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"Russo-Japanese Naval War in 1/600 Scale" Topic

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World War One

1,336 hits since 26 Dec 2017
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ScottS26 Dec 2017 9:44 a.m. PST

The Russo-Japanese war has been a favorite of mine ever since I bought a copy of Red Sun Rising by SPI when I was a kid.

I'm seriously considering buying a fleet of the Old Glory 1/600 scale ships. The photos I've seen of completed models from this range are beautiful. These are not mine, but this is the look I'd love to achieve:

I've been wargaming for a very long time, but I haven't done any naval wargames before. This might get me to take the plunge. No one in my area (Colorado) seems really into naval stuff, so this might just be an excuse to build model ships. I can live with this…

Rules-wise I've got copies of Naval Thunder and the Clash of Arms Russo-Japanese wargame. I figure either could work if it gets to that point.

Both of these games have an order of battle for the Battle of the Yellow Sea. I think this would be a good scenario, as it is not as huge as Tsushima. I could expand into Tsushima later or use some of the ships for smaller battles.

Old Glory covers most of the ships involved in this battle, but there are a few that are missing. There doesn't appear to be a 1/600 scale model of the Russian cruiser Askold (a unique design with five funnels) or the Japanese Kasagi or Yakumo class cruisers. This would mean the Russians would be missing one cruiser and the Japanese would be down three – I suppose I can live with this, but if anyone knows of any alternatives or possible substitutes I'd be interested.

I see that the ships in the photos are based on what look like clear plastic bases. Are there any suggestions on bases that could accommodate the big 1/600 scale ships?

It looks like they're using a mat, probably this one: link I'll get two, so I can have a 6' x 8' area; I'll use the floor in my living room. This still might be too tight with those big ships, but it should look impressive.

I also see that the ships have some rigging. This really adds to their appearance, and I'd like to try to do this, but is isn't something I've done before. Is this done with nylon string, stretched sprue, or something else?

Has anyone else done anything like this before? Any hints or tips here?

David Grech26 Dec 2017 11:16 a.m. PST

Some 30 years ago I read
The fleet that had to Die


daveshoe26 Dec 2017 7:44 p.m. PST

Hi Scott,

If you want to stick with larger scale ships, Combrig Models makes an Askold in 1/700 scale and 1/700 Takasago (which is close to the Kasagi class).

You will have a lot more availability of ships if you go with a smaller scale. War Times Journal does some really nice 1/1500 and 1/1800 scale 3D printer ships for the era. You can see photos on their website too.

For bases, you might try contacting Litko to see if they would cut some acrylic bases for your ships.

For rigging, I would suggest checking out the Rigging Tutorial on the War Artisan site ( Even through it is technically for sailing ships, the ideas apply well to rigging for the ships you're looking at.

The rules you have will work, but you might want to check out David Manley's White Bear, Red Sun rules on Wargame Vault (, they include campaign rules, quick-play pre-dreadnought rules, and are on sale right now.

Good luck with your project!


BillyNM26 Dec 2017 10:18 p.m. PST

If you're going to play on the floor you could try some of the retro pre-war rule sets by Jane or Fletcher-Pratt. I've played them in my local church hall and they (F-P) are fun but a lot of work! I've also always had a yen to try out Jane's 'pin-stick' approach to gunnery but never got round to it. For other good ideas you could mine Hague's naval wargaming.

Yellow Admiral26 Dec 2017 10:54 p.m. PST

I agree the Old Glory 1/600 models are gorgeous (esp. the ones in those pictures you referenced above – the modeler who did those deserves a medal), and I am permanently tempted by them, but the models are far too large to play the pre-dreadnought period without a gymnasium. 1/600 BBs and ACs of the RJW period are going to be around 7"-8" long, so a short line of 4 capital ships will be about 3' long even with cramped spacing. You'll never fit the entire battle of the Yellow Sea in an 8'x6' space. Do some calculations about model size, maneuver speeds, and shooting ranges before you jump in too deep – especially with the CoA rules, which are pretty picky and exacting.

FWIW, you can also get all the ships you need from WTJ in the scale of your choice, up to 1/1000 (though I think many of them are still unavailable larger than 1/1500), and these smaller scales will fit a battle with some maneuvering into more reasonable spaces. You can see how nice they look painted in this TMP post from Oct; these are all 1/2400, so may be quite a bit smaller than you want, but the WTJ 3D printed models look really nice in any scale. In 1/1200 or 1/1000 scale you should be able to make the models look as nicely aged and weathered and streaked as the amazing 1/600 models in the pictures you posted.

FWIW, even some of the cruder 1/2400 castings can look nice when painted and dressed with rigging:

These are Viking Forge 1/2400 Russians, painted and rigged by our own War Artisan.

Whatever scale you choose – post pics or it didn't happen. grin

- Ix

Yellow Admiral26 Dec 2017 11:24 p.m. PST

On bases – I maintain that larger ship models don't need bases at all, and look better without them. Those 1/600 scale ships are quite large indeed.

Also: you can order mats from Deep Cut Studio in custom sizes. I ordered a 3" hex mat in a very odd size to get the full 30x45 CY6 hex grid on it, and it came out to about 81" x 136.5".

- Ix

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2017 9:23 a.m. PST

I agree with the above posters that 1:700 is a little big to try for medium to large naval battles. You're better off with smaller scales. That large scale ship size is more suited for display models.

