Coastal Warfare


Soviet Lend Lease PT Boats

After the club game the other day, I dug out my Vosper MTB sprues from the Cruel Seas starter set to hand over to the son, who wanted to have a go at some more naval wargaming. I wasn't planning to use the models myself, so they are better off being assembled and painted by the lad, as he's already been challenged to a game by his erstwhile Napoleonic Spanish ally.While I was unboxing the Vospers I started to wonder if I could add some Lend Lease firepower to my Soviet flotilla, as it's a bit lightweight and primarily equipped with nothing more substantial than some HMG's. I had already got a single sprue of US PT boats from the front cover of Wargames Illustrated, so that seemed like it might be a possible way forward.I knew that the Soviets were supplied with Lend Lease Higgins PT boats, which have a bit more punch than my existing G-5's and D-3's MTB's. As a result, I have ordered a US PT flotilla via eBay, with the Elco PT boats being handed over to the sprog and the Higgins PT boats being shipped off to

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Soviets for Cruel Seas

I've decided that this month, while I finish off painting the 1/2400th scale Royal Navy ironclads, I'll start my long overdue Cruel Seas project, which will begin with my Soviet MTB's and aircraft. Although I started out with the idea of an S-Boat flotilla, there are already loads of players with Kriegsmarine forces at the club, so the Soviets are a more sensible option if I'm going to get some opposition. It also means that I can use my S-38 class boats for my own Baltic flotilla, rather than leaving them in the spares box. I'm going to kick off with the G5 torpedo boats, which I may or may not fix onto transparent acrylic bases, so that all the fiddly bits don't get bent and broken off during games? I'll get cracking over the weekend.

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Soviet Torpedo Bombers for Cruel Seas

For some reason the writers of Cruel Seas decided to  make the Il-2 Shturmovik the default aircraft in the rules, despite the fact that they weren't really used in a maritime role, except on an ad-hoc basis and as a non-operational torpedo armed variant. So, I have decided to not use the model that is supplied with the Soviet starter set and instead will be fielding the IL-4T, a proper torpedo strike variant of the standard Il-4 medium bomber. I have three Scotia Collectair Il-2 models that were in a bundle of 1/300th scale Soviet aircraft that I picked up from the Bring and Buy at Colours a couple of years ago. These are surplus to requirements as the other aircraft are slated for Bag the Hun in the Winter War. They are really nice models and I might as well make good  use of them, adding a torpedo to the ventral centreline and basing them on transparent plastic GW flight stands, using magnets so that I can use them for Bag the Hun as well.I will rate them as the equivalent of the Bristol Beau

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Cruel Seas PT Freebie

I grabbed the last copy of Miniature Wargames Issue 434 in WHSmiths yesterday, as it has a sprue of PT boats for Cruel Seas loosely taped to the cover. I will use the Higgins boat for my Soviets, as they were supplied as lend lease and used in the Arctic with the Northern Fleet, while the Elco will be saved for use in the Med as a radar equipped snooper. I've neglected the Cruel Seas project of late but hope to get on with it later in the Summer, once I've finished the ironclads, probably starting with the Soviet G5 MTB's as something a bit different.

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Soviet G-5 MTB's for Cruel Seas

I've just got hold of four more reduced price G-5 MTB's via eBay to add to the four that came with the Soviet Starter fleet pack, so have enough for a pretty impressive, if lightweight coastal forces Baltic flotilla. I really like these models and will line them up as the first Cruel Seas boats to be assembled and painted, once I've finished the ironclads project. 

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Clear Bases for Cruel Seas

One of the things that spooked me a bit when I played Cruel Seas is the absence of bases for the models, which for some inexplicable reason just seems wrong. I thought that clear acrylic bases would be a good idea, as they would protect the models, which have some fragile parts, from handling and still allow the wake markers to be used. They would also make storing the models easier. I've now found a source of inexpensive laser cut acrylic bases here:https://www.fluid3dworkshop.co.uk/basing/rectangleI'm going to get some for my S-100 E boats and G5 MTB's to see if they work.

