Wednesday, February 7, 2024

AHPC XIV Post 7 Manilla Bay 1898

A slow week again for me (teaching an overload course and wife's birthday) but a few things made it off the workbench.  A few more ships from my ongoing Spanish American War naval project, mostly Spanish and mostly from the Battle of Manilla Bay 1898.

The Spanish squadron in the Philippines was a collection of obsolete cruisers in a pretty dodgy state of maintenance and training.  They gave Dewey's American squadron little opposition but with some proper preparations and work, things might have been tougher for the US Navy.  Dewey had the easier challenge in battle but had a host of other issues to deal with.  His squadron was operating thousands of miles from a US port and had to shepherd colliers and other support ships.  He also had to stare down the German Asiatic squadron which anchored in  Manilla Bay and deal with Phillipino rebels that the US Government was preparing to throw under the bus once the Spanish were out of the way.  

The Reina Christina was an Alphonso XII class unprotected cruiser and flies the flag of Admiral Motojo.  She was the best of the Spanish squadron at Manilla and went down fighting.   This class of ships was named for member of the Spanish Royal Family and both the ships and royalty had pretty sad careers.  Christina was the Queen Regent in 1898, widow of Alphonso XII (who died in 1885 at the age of 27 from TB and dysentery) and mother of Alphonso XIII (born posthumously in 1886 and deposed in 1931).  Her sister ships were named for Alphonso XII and his first wife Reina Mercedes who died at age 18 from typhoid fever after 6 months of marriage.  The Alphoso XII was immobile in Havana harbour in 1898, but her crew helps the crew of the USS Maine after she was sunk.  The Reina Mercedes traded shots with the US Navy at Santiago, but was too sow to take part in the the breakout,  She was sunk as a block ship to deny the Americans access to the port.

The Castilla was an even older unprotected cruiser.  She served against the Tagalog Revolt but was thoroughly worn out by 1898.  Her machinery gave only a very slow speed and she in the early days of the war was found to have a serious leak that could only be patched with cement around her propellor shaft, immobilizing her.  The Christina had to tow her into position.

Two member of the ill fated Velasco class of small cruisers.  Tow of the class had been lost at sea prior to the war and three more members were sunk at Manilla Bay including Velasco herself.  She was immobilized on the day of battle (are you sensing a theme here?) with her boilers ashore and under repair.  Isabel II was at San Juan Puerto Rico in 1898 where she took part in two actions against the US blockaders.  She served in the Armada until 1907.  Isabel II was the mother of Alphonso II and had a troubled reign from 1833-1868.  Her succession caused the Carlist Wars (the other side was lead by an uncle who refused to accept a Queen), and she was deposed by a revolution in 1868.  She lived until 1904 but had abdicated while in exile in favour of her son.   

Finally some pretty good little ships.  USS Petrel was a gun boat that fought at Manilla Bay and further against against first the Spanish and then the Philippinos.  Very useful in the brushfire colonial campaigns of the day.  And another flotilla of two Spanish destroyers, which were modern designs for 1898.  

Thats's 7 1;2400 scale ships (all Tumbling Dice castings) at 2 points per hull for a total of 14 points.  I  should have something more substantial next week.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

AHPC XIV Post 6 Scots-Irish Slingers

 A small post from me this week.  I was out of town at a actuarial exam meeting in Charlotte NC this weekend and I'm still struggling to keep up on my extra teaching load.

This is a unit of 6 Irish slingers for my Late Roman Britain project, based for To The Strongest.  I did some kit bashing using plastics here.  The torsos and heads are all from the Gripping Beast Irish set and the arms come from the Victrix Late Roman Archers and Slingers set.  The two kits mesh reasonably well and I was able to get a good mix of loading and firing figures.  As noted in my last post, the Victrix pack has more archers than slingers and many of the sling options are staff slings, which is a higher level of tech than would be seen in 4th Century Ireland.

Slingers are the only long range missile troops available to the Scots-Irish in TTS. They would typically be the fellows who lacked the minimum equipment (shield and spear) to form up in the war band.  Often they would be beardless yutes, as Cousin Vinnie would say. However, I prefer the GB heads with beards to the clean shaven heads.  I painted them in basic tunics with no decorations.  I left room for a lable, but I am overthinking tribal names for my Scots-Irish and haven't decided which ones to use.

Like the tunics, this is a basic minimalist post.  Six 28mm foot figures for 30 points and no room bonus.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

AHPC XIV Post 5 Late Roman Light Cavalry and Slingers

 No library sections today, but two units for my Late Roman armies based for To The Strongest.

First up a unit of 4 light cavalry with javelins.  I've named them after the Equites Dalmatae who served under the Dux Britanniarum and were noted as being stationed at Praesidio.  It is unsure where this is exactly, but best guess is somewhere in Yarkshire, maybe between York and Doncaster.  "Dalmation" seemed to be  type of cavalry rather than a place of origin and is often interpreted as being light cavalry with javelins.  Useful for running down raiders, patrolling frontiers and harassing flanks.  Being a Limitanei unit, there's no shield pattern for this unit meaning that I get to make one up.  I've gone with a Chi Rho in white on red.   Figures are plastic Gripping Beast from their Late Roman light cavalry box set (which is very good value and very useful).

