A Scale Modeller’s Guide to Aircraft of the Gran Chaco War

Very soon after making me aware of the recent publication of AIR WAR CHACO, Arthur Harman pointed out that a book entitled A SCALE MODELLER’S GUIDE TO AIRCRAFT OF THE GRAN CHACO WAR has also been published … so I bought a copy of that as well!

The book is a thin paperback (40 pages) but it contains numerous 1:72nd-scale colour drawings of all the main aircraft types used by both sides during the Chaco War. It also contains a brief history of the war as well as a chronology of the main air operations carried out by both sides. Whilst it was not cheap, it is a very helpful addition to my collection of books etc., about the Chaco War.

A SCALE MODELLER’S GUIDE TO AIRCRAFT OF THE GRAN CHACO WAR was written and illustrated by Richard Humberstone and published by Blue Rider Publishing in 2015 (ISBN 978 1 32 055024 6)

The Reine Regente-class Cruisers

In many ways story of the Reine Regente-class cruisers reflects the state of the Spanish Navy at the end on the nineteenth century; heavily armed, smart to look at, but basically obsolete. The design was top heavy and had a relatively low freeboard.

The class’s characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 4,725 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 319’ 3” (97.3m)
    • Beam: 50’ 6” (15.4m)
    • Draught: 29’ 3” (8.92m)
  • Propulsion: 2 x Triple Expansion engines (11,500shp), each driving a propeller
  • Speed: 20.5 knots
  • Complement: 420
  • Armament: 4 x 7.9” (4 x 1) Hontoria M1883 Guns; 6 x 4.7” (6 x 1) Hontoria M1883 Guns; 6 x 57mm (6 x 1) Nordenfelt Quick Firing Guns; 6 (6 x 1) Machine Guns; 5 x 14” Torpedo Tubes (2 bow, 2 beam, 1 aft)
  • Armour:
    • Main deck: 4.7” to 3.15” amidships between the main guns and 1” fore and aft
    • Gun shields: 2.9”

The lead ship of the class – the Reine Regente – was laid down on 20th June 1886, launched on 24th February 1887, and completed on 1st January 1888. She was built in James & George Thompson’s shipyard at Govan, Clydebank, Glasgow, and delivered to the Spanish Navy upon completion. She sank with all hands on 9th March 1895 off the southern coast of Spain.

Alfonso XIII was built at the Naval Dockyard, Ferrol. She was laid down in 1891, launched on 31st August 1891, and used as a training ship from 1896 onwards. She was eventually commissioned on 18th May 1900 and served for seven years before she was discarded and scrapped.

Lepanto was built at the Naval Dockyard, Cartagena. She was laid down on 1st October 1886, launched on 6th November 1893, and completed on 26th January 1899. She was discarded in 1911 and scrapped.

The Chaco Air War

I have had a long-standing interest in the Chaco War, and when Arthur Harman saw that Helion & Company had just published a book entitled THE CHACO AIR WAR 1932-35: THE FIRST MODERN AIR WAR IN LATIN AMERICA, he contacted me to tell me. My immediate reaction was to order a copy … and from what I have read so far, it was an excellent purchase!

The book is a slim paperback (it only has eighty pages), but it contains over two hundred illustrations and gives details about the organisation of the air forces involved and the missions that were flown. Reading it made me wonder if at some time in the future I ought to consider producing a military source book about the war along the lines of LA ULTIMA CRUZADA … but I have a few other projects that I want to finish first!

The loss of the Spanish Cruiser Reina Regente

The Cartagena Naval Museum has a very large painting of the loss of the Reina Regente on display near the entrance.

There is also a model of the ship on display.

The cruiser was built in 1887 by James & George Thompson of Clydebank, Glasgow, and was the first of three ships of her class to be constructed. (The other two ships in the class were Alfonso XIII and Lepanto.)

On 9th March, 1895, the Reina Regente set out from Cádiz, Spain to sail to Tangier, Morocco. She was under the command of Captain Francisco Sanz de Andino, who was an experienced officer, and her crew numbered 420. Soon after leaving port the weather worsened, and strong winds and heavy seas made conditions very dangerous For the low freeboard cruiser. It is believed that Captain de Andino decided to turn the ship about so that she could return to Cadiz, but before she reached the safety of the port she sank with all hands somewhere off the coast of southern Spain.

Spanish Naval Uniforms from the end of the nineteenth century

Whilst sorting through some computer files, I discovered a whole file full of photographs that I took last year during a visit to the Naval Museum in Cartagena, Spain. Amongst them were images of individual uniform paintings that were on display near the entrance to the museum. The original paintings depicted Spanish Naval Uniforms at the end of the nineteenth century, and I thought that they might be of particular interest to those amongst my regular blog readers who study and wargame the Spanish-American War of 1898.

The originals appear to have two signatures; A Buisan and C J Cusachs. The former is a contemporary watercolour artist who seems to specialise in military subjects, particularly uniforms. I can find no information about a C J Cusachs, although I did discover that there was a Catalan soldier and painter named Josep Cusachs i Cusachs who lived from 1851 to 1908. He specialised in military subjects, portraits (including King Alfonso XIII, General Juan Prim and Mexican President Porfirio Díaz), and paintings of sport riding.

