Tuesday, 9 January 2018

VSF One Man Dirigible

This screw powered one man dirigible is a VSF delight to battle foes in the Back of Beyond, over the Red Planet or as some sort of diesel punk version of the Gyro Captain from Mad Max 2! I found this kit in the depths of the Man Cave where had lurked since purchase. The Flight bonus round gave me the impetus to give it the attention it so richly deserves.
The model is a resin and metal casting from Tobsen Miniatures in Germany, who do some fantastically crazy and wacky stuff: https://shop.tobsen77.com/en/  (https://www.facebook.com/Tobsen77.de/) He also sells the characterful pilot figure and the customer service is excellent (including overseas postage & handling). Maxim gun and the backpack/ammo pouches are from my spares box.
The countersunk magnet in the base made for a very neat connection

I spent an overly long time trying to be clever by magnetising the base for easier storage, to reduce damage and so I can use the flying base for a multitude of other models.  I had mixed results but at least it is serviceable and (mostly) stable.  Probably a good height for lighter plastic models but I'll make some shorter tubing for metal contraptions like this one.

So lots of fun and this model is highly recommended!

Sunday, 17 December 2017

The Fighting Retreat to Dusters' Drift

Our Colonial game this week was a LOT of fun!  It saw a British Column, led by the 3rd Foot & Mouth Regiment (Major Backsight commanding) conducting a fighting retreat to the small logistics base at Dusters' Drift. Opposing them were the Impis of Zulu noble Oomagooglies (the Zulu King's cousin twice removed, on his mother' side).

  I've done something a bit different and stitched together a video of the after action dispatches!

Thursday, 30 November 2017

"We come on the orders of the Great White Queen!"

My Imperial Force
As promised, here is the British and Boer forces for the Zulu war.  The British Cavalry bore the worst of the damage to their lances and swords but otherwise this whole thing is a testament to the wonderful Testors' dullcoat - and always use two coats! The lad helped me build this - my first wargaming video. Its a but self indulgent but it was fun to make For those who prefer stills, here are the key ones.
24th Foot: The Thin Red Line
The 60th Rifles
Stout lads of the Naval Brigade - with Gatling Gun!
Fire support of the Royal Artillery
Breach loading 9pdr - note the VC on the right most figure (painted on during a game in which this gun, down to the last man, held off and then broke the last Zulu Regiment to claim the day!)
British Cavalry - 17th Lancers and Hussars
Boer Irregulars
Hoping to get them onto a table for some action shortly!
Lord Chelmsford and the senior staff

Monday, 27 November 2017

"Zulus Sah! Fousands of 'em!"

Massed warriors (around 350 of them)- how a Zulu Impi should look!
This is a post some 24 years in the making. Some time ago I quite enjoyed Colonial gaming and the Zulu War was my conflict of choice.  Some mates and I put together armies in 15mm and had a great time.  Early in 1994 I had a major life change and the figs were packed away.  I've since moved house some 18 times and the figs have remained opened; the awful noises that came from the box made me shy away.  Then last week when there was interest at the club about doing some Colonial gaming and I realised I (might) have all the figures.  Depending on how they fared at least. Here is what greeted me once I plucked up the courage to open the Zulu Box...
The Horror... The Horror...
And after 23 years this was the sum total of damage - other than bent spears and knoberries which needed reshaping
The vast majority of these figs, if not all, are from Essex 15mm colonial range
I love the warrior in the bottom right corner wearing a captured British flag as a trophy!
And if one of going to cross the Buffalo River into Zululand, you need some terrain to fight over right?
Semblance of a small veldt hamlet named after an Irishman
British tentage and a Kraal
Next Up: The British and their Boer allies.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Nemo's War 2nd Ed Arrives!

A year without a post here at the blog? Goodness me, what was I thinking? Entombed in a submersible vehicle with a mysterious Captain of unknown origin I was. Lucky I have now resurfaced with the arrival of Nemo's War 2nd Edition - and worth waiting for it was too!

I'll do a full review in due course but first impressions are: WoW! The opponents are fantastic and this game has gotten the warranted lavish attention it deserves. Its clear from the multiple victory conditions, difficulty levels, upgrade options, counter mix and large card deck that this game has lots of replayability too.  Games are reported to last 1 to 1.5 hrs in length.

Non KS backers will appreciate that the vast majority of rewards were realised in upgrades to the core game, so with the loss of only two token bags you get everything else. One particularly nice addition is the plastic Nautilus model instead of a counter.  Pics of some very nicely painted ones are appearing at BGG and with only the one model to do it wont take as long as your other wargaming forces!

And finally, I really liked the attention put into the ship counter mix.  The Warships are all historical with accurate silhouettes etc, building a greater level of enjoyment than generic Frigate/Cruiser etc. And I was thrilled to see a certain Victorian Monitor make an appearance!

And finally, this new edition has a co-op version allowing it be be expended from solo play up to 4 players. Haven't tried it yet but it sounds interesting - I love coop games.

So first impressions are: Well worth the wait! And there are already rumours of booster packs being developed by the authors with additional cards, motivations and crew counters...

EDIT: A rumour no longer - play testing has already commenced!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Naval Hotchkiss revolving cannon

I have previously posted about the Hotchkiss Revolving Cannon (here) design along with pics of a nice museum piece.  Yesterday I came across a nice example of a Naval version on a pedestal mounting at the Royal Australian Navy's Heritage Collection at the Garden Island naval base, in Sydney.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Sail Trek

In the spirit of Steam Trek (here) - well worth a giggle!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Fort Philip

The hexagonal Fort Phillip on Windmill Hill c1891-1921 (NSW State Library)
Standing high on Windmill Hill above The Rocks, Fort Phillip was one of the initial fortifications built to defend the colony.   It was named after the founding Governor of the Colony, Admiral Arthur Phillip.

