Other people’s Portable Wargame battle reports: More Zulu War action

A few days ago Ross Macfarlane staged a Zulu War battle using 54mm-scale figures and my PORTABLE WARGAME rules.

This battle looked like it was great fun to fight, and a fuller battle report can be found on Ross’s blog.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Ross Macfarlane.

Other people’s Portable Wargame battle reports: The Battle of Isandlwana

Recently Mike Lewis and Anthony Morton staged a re-fight of the Battle of Isandlwana using 54mm-scale figures and my PORTABLE WARGAME rules.

To my no doubt biased eyes the results look spectacular, and a full battle report can be found on Mike’s blog.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Mike Lewis.

Other people’s Portable (Naval) Wargame battle reports

By sheer coincidence I happened to see a reference to a battle report that featured the downloadable version of my PORTABLE NAVAL WARGAME rules … and I just had to read it.

I’ve not come across the RED IN THE MORNING blog before and I don’t think that the writer is one of my regular blog readers. He used the rules to re-fight the Battle of Manila Bay …

… using a Chessex gridded mat and counters from Avalanche Press’ board game, REMEMBER THE MAINE.

I thought that the summary of his thoughts about the rules and ideas for developing them were very interesting, and they have reinforced my own thinking and will help me as I continue to write my book.

Soldiers of the Queen (SOTQ): Issue 170

The latest copy of SOTQ (Soldiers of the Queen, the quarterly journal of the Victorian Military Society) arrived in the post on Monday, and I have been reading it over the past couple of days.

The articles included in this issue are:

  • ‘With a master eye he saw what was needed and did it’: Kitchener’s Indian Army reforms 1902-1909 by David Snape
  • In Defence of a Forgotten General: Lieutenant-General Sir Edwin Alfred Hervey Alderson (1859-1927) by Dr Andrew Windrow
  • Letter to the Editor
  • Captain Willingham Franklin Richardson RE (1843-1875): From Hampshire to the Himalayas by Richard Voss
  • Book Reviews by Dr Roger T Stearn
  • Officers of the Victorian Military Society

This was yet another issue full of interesting articles. I particularly enjoyed David Snape’s ‘With a master eye he saw what was needed and did it’ as it explained why the reforms were necessary and how they laid the foundations of the British Indian Army that took part in the First and Second World Wars.

The Zeebrugge and Ostend Raids: The blockships

The five blockship used during the Zeebrugge and Ostend Raids on 23rd April 1918 were all drawn from the Apollo-class of 2nd class Protected Cruisers. There were twenty-one ships in the class plus eight of the slightly modified Astrea-class, and they were built between 1889 and 1892.

Their characteristics when built were:

  • Displacement: 3,600 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 314′ (96m)
    • Beam: 43′ 6″ (13.26m)
    • Draught: 17′ 6″ (5.33m)
  • Speed: 19.75 knots
  • Complement: 273 to 300 officers and men
  • Armament: 2 × 6-inch (152mm) QF Guns; 6 × 4.7-inch (120mm) QF Guns; 8 × 6-pounder QF Guns; 2 or 4 × 14-inch (360mm) Torpedo Tubes

By the time that HMS Dreadnought was launched, the protected cruisers were already becoming obsolete, and seven of the class (HMS Andromache, HMS Apollo, HMS Intrepid, HMS Iphigenia, HMS Latona, HMS Naiad, and HMS Thetis) were converted into minelayers in 1907.

Six of the class were converted into blockships for the Zeebrugge and Ostend raids. These were:

  • HMS Intrepid: Expended at Zeebrugge
  • HMS Iphigenia: Expended at Zeebrugge
  • HMS Thetis: Expended at Zeebrugge
  • HMS Brilliant: Expended at Ostend (1st raid)
  • HMS Sirius: Expended at Ostend (1st raid)
  • HMS Sappho: Intended to be used at Ostend (2nd raid), but broke down on the way and not used

HMS Intrepid

HMS Iphigenia

HMS Thetis

HMS Brilliant

HMS Sirius

HMS Sappho

To prepare them for their use as blockships, the vessels were stripped of most of their armament and many compartments were filled with concrete. The extent of the damage inflicted on the blockships during the raids can be gauged by the following photograph:

American Civil War ironclads in action

As part of the work I am doing on my latest book (GRIDDED NAVAL WARGAMES), I have been fighting an action between my newly-built American Civil War ironclads. the action took pace on the little-know Missenhitti River …

… and resulted in a close-fought, close-range action where neither side escaped undamaged.

