The finishing touches are going in to the model of HMS Vindictive prior to two big outings for the game at Salute (London Excel on 14th April) and the Zeebrugge Centenary events at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth (Museum Galleries at The Historic Dockyard on 22nd April).
These are the almost finished 11-inch and two 7.5-inch howitzers that were fitted to provide covering fire for the attack in place of some of the Vindictive’s 6-inch guns. These guns had been designed as anti-submarine weapons firing a special “depth charge” type shell. The 11-inch was the first gun completed.
Also below, continuing the Italian food theme is some spaghetti that will be used as part of the final model. Any guesses what it is for?
I have two Middle-Earth projects on my To-Do list this year – the first is a refight of the Scouring of the Shire mini-campaign with Phil, for which I’ve completed all my Hobbit figures and just need to finish off various bits of Shire scenery. The second project is a game for the club’s 2018 Open Day, part of the Siege of Minas Tirith – it turns out that I have most of the Gondor figures I need already painted, although I will use it as an excuse to paint a box of Knights of Dol Amroth which have been sitting in the pile for a while. When I was sorting through my Middle-Earth figures I came across an awful lot which I’d started but not finished – dozens, in fact – plus many other that have been based and undercoated but no more. So I’ve resolved to slowly work through these and complete as many as I can, both ones for the two main projects plus any others that take my fancy. March has been quite productive, I’ve finished eight figures (although only one of these is for the Open day game).
I’ll start with the elder race first – in the main picture above is Gil-Galad, Elven King who was slain by Sauron at the Battle of the Last Alliance (he can be briefly seen in the opening part of the Fellowship movie). To his right is Haldir, who turned up with his elves at Helm’s Deep in the Two Towers movie for no immediately obvious reason (in the book he stays firmly in Lothlorien for the duration).
Next in order of age are the Dwarves – this is Balin, a member of Thorin’s company who survived Smaug the Dragon but died in a vain attempt to retake Moria. This is the early GW version of the figure rather than the one who appears in the Hobbit movies.
These two are Murin and Drar, a pair of Dwarf adventurers who are inseparable (you can’t use one in a Dwarf army without the other). I’ve never come across any reference to them in any of Tolkein’s books, so I think they’re a purely GW invention, but nice figures nevertheless.
Moving onto the race of Men (and Women), here we have a Captain of Rohan (l). He’s acting as bodyguard to Eowyn in her Pelennor Fields/Dernhelm armour (r).
And finally, the one figure that I do need in the Open Day game – a Knight of the White Tower. He’s a Finecast resin figure (the rest are metal) and has given me no end of problems with his bent sword – I’ve tried several times to sort it out with hot water (even clamping it between two pieces of flat plastic while it cools) but I can’t seem to straighten it out.
Our 2018 Showgame of the Zeebrugge Raid won Best Participation Game at the Cavalier Show in Tonbridge today. Congratulations to the builder – Phil (with a little help from his offspring). Finishing touches to the HMS Vindictive model will follow in time for Salute in April. Gallery below:
Work continues to complete our game for Cavalier in Tonbridge on Sunday the 25th. The HMS Vindictive model is a scratchbuilt 1/56 scale replica of the ship on the day, total length 2 metres! Hats off to her architect – club member Phil. Can you guess what role tomato puree played in making the model?
We gave the game rules a run through at our last meeting – this will be a participation game, with players leading a squad of the attacking British sailors and marines to destroy objectives on the Mole.
The rescue team put down at the Rebel outpost for much needed repairs following the rescue of the Imperial defector, Danor Jax. Whilst their ships were being seen to they downloaded and decoded Danor’s data. He immediately pointed his rescuers to some critical and time sensitive information. It concerned a secret meeting later that day, being attended by the Emperor himself. The co-ordinates and time of the meeting were accompanied by the intended flight plan of the Emperor’s personal shuttle and details of his small escort.
With only a small window available Wedge Antilles gathered the team together to discuss an audacious plan – to intercept and destroy the Emperor’s shuttle. Cut off the head and the body dies. Unfortunately, Roark Garnet’s HWK-290 had been too badly damaged and could not be made serviceable in time but both Wedge and Biggs Darklighter’s X-Wings and the Y-Wing could. The team knew the risks, their ships would not be fully repaired and the Emperor would be guarded by two of this elite Royal Guard pilots flying upgraded TIE Interceptors but this was an opportunity too good to miss. Wedge sent out a last minute message and the three ships made the jump to light speed.
Arriving at the co-ordinates the Rebels spotted the shuttle and its escort flying past an asteroid field. Biggs peered at his sensors, the readings didn’t make sense, their was something else registering moving through the asteroids – but he couldn’t get a lock on it.
