23 August 2014

USS RASHER (SS 269)


I have met many interesting people since I arrived in Rhode Island, but none more so than WW2 veteran Bill.  Bill was a US Navy submariner who served in the Gator class submarine USS Rasher, which was based out of Fremantle in Western Australia in 1943/44.  She racked up an impressive array of kills, the second highest in the US Submarine service during WW2, and was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation.

The Rasher went on to continue a very interesting career, being refitted into a radar picket boat for the Korean war, and refitted again as an auxiliary submarine for the Vietnam war.

Bill was onboard Rasher as a young sonar man throughout the war and he told many tales over a beer or two....or three.  Of great interest to me also was the fact that Bill was the first sailor to use the experimental underwater telephone aka GERTRUDE to speak to a submarine from a surface ship.  This really tickled me as I've taught a lot of people how to do that over the years.

USS Rasher's Battle Flag from WW@

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Rasher_(SS-269)

http://www.amazon.com/Red-Scorpion-The-Patrols-Rasher/dp/1557507600

18 August 2014

Fort Adams, Rhode Island

32 pdr in position
Recently I had the opportunity to visit Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island, which is one of the largest coastal fortifications in the US.  It and a sister Fort guard the main entrance to Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, which is strategically important as the only protected deep water anchorage between Boston and New York.  The fort was constructed in the wake of the burning of Washington in the War of 1812 to replace a smaller earth predecessor and enhance the seaward defences.
Commanding view from the ramparts


The fort took over 30 years to complete in classic Vauban style and incorporated the most advanced fortification designs available of the day.  The fort is built on the end of a peninsula, which restricts the landward approach to one direction only, which incorporates a quarter mile of redoubts - clearly a large landing force would be required from that direction.  The fort has a turf roof and locally produced bricks, both of which would absorb incoming fire rather than it sloughing off sections or creating fragments.
Approaches to the south wall via the defensive crown works

The fort's west wall faces the main channel and has the primary anti-shipping armament: three tiers of guns, the lightest atop the ramparts to fire chain shot, 24 pounders in the middles firing grape, and massive 42 pounders at the bottom firing heated shot.  Nasty stuff.
The West Wall from Seaward showing the 3 gun tiers
Fort Adams saw some periodic updates to its armaments to reflect the shift from wooden ships of the line to ironclads, and the rise of aerial threats.  Over time this included 12 inch mortars, 15 inch Rodman guns, 6 and 10 inch disappearing guns, mobile 3 inch AA guns and M1 90mm AA guns   Manned continuously by the army until the early 1950s, it was home to the US Naval Academy during the Civil War (Maryland being a bit suspect you know...), and Eike stayed here for a few summers while he was President.  Lots of great history.

One of the 6inch disappearing gun batteries
A wonderful spot with very knowledgable tour guides. Highly recommended if you are in the area.

http://www.fortadams.org
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fort-Adams/109431322408575#

15 August 2014

SAGA Campaign- Game 1-Clash of Warlords

Last night John and I played the opening battle in the 5 game SAGA campaign. I took Levy, 3 units of Warriors and 2 normal Hearthguard. John's Vikings were made up of 1 Levy (with Javelins, as he doesn't have any with bows), 3 Hearthguard, and 2 warriors.

We played Scenario 1, Clash of Warlords, where the objective is to kill the enemy Warlord, or failing that, score as many VP through killing figures as possible in the 6 turn limit.
 My Danes in the bottom right corner.....

