Thursday, 17 December 2020

France needs Liftwood! (Part 2)

The distant sun was low on the horizon when the French and their Martian allies commenced their advance upon the unsuspecting British.

On the right, the massed gashants of the Hill Martians pushed hard but the boys of the Royal Gashant Corps (along with a some imported regular cavalry from Earth) proved stout opponents and held their own.

In the centre, the Martians assaulted the British encampment and their bravery was met with a fierce fusillade.

With the British pinned in the centre and right, the French advanced to seize the primary objective: Liftwood!

Sound the Advance Messieur!

The savage Hill Martians poured out of the Ishtar trees to intercept the advancing French

Would the French seize the liftwood? Tune in for the final instalment!

Saturday, 5 December 2020

France needs Liftwood! (Part 1)

A Space 1889 themed game, played with tweaked The Men Who Would Be Kings rules. The protagonists were the British Forces from Syrtis Major with some Martian Hill tribesmen, and the French with their Canal Martian allies from the Xanthe basin. The game involved 6 players, 3 per side and each with forces of around 40-50 points.

French Orders 

France is under Threat….!!!

The only thing worse than being Stuck directly between England and Germany .. is being under them both… so to speak .. , and that is where we are Mon Ami…. without Martian Liftwood to power up our New Aerial fleet  …Merde ..

General Pepe Le Pew: You are directed to  take your Small French Expeditionary force , and Martian Allies , and seize the Yearly Liftwood Shipment from Krag Pymble, before it can be “ sold on “ to the British or those upstart Germans.


British Orders

Lord Darling ,

Britain has the largest Colonial Army on Mars, make sure you use it well.

You are tasked with securing the Liftwood destined for our airship yards and no one elses' ..

Secondly there is an Archaeological Expedition on site , with one of Prince of Wales favourite cousins , secure their safety .. or Prinny wont be happy ..and it will look bad for you old Boy .

The French and allied Martian contingent arrayed for Battle!

Battle was joined on a friend's great looking 15 foot table with all new terrain.  It was quite a sight to behold, especially with his very fancy Oshiro Model Terrain Aphid Class airship looming overhead!

Each third of the table had objectives to seize, but the main prize was the liftwood shipment which was in the process of being delivered to the British. The French had to take it by force to provide the supplies to construct their own Aerial Flotilla 

The precious Liftwood shipment, guarded by a Royal Navy Armoured Landing Party (figures by Ironclad Miniatures)

The Archeological dig site - what wonders will it reveal? 

The French force ready to Advance!

with their Allies from Ideus Fons guarding their flank!

An account for the Battle will follow in Part 2!

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Battle of Xanthe

Canal Martian riders, supported by French lacers on gashants

This week saw our first foray into battling with our new Space 1889 forces: the Battle of Xanthe!

After a number of Hill martian raids on trade caravans, the Canal forces of Ideaus Fons (supported by their French sponsors) set forth on a punitive expedition. At dawn on the third day, the Hill Martian tribes mounted an assault upon the French encampment at the Xanthe liftwood grove...

Hill Martian Gashant riders emerge...

Hill Martian skirmishers advance ahead of their larger cousins (who doesn't want Tharks on Mars??)

French Foreign Legion and Martian Tirailleurs form up to receive the assault

We used The Men Who Would Be Kings as our tactial rules. They worked pretty well, though we have drafted a few house rules for to suit the setting and will trial them next game. If they work well, I'll publish them here.

Lancers charge home into the Thark flank

But another mass of the Green devils tore into the Legion!

Mounts spent and surrounded by hill Martian infantry, the gallant Lancers fell.

On the left flank, the bellowing clash of gashants was deafening

As the battle reached a crescendo, the hill Martian infantry crashed home into the French line

Thunderous volleys of Lebel 1886 pattern rifles took down many a brave hill Martian!

Well armed with courage though they were, the Hill Martians were unable to carry the day

And so the French returned to their base at Ideaus Fons having consolidated their grip on the Xanthe Chryse region, and planned their next expedition to expand their sphere of influence.

A great day pushing the new lead around - the table looked great and plans are afoot for a bigger game next time!

