Sunday 30 September 2018

US Standard-Type Battleships 1941-45 (1): Nevada, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico Classes

Having already bought a copy of US STANDARD-TYPE BATTLESHIPS 1941-45 (2): TENNESSEE, COLORADO, AND UNBUILT CLASSES, it made sense to buy the Osprey Publishing book that covered the classes of battleship, the Nevada-class (USS Nevada and USS Oklahoma), the Pennsylvania-class (USS Pennsylvania and USS Arizona), and the New Mexico-class (USS New Mexico, USS Mississippi, and USS Idaho), that immediately preceded the Tennessee-class and Colorado-class battleships.

Unlike the Tennessee-class and Colorado-class battleships, which looked very similar in design, the Nevada-class, the Pennsylvania-class, and the New Mexico-class were less obviously related to each other, although the first two classes bore many similarities. They evolved at a time when the increasing power of modern battleship guns was such that only the thickest armour stood a chance of preventing a heavy shell penetrating a ship's armour and doing damage. As a result, these ships were armoured using the 'all-or-nothing' approach, where heavy armour was concentrated over the most vulnerable parts of the ship and the rest of the ship was left virtually unarmoured.

In terms of main armament, they all carried 14-inch guns, with the first class being armed with ten (two triple turrets and two twin turrets) and the other with twelve (four triple turrets). Secondary armament was originally carried armoured casemates that were situated below the main deck, but the number of guns was reduced and the remaining ones were re-sited in the mid-1920s in new unarmoured casemates at main deck height. This improved their ability to be used during heavy seas.

With the exception of the USS New Mexico, which trialled the turbo-electric propulsion system used in the later Tennessee-class and Colorado-class battleships, the ships were propelled by either steam turbines or triple-expansion reciprocating steam engines (the latter were fitted to the USS Oklahoma).

The New Mexico-class also had clipper rather than straight bows. This change of shape had been adopted in the hope that it would keep the fore end of the hull drier in heavy seas. It was subsequently used on the Tennessee-class and Colorado-class battleships.

When completed all seven ships were fitted with cage masts, but these were replaced when they were reconstructed. In the case of the Nevada and Pennsylvania-classes, heavy tripod masts were fitted in their place, with duplicate fire control positions atop each mast. The New Mexico-class were fitted with a large bridge structure forward somewhat akin to the bridge on the Royal Navy's HMS Nelson and HMS Rodney and a simple pole mast aft.

The USS Nevada, USS Oklahoma, USS Pennsylvania and USS Arizona were all in Pearl Harbour on 7th December 1941. The USS Oklahoma was hit by five torpedoes and sank, the USS Nevada was damaged and beached to prevent her sinking, the USS Pennsylvania was in dry dock and suffered superficial damage, and the USS Arizona was hit by several large bombs and sank with great loss of life. The USS Nevada and the USS Pennsylvania were subsequently repaired, rebuilt, and then took an active role in the war against Japan.

Because they were more modern, the New Mexico-class ships were based in the Atlantic in December 1941. Once the war began in the Pacific they were deployed there and like their near-sisters, they took an active part in the war against the Japanese.

The surviving ships were all placed in reserve soon after the end of the Second World War, and with the exception of the USS Mississippi they were all scrapped by the early 1950s. The USS USS Mississippi was used as a trials ship, and was equipped with a new and varied armament, including two RIM-2 Terrier surface-to-air missile launchers. She was finally scrapped in 1957.

The Nevada-class as built and as reconstructed

USS Oklahoma (1917)
USS Nevada (1927)
USS Oklahoma (1930s)
USS Nevada (1942)
The Pennsylvania-class as built and as reconstructed

USS Arizona (1918)
USS Arizona (1927)
USS Pennsylvania (1934)
USS Pennsylvania (1943)
The New Mexico-class as built and as reconstructed
USS New Mexico (1921)
USS Mississippi (1930s)
USS Idaho (1941)
USS Mississippi (1954)

US STANDARD-TYPE BATTLESHIPS 1941-45 (1): NEVADA, PENNSYLVANIA, AND NEW MEXICO CLASSES was written by Mark Stille, illustrated by Paul Wright, and published in 2015 by Osprey Publishing (ISBN 978 1 4728 0696 3) as part of their New Vanguard series (No.220).

