Monday, 31 May 2010

The Action off Cape Odamonte - November 1940, Somewhere in the Mediterranean..........

This Wednesday evening will see the denizens of my club, SEEMS, tackle a WW2 naval action using Axis and Allies: War at Sea and set in the Mediterranean during 1940. Ordinarily our actions are fought using the game rules points system but in this case we are flying solo and using a scenario based loosely on the action off Cape Spartivento which took place a couple of weeks after Taranto. I have named this encounter the Battle of Cape Odamonte as my usually fertile imagination struggled to come up with anything more original!

The forces have been tweaked slightly to reflect model availability - both the RN and the Italians will be receiving the 'missing ships' when the next expansion for the game is released - and some of the numbers have been trimmed.

The challenge in this action will be that the Italians have the weight of fire but can only rely on land based air whilst the RN have a carrier and some very effective light cruisers. The Italians have the most modern battleship available in the shape of a Littorio class - Vittorio Veneto.

As readers of this blog will probably know, I am a great fan of scenario based games, especially when the forces are quite disparate in terms of capabilities. This promises to be a lot a of fun and so I shall make sure that the after action report is posted as soon as I am able.

Friday, 28 May 2010

The Best Laid Plans.....................

It has been a busy and eventful week and so the number of posts has been minimal. It is surprising though how having a few days away from the rigours of our hobby can serve to reset one’s focus. As mentioned previously, I am committed to offloading various parts of the collection with the stated intention of concentrating on the Mediterranean and so the funds raised will be suitably reinvested. Initially (and assuming it is released on time) I will look to finance the Axis and Allies: War at Sea fleets via the forthcoming expansion: Condition Zebra. In terms of actual models required the list is fairly modest but I will need them in multiples. This is not too bad when dealing with common types (e.g. destroyers) but can be expensive with the rare models. The five battle ships I need (3 x RN and 2 x Italian) will probably set me back around the £30 to £40 if purchased singly so I am hoping that the booster packs will be kind. Surplus models are then either sold off at the club or listed on ebay which serves to defray the cost a little. When a new release for this game arrives I tend to buy a number of booster packs first off and then pursue the required singles route via ebay.

One of the long dormant ideas that I have resurrected as a result of this ‘Mediterraneanisation’ of the collection is gaming in 2mm using Tim Gow’s outstanding Megablitz rules for operational level WW2 battles. I have always enjoyed WW2 in the desert and using this small scale means the full sweep of armoured actions can be portrayed relatively easily. Irregular Miniatures have a pretty good range of kit for this scale and also cover the modern era so the Six Day War and Yom Kippur; even the Gulf War(s) can be gamed. I have a number of freebie rule sets for this scale of game and am planning to also acquire both the Blitzkrieg and Cold War Commander rules by Pete Jones. These rules use a system loosely based on that used in Warmaster by Games Workshop and is very popular.

In the meantime though work continues on the Balkan Wars figures and I was delighted to see that Irregular Miniatures have now added Montenegrins to their 15mm range. It is my intention to produce representative forces for each of the major combatants – Turkish, Greek, Bulgarian, Serbian and Montenegrin – at what I would describe as an inflated DBA sized army i.e. around 50 or so foot, a dozen or so mounted and guns and MGs to taste. With this latest release of figures I now have even less excuse for not completing the project!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Sci-Fi, Fantasy and the Curse of the Conscience

After the dramatic announcement in my previous post concerning my own ‘brave new world’ I decided to have a closer look at the fun side of the collection – namely the sci-fi, fantasy and VSF kit I own. Readers of my earlier posts will no doubt recall my mentioning the various ideas I have in mind for these genres – 2mm OGRE, Aeronef, Space Hulk and Land Ironclads. I also have some 28mm fantasy figures from the old board game Heroquest that need something doing with them – not to mention the Lord of the Rings Risk figures that really ought to be used in some fashion!

