Army of Philippine Republic–box checked

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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.

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Republican rifle units and command stands in the lower left.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Success! Cousin Kevin’s May Painting Challenge Completed!

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Philippine Republican infantry in mix of striped rayadillo uniforms “liberated” from Spanish supply depots in Manila in 1899.  Others wear mostly white.

I’m starting this post a little early.  Last night I finished 24 more Republicans, bringing me to 104 figures in the month of May.

100 figures is a lot to complete in a month. Well, it’s a lot for me at any rate.  When I threw down my latex gloves and posted the challenge, I had all kinds of silly things on my list of to-do’s, but in the end painting from a random assortment of goodies just doesn’t work well for me.  I’m pretty project-oriented, and as long as I’m working toward something big, I’ll get lots done.

In this case, I dragged out every Philippine figure I owned, cleaned it primed it and got it ready to paint.  When I began working I had 48 infantry, two guns and eight gunners and nine commanders to paint.  By Sunday, when this is all over, I’ll have no more than 12 infantry and the nine command figures left to go.

Just to give you, dear reader, a look into what all this means, this is what the completed Philippine army looks like

1 X 12  unit of Spanish mercenaries (yeah right, send me back to Cadiz please.)

9 X 12  units of Philippine Republic riflemen

5 X 18 units of local militia mixed bolo and shooters

3 X 3 command stands (because I like everything BIG with BIG command stands)

3 X 4 Lantaka artillery pieces (giggle)

Total 231 Philippine figures.

If anything there are more Americans  because there is a larger variety of troop types to draw from with regular and volunteer infantry, Marines, sailors, Philippine Constabulary, one mounted unit and a bunch of gun types.

To see how this all shakes out, completing the Americans will be my big summer painting project.

But I have more stuff I want to work on, because if I don’t I’ll pass out from sameness. Here are a few other items that will grab my attention:

  • 24 mounted longbowmen to wrap up my Lion Rampant longbow traveling circus.
  • A half dozen or so WWII  USAAF transports.
  • Two B-57 Canberra bombers and four F-100 Sabers in Vietnam camo.  They’re my guinea pigs painting the camo (and it freaks me out.)
  • Basing all my tiny ships when my Litko order comes, because those babies MUST be handled by the bases.
  • I ordered the Bay Area Yards Dunderberg, which just kind of grabs me.  But I also have several other 1/600, all masts all the time, along with some rigging wire, so I may try to do some of these bad boys too, as long as I don’t pull out all of my pandemic-long hair.

Doubtless there will be more that grabs at my ADD-like brain, but wrapping up the Philippine project and planning a game or two with them will be fun.

The Elephant In The Room: Will Covid Change Your Gaming?

Wallpaper 3D elephant

I’m here in Washington state which has had fairly tight regulations for gatherings.  We had an early shelter-in-place order, which led to a reasonably early shut down of our flagship game convention, Enfilade.  I have not gotten together to play a game since the end of February, and despite obvious yearnings and hopeful prayers, nobody I know is getting together to play a miniatures game.

Yes I’ve done some online gaming because . . . well, I just must.  I’ve painted until I can’t see straight-literally- I’m 64 and my very long hair hangs in my not so young eyes..  I haven’t played any solo board games only because my wife has become a full-time mask maker and taken over the entire dining room table.  That’s a lie, she’s become a part-time mask maker but she still has taken over the entire dining room table.

I’ve mostly avoided buying a pile of unpainted lead to add to my current pile of unpainted lead.  However I have invested mightily in my bunch of tiny ships.  No paint required.

But this is all a dodge.  This is Enfilade weekend. I’ve taken on more responsibility for next year’s convention and leadership in NHMGS.  We have an entire year to begin thinking about what that convention may look like.  The virus could still be with us even if a vaccine is available and could change everything. But we’ll deal with that later.

In theory, the state could begin opening up in a couple of weeks. Maybe you are in a state, a province or country that has already begun opening. Under phase 2, we could begin gaming in groups of five or less.  Game stores could open up.  Will you give attention to social distancing?  Run small games?  What about masks?

