Sunday, November 14, 2021

Pass in Review: US Navy PT Boats for Cruel Seas

(Image from:  Warfare History Network)

 My apologies for the long delay between posts.

I'm currently dealing with a major health issue, that I'll comment at length about below.

Despite attending multiple medical appointments and suffering from fatigue (among other things), I managed to finish painting my US Navy PT Boat collection for Cruel Seas collection.

(Image from:

Some of my vessels came from Warlord Games' US Navy Fleet Starter Set...

(Image from:  Warlord Games)

...while the bulk of my boats came from the US Navy PT Boat Flotilla set:

(Image from:  Warlord Games)

Here are 10 out of my 14 PT Boats:

I painted four vessels from the US Navy Start Set and "Lend Leased" two of them to the UK Royal Navy.  (Translation:  I put Royal Navy ensigns on two boats).

I painted each vessel type in distinct color schemes for easy identification during gaming.  The Army Painter colors I primarily used for the decks & hulls were:  Ash Grey, Field Grey, Army Green, Deep Blue. The boats' equipment were painted in Filthy Cape, Wolf Grey, Rough Iron, or colors similar to each deck color.  Since I found Gun Metal too shiny, I mixed it with an equal amount of Matt Black to paint the boats' armaments. The rafts and life boats were painted Phoenix Flame and Matt White, respectively, simply because I wanted to add more color to the boats than varieties of blue & grey.

The two blue vessels are actually two-toned, with grey hulls and blue decks.  I stole the idea was inspired by "FlyXwire's" photo on The Miniatures Page:

(Image by:  FlyXwire on The Miniatures Pg.)

There are 3 distinct types of vessels in my collection.

First are the Elco Boats:

The most famous being PT-109, skippered by JFK.

(Image from the JFK Library)

Next are the Higgins Boats:

And finally, four Elco Boats converted to "Barge Busters."

Since I bought two packages, each containing two boats, I inadvertently created one more boat of this type than was done historically.  

Well, wargamers usually like to play fast & loose with history in order to explore "what ifs?" So I don't think my extra boat would overbalance any tabletop campaign.

Speaking of campaigns, one of the reasons why I'm excited about completing my PT boats is because I also purchased, Devil Boats, by Compass Games.

(Image by Compass Games)

It's one of the many solitaire games that are becoming all the rage among today's tabletop gamers.  I like the idea of using this game to generate Cruel Seas scenarios in a mini campaign.

And I didn't stop here either.  I pre-ordered the company's upcoming Schnell Boats...

...and Dog Boats:

I'm looking at playing solitaire games as soon as I finish painting and assembling my remaining vessels belonging to the UK Royal Navy and Italian Regia Marina.

The reason being, as I mentioned in the beginning, is I'm now in poor health.  

I've been battling what turned out to be Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF).  It's a degenerative, incurable lung disease that know one knows how I developed it (the "idiopathic" part of the definition).

I'm chronically short of breath, prone to coughing fits and have difficulty speaking.  My symptoms have worsened, especially these past couple months.  In fact, I'm currently going through the process of qualifying for a lung transplant.  I'm on oxygen and need a walker or wheelchair to go any distance beyond that of a typical room in my house.

Because of my condition I was medically discharged from my job as a State Emergency Operations Officer for Washington State Emergency Management (EMD) and am now considered disabled.  I'm currently applying for disability benefits through the Veterans Administration and Social Security.  

My wife and I spoke with two pulmonary doctors at the Transplant Clinic.  They told us that patients diagnosed with IPF have an average life expectancy of 3 years from the time of being diagnosed.

I was diagnosed in April 2020, so I'm just past the half-way point.

What's worse, is the doctor said that my symptoms indicate that I have "...a whole lot less time than this."

Waiting for a lung transplant can be a very quick or very long process.  Current average wait time is 7 months.

Hopefully, I can hold out, get the transplant and finish painting my Cruel Seas boats, along with starting up solitaire games to add to this blog.