I tend to pick up odd plastic figures from the old M.B. Games/Games Workshop Space Crusade and Heroquest at car boot sales and such like and they are perfectly suitable for sci-fi or fantasy skirmishes and such like. I had this idea at one time to make up some sci-fi and fantasy forces exclusively sourced from plastic figures acquired in this way as it would be a cheap option given the usually enormous prices charged for these figures. In terms of numbers I would think probably forces no larger than a HOTTs style army – perhaps three or four dozen figures maximum. Given the small numbers required painting these is not too onerous and I must confess that I really enjoyed refurbishing the Space Hulk figures a while back. I have a number of other plastic space marine types as well as some figures from EM4’s game Combat Zone which is a near future set of skirmish rules, typically between troops and gangs. Mention of this reminds me that EM4 produce a nice range of plastic 28mm figures available separately for both sci-fi and fantasy and are pretty cheap into the bargain – typically £2.50 for 5 figures. They also produce metal conversion kits for things like heavy weapons or command figures, again very reasonably priced. I like the robots they produce and have a number of these which are not scale specific so would be equally at home with anything from 1/300th up to 28mm. I intend to use them on a 1/300th basis for a fast play robot/mech type game. There is a good selection of weapons for use with these models and so the number of permutations of hardware fit is quite large and again, at £2.50 for 5 models they are a bargain. EM4 also (and this really is not a plug!) produce in plastic the star fighter models that used to be available in the Silent Death game of space fighter combat – you get one of each type (12 in all) and the flying bases for £2.50.

I must admit that I tend to use sci-fi or fantasy very much as a ‘gap-fill’ between historical periods and so for me having a selection of kit that is small in terms of numbers and ready to go at a moments notice is very appealing. Space Hulk fulfils that criteria admirably and once I have the planned extra pieces ready then that will be even more appropriate. I have about another dozen or so models to add to this collection – including a couple of scratch built remote sentry guns. The OGRE and Land Ironclads set up will need more work and to be honest I am not sure when these will get tackled. The 28mm robots and star fighters will probably feature first although as yet I am undecided. I also have my ongoing Aeronef activities to consider – the metal Turkish Dirigible fleet is still in need of attention having been assembled (mostly) awaiting the brush and I also have a few ideas around scratch building some additional items for this set up.

This lot probably seems like a whole pile of projects and to be honest if I were to apply myself to the whole topic there would be a reasonable amount of work to tackle. Having said that, these sit firmly in the realm of having to fit around my historical interests and so the impact on my available painting time etc should hopefully be minimal.

Of course, now that the latest edition Ragnarok – the journal of the SFSFW – the Society of Fantasy and Science Fiction Wargamers has arrived these may have to get a little more urgency applied to them – curse my fickle conscience!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

At the Crossroads of the Middle Sea

As part of my much heralded relocation at home I have, inevitably I suppose, given much thought to what I am gaming and those periods that most capture my imagination. As I have often mentioned, I have dabbled at many periods over the years and to be frank, the constant vacillation I seem to suffer from has finally began to wear me down to the extent that I am tired of being so historically fickle! With this in mind I have decided to focus my efforts on the military and naval history of the Middle East and North Africa – and those shores upon which the Mediterranean waves lap. This choice was really easy to make as most of my recent efforts have been focussed in this region – be it 1941 and the war at sea or the Balkan Wars of 1912/13. Of course the rise and fall of numerous empires – the Ottomans being naturally my own favourite – means that the choices of periods to game will be many and varied and so you could be forgiven in thinking that all I have done is to change one set of problems for another. To an extent that may be the case but in my own mind the benefits of concentrating on a geographical area far outweigh the previously global spanning ideas I have tried unsuccessfully to realise!

The Ottoman military across the centuries is a study in itself and at the time of writing I have no less than three 15mm armies to consider for them. They are from three different eras and will need opposition so that is 6 armies on its own – this is before I think about my long held desire to produce a Mamluk army, perhaps with some Ilkhanid opposition so that is another two armies (3 if you include some later crusaders!). The Arab Conquest and Empire, the Moors in Spain, the various colonial adventures of the French and British, the Arab Revolt and even Rommel and his panzers are all grist to my wargaming mill so there is more than enough variety here to satisfy even my jaded palate.

