Category Archives: Painting Projects

Distractions in the Dutch East Indies

The last few weeks have seen a continued focus on naval modelling with solid progress made on a reasonably large Navwar order that recently arrived. This project being based around the first few months of the war in the Pacific with a focus on operations around Malay and the Dutch East Indies. Regular readers may even recall that last month I began the Malayan project by modelling the ill-fated Force Z.

Next was the main project, the Battle of the Java Sea. The battle formed one of several naval engagements of the campaign as the Japanese pressed into the Dutch East Indies.

Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy at Java Sea

The first contingent to be completed was the Japanese. Built primarily around cruisers and destroyers this group of ships should provide some interesting fictional battles. To oppose them were a mix of allied vessels. Of these the first was the Dutch naval forces involved in the Battle of the Java Sea, a summary of the ships, with photos of the models, can be found here. The Dutch were supplemented by some additional British and Australian vessels, a number of which I had already completed for the Mediterranean. They can be found here.

Now, the American contingent should also have been completed but due to ordering some of the wrong ships they will need to wait. Yet despite this error it seemed fitting to complete the naval sojourn in the Dutch East Indies with a short naval engagement. A game summary can be found here.

Now, I think I need to look at a different painting project, though what I am not yet sure.

The Naval Shipyards

Having made good progress on clearing my lead pile of WWII ships I was rewarded with the arrival in mid January of another order from Navwar. As a result my naval shipyards were replenished. Being summer here my painting time is somewhat reduced. As a result I opted to complete some small naval projects.

First out of the naval yards was the Admiral Graf Spee. The Navwar model is crisp and well detailed and an absolute bargain at the price of just 1.35 pound sterling, excluding postage. Well to be honest all the Navwar models are a great value. The Royal Navy squadron opposing the Graf Spee at the Battle of the River Plate was finished last year. They now await deployment to the table for what is, without doubt, a classic action. A few photos of the Graf Spee, as well as the Royal Navy squadron, can be found here.

Next out of the naval yards were the first elements of the Royal Navy’s Far Eastern squadron. Forming Force Z was a direct result of one of my regular opponents forming his own Japanese squadron. Hopefully the arrival of Force Z will counter the imminent deployment of the Imperial Japanese Navy, though only time will tell. A few photos of Force Z can be found here. A pleasing beginning to my painting projects of 2023.

Since first publishing this article we have refought the Battle of the River Plate. A description of the engagement can be found here.

Naval Progress

A final push on the painting front has completed the initial batch of models for the planned naval actions in the Mediterranean during World War II. My main focus has centred around the models required for the Battle of Cape Matapan. Though, as mentioned previously, they have been supplemented by some additional ships to provide some variety especially in fictional encounters.

In total my Royal Navy contingent comprises some four battleships, one battle cruiser, two heavy cruisers, five light cruisers and 13 destroyers. The Regia Marina in contrast comprises four battleships, six heavy cruisers, two light cruisers and 17 destroyers. Considering I had no WWII vessels a few moths ago I feel a degree of satisfaction with the painting progress.

I must say I’ve really enjoyed the experience. The Navwar models are pleasing to paint with a good degree of detail. While I understand some people don’t use washes on naval models I feel mine have benefited from a wash, especially after some experimentation with density. The basing was something of an experiment, but I feel it lifts the models.

I have also completed the first few splash markers which, while also being needed for the rules, add some further visual interest. I next will attempt some further splash markers along with some markers to denote fires, though how these will be made requires some thought.

Finally, to support my naval adventures I have also started a small blog which will have a naval focus. If you are interested you can find it here. Currently it illustrates a number of the miniatures completed. In time I expect to expand it with other material. If naval wargaming is of interest do visit from time to time, or consider following the blog.

