Friday, April 27, 2012

Just frigate about it.

...In which our protagonist shows off the miniscule Dutch 30-gun ship.

It's small. Tiny, even. And... bright blue?

I'm not particularly thrilled with the way this one turned out, mainly because of the colour. True, in the baroque days of the 17th century gaudiness was cool, so it's perfectly plausible that a warship would've been decked out in bright blue and red (that, after all, was my rationale for painting this thing the way I did). On the other hand, it isn't as if there were drive-thru wash-and-wax stations to keep these things sparkling, and one would tend to think all the salt spray and sun would make expensive blue an unsuitable candidate for the broadside of a Dutch frigate. Not to mention the fact that every time I look at this thing I'm invariably reminded of Thomas the Tank Engine. It just needs a big smile on the front.

Actually I based my paint scheme on Ludolf Backhuysen's painting of the frigate De Ploeg. No, the ship in the painting doesn't have a bright blue stripe-- in fact, it's probably just varnished wood and not paint at all on the side of that thing. It does have a faint blueish sheen to it, however, which got me thinking how a good dark blue upperworks would look... Needless to say, things didn't quite work out the way I expected! A dark blue wash did nothing to dim my bright blue undercoat, and attempts to use blue ink as a quick fix only threatened to ruin the rest of my paintwork. in the end, being too stubborn to simply start fresh, I just blundered through to the end, and now simply try to avoid showing this thing to people unless I have to (until now, that is).

Anyway, like it or not, this is Langton Miniatures' AD17: Dutch 30 gun. Despite possessing only 2/3 the armament of the 46-gun Stad Gouda, the two models are virtually identical in size, and may well have been based off the same master. In my own defense, another reason for the jarring paint scheme was the need to be able to differentiate between ships at a glance (and admittedly, it is good for this). The small size means a) it's less impressive than the bigger models, and b) it's a real female dog to rig. And since it costs the same as all the bigger, more spectacular, and easier to work with ships, I can only recommend it to people who desperately want one for gaming purposes.
The beautiful stern art of a plowman on the frigate Der Ploeg is pretty much indistinguishable at 1:1200!

So why would you want one, I hear you ask? The 30-gun ship does have its uses. In the First Anglo-Dutch War (1652-54), the Dutch had few purpose-built warships, so small frigates and converted merchantmen of this class would have been frequently pressed into the battleline. Even in the later wars, secondary theatres, particularly the Mediterranean, were often contested by squadrons made up of smaller war vessels. This 30-gun ship could also double as a small Indiaman, strong enough to go toe to toe with anything in Asian waters.

Next time: a better looking ship. Or maybe something else; I'll have to sort through my pictures to see what I can do.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Gouda and the Bad-a

...In which our protagonist finally gets off his lazy butt (or is that 'sits on his lazy butt'?) and writes another blog post. Yes, it's another 17th century ship from Langton Miniatures.

Dare I mention that it's been a while since my last post? Yes, yes I dare. I have no real excuse for the long interim, other than my aforementioned laziness. I've had the time, but lacked the volition... and now I'm several months behind in my blogging. Such is the price of procrastination, I guess.

The good news is, I've got all sorts of stuff to show off-- yes, more ships, but also plenty of not-ship stuff. The bad news is that my computer is quite obviously nearing the end of its life, and I'm not real keen to replace it. I've got so many internet-capable phones and ipods and e-readers that I can no longer justify a computer as a necessity... so I figure one last farewell-to-the-old-laptop blitz in a futile effort to get back up to speed is warranted (smart money says it's not going to be much of a blitz, by the way). So here goes.

Anyway, today we've got the Stad Gouda, a ship named after the fabled land of cheese wheels. Yes, those beautiful, mild, wonderful-melted-over-garlic-toast gouda cheese wheels... which is to say somewhere in southern Holland. You might reasonably expect a ship named after gouda to be somewhat rotund, perhaps covered with a protective waxy rind. Rather disappointingly, the vessel is, in fact, pretty representative of Dutch warship construction of the 1650s. Of course 'representative' is pretty useful if you're trying to build a fleet for wargaming.

There isn't much else to say about the historical ship, if only because I haven't been able to learn anything! The model is presumably based on one of the ubiquitous van de Velde drawings, depicting a ship of 46 or 50 guns, built in 1656. 46-gunners only seem to have been built for the Amsterdam admiralty; 50 gun vessels, on the other hand, were found in all six Dutch Admiralties. Taken together, this class of warship would have been the most numerous in the United Provinces' battlefleet, although larger vessels seem to have borne the brunt of the fighting.

The model itself is generic, meaning that unlike the rest of the named ships in Langton's Anglo-Dutch range, Stad Gouda has a blank taffrail. This gives the modeler the option of greater variety, but at the cost of being somewhat more difficult to paint. Trying to duplicate the painting that graced the historical Stad Gouda actually proved impossible-- showing the Gouda skyline in an area about a quarter of the size of my pinky fingernail is beyond even my talents. Instead, I decided to stick a moon on the taffrail and turn this ship into De Halve Maan, or, in English, The Half Moon. This was a popular name for Dutch ships, and while the most famous of these is undoubtedly the fluyt that carried colonists to the Nieuw Amsterdam/New York settlement, the actual vessel I had in mind was a 40-gun warship that served as the flagship of Cornelis Tromp at the Battle of Leghorn in the First Anglo-Dutch War.

Also worth a mention is the size (or lack thereof) of this particular model. The masts are so close together that rigging it proved quite the pain in the behind. For those used to doing the ships of Nelson's day in 1/1200, Stad Gouda is about the size of a 24-gun frigate of the Napoleonic era-- small indeed! For those who have never tried anything in this scale... well, suffice to say you can't even imagine.
Look, ma! No captions! Except for this one...

Next time: another ship. Gotta get through the backlog!