Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Sovreign of the Sea

Continuing my efforts to derail my own project by acquiring unsuitable large ships, we come to the other Heller kit. This is another 1/600 plastic kit but this time of a real French warhip - La Couronne.



The ship was launched in 1636 and the box illustration confirms the model is very much an example of a ship of the early 17th Century. "Phew, I'm safe" was my thought but then in my reading about the Anglo Dutch wars (three of them,) I spotted the illustration below.



The English warship "Sovereign" or "Royal Sovereign"was launched in 1637 (as Sovereign of the Seas in fact) so unsurprisingly looks very similar to the Couronne. Whereas Couronne had a service life of barely twenty years, Sovereign fought in all three of the wars against the Dutch and was one of the most impressive vessels in the English fleet. Over the course of sixty years I expect the  ship had many refits, but I am happy for it to look like a ship of an earlier age to show off it's veteran status.




The kit is a very similar size to the Phenix, with very good moulded detail. The keel at just over 3 1/4 inches is the perfect size for Royal Sovereign (127 ft.) This kit does have the guns of the broadside showing along its flanks (although not the 100 guns reputedly carried) and has great detail of quarter galleries and turrets shown. The stern is disappointingly plain compared to Phenix with a decal supplied as the decoration, so I will have to paint on a bit more of the "gingerbread" that this ship was notorious for.


The sails of this kit are proper injection moulded sprues. They are much better detailed and more robust than the Phenix kit, and there are more of them.  The part that becomes the deck of the ship has some cannons moulded to it and also appears to have a cover over the lowest portion of the deck. I am not sure it this is a permanent structure or something like the nets rigged in later periods to protect the deck crew from falling debris in a battle?



I am very happy with this model. Due to the period look there will be little opportunity to kitbash multiples into a variety of ships (probably a good thing when I think about it!) but it will make a unique and interesting flagship for the English fleet.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

First Rate!

My concept of small ship actions being the limit of ambition for 17th Century naval games didn't last long. The idle thought of; "I wonder what is available in plastic kits that might be useful?"  led to several hours of Internet research and a few likely looking candidates for big warships. The kits are from Heller and the one that is closest to my interests is the Phenix. This is a 1/600 kit of a large French, ship of the line based on designs from the late 1600s. There is not a specific ship that this kit represents and apparently the kit is quite elderly so has a few issues. This does nothing to put me off however. If it looks more or less right I will have no problem using as the basis for my own kitbashing attempts.

As ever there was a hitch to my brilliant plans.  This kit appears to be out of production; not visible in the Heller catalogue and absent from my local model shop and online destinations. Waiting for one to pop up on Ebay looked like my only chance and then I stumbled upon some stock in a Greek hobby shop. I snaffled two kits (same delivery charge as one) £8-£9 each seemed like a fair price including postage to me in the UK. They turned up in less than a week. (How we are going to miss that frictionless cross border trade once we are totally out of the EU...)



The kit itself has pretty good detail and not too many parts. I particularly like the carving on the stern, which is so typical of warships of this period. The only other contents in the box are a good instruction sheet and some very lightweight vac-formed plastic sails. These might be tricky to paint (they are white so I don't strictly need to) so I think I'll try before I cut them out. A surprising omission is a sheet of paper flags.


The size of the hull at 4 3/4" to the figurehead makes this ship 178 feet long at my nominal scale of 1/450. This makes this in the area of a 1st Rate or maybe 2nd, depending on the number of guns carried. It will certainly look imposing next to my horde of small ships and vessels. The only thing that are noticeable by their absence are any gunports. Maybe they were always intended to be painted onto the completed model? This suits my purposes as I can add them in the scale to suit my project and in whatever number I decide suits the type  of ship I want to portray. Peter Pig even have gunports with protruding ordnance intended for just this sort of conversion.

Stern windows and decoration piece.
So, overall very happy with these kits. My intention is to build one "as is" to be a French or English First Rate and the other I may chop a section out of the hull to create a smaller, handier Dutch warship. I will of course have to waterline them but a good razor saw will usually do the job with few dramas.  I also have some of the Minairons sets of  flags (link) that should work well with these kits.

Saturday, 14 March 2020

Buys from Cavalier

A fairly restrained haul from Cavalier in Tunbridge Wells this year. Mostly focussed on 17th Century naval and a few odds and ends impulse buys. One of the things I had intended to have a look at was the 1/700 buildings  that Brigade Models have just started producing (link). Perfect for coastal scenery for Black Seas and pretty damn close to my 1/500ish Anglo-Dutch War project. Looked really nice in person so I got a few pieces.