I ask because I don’t have the answers.  I’m anxious to get together with friends, none of whom are at high risk for infection.  But we are all exposed to those our friends are exposed to.  I have 87 year-old parents I like to visit.  I don’t want to put them at risk. Many of us have spouses who don’t need the germ.  Many of us are ourselves at risk due to age or contributing health factors.

I wish I had some new super cool thing to share with your or report. But rather than sharing some new toy or set of rules, this is real.  What will you do as the state enters Phase 2.  Game without worry or limits? Game with safety precautions? Temperature check at the door? Masks?  Wait for Phase 3?  What are your worries?  What can we agree on?

My Great Covid Adventure

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I’ve posted about my tiny ships and acquisitions.  But there are great local ties to some of those ships and I’ve really wanted follow up on them.  So today I said to hell with the lockdown I gotta get outta here and took a drive.

Just to be clear, I didn’t do anything unsafe.  I wore a mask when needed and kept social distancing, but I did get away for about six hours that took me across half of western Washington. My travels took me from Shoreline, just north of Seattle, to Woodland Park on Seattle’s Phinney Ridge, to Wright Park just above downtown Tacoma, out to Veteran’s Memorial Park near the Narrows Bridge.  Finally, there was the unexpected drive to the Veteran’s Museum in Chehalis.

I left South Hill and made it to the freeway entrance at 8:23. I didn’t know what to expect about traffic.  The daily traffic near my home seemed to simply grow after eight weeks of quarantine and I was prepared for a long slog up the “freeway of wasted lives,” but it wasn’t.  Traffic never slowed below 60mph, and at times it was easy to go 5-10 miles per hour faster. I followed 167 north to the the Kent-Des Moines and ducked up to I -5 heading north through the city. I exited I-5 and dodged up 15th NE to 150th and the entrance to Hamlin Park

I wanted to go to Hamlin Park in Shoreline.  Oddly, I was quite familiar with Hamlin.  It was near where I grew up in the 1960’s.  It was the park where Little League games were played.  We’d  wander through the trails when we held Cub Scout events there.   I remember an Easter egg hunt there.  I experienced my first make-out session in Hamlin Park.

But I don’t remember the two big steel guns in the lower park. There is a curious Facebook entry for the Shoreline historical museum that tries to fix the timeline for the guns’ arrival, but I just don’t think they have it right.  The guns weren’t in the park when I left for California in 1970.

The guns belong to the USS Boston, commissioned in 1887.  It was a ground-breaking ship, a member of the ABCD inductees into the new American steel navy. Commissioned as a “protected cruiser” along with the cruisers Atlanta, and Chicago, and the dispatch boat Dolphin.  The Boston  was armed with two eight inch 35 caliber guns, one each fore and aft.  They were in open mounts protected by a barbette.  The hull was pierced for six 6-inch guns, three per side.  The ship weighed in at over 3,000 tons powered by a not terrifically efficient coal fired engine that could make 14 knots.  But just to be sure she was given a full sail rig.

Some views of the USS Boston.  The line drawings in the upper left show the offset barbette arrangement of the two eight inch guns.  The sail rig is perfectly shown in the large photo right. A calm, composed photo of one of the America’s first steel warships At some time in 1899, while on a Far Eastern station, the sail rig was removed.

If the Boston seems somewhat primitive, it is not coincidental that the first steel ships were built in the early days of the American steel industry.  While Mr. Carnegie was becoming adept at quickly producing the steel rails that served the burgeoning railroad industry, it was new to the idea of bending the steel plates that went into building steel ships, or hardening the armor that would form their protection.  These early ships formed the aptly named “Squadron of Evolution.”

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Despite it’s limitations, the Boston was an important part of the early days of the New Navy.  It supported the overthrow of the legitimate Queen of Hawaii, Liliuokalani in 1892.  The Boston, perhaps most notably, was with Commodore Dewey at Manila Bay in 1898.  It represented the Navy at the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Astoria in 1805.  It offered aid and comfort to victims of the earthquake and fire in San Francisco in 1906. From 1911 to 1916 Boston was a training ship for the Oregon Naval Militia, and her days as a warship came to an end. Boston sailed to Bremerton and was converted to a supply ship, her guns removed. She would remain on duty as the USS Despatch, a receiving ship, a radio school until her demise in the scrapper’s yard in 1946.  A long life for a remarkable vessel.

