Thursday, 22 January 2015

From RobH - The Opening Salvo - 1/2400 WWI German Predreadnoughts, Battleships and Destroyers (35 Points)

Well, my first entry is a bit later in the competition than I had expected it to be, but I ended up being distracted and rushing from project to project as so moved by the muses.

One of the side duels is a 250-point navalesque challenge. This has proved to be an excellent inducement to expand a WWI/WWII naval collection. I have in the lead pile dozens of metal and resin warships from Viking Forge, GHQ and now WTJ, and despite a lot of Naval Thunder games, there has been zero motivation to paint.

Until now.
The obligatory painting table shot - you can see many possible weapons of mass distraction, most of which are not Challenge eligible
First out of the painting gate were three WTJ German predreadnoughts and four Viking Forge German destroyers. My WWI collection is currently geared toward Jutland or earlier battles. As such, I have an excuse to paint up to eight German predreadnoughts for the High Seas Fleet's II. Geschwader, commanded by Vice Admiral Scheer in 1914 and 1915. Known as "Fünf-Minuten-Schiffe" due to how long their crews expected them to survive against modern British battleships, II. Geschwader was retained in the Hochseeflotte until after Jutland to make up numbers, long after their British counterparts of the 3rd Battle Squadron were retired to the Nore.
Six of the eight battleships in line ahead.
 1st Division:
  • Battleship SMS Preussen (Flagship)
  • Battleship SMS Hessen
  • Battleship SMS Lothringen
  • Battleship SMS Deutschland 
2nd Division:
  • Battleship SMS Hannover (2nd Flag, Commodore Mauve)
  • Battleship SMS Pommern
  • Battleship SMS Schleswig-Holstein
  • Battleship SMS Schlesien
SMS Preussen leads the squadron. You can get an idea of the level of detail on the rapid-prototyped plastic WTJ line.
The first three are Braunschweig-class battleships, and the remaining are the Deutschland-class. The main difference between the two are that the Braunschweigs have four of their 6.7" guns mounted in single turrets at the corners of the superstructure, while Deutschlands have all their 6.7" secondary/main armament (which was which was very much in doubt before the Russo-Japanese war, when these ships were deisgned) in casemates. Currently, the only manufacturers of Braunschweigs are either WTJ, or Panzerschiffe. Panzerschiffe models are very very bare bones, while the WTJs looked to offer a lot more detail. Thus, they were a bit of an experiment. 

At first, the only assembly needed was to add flower-wire for the fore and main masts. Unfortunately, the rapid-prototyped 3d plastic that WTJ uses can be very very brittle, and the guns of Lothringen's forward turret snapped off when she was 99.9% painted. Flower wire quickly replaced them, but there was much swearing and gnashing of teeth until the drill-pit in the pin vice took hold.
More portside detail of the WTJ ships - if you click to enlarge the image, you can see there's no guns on the midships casemates, and no real deck plating - WTJ's concession to lack of detail. In no way a deal breaker.
The other four of the original starting batch are G101-class destroyers. These four ships were originally built for Argentina, seized by Germany at the beginning of the war, and brigaded with 6 of the the B97-class to form the II. Torpedoboots Flottille. G101 and G102 were in the 3. halbsflottille, and G103 and G104 were in the 4. halbsflottille. Viking Forge is the only manufacturer to make the G101 class, and it's the only German destroyer they have in their lineup so far. So they were the only choice, and what I had available.
The G101 class
I made no modifications to the models. I'd planned to add flower-wire pole masts, but there wasn't sufficient space in the area between the foremast and forward funnel to add a mast, while the detail on the to of the superstructure was such that I'd have needed to file down the entire forward structure to add the requisite mast. Detail was pretty minimal - guns barely project above the deck, TT are very small, and everything else is rudimentary. As such, they're better than Panzerschiffe, but not comparable to GHQ. I have some WTJ DDs on the way, since they are rapidly filling the niche pre-war designs. Right now I have eight of their M class variants on the way for two British destroyer divisions.