Friday, 6 November 2020

Et Voila! Mon Armee de'Mars!

Mesdames et Messieurs, en presentat ma premier Armee de Mars!

Tirailleurs Martiens;

La Legion Etrangere:

Ready for an expeditionary operation in the Ideaus Fons basin where the Nomadic Hill tribes have been ambushing caravans from the northern valley viticulture district.

Very happy with these- finishing off four units in 4 weeks in some kind of record for me. After about of decade of mulling and planning, it's great to be off and running. I do work well to a deadline it seems!

Modelling notes re basing: Wood filler basecoated in GW Doombull Brown, heavy drybrush GW Jokaero Orange, final drybrush GW Lugganath Orange

Thursday, 29 October 2020

French Armee d'Martien progress Pt 3

Four posts in one month? Inconceivable!

Spahi test fig (mounted on a loaned gashant)
The Infantry are all painted now (2 units of Legion Etrangere, 2 units of Tirallieurs) as are the canal Martian Spahis.  Time to get basing while I move onto the Chasseur d'Mars and all of the gahsant mounts.  

Really happy with the way these are coming along - on track for our game in early December

I've painted all of these in the past four weeks - amazing progress for me!

Mon Capitan 'Lefty' - a great Foundry fig that a mate gave me

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Tirailleurs progress

 Second unit of Tirailleurs completed - now onto some gashant mounted Spahis and Chasseur d'Mars!

Not the best image but you get the idea!

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Tirailleurs Martien

My first unit of Canal Martians is painted! Not based yet but I'm excited to have gotten a start on the project. These Tirailleurs Martiens are furnished with modern rifles and a European “Adviser” officer. They are based in the Canal city of Ideus Fons, the French seat of power on Mars.

The Canal Martians are from the RAFM Space 1889 line, while the French Officer is an Artizan figure. The 12 figure unit is sized for Osprey's The Men Who Would Be Kings rules

Thats 4 units done (3 French, 1 Martian) - one more of Tirailleurs and I’ll start the basing en mass. Then its time for the Gashant Cavalry!

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

First Frenchman for Mars

After years in planning and another unpardonably long absence from this blog, I have finally commenced my French on Mars project. Well a test figure anyway!

It’s a long way to Idaeus Fons Messieur...

We are using a Space 1889 setting with Osprey’s The Men Who Would Be Kings as our tactical rules, so I will be focusing on 12 figure units for Regular and Colonial Infantry, and 8 figure Cavalry units.

My initial French force plan is:
    2 units of Legion Etrangere infantry
    1 unit Chaseur D’Mars (mounted on Gashants)
    2 units of French trained and equipped Canal Martians Ideaues Fons
    1 units of Colonial Mounted Infantry (on Gashants)
    2 Artillery Pieces 
    1 Mitrailleuse

This is my first test fig, which is from Artizan’s March or Die range. I’m going for something simple so I can churn them out quickly. A mate is working on his British Force with the aim of us having a game in December.

Mars pour le Francias!    Mort au Prussien!

Monday, 25 March 2019

HMVS Cerberus

Updated online history section at the Royal Australian Navy website here:


Coastal Defence Turret Ship/Ironclad Breastwork Monitor
Palmer Shipbuilding & Iron Co
Laid Down
1 September 1867
1 December 1869
April 1871
April 1921
Sold April 1924 and scuttled as a breakwater at Black Rock, Victoria 2 September 1926
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement3340 tons 
Speed9 knots 
Crew82 (normal) up to 155 
Machinery2 x Maudsley, Son & Field steam engines 
  • 4 x 10-inch Armstrong Rifle Muzzle-loading guns
  • 2 x 6-pounders
  • 4 x Gatling guns
  • 4 x 1-inch four-barrelled Nordenfelt guns
The passing of the Colonial Naval Defence Act, 1865empowered the Australian colonies to officially acquire warships and to raise and maintain seamen to serve in such vessels.
Of all the Australian colonies, Victoria put the most effort into her naval defences and in 1866 its colonial government applied to the British Government for assistance in establishing a naval force under the provisions of the 1865 Act. In reply to the request the Imperial Government agreed to assist with a grant of £100,000 towards the cost of a monitor turret ship and to donate, as a training ship, the old wooden man-o-war Nelson. The maintenance and manning of the new turret ship would be the responsibility of the Victorian Government, with assistance from the Royal Navy; however, she was to be placed at the disposal of the Commanding Officer of the Royal Navy’s Australia Station in the event of a war.
A general arrangement plan showing the layout of the monitor and her armament
A general arrangement plan showing the layout of the monitor and her armament.
The ship’s design was comparatively new, the first of its type having emerged just five years earlier during the American Civil War in the form of USS Monitor, and was especially suited to the conditions likely to be encountered in Port Phillip Bay. She would be clad in iron armour up to eight inches thick and, by flooding her ballast tanks with up to 500 tons of water; the ship could lower herself three feet into the water so that only the breastwork and turrets remained on the surface. The design also featured a broad flat bottom, which did nothing to increase her sea-keeping capabilities.
Construction commenced on 1 September 1867 at the Palmer Shipbuilding & Iron Company shipyards at Jarrow-on-Tyne near Newcastle, England, and was completed two years later. The ship commissioned as Her Majesty’s Victorian Ship (HMVS) Cerberus, named after the three-headed hound in Greek and Roman mythology which guarded the gates to the Underworld.
Cerberus was steam powered and although not designed to have masts or sails, these were temporarily fitted to help conserve her coal supply on her maiden voyage to Australia. In her normal configuration, without the mass of rigging required for sails, her guns enjoyed a wide, unhampered firing arc.
Cerberus sailed from Chatham on 29 October 1870 under the Red Ensign and was manned by a crew of twenty-five merchant seamen under the command of Lieutenant William Henry Panter, RN. Panter had been serving in Australia aboard HMVS Nelson and had arrived in his native England in June to take command of the new monitor.
Captain W H Panter, RN the first commanding officer of HMVS Cerberus (State Library of Victoria Collection)
Captain WH Panter, RN the first commanding officer of HMVS Cerberus (State Library of Victoria Collection).
At the beginning of her long delivery voyage to Australia, Cerberus encountered heavy weather as she departed Chatham and was forced to seek shelter at Spithead, between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, before continuing on to Plymouth, where most of the crew deserted. With a new crew of sixty-five embarked, the voyage resumed on 7 November. She encountered more heavy weather in the Bay of Biscay but made Gibraltar safely where still more of her crew deserted.  Between Gibraltar and Malta Cerberus encountered more favourable weather, and then endured searing heat as she steamed through the Red Sea. On 3 January 1871, the engineer recorded temperatures of 53ºC in the engine room and 61ºC in the stokehold.
After stopping at Aden for coal she continued on to Ceylon and Batavia before encountering cyclonic weather and strong headwinds. She coaled again at Fremantle during the final leg of the voyage where:
...the vessel created a great sensation, and every possible civility was offered by the Government. Governor Weld himself came on board and inspected the ship.
A stay of eight days in King George’s Sound, Albany, was spent taking on additional coal, cleaning and painting in preparation for the passage across the Great Australian Bight and her ultimate arrival at Melbourne.
On Sunday 9 April 1871, having spent 123 days en route, Cerberus arrived in Port Philip Bay. The Melbourne Age recorded:
…the circumstances of her voyage of five months and nine days have been watched with the deepest interest on both sides of the world. Captain Panter expected that it would be the end of April before the ardently hoped-for moment would come when he would drop his ‘mud hook’ off Williamstown; but his skill, together with comparatively favourable weather, has thus materially shortened the voyage.
She was first sighted off Cape Northumberland on Good Friday, but the telegraph offices were closed and it was not till Saturday that the public heard of a ‘turreted ship’ being seen off our coast. Later in that afternoon came the welcome news that the Cerberus had signalled the Cape Otway lighthouse, and yesterday morning she entered the Heads and steamed to her anchorage, which was the berth lately vacated by HM Corvette Blanche.
Cerberus following her arrival in Port Phillip Bay.
Cerberus following her arrival in Port Phillip Bay. (State Library of Victoria Collection)