The 30,000 pounds of steel that graces an area under the trees by Hamlin Park’s chief parking area are easy to see, and a short walk.  They are nicely displayed, with a plaque on each gun that tells of its achievements at Manila Bay.  Not unrealistic given that each gun would have been a separate battery.  But given the notably poor percentage of American shots that hit the mark at the stationary Spanish fleet in the Philippines, or the even more still Spanish fortifications, this may have been a bit of hyperbole.

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After about thirty minutes at Hamlin Park, it was time to move to another memorable park of my youth, Woodland Park.  Today, the park is kind of a spendy tourist destination that not only costs zoo admission, but parking fees as well.  Not so when I was young..  My mother and my aunt would often throw all their kids in the back of a station wagon and off we’d go to the zoo.  For free.  No costs.  And when I was really young, my uncle worked at the zoo and sometimes he’d take us places where we could see cockatiels and coatamundis up close. He had a special relationship with the penguins.

I have a real fondness for Woodland Park and it forms some of my earliest memories.  My grandparents lived on Phinney Ridge, and I have a dim memory of my grandfather taking me there, and being chased by a goose-because in those days they just wandered loose. Sigh.

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But one of my favorite places at the park was near the rose garden just outside the zoo.  There was a memorial to the Spanish American War veterans and some naval guns behind shields that seemed perfect for my excursion.  So I made my way south on Aurora, took 85th over to Greenwood which turns into Phinney and voila.  Grabbed a parking place near the green field where I should see the guns.  I was greeted by the grand Spanish American War Statue, but the guns . . . were gone. So I took a photo of the memorial and headed to my car in a huff.  Where could they have gone?

Dragged out my trusty iPad and typed out “removal of naval guns from Woodland Park,” and passed over the 2018 Seattle Times article I knew I couldn’t access. But this blog entry from Vintage West Woodland, explains how the Concord’s six-inch guns ended up in the Woodland Park War Garden and how they ended up there in the first place as “Battery Dewey. ”

I was so bummed.  Most of my visits to the zoo included climbing all over the guns in the War Garden at some point, though I had no idea they were from the Concord.

Concord was gunboat PG-3.  Another ship with an interesting history.   It was commissioned in 1891, at about 1,700 tons and was considered a “third-rate cruiser.” It was a member of the “Yorktown” class,” comprising three ships, Yorktown, Concord, and Bennington. Gunboats were used throughout the U.S. Navy and 13 official, numbered gunboats were in the fleet through 1906.  Concord was one of the larger PG’s and was armed with six inch guns instead of four inchers. It served with Dewey at Manila Bay, and then was stationed up and down the west coast, ending up in Seattle as a floating barracks for the Washington Naval militia.  The two guns were donated to the Woodland Park War Garden by the Spanish American War Veterans in 1915.  Concord was scrapped in 1929.

Oddly, the most recent ship ordered for my collection of Not-So-Great-White-Fleet ships was the Concord.

So where did the guns go?  Why, to one of Gene Anderson’s favorite places, the Chehalis Veterans Memorial Museum.  Could I squeeze a trip into my day?  Well maybe.

But my next stop was back in Tacoma, not far from my friend Tim’s house.  We’ve taken a look at it many times.  My suggestion was that it was a Spanish cannon, obvious from the markings, taken from the Spanish defenses of Manila Bay.  It was known many guns from those forts were quite obsolete, and with it’s casting date of 1784, that fit the bill.  What I didn’t quite get was the very light weight garrison carriage it was mounted on, which couldn’t possibly have been a stock item.  As with all things, the internet is your friend and Tacoma Metro Parks fills us in here.  Moro Castle, Santiago Bay. Wrong battle, but right idea. The markings on the barrel are really beautiful.

Wright Park is located  on the hill overlooking downtown Tacoma.  The cannon is on the northern edge of the park, east of the Seymour Botannical Observatory.