Thank you for your support. 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Pass in Review: Last German Vessel in Cruel Seas Collection (For Now)

(Image from:  Warlord Games)

 The last Kriegsmarine vessel I painted and assembled was the marinefahrprahm, or “F-lighter.”

Here’s how the pros at Warlord Games Shipyard painted the F-lighter:

(Image: Warlord Games Kriegsmarine Marinefahrprahm)

Here’s a port and starboard side views of my vessel:

And here’s a fore & aft oblique view:

I painted the hull and superstructure with The Army Painter’s “Wolf Grey.”  I decided to paint portions of the deck two shades of brown to represent wooden planking.  I don’t know if F-lighters had any wooden decks.  I just wanted to add some color other than various shades of blue and grey. 

This brings my Cruel Seas “ship building program” to the halfway point.

Along with the German Kriegsmarine vessels, I finished my Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) craft and vessels for the Soviet Navy, which includes one American “Lend Lease” sub chaser.

I’m currently working on 10 USN PT boats.  After these are done, I’ll start working on my British Royal Navy vessels, leaving the Italian Regia Marina as the last Cruel Seas faction to be assembled. 

It’s taken me 15 months to get to this point.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to send more vessels “down the slipways” at a quicker rate from now on. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Pass in Review: Japanese Sampans for Cruel Seas

(Image from Wikipedia)

A functioning and efficient logistic system is crucial for a nation to maintain its military forces in the field, or at sea.

During World War II, Imperial Japan's war effort became strained due to the naval and merchant shipping losses, from the growing allied superiority at sea and in the air.  This forced the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) and army to sneak supplies onto their beleaguered islands using simple Sampans

I few months ago, I purchased two packages of Warlord Games' latest release of small sampans in their Cruel Seas line:
(Image from Warlord Games)

I just put the final ink-wash touches on my dozen vessels last week:

I attempted to distinguish each group of three, divided by 4 vertical columns in the above photos, using different shades of brown.
According to the Cruel Seas rules, these vessels operate in groups of three. 

I'm satisfied with the results, despite the ink-wash blurring the final results.

This is actually the second batch of sampans I painted.
Last year, I purchased the Imperial Japanese Fleet package, along with an additional package of large sampans:

(Image from Warlord Games)

I assembled 4 sampans under full-sail, and 2 representing boats with "furled sails" by not attaching them to the masts.

Here's both versions of the sampans with the mid-ship shelter:

And here's both versions of the sampans with the aft shelters:

My--almost--complete sampan collection (the photo's missing 2 sampans under full sail):

What's also missing in this last photo are the large sampans' deck guns and gun crews.  I glued these on to small cardboard counters and painted them.  I'm attempting to make these boats more versatile by not having the deck guns permanently mounted to them.  We'll see how this works out whenever I get a chance to utilized these models in a game session.

Both the small and large sampans are rather top-heavy and can tip easily.  A good solution to this would be to mount the vessels on a painted base.  However, at this time I'm reluctant to do so because I don't want the bases "cluttering up" any future photographs I may take.

Like the non-permanent deck guns, we'll see how this works out during actual game play.


During my hasty Google search extensive research on this topic, there seems to be some confusion on the difference between sampans and junks

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Pass in Review: Cruel Seas Quick Pic Collage

(Image from The Military Channel)

Last week's topic focused on my Blood & Plunder vessels.  

This week, we "fast forward" to World War II and highlight my Cruel Seas collection.

First up are the vessels from the British Royal Navy.

1. Mark III Landing Craft Gun (Large):

Because of this vessel's ungainly looking appearance, looking like a floating bathtub armed with cannons, I named it "HMS Gun Tub."  The closest historical entry I could find was of the Landing Craft Gun.

My paint job turned out a bit more green than the professional painters did.  So far this is the only sub in my Cruel Seas collection, and the only surfaced boat currently made by Warlord Games. Construction of these subs began in the mid-1930s and a total of 53 saw service during the war, and some were in service until the 1970s.

