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).