Friday, July 13, 2018

Small Boat Actions Using Kiss Me Hardy

I am getting on with this project again. I really want to get this on the table top. I have been doing a good bit of research on one ship in particular who seems to have had a captain that was either very active or just plain unlucky to have been involved in a number of incidents throughout the AWI.

William Grant took command of the schooner St John in 1774. His presence is felt from St Augustine, to the Bahamas, to the St Mary River and all the way up to Rhode Island through out the course of the war. He appears to be an energetic captain that stopped a number of ships and participated in a few actions and several that he almost participated in.

The St John, was a schooner of 90 tons. She mounted six three-pounder guns as her main armament and an additional twelve swivel guns as well.she was nearly fifty feet in length and a beam of nearly nineteen feet. She also boasted a crew of thirty men. This qualifies her as a small ship for the adaptions that I am working on.

The scenario that I am working on is a hypothetical scenario based on a real action. In the historical action, the Georgia Navy Schooner Liberty, seized a consignment of powder from the ship Philippa (and possibly a packet ship Little Carpenter) on July 10, 1775. 16,000 pounds of gunpowder were pulled off of these ships by the Liberty and some South Carolina troops operating out of barges. The St John was in the vicinity but didn't engage the Liberty. The Philippa (and possibly Little Carpenter,) surrendered without a fight.

The Liberty was a schooner that depending on the source mounted with ten six-pounders or ten three-pounders depending on the source. She was manned with a fifty man crew and contained twenty militia aboard to act as marines.

This gives us some variety of some small ships to use. Historically, the St John missed out on the fight. The merchant men were boarded, taken to Cockspur Island and unloaded of their cargoes. But, what if the St. John showed up? That is the scenario that I will model. But what ships will I use for it?

For the Philippa, I have a very nice Brigantine in 1:300 from Sea Dog Studios. For the two South Carolina Barges, I don't really have models for them. I may represent them with a Langton Miniatures jolly boat for the time being. The jolly boat is tiny even in 1:300 scale.

The two schooners are the ones I don't currently have anything suitable. So I started looking at the Warartisan website for possibilities. We have the weight of the schooner and the number of guns she sported. In addition we have her length at nearly forty-nine feet. In 1:300 scale, this gives us a schooner of 4.9CM in length. The closest that I found was 80-90 ton gunboat with a schooner rig. However, this is over a CM too big. The next size down is a 50 to 60 ton schooner. This is a bit smaller than the historical ship but closer to what I am looking for.

For the Liberty, I can use a larger schooner. Given that there is not much details other than the number of guns availible, I choose to go with the Warartisan 12-gun schooner for the Liberty.

I started work on the ships that I had in my inventory. Starting with the Langton Miniatures British Gunboat, I assembled it without too much trouble. Then I stared with despair at the brass sails and stays. It is a nicely built boat. It's hull is a good five and a half CM in length. It sports a single mast and came with three guns. There is a carronade on a rotating slide in the aft and a long gun on a slide up front. The third gun, I had no clue what to do with it. The vessel came with crew! There are seven of them but there is no way I am going to worry with them for the moment. The tiller became a casualty. I dropped it and it appears to have fallen into a black hole. One day I might find it but I am not holding my breath.

The brass sails are nice but a real pain in the neck to deal with. In my opinion, they look mighty fragile for use on the table. I am thinking of adding a base to it for the purpose of picking it up and moving it about the table least it end up a wreck due to handling. I looked at putting on rigging. I started to put some on but gave up on it with the first.

I also assembled the Sailed launch from Langton. This comes with a single mast and a bow spirit. It also has a small gun mounted on a slide in the bow. I managed to not lose the tiller on this vessel. It came with more brass sails. This time, you are supposed to fold the brass sail in half. That did NOT work for me. The brass bent in the wrong place even though I was trying to be so very careful. It comes with a main sail and two jib sails. The main sails are east to fake with paper. The jibs are another story. The jibs come with small holes in them. I think the intent is to weave a thread through them in order to hang them on the mast and bow spirit. That makes a daunting task with my fat fingers.

