FV)
  • Type of Ship = Flotation Value
  • Battleship = 10
  • Old Battleship = 8
  • Armoured Cruiser = 6
  • Unarmoured Cruiser = 4
  • Torpedo Boat = 2
Flotation Value Rules
  • Ships are allocated a Flotation Value (FV) before the battle begins; these may be adjusted in order to take into account the ship’s design, armour, and overall fighting power.
  • Ships lose Flotation Value as a result of enemy action, and these reductions must be recorded (i.e. on a roster or by the use of markers).
  • When a ship’s Flotation Value (FV) is reduced to 0, the ship is sunk and it is removed from the tabletop.
Exhaustion Point
  • Before the battle begins both sides calculate their Exhaustion Point. This is one half of the side’s total initial Flotation Values, rounded up.
  • When a side has lost that proportion of its initial Flotation Values, it has reached its Exhaustion Point.
  • A side that has reached its Exhaustion Point must immediately stop taking aggressive action (i.e. it will continue to fight to defend itself, but will turn away from the enemy and attempt to disengage).
  • When both sides have reached their Exhaustion Point the battle ends.
Turn Sequence
  1. For individual ship vs. ship actions, a D6 die is thrown by both sides and the side with the highest score always activates its ship first each turn.
  2. For larger battles each side is allocated a playing card colour (i.e. Red or Black).
  3. A playing card for each ship – of the relevant colour – is withdrawn from a normal pack of playing cards, shuffled, and placed face down somewhere convenient near to the tabletop.
  4. When the battle starts, the top playing card is turned over and the side that has been allocated that playing card colour activates one of their ships. Once that ship has moved and/or fired (both guns and/or torpedoes), the next playing card is turned over … and so on until both side’s ships have moved and/or fired (both guns and/or torpedoes) in turn, subject to any restrictions laid down in the rules.
  5. Both sides must then check to see if they have reached their Exhaustion Point. Once that has been done, the turn is complete, the playing cards can be re-shuffled, and the next turn can commence.
Movement
  • Type of Ship = Movement Rate
  • Battleship = 3 grid areas
  • Old Battleship = 3 grid areas
  • Armoured Cruiser = 4 grid areas
  • Unarmoured Cruiser = 4 grid areas
  • Torpedo Boat = 5 grid areas
Movement Rules
  • All movement is measured through the edges of the grid areas not the corners.
  • A ship may be moved only once each turn.
  • A ship may turn from facing one edge of a grid area to an adjacent edge of the same grid area after moving forward a gird area; this turn reduces its movement by 1 grid area.
  • A ship may turn from facing one edge of a grid area to an adjacent edge of the same grid area without moving forward a gird area (i.e. on the spot); this turn reduces its movement by 2 grid areas.
  • A ship may change its direction of movement any number of times during its move but must end its move facing the edge of the grid area not the corner.
  • A ship may not start, pass through, or end its move in the same grid area as another ship.
Gunfire
  • Heavy Gun battery or turret (max. range = 9 grid areas): 6-6-6-4-4-4-2-2-2
  • Medium Gun battery or turret (max. range = 6 grid areas): 6-6-4-4-2-2
  • Light Gun battery or turret (max. range = 5 grid areas): 6-4-4-2-2
  • QF Gun battery or mounting (max. range = 3 grid areas): 6-4-2
Notes
  • The numbers show how many D6 dice are thrown per gun battery or per turret at different ranges.
  • It is assumed that a gun battery or turret is armed with one or two guns. If the gun battery or turret has more than two guns, increase the number of D6 dice thrown by 2.
Gunfire Rules
  • All ranges are measured through the edges of the grid areas not the corners.
  • All the guns in each gun battery or in each turret must fire at the same target.
  • Each ship may fire only once each turn, although each of the ship’s gun batteries or turrets may engage a different target.
  • Ships may only fire at targets that are in direct line-of-sight and the targets must be within the arcs-of-fire of the gun battery or turret firing at them.
  • The target ship is identified. The requisite number of D6 dice is thrown for each gun battery or turret the firing ship is firing with and the range at which the firing is taking place. The results are then read from the Gunfire Results shown below.
Gunfire Results
  • Double 1: Destroys a gun battery or turret on an unarmoured ship
  • Double 1 + Any other double: Destroys a gun battery or turret on an armoured ship.
  • Double 2 or Double 3: Reduces an unarmoured ship’s movement rate by 1 grid area.
  • Double 2 or Double 3 + Any other double: Reduces an armoured ship’s movement rate by 1 grid area.
  • Double 4 or Double 5 or Double 6: Reduces an unarmoured ship’s Flotation Value by 1.
  • Double 4 or Double 5 or Double 6 + Any other double: Reduces an armoured ship’s Flotation Value by 1.
  • All damage takes immediate effect. When a ship’s Flotation Value (FV) is reduced to 0, the ship is sunk and it is removed from the tabletop.
Torpedoes
  • Number of D6 thrown (max. range = 3 grid areas): 6-4-2
Torpedo Rules
  • Only ships armed with torpedoes may fire them.
  • No ship may be armed with more than two torpedoes.
  • No ship may fire more than one torpedo each turn.
  • All ranges are measured through the edges of the grid areas not the corners.
  • Torpedoes are fired either directly ahead, directly astern, or directly abeam; they may not be fired at an angle.
  • The target ship is identified. The requisite number of D6 dice is thrown for the range at which the torpedo is being fired. The results are then read from the Torpedo Results shown below.
Torpedo Results
  • Any double: The torpedo has hit the target ship and reduced the target ship’s Flotation Value by 1D6.
  • All damage takes immediate effect. When a ship’s Flotation Value (FV) is reduced to 0, the ship is sunk and it is removed from the battlefield.

