Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A Touch of the pre-Dreadnoughts.

A nice order of Early Saxons went off to Splintered Light Miniatures this morning. While I'm waiting for them to arrive I have another couple of projects in mind. One is to build a small late Roman villa for the Saxons to raid. The other is to make a batch of pre-Dreadnoughts in 1/2400.

Jim Jackaman over at Jim's Wargames Workbench has a series of Victorian Ironclad games and campaign ideas featuring the Franco-Prussian naval war between French and Prussian fleets, and a hypothetical encounter between Britain and France in the 1870s. Jim's entertaining accounts reignited my own interest in naval gaming, especially the pre-Dreadnought era.

Naval gaming lends itself to scratch-building quite nicely, so I thought I'd have a go at making a few pre-Dreadnoughts. The beginnings of a Majestic class battleship is shown below. I'm going with 1/2400 scale since it's compact enough for ships of this era to fight an action on the tabletop.

'We want you...' The appropriate chorus from Village People's In the Navy.
Basically, in the finest tradition of naval scratch-building it's a couple of lengths of flat bass wood glued together and sanded to shape. The join between them was concealed by wood filler then sanded again. The Majestic class had both 12-inch gun turrets on the same deck which makes things easier to build. Because the class was extensive in number I'm thinking of taking a mold from the basic shape and casting them in resin. That will make the models more consistent in size and shape, and allow for modelling the slight variations that happens between ships of the same class.

Nine of these battleships were built for the Royal Navy. They served in the Channel Squadron (precursor to the Channel Fleet) as well as the Mediterranean Fleet. During WW1 in many ways they had a more 'interesting' war than their successors, serving as bombardment ships in the Dardanelles as well as protecting cross-Channel troop convoys and the British coast from German raids. They were widely copied by foreign navies, including the Japanese Shikishima class and the battleship Mikasa, which served as Admiral Togo's flagship throughout the Russo-Japanese War.

For opponents I'm going with the Reichsmarine, that darling of Kaiser Wilhelm II who built it to challenge his grandmother's Royal Navy. There's scope for conflict between the two, beginning in January 1896 with the Kruger Telegram incident, and following from that German interference in the Boer War, then the Moroccan Crisis of 1905 which nearly started a war with Britain and France.

For rules I'm going to try the Quickfire set of fast play rules from War Times Journal. They look like they'll lend themselves to solo play.


Captain Darling said...

Excellent post AJ, I'll watch how you go.
I've been thinking of making (then casting) some WW 2 PT Boats/E Boats and tramp streamers for English Channel actions hopefully this will inspire me!

A J said...

Glad you found it interesting, Captain. I'm going to use a cheap and cheerful method of making a mold using silicone caulking. It works out cheaper than buying OOMOO 30 or similar for such a small project.


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