The third vessel I tried to tackle today was a sailed Yawl. This kit came with two masts, a bow spirit,a tiller and sails (two main and two jibs).The sails again are daunting brass sails that have to be folded in half and the jibs need to be threaded. This on a vessel that is just a bit over two and a half centimeters in length. I have not attempted the sails or rigging.

This is where I am so far. I am pleased with my progress. I am hoping that I can get them primed shortly.

Note that NONE of the ships mentioned in the beginning of this have been worked on. I did try. Warartisan's instructions for the sloop Enterprise mentioned using 1/8th inch balsa wood. Given that I didn't bother to read the instructions, I printed and cut out the first bits and mounted them to the balsa. That is when I noticed that it would be WAY too thick for such a small vessel. I tried to trim the pieces in half but it is still too thick. The instructions call for 4-ply Bristol board. I have no idea what that is but I think I can get it at Hobby Lobby at some point.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The odd career of HM Schooner St John

While working on my Raid on Nassau campaign, the only British Naval vessel present at Nassau was the schooner St John. Under its commander Lieutenant William Grant, it managed to take off over 100 barrels of gunpowder safely to St Augustine in British Florida. In trying to find out more information on this ship, I started to Google it and found out that I had already written a scenario featuring this ship off the coast of Georgia in 1775. July 10th, 1775, the St John was waiting for a consignment of gun powder (I sense a theme here) due to arrive to Georgia. Waiting off of Tybee Island, the St John was trying to find the merchant vessel Phillipa. Instead, the Phillipa was intercepted by the South Carolina Navy and Georgia continentals.

The next appearance I found for her was in Rhode Island where she was fired upon by rebels who had taken For George near Newport. In 1764, the St John was suspected of having stolen a local merchant's goods. The locals were incensed by the passage of the Sugar tax earlier that year. The guns on Fort George fired on the St John who was able to slip away.

Then I came across an electronic copy of Naval Documents of the American Revolution, Volume 5, Part 5. It has the St John anchored in the St Mary's river in June through July of 1776. The St Mary's is on the border of Georgia and Florida giving the border its odd shape in the northeastern corner of Florida. Before that, in May 21st, 1776 she took on a detachment of the 16th Regiment of Foot in St Augustine. Apparently it was a company under a Captain Graham. The

According to Wikipedia, the St John was condemned in 1777. Altogether it was an interesting career that I hope to shed more light on by reviewing other volumes of the Naval Documents of the American Revolution.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Converting Vacation into Scenarios

I was blessed to be able to go on a real vacation last week. My family went on a wonderful cruise. One stop was Nassau, Bahamas. A quick trip through my memory banks revealed that there was something that happened here during the American War of Independence. So I started to research it while in harbor.

At the time of the Raid, it was known as New Providence. In 1776, the town had a pair of forts guarding it. Fort Nassau within the town and Fort Montagu on east of the town. Period maps show Fort Nassau on a hill. Also the Governor's House was also on a hill of some note. Looking at the island from the cruise ship, the hills are more slight rises rather than the high hills of the map. Note the map is upside down with north at the bottom of the map.

From the ship, the area looks like this. This is the where Fort Nassau would have stood.

I managed to find a drawing of what Fort Nassau looked like. (Can't remember where I found it.)

This is the direction towards the Governor's House.

This is the direction towards Fort Montagu which still stands.

There are several sites that feature images of Fort Montagu. Here are a couple that I have gathered.

Across from the town of Nassau is Hog Island. It has been renamed to Paradise Island and is home to the Atlantis Resort now. Given the prices charged by the resort, Hog Island seems more appropriate.

The action took place on March 3rd and 4th. A force of Continental Marines and sailors landed on the eastern side of the island. Their force consisted of some 200 marines and fifty sailors. The town had a paper force of some two to three hundred militia. The regular troops had been taken off the island and were in service in America. Raising the militia was not a simple process and during the course of the action, only a hundred to a hundred and fifty men showed up to serve.

