Americans see action in the Philippines (finally)

I don’t know how seven months of COVID restrictions have affected your gaming life, but mine has changed a great deal. Definitely a different way of doing things from pre-COVID and not all for the worse.

I have a role-playing group that meets every Thursday night from 7-10 on Zoom. I’d guess we’ve missed two meetings since we began in June. I like it; it’s been fun. We could never have pulled it off in-person.

I’ve played a few games in Steilacoom with George and Michael at both of their homes. Again, I’ve had a great time. I sense there will be more to come soon.

However, the highlight has been the Summer Series in Dave Schueler’s front yard. Masked and under a pop-up a tent, Dave, David Sullivan, John Gee, Bill Stewart and Michael Koznarsky have included me in a variety of naval games using ACW Ironclads, ancient galleys and pre-Dreadnaughts in a glorious summer-long series of naval games.

However, with the receding smokey skies replaced with the onset of rain and wind, it was apparent that our Schueler pop-up series was likely nearing an end. A couple weeks ago I offered to host my Enfilade Philippines game on the 19th, and it has, thankfully happened.

The game featured about two-thirds of my figures for the period and had everything I wanted to see. Americans attacking Philippine Republicans while the latter piece together a crazy defense. Mad attacks by fearsome-bolo armed troops. An amphibious assault by sailors and marines. Some fun play, and as John said anus-clenching moments for all.

The scenario was entirely fictional but took place in the Batangas Bay with Republican forces retreating, but caught between advancing American forces. Their goal was to withdraw as many troops and supplies as possible. There were two commands of Republican troop, three units each. They were bolstered by local tribal militia with a fiery commander.

They faced a force of Washington State Volunteers to the north, U.S. Regulars to the east and a force of Marines and sailors about to land in the rear to the west.

The game began with the David’s Volunteers using a machine gun and gunfire to inflict a dose of reality on Bill’s Republicans. The Philippine troops, being poor shots, did less, but when the Centralia Company of the Volunteers failed a pin check, things slowed down a little bit.

On the east side, John’ irregulars advanced against Eric’s Republicans, hunkered down in some rice paddies. Despite an effective opening volley, the American response sent the poorly led Republicans reeling. Things were not looking good.

I commanded the tribal infantry in the center and I busied myself trying to collect supplies with two my units. These were supplies we could carry off the south edge of the board to earn victory points. I left one unit with commander in the woods to back up Bill’s Republicans facing the Volunteers.

Meanwhile, Dave’s amphib group headed for the beaches, still a turn or so away from being in the fight.

Bill and Eric’s Republican forces fought gamely, but mostly on the losing end of exchanges with the Americans. I successfully gathered supplies from one of the caches, while a second unit headed toward another about the time Dave disembarked the Marines from their steam launches.

I turned my unit on the Marines and launched a vicious attack that inflicted 50% casualties. But with their excellent leader present, my celebration was short-lived. The Marines recovered. The bolos took fire, and, far from their leader, were immediately pinned. They were a non-factor for the rest of the game.

Bill’s Republicans fell back through the woods, and were at least able to escape fire from the Volunteers, but knew a good push would finish him. Eric surrendered the paddies to the regulars and took shelter in some buildings, only to begin taking fire from Dave’s Marines.

I moved my tribal infantry at the double, out of my safe woods zone down to help Eric’s troops, pounced on one of John’s regular units and destroyed it. But the inevitable gunfire replies killed the tribal leader, and devoid of command, they quickly became pinned and unable to move.

The Philippine army was doomed. We called it good.

I had fun. I hope others did too.

We used the Men Who Would Be King rules by Daniel Mersey. They were quite fun, but each set of his rule are a little different so there were things I would have done differently. I made the Republicans bad shots, but in return I could have given them fieldcraft which would have allowed them to Go to Ground as a tribal unit and let them avoid terrain costs. I also could have given the Republicans the initiative in each turn, so they would always have the option of moving ahead of the American gunfire, so the game would have become a lot more like the running gunfight I wanted.

Farewell to August, a Good Month to Get Stuff done.

Cod Wars ships by Decapod. British Type 21 Frigate compared to Iceland Coast Guard Vessel Ver.

May was the month of my Hundred Figure Painting Challenge. I painted a lot of stuff. Honestly I’ve managed to paint quite a bit each month. Maybe not a hundred figures, but enough to make progress on lots of stuff each month.

No, I didn’t approach a hundred figures in August, but I did finish my Philippine-American War project. That was huge. Even more exciting, I’ve scheduled my first game with them for September 19th under Dave Schueler’s pop-up tent in his front yard. I am pumped. September will begin with work on some needed terrain bits for the scenario I planned to run at Enfilade. I completed 44 figures for this project this month.

I got some other work done too. I have long admired the P-38J’s of Medal of Honor winner Richard I. Bong’s 49th fighter group. They fought in the South Pacific and ran up some impressive kill totals flying the rather unforgiving twin engine plane. I ordered six of the Raiden version of the Lightning, had a couple of GHQ versions that are at least 15 years old, as well as a couple more of the Dave Smith bounty from a few years ago. So ten planes to paint up. They weren’t hard, but a bit more challenging than I thought they’d be.

49th Fighter Group P-38J’s. Planes from three different makers. In the back GHQ’s Lightning. Left front is Raiden, and on the right an unknown maker. My first effort with natural aluminum planes. They’ll do.

The 49th Fighter group were in natural aluminum. I used the color from the Vallejo USAAF CBI set. It’s a really nice color, that goes on very well. I did two coats, though I probably could have gotten by on one. I followed with USAF Olive Drab for the anti-glare panels on the nose and inside the engine nacelles. Then it was lining. I chose to use charcoal. On most planes it’s not a problem to be a little imperfect, but the aluminum showed everything. So there was some painting and then repainting. And a little more repainting. Red tips on tails, nose and spinners, and voila life is good. The last hiccup happened when I tried to apply decals to those twin booms. Not enough room on the models for those roundels, so they got wing insignia only. don’t tell. I made up for it by painting numbers on the nose. 10 planes for the month.

Navis Maine, center, surrounded by War Times Journal Texas and Cincinnati. Hard to say which is more detailed, but the WTJ ships are definitely cheaper.

It was a banner month for painting ships. I wrote about the two War Times Journal ships I received–Texas and Cincinnati. I liked them well enough to order a few more from the Spanish American War era. The first will be the Chicago, one of my favorite ships from the era. It’s the C in the ABCD original ships ordered for the American New Navy of the 1880’s. I also ordered the New Orleans, built in the British Elswick yards for Brazil. Finally, I ordered the Isla De Luzon, which was a teeny, tiny cruiser captured and repurposed from Spain during the Spanish American War. Looking forward to those.

This fairly blurry picture is of the U.S. monitor Monterey. The level of detail, that you can’t possibly see from this miserable excuse of an image, is actually quite nice. While the monitors were really a relic of past greatness, American shipyards continued to build them until well into the 1900’s.