The 8 man Hearthguard was a rude shock for the Vikings...
After deployment, I went first and ran my 12 man warriors up to the narrow gap between the hut and woods, where they were duly harassed by javelins from the pesky Viking Levy that had taken up residency in the woods...
...bloody peasants....
Fortuitously, these peasants would be unable to score any damage on my Warriors for 3 turns, leaving that to the Norse Hearthguard later....
I charged my Warriors into the 8 man Norse Warriors in front of me, confident that weight of superior numbers would tell..however, the crushing weight of poor dice would see 5 of my brave lads slain for the loss of only 2 Vikings, and hence my Warriors disengaged in a hurry, trying to flee the Norse line...
 Warriors forward!!
First engagement of the campaign!
...which could have gone better!
The Norse Hearthguard had other ideas, and with a cry charged forward with their Warlord to try and finish off the surviving Danish Warriors....Odin wasn't watching however, and only 3 more Warriors died, for the loss of 1 Hearthguard..the Warriors retreated further, bringing the Norse Hearthguard into a short charge range from their Danish counterparts....
 Hearthguard vs Hearthguard.....
Flee you cowardly sons of Loki!!
Finally luck went my way, and with the help of my Warlord, my Hearthguard dispatched 3 of the Vikings for no loss to themselves....the two surviving Norse (and their cowardly Warlord) retreating back behind their line...to add further shame, the lowly Viking Levy managed to skewer two of the celebrating Hearthguard with their javelins, killing more than their well trained countrymen could in one hit...
By now it was Turn 4, and it was clear to us both that we weren't going to be able to safely trap and kill our opponents Warlord, without risking the loss of many Victory Points..both armies therefore regrouped, and looked for easy points kills....
 Reforming the lines....
For me, this meant bringing my other 12 man warrior unit into action on my right flank, clearing out the pesky Viking Levy from the woods...all but one Levy perished from spears and The Push ability, which forces disengaging enemy to roll higher than their Armour to avoid being run over...
My Warriors then withdrew, but were not far enough away to avoid a desperate, Turn 6 dash by the other 6 man Viking Hearthguard, which despite Intimidation from the Danes, managed to reach within VS range of the Warriors and hence engage them in close combat...the ensuing battle saw 4 Danes and 1 Viking die, leaving the scores locked at 10 pts each......
The last desperate clash.....
The Warlords sounded the recall, and both Warbands retreated to their newly acquired lands, , a grim nod form each Warlord signifying their grading respect for the other...both sides would soon be engaged as they tried to cross the river bounding their lands...but thats for next time...

Great game with John, both sides evenly matched, and he made a fantastic last turn bid, from being one point down, to snatch the draw...
I think the Danes came out worse off in campaign terms, as I lost 15 warriors, of which 8 returned to duty, and 1 Hearthguard...this leaves a sizeable dent in my overall campaign force, whilst the Vikings have only lost 2 Hearthguard and a Warrior or two...Levies in our campaign regenerate 100%, and thats where John lost most of his points...Renewable Peasants :-)

I'll upload some shorter BATREPS from the other two campaign games this round once I get the reports in a week or so.

11 August 2014

Next Projects......

Comrade James Reporting: Now that my Anglo Danes are ready for battle, I'll be turning my attention to two new projects.
With the SAGA bug still strong, I'd like to paint up an entirely different sort of war band, namely the Princes Rus. I picked these guys up in a recent 20 percent off sale at War and Peace Games around the same time as Wintercon, and I really like the fact that they are a mounted army with great abilities. I wanted something that would play very differently to my Anglo Danes....
After the Princes, I'm going to embark on a life long dream...a 28mm Roman Army :-)


I picked up the Hail Caesar Rules a few years back, and really like their concepts (being a Blitzkrieg Commander and Warmaster Ancients player waaay back....). I have a Late Imperial 15mm army but not a 28mm one.
My gaming buddy Bish recommended Caesarian, or Marian Romans as he had some as well and if nothing else we could reenact the Civil Wars.....
So here is my Roman Army Project....:-)
I have 72 Warlord Infantry, a box of Wargames Factory Infantry, 6 Numidian light Cav, 24 Wargames Factory German Cavalry, 2 Scorpions and the two heroes as command units. That should give me a 300 pt force under the Hail Caesar rules. I'll start a separate label for this Army as I work my way through, and my goal is to have them ready for next year......stay tuned!

09 August 2014

Warband Ready!!

Comrade James Reporting: Well, with just 2 days to go before the official start of our SAGA campaign, I have finished my Anglo-Danish war band!
My army consists of 3 8 man Warrior units, 2 4-man Hearthguard with Danish Axes, 2 4-man Hearthguard with normal weapon and shield, a unit of 12 Levy with slings, and of course, my Warlord.

I've included a before and after pic of the army, from when they were the Army of Darkness in Paul's last game before leaving for the US, till now.

I have to say, I was really impressed with the Army Painter Basing Starter set which I picked up from War and Peace Games, as it lasted the entire army with some left over.I was a bt worried I would;t have enough basing material but it came through, and I could do another 2 units of Warriors if I needed to.

I especially liked the basing material, as it removed 2 time consuming steps in my normal basing process, namely washing then dry brushing the basing sand that I did for all my Bolt Action figures. The material is a good mix of light and dark particles that gets the same look with a single application.
12 man Warrior unit, led by Peter of the Meadows
2nd 12 man Warrior Unit, led by Alfred Euro
8 Man Hearthguard with Danish Axes, led by....instinct
Loyal 8 Man Hearthguard , Warlord's Bodyguards

And of course, some smelly peasants.....