My next trip took me out to the Veterans Memorial Park on the Tacoma’s west side near the Narrows Bridge.  I wanted to get a picture of the bell from the USS Tacoma, a Denver-class light cruiser commissioned in 1904.  It was variously labeled a cruiser, a gunboat, and a scout cruiser.  Mostly the Tacoma served throughout Latin America, literally doling out “gunboat diplomacy” as needed.  Unfortunately the little cruiser, only 3,200 tons, was wrecked on a reef off Vera Cruz, Mexico while trying to show that government how to elect good men.  With the wreck sold off to a Mexican company, I guess it isn’t surprising we have a bell but no guns.

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With the clock showing about 12:15 and a projected arrival home set at 2:30, I had a choice.  I could call it a day early, or I could extend my trip to Chehalis and the Concord guns.  As long as traffic was decent, I knew I could make the trip easily.  In fact, except for a couple of loons on the road, the drive was pretty perfect. I made it to Chehalis at about 1:00.  Now where are those guns?

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I hoped they were in one of the fields near the museum as they had been at Woodland Park, but no such luck. Instead they were behind a chain link fence across the road from the Veteran’s Memorial Museum.  When the museum is open, access through the gate is also open.  Alas, closed for Covid 19. Pictures were a bit of a challenge, but I tried to maneuver the lens of my 35mm camera up to the gaps between the links.  I got a few decent shots, a lot more less decent.  It’s nice to know the Concord’s guns are being kept company by the dual purpose 5″/38 from the USS Colorado, and a F 105 Thunderchief.  It’s good to have friends.

 

The May Painting Challenge at Midpoint

 

Archers

Longbowmen painted in Cheshire livery for Dragon Rampant.  36 figures will be accompanied by 36 mounted archers in livery.  Hope to finish them in June.

Today is May 16th, the official median date of the May Painting Challenge. I hope all who are participating are finding some success and getting some stuff done regardless of whether they meet the 100 mini goal or not.  I’ve seen some fun stuff folks are working on and that’s great.

This morning I find myself on track to meet the hundred figure goal.  Yesterday I set myself up for the rest of the month, preparing figures to paint.

Here’s what I’ve finished so far.

Six 1/300 scale Scotia SBD’s in New Zealand markings.  Part of a future Rabaul project

24 28mm longbowmen in Cheshire livery for the HYW.  They are part of a Lion Rampant project that will see a fully mounted and dismounted retinue.

Eight 28mm Old Glory woodland Indians that go with my America Rampant project (reorganizing for Rebels and Patriots.)

Six 1/300 scale MSD A-6 Intruders  for a someday Vietnam project (but really I just wanted to paint some planes.)

18 28mm Tagalog bolomen for the Philippine-American War.

The total at this point is 62 figures.

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All my Philippine forces waiting to be primed and painted. Some assembly required.

I’ve prepared figures for the rest of May, but realistically it will probably take me into June.  They are my remaining Philippine figures for the Philippine American project.  Those are four units of Republican infantry, two Lantaka home-made cannon and crew, and nine command figures for command bases. That’s 67 figures, but it’s a nice wrap up to half the figures I need to complete this project.

artillery

These are the Miniaturas 1898 Tagalog Lantaka figures.  The Men Who Would Be King require four gunners per crew so I had to substitute some infantry for crewmen. Not far along yet, but making progress.

In addition, I’m getting seven WWII transports, mostly C-47’s but also a C-46 and a C-54 ready to paint.  Why?  Because I have them silly.  I have them, I may as well paint them.  They’re pretty basic, with USAAF Olive Drab over gray, which seems to be the standard scheme.

transports

A variety of planes and makers here.  I suspect a C-47, C-46, and C-54 by Scotia.  A second C-47 by a different maker. Three more C-47’s waiting to get started.

Hope your May is going well and your paint and paint brushes are holding up under the strain.

Painting the MSD A-6 Intruder

During the 1967/8 school year I was 12 years old and in the 7th grade.  I was a Boy Scout, albeit not a very good one.  I didn’t mind camping and cooking meals over a fire, but I wasn’t a very good hiker.  But we did lots of other stuff in addition to getting cold and wet in the great outdoors.  We also took overnight field trips.