Saturday 29 September 2018

Computers are great ... except when they aren't!

As I was planning to collect the latest issue of THE NUGGET from the printer this morning, I needed to process a couple of payments I had received over the past few days before I could print the address labels for the envelopes. Last night I opened MS Excel to make the necessary changes to Wargame Developments' computerised accounts ... and was greeted with a message that informed me that the file was no longer there!

I eventually found the back-up copy of the file, but when I tried to open it, I discovered that it had been corrupted. This presented me with a major problem, and I have spent more than five hours recreating the computerised accounts from the paper records that I have. I still have a few items to sort out before this task is finished, but I at least I can print the labels I need.

So why did this problem arise? As far as I can tell, a recent automatic upgrade of MS Office took place whilst I had the now-corrupted file open, and it was during the automatic back-up of that file that it became corrupted. This should not happen, but it did ... and it has cost me time and not a little effort 'repair' the damage that has happened.

Friday 28 September 2018

Keep b*ggering on!

I understand that one of Winston Churchill's regular replies to situations when things seemed to be about to overwhelm everything that he was doing was to state that he intended to just keep b*ggering on. That's just what I have been doing for the past couple of day ... I've just kept b*ggering on!

The cold that started last weekend has really taken a hold, and it has been accompanied by stomach problems as well. Despite this I managed to get up to Freemasons' Hall, Great Queen Street, on Wednesday in time for the rehearsal for the Provincial Grand Lodge meeting in the afternoon. Luckily I was able to meet up with a lot of people I know, which raised my spirits somewhat, and I was able to have lunch with a very old friend who is also a Freemason.

The meeting in the afternoon seemed to last for an age, and I ended up sitting in a seat that was so close to the one in front that I had difficulty standing up ... which we had to do quite a few times during the meeting. On top of this the Grand Temple at Great Queen Street that was being used for the meeting was hot and humid, and I was wearing my full regalia and Masonic clothing. (The regalia comprises a heavy ornate leather apron, adorned with a gold fringe and various Masonic badges and symbols, plus a similarity ornate collar. My clothing is a full Morning Suit, including tailcoat, waistcoat, and heavy striped trousers.) By the end of the meeting I had a raging thirst and was feeling very, very hot.

After the meeting I joined up with some friends from my Mother Lodge and we went to the Connaught Rooms for a drinks reception (in my case, a glass of lukewarm orange juice), followed by a 'banquet' ... which was over thirty minutes late starting due to a time over-run by the organisation who were using the dining room for a presentation that afternoon. The food was edible, but I felt that it was not worth the £52.00 it cost. The only plus points were the company (which was excellent) and the fact that I was able to chat to loads of people that I have met during my visits to other Lodges. I finally got home just after 10.15pm ... thirteen hours after leaving home that morning.

On Thursday morning I had to be up earlier than I would have liked as Sue had booked a visit from the representative of the company who supply and monitor her car's anti-theft tracker. It had to be replaced, and the mechanic arrived at 8.30am to do it. This took the best part of two hours, after which we had to do some shopping before we had lunch. As soon as lunch was over, I got changed into my Masonic clothing (this time the lighter-weight normal jacket and striped trousers I wear for less formal meetings) and set off for Great Queen Street for the second time in two days.

The meeting of my Holy Royal Arch Chapter was preceded by a rehearsal of part of the work we were going to do that afternoon, followed by the meeting itself. We Exalted a new member into the Chapter, and after the meeting had ended, we all trooped off to the Trattoria Verdi for a meal. As I suspected, this was not only better food than I had eaten the day before, it was also a lot cheaper! I am very lucky in that the members of my Chapter are a good bunch of blokes, who are quite willing to take the mickey out of each other. We all come from very different walks of life, and sitting talking to them helped me forget how awful I was feeling for a couple of hours.