I have 1:2400 Panzerschiffe ( Russo-Japanese fleets and can do large battles on an 8' x 6' table without sacrificing too much of scale distances. You can see my efforts here: link and here: link

We also have done Jutland several times using the Avalon Hill "Jutland" rules and 1:6000 scale ships glued to the board game counters. link


Captain Gideon28 Dec 2017 7:24 a.m. PST

I use 1/3000th scale for my Russo-Japanese War Fleets and I do base my ships with names and flags as well.

This way I don't have to turn over the ships for the names and it works quite well.

My miniatures are a mix of Navwar and WTJ.

Yellow Admiral28 Dec 2017 7:53 a.m. PST

In case anyone reading this thread is unaware what started it, here is the blog posting full of pictures of absolutely beautiful Old Glory 1/600 RJW battleships: link

- Ix

ScottS28 Dec 2017 8:59 a.m. PST

Those are so amazing… I keep going back to that site and drooling over the ships. I'm not ashamed to admit I'm a bit jealous.

See, I'd like to do something that looks like that. I live in Colorado, a land-locked state. The people I play with don't really appreciate naval games. For them, it's all about the visual spectacle of uniforms and terrain. I understand where they're coming from – a table with well-built terrain and brightly uniformed models is quite a sight.

But I grew up on the coast, was a Marine, and love ships. I even worked as a naval museum curator in the late 90's. I'd like to do something that looks that good as a way to perhaps win my friends over to naval wargames.

The points above about the difficulties of 1/600 scale are well taken. They're a huge hurdle, one that might make this project untenable. If a small squadron of battleships is as wide as the table and doesn't have room to turn around it's going to make for a very unsatisfying game. I've got a good-sized house, but I don't know if I could accommodate a table big enough to do this scale justice. Not without my wife flipping out, that is…

I will note that in the photos on the ‘blog that they aren't doing a line-of-battle:

That is, they aren't following stem to stern/nose to tail like they would have historically. Instead, they're line-abreast, making the battle ahistorical but more likely to fit onto a table.

Edit: They also appear to be using battleships only, that could speed things up a bit. In fact:

This looks more like a scrum of US Civil War Ironclads. I'm not saying "WRONG," but it looks like the compromise here is to eschew historical tactics in exchange for a fun game. I don't know if I'd want to do this, but it is an interesting approach.

Maybe 1/2400 is the way to go, but I feel like I'd be losing a lot of what draws me to the subject…

Captain Gideon28 Dec 2017 10:35 a.m. PST

ScottS I have some 1/1250th scale Russian and Japanese ships.

The Russian's are Mercator and the Japanese are Navis,and we made the mistake of using them in a game and from what we learned is that these ships are very fragile.

One of the Russian ships the one with all the broadside guns well I brushed my finger across the side and several of those guns came right off.

So we don't game with those anymore and I have them in a box.

I remember a game at a convention where this group were using 1/1250th scale ships by Neptune,and I got a chance to look at some close up and they were in real bad shape parts broken off some bent and paint scratched off and these people took very bad care with those ships.

IMHO ships that Neptune,Mercator or Navis did aren't meant to be gamed with and they're mainly good for display only.

Now if you had some 1/1200th scale Alnavco/Superior models then those can take more pounding.

For myself I prefer 1/2400th or 1/3000th scales to do Pre-Dreadnought naval battles,I think your table would be fine to do Tsushima and I mean the whole thing if you had all the ships.

For myself doing small scale instead of larger scale does not diminish anything that drew me to this subject.

I've been into this period for many years and I've acquired many books(mostly in Russian and Japanese)related with this subject.

Yellow Admiral28 Dec 2017 1:15 p.m. PST

I have been able to fit pre-dreadnought battles acceptably like the historical battles onto 6'x8-12' tables with 1/3000 and 1/2400 scale ships. That is: ships steaming around in line formations and making multiple maneuvers before the game winds down into a somewhat chaotic limping retreat by one side off some edge of the table. With the help of scrolling sea terrain tiles, I have played out a significant amount of the Jutland "run to the south" and other sprawling chases, so I'm sure I could also fit Tsushima.

I am convinced a good modeler could match the eye-watering beauty displayed in those blog photos with models from GHQ or WTJ in a scale from 1/2400 to 1/1000. The Old Glory models are really no better than the WTJ or GHQ miniatures in terms of cast detail, they're just bigger. The people who made those photographed examples made superb applications of shading, weathering, and rigging; there are plenty of Old Glory 1/600 pre-dreadnoughts in photographs across the web that look nowhere near that nice, but GHQ and WTJ miniatures that do. Just click around the GHQ site for examples. Wouldn't this model of the King Edward VII look about as nice with some streaking, coal dirt (black wash), funnel smoke, rigging and flags?

These days I think 1/600 is a good scale for smaller actions (a dozen ships or less) up to the 1870s, 1/1200 for larger (small or medium fleet) actions from the galleon era to about 1890ish (and full fleet actions before that), 1/2400 or 1/3000 for large actions within sight (15 miles or less) under ranged fire, and 1/6000 scale for truly huge Jutland-scale actions sprawling across dozens of miles of sea.

If Old Glory made a full range of ironclads through the "weird period" (about 1870-1890), I'd have bought them all by now; they would be FUN to build, and 1/600 is a perfect scale to show off all the glorious oddities of those experimental designs. This is also an era when ships were slow enough (15-20 kts was "fast"), effective gun ranges short enough (usu. well under 2000 yds), and fleets small enough to make small scrums of under a dozen ships into delightful and believable fun. Unfortunately they made only a few of those models, and chose to concentrate instead on the subsequent period, when ships had grown too fast (12-15 kts was "slow") and guns could shoot too far (opening salvoes at 14-16000 yds in the RJW) to fit on a table without horrifying distortion of scale and