Saturday 30 November 2019

Seen at Kronstadt: The Project 1241 Tarantul-class corvette R-47

The Project 1241 Tarantul-class missile corvettes were built in large numbers and several variants from 1977 until the early 2000s. They have been operated by fifteen countries, and still remain in service with up to ten of them.

The class characteristics are:
  • Displacement: 540 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 56.0m
    • Beam: 10.5m
    • Draught: 2.5m
  • Propulsion: 2 x 11,000 hp COGAG turbines plus 2 x 4,000 hp cruising engines driving 2 propellers
  • Speed: 42 knots
  • Range: 1650 nautical miles at 14 knots
  • Complement: 50
  • Armament: 4 x P-15 Termit/SS-N-2 Styx or 4 x P-270 Moskit/SS-N-22 Sunburn or 16 x Kh-35 Uran/SS-N-25 Switchblade anti-ship missiles; 1 x 76mm AK-176 dual purpose main gun; 2 x 6 30mm AK-630 multi-barrelled automatic cannons or 1 x CADS-N-1 Kashtan Close In Weapon System; she can also carry lightweight, hand-held anti-aircraft missiles

Friday 29 November 2019

Seen at Kronstadt: A Project 872 Kilo-class submarine

The Kilo-class diesel-powered attack submarines were built from 1980 until the mid-1990s, and are operated by the Russian Navy as well as eight foreign navies.

The class characteristics are:
  • Displacement: 2,300–2,350 tons (surfaced); 3,000-3,950 tons (submerged)
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 70.0 to 73.8m
    • Beam: 9.9m
    • Draft: 6.2m
  • Propulsion: 2 x 1000 kW Diesel generators powering 1 x 5,500 to 6,800 shp electric propulsion motor which drives a single propeller
  • Speed: 17 knots (surfaced); 20 knots (submerged)
  • Range: 6,000 to 7,500 nautical miles at 7 knots (using her snorkel); 400 nautical miles at 3 knots (submerged and using battery power only); 12.7 nautical miles at 21 knots (submerged and using battery power only)
  • Diving depth: 240m (operational); 300m (maximum)
  • Complement: 52
  • Armament: 6 x 533mm torpedo tubes with 18 torpedoes; 4 x Kalibr-PL launchers four launchers for individual anti-ship, anti-submarine and land attack cruise missiles; 24 mines; she can also carry lightweight, hand-held anti-aircraft missiles

Thursday 28 November 2019

Seen at Kronstadt: The Project 2210 Okean-class coast guard patrol ship Poljarnaya Zvezda

The Russian Coast Guard plan to build five Okean-class coast guard patrol ship. So far three have been launched but only one – the Poljarnaya Zvezda – is currently in service.

The class characteristics are:
  • Displacement: 2,700 long tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 91.8m
    • Beam: 14.8m
  • Propulsion: 1 x diesel engine
  • Speed: 21 knots
  • Range: 12,000 nautical miles
  • Complement: 44
  • Armament: 1 x 76mm AK-176M dual-purpose gun; 2 x 14.5mm heavy machine guns
  • Aviation: Hanger and helipad capable of handling 1 x Ka-27 series helicopter

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Seen at Kronstadt: The Project 956 Sovremenny-class destroyer Bespokiony

Twenty-one Project 956 Sovremenny-class destroyers were built between 1976 and 2004, and they were primarily tasked to conduct anti-ship warfare. They were also equipped to act as escorts, and were well-armed with numerous anti-aircraft and anti-submarine weapons.

The majority of the class has been retired from active service, and Bespokiony is now a museum ship at Kronstadt.

The class characteristics are:
  • Displacement: 8,480 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 156m
    • Beam: 17.3m
    • Draught: 6.5m
  • Propulsion: 4 boilers, 2 shaft steam turbines, each driving a propeller; 2 turbo generators; 2 diesel generators
  • Speed: 32.7 knots
  • Range: 3,920 nautical miles at 18 knots; 1,345 nautical miles at 33 knots
  • Complement: 350
  • Sensors: 1 x air target acquisition radar, 3 x navigation radars; fire-control radars; active and passive under-keel sonar
  • Armament: 4 AK-130 130mm naval guns (2 x 2); 4 x 6 30mm AK-630 Close In Weapons Systems; 8 x SS-N-22 Sunburn anti-ship missiles (2 x 4); 48 x SA-N-7 Gadfly surface-to-air missiles (2 x 24); 4 x 533mm anti-submarine torpedo tubes (2 x 2); 2 x 6 RBU-1000 300mm anti-submarine rocket launchers
  • Aviation: Helipad capable of handling 1 x Ka-27 helicopter

Tuesday 26 November 2019

Seen in Kronstadt: The Project 12700 Aleksandrit-class minesweeper Aleksandr Obukhov

Aleksandr Obukhov is the first of a projected forty new Aleksandrit-class minesweepers to be built for the Russian Navy. They will have fibreglass hulls, which will reduce their magnetic signature.

