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Thursday, 2 February 2023

Flatiron Gunboats: The Scandinavian vessels

Soon after their introduction into Royal Navy service, the Danish and Norwegian Navies realised that the flatiron gunboat might provide them with cheap coastal defence vessels capable of defending the approaches to their major cities and ports. As a result, both the Danes and the Norwegians built their own flatiron gunboats, some of which saw very long naval and commercial service.


DENMARK

Oresund-class

Their characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 240 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 85ft 8in
    • Beam: 26ft 2in
    • Draught: 7ft 3in
  • Propulsion: -
  • Speed: 7.5 knots
  • Complement: 30
  • Armament: 1 x 10-inch RML gun; 4 x 1-pounder QF guns

Little is known about their service in the Danish Navy.

  • Oresund: She was discarded in 1919.
  • Store Belt: She was discarded in 1912.
  • Lille Belt: She was rebuilt and rearmed in 1894 with 3 x 3-pounder QF guns and 4 x machine guns. She was discarded in 1919.

Moen

Her characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 410 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 109ft
    • Beam: -
    • Draught: 8-
  • Propulsion: -
  • Speed: 9 knots
  • Complement: -
  • Armament: 1 x 10-inch RML gun; 2 x 10-pounder QF guns; 2 x 1-pounder QF guns

She was significantly bigger than the first three flatiron gunboats in the Danish Navy. Little is known about her service in the Danish Navy. She was discarded in 1901.

Falster

Her characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 383 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 112ft 6in
    • Beam: 29ft
    • Draught: 8ft 7in
  • Propulsion: -
  • Speed: 10.5 knots
  • Complement: 50
  • Armament: 1 x 10-inch RML gun; 2 x 10-pounder QF guns; 2 x 1-pounder QF guns

She was significantly bigger than the first three flatiron gunboats in the Danish Navy. She was rebuilt and rearmed with 2 x 3-pounder QF guns and 4 x machine guns in 1906 before becoming an engineering training vessel. She was sold in 1919 into commercial service, renamed Holger and converted into a sand-pump dredger.


NORWAY

Uller-class

An Uller-class flatiron gunboat.

Their characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 229 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 89ft 6in
    • Beam: -
    • Draught: -
  • Propulsion: Reciprocating steam engines
  • Speed: 8 knots
  • Complement: 41
  • Armament:
    • When built: 1 x 10.6-inch RML gun; 3 x 1-pounder QF guns
    • Uller (1913): 1 x 4.7-inch QF gun; 1 x 3-inch QF gun; 2 x 1pounder QF guns; 50 mines
    • Vale: (1911/1912): 1 x 4.7-inch QF gun; 3 x 1-pounder QF gun; 50 mines

Built at the Karljohansverns Verft Naval Yard, Horten.

  • Uller: She was rearmed and converted into minelayer in 1913. Between the wars she was laid up, but was recommissioned in 1939. She was captured by the Germans in 1940, and later badly damaged by air attack and scuttled.
  • Vale: She was rearmed and converted into a minelayer in 1911/1912. She was captured by Germans in 1940 and used as a tug and to deliver distilled water. She was returned to Norway in 1945 and broken up.

Brage-class

Their characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 264 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 94ft 9in
    • Beam: -
    • Draught: -
  • Propulsion: Reciprocating steam engines
  • Speed: 8.5 knots
  • Complement: 41
  • Armament:
    • When built: 1 x 10.6-inch RML gun; 3 x 1-pounder QF guns
    • Brage (1911/12): 1 x 4.7-inch QF gun; 3 x 1pounder QF guns; 50 mines
    • Nor (1911/1912): 1 x 6-inch QF gun; 3 x 1-pounder QF gun; 50 mines

Built at the Karljohansverns Verft Naval Yard, Horten.

  • Brage: She was rearmed and converted into minelayer in 1911/1912. She was captured by the Germans in 1940. She was returned to Norway in 1945 and broken up.
  • Nor: She was rearmed and converted into a minelayer in 1911/1912. She was captured by Germans in 1940. She was returned to Norway in 1945 and sold into commercial service in 1949. She was renamed Flathom and converted into a salvage lighter. She was still extant in 1984.