The action consisted of a small party of militia manning Fort Montagu and firing three shots at the marines then spiking the guns and leaving the fort. The next day, the town surrendered to the landing party. The town was under Continental control for two weeks before they left.

The action was underwhelming from a scenario point of view. There is a considerable amount of potential for action though. What I take away from the descriptions of the action is that the Governor seemed to have been doing his best to hinder the defense of the town rather than enhance it. Yet, the Governor was taken captive and hauled off in chains into captivity. Among his complaints were that the Continental Marines and Sailors had consumed his entire liquor supply while taking off the military stores of the town's forts.

There was only one King's ship at the town, the schooner St John. It and a merchant vessel (not sure what type or size) were able to pull out most of the powder stores before the capture of the forts. The governor had prevented the St John from opposing the landings or engaging the small American Fleet. When Fort Nassau did fire warnings to alert the town of the American Fleet presence, the fort was in such a poor state of repair that two of the guns broke free from their positions.

But, this does give a possibility to create a hypothetical campaign based on a defense that could have been. I am working on just such a thing.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Wall for a AWI Fort

I bought a pack of 4" wide log walls for an AWI fort that I need to make. They are a Blue Moon Manufacturing 15mm item from their FIW line. They look great. There are a number of air bubbles in the tops of the wall that I really didn't mind. Reading a report on the forts in Wilkes county and on the edges of Indian territory from the FIW time period, the forts were often in poor repair with the log walls quickly rotted when not maintained constantly. They came out nicely. They have a wooden firestep on the back of them. They came out nice enough that I decided to get some corners and a gate. They painted really quickly and I am happy with how they turned out.

This will be it for a while as I will be on vacation next week.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Painting updates

I did manage to get a bit of painting done recently. The first thing I did is complete a blockhouse for This Land Divided.

I also managed to paint up some Soviet infantry. Some of it was a anti-tank gun crew. In addition I finished a couple of 47mm anti-tank guns. I still have basing to do before these are done. They came out pretty good. Some of the figures are the plastic Flames of War figures.

Next priority is to finish my cane breaks. I have one that is at the 90% point. I also have a section of swamp that is at the 25% point. I just have no time to work on them. This week is probably a loss and next week is vacation. But I am really looking forward to vacation.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Messing About with Soviet Maps

In working on the Second Battle of Kharkov Chain of Command supplement, I have found a perfect map that covers most of the actions that I wish to model for the campaigns. It is a Soviet 1:50,000 scale map of Nepokrytaya (M-37-62-V). Here is the extract that I am playing with.

Here is a section that features the town of Federovka and Hill 199 behind it. These were the initial German positions on May 12th, 1942 that the Soviets overran. The detail offered by these maps is fantastic. Especially if you grab a copy of TM 30-548 Soviet Topographical Map Symbols.I ended up with the 1958 edition of the Technical Manual but it works well. The Map is based off of earlier maps notably the 1930-31, 1949 and 1951 maps. This raises a couple of questions on some of the map features. Specifically the burial mounds on Hill 199 and those in front of the town. Were these present prior to the war or were those a product of the war?

The German accounts of the battle for Hill 199 does not mention the presence of burial mounts in their defensive positions. Honestly, they don't mention much about their position other than the limited amount of anti-tank guns that they had.

Of the town it tells us a considerable amount. Since most of the buildings are shown with a black square with a yard with lines through it, those are not fireproof construction (I am assuming wooden construction). At the far north of the town there are a pair of buildings with and empty square surrounding the black square of the building. This denotes a fireproof structure (I assume stone or brick construction).

The roads of the town itself are dirt with several dirt paths leading out of the back of the town through the swamp. The swampy areas have some grassy areas (denoted by the ||), a few trees (the small circles) and some reeds (the three lines grouped together like \|/). The road running east to west through the center of the town is an improved road. The bridge over the small river running north to south is 38 meters long and can support 10 tons.

