Tuesday, 25 July 2017

An 'intermittent' fault can be so frustrating!

Over the weekend we have had what our ISP describes as an 'intermittent' fault on our Internet connection. By 'intermittent' one might think that the loss of access is only happening occasionally and for a short time. They truth is that we have lost access for hours on end, and often when we have been in the middle of doing something online.

As you can imagine, this has been more than a little irritating, and has meant that I have had work with a cobbled together connection using my mobile phone, Bluetooth, and my iPad. This has allowed me to read emails and surf the net, but not to do much else.

In my frustration I finally started work on re-writing LA ULTIMA CRUZADA, and so far progress has been quite good. I have decided to restructure the content so that it is more thematic (i.e. the chapter on the Spanish Army in 1936 will be followed by chapters on the Republican and Nationalist Armies from 1936 to 1939 ... and then I'll cover the Spanish Navy and Spanish Air Force in the same way). I also intend to add relevant illustrations wherever possible.

This looks as if it is going to be a much longer project than I expected, and is one that I will dip into every so often when the mode takes me.

Monday, 24 July 2017

I have been to ... the Model Ship Collection at the Tallinn Maritime Museum: Part 1: Sailing Ships

The Tallinn Maritime Museum has a very large collection of ship models that represent the many and varied types of vessels that have been built, owned, and/or sailed by Estonians. In order to to justice to this collection, I intend to write a number of themed blog entries that cover the types of ships whose models are included in the collection.

Barquentine Estonia

Barquentine Tormilind

Schooner Delphin

Barque Rock City

Lightship Neckmangrund

Barquentine Andreas Veide

Barquentine Georg

Lightship Revalstein

Motor Sailing Ship Jaen Tear

Barque Krusenstern

Sealer Kihnu

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Military images in the Fabergé Museum, St Petersburg

During our recent visit to the Fabergé Museum in the former Shuvalov Palace, St Petersburg, I happened to notice a large number of military images on the walls of the Knight's Room. They were not captioned, but seemed to illustrate various units of the nineteenth and early twentieth century Imperial Russian Armed Forces.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Battle for Moscow: Panfilov's 28

I recently bough a copy of a DVD of BATTLE FOR MOSCOW: PANFILOV'S 28, and have just managed to watch it.

After the initial scenes, during which the numerous characters are introduced to the audience, the film depicts a series of attacks by German Infantry and Tanks on a Rifle Company of 316th Rifle Division. The latter was commanded by General Panfilov, and the film purports to tell the story of the heroic defence conducted by the company during the German offensive to capture Moscow in November 1941.

There is some doubt as to whether or not the original story is totally true or whether it might have been a propaganda version designed to bolster Russian morale at a very difficult time. Regardless of that, the film seems to portray the fighting that the 316th Rifle Division took part in very realistically, and shows why the unit was renamed 8th Guards Rifle Division.

Two things to note:
  • Firstly that very few of the special effects were done using CGI. Most were done using models ... and in my opinion everything looks more realistic because of it.
  • Secondly that this film was crowd-funded in the earlier stages of development and production, although it did receive state support later on.
I bought my copy of this DVD for £3.00 ... and felt that it was very good value at the price. It certainly entertained me for two hours and revived my interest in starting an Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project at some time in the future.

Friday, 21 July 2017

I have been to ... the Model Ship Collection at the Kiel Naval Museum

The Kiel Naval Museum forms part of the Kiel Naval Monument complex, and is housed in a building that curves around one end of the monument's courtyard. It contains a magnificent collection of ship models that tell the story of the German Navy.


SMS Luise
A wooden steam-powered corvette, SMS Luise was one of three ships that formed the Ariadne-class. It was scrapped in 1897.

Bauer Submarine
Wilhelm Bauer built his Brandtaucher (Incendiary Diver) submarine in 1850, and it was demonstrated to the German military on 1st February 1851. It sank in Kiel Harbour, but after six hours Bauer and his volunteer crew managed to escape. The wreck was raised in 1887, and is on display in Dresedn.

SMS Konig Wilhelm
SMS Konig Wilhelm was a steam-powered armoured frigate that was built in the late 1860s by Thames Ironworks for the Prussian Navy. It served as the flagship of the newly formed Imperial German Navy. It was converted into an armoured cruiser in 1895/96 and was withdrawn from service in 1904. She then served as a training ship and barracks until 1921, when she was sold for scrapping.