Vidar

Her characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 262 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 94ft 9in
    • Beam: -
    • Draught: -
  • Propulsion: Reciprocating steam engines
  • Speed: 9.5 knots
  • Complement: 41
  • Armament: 1 x 10.6-inch RML gun; 3 x 1-pounder QF guns

Built at the Karljohansverns Verft Naval Yard, Horten. She was a repeat of the Brage-class and sometimes listed as a member of that class. She was rearmed with 1 x 4.7-inch QF, 3 x 1-pounder QF guns, and 50 mines and converted into minelayer in 1911/1912. She was captured by the Germans in 1940. She was returned to Norway in 1945 and broken up in 1947.

Gor-class

A Gor-class flatiron gunboat.

Their characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 273 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 104ft 4in
    • Beam: 27ft 11in
    • Draught: 7ft 3in
  • Propulsion: Compound steam engines
  • Speed: 10.5 knots
  • Complement: 44
  • Armament:
    • When built: 1 x 10.2-inch RML gun; 3 x 1-pounder QF guns; 1 x 14-inch torpedo tube
    • Gor (1914): 1 x 4.7-inch QF gun; 55 mines
    • Tyr (1913): 1 x 4.7-inch QF gun; 1 s 3-inch QF gun; 2 x 1-pounder QF gun; 55 mines

Built at the Karljohansverns Verft Naval Yard, Horten.

  • Gor: She was rearmed and converted into minelayer in 1914. She was captured by the Germans in 1940 and used as a supply boat.. She was returned to Norway in 1945 and sold into commercial service for conversion into an oil barge.
  • Tyr: She was laid up from 1900 to 1905. From 1910 to 1913 she was used as a submarine tender, She was rearmed and converted into a minelayer in 1913, and from 1919 to 1939 she was laid up. She was captured by Germans in 1940 and returned to Norway in 1945. She was sold into commercial service in 1946 and converted into a heavy lifting vessel. She was sold again in 1949, renamed Bjorn West and converted into a car ferry. In 1986 she was sold again and rebuilt as a heavy transport vessel and subsequently used as a floating storage vessel by a salmon farm. In 2014 she was taken in hand for restoration.

Aegir

Her characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 413 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 109ft
    • Beam: -
    • Draught: -
  • Propulsion: Steam engines
  • Speed: 9 knots
  • Complement: 43
  • Armament: 1 x 8.2-inch gun; 1 x 10-pounder QF gun; 2 x 4-pounder QF guns

Built at the Karljohansverns Verft Naval Yard, Horten. She was broken up in 1932.

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Nugget 351

I collected the latest issue of THE NUGGET from the printer this morning and I will post it out to members either later today or tomorrow. In the meantime, members can read this issue online.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the sixth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2022-2023 subscription year. If you have not yet re-subscribed, a reminder was sent to you some time ago. If you wish to re-subscribe using the PayPal option on the relevant page of the website, you can use the existing buttons as the subscription cost has not changed.

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

'If you can fill the unforgiving minute ...'

Our colds have gradually begun to abate ... but not quickly enough for our liking. At times, Sue and I have ended up sitting in our chairs in the living room trying to find things to do that aren't too mentally taxing. Sue has done some sewing and I have done a bit of reading, but I've found that my ability to concentrate still isn't as good as it was.

We have tried watching television, but with a few notable exceptions, most daytime TV seems to be dominated by quiz shows, lifestyle programmes, uninteresting chat shows, and rolling (and very repetitive) news. Luckily, we have a YouTube option on our Freeview TV, and over the past few days we have been able to 'fill the unforgiving minute' by watching some of the things it has to offer.


Amongst the YouTube channels I have been watching are those produced by Emma Cruises, Jago Hazzard, and Big Lee.

Emma Cruises is run by Emma, ...

