Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Baltic warships: Part 1c: The Thetis-class frigates

The Thetis-class frigates were designed to perform ocean patrol duties including maintenance of sovereignty, search and rescue, fishery protection, and support to local authorities in Denmark's overseas territories.

There are four ships in the class, KDM Thetis, KDM Triton, KDM Vædderen, and KDM Hvidbjørnen.


The design's characteristics are:
  • Displacement: 3,500 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 112.5m
    • Beam: 14.4m
    • Draft: 6.0m
  • Propulsion: 3 x MAN Burmeister & Wain 12V 28/32 Diesel engines driving a single constant pitch propeller, retractable azimuth thruster (capable of up to 8 knots), bow thruster
  • Speed: 21.8 knots
  • Range: 8,700 nautical miles
  • Complement: 47 to 60 depending upon the role the ship is carrying out
  • Armament: 1 x 76mm OTO Melara Super Rapid Gun; 7 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns; 4 x 7.62mm light machine guns; 1 x depth charge rack; MU90 Advanced Lightweight Anti-submarine Torpedo (Additional possible armament upgrades included in the original plans included 2 x 8-cell vertical launch Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles; 8 x Harpoon missiles; 2 x point-defence surface-to-air missile launchers)
  • Aircraft carried: 1 x Westland Lynx Mk.90B helicopter (as required)
  • Electronic systems and sensors: SaabTech Vectronics 9LV 200 Mk 3 fire control system; SaabTech CTS-36 hull-mounted sonar; Thales TMS 2640 Salmon variable depth sonar; FLIR Systems AN/AAQ-22 SAFIRE thermal imager; Terma Scanter Mil 009 navigational radar; Furuno FR-1505 DA surface search radar; Plessey AWS-6 air search radar
  • Electronic warfare and decoys: Thales Defense Ltd Cutlass radar warning receiver; Thales Defense Scorpion radar jammer, Sea Gnat chaff and flare launchers

Monday, 16 October 2017

Baltic warships: Part 1b: The Absalon-class multi-role ships

The Absalon-class is an interesting design and has been described as a hybrid between a frigate and military transport ship. As a result it has multi-role capabilities that enable it to fulfil a variety of different functions as very short notice.

There are two ships in the class, KDM Absalon and KDM Esbern Snare.


The design's characteristics are:
  • Displacement: 4,500 tonnes light, 6,600 tonnes full load
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 137 m
    • Beam: 19.5 m
    • Draft: 6.3m
  • Propulsion: 2 × MTU 8000 M70 22,300 bhp diesel engines driving two shafts
  • Speed: 24 knots
  • Range: 9,000 nautical miles
  • Complement: 100 plus aircrew plus other personnel as required (it has accommodation for up to 300 in total)
  • Armament: 1 × 5"/62 Mk 45 mod 4 gun; 2 × Mk32 Mod 14 torpedo tubes, each with 2 × MU90 anti-submarine torpedoes; 2 × Millennium 35mm close-in weapon systems; 2 × 2 Stinger Point-defence surface-to-air missiles; 7 × 12.7mm heavy machine guns plus 5 × StanFlex modules that can typically carry 3 × 12 RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missile surface-to-air missiles in Mk 48Mod3/Mk 56 vertical-launch silos; 2 × 8 Harpoon Block II surface-to-surface missiles
  • Aircraft carried: 2 × EH-101 helicopters or MH-60R helicopters
  • Electronic systems and sensors: Thales SMART-S Mk2 3D volume search radar; Terma Scanter 2100 surface search radar; Atlas ASO 94 sonar; 4 × Saab CEROS 200 fire control radars; ES-3701 Tactical Radar Electronic Support Measures
  • Electronic warfare and decoys: 4 × 12-barrelled Terma DL-12T 130mm decoy launchers, 2 × 6-barrelled Terma DL-6T 130mm decoy launchers
  • Landing craft carried: 2 × SB90E Landing Craft (Personnel)
The design has been used as the basis for the more recently-built Iver Huitfeldt-class frigates, of which three entered service with the Royal Danish Navy in 2012 and 2013.


A modified anti-submarine version of the Iver Huitfeldt-class design was submitted for the competition to find a new frigate for the Royal Australian and Royal New Zealand Navies, but it was not successful. It is, however, still in contention for the Canadian Single Class Surface Combatant Project that will replace the Iroquois-class and Halifax-class warships in the early 2020s.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Baltic warships: Part 1a: Fredrikshavn

During the cruise Sue and I took to the Baltic earlier this year, I saw quite a large number of warships, and I having recently found the photographs I took, I thought that I would produce a series of blog entries based around them.

