Thursday 28 February 2019

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 28th February 1939

Manuel Azana resigned from the post of President of the Republic.

Spain at the end of February 1939. The red areas are under Republican control whilst the blue areas are under Nationalist control.

Wednesday 27 February 2019


I was recently asked why I was renovating, varnishing, and re-basing some of my 20mm-scale World War II figures when I have yet to finish doing the same to the rest of my Napoleonic collection.

The truth of the matter is that the latter project has been stalled for almost two years ... and the number of figures that remain to be done has grown. The reasons for the project stalling are difficult to tie down, but one reason is a sudden lack of enthusiasm brought on by the sheer magnitude of the task. Just after Christmas, I got out the storage boxes that contain the as-yet-to-be-renovated Napoleonic figures, and realised that it would take me at least a year to do them all, assuming that I took on no new projects and kept work on the ones I have in hand to the minimum.

No doubt this lack of enthusiasm will pass, but in the meantime I'll continue to work on my World War II project because it fits in rather well with the writing I am doing on MASTERS AT WAR VOLUME 2 (which is currently being proof read) and the centenary history of the Hertfordshire Masters' Lodge (for which I only have one more chapter to complete before it can be proof read).

Tuesday 26 February 2019

I have been to ... Cartagena Military Museum: Coastal Defence Guns

As Cartagena is one of Spain's main naval bases (and has been for many years) it is not surprising that the local military museum contains examples of coastal defence artillery.

150/43 Mod.1903 150mm Coastal Defence Gun
This was designed by Captains Munáiz and Arguelles, and remained in service until 1965.

15.24mm ‘Vickers’ 152mm/6-inch Coastal Defence Gun
These guns were supplied to the Spanish by Vickers along with eighteen larger calibre guns (the 38.1/45 Mod.1926 381mm/15-inch Coastal Defence Gun) in the 1920s and early 1930s.

The museum also has a number of rangefinders on show.

The 38.1/45 Mod.1926 381mm/15-inch Coastal Defence Guns supplied by Vickers to Spain were originally located at:
  • Cartagena: 4 Guns (Batteries at Castillitos and Cenizas, each with 2 guns; the guns still in situ)
  • Ferrol and Coruña: 8 guns (Batteries at Cape Prior, Monte San Pedro, Campelo Alta, and Lobateiras, each with 2 guns; the guns at Monte San Pedro are still in situ, the rest having been scrapped [Cape Prior], removed [Lobateiras], or moved [Campelo Alta, whose guns were moved to Paloma Alta in 1941])
  • Menorca: 6 guns (Batteries at Favarix, Mahon and Llucalary, each with 2 guns. The guns at Mahon and Llucalary are still in situ, the guns at Favarix having been moved to Paloma Alta in 1944)
This gun is not the same as the BL 15-inch Mk I Naval Gun used by the Royal Navy, whose barrel was an L/42 and not an L/45 one.

Monday 25 February 2019

I have been to ... Cavalier

Having almost completely recovered from my recent stomach problems, I felt well enough to visit to CAVALIER, the annual wargames show that is held in Tonbridge, Kent. As usual, it was organised by the Tunbridge Wells Wargames Society, and the venue was the Angel Centre, which is very close to several car parks and only a stone's throw far from the town's main shopping street.

The show took place in several rooms in the venue. The main hall housed most of the traders and some of the games, ...

... whilst just along the corridor ...

... was a further smaller hall that was the venue for more games and the Bring-and-Buy ...

... and a small room that housed the Society of Ancients' game.

The first game I visited was being run by Martin Goddard of PETER PIG, and was his PIECES OF EIGHT pirate game.

Nearby was an interesting Renaissance game staged by the Hailsham Wargames Club.

This featured several of Leonard da Vinci's creations, including an ornithology and circular armoured fighting vehicle.

Next to that was Crawley Wargames Club's World War II TIGER,TIGER BURNING BRIGHT game ...

... and a large Colonial wargame.

One wargame that did impress me because of the range of warships and landing craft that were present, was THE 'REAL' GUNS OF NAVARONE, which was put on by Deal Wargames Association. It recreated Operation Brassard, the invasion of Elba, 16 to 20 June 1944.

