Category Archives: WW2 Naval

Blinds & Markers for WW2 Naval Gaming

Most naval rules have spotting and target ID rules of some sort or another, often with various stages of “we think something’s out there” through “there’s probably a ship over there” to “It’s a German S-boat and it has started shooting at us!” or similar.

For example, Coastal Patrol published by TwoFatLardies uses both Blinds (for small groups of ships or dummies) and Markers (for possible individual ships, or dummies) so I’ve done up both 2″ and 1″ numbered tokens, designed to be printed on light card and then punched out or cut out for tabletop use.

The current PDF covers all the major combatants – the British Royal Navy, German Kriegsmarine, Italian Regia Marina, United States Navy, and Imperial Japanese Navy, and also includes generic Red Force & Blue Force markers, all numbered 1 through 12 in both 2″ and 1″ sizes. It’s available in both Letter (for those of us in North America) and A4 (for the rest of the world) for easy printing.

I might do up a second set of extra markers numbered 13 through 24 for larger scenarios; that would be straightforward enough.

Earlier this year I also did up a simple set of printable Star Shell & Moon Markers for naval gaming that you might also find useful.

If there’s any other combatants you’d like to see added to a future set, please let me know in the comments. Some of the larger Commonwealth navies, the Soviets, the smaller European nations?

Tiny Boats and Even Tinier Planes

When I did my first WW2 coastal order to Last Square back in November 2019, well over six months ago now, I added a pack of British Beaufighter/Beaufort and a pack of German Ju88 for the heck of it, chosen because both types of aircraft show up in the maritime strike role for most of the war with various loadouts.

I got them, looked at them, was dumbstruck by the insanely minute size of the things, and put them aside to paint the boats up instead. Having just finished (most of) the second order of Last Square coastal naval boats and being in a get-stuff-finished mood, I decided to have another look at the tiny tiny planes and figure out how to mount and paint them.

I recalled reading about using plastic broom bristles for masts and antenna previously, so I decided to test this out for creating flying stands suitable for tiny planes. I used the same 40mmx20mm thin acrylic bases I’m using for most of my boats, because I’ve got them, and I happened to have a micro-drill-bit in my tool stash almost perfectly the same size as the bristles I harvested off our household broom.

RAF Bristol Beauforts/Beaufighters, two mounted and one left loose. Click for larger.

I kept the flying heights fairly short, about one inch maximum, which means these planes are all coming in at wavetop height, pretty much, which seems to make sense when attacking small coastal vessels and is way, way easier to store than taller possibly more realistic height stands!

Two Beaufighters and two Ju88 mostly done, including recognizable national insignia on these tiny, tiny planes. Click for larger.
Extreme closeup of the unmounted Beaufighter and Ju88. I’m pleased with the look of the canopies, especially on the German Ju88 with their big “greenhouse” canopies covering most of the front end. Click for larger.

Painting Notes

All my current paints are from the Reaper Master Paints series. All six planes got a white primer, and then for the RAF I used Muddy Brown and Military Green for the topside camo; the underside is Heather Blue mixed with Rainy Grey which seems like a good match for the RAF “sky blue” grey-blue underside paint.

The Germans were a mix of Rainy Grey and Muddy Olive 1:1 for the all-over base coat, with two of the Ju88s getting slightly darker grey-green camo added with some additional Stone Grey added to the Rainy Grey/Muddy Olive mix.

I adding some highlighting along edges mostly by mixing a bit of Rainy Grey into the relevant base colour, and the Germans got some yellow recognition patches with Marigold Yellow. I also used some Games Workshop Nuln Oil (black) and Agrax Earthshade (brown) washes, especially along the roots of the wings.

The German iron crosses are Walnut Brown, a lovely almost-black that I use all the time instead of actual Pure Black.

The RAF roundels are Marigold Yellow, Sapphire Blue, Pure White, and Carnage Red.

Windows and cockpit canopies were picked out with Ghost White, a blue-tinted off-white.

For scale, I made sure to take this photo with my thumb “in the way”. That’s a standard CD I’m using to hold the planes, just for additional scale. These things are seriously tiny. Click for larger.
Side views, RAF Beauforts/Beaufighters on the left and Luftwaffe Ju88 on the right. Click for larger.
Tail end view, Beaufort/Beaufighter left, Ju88 to the right. Click for larger.
Forward view, same arrangement as previous. Click for larger.