I also wrote about my ships from Brown Water Navy. I ordered a few more vessels from Shapeways–also from BWN. These are 1/1250 ships from that pre-dreadnought era. They are the Presidente Errazuriz and the Presidente Pinto, built for the Chilean Navy in French yards. They are very small, weighing in at just 2,000 tons, but completing my group of Chileans for a scenario I’d like to run. I also received the U.S. monitor Monterey, which was built on the west coast and motored (very carefully) to Manila after Dewey destroyed the Spanish fleet and American forces captured the archipelago. All seem very nice, and I’m excited to paint them up.

Presidente class light cruisers built in the UK for the Chilean navy. Another Brown Water Navy creation. These miniatures are actually quite small and very, very nicely detailed. On the to-do list for September.

I also wrote about ordering and painting up a pair of Richmond class ironclads from Thoroughbred Figures. I went with the Raleigh in its dark blue finish, and the Chicora in its pale blue. They were very fun to paint. They are also terrific models. Can’t say enough good about them.

Finally, I’m up to my elbows working on my ships for the Cod Wars. This is the proto-conflict between NATO allies Iceland and the United Kingdom over fishing rights in expanded territorial zones claimed by Iceland. These really accelerated into near conflict as Icelandic Coast Guard vessels rammed Royal Navy frigates protecting British fishing trawlers in the 1970’s. It was an ugly business.

The ships however, not so ugly. Decapod designs them and they are sold through Shapeways. I bought my fleet o’ ships last September and completing them is my big project for this September. I’ve gotten a chunk of them done already. There are about twenty-five to paint and I’ve finished ten.

There’s lots I can write about these ships and the conflict, but I’ll spare you with a simple review of Decapod’s work. 3D printed models can be a crap shoot. Some are great. Some not so much. But the printed ships I see coming from War Times Journal and Shapeways are pretty nice. The amount of detail never ceases to amaze. The same is true of the Cod Wars vessels, which feature fairly good sized British frigates of the 1970’s down to fairly small fishing trawlers that make up the bulk of the required vessels. Nicely detailed–maybe too nicely in some cases, but no complaints from me.

I painted 14 ships during the month of August, bringing my painting total to 68 miniatures for the month.

My retiree plan was to largely paint miniatures I stockpiled and I’ve pretty much stuck to that. I’m making less money now, and I have to be careful, though that doesn’t mean I can’t buy stuff every now and then. With bars and restaurant closed to lunching with my buddies, I’ve invested wisely in a variety of ship projects. I bought ten ship models this month. The difference from the past is that I don’t stockpile them. I usually turn them around quite quickly.

September should be a month wrapping up the Cod Wars, including making game markers and the like. I have terrain pieces to make for my Philippines game, and then more ships to do as well. Don’t know how many figs I’ll paint but it will be plenty.

Rusty with his buddy Lola peruse the backyard. He is rarely far from me, note my foot in the foreground. He’s under the table as I write this. He’s my close companion, but he needs an ACL repair in September.

September is also a month that will have some additional distractions. Rusty, my 12-year old Australian Shepherd will likely have ACL surgery this month and I’ll be his primary care giver, so I’ll have my hands full helping out my big red buddy. In addition, I’m unretiring for a couple of months and going to work for Pierce County as an elections worker. I’m excited. I’ve always wanted to do elections work and it will bring in a little more game money to boot.

The Richmond class and Thoroughbred’s splendid model.

The Confederate Navy struggled to produce much that could be standardized and produced across the South. There simply weren’t many large naval shipyards, so useful ships were produced in many locations by local designers and fitted out as best the local conditions would allow. Thus, the Albemarle was built in a cornfield and the Atlanta began life as a converted blockade runner, the Fingal.

By contrast, though the Union navy pressed numerous civilian vessels into service as blockaders and Cornelius Vanderbilt’s massive Vanderbilt became an armed merchant cruiser, the Navy contracted and built 10 Passaic class monitors, nine Canoncicus class monitors, many other varied types of monitors and ironclads to fill out the ironclad fleet, plus 46 double-end gunboats, 23 90-day gunboats and a host of additional wooden vessels, all with reasonably standard designs built to standard specifications that made them reasonably compatible within their classes.

The Confederates did, however, have the Maury gunboats and the Richmond class ironclads. Matthew Fontaine Maury, the great oceanographer and proposed to Secretary of the Navy that the cash- and resource-strapped nation build hundreds of small gunboats, flush decked and armed with two powerful guns be built on every small river and inlet across the south to defeat the blockade. Only two were built-The Isondiga in the Savannah River and the Yadkin in the Cape Fear River.

The Richmond class ships, however, were more promising. Six of the ironclads were built in Atlantic ports. The Richmond served on the James River. The Chicora and Palmetto State defended Charleston. The Raleigh and the North Carolina were sentinels of the Cape Fear River and Wilmington. The Savannah protected its name-port. They were similar in dimensions and armament–four guns with some mix of Brooke rifles and smoothbores. Designer J.L. Porter called for robust engines, four of the six scraped by with tugboat powerplants that left them chronically under-powered with the extra bulk of iron armor.

Thoroughbred Figures makes a wonderful miniature of the Richmond. Toby Barrett, designer, caster and maestro of all things Confederate ironclads includes directions for the arrangement of bits to create all the Richmond class ship. Really, for fourteen bucks it’s a super miniature.

I decided to build the Raleigh and the Chicora pretty much out of the box. There is a level of fiddliness to these guys. There are grates and pilot houses to locate and I confess to some bad gluery getting some pieces a bit askew. There are also pieces such as boat davits and vents that require drilling holes in the right places. I managed to break two bits for my trusty Dremel for the Raleigh’s boat, and decided the Chicora could do without. In all honesty I built another Richmond years ago and didn’t try any of the tomfoolery. Does it matter? I think so but you have to decide what you want to deal with.

After assembly I glued ’em to a craft stick and gave ’em a good priming. Then I painted the fully that is barely visible below the casemate knuckle charcoal grey. Black would be okay too.

Now for the major paint. For the decking fore and aft of the casemate, as well as on the top of the casemate, I opted for Vallejo Deck Tan. Then it was on to the casemate itself.

I know what you’re thinking. “A Richmond, is a Richmond is a Richmond.” Why could I possibly need three? The answer is simple. They aren’t all the same color. Silly.

Raleigh in Vallejo Dark Prussian Blue with Light Grey and Sky Grey dry brushes. Added a little rust just for good measure. Clear acrylic base by Litko.

In opting for the Raleigh, I got to paint a dark blue version of that ironclad. I opted for Vallejo Prussian Dark Blue. Nice color, but not grey enough, so I dry brushed with Vallejo Light Grey and then again with Vallejo Sky Grey, so I got a great effect that I really like with the darker blue shining out beneath. It also did a great job of articulating the gunport covers.