Haven't added labels and I took this pics early in the morning and didn't want to wake anyone up by running the printer at 7am on a Sunday.  Also I need to check if I already have a unit of Dalmatae.

Next we have a unit of 6 Funditores or light infantry slingers.  During a business trip to Vancouver this summer, I picked up two Victrix Late Roman plastic kits which were put away until the Challenge, and then lost when I went to assemble and prep them!  Fortunately they have since turned up.  One kit was for Late Roman archers and slingers, which I plan to use for Roman and Barbarian units.  The ratio of bow and staff sling arms to regular slinger arms was not what I'd wanted but the kits have nice bits and I'll get some useful units from it.  I like the variety of loading and shooting poses plus the various types of slings (at least for the Romans, not so much the Irish!).   And there are tons of head options.  

Again no labels.  I may assign these guys to an existing infantry unit.

Love the motion in firing figures.

Points for this week

  • 4x 28mm cavalry = 40
  • 6x 28mm infantry = 30
  • Total = 70
I should be able to count these against the Legions and Auxiliaries side duel if I can figure out how to do that!

Friday, January 19, 2024

Santiago de Cuba 1898 AAR


Last week I got my newly painted 1:2400 scale pre dreadnoughts on table for an action based f Santiago in 1898, giving the Spanish a bit more to play with .  Rule were Broadside and Salvo from Long Face games (also check out LFG's campaign sets for the Spanish American, Russo Japanese and Balkan Wars).

At the start, Jeremy in grey and Sylvain in green were the Yanks.  Curt (behind lens) took the Spanish and I was the  GM.

Curt's forces emerge from the harbour between the two freshly painted batteries.

Curt had
  • Admiral Cervera's squadron of 4 armoured cruisers (Maria Teresa, Oquendo, Vicaya and Colon) and a torpedo boat flotilla
  • Local forces of one old cruiser (Reina Mercedes), a flotilla of old torpedo boats and two forts.  The fort to the right of the entrance had a torpedo battery and an electrically controlled minefield in case the USN got too close.
The blockading Yanks were dispersed, including one flagship and attending TBs off table en route to meet with the Army General.

The US forces were
  • Jeremy's Flying Squadron of the armoured cruiser Brooklyn and the obsolete AC Texas.  The battleship Massachusetts was off getting coal and unavailable. 
  • Sylvain's Atlantic fleet with the battleships Oregon, Iowa and Indiana and two armed yachts.  His flagship the AC New York and a torpedo boat flotilla were off table.

The local ships are the first to leave to provide distraction. 

The USN reacts.

An armoured yacht got too close to shore and comes under fire.  She also narrowly missed running into the minefield.

Cervera emerges

Jeremy was close to crossing Curt's T and then Curt did a 90 degree turn to starboard to go behind the yanks.

The US squadron's got in each other's way a lot and there were some tense moments.

One of Curt's cruisers rams and sinks JP Morgan's yacht!

In the background a Spanish cruiser attempts to ram a US battleship with much less success, taking damage in the process.

Things were getting chaotic here.  The Spanish have yellow labels and the US light blue which helps a bit, but it was a wild scrum.

Curt had to get two cruisers off table and he is getting close to doing this.

And they've made it!

It was a fun game.  The rules worked well, were really quick to learn and fast to play.  And they gave reasonably realistic results.  I'll have more a review at a later point. 

AHPC XIV Post 4 Shore Batteries

 Only a teeny tiny post from me this week, although there's lots on the go on the workbench. After a good start, painting slowed a bit due to weather (see the screen shot below) and first week of uni classes.  Specifically my work load went up from 2 classes with 18 students to 3 classes with 168 students.  My normal load is two classes, but we were asked to pick up classes  for a couple of weeks to cover for a colleague with medical issues.  There was a first year calculus class in one of my open slots and I had just taught the same class in the Fall so had everything tooled up.  Anyway by Wednesday I was assigned the class for the entire semester...Oh well I enjoyed the class in the Fall and as my wife says, I run better in the Winter Semester if I'm kept busy.

I've had to go outside every day this week and there's nothing like this weather to sap your energy.

These are 3D prints from War Time Journal kindly printed off by the Snowlord.  A communications glitch led to Curt printing these in 1:1250 while my ships are 1:2400, but I think that they work well in full scale.

I added my cutting mat to show the size of these.

I have a couple of shore batteries in 1:1250 scale for Local History.  A quick check of your globe will tell you that there's no need for shore batteries in my current location of Regina, SK. However, home for me is always Halifax Ns which being a major naval port since 1759 has several.  These remind me of York Redoubt which covers the narrow entrance to a very big harbour.  I played on the 9" Rifled Muzzle Loaders as a kid (it was the 60s, boomer kids were expendable), walked my dog there in Uni, took young ladies for picnics and sailed past these guns in my day sailer.

