Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Pre-Dreadnought Photos: Part 11

Having recently made some new acquisitions, I'd thought I'd share a final instalment of Pre-Dred views relating to what got me started on those little 1/3000th ships, namely vessels from the Boxer Rebellion Naval Project.

Above you can see a contemporary French postcard that for me, brilliantly encapsulates the rapacious and unbridled expansionist policies of the assembled Powers.
From left to right we see Italy, Britain, Japan, Russia, Germany, France and the U.S.A. dancing around the body politic that was China in 1900.

The caption reads: 'Then, one more vigorous push and the Colossus was in pieces....".

This was produced by the Kunzli Brothers of Paris, and reveals some of the disquiet felt even then at the rather undignified scramble for the remnants of Qing China; of course the depredations of the Boxers, particularly amongst the Chinese Christian communities and latterly the foreign residents had to be answered, but it was the rewards of the potential 'pieces' that were the main motivation for intervention....

I note that one more tiny homuncular figure is holding the hand of Uncle Sam at the end, but is obscured - I suppose the artist couldn't think of a suitable caricature for Austro-Hungary!

Putting the politics aside, then, let's have a look at some lovely ships!
first up, the Italian Cruiser, the Lombardia:

Launched in 1890, she and her sisters provided Italy with a useful class of Protected Cruisers, small but perfectly formed!

The British, of course, went for a rather more full-on approach, here with the Armoured Cruiser the HMS Powerful, who along with her sister ship, Terrible, provided landing parties in China, as well as later and more famously, in the Relief of Ladysmith during the Boer War:

Also from the China Squadron of the RN, we have the Battleship the Barfleur:

Built especially with a shallower draught to be better able to cope with the estuaries of the region.

Moving over the Channel, as it were, we have what I think is the French Cruiser the D'Entrecasteaux, although it is a bit difficult to be sure from this angle:

Finally, we have a view of a participant in the storming of the Taku Forts, the old French gunboat, the Lion:

I particularly like the old Muzzle-Loading gun at the bow, with its funky wrap-around shield:

There'll be some more Pre-Dred stuff to come in the future, as well as some views of a different type of conflict altogether, that I've been gathering as background for yet another project!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Aquanef: Pacific War 1879: Naval Strengths of the Militarists

Some time ago I was lucky enough to find a 1906 copy of Sir William Laird Clowes' book "Four Modern Naval Campaigns" in a charity shop. This is a treatise on what was then the modern art of naval warfare, and looks in detail at the campaign surrounding the Battle of Lissa in 1866, as well as three separate South American conflicts spanning 1879 to 1894.

This is obviously where I drew my inspiration from when deciding where to set the Nemo versus the Militarists campaign, and it has been a mine of information on the vessels employed at the time and their capabilities, as well as having a lot of scenario-worthy detail on the various engagements.

Laird Clowes set out to examine the likely shape of a future Naval conflict for Britain, give that she herself had not had any recent major surface engagements "since the introduction of modern factors, such as steam, armour, high powered guns, the Ram, the Torpedo and the Electric Light".

In describing the Pacific War of 1879, he himself drew upon a number of sources, including the work of Lt. Theodorus B.M. Mason U.S.N. , as well as both French and Spanish accounts; he hoped to: "set forth some significant, though, I fear, still neglected lessons concerning the potentialities and limitations of the Ram in action" and to demonstrate "the immense importance, especially in armoured craft, of superior speed".
His conclusions make fascinating reading, but he makes no mention of the involvement of submarine craft and their potential, (Booo!) although there are some details given on torpedo craft and the various incarnations of their weaponry.

From his descriptions then, here is a breakdown of the naval strengths in armed shipping of Peru and Chile (Bolivia had no navy) at the start of their fight over the mineral and nitrate rich Atacama Desert:


Barque-rigged Ironclad Turret Ship, (1865) 1,130 tons
Speed: 11knots (approx)
Armament: 2 x 10" Muzzle Loaders, 2 x 40pdr ML, 1 x 12pdr ML, 1 Gatling gun
Armour: Sides 4.5", Turret from 5.5 to 7"

Ram equipped Armoured Frigate, (1864) 2,004t
1 x 250pdr ML, 3 x 150pdr ML, 12 x 70pdr ML
4.5" on the waterline and the central Battery; this had an additional 10" of teak backing

Mano Capac:
Ironclad Monitor (Formerly the USS Oneota), (1866) 2,100t
2 x 15" Smooth Bore Breech Loaders
5" laminated armour on sides, 10" on turret

Ironclad Monitor (Formerly the USS Catawba), (1866) 2,100t
2 x 15" SBL
5" laminated armour on sides, 10" on turret

Wooden Corvette, (1864) 1,150t
2 x 100pdr ML, 2 x 70pdr ML, 12 x 40pdr ML

Wooden Gun Vessel, (1864) 600t
2x 70pdr ML, 4 x 40pdr ML (later changed to Breech Loaders)

Steamer Transport, (1873) 1,000t
2 x 40pdr ML

Paddle Transport, (1865) 1,163t
2 x 40pdr ML

Laird Clowes also mentions that Peru employed Herreshoff type Spar Torpedo Boats, and also had access to some Lay Automobile Torpedos; cable deploying 12.5kt speed, which carried 90lb of Dynamite.


