Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Squalls ahead! ~ A modelling side project

A while back I came across a tutorial on making rain squalls for naval gaming. The idea struck me as a good one so I save the instructions and finally put them into practice. 

Begin with an off cut of expanded polystyrene packing material. Hack it into an irregular shape.

Tease out cotton wool and apply all over the top and sides using a hot glue gun. Yes, it melts the polystyrene a little, but it won't show.

The covered result.

Spray a basic grey...

Cut out long rectangles of clear plastic. I use packaging material. Use a chunk of foam rubber to apply streaks of grey craft paint mixed with Quick Shine/Future/Klear floor polish to one side, working from one edge and lifting the rubber near the other side to get a falling rain effect. Use hot glue to stick it to the underside of the cloud. I used two lengths of plastic to get an overlap to simulate a heavier burst of rainfall.

The finished result...

Royal Navy armoured cruisers Euryalus and Aboukir push on across the North Sea in the teeth of oncoming squalls.

These should work fine for most common naval gaming scales.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

A Cluster of Calamity ~ 1/2400 shipwrecks

Covid really did a number on me. I find I get tired quickly and easily, which is no fun under any circumstances. Work and gardening claim most of what energy I have, but I did manage to add a few more items to my 1/2400 pre-Dreadnought collection in the shape of these wrecked ships and a fire marker. Apologies for the dim photo, I have to use my tablet camera for the time being.

I made a total capsize model, showing the red anti-barnacle paint on the hull used by most navies of this period. Turbulent water surrounds the capsize where air is being forced out of the vessel. Another is a standard bows-up posed wreck. The last is similar, but features a gush of soot and smoke issuing from the remaining funnel as the ship begins its final slide. This is something which appears on wartime footage of torpedoed ships.

I hope to play out the Battle of the Norwegian Sea as the next installment of the Moroccan Crisis campaign soon.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Being in All Respects Ready for Sea...

The new ships for the next scenario in the Moroccan Crisis campaign are finished and based. You'll have to take my word for it since camera failure means I can't take any photos for a while. 


At 20:00 on the same day as the Battle of the Humber, the German Particular Service squadron gets under way from its anchorage off Heligoland. Commanded by Kommodore Ernst Shaffer, it comprises three armoured cruisers, the sister ships SMS Prinz Adalbert (Flag) and Friedrich Karl, and light cruisers SMS Berlin and Hamburg. Shaffer's orders are to sail to the Denmark Straight and break out into the North Atlantic. After rendezvousing with a collier waiting off a deserted part of the Icelandic coast, his squadron will refuel then commence commerce raiding against British and French shipping.  

Accompanying them are the armoured cruiser SMS Prinz Heinrich and five torpedo boat destroyers. Their brief is to assist the squadron in breaking through any British naval force that may be encountered before returning to Heligoland and further assignment with the fleet.

The Operation.

Using the encounter table I rolled to see what shipping the squadron would come across during its traverse of the North Sea. 

The first rolls yielded a flotilla of Danish and German fishing boats then, in the early hours, a German merchant ship en-route at best speed for Bremen. The hours of daylight passed uneventfully, with no shipping sighted. Shortly after nightfall British fishing boats were sighted off the Norwegian coast in the South Utsire fishing grounds. The Kommodore decided to ignore them. They were of little value, wouldn't carry wireless with which to warn the Royal Navy, and besides, firing on them might alert any enemy warships in the area.

A Danish passenger ferry bound for Reykjavik was sighted before dawn, the squadron easily overhauling the slower civilian vessel. As daylight filled the sky a great deal of smoke was sighted to the west. Closing the distance it became apparent the source was a number of ships sailing in formation. 

Shaffer ascended to the fire control centre and scanned the scene through his binoculars. He was certain that patrolling warships of the Royal Navy lay ahead. Since his orders were securely transmitted by telegraph and courier vessel and not wireless, Shaffer was almost as certain the enemy were unaware of his crossing the North Sea. With the sun rising behind his squadron and dazzling the enemy gunners, he was in an ideal position to force the passage. Descending to the bridge Shaffer ordered increased speed. The hour was upon him, and he would do his duty to Kaiser and Fatherland...   

With luck and a following wind I'll play out the encounter sometime in the next few days.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Off the Slipway

Since I wasn't feeling well enough to do much else, I cracked on with the new ships for the Moroccan Crisis narrative campaign. These were made using the sandwich method. I gave them a matte black undercoat followed by a mid-grey base coat. For everything else paint-wise I used standard craft paints.

L-R HMS Charybdis, Highflyer, Hyacinth & Hermes.  SMS Berlin, Hamburg, Prinz Adalbert, Friedrich Karl

Next up for these will be a coat of matte varnish to reduce the shine before setting them on transparent bases.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Of Covid and Cruisers

So, it's been a while since I posted here. The damn disease finally slipped past our defences and my wife and I went down with it. It's been rough but we're slowly coming out of the woods. 

In the meantime I continued my glacial progress with the cruisers for the Moroccan Crisis games. They're pretty basic - little more than tokens - but they're almost done.

L-R Bremen LCs, Prinz Adalbert ACs, Highflyer LCs.

Last bits to be added are the boat cranes on the two Prinz Adalbert ACs, and a set of masts for all. Once that's all done it'll be an undercoat of grey and final painting and basing.

Friday, May 6, 2022

On the Slipway

Five new models under construction for the Moroccan Crisis 1905 campaign. They're slated to participate in the Run to the North episode.

