One component of my collection that hasn't gotten any time on the blog as yet is my 1:1200 Napoleonic sailing ships. James and Mark in Australia have been posting their adventures at sea, trying out rules for the Age of Sail, and my opponent at Ellis Con, Andy, was talking about the Close Action rules. That made me haul out my ships and decide that I need to use them for a game some time in 2015!I am going to start with my French fleet today. For the way they got gobbled up by their British opposition, they might perhaps be termed the Fruits de Mer!
First up are 2 small ships - sloops/Brigs or what have you. The designs for the flags ensigns, and pennons come from a great article in the old Courier more than 20 years ago.
The 20 gun Senarmont is in the lead, with the 16 gun Sabre following behind.
Next up is a pair of French frigates - "the eyes of the Fleet"
.Here the 38 gun Saphire is first,
followed by the smaller 32 gun Xanthus.
Now we come to the Ships of the Line. For my French fleet, I have used yellow for the hull stripes that form the checkerboard pattern when the gun ports are opened. Different colors will be used for these in my other fleets to help differentiate them better. Not entirely historical, but a useful device, and I'm the Admiral so what I say goes!
This time the 74 gun Imperial leads off, while the smaller 64 gun Trident follows in her wake.
The 64;s were really an outmoded design by the Napoleonic Wars, and were weak for participation in the Line of Battle, but still saw use regardless. The British especially later converted some of their 64's to 44 gun frigates by cutting of the top decks, called Razees, in part in an effort to counter the large, excellent American frigates. It was an experiment that was less than entirely successful!
Next are a pair of 74 gun Ships of the Line. I made the ratlines (pronounced "rattlin's, which is probably what they did a lot of when they were climbed to access the masts and rigging) out of the nylon grid like material used for wool hooking craft projects, spay painted black. Not the most elegant, but quick, easy, and sturdy. I think it enhances the look of the ships considerably.
The 74 gun Aquilon is to the fore
and her sister ship, the 74 gun Mercure, is aft.
Another pair of French SOL. I did the minimum rigging on my ships, using my trusty spool of black thread and some Duco cement. Even that was a pain in the butt to do, honestly, so no way am I ever going to try to replicate the complex rigging of a tall ship in any more detail.
Still, even this little bit enhances the look, I think.
In the lead this time we have the 80 gun Couronne. The 80 gun ships were a French design, and one much admired by the British - they were always happy to capture one! Ironically, on average French ship designs were probably better than the British ones. It was in the experience of the men and officers at handling their complex ships and their guns where the French generally fell short. The broad pennant flying from the main mast indicates that a Commodore is aboard her.
The second ship of this duo is the 74 gun Orion. I have long been a fan of the constellation Orion, probably the easiest constellation by far to pick out in Northern skies on cold winter nights - note the famous "under the heel of Orion" reference in the Thanksgiving proclamation of Gov. Wilbur Cross in my previous post! Orion is the great Hunter of Greek mythology so a fitting name for a ship. For many years, we had an (excellent) oncologist on our Medical staff with the first name of Orion - very cool name!
Here are my last two French SOL. The bases are artist's matting board. After the ships are glued down, I then uses plaster of Paris, which is applied to the bases, and shaped using a popsicle stick. Once the plaster dries, it is painted with a diluted aqua color, with deeper blues in the stiller areas. The "wave crests" are then dry brushed with a slightly off white color. The whole ship and base is then sprayed pretty heavily with varnish.
The lead ship is the massive 112 gun triple decker, the Pierre. Needless to say, this is a bit of petty egotism on my part, there having been no first rate of that name in the French navy! The French ensign flying from the mizzen mast of the Pierre indicates that she is the Flagship.
The following ship is another 74-gun ship, the Etoile ("star").
I'll conclude this post on my version of la marine Francais with some group photos. First this one from the starboard.
An albatross eye's view of the Fleet. (I know the pennons wouldn't generally stream to towards the bow due to the wind directions need for the ship to make way, so call some of them artistic license!)
The French fleet as seen from the fore!
A final view of the 12 ships of my French fleet from aft.