... a young woman in her twenties who not only produces some excellent reports on the cruises she has taken but also has a website. She began doing this in 2016 for her own enjoyment but her website ...

... and YouTube channel ...

... proved so popular that in 2021 she turned professional and now earns her living from giving advice on how to book a cruise that will meet your particular needs and running online courses on how to cruise for less. She sometimes talks rather too fast for my liking, but her enthusiasm is infectious and both Sue and I enjoy watching and listening to her.

In his own words, Jago Hazzard ...

... makes 'videos about London, about railways, about railways in London and whatever else takes my interest.' According to Wikitubia, his real name is T G Wright, and he works in the medical profession when he isn't making videos and modelling 00 and 009-scale model trains. His short and eclectic videos are just the right sort of thing one needs when one wants something stimulating and interesting to watch but which does not last too long.

Big Lee needs no introduction from me as his regular Miniature Adventures wargame postings on YouTube are already well-known, ...

... as is his excellent blog.

Before COVID struck, I used to meet him regularly at various wargame shows in Southeast England, and he is a great bloke who enjoys his wargaming and who always has something interesting to say.


These then are my 'go to' YouTubers when I am in need of stimulation, entertainment, and information. That is not to say that I only visit them when I am feeling unwell, but when I'm feeling under the weather, they help me to feel better.

Sunday, 29 January 2023

The not so Common Cold

Ever since we returned from our Christmas cruise, Sue and I have had colds. Until last Wednesday, they were inconvenient and unpleasant but overnight they suddenly got a lot worse. In my case, I was having so much trouble breathing at night that I had to take off my C-PAP machine because it felt like I was being waterboarded!

We tried all the usual remedies, but although they gave a bit of relief, neither of us felt like doing much. I was supposed to be giving a talk to a Masonic group in Watford on Friday, but once realised that I was just not up to driving that far safely (it is a 62-mile drive in both directions and my eyes were itching, my nose was constantly running when I wasn't sneezing, and my concentration was very poor), I had to cancel ... which is something that I don't like doing.

We had to go out on Friday to do some food shopping, but even this task was difficult to complete. What should have been a quick drive to the shops and back turned into a marathon that was so tiring that we both fell asleep for over an hour once we got back. What was worse was that I had lost my sense of taste and my appetite!

Sue and I decided to take COVID tests just in case we had contracted the virus again, but although the number of cases in our borough more than tripled last week, we were not amongst them. We have both had our annual flu jabs, and last year we had jabs to prevent us from developing pneumonia. As a result, we should be able to shrug this cold off ... but an online news item that I read on Saturday indicates that there is a particularly virulent version of the Common Cold doing the rounds in our part of London, and that we are not alone in our suffering.

We spent yesterday keeping warm, drinking lots of fluids, and generally resting ... and after a rough night we both awoke feeling slightly better. Hopefully we are now over the worst, but as we have already been suffering from it for nearly a month, we have no idea how long it will be before we are fully recovered.

Friday, 27 January 2023

Flatiron Gunboats: The Australian vessels

Before the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, several of the colonies had their own naval forces. The flatiron gunboat design proved to be a popular choice of vessel for several of these fledgling navies, and examples were acquired by Queensland, Victoria, and South Australia.


QUEENSLAND

Gayundah-class

Their characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 385 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 115ft
    • Beam: 26ft
    • Draught: 9ft 6in
  • Propulsion: 2 horizonal compound steam engines, each driving a propeller shaft
  • Speed: 10.5 knots
  • Complement: 55
  • Armament:
    • Gayundah (1894): 1 x 8-inch BL gun; 1 x 6-inch BL gun; 2 x  3-pounder Nordenfelt QF guns; 2 x machine guns
    • Gayundah (1905): 1 x 8-inch BL gun; 1 x 4.7-in BL gun; 2 x 12-pounder QF guns; 2 x machine guns
    • Gayundah (1917): 1 x 4.7-inch BL gun; 2 x 12-pounder QF guns
    • Paulma (1894): 1 x 8-inch BL gun; 1 x 6-inch BL gun; 2 x  3-pounder Nordenfelt QF guns; 2 x machine guns
    • Paulma (1899): 2 x 5-inc BL guns; 2 x 3-pounder Nordenfelt guns; 2 x machine guns

These two ships were given aborigine names for Thunder and Lightning. They were both equipped as topsail schooners for delivery journey from the United Kingdom to Queensland.

