Monday, 21 January 2019

'Allo, 'Allo

Nouvion Fishing Quay

Listen very carefully; I shall say this only once.

Somewhere in this picture are two British airmen waiting for Rene to smuggle them onto a fishing boat which will rendezvous with a British Vosper out in the Baie de Somme.

Ha, now you see them. They are disguised as lobster pots.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Cruel Seas: Scratch Building The Siebel Ferry (Siebelfähre)

Scratch Built Siebel Ferry, Bow To The Left

This is a scratch-built Siebel Ferry flak lighter made by an expert modeller (not me) in large scale.

The ferry has four flak 88mm cannon and two 40mm autocannon. Boats like these escorted convoys and acted as flak batteries, for example during the German withdrawal from Sicily across the Straits of Messina.

WWII Photo

Here is a photo of a real one with four 88s and two quad 20mm flak guns. We are looking at the back.

Luftwaffe Sea Lion Ferry, Rear View

The story of the Siebel starts with Operation Sea Lion. The Kriegsmarine pointed out that they lacked the lift to move anything like the army's requirement for the first wave across the Channel. So the Luftwaffe asked Aircraft Designer Fritz Siebel if he could make rafts from oil drums to be powered by spare French aero engines. The German Army was to cross the Channel on Boy Scout rafts. Of course they fell apart microseconds after hitting the surf.

Siebel had the idea of taking two pontoon bridge floats and bolting a flat deck over them. Actually this worked quite well but the Wehrmacht showed a marked reluctance to a sea voyage lasting four or five hours of bracing themselves to avoid being sucked into a mincing machine. Aircraft engines and air propellers are also thirstier than a drunk waiting for opening time and there was some doubt whether the craft could carry enough fuel to get itself over England's anti-tank Ditch, never mind with a payload.

Fritz Herbert, an Austrian engineer, arrived at the final design which had propellers and diesel engines.

Each ferry would have carried a single 88 and two 20mm flak with their trolleys and prime movers. With this they were intended to guard the flank of the barge convoys and see off Royal Navy Cruisers and Destroyers..........[Facepalm]

According to Peter Schenk, 'the Army rather disingenuously referred to the Siebel ferries as “destroyer substitutes”'......yeeesss, that would be chocolate soldier.

Any that reached Kent were to unload and then act as ship to shore lighters.

Okay, Sea Lion was a dead duck that never tried to swim but the Siebel became one of the most useful coastal boats in the Kriegmarine's inventory. They were used as ferries, escorts, flak batteries and mine-layers. A Siebel could carry a Tiger Tank.

Basic Requirements

This is a really easy model to scratchbuild in 1:300 as it is all straight lines. I used three strips of balsa wood for the hull.

Completed Hull

A bit of sanding and a few simple additions in balsa and plasticard and I had a basic outline. Note that the conning tower could be placed in the middle for use as a flak battery or at the back to allow as much space as possible for vehicles. So feel free to move things around.

Seeing Double

I usually build two so if I screw up one, I still have the other.

Completed Flak Battery

And here is a completed model. I added four 88s, their trolleys, and two 40mm flak sourced from Heroics & Ross: using their German artillery men for the boat crew.

Second Siebel

Both models survived my primitive modelling skills. The second model has two 88s in the bows and two quod 20mm on towers at the rear, with a couple of prime movers.

The Deck

Flat balsa surfaces painted with normal acrylic can look like, well, painted wood - so I used a thick Tamiya textured 'concrete' paint to take out the wood appearance. It looks as if the horizontal surfaces of the ferry have been painted with anti-slip.

Scale Photo

This piccy shows the Siebels alongside a Warlord Games S-Boot and some scratch built I-Lighters.

These things were BIG and they packed a hell of a punch. They were also difficult to torpedo as they had a shallow draught.