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Cruel Seas Soviet MTB's

I really didn't expect to branch out from the Kriegsmarine in Cruel Seas but having just acquired a Soviet Starter Set I suppose I'd better make the most of it! In fact, this makes a lot of sense as the club is currently swamped with Schnellboote, as most of the Cruel Seas players have chosen German flotillas. The Soviet models are also really nice, especially the G5's with their stern launched torpedoes, as copied from the CMB's used by the RN in the Baltic in 1919. The other handy thing about the Soviets is that I can make use of the surplus S-38 class S Boats that I have spare, having set aside the S-100 models and a couple of converted S-38's for the 5th S Boat Flotilla. The earlier unarmoured S38's are perfect for either the Baltic in 1941-42 or the Black Sea, where they were used for most of the war alongside various early war types. I can kill two birds with one stone and set up some solo games of my own at home with the Soviets against the Germans.I will start on this at some point next month, wh

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Tumbling Dice French Pre-Dreadnoughts

I spotted the latest addition to the Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale Age of Battleships range yesterday, thirty two pre-dreadnought era warships for the French navy c1883-1909:http://www.tumblingdiceuk.com/product-category/12400-naval/age-of-battleships/french-abfI've been eagerly waiting for these to be launched, having heard on the grapevine that they were on the way after the Italian and Austrian fleets, so I will definitely be ordering a few for my pre-dreadnought collection. I have some British and Japanese ships already but some French 'floating hotels' would be fun!I've been wanting to make use of my lovely new blue sea cloth, so on reflection it really would be more sensible to concentrate on naval projects this Summer, rather than starting something completely new involving loads of figure painting and terrain construction. My naval projects include both the 1/2400 scale ironclads and pre-dreadnoughts plus the Cruel Seas coastal warfare models, amongst other things.This is a much better idea for al

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The War Hog

We went to the local market in Pont l'Abbe this morning and I thought I'd pop into the model shop that I noticed had opened in the summer. It was closed then but was open today. It is run by an ex-airline pilot who has retired to Brittany and he spoke perfect English having lived in Singapore and Japan for several years. He is also a really skilled scale modeller, judging from the 1/700th scale ships and 1/48th scale tanks in the window, and he's a wargamer as well. On top of that, he's really friendly and clearly an enthusiast for the hobby.The shop itself was really well stocked with all sorts of scale model and wargaming goodies including Warlord Games, Perry Miniatures and the ubiquitous Warhammer. He also sells 1/48th scale AFV kits and 1/700th scale warship kits, as well as 1/48th and 1/72nd scale aircraft. I was allowed to buy a Soviet Fleet for Cruel Seas, some brass rod for aerials on my What a Tanker! tanks and a set of modern French paints from MiG, which will be useful for my 15mm post-colonial pr

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Cruel Seas Conversion Continued

 S-38b with 40mm Bofors mounting aftI need a break from tank modelling, so thought I'd dig out the Cruel Seas S-Boat flotilla and get it painted before the holidays in a couple of weeks time. I have a full flotilla of S-Boats to assemble and paint including five S-100 class and one converted S-38b class mid-war craft. I want to make a second one of the S-38b's so that I have the full complement for the 5th S-Boat flotilla c1944.This means I'll need to do another cut and shut conversion and scratchbuild a 40mm bofors mounting for the stern gun position. I was going to use a 10mm bofors gun for this but instead I will probably just adapt one of the 37mm guns from the Cruel Seas S-Boat sprue using a metal pin for the barrel and a magazine from plastic card.There's a 40mm bofors in the US weapons set but I can't justify the cost of that for just a couple of guns!

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S-Boat References

S-38b with 40mm Flak 28 Bofors (right)Needless to say, I have a lot of books on coastal forces from autobiographies, to historical studies and technical reference sources. Possibly the best technical reference book that I own is the Squadron Signal Schnellboot in Action book in the Warships series. This is a fantastic little paperback aimed at scale modellers, with numerous photographs, line drawings and colour profiles, together with plenty of informational sections on different variants, armament, deck layout, armour and other very useful details. If you are looking for one book to get hold of as a guide to modelling and painting WW2 Kreigsmarine schnellboot, then this one is highly recommended, as it is way ahead of the comparable Osprey title, although a bit more expensive and harder to track down.

