Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pre-Dread Project - Germans (Part 1)

Time to move onto the Germans.  As stated earlier these will pose a hypothetical opponent for the Americans.  Historically there were tensions between the German Asiatic fleet and Commodore Dewey after the battle of Manila.  I plan to expand on that what if scenarios.
German fleet in dry dock
I plan to work on 1-2 classes at a time to expedite progress.  Tonight was the Pre-Dreadnought Brandenburg class of four ships.

Masts were pretty straight forward on these models with two sizes of wire.  Not much difference from one ship to the next except I was able to find painting of each showing that they had different red rings on the funnels which distinguished each ship of the class.

Note the funnel rings
I was not real impressed with the Panzerschiffe model when I first saw it.  Now that I have seen drawings a pictures of the actual ships they are a decent rendition.  the masts and the inking really made them pop.
SMS Worth
If I can continue at this pace the Germans may be ready for battle after the weekend.

Pre-Dread Project-Spanish (Part 2) Complete

Well it took me almost 3 yrs to get back to these, but I was able to complete the Spanish Fleet in less than 2 days. 

The last 7 ships were only two different classes, but the masts were a bit more difficult with all the spars.  on the second group of 5 I did recall that painting the main mast first which helps with gluing on the spars tremendously and reduces the excess glue visible at the joint.  Will remember to do this as I move on to the Germans and then remaining Americans.
Cristobal Colon may be mislabeled

Less visible Glue at the joints on the masts
Also it appears I may have one of the small cruisers mislabeled, will have to go back and do a bit more research on that class.
Complete Spanish fleet
Now on to the Germans.....

German fleet entering dry dock

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Pre-Dread Project - Spanish (Part 1)

Today I finally put words into action after a 3 year hiatus I built and painted my first ships.  My intent was to just do the Battleship Pelaya, but it all came back so easy I just kept going until diner.
Pelayo during mast construction
Completed Pelayo
As a result I was able to complete 7 of the 14 Spanish ships that were scheduled to join the fleet.  I am very satisfied with the results.  In some ways I think they even look better than the first ones I did as I have learned new techinques while I was away.  Last time I did not use acelerator for my gluing and that now make a big difference in speeding the projects along.
Cruiser Carlos V
The models are Panzerschiffe.  The sculpts are pretty basic, but with some inking, dry brushing and the addition of masts they definately give a good feel for the ship they represent.
Trio of Protected Cruisers
I attaked these largest to smallest and by class.  I only have 7 more models, but they are the smaller older vessels with losts of masts and spars, so may take a bit longer.  Assembeling 3or 4 at a time does make it move along though.
Seven new additions

Although these ships did not participate in either of the two historic Naval battles they will make for some interesting hypotheticals.
Full Spanish Fleet for now
With any luck I will complete the Spanish this week.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Pre-Dreads New life for an old project

USS Olympia in Action in Manila Bay
It is just shy of three years since I stared this project and I have finally come back to finish it.  As I explained in a previous post my naval gaming has been on hiatus while I pursued other historical gaming interests.  With those projects firmly established I have now come back to my roots to sail the high seas once again.
Savo Island scenario in July
In the past month I have had the opportunity to engage in naval warfare twice and it has certainly given me the itch to get back.  I know I missed the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland, but I still aspire to build those fleets.  I am currently in talks with my gaming cohorts to do just that with a goal of assembling the fleets in the next year for a massive scenario at a con next year.

Jutland Animation in honor of 100th Anniversary (24min)

Before I start a new naval project I remembered my Pre-dread project I began in 2013.  It was derailed for two reasons.  1st when I primed half the ships I had a problem and the primer frosted (created clumps) which had never happened to me before.  2nd I discovered Bolt Action and had no looked back.
Untouched Pre-dread collection
I pulled out the box that has been holding my unfinished pre-dreads for the past couple of years and sorted them today.  Fortunately nothing is lost or broken.  I was able to identify all 54 ships which will soon be based and labeled.
Ships sorted
As I write this two ships are soaking in Simple Green in an attempt to correct the mishap with the white primer.  I am fully dedicated to completing these before I move on to any other major hobby project.
Primer mishap
Hopeful fix
The models are all Panzerschiffe and I plan to install masts the same as I did with my other SPAN-AM and Russo-Japaneses war fleets.
SPAN-AM American Fleet
Spanish fleet
As discussed in my blog almost three years ago the purpose of these fleets is to fight out hypothetical engagements.  When I constructed my SPAN-AM historical fleets I quickly learned that in no way are the historical engagements even close to being balanced which does not make for a very good war game.
Completed Panzerschiffe model
By adding more Spanish my hope it to fight some hypothetical What-if actions.  Historically the Spanish did mount and relief effort for the Philippines including the old battleship Pelayo.  The relief was called back to home waters, but what if it had successfully navigated its way to the pacific to face off against Dewey.
Spanish and German additions
I have also compiled as sizable German contingent to represent a possible threat to America at the time of the war with Spain or shortly after.  I am also adding may more American units and could even distort history to play out a show down with Japan or Russia using my already complete RJW fleets.
American reinforcements
Of course for any of that to happen the ships need to be finished.  My plan is to reinforce the Spanish first and then go from there and finish this project before X-mas so I can get a few games in.