Now I just have to boff up on Scenario 1 in the rulebook, and also what nasty abilities Vikings have, as my first campaign games is Monday night...

05 August 2014

The first shots of WW1

Today many blogs and news networks rightfully recognise the Centenary of the declaration of war and the commencement of World War One  The first shots of that war were fired some four hours after the declaration by an Australian coastal artillery emplacement in Melbourne when the German merchant ship SS Pfalz attempted to depart the harbour.  The Pfalz subsequently surrendered, her crew was interred and the ship put into Australian service as a troopship.

The F1 gun crew which fired the first shot of WWI from Fort Queenscliff on August 5, 1914.

Interestingly, the same gun battery fired the first Allied shots of WW2 in identical circumstances, but in that case it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity and the freighter (thankfully undamaged) was friendly.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-05/thousands-to-commemorate-first-shot-of-wwi-in-portsea-victoria/5647724

http://www.skynews.com.au/news/national/2014/08/05/first-wwi-shot-remembered-a-century-on.html

03 August 2014

Warband Progress Report

Comrade James Reporting: I have now completed 5 pts of my Anglo Danish Warband, ready for a 4pt practice game this Monday against Bish and his Anglo Saxons.
That leaves me 2 pts of Warriors and 1 pt of Hearthguard to go!
The Warband so far

So far the Army consists of 2 pts of Hearthguard with normal weapon and shield, 1 pt of Hearthguard with Danish Axes, 1pt of Levy (slings) and 1pt of Warriors (with a 9th figure in there for fun)
James the Tall with his loyal Hearthguard....

Warriors, with a 9th man...not renowned for their ability to count....

My plan is to have 3 pts of Warriors to draw from each game, and a choice of either 2 pts of Hearthguard with Axes or 2 pts without. And peasants are peasant..the less of those smelly chaps the better.....

I'll post a few pics of the lads in action in the coming days.....campaign begins for real on the 11th Aug....

01 August 2014

Sharknado 2!

SyFy's Shark week continued and I caught such diverse titles as Sand Sharks, Swamp Shark and the innovative Ghost Shark.  But best of all was last night's world premiere of Sharknado 2.

It was everything it promised to be: over the top, cheesy, outrageous and most importantly fun.  If you liked the first movie then this is definitely for you.  If you didn't 'get' the first one, I'd give this one a lot of space :-)

29 July 2014

The Warband of James the Tall-Progress Report

Comrade James reporting: I've been progressing the painting of my Anglo-Dane war band for our upcoming Saga campaign, turning them from the Army of Darkness to a painted force.
First up, the smelly peasants:

12 Gripping Beast slingshot Peasants..Denis the Menace..in poo...

My Hearthguard I basecoated with the Army Painter spray ChainMail, as they are predominately chain mail with some cloth peeking out.  Pretty happy with the results after I washed them all with Citadel wash. I had Paul and Dux's voices in my head saying "Real men paint their own shields' constantly as I did my Hearthguard. Still a WIP for basing


My loyal Warlords Guard, with matching shields



SO that's the lads so far, I'll end with a WIP shot of one of my three 8 man warrior units...till next time!



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

28 July 2014

Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark

All well here in Rhode Island and continuing to settle in though we will be in the hotel for another month yet.  Good news is that we have cable in our room and the SyFy channel is having Shark Movie Week in the lead up to the release of Sharknado 2.  Strangely SWMBO didn't see this as good news...

So last night we saw Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark, released earlier this year as a latest instalment of the Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus and Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus trilogy. This Mega Shark clearly just won't quit.
Now I love me a cheesy shark movie and this had all the promise of the awesomeness of Godzilla vs Mecha Godzilla, but this one really was a stinker.  It wasn't the wooden acting (expected), or the horrendous plot (mandatory), or even the fact that it tried to be a serious movie (it was like they gave up half way); the clincher for me was the final Act in which Mega Shark goes to Sydney to find a mate.  The fake Aussie accents and backdrops just ruined it for me.  However, one highlight is that Mecha Shark has a tracked 'Amphibious mode'.  Kewl.

Of the three movies in this series, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus is my favourite.  On the bright side though, I also got to watch the wonderfully cheesy Dinoshark and I think Sharknado 2 will be worth waiting for - deliberately fun and campy is hard to pass up!

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