Almirante Cochrane:
Ram equipped Ironclad Battleship, (1874) 3,560t
6 x 9" ML, 1 x 20pdr ML, 1 x 9pdr ML, 1x 7pdr ML, 1 x 1" Nordenfeldt
9" Iron Belt, Battery 8", Iron Deck of 2 to 3"

Blanco Encelada:
Ram equipped Ironclad Battleship, (1874) 3,560t
6 x 9" ML, 1 x 20pdr ML, 1 x 9pdr ML, 1x 7pdr ML, 1 x 1" Nordenfeldt
9" Iron Belt, Battery 8", Iron Deck of 2 to 3"

Wooden Corvette, (1866) 1,670t
3 x 7 ton ML, 2 x 70pdr ML, 4 x 40pdr ML

Wooden Corvette, (1866) 1,670t
3 x 7 ton ML, 2 x 70pdr ML, 4 x 40pdr ML

Wooden Sloop, (1854) less than 1,000t
14 x 40pdr

Iron and Wooden Gun Vessel (1874) 772t
1x 7 ton ML, 1 x 64pdr ML 1x 25pdr ML

Gunboat (1854) less than 700t
2 x 70pdr ML

Iron and Wooden Corvette (1854) 1,050t
3 x 150pdr ML, 3 x 30pdr ML

Chile also employed a number of Spar Torpedo Boats, and both sides made use of civilian transports and coastal vessels, often up-gunned with ancient muzzle-loaders, as well as Gatling and Nordenfeldts where available.

So, quite a range of shipping, some of which will no doubt provide fodder for the depredations of armoured submersibles, but also others that might just give a better account of themselves. Laird Clowes is at great pains to point out the limitations of Ram attacks when employed against fast ships that are capable of maneuvering: perhaps Nemo won't have it all his own way, after all.......

Friday, 18 June 2010

Aquanef: Robur, Master of the World, and the Albatross

Looking rather forlorn and sorry for itself, we see above the VAN-1402 Peruvian Aeronef, the Huascar from Brigade Models, which I had originally purchased with a view to converting it into a sea-going craft as seen in a previous Aquanef post.

The more I looked at it however, and mourned for the barbette guns that had broken off in transit, I realised that this model deserved more than relegation to the bits box, and should take a place alongside the other protagonists in the developing Nemo versus the Militarists project.
The natural progression, of course, would be to introduce it alongside a whole range of the readily available Aeronef miniatures, but I wanted to have something rather more unique.

We started off from the point of view of Nemo and his Allies interfering in the Pacific War between Peru, Chile and Bolivia, and then moved on to the introduction of Militarist super-weapons to challenge the superiority of Nemo's vessels. What could be more natural, then, than for this enigmatic genius to call on a further Ally in the shape of Robur, 'Master of the World', and his sky ship the 'Albatross' in reply.

Jules Verne wrote Robur the Conqueror in 1886, and followed it up with a sequel in 1904, concerning the adventures of an eccentric who prowled the stratosphere in a heavier than air craft, to mysterious ends, a character who has more than a whiff of the water-based Nemo about him:

I had always enjoyed these tales, and in particular Vincent Price's over-the-top portrayal of him in the 1961 movie:

His fantastic flying vessel, the 'Albatross', has had a number of different incarnations, depending upon the illustrator, but to me I think the Aeronef Huascar would make a good starting point; I added on the tail section which comes with the model, and also some plastic bridging parts to act as bases for its means of propulsion at the rear:

Verne's vessel is characterised by a plethora of propellers, as can be seen in some of the excellent model versions showcased here:

So after pinching out some discs of transparent plastic card and attaching them to steel stationery pins, we have the beginning of something rather special, I hope, as below:

To be frank, on close examination, there is a concern that these could look like so many parasols mounted on deck, rather than pulsing powerhouses of propulsion, but hopefully the surrounding paint job should help to bring the whole together. I also had to compromise on the number of propellers, solely for practical purposes, but hopefully it keeps to the spirit of the original:

There's obviously a lot more work to do on my version of the 'Alabatross' before it can take it's place alongside the forces of Nemo, but a decent start, anyway:

You can find a whole slew of of the illustrations from the two novels online, but one of the best collections can be seen here:

(All the pictures are 'clickable' for a larger view.)

