Friday, 30 June 2017

German Flakschiff: Undine

HNLMS Jacob van Heemskerck began life as a coastal defence battleship in the Royal Netherlands Navy. She entered service in 1908, and had an active career representing the Netherlands across the world. When the Second World War broke out she was serving as the floating battery ship Batterijschip IJmuiden off Ijmuiden. She was scuttled by her crew during the German invasion in 1940.

When built, her characteristics were:
  • Displacement: 4,920 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 321’ 6”’ (98m)
    • Beam: 49’ 10” (15.19m)
    • Draught: 18’ 8” (5.69m)
  • Speed: 16.5 knots
  • Propulsion: 2 shafts powered by reciprocating engines
  • Armour: Belt: 6” (150mm); Turrets and Barbettes: 8” (200mm)
  • Armament: 2 × 9.4” (240mm) guns (2 x 1); 6 x 5.9” (150mm) guns (6 x 1); 6 x 2.9” (75mm) guns (6 x 1); 4 x 1 pdr QF guns (4 x 1); 2 x 18” (450mm) Torpedo Tubes
  • Complement: 340
A silhouette of HNLMS Jacob van Heemskerck.
HNLMS Jacob van Heemskerck.
She was raised and taken in German service in 1941, renamed Undine, and converted into a floating anti-aircraft battery. When converted into a flakschiff, Undine carried:
  • 8 x 4.1” (10.5cm) SK C/32 gun (8 x 1)
  • 4 x 40mm Bofors guns (4 x 1)
  • 16 x 20mm guns (4 x 4)
A silhouette of KMS Undine.
After the war she was renamed Neptunus and was used as an accommodation ship. She was finally decommissioned and sold for scrapping in 1974.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

German Flakschiff: Ariadne

HNLMS Hertog Hendrik began life as a Koningin Regentes-class coastal defence battleship of the Royal Netherlands Navy. She entered service in 1904, and had an active career representing the Netherlands across the world. When the Second World War broke out she was serving as the floating battery ship Batterijschip Vliereede off Vlieland. At the time of the German invasion in 1940, she was awaiting scrapping.

When built, her characteristics were:
  • Displacement: 5,002 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 317’ (96.22m)
    • Beam: 49’ 10” (15.19m)
    • Draught: 19’ 11” (5.82m)
  • Speed: 16.5 knots
  • Propulsion: 2 shafts powered by two reciprocating engines
  • Armour: Belt: 6” (150mm); Turrets and Barbettes: 10” (250mm)
  • Armament: 2 × 9.4” (240mm) guns (2 x 1); 4 x 5.9” (150mm) guns (4 x 1); 8 x 2.9” (75mm) guns (8 x 1); 4 x 1 pdr QF guns (4 x 1); 3 x 18” (450mm) Torpedo Tubes
  • Complement: 340
A silhouette of HNLMS Hertog Hendrik.
HNLMS Hertog Hendrik.
She was captured by the German in 1940, renamed Ariadne, and converted into a floating anti-aircraft battery. When converted into a flakschiff, Ariadne carried:
  • 6 x 4.1” (10.5cm) SK C/32 gun (10 x 1)
  • 4 x 37mm guns (2 x 2)
  • 16 x 20mm guns (4 x 4)
A silhouette of KMS Ariadne.
KMS Ariadne.
KMS Ariadne.
After the war she was renamed Hertog Hendrik and was used as an accommodation ship. She was finally decommissioned and sold for scrapping in 1969.

Monday, 26 June 2017

German Flakschiff: Niobe

HNLMS Gelderland began life as a Holland-class cruiser of the Royal Netherlands Navy. She entered service in 1900, and had an active career representing the Netherlands across the world. By 1940 she was obsolete, and was being used as an artillery training ship.

When built, her characteristics were:
  • Displacement: 4,100 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 310’ 9” (94.76m)
    • Beam: 48’ 4” (14.76m)
    • Draught: 18’ (5.4m)
  • Speed: 19.5 knots
  • Propulsion: 2 shafts powered by two 3-cycle triple expansion engines
  • Armament: 2 × 5.9” (150mm ) guns (2 x 1); 6 x 4.7” (120mm) guns (6 x 1); 6 x 2.9” (75mm) guns (6 x 1); 12 x 37mm QF guns (12 x 1)
  • Complement: 397
A silhouette of HNLMS Gelderland.
HNLMS Gelderland.
HNLMS Gelderland.
She was captured by the German in 1940, renamed Niobe, and used as a training ship until her conversion in 1944.

