Thursday 31 March 2016

The Waterloo Project: The next stage?

From the end of February to the middle of August last year a large chunk of my time was taken up with my Waterloo Project. It culminated in what I termed a 'A Grand Review', and at the time I had plans to add a few more figures to the collection as and when I could. (These included figures some from Del Prado's RELIVE AUSTERLITZ that I managed to buy via eBay.) To date I have made no progress in either adding the additional figures or using the ones that I have varnished and based in a wargame ... but I have acquired a lot more figures thanks to Stuart Asquith and Tim Gow!

Back in early March I visited Stuart Asquith and took delivery of his collection of Del Prado RELIVE WATERLOO figures, and in the middle of the month Tim Gow managed to buy one hundred and fifty figures for me from the 'bring-and-buy' at TRIPLES. I have yet to take delivery of the latter, but during a lull in my current model ship building project I finally managed to have a serious look at the figures I got from Stuart ... and these can be seen below:

By the time I have varnished and based all these additional figures, my collection will be much larger than I ever envisaged it would be ... and I really will have start wargaming with them!

Wednesday 30 March 2016

Nugget 289

Despite having to cope with all sorts of problems (including me badgering him unnecessarily ... for which I publicly apologise), the editor of THE NUGGET managed to send me the draft of the latest issue of THE NUGGET yesterday afternoon. I intend check and print it off this morning so that I can take it to the printer this afternoon. I should then be able collect it from them by Monday, and this will hopefully enable me to post it out to members of Wargame Developments on Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the seventh issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2015-2016 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can still do so if they want to. This can be done by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website. A printed reminder was sent out with THE NUGGET 283 to all subscribers who had not yet re-subscribed.

Tuesday 29 March 2016


I first came across Georges Simenon's Chief Inspector (or Commissaire/Commissioner to be absolutely correct) Jules Maigret of the French Direction Régionale de Police Judiciaire de Paris (better known by its abbreviation, the PJ) in my youth. Watching the BBC's TV series – which starred Rupert Davies as Maigret – was something we did as a family, and I enjoyed the way in which the stories evolved during their telling. (I subsequently discovered that Simenon often had no idea as to how a plot would unfold when he sat down to write them, and just let the plots develop as he wrote.)

The next actor to depict Maigret on British television was Michael Gambon. The production values were excellent, and I remember one reviewer stating that you could almost smell the garlic and sweat when you watched the programmes.

Last night I watched the latest incarnation of Chief Inspector Maigret to hit the small screen ... Rowan Atkinson!

Now I have always enjoyed watching Rowan Atkinson's work, and know that he is an extremely capable actor whose range is much greater than just being Mr Bean or Blackadder ... but I had doubts about whether or not he could portray Maigret.

I was wrong to have doubts.

Rupert Davies's Maigret always struck me as being a down-to-earth, jovial policeman, whilst Michael Gambon's portrayal was quiet, thoughtful and yet avuncular. Rowan Atkinson's Maigret is a much more introverted, yet caring man, who is at the same time a consummate detective with the ability to make tough decisions when the time requires it. Last night's programme – which was a dramatised version of Simenon's MAIGRET SETS A TRAP – was excellent, and I was pleased to read that at least one further programme has been made and will be transmitted later this year. It is something that I will look forward to watching.

Monday 28 March 2016

How to build a small generic pre-dreadnought battleship: Part 3: The superstructure and final assembly

The Superstructure
The models superstructure comprised three main parts:
  1. The body of the superstructure
  2. The bridge and mast
  3. The funnels
The body of the superstructure was made from a 1⅜-inch/35mm long section of ½-inch/12.5mm square basswood.

One end of the superstructure block (the end that was under the ship's bridge) was rounded off ...

... and a hole was drilled in the underside of the block half way from either end.

This hole had a short length of bamboo skewer inserted into it to help to fix the superstructure in place on the completed model.

The superstructure block was then glued to the hull, and set aside whilst the glue cured.

The bridge and mast were constructed from three parts:
  1. The mast: a 2⅜-inch/60mm length of bamboo skewer
  2. The bridge wings: a ¾-inch/20mm x ⅜-inch/10mm piece of ⅛-inch thick basswood
  3. The wheelhouse: a ⅜-inch/10mm section of ½-inch/12.5mm square basswood
A hole large enough for the mast to pass through it was drilled in the bridge wings and wheelhouse.

