About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 51-year-old Aspergic CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play. I will 'bite the hand that feeds' to remind it why it feeds.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

W is for War-gaming on the Waves

A couple of comments on older vessel posts the other day reminded me I had these in Brian B (Terranova)'s folder (there's lot of good stuff in there, I will try to post more of it), and as we don't have much war gaming stuff on here; it's time to look at this interesting exhibition, which he ran into on a visit to the Grolier Society, where a member had this little display; I will be pulling the biographical details from the wall-cards Brian also kindly photographed.

I know this is the 'Holy Grail' if you happen to be a fan of naval war gaming; Fletcher Pratt's original 1940 wire-bound, manuscript-publishing of the - by then - well play-tested rule set. Illustrated by his wife Inga Pratt throughout, this copy actually carries the bookplate of his close friend John D. Clark.

As well as military and Naval history, Fletcher Pratt (1897-1956) was also one of the early 'pulp' science-fiction writers and Dean of non-fiction at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference in Vermont (not as odd as it sounds). The Pratt's organised naval war gaming began in 1926, the games being played in their apartment in New York.

The 10th of October issue of Life Magazine in 1938 carried an article "Life Plays the War Game" on the Pratt's and the popularity of the gaming which - as can be seen - had spread to the military - which had bigger floors! The same issue carried an article on the Munich Conference entitled "Hitler listens to Reason", so it wasn't just Chamberlin!

The really interesting thing here, apart from getting across the grandeur of the old Naval Reviews, is; no flat-tops? I think there are 184 vessels, or part-vessels in the shot but nothing which looks like an aircraft carrier? The two long, dark ones toward the back may be, but they look like capital ships/battleships to me?

I love that there's a huge 'NORTH' posted on the mezzanine walkway to remind everyone - at a glance - where they are, and where they are supposed to be sailing/shooting! Note also - civilians roll in the dust; senior naval officer's squat - stiffly!

I have no idea . . . well 'some' idea as to who made the model ships, in that it's probably safe to assume they are Comet? Although the exhibition seems to suggest some were home-made by the Pratt's - highly likely as they 'invented' the genre!

But there were other quantity, lead/whitemetal, model-ship makers; Wiking in Germany have a reasonable list and a Trafalgar in Britain; although I'm not sure if Wiking were that early and my early-photocopy/roneo'd catalogues (possibly from the 1950's) for both all three companies are in storage (they will all end-up on the A-Z pages). Also the Trafalgar lists may be imported Comet or Wiking?

I do know that Comet and Comet-Authenticast produced Naval Vessels in 1:1200th (280+ models representing many more actual vessels - within 'classes'), 1:500th (25-odd US military vessels), and desk-top/promotional models from 1:100th scale to 50-feet long (by commission), so I would imagine that the former (1:1200th)'s what we're looking at in these shots. Indeed - Comet originally supplied models to the US military to use as recognition aids, so the naval ones will almost certainly be Comet.

However, there are always smaller makers and home-casting to consider! Thanks - as always - Terranova, another treat to post.


Anonymous said...

The ships in the back of the third photo are carriers Lexington and Saratoga.

Hugh Walter said...

Thank you Captain Randolph! Two of the Pearl Harbour escapees, no less!

I've just Google'd them and there is quite a bit of superstructure, presumably because they were nearly Battleships?