The journey home from Bloomsbury was not made any easier by a strike on the Piccadilly Line, which meant that there seemed to be far more passengers on the Central Line train I had to use to get home.For once I used a slightly different route to get home, going to Stratford Station on the Central Line and then using the Dockland Light Railway to get to Woolwich Arsenal Station. It is not the most direct route but I was able to get a seat, which was a big plus as far as I was concerned.

Click on the map to enlarge it.
I finally got home at 10.30pm, and after relaxing for a short time, Sue and I went to bed. I was feeling very tired, as a result of which I slept for the best part of nine hours. When I awoke this morning my cold was still in full flow but I felt a lot better than I expected to. As for the rest of today ... well I'm going to do what Churchill suggested, and will keep b*ggering on!

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Nugget 311

The editor of THE NUGGET sent the latest issue to me on Sunday, and I took it to the printer yesterday. All things being equal, it should be ready for me to collect by Saturday so that I can to post out to members over the weekend or early next week.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the second issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2018-2019 subscription year. If you have not yet re-subscribed, a reminder was sent to you when the last issue of THE NUGGET was posted out. 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 25 September 2018

Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: World War II Eastern Front

I woke up on Monday morning suffering from the early stages of a cold and feeling rather sorry for myself. I scanned down the list of blogs that I follow and that had recently been updated with a new blog entry ... and saw that Archduke Piccolo had written a long and lavishly illustrated PORTABLE WARGAME battle report. I read it ... and then re-read it ... and it lifted my somewhat lagging spirit.

The action is set on the Eastern Front and I found it thoroughly enthralling. The following photographs give a flavour of the battle report.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Archduke Piccolo.

Monday 24 September 2018

Masonically speaking, I have a big week ahead

The coming week is a big one as far as my membership of Freemasonry is concerned. On Wednesday afternoon the Provincial Grand Lodge if Hertfordshire is holding its annual meeting at Freemasons' Hall, Great Queen Street, in central London. Because I am the Provincial Grand Orator, I have a minor walk-on part in the ceremony (it's actually more of a parade in and parade out part) but I have to attend the rehearsal on Wednesday morning so that I know what to do and when to do it.

The actual meeting starts at 2.45pm and should finish by 6.00pm ... just in time for those of us who are staying for the meal afterwards to get to the Connaught Rooms, dump our bags in the cloakroom, and have a drink before dinner starts at 7.00pm. With luck I should be home by 11.00pm, if the public transport system isn't disrupted in any way.

On Thursday I will be returning the Great Queen Street to attend the meeting of the Holy Royal Arch Chapter of which I am a member. We are inducting a new member, and I have a short but important speaking part. After the meeting we will adjourn to the Trattoria Verdi in Bloomsbury for a meal ... which if experience is anything to go by will be cheaper and better than the one I will eat on Wednesday evening.

Saturday 22 September 2018

I have been to ... the Treasury and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Despite the rain, Sue and I went up to Westminster this morning to pay a visit to the Treasury and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Both were open to the public as part of Open House London, an annual event when places that the public cannot normally visit open their doors to visitors.

We drove to North Greenwich Underground Station and took the Jubilee Line to Westminster. Although it was around 10.00am, the train was quite full for most of the journey, which took about fifteen minutes. By 10.30am we had walked the short distance from Westminster Tube Station to the main entrance to the Treasury Building, and we were both surprised to find that there was no queue of people waiting to go in.

The Treasury Building.
This is the first time that we have been able to visit the Treasury (they were supposed to be involved last year but were unable to open 'due to unforeseen circumstances') and we were pleasantly surprised by what we found. There was an extensive collection of photographs on display that illustrated the history of the Treasury, and in particular the construction of its current building. We were able to visit the Treasury garden, where we had hoped to see Gladstone, the Treasury's cat, as well as the central circular courtyard.

Gladstone, the Treasury's cat.
On leaving the building we found ourselves opposite the entrance to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and seeing that there was no queue to go in there, we passed through the security checks and into the main courtyard.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Building.
From there we turned left and walked up the stairs past the famous Gurkha statue. Our route took us past the in-house coffee shop and eventually into the wonderful Durbar Court. This was built when that part of the building formed part of the India Office, and was designed so that the Indian Princes and rulers could come to pledge allegiance the the King-Emperor. It has a wonderful paved floor, and the walls around it are decorated with friezes that are redolent of India as well as the bust of famous men who were involved in the ruling of British India.