Remains Of A Siebel

As far as I know, the only Siebels left are wrecks but, in their time, they gave good service for a quick bodge job.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Cruel Seas: Mirage Hobbies HMS Montgomery

HMS Montgomery

Mongomery was a Town Class Destroyer. These were old USN WWI designed destroyers roughly equivalent to the Royal Navy's W/V class. Britain exchanged a number of strategic bases for a number of these in storage. It was a terrible deal as the ships weren't very good and were often in terrible condition. On the other hand the RN needed escorts.

Mirage Kit 1:400

The model shows Montgomery, aka USS Wickes, as she had been rebuilt in 1942 as an escort frigate. The ship sank an Italian submarine and survived the war.

The model is not easy to make as it has lots of little bits that are almost impossible to get off the sprue. Wargamers are best advised to leave off much of this detail. You will spend hours fitting these bits only to have them fall off anyway. You also have to cut down the hull to make it waterline.

On the other hand the kits are extremely good value and feature unusual vessels.

Crew Added to Bridge and Bow

As usual I added Heroics & Ross artillerymen as ship's crew.


And the same for the various guns.

Scale Photo

Montgomery, 1:400, against Warlord Games 1:300 models.

Scale Photo

Montgomery against a Heller M35 Minesweeper, 1:400.

HMS Campbeltown

Mirage make a number of different variants of this kit including Campbeltown disguised as a German destroyer for the raid on St Nazaire.


One of these destroyers was captured by the Japanese and rebuilt as a patrol boat/escort. This is a very usual addition to a Cruel Seas Japanese fleet.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Review: Warlord Games Cruel Seas Merchant Tanker

Completed Model

A merchant ship with a resin hull and metal additional components is available from the Warlord Games site for the sum of 18 of our Brexit £.

The hull is very thin between the raised fo'c'sle and quarterdeck (go one, admit you're impressed by my grasp of Jolly Jack Tar lingo) and was a little warped in my case. Boiling water treatment on a flat surface soon sorted out - in fact I almost overdid it. The resin is quite thin.

The metal parts have little flash and were no problem at all to fit - apart from my allergy to superglue setting of my sinuses - how I suffer for my art.

The model paints up really well - the resin comes very clean. I used Humbrol grey  spray to coat the model before painting.


A metal kit of a cannon and crew is supplied so you can arm the vessel by fitting a quarterdeck gun if required.


A generous supply of naval figures in three man groups come with the kit. I also added some Heroic & Ross British standing artillery crew figures so I could have some individuals on the boat. At 1:300 scale they look fine when painted as seamen.


More of the H&R figs on the bridge wings.

Scale Photo

The 1:300 coaster model by the side of a Warlord Games 1:300 S-Boat.

Scale Photo

And beside the lasercut merchant ships I posted earlier

This is a great model offered at a good price.


Friday, 11 January 2019

Cruel Seas: Laser-Cut Merchant Shipping Kits

Coastal Oiler

I purchased a couple of laser cut kits off eBay for the princely sum of £8.50 for the pair.This is the tanker. It also doubles as Komet, a German armed merchant raider with a broadside of four 6" guns and three torpedoes.

 Another View

I pretty well made it as is, after plenty of sanding, except for adding a gun from Mirage on the rear Deck manned by a trio of Warlord Games sailors...and a couple of vent port thingies (no doubt those of a nautical persuasion have a special name for them) also from Mirage.

The Stern Gun

"I say, Perkins, are they the evil bosche or our brave lads of the RAF?"
"No idea, sir. Let's give 'em a couple of rounds anyway."

Coastal Tramp

I made a bit of a bog of this one by trying to sand it with a large file. Bad move. The MDF started to shred but a bit of sanding and slapped on rust covered it up.

You'd be pretty rusty if you spent a couple of decades going up and down the North Sea.

For Scale Purposes

The cargo ships alongside a Heller 1:400 M35 Minesweeper.


And alongside a Warlord Games 1:300 S-Boat.