In real terms it means that I will be saying goodbye to some old acquaintances from the collection including a large chunk of my Napoleonic library, the various American adventures including the AWI and the war of 1812, Dark Ages Britain (no more Vikings for me!), the Russo Japanese War, and selected portions of the WW2 section. What is left is very ‘Mediterranean-centric’ in its outlook although a few notable exceptions have made the cut. My WW2 North Atlantic naval section will remain, as will the ACW naval and the Spanish Armada section; together with my small selection of books related to piracy. Naval games really don’t count in this to a degree as from a scenic point of view my blue sea gaming cloth will be used for the deep blue of Aegean to the mud coloured Mississippi via the North Atlantic! I apologise in advance if this blanket description of the colour of the world’s waterways has offended the more nautical amongst us! I have a small selection of models and some rule sets to dispose of as well although this is surprisingly few. I also have some sci-fi kit to offload as well although again, surprisingly small amounts.

The sole exceptions, or rather those land based periods that are in no way ‘Mediterranean-centric’ and that are remaining in my collection are limited to the 1815 campaign (this is for reasons of nostalgia as it was the campaign that started me off on the wargaming path all those years ago), a smattering of D-Day and late war material (primarily as support for Memoir 44) and Vietnam.

I have left out most of my sci-fi and all of my fantasy and VSF inclinations from this process, simply because they are not as measurable against my historical scale and to be honest, fall in the ‘great sideline and a lot of fun category’ which is what this hobby should be all about.

I think, summing up all this ramble, is that I have decided that it is time to ‘grow up’ and refrain from spreading my wargaming oats any further and certainly any longer than they need to be!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Boxing Clever with Nautical Musings

The continued expansion of my Axis and Allies: War at Sea WW2 fleets has given me a small problem in respect of storage. Currently the RN lives in a large cardboard cutlery box and the Germans and Italians each use a box file. All the aircraft bases live in a plastic box acquired from a local branch of Hobbycraft. I want to reorganise this to be more efficient and thereby take up less space. I am still undecided about the best way of doing this – either to convert the existing boxes to accommodate extra models or to acquire some of the box files that are half the standard depth of the usual versions. I am planning to have metal paper on the underside of the bases and magnetic strip in the boxes so the models will be easier to sort and store. There will not be an enormous amount of additional kit acquired from the next release of models but obviously I need to consider the storage implications of the extra models. I am thinking that I would need around 8 to 10 of the reduced depth box files and if used they will then live quite compactly in one of my cupboards. I am leaning more towards this option or buying some of the purpose built cardboard boxes usually used for mementos and such like. They simply need to be uniform in size.

The Axis and Allies: War at Sea WW2 fleets are now looking suitably impressive in terms of model coverage as many of the obvious gaps are gradually being filled with the release of each new expansion. Allowing for what will feature in Condition Zebra (the next expansion set scheduled for release next month) the Royal Navy is now in pretty good shape. Going forward though for the RN I would like to see an AA cruiser and some earlier destroyer types, MTBs and MGBs and perhaps a Fairy Fulmar would be nice. The Germans could use an R boat and perhaps and the Italians could do with another Light Cruiser. I cannot speak for the Pacific fleets although I know that the Japanese Battleship Hyuga would be most welcome, as would the Aircraft Carrier Kaga.

What would be really useful though would be a selection of merchantmen. At the time of writing there is a Japanese freighter – the Kinai Maru – and a couple of US types including a liberty ship. The Germans have the Altmark which could be pressed into service as a tanker or some such. What I would like to see though would be a range of generic merchantmen, coasters, tankers etc in varying sizes so a really mixed bag of a convoy could be assembled. Being generic they could then of course be used by anybody. For the various convoy based ideas I have I would need to draft in models from other gamers at the club as my own collection is embarrassingly light in this regard.