One of our outings was to Oak Harbor Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island. It was a great trip.  We got to sleep in a barracks and eat in the mess hall.  We went to the rec center and shot pool.  Fun stuff.  But the highlight of the trip, at least for this twelve-year-old was seeing the planes.  The two I remember best were the big P-2 Neptunes that were being phased out to the P-3 Orions.  The others were the big black-nosed A-6 Intruders that may as well have been space ships to my eyes.

We got to crawl around in the big Neptunes that did coastal patrols, watching for Soviet submarines and chasing off Russian “fishing boats” that strayed a little too far inside territorial limits.  But the A-6’s belonged to some carrier air group rotated home from Yankee Station.

Anyway, Intruders have always had a place in my heart.  A few years ago I-94/Raiden miniatures had A-6’s on their production list, but they broke my heart again by not following through, sigh.  I’m slowly working my way through my sizable collection of Vietnam-era planes, starting with the Navy (why, because they’re easier to paint silly,) The only Intruder out there is offered by MSD Miniatures.  MSD is not my favorite, mostly because they aren’t consistent.  Some of their planes are great, some not so much. See previous comments about their Swordfish.

The big day came and the planes arrived.  I, of course, stashed them away for future consideration.  That day is now here, and I’ve been working on them.

First things first.  The A-6 was a big plane, and that’s clear from the miniature.  Not huge, but certainly good sized from the nose to behind the wings with a sizable tail assembly.  The miniature is pretty clean.  Separate tail assembly and a separate in-flight-refueling probe, one that is easily lost if dropped into the carpet.  At least I still have five of the six, sigh. Intruder is extensively scribed, maybe more than any other plane I’ve painted. I don’t know if that’s good or not, but it is quite busy. The huge radome doesn’t seem quite the right shape, but it is really big.

Getting started

Primed and ready to go.  We’ll get serious after the longbowmen in the background are finished.

Intruder 4

Light Gull Grey and white control surfaces are done.

So, tail-check.  Refueling probe-check.  That’s it. No fuel tanks or underwing ordinance. Some molded underwing blisters to mount such things would have been helpful, but no.  Step one was to dip into my dwindling supply of such goodies and mount them.  Can’t have a bomber with no bombs. I added the really big rack o’ bombs from C and C, which can’t be had anymore. I also gave my boys two wing mounted drop tanks to fit them out properly

Intruder 5

Intruders on their backs waiting for gloss varnish.  You can clearly see the fuel tanks and bomb racks in place.

I began by brush priming them with Vallejo white primer, but switched to spray.  Better coverage. Then it was on to paint.  I used the Vallejo Air Colors Light Gull Gray for the upper surfaces and fuselage.  I did two coats because it’s thin.  For the bottom, I started with Vallejo Air Colors Insignia White.  Again, pretty thin, so I used Vallejo Model Colors white for a second coat.

The white is supposed to be a gloss color.  I used Vallejo Gloss Varnish on the undersides and the control surfaces.  Mistake!!!  I dunno, what the deal was, but I just couldn’t wash it out of my brush.  It glopped on to the brush, and despite repeated cleanings, I just couldn’t get my brush free of gunk.  I thinned it with water and that seemed to help, but I may have second thoughts about using it again. Finally, I painted the canopy Ceramcoat Ivory, which is my go-to color for planes.

Then, it’s on to detailing.  The first detailing bit I do for any plane is lining those scribed lines.  Usually it’s black or charcoal, but with a plane this light, I used Vallejo Neutral Grey, which is a great color, not too light, not too dark.  With all the scribing on this plane, however, it was long and tedious.  The white, lower fuselage scribing, I used an even lighter color, Vallejo Light Sea Grey. More tedium, but done at last.

Intruder 3

Intruder 1

After the lining was done, there were a few more bits to paint.  I started with the little bits of red for the air intake warnings, the tail stripe and drop tank fins.  I wrapped up with the NK group markings, the tiny radome on the tail, and the plane numbering between the nose and radome.  I used an Army Painter Insane Detail brush for this. I used to give fairly short shrift to this little guy, but it is long, holds a nice point as well as enough paint to be useful.  Highly recommended.