L-R Highflyer, Hyacinth, Hermes. SMS Prinz Adalbert, Friedrich Karl

These are simple models built using the time-honoured 'sandwich' method.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Encounter tables.


Thanks to all those who commented on my idea of creating encounter tables for this campaign. I've done some work on the idea, so here goes...

North Sea, Kattegat and Skagerrak map squares adjacent to coastlines are high traffic zones and will have the higher chance of ship encounters. D1 & D2 will have a chance of encounters with Norwegian and Icelandic shipping, and hostile Royal Navy warships.


Encounter Zone

1d10 score

Adjacent Coastal Squares - Roll twice


All others


During hours of darkness


Fog/heavy rain


Minus scores are cumulative.

Go to type of vessel(s) encountered table.

Plus one to dice roll if transiting squares adjacent to hostile country. Minus one if transiting squares adjacent to own country.


Civilian Vessel Encountered


Own national small civilian craft


Own national fishing boat


Own national merchantman *


Own national passenger liner or ferry *


Allied national fishing boat


Allied national merchantman *


Allied national passenger liner or ferry *


Neutral fishing boat


Neutral merchantman *


Neutral passenger liner or ferry *


Hostile national warship


Hostile national fishing boat


Hostile national merchantman *


Hostile national passenger liner or ferry *

In general fishing vessels from hostile powers were left alone to go about their business unless they were really cheeky and sailed close to the hostile shore. Even during WW2 some British boats still fished off the coasts of France. It's up to the player whether such boats are fired upon or captured, but the example of the Dogger Bank Incident should serve as a warning to what can go wrong.

* Roll 1d6: Score of 6 indicates the vessel is equipped with wireless. Go to chart to see if the vessel transmits an encounter message.

Nationality of vessel

Transmits on score of:







Hostile warships and wireless-equipped merchant vessels from a hostile power will automatically transmit a contact or mayday call. Warships will identify the type and course of the encountered enemy. Merchantmen will merely transmit an encounter with warships. Neutral warships will transmit an encounter message but it will be enciphered. All the hostile power will know is that the neutral ship(s) encountered something. Warship transmissions will be received automatically by their Admiralty. Merchant and neutral warship transmissions are picked up by the hostile power on a d6 score of 5-6. 

For the sake of completeness I've added a neutral warships table. It's up to the player again if there's a chance of a misidentification happening and what the consequences are.




Neutral national Destroyer, Auxiliary or Fleet Courier


Neutral national Cruiser


Neutral national Armoured Cruiser


Neutral national Battleship

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Pre-Dreadnought ~ Further operations

I'm shaping up the next scenario in the 1905 Moroccan Crisis series of linked games. This will involve three armoured cruisers, the two Prinz Adelbert class ACs SMS Prinz Adelbert and Friedrich Karl, and SMS Prinz Heinrich along with an escort of light cruisers and destroyers. The objective is to break out into the North Atlantic and commence commerce raiding on British and French shipping. 

Under this scenario the armoured cruiser force leaves Heligoland at dusk on the day of the Battle of the Humber. Security is absolute. Unlike the previous clash where British Admiralty intelligence intercepted German naval wireless traffic and was able to forewarn the fleet of the German move, the cruiser force received all orders via telegraph and fleet courier. 

At the same time a Royal Navy division from the Channel Squadron is on the move, destination Heligoland. Composed of four Royal Sovereign class battleships and escorts, its objective is to bombard and neutralise shore defences and destroy any enemy warships in the area. 

Green arrow: German plotted course. Red: British course.

To set things in context: The Royal Navy was already on a high state of alert following the October 21st 1904 Dogger Bank Incident where a Russian fleet transiting the North Sea opened fire on British fishing trawlers in the mistaken belief they were Japanese torpedo boats. Yes, quite. Although the Russian's profuse apology and compensation mollified British public opinion, the Russo-Japanese War is still in progress and the Royal Navy remains watchful against further 'incidents.'

I'm thinking of taking a leaf out of the Traveller SF rpg book by drawing up a chart of shipping encounters which both sides may come across en-route. There'll be a chance of a wireless equipped vessel - neutral or hostile - transmitting the coordinates of the encountering squadron to all and sundry. This may or may not give advanced warning of an approaching force.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Pre-Dreadnaughts moving again

Jim Jackaman's recent post on his 1/2400 Pre-Dreadnaught project inspired me to get my own project moving again. Issues with my laptop had stalled the production of ship record sheets on the Paint program for the Paul Hague rules I use. However, months turned off and isolated from the 'net has done wonders and the machine is quite functional again - hence these.

The four Siegfried-class coastal defence ships...

 And the four Royal Sovereign-class battleships.

I hope to get a game in sometime soon. Gardening season's upon us so it'll be as-and-when I can find time.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

To the Manor ~ Done!

'tis finished at last. I'm going to call this done. 

Camelot! Camelot! Camelot! (It's only a model...) Shush!

The roof is a print from a paper craft HO scale railway model, reduced slightly in scale and varnished. The design began as an American wooden shingle type roof, but looks sufficiently like a medieval stone tile pattern it'll do fine. The windows I left blank, painting them in with a dark brown shade to look more like a natural shadowy interior. The whole was given a coat of Future/Clear/Pledge/Whatever polish with some very diluted sepia and black ink to give it a weathered 'recent rainfall' look.

Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time!

In the Lion Rampant rules this manor would count as 'Superb cover,' giving a defending unit bonuses for cover etc. Hopefully I'll get it into action in a game before long.


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