Monday, April 2, 2012

Anna and the King of Siam's Navy

If you follow the NavWarGames group on Yahoo you've perhaps encountered a gentleman who designs by the name Afrodi on Shapeways. One of his real specialties is underrepresented fleets: fleets like the modern Japanese and French fleets (quite significant, but sadly absent from the "major" suppliers) or The WWII era Thai fleet.

In 1941, at about the same time that the United States and Japan were really gearing up for war and the UK was slugging it out with the pesky Kriegsmarine, Thailand had a little war with Vichy France not generally remembered in the West. The larger conflict was fairly successful from the Thai perspective: they acquired several predominantly Khmer provinces, at least until the U.N. made them give them back in 1946. The war at "sea" was less auspicious. In fact, the colonial French pretty well handed the Thai fleet their fantail at the Battle of Koh Chang.

With thanks to Afrodi, the miniatures to refight this small but interesting war are now commercially available. Here you can see some of the Thai ships in both their unpainted "Frosted Untra-Detail" format and with the fiddly bits and paint I find so needful:

For the sake of scale you can see the Thai coastal defense ship Thonburi and the torpedo boat Trad alongside the Japanese Kagero class destroyer Tanikaze.

The scale is pretty well dead on. These are just some very very small ships. The colonial french sloops were bigger. (And Afrodi sells them too.) In general, I'd say the models are pretty good, though Thonburi's rifles were mere stumps. I added longer barrels and simply used the "stumps" as blast bags. If I had to guess, I'd say that it's probably not possible to form long slender objects with the Shapeways process.

Additionally, most of the Trads had three 3" inch guns, and the model is only depicted with two. Phuket seems to have lacked the amidships mount if the photos in Jane's are any indication. (I am, of course, amused that Jane's seems to intentionally misspell the name of this ship. Modern sources give the first phoneme as a Ph, but Jane's uses a P. I wonder why?) That said, I'm fairly comfortable adding guns, and the platform is there, so I just stuck another gun on and called it good. I forgot to do this on my second Trad until I started painting the ship and decided to leave it that way. (And to use it as Phuket.) At table distance no one will notice.

Being me, I found it necessary to add the scopes for the range finder and the assorted masts and spars. I can never leave well enough alone. Still, the models are fairly crisp and neither too cluttered nor too simple. All in all they'll be a nice addition to my collection and my hat is off to Afrodi for taking this project on.

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