As she came up she excited the greatest possible interest. As might be expected, she was not regarded as a handsome ship by any means. She appeared, as in great measure she is, a huge, long, square box, cut down straight at both ends, and surmounted by stunted masts, the tops of her turrets and her funnel. This is not the shape she will be when she is stripped of her surroundings. Then she will be a monitor, whose deck line will be 3 feet above the water, save in the centre, where the outline is broken by a breastwork of immense strength, above which are two cupolas and a pilot house, covered with the strongest armour plate. But now, this has been built over with iron bulwarks and a temporary upper deck to enable her to stand the voyage, and her outline is consequently of the ugliest.
The bay seemed all-alive as she entered Hobson’s Bay, and she was the centre of observation. The Russian man-of-war the Haydamackdipped ensign to her and Captain Koltovsky hurried on board Cerberus to pay his compliments to her commander. The boys of HMVS Nelson crowded into the rigging of their ship, and made the air ring again with peals of boyish cheers; and nearly every vessel in the bay hastened to pay the compliment of dipping colours.
Precisely at 1 o’clock the long-wished for moment arrived, and Captain Panter dropped his ‘mud hook’, and the event was immediately celebrated with the frothing of champagne by him and the few friends already onboard, amongst whom was Captain Payne, the chief harbour-master, who had boarded the Cerberus long before.
In the meantime a great multitude of boats, crowded with passengers, had put off from shore in hope of their being allowed on board. In this respect, Captain Panter did not think it right to disappoint the curious public, although the ship was not fit to be seen. He gave the required leave, and then started off to pay his respects to the Governor. During the whole of the afternoon the crowd of visitors increased greatly, and several thousands of visitors must have come on board and endeavoured to understand her construction and the working of the turrets.
Soon after her arrival, Cerberus was docked in the Alfred Graving Dock where her ocean-passage configuration was removed and her conversion to a monitor completed.
Cerberus in the Alfred Graving Dock. (State Library of Victoria)
Cerberus in the Alfred Graving Dock. (State Library of Victoria)
The arrival of Cerberus in the Victorian colony saw it briefly possess the most powerful warship on the Australasian station and naturally enough the Victorians were keen to show off their new acquisition. With her merchant crew discharged and with a new crew of naval reservists embarked she began her first trials on Port Phillip Bay on 25 August 1871. It was soon discovered that Cerberus’ guns were too powerful to be fired close to shore following a raft of public protests concerning general damage suffered to windows from the percussive effects of her main armament.
Left: Sailors pose on the forward superstructure of Cerberus. Right: Officers gathered on the quarterdeck of Cerberus
Left: Sailors pose on the forward superstructure of Cerberus. Right: Officers gathered on the quarterdeck of Cerberus.
HMVS Cerberus berthed at Williamstown during the late 1800's.
HMVS Cerberus berthed at Williamstown during the late 1800s.
During the 1870s, regular exercises were held with other Victorian naval ships, including the screw battleship, HMVS Nelson, torpedo boats, and the steam sloop Victoria. For more than 50 years, Cerberus was a familiar sight at Williamstown and in Port Phillip Bay where she spent her entire commission.
Cerberus ratings undertaking musket drill on Port Phillip Bay.
Cerberus ratings undertaking musket drill on Port Phillip Bay.
On 5 March 1881, Cerberus suffered her only casualties when a mine exploded in the water off Queenscliff during exercises, killing the ship’s gunner and five seamen.
(Courtesy State Library of Victoria)
(Courtesy State Library of Victoria)
Left: Engineer Lieutenant W A Forsyth c. 1899 Right: Signalman Andrew Currer of Richmond, Victoria posing with a petty officer of Cerberus crew
Left: Cerberus Engineer Lieutenant W A Forsyth, circa 1899. Right: Signalman Andrew Currer of Richmond, Victoria posing with one of the ship's petty officers, circa 1900.
Following Federation in 1901, the individual colonial navies were combined under one administration and became the Commonwealth Naval Forces, though the former colonial navies and their ships, including Cerberus, remained in their local ports. On 1 July 1911, the Commonwealth Naval Forces was formally granted the title Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the Navy’s commissioned ships henceforth carried the prefix ‘HMAS’.
Throughout her commission Cerberus was confined to the waters of Port Phillip Bay.
Throughout her commission Cerberus was confined to the waters of Port Phillip Bay.
A fine profile of Cerberus in her heyday.
A fine profile of Cerberus in her heyday.
At the outbreak of war in August 1914, HMAS Cerberus assumed the role of Port Guard Ship for the Port of Melbourne acting as a base for the naval dock guards and small craft patrolling the harbour.  She became a store for ammunition and explosives in the later stages of the war.
In 1921, Cerberus was moved from Williamstown to Geelong where, for the next two years, she acted as a submarine depot ship for the RAN’s flotilla of six J-class submarines. On 1 April 1921, her name was changed to HMAS Platypus (II).
In April 1924 she was sold as scrap to the Melbourne Salvage Co Pty Ltd, for the sum of £409, and she was towed back to Williamstown where she was stripped of all her valuable metals and useful fittings.
Cerberus being dismantled at Williamstown prior to be scuttled as a breakwater at Black Rock
Cerberus being dismantled at Williamstown prior to be scuttled as a breakwater at Black Rock.
In 1926, the hull was purchased by the Sandringham Municipal Council, filled with concrete and, on 2 September of that year, was towed across Port Phillip Bay to be sunk at Black Rock, where she remains as a breakwater.


