Monday, 7 October 2013

A Little Bit of Gun Boat Diplomacy

As a kid my Dad had a load of old Airfix magazines that he passed onto me. These were read avidly in the evenings and re-visited many, many times over my early teenage years. I was always impressed by the articles on scratch built vehicles or planes, and at times attempted to do minor conversions, but frankly with little success. However I enjoyed the whole experience, despite the finished quality of my work.

Fast forward 35 odd years and the opportunity and desire to scratch build stuff has re-emerged. This is in part largely due to my interest in the whole A Very British Civil War 'era' and the weird and wonderful kit that existed, or may have 'existed' in the Inter-War years. As always I have loads of ideas of things I would like to make, but time is always limited. After all my full-time job is as a model maker for a design company, so at times it can feel like a bus mans holiday making stuff for yourself in the evenings etc.

However, as I have no deadlines other than those imposed by myself, or by forthcoming games or shows, I set about deciding I would finally get around to making something. But what to make given the plethora of ideas in my head? In the end I decided upon an armoured canal boat as my first project. Why? Well it would be relatively easy to make and would be fun to use on the wargames table, especially as my AVBCW forces have fought actions near to or by the River Avon near to where I live. 

So then after a bit of research on the internet, I had enough information to get the rough overall sizes of the sort of canal boats that cruise along the Avon. I then drew up plans of the boat in 1/144th scale to fit in along side my 10mm Pendraken AVBCW forces. I wasn't quite sure what to layout I wanted in terms of armaments etc, so I sketched out a few ideas and would leave it until the boat was being made to see what looked best, as well as provide for a good game.

I made the model out of a mixture of ABS plastic sheet and Ureol modelboard, with a bit of filler here and there plus some brass wire for the MG barrels in the turrets. In reality the actual making of the model didn't take that long, but it was spread out over about 6 months, due to a variety of factors. 

So with the model made and primed, it was then a case of what colour and camouflage scheme to paint it. After some research I came across the following information on the White Ensign Models website that fitted the bill as far as I was concerned. The camo schemes were interesting and would fit the boat nicely, as well as the colours which would certainly look rather nice on the table.

I decided to use the 'Light Modification' camouflage scheme above as a guide, and then tried to make it fit with the canal boat, which is obviously rather different to a Vosper MTB. I'm not entirely happy with the way the paint job came out, but have decided to walk away and leave it for a while, so that I can view it with fresh eyes as it were.

Port side view as she cruises along a narrow waterway.
View to starboard with the turrets turned ready to fire.
A good view of the blue camouflage to mask her in the water. Also the mortar near the bridge at the back of the boat can just be seen with the doors open ready to fire.
With a command base and WWI armoured cars as a guide to her size. She is 145mm long by 13mm wide.

All-in-all I really enjoyed this project from start to finish, despite its rather long gestation. I've already started on an armoured train for use with my AVBCW and WWII Eastern Front forces, but details will follow when the project is completed. I wouldn't hold your breath though given the timescales with regards the above.


  1. Steve cracking job, perfect for VBCW although the 26 locks to get past Worcester might be a problem.

  2. Hi Steve,

    Some plans and scratch building details of the Russian gunboats (as per the links I posted on the BKC forum) for you:

    Really impressed by the canal boat by the way, almost tempted to have a go at one myself (in 6mm)...



    1. Thanks for the links Richard, they are very useful. Good luck with scratch building your own boat in 6mm, but it will be a bit fiddly at that scale. Give it a go though and you and have fun trying.

  3. Clever project Steve. I wonder if this is the first canal boat ever made for AVBCW? Haven't seen this idea used anywhere else.

    Whimsical, but in a good way!