The Chicora and all the ironclads of the Charleston Squadron are described as being variously painted as pale blue, then perhaps changed to a tan color, or maybe even whitewashed to reduce the heat off the armor. I, of course, opted for the pale blue. I looked over what I had and decided that paler was probably better. I used Vallejo Sky Blue (FS3550) from the RAF Mediterranean Model Air set. It’s very light and I think I used three coats. Then I thinned the Vallejo Black Wash and gave it a light dousing to bring out the armor.

I painted many metal pieces like galley stacks, boat davits and spar torpedo bits Vallejo Neutral Grey. Guns were painted black and highlighted with charcoal. Stacks were painted black and highlighted with Neutral Grey and lookie they’re done. Not a tough build or paint job.

My newer ships I’m mounting on 1.5mm acrylic bases by Litko. They are about two bucks a base with shipping, so not unreasonable. It allows me to clearly use the mat color as my background, rather than trying to match whatever I did 30 years ago. I may do some re-mounting as well and that might mean some repainting too. But I’m retired so who cares.

August has been a pretty productive month. I’ve finished 44 figures in the Philippines, wrapped up the Wilmington and North Carolina, as well as Raleigh and Chicora. I’ve got ten P-38J fighters that are asking for my attention and should be done some time this week. Life is good.

Finishing Projects–The Philippine-American War

Despite its spindly legs that will no doubt lead to disaster some day, 1898 Miniaturas’ figure of Henry Lawton is my favorite of their figures. Great proportions and the right amount of detail is the hallmark of this range.

I don’t know how others do it, but like most wargamers I have more than one thing going on. In a moment of Covid-boredom, I counted my projects. There are over 40–something like 43. Some, like my Song of Drums of Tomahawks project–Beaver Wars in the 17th century–are quite small-26 figures. Others, like my Hundred Years War project are massive and beyond numbers. I’d guess at over a 1,000 with many, many unpainted figures.

Mounted U.S. Cavalry by Old Glory. Very serviceable figures. Flag by 1898 Miniaturas.

So wrapping up a big project is a big deal. Today I finished my last figures for the Philippine-American War. For those not in the know, this little-known conflict lasted from 1899-1903 and was fought by the United States against armed rebels throughout the Philippine archipelago. It’s different than Moro rebellion which officially began later, and was largely confined to Mindanao.

A glimpse inside my box o’Republican infantry. All figures by 1898 Miniaturas

No, I had a specific reason for choosing the Philippines. I view the conflict as America’s most important foreign imperial experience including regular troops and volunteers from all over the U.S. America suffered about 4,200 war dead and the conflict offered a preview of what fighting a guerrilla war in Asia might look like. Though the U.S. achieved its war aims but the cost to the Filipinos was horrendous as death estimates vary from 200,000 to three million. The army that fought the war included elements of local Washington volunteers-the kind of thing that always gets my attention. I was at a point where I was really interested in a colonial project and I decided this was it.

Gatling by 1898 Miniaturas. This is the only failure I see by these guys. Way too many tiny pieces to assemble without any direction. Detail is great, assembly was spotty.

Three years ago (2017) I began buying figures for the project. I was drawn to the 1898 Miniaturas figures though I took at look at the Old Glory range and Tiger Miniatures as well. It was clear that the basics of the range had to be from 1898, but there were also holes, and I could fill those from the other makers. I detailed availability here. Today I’ll finish basing the final unit.

Tiger figures–Drigg-Schroeder 1 pdr with Marine crew. Despite all the very full moustaches i like the animation of these guys.

Overall this was a project based on the 1898 range. I estimate 350 of the nearly 500 figures were from 1898. They were a pleasure to paint. The figures were varied and authentic. The American Krag-Jorgensen rifles were very Krag-like with their goofy side-loading magazines. The Philippine militia had lots of varied weapons, poses and dress. Just some great stuff. I have just one complaint: though the American cannon and crew were great, the Gatling guns with fiddly bits a-go go were just overreach. There are lots of great Gatlings out there, but these had too many pieces with no explanation of where they go. The detail is great, but in the end I assembled it incorrectly

Another one of my favorites. Tagalog infantry with shooting stuff. 1898 Miniatures.

I used lots of Old Glory figures for the Americans. Never underestimate the quality of these figures. The Marines look like Marines, the sailors work, and having the volunteers captures the difference between the better armed regulars and those who were in the Philippines in greater numbers and made do with less. They may not stand out like the 1898’s but they definitely do the job. I used extras as members of gun crews.

Washington Volunteers head into action. Figures by Old Glory. Flag by 1898 Miniaturas with lettering by, well, me.

Tiger Miniatures has some great weapon and accessories packs, but the crews and infantry figures seem large and caricatured. They aren’t terrible, but just not my first or second choice for large numbers of troops. Their extra bits, however, are very useful.

This was a great painting project, but I’m glad it’s finished. Now the big challenge will be getting a chance to play with it. Count on a Philippine scenario for Enfilade 2021 using The Men Who Would Be Kings, all things being equal. I still have some terrain to build, but most of it is done. On to other things.

Philippine figures

1 X 12 Spanish deserters (1898 Miniaturas)

10 X 12 Philippine Republic Infantry (1898 Miniaturas)

6 X 18 Philippine militia armed with bolos and rifles. (1898 Miniaturas)

3 X 4 Latanka cannon (1898 Miniaturas)

3 X 3 Command stands (1898 Miniaturas)

Total- 261 figures

American Forces

3 X 12 Figures U.S. Regulars (1898 Miniaturas)

3 X 12 Figures U.S. Dismounted Cavalry ((1898 Miniaturas)

4 X 12 Figures U.S. Volunteers (Old Glory)

2 X 12 Figures U.S. Marines (Old Glory)

2 X 12 Figures U.S. Sailors (Old Glory)

1 X 12 Figures Philippine Constabulary (Tiger Miniatures)

1 X 8 Figures Mounted U.S. Cavalry (Old Glory)

1 X 4 unlimbered and 1 X 4 limbered Colt Machine gun (Tiger Miniatures)

1 X 4 unlimbered mountain howitzer (Tiger Miniatures)

1 X 4 unlimbered Marine 1 pdr. (Tiger Miniatures)

1 X 7 mule train (Tiger Miniatures)

2 X 4 3.2″ field guns (1898 Miniaturas)

2 X 4 Gatling guns (1898 Miniaturas)

4 X 1 mounted command figures (1898 Miniaturas)

Total= 231 figures

Working With War Times Journal and Brown Water Navy models.

Though it’s been a while since my last post, it isn’t because I haven’t done anything. I played a couple of games with Michael and George. I’ve also played played a couple of games on Dave Schueler’s lawn under a pop-up tents.

More than anything however, I’ve ridden the Covid wave and stayed home. I’ve been working away on my Philippine project and have the batch of figures left at one unit of twelve figures. They’ll be done soon enough and I’ll write a review an overview of those miniatures and that project.

The last few days, I’ve been working on ships from a couple of new (to me) companies and I thought I’d share my experiences with those.