Now for the Americans...

This was part of the US Navy Fleet package, which also contains some smaller LCM3s that I painted as a "warm-up" exercise before working on the larger boats.  

4. US Navy PT Boat Flotilla:

So far I've only built four out of the 10 PT boats I currently have:  2 x Higgins boats, and 2 x Elco boats, pictured below.

Somehow I missed taking pics of the Higgins versions of my completed PT boats.

Based on historical photos, these boats were painted a wide variety of colors from dark blue, grey, green and even Dazzle Camouflage--which I'm not going to even attempt. But once I get around to painting the rest of the flotilla, I'll try to individualize each boat. 

The SC-497 Class Subchasers were one of the smallest vessels the US Navy classified as "ships" instead of "boats."

I found these vessels appealing. So much so, that I ended up with 5 of them.  But instead of having them all as part of the US Navy, I "lend leased" the first three I painted.

My favorite is the vessel I converted to be one of three used as Norway's "Shetland Buses:" HNoMS HitraHNoMS Vigra, or HNoMS Hessa

Since the Cruel Seas line contains tiny ship flags only for the major combatants, I had to make my own Norwegian flag.

The second subchaser I decided to make into one of the 50 the US gave to Free France

Once again, I had to make up my own Free French Flag.

The last subchaser I converted into one of the 78 the US sent to the Soviet_Union.

At least with this ship I didn't have to hand-make a flag.

And speaking of the Soviet Union, here's the ships I've completed so far...

This was one of the hardest ship models for me to assemble, because I don't have a dremel tool or any other gadget to drill tiny holes.  I couldn't get the lifeboat cranes through the upper deck holes they were suppose to fit through.  So I just bent them around the upper deck and super-glued them in place.

7. Three out of my four MO-4 Patrol Boats:

The MO Class guard ships were the most common small vessels built and used by the Soviets during WWII

8. Three out of my four D-3 Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs):

Now on to the Axis vessels, starting with the Japanese...

9. Imperial Japanese Navy No. 103 or 101 Class Landing Ship:

This class of landing ships looks like it inspired a lot of science fiction anime, like Star Blazers
I bought this because I wanted a large transport to serve as an objective for allied players to attack, and for Japanese players to protect.  This is what I call an "Objective Ship."

10. Imperial Japanese Navy No. 1 Class T-6 Fast Transport

Believe it or not, this converted destroyer is the longest vessel in my Cruel Seas collection.  It comes with 4 empty Daihatsu landing craft, that I already painted but didn't glue to the deck.  I also have four, loaded landing craft I painted several months ago.  My intent is to make this vessel as versatile as possible, displaying:  an empty deck, a deck loaded with empty landing craft, or a deck loaded with loaded landing craft. 
And finally, the Germans...

11. Kriegsmarine S-Boat Flotilla:

My latest contribution to #Miniature Monday," is my "wolfpack" of S-38 & S-100 type torpedo boats (called "E-Boats" by the allies).

While I'm not about to attempt full-razzle dazzle, this was my first try at applying naval camouflage.  I merely painted 5 diagonal-ish lines of a different shade along both sides of the vessels' hulls.  I also painted each boat in a slightly different color scheme in order to individualize their appearance. 

This almost completes my Kriegsmarine faction, and makes me all caught up with photos of my current Cruel Seas painting project--for now.  

I currently have the following to start--
--Regia Marina starter pack
--the British Royal Navy starter pack
--6 x USN PT boats

The following vessels are currently "in the slipways," and near completion:  2 x US subchasers, 2 x Japanese subchasers and 2 x Soviet gunboats.

The other day, I received several new products from Warlord Games as reinforcements--
--2 x USN "barge buster" PT Boats
--1 x Fairmile H Gunboat
--8 x Kriegsmarine sturmboots
--12 x IJN small sampans
--1 x Kriegsmarine F-Lighter

Stay tuned!