  • HMQS Gayundah: She was incorporated into the Australian Commonwealth Naval Force in 1902 and rearmed in 1905. She then became part of the Royal Australian Navy in 1911. She served as a coastal patrol vessel throughout the Great War, being rearmed in 1917. She was hulked and sold into commercial service in 1921 and used as a lighter. In 1930 she sank at her moorings and was then re-floated and used as a gravel barge until June 1958, when she was beached at Woody Point, Moreton Bay, Queensland.
  • HMQS Paluma: From 1885 to 1895 she was leased to the Royal Navy for use as a survey vessel. During her time as a Royal Navy vessel, her armament was removed. Whilst her boilers and engines were under repair in February 1893, she was beached in the Brisbane Botanical Gardens by a sudden flood of the Brisbane River. She was re-floated two weeks later by a second flood. She was rearmed in 1899 and incorporated into the Australian Commonwealth Naval Force in 1902 as a Training Vessel and into the Royal Australian Navy in 1911. She was sold to the Victorian Public Service Department in 1916, renamed Rip, and subsequently used as a navigation light tender in Port Phillip. She was scrapped in 1951.


VICTORIA

HMVS Albert

HMVS Albert is depicted in this plan with the sails used during her passage from Great Britain to Australia. These were not used in normal service.

Her characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 381 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 115ft
    • Beam: 25ft
    • Draught: 9ft 6in
  • Propulsion: 2 horizonal compound steam engines, each driving a propeller shaft
  • Speed: 10.5 knots
  • Complement: 55
  • Armament: 1 x 8-inch BL gun; 1 x 6-inch BL gun; 2 x  3-pounder Nordenfelt QF guns; 2 x machine guns

HMVS Albert was very similar to the Gayundah-class vessels. She was originally named Melbourne, and on her passage to Australia (in the company of the torpedo boat Childers) she was diverted to Suakin to support the British Empire's occupation of the port during the Sudan Campaign of 1884 to 1885. She was not needed and continued her journey to Australia. Albert was a poor sea boat and spent most of her service in harbour at Port Phillip. In 1897 she was transferred to the Department of Public Works for use as a buoy tender and blasting vessel. In 1917 she was requisitioned by the Royal Australian Navy, who intended to convert her into a tug, but the cost proved to be prohibitive, and she was sold and converted into an oil lighter.

HMVS Victoria

HMVS AVictoria is depicted in this plan with the sails used during her passage from Great Britain to Australia. These were not used in normal service.

Her characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 544 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 140ft
    • Beam: 27ft
    • Draught: 11ft
  • Propulsion: 2 horizonal compound steam engines, each driving a propeller shaft
  • Speed: 12.6 knots
  • Complement: 53
  • Armament:
    • 1884: 1 x 10-inch (18-ton) RML gun; 2 x  12-pounder QF guns
    • 1888: 1 x 8-inch BL gun: 1 x 6-inch BL gun; 2 x 12-pounder QF guns

She was the biggest of the conventional flatiron gunboats acquired by the Australian states. She was sold to Western Australia in 1896 and converted into a tug and survey vessel. By 1917 she was in Sydney (New South Wales) where she was sold for scrapping in 1920. Her hulk was abandoned in Kerosene Bay, Sydney, and she was finally dismantled in 1835.


SOUTH AUSTRALIA

HMCS Protector

HMCS Protector is depicted in this plan with the sails used during her passage from Great Britain to Australia. These were not used in normal service.