More to come........

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Battle of Denmark Strait -Hood Vs. Bismarck

Last week I had the opportunity to get the ships out and teach a new player.  Denmark Strait is a classic engagement and a great introductory scenario.

Since it was just the two of us I gave Steven the choice of commands after a brief run down of the rules for Naval Thunder.  Without hesitation he chose the British.

As the German player my goal was to sink one of the two British ships and exit the battle area via the South East corner.  The British goal was to sink the Bismarck while still having one ship survive.
Bismarck sights British ships on the horizon
My strategy was simple Target HMS Hood with both ships each turn since they fired in different phases Bismarck (Battleship) and Prince Eugen (Cruiser).  Steven focused on Bismarck suffering the negative for the extra splash marker since both Hood and Prince of Whales fire in the Battleship phase.

The German guns have a slightly longer range and better penetrations, but the British have more , so this really comes down to a slug match.  Surprisingly we both scored hits in the opening round of fire at long and extreme.
Bismarck is straddled by opening salvos

Bismarck made for the exit while the British fire was extremely accurate.  fortunately the mechanical issues with the Prince of Whales was an issue of the fire power of the British would have been more devastating.
HMS Hood takes and early 15in shell causing a fire to erupt
While Bismarck took all the punishment Prince Eugen was able to keep the hopes for victory alive.  She scored a critical bridge hit on HMS Hood.  As a result Hood's remaining officers decided they no longer had the stomach for battle and turned for safety leaving PoW to keep up the fight alone.
Giants continue to batter one another
In the meantime the British gunnery had reduced Bismarck to a wreck removing all four of the main turrets. With little hope of victory Prince Eugen closed with PoW to get within torpedo range.  Pow then shifted her fire to PE delivering some crushing blows.
Bismarck suffers Engine damage as well as losing guns at a rapid rate.
PE stayed in the fight and delivered two torpedo salvos the second hitting with 2/3 fish sending PoW to the bottom.
Despite taking punishing blows Prince Eugen delivers torpedo salvo
Again, it was a bad day for the British Navy as it was historically.  This time though they managed to inflict severe damage to both German units who would be lucky to limp back to port.
Crippled Bismarck limps to safety as Prince Eugen covers her retreat
The Planned first war cruise for Bismarck will certainly be delayed if the ship can even be salvaged.

Steven proved to be a great Captain for his first time out quickly gaining his sea legs.

Look forward to sailing the high seas again and teaching more potential sailors this great game.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Getting back to Gaming

There has not been a lot going on this summer for me in the way of gaming.  My job in the military took me away for a few weeks.  In addition, my oldest of three was back from school and spread out in the basement and # two graduated H.S. and is getting ready to head off to college next week.
View of the room from the doorway

As a result my hobby room/man cave was taken over for temporary storage so we could get ready for a graduation party.
Bolt Action, AWI and Anglo-Zulu 28mm collections
Since my gaming area was not very accessible when I did have some free time I took a bit of a break and turned my attention to some home brewing which has also been fun.
Book shelves with many of my rules and some of my historical reference library
My boys are now leaving for school, so I decided it was time to spread out and reclaim my area.  In addition to just cleaning and moving all the extra junk out I also added some shelving so I can better organize.
Some of my classic Board games
I also attended a small local gaming event a couple weeks ago which motivated me to get going again as well as renewed my interest in some game systems I have not done much with lately.
Table top terrain now easily accessible
One of these games is Wings of Glory which I am busy catching up on.  With the extra room I took the collection out of the foam trays I had been using and put all the planes back in the original packaging.  This way I can better identify what is what and ensure it is kept safer.  I still have the foam in the event I want to take some to a convention.
WoW/WoG now sorted by set
Now that I have my hobby room and work bench back I can get some projects out on the bench.
View of the work area off the main room

A few of the many projects on the shelves that are pending
Most importantly I hope to get some more time this fall rolling dice.  after all, what good are games if you don't get to play them. :)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Return to the High Seas

Naval Thunder
This past Saturday I had the opportunity to attend a mini gaming convention hosted by Royal Hobby in Rockford, IL in honor of their 45th anniversary.  If you are in the area Royal Hobby is well worth the visit.  I have been making regular visits for 30 plus years now.

