Wednesday 27 September 2023

French Fleet Completed

The last of the six fleets and the completion of my WWII naval project, this contingent was the quickest to paint. The main reason for this is that the French fleet was for the large part taken out of action early in the war, before the more intricate camouflage schemes were applied.

The French navy included some state of the art ships which were some of the fastest at the time, including the recently built Richelieu class in the Richelieu, Jean Bart and Clemenceau. The Richelieu was initially twice attacked by the British but was eventually repaired in the USA before serving with the British Home Fleet and then being transferred for action in the Pacific, while the Jean Bart fought a duel against the USS Massachusetts during operation Torch before surrendering to the Allies:

The Dunkerque and Strasbourg were similar to the Richelieu class in that their main armament was all placed forward. This was a distinct disadvantage when attacked by the British at Mers-el-Kebir as part of the controversial Operation Catapult, as they had been docked in the harbour with their sterns facing the open water which meant they were initially unable to return fire:

I also included three ex-WWI battleships in the Bretagne, Provence and Lorraine, the difference in construction over the preceding twenty years or so being quite noticeable:

Three Suffren class heavy cruisers include the Foch, Colbert and Dupleix, seen here alongside the one-of-a-kind Algerie:

With the Duquesne and Tourville completing the small contingent of heavy cruisers:

Six light cruisers include the Duguay Trouin, Primaguet and Lammotte-Picquet:

With the La Galissonniere, Montcalm and Marseillaise completing the half dozen:

Some of the French destroyers remind me of the larger Japanese destroyers in that they are almost the size of small light cruisers but maintain the advantage of being fast, such as the 36 knots achievable by the Vauqelin class, with the Vauqelin seen here alongside her sister ships Kersaint, Cassard and Tartu:

The Fantasque class was similarly large and fast, and I completed four with the Fantasque herself, the Audacieux, Terrible and Malin:

Three Le Hardi class destroyers with the Le Hardi, Mameluk and Casque complete the contingent of French destroyers:

The last ship in the fleet is the French aircraft carrier Bearn which, even though it actually launched aircraft and completed pilot training in the early part of the war, spent most of WWII out of action in the French West Indies:

Here are all thirty-two of the French fleet in their storage box:

The Nimitz ruleset we are currently using did not originally contain game cards for the French navy and I was readying myself to spend a bit of time creating in them, but a visit to Sam Mustafa's website shows they have now been released in the last week or so.

I did a quick count across all six fleets which shows I have managed to complete a grand total of three hundred and nineteen vessels, all but twenty-five of them over the past four months. I also purchased a batch of GHQ 1/2400 scale planes which I may also get around to completing at some stage, but since most rulesets use tokens or counters to represent the aerial component of WWII naval gaming these are not a high priority and will really only be used as table dressing.

Next up, a return to my ECW project with a few Parliamentarian foot regiments prepared and ready to be painted.

Tuesday 19 September 2023

Regia Marina Fleet Completed

The penultimate contingent in my WWII naval project, I had been looking forward to getting stuck into the Italians mainly because their red and white striped aerial recognition markings are quite unique and provide a bit of colour. I was a little concerned about whether I would be able to paint lines that were straight enough without ruining the effect, but found that all the GHQ models with the exception of the destroyers had lines etched into the deck which made painting them quite simple.

I also purchased the Lifecolor WW2 Italian Naval paint set which took a lot of guesswork out of approximating the correct shades and were quite nice paints to use.

Here are the three completed Littorio class battleships which were the Littorio herself, the Vittorio Veneto and the Roma (the Impero was laid down and luanched, but never completed):

Followed by the Caio Duilio and Giulio Cesare:

Six heavy cruisers include the Trento, Trieste and Bolzano:

And three Zara class cruisers in the Zara, Fiume and Pola:

Italian spotter planes had a rather unique design, with red stripes on a very light grey background as can be seen here on the foredeck of the Zara:

I came a little unstuck on the light cruisers as some of the names are incredibly long and just wouldn't fit on my labels. The Abruzzi's full name, seen here alongside the Raimondo Montecuccoli, Muzio Attendolo and Giuseppi Garibaldi, is actually the Luigi de Savoia Duce degli Abruzzi:

While the final four light cruisers are the Attilio Regolo, Scipione Africano, Alberto Da Giussano and Bartolomeo Colleoni (which I chose as it sounded a little like Corleone to me):

The Soldati class destroyers are so-called as they are all named after different troop types. Below are the Velite, Mitragliere, Corsaro, Carabiniere and Bombardiere:

Followed by the Legionario, Ascari Artigliere and Alpino:

Three Navigatori class destroyers named after Italian explorers in the Antonio da Noli, Nicolo Zeno and Luca Tarigo, along side three Turbine class destroyers with the Turbine, Borea and Espero, complete the destroyer flotilla:

With the aircraft carrier Aquila completing the Italian fleet:

Here are all thirty-five ships nestled alongside some of the overflow from my US and Royal Navy contingents:

Only a similarly-sized French fleet left to go, which I hope to have completed by the end of next week.

Wednesday 13 September 2023

Merchant/Transport Ships Completed

As the next stage in the WWII naval project I wanted to complete a small contingent of merchant and transport ships, to be used in convoy games or campaigns. The Queen Mary is the largest model in the GHQ WWII range, bigger than even their largest battleships, but proved more fiddly than I was expecting as all the lifeboats had to be glued to the ship in pairs. It was painted grey prior to undertaking transport duties across the Atlantic, and accordingly was nicknamed the 'Grey Ghost'. With a top speed of 32 knots it could outrun German U-boats and was an obvious choice to transport up to nearly 16,000 troops at a time:


The Circassia was another passenger ship which was requisitioned by the Admiralty for transport duties, albeit much smaller:

Here it is alongside the Queen Mary for comparison:

Next up are four merchant ships in the Clan Macauley and Tower Hill:

The New Zealand ship Otaio and the merchant vessel Gran, so-called because it was crewed by volunteer ladies all over 70 (sorry, couldn't help it):

Of course, no merchant fleet would be complete without the famous Liberty ships, and I have included three in the Ara, Alnitah and Murzim:

These models came with 1/2400th scale Sherman tanks and 2 and 1/2 ton trucks, which I painted separately and glued in place. At least my painting tally this year will include a dozen Sherman tanks and fourteen trucks:

Finally, the USS Capella completes the Allied merchant fleet:


A total of ten ships in all, which should be enough for a decent-sized convoy game and give my escort ships something to protect:

Next up the penultimate fleet in this project, the Regia Marina or Royal Italian Navy.