Let me start with War Times Journal. When I began my Tiny Ships project a few months back that seems like an eternity I said straight up I wanted the very nice little ships from Germany I wouldn’t have to paint. I’ve pretty much stuck with that, and I have lots of excellent ships for my nascent American navy. Lots I’ve gotten used. Some I mortgaged my house for (wait, no that’s an exaggeration I think.) In any case I have lots of great ships.

But ship acquisition has kind of hit a wall. Why? Two very good reasons. First, in all things, is Covid. The cute, nicely painted tiny ships come from Germany and Austria. If you try to order anything from Germany and Austria at the present time, the only thing they can send you is the virus. Wee ships are almost impossible to get. The shipping time, if at all, is very long, and the cost is very high. That also means American suppliers have a really hard time re-filling their stock. So picking up new ships right now is challenging.

There is a second problem, and that is that American ships can sometimes be hard to come by because they are overlooked. Hai actually makes a lot of the American fleet from 1883-1895, but those ships are, if anything, more difficult to get than the more readily produced Navis ships.

However, one company that does produce those American ships in the United States is War Times Journal. They use that wonderful 3D printing process to produce a wide range of ships in a variety of scales and plastic media. Of course, at 1/1250 scale, these are wee tiny kits that will require some modeling for masts and painting. But they also make some ships that are at the very least difficult or impossible to get, so I jumped and ordered the American armored ship Texas, and the protected cruiser Raleigh. Texas was at Santiago Bay and Raleigh was with Dewey at Manila Bay.

Nothing moves very fast these days, and it took three weeks or more to get my order. The two ships were quite small and printed in DLP plastic, so smooth surfaced. They also come pre-holed to take the two masts needed for each ship. Both also were studded with tiny plastic vertical supports. They can be removed with a sharp knife. They prevent “barrel droop” and contribute to very crisp printing of the superstructure, but are really annoying.

Neither miniature is as long as three inches, though Texas, about 3,000 tons heavier than Raleigh is more robust. Both have excellent detail. Probably more than my metal models. I began by soaking them overnight in water and dishwashing detergent to get rid of that nasty release stuff residue. Then I stuck them to a popsicle stick with white glue and spray primed them. Mistake. If I order again, and that seems quite likely, I’ll glue them with a spot of CA glue. White glue simply leaves too much residue and that was a bit of a problem when I pulled them off their temporary home.

Painting was pretty easy. I used a craft white paint for the lowers and Vallejo Yellow Ochre for the buff uppers. Not too orange and close to the buff of the American Navy ships. Gun barrels are all painted craft charcoal. I did decide to do a bit of detailing and outlined the sponson gun positions in Vallejo Sky Grey which is pretty light, but a nice contrast against the white hull.

WTJ Raleigh was a pleasure to built. Raleigh was an American “barely-protected” cruiser commissioned in 1892. Served with Dewey at Manila Bay, and thus ate from the fruits of victory.

I also had to fabricate masts. My .006 brass wire was too small, so I foolishly relied on some of the K & S .010 wire I bought at Hobby Lobby some time ago. Mistake!! Double mistake!! This is vacuum sealed and despite care used in opening the package it’s impossible to peel it out of the packaging without bending the shit out of it in several different directions. I was able to use it, but not all of it. What a silly waste. I encourage you to use something else. If you can get your brass wire loose, that’s probably the best arrangement.

The Texas is hard to classify. It was classified as a second class battleship, as an armored cruiser, and ultimately just an armored ship. It was small at just over 6,000 tons, heavily armored, really slow, and mounted two twelve inch guns in single turrets. Despite all its shortcomings, Texas performed admirably at Santiago Bay.

I also wanted to include the fighting tops. I took Dave Schueler’s suggestion and crafted those out of 1/8″ plastic rod. I cut it small with a razor saw and sanded with a bit of fine sand paper. I used photos of both ships from John Alden’s wondrous American Steel Navy to help me with masts, positioning fighting tops and colors. Voila. Finis. I highly recommend the WTJ miniatures and I’ve ordered a few more-protected cruiser Chicago, protected cruiser New Orleans and captured Spanish protected cruiser Isla de Luzon.

The other manufacturer I’d like to preview are American Civil War ships by Shapeways designer Matthew Lawson’s range of Brown Water Navy ships. Lawson’s work includes 1/600, 1/1200 and 1/2400 ACW. He also has 1/1250 ships for a variety of countries including some of my tiny ships interests. Oh dear.

I ordered three Confederate ironclads. I wanted ships that weren’t a copy of Thoroughbred’s work or ships available from Bay Area Yards. Given the number of 1/600 ACW ships available has actually shrunk as Bay’s offerings have diminished, it was important to give it a try. I ordered the North Carolina, the Palmetto State and the Wilmington. North Carolina was one of the six Richmond class ironclads built largely in accordance to John L. Porter’s designs to create a class of ironclad ram that was smaller (150 ft. length) than the Virginia and more easily built, armored and engined using resources available to the Confederacy. Unfortunately the North Carolina was given a tugboat engine, was severely underpowered, never painted and served most of its career as a floating battery.

Palmetto State is more or less based on the Richmond design, but was shaped somewhat differently than her Charleston sister, the Chicora. They were both kinda purty in their pale blue paint scheme.

Wilmington was never completed. The most interesting feature of its design is the two large casemates each with seven embrasures to handle two large guns on pivot mounts and a maximum field of fire.

The order to Shapeways was processed more quickly than promised. The ships probably arrived a week early. They were very clean and printed on “white natural versatile plastic” which is another term for “not quite smooth and there’s nothing you can do about it so live with it.” The first thing I noticed was the size of the Palmetto State. It seemed small. I compared it to the North Carolina. I compared it to the my Thorouhbred Richmond. Small. Donald Canney lays out the particulars of the building of the Palmetto State. He does not suggest it was shorter than the Richmond class design. I set this one aside.

Instead I grabbed North Carolina and Wilmington and decided to start with them. I put them through the soaking regimen glued them to popsicle sticks and primed ’em. The ships are pretty light, which is weird. There are some details on the largely plain surfaces of the ships. Both have decent ship’s boats printed on them. The Wilmington has lots of vents. Both have what look like gratings. I thought it was important to do as much painting with them as possible.

I painted the decks Vallejo Deck Tan. I know there are probably folks who would like this to be a little lighter or a little more yellow. For me, I think it’s a go-to color and I’ll stay with it. The next step was to paint the hull and casemates. It is likely neither of these ships would have been painted and would have a lead gray color. I painted the hull, casemates, vents, and all the deck details Vallejo Neutral Grey to start with. Then I painted the NC casemate deck tan, before attempting to paint the gratings on both ships. It was challenging, but I lived through it. They look okay. Then I painted the funnels black.

Next it was on to some detailing. I layered some dry brushed colors. Started with Vallejo Light Grey and went to the lighter Vallejo Sky Grey. Then I added a light brushing of Vallejo Natural Steel. I finished by adding some dribbles of thinned Vallejo Desert Yellow for rust, and tried not to overdue it. I added some dry-brushed Neutral Grey to the funnels and shot the whole business with Dullcote. When dry, it seemed like they needed something, so I added flagstaffs and my last spare Confederate naval ensigns to each ship.