Of course, I must also add that I'm not the first to think along these lines when approaching the depiction of Aeronef, one of the most interesting versions can be seen on the Brigade Models' site itself, in the shape of the Konigin Louisa:

Excellent work, that I can only hope to emulate as my own sky ship develops!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

6mm Dr Who: Dalek Heavy Metal

Thoroughly inspired by my recent reading of the fantastic narrative and pictorial work over at Mechmaster's CG Lair, I thought I'd re-visit an old project, and add some new Heavy Units to my Dalek army.

The online graphic novel adventures of 'Daleks- Second Empire' are are an absolute creative tour de force, and cannot help but get fans like myself thinking of the various possibilities if you lay the traditional 'canon' story arcs to one side, and go wild with the inherent potential of those tin-pot dictators playing out their meglomaniac plans.

I heartily recommend reading the online novel from the very beginning; yes, the humour can be a bit off the wall, and purists may shudder at the interpretation, but I think it is highly entertaining and well worth a visit as it continues.

Having in the past added some flying saucers to offer an air capability, I thought it only fair that any expansion of the force should see some naval craft; we've seen on screen, at least, that the Daleks can move underwater - there is that iconic image of one emerging from the River Thames - but I don't think we've ever come across them speeding about in boats.

My starting point, as you can see above, was the slightly unusual candidate of the IKBO4 Monitor from Irregular Miniatures' 2mm 20th Century Boats range. The sculpts in this group are quite quirky and enigmatic, and perhaps are not that closely representative of actual vessels, but for some reason the shape of this particular craft has always caught my eye.

Perhaps it is the flat forward turret and its guns that are so suggestive of the mid body accoutrements of the Daleks, but after a bit of surgery on some of the NSF7 'attack robots', I couldn't resist popping some on top:

I envisage these as a form of fast patrol craft that enable the Daleks to conquer even watery worlds, speeding along hovercraft-like as scouts or interdictors.

You can see them above next door to a Germy-designed 'GMM-42' 18mm Mecha from Ground Zero Games, that I was contemplating working on, when the influence of 'Second Empire' really took a hold of me.
If the artist/creator there can come up with everything from special sniper units to pink-coloured TV Reporter Daleks, why couldn't I go the extra mile as well......the only downfall of the pepper-pot dictators has always been their inability to climb stairs, due to their obvious lack of lower limbs, so I thought, why not terrify the Universe out of its complacency, and give them legs?

So now nowhere is safe from their depredations:

The Mech head was left off, and replaced with a piece of plasti-card bridging, topped by a steel spacer from my bicycle brake pads (Hope these won't need replacing anytime soon...!), to give an invincible walking Dalek.
I may well add in some weapon packs for extra fire-power on these, as well as toying around with the idea of modelling hover cushions to go under the water-craft, but you can see the general theme emerging here; the Daleks are going to be an all-arms, all terrain force from now on...stay tuned for some updates as work on these and other insane creations progresses!

Friday, 11 June 2010

2mm Colonial: Adding some VSF back into the mix...

Some readers might remember that my 'dipping of the toe becomes large splash' entry into 2mm Colonial began with the initial idea of doing Infantry-based forces that would support some Land Ironclads models that I have, but soon morphed into messing about with Mahdists.

In the spirit of a return to the original idea, I've been tinkering with which of Brigade Models' excellent minis would do duty alongside my late Victorian soldiery, and as you can see in the photo above, have plumped for the ostensibly un-British VLI-203 Lafayette Ironclad.

Oh the ignominy! Not only is it a contraption built by those pesky Yankees, but is named after a Frenchie who fought with them against us during their unfortunate Revolution....tsk, tsk, whatever will the Memsahib say?

Putting aside these objections in typically arbitrary fashion, I'm going to stick with this as I felt for a Colonial-type force anchored from around 1875 to 1890, something that had a nice 'Land -Train' appearance would best fit the bill, rather than some of the more Dreadnought-like offerings available in the British range.

Apart from the paint-scheme, of course, I'm going to Anglicise the appearance by the subterfuge of exchanging the turrets included, which to my eye, are a bit too modern in profile, with some spares available from the always useful Aeronef VAN-7011 British gun turrets accessory pack:

This should hopefully render a more suitable appearance, as well as effectively up-gunning the resulting vehicle:

If I really wanted to go the whole hog, I suppose I could further internationalise the whole with the VAN-7053 Heavy Russian turret, but I think this will probably be overkill; all three turret options can be seen below:

Brigade, of course offers real 'Land-Tain' types in the German range, but these are a bit too overpowering for the context in which I want to use them, and besides, the Lafayette is considerably cheaper!
Moreover, they should scale well alongside my existing Land Dreadnought, originally acquired for the 'Weird' WWI project, the 2mm IKSF26 from Irregular Miniatures:

As you may remember, the HMLD indefatigable had a few bits of work done to the basic model, including the addition of funnel and mast, so I would be looking to do the same with the new recruits; all we need now is a name..... perhaps the Burgoyne Land Locomotive Ironclad.....?