The class characteristics are:
  • Displacement: 890 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 61.0m
    • Beam: 10.2m
    • Draught: 2.68m
  • Propulsion: 1 x 1 x 2,500 hp diesel engine, driving a single propeller; 2 x 315 kW diesel generators; 2 x 210 kW diesel generators
  • Speed: 16.5 knots
  • Range: 1,600 nautical miles at 10 knots
  • Complement: 45
  • Armament: 1 x 6 30mm AK-630 multi-barrelled automatic cannon; she can also carry a hand-held anti-aircraft missile and may be equipped to lay mines

Monday 25 November 2019

Seen in Kronstadt: The Project 887 Smolny-class training ship Smolny

Although the Russian Navy has a large number of suitable vessels in its fleets, it has built a number of special training ships. The Smolny (Russian: Смольный)-class of training ships (Smolnyy (Russian: Смольный) and Perekop (Russian: Перекоп) were built for the Soviet Navy in the late 1970s, and two of them currently serve with the Russian Navy’s Baltic Fleet. A third ship – Khasan (Russian: Хасан) – was scrapped in 1998.

The class characteristics are:
  • Displacement: 7270 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 138m
    • Beam: 17.2m
    • Draught: 5.53m
  • Propulsion: 2 x 8,000 hp diesel engines, each driving a propeller
  • Speed: 20 knots
  • Range: 9,000 nautical miles at 14 knots
  • Complement: 132 + 30 Instructors + 300 cadets
  • Armament: 4 x 76mm guns (2 x 2); 4 x 30 mm anti-aircraft guns (2 x 2); 1 x RBU-2500 anti-submarine weapon system

Sunday 24 November 2019

Seen in Kronstadt: The Project 1893 Katun I-class firefighting tug PZhS-282

The Russian Navy has at least nine Project 1893 Katun I-class firefighting tugs in service, including the PZhS-292. (PZhS is an abbreviation of Pozharnoye Sudno, which means firefighting ship.) They were all built by Srednyy Neva Zavod, Kolpino, St Petersburg.

The class characteristics are:
  • Displacement: 930 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 62.6m
    • Bean: 10.2m
    • Draught: 3.19m
  • Propulsion: 2 x 2,200 bhp diesel engines, each driving a propeller
  • Speed: 18 knots
  • Crew: 32 + 13 additional personnel as required

Saturday 23 November 2019

Seen at Kronstadt: The Project 852-class survey vessel Admiral Vladimirsky

The Russian Navy operates a number of survey vessels, including the six Project 852 survey vessels, one of which is the Admiral Vladimirsky.

Admiral Vladimirsky was built in Stettin, Poland, in 1975, and displaces 6,600 tons. She is one of the largest survey vessels operated by the Russian Navy, and is due to be replaced by a newly built ship in 2021.

Her five sister ships were:
  • Akademik Krylov (In service 1974 to 2004)
  • Leonid Sobolev (In service 1974 to 1996)
  • Ivan Kruzenshtern (In service 1975 to 1998)
  • Leonid Demin (In service 1978 to 2003)
  • Mikhail Krupsky (In service 1979 to 1995)

Friday 22 November 2019

Seen at Kronstadt: The Project 865 Sibirykov-class survey vessel Romuald Muklevich

The Russian Navy operates a number of survey vessels, including the Project 865 Sibirykov-class survey vessel Romuald Mukelvich.

She is named after Romuald Adamovich Muklevich (Russian: Ромуальд Адамович Муклевич, 25th November 1890 to 9th February 1938) who was Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Naval Forces from August 1926 to July 1931.

Romuald Mukelvich was built in Gdansk, Poland, in 1990, and commissioned in 1991. Her characteristics are:
  • Displacement: 3,450 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 85.6m
    • Beam: 15.2m
    • Draught: 5m
  • Propulsion: 1 x 4800 hp Zgoda-Sulzer 12АSB-25D diesel engine driving a fixed pitch propeller; 1 bow thruster; 1 stern thruster; 2 x 800 kW diesel generators; 1 x 380 kW diesel-generator
  • Speed: 15 knots
  • Range: 11,000 nautical miles at 12 knots
  • Complement: 58 crew + 12 specialists
Her sister ship is named Sibirykov in honour of Aleksandr Mikhaylovich Sibiryakov, an Imperial Russian owner of gold mines and factories, as well as an explorer of Siberia.

Thursday 21 November 2019

Seen at Kronstadt: The ships’ graveyard

Almost the first part of Kronstadt harbour one passes on the way from St Petersburg to the Baltic Sea appears to be a ships’ graveyard. Moored alongside – and seemingly rusting away to oblivion – are a cargo vessel …

… and a derelict Sovremenny-class destroyer, Rastoropnyy (No.420).

The only vessel moored in that part of the harbour that show signs of regular maintenance and that appears to be seaworthy is a small tanker, the Aral.

Aral is 100m long, has a beam of 13m, a draught of 2.3m, and has a top speed of 5.7 knots.

Wednesday 20 November 2019

Seen at Kronstadt: Introduction

I first visited Russia in 2008, and each time our cruise ship has passed the Russian naval base at Kronstadt on the way out of the harbour at St Petersburg, I’ve always ventured out on deck to photograph anything of interest.

On the most recent occasion – which was in September this year – the light was beginning to fail, and I experienced a few problems trying to get the exposure right. Nevertheless, I was able to record the ships that were in harbour at the time, and over the next few days I intend to share them with my regular blog readers.