Wilmington based on its cool design.

I enjoyed working on these ships. I was really disappointed with the Palmetto State. So my experience is kind of varied. I did order some of the 1/1250 ships for my Tiny Ships project, so maybe I’ll have better news to report.

Addendum–Matthew Lawson reached out to me and offered to replace my Palmetto State miniature, while acknowledging it should be longer. That’s a pretty amazing offer in my book. Thanks Matthew.

Last night I ordered from both WTJ and Brown Water Navy. I laid out my WTJ ships, but decided to try out BWN’s 1/1250 ships, including the two Chilean Presidente cruisers, as well as the American monitor Monterey, which floated across the ocean to serve in the Philippines during the Spanish American War. Am excited to receive both orders.

Rigging ABC’s

Dunderberg 11

Stern quarter view of Bay Area Yards Dunderberg really shows all the rigging I did.  It’s spare, but enough to show I rigged it. 

My Ship Udda Month Club took on a life of its own in July.  It ended up being three ships, though I’ve stowed the Smyth Shipyard for the time being.

First let me emphasize that though everything seems fiddly and tedious, building Mississippi, Tuscarora and Dunderberg were labors of love. None of the ships came out perfectly-there’s bowed ratlines and rigging wire I wish could have cut closer-but in each case I learned something.  Probably the most important thing I learned from the experiences is not to be afraid of rigging these miniatures. In the great scheme of things that means little.  It doesn’t solve the coronavirus pandemic, improve the economy or bring racial justice to the United States, but it does mean I shouldn’t be afraid of hauling my remaining unbuilt ship models out of their special hiding place giving them just a little something extra. Nothing I have ever done in this hobby has given me more pleasure

Supplies and Tools: You don’t need a ton of anything to rig a ship model.  I like pre-formed photo-etched brass ratlines.  I use those from Battlefleet Models.  Unfortunately these folks are out of business.  Their work is being reproduced by a Chinese company called Oceanspirit. They’re not expensive, but it’s important to be strategic about how to best use the selection of sizes available.  You should be able to get two ships out of a single sheet.  Atlantic Models also produces pre-formed ratlines, though I have no experience with them.  I use .006 brass wire from Detail Associates.  It’s sold on the web and it is marketed to model railroaders. A five pack of wire is enough to rig two ships and it isn’t expensive. Shipping it is expensive so buy lots.

The tools are pretty basic.  CA glue with the skinny cap applicators. I use floss scissors for embroidery for cutting wire and ratlines and-most importantly-cutting excess wire. after rigging pieces dry.  Though I have really small hands and fingers, tweezers are invaluable. A pin vise is also really handy for drilling holes for rigging stays.

Dunderberg 12

Another view of Dunderberg shows of the model’s clean lines. 

Mississippi 12

Another look at Mississippi shows the simple rigging plan.

Here are three suggestions I can offer from my experiences that may help if you are interested in building and rigging your ships miniatures.

A.  Be patient, find a systematic approach.  When I was working 40 or more hours a week I was a regular painter and everything was a rush to get done. I had maybe an hour each day to work on stuff.  I confess I am no longer in that position and my time is mostly my own. Rushing to rig a ship will leave you frustrated and dissatisfied. Finding logical steps to rigging a ship is really important.

I start by doing the standing rigging or ratlines. I use preformed ratlines for standing rigging.  I do those first in two stages:

  1. After cutting them from their photo-etched sprues, I attach them from the top.  Then I find something else to do for a couple of hours, or overnight.  Keep ’em straight.  Once they’re glued on they are a nightmare to remove.
  2. Glue the bottoms.  Here are things to think about. Does your ship have rails for the ratlines?  Line them up to use them.  Dunderberg didn’t and I actually had to cut around gunports.

Things to think about ratlines. Be sure your ratlines are too long and cut them later or you’ll be muttering  profanities at your incomprehensible stupidity.   Ooooh, and one more thing spray prime and spray paint your ratlines in advance.  Painting them by hand, once on your ship is torture and you will not be happy. If you don’t use pre-formed ratlines and prefer individual strands of wire, that’s fine, but again be sure to do it before you take on the running rigging.  Doing it after won’t allow you to the space you need to do a good job. I think of it as working from inside to outside.

Dunderburg 8

This line drawing from Donald Canney’s Old Steam Navy: the Ironclads shows the simple two mast arrangement for Dunderberg.  It also shows the pretty simple rigging anticipated.

Then it’s on to running rigging, which I do with fine wire. The first ship I ever tried to rig was a Thoroughbred Hartford.  I did it with pre-stretched thread.  I did my very best, but the rigging still drooped.  I know folks use thread and have lots of success. It didn’t work for me, so I use wire. A few suggestions

  1. Keep it simple.  These are game pieces.  I intend for them to touched, played with and handled by others.  Accidents are inevitable. How will others move your ships?  How will others touch them to move them.  Hopefully they’ll be careful, but nearly 30 Enfilades tell me someone will accidentally or carelessly stick a finger between masts and yards and a tiny piece of wire will be shed.  There will be sympathetic apologies.  Acknowledge them and move on.  Nothing to see here.  If you think that isn’t going to happen, leave ’em on a shelf and you won’t be disappointed.
  2. What is your rigging plan?  Rigging in three dimensions is nice.  Does it go up and down, front to back and side to side. Your ratlines already go up and down so you’re covered.  I suggest looking at photos if possible.  There are books with lot of pictures.  There is a whole internet out there with free pictures.  You may even be able to track down a line drawing. The bottom line is to have a plan.
  3. When attaching each piece of rigging, plan for wire wastage.  Cut those pieces a little long–not silly long.  Know where the glue is going to go–and get it there.  I try to get one end in place and then the second end.  Let it dry and cure fore at least a couple of hours-mow the lawn, take the dogs for a walk.  Sometimes I’ll do two pieces at a time.   Come back and cut off the excess.  I use a finger to keep some pressure on the end I’m cutting.  It’s less likely to pop off and open that valve of profanities I was talking about earlier.

Dunderburg 8

This photo, also from Canney, shows Dunderberg as Rochambeau in French service. Note the location of the mainmast yards in the picture.  It differs from the line drawing Also confirms the simple rigging and the supports for the funnel.

B.  CA glue is your friend; you just need to train it. There are lots of different adhesives out there.  I use CA glue or Super Glue or Crazy Glue or whatever you wish to call it.  My brand of choice is Zap Medium CA+ with the green label.  It dries fairly quickly, and it also dries finally, so be sure you really want to put that there. I’m sure other kinds of glue can work as well, I just don’t know what they are and don’t use them.  I also recommend buying a pack of the glue caps with the long narrow tips.  They really do help get the right amount of glue to the right place.  They clog up.  I steal lots of the plastic-

Tuscarora 3

Completed Tuscarora shows the simple rigging, given the loss of upper yards.

knobbed pins my wife uses for quilting to clear the tip.  I don’t tell her.  It’s also easy to just cut the end off the tip until it’s far enough down that it makes sense to replace it.