I think the lack of enjoyment in painting the G101s is what distracted me. Midway through painting this (and loads of other stuff, I have minimal painting discipli . . . ooh, shiny!), I started putting together the second wave of naval entries. I had picked up scads of GHQ models through ebay, and the remaining battleships I had to (mostly) finish II. Geschwader - three Deutschlands.
A weapon of mass distraction indeed
So was a 1/2400 Nassau-class dreadnought. The Nassaus were Germany's first dreadnought design, and relatively simple to paint. While the Deutschlands remain unmodified and were just glued together, I did a bit of work on Posen. As we all know, a lot of the metal used for masts, flagpoles and the like is very very flimsy. GHQ was no exception. I cut away the fore and mainmasts, smoothed out the stumps, and then added replacements made of 24-gauge flower wire. 

I am ready for my close-up, Mr. Campbell!
Painting was pretty simple. I followed the following schematic for my Germans:

For squirrel gray, I used Vallejo 870 (medium sea grey) for squirrel grey, and Model Master Acrylic lichtgrau for silver grey. Wooden decks on German warships were supposedly darker than their British counterparts (not being holystoned to keep the crews busy), so I used Panzer Aces 310 old wood. Germans used a linoleum-equivalent where they needed traction but couldn't afford weight, especially on the decks of destroyers. I'd seen conflicting reports that it was either lighter or darker than the cortiscene the British used, so I went with Vallejo 70814 burnt cadmium red based on drawings at Distant_Guns: Jutland. Boats were Vallejo 70820 offwhite; turret tops and masts were Apple Barrel Craft black. German recognition signs were painted on the aftermost funnel upon leaving harbor, and then painted over again upon reaching port. For the Jutland operation, aftermost funnels were painted red, which I have used Game Color bloody red for. Over it all, to bring out the detail, was a 2:1 mix of Vallejo black ink and Vallejo thinner. The bases are Tamiya sea blue, with Vallejo off-white used to make the wakes and highlight.
You can see the red on the after funnel
As the above shows, large black belching clouds of coal smoke are essential for WWI. I racked my brain for a while trying to figure out how to properly simulate it. I finally decided on using cotton from cotton balls. I pulled some pieces off the ball, and glued it to the relevant stack(s) with Locktite superglue. Once that dried, the cotton was painted with the same watered down glue I used for basing. Then, coal or mixed coal/oil smoke got painted black. Oil only smoke was washed with Game Color 73.202 Pale Grey wash to give it a grey tinge. Painting cotton is NOT by any means easy, but I think you will agree the effect is worth it.

You know the drill - click to zoom in and practice your aerial recognition training. Which is WTJ, and which is GHQ
All eleven ships in one shot
Overall, I am rather pleased with how they came out. That's 1 dreadnought (Posen), 6 pre-dreadnoughts (Preussen, Hessen, Lothringen, Hannover, Pommern and Schlesien) and 4 destroyers (G101, G102, G103 and G104) in total, putting me on the board for both the Challenge as a whole and the naval sub-challenge for Curt's admiration with some number of points to be adjudicated by Curt at posting.

My brave Fünf-Minuten-Schiffe have also made their first sortie to the gaming table. As with many a newly (and well) painted miniature, their combat debut was not stellar. While they lasted more than five minutes, they were sadly unable to withstand the fire of their better armed but less nattily attired British foes. Posen was forced to turn out of line after severe flooding inflicted by a British R-class, while II. Geschwader was outgunned by British dreadnoughts, superdreadnoughts and one brave battlecruiser and battered into near sinking condition when the Germans turned away and headed for port. 

If only Tiger had failed her cordite check when Pommern destroyed a forward turret . . .
The obligatory gratuitous stern-shot: Posen sailing off into the sunset.

From Curt

First Rob, welcome back to the Challenge! It's great to have you along for the madness.

Okay! Wow, these are fabulous Rob!  I'm a bit of a sucker for this period so I'm always keen to see others' approach to painting the ships. Your paintwork is incredibly tidy and I really like how you've based your ships, especially with the additions of the running wake and smoke from the stacks - very evocative!

I also really enjoyed reading your background to the models and project - very interesting stuff and your enthusiasm for the period is infectious.