Whilst in Denmark I saw two Danish warships in the harbour of Fredrikshavn. They were KDM Absalon (L16) ...


... and KDM Triton (F358).


The former is an Absalon-class frigate-style command and support ship and the latter is a Thetis-class frigate.

KDM stands for Kongelige Danske Marine, which translates into English as Her or His Danish Majesty's Ship (HDMS).

Saturday, 14 October 2017

The Australian Colonial Navies: Victoria

The ships used by the colonial navy of Victoria included:

Victoria (Steam sloop):

  • 880 tons; 53 crew + 42 Naval Brigade; 7 x 32 pdr Guns (never fully armed)
  • In service from 1855 until 1882. Rearmed with 1 x 64 pdr Gun and 4 x 12 pdr Howitzers in 1878. Used as a coastal survey ship by the Victorian government from 1865 to 1869 and again from 1873 to 1878. In 1882 she was sold to become an excursion steamer. Scrapped in 1895.
Pharos (Gunboat):
  • 156 tons; 2 x 12 pdr Howitzers (only to be armed in time of war)
  • In service from 1865 until 1881. Used mainly by the Victorian government as a tender for navigation lights and as a coastal survey vessel in 1865 and again from 1869 to 1872. Sold in 1881 to become a tug. By 1895 she was a coal hulk.
Nelson (Steam line-of-battleship):

  • 4096 tons; 37 crew + 94 Naval Brigade; 2 x 7-inch MLR Guns; 20 x 64 pdr Guns; 20 x 32 pdr Guns; 6 x 12 pdr Howitzers (Boat Guns)
  • Former Royal Navy ship that had been laid down in 1807, converted to steam power in 1859 to 1860, and never commissioned. She was transferred to Victoria in 1867. The ship saw no sea service and was used as a training ship. She was cut down and re-rated as a Frigate in 1878 armed with 2 x 7-inch MLR Guns, 19 x 64 pdr Guns, and 10 x 32 pdr Guns. This armament was further reduced in 1884 to 2 x 7-inch MLR Guns, 18 x 64 pdr Guns, 12 x 32 pdr Guns, and a Gatling Machine Gun. By 1884 all the 32 pdr Guns had been removed ashore, and by 1896 her armament was 14 x 64 pdr Guns, 2 x 12 pdr BL Guns, and 2 x 9 pdr BL Guns. She was sold in 1898 and cut down again so that she could be used as a coal lighter. She sank at her moorings in 1911, was raised in 1914, and sold in 1920. She was finally scrapped in 1928.
Cerebus (Breastwork monitor):

  • 3344 tons; 82 crew + 73 Naval Brigade; 4 x 10-inch MLR Guns
  • In service from 1870 until 1925. 4 x 1-inch Nordenfelt Guns were added in 1879 and two more in `885. By 1896 her armament was 4 x 10-inch MLR Guns and 2 x 6pdr QF Guns. An additional 4 x 14 pdr QF Guns and 4 four-barrelled Nordenfelt Guns had been added to her armament by 1900. She was partially dismantled in 1909 and in 1921 she was renamed Platypus II when she became a submarine depot ship. She was sold in 1924, and scuttled to as a breakwater in 1926. Her remains are still extant.
Miner (Coastal minelayer):
  • 36.5 tons; 4 crew
  • In service from 1879 until 1904, mainly to supply fresh water to the various forts. In 1904 she was returned to the Victorian government, and was scrapped in 1924.
Albert (ex-Melbourne) (Gunboat):

  • 370 tons; 55 crew; 1 x 8-inch BLR Gun; 1 x 6-inch BLR Gun; 2 x 9 pdr BLR Guns; 2 x 3 pdr Nordenfelt Guns
  • In service from 1884 until 1895, when she was put up for sale. Passed into government service in 1897 and used as a buoy tender. Was taken in hand during the First World War for conversion into a tug, but was actually converted into a lighter and sold in 1917.
Victoria (Gunboat):

  • 530 tons; 53 crew; 1 x 10-inch BLR Gun; 2 x 13 pdr BLR Guns; 2 x 3 pdr Nordenfelt Guns
  • In service from 1884 until 1895. Rearmed in 1888, when her 102 Gun (which had proven too heavy for her work as a coastal patrol gunboat) was replaced by 1 x 8-inch Gun and 1 x 6-inch Gun. In 1895 she was sold to Western Australia for use as an unarmed survey vessel, and was used as such until she was sold again in 1902 to become a tug. She was hulked in 1920 and scrapped in 1935.
Childers (First-class torpedo boat):