C. Finding the ideal place to glue.  If you look at photos or rigging diagrams, there are usually good suggestions.  Toby Barrett with Thoughbred figures sends a rigging diagram with each of his masted ships. Rigging to masts or yards are fairly easy.  Stays to the gaff booms are really tricky.  The top end goes to that boom so you have one end covered, but what about the end that would normally attach to a cleat?  Thoroughbred models have cleats–usually not where I need them.  Bay ships have nothing. You could simply glue them to the place where the hull side and the deck intersect.  It’s often hard to get a drop of glue in the right place, but if you’re careful that’s manageable.

However, I learned a valuable lesson while building the Dunderberg. First, that miniature is very large, very clean and very well-cast. It is also very simple-as the actual vessel was. There was no place to put gaff stays because there are no hull walls. I decided to drill small holes in the decks using a pin vise and glue one of the ends in the hole.  It worked great.  In fact it worked so well I will do it on all my future builds including metal ships.  It insures uniformity in the rigging and I will be a happier camper.

Tuscarora or wyoming

Rigging Tuscarora was developed from this photo.  Thought seriously about sails, questioned my sanity and moved on.

Tuscarora 2

Another view of Tuscarora by Thoroughbred Figures. Just a wonderful model to build. Terrific detail and fun to work on.  The hammock netting posed a bit of a challenge to making the ratlines straight.

Just want to close with a thanks to those whose work I saw on the old Bay Area Yards website–Pat Hreachmark, and others.  My friend George Kettler’s work has always been an inspiration.  Sometimes it just takes some doing and being willing to make mistakes to develop the confidence to take on the next big thing and I’m feeling good about this.  August’s ships will take another step as the ships get a bit bigger with a Thoroughbred Hartford and a Bay Minnesota on the stocks. Looking forward to it.

 

 

Completing the USS Mississippi

Mississippi 14

Another June has flown by, er crawled by. There were some good things that happened, but the germ certainly puts a damper on things.

I actually squeezed a few games in during June. That was a step in the right direction. There’s little question I was more mobile in June than in May, which seemed like a good idea at the time. However, as infections accelerate in Washington state generally and Pierce County specifically, I may find myself throttling back a bit this month.

I continue to work on my Philippine project, and I also wrapped up some 1/300 American transports from WWII. I have them, therefore I’ll paint them. I expect July will be the same. More planes and more Americans for the Philippines.

However, my biggest June accomplishment was getting started on the 1/600 Bay Area model of the Mississippi. In my last post I showed the beginnings of the project but just in case you’re interested in doing a similar miniature with masts and rigging, I thought I’d walk you through the project.

Just as preface, however overall this is a miniature I’m really proud of. It’s one I’ve learned a lot from and it is not perfect. The Mississippi joins my fleet of 83 1/600 scale ACW ships from a variety of manufacturers, including some scratch-built models by Larry Enoch.

I bought the Mississippi as a kit from Bay Area Yards. It came with the hull, the masts and guns, so all I needed was to do the miniature. I probably could have given a little more attention to preparation and sanded some bits smoother. Except in the stern, which needed a little bit of shaping, the few irregularities in the casting didn’t become apparent until the ship was assembled primed. The Bay guns are very nice. They are quite detailed and sized properly for the ship. There were 18 eight-inch Navies, a large Dahlgren on a pivot mount for the bow ten inch gun, and a small rifled gun for the stern pivot. The mast set was also nice, though I would have liked to see a bit longer yards, but now I’m just being picky.

I began by assembling the hull bits. The long smokestack was separate and cast nicely in resin. The guns are metal. I used Donald Canney’s Old Steam Navy to help me position things properly. When all was glued down properly I cut a piece of sheet styrene for the ship’s base. Mistake number one, I used a piece of plastic that was too thin. It was an old hunk I had laying around. Ideally I’d use something like .050 inches, and this was more like .030. By the time the ship was done it was a bit bendier than I’d like. Sigh.

After priming it was on to painting. Painting masted ships for the Civil War is always a bit excruciating for me because there is an important decision to make: dress black or wartime gray? In fact, there is a terrific picture of Mississippi in Navy Gray shortly before she was sunk on the Mississippi in 1863.

300px-USS_Mississippi_1863

This is a great photo of Mississippi.  Note the shortened yards and top masts.  The ship is painted in wartime gray including the prominent smokestack.

However, Mississippi is an important historic ship. Yes, it was at New Orleans and was sunk near Port Hudson, yadda, yadda. But it was Commodore Matthew Perry’s flagship when he sailed with a squadron of American vessels to compel Japan to open up to western trade in 1853-4. That was the Mississippi I wanted to build–black with a thin white stripe.

Mississippi 11

The outer hull was painted with just a craft black paint, with the interior hull painted a craft white paint.  The deck color is Vallejo Deck Tan, which I like a lot because it isn’t too bright. After looking at a photo of the gun carriages for the Dahlgren guns on the USS Constellation in Baltimore harbor, I went with Vallejo Light Grey for the gun carriages.  I added black wheels and gave a quick daub of charcoal to the barrels. Painting the white stripe was interesting and challenging, but I stuck with my white craft paint knowing it would take multiple coats and touch ups. The protrusions for standing rigging, and the location of the stripe made masking impossible, and honestly I’m okay with how it turned out. When all was done, I lightly dry-brushed the hull and stack with Vallejo Neutral Grey just to give it a slightly weathered look. 

I moved on to the masts.  They needed some assembly as the yards and booms needed to be glued to them.  They all fit well, though I managed to stick the wrong top yard on each mast.  Not a big deal.  After assembly, I primed them and then glued them to the hull.  They fit nicely.  Then it was on to paint.  Black lower masts and yards, white upper masts. I painted the furled sails with a craft Ivory paint and used Vallejo buff to paint in the folds, just for a little contrast.  I used the Neutral Grey to paint shrouds. 

At this point, the builder has a decision to make.  For me, all of my ships are game pieces and I expect other people are going to handle them.  At this point is appropriate for any person building for this purpose to say “Whoa!, I’m done,” deal with the base, spray it with Dullcote and declare victory. But if you want a challenge and a bit more inspiring finish, I’ll share what I did.

I’ve rigged other ACW ships.  Some were super simple and easy, and others were more involved.  Twenty or so years ago I did the Thoroughbred Hartford.  It’s a great model with lots of amazing bits.  I rigged it with thread.  Mistake.  Unless you can really reef on it the thread will always begin to loosen  and droop. I pulled it out to look at it yesterday-surprise-still rigged, but still droopy.   I’m pretty sure I bought th pre-stretched thread, but because we can’t deal with firmly-anchored masts thread was a loser for me. I also built and rigged the Thoroughbred Mohican (as Kearsarge) and Alabama.  They were rigged with .006 brass wire.  It was doable but challenging.  That was probably twelve or so years ago.  I had no pre-formed ratlines, but made do. 