The TIE Phantom moved out from its position with its cloaking device in operation and sped towards the approaching rebel ships. The Rebels opened fire but without a sensor lock the TIE was just too hard to hit! The Phantom decloaked, fired and recloaked. Biggs’ shields evaporated and his X-Wing shuddered under the barrage. The TIE flew past, perfectly executed a Koiogran turn and moved onto Bigg’s tail. He couldn’t shake it. The TIE decloaked, fired and recloaked again. Biggs’ was hit bad, another barrage would finish him. He told his astromech to programme the nav computer and span up the hyperdrive.
Meanwhile the Royal Guard pilots had moved ahead of the Imperial shuttle to intercept the rebels. Wedge engaged the first but the earlier damage had made his ship sluggish and he caught a burst from the TIE Interceptor which took down his shields. The two craft began a series of tight manoeuvres but the TIE was simply more agile than the damaged X-Wing and unleashed another burst which forced Wedge to withdraw.
The Y-Wing had managed to slip past the second Royal Guard TIE and engaged the shuttle. But the TIE swung around and the Y-Wing too came under heavy fire.
But just then, another X-Wing dropped out of hyperspace. Luke Skywalker had received Wedge’s message and come to help his old friend. His arrival couldn’t have been better timed, with the two Royal Guard TIEs already engaged the shuttle was on its own. Luke swung into action fired burst after burst at the larger ship as they flew towards one another. He slipped past the shuttle and brought his X-Wing around to move onto its tail and just as the Royal Guard TIEs started to engage him, he fired again into the rear of the shuttle. The resulting explosion was enormous.
With a huge cheer the Rebel ships made the jump to light speed.
Back at the output the rebel pilots were celebrating when the devastating news came in. The Emperor was still alive – the shuttle had only been one of his decoys! “It was a set up”, said Wedge, “that would explain the TIE Phantom which was already hidden in the asteroid field”.
“At least were all here to tell the tale”, said Luke.
The MWS show game for 2018, now in the final stage of preparation will commemorate the centenary of the naval assault on Zeebrugge on 23rd April 1918 – St George’s Day.
You can see it at the Cavalier Show at the Angel Centre in Tonbridge on 25th February.
It will feature a recreation of the assault on the Zeebrugge Mole focussing on a scratchbuilt model of the attacking Cruiser HMS Vindictive at 25mm figure scale. Look out for more about how this game was put together.
There was so much bravery shown by the men of the ships that assaulted the Mole under a continuous storm of fire that VCs for two members of the naval crew (one officer, one other rank) would be awarded through a special ballot of all the officers and men who took part. Two VCs were also awarded on the same basis to the Royal Marines.
Every member of the crews was thus deemed eligible to receive the VC.
Vindictive’s commander, Acting Captain Alfred Carpenter, pictured below with one of the ships cats, was the officer the crew chose. He also received special advancement to the rank of Captain.
Able Seaman Albert Edward McKenzie pictured above, a volunteer chosen from the crew of the Battleship, HMS Neptune, was the other rank the crew chose.
Carpenter’s Victoria Cross medal citation perhaps speaks best to his qualities:
… He set a magnificent example to all those under his command by his calm composure when navigating mined waters…. He showed most conspicuous bravery, and did much to encourage similar behaviour on the part of the crew, supervising the landing from the “Vindictive” on to the mole, and walking round the decks directing operations and encouraging the men in the most dangerous and exposed positions. By his encouragement to those under him, his power of command and personal bearing, he undoubtedly contributed greatly to the success of the operation.
McKenzie was a member of the storming party, landing with his Lewis Gun into the storm of fire, advancing down the Mole with his CO (Arthur Leyland Harrison) who with most of his party was killed. He was severely wounded and after his Lewis Gun was wrecked had to fight his way back to the ship in hand to hand combat, with only a pistol, a bayonet and his boxing skills. Whilst recovering from his wounds he died in the Spanish Flu epidemic.
Tony F has an update on one of his To-Do list projects, completing his Scouring of the Shire hobbits which were started last year:
This only involved 12 figures, eight of which were already part-painted, so it wasn’t much of task, but it’s done at last. The final four figures were the hero hobbits, Pippin, Nine-fingered Frodo (yes, his tiny left index finger is missing), Sam and Merry, all on ponies (I already have foot versions). Pippin and Merry are wearing their uniforms as Heroes of Gondor and Rohan respectively.
In wild celebration I then went off and painted some elves – Elrond Half-Elven and his sons Elladan and Elrohir (who don’t get a look-in at all in the films, but in the book were present at the climactic battle at the Black Gate). Master Elrond in his Last Alliance armour is a really nice figure – I’m not quite so sold on the poses of the two junior elves, who are a bit two-dimensional, but the sculpting is nice.
The bodies of many a sailor now reside in Davey Jones’ locker.
In our game of Fighting Sail we had a fleet of pirate ships, sailing under a French letter of marque, led by Mark ‘Black Ned the Nobbler’ Harris and Bob ‘The Scourge’ Collman harassing the British colony of the Regency Isles somewhere in the Caribbean. Coming to the colonist’s rescue were two flotillas of British ships under the command of Tony ‘Admiral Dalrymple’ Gibbs and Stephen ‘Barely Able Seaman’ Tucker.