I am pleased to have taken the decision to relinquish any involvement in the Pacific theatre as my European adventures in this regard have more than enough material for me to explore in terms of scenario ideas. The whole 1943 to 1945 Eastern Mediterranean is a good case in point as there is enormous potential for games both historically and hypothetically based and are a refreshing change from the more usual Battleship slug fest. Developing these ideas will be an enjoyable cerebral exercise and no mistake!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

El Grego - With Grateful Thanks

Readers of the blog may recall my recent post with the pictures of the latest acquisitions for my Axis and Allies: War at Sea WW2 fleets. I had a problem with the initial draft as I was not able to place the photographs where I wanted to within the body of the text. With a single picture it is no problem as this would usually appear at the head of the post but try as I might I was unable to place the five photographs anywhere other than at the head of the article. In frustration I added a plea at the foot of the post for a clue as to how I could get around this problem. El Grego, a follower of my blog and author of the very readable heeded the call and stepped into the breach with a simple resolution. Basically, all I have to do is to edit my posts in HTML mode in which you can move pictures and text around to your heart’s content, merely by copy or cutting and pasting. Although I use a PC on a daily basis for both work and at home I am by no means an expert and so whilst this technique may have been obvious to many to me it was very much unknown territory.

As a result of this technique I was able to reformat the post with the pictures in the desired places and with some extra comments.

I would like to extend my grateful thanks to EG for this tip – it is very much appreciated and serves to further highlight the spirit of friendly cooperation that exists across the war gaming blogging community.

Cheers EG, consider yourself mentioned in despatches!

War at Sea in the Aegean: 1943

After having considered the Aegean in 1943 as a theatre of operations for a some naval gaming I now find myself with having to acquire not only some information on the historical campaign itself but also I will need to consider the models I will use – especially those that will need to be acquired. The rules themselves also need to be considered if only because the existing War at Sea better suit actions with larger vessels than I will be using. Indeed, it looks very much like the largest vessel that potentially could have been deployed in theatre would have been the German crewed Italian Zara Class heavy cruiser – Gorizia. This is a historical liberty (the Germans had taken her over after the Italian surrender but she was sunk in harbour by Italian frogmen) to be sure but will nevertheless make for an interesting strategic challenge – very much in the ‘hunt the raider’ vein.

At first I was wary of using War at Sea for this lower level type of game – a more ‘skirmish’ level approach (perhaps a good coastal warfare set) would probably suit the type of action envisaged far better – but after considerations of club usage and time available I am thinking that perhaps staying with the original rules would be easier. As there will be no ‘super’ ships in use the rules will be even in their application to either side. The largest difficulty will be in the acquisition of suitable models for the myriad of small scale vessels – fishing boats, patrol craft and various other sundry ships. At the present time the range of smaller ships available in the War at Sea range is limited to PT, S and MAS boats and of course the Flower class corvette. There is also a small Japanese sub chaser that may be useful for something. The next ships available ‘up the scale’ are of the course the mainstream naval models of destroyers and torpedo boats and larger types. As mentioned in my last post I will have a look at what ships the Germans requisitioned and then see how I can make best use of what models are currently available.

I will have to see what 1/1200th, 1/2400th or even 1/3000th kit could be pressed into service for the armed combatants – merchantmen are a whole new issue to address so I will see what I can come up with. Some of the larger 1/3000th merchantmen could see some use and I have a selection of the Japanese generic cargo ship available from within the existing War at Sea range. From what I have read thus far it seems that axis land based airpower was dominant and the allies were only able to enjoy a material advantage on a few occasions in terms of both ships and aircraft as their focus was centred on Italy. This makes for an interesting challenge – on the one side you have a weak naval force being used under a strong air umbrella and on the other you have a force that can be both stronger in warships and in aircraft but only rarely at the same time.

The nod to the taking of historical liberties will also enable me to make use of the remnants of the Greek navy (the Luftwaffe did a very efficient job on them during the invasion of 1941) including the famous armoured cruiser: Georgios Averoff.

A few ideas are beginning to form in respect of the type of actions I should like to run in this area and once I have decided upon the final shape I will of course post my deliberations. I may even consider adding something along the lines of a Navarone type fortress just for the fun of it – certainly it would add to the challenge the allies face.