Finished up with pretty simple markings.  The national insignia are from I-94’s excellent range of decals. The Navy markings are from Flight Deck.  It’s a really great set of markings because it’s just a block of words without extra space.  I even learned something new about maneuvering them into place—with a toothpick!!! Duh.  What a great idea.  A little matte varnish over the decals and bang, we’re good.

Intruder finale

The Intruders join my bunch o’ Cold War Navy and USMC planes.  I’ve got almost 50 painted planes I’ve completed over the past 25 or so years.  Done stuff for the Cuban Missile Crisis (twice) and now I’m moving on a bit later for Vietnam-I’d like to do Rolling Thunder and the later Linebacker missions for both the Navy and USAF.

This is my pile o’ planes.  And look, room for more.

USN 1

All kinds of stuff here, with the Intruders far left.  The next two rows are mostly George Kettler’s lovely Raiden F-8 Crusaders though there are a couple of Skytrex minis in there too. Behind them are the extremely wonderful Raiden A-4B’s.  Then six F-3H Demons.  Not a great mini, for a not very good plane, but they were on aircraft carriers in the Caribbean in 1962.  In the corner is a Shapeways EA-3 Skywarrior which will serve in an  electronic warfare role.

USN 2

Box two is mostly empty, but there are nine very serviceable USMC A-4Fs, probably by Heroics and Ros. On the right are some Skytrex F-86’s that I painted as FJ-2 Furys back in 1995.  In the back are a couple of F-4B Phantoms I again painted 25 years ago for a first iteration of U.S. airstrike on Cuba during the Missile Crisis.

 

No Enfilade, so I Invested In Tiny Ships

Each year I have a budget for Enfilade.  It is protected, cherished and almost worshipfully invested in the convention each year.  There is money for registration. I share my hotel expenses with Doug Hamm.  There are meals, each one profoundly enjoyed with my friends.  The past couple of years I’ve gone with David Sullivan to Rainy Day Records and spent a few bucks in downtown Olympia. I share the wealth with vendors and in the B and B.  The next Enfilade is one of those almost spiritual experiences I look forward to the minute Enfilade ends each year.

So no Enfilade for 2020.  It’s not an occasion to pass unobserved.  So I did the only thing I could.  I spent the money. I combined my Enfilade budget with some extra cash and made a really big order to 1 /1250ships.com.

Before I go any further I wanna say a couple of things. First, yes I know these ships are expensive.  I hope I clarified my reason for investing in expensive ships a couple posts ago.  A) I don’t have to paint them or try to create and glue on fiddly bits, thereby allowing me to give time to the rest of my unpainted mountain of lead. B) I have a nostalgic attraction to these ships.  In my world, nostalgia trumps everything.  it’s why I have a huge record collection, it’s why I still love the Seattle Pilots, it’s why I’m stuck reimagining the Seattle of my youth.

Secondly, yes there are more space-friendly scales to do this.  !/1250 scale stretches the limits of the tabletop.  However, because I’m really interested in that cruiser and gunboats collection of ships, the ranges aren’t so long. The period means a really fast ship is about 23 knots. Torpedoes really aren’t very effective beyond 400 yards.  Few optical range finders exist and those aren’t very good.

Well, enough of that.  I’ve really tried to acquire ships I can use for possible scenarios between the U.S. and other countries. One scenarios guide I’ve found really useful is Monroe’s Legacy from the Admiralty Trilogy guys.  It has a bunch of real and hypothetical scenarios, some of them really interesting.  So I’ve focused most of my acquisitions on American ships 1884-1905 or so.  I’ve also picked up some German ships for a Caribbean crisis, conflict over Samoa, and a potential seizure of Manila.  One of the early scenarios in Monroe is a an American attack on the Chilean navy after American sailors were killed in Valparaiso during the civil war in 1891-2. So my purchases are pretty focused in their extravagance.  I’ve also purchased lots of used miniatures which can lower the price by as much as 50%.