Examples of ships
A battleship


This battleship is armed with Heavy Gun battery or turret (forward), a Medium Gun battery (aft), and two Light Gun batteries (one each side) plus two torpedoes.

An armoured cruiser


This armoured cruiser is armed with two Medium Gun batteries (one forward and one aft) plus two torpedoes.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

It sounds painful ... but I hope that it isn't!

I have had an idea clumping around in my head over the past week or two ... and it is that it should be possible to devise a simple set of ironclad-era naval wargame rules based on my ITCHY AND SCRATCHY rules. For want of a better title I have called them the ITCHY AND SCRATCHY NAVAL wargame rules. (Had I called them the itchy and scratch navel rules, they might have sounded unpleasant ... or even painful!)

Ideal candidates for a play-test of my ITCHY AND SCRATCHY NAVAL wargame rules.
I have yet to put pen to paper - or, more accurately, finger to keyboard - but I am thinking along the lines of ships moving 3, 4, or 5 grid areas per turn (depending upon ship type) and using the same gun ranges as in the current ITCHY AND SCRATCHY rules. Hits would be scored on targets using a similar D6-based dice system to that already used in the ITCHY AND SCRATCHY rules (e.g. A pair of 1s will hit and damage an unarmoured ship whereas a pair of 1s and another double will hit and damage an armoured ship). Allocation of damage caused by hits would require a second D6 die throw (e.g. 1 = Hit on armament that knocks out a gun; 2 or 3 = Hit on machinery that reduces speed; 4, 5, or 6 = Hit on hull that can cause a ship to sink).

It is very early days as yet, but I think that it should not take me very long to get a working set of rules ready for play-testing ... hopefully before Christmas.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside ...

After posting all out Christmas cards, my wife and I decided to go out for a fish and chip lunch ... and as the best fish and chips is always served at the seaside, this meant a trip to Herne Bay!

(To be truthful my wife's car also needed petrol and a longish run to make sure that the battery was fully charged before the onset of winter ... and a trip to Herne Bay enabled us to kill two birds with one stone. In addition we both love watching the sea – even during wintertime – and are always looking for an excuse to go to the seaside to indulge this minor vice.)

We arrived at Herne Bay at about 1.30pm ... just as it began to rain rather heavily. We were able to park the car quite close to Mackaris Coffee Lounge & Ice Cream Parlour (which is situated on the seafront at 54, Central Parade, Herne Bay, Kent, CT6 5JG) and we both had an excellent lunch.




The rain had not stopped by the time we had finished lunch and so we had to forgo the pleasure of taking a walk around the shops in Herne Bay and just drove home ... but it does give us an excuse to go back again when the weather is better.

Who invented the Christmas card ... and why?

This is a rhetorical question, and therefore needs no answer ... although I am sure that a search using Google would soon provide the answer!


I posed the question because my wife and I spent quite a lot of time yesterday writing, addressing, and sticking stamps on Christmas cards. We have a spreadsheet that has all the names and addresses on it, and that is regularly updated throughout the year. As each card is completed the name (or names) are marked on the spreadsheet with a highlighter pen, and the stamped and addressed card is placed on top of the ever growing pile.

Having already paid a visit to the local Post Office collection box yesterday afternoon to post out the latest issue of THE NUGGET, I will take the the pile of Christmas cards there first thing this morning. Then we shall await the cards that people will send us ... and hope that we don't get too many from people who are not yet on our spreadsheet!