Warship 2018

Like a lot of people of my age, one of the things that I looked forward to each year were the Annuals that were published in time for Christmas. Even though I am a lot older, there is one annual that I always look forward to reading when it is published … WARSHIP.

WARSHIP first came out in 1977, and the current issue is the fortieth volume to be published. It was originally a quarterly publication, but after several years it moved over to become an annual.

The current volume contains the following:

  • Editorial
  • Niels Iuel: ‘A funny little Danish warship’ by Tom Wismann
  • The Battle of the River Plate: A Tactical Analysis by Alan D Zimm
  • Under the Guns: Battle Damage to Graf Spee, 13 December 1939 by William J Jurens
  • The Armoured Cruiser Jeanne d’Arc by Luc Feron and Jean Roche
  • Breaking ‘Ultra’: The Cryptologic and Intelligence War between Britain and Italy, 1931-1943 by Enrico Cernuschi
  • The IJN Light Cruiser Oyodo by Hans Lengerer
  • Coastal Defence and Coastal Offence: Russian Monitor Designs of the First World War Era by Stephen McLaughlin
  • Modern Naval Replenishment Ships by Conrad Waters
  • Lost in the Fog of War: Royal Navy Cruiser Designs for Trade Protection 1905-1920 by David Murfin
  • Amatsukaze: A Destroyer’s Struggle by Michael Williams
  • USS Huntington (ex-West Virginia) by A D Baker III
  • Warship Notes
    • The IJN’s 15.5cm Gun & Triple Turret by Hans Lengerer
    • The Sinking of U-56 in 1916: An enduring mystery by Stephen McLaughlin
    • Political nomenclature in the US Navy by Kenneth Fraser
  • Reviews
  • Warship Gallery
    • A series of photographs of former U-boats in Japan during the early 1920s presented by Stephen Dent and Ian Johnston

At first glance this looks as if it is going to be one of the best issues ever, with every single article or section having something that I will enjoy reading and re-reading. In particular, the coverage of the battle damage suffered by Graf Spee at the Battle of the River Plate is going to be very helpful when it comes to designing wargames, and the article about Russian Monitor designs contains some wonderful ‘what if’ designs that would be relatively easy to model, and which would – if suitably updated for service in the Soviet Red Fleet – have posed serious problems for the Kriegsmarine during Operation Barbarossa.

An excellent publication … and I will be ordering next year’s issue as soon as I can!

WARSHIP 2018 is edited by John Jordan and published by Osprey Publications (ISBN 978 1 4728 2999 3).

Mimi, Toutou, and Kingani

I am about to start writing what I think will be the last chapter of my book about gridded naval wargames, and it will feature an explanatory battle report about the fight between the British gunboats Mimi and Toutou and their German opponent, Kingani.

The models I am using are approximately 1:600th-scale and were built from various bits and pieces I had in my spares box; in other words, some spare ships’ boats and light guns from Airfix warship kits. For ease of handling they were stuck on pieces of Plasticard and labelled. They are not the most beautiful models I have every built, but they serve me well enough in several tabletop battles.




The story of how Mimi and Toutou got to a lake in the centre of Africa is an epic tale that inspired C S Forester to write THE AFRICAN QUEEN and would make a wonderful film.

HMS Empress

The model battleship featured in yesterday’s blog entry was HMS Empress.

I built her nearly six years ago (doesn’t time fly when you are having fun!) from basswood, bamboo skewers, and pine dowel and she has served me well in several tabletop battles … although not always under her given name!

Her design was based on that of HMS Victoria (hence the name HMS Empress) …

… with a touch of HMS Rupert.

The former sank after accidentally colliding with HMS Camperdown in the Mediterranean on 22nd June 1893, and the latter spent most of her career in reserve or serving as a port guard ship around the world (Hull, Pembroke, Gibraltar, Port Said, and Bermuda).

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:

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.

An even older Paraguayan River Gunboat!

The Paraguayan Navy’s Humaitá-class river gunboats may well be regarded as ancient by most modern standards, but their longevity pales into insignificance when compared to that Navy’s Capitán Cabral (ex-Triunfo, ex-Adolfo Riquelme), which was first launched in 1907!

She began life as a river tug, and was purchased and converted into a river gunboat soon after she was launched. She was originally armed with a single 3″ gun, but in the late 1980s this was replaced by a 40mm Bofors automatic cannon, two 20mm Oerlikon automatic cannons, and two 0.5″ machine guns.

At the same time as she was re-armed, the ship was modernised. Her original steam engines were replaced with new diesel ones, and her superstructure was completely re-modelled. She was certainly still in service in 2016 … one hundred and eleven years after she was launched!

Paraguayan River Gunboats

One unusual aspect of the Chaco War was that although both belligerents were land-locked, the Paraguayans had a navy that took an active part in the war/

A map of the area shows why.

Two rivers – the Paraguay and the Pilcomayo – effectively bordered the area claimed by Paraguay, and they were able to use them to supply and support their forces in the Chaco area. As a result, the Paraguayans had a small but very effective navy.

The backbone of the Paraguayan Navy were two river gunboats, the Humaitá-class gunboats. These had been designed in Paraguay with Italian assistance, and built in Genoa by Cantieri Odero between 1928 and 1931.

The ships were named Humaitá and Paraguay and they reached Asunción on 5th May, 1931.

Their characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 856 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 229.7′ (70m)
    • Beam: 35.1′ (10.7m)
    • Draught: 5.6′ (1.7m)
  • Propulsion: 2 x Parsons 3,800 shp (2,800 kW) geared steam turbines driving 2 shafts
  • Speed: 18 knots
  • Range: 1,700 nautical miles at 16 knots
  • Complement: 86
  • Armament: 4 × 4.7″ (2 x 2) Guns; 3 × 3″ (3 x 1) Guns; 2 × 40mm (2 x 1) Anti-Aircraft Guns; 6 mines
  • Armour:
    • Belt: 0.5″
    • Deck: 0.3″
    • Turrets: 0.3″
    • Conning tower: 0.76″

The two ships were used extensively during the war, and still exist today. Humaitá is now a museum ship and Paraguay is awaiting refurbishment that will include the replacement of her engines by new diesel ones.

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 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.

Royal Arsenal Museum 2017: Smaller and Post-war ships

Whilst looking through the image files on my computer, I discovered that I had not finished sharing the photographs that I took last year during our visit to the Royal Arsenal Museum (or Tøjhusmuseet) in Copenhagen.

Lossen (Mine Vessel)

Tumleren and Hvalrossen (Torpedo Boats)

Daphne (D1) and Havmanden (H1) (Submarines)

Willemoes (Torpedo Boat)

Søløven (P510) (Fast Torpedo Boat)

Lommen (P567) (Fast Torpedo Boat)

Olfert Fischer (F353) (Corvette)

Peder Skram (F352) (Frigate)

Flyvefisken (P550) (Patrol Boat)

Narhvalen (S320) (Submarine)

Delfinen (S326) (Submarine)

Ingolf (F350) (Ocean Patrol Vessel)

Daphne (P530) (Patrol Boat)

Bopa (MHV90) (Coastal Patrol Craft/Home Guard Cutter)

Hjortø (MHV85) (Motor Minesweeper/Coastal Patrol Craft/Home Guard Cutter)