Aircraft don’t actually play a huge role in most of the engagements coastal naval vessels find themselves involved in, so I don’t think I’ll be adding to my collection of tiny aircraft anytime particularly soon, but these turned out to be fun to paint and they ended up way better looking than I was thinking they would, given the diminutive size of the things!

New WW2 Tiny Boats

Latest batch of World War Two coastal naval vessels in 1/1200 scale is done and based. As with the previous vessels, these are all Figurehead from Last Square in the States. I’m especially pleased with the two German patrol trawlers (Vorpostenboote) with their dazzle/disruption camo scheme.

First of two Vorpostenboot. Click for larger.
Second Vorpostenboot. The two models are actually different, which is cool when representing these notably heterogeneous craft (almost all requisitioned trawlers pressed into service as escorts) on the table. Click for larger.

I also did up a few more Royal Navy Coastal Command craft, four Fairmile B Motor Launches and four 70′ British Power Boat (BPB) Motor Gun Boats. The BPBs are really tiny at 1/1200 scale, under 20mm long!

Four BPB Motor Gun Boats in the foreground and four Fairmile B Motor Launches in the background, all on 40mm long acrylic bases. Click for larger.

And the reason it’s been quiet here on the blog for the last couple of weeks is that I’ve been completely pulling my hobby/painting area apart and have finally mostly put it together again, all with the aim of installing a big Ikea shelving unit in one corner, a Kallax 57′ x 57′ monster.

The partially-rebuilt painting/hobby/game storage area! Click, as always, for larger.

The cubicles of the Kallax will fit a banker’s box (there’s a couple in there already) which is already my standard method of storing and transporting scenery. I’m still planning a massive sort of my scenery stockpile, which will (to be honest) probably take another couple of months in bits and pieces. There’s stuff in the stash that hasn’t hit the table in years and year because it’s buried under other things or just straight up been misplaced and I don’t actually know where it is!

Links of Interest, 1 July 2020

For this Canada Day in a time of pestilence abroad in the land, the usual mix of individual links and items that don’t quite warrant an entire freestanding post, as is an irregular feature of this blog.

Curt of the always-awsome Analogue Hobbies blog has been doing 2mm Napoleonics at a really high standard, including gorgeously painted tiny renditions of the various buildings made famous by the Battle of Waterloo. He’s previously posted about his 2mm Nap armies, as well.

I am getting more and more tempted to do either Russian Civil War or 17th C English Civil War in 2mm… to which end I recently bought the Forward March 2mm Library and might need to get some things 3d printed for me. I quite like the thought of a single print bed of bases being an entire army, and I’ve always liked the “miles of battlefield all at once” look of small scale gaming even though I’ve done nothing smaller than 15mm (and far more 28mm than anything else) for many years now.

Rather nice little tutorial on doing bog or fen areas easily with patterned clear plastic sheet over on Lead Legionaries. This is a terrain type I’ve been meaning to do for several years now but it’s still somewhere on the endless to-do list.

On the WW2 naval gaming side, which I want to get back to sometime soon, I recently discovered the nicely laid out german-navy.de which has good short articles and illustrations of nearly everything the WW2 Kreigsmarine built or planned to build, from the workaday utility boats like the well known R-boote to the insane jet-powered hydrofoil they were dreaming of far too late in the war to actually matter. (German military designers spent the entire war hopped up on the Very Best Drugs, you can’t convince me that isn’t true!) If you have found a similar resource for other WW2 navies (especially the Royal Navy) I’d love to know about it.

Happy Canada Day if you happen to be Canadian, Happy (upcoming) Independence Day if you’re American, and hope July is good to you regardless of where you’re reading this from!

Star Shell & Moon Markers for Naval Games

Both Narrow Seas and Coastal Patrol (and probably other naval games, I’m guessing) include rules for the moon being full or partial in their sighting and visibility rules, and a difference if your target is silhouetted against the moon or “down-moon”. They’ve also got rules for star shells and flares, with a different diameter in each game – 12″ diameter in Coastal Patrol, 8″ in Narrow Seas.

Accordingly I decided to crank out full moon, partial moon, and star shell illuminated area markers suitable for both games.

Thumbnail of the full and partial moon markers.