Her characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 921 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 185ft
    • Beam: 30ft
    • Draught: 12ft 6in
  • Propulsion: 2 horizonal compound steam engines, each driving a propeller shaft
  • Speed: 14 knots
  • Complement: 90
  • Armament:
    • 1884: 1 x 8-inch BL gun; 5 x 6-inch BL guns; 4 x machine guns
    • 1912: 3 x 4-inch QF guns; 2 x 12-pounder QF guns; 4 x 3-pounder QF guns

She was a much-enlarged version of the flatiron gunboat which at the time she was built was referred to as being a small cruiser. She initially based in Port Phillip and acted as guardship or undertook training exercises. She was offered for service in China during the Boxer Rebellion, where she mainly acted as a despatch vessel. She was transferred to the Royal Australian Navy when it was formed in 1911 and subsequently rebuilt and used as a gunboat. At the beginning of World War I she acted as tender for the two Australian submarines AE1 and AE2 at Port Jackson. She then took part in the capture of Samoa from the Germans and spent most of the rest of the war on patrol in Australian waters. Once the war was over, she served as the tender to HMAS Cerberus before being sold in 1924. Her hulk was renamed Sydney in 1931, and she was used as a wool lighter until she was requisitioned by the US Army in 1943. Whilst under tow to New Guinea she broke free and was beached off Heron Island, Queensland, where she became a breakwater. Her remains still exist today.

HMCS Protector after she was rebuilt and rearmed in 1912.

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

The Franco-Prussian War of 1810: 8th April to 11th April 1810

On 7th April 1810, the Prussian 3rd Division attacked the French 2nd Division to the southwest of Leipzig.

As a result of the Battle of the Leipzig Gap, the Prussians were forced to withdraw, having suffered the loss of 9 SPs to the French loses of 7 SPs.

The Prussian 3rd Division recovered 3 SPs from the Prussian Replacement Pool, which now stood at 33 SPs. The French 2nd Division recovered 3 SPs from the French Replacement Pool, which now stood at 41 SPs.

Turn 20: Saturday 8th/ Sunday 9th April 1810

As a result of their defeat in the Battle of the Leipzig Gap, the Prussian 3rd Division fell back to P9.

  • Red 8: French moved 4th to O11 (1)
  • Red 5: French moved 4th to O10 (1)
  • Black 7: Prussians moved 3rd to Q9 (1)

Turn 21: Monday 10th April/Tuesday 11th April 1810

  • Red 9: French moved 4th to P10 (1)
  • Red 7: French moved 4th to Q10 (1)
  • Black 9: Prussians moved 2nd to P9 (1)

The French 4th Division had moved into a square that was adjacent to that occupied by the weakened Prussian 3rd Division and attacked them.

Tuesday, 24 January 2023

Nugget 351

The editor of THE NUGGET has been working very hard to maintain the publication schedule and sent me the latest issue last weekend. I intend to send it to the printer later this morning and I am hoping that it will be ready to be posted out to members by the beginning of next week … if not sooner.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the sixth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2022-2023 subscription year. If you have not yet re-subscribed, a reminder was sent to you some time ago. If you wish to re-subscribe using the PayPal option on the relevant page of the website, you can use the existing buttons as the subscription cost has not changed.

Monday, 23 January 2023

Flatiron Gunboats: The Royal Navy’s vessels

After HMS Staunch entered service, the Royal Navy ordered several more flatiron gunboats.


HMS Plucky

Her characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 212 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 80ft
    • Beam: 25ft 1in
    • Draught: 6ft 5in
  • Propulsion: 2 steam engines, each driving a propeller shaft
  • Speed: 7.5 knots
  • Complement: 25
  • Armament: 1 x 9-inch (12-tom) RML (rifled muzzle-loading) gun

The fecond prototype flatiron gunboat and the first iron vessel to be built in Portsmouth Dockyard. By 1914 she had been disarmed and was undertaking miscellaneous harbour service duties in Portsmouth. She was renamed Banterer in 1915 and sold in 1928 into commercial service. She was finally scrapped in 1969.