Our route then went up to the next floor and around the corridor overlooking the Durbar Court. We eventually ended up by the bottom of the stairs that led up to one of the cupolas. The ceiling dome was decorated with supports depicting the Muses, and two portraits (one of Queen Victoria and the other of Emperor Napoleon III) dominated the wall above the stairs. From there we went to the Grand Staircase via the Locarno Suite, which we descended after looking into the Ambassador's Waiting Room. In pride of place at the bottom of the stairs (and occupying an antique chair) was the FCO's cat, Palmerston. He is famous, has his own Twitter accounts (@DiploMog and @PalmerstonFOCat), and unlike everywhere else in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, he had two 'minders' and a security guard to protect him!

Palmerston, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's cat.
Upon leaving the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, we discovered that it was raining rather heavily. Sue and I therefore made out way back to Westminster Tube Station, where we took a Jubilee Line train back to North Greenwich. Luckily our car was parked close to the station entrance, and despite the heavy traffic, we were home by not long after midday.

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 22nd September 1938

The International Brigades were withdrawn from the front-line prior to them being 'repatriated'.

The three-pointed red star that was used as the badge of the International Brigades.

Friday 21 September 2018

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 21st September 1938

Dr Negrin announced, in a speech to the League of Nations, that the International Brigades were to be withdrawn from the fighting.

Dr Juan Negrin addressing the League of Nations.

Thursday 20 September 2018

Italian Naval Camouflage of World War II

When I saw that this book had been published, I was unsure that it would tell me anything about the Italian Navy in World War II that I did not already know. However, after reading the reviews I decided to buy a copy ... and I am very pleased that I did!

The book falls into two parts. In the first part the author (who is a serving officer in the Italian Navy) describes the development of the various camouflage schemes adopted after the outbreak of the war, and the second part contains full colour profiles of almost every ship (battleships, cruisers, destroyers, torpedo boats, MAS-boats, landing craft, merchant ships, and even submarines) used by the Italian Navy during the Second World War. These profiles show the camouflage schemes used by each ship during their careers.

As far as I am concerned, this is a 'must have' for anyone interested in the Italian Navy of the 1930s and 1940s, and I thoroughly recommend it.

ITALIAN NAVAL CAMOUFLAGE OF WORLD WAR II was written and illustrated by Marco Ghiglio and published by Seaforth Publishing (ISBN 978 15267 3539 3).

Wednesday 19 September 2018

The Portable Napoleonic Wargame: Progress report

Over the past few days I have been making slow but steady progress with writing THE PORTABLE NAPOLEONIC WARGAME book.

It never ceases to amaze me that when I sit down at my keyboard to turn my notes into a properly laid-out set of wargame rules, I suddenly begin to notice the things that I have taken for granted and not actually included in my notes. Sometimes this requires me to go back to something that I wrote earlier, and to completely re-draft it and/or add footnotes to it so that the rules are less ambiguous.

Sometimes I need to take photographs or to draw diagrams to illustrate a point, and these can often take some time to set up or to draw. That said, feedback indicates that a lot of my readers find these illustrations very helpful, and although adding them can slow down the whole process of writing the book, the end product should be all the better for it.

One decision that I have made that I hope that readers will find useful is to add an appendix which will contain alternative terrain maps for the exemplar battles that the book contains. For example, the battle used to illustrate the way that the BRIGADE rules work was fought on a 9 x 8 hexed grid ... but the appendix has a map of the terrain for anyone who wishes to re-fight it on an 8 x 8 squared grid.

Tuesday 18 September 2018

US Standard-Type Battleships 1941-45 (2): Tennessee, Colorado, and Unbuilt Classes

Certain warships fascinate me, either because of their quirkiness, the raw power they seem to project, or their balance and beauty. Amongst the battleships that fall into this category of fascinating warships are the American Tennessee-class (USS Tennessee and USS California) and Colorado-class (USS Colorado, USS Maryland, and USS West Virginia) battleships.