A similar hole was drilled into the top of the superstructure, ⅜-inch/10mm in from the front of the ship's superstructure ...

... and the mast was glued into place.

The bridge wings were then carefully placed over the mast, ...

... pushed down, ...

... and glued into place.

The same procedure was used to add the wheelhouse.

The model was then set aside whilst the glue cured.

The funnels were made from:
  1. Four ½-inch/12.5mm x ⅜-inch/10mm wooden bobbins/cotton reels
  2. Two 1⅛-inch/30mm lengths of bamboo skewers

Two holes were drilled into the top of ship's superstructure. One was ⅝-inch/15mm from the front of the superstructure and the other ½-inch/12.5mm behind it.

A length of bamboo skewer was glued into each hole ...

... and each was used to locate and glue a bobbin/cotton reel in place.

Once the glue was dry, a second bobbin/cotton reel was glued on each skewer.

Final Assembly
All that remained was to drill two location holes for the ship's turrets ...

... and to glue the turrets in place.

Other than having the wood sealed, primed, and painted, the model was complete.

Sunday 27 March 2016

Happy Easter!

May I wish all my regular blog readers a Happy Easter, regardless of whether or not they are Christian. Most belief systems have some sort of rite which celebrates the coming of spring and/or the beginning of a new year, and my best wishes are extended to all of you in a spirit of welcoming what we hope will be better times ahead.

The modern English word Easter seems to have its origin from pre-Christian times when, during April, feasts were held to celebrate the goddess Ēostre, the goddess of the dawn. In the non-English-speaking world the word Pascha is used instead. This seems to have been derived from the Aramaic word פסחא, which is also used to denote the Jewish festival known in English as Passover.

The date of Easter currently varies from year to year and whether or not it is being calculated by Western or Eastern/Orthodox Christian churches. Recently Justin Welby – the Archbishop of Canterbury – has agreed with the idea put forward by the Catholic and Coptic popes and the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church that a specific Sunday should be identified as Easter Sunday. Whether or not this will ever come about is a moot point ... but it is interesting that such an idea is actively being discussed.

Saturday 26 March 2016

More inspiration!

Sue and I were out when the courier tried to deliver a parcel from Amazon ... and I had to wait until our neighbour – who had taken it in on my behalf – was in and able to hand it over to me. The wait was worth it as it contained two books, both of which I know I will find inspiring.

The first was a copy of the latest Osprey in the 'New Vanguard' series (No.232) entitled THE IMPERIAL JAPANESE NAVY OF THE RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR (ISBN 978 1 4728 1119 6). It was written by Mark Stille and illustrated by Paul Wright ... and had arrived – very appropriately – whilst I was in the middle of a large pre-dreadnought model ship-building project.

I have already gained some inspiration from the illustrations in the book, and it has confirmed my decision to paint my model ships in grey in the first instance.

The second book was also published by Osprey Publishing, and is the second volume in Vesa Nenye's FINLAND AT WAR books. This one has the subtitle THE CONTINUATION AND LAPLAND WARS 1941-45 (ISBN 978 1 4728 1526 2), and as was the case with the first volume Peter Munter and Toni Wirtanen assisted in its creation, along with newcomer Chris Birks.

I have only managed to have a quick flick through this book, but it is similar in layout to the first volume, and covers the less well-known period of Finland's involvement in the Second World War. No doubt I will find it as equally inspiring as the first book, and I suspect that it might lead to yet another min-campaign at some point in the future.