I now need to stage a battle between some Pre-dreadnought-era warships. With luck I should manage to do that withing the next week or so.

The Zeebrugge and Ostend Raids: HMS Vindictive

HMS Vindictive was one of four Arrogant-class Protected Cruisers that were built between 1895 and 1900. The other ships in the class were HMS Arrogant, HMS Furious, and HMS Gladiator.

The Arrogant-class protected Cruisers as built.

By the outbreak of the First World War, the design of the Arrogant-class Protected Cruisers was obsolete, and only HMS Vindictive took an active part in the conflict. HMS Gladiator had sunk in 1908 as a result of a collision with the merchant ship SS Saint Paul, whilst HMS Arrogant had become a Submarine Depot Ship in 1911 and HMS Furious had been paid off and hulked in 1912. (She was renamed HMS Forte in 1915 to release the name for the new Light Battlecruiser that was being built.)

The ship’s characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 5,750 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 342′ (104.2m)
    • Beam: 57′ 6″ (17.5m)
    • Draught: 20′ (6.1m)
  • Propulsion: 2 x vertical triple-expansion steam engines (10,000shp) using steam generated by 18 Belleville water-tube boilers, driving 2 propellers
  • Speed: 19 knots
  • Complement: 480
  • Armament:
    • When built: 4 × 6-inch (152 mm) QF Guns; 6 × 4.7-inch (120 mm) QF guns; 8 × 12-pounder (3-inch/76mm) QF Guns; 3 × 3-pounder (47mm) QF Guns; 5 x Machine Guns; 3 submerged 18-inch (450mm) Torpedo Tubes
    • By 1914: 10 × 6-inch (152 mm) QF Guns; 8 × 12-pounder (3-inch/76mm) QF Guns; 3 × 3-pounder (47mm) QF Guns; 5 x Machine Guns; 3 submerged 18-inch (450mm) Torpedo Tubes
    • At the time of the Zeebrugge Raid: 1 x 11-inch (280mm) Howitzer; 2 x 7.5-inch (190mm) Howitzers; 2 x 6-inch (152 mm) QF Guns; 16 x 3-inch (76mm) Stokes Mortars; 5 x Pompom Guns; 16 x Lewis Machine Guns; Flamethrowers
  • Armour:
    • Deck: 1.5-inch to 3-inch (38mm to 76mm)
    • Conning tower: 9-inch (229mm)

One of the 7.5-inch Howitzers and several of the 3-inch Stokes Mortars fitted to HMS Vindictive.

HMS Vindictive on her return from Zeebrugge.

The damage done to HMS Vindictive during the raid can be clearly seen in this photograph. The large box-shaped structure to the right of the bridge in this photograph housed one of the large flamethrowers.

After her heroic service during the Zeebrugge Raid, the very badly damaged HMS Vindictive was expended as a blockship during the second raid on Ostend.

A quiet Monday finishing some models

After all the excitement of visiting SALUTE and then writing my photo-report, I managed to spend part of yesterday quietly sitting in my toy/wargames room finishing two models ships that will be featured in my forthcoming book about gridded naval wargames.

I needed a couple of American Civil War ironclads, and so I built a Casemate Ironclad …

… and a Monitor.

I intend to include an appendix in the book that explains how I built these two models, but the techniques I used are similar to those I have used before.

Before I can use the models, they will need to be given a couple of coats of PVA glue to seal the wood they are made from, after which I will paint them … probably in contrasting shades of dark grey. Once that is done, battle can commence!

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.

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.