In the Medway Hall, the Gamer's Guild chose put on an English Civil War cavalry encounter called SKIRMISH AT STAPLETHORPE.

Next to them the Maidstone Wargames Society were re-fighting an air combat from the so-called 'Football War' between Honduras and El Salvador. Both sides were equipped with US Word War II-vintage fighter aircraft, the Vought Corsair and North American Mustang respectively.

Tonbridge Wargames Club ran a Boxer Rebellion battle ...

... and Milton Hundred Wargames Club demonstrated the LION RAMPANT rules.

South East Essex Military Society's game was set in a dystopian version of the near-future ...

... and Emotionally14's STAR WARS battle attracted a few interested onlookers.

In the small room at the end of the corridor, Professor Phil Sabin was running THE BATTLE OF ZAMA on behalf of the Society of Ancients.

I met a few well-known wargame bloggers whilst at Cavalier, including David Crook, Ray Rousell, and Big Lee ... and almost uniquely for me, I bought something on the Bring-and-Buy. The box of German World War I Stormtroopers will probably take their place amongst the growing number of 20mm figures I am currently renovating, varnishing, and re-basing, and may well turn up on the Eastern Front as second-line German garrison or security troops if they do not become the core of of a small interwar imagi-nation army. (Ironically, after buying them, I discovered that they had been painted by Neil Fox, who I have known for many years as a result of our join participation in Eric Knowles's Madasahatta Campaign. It's a small world, isn't it!)

During my time at CAVALIER I managed to have a long chat with David Crook about the book he is planning to write, and he kindly gave me a number of books about the Battle of Waterloo:
  • WATERLOO by Commandant Henry Lachouque
  • WATERLOO: THE HUNDRED DAYS by David Chandler
This gift was very much appreciated, and reading them will give me many hours of enjoyment.

Sunday 24 February 2019

A fevered brain ... and a dream about a wargame

Whilst the virus that upset my stomach was in full spate, I had a couple of very disturbed nights of sleep. The fever that was one of the symptoms made it difficult to sleep, and I was lucky if I slept for a couple of hours at a stretch. It was during one of these periods of sleep on Friday night that I had a dream about a wargame ...

Funnily enough, I can remember some parts of that dream quite vividly. It was set on the Eastern Front during World War II, and used Hexon II terrain and 20mm-scale figures on individual bases. The rules were not – however – my PORTABLE WARGAME rules, but something similar. The main differences that I can remember related to the firing rules, and were – as best as I can remember – as follows:
  • Infantry were organised into units of four figures, only one of which could be armed with a light or heavy machine gun.
  • Except for Infantry armed with heavy machine guns (which could move OR fire each turn), Infantry could move AND fire each turn.
  • Infantry figures armed with submachine guns had a range of 1 hex and threw two D6 dice for effect.
  • Infantry figures armed with rifles had a range of 3 hexes and threw one D6 die for effect.
  • Infantry figures armed with light machine guns (i.e. machine guns mounted on bipods) had a range of 3 hexes and threw two D6 dice for effect.
  • Infantry figures armed with heavy machine guns (i.e. machine guns mounted on tripods) had a range of 3 hexes and threw three D6 dice for effect.
  • The number of dice thrown by a unit therefore depended upon the range and types of weapons figures in the unit were armed with.
  • Casualties were caused by any D6 die score of 6 if the target was in the open and a double 6 if the target was in cover.
I'm not sure if I'll experiment with these different firing rules at some time in the future ... but it might be fun to do so as they have a rather 'Old School' feel about them that I find appealing.

Saturday 23 February 2019

Today I should be in Bristol, but ...

... on Thursday, I was hit by a stomach virus that has laid me low. Luckily, I'd already written a blog entry and set it up to be published on Friday.

I'm hoping that I'll be fully fit by Sunday so that I can attend the Cavalier wargame show at Tonbridge as I missed last year's show due to illness. In the meantime, I hope to reply later today to any comments made about yesterday's blog entry ... when I am feeling somewhat better.