When converted into a flakschiff, Niobe carried:
  • 10 x 4.1” (10.5cm) SK C/32 guns (10 x 1)
  • 4 x 40mm Bofors guns (4 x 1)
  • 16 x 20mm guns (4 x 4)
A silhouette of KMS Niobe.
KMS Niobe.
KMS Niobe.
KMS Niobe. The single funnel has not yet been heightened and given a cowl.
A stern view of KMS Niobe.
She was sunk in Kotka harbour, Finland, by aircraft of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet on 16th July 1944. Her hull was subsequently raised and scrapped in 1953.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Vive l'Empereur! The final batch of French Artillery figures are added to the collection

The final batch of French Artillery figures (half a dozen French Horse Artillery) have been renovated, varnished, and based, and have taken their place in my collection.



I now want to move on to the French Officers on foot that still remain to be renovated, varnished, and based, after which all that will remain of the French figures to be worked on are the Officers on horse and the Cavalry.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

German Flakschiff: Nymphe and Thetis

Nymphe and Thetis began life as the Tordenskjold-class coastal defence battleships HNoMS Tordenskjold and HNoMS Harald Haarfagre respectively. They both entered service in the early years of the twentieth century, and were withdrawn from service in the mid 1930s.

When built, their characteristics were:
  • Displacement: 3,858 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 304’ 0” (92.66m)
    • Beam: 48’ 6” (14.78m)
    • Draught: 17’ 8” (5.38m)
  • Speed: 16.9 knots
  • Propulsion: 2 shafts powered by reciprocating steam engines
  • Armour: Belt: 7” (178mm); Turrets: 8” (203mm)
  • Armament: 2 × 8.2” (21cm) (2 x 1) guns; 6 × 4.7” (120mm) (6 x 1) guns; 6 x 3” (76mm) (6 x 1) guns; 6 x 1 pdr QF guns (6 x 1); 2 × 18” (45cm) Torpedo Tubes
  • Complement: 245
A silhouette of a Tordenskjold-class. coastal defence ship.
HNoMS Tordenskjold.
They was captured by the German in 1940, renamed Nymphe and Thetis respectively, and used as a training and storage hulks until their conversion.

When converted into a flakschiff, Nymphe and Thetis carried:
  • 7 x 4.1” (10.5cm) SK C/32 gun (6 x 1)
  • 2 x 40mm Bofors guns (2 x 1)
  • 9 x 20mm guns (2 x 4; 1 x 1)
A silhouette of KMS Nymphe and KMS Thetis.
After the war the Nymphe was renamed Tordenskjold and was used for a short time as a floating barracks before she was sold and scrapped in 1948.

KMS Nymphe.
After the war the Thetis was renamed Harald Haarfagre and was used for a time as a floating barracks and for transporting German POWs. She was sold and scrapped in 1948.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

German Flakschiff: Arcona and Medusa

SMS Arcona and SMS Medusa were two of the ten light cruisers that formed the Gazelle-class. They were built in the early years of the twentieth century, and by the time of the First World War they were no longer regarded as front-line units.

When built, their characteristics were:
  • Displacement: 3,130 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 344’ 6” (105m)
    • Beam: 40’ 8” (12.40m)
    • Draft: 16’ 4” (4.99m)
  • Speed: 21.5 knots
  • Propulsion: 2 shafts powered by triple-expansion steam engines
  • Armour: Deck: 20 to 25mm (0.79 to 0.98 inches)
  • Armament: 10 × 4.1” (10.5cm) SK L/40 guns (10 x 1); 2 × 18” (45cm) Torpedo Tubes
  • Complement: 14 officers and 256 enlisted men
A silhouette of a Gazelle-class cruiser.
SMS Arcona in 1910.
When converted into a flakschiff, Arcona and Medusa carried:
  • 1 x 4.1” (10.5cm) SK C/32 gun (1 x 1)
  • 4 x 4.1” (10.5cm) SK C/33 guns (4 x 1),
  • 2 x 37mm SK C/30 guns (2 x 1)
  • 4 x 20mm guns (1 x 4)
A silhouette of KMS Arcona and KMS Medusa. The funnel was later shortened and additional superstructure added.
Arcona was assigned to Naval Anti-Aircraft Group 233. She survived the war and was broken up between 1948 and 1949.

