Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Cressy class joins the fleet.

"Being in all respects ready for sea..."

A warm weekend saw the completion of the six armoured cruisers for the pre-Dreadnought Royal Naval force. The models are simple in design and execution, but I think they look the part.

Front division - Cressy, Sutlej, Aboukir. Rear division - Hogue, Euryalus, Bacchante.

In the First World War the class had the unhappy distinction of losing half its number in a single encounter with the enemy.

Early morning, September 22nd 1914: HMS Cressy, Aboukir and Hogue as part of 7th Cruiser squadron were patrolling between the German minefields in the southern North Sea and the edge of Dutch territorial waters. The ships steamed at around 10 knots and were not zig-zagging against submarine attack. Hours before, the squadron's destroyer screen had been forced to return to port due to bad weather. A few days earlier First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill had ordered that such cruisers were not to operate without a destroyer screen, yet for some reason his order had not passed down the chain of command. The cruiser squadron's movements were repetitive, and the German naval staff were well aware of its position.

At 6.30am the squadron was about 30 miles west of Ymuiden when an explosion shattered the side of Aboukir, which began to sink. Orders had not then been given for vessels not to approach a sinking comrade. Assuming Aboukir had struck a mine, the Hogue immediately sailed to the rescue - only to be hit by two torpedoes, sinking ten minutes later. Aboukir went down after twenty five minutes. Cressy then approached and remained stopped to pick up survivors. As she began to move away two more torpedoes found their mark on her hull. She capsized and quickly sank.

The culprit was German submarine U9 commanded by Lieutenant-Commander Weddigen, a 500-ton boat armed with four torpedo tubes and six torpedoes. Weddigen reported that the cruisers were easy targets, and the highly-successful action stimulated German development of submarine warfare.

Sixty-two officers and one thousand three hundred and ninety-seven men were lost. The disaster was not reported in the British press as its effects on national morale would've been severe. It demonstrated that such elderly ships were vulnerable to torpedo attack, and led to other old ships being fitted with waterline bulges for protection against torpedo and mine attack.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

A Clutch of Cressy-class Cruisers

Try saying that six times quickly.

I haven't posted for a while because my wife and I are dealing with the aftermath of a car accident. Nobody got hurt, but our car got a right ding which rendered it inoperable for the time being. Negotiating with the insurance agencies is a long, time-consuming bloody nightmare, even though we were totally blameless for the collision.


In the little downtime I had I got to work on the much-needed Royal Navy armoured cruisers. These are the six-hull Cressy-class, ordered in 1898 and at the time the first major cruiser class built for the Royal Navy in fifteen years. Progenitors of subsequent vessels of their type, the first of the class was completed in 1902.

Like the other models I've built they're fairly basic. Here's the six undercoated and ready for the final paintwork, which I hope to do sometime in the next few days.

After these are doing I'll probably build the five London-class battleships which were assigned to the Mediterranean fleet.

Monday, July 13, 2020

North Atlantic chart

The North Atlantic chart is now finished; the final touch was the list of key Royal Naval bases around the circumference of the ocean. It serves as a basic map on which to plot the movements of ship, squadrons and fleets. These I can add as differently coloured lines much like a WW2 British Admiralty plot. As each map is saved it'll add a record to the campaign diary.

I didn't bother to grid those areas of land away from the coast. No ship will sail there! Likewise since the North Sea is covered by the previous map i didn't bother to add grid lines to that area.

Should the German navy succeed in breaking out into the North Atlantic I'm going to borrow a page from the Traveller SF RPG rules and have an encounter table for shipping met during a guerre de course campaign. At the moment I'm going to assume the British Admiralty will follow their historical policy and not initiate a convoy system for merchant shipping unless or until the German navy has inflicted a certain amount of shipping tonnage loss.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Charts for the Pre-Dreadnought campaign

Now the Neolithic terrain pieces are out of the way, my gamer's butterfly brain has flown back to another subject - my pre-Dreadnought solo campaign based on a Moroccan Crisis-turned-hot premise. I found an excellent resource online in the shape of . They have a whole range of free downloadable blank maps of locations around the world which can be filled in with details as required. Availing myself of the North Sea and North Atlantic maps, I got to work customising them to my own needs.

And the North Atlantic - currently a work in progress.

I added a grid to both charts. The North Sea grid is (roughly) 96 miles square, that of the North Atlantic 600 miles square subdivided into nine squares of 200 miles. My reasoning behind these choices is that I'm taking the average cruising speed of a warship of this time as being around 12 knots, and the grid will give me a rough at-a-glance idea of transit speeds. In eight hours a vessel would cover 96 miles, in sixteen and a half hours it'd cover 200 miles, and fifty hours 600 miles.

The North Sea map shows the main British ports and bases which the German Navy can reasonably strike at, along with the German bases at Wilhelmshaven and Heligoland. I've yet to add the locations of various ports and naval bases to the North Atlantic chart. At the moment I'm trying to resist the 'mission creep' factor and not make this a global war. My intention - if I can stick to it - is to game German naval attempts to strike at targets in the British Isles and conduct a guerre de course campaign against British shipping in the North Atlantic.

My next modelling session in this project will be to make four Cressy-class armoured cruisers for the Royal Navy. The trouble is, due to the aforementioned mission creep, I'm now contemplating making four London-class battleships too. The class were part of the Mediterranean Fleet for most of their active careers, so it would be reasonable to have a squadron based in Gibraltar to guard the Med.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Dolmen Done

Work on the dolmen progressed this week, actually helped by the sweltering heat plaguing NW Ohio for the past two weeks. Paint dried quickly, glue set in record time, flock stuck first go. Marvelous!

First off, after the black undercoat had dried I painted the stones successively lighter shades of grey then applied a layer of vinyl adhesive followed up with flock.

Once the flock was stuck firmly I dripped green ink onto it using an eye-dropper, following up by wet brushing it in successively lighter shades of green. The stones also got some green ink treatment in areas which, in real life would be shaded by the rocks to represent moss.

So here it is, the Dolmen is complete and ready to take its place on the wargames table.

Romano-British war leader Gaius Menusius and his entourage contemplate the ancient stones.

Perhaps appealing the ancestors would help rid the land of the Saxon invaders?

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Down Among the Dolmen

Dolmen are found all across Northwestern Europe. Composed of a flat slab of stone set tabletop-fashion on two or more upright stones or megaliths, they're what's left of late Mezolithic/Early Neolithic burials. Once, earth covered the stones to a considerable height to form tumuli, or burial mounds. Time, erosion and ploughing wore down the earth until the stones were exposed once more. They stand as spooky reminders of our prehistoric past.

Like the stone circle/henge I made earlier, I thought a dolmen would liven up the wargaming landscape and be suitable for any period.

First step - the base. One metal cap from an orange juice carton, glued to a roughly-cut card circle. The basic shape of the dolmen rests alongside. The capstone is a flat oval-shaped wood chip glued to three other round pieces cut to length. Top left is an isolated megalith made of another piece of wood chip glued to a fender washer.

Some flocking, again of the trusty dried tea leaves. The dolmen shows another side.

More flocking, this time after the dolmen was glued to the centre of the base using vinyl tile adhesive. I began to apply flocking to the megalith base.

The next step once the adhesive's dry will be a black undercoat.


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