I believe that this theatre has a lot to offer the naval war gamer – especially as it offers a different challenge to the usual Battleship/Aircraft Carrier/Cruiser type action – and certainly from a personal perspective any maps generated would see additional use with my Balkan Wars fleets.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Axis and Allies: War at Sea Additions

Flower class Corvettes with Martlet fighters from the Fleet Air Arm providing air cover.

HMS Repulse and Renown with an escort of S class destroyers (not strictly accurate as Repulse was sunk in 1941 and the S class did not appear until 1943).

HMS Queen Elizabeth and Valiant with the Town class cruisers Southampton and Gloucester and the inevitable destroyer escort.

As promised here are the pictures of the latest additions to my collection of Axis and Allies: War at Sea models. My collection consists of British, German and Italian navies of WW2; together with all the supporting aircraft and the selection is driven by the model availability from the game in question. As previously mentioned, the ships are scaled at 1/1800th with the aircraft at 1/900th which means that the collection has to be self contained as to my knowledge nobody else makes 1/1800th scale warship models. The available choice has increased with the release of a number of expansions to the basic set – Task Force, Flank Speed and the soon to be released Condition Zebra – so the fleets are gradually becoming more representational in respect of their historical counterparts. I have had to resort to using certain models for other ships in the notional class which is usually OK. Where it is problematic is where sister ships differed in appearance as the result of refits and modifications. The Queen Elizabeth class Battle Ship is a good case in point as the model is of HMS Warspite which looked slightly different to Valiant and the QE herself. The Zara class Italian Heavy Cruiser model is based on the sole member of the class with her main funnel merged with the forward superstructure so in order to represent the class all the models have to have this feature. This will undoubtedly offend both the purist and the detailed scale modeller but in the absence of the correct models one is forced to either accept this or convert the models into something more representative. Personally I will use them as they are although I have repainted some Tribal class destroyers – these will need a further repaint as well as I have found a grey that is closer to the overall RN shade most of the models have. I have seen pictures of War at Sea players that have super detailed their models and they do look really nice but I shall refrain from tackling that kind of project!

The Royal Navy received as its latest batch of reinforcements the Battle Cruisers HMS Repulse and Renown, two more of the Queen Elizabeth class Battle Ships: HMS Valiant and Queen Elizabeth herself, two Town class Light Cruisers: HMS Southampton and Gloucester, six late war S Class Destroyers and four Flower class Corvettes. The Fleet Air Arm also received four bases of Martlet fighters – this being the RN version of the American Wildcat.

The Kriegsmarine gained the two pre-dreadnought Battle Ships Schlesien and Schleswig-Holstein, six of the T class torpedo boats (actually small destroyers) and best of all, four bases of Ju 88 bombers for the Luftwaffe. This means that Fliegerkorps 10 in the Mediterranean has now really got some weight attached to it – used in conjunction with the Italian Regia Aeronautica the Royal Navy will now potentially have some serious aerial problems to contend with.
Finally the Italians gained a further Zara class Heavy Cruiser; the Gorizia (more of which later), a pair of Giuseppe Garibaldi class Light Cruisers, four Orsa class Destroyer/torpedo boats and four bases of Re. 2001 ‘Falco’ fighters.

The pre dreadnought battleships Schlesien and Schleswig-Holstein sortie somewhere in the Baltic, escorted by T class torpedo boats and overflown by Ju 88 bombers.

The Italian Heavy Cruiser Gorizia with an escort of Light Cruisers and torpedo boats and with fighters in attendance.

The Heavy Cruiser Gorizia was the sole survivor of the Zara class of four ships with the other three being sunk at Matapan. She was taken over by the Germans but was sunk by Italian frogmen in harbour before she could be used. I will find out some further details around this but it has raised the germ of an idea for the Mediterranean . The Germans made use of a number of vessels captured/requisitioned from the territories they had control of. Although for the most part these tended to be destroyer sized or smaller there was a considerable number of these that although not suitable for fleet work were invaluable in coastal convoys, raids, dropping supplies or agents, shore bombardments etc. In the book ‘Struggle for the Middle Sea ’ there is a full list of vessels used in such a way by the Germans in the Mediterranean from 1943 to 1945. Much of this was used in the Aegean amongst the myriad of islands found there.