Well, after all that explanation, my order from 1/1250ships.com arrived today.  If you have even the most remote interest, they give very good service.  Chris Daley is very responsive to my ridiculous questions and is very knowledgeable of the manufacturers and the state of the market.  Dependent on imports, things are a little wild right now.

On to the ships

The Chileans

Almirante Cochrane

One of the Monroe’s Legacy scenarios calls for the Almirante Cochrane (1875.)  It’s really an ironclad central battery frigate with obsolete guns, iron armor and should be in the scrapyard by 1891, when the scenario takes place.  The Hai miniature is quite nice, if small for the cost. Nothing fancy schmancy about this guy.

Esmeralda

The protected cruiser Esmeralda (1883) also features in the Chilean scenario.  Much more modern than Cochrane. It was one of the Elswick cruisers, built for the foreign market by the British shipyard. This model is by HL miniatures.  It is incredibly nice.  Again not very large.  A second Esmeralda entered Chilean service in 1896. HL also makes that ship.  It is lovely and long, but the mini crosses the sixty dollar no-go line for me, so I’ll probably just let it go.

Generic torpedo boats

The scenario also calls for a pair of Chilean torpedo boats.  Not surprisingly nobody makes Chilean torpedo boats.  I bought a pair of used Hai Swedish torpedo boats from the 1880’s.  Shhh, don’t tell.  They cost six bucks each. They’re kinda small.

For the scenario, I really need at least one of the light cruisers then in Chilean service-either Presidente Pinto or Presidente Errazruiz.  Again, not surprisingly the 2,000 ton French built craft aren’t made by anyone, probably in any scale.  I may take my chance with one of the Hai French avisos.  That would be the end of the Chileans.

Germans

I have a vision for my German collection.  Despite the fact that almost every manufacturer is in Germany or Austria, none make the early German protected cruisers and scout cruisers (avisos) from the late 1880’s to put them on an even par of cruiser development with the early American ships. Too bad.  But my plan is to mostly acquire pre 1904 armored cruisers and light cruisers.

Prinz Heinrich

Prinz Heinrich (1902) is the first German armored cruiser of the 20th century.  Just under 9,000 tons with  two 9.4 inch guns.  A little underarmed but representative of its time.  I picked up a used Navis miniature for half price.

Prinz Adalbert

Prinz Adalbert (1903) by Navis was slightly larger, with more main guns, if a bit smaller at 8.2 inches.  Probably the latest class of armored cruisers I will go, maybe Roon, we’ll see.  Another used bargain.

Muenchen

This is a Bremen class light cruiser.  Completed in 1904, it is the latest of the light cruisers I’ll buy.  I’m more interested in the Hela and Gazelle’s but this is a used model and the price was right. This is also a Navis miniature.

American Ships

Hey, I admit it, I’m a homer, and I love ships of the American navy.  Most of the early American ships aren’t in large classes  so I’m interested in picking up as many as possible.  Focused mainly on cruisers and the Hai gunboat models.

Boston

This is the USS Boston (1884) by HL miniatures.  It’s really a lovely miniature. The Boston was one of the first ships in the steel navy and was everywhere.  It was with Dewey at Manila Bay.  It was in Tangier harbor demanding Perdicaras Alive or Raisuli dead in 1904.  It served as a training ship for the Oregon Naval militia 1911-16.  For the Great War it was converted to a freighter in Seattle shipyards.  It finished its career as the Despatch, a radio school during WWII.  The Boston’s eight inch guns can be seen in Hamlin Park in Shoreline, not far from where I grew up.

Charleston

The Charleston (1888) was the fourth U.S. protected cruiser. The Hai model is larger than my other Hai miniatures.  Charleston was about 3,700 tons and is bigger than Atlanta and Boston.  This ships is especially significant because it was built on the west coast, a huge deal before the Panama Canal. She became flagship of the Pacific Squadron and single-handedly capture Guam in 1898.  There is a story here, but I don’t have time to share it. Unfortunately Charleston was wrecked on a reef near Camiguin Island in the Philippines in 1899.