  • 60.5 tons; 18 crew; 2 x 15-inch Torpedo tubes; 1 x 1 pdr Hotchkiss QF Gun
  • In service from 1883 until 1918, when she was hulked. Four sets of 14-inch Torpedo dropping gear were fitted in 1888, and one of her bow Torpedo tubes was removed after being damaged in 1905.
Nepean (Second-class torpedo boat)

  • 10 tons; 7 crew; 2 x 14-inch Torpedo tubes
  • In service from 1884 until 1912, when she was scrapped. Torpedo dropping gear was fitted in 1886 and the bow Torpedo tubes were plated over in 1888.
Lonsdale (Second-class torpedo boat)

  • 10 tons; 7 crew; 2 x 14-inch Torpedo tubes
  • In service from 1884 until 1912, when she was scrapped. Torpedo dropping gear was fitted in 1886 and the bow Torpedo tubes were plated over in 1888.
Gordon (Torpedo pinnace):
  • 12 tons; 11 crew; 2 x Torpedo dropping gear; 3 x 1-inch Nordenfelt Guns
  • In service from 1885 until 1914, when she was scrapped after sunk after a collision with Picket. By 1888 her gun armament had been reduced to 1 x 1-inch Nordenfelt Gun.
Vulcan (Coastal minelayer):
  • 125 tons; 6 crew
  • In service from 1889 until 1918, when she was sold. She was scrapped in 1935.
Picket (Picket boat):
  • 5 crew
  • In service from 1891 until 1917, mainly as a fleet water lighter and fire tender. In 1917 she was leased to the Customs Department and scrapped after 1921.
Mars (Picket boat):
  • 5 crew
  • In service from 1891 until 1947, mainly as a water transport and target tower. Sold in 1947 for conversion into a fishing vessel. She was lost in 1957.
Countess of Hopetoun (First-class torpedo boat)

  • 80 tons; 19 crew; 3 x 14-inch Torpedo tubes; 4 x Torpedo dropping gear; 3 x 1-inch Nordenfelt Guns
  • In service from 1892 until 1924.

Friday, 13 October 2017

The Australian Colonial Navies: Tasmania

The only vessel used by the colonial navy of Tasmania was:

No. 191 (Torpedo boat):

  • 10 tons; 7 crew; 1 x Spar torpedo (replaced by dropping gear for 2 x 14-inch torpedoes in 1885)
  • In service from 1884 until 1900. A Nordenfelt Gun was supplied in 1885, but it is unclear if it was fitted. Transferred to South Australia in 1900.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

The Australian Colonial Navies: South Australia

The ships used by the colonial navy of South Australia included:

Protector (Cruiser):

  • 944 tons; 84 to 105 crew; 1 x 8-inch BLR Gun; 5 x 6-inch BLR Guns; 5 x Gatling Machine Guns
  • In service from 1884 until 1924. 4 x 3 pdr Hotchkiss QF Guns fitted in 1890. Took part in the suppression of the Boxer Rising in China. Became part of the Royal Australian Navy in 1911, and converted into a Gunboat armed with 2 x 4-inch QF Guns, 2 x 3-inch QF Guns and 4 x 3pdr QF Guns. In 1921 she was converted into a training ship for controlled minelaying. Sold in 1924 to become a lighter, she was requisitioned by the US Army in 1943. She was lost as a result of a collision with a tug in 1944.
No. 191 (Torpedo boat):

  • 10 tons; 7 crew; Dropping gear for 2 x 14-inch torpedoes
  • Transferred from Tasmania in 1900. In service from 1900 until 1910 when she was removed from service. Sold in 1917.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Australian Colonial Navies: Queensland

The ships used by the colonial navy of New South Wales included:

Paluma (Gunboat):

  • 412 tons; 55 crew; 1 x 8-inch BLR Gun; 1 x 6-inch BLR Gun; 2 x 1.5-inch Nordenfelt QGF Guns; 1 x 0.45-inch five-barrelled Machine Gun; 1 x 1" four-barrelled Machine Gun
  • In service from 1884 until 1916. Rearmed between 1899 and 1901 with a 4.7-inch QF Gun aft and 2 x 5-inch QF Guns in place of the original 8-inch BLR Gun. At the same time her Nordenfelt Guns were replaced by Maxim Machine Guns. Sold in 1916 to the the Victorian government, who used her as a bout tender until she was scrapped in 1951.
Gayundah (Gunboat):

