Saturday, 26 May 2012

Greetings from Roman Pula

This week I had the pleasure to present a paper at the International Conference of the National and University Library of Zagreb at Pula City Library in Croatia. Having a little spare time before the conference I took the opportunity to explore some of Pula’s cultural sights. Some of which date back to the 1st Century AD if not before. In addition to visiting the Roman Arena and the Archaeological Museum of Istria in search of inspiring reliefs and statues for the Early Imperial Roman Army I am currently working on.  My efforts were rewarded with a number of pieces contemporary to the 1st and 2nd centuries.

1st Century AD Arena at Pula, Croatia  

Sea battle depiction circa 1st or 2nd Century AD Temple of Augustus, Pula

 This first image is from a relief depicting a sea battle. The figure on the left is depicted wearing a breastplate fashioned in the style of a torso. The figure he appears to be in combat with on his right seen from the back has his sword suspended across his body. This relief suggests that these methods were used at this period.

The imposing figure from the Temple of Augustus 1st or 2nd Century AD ?

Detail of the breastplate

The remains of a statute, possibly Augustus,  has been placed on display in the Temple to Augustus for a 1962 exhibition in Pula. The remains of the statue offers us a fine example of a breastplate with some extraordinary details of the head of Medusa over two eagles.  

The Temple to Augustus Pula  

In the Archaeology Museum I came across another example of a breastplate on the remains of a statue.  This statue is smaller and less ornate than the example in the Temple of Augustus. However, the detail of the trimming around the bottom of the breastplate decorated with cameos caught my eye and is noteworthy.  

A statue from the Archaeology Museum of Istria 

Naturally replicating this level of detail on a 15mm figure is well beyond my skills, nevertheless, having taken the time to seek these pieces out provides me with greater context for future painting sessions on Roman figures. I will be reminded of a delightful few days I spent with colleagues from south east Europe in the beautiful and friendly City of Pula in the future months as I stoop over my work bench painting away.       

Friday, 18 May 2012

When is Enough Enough?*

When it comes to wargaming figures I suspect the answer would be never. One can constantly tinker, expand, redefine an army providing it with flexibility or customisation to deal with a specific scenario, time frame or opponent. This is not even raising the question of the delights offered by other periods, scales or forms of wargaming such naval or air games.

Last week the final part of my Imperial Roman army arrived,  Numidian Light Horse, Balearic Slingers and Cavalry Commanders to complete my Roman Army.

Once this lot is painted I'll have a decent selection of bases to play the early imperial period. Nevertheless I am constantly tempted by further permutations of battle groups to expand the periods to play.  Despite these plans I have made the vow, loosely speaking of course, not to acquire any more lead until the current figures are painted based and ready for action.

*Obviously enough is enough is when one's significant other tells you to stop buying those toy soldiers!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Kitchen Table Air Combat

The thing that got me back into wargaming a year or so ago was some 1/285 scale aircraft  from Raiden Miniatures which saw online.  In addition to manufacturing and selling these aircraft individually, Raidian also supply some useful battle sets with all you need to play a game including two sets of opposing aircraft. What you see in the pictures here are the contents of the Battle of Britain Set 1. They also include a set of quick play rules called Thunderbolt and Lightning and even a couple of dice. Although I think my dice are broken they only roll ones.  

Heinkel 111

So far they have come out on a few occasions for a fly about. For an evening’s entertainment when I am home alone I will set up a single player game, or a Jerry no mates game as it has become known in the parlance of the house !


So far I am amassing a nice little collection by simply getting the two Battle of Britain sets available. So far I have confining my collection to Spitfire and Hurricane Mk Is, Bf109 E, Bf110s and a couple of bomber flights of He111 and JU 88s.


These guys are a joy to paint although I have fallen into my old trap of painting them too dark again this is particularly apparent with the lack of definition in the two tone green camouflage on the top side of the German aircraft.

Spitfire I

Furthermore in addition to using these little fellas in air combat games they can also be put into action in Blitzkrieg Commander as air support elements.

Spitfire I

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Perfect Avatar

Back in 2009, according the date stamp on the photos, I built this Follow Me project. Back then I did not realise how useful it would be in providing me with images for my avatar, it was well before I used social media to the extent I do so today.

The project came about when I saw an image of a “Follow Me” jeep on an US airfield in the UK circa 1943. I felt it would be an interesting project since I was becoming tired of olive drab projects. But the clincher was it was a small enough project that I had an good chance of completing it in the limited time available to me then.

“Follow Me” jeeps were used on US Army Air Corps/Force airfields in the 1940s and 50s in most theatres.  Principally they were used to guild bombers to and from their stands when they arrived at unfamiliar airfields after gruelling mission over enemy territory.

As far as I can work out, after a bit of research, they were generally red and white, although there were examples of yellow and black vehicles too.

Extra detail, such as the wind shield is etched brass after-market additions to add a bit to the overall appearance. 

I am very please with the end result of this tatty two toner.  

Sunday, 6 May 2012

New Rulers

Like France I also acquired some new rulers* recently. Unlike France mine won't represent anything more than the turning-circle of a nineteenth century ironclad warship.
Alan at the CLWC organised some of these lovely wooden turning-circles to be manufactured for Ironclads in Action, the wargame he wrote. The set of seven circles of different curves are designed to represent the rate of turn of various different classes of ship in the period.  With a nice finish reminiscent of the old wooden ruler from my school days.

They add to the aesthetics of the naval wargaming table which tend to be relatively devoid of scenery.

Ironclads in Action is a clever game which blends the complexity of the period encompassing  an array of different ships  that combine both old and emerging technologies of the industrial age with a simplicity of playability.  This allows a fast paced game in actual scale which provides the player with an engaging and entertaining experience with many permutations to explore.

*Strictly speaking France has a new Head of State and I have new turning circles.

Friday, 4 May 2012

No Jerry, the Other Starboard!

I managed to get down to the CLWC on Monday evening for a game of ironclads. It is a game I am enjoying at the moment. Having played a few recent games I think I am getting the hang of the rules. So queries and clarifications are not required for every other move, no doubt to the relief of every other player.

The Hecate between two French Central Battery Ships

Monday's game involved a fictitious Anglo French engagement off the coast off Cherbourg circa 1880.  I had under my charge a shiny new turret ship HMS Hecate, part of a British squadron of four vessels. They were lined up against three French Central Battery Ships, Colbert, Trident and Océan which raced in to intercept our squadron while on its way to bombard Cherbourg.   

HMS Devastation Ramming the Trident 

At the earliest opportunity I charged head long into the French fleet to scatter them and in the process hopefully cause a bit of damage. Managing to place the Hecate in-between two of the French ships I brought my two twin gun turrets to bear at point blank range at the closest and fired a salvo which promptly missed everything. The French returned fired knocking out my rear turret and blowing a hole in my hull.  The following round, in an effort to extricate myself from the embarrassing situation I'd got myself into I was hit again causing my front turret to jam.

The Colbert on fire 

Thankfully my fellow players on the British side displayed more competence that I and importantly, more effective gunnery than I. They blasted holes in, and set fire to one of the French number. While I sailed around attempting to ram a French ship purely out of revenge for firing a total of 3 torpedoes at me.  Naturally I missed and almost collided with another British ship.  In the final round I managed to un-jam my front turret and destroy the remaining weaponry of the French ship Océan.

The final positions with HMS Hecate near the top of the picture sailing towards Océan

At this point it was decided that we should stop since due to time.  One of the things I enjoy about Ironclads in Action is how much I learn from playing the game about a period which I do not know a great deal about.