Ant-class

Their characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 254 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 84ft
    • Beam: 26ft 1in
    • Draught: 6ft 5in
  • Propulsion: 2 single cylinder steam engines, each driving a propeller shaft
  • Speed: 8.5 knots
  • Complement: 30
  • Armament: 1 x 10-inch (18-tom) RML gun

This class of twenty ships were built by a number of shipyards and had very varied careers.

  • HMS Ant: By 1906 she was undertaking subsidiary duties. On the outbreak of war in 1914 she was rearmed with 2 x 4.7-inch QF guns and used to bombard the Belgian coast. She was disarmed in 1916 and converted into a boom defence vessel. In 1921 she became as target vessel and in 1926 she was sold and scrapped.
  • HMS Arrow: By 1914 she had been disarmed and was performing miscellaneous harbour duties in Portsmouth. She was sold for scrap in 1922.
  • HMS Badger: She was sold in 1908.
  • HMS Blazer: By 1906 she was undertaking subsidiary duties. On the outbreak of war in 1914 she was rearmed with 2 x 12-pounder QF guns and 2 x 6-pounder QF guns and used to bombard the Belgian coast. She was disarmed in 1915 and sold 1919.
  • HMS Bloodhound: By 1880 she was tender to the torpedo school (HMS Vernon). On the outbreak of war in 1914 she was rearmed with 2 x 6-pounder QF guns and used to bombard the Belgian coast. She was disarmed in 1915 and sold in 1921.
  • HMS Bonetta: She was converted into a salvage vessel and renamed Dispenser. She was sold for commercial use in 1909 and lost in 1940.
  • HMS Bulldog: She was sold in 1906.
  • HMS Bustard: On the outbreak of war in 1914 she was rearmed with 1 x 6-inch QF gun and 1 x 4.7-inch QF gun and used to bombard the Belgian coast. She was disarmed in 1916 and sold in 1923.
  • HMS Comet: She was sold and scrapped in 1908.
  • HMS Cuckoo: In 1912 she was hulked and renamed Vivid. She was then used as a tender. She was renamed Vivid II in 1920 and YC37 in 1923. She was sold in 1959.
  • HMS Fidget: She was sold in 1905.
  • HMS Hyaena: She was sold in 1906.
  • HMS Kite: On the outbreak of war in 1914 she was rearmed with 1 x 6-inch QF gun and 1 x 4.7-inch QF gun and used to bombard the Belgian coast. She was disarmed in 1915 and sold in 1920 for conversion into a dredger.
  • HMS Mastiff: By 1880 she was tender to the gunnery school (HMS Excellent). On the outbreak of war in 1914 she was renamed Snapper, rearmed with 2 x 4.7-inch QF guns and 1 x 12-pounder QF gun and 1 x 4.7-inch QF gun and used to bombard the Belgian coast. She was disarmed in 1916 and sold for scrap in 1931.
  • HMS Pickle: She was sold in 1906.
  • HMS Pike: She was converted into a boom defence vessel in 1908 and sold in 1920.
  • HMS Scourge: She was converted into a tank vessel in 1903 and renamed C79.
  • HMS Snake: She was converted into a cable lighter in 1907 and renamed YC15.
  • HMS Snap: She was sold in 1909.
  • HMS Weasel: She was converted into an oil lighter in 1904 and renamed C118.

Gadfly-class

Their characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 254 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 84ft
    • Beam: 26ft 1in
    • Draught: 6ft 6in
  • Propulsion: 2 single cylinder steam engines, each driving a propeller shaft
  • Speed: 8.5 knots
  • Complement: 30
  • Armament: 1 x 10-inch (18-tom) RML gun

These four ships were essentially built to the same design as the preceding Ant-class.

  • HMS Gadfly: She was converted into a coal lighter in 1900 and renamed YC230. She was sold in 1918.
  • HMS Griper: She was converted into a steam lighter in 1905 and renamed YC373. She was sold into commercial service and renamed Flora in 1923 and Afrikander in 1933. She was scrapped in 1951.
  • HMS Pincher: She was sold in 1905.
  • HMS Tickler: She was converted into a steam lighter in 1902. She was sold into commercial service and renamed Afrikander in 1919 and Afrikander II in 1933. She was scrapped in 1937.