On the front edge of the north side of town is a small cemetery. Another is on the south side away from the town proper. These are denoted by the squares with a plus in the middle. The one feature that I don't see in the town is a church of any kind. This is possibly because the church had been closed or re-purposed by the communists prior to 1931 and its designation was lost in the creation of the maps.

Either way, it provides us with an excellent resource for setting the scene for these battles. I am trying to map out the scenarios for the first campaign now. So far I have just scenario 1 completed. Progress has been glacially slow but still there is progress. I hope to have a rough draft done by Mid July if all goes well.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Things From the Basement - Russian Village

I took a few minutes to work on some of the buildings. Thus far I have done the blacksmith's forge and shed and the Farm Buildings pack. The farm buildings come with a small house, a barn, an outhouse and a well. The buildings are fantastic. The barn has a small ladder that leads up to the roof entry. The window shutters and door frames are additional items to be glued on that add nice details to the buildings. They include some strips of card for the corners of the buildings to add more detail. The roof is still a flat MDF roof that can be easily modified to make it look better.

They have been a joy to build. The pieces go together well. They come on a base which makes it difficult to use my MicroMark magnetic assembly tool to keep stuff straight but it is built so well, it is not needed. I just need to take the time to paint these up.

I am planning on taking on one of the larger buildings next. All told, this has been a great buy. I hope Things From the Basement will do more 15mm offerings in the future.

Update: Here is what I have completed so far.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

New Toys - Gaming Models

Gaming Models

The more I get of the Gaming Models products, the more I like them. My most recent order included 1x T-35, 3x BT-5, 4x T-20 tractors, 3x 45mm ATG and 3x T-26 w/37mm gun. These were a few items I needed to fill out the missing gaps in my Chain of Command supports for my 1941 and 1942 Soviets.

I also ordered some of his blowout packs. These are models that were not quite up to standard when they came out of the mold. I picked up a pack of each, T-34, BT-7, T-26, Panzer II, Panzer III and Panzer IV. I plan on using these for battlefield wrecks. The only disadvantage to these are that you can't specify which version of the tank you get. So my order arrived with much of it being late war kit (with the exception of the BT-7s and T-26s which are only Early War).

Honestly, the wrecks are in good enough shape that it would not take much modification to make them into regular tanks for your tabletop. The most noticable issue with them is that the post under the turret is missing. One could easily be fashioned for them. I am very pleased with this order and will be making another shortly for some more T-26s (need some twin turret types) and for an SDKFZ 232 8 Rad (he said this is under development now).

The price is definitely right on these models. They lack some variety that other manufacturers may have but you can always add your own stowage.

Things from the Basement

Having read a review of their 15mm Russian buildings from VisLardica's website, I had the urge to order their village set. I had some book royalties laying around and used it to buy the buildings. Everything arrived well packed and in great shape. He threw in a freebie as well, a nice freight pallet. The village pack came with some nice additional buildings. A blacksmith shop and tool shed, two farm outbuildings and a well, two log cabins, two houses and a church make up the pack.

I have yet to assemble any of it, yet. I may take some time tomorrow to get to work on a few of these just to see how they look. I now have enough terrain projects to tie me up for a while now. All of these will be useful for the Second Kharkov campaign. I really hope that he makes more 15mm items. He sells some 28mm kits that look really nice.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Second Kharkov Campaign

I have been making some progress on the new campaign supplement. Thus far I have it broken down into two campaigns so far. The first campaign covers the Soviet offensive on May 12th and the attack of the Soviet 36th Tank Brigade and 226th Rifle Division against the positions of the 294th Infantry Division. Among the changes I am looking to add to the campaign is a support option for the Soviets on the advance based on a reference from William Russ on his book of the battle.

"there is heard a loud and cheerful conduct, with lots of liquor distribution."

This was from a report from the 79th Infantry Division. The officers apparently were getting the men drunk before the offensive to improve morale. I am thinking about a support option. It will be a level two support option that will raise Soviet force morale by 2 points for a given battle. It can only be used for one of the initial battles and then discarded. I need to test this out a bit before actually including it.