The star shell markers are quarter-circles; you could print four and tape them together, I guess, or just do what I intend to, use the quarter circle as a quick flexible marker for the extent of the illuminated area around a marker denoting the centre of it.

The moon graphic was originally from OpenClipArt.org, still a useful site but much, much messier than it used to be. I suspect the moon in that image was pulled in from elsewhere on OpenClipArt, but searching that site has become harder and harder. I cut mine out separately with a circle cutter then glued them back to back for ease of use.

Star Shell Markers

I’ve done four simple 3d starshell/flare markers for use on the tabletop to mark the centre of an illuminated area and the actual star shell location, each a length of wire on a 25mm MDF base with tufts of cotton wool for the characteristic smoke/light effect you see in photos of starshells. They’re a bit rough but they work, I think.

Star shells over Iraq. Image via Wikipedia, originally taken by USAF personnel.

The bases are 2mm thick MDF and 25mm wide; I used the same water effects with gloss gel that I use on terrain for this naval projects then did some basic highlighting with white paint to kind of give the effect of light glaring off the water.

Four star shells bracket a really, really unfortunate Royal Navy Fairmile D motor gun boat. Click for larger.

I worked a bit of white glue into the cotton wool so the whole thing was more wargamer-proof and the plumes stand up better.

We’ve only done two games since actually introducing the illumination rules to Coastal Patrol, and it’s fascinating to watch how the illuminated areas are treated like “terrain” to be avoided while maneuvering around the table. They definitely add tactical complexity to the small unit naval game!

Tiny Ships: A Game of Coastal Patrol

As mentioned last weekend after our game of Narrow Seas, we also wanted to try out Coastal Patrol, available in the Summer 2011 Special from TooFatLardies.

I managed not to take a single photo during either of the two games Corey and I ran today, but nothing about the visible setup we’ve got has changed in a week except that all my 1:1200 scale boats are properly based, on 20mm wide by 40mm long by 1.5mm high clear acrylic bases ordered from Litko.

tiny ships on bases
Tiny ships all based on 20mm wide by 40mm long 1.5mm tall acrylic bases from Litko. Gloss varnish makes great glue for this sort of thing and won’t fog the acrylic the way superglue can. Click for larger.

The first game we ran was very small, a pair of Royal Navy Fairmile D MGBs (Motor Gun Boats) escorting a coastal freighter, under attack by a pair of S-38 mid-war Schnellboote. The S-boats roared in, fired all four of their ready torpedoes at the freighter while taking scattered gunfire from the MGBs, blew up the freighter, and roared off. As they were exiting the board one of the pursuing MGBs ran head-on into a stray mine (Coastal Patrol has a random events table that can be pretty lethally random!) and was blown out of the water.

For the second game we gave the Germans a convoy to escort, a freighter and a tanker somewhere along the coast of France early in the war. They had an armed trawler and two Raumsboote (R-Boats) escorting and were under attack by a quartet of tiny, lightly armed Vosper 73′ MTBs. This game ended in an absolute draw, as nobody lost any ships, although part of this was because we were messing with the Coastal Patrol torpedo rules and concluded that we’d taken them from massively powerful (any vessel struck by a torpedo is considered sunk automatically) down to nowhere near powerful enough because although the trawler and the freighter got hit neither took any serious damage. The Vospers all roared off into the night again, although one of them was taking on water quite badly, pumps just barely keeping up.

For both games we were (just like last weekend’s Coastal Patrol games) ignoring the rules for spotting, target ID, blinds/dummy markers, and all that stuff. I’ll be making some blinds and markers before our next games (of either system) so we can incorporate those rules, which are sure to change the on-table dynamic again.

Narrow Seas vs Coastal Patrol

So, compared to Narrow Seas, what are the rough similarities and differences? CP uses a TFL-style actions-per-activation system, with vessels getting between zero and three actions (diced for) every time their card comes up in the activation deck. This leads to some tense decision making, which I like. Do you maneuver your ship, run damage control, or fire, and at who?

One thing we definitely liked about CP vs NS is that CP’s turning circles are considerably smaller than the NS turning arcs. This makes the vessels feel more agile, and increases the effective size of the table.

CP’s firing is much simpler than the NS system, and involves much less dice rolling. We did seem to miss a lot more with CP than with NS, though, which isn’t really unrealistic with small vessels moving quickly over the water!