A low level game set in this theatre would have much to commend it as the Axis forces would be weak in terms of ships compared to the Allies but will have the threat of land and island based air attack. The difficulty would be the models at this scale as there would be the need for lots of small ships and merchantmen, fishing boats and other assorted floating miscellany. War at Sea is relatively poorly served as this end of the naval combat scale so my plan would be to look at other scales to see if I could get the appropriate models or close versions thereof. A number of existing War of Sea models can be used in any event and so I will use them where I can. Certainly allowing the Germans to have access to the Gorizia, perhaps, for example, as a raider would make for a great mini campaign as the Allies would make it a priority to find and sink her. Having a large cruiser operating near the Suez Canal or loose in the Mediterranean would certainly make for a short but interesting game.

For the record this does not count as anything other than as a cerebral exercise as I do not need to paint anything – other than perhaps some model bases for the Mediterranean branch of the Kriegsmarine.

Much to ponder here methinks!

Art Imitating Life Imitating Wargaming

Imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered that the Flower Class Corvette I have in my WW2 Royal Navy – HMS Coreopsis – eventually became, via the Greek Navy, the famous HMS Compass Rose from the film and the book ‘The Cruel Sea’ by Nicholas Monserrat. If you recall my post about the Flower Class corvette I had identified four vessels that I wanted to represent as they had been handed over to the Greek Navy in 1943 and in the fullness of time I would collecting an additional four models for use in their Hellenic guise. The ship mentioned above was one of the four vessels handed over and then – thanks to a comment about HMS Compass Rose from my Antipodean pal, Tas – I discovered that it had been rescued from Malta (at the time it was on its way back to the UK for scrapping) after having been discarded from the Greek Navy and so was then snapped up to be used in the making of the film of ‘The Cruel Sea’ starring Jack Hawkins. I will furnish the Greek names assigned in a later post - I have them at home on the PC. This was completely unknown to me so I am grateful to Tas for the prompt - thanks mate, I owe you one!

I have seen the film although it was many years ago; so a revisit would certainly be in order and I am sure picking it up on DVD would be relatively easy. To my shame I have not read the book so this is something I intend to rectify as soon as possible!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

1 Year On and 1 Day Late

On the 8th of May last year I started this blog and now 7,000 hits, 231 posts and 19 followers later I find myself once again extending my warmest thanks and appreciation to all those that have read and contributed over the last year. As ever, these comments are always valued and enjoyed and I hope that I shall continue to be able to post items of interest over the next 12 months!

Many thanks to all once again!

Friday, 7 May 2010

The Flower: In a Class of its Own

One of the most attractive models in the current expansion for War at Sea: Flank Speed is the small Flower Class Corvette. Obviously not as glamorous as the headline-stealing battleships and cruisers; nor having the dashing thrust of the destroyer, the Flower class corvette is in my opinion one of the most important warships to sail the seas during WW2. Not because of the number of submarines sunk by them but simply due to the number of merchant ships that crossed the Atlantic safely because of them.

There is a pretty good article about these vessels contained in Wikipedia which has much of interest, not least of which is the fact that many navies made use of them including, to my surprise, the Kriegsmarine. There were four corvettes under construction in France that were taken over and finished by the Germans and used for coastal patrol and convoy escort duties. A further four vessels were handed over to the Greek navy in 1943 and given that the Greeks will feature in the next expansion to be released – Condition Zebra – it means that I can indulge in their navy for use on the table. The Greeks receive the Georgios Averoff – the armoured cruiser of Balkan Wars fame, a destroyer and a submarine. I am not sure about the war service of the Greek navy – I know the Averoff was used on convoy duty in the Indian Ocean – and so further research will be needed as and when I eventually tackle them.