KMS Arcona.
Medusa was assigned to Naval Anti-Aircraft Group 222. She survived the war and was broken up between 1948 and 1950.

KMS Medusa.
KMS Medusa in action.
KMS Medusa. This appears to be a photograph of the ship during her conversion into a flakschiff.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 21st June 1937

Andres Nin (leader of the POUM) was murdered by Soviet agents.
Andres Nin, the leader of the POUM.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Vive l'Empereur! Some Veteran/Garrison French Artillery figures are added to the collection!

The best way to describe the way in which work on my Napoleonic project has progressed of late is slow and steady.

The most recent additions are half a dozen Veteran/Garrison French Artillery figures. (They are actually French Foot Artillery figures from Del Prado's RELIVE AUSTERLITZ! range, but their slightly earlier style of uniforms make them ideal candidates to be used a Veterans who can garrison coastal defences or border fortifications.)



The next batch is going to be half a dozen French Horse Artillery ... and with a bit of luck they should be finished in a few days.

Another terrorist attack in London

For reasons that will become abundantly clear in the near future, I did not see the news of the attack on the worshippers from the Finsbury Park mosque until today.

Needless to say, I was horrified by what appears to be a so-called 'revenge' tit-for-tat act of terrorism by yet another 'lone wolf' on innocent people. My thoughts and condolences once again go out to everyone affected by this murderous attack, be they the friends and families of those killed and injured or the first responders - including bystanders - who dealt with the aftermath.

Monday, 19 June 2017

German Flakschiff

As the Second World War progressed and the Allied bombing offensive intensified, the Kriegsmarine – who were responsible for coastal defence and the protection of naval dockyards – began to look as ways in which they could enhance the anti-aircraft defences available to them.

One option was to mount anti-aircraft guns around the vulnerable targets they had to protect; another was to mount the guns on ships that could be moved as and when required. A quick survey of the suitable ships that were available (i.e. ones that were large enough to mount the necessary guns and fire control equipment but that were not needed for front-line service) identified the following ships:
  • Arcona (a former German light cruiser of the Gazelle-class)
  • Medusa (a former German light cruiser of the Gazelle-class)
  • Nymphe (a former Norwegian coastal defence battleship that was originally named Tordenskjold of the Tordenskjold-class)
  • Thetis (a former Norwegian coastal defence battleship that was originally named Harald Haarfagre of the Tordenskjold-class)
  • Niobe (a former Netherlands cruiser that was originally the Gelderland of the Holland-class)
  • Ariadne (a former Netherlands coastal defence battleship that was originally the Hertog Hendrik of the Koningin Regentes-class)
  • Undine (a former Netherlands coastal defence battleship that was originally the Jacob van Heemskerck)
  • Adler (a former Danish coastal defence ship that was originally the Peder Skram of the Herluf Trolle-class)
These ships were all taken in hand and converted into flakschiff.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 18th June 1937

The Nationalist motor torpedo boat Falange sank.

Falange was the former Kriegsmarine Motor Torpedo Boat S4. This photograph shows her whilst she was serving with the Kriegsmarine.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 17th June 1937

The Republican battleship Jaime I blew up and sank at Cartagena.

Jamie I at anchor.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 16th June 1937

The POUM was outlawed and its leaders were arrested.

The POUM flag.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

When Empires Clash! ... is now available in hardback and eBook formats!

Some time ago I had a request for an electronic version of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! ... but as I was working on DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME I didn't have enough time to do the necessary work to turn the paperback into a suitable electronic format.

That said, on the back of the work I have done to publish DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME, I decided to give it a go ... and in the process I reformatted the original text so that it was in the same house style that I had used in both my Portable Wargame books. As a result a Second Edition of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! is now available in hardback, paperback, and eBook formats from Lulu.com and – in the near future – will also be on sale from the major online book retailers.



Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Developing The Portable Wargame: The book is finally ready to go!

The printed proof copies of the book have been thoroughly read by myself and Arthur Harman, and the remaining errors have hopefully been detected and corrected. As a result the book is now finally ready to go.




I have released all the versions for what Lulu.com call 'General Access' (i.e. people will be able to order copies directly from Lulu.com), and it should then be available for sale with Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc., within a couple of weeks.