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Modelling the human in the loop

Whereas is is relatively simple to test a prototype weapon on the firing range to see how effective it will be, and thence predict the effectiveness of its production line version, it is impossible to test - and therefore predict - the how well the humans who are armed with the weapon will use it. Time and time again, it is the human in the loop that has been the ultimate determinant of success or failure in battle, not the sophistication (or otherwise) of the weapons they are armed with.

Many people have attempted to model human behaviour on the battlefield, and pre-eminent amongst them is David Rowland. His book, entitled THE STRESS OF BATTLE: QUANTIFYING HUMAN PERFORMANCE IN BATTLE FOR HISTORICAL ANALYSIS AND WARGAMING, has become a standard work in the field, but until very recently its availability has been very limited and second-hand copies have been very expensive to buy. Thanks to John Curry of the 'History of Wargaming Project, this situation has now changed, and a paperback edition is now readily available.

The book has two Forewords, a recent one (for the second edition) written by Peter Perla and an earlier one (for the first edition) by Charles Messenger. Besides an Introduction, the book is divided into eight chapters and two appendices:
  • Chapter 1: Introduction to Operational Research and Historical Analysis
  • Chapter 2: From Field Trials to Historical Analysis
  • Chapter 3: The Beginning of Historical Analysis
  • Chapter 4: Further Infantry Combat Trials and Historical Analysis
  • Chapter 5: Armour and Anti-Armour Combat Effectiveness
  • Chapter 6: Heroism and Combat Degradation
  • Chapter 7: Historical Analysis of Surprise and Shock Effects
  • Chapter 8: Conclusion
  • Appendix A: A Typical King's Ride Battle
  • Appendix B: Q and T Factors
Whilst this book could in no way be described as unputdownable, it is - in my opinion - essential reading matter for anyone who likes to consider themselves to be a designer of serious wargames. It is well illustrated, and includes numerous diagrams and charts that certainly made the analysis clear to me. Furthermore, the mathematics used by the writer is relatively easy to understand, even for someone with only a basic grasp of the use of statistics.

THE STRESS OF BATTLE: QUANTIFYING HUMAN PERFORMANCE IN BATTLE FOR HISTORICAL ANALYSIS AND WARGAMING was written by David Rowlands and this edition was edited by John Curry. It was published in 2019 by the 'History of Wargaming' Project (ISBN 978 0 244 20305 4).

Monday 18 November 2019

The Paraguayan War 1864-70

When I saw that Osprey had published THE PARAGUAYAN WAR 1864-70: THE TRIPLE ALLIANCE AT STAKE IN LA PLATA, I had to have a copy. Thanks to my Amazon Prime membership, a copy was delivered the day after I ordered it, and I am looking forward to reading it over the next few days.

The book is divided into eight chapters, a bibliography, and an index:
  • Origins of the Campaign
    • The strategic context
  • Chronology
  • Opposing Commanders
    • Paraguayan
    • Triple Alliance
  • Opposing Forces
    • Paraguayan
    • Triple Alliance
    • The opposing navies
  • Opposing Plans
    • Paraguayan
    • Triple Alliance
  • The Campaign
    • Brazil intervenes in Uruguay, 1964
    • Paraguay invades Mato Grosso
    • The Paraguayan occupation of Corrientes, 1865
    • The Battle of Riachuelo, 11th June, 1865
    • Yatay and Uruguayana, August to September, 1865
    • The Alliance advance on Paraguay, 1866
    • The Battle of Estero Bellaco, 2nd May, 1866
    • The First Battle of Tuyuti, 24th May, 1866
    • The Battle of Boqueron del Sauce, July 1866
    • The Battles of Curuzu and Curupayti, September 1866
    • The long stalemate, September 1866 to July 1867
    • The Second Battle of Tuyuti, and the fall of Humaita
    • The Pikysyry manoeuvre and the beginning of the Dezembrada, 1868
    • The Battle of Avay and Lomas Valentinas
    • The Hills Campaign and the death of Lopez, 1869-70
  • Aftermath
  • The Battlefield Today
  • Bibliography
  • Index

THE PARAGUAYAN WAR 1864-70: THE TRIPLE ALLIANCE AT STAKE IN LA PLATA was written by Gabriele Esposito, illustrated by Giuseppe Rava, and published in 2019 by Osprey Publishing as No.342 in the 'Campaign' series (ISBN 978 1 4728 3444 7).

Sunday 17 November 2019

Yet another batch of renovated 20mm-scale German figures

This batch of figures were bought from the 'bring-and-buy' stall at a wargame show, and began life as German World War I Storm-troopers. (I subsequently discovered that they had actually been painted by someone that I knew, and who had taken part in Eric Knowles' famous Madasahatta Campaign.)

I managed to damage several of them whilst removing them from their original multi-figure bases, and in the end the renovation involved having to almost completely repaint them.

It had been my original intention to use the figures to depict reserve or second-line infantry, but I now think that they are good enough to join the ranks of my main infantry units.

I'm now going to take a short break from renovating figures, if only to stop myself from getting bored. I plan to do some German artillery next so that I can begin to organise the troops that I have already renovated into suitable tabletop units.