Entrance to Halifax Harbour

York Redoubt was originally built in 1793 and then expanded in 1798 by the Duke of Kent, best known in most circles as Queen Victoria's father and in Halifax as the guy who liked round buildings.  With changing technology it was rebuilt in the 1870s and armed with 9" and 10" rifled muzzle loaders. In 1891 pair of 6pdr quick firers and a searchlight was added on the shoreline to fend off torpedo boats.  In WW2 this was one end of an anti-U boat net guarded by more modern 6pdrs. 

9" RML

This one nicely shows the commanding view from the guns.  The French and Americans better stay clear.

Finally, I thought I'd share a few shots from an AAR using some of the Spanish American War models I've done up this Challenge including these ones.

Even a single point is generous for these two, but I'll claim the 20 points for the Library category. Here's my updated trip through the Library.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Painting Challenge Post 3: Protected Cruisers

 If there were two subject areas on the Library Map that you could bet money on me visiting it would have History and Maritime.  So here's the second of these with a selection of 1:2400 scales ships for the Spanish American War, all of which fought at Manilla Bay in 1898.  All the toys are produced by Tumbling Dice, who do good castings with excellent service.

First up is a set of four Protected Cruisers for the US Navy.  Protected cruisers were a late 19th century development when navies were looking for speed with firepower at the cost of armour.  Early armoured cruisers had decent armour belt protection but the weight was so high that they were no faster than the battleships that they were to scout for.  A protected cruiser did away with the armour belt and substituted a armoured deck that would hopefully shield the engines and lower hull from the effects of shellfire.  British Arms magnate Lord Armstong's Elswick yard produced these as a popular option for smaller navies looking for prestige ships.

USS Boston was one the the first three cruisers for the US Navy using a home grown design heavily influenced by the Chilean Esmeralda.  Commissioned in 1887 she carried her two 8" guns in barbettes that were slightly offset to supposedly increase end on fire.  She was slow and slow firing by 1898 standards.

What's a barbette you ask?  Here's a picture from her sister ship Altanta.  The barbette was an armoured cylinder that protected the training and loading mechanism of the gun but provided no protection the the men serving the weapon.  Note the blue jacket fully exposed above the waist. 

These early ships came from a time when navies were loathe to abandon sails.  Boston carried an impressive full rig, but I've assumed that this would be downsized for combat.


The USS Baltimore was US built but used a design purchased from Armstong's.  Her 8" and 6" guns were broadside mounted but the crew had decent gun shields protecting them.

When I was adding ship labels I noticed that I had the Raleigh mounted differently from the other ships so that her table is on the starboard side instead of the port side.

USS Raleigh was a smaller ship commissioned in 1894.  She had mainly 5" guns which was the largest rapid fire gun available to the US Navy at the time plus a slow firing 6" on the foredeck.  She is credited with firing the opening shot at Manilla Bay. 

USS Olympia is a first class protected cruiser and one of the best cruisers afloat in 1898.  She carries four 8" guns in proper turrets and flies the flag of Commodore (soon to be Admiral) Dewey.  Dewey was a giant in the US navy pre WW1 and quite a character (see his bio here).  Most importantly, Olympia is still afloat and I visited her in September.

Look beyond my moose travelling companion and you can see where Dewey stood on the open deck while shell and shot whizzed past him.

Finally a trio of smaller ships.

USS Concord was a Yorktown class gunboat, useful for diplomatic missions!

Two members of the ill fated Velasco class, small cruisers with no armour and light guns.  Both (plus the Velasco herself) were sunk at Manilla Bay.  Two more members of the class were lost in storms. 

Summing up that 7 ships in 1:2400 scale at two points a hull plus 20 for the Maritime section nets me a total of 34 points.

This is my third section covered and my updated map is as follows.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Painting Challange Post 2 Pict Light Cavalry

 For the History section I've got a unit of four Pict Light Cavalry in 28mm, using Gripping Beast plastics.

These are based for my Late Roman Britain project using the To The Strongest ruleset.  There was some whinging from the Snowlord during a recent game that the Picts needed to up their mounted arm and I will endeavour to do this over the Challenge.  

The shields are freehanded.  Way faster, easier and more enjoyable that transfers.

Unlike a lot of Challenge painters I really like painting horses.  I can't be arsed to use oils, so use layers of acrylics with washes.

Lock up your sheep and your daughters!

These use bits from three Gripping Beast box sets.  The horses and torsos are from the Light Cavalry and Dark Age Cavalry sets, while the heads, shields and weapons come from the Pict Warrior sets.  These GB kits are good value for money, and you can mix and match quite easily,  

Four cavalry in 28mm is 40 points plus the History bonus gets me 60 points, and I'm heading out of Section 1 on the ground floor and up the stairs to Section 2.