The star fort is in fact Castell de San Antonio  from their 1/1000"small scale range". I think it is a bit less scale dependant so will still work for larger scales. The others are (from the back) St. Mawes Castle, two Martello towers and Fort Vauville. All are excellently cast in a dense resin and should paint up nicely. I shall of course be using them for scenery anywhere from the Channel to the Med or the Caribbean.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Montaperti 1260

The battle pack has arrived! We have no figures for this period (yes, I am shocked too!) however there will be a way to overcome this small stumbling block. It's not as thought we have a reputation for stifling conformity as it  is... A copy of the Battle Pack is here on a quick scan through it looks a lot like the information I have in the booklets I bought in Sienna by Roberto Marchionni. A good thing to know we were already on the right track I suppose...


Thursday, 26 March 2009


With less than a month to go we now have multiple units of fierce Arab horsemen painted and (mostly) based, ready to fight the decisive wing of the Battle of Callinicum. The miniatures are a mixture of Perry and Musketeer from their Arab ranges. These may not all strictly match the contemporary descriptions of the Arabs in the time of Belisarius but they are horsemen in long robes with practical headgear and a scattering of armour. They will do. For flags I have given the Ghassanids Byzantine inspired designs with motifs taken from early Arab rock art added. Their King has a very Byzantine Icon style banner as befits a loyal ally and a good Christian.
Our forces on the day will be Ghassanid Arabs versus approximately equal numbers of Lakhmid Arabs but with a small qualititive advantage to the Lakhmids and a Sassanid presence in their ranks to represent the reinforcement of the Sassanid left wing. The objectives for both forces will be to get through the enemy horsemen and attack the flank of the main army. This will be represented on our tabletop by one or two units of levy foot, showing the location of the rest of the armies. The Lakhmids will have a time limit to acheive this objective (if they are not roundly defeated first!) It should be interesting.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

A Plan of Action

Well after much discussion (there were at least 3 emails) we have a plan; a plan that might be a tad controversial too...

Faced with the twin issues of nowhere near enough of the right figures painted for Callinicum as well as a real lack of inspiration for how to set up a game that would be something close to the historical battle, we have opted for a different solution. Rather than fight the complete battle we will do just the battle on the extreme wing between the Arab allies. This, it could be argued was the decisive area of the battlefield and winning on this wing effectively won the battle for the Persians even if their attempts to mop up the rest of the Byzantine army met with limited success.

So it will be a battle between massed Arab horsemen for the Piquet game. Ahead of us is much "discussion" over the ways the Arabs of either side should be defined under Piquet's Archon 2...

Below is King Arethas receiving the good news from Belisarius that everything depends on him!



Saturday, 27 December 2008

The Battle Pack is Here!

The Battle Pack for Callinicum has now arrived in my inbox (followed 2 days later by a slightly updated version.) It is a useful bringing together of the historical sources for the battle with a summary and two interesting pieces on the opposing armies penned by Phil Halewood and Jim Sye.

We now have a good outline of what we are trying to refight which is at first sight a two stage battle with a larger Byzantine force being roundly trounced by the Sassanid Persians (for a variety of mainly self-inflicted reasons) followed by a desperate defence by the remnant of the Byzatine army until they were able to escape across the river at nightfall. This is going to be quite a tricky one to set up so that the historical outcome is a strong possibility in our refights. The Persians would seem to need to have the odds stacked heavily in their favour to give them a chance at not being steamrollered off the battlefield!

In Piquet terms there are a variety of ways this can be acheived. The most obvious is the modifier to the diceroll that determines how fresh or weary each unit in an army is. A minus for the Byzantine force due to their diligent fasting and a plus for the Sassanids seems fair enough (the pursuit doesn't sound to have been pressed particularly hard.) This modifier can affect the units' fighting and morale values so is quite powerful. A rather more blunt tool is simply to grade the Persians higher; mainly regular and elite compareed to the "Romans'" trained militia or worse.

The most subtle way of tailoring the course of the battle with Piquet is to adjust the Sequence Decks of the two armies. The Sassanids can be given extra movement cards for extra mobility and more reload cards to improve their missile effect. The Byzantines can have fewer command cards to simulate the frictions between the generals under Belisarius. Also included in the decks can be cards that radomise the start and finish of the weather effect and the chance of allied forces becoming unreliable or running off to loot baggage camps. So lots of possibilities to stack the game against the Byzantine army (I must stop thinking of the as the goodies!) However in Piquet it is always possible to beat the odds and still grab a victory.

This leaves two important outstanding questions: Is this looking like an enjoyable game to play, for both sides? And do we have the resources in terms of figures and time to paint up what we need to put on a game that we will be happy with?