Saturday 16 November 2019

Celebrity wargamers: Would they help raise the hobby's public profile?

The BBC recently covered Rod Stewart's model railroad layout on its website (it is an American layout, hence it is a model railROAD rather than a model railWAY), and mentioned that he had made most of the layout's terrain himself. The most recent issue of RAILWAY MODELLER (Volume 70 No.830 December 2019) has a six-page article about Rod's model railroad.

In the 2020 issue of RAILWAY MODELLER EXTRA that was also published recently, there was an eight-page, photo-heavy article about Jools Holland's model railway ...

... and this set me thinking about whether or not media coverage about celebrities who are also wargamers might help to raise the hobby's profile with the general public.

We all know that H G Wells was a wargamer, as was Robert Louis Stevenson. We also know that the late Edward Woodward bought the terrain and figures used in the film CALLAN, and that Peter Cushing had a large collection of Britains figures that he wargamed with. I also understand that the BBC journalist and military historian Mark Urban was a wargamer in his youth, and may still retain more than a passing interest in the hobby.

Are there any other celebrities who are also wargamers? There are plenty of rumours that there are (the names of Peter Jackson and Mike Myers are often mentioned in this respect), but I don't remember reading about any ... and if they did mention their hobby in the media, would it actually help to raise the hobby's public profile?

I pose these questions rhetorically, but I'd me more than happy to read any comments that my regular blog readers have to make.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Peco/Railway Modeller.

Friday 15 November 2019

Naval wargames in the early days of the missile era

Since its earliest days, the United States Naval War College has had a history of using wargames to train officers, and with the dawn of the missile age in the 1960s, it developed a set of wargame rules that reflected the impact of missiles on naval combat. These have now been published by John Curry's 'History of Wargaming' Project, and I recently bough a copy.

It is thought that UNITED STATES NAVAL WAR COLLEGE MANUAL WARGAMING (1969): WARGAMES AT THE START OF THE MISSILE ERA was written by Frank McHugh, who worked in the War Gaming Department from 1934 to 1974, with a break during the Second World War during which he served with Patton's Third Army.

The book originally had an Introduction, five chapters, and seven appendices:
  • I. Introduction: Purpose and Contents
  • II. Pregame Procedures
  • III. Damage Assessment
  • IV. The War Game
  • V. A Sample War Game
  • Appendix I. Formats for Status Boards
  • Appendix II. Weapon Employment and Damage Assessment Forms
  • Appendix III. Damage Assessment Tables
  • Appendix IV. Damage Assessment Rules
  • Appendix V. Damage Assessment Flow Charts
  • Appendix VI. Surface-to-Air Missile Assessment Procedures
  • Appendix VII. Sample Table of Random Numbers
This book contains all the information a group of wargamers would want to be able to set up a battle using these rules. The layout of the game is described in detail in II. Pregame Procedures, and III. Damage Assessment explains how the damage caused by combat is assessed and recorded. The rules are relatively simple, and deal mainly with the Basic War Game Cycle (i.e. Decision Phase, Action Phase, Measurement Phase, Evaluation Phase, and Information Phase). It also places emphasis on the recording of what has happened by the Control Group's designated historian, as this is seen as a vital element for the follow-up critique of the wargame.

The example included in the book makes it very easy to understand how the rules work, and the inclusion of all the necessary forms and tables ensures that the book is a complete package as far as any potential users are concerned.

One final thing; this was a book written by professionals for professionals, and may not appeal to the average wargamer. However, its style and layout are an example to anyone who write wargames rules, and it has certainly given me a few ideas as to how to improve the way I present my rules to the wargaming public.

UNITED STATES NAVAL WAR COLLEGE MANUAL WARGAMING (1969): WARGAMES AT THE START OF THE MISSILE ERA was edited by John Curry and published in 2019 by the 'History of Wargaming' Project (ISBN 978 0 244 51764 9).

Successful Professional Wargames: A Practitioner’s Handbook

Graham Longley-Brown, who is one of the driving forces behind professional wargaming in the UK, and who is also one of the organisers of CONNECTIONS UK, has very recently had his book entitled SUCCESSFUL PROFESSIONAL WARGAMES: A PRACTITIONER'S HANDBOOK published by John Curry's 'History of Wargaming' Project.

Between 1986 and 2003, Graham Longley-Brown was a Regular Army officer. Before he retired, he spent from 2000 to 2002 at Shrivenham as the UK Joint Services Command and Staff College Directing Staff Subject Matter Expert for wargaming. Since then he has worked across the world running wargames for the armed services of various countries as a self-employed consultant for LBS Consultancy.