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Cruel Seas Conversions

S-38b Cut and Shut ConversionS-100 and S-38b40mm Bofors (10mm Pendraken)That will put the wind up the wavy navy!I decided to postpone my What a Tanker! plans for the moment, so that I can concentrate instead on the Cruel Seas project that I was supposed to be doing anyway! I have seven plastic S-100 E Boats to assemble and paint as the 5th S-Boot Flotilla c1944, so have started to separate them from the sprues and clean them up ready for painting. Two of these should really be S-38b class boats, so I've also experimented with a cut and shut conversion, using the bow section of a damaged S-100 model, mated to the stern section of the S-38 class model from the same sprue. This worked well but I will now need to add a gun platform for a 40mm Bofors, for which I have a 10mm Pendraken model. This is overscale but I will be cutting it down to size so that it looks right, even if it isn't exactly the right size. I'll aim to get the whole lot painted and glued together by the end of the month, together with

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What's Next for What a Tanker?

I'm enjoying the modelling for What a Tanker! and have been planning to expand my tank forces to cover more than just the Eastern Front. I originally thought about assembling a troop of British Shermans or Cromwells and may well do so, but I've now decided to go for a Battle of the Bulge American approach instead. I only have one Armourfast Sherman M4A2 left over from my Soviet tank project, together with some assorted spare parts for an M4A3 (76mm), so I've had to splash out on a new selection of kits for the USA.These include an Italeri M4A3 (76mm) box, an Armourfast M4A3 (75mm) box and an Armourfast M4A3 (105mm) box, giving me six tanks and quite a lot of options to start with. I got some good deals on these, so I can afford to use one of the M4A3 (105mm)'s for some conversion work, which includes adding some sandbag and applique armour from the Early War Miniatures range of accessories. I'll be raiding my stash of model kits as well, so may well be able to kit bash an M4A1 (76mm) out of various parts incl

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Cruel Seas Club Game

An excellent, fast moving and very enjoyable game of Cruel Seas at the club tonight, smoothly organised by Geoff, who provided all of the bits and bobs including some beautifully painted models; I particularly like the mottle camouflage on the S-Boats...superb!. In the end the wavy navy did itself proud, sinking a coastal tanker and two S-boats for no loss, although one or two of the Vosper MTB's would have struggled to make it back to blighty. The rules worked really well, especially the movement system using the cardboard wake templates, but there were a few instances where we had to improvise to fill a gap in the mechanics including, for example, what happens after ramming or collisions? The torpedoes also failed to deliver, with four strikes ending in duds and only one causing any significant damage, which failed to sink the tanker even then. I think we'll use David Manley's suggested revisions next time we play. It was, nonetheless, a lot of fun and I'm keen to have another go, especially if I

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Cruel Seas 5th S-Boat Flotilla

I've been working out my initial Kriegsmarine force for Cruel Seas, using the various books that I have on coastal warfare with an emphasis on doing something historical rather than just painting up the models as generic schnellboote. I fancied replicating one of the units assigned to the Western end of the English Channel, based on my previous reading for my 1/600th scale coastal forces project and Bag the Hun, so plonked for the 5th S-Boot Flotilla operating from Cherbourg and the Channel Islands in late 1943 to mid-1944.This gives me two options (italics = S-38b class / underline = S-100 class):Autumn 1943S65 / S77 / S81 / S82 / S112 / S115 / S116Spring 1944  S84 / S100 / S136 / S138 / S139 / S140 / S142This is all splendid except for the S-38b boats with the retrofitted 'kalotte' armoured bridge, just like the S-100 class, but with a different armament consisting, in most cases, of a twin 20mm amidships and a 40mm Bofors aft. So, if I'm being historically accurate, I would need to modify or adap

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