Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Splash Markers

At our first 1:2400 pre-dreadnought game (Battle of the Yellow Sea), it was quickly apparent that I needed some way of marking which ship was firing at which other ship.  In our WW2 1:1200 naval games, Lord Sterling used two different sized golf tees, suitably painted and marked, as indicators.  But golf tees would be much too big for the 1:2400 ships I use.  Not having a plethora of funds to order the very nice shall splashes from Litko, I decided to make my own.  As I was constrained by time, both the immediacy of the next game and the fact that I'm having to take care of my dear wife, who broke her left leg on Veterans' Day and can't put any weight on it, I went for the easiest solution -- two different sized of flat-headed wood screws glued to some blank board game counters and suitably painted.  I numbered each marker, pairing one large and one small for those ships (battleships, armored cruisers, and a few protected cruisers) who had both main battery and secondary battery guns, resulting in 48 pairs and another 30+ singletons for the smaller gunned cruisers.  They worked very well.  You can see them in action in our fictional Battle of the Sea of Japan game.

Here, the main and secondary batteries from a Russian armored cruiser target a Japanese battleship.

One caution - please dull the points of the screws.  I didn't and several of us, me included, stabbed ourselves during the game!

Later on I plan on adding some sort of filler to the screws to make them look more like water splashes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Fleet Anchorage

With the Russo-Japanese War fleets finally finished and a game under my belt (see the Jackson Gamers' blog sometime later today for a report), I wanted to show my "fleet anchorage" or where all these little ships reside when they aren't "afloat" on the wargames table.

The box is an old, no longer usable archival box that was being discarded some years ago.  But it is imminently suitable to store wargaming figures.  It measures 15" x 10" x 3".  I glued some magnetic sheeting from a local sign store into the bottom and then cut two upper "floors" to take advantage of the smallness of the ships.  The upper floors have magnetic tape affixed to them as moorings for the ships.  The Russian battleships and cruisers occupy the lower level; Japanese battleships and cruisers the middle level; and both sides destroyers and, eventually, merchant ships the upper.  All the ships fit with plenty of extra room on the top level.

Part of the Russian fleet on the lower level.  One ship is turned upside down so you can see the metal base I glued to the plastic ship base to provide heft and a mooring for the ship.

Here part of the Japanese fleet sits on its middle layer.  The finger holes on each end aid in lifting this level out of the box.

All three levels of the fleet anchorage.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Rest of the Baltic Fleet

Just this past Friday evening I completed the last of the Russian Baltic Fleet (4 battleships and 5 cruisers).  They are presented for your viewing enjoyment.  All models are 1:2400 scale ships from Panzerschiffe Miniatures.  Please click on the photos for a larger image.

The Baltic Fleet was divided into two sea-going squadrons and sent on an immensely long voyage to the Far East, there to meet their doom against the Japanese fleet at Tsu-shima in the Korean Straits.  A few of the ships survived the battle, some were captured and incorporated into the Japanese fleet, and some were sunk.

The four modern battleships of the 1st Battle Division, 2nd Pacific Squadron were already posted immediately preceding this post.

The 2nd Battle Division, 2nd Pacific Squadron consisted of three battleships and one armored cruiser.  The three battleships' pictures have already been posted previously.  The only new ship here is:

Admiral Nakhimov, armored cruiser.

3rd Battle Squadron, 3rd Pacific Squadron, consisting of:

battleship Nikolai I (division flag), one of the first Russian battleships and hopelessly obsolescent;

battleship Admiral Ushakov, also obsolescent;

battleship Admiral Senyavin, of the Ushakov class; and

battleship General-Admiral Graf Apraxin, also of  the Ushakov class.

Cruiser Division, consisting of four of the cruisers (two of which, Aurora and Dmitri Donskoi, have been pictured already):

protected cruiser Oleg (division flag) and 

armored cruiser Vladimir Monomakh (near sister of Donskoi), obsolescent.

There were also two modern "light" cruisers of the same class that were attached for scouting:

protected cruiser Izumrud (meaning Emerald) and

protected cruiser Jemchug (meaning Pearl).