Monday, 12 June 2017

It was Broadside vs. Developing The Portable Wargame ... and the latter won!

It was my original intention to go to BROADSIDE in Sittingbourne yesterday ... but I never quite made it.

Over the past few days Arthur Harman had been diligently going through the printed proof copy of the book, and had found a few minor things that needed to be changed. I made the changes yesterday morning, and uploaded the files to Lulu.com. I made one final check of the three versions ... and discovered that the eBook version had some really glaring format problems.

For some reason certain paragraphs had – apparently at random – been capitalised and/or changed font and/or changed font size. This had happened before, and I went through the original file, made what I thought were the necessary changes, and uploaded the new file.

The faults were still there.

By this time I was determined to sort the problem out. All thoughts of going to BROADSIDE went out the window; I had a problem that I was determined to beat. I retyped the offending passages ... and that didn't work. I went through and reformated various parts of the file ... and that didn't work either. In the end, after eight attempts to cure the problem, I gave up ... by which time it was the early evening.

Overnight I tried not to think about what was causing the problems, and when I woke up this morning I was determined to find a solution.

After several attempts I found it. The formatting problem was being caused by my use of bullet points! Apparently these can generate format changes when the MS Word Docx file is converted into ePub format. The changes are not consistent and do not appear to follow a regular pattern, which is why the problem was so hard to cure.

The new file has been uploaded, and as far as I can see the formatting problems have gone. I'm now going to leave everything to settle down for a day or so, and perhaps then I might actually be able to draw a line under this project and publish my latest book!

Sunday, 11 June 2017

The Dutch are coming ... to the Medway again!

On Saturday Sue and I visited Upnor Castle in Upper Upnor, Kent. The castle is situated on the River Medway, and was originally built to protect the Royal Dockyard, which is just upriver towards Chatham. This was not our first visit, but we particularly wanted to go there yesterday as it was one of the venues being used to celebrate the famous Battle of the Medway of June 1667.

The battle took place during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, and was the result of a raid up the Medway by the Dutch fleet under the command of Admiral De Ruyter. As a result the Royal Navy lost thirteen ships lost by fire and the capture of HMS Unity and HMS Royal Charles. This was one of the greatest disasters ever suffered by the Royal Navy, and came at a time when the country was still reeling form the Plague of 1665 and the great Fire of London in 1666.

We were unable to park our car in Upnor, and so we went to Chatham Maritime and took a shuttle bus which went to Upnor via Rochester. We alighted near the top of the High Street ...


... which we walked down to reach the castle. (This is a very pretty village high street, and it will not surprise you to know that Sue and I almost bought a house at the riverside end of this street. Unfortunately someone else had their offer accepted before we were in a position to make a bid, but one day ...)

The castle is built in the form of an arrowhead, with the point projecting into the River Medway.


As we are members of English heritage, it cost us nothing to go in. (The normal charge for an adult is £6.40, with a child's admission costing £4.00.) Near the entrance was a map of the site that explained the history of the castle.


As can be seen from the following pictures of the South Tower ...



... and Gatehouse, the main building material used was stone, with some later brick additions.


The entrance to the castle was guarded by a re-enactor dressed as a soldier of the Second Anglo-Dutch War ...


... and two more re-enactors were guarding the stone bridge that you had to cross to reach the Guardhouse.


In the area next to the North Tower another group of re-enactors were demonstrating how to fire muskets ...


... whilst an officer gave orders to some of the others.


They had a cannon with them ...


... and this was also fired at several times during our visit.


Inside the courtyard several re-enactors were preparing food ...


... and undertaking other domestic tasks.


Sue and I spent some time exploring the main building. The ground floor was being used to house a special exhibition about the Battle of Medway ...



... whilst the first floor (which is normally used for wedding ceremonies) had several displays about the castles use as a gunpowder store.




From there we made our way down the narrow winding stairway to the Bastion.


This is on the side of the castle that overlooks the River Medway ...




... and access from the river was barred by a wooden pallisade set into the river bed.


Whilst we were in the Bastion we saw a Dutch boat being rowed up and down the river.


We then made our way back under the castle through a tunnel that took us to the area next to the North Tower.




By this point the castle was getting crowded and we were both feeling hot and thirsty. We therefore took the shuttle bus back to Chatham Maritime, where we ate some lunch and did some retail therapy before returning home.