Friday 25 March 2016

Miniature Wargames with Battlegames Issue 396

The April issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES WITH BATTLEGAMES magazine arrived in the post on Thursday morning, and I was able to read it this morning after breakfast.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Briefing (i.e. the editorial) by Henry Hyde
  • World Wide Wargaming by Henry Hyde
  • Forward observer by Neil Shuck
  • Spikes, barbs and mines: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Fantasy Facts by John Treadaway
  • Send three and fourpence by Conrad Kinch
  • Salute Show Guide
    • Welcome to Salute 2016
    • The Salute 2016 model by Kevin Dallimore
    • Steampunk gaming: 1 by Sarwat Chadda
    • Steampunk gaming: 2 by Alan Patrick
    • Salute 2015: Painting Competition
    • Salute 2016 Games
    • Salute 2016 Hall Plan
    • Salute 2016 Traders
    • Steampunk gaming: 3 by John Treadaway
    • Steampunk gaming: 4 by Philip Andrews
    • Running the guns by Phil Portway
    • The 5 year mission continues by Ivan Congreve
    • Brotherhood of Mars by Joel, Paul, Lawrence, Alan and Neil of the South London Warlords
    • Salute and its origins by John Treadaway
  • Napoleonic Bicentenary: How wargamers commemorated 1815 by David Burden and James Fisher
  • Hex encounter by Brad Harmer-Barnes
  • Eindecker!: part 2: The rules for early WW1 air war by Chris Russell
  • Recce
  • The Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal report by Henry Hyde
My favourite article in this issue was Conrad Kinch's Send three and fourpence because it is entirely devoted to a Sword and the Flame scenario and battle report. It is a follow-up to the Chamla Valley scenario that is featured in the 20th Anniversary Edition of Sword and the Flame, and is entitled 'King of the Chamla Constabulary'. From my point of view, this article alone justifies the cost of buying this issue of the magazine.

The various Steampunk articles were also very interesting, mainly because I have always enjoyed reading science fiction, detective, and adventure stories set at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. I have yet to actually do any Steampunk wargaming, but it certainly holds some appeal for me.

It was also of interest to me that Arthur Harman had written a review of Mike and Joyce Smith's TABLE TOP BATTLES: TABLE TOP WARGAMING WITH MINIATURES for the Recce section. I first discovered these rules some years ago, and I still look at them for ideas and inspiration every so often.

All-in-all this was another excellent issue ... and it continues to justify my decision to buy a subscription by direct debit!

Thursday 24 March 2016

How to build a small generic pre-dreadnought battleship: Part 2: The armament

The model has two types of armament:
  • The Primary or Main Armament, which is mounted in two turrets
  • The Secondary Armament, which is mounted in casemates along the side of the ship

The Main Armament
The turrets were made from ½-inch/12.5mm square lengths of basswood.

Each of the two turrets was ⅝-inch/15mm wide, and the positions of the gun barrels was marked ¼-inch/6mm in from each end edge of the turret.

Holes large enough to accommodate the turrets' gun barrels (which were made from lengths of bamboo skewer) were then carefully drilled in the places that had been marked.

The turrets were then cut off the end of the length of basswood, and the centre of the bottom of each turret was marked.

The corners of the turret were then cut off at an angle of approximately 45° and holes large enough to accommodate a short length of bamboo skewer were then carefully drilled in the centre of the bottom of each turret. (The lengths of bamboo skewer that will fit into these holes was used to help to fix the complete turrets in place on the completed model.)

The turrets were then sanded to smooth out any minor imperfections and to round the corners off.

Short lengths of bamboo skewer were then glued into the holes on the face of each of the turrets to become that turret's gun barrels. These lengths of bamboo skewer were cut so that approximately ⅜-inch/10mm protruded from the turret.

The turrets were then set aside in order to allow the glue to cure.

The Secondary Armament
The casemates for the secondary armament were very simple to make. They were holes drilled in the the sides of the model's hull into which short lengths of bamboo skewer were then glued. In this model three holes were drilled on each side of the hull, the centre holes being 2-inches/5cm from the bows and stern, and ¼-inch/6mm from the top of the hull. Holes were then drilled ⅜-inch/10mm either side and in line with the centre holes.

The lengths of bamboo skewer were cut so that approximately ¼-inch/6mm protruded from the side of the ship's hull. These were then glued in place.

Wednesday 23 March 2016

The bombings in Brussels

As I wrote in the aftermath of the attack on Charlie Hebdo, I usually refrain from making any comments of a political nature, but events in Brussels yesterday cannot be ignored.

Soon after I awoke yesterday morning, the news of the explosions at Zaventem Airport was just breaking. By the time I was sitting down to eat my breakfast, the attack on the Brussels Metro train had taken place.