Originally named S16, she was one of the sixty S 7-class coastal torpedo boats built for the Imperial German Navy. She was renamed in 1910, but scrapped before the outbreak of the First World War.

SMS Scharnhorst
SMS Scharnhorst and her sister-ship SMS Gneisenau were large armoured cruisers. They were built between 1905 and 1907, and during the early part of the First World War they formed part of the Imperial German Navy's East East Squadron. After inflicting a decisive victory over a British squadron off Coronel in South America they were sunk in the subsequent Battle of the Falkland Islands in December 1914.

SMS Emden
SMS Emden was a light cruiser of the two-ship Dresden-class. She was built between 1906 and 1909, and was a member of the Imperial German Navy's East East Squadron when the First World War broke out. After a successful career as a raider, she was caught by HMAS Sydney off the Cocos Island and so badly damaged that she had to be driven ashore to prevent her from sinking.

M125 was an M57-class minesweeper. She was built in 1916/17 and after serving in the Imperial German Navy, she was scrapped in 1921.

U-53 was one of the six Type U-51 U-boats built for the Imperial German Navy. She was built at Kiel and launched in 1916.During her career she is reputed to have sunk eighty seven merchant ships and one warship, and damaged a further ten merchant ships. After the end of the First World War she was handed over to the British, who scrapped her in 1922.

The V116 was a large destroyer that was built towards the end of the First World War for the Imperial German Navy. After the war she was handed over to the Royal Italian Navy, who renamed and commissioned her as Premuda. She was scrapped in 1939.

SMS Friedrich Der Grosse
SMS Friedrich Der Grosse was the second of the Kaiser-class dreadnoughts to enter service with the Imperial German Navy. She served as the Fleet Flagship from 1911 until 1917, and was Admiral Reinhard Scheer's flagship at the Battle of Jutland. She was interned in Scapa Flow after the Armistice, and scuttled there on 21st June, 1919. Her wreck was subsequently raised and scrapped in the latter years of the 1930s.


KMS Tiger
KMS Tiger was one of six Type 24-class torpedo boat built for the Reichsmarine after the First World War. She was launched in 1928 and sank as a result of a collision with the destroyer Z3 Max Schultz on 25th September 1939.

Z25 was a Type 1936A-class destroyer built for the Kriegsmarine during the late 1930s. She was launched and completed in 1940, and survived the conflict. She was handed over to the French Navy, who renamed her Hoche and recommissioned her. She served in the French Navy until 1958, when she was withdrawn from active service, renamed Q102, and subsequently scrapped.

The M401 was a Type M261-class minesweeper. She was built in the Netherlands in 1942, and after an active career in the Kriegsmarine, she was handed over to the Soviet Navy at the end of the war. She was renamed T-706 of the T701-class, and was in service in the Soviet Navy's Black Sea Fleet until 1959.

S29 was one of four S26-class motor torpedo boats operated by the Kreigsmarine. She was sunk HMS Blencathra, HMS Windsor, MGB321, and MGB333 in the English Channel on 29th March 1943.

U-997 was a Type VIIC/41 U-boat built in 1942/43 for the Kriegsmarine. She took part in seven wartime patrols and sank two ships (one merchant ship and one warship) as well as damaging a merchant ship. She surrendered to the Allies at the end of the war and was scuttled in the North Atlantic as part of Operation Deadlight.

U-2540 is a Type XXI U-boat that was completed shortly before the end of World War II. It never took part in a wartime patrol and was scuttled at the end of the Second World War to prevent her falling into Allied hands. She was raised in 1957 and recommissioned in the West German Bundesmarine in 1960 with the name Wilhelm Bauer. She was decommissioned in 1980 and is now a museum ship at Seebeck.

KMS Bismarck
KMS Bismarck and her sister-ship KMS Tirpitz were the two largest battleships built for the Kriegsmarine. Neither survived the war, Bismarck having been sunk by the Royal Navy after an epic chase in the North Atlantic, and the Tirpitz having been sunk by Lancaster bombers of the RAF after numerous earlier attempts that involved the use of human torpedoes, X-craft submarines, and attacks by bombers from aircraft carriers.


