Thursday, 22 June 2017

German Flakschiff: Arcona and Medusa

SMS Arcona and SMS Medusa were two of the ten light cruisers that formed the Gazelle-class. They were built in the early years of the twentieth century, and by the time of the First World War they were no longer regarded as front-line units.

When built, their characteristics were:
  • Displacement: 3,130 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 344’ 6” (105m)
    • Beam: 40’ 8” (12.40m)
    • Draft: 16’ 4” (4.99m)
  • Speed: 21.5 knots
  • Propulsion: 2 shafts powered by triple-expansion steam engines
  • Armour: Deck: 20 to 25mm (0.79 to 0.98 inches)
  • Armament: 10 × 4.1” (10.5cm) SK L/40 guns (10 x 1); 2 × 18” (45cm) Torpedo Tubes
  • Complement: 14 officers and 256 enlisted men
A silhouette of a Gazelle-class cruiser.
SMS Arcona in 1910.
When converted into a flakschiff, Arcona and Medusa carried:
  • 1 x 4.1” (10.5cm) SK C/32 gun (1 x 1)
  • 4 x 4.1” (10.5cm) SK C/33 guns (4 x 1),
  • 2 x 37mm SK C/30 guns (2 x 1)
  • 4 x 20mm guns (1 x 4)
A silhouette of KMS Arcona and KMS Medusa. The funnel was later shortened and additional superstructure added.
Arcona was assigned to Naval Anti-Aircraft Group 233. She survived the war and was broken up between 1948 and 1949.

KMS Arcona.
Medusa was assigned to Naval Anti-Aircraft Group 222. She survived the war and was broken up between 1948 and 1950.

KMS Medusa.
KMS Medusa in action.
KMS Medusa. This appears to be a photograph of the ship during her conversion into a flakschiff.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 21st June 1937

Andres Nin (leader of the POUM) was murdered by Soviet agents.
Andres Nin, the leader of the POUM.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Vive l'Empereur! Some Veteran/Garrison French Artillery figures are added to the collection!

The best way to describe the way in which work on my Napoleonic project has progressed of late is slow and steady.

The most recent additions are half a dozen Veteran/Garrison French Artillery figures. (They are actually French Foot Artillery figures from Del Prado's RELIVE AUSTERLITZ! range, but their slightly earlier style of uniforms make them ideal candidates to be used a Veterans who can garrison coastal defences or border fortifications.)

The next batch are going to be half a dozen French Horse Artillery ... and with a bit of luck they should be finished in a few days.

Another terrorist attack in London

For reasons that will become abundantly clear in the near future, I did not see the news of the attack on the worshippers from the Finsbury Park mosque until today.

Needless to say, I was horrified by what appears to be a so-called 'revenge' tit-for-tat act of terrorism by yet another 'lone wolf' on innocent people. My thoughts and condolences once again go out to everyone affected by this murderous attack, be they the friends and families of those killed and injured or the first responders - including bystanders - who dealt with the aftermath.

Monday, 19 June 2017

German Flakschiff

As the Second World War progressed and the Allied bombing offensive intensified, the Kriegsmarine – who were responsible for coastal defence and the protection of naval dockyards – began to look as ways in which they could enhance the anti-aircraft defences available to them.

One option was to mount anti-aircraft guns around the vulnerable targets they had to protect; another was to mount the guns on ships that could be moved as and when required. A quick survey of the suitable ships that were available (i.e. ones that were large enough to mount the necessary guns and fire control equipment but that were not needed for front-line service) identified the following ships:
  • Arcona (a former German light cruiser of the Gazelle-class)
  • Medusa (a former German light cruiser of the Gazelle-class)
  • Nymphe (a former Norwegian coastal defence battleship that was originally named Tordenskjold of the Tordenskjold-class)
  • Thetis (a former Norwegian coastal defence battleship that was originally named Harald Haarfagre of the Tordenskjold-class)
  • Niobe (a former Netherlands cruiser that was originally the Gelderland of the Holland-class)
  • Ariadne (a former Netherlands coastal defence battleship that was originally the Hertog Hendrik of the Koningin Regentes-class)
  • Undine (a former Netherlands coastal defence battleship that was originally the Jacob van Heemskerck)
  • Adler (a former Danish coastal defence ship that was originally the Peder Skram of the Herluf Trolle-class)
These ships were all taken in hand and converted into flakschiff.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 18th June 1937

The Nationalist motor torpedo boat Falange sank.

Flange was the former Kriegsmarine Motor Torpedo Boat S4. This photograph shows her whilst she was serving with the Kriegsmarine..

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 17th June 1937

The Republican battleship Jaime I blew up and sank at Cartagena.

Jamie I at anchor.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 16th June 1937

The POUM was outlawed and its leaders were arrested.

The POUM flag.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

When Empires Clash! ... is now available in hardback and eBook formats!

Some time ago I had a request for an electronic version of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! ... but as I was working on DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME I didn't have enough time to do the necessary work to turn the paperback into a suitable electronic format.

That said, on the back of the work I have done to publish DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME, I decided to give it a go ... and in the process I reformatted the original text so that it was in the same house style that I had used in both my Portable Wargame books. As a result a Second Edition of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! is now available in hardback, paperback, and eBook formats from and – in the near future – will also be on sale from the major online book retailers.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Developing The Portable Wargame: The book is finally ready to go!

