Saturday, September 01, 2007

Adding to War at Sea in a BIG way!

One obvious short coming of the Axis and Allies - War at Sea game is the limited range of ships within it. There are 64 models in the set, but that covers seven forces and includes aircraft, auxiliaries and submarines. Some nations fair well - unsurprisingly the USA and Japan, given the American heritage of the game. But others, particularly the minor powers, get only a handful of ships. This can lead to inflexible, or unhistorical play. Something I rapidly wanted to expand upon.

As I've already shown on this blog, I've added a handful of smaller boats to my own collection; putting my modelling skills to use. But now I wanted to go up a level!

My intention was to make a Cavour class battle ship; I've plumped for these as they were a good size but not as big as the Vittorio Veneto, and because they're Italian (obviously), my favourite underdog from WW2. I researched the details of the ship off the web, from several sources (the link left as well as Regia and Wikipedia), and with the aid of a calculator and ruler scaled down some plans. Once ready, I laid down the hull:

You can see the Bolzano in the background for scale. The Cesare is 10.35cm (4 inches) long. This part took about 10 minutes to measure out the parts and assemble them, 5 more for sanding down the hull.

Stage two, the initial positions for the turret casemates and the supports for the conning tower, along with the funnels:

The funnels are plastic kit sprue, it had the right thickness and approached the profile needed. Therefore minimising shaping work. A good modeller never throws plastic or metal parts away!

Stage three, more details on the conning tower, and disks to support the AA guns are placed:

Stage four; and it's starting to look like a real ship now:

The 6 inch secondary armament is added, the black gun barrels are plastic yard brush bristles (a favourite material of mine, so versatile!). They are superglued in place. the only use of superglue on the model, all the rest is plastic cemented. The rear mast array is added too.

And so it was time to finish her off with the last major details. It seemed logical to do the main guns last; as the turrets were larger I was able to use a hand vice (a tiny drill) to locate the barrels in the turrets. Whilst at it I added the forward mast. AA guns are too small for barrels I feel here, so I just added the shielding.

small details like the anchor points were added too, using plastic card 10 thousandths of an inch (0.3mm) thick.

Virtually the last addition was a canvas covering that seems to always appear in photo's of her fore of the rear mast, over the life boats. That was pretty much that.

The Bolzano returns for scale. At a leisurely pace I think I spent 3 hours on and off working on her. Next was a stat card, for which I pulled some photoshop magic:

Finally, the painted ship. As ever the Cesare is in front of the Bolzano. Ive painted her in a full dazzle pattern camouflage scheme which was begun some time in 1941, and finished in 1942.

The Giulio Cesare had a long and varied career, trading shots with HMS Warspite, and operating actively until fuel shortages consigned her to port in 1942. After the war she was given to Russia as reparations and was eventually destroyed by an explosion in suspicious circumstances in 1955.

Of course, she has yet to sail on my table in anger, but with the addition of this lady of the Mediterranean, and some tiny CR42 Falco fighters, I can now field a 200 point Italian fleet, more than enough to stand against the Royal Navy!

The second set of ships for War at Sea is supposedly due to appear in mid 2008, a long way of, and will only include 30 new models. I for one doubt the Cesare will be amongst the new sculpts, and certainly can't wait that long to expand the game.

Next stop, my home town...


  1. I'm very impressed. I've never done any modern naval, just SYW sailing ships, but this is impressive.

    I think that if I were to get into naval actions that the "pre-dreadnaught" era would be what would draw me . . . but your ships are very nice.

    -- Jeff