Friday, August 31, 2018

From the Shipyard

It's been a busy week, full of ups and downs, skulduggery and shenanigans, but it's about time for a progress report on the 1/2400 pre-Dreadnoughts. This is a cheap and cheerful project and very much a homespun effort. Since I'm going to cast these I chose ships that had at least four vessels in their class. Here's the result so far. These are all Royal Navy vessels.

Front to rear ~ Majestic class battleship, Cressy class armoured cruiser, Apollo class protected/light cruiser, and a couple of generic destroyers. The latter are awaiting their funnels. In this scale the destroyer of the day is barely there so I painted this pair black to stand out. All detail on them will be limited. Since I intend to mold these models I've left off the main guns, masts and fire directors on the battleship and cruisers.

Next on the list will be their future opponents of the Kaiserliche Marine.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Moldable Majestic

A little more progress today on the Majestic class battleship in 1/2400 scale.

The process of making these ship models has been described as the 'sandwich method,' but I think it's more like a making layer cake, with each level built up to form the whole. Like any model this size it's not what to include that matters, but what to leave out. Some prototypical details are so small they won't be noticed or are near impossible to scratch build.

So far I have the hull, the two teardrop-shape main turrets and most of the upper works done. I've yet to work out how to represent the 6-inch secondary armament casements which took the form of hemispherical bulges along the top of the hull. I'll probably use Miliput to sculpt these. Part of the aft upperwork has also been left out since on the prototype the mizzen mast passed through it and the masts will have to be fitted separately in any case. I've also left out the main armament since these will be too thin to cast in resin. Instead I'll fit them later using cut-down pins or wire.

I'm going to use a method of making a mold from silicone caulking, which works out cheaper for a small scale limited-run project like this than OOMOO 30 or similar. I've avoided making too many deep undercuts on the model, although silicone caulking is surprisingly good at rendering these.

One of the most noticeable variations between this ship and others like her lies in the funnel arrangement. Majestic and her sisters had two funnels mounted side by side. Sometimes the arrangement was slightly different from ship to ship. Quite often as new and improved boiler systems came into being ships were refitted to mount a tandem pair. The Majestic's near twin Mikasa was one such. For this reason I've not modelled the funnels, leaving the basic form to give maximum scope for this kind of variation. The same goes for the ship's boats, which had a variety of positions.

Next up will be a Cressy class Armoured Cruiser.

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.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Rumours of Saxons

This past weekend turned into a bugger's muddle, what with one thing and another. Still, with luck and a following wind I'm going to place an order with Splintered Light Miniatures for their 15mm Early Saxon Dux Britanniarum force within the next few weeks. Then I'll finally have some opposition for the Romano-British who've kicked their heels for all this time.

Now I'll need to make trees, a lot of trees...

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Inigo Jones and the...

Two posh houses? Doesn't exactly trip off the tongue, but it's a way of saying I've finished the two Jacobean houses I've worked on this last week. Results shown below.

Not too shabby I think, although once again I should probably keep off the coffee before doing any fine painting. I managed to capture the overall look of the Jacobean style. As I mentioned in a previous post, some details had to be omitted due to being too fiddly or delicate for a gaming model. The roofs with the variegated shades of brown and brick-red tiles typical of the period worked. So did the classic 'crow-step' gables.

The chimneys are a bit oversize to give the impression of imposing height to the structures without adding to the tabletop footprint. Antique white craft paint represents the pale limestone used by the architects of the time for window bays and porches, and to pick out the edges of walls, gables and chimneys. I painted the porch columns and entablatures in white so they stand out a bit more.

Next up I'll make a gatehouse or two for the walls I made earlier then I'll get it all on the table for an actual wargame.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

A Touch of the Jacobeans

The late medieval/Tudor house is finished, so I thought I'd add some more up-to-date buildings to the ECW village in the shape of two Jacobean houses. The style preceded the ECW by a couple of decades or so, and look quite different from the half timbered/fachwerk* style of the previous century.

I've got the bulk of the painting done, settling on the characteristic Jacobean warm orange-red brick. It's a little too hot in appearance, so I'll probably tone it down a bit with a yellow-brown wash. The window bays and doorways are antique white as these were usually built from pale coloured stone.

Just the windows and doors to do. I'll omit the style's more fiddly detail since these are working models for the gaming table.

Speaking of gaming... I hope to run a solo ECW game sometime this next week. My table has been up and ready for months yet I haven't played a game on it. With luck and a following wind, I also hope to visit family and friends in Britain either next month or November, at which time I'll retrieve a load of figures, models and books which have languished in storage since I emigrated. 

*No, not a 1980's German technopop band. Rather the German name for the half-timbered style.


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