Friday 22 February 2019

Some thoughts on imagi-nations

So, what makes for a successful imagi-nation? I've been contemplating this recently, and I've come up with the following thoughts.

First and foremost, the imagi-nation must be believable within the historical context it is supposed to exist in. This is probably why the imagi-nations set in eighteenth century (and to a lesser extent, early nineteenth century) Germany seem to be so popular. The numerous duchies, principalities, and kingdoms that existed within the borders of Germany are ideal examples that the creator of an imagi-nation can use as starting points. To a lesser extent, the same can be said of the Balkans, but what is surprising is that pre-unification Italy – which was referred to as being a 'geographical expression' by one eminent international politician – has not proved as popular as pre-1870 Germany.

An imagi-nation must have some form of governance that works. An imagi-nation may well have an autocratic ruler who is supported by a small (and possibly rival) number of noble families ... or it could have a democratic monarch, a dictator, or an elected president. As long as the choice makes sense, the creator of the imagi-nation can choose what best suits their particular biases.

The imagi-nation's geography and economy also need to make sense. There's no point in creating a mountainous imagi-nation that is expected to support a cavalry-heavy army; likewise, it's unlikely that an imagi-nation that has a large, flat alluvial plain that produces abundant quantities of food will have several units of mountain troops or produce large quantities of iron ore or gold.

Naming your imagi-nation – and the places within it – can be problematic if some basic rules are not observed. For example, I came across one Germanic imagi-nation where every city or town was called 'something'-berg. Of course, in German 'berg' refers to mountains ... but none of the places was anywhere near anything much larger than a small hill. The creator should have used 'burg' (which refers to a town or large settlement) and not 'berg'.

Some creators choose humour as the basis of their naming system. (This tends to be my preferred option.) I've seen a French-like imagi-nation where everywhere seemed to be named after a French foodstuff or wine. For example, the town of Camembert gave its name to a geographic area in the imagi-nation, and was surrounded by the smaller towns and villages of Brie, Calvados, Boursin, Livarot, and Neufchâtel.

When naming people and places in my imaginations, I tend to go for excruciating puns, which when read aloud make some sort of sense to me, if not to anyone else! (I lay the 'blame' for this at the door of the late Eric Knowles, whose Madasahatta was redolent with them!) For example, a muddy brown river in an imaginary African colony was called the Tifooti River, and the British Colony of Dammallia was so named because the original European explorer of the area said to his assistant that there was 'd*mn all here!'.

When I set up two Balkan/Adriatic imagi-nations, I 'stole' Laurania from no lesser person the Winston Churchill(!) and 'created' Maldacia by rearranging most of the letters of the name of the coastal area of the northern Adriatic – Dalmatia – so that it sounded a little bit evil. (i.e. 'Mal' as in malevolent.). I even created similar basic Latinate languages for the two imagi-nations so that there was a consistency to the place names I used. This took me a lot of time ... but it was ultimately great fun and very rewarding.

A map of Laurania.
Click on the map to enlarge it.

Thursday 21 February 2019

I have been to ... Cartagena Military Museum: Anti-aircraft Guns

The museum's collection of anti-aircraft guns comprises designed from German, Sweden, and the United States.

Flak 18 88mm Anti-aircraft Gun
The classic German anti-aircraft gun, which was first used in Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

90/50 M1 90mm Anti-aircraft Gun
An American design which saw extensive service during and after the Second World War.

40/70 'Bofors' L/70 40mm Anti-aircraft Gun
Developed from the earlier L/43 and L/60 anti-aircraft guns, this Swedish-design is still in service across the world.

20/120 'Oerlikon' 20mm Anti-aircraft Gun
Developed from the earlier version of this versatile automatic cannon. It was available in twin ...

... and single mountings.

20/70 'Oerlikon' 20mm Anti-aircraft Gun
This automatic cannon was used aboard ships ...

... as well as on land.

Quadruple 12.7mm (0.5-inch) M45 Anti-aircraft Gun
This American quadruple, powered mounting was designed to be carried by a variety of armoured and soft-skin vehicles or towed on a specially-designed trailer. It was introduced into service during the Second World War and was used up to and during the Vietnam War. It is still in service with some countries today.