Pegasus was a Type 341 or Schütze-class inshore minesweeper. She served in the Bundesmarine from 1962 until 1974.

Jaguar was one of twenty Type 140 Jaguar-class fast attack craft that were built in the late 1950s and operated by the Bundesmarine until the mid 1970s, at which point many were sold, some of them going into service with the Turkish Navy.

The United States loaned six former Fletcher-class to the Bundesmarine when the West German Federal Government was reconstituting a regular German Navy. They were later either transferred to the Greek Navy or scrapped.

Emden was one of six F120 Köln-class frigates commissioned into the Bundesmarine between 1958 and 1962. The Emden was decommissioned in 1983 and sold to the Turkish Navy, along with three of her sister-ships. As the Turkish D361 Gemlik, she was destroyed by fire.

Hessen was one of four Type 101 Hamburg-class destroyers built for the Bundesmarine in the 1960s. They were nicknamed Hochhäuser (tower blocks) because of their top-heavy appearance, which in conjunction with their low freeboard did nothing to enhance their sea-keeping qualities. They were all decommissioned in the early 1990s.

The design of the Type 103 Lütjens-class destroyers was a modified version of the US Charles F. Adams-class guided missile destroyers. The three ships in the class were built in the United States in the later 1960s, and served in the Bundesmarine until the early part of the twenty first century. Two of them have now been scrapped but Mölders is now a museum ship in the Marinearsenal, Wilhelmshaven.

After German reunification a number of former East German Navy ships were incorporated into the new Deutschemarine. Amongst these were the sixteen Parchim-class corvettes. In 1992 they were sold to the Indonesian Navy, who continue to operate fourteen of the class.

Bremen was one of eight F122 Bremen-class frigates commissioned into the Bundesmarine between 1982 and 1990. The design was based on the similar Dutch Kortenaer-class frigates and their primary role was anti-submarine warfare. The Bremen was decommissioned in 2014.

The Cuxhaven is one of sixteen Type 320 Lindau-class minehunters built in the late 1950s. Some are still in service with the Deutschemarine, but most have been sold to other navies or out of military service. Cuxhaven was sold to the Estonian Navy in 2000 and renamed Wambola.

Hameln was the leadship of the Type 343 Hameln-class minesweepers that were built in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Five (one of which was the Hameln) were later rebuilt to become the Type 352 Ensdorf-class of minesweepers. Hameln was decommissioned in 2014.


Wilhelm Gustloff
Wilhelm Gustloff was built in 1937 to serve as a cruise ship for the Nazi Kraft durch Freude (Strength Through Joy) organisation. When the Second World War broke out she was requisitioned by the Kriegsmarine and served as a hospital ship from late 1939 until 1940. She was then used as a floating barracks for naval personnel in Gotenhafen (modern-day Gdynia) until 1945, when she was used to transport German civilian evacuees and military personnel escaping from East Prussia.

She was sunk not far from Gotenhafen by the Soviet Navy submarine S-13 on 30th January 1945. It is estimated that over 9,000 people died (some estimates are even higher), which would make it the largest historical single loss of life as a result of a ship sinking.

Berlin was built in 1925 for the North German Lloyd Line's Bremen – Southampton – Cherbourg – New York City service. In 1939 she was chartered by Berlin was chartered by Kraft durch Freude (Strength Through Joy) organisation for use as a cruise ship, but when the Second World War broke out she was requisitioned by the Kriegsmarine for service as a hospital ship

Like the Wilhelm Gustloff, Berlin was used to evacuate German civilians and military personnel who were escaping from East Prussia. On 31st January 1945 she hit a mine off Swinemünde, and was towed towards Kiel. En-route she hit a second mine and was beached in shallow waters to avoid her sinking. No attempt was made to salvage her, and the she lay there abandoned until she was refloated by the Soviets in 1949.

Berlin was rebuilt and renamed Admiral Nakhimov. She was then used as a cruise ship in the Black Sea as well as to transport soldier to Cuba during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

At 11.12pm on 31st August 1986, Admiral Nakhimov was in collision with the bulk carrier Pyotr Vasev some 8 miles from the port of Novorossiysk and 2 miles from the shore. She sank in less than eight minutes, and there was no time to conduct a proper evacuation of the ship. As a result, of the 1,234 people on board, the 423 died (359 passengers and 64 crew).