I found out about the event through my gaming buddy Mike who informed me he was running a Naval Thunder event both days.  Mike and I along with Dan had previously formed Naval Thunder Gamers (NTG) to promote Naval Thunder at local conventions. 

Unfortunately the last three years has not seen much Naval gaming for me as the local annual Naval Convention (NAVCON) has fallen on a work weekend the last two years.  Additionally, I had discovered Bolt Action and Black Powder which has consumed the majority of my hobby time recently.
Naval Thunder ROCKCON 2013
When Mike told me about this event I jumped at the opportunity to attend as a player and refresh myself on the rules so I can share it with my newer gaming friends.  In addition, Dan confirmed he would attend so the NTG gang would be back together again.

The Saturday event (Battle of Savo Island) was scheduled to start at 10AM so the three of us met at a local restaurant for breakfast to catch up before heading over to set up.
Initial Set Up
Royal Hobby had secured a vacant store in the plaza they are located in and solicited judges to run various game systems for both days.  On Saturday they also hosted a modeling show/competition.  Not knowing how the day would go I had brought my IJA Bolt Action army along for a possible game.  While showing it to the guys I was encouraged to enter one of my models in the Model show.  I decided on the IJA 105mm howitzer by Warlord as I like how it turned out.
Warlord IJA 105mm Howitzer
Mike's Naval Thunder game started a bit late as it took some time to get things organized and recruit some more gamers.  We ended up having 5 players (3 American and 2 IJN) to start and another two that joined in later when someone had to leave.

IJN Column converges on USN in dead of night
I commanded a portion of the American fleet that included the HMS Canberra, USS Chicago, and two destroyers.  We have run this scenario a few times before as it is a great gun fight which plays to the strengths of Naval thunder.  In the past the taskforce I was commanding has been brutalized early and sunk as it was historically, so I did not expect to be in the game long.  I was joined by a young man (Thomas) along with Dan who commanded the balance of the US cruisers and DDs.
View from USS Chicago
The IJA were comprised of Heavy and light cruisers divided into two groups.  The scenario is a night fight, but the IJN get and advantage of aerial flares which essentially lights up the American ships making it a day action for the first two turns for the Japanese.
HMS Canberra takes damage and is set ablaze
The action started as expected with the IJN targeting my group, but instead of spreading out their fire their inexperience showed and they concentrated fire on the Canberra making it harder to hit due to the additional Splash markers.  They sorted this out by turn two and started to score some hits on Canberra to include removing a main gun turret and starting a fire.
USS Chicago moves up to Cover Canberra withdrawal and torpedoes are in the water.
By turn three I was able to turn away with Canberra and engage with the Chicago.  Chicago was deadly accurate scoring 4 penetrating hits causing massive damage to IJN Chokai while the other US Cruisers and DD moved in and delivered the killing blow.
USS Chicago delivers a crippling blow to Chokai
The IJN essentially split their forces with half engaging Tomas and Dan and the other half going after my command.   By turn 4 torpedoes were in the water along with continued highly accurate American gunnery at close range.  The Canberra had turned back into the fight and delivered a deadly torpedo spread herself.
American DDs go down after delivering their Torpedoes.  Two more IJN cruisers slip below the waves
By the end of turn 5 four IJN cruisers were on the way to the murky bottom at the cost of only 2 American DDs a heavily damaged Canberra and a moderately damaged USS Chicago.
HMS Canberra manages to cross the T and delivers a deadly Torpedo spread
This time the scenario did not produce historical results and produced an overwhelming American victory.  More importantly through all on both sides had a great time.
A casualty comparison tells the story that it was not a good night for the IJN
Kudos to Mike for taking the initiative and running the game.  He was back on Sunday to host the Battle of Java Sea, but I have not heard the report from that as I had other priorities on Sunday.

Java Sea NAVCON 2013
It was great to get back to Naval Thunder after a almost three year hiatus.  Mike, Dan and I definitely have plans to make this happen again much sooner.  By the end of the day there was talk of a combined effort for running at least one Naval Thunder scenario at What Khan this fall which is combining with NAVCON this year.
What is this a blue ribbon?
At the end of the day went to pick up my IJA Howitzer and was pleasantly surprised to learn my entry had placed first in the 1:48 and under military model category, and yes there were more than one entry.  :)
Top three in the category I was entered
All in all a great day of gaming and reconnecting with old friends.  Winning in the model contest which included a nice set of Testor acrylic paint was icing on the cake.
Acrylic paint set courtesy of Testor donation
Thank you Royal Hobby for making this possible.  Happy Anniversary!