My own Royal Navy has four Flower Class vessels although I will add a further two in due course. I will acquire the four needed for both the German and Greek navies to give them something a little different and in the case of the Germans I shall also be looking at adding some other vessels that were taken over by them and pressed into service.

Certainly for convoy based scenarios having this vessel available for escort duties is really useful and I look forward to using them to fend off the attentions of any marauding wolf packs.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Aquanef Models from an unusual source...........

With the release of Wessex Games’ Aquanef – Victorian science fiction naval combat – scheduled for later this year I have been giving some thought as to the models of the Aquanef themselves. The display game at Salute run by Steve Blease and Matthew Hartley made use of upturned plastic beer glasses with a CD mounted on the top as a base for a conventional ship model and the submerged Aquanef themselves were mounted on conventional flying bases. This allows for the illusion of surface/subsurface interaction and looks very effective. As an aside this approach could be easily used for any other game involving submarines – I am thinking about a WW2 U Boat vs. Convoy type actions – and would be relatively easy to set up. As yet there are few, if any, commercially available models for the Aquanef themselves and so the budding underwater gamer will need to convert or scratch build the appropriate vessels. A further consideration is that Aquanef themselves will ideally need to be represented by a full hulled submerged model and a surfaced waterline version. This has implications for the scratch builder in that the obvious need for models that look the same overall will need to be addressed. As a result of my numerous DIY adventures over the course of the weekend I think I have found a novel solution.


That’s right, Rawlplugs – or rather the plastic versions that are available in a variety of sizes and colours. Before you think I have gone barking mad consider the following:

They have a suitably ridged and ribbed surface – usually with some ‘fins’ sticking out around the mid point, so are ideal for painting.
They have a rounded end – suitable for a bow section.
They have a split along most of the length of the plug – this forms a natural point of division so that one plug can be used for two surfaced hulls if cut carefully.
They are also available in assorted sizes so these can be used for different vessel classes.

A whole plug could merely be detailed as required and mounted on a flying base – I would suggest filling the slot with some plastic card or similar for diving vanes etc. The split plug can be used as a surfaced Aquanef, again with some appropriate detail added.

I must confess that I have looking long and hard at Rawlplugs as a source of gaming raw material – mounted on flying bases and suitably painted and detailed they could form the basis of a very nice looking rocket based space fleet.

Another attraction is the fact that they are cheap and easy to come by. I would imagine that most gamers have a selection of these kicking around indoors in the tool box. I will have a play around with a few and see what comes out by way of a design or two.

DIY, Shopping, Boot Sales and some Basing

It has been a busy bank holiday weekend and no mistake. the various small scale DIY jobs needed to finish the three rooms off were all completed, a couple of shopping trips were fitted in, a boot sale and some (at last) painting was tackled.

On the painting front I was able to get all the War at Sea bases to the 'waves and labels' stage so the next few days will see these new additions joining their respective fleets. This was not difficult - I don't go in for textured sea bases - but is fairly time consuming all the same. I should have these finished in the next couple of days or so and a photo shoot will follow.

On the boot sale front and managed to acquire three items - a copy of the board game Othello - I wanted a full size version of this game as the counters are really useful as damage markers for my various naval games as they white on one side and black on the other. The game board is an 8 x 8 grid in green with 1" squares - these have a raised edge around each square in order to stop the counters moving. The squares will happily take a 20mm square base and so I found myself thinking about using this board for a kind of mini 2mm scale Morschauser set up. I have a selection of 2mm armies to do and so this is one to ponder for the future methinks.

On the book front I picked hardback copies of 'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee' by Dee Brown. I have read this book many times and it serves as a useful corrective to the version of the Wild West usually portrayed in most Hollywood films - 'Dances With Wolves' not withstanding. I also picked up a copy of 'A People's Tragedy - The Russian Revolution 1891 to 1924'. As I am studying this period as part of my A Level History it is a useful acquisition - from a gaming perspective it also covers the Russian Civil War which is a period I am sadly unfamiliar with and so this will address that shortfall.