Saturday, 18 February 2017

From SylvainR - Hochseeflotte (99 points)

Seven years ago, I bough a bunch of ships on Kijiji and despite having painted so far hundreds of battleships, cruisers, destroyers, aircraft carriers and submarines, I am still not done yet with the content (and I also bought more ships to "complete" the various fleets). I find that I can paint no more than 100 ships per year, mostly because I get tired of painting the bases. I need a few months to forget about the boredom and recover the mind set to paint another batch. It will take me a few more challenges to finish the remaining fleets.

Anyway, this time I present to you the "Hochseeflotte" [High Seas Fleet], favourite plaything of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Wilhelm was very jealous of the shiny toys possessed by his British cousins, namely the units of the Royal Navy and was even more envious of their grandiose Fleet Review and for this reason the Kaiser embarked on an ambitious an foolish plan for naval expansion. I believe that this arms race, along with the Sarajevo Incident, was one of the triggering factors of WW1.

The project I am posting today is only about battleships, battlecruisers and armoured cruisers, as these were the only kind of ships I got from the "bunch". I will need to complete the fleet at a later date with some light cruisers and destroyers, so the Regina wargamers can fight the battle of Jutland in my backyard.

The picture above shows the evolution of German battleships. At the top, the Deutchland class represents an example of a pre-dreadnought, followed by the first German "all big guns", the Nassau class, with six turrets. This was followed by the Helgoland class, just a bigger version of the precedent. The Kaiser class had only five turrets, but they were offset to allow firing on both sides. The König class had all the five turrets in a centreline position. The last ship at the bottom represents the Bayern class, with only four turrets but with 15" guns instead of 12". As you can see, with time, Battleships became barely longer because it was important to have an area as small as possible to be protected by armour. The shorter the ship the better. The Bayern is about 32,000 tons.

You will note that the size of the base is smaller for the first two ships. My original plan was for the bases to represent ship types as follow: battleship, cruiser, destroyer. But this soon proved to be problematic considering an old battleship is much smaller than an armoured cruiser. So I decided that the size of the bases would represent tonnage, and that only ships of 25,000 tons or more would fit on a larger base.

Just like his British cousins, Wilhelm wanted battlecruisers in his fleet, ships that are lightly armoured but fast and well armed. From top to bottom, we have: Von der Tann class, Moltke class, Seydlitz class and Derfflinger class.  You will notice that battlecruisers became much longer with every new class. The Derfflinger is about 31,000 tons, more or less the same as the Bayern, but the difference is made up of armour.

Finally, two classes of armoured cruisers: Scharnhosrt class and Blücher class. Scharnhorst and sister-ship Gneisenau fought in South America, at the other end of the world.

In previous Challenges, I got three points per battleship or cruiser and two points per smaller ships. With 33 ships, this lot is worth 99 points. This will also count towards my naval paint duel with MilesR. Miles, we have not decided yet on a prize. If I loose the duel, how about I paint for you the Baden and the Bayern, the two most powerful WW1 battleships?

The purpose of this last picture showing the Bismarck along the Baden and the Derfflinger is to establish some comparisons.

The difference between a battleship (top) and a battlecruiser (middle) is clearly shown. Both ships are about the same tonnage, but their purposes are obviously different.

The Bismarck clearly shows the traits inherited from her parents. We can distinguish the length and speed of a battlecruiser with the width, armour and armament of a true battleship. Everything seems in perfect balance in the Bismarck, for a final tonnage of about 50,000 tons.

The High Seas Fleet models are all from CinC and I really prefer GHQ, like the Bismarck, because of the additional details and the bigger guns, which will not bend like pipe cleaners. CinC's look is somewhat abstract. I could have added details like masts and lifeboats (which were sold separately!) but with 76 ships to paint (with the upcoming Royal Navy), it is not something on which I want to spend my time.

I also came to paint a more realistic sea base than I did a few years ago. When I painted the base for the Bismarck, I tried to simulate waves by mixing different tones of blue. But after some testing, I found that sculpting a thick coat of gel on a uniform midnight blue surface gives a more satisfying result. You will note that the gel is not entirely cured on some bases, as some "milky" pockets are still noticeable.

Thank you for watching!

Guest Editor PD:  Well that's a posting to put fear into the Admiralty.  Well done on this haul of ships.  There's quite a lot of care and patience required to build and paint these 1:2400 models and you've done a fine job. Like you I prefer the GHQ range, but you can't look a gift Kijiji box int the eye.  I also really enjoy the size comparisons, which nicely illustrate the pace of the naval race and the amount of one-up-manship it involved

Cpl Millsy - wake up man and record this young lad's score on your spreadsheet whatnot!

I'm looking forward to seeing the 100 or so light ships that you'll to round out your forces.  However, having met your dog I suggest that we book a gym at the university and play indoors to avoid any minefields that she may have left!  If you want to have a go at a slightly smaller scale I have enough to do a big chunk of Jutland (and about every other WW! naval action) in 1:3000 scale.


  1. cracking stuff..

    but ohh for a submarine or several!

  2. A terrific post and wonderful work, Sylvain! I really like your new sea bases as well and can vouch for the gel approach. Well done!

  3. Nice ships Sylvain - looking forward to the escort classes :)

  4. Great stuff and an interesting history lesson on the evolution of battleships to boot.

  5. Replies
    1. I agree on your terms for the duel - and if I loose I shall paint you two ships of your choice

  6. Brilliant stuff! I have just been teaching some of my classes about Wilhelm II's policies including the Weltpolitik and Fleetlaw, so very cool to see the subjects of those in real life!

  7. Love a bit of Naval, great stuff

  8. Great work Sylvain - there is always a reason to buy more ships...

  9. Lovely work on these ships and some nice comparison shots.
    Best Iain

  10. Grand work on a grand fleet, Sylvain! The ships may be a touch abstract, but the work on the base makes up for it very well. I quite like the name plates on the bases too!