The Assembled Kits

They do need some sanding down to take the sharp edges and vertical lines off what should be curved surfaces. But.....£8.50 the pair! And all you are going to do is fire torpedoes at them.

Highly recommended!

Monday, 7 January 2019

Bloggers And other Reviews of One Hour Skirmish Wargaming

Derek C. has very kindly sent me links to blogs about OHSW.

I relist them here:

Grid Based Wargaming - Some One Hour Skirmish Wargaming

Dale's Wargames - part 1

Dale's Wargames - part 2

Dale's Wargames - follow up with author :)

Amazon reviews:

29 October 2018
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase

28 October 2018
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase

31 December 2018
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase

6 November 2018
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase

I also understand there is a stinker of a review of Miniature Wargames by a wargamer who is very dischuffed with me. :)

Probably worth a read before you spend your money. Sometimes, you can learn more about a piece of art from those who hate it than from those who love it.....although the latter is good for writer's egos.

Ah well, one can't be all things to all people.

Good Reads Review

 5.00  ·  Rating details ·  2 ratings  ·  1 review
Many wargamers enjoy the challenge of skirmish games where, instead of the strategy of vast armies portrayed by traditional wargames, the focus is on the tactics of a small unit. However, skirmish rules are often so complex that it can take hours of rolling dice, consulting tables and recording data to recreate what would in reality be a fast and furious firefight lasting just minutes. Now these new rules make it possible to recapture the speed and intensity of these actions where every man, and every second, counts. The basic rules are supported by sections which give special rules and scenarios to capture the flavor of a range of different periods, from Napoleonic to Modern Warfare and beyond with Sci-Fi. From the 95th Rifles scouting for Wellington, Western gunfights and WWI trench raids, through WW2 parachute assaults or Special Forces strikes in Afghanistan, or even Space Marines storming a space station, Squad Firefights elegantly simple system allows you to focus on proper tactical decisions rather than rolling buckets of dice or calculating masses of modifiers.

I have noticed that if an author does something new and different you get either 5 stars, from people who like novelty, and one star, from people who equate it with heresy. I like to strip down systems to their core and scrape the barnacles off and then see what you have left.

One little note. This system took rather longer than an afternoon to develop - ten years in fact. It is a counter-intuitive fact that a simple game takes longer to develop than a complex one. Complexity hides what doesn't work but every single blemish stands out in a simple system.

"Je n'ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n'ai pas eu le
loisir de la faire plus courte." Blaise Pascal, 1657

I remember Fall of the West provoking the same response.

A happy New Year to all - even those who loathe my books.

John Lambshead

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Infantrielandungsboot or I-Lighter


The Germans used a small flat-bottomed motorised lighter or boat to move men and supplies around calmish waters - rivers, estuaries, the Baltic and Mediterranean. I-Lighters were particularly active around the Greek Islands.

I modelled these mostly using balsa wood. The original boats were around 15-18 m long so these are small models. They have a small one-barrelled automatic gun, an MG or 20mm cannon, on a mount near the bow.


This is the photo I used as  a template .

These boats were involved in combat with British coastal craft in the Med.

Dutch Plan

I-Lighters were built all over Europe so they probably varied a bit. These plans are from a Dutch workshop. Note the association with Siebel.

3D image

Another take on an I-Lighter.

Underwater Wreck

A wrecked I-Lighter found by divers off Croatia. This photo shows the stem.

The Helm Position

The View Aft

The Bow

Note that the bow is detached from the rest of the hull. Apparently I-Lighters could be disassembled for transport on trains.

You can read more on the Axis History Forum.

Lake Ladoga Patrol Boat

The last I-Lighters were used by the Finns on Lake Ladoga as gun boats with a 57mm gun fitted centrally .
Finnish Gunboat Underway

Out Of The Water

Again, these photos are derived from the Axis History Forum, which is a mine of expert opinion.

Size Comparison

To show how small these craft were, here is one of my scratchbuilt models alongside an S-Boot. Both are 1:300 scale .