Friday, 9 September 2016

Gunboat for Aboukir - Preparing our 2017 Tactica game...

Since our bloggosphere fellow Miles presented some lasercut kits from Laserdreamworks during the last painting challenge, I've been strolling around the 28mm ships Matthew Green and his team are offering. Lately my friend Bernhard and me were pondering about our Tactica 2017 game and I got roped into preparing some more boats too easily. Our game will address the British landing at Aboukir in 1801 and of course we'd like to have more than the two rowing boats we brought to Hamburg last year. However that brought me back to Laserdreamworks and made their kits even more seducing. Well... 'Landing at Aboukir' implies that we'll not likely present whole Neptun's ocean but a piece of the shallow Aboukir bay and a piece of its sandy coastline of course. So the larger ships dropped out and I went for one of those rather small gunboats.

The kit is based on an improved design by Commisioner Hamilton from 1806 or 1808 but it's well reported that the British employed larger ships than rowing boats at Aboukir before. Unfortunately I'm not au fait enough with naval history to explain the different types of tenders Royal Navy ships carried along during the Age of Sail but as far as I know from different pictures a launch of this gunboats size seems plausible.

The kit itself comes with a couple of laser cut plywood sheets, metal cast guns, wooden mastes and a small booklet with instructions. After all the pieces are cleanly and precisely cut. The wood looks very solid and durable and it's really easy to find the correct parts and to follow the assembly instructions. Nevertheless it becomes obvious rather quickly that this kit will produce a gaming pieces rather than a scale model. Don't get me wrong I'm absolutely fine with that since I didn't expect nothing more. The size of the models by Laserdreamworks which seems to be somewhere between 1/50 and 1/60 makes them stand out. They appear to by really big enough to represent accurate boats or ships and compared to those smallish 1/72 or even 1/100 ships we often see on 28mm tables they are in my humble opinion an excellent choice. Additionally they are rather robust which is likewise important for us gamers. Anyway the production process and the price don't allow to deliver serious model kits.

Firstly I discovered that at the ship's deck. I know I wanted to paint it by a simple drybrushing technique but was afraid that the planks might not by engraved deep enough for that so I took a steele ruler and a kind of graver tool to deepen the joints. Afterwards I assembled the hull wich is composed of six layers of wood.

After having the hull dry for about 24 hours I started to paint it. To begin with I gave it a thin undercoat of Armypainter spray paint. Remembering that wood tends to soak paint like crazy I thought that might get most pores closed. And luckily it worked. Then I employed my trusty collection of Vallejo Model Colors and painted the boat in a white / beige / black colour sheme.
To be honest I'm not sure whether or not the Royal Navy used this colour sheme at Aboukir but at least for a amatuer like me it looks credible. And it was used on boats of the 1808 type since I found an example of it in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.
The hull clearly bears the typical stepped structur of laser cut kits. I don't mind that since it's a feature determined by its design but undoubtlesly it doesn't look realistic at all.

The smaller rowing boat is one by Britannia Miniatures. It's able to take a crew of ten rowing sailors, five seated marines, four men gun crew and two men for the rear bench seat. In comparison the gun boat would be able to harbour no less than 22 oarsmen and several further members of the crew. However I'll most probably leave it at eight rowers and a couple of crewmen for the guns and other duties. We'll see...

That's it for now with the hull. Although the rowing benches need to be added I'll turn my attention to the superstructure of the boat. Actually it's only a small cabin with a door and a shutter. To give the model more detail I'll add some new planks to the walls and make new doors and shutters from thin balsa wood. Maybe I'll add small hinges from ship modelmaking if I find some suitable pieces. Not working of course but for a nice detailed look.
By the way I stumpled over some pictures of signal boats used at Aboukir to guide the boats coming towards the coast. They seem to be average rowing boats with coloured flags on short masts. If anyone of you is able to provide more detailed information or - most desirable - better pictures please let me know. I'd really appreciate to get a better idea of those boats to ponder whether I could extemporise one for our presentation game...


  1. Lovely little kit and a great idea for a Convention game!

  2. "The hull clearly bears the typical stepped structur of laser cut kits."
    I'm wondering if a little judicious sanding of the raised edges or some careful shading might help alleviate that to an extent?

  3. Stuff of legends already! Can't wait to see it at Crisis in 2017 ;-)

  4. Very nich start. I had a look at their kits to before I decided to scratch build My Gunyawl.

  5. I'm really looking forward to the finished boat!

  6. VERY nice mate - I like the stepped look actually, very much brings out the real world plank construction of the boats, just over emphasised

    Looking forward to seeing her come to life!

  7. Many thanks for your kind comments, mates.

  8. Great modelling skills Stefan. I look forward to seeing pictures of your game as you, Bernhard and friends set a high standard with your games at shows/conventions.