New York

The New York was the first true American armored cruiser (ACR-2) 1893. The USS Maine was actually ACR-1, but was completed after New York, and then there’s that explosion in Havana harbor problem.  With six eight inch guns and 19 knots it was a worthy representative of its class and time.  New York was the flagship of William Sampson’s Santiago blockading fleet, but missed most of the battle as Sampson left prior to the Cuban breakout to meet with General Rufus Shafter. It returned for the closing moments of the action. This is a very fine used miniature by Saratoga Shipyards.

Tacoma

Jane’s Fighting Ships describes the Tacoma as slow and having practically no fighting value. Tacoma was one of six ships of the Denver class, completed in 1904.  These were known as “peace cruisers,” really just over-sized gunboats intended to bring “gunboat diplomacy” wherever the US needed to extend its power. This is a Navis miniature, and though it is called Denver class in the catalogue I’ll happily name it for my adopted home town.

Wheeling

The Wheeling is one of Hai’s extensive range of American gunboats.  Wheeling is one of the smaller ones at just under a thousand tons. Another one of those west coast builds, Wheeling had a sister Marietta, that accompanied Boston and Brooklyn to Tangier harbor in 1904.

Yeah, I don’t see another big haul like this happening again, but I was delighted to unpack all of it and add it to my collection.

Cousin Kevin’s Hundred Figures in May Quarantine Challenge

Covid Seattle

Seattle is a lonely place.  Gasworks Park would normally be full of people.  And dogs.

Friday Governor Inslee announced that Shelter and Stay Safe order would stay in place through the end of May.  It looks like things me open up slightly before then, but bless him, it’s likely the Guv will keep me from gaming well into June.

Well, bummer.  But that doesn’t mean the fun has to wait.  You, my friends should be using this time to paint, paint, paint.  In fact I know that some of you are.  It’s even likely you’ve looked around for a new project to start on.  Maybe you did a massive order before the Perry Brothers closed shop.  They’re open now, but that’s another story.

first half

Half of my closet of sadness

In your haste to think new, look at what you’ve done.  Those thousands of figures sitting in your closet, or your garage, or holding up the foundation of your house are still sitting there.  Waiting. Lonesome.  Wondering when lead rot will set in.  Maybe some are the newest Warlord WWII ships (a pox and curses on them.) Or maybe they’re some nice Mike’s Models wishing Paul Hannah would scoop them up, or some strip Minifigs-wait I think Paul likes those too. In any case this is your chance to give these minis some respect and paint those babies up!!

Other half

The other half.  See the tears??!!

So here is my challenge to you.  Can you, in the month of May paint 100 figures?  No, that’s not in the month of May can you go buy a hundred new figures and add them to your unpainted mountain of “someday I’ll paint you too.” Paint something you have that needs painting.

Getting started

But look.  I’m getting stuff done.  I mean it this time.

There really aren’t any rules.  They could be figures of any scale-54mm, 40mm, 28mm, 25mm, 15mm, 6mm, mmmmm 2mm are just sort of little bumps aren’t they?  Tanks, planes, ships, terrain bits.  A figure is figure, is a tank or plane or tree, whatever.  Have fun.  Paint lots. Do your best, just get stuff done. Base it, don’t base it. Just paint it. Show it, if you can, on the NHMGS Facebook page and let us know what you’ve accomplished. “Lookee Ma what I done!!”

For myself, I have a plan.  It is subject to change without notice.  But here’s what I’m thinking so far.

8 Figures 28mm Woodland Indians–finished

12 Figures 28mm Longbowmen–almost finished

6 1/300  A-6 Intruders (more about this next post)–assembled and primed

12 figures 28mm Longbowmen

18 figures 28mm Philippine bolomen

10 figures 28mm Philippine artillery and crew

13 figures 28mm Reviresco baseball players–1977 Houston Astros colors

12 figures 28mm Woodland Indians

12 figures Philippine riflemen.

That’s 103 figures, though the composition may change.

Hope you can come up with a plan that works for you.

Cousin Kevin is one of my favorite songs from the Who’s rock opera Tommy.  Kevin terrorizes the deaf, dumb and blind Tommy when the grownups have all gone away.