The two classes are very similar to look at, especially in profile, and the main difference is their main armament. The Tennessee-class were armed with twelve 14-inch guns whilst the Colorado-class carried eight 16-inch guns. Both classes were built with cage masts (an American invention that was supposed to be less vulnerable to shells from enemy ships and to better able to absorb the shock caused by the firing of the ship’s heavy guns; they proved to be easily damaged in bad weather, to suffer from vibration when the ship was steaming at high speed, and to whip about when the ship’s guns were fired.) and two thin funnels that looked too small for the ships they were fitted to.

Their propulsion system was also unusual and used steam turbines that turned electric generators which – in turn – powered electric motors. This was intended to eliminate the problems associated with gearing the turbines so that they could be used to directly power the ship. This arrangement also made them more economic to operate at cruising speed and potentially increased their overall steaming range. When cruising, all the electric motors could be used to power the ship even if only one set of steam turbines was in use. (It is worth noting that many modern ships use diesel-electric propulsion for the same reasons.)

The two classes served in the US Pacific fleet, and except for the USS Colorado, they were all damaged during the attack on Pearl Harbour. As a result, three of the ships – USS California, USS Tennessee, and USS West Virginia – were extensively re-modelled and ended up looking like the much more modern South Dakota-class (1939) battleships.

Mark Stille’s US STANDARD-TYPE BATTLESHIPS 1941-45 (2): TENNESSEE, COLORADO, AND UNBUILT CLASSES tells the story of these two ship classes as well as the unbuilt South Dakota-class (1920) battleships and the Lexington-class battle cruisers.

Before and after reconstruction: The Tennessee-class

USS California (1930s).
USS Tennessee (1943).
Before and after reconstruction: The Colorado-class

USS Colorado (1932).
USS West Virginia (1944).

US STANDARD-TYPE BATTLESHIPS 1941-45 (2): TENNESSEE, COLORADO, AND UNBUILT CLASSES was written by Mark Stille, illustrated by Paul Wright, and published in 2015 by Osprey Publishing (ISBN 978 1 4728 0699 4) as part of their New Vanguard series (No.229).

Monday 17 September 2018

I have been to ... Skirmish in Sidcup

Despite having quite a busy day planned out, I was able to spend a couple of hours at the Skirmish Wargame and Toy Soldier Show. It takes place twice a year in March and September at Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School, Sidcup, Kent.

I arrived a little after 10.15am, and had no trouble finding somewhere to park. I made my way to the main entrance ...

... where I paid the £4.00 entrance and was given a raffle ticket.

There seemed to be fewer traders in the entrance hall and main hall ...

... but the room where the wargames were taking place seemed as busy as ever.

The Old Guard: Dragon Rampant
Rainham Wargames Club: Napoleonic
Medway Wargames: A Song of Fire and Ice

Milton Hundred Wargames Club: Blood on the Elbe (Cold War)
The Privateers of London: Attack on Sedd-el-Bahr, 26th February 1914
Skirmish Wargames: The Battle of Sidi Kup (The Zaian War 1914-1921)
Maidstone Wargames: World War 1
What I like about Skirmish is the fact that I always manage to meet up and chat with loads of wargaming acquaintances. On this occasion I was able to spend time with Ken Smith, Peter Grizzell, David Crook, Postie, Ray Rousell, and Big Lee (Lee Hadley).

Some of my fellow bloggers. From left to right: Postie, David Crook, Ray Rousell, and Big Lee (Lee Hadley).
I didn't actually buy anything, and I didn't win one of the raffle prizes ...

... but I did a swop with David Crook, with the result that I am now the proud owner of a copy of Sam Mustafa's ROMMEL.

I hope to be able to go to the next Skirmish Wargame and Toy Soldier Show in March 2019. It is very local to where I live (it is about fifteen minutes by car) and retains the friendly atmosphere one used to experience during the earlier days of wargaming.

ROMMEL was written by Sam Mustafa and published in 2017 by Sam Mustafa Publishing LLC.