I now await the arrival of the next batch of models from Navwar. Hopefully they won’t be too long…

Nautical Machinations

When I was at high school in the 1970s I played a little World War II naval. Some great games were played and much reading occurred. The models were inexpensive, the games short, all ideal for wargaming at the college wargames club over a lunch break. However, by the 1980s frustration with some “newer” rules, combined with other interests, drew me to other periods. That was until I played a couple of games with my son a couple of years ago which rekindled my interest.

After some consideration, and being unhappy with the old models that dated back to the 1970s, an order was sent to Navwar to secure some 1/3000th models. In due course the models arrived and after a period in the lead mountain it was time to start some painting.

But where should I start? After some further consideration the first group of models were selected for the painting table – in particular vessels for the Italian Royal Navy, or Regia Marina. Now, while it was tempting to dive in the deep end and start with some battleships I opted to start with lighter forces. First two heavy cruisers the Zara and Fiume, shown below.

These ships always struck me as both colourful while having strong lines, in part influenced by an old book I have dating back to the 1970’s which provided so much inspiration at the time. My view hasn’t changed much in 40+ years, yes a little nostalgia. Now, the Zara class cruisers were armed with a respectable main armament of eight 8” guns and were heavily armoured. The distinctive air recognition provides a striking affect, though was tricky to paint. Both cruisers entered service in 1931 and were active in the early part of the war. Both served at the Battle of Matapan where they, along with their sistership Pola, were lost.

To support the heavy cruisers, or provide some variation, some light cruisers were also needed. Those chosen for the first batch were Giuseppe Garibaldi and Luigi di Saoia Duca degli Abbruzzi. If nothing else the ship names provide plenty of colour, though how I will abbreviate the names to place on the labels I am not completely sure!

These cruisers carried a significant armament with ten 6” guns with a reasonable turn of speed. They, along with one additional cruiser, formed the 8th Cruiser Division. They entered service in 1937 and had a long career. Luigi di Saoia Duca degli Abbruzzi was decommissioned in 1961 while Garibaldi remained in service until 1971.

As to destroyers I have initially focussed on four, all from the 9th Flotilla and also engaged at Matapan. They are Alfredo Oriano, Vincenzo Gioberti, Vittorio Alfieri and Giosue Carducci. Now, at 1/3000th scale the models are relatively small. Despite that there is some interesting detail, including a life raft modelled on the the funnel.

As to their service, they were all completed in 1937. Vittorio Alfieri and Giosue Carducci were lost at Matapan. Vincenzo Gioberti was lost in 1943 while Alfredo Oriano was taken over by the French after the war where she served until 1954.

Now, where would we be however, without a group photo. The initial elements of the Regia Marina ready to sortie.

With the first batch of Italian ships completed, excluding the labels, I now need to select some British ships to oppose them…

Richmond & Beyond

Back in February I provided an overview of some planned projects for the year. Given the year is disappearing at an alarming rate perhaps it’s time to check in with something of an update.

Painting has proceeded at a slower than planned rate, but progress has been made. At the time of writing this year’s 6mm American Civil War goal, set early in the year, has been reached.

It can be best described as an eclectic mix of infantry, cavalry and artillery to expand my collection for specific battles. Some additional rifled artillery as well as some horse batteries, several infantry brigades and an assortment of cavalry, both mounted and dismounted. A selection of which are above and below, all in 6mm using Heroics & Ros miniatures.

These reinforcements allow me to refight my initial batch of 1862 battles. Specifically, a couple from the Peninsula Campaign and then Second Bull Run and Antietam before switching to the west for Stones River at the end of the year.

A new stretch goal has been set for Glendale & Malvern Hill. This requires a few additional Confederate infantry brigades to be completed.

The first 160th anniversary battle has also been played. In particular the Battle of Seven Pines, shown above. We actually refought Seven Pines twice, once each side of the anniversary. For those interested a summary of our first refight can be found here.

The result of each refight was different, yet in both the key historical narrative was followed. Confusion, delayed reinforcements and challenges with command all proved critical. All testament to the Volley & Bayonet rules and the historical scenario.

Next up is Gaines Mill, assuming I can complete the terrain in time…