This was the first time any of us had played Fighting Sail. It falls very much in the ‘game’ category rather than ‘simulation’ and for a non-naval man such as myself that is a positive boon.
It’s a very simple game. Good navigation rules (according to Mark, and he’s the club’s naval man) and bloody and brutal cannon rules.
In our game the privateers came out from the islands and confronted the British. The British fleet had larger vessels and engaged the pirates with cannons. The privateers steadily swung their ships around, but not before Bob accidentally engaged one of his own ships with a broadside.
In the end it would be a British victory – those damned pirate dogs turning sail and making off to whatever rum-soaked hole it is they came from.
Fighting Sail proved to be a very enjoyable game. If you want to have fun, want to feel like you are playing a sailing game, but not of a mind of having to know how to actually sail a ship to be able to play a game then it I’m sure you would also enjoy it.
Danor Jax had only ever wanted a quiet life. He had reluctantly joined the Imperial Information Office largely because it was steady work and they let him do what he loved, working with data streams. His had been a quiet life monitoring the equipment at the communications relay station and operating the cryptographic decoders when the need arose. That all ended when Darth Vader made a surprise visit to the station. Watching his senior officer being choked and then thrown into a bulkhead using the force should have made Danor cower out of fear. But that day something in Danor snapped, the Empire and all it stood for came into sharp focus and he knew he had to do something about it. As soon as the dark lord had departed Danor downloaded and decoded as much Imperial data from the streams as his AJ^6 headgear would accept and ran away to find the rebels.
The trip to Tatooine had been long and arduous but when Danor finally made contact with a Rebel agent he was elated. The agent had slipped away to arrange for Danor to be picked up and his data downloaded. Danor sat quietly in a cantina in Mos Eisley trying to avoid being noticed when a rough looking Rodian approached him. It turned out that his absence had been noted and with his access to sensitive data streams the Empire had started a manhunt. The Rodian promptly marched Danor at blaster point out of the cantina and along to his ship.
Having made contact, indicated the enormous value of Danor’s information and arranged for him to be collected, the Rebel agent was returning to the cantina and spotted the Rodian and Danor leaving. With too many Sandtroopers around to allow him to intervene, the agent contacted the approaching Rebel ships and told them the situation as the Rodian’s ship blasted off.
Wedge Antilles easily spotted the bounty hunter’s Firespray-31 on his X-Wing’s scopes but he also saw the orbiting Gozanti-class cruiser and its four TIE fighters. Forming up with his accompanying Y-Wing Wedge sent Biggs Darklighter and his X-Wing with Roark Garnet’s HWK-290 on a different course, avoiding the Gozanti but coming around to cut off the other routes of escape.
When Gozanti’s captain was informed of the appearance of the X-Wings he ordered it out of orbit on a course to intercept the bounty hunter and for the TIE pilots to scramble their ships.
Wedge and his wingman swung around to intercept the TIE fighters whilst Biggs and Roark moved to intercept the bounty hunter.
The Rodian spotted the HWK-290 and X-Wing approaching and veered to the right. Meanwhile two TIE fighters had detached from the cruiser and were speeding toward the rear of Biggs and Roark. Fortunately Roark had equipped the HWK-290 with an ion cannon turret which was a surprise to the pilot of one of the TIEs when all his systems shutdown and he began to drift.
The remaining two TIE fighters had also detached and made straight for Wedge and the Y-Wing with the laser turrets on the Gozanti also blasting away at them for good measure.
So two dogfights ensued with TIE fighters trying to outmanoeuvre the rebel craft. Unfortunately the less agile HWK-290 came under some heavy fire and with his shields down and having taken some heavy damage Roark had to withdraw. The loss of the ion cannon was a serious blow to the rebels but with a barrage of fire they dispatched two of the TIE fighters and gained the upper hand.
Unfortunately, the wily bounty hunter had slipped through both dogfights and with the rebel ships too busy to intervene, managed to dock with the Gozanti to transfer his rebel captive.
With this dire turn of events, there was only one option for the rebels, to attack the cruiser itself!
The three rebel ships made multiple runs as the cruiser and despite the heavy laser fire from its turrets managed to land several good hits.
With the prisoner transfer complete and sensing the increasing panic of the Imperials the bounty hunter cut his negotiations short, rushed back to his ship and released the docking clamps.
The remaining TIE fighters were desperately trying to protect their mothership but Biggs downed one of them and the other was damaged by Wedge. With Gozanti’s shields down, the Y-Wing making another run at the aft section with its proton torpedoes and did some serious damage.
Whilst the rebel ships focussed on the cruiser the Rodian made the jump to light speed and his next assignment.
His ship rapidly coming apart at the seams the cruiser’s Captain offered to trade his prisoner for safe passage and the rebels accepted.
Danor was saved and the battered X-Wings and Y-Wing jumped away to safety.