I tried something a little different with Mississippi and began the rigging process with pre-formed ratlines.  Mine are from Battle Fleet Models.  I’m not sure they are still in business, but there are still some out there. There are a variety of sizes and shapes.  I had a somewhat slightly used sheet of the photo-etched bits and tried to make some fit a purpose I shouldn’t have.  That was a mistake.  There are clearly some that fit the purpose well and I needed to do better planning.  I ended up ripping some off after they’d been CA glued in place.  Not a pleasant experience.  It actually slightly twisted the foremast.  Lessons learned.  But overall I like the look and am trying to track down more.

A couple of suggestions whether you are using these or Atlantic Models or the Ocean Spirit photo etched ratlines.  I primed and painted mine before sticking them on the ship. I used Tamiya white primer but whatever you have should work.  Then I sprayed them black.  I use floss scissors for all my rigging adventures.  They are tiny scissors for embroidery work, but strong enough to cut through the photo-etched metal and brass wire. They’re also great for working with decals for 1/300 scale airplanes.

After the ratlines, I’m ready to move on to other rigging.  I keep things generally simple and tend to favor rigging in straight lines from front to back. There is tons more you can do, but it’s now an enhanced game piece, the next step is museum piece. I use the thinnest brass wire I can get.  It’s by .006 inch by Detail Associates and is available on the web.  I want something I can cut easily with my floss scissors, don’t want to have to use metal cutters.  I usually cut my wire a little long and glue one end as flush as I can to the contact surface and try to get some stick before attaching the second end.  Then I let it sit.  At least thirty minutes, maybe longer.  I go mow the lawn and come back.  Then when the glue has had time to cure, I cut whatever is leftover.  I think there are 14 pieces of wire on the Mississippi. After that, I carefully paint the rigging black. 

I did a bit of touching up and moved on to the base.  It seems I never paint two bases alike. I went with Vallejo Dark Prussian Blue, which took a couple of coats.  The I dry-brushed Vallejo French Mirage Blue over the top. Then it was painting the ripples and wake around the ship itself.  There is no right way to do this, but I was pleased with what I got. After that I covered the lot with Liquitex Clear Dense Gel Medium.  I wish I’d been a bit braver with this last step and sculpted it as well as David Sullivan, but I’ll just tip my hat to him and call it good.

Though I had planned to do a ship per month, I don’t think I’ll wait until August for my next ship.  Either the Bay Dunderberg or Thoroughbred Mohican will be next.

 

Army of Philippine Republic–box checked

Bolos 4

Nothing like a dutiful priest to stoke the locals with revolutionary fervor.  Even if that fervor means ducking the odd arrow here and there.

Saturday morning I assembled some flags and glued them to figures and that wrapped up half of Philippine American War project. I’ve been working on these figures for nearly three years, so that’s big doin’s.

Republicans 1

Republican rifle units and command stands in the lower left.

Republicans 2

Lantaka cannon were home-made, mostly cast from church bells.  Can’t imagine they were particularly effective or safe for the gun crews.

The Republican army doesn’t have a lot of variety.  There are either  tribal militias with hand weapons and some fire arms they don’t know how to use.  The good news is they are enthusiastic and  aren’t afraid to rip out your liver. Then there are the Republican infantry.  When they fought the Americans on even terms, in earthworks outside of Manila in 1899, they just weren’t very impressive.  They were skittish and poor shots.  Despite having weapons equal to the American volunteer units facing them, they gave up strong defensive positions after little resistance, giving little damage to the attackers.

Bolos 3

While I can’t imagine the bolo-armed locals really want to go toe-to-toe with the Americans, they can be really nasty if sprung on the imperialists from cover.

Things became a bit more interesting as the Americans moved into the hills of northern Luzon, and the rivers bays and lakes of the southern part of the island.  The war took on more of an insurgent aspect, with much more movement, supply concerns and amphibious operations.  This also was the standard condition on the islands other than Luzon.

Still quite a few Americans to paint.  Mostly infantry and dismounted cavalry, but I do have one mounted unit.  There are also some guns, which I am working on now, and a pair of standard Gatling guns.  These are likely to see less action because they’re just too hard to schlep through the jungle in a monsoon, and are more likely to get dumped in a rice paddy somewhere.

IMG_2803

The Miniaturas 1898 3.2″ American field gun is a splendid model with very animated crew figures.  One of the crews (left) is loading, while the right crew is firing.  Highly recommended.

I continue to distract myself with other small groups of stuff, like airplanes, just to break up the monotony of sameness.  I’m working on a second group of four American transport planes.  Why?  Because I have them and they need paint.  I have a few other batches of planes to work on too.  Another project I’d like to work on this summer are my 1/1200 ships for David Manley’s Cod Wars.  They should be fun and not terribly painful.

Finally, Michael Koznarsky and I have chatted up the idea of tackling our backlog of 1/600 scale ACW ships.  Neither of us have dozens of ships, but we’ve both got some.  Michael has five and I have probably eight. We decided to form the Ship of Da Month Club and try to get one ship done each month starting in July.  My first ship is the Bay Area Yards Mississippi. I am especially attracted to this sidewheel frigate because of its role as Matthew Perry’s flagship in his expedition to Japan in 1854.  Thus it will probably end up in black rather than Civil War navy gray.

With the model under construction, I would just like to comment that it is a very good miniature.  Easy to assemble, and the bits are quite nice. The guns are the right mix of 8″ Dahlgren smoothbores, a ten inch Dahlgren pivot and the little light Parrott in the stern pivot. The masts are nice and large, though I think the yards aren’t quite the right length.

The Mississippi under construction.  The final panel is what I hope the Mississippi will look like when complete.

Mobile 2 and Tiny Ships 1: Step into the light

Mobile 1

George in the foreground takes a selfie while Michael and I shoot the breeze.  Talking games in-person was pretty special.

My last post was a getting ready to game story.  Today 48 hours later a post about my first two pandemic game sessions.  The world changes quickly, ya gotta keep up.

We’ve been scheming for a game at George Kettler’s excellent game space for a couple of weeks no.  Yesterday I braved the road construction in Steilacoom to get to George’s house to game some Ironclads with he and Michael Koznarsky.

I cobbled together a scenario featuring a Confederate relief of Mobile using the usual suspects-large sidewheel ram Nashville, Fort Morgan survivor Morgan, and the poorly everything rams Tuscaloosa and Huntsville.  Their mission was to come down the Blakely River, make a U-turn and get off the board heading to Mobile. They had some advantages in that they were mostly armored, and had decent armament.  The downside is they were slow and not soooo well armored that well placed hits wouldn’t do damage. George and Michael took the Confederates, understanding the grotesque challenges facing them.

Mobile 8

The Confederates emerge from the Blakely River and exchange shots with the Union at long range. Morgan in the foreground  while the Osippee and Nashville exchange fire.