Graham has also:
The book has forewords by both Peter Perla (doyen of the professional wargaming world) and Colin Marston (Head of the UK's Dstl Wargaming Team), and is split into four parts with twenty-eight chapters, and a bibliography.
  • Part 1: Wargaming Fundamentals
    • Chapter 1: Why Wargame? And When Not To
    • Chapter 2: What is a Wargame?
    • Chapter 3: Wargaming Misnomers and Misunderstandings
    • Chapter 4: Adjudication
    • Chapter 5: Wargame Formats, Contexts and Variants
  • Part 2: Establishing the Conditions for Successful Wargames
    • Chapter 6: Essential Characteristics for Successful Wargames
    • Chapter 7: The Wargame Team
    • Chapter 8: Analysis
    • Chapter 9: Appropriate Technology
    • Chapter 10: Incorporating Non-kinetic Effects and Semi-cooperative Play into Wargame Design
  • Part 3: The Wargame Lifecycle
    • Chapter 11: The Wargame Lifecycle: An Introduction
    • Chapter 12: Wargame Design
    • Chapter 13: Wargame Development
    • Chapter 14: Wargame Execution
    • Chapter 15: Wargame Validation
    • Chapter 16: Wargame Refinement
    • Chapter 17: The Top 10 Things that Make a Good Wargame Designer
  • Part 4: Practising Successful Wargames
    • Chapter 18: High-Engagement Games
    • Chapter 19: Scenario Writing
    • Chapter 20: Scenario Development
    • Chapter 21: Scenario Execution
    • Chapter 22: Controlling Wargames
    • Chapter 23: Facilitation
    • Chapter 24: Generating Outcomes
    • Chapter 25: Presenting and Affirming Outcomes
    • Chapter 26: Course of Action Wargaming
    • Chapter 27: Connections: The Conference for Wargaming Professionals
    • Chapter 28: Conclusion
  • Bibliography
This book is aimed at those involved in developing professional wargames BUT much of its contents will appeal to those hobby wargamers who take an interest in that end of the wargaming spectrum. It will also be relevant to those hobby wargamers who are interested in the eternal verities of good, basic wargame design. After all, almost all of the the people who are developing professional wargames are also hobby wargamers, and the lesson they have learned are applicable across the wargaming spectrum.

SUCCESSFUL PROFESSIONAL WARGAMES: A PRACTITIONER'S HANDBOOK was written by Graham Longley-Brown, edited by John Curry, and published in 2019 by the 'History of Wargaming' Project. It is available in both printed (ISBN 978 0 2448 0364 3) and Kindle formats.

Thursday 14 November 2019

Kursk: The Last Mission: A DVD review

Before proceeding, I must make it clear that this is NOT a DVD about the Battle of Kursk; it is about the loss of the Oscar-class submarine of that name.

The Oscar-class submarine Kursk (Russian: Project 949A Антей Atomnaya Podvodnaya Lodka Kursk) sank in the Barents Sea on 12th August 2000 as a result of an explosion in her forward torpedo room. It was subsequently discovered that one of her Type 65 Kit (Russian: tolstushka or 'fat girl', because of its 62cm/26-inch diameter) practice torpedoes had exploded whilst it was being loaded into a torpedo tube. This may have been due to a leak of highly volatile HTP (high test peroxide) fuel.

The initial explosion and fire are thought to have instantly killed the seven men in the torpedo room, and the subsequent blast sent a shock wave through the submarine's compartments as far as the Command Centre that killed or incapacitated everyone in them. The fire then set off the warheads of seven of the torpedoes in the torpedo room (seven distinct and rapid explosions were measured by acoustic instruments aboard other ships in the Barents Sea), and the Kursk quickly sank to the sea bottom. The automatic fail-safe systems on the submarine's two nuclear reactors immediately shut them down as hundreds of tons of water poured into the submarine's hull through a large hole that had been caused by the explosions.

Unfortunately for those crew members who survived the explosions, the crew escape capsule was inaccessible (it was in one of the flooded compartments) and the rescue buoy that should have automatically been deployed to indicate to surface ships where the submarine was, had been disabled for operational reasons (i.e. fears that it might deploy by accident and identify the submarine's position to non-Russian warships). As a result, they eventually drowned before they could be rescued.

The film tells the story of what happened up to and including the sinking of the Kursk, and then deals with what happened afterwards. The Russian Navy's initial response was slow and seemed more concerned with secrecy than mounting a rescue, and the way in which that they dealt with the families of the crew was despicable. They refused help from the Royal Navy and the Royal Norwegian Navy until it was far too late to rescue any survivors, and their own deep-sea rescue craft was shown to be ineffective due to poor maintenance.

This was a very interesting film, and I recommend anyone with an interest in recent naval history to watch it.

KURSK: THE LAST MISSION is an English-language film directed by Thomas Vinterberg, based on Robert Moore's book A TIME TO DIE, and made by a group of French-Belgian production companies. It was released in 2018, and stars Matthias Schoenaerts, Colin Firth, Léa Seydoux, Peter Simonischek, Max von Sydow, Matthias Schweighöfer, and Michael Nyqvist.

Wednesday 13 November 2019

A further batch of renovated 20mm-scale German figures

After the short break I took from painting before my recent eye test, I have now renovated another batch of 20mm-scale German figures to add to my collection.

These figures were bought ready-painted from eBay, and it was my original intention just to re-base them, touch up any damage they had acquired over the years, and then varnish them. In the end the touching up became a major re-paint, but the time spent was not wasted, and the figures now look the same as the figures that are already in my collection.

Tuesday 12 November 2019

Some of my ‘lost’ comments have been recovered

I've managed to trawl through my emails and found some of the comments that had been 'lost'. I will attempt to find more, but I suspect that they might be unrecoverable.