Friday, 4 June 2010

Aquanef: Submarine Revenge of the Militarists

I've recently got to thinking about how the whole Nemo vs. the Militarist factions of the Pacific War 1879 might develop, and in particular how the more conventional historical based vessels might actually cope when taking on the steel monsters of the Deep.
There are rifled muzzle-loaders and Dahlgren guns a-plenty, but could these really compete with the armoured submarines of Nemo and his Allies?
It seems to me that the Chileans and Peruvians, in response to the superior armaments of their mutual foe, would soon have to come up with some super weapons of their own, so I have been delving into the contemporary navies for a few ideas.

Imagine my surprise, then, to discover that it was not the 'Hunleys' and 'Alligators' of the ACW that had cornered the market in early subs, as indeed, both Chile and Peru had tested advanced designs of their own in circa 1864, and actually come up with some decent machines.

Chile, in response to conflict with Spain, had commissioned an immigrant German engineer named Karl Flach to design a submersible that would help to offset the superiority in shipping of their Continental enemy. His steel creation was 12.5 metres in length, pedal powered by a crew of 11, and featured two cannons, one built into the nose of the vessel itself!

Unfortunately, disaster struck on a proving run, and the designer, his eleven year old son, and another nine men were lost. There are some details on this Wiki page here:

also, more interestingly, some artist's impressions of how she may have appeared here:

and details on the current search for the whereabouts of the wreck, with a view to raising her for posterity:

The tragedy curtailed Chile's submarine ambitions, but the same conflict with Spain also motivated Peru to seek a similar technical advance.

In 1864, Federico Blume, a railway engineer, developed the 'Toro Submarino' or submarine Bull, which included such innovations as ballast tanks and a rudimentary system of air schnorkels; the end of the conflict with the Europeans saw it retreat to the drawing board, only to resurface when the strife with Chile began.

Blume's vessel was a 48' craft built from 1/4" boiler iron, was crewed by eleven men, and launching in June 1879, attained in trails an operating depth of twelve fathoms for a duration of thirty minutes, and a speed of 4 knots. In October of the same year, she was deployed to engage the Chilean Blanco Encelada and Almirante Cochrane near San Lorenzo Island near Callao with a pair of towed torpedos, but the mission was scrubbed when the vessels moved the location of their anchorages at short notice:

Once Chile's star was firmly in the ascendant, the submarine Bull was scuttled with the rest of the Peruvian Fleet, and so the underwater advances of these two South American nations were stillborn - doesn't mean I can't resurrect them however, does it?

I think I feel a bit of a scratch-build coming on...... :-)

Taking things somewhat further, I've also been considering beefing up the surface vessels of the belligerent nations, with input from some contenders available from Brigade's Aeronef ranges. Now of course these are supposed to be aether craft, but a bit of surgery to remove the tail apparatus and a few additional bits and bobs, and these should make some decent looking 'super-Monitors' or 'Ironclads-on-steroids' to take on Nemo and his ilk.

(Of course, Peru had some real ACW-era Monitors serving in their historical fleet; see here for the Mano Capac:

and the Athualpa:

both bought surplus from the USA.)

First up then, I'm looking at the VAN 1401 Peruvian Sanchez Carillon class Frigate, which with the tailplanes off and the bottom of the hull filed flat, should make an interesting addition to the mix:

Additionally, we have the VAN 803 Brazilian Gustavo Sampaio class Light Cruiser, which will see some similar attention to produce an ocean-going heavyweight worthy of a fight with Nemo:

So hopefully lots to look forward to here, whether some revivified historical subs, or some more imagineered surface craft!

In a coming post I'll be looking to put down on paper some technical specs for the respective fleets, as well as hopefully some scenario ideas based around the real events of the Pacific War - so stay tuned for more Aquanefiness to come.....

Thursday, 3 June 2010

2mm Web Resources: New Entry

A new entry, now, into the ever-widening presence of 2mm miniatures on the old WWW, here in the form of a great pictorial entry at the Blog 'One more gaming project':

Chris Palmer has posted photos of his growing forces for use on Mars, this time with the focus being on the Germans, but he promises more to come - some excellent painting of Brigade Model's Land Ironclads and GW conversions being on show, but also some beautifully painted 2mm Infantry and artillery from Irregular.

Swing by and take a look if the tiniest of minis are your thing - it's already been bookmarked by yours truly.