The Argus September 3 1926

Yesterday morning the hulk of the old iron-clad Cerberus was towed from her berth at the Williamstown pier, where everything of value had been removed from her, and sunk off the Black Rock jetty to form a breakwater for the yachts and fishing boats. Although the ultimate fate of the Cerberus was decided some time ago, when the Black Rock Yacht Club purchased it for £150 and resold it for the same amount to the muncipal council under agreement that it should be used as a breakwater. the date of the final move was indefinite. This was because the vice-president of the Marine Board (Mr George Kermode), under whose direction the vessel was sunk, did not wish to carry out the somewhat difficult task until the opportunity afforded by the perfect weather conditions presented itself. For this reason the sight of the strange flotilla that appeared off Half Moon Bay shortly after 9 o'clock took residents somewhat by surprise. The word, however, was passed around swiftly, and soon the cliffs were thronged by interested spectators, who saw approaching the grey, squat hull, towed by the tugs Agnes and Minah, and preceded by the Plover and motor-boat to mark the mooring. By 10 o'clock what was left of the Cerberus had been towed and coaxed by the tugs to within 400 yards off the jetty, where her bow was made fast to the existing breakwater, and the stern was slowly swung into position and secured to a temporary mooring. The operation had been timed for high water, when there is a depth of 15ft on the bank selected for the breakwater, and it was estimated that the Cerberus was drawing nearly 14ft. Immediately the hull was made fast three seacocks were opened, and the flooding of the vessel began. Dingys put off from the jetty, and the harbour master's motor-boat took off a large crowd of small boys who swarmed over the decks and down below to watch the rising water. The Cerberus sank almost imperceptibly, going down slightly by the stern. There was a large amount of scrap iron and odds and ends of useless gear, and visitors took away weighty bolts and nuts as souvenirs, after peeping into the turrets to inspect the heavy rusting guns.
The once proud Cerberus resting on the seabed at Black Rock. (
The once proud Cerberus resting on the seabed at Black Rock. (
The name Cerberus is perpetuated in the RAN’s premier training establishment, HMAS Cerberus, situated at Westernport, Victoria. The present Cerberushas in its museum several heritage items from Cerberus (I) including the binnacle, ship's bell, helm and searchlight.
The bell, binacle and ship's helm from Cerberus, now on display in the HMAS Cerberus Museum, Westernport, Victoria
The bell, binnacle and ship's helm from Cerberus, now on display in the HMAS Cerberus Museum, Westernport, Victoria.
Victorian naval ratings onboard Cerberus c.1895.
Victorian naval ratings onboard Cerberus, circa 1895.

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

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