There are definitely a few rough spots and gaps in the Coastal Patrol rules. Some of the game mechanics don’t seem to be fully explained (damage from collision/ramming, for example) and although Making Smoke is an available order and Smoke Generators are listed as shipboard equipment on some of the damage tables, there are not in fact any rules for how smoke is intended to work… That said, there is a file of Coastal Patrol house rules out there that fill most of the gaps easily enough, but which I can’t currently find online to provide a link to!

We will be coming back to Coastal Patrol, and might stick with it as our main coastal naval rules, but we’ll have at least one more bash at Narrow Seas as there are definitely some things it does better than Coastal Patrol.

An Actual Game of Tiny Ships!

This afternoon we actually got the tiny ships onto the table and had a game using the Narrow Seas rules.

First, of course, I had to use blue-tac and scrap card to base up my tiny ships.

all based up
The Brits and Jerries all based up, for now. Click for larger.

We ran two British coastal merchant ships escorted by a quartet of RN Fairmile D MGB gunboats, being menaced by a quartet of S-boats somewhere along the coast of England. We ignored all the visibility, spotting, and illumination rules for this game, it was purely run-and-gun.

early game
Early in the game, two merchants hugging the coast, British Fairmile D boats maneuvering to intercept the approaching S-boats at the top of the photo. Click for larger.

The Germans kicked up to high speed to maneuver toward the sluggish merchantmen, while the MGBs tried to intercept.

Late in the game. The tape strips are German torpedoes in the water, heading toward the merchants off the top of the photo. Click for larger.

The game ended with three of the four S-boats getting away at high speed, while one S-boat was being scuttled by it’s crew close to shore after taking massive amounts of damage. The Germans fired seven torpedoes, only one of which hit, but that was enough to send one of the merchants to the bottom almost instantly, while gunfire also sank one of the MGBs.

I’m honestly not sure how much of the Narrow Seas rules we were doing correctly, but the basic system seemed to work. Consensus was that damage was awfully dice-intensive to resolve, especially if a ship got hit hard and was up to the Heavy/Wrecked end of the damage table. We also realized we were doing the cascading damage wrong partway through the game, however, so a careful re-read of the firing and damage rules is clearly in order.

As a scenario balance thing, Fairmile D MGBs are scary, scary beasts, each of them having significantly more firepower than an individual S-boat. More S-boats or fewer “Dog” boats, perhaps swapping an armed trawler in for one or two of the Dogs, would probably make the game “fairer”. On the other hand, the Kreigsmarine did manage a minor victory, and trading one S-boat for a coastal freighter and an MGB is more than fair.

We had a good game overall and will definitely be back to Narrow Seas sometime soon; we also want to try out “Coastal Patrol” from the Summer 2011 TFL Special as TFL rules are much liked in these parts. My proper bases are enroute from Litko, and I’ve now got a list of counters I need to produce to make the game run more smoothly.

Tiny Ships Painted!

I finally have painted ships (well, boats, mostly) to go with the coastal terrain I’ve been showing off!

All my 1:1200 naval stuff so far is from Last Square, the Figurehead range. Last Square are very easy to deal with and shipping from the States up to Canada was quick, although their website is one of the most glacially slow I’ve seen in recent years!

The figures are incredibly detailed for such tiny models. I’m not kidding when I say I own 28mm figures with less detail on them than these little boats!

For painting I hot-glued everything to 6″ craft sticks/tongue depressors, which worked well. I plan to use clear plastic bases (which aren’t here yet, the Litko order of custom bases is enroute) so couldn’t base the boats before painting. I did the Royal Navy & merchant ships first, and cramped myself too much – about four ships per craft stick is a good spacing, closer and your ships get in the way of the brush.

For Royal Navy colour schemes/camoflauge patterns I picked up an ePub copy of Mal Wright’s British and Commonwealth Warship Camouflage of WW II – Vol I from Pen & Sword, and can highly recommend that book if you need inspiration for your RN coastal warfare boats. We tend to think of warships as grey (well, I do, anyway) but the WW2 RN used a lot of white and blue disruption or dazzle pattern schemes on their vessels, some of them complicated enough to be challenging to reproduce in 1:1200 scale!

royal navy 1
Foreground, four anti-submarine or minesweeping trawlers, then a small coastal tanker, and two flavours of Fairmile D MTB/MGB in the background. Click for larger.

royal navy 2
RN armed trawlers and Fairmile D (“Dog”) boats. Click for larger.

royal navy 3
Tiny Vosper MTBs on the left, the tanker, and Fairmile D MTB/MGBs on the right. Click for larger.