Having studied some of Cusachs’s uniform paintings (which are very similar in composition to those painted by A Buisan), I have come to the conclusion that the paintings that I photographed in the museum were by A Buisan in the style of Josep Cusachs.

Thinking Napoleonic

Watching WATERLOO on TV last Saturday made me realise that it is some time since I actually did anything about finishing my Napoleonic project (i.e. renovating, varnishing, and basing my collection of pre-painted 25/28mm-scale Del Prado Napoleonic figures and writing a Napoleonic version of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules), and having decided to put my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project on hold for the time being, I looked back at some of my earlier blog entries in the hope it would motivate me to do do some work on the project.

Back in August 2011 – and before I expanded the collection with purchases on eBay – I organised some of the figures that I did have into two small Napoleonic armies and used them to fight some battles from the imaginary Cordeguayan Civil War. The two armies were mounted on temporary 50mm x 50mm squares of green-coloured mounting board, with three Infantry figures per Infantry unit, two Cavalry figures per Cavalry unit, and two Gunners and a Cannon per Artillery unit. The results looked as follows:

Looking at these two armies now, I realise that my existing collection would enable me to field similar armies several times over (possibly at least three or four times larger) … a somewhat sobering thought!

The rules I used were a mishmash based on Joseph Morschauser’s rules that became an early version of the PORTABLE WARGAME. The playing surface was a 15 x 15 grid of 50mm squares that easily fitted onto the table in my toy/wargames room and could accommodate both of the two armies I had assembled.

Cordeguayan Civil War: The Battle of the Bridge over the River Blanco

Cordeguayan Civil War: The Battle of the Cherro Rico road

Reading the two battle reports (‘The Battle of the Bridge over the River Blanco‘ and ‘The Battle of the Cherro Rico road‘) made me realise just how much fun I had experienced fighting them, and it was at that point that the motivation to get this project finished started to return. Hopefully it will not dissipate before I actually do anything … but like so many wargamers, I can resist anything except temptation!

The Kuban: 1943

With my interest in the Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War currently on hold, it might seem a little odd that I have just bought a copy of THE KUBAN 1943: THE WEHRMACHT’S LAST STAND IN THE CAUCASUS by Robert Forczyk … but the book covers such an interesting campaign that I wanted to buy it.

This is one of the lesser-known campaigns of the war, and featured a number of interesting land battles between Axis forces (including Germans, Romanians, and a few Italians) and the Red Army as well as coastal operations and amphibious landings by units of the Black Sea Fleet.

THE KUBAN 1943: THE WEHRMACHT’S LAST STAND IN THE CAUCASUS was written by Robert Forczyk and illustrated by Steve Moon. It was published by Osprey Publishing in 2018 as No.318 in their ‘Campaign’ series (ISBN 978 1 4728 2259 8).

Falconwood Transport & Military Bookshop

Yesterday I paid a visit to Falconwood Transport & Military Bookshop, and whilst I was there the proprietor – Andy Doran – informed me that the shop would be closed from 7th May to 1st June, and that after it re-opens on 2nd June, it will only open on Saturdays.

If you are ever in South East London when it is open, I recommend that you pay it a visit.

The contact details are:
Falconwood Transport & Military Bookshop
5 Falconwood Parade, The Green, Welling, Kent DA16 2PL
Tel: 020 8303 8291
The following map shows its location.

Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project … is going onto the back burner for awhile

Having played around with some of the models and terrain from Zvezda’s ‘Art of Tactic’ OPERATION BARBAROSSA game (and had a few problems building some of the kits as a result of my general clumsiness and banana-like fingers!), I have decided to put this project on the back burner for a while.

It has become very apparent that I need to sort out the rules I am going to use before I embark on more work on this project, and the recent spate of articles from old issues of THE NUGGET that I have been uploading to my blog has given me pause for thought.

Currently I am thinking along the lines of melding my HEXBLITZ rules with some of the ideas from Ian Drury’s SANDS OF NEW STANHALL and Martin Rapier’s OPERATION URANUS and BATTLE OF CAMBRAI rules. In theory this should be quite a simple exercise, but experience tells me that what I first need to do is to take a break and come back to this project with a clear head and a fresh pair of eyes. This might sound a little odd, but over the years I have learned that when I do this, I seem to find it much easier (and faster) to achieve my goal than if I keep plugging away at something that I have been thinking about for some time.

Taking this action will also allow me to look at some of the other projects I want to do some work on, and may well lead to some progress towards my next PORTABLE WARGAME book!

Useful storage boxes

Sue and I often visit the shops in nearby Welling, which is to the east of Shooters Hill. It is not a major retail area although it does have several supermarkets and an inordinate number of fast food outlets, nail and tanning salons, and Turkish barbers! It also has several small, specialist shops, one if which – Bargain Kingdom – sells all sorts of hardware and seasonal goods.

We paid a visit to the shop yesterday, and I saw and bought a couple if small storage boxes that I thought might be useful for storing armies for use with my PORTABLE WARGAME.

Today I experiment with the boxes to see what I could store in them … and the results were encouraging.

These boxes come in two heights in several different colours as well as in smaller and larger sizes. They are designed to stack on top of each other (there are locating tabs on the bottom and indentations on the lids) and they fit very nicely into the pigeon holes in my bookcases.