For points I'm going to give 3 for each of the larger ships and 2 for the destroyers (which is similar to what I've done in previous years for this scale). So that makes a base of 29 points but I'm going to add another 6 for the great basework. 

Now I want to dig up my old copy of Massie's 'Castles of Steel'...


  1. Those ships are very pretty! I too like the wakes painted on the bases and the billowing smoke! Very fine work!

    1. Thanks. The wakes are actually very easy to do - I just drybrushed off-white on in a wake-like pattern. I'd tried to use either glue or greenstuff to make more chop, but it didn't really work. The 3mm bases the battleships are on are from Litko, and they have a woodgrain to them which makes for easy easy highlighting with a drybrush.

  2. Always tempting , nice job on them, and welcome

    1. Thanks!

      I agree, they're very tempting - especially with the new 3D printing folks adding great 1/2400 models of ships nobody else has yet! I've got 8 RN DDs and KÖING ALBERT on the way from WTJ, and I am excited!

  3. Nice ships Rob and well done on getting out of the starting blocks :)

    1. Thanks! It feels good to put points on the board.

  4. Love the ships, the smoke effect really adds something to them!. Curt if I may suggest the Audio book of Massie's Castles of Steel is excellent for listening while painting

    1. It does. Naval miniatures without smoke just looks weird. It's a serious pain to do, but well worth the effort.

      For Jutland, anyway, the best work is Campbell's Jutland: An Analysis of the Fighting.

  5. Well worth the wait. Nice ships When it comes to ships I never know what I am talking about but that does not stop me admiring them.

  6. Thanks, Curt!

    Tidy paintwork is pretty easy to achieve when the wash hides a lot of your mistakes. That's one of the reasons I like washes on small-scale (15mm-1/1200 or less) miniatures - they bring out the detail and tie the whole miniature together. I'm experimenting with them on larger (25mm/28mm) figures, but it requires a lot more work and finesse.

    We use a suitably modified Naval Thunder for our WWI games. It's a quick-play, bucket 'o dice game, but with enough flavor to feel right. We still hit far too often for a salvo compared to actual hit rates, and I'm still tweaking the mods, but it's fast, fun and feels right. So far, I just have had enough ships for battleship on battleship actions.

  7. Robert
    Great looking ships. I like what I see of the WTJ line.

    1. As do I. What's great about WTJ is that their ships are dial-a-scale - you can order the rapid prototyped ships from 1/1500 to 1/3000 or maybe even 1/6000. The detail is pretty good (haven't seen the DDs yet), they do multiple variants of the German DNs and British cruisers (pre/post Jutland), and have some of the best predreadnought collections out there.

      Downsides are needing to build your own masts, and things like gun barrels can be really flimsy in some scales.

  8. Very, very nice work. Every time I see these stately figures, I'm even more certain I could never manage naval. Very, very well done.

    1. Sure you can! The paint schemes are easy (unless you go for camouflage schemes), and making sea is easier than basing land forces.

      They're a whole lot easier than they look, and a good wash covers a multitude of sins.

  9. Love them and what a project


    1. Well, I doubt I'll get all Jutland done, but hopefully pieces of it will be doable!

  10. Hell's bells, that's some great work! I've never quite managed to get into naval gaming despite a couple attempts, but I'm always impressed by the level of detail required both in the research and in the teeny-tiny painting (and modeling!).

    The billowing black smoke is what really makes these, IMO. It's so distinctive of the period.

    1. Thanks, and I agree. Smoke is the period. I'm glad they pop, because it's the biggest problem with these.

  11. These ships look awesome! I had my eyes on the WTJ ships for some time now and your excellent brushwork really has brought out the best in them. Maybe I should finally give them a go.

    1. You should! Though the GHQ ships are also very nice.

  12. They are fantastic. The smoke is a very mice touch.

  13. Beautiful! Absolutely beautiful. Makes me so want to buy in a load of new models (and then forget about them as I rush on making new purchases) ;)

    Excellent work and well worthy of outpacing me!

  14. Very, very nice work indeed Robert. As a Navy man myself, I've seen a few ships in my time and built more than a few too. These are amongst the best I have seen at this scale and the detailing really makes them come to life. I'm sure they are a joy to play with. Great job!