Monday, 11 February 2019

The Wine-Dark Cruel Seas: Making A Special Boat Section Schooner

Sailing The Wine-Dark Seas

In the coastal waters around the Balkans, the Adriatic and the Aegean, a wide variety of local small ex-coastal craft were used by both sides. These were converted civilian ships that island-hopped carrying people, animals and goods. One of the types was a number of different sized 'schooners', usually with cut down masts and an engine fitted.

I wanted to create just such a vessel as might have been used by the Special Boat Section of the Royal Marine Commandos.

Armed Coastal Schooner

I started with the small Airfix Cutty Sark kit, using the two hull sides and the deck. The hull is a bit narrow for a small schooner in 1:300 but I assume that this was a fast sailer, maybe serving as a private cruise yacht in an earlier life when it was new. On the plus side the cabin and hold entrances are just the right size with a 1:300 infantryman being able to peer over the top from the rear helm position.

I only retained half of one mast with a single sail. The original schooner as built would have had two. The SBS used Matilda Tank engines, rather than whatever the locals had added as a power unit.

I added four depth charges at the rear on side-rails, a 20mm autocannon on the quarterdeck and a 3 inch naval gun behind the fo'c'sle. The 20mm is an Heroic & Ross flak gun and the 3 inch is a 25pdr artillery piece with the wheels cut off mounted on its round platform. I placed a heavy mortar on the fo'c'sle.

I used different coloured uniforms: navy blue for the helmsmen and 20mm gunner, and khaki for the bow gunners. The aim was to make it look like a mixed crew of SBS and commandos.

Scale Photo

This pic shows the schooner against another coastal bodge, the German Siebel ferry, to give an idea of its size: small! But it does pack a surprising punch.

Adriatic Schooner Stats

Hull Points 20; Small, Turn 45
Speed; Slow 3, Combat 6, Fast 9
Bow Mortar
3" Front Gun
20mm Rear Gun
Deoth Charges
Cost: 45 pts (+5 if you use the mortar).


  1. Dear John,
    The title of this post reminds me that it's a delight to know you.

  2. Very nice conversion John, your going well with all these ships

  3. Looks great. A question: what is the best way to make these full hull kits into waterline models? Saw off the bottom with what method is best? Many thanks.

    1. see my earlier post on removing the bottom of the hull.