  • 412 tons; 55 crew; 1 x 8-inch BLR Gun; 1 x 6-inch BLR Gun; 2 x 1.5-inch Nordenfelt QGF Guns; 1 x 0.45-inch five-barrelled Machine Gun; 1 x 1-inch four-barrelled Machine Gun
  • In service from 1884 until 1922. Used as an unarmed survey vessel from 1884 until 1894. Rearmed between 1899 and 1901 with a 4.7-inch QF Gun aft. At the same time her Nordenfelt Guns were replaced by 2 x 12 pdr QF Guns. The 8-inch BLR Gun was removed in 1914 when her bow was built up. She was sold in 1922 and used as a barge until she was scuttled in 1958. Her remains are still visible.
Mosquito (Torpedo boat):

  • 10 tons; 7 crew; 1 x Spar torpedo (replaced by dropping gear for 2 x 14-inch torpedoes in 1884)
  • In service from 1884 until 1910.
Miner (Coastal minelayer):

  • 65 tons; 5 crew
  • In service from 1886 until 1901 when she was transferred to the government dredger fleet. Scuttled as a breakwater in 1953, and demolished in 1991.
Midge (Torpedo boat):
  • 12 tons; 2 x 1-inch two-barrelled Nordenfelt Guns; Dropping gear for 2 x 14-inch torpedoes
  • In service from 1888 until she was sold for conversion into a yacht in 1913.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The Australian Colonial Navies: New South Wales

The ships used by the colonial navy of New South Wales included:

Spitfire (Gunboat):
  • 60 tons; 14 crew; 1 x 32 pdr Gun (never fitted)
  • In service from 1855 to 1859, when she was transferred to Queensland.
Acheron (Torpedo boat):
  • 16 tons; 9 crew; 1 x Spar torpedo (replaced in 1887 by a 14-inch Schwartzkopff torpedo launcher in 1887)
  • In service from 1879 to 1902, when she was sold and used as a launch by the Quarantine Service until the 1930s.
Avernus (Torpedo boat):

  • 16 tons; 9 crew; 1 x Spar torpedo (replaced in 1887 by a 14-inch Schwartzkopff torpedo launcher in 1887)
  • In service from 1879 to 1902, when she was sold and used as a launch by the Quarantine Service until the 1930s.
Wolverine (Corvette):

  • 2,568 tons; 266 crew; 17 x 64 pdr MLR Guns; 2 x 9 pdr Guns; 1 x 7 pdr Boat Gun; 1 x Gatling Machine Gun
  • Former Royal Navy vessel that was transferred to New South Wales in 1882. Basically unseaworthy, she was used for training and never fully crewed or armed. Sold in 1893 and hulked in Aukland.
Lilian (Minelayer)
  • 195 tons; 5 crew
  • Converted from a coastal trading vessel in 1888 and transferred to government service as a tug in 1898. Sold in 1960.
Ohm (Inshore minelayer):
  • 33 tons
  • In service from 1893 until 1901, when she was deemed to be unserviceable, although she was still in government service in 1919.
Miner (Coastal minelayer):
  • 160.5 tons
  • In service from 1901 until 1918 servicing the minefield associated with Sydney Fortress. Relocated to Port Phillip Fortress in 1918, and sold in 1923 to become a tug. Lost in 1950.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Synchronicity and the Australian Navies

Occasionally a number of seemingly unrelated events come along at roughly the same time ... and turn out to be related. This is called synchronicity.

In my case, the three events were:
  • Researching and writing about the life story of Admiral Sir Lionel Halsey, who became the fourth Rear Admiral Commanding His Majesty's Australian Fleet. (He held the post from 4th September 1918 to 21st March 1919.)
  • Reading an article in the most recent issue of WARGAMER'S NOTES about how Greg Horne built a model of HMVS Albert (Note: HMVS stands for Her Majesty's Victorian Ship).
  • Reading the copy of WARSHIP that Tim Gow gave me at COW2017, and which contains an article entitled AUSTRALIAN COLONIAL NAVIES, 1855-1900.
As a result of this 'synchronicity', my thoughts turned to whether or not the separate Australian Colonial Navies* might make an interesting starting point for a small wargame fleet. I therefore gathered together the information that I had to hand, and what will follow over the next few days are the results of my brief researches.

* Following the Federation of Australia in 1901, the separate Colonial Navies were amalgamated to form the Commonwealth Naval Forces. This was granted the title of 'Royal Australian Navy' in 1911.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Ben's Portable Wargame Battle

Just over a week ago I wrote a blog entry entitled THE PORTABLE WARGAME: OTHER PEOPLE'S BATTLES. At the end of the blog entry I mentioned that I had received an email from Nic (one of my regular blog readers) to the effect that he had been trying to interest his son in wargaming, and that my rules seemed to done the trick. I subsequently sent Ben – Nic's son – a signed copy of my DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME BOOK, and today I received both a reply from Ben and a photo report of a battle he and his father recently fought.