28th October 2019
Trebian has left a new comment on your post "To Ur is Human":


Following your review here I had my best ever day for sales, hitting the dizzy heights of 4 copies!! There were a couple the next day too, so I'm crediting you with 6, not counting the one you bought. Nice review over on Amazon, too.

Thanks for your support,


Trebian has left a new comment on your post "To Ur is Human":

It would help if you were to post a review on TMP, as that probably circumvents the no commercials without paying for advertising rule.

29th October 2019
Archduke Piccolo has left a new comment on your post "The Chaco Air War 1932-35":

I had an idea I'd seen this pic before. Maybe you had a blog entry on it. I recall two or three years back reading up online about the Chaco war, having my attention drawn to it be someone!

4th November 2019
KEV. Robertson. has left a new comment on your post "A busy week ahead":

Hi Bob,

Keeping fingers crossed for you that your eye test at Bluewater goes well for you...perhaps you may only need an upgraded script for your close work Glasses. Thinking of you - and have a great time with your Lodge and Freemasonry Friends. Cheers. KEV.

5th November 2019
Mark, Man of TIN has left a new comment on your post "Stuart Asquith, RIP":

Sad News - Stuart will be fondly remembered.

I am lucky to have and command some of Stuart's 15mm Peter Laing Romans and Picts.

Archduke Piccolo has left a new comment on your post "Stuart Asquith, RIP":

I recall Stuart Asquith's articles on the English Civil War and World War One back in 'Battle Magazine' days. The latter series sure tempted me to give WW1 a try, but I had less money and less time in those days.

I have a copy of his book, jointly authored with C.S. Grant, 'Scenarios for all Ages' - what I call 'the Red Book.'

Unknown has left a new comment on your post "Stuart Asquith, RIP":

Thank you all for your lovely words about Stuart, my father.

He would have been so humbled by everyone’s kind words. My mother, my sisters an I are so proud that he influenced so many people across the wargaming community. Your stories and happy memories help us in these difficult times.



Mark, Man of TIN has left a new comment on your post "Stuart Asquith, RIP":

How wonderful to have some of Stuart's Napoleonic figures.

Via Henry Hyde, I had a lovely email from Tom his son, as you have below, about how very touched the family are by all the tributes at this difficult time.

Tom invited us all to raise a glass to Stuart wherever we are on the 18th December, the date of Stuart's funeral.

Tony ('Tin Soldiering On' blog) Kitchen suggested, that we get out the shiny toy soldiers in a game in his memory. No finer tribute ...

Mark, Man of TIN

6th November 2019
David Crook has left a new comment on your post "Modelling barbed wire entanglements: The completed...":

Hi Bob,

These look really nice and will certainly give the Soviet steamroller something to drive over....

All the best,


7th November 2019 has left a new comment on your post "Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: An...":

Interesting concept. Almost like a boardgame.

Maudlin Jack Tar has left a new comment on your post "Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: An...":

Thanks for sharing my game with a wider audience Bob!

8th November 2019
Ross Mac has left a new comment on your post "Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: An...":

Well worth highlighting!

KEV. Robertson. has left a new comment on your post "Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: An...":

Hi Bob,

My first ever Toy Soldiers were a packet of OO/HO AIRFIX American Civil War UNION Infantry- they are great figures. Cheers. KEV.

9th November 2019
Archduke Piccolo has left a new comment on your post "Petsamo and Kirkenes 1944":

Potential for a small campaign there possibly? A 'Very Wintery War', perhaps?

10th November 2019
Ross Mac has left a new comment on your post "Remembrance Day":

I remember the foolish thoughts of a young officer at military college who was disappointed that he was serving after the last war had been fought. Such a fool in so many ways. The older version is glad he missed having the personal experience and sad that others, including the not yet born, haven't.

(I have to admit to some curiosity, we commemorate on the 11th regardless of day of the week and I was surprised to hear that your main national ceremony is today.), the 10th.

Geordie an Exiled FoG has left a new comment on your post "Petsamo and Kirkenes 1944":

Nice spot.

I do like a bit of bookshop browsing the old-fashioned way of doing things.

Monday 11 November 2019

'At the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month ...'

The first two-minute silence in memory of the fallen was held one-hundred years ago.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today
We will remember them.

Dedicated to the memory of all those who died in the Great War and in all the wars and conflicts that have taken place since then.

Lost comments

I opened my emails this morning, and discovered that someone had blitzed my blog with a large number of unwanted 'comments' about loans. Furthermore, when I went into the 'Comments' section of Blogger to remove them, I discovered that all comments (and my replies) from 27th October onwards have been replaced by this cretin's unwanted contributions.

I am going to attempt to restore the 'lost' comments, some of which were about the late Stuart Asquith, but it looks as if all of them have been deleted. I don't know how this could have happened, but all I can assume is that somehow this 'comment' dump has overwritten the original files.

This sort of thing makes me so angry, and if I could get hold of the person responsible, I would be very tempted to do something very unpleasant to them.

Sunday 10 November 2019

Remembrance Day

Later this morning, the Cenotaph in Westminster will be at the centre of the main, national Remembrance Day ceremony. At the same time, all around the country and in many other countries as well, smaller ceremonies will be taking place to remember the sacrifice made by previous generations.