Construction began in 1804 (after the Dawes battery was completed, see previous post) in a hexagonal design to protect from threats coming from the ocean to the east, and the hinterland to the west.  The walls were made of locally quarried sandstone several feet thick.  However, with 3 walls completed, construction ceased and the fort was never finished.

The original Fort Phillip design

The Fort repurposed to a Signal Station c1842 (NSW State Library)
Though the guns remained there until the 1820s after which it languished.  In 1840 the land was considered more useful as a signal and telegraph station so the Fort was mostly demolished and repurposed. One wall, which still stands today, was converted to serve as the semaphore station's platform and the rest was levelled in the 1850s for the construction of Sydney Observatory which remains there today.
The redesign of the Fort area to become the Observatory and Signalling station

The fields of observation from Windmill hill are excellent, but the range for 19th century ordinance would have been challenging (Note this is a Krupp cannon captured from the Boers, part of a South African War Monument on the site)
The remodelled Signal Station, incorporating part of the original outer walls
The outer wall of the Signal Station - original from Fort Phillip
Outer North Wall - original sandstone revetment 
The excavated magazine entrance inside the original Fort

Excavation work in 2011- this view shows the use of the original wall as part of the semaphore station, and the entrance to the magazine.

The Observatory (with Timeball Tower atop for synchronising marine chronometers)

A relatively minor site, but one that the lad and I enjoyed visiting on a sunny summer day.




Monday, 18 January 2016

Dawes Battery, Sydney Cove

A Man and his 42 pdr RML
Dawes Point (now under the southern pylon of the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge) was the site of the first coastal fortification in Sydney Cove, so I thought that was a good place to start my project to explore the Colonial Defences of Sydney.

Its sited on a natural spit of land on the southern side of the harbour with a thoroughly commanding view of the approaches to Sydney Cove.  It was one of three fortifications originally ordered, the others being Fort Macquarie (bottom right on the map below - which is now the site of the famous Sydney Opera House) and Fort Philip.  Between them they could enfilade any ship entering the Cove.

Dawes Point (upper right on this chart) had both elevation and a commanding field of fire over the entrance to Sydney Cove - a natural place to site a shore battery to defend the young colony in Sydney Cove.
(From: http://www.visitsydneyaustralia.com.au/harbour-forts.html)

Governor Arthur Phillip's first step was to fortify the entrance to Sydney Cove in 1788, as much to provide defence should there be a convict uprising as to engage any enemy ships that might came in close to the town in a hostile manner. He gave the task to Lieutenant William Dawes, an Officer of Engineers and Artillery in the detachment of Marines, who was instructed to build a simple mud redoubt for the storage of explosives. A similar fort was erected on Cattle Point (Bennelong Point) 

In October 1788, HMS Supply was dispatched to the Cape of Good Hope to purchase much needed supplies. To make as much room as possible for the purchases which it was hoped it would bring back, eight guns were taken ashore and mounted at the Dawes Point fort, which was extended to accommodate the additional firepower. In the 1830s, a more permanent structure was built with five mortars, thirteen 42 pounder cannon, a magazine and quarters for a garrison of soldiers and their commanding officer. This fort remained intact until 1929 when the section above ground was demolished to make way for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

You can see in these pics (taken by me at the site) how the battery evolved over time.  As technology (and funds) permitted, priority shifted to defining the outer harbour and the entrance and the Dawes Pt Battery became obsolete.  In 1925 it was demolished to make space for the southern pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  In the past 20 years, the site was excavated and preserved.
Initial Battery layout with landed naval guns

Diagram of the naval gun emplacement at the first battery
Dawes Point from a early 1800s Sydney map
The Crimean War sparked fears of raids by the Russian Pacific Fleet, and the fort was redeveloped and expanded .
It also became the command post for the harbour defence network.
From the Royal Australian Artillery register: In 1853 a request was sent to the UK requesting to fortify Sydney harbour. Twenty 32 pounder and twenty 56 pounder guns were asked for and in 1854 twenty seven 32 pounders were despatched and five 42 pounders were substituted for the heavier 56 pounders. The five 42 pounder guns were mounted in the upper battery of Dawes Battery near the present site of the southern pylon of Sydney Harbour Bridge. A further five 42 pounders had been landed by 1861 and emplaced in new emplacements at Fort Macquarie (site of the present day Sydney Opera House).

With the expansion of outer harbour defences, the fort was reduced in size and obsolete guns decommissioned
The battery was demolished in 1925 and by 1932 the new bridge was completed.
This is how it looks today (well, this week when I visited it anyway!)

The Upper Battery survived until demolition and is now directly under the pylons of the bridge (that the brick structure to the right of the remaining gun).  You can see the remnants of the other gun platforms after their excavation around 10 years ago.
The surviving 42 pdr and carriage in the Upper Battery
The commanding field of fire from the Upper Battery
Dawes Pt Upper Battery circa 1875-1880 (pic from NSW Art Gallery)
The Lower Battery
Lower Battery with 32 pdr RMLs (date unknown)
Lower Battery emplacement today (with 42 pdr RML)
Similarly commanding fields of fire over the centre of the harbour and the entrance to Sydney Cove

Overall, a nice bit of colonial history tucked away under the bridge where you wont find it unless you know its there.  Clearly a pivotal position for close defence of the colony both in its early days and throughout the Victorian era.


An exploration of debauchery, vice and other reasons to be a man!

An exploration of debauchery, vice and other reasons to be a man!