In his email Ben wrote that 'We played with Developing The Portable Wargame book which you sent me. The rules were really good and exciting. I liked the pinning rule and the aircraft.' He also sent me some photographs of the battle. Nic explained that they had used the C S Grant scenario entitled 'Holding Force', but had set the battle in Abyssinia during the Second World War. Indian forces, supported by British and South African armour, were given the task of forcing their way along a road that was defended by Bersiligari, whilst a Gloster Gladiator and a Fiat CR.42 Falco fought overhead.

The scenario.
The terrain and the opposing forces.
The Allies.
The Italians.
The Italians in defence.
The air war!
Here come the Indians!
The Allies advance.
The Allied armour leads the advance.
The Light Tanks screen the advance from a potential Italian attack.
The outcome of the battle is presently unknown, but it was very pleasing to see a youngster getting the taste for wargaming, and hopefully he will develop into a fully fledged member of the hobby in due course.

The photographs featured in this blog entry are © niclobb.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

The Second Book of Wargaming by F E Perry

After the recent interest generated by LEIPZIG ON THE LAWN wargame and the BLACK HAT MINIATURES Army Packs offer in wargaming with 54mm figures, I decided to look for my copies of THE FIRST BOOK OF WARGAMING and THE SECOND BOOK OF WARGAMING by F E Perry. Despite an extensive search, I could find neither, and I have come to the conclusion that I must have lent them to someone who has not returned them.

I looked for both on eBay, and found a copy of THE SECOND BOOK OF WARGAMING on sale at a not too ridiculous price ... so I bought it. It was delivered yesterday, and I managed to spend an enjoyable hour or so reading through it.


The book has six chapters entitled:
  1. Crossing a river
  2. Gas Warfare
  3. Night Fighting and Trench Warfare
  4. Support Services
  5. Seaborne Invasion
  6. The Island defences
Reading this book has convinced me that I really must try to get hold of a replacement copy of THE FIRST BOOK OF WARGAMING ... but only once I have found one at a price that I can justify paying!

THE SECOND BOOK OF WARGAMING was written by F E Perry and published by Model and Allied Publications (Argus Books Limited) in 1978 (ISBN 0 85242 601 1) for the princely sum of £1.75!

Friday, 6 October 2017

My latest book sales figures are in ... and my Portable Wargame books are still selling quite well!

The latest sales figures for my books have just arrived ... and it is encouraging to see that my two PORTABLE WARGAME books continue to sell quite well.


To date THE PORTABLE WARGAME has sold 904 copies in its various formats ...


... and DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME has sold 328 copies.


Even WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! continues to sell, with 10 more copies selling during the past month.

All this is encouraging me to crack on with work on my next book (or books), especially my heavily revised Spanish Civil War source book. The latter has been on the back-burner for the past few weeks whilst I finished writing the talk I will be delivering later today to the Hertfordshire research lodge, the Veritatem Sequere Lodge. In fact the research done for the talk might even be the basis for a short book ... but that is something for me to think about before I start writing it!

The War Game ... edited by Peter Young

A recent comment that the terrain created by the late Peter Gilder for the film CALLAN was also photographed and used in the book edited by Peter Young and entitled THE WAR GAME made me look out my copy of the book ... and reminded me how much it had inspired me when I first saw a copy.


The book was divided into ten chapters (each of which covered a major battle and was written by a different author) and two appendices:
  • THERMOPYLAE BC480 by Charles Grant
  • AGINCOURT 1415 by Philip Warner
  • EDGEHILL 1642 by Peter Young
  • BLENHEIM 1704 by David Chandler
  • LOBOSITZ 1756 by Charles Grant
  • SARATOGA 1777 by Aram Bakshian Jr
  • AUSTERLITZ 1805 by David Chandler
  • WATERLOO 1815 by James Lawford
  • GETTYSBURG 1863 by Clifford C Johnson

  • EL ALAMEIN 1942 by Donald Featherstone

  • Appendix 1: The Principles of War Gaming
  • Appendix 2: Model Soldier Suppliers

THE WAR GAME was edited by Brigadier Peter Young and illustrated with photographs taken by Philip O Stearns. It was published by Cassell & Company Ltd in 1972 (ISBN 0 304 29074 2).

In the acknowledgements at the back of the book it states that the figures came from the collections of David Chandler, Peter Gilder, Charles Grant, Lieutenant Commander John Sandars, Ed Smith, John Tunstill, and Brigadier Peter Young, and that the terrain was specially made for the book by Hinchliffe Models of Huddersfield.