The printed proof copies of the book have been thoroughly read by myself and Arthur Harman, and the remaining errors have hopefully been detected and corrected. As a result the book is now finally ready to go.

I have released all the versions for what call 'General Access' (i.e. people will be able to order copies directly from, and it should then be available for sale with Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc., within a couple of weeks.

Monday, 12 June 2017

It was Broadside vs. Developing The Portable Wargame ... and the latter won!

It was my original intention to go to BROADSIDE in Sittingbourne yesterday ... but I never quite made it.

Over the past few days Arthur Harman had been diligently going through the printed proof copy of the book, and had found a few minor things that needed to be changed. I made the changes yesterday morning, and uploaded the files to I made one final check of the three versions ... and discovered that the eBook version had some really glaring format problems.

For some reason certain paragraphs had – apparently at random – been capitalised and/or changed font and/or changed font size. This had happened before, and I went through the original file, made what I thought were the necessary changes, and uploaded the new file.

The faults were still there.

By this time I was determined to sort the problem out. All thoughts of going to BROADSIDE went out the window; I had a problem that I was determined to beat. I retyped the offending passages ... and that didn't work. I went through and reformated various parts of the file ... and that didn't work either. In the end, after eight attempts to cure the problem, I gave up ... by which time it was the early evening.

Overnight I tried not to think about what was causing the problems, and when I woke up this morning I was determined to find a solution.

After several attempts I found it. The formatting problem was being caused by my use of bullet points! Apparently these can generate format changes when the MS Word Docx file is converted into ePub format. The changes are not consistent and do not appear to follow a regular pattern, which is why the problem was so hard to cure.

The new file has been uploaded, and as far as I can see the formatting problems have gone. I'm now going to leave everything to settle down for a day or so, and perhaps then I might actually be able to draw a line under this project and publish my latest book!

Sunday, 11 June 2017

The Dutch are coming ... to the Medway again!

On Saturday Sue and I visited Upnor Castle in Upper Upnor, Kent. The castle is situated on the River Medway, and was originally built to protect the Royal Dockyard, which is just upriver towards Chatham. This was not our first visit, but we particularly wanted to go there yesterday as it was one of the venues being used to celebrate the famous Battle of the Medway of June 1667.

The battle took place during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, and was the result of a raid up the Medway by the Dutch fleet under the command of Admiral De Ruyter. As a result the Royal Navy lost thirteen ships lost by fire and the capture of HMS Unity and HMS Royal Charles. This was one of the greatest disasters ever suffered by the Royal Navy, and came at a time when the country was still reeling form the Plague of 1665 and the great Fire of London in 1666.

We were unable to park our car in Upnor, and so we went to Chatham Maritime and took a shuttle bus which went to Upnor via Rochester. We alighted near the top of the High Street ...

... which we walked down to reach the castle. (This is a very pretty village high street, and it will not surprise you to know that Sue and I almost bought a house at the riverside end of this street. Unfortunately someone else had their offer accepted before we were in a position to make a bid, but one day ...)

The castle is built in the form of an arrowhead, with the point projecting into the River Medway.

As we are members of English heritage, it cost us nothing to go in. (The normal charge for an adult is £6.40, with a child's admission costing £4.00.) Near the entrance was a map of the site that explained the history of the castle.

As can be seen from the following pictures of the South Tower ...

... and Gatehouse, the main building material used was stone, with some later brick additions.

The entrance to the castle was guarded by a re-enactor dressed as a soldier of the Second Anglo-Dutch War ...

... and two more re-enactors were guarding the stone bridge that you had to cross to reach the Guardhouse.

In the area next to the North Tower another group of re-enactors were demonstrating how to fire muskets ...

... whilst an officer gave orders to some of the others.

They had a cannon with them ...

... and this was also fired at several times during our visit.

Inside the courtyard several re-enactors were preparing food ...

... and undertaking other domestic tasks.

Sue and I spent some time exploring the main building. The ground floor was being used to house a special exhibition about the Battle of Medway ...

... whilst the first floor (which is normally used for wedding ceremonies) had several displays about the castles use as a gunpowder store.

From there we made our way down the narrow winding stairway to the Bastion.

This is on the side of the castle that overlooks the River Medway ...

... and access from the river was barred by a wooden pallisade set into the river bed.

Whilst we were in the Bastion we saw a Dutch boat being rowed up and down the river.

We then made our way back under the castle through a tunnel that took us to the area next to the North Tower.

By this point the castle was getting crowded and we were both feeling hot and thirsty. We therefore took the shuttle bus back to Chatham Maritime, where we ate some lunch and did some retail therapy before returning home.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

The former day-glo castle completes its transformation

After some deliberation I decided to follow the advice I had been given by various people ... and removed the central turret. After painting the affected area and flocking the courtyard with natural cork granules, the castle looked like this:

The completed castle ... garrisoned by a unit of French Veteran Infantry.
In my opinion the whole thing looks a lot better than it did before I started work on this project ...

... and I can now envisage using it on the tabletop in some way.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Latest book sales statistics

A couple of days ago updated the sales statistics for my books. They tend to do this once each month when the sale figures from Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc., come through.

To date I have sold 690 books, with sales of the various versions of THE PORTABLE WARGAME making up by far and away the largest portion of the total.

One thing that I am considering doing is producing eBook and hardback versions of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! I doubt that they will sell very well, but doing so would sort of round off the range of books I have written and published to date. It is certainly something for me to think about doing over the coming weeks and months, especially as would not take me very long to do.