As I get older, these ceremonies seem to hold great importance than they did when I was young, and it was a shock when I realised that this monument was thirty years old in the year that I was born, and will be one hundred years-old next year.

When I was a child, the parade that was held after the religious element of the ceremony was always led by the 'Old Contemptibles', survivors of the British Expeditionary Force that went to France in 1914. As I grew older and they died off, it was servicemen (and later women) who had served during the Second World War who formed the bulk of those in the parade. Now they too are a fast dying breed, and it is the survivors of more recent conflicts who will be parading past the Cenotaph today.

Today is the day when we will officially remember them all ... but it is important that we do not confine that remembrance to a single day. And in answer to those who ask if the sacrifice of previous generations was worth it, all I can say in reply is that whatever state the world is in now, you can be sure that it would have been far worse if those we remember today had not done what they did.

Saturday 9 November 2019

Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: An imagi-nations Colonial battle

Following on from his recent American Civil War battle, Maudlin Jack Tar has built himself a larger 12 x 8 gridded battlefield and fought another Colonial battle between the forces of Albionia and Uqbalistan.

This was yet another exciting Colonial battle fought using my PORTABLE WARGAME rules, and I strongly suggest that you pay a visit to PROJECTS AND PROCRASTINATION to read the full battle report.

A comment at the end of it implies that there will be another battle in this campaign taking place in the near future ... so I recommend that my any of regular blog readers who do not yet follow Maudlin Jack Tar's blog, ought to do so.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Maudlin Jack Tar.

Friday 8 November 2019

Petsamo and Kirkenes 1944

During a recent visit to Bluewater, I saw PETSAMO AND KIRKENES 1944: THE SOVIET OFFENSIVE IN THE NORTHERN ARCTIC on sale in Waterstones. As this is an aspect of the Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War that I don't know much about, I bought a copy, and have thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

The book is divided into nine chapters, a bibliography, and an index:
  • Origins of the Campaign
  • Chronology
  • Opposing Commanders
    • Soviet
    • German
  • Opposing Forces
    • Soviet
    • German
    • Orders of battle
  • Opposing Plans
    • Soviet
    • German
  • The Campaign
    • The first phase, 7th to 13th October 1944
    • The second phase, 14th to 22nd October 1944
    • The third phase, 23rd October to 5th November 1944
  • Aftermath
    • Conclusion
  • The Battlefield Today
  • Bibliography
  • Index

PETSAMO AND KIRKENES 1944:THE SOVIET OFFENSIVE IN THE NORTHERN ARCTIC was written by David Greentree, illustrated by Graham Turner, and published in 2019 by Osprey Publishing as No.343 in the 'Campaign' series (ISBN 978 1 4728 3112 2).

Thursday 7 November 2019

Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: Another American Civil War battle

Maudlin Jack Tar has recently fought several battles using my PORTABLE WARGAME rules. The first was an American Civil War battle (The Battle in Forge Valley) and as can be seen in the following photographs, he used a large number of good old Airfix American Civil War figures!

As my earliest wargames armies contained a large number of these figures, reading his battle report was an exercise in nostalgia for me.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Maudlin Jack Tar.

Wednesday 6 November 2019

Modelling barbed wire entanglements: The completed models

I cut four of the fence bases to the same length as the prototype before gluing the barbed wire in place on each of them.

I then cut a remaining fence base in half to create the basis for two shorter lengths of barbed wire entanglement ... and then had the idea to glue some of the pieces I had cut off the longer fence bases to create two more shorter barbed wire entanglements. These then had barbed wire glued to them using Superglue.

In the end I managed to make five long (i.e. approximately 10cm/4-inches) and four short (i.e. approximately 7cm/2.75-inches) barbed wire entanglements.

I am rather pleased with the way that they turned out, and hope to make some more when I can buy another batch of fences bases.

Tuesday 5 November 2019

Stuart Asquith, RIP

I was travelling home last night from the City of London when I read Henry Hyde's announcement that Stuart Asquith had died.

This news came as a shock as he and I were of the same wargaming generation, and I had known him on and off for well over forty years. For those of us who were in the hobby in the 1980s and 1990s, he will be remembered for his editorship of PRACTICAL WARGAMING (1987 to 1999) as well as the numerous articles and books that he wrote. (He was a regular contributor to MILITARY MODELLING and BATTLE FOR WARGAMERS magazine, a forerunner of PRACTICAL WARGAMING.) He was also one of the leading UK wargamers who was invited by the late Paddy Griffith to attend the first ever Conference of Wargamers in 1980, and I can well remember standing in the bar at Moor Park talking to him about various aspects of the hobby.