The Union interception force were the double-end gunboat Conemagh, the 2nd class sloop Osippee, and the captured Confederate ram Tennessee.  The Tennessee is a monster, but a really slow monster.  The two wooden ships were fast and reasonably well armed, but wooden ships nonetheless. I ran the Yankees.

Mobile 9

George’s spectacular Housatonic by Bay Area Yards stood in as the Osippee.  The Confederates were pretty mean to her.

The game began clearly in the Union favor as Morgan was pounded early and forced out away from the combat.  But the little gunboat could reach out and touch the Union wooden ships with her Brooke rifles at long range, and did.  I had a streak of early good die rolls that ripped into Nashville and damaged her steering that in the early stages kept her from fully participating too.

But whenever possible, the Confederates concentrated their fire on the Osippee and the big ship was reduced to ineffectiveness as it suffered repeated telling hits including losing the 11-inch pivot gun, and as it was forced to turn for home was sunk in a hail of 7″ shot.   Conemagh, leading the Union ships was able to escape the worst of the damage, but it did not come through unscathed. It did send the Tuscaloosa to the bottom with a shot from its 100 pound rifle, opening a seam and flooding the bow compartments. Tennessee occupied the middle of the table and was simply a fortress, exploding at which ever ship ventured into it’s broadside angle.

It was a fun, well-played game that was a perfect way to get back to the game table.  We agreed the Confederates were likely to get Huntsville and Nashville off the table, giving the Confederates an advantage in victory points.

George and I both had our ships in the game, the table looked great and it was fun. Michael was the charts-master and did a super job.  We had a great time just shooting the breeze sharing dog-stories and baseball fan experiences, and George was a gracious host.  We’ll do it again soon

I dashed home and began work on the ship cards I’d need for today’s adventure, a trip to Panzer Depot to try out David Manley’s Fire When Ready rules with our 1/1250 scale ships.  We agreed it would be a test game, with the rules modified to work with our small ships-protected cruisers and gunboats.

The players were David Sullivan and Steve Poffenberger as the Germans running light cruisers Gazelle and Arcona and the gunboats Iltis and Luchs.

The two lines of ships snaked around each other, with one of the German gunboats taking an early smashing that disabled most of its guns.  But the German light cruisers with its sizable broadsides of 4.1″ guns dealt out terrific damage to the the Atlanta and Detroit.  They also were aided by the fact that David wasn’t missing his die rolls and I couldn’t hit to save my life.

Dave Schueler commanding, the gunboats Concord and Helena, took a course away from the American cruisers, both limited by critical propulsion damage, and ended up facing the German cruisers alone, and were both overwhelmed.  Helena was sunk by a torpedo, while Concord was forced from the action by gunfire.  I decided to withdraw the very beat up American cruisers and we called it good.

The game was very fun.  Only Dave S. had played the rules before and they were enjoyable and pretty darned easy to run.  We modified them a bit because the ships we were using were so small. It was a great game to break out our new ship acquisitions and try ’em out.

Most importantly, it was a great couple of days to get away, interact with friends and play games. Many thanks to George for sharing his photos with me.  I stupidly forgot to take any on Saturday.  Thanks to John Kennedy, the worthy proprietor of Panzer Depot for allowing us to play in his space.  Hope all who read this are staying safe and looking forward to their own game days.

 

 

Preparing To Get Back To The Game Table With Tiny Ships

It’s June and Pierce County, where I live, has entered Phase 2 of the state’s Covid management strategy.  I know many are unhappy with our governor’s plans, but I am somehow comforted by it. I think our state has done reasonably well as a result. Washington went from first in deaths in March to 19th in June, with Arizona and North Carolina poised to pass us.

That said, I couldn’t be happier to get my hair cut.  I ate a meal at my local Bob’s Burgers.  I’ve got a couple of games lined up this week with a possibility of one more. All of them will be small with those I know who have sheltered carefully.  I think everyone will be cautious as they breathe the air of freedom through their masks while working from home (if they can.)

While I worked like the devil to madly paint my 100 figures in May, it all caught up with me in June. I finally finished my first figures last night (June 9th,) my last unit of Philippine riflemen.  I have nine more command figures half finished that I hope to polish off in the next day or so.

I’ve managed to distract myself with the arrival of the Litko bases for my tiny ships project. While I did swear this would not be a new painting project, well . . . I lied, sort of.  I began by thinking the ships should not be based.  Then I picked up one of my tiny American gunboats and mangled the guns on the port side.  I just wasn’t being careful enough.  My thoughts immediately went to-if I the owner of these lovely miniatures can be thoughtless enough to injure them, what about a gamer at Enfilade recovering from Saturday’s hangover?  It was then and there I decided it was bases for me.

Basing is really all a matter of personal taste.  Balsa, bass wood, Litko plywood, sheet styrene-all great options and a matter of style. David Sullivan wrote an article about his basing  methods creating a 3D base on sheet styrene. It’s a super how-to if you’re interested.

I opted for a different route.  I used Litko’s base maker technology to order some acrylic bases.  I did this for my 1/600 coastal stuff, the merchants I was building for convoy duty.  More here.

This time I actually opted for the 1/8 inch thickness in two different sizes.  120 mm X 30mm for battleships and armored cruisers and 85mm X 25mm for protected cruisers and smaller vessels. Litko was closed during the pandemic, but they recently reopened and had my order to me very quickly.  They’ve become the go-to place for my basing needs.

Basing on clear plastic should be pretty easy, but nothing is ever very easy for me.  The challenge was to be sure there was good contact to the base and then carefully glue away while trying to sort of center the miniature.

Challenges!!

Navis ships don’t have filled in hulls, so it’s important to get a spot of glue on the bow, stern and each beam and try to carefully align on the base.  Saratoga Model Shipyard miniatures have slight more filled in hulls, so they were easiest to work with.  Hai hulls are filled in, but are often a little wavy so gluing them down properly can be a challenge.  The Charleston seemed almost glue repellent so getting it to stick was yikes!!.

Once glued down, I determined to paint a wake of some sort on the bases. I wanted to do it properly, and I’ve always just tried to wing it before. Because the internet has everything, I was able to find useful information on a variety of ship modeling sites and settled on something roughly like this:

Ship's wake

These patterns represent ships moving much faster than my 16 knot battleships, but I did decide on on a pattern that represents the spread of bow waves down the hull line.  I did my best using just a craft white paint, thinned out between the limit lines. Later I went over it with Liquitex Gel Gloss Medium, but I’m not sure it was worth that last step. It may not be perfect but it works for me. It looks good against my ocean mat.

Great White Cruisers

These are armored cruisers New York by Saratoga Model Shipyards  and Brooklyn by Navis

Great White Fleet 1

My quintet of American battleships beginning Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, Iowa and Oregon.  All models by Navis.

Not so great white fleet

Finally my collection of early cruisers and gunboats. Top row is Charelston by Hai, Boston by HL Ships and gunboat Wheeling by Hai.  The bottom row of ships are all by Hai.

This has been a really fun project so far.  I’m just looking forward to actually dragging the minis out and playing with them.  Will get a shot at that on Saturday.