I’ve got sixteen Royal Navy vessels right now, ranging from tiny 70′ Vosper Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs) to armed trawlers to both Torpedo and Gun (MTB/MGB) versions of the famous Fairmile D (“Dog boat”) vessels.

For the German Kreigsmarine there doesn’t seem to be a handy single-volume book of paint schemes like there is for the Brits, but after some questions on the Naval Gaming FB group and some Google Image rummaging I decided on a simple off-white for the famous Schnellboote and a grey-and-dark-grey disruption pattern on the more utilitarian Raumsboote.

kreigsmarine 1
Schnellboote (S-boats) in the foreground, Raumsboote (R-boats) in the background. Click for larger.

kreigsmarine 2
R-boats on the left, S-boats on the right. Click for larger.

With dozen Kreigsmarine, sixteen Royal Navy, and a pair of small coastal merchant ships I’m set for a good variety of scenarios already. More S-boats, more merchants, and some of the missing classes of Royal Navy Coastal Command vessels, especially the very common Fairmile B, will come in the future, but this is a good mix for a mid- to late-war setup, from 1942 or so to the end of the war in Europe.

Our first game should be this Sunday, using Narrow Seas by David Manley. Need to print off ships sheets and a few other things before then!

Links of Interest, 27 January 2020

First links of interest of the new year – and the new decade, come to that!

Dana Howl has a fairly new YouTube channel that I discovered via Twitter. She’s a great antidote to the shouty beardy death metal school of YT videos, being soft spoken and very, very dry humoured. Her favourite video of mine so far is her introduction to using glazing & glaze medium on miniatures, which is a new technique to me. I’ve picked up a small bottle of glaze medium from my local art supply store and while I’ve not used it much yet, it’s another very useful tool in anyone’s painting toolbox. I think it’ll be especially useful on large monsters. I’ve got a huge Reaper Bones dragon that I got in one of their Bones Kickstarters that I should start painting one of these years…

Another recent (to me) find of small scale scenery is over at League of Augsburg, where Jim is building whole chunks of coastal England to sail 1:2400 scale Anglo-Dutch War ships upon. He’s actually using the same Brigade Models small scale buildings I am, and they work just fine in a scale half the size of the one I’m using them in.

I’m currently attempting to paint impossibly tiny 1:1200 coastal warfare boats without going mad or blind, and Mal Wright’s excellent little handbook on Royal Navy WW2 paint jobs British and Commonwealth Warship Camouflage of WW II – Vol I has been incredibly useful. It’s available in ePub (the linked version) and traditional dead-tree from Pen & Sword in the UK; I went for the ePub because I didn’t feel like coughing up for S&H for one book, but I might actual also buy the “real” book at some point. Mr. Wright is apparently currently working on a similar volume for the Americans and Japanese in the WW2 Pacific theatre, which is awesome, and has apparently also done some work toward a German Kreigsmarine counterpart to his Royal Naval series.

More soon, including photos of those impossibly tiny coastal warfare boats!

Coastline Complete

The first coastline segments are done, barring a tiny amount of touchup here and there.

coastline overview
Overview of the coastline and other bits. Click for larger.

The sandbank off the headland still needs some paint and the waves done, and I need to do a bit of drybrushing along all the cliff segments to get a better colour match along the whole thing.

headland
Low level view of the coastline, starting from the headland. Click for larger.
village
Low over the coastline, approaching the village. Click for larger.
farmland
Over the village and looking at the farms and countryside beyond. Click for larger.
river
The last part of the finished coastline features a lazy tidal river and mudflats.

I’m planning on running this 1/1200 naval game and a big 28mm Pulp Alley game at Trumpeter Salute 2020 in April (the 17th through 19th) so I doubt I’ll do more coastal segments until after that, but in the future I do want to do several more segments, enough eventually to have one side of a table as solid coastline, so six or more feet.

Now on to the tiny ships!