Just a cursory glance at the list of some of the books that he wrote gives some indication of his contribution to the hobby:
  • 1979: The Campaign of Naseby 1645 (Osprey 'Wargames' series)
  • 1983: Military Modelling Manual (Contributor)
  • 1987: Military Modelling Guide to War Gaming
  • 1988: Military Modelling Guide to Solo Wargaming
  • 1990: Military Modelling Guide to Siege Wargaming
  • 1992: New Model Army, 1645-60 (Osprey 'Men-at-arms')
  • 1992: Wargame rules for the 1680-1721 period
  • 1993: A Wargamer's Guide to the 1812-1815 War with America
  • 1993: Big Wars (written with Jack Alexander)
  • 1994 to 2000: Regiment the Military Heritage Collection
  • 1995: Wellington In India, A Wargamers Guide (written with Charles S Grant)
  • 1996: Quatre Bras (Practical Wargaming booklet)
  • 1996: Scenarios for All Ages (written with Charles S Grant)
  • 1997: Bunker's Hill 1775 (Practical Wargaming booklet)
  • 1997: Hastings 1066 (Practical Wargaming booklet)
  • 1998: The Collector's Guide to New Toy Soldiers
  • 1998: Wargaming World War Two
  • 1999: Practical Wargaming Yearbook (Editor)
  • 2006: The Partizan Press Guide to Solo Wargaming
  • 2007: War in the Sudan 1884-1898: A Campaign Guide (Partizan Special Edition)
  • 2008: The War of 1812: A Campaign Guide to the War with America 1812-1815
  • 2008: Warfare in Egypt and the Sudan
  • 2012: The Partizan Press Guide to War Gaming the Crimean War
I last saw Stuart a couple of years ago when I travelled down to his home in the Cotswolds to collect some Napoleonic figures that he wanted to pass on to me. He had moved there after retiring, and I had a very enjoyable day talking to him and admiring his large collection of 54mm figures. He was still wargaming, albeit usually with his larger figures, and had a small but very full wargames room in his house. I was honoured when he gave me a signed copy of his latest book, and was further honoured when he asked me to sign his copy of THE PORTABLE WARGAME. He subsequently sent me photographs of the forces he had painted to use with my rules, and they are reproduced below.

Like so many wargamers of his generation, his true contribution to the hobby has not been fully realised until now. We have an expression in Freemasonry that states that a man should live respected and die regretted ... and this is very true of Stuart.

I wish to extend my condolences to his family at this difficult and trying time, and I hope that they will get some relief from their grief in the knowledge that Stuart was so highly regarded by those who knew him.

Monday 4 November 2019

A busy week ahead

I have a busy week ahead.

This afternoon I am off to the City of London to attend a meeting of Poulters Lodge. A friend of mine is being Installed as the new Worshipful Master of the Lodge, which is associated with the Poulters Company, one of the City's liveried companies. Several of the officers of Poulters Lodge are also members of my Mother Lodge, and it will be great to see them in action.

On Tuesday I have an eye test booked at the Bluewater branch of Vision Express. I hope that this will show that my eyesight has not deteriorated over the last twelve months, and than I am not developing cataracts.

Thursday will see me travel to Hemel Hempstead to attend the annual Hertfordshire Board of Stewards dinner. The stewards are the active foot soldiers of Freemasonry. They escort the Provincial and Deputy Provincial Grand Masters when they go out on official visits to Lodges as well as acting as stewards at the annual Provincial Grand Lodge Meeting and other large Masonic gatherings within Hertfordshire (e.g. The annual carol concert at St Albans Abbey). Being invited to attend their annual dinner is a great honour, and I'm looking forward to meeting so many old friends and acquaintances.

On Saturday, I'll be going to a Masonic meeting in Luton to deliver a talk entitled THE HALSEYS OF HERTFORDSHIRE: WHO DO WE THINK THEY ARE? The Halseys played a very important part of the development of Freemasonry in Hertfordshire, and the history of the family is very interesting. I've delivered this talk many times, and it has always been well received because the family were involved directly or indirectly with many important historical events in the UK and the USA.

Sunday 3 November 2019

Modelling barbed wire entanglements: The prototype

I cut the length of the fence so that it was 10cm/4-inches long and would fit into my Hexon II terrain hexes. I did it so that three of the uprights remained on the base. I then placed a pre-cut length of my Games Workshop barbed wire over the posts, and once I was happy with the position of the barbed wire, I carefully glued it in place using Superglue. I was rather pleased with the result ...

... and now intend to use the remaining Javis fence bases I bought to make some more barbed wire entanglements.

At present I plan to leave the finished barbed wire entanglements as they are, but I might paint the wire in a dark colour in the future to reduce its shininess.

I have subsequently discovered that Javis make similar bases with uprights for barbed wire as well as coiled lengths of OO-scale barbed wire. I may give both a try at some time in the future. In the meantime, I am happy to use what I have to hand.

Saturday 2 November 2019

Modelling barbed wire entanglements

Whilst I am taking a break from painting until after my eye test (which will be taking place next Tuesday), I've been thinking about modelling some scenery or scenic items for my wargames. I happened to be in Chatham very recently, and whilst I was there, I paid a visit to Regal Models. It is situated near the entrance to the Historic Dockyard, and stocks a wide range of models and modelling accessories, including model railway scenery made and supplied by Javis Manufacturing Limited.

Included in the range of items manufactured and sold by Javis is fencing, and as soon as I saw their OO-scale fence posts, I knew that they would be idea for supporting barbed wire on my tabletop battlefields ... so I bought some!

I already have a supply of barbed wire that I bought many years ago from Games Workshop, and as far as I can see, all I need to do is to cut the length of fencing so that it will fit inside my Hexon II terrain hexes, and then glue the barbed wire to the fence posts. I will then have a number of barbed wire entanglements that I can use in my wargames.