Bouncer-class

Their characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 265 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 87ft 4in
    • Beam: 26ft 1in
    • Draught: 6ft 6in
  • Propulsion: 2 single cylinder steam engines, each driving a propeller shaft
  • Speed: 8.5 knots
  • Complement: 30
  • Armament: 1 x 10-inch (18-tom) RML gun

The two ships were built as slightly longer versions of the Ant- and Gadfly-classes. They were also built from steel and not iron.

  • HMS Bouncer: She was sold in 1905.
  • HMS Griper: She was disarmed in 1906 and undertook miscellaneous harbour duties in Portsmouth. She was converted into a boom defence vessel in 1915 and wrecked in 1922. Her wreck was sold in 1925 and broken up.


HMS Handy

Her characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 532 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 115ft
    • Beam: 37ft
    • Draught: 8ft
  • Propulsion: 1 compound steam engine driving a propeller shaft
  • Speed: 9 knots
  • Complement: -
  • Armament:
    • 1882: 1 x 13.5-inch BL (breech-loading) gun
    • 1895: 1 x 12 -inch BL gun
    • 1900: 1 x 9.2-inch BL gun
    • 1912: 1 x 7.5-inch BL gun; 1 x 4-inch QF gun
    • 1914: 1 x 9.2-inch BL gun

She was built and served as a trials and experimental vessel for Armstrongs before being sold to the Royal Navy. She was initially used to test-fire the 13.5-inch BL gun fitted to the Royal Sovereign-class of ironclad battleships. In 1891 she became a Gunnery Training Vessel and was renamed Excellent. On the outbreak of war in 1914 she was used to bombard the Belgian coast. She was withdrawn from bombardment duty and renamed Calcutta in 1916 and then Snapper II in 1917. She was sold to the Dover Harbour Board in 1924, converted into a crane lighter, and renamed Demon. She was sold to Pounds Shipbreakers (Portsmouth) in 1971. They removed the crane, and the hull was scrapped in 2008. (It had been hoped to preserve her but this proved to be impossible.)


HMS Drudge

Her characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 809 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 125ft
    • Beam: 35ft 2in
    • Draught: 12ft 5in
  • Propulsion: 1 triple-expansion steam engine driving a propeller shaft
  • Speed: 8 knots
  • Complement: -
  • Armament:
    • 1907: 9.2-inch BL gun

She was originally built for Armstrongs as a slag hopper, discharging waste from the company's works at sea. When Hardy was sold to the Royal Navy, she was rebuilt to act as a trials and experimental vessel for the company. She was bought by the Royal Navy in 1901 and renamed Excellent in 1916, the name of the gunnery school where she served as a tender. From 1918 to 1919 she served as an armourer's hulk and floating workshop in Portsmouth. She was renamed Dryad in 1919 when she was transferred to the navigation school. She was sold into commercial service in 1920 and used as a salvage vessel based in Dover. In 1948 she passed into French ownership and was renamed Francois Quere. She was scrapped in early 1969 at Quai du Rhin in Le Havre.

Sunday, 22 January 2023

The 143rd anniversary of defence at Rorke’s Drift

Today is 143rd anniversary of the defence of Rorke's Drift ... and I hope to watch the film ZULU again this afternoon.

Whilst the film is by no means an accurate recreation of the actual events, and probably represents attitudes and actions that are no longer currently acceptable, it remains popular. The battle has almost become more mythical than real, in no small part due to the film.


It is a sobering thought that when I was born in 1950, that was almost halfway between the fighting at Rorke’s Drift and today. It’s enough to make one feel quite old! Mind you, the film was made in 1964 … which was fifty-nine years ago!

Saturday, 21 January 2023

Some more terrain squares

I had some spare 10cm plywood squares, felt, and cork left from my recent terrain tile project, so I used them up making nine more plain green terrain tiles and a couple of double-height hills, one rounded and one rough.

The hills look like this:

The double-height rounded hill ...
... and the double-height rough hill.