Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Home Brewed Pre-Dreadnoughts

Pre-dreadnoughts painted British style.
 I've been following a few blogs where homemade wargaming minis feature particularly "Wooden Warriors", and I was also looking at the yahoo group, "wargaming on a budget" this morning and it reminded me of a little project I started a year ago that was my shot a wargaming on the cheap.
 These pre-dreadnoughts are made of precut wooden shapes that can be had by the bag at typical craft outlets here in the states such as Michael's or AC Moore. I make the turrets from discs cut out of craft foam sheet using a paper hole punch. guns are from the ends of round toothpicks or in some case the ends of decorative toothpicks. The hole punch also works for punching thin sheet styrene. Sections of toothpick, styrene tube rod, and a wee bit of brass wire and you're all set.

The hulls are built-up using a stack of two or three of the same size shape with each layer shifted just a bit to give the impression of a pre-dreadnought bow of the period.
The German-ish fleet
The ships are stylized and a bit cartoonish, but the overall effect is belligerent in a 19th century "big stick" sort of way and to my eye pretty convincing. I've been trying to work up some rules that would not involve record keeping (...to me the toxic part of naval gaming...as well as spaceship gaming for that matter...) Just a few hit markers or such. Perhaps a system a bit like the old SPI Dreadnought game. I was also thinking these might work on a gridded field using a more abstract movement system of some sort.

I just used British and German color schemes from the late 19th century to give everything the right feel visually.
One thing that makes this project go quickly is having a "Chopper" from Northwest Short Line. It's perfect when you need a bunch of wood cut to the same length (perfect for those toothpick gun barrels).
The "Chopper"


Peter Douglas said...


Nice little fleets. You are not alone on the web - check out the blogs
(for the 2nd look for Memories of Battle at Sea)

I'd say that you'll be happily lost for a while.


Jim Duncan said...

An excellent approach to the period and style.

Compare with my constructions!



Jim Duncan said...

An excellent approach to the period and style.

Compare with my constructions!



Bluebear Jeff said...

I think that your ships look great, sir.

Also my wife commented that your water looked very good.

-- Jeff

littlejohn said...

@Peter thanks for the cool links! I had not realized that Bob had a set of naval rules out.

@Jim, wow your ships are fantastic. I tried to comment there but for some reason blogger won't let me sign in on some blogs...

@Jeff, me'thanks to your missus...the pics make the water look better than it is...just a felt square. I should get some more and really make a table of it.

Fitz-Badger said...

I'm not into the period/genre, but I really like the look of these. Very nice work!

Steven Page said...

Let me second the recommendation of Bob Cordery's "Memoir of Battle at Sea". The only record keeping needed is a dice to keep up with the number of hits on your vessel.

Your ships look great. I am very impressed with the fine paintwork. The German ships look especially sharp.

I invite you to visit my "Old Admirals" site. Please feel free to leave any comments and ideas.

Robert (Bob) Cordery said...

I love the 'look' of your model ships. Simple, clean, and obviously what they are intended to represent without being exact replicas.

To me they are ideal models for wargaming the period ... and they have given me some ideas of my own!

All the best,


PS. The cutter sounds like an excellent bit of kit. All I need to do now is to find someone in the UK who has them on sale.

Archduke Piccolo said...

Oh, these are just fantastic! Great designs, and just the thing for the romantic era of steam naval warfare.

Corporal_Trim said...

Those are excellent, Littlejohn. Simple, but effectively capturing capturing the period style.


A J said...

I admire your blog, so I'm nominating you for the Leibster Award. =)


Rory Crabb said...

Just found this blog while searching for pre-dreadnoughts on Google!

Liking your ship models. I've been building my own pre-dreadnought models recently, a few pics are on my blog. Mine also don't follow any specific design. They are more built to capture the style f the period.

I've also been working on a set of pre-dreadnought rules, however they do need a bit of record keeping so may not be to your taste.