Yet again a few fanatics have killed innocent people in pursuit of their perverted goal. Already Islamic State has claimed responsibility, and no doubt the killers will be lauded as 'martyrs' by them ... but my understanding is that a martyr is 'a person who is killed because of their religious or other beliefs'. (Definition from the Oxford English Dictionary) The martyrs yesterday were those who were killed because of someone else's religious beliefs, not those who killed them.

Needless to say, my thoughts and sympathy go out to all those who were affected by yesterday's events.

Tuesday 22 March 2016

Another visit to Waterstones, another book bought!

I visited the local branch of Waterstones yesterday, and on the display of Osprey books I saw a copy of WAR OF THE WORLD: THE ANGLO-MARTIAN WAR OF 1895 on sale ... and I bought it!

The book has been written by Mike Brunton, illustrated by Alan Lathwell, and was published last year by Osprey Publishing (ISBN 978 1 4728 1156 1). I have yet to read it, but as a long-term admirer of H G Wells and the other authors who were writing science fiction, detective and adventure stories at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries (e.g. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, John Buchan), I am looking forward to this new 'take' on H G Wells' story of the Martian Invasion ... especially as I note from my quick flick through that Joseph Chamberlain, Lord Charles Beresford, Colonel Sebastian Moran, and Winston Churchill all get a mention in the text.

Monday 21 March 2016

How to build a small generic pre-dreadnought battleship: Part 1: The hull

When I needed a number of model warships for a naval war game I planned to put on at 2016 Annual Conference of Wargamers (COW2016), I decided to build what I needed from what I had to hand or could buy quickly and easily. The models had to meet the following criteria:
  • The finished models had to be no longer that 4-inches/10cm so that it would fit inside a Hexon II terrain hex
  • The type of ship they represent should be reasonably obvious
  • They should look somewhat akin to the old tin-plate toy warships built at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
  • They should be robust enough to suffer many years of wargaming (mis)use
In the end a visit to my local branch of Hobbycraft provided the starting point; it was a small wooden model of the RMS Titanic that cost £2.50.

The model of the Titanic was made of pine, and its hull became the basis of my model generic pre-dreadnought battleship.

The rest of the bits and pieces used were made from basswood, bamboo skewers, cocktail sticks, and plywood.

The tools I used included:
  • PVA Wood Glue
  • A razor saw
  • A craft knife/box opener
  • A steel ruler
  • An aluminium mitre block
  • A number of modelling clamps
  • An emery board
  • Sandpaper
  • Two pin vices (each holding a different sized drill bit)
  • A pencil
  • A small modelling power drill and a sanding block
  • A number of cheap cotton buds (very useful for gently removing excess wood glue)
Some basics
Whan making any models using my methods, there are some basic rules that need to be followed:
  • Remember to use any tools carefully so that you do not risk injuring yourself.
  • Always let the glue 'cure' before you attempt to move on to the next stage in the production process. (The PVA Wood Glue that I use usually takes about an hour to 'cure' but does not reach its maximum strength for twenty four hours.)
  • Always clamp and/or support any glued joints until the glue has 'cured'.
The Hull
Straight from the pack, the hull looked like this:

The first thing that I did was to shorten it so that it was only 4-inches/10cm long.

I then filled in the cut-out section of the hull using spare pieces of basswood.

This was then set aside for the glue to cure before the excess wood was carefully sawn off ...

... and the hull was sanded to smooth out any imperfections.

I then began shaping what would become the bows of the model by marking on the shape of the bows using a curve ...

... and then sawing off the corners ...

... before carefully using the craft knife/box opener to carve away the excess wood. The bows were then carefully sanded to smooth out any imperfections.

Sunday 20 March 2016

A case of turrets syndrome solved?

After some procrastination on my part, I finally removed the oversize turrets on the pair of model generic pre-dreadnoughts I built last week, and replaced them with some smaller ones. The models now look like this ...

... which is a great improvement when compared to how they used to look:

Over the weekend I have been putting together a series of 'How to ...' blog entries that explain the methods I have used to build my model ships. In order to do this I have built a fourth generic pre-dreadnought battleship, which is shown below:

The 'How to ...' blog entries will be appearing over the course of the next few days. In the meantime I hope to use some of the off-cuts I have sitting on my worktable to build some smaller warships to add to my growing fleet.