Saturday, 26 September 2020

All at Sea - Gunboat War

The Danish Gunboat War was the reaction to two British attacks to neutralise the threat from the Danish fleet against British access to the Baltic.

Gunboats played a major if secondary role during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, making up a significant force of inshore fighting capability for most of the navies involved in the conflict, patrolling the entrance to harbours and guarding booms, to forming massed squadrons designed to take the fighting to much larger vessels, bringing to bear their combination of a few mounted heavy cannon, small target size, shallow to deep water operating abilities and greater manoeuvrability to mass against and overcome much larger opponents, especially in weather that complimented their mass tactics such as calm winds and fog to allow them to close in for a final boarding attack. 
The Warlord Games gunboats, before and after together with the tools required to remove the textured base

With the addition of my sloops to my brig-sloops, I had intended at some stage to add some gunboats to my collection to allow for these mosquito-fleet actions, but was sadly disappointed with the offering from Warlord Games that saw their perfectly serviceable models somewhat spoilt by their moulding onto a rather clunky textured base and in groups of three, which did not suit the way I have decided to mount my ships on clear acrylic pill bases from Fluid 3D - see the side bar links if you are interested in them.

Model of the AWI American gunboat, Philadelphia in the National Navy Museum, looking like the model that the Warlord gunboats are based upon with a heavy forward mounted cannon and two smaller weapons mounted on the bulwarks.

Modifying these model boats like the sloops and the 64-gun/80gun mods made to the generic third rates has been a job put on the backburner while focus remained on building the core collection, but with a few hours to spare in between painting the 64's and 80's I decided to sit down and work the plan I had for adapting these resin models.

Gunboats come in all shapes and sizes and it seems that Warlord have based their model on the Philadelphia, a Great Lakes gunboat from the American War of Independence, square rigged and mounting three cannon.

There are however other examples of lateen and fore and aft rigged options as seen in the attached illustrations and I intend to add a few of the offerings from the German manufacturer Hagen Miniatures to add some variation, plus they also produce some other useful kits that may come in handy.

British Gunboat - National Maritime Museum.
The British built large numbers of gunboats to support their defences against threatened invasion

The removal of the base on these models is perfectly feasible if somewhat delicate, but the resin is such that it is readily cut with clippers and Stanley Knife to be finished off with the modelling saw and file, repairing any dinks to the hull with Milliput and filler.

The final hull is quite easily drilled with a micro-bit using the hand drill and allowing holes to be placed to take the standing and running rigging and with some 40mm x 20mm x 2mm acrylic bases on order from Fluid 3D I hope to be able to show you my planned finished models, individually based.

French Gunboat - National Maritime Museum

I did have the odd accident were a clipped piece of the base caused the eventual crack to sheer off parts of some of my hulls but the pieces went back together easily with super glue and all nine boats of the three bases I worked with were perfect at the end of the cutting process.

The other tricky part is removing the thick section of base under the boat itself and this is where the saw is a vital part of the tool kit and I wore a face mask to prevent any resin dust causing issues.

I would definitely recommend doing this with a hand saw rather than a Dremel electric type, as the cut needs to be watched so you can get a nicely flat waterline bottom to the model and an electric, I think, will cut too quickly and thus cause mistakes even quicker.

Off course Milliput can recover a lot of issues and comes in very handy for a job like this.

Once I have the paint job completed on these models I will get them rigged and show you the end result.

I had intended to post on our walk to the Dartmouth Gun Battery, but this little exercise in scratch building was rather impromptu so I will save my walk to the next post.

More anon 

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