I have also been preparing my armor for it. The first campaign features no armor for the Germans and plenty for the Soviets. It is possible to play the game with a Soviet tank force that is supported by infantry. The 36th Tank Brigade was largely equipped with lend-lease equipment. It began the battle with 17 of the new T-60 tanks, 10 Matilda IIs and 20 Valentine IIIs.

There are several instances in the battle where the tanks outpaced the infantry and assaulted German positions without them. This proved to be very costly as the Germans used field artillery aimed over open sights to engage Soviet armor to great effect. But ammo shortages caused the gunners in most cases to spike their guns and leave.

The Germans will be equipped with mainly infantry forces. Each ladder rung will result in the Germans having a mix of troops made up of soldiers that had fallen back from the forward outposts and thrown together to blunt the Soviet attacks.

The second campaign will be the German counterattack launched on May 13th by the 3rd Panzer Division. The 3rd Panzer Division was undergoing refit at the time of attack. It was a veteran unit that had been fighting since the invasion of France in 1940. The division had only a single battalion of armor that was combat effective and a single battalion of panzer grenadiers. These infantry were largely truck mounted rather than in half tracks. They were supported by a reconnaissance battalion of mostly motorcyclists. They possessed towed anti-tank guns and some artillery.

The tanks of the 3rd Panzer were 5 working Panzer IIs, 34 operational Panzer IIIs (both 37mm guns and 50mm guns combines) and 6 operational Panzer IVs (all short barreled versions f1 or older).

The paths of the two campaigns cover much of the same ground. The 3rd Panzer swept up from Kharkov and sped straight towards the 36th Tank Brigade in Nepokrytaya. This was also the town where the 294th Infantry Division had the last stand of Kampfgruppe Winkler.

I think I will have the first campaign largely complete before the end of the week. The 3rd Panzer's campaign will take a bit longer as I am trying to get more details on their actions. I have a good history of the division but it doesn't give many details that are useful for scenarios.

I put together a map of the areas that the campaigns will cover. There is a great Russian language site that has excellent WWII maps of the Eastern Front, especially the Ukraine. The maps are taken from maps Y50, Z50, Z51 and Y51 on their site. These were German operational maps.

I need to do some work on making sure I have enough armor painted up. I have everything that I need but just need to get them smartened up a bit. They all have rather basic paint jobs on them. That is the update for now.

One idea I had for this campaign book was to provide enough of a map for each portion of the battle for folks to be able to move the battle to a place that they have terrain for. For instance, there are two scenarios that take place in Federovka. The first is on the outskirts with the Germans having defensive positions in a balka (dry ditch). The second is the fall back positions in the town itself. I found a great period 1/50,000 scale map of the town and its environs. I am providing enough of that map for the player to say, I don't have a church but I do have homes with gardens and trees. They can then use the map to move the location of the battle to match it with the terrain that they have and still be in the historical context of where the battle took place.

That is the update for now. Will probably post more later. Been trying to get stuff off the paint table that has languished for too long.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Action At Ustilug - Updated

I have a few issues that I just sorted out with the scenario book. They were not significant but if you have the older copy of the supplement, I will pass on the changes here.

On page 8 - There was a sentence that was truncated. It should read, "The town contains major roadways needed by the Germans to push further east."

On page 10 in Scenario 1, the black lines between houses represent short, waist high wooden fences.

I added information about what type of cover the buildings provide in the scenarios.

Scenario 1: Most of the houses are wooden and will provide light cover. You may pick one building in the center to be of stone construction and provide heavy cover.

Scenario 2: The church is a stone building and is heavy cover. The other larger buildings are of brick or stone construction and are heavy cover. The remainder are wood and are light cover.

Scenario 3: The buildings provide light cover.

Scenario 6: The buildings provide light cover.

Please let me know if you have any other questions on the scenarios. I will be happy to update the supplement if it needs it.

Also, if you have played any games from the supplement, I would love to see some pictures of the game and read some AARs. Please share them if you can.