With the exception of one yacht-cruiser (Svietlana), three destroyers, and the fleet auxiliaries that accompanied the Baltic Fleet, that completes all my Russian ships for the Russo-Japanese War.  As Panzerschiffe makes a Svietlana, I may end up getting it although it didn't take part in the Battle of Tsu-shima, having been ordered to escape to Vladivostok at the start to let them know the fleet was coming.  I'm also short four Japanese destroyers.  But for all intents and purposes, the fleets are finished, URRAH! BANZAI!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Baltic Fleet Battleships, Part 1

As I posted yesterday, I completed six of the Baltic Fleet battleships that sailed to the Pacific, only to die at Tsu-shima.  Today I present them, starting with the four brand-new battleships of the Borodino class, which were hurried into completion and for which Admiral Rozhdestvenski was forced to wait before he could sail.  Of course if he had sailed earlier with only the smaller number of capitol ships, the big question would have been could he have arrived near the Japanese home islands before Admiral Togo could repair his ships that were damaged in the Battle of the Yellow Sea by the Russian 1st Pacific Squadron?  An interesting speculation, no doubt!

These are all Panzerschiffe Miniatures models.  Please click on the pictures for a larger image.

The 1st Battle Division, consisting of:

Battleship Suvarov, the fleet flagship;

battleship Aleksandr III;

battleship Borodino; and

battleship Oryol (Eagle).

Of these four battleships, only the Oryol survived the battle but was captured by the Japanese.  The other three were sunk in the action.

Additionally, I completed two older battleships, which were part of the 2nd Battle Division.  In addition to the Oslyabya, which was pictured earlier, and the Admiral Nakhimov, an armored cruiser, which hasn't been painted yet, the 2nd Battle Division consisted of:

Battleship Navarin, with her four funnels in a square, was the second oldest battleship in the 2nd/3rd Pacific Squadrons.  She was sunk at Tsu-shima.

Battleship Sisoi Veliki, slightly "younger" than Navarin, also sunk at Tsu-shima.

More ships will be posted later this week.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The "Small Boys"

Torpedo boat and torpedo boat destroyer development was improving as the Russo-Japanese War opened, but still was not up to what would occur some ten years later in the First World War.  Even though both the Japanese and Russian navies had significant numbers of both types of vessels, they weren't as effective as they would be in ten years.  But since I have the models as part of the Tsu-shima fleet lot that I bought, I will use them.  All models are from Panzerschiffe Miniatures.  Please click on the pictures for a larger image.

The Japanese torpedo boat destroyers and torpedo boats operated primarily in 4-boat divisions.  I have enough models for four destroyer divisions (three of 4-boats and one of 3-boats), which will replicate the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th Destroyer Divisions of the main battle fleet, and two torpedo boat divisions (each of four boats), which will replicate the 9th and 14th Torpedo Boat Divisions.  All of the Japanese destroyers were based on British models, either the 4-stacker or 2-stacker versions.  They are pictured below. 

Destroyer Division 1, consisting of Shirakumo and Asashiwo (Shirakumo class) and Akatsuki and Kasumi (Akatsuki class).

Destroyer Division 2, consisting of Ikazuchi, Oboro, Inadzuma, and Akebono (Ikazuchi class).

Destroyer Division 3, consisting of Usugumo and Shinonome (Murakumo class) (2-stackers), and Sazanami (Ikazuchi class) (4-stacker).

Destroyer Division 5, consisting of Murakumo, Shiranui, Yugiri, and Kagero (Murakumo class).

 Torpedo Boat Division 9, consisting of Aotaka, Hato, Kari, and Tsubame (Aotaka class).

 Torpedo Boat Division 14, consisting of Chidori, Hayabusa, Manadzuru, and Kasasagi (Hayabusa class).

The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Destroyer Divisions and the 14th Torpedo Boat  Division were part of the 1st Battle Squadron, which included all the battleships.  The 5th Destroyer and 9th Torpedo Boat Divisions were part of the 2nd Battle Division, which included only cruisers.  I didn't have enough models to make the 4-boat 4th Destroyer Division, part of the 2nd Battle Squadron.  Maybe I'll do that one some time in the future.

The Russian Navy made even more use of destroyers and torpedo boats since they followed the French operational doctrine called the Jeune Ecole which posited that smaller torpedo laden ships and boats could defeat the opposing fleet in home waters, preventing that fleet from intercepting its commerce raiding cruisers.  Both Port Arthur and Vladivostok had large numbers of destroyers and torpedo boats as part of their "floating defenses."  About half of the Port Arthur destroyers, however, were assigned to the battle squadron as the 1st Flotilla, represented on three separate bases.

Destroyer Flotilla 1a, consisting of four Bezstrashni class.

Destroyer Flotilla 1b, consisting of one Boevoi class, two Boiki class, and one Vnimatelni class.

Destroyer Flotilla 1c, consisting of one Lt Burakov class; and two Puilki class

The Russian ships that were enroute to the Pacific when the war began (see Early Reinforcements) were accompanied by six destroyers, which I've organized into a second flotilla of two 3-boat bases.

Destroyer Flotilla 2a, consisting of three Boiki class.

Destroyer Flotilla 2b, consisting of three Boiki class.

Some of these destroyers also accompanied the 2nd Pacific Squadron on its epic journey from the Black Sea to the Straits of Korea near Tsu-shima Island.

I decided in my games to use these destroyer and torpedo boat divisions as single units.  They didn't have the stamina to go up against undamaged battleships and cruisers during the main battle but could (and hopefully will) be used to harry and sink the wounded "big boys" who fall out of the battle line.  They will also, I'm sure, go up against each other.

This completes all the ships I require for the 1904 naval battles, both the "real" ones of the Yellow Sea and Ulsan and the "imaginary" one that will pit all the available 1904 ships in a pre-cursor of the 1905 Battle of Tsu-shima.  I'm currently working on fifteen additional main combatants (10 battleships and 5 cruisers) which will join the three already completed ones.  Four of the battleships will be completed tonight so their pictures should be posted tomorrow.  The rest will be completed this coming week.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Last Japanese Cruisers

In my last post, I pictured almost the entire Japanese battle fleet, minus some protected cruisers that were either on patrol or not yet in commission.  I have now rectified that lapse.

The first five protected cruisers were, I believe, either manning the various patrol lines in the Yellow Sea and Sea of Japan or were supporting the Japanese Army's advance to Port Arthur.  All of them are older, obsolescent ships that were not included in the main fleet operations.

They are all Panzerschiffe Miniatures models and the catalog number appears after each ship's name.  As usual, please click on the picture for a larger image.

The Izumi (L-333) is the oldest of the five, having been built in the early 1880s as the Chilean Esmeralda.  Panzerschiffe has no designated model for her, so I have used the one for the Suma as they appear to be similar in appearance.

The Akitsushima (L-333) was one of the first cruisers built in Japan in the early 1890s.  Again, I've had to use a model of the Suma for her.

The Takasago (L-353) was a near sister of the Yoshino.  She was built in the UK as an improved design of the Argentine 25 de Mayo.

The Suma (L-333) and her sister, Akashi (below), were built in Japan and were based on the earlier Akitsushima.

The Akashi (L-333), sister of the Suma, above.

The next two protected cruisers were so "modern" that they weren't even in commission by the August 1904 battles.  They were rushed into completion to aid the Japanese fleet in meeting the Russian 2nd and 3rd Pacific Squadrons in 1905.

The Tsushima (L-337) was a sister of the Niitaka and was actually named for the island before it became famous for the battle that destroyed the Russian navy.

The Otowa (L369) was a follow-on to the Niitaka class and was the last major warship launched and commissioned before the Russians approached in the Spring of 1905.

This now completes major combatants for the Japanese battle fleet that I will be using for recreations of actual battles and for realistic (I hope) "could have been" battles over the coming months.  The destroyers that accompanied the battlefleet are being commissioned even now and their pictures (along with those of the Russian destroyers) will soon grace this blog.  I have not attempted to model the large number of Japanese auxiliary cruisers who were used for scouting and sea lane control.  That type of naval operations falls outside the purview of the battles I will be recreating.

Note:  The major combatants of the Russian 2nd and 3rd Pacific Squadrons will be the next to be painted after I finish the destroyers.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Japanese Battle Fleet

During the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese had the advantage of operating in their own backyard, so to speak.  As such, they were able to concentrate their naval power more effectively that the Russians.  This is also reflected in my painting of the Japanese fleet.  Posted below are the Japanese ships which I believe, from all the evidence I can locate both in books and on-line, actively participated in the two August 1904 naval battles -- Yellow Sea on August 10 and Ulsan on August 14.

Except for one model, all ships are from Panzerschiffe Miniatures.  The number after each ship's name is the catalog number.

They are painted in my interpretation of the Japanese war color scheme -- pewter gray hulls, turrets, upperworks, and funnels and wooden decks.  As usual, please click on the picture for a larger image.

From the information that I can develop, the Japanese fleet was organized into three squadrons, each of several battle divisions and accompanying destroyers and/or torpedo boats.  During these August battles, several of the squadrons were broken up and used either in a patrol line or as separate ships with other divisions.  I've tried to reflect this in my order of battle, but any errors are in my interpretation of the evidence.

The main fighting component was the 1st Squadron commanded directly by Admiral Togo, who also commanded the 1st Battle Division:

The "1st Sub-Division" consists of:

Battleship Mikasa [L-323], Admiral Togo's flagship;

Battleship Asahi [L-323]; and

Battleship Shikashima [L-330]

The "2nd Sub-Division" consists of:

Battleship Fuji [L-324];

Armored Cruiser Kasuga [L-325]; and 

Armored Cruiser Niishin [L-325].
These two armored cruisers were assigned to the 1st Battle Division to replace two battleships which were sunk earlier by Russian mines.

The 3rd Division, commanded by Admiral Dewa, was also in the 1st Squadron and consisted of:

Armored Cruiser Yakumo [L-332], Adm Dewa's flagship; 

Armored Cruiser Asama [L-331]; 

Protected Cruiser Kasagi [L-339]; and

Protected Cruiser Chitose [L-339].

And the attached Protected Cruiser Niitaka [L-337].

The 1st Division was supported by the obsolescent ships of the 3rd Squadron's 5th Division consisting of:

Battleship Chinyen (ex-Chinese Chen Yuen);
{This model is from Viking Forge [3002] }

Protected Cruiser Hashidate [L-338];

Protected Cruiser Itsukushima [L-338]; and

Protected Cruiser Matshushima [L-338].
{Model is inaccurate as the main gun turret was mounted and faced to the rear.}

And the attached Protected Cruiser Chiyoda [L-358].

There were also three ships that were sunk earlier in 1904 that were part of the main battle fleet.

These sunken ships were:

Battleship Hatsuse [L-330], sunk by Russian mines;

Battleship Yashima [L-324], sunk by Russian mines; and

Protected Cruiser Yoshino [L-353], sunk by collision with Kasuga.

In addition to Admiral Togo's main battle fleet, the 2nd Squadron, commanded by Vice Admiral Kamimura, was watching the sea lanes between Japan and Korea to protect the Japanese shipping against the Russian cruisers operating from Vladivostok (see Russian Independent Cruiser Squadron post).

The 2nd Division consisted of:

Armored Cruiser Izumo [L-332], VAdm Kamimura's flagship;

Armored Cruiser Azuma [L-332];

Armored Cruiser Tokiwa [L-331]; and

Armored Cruiser Iwate [L-332].

Two of the 4th Division's cruisers were also part of VAdm Kamimura's force:

Protected Cruiser Naniwa [L-354] and

Protected Cruiser Takachiho [L-354].

And finally, as far as I can determine, there were five protected cruisers (Akashi, Suma, Takasago, Izumi, and Akitshushima) which were either in the patrol lines or were supporting the Japanese Army's advance towards Port Arthur.  Two other protected cruisers (Tsushima and Otowa) were not yet commissioned, not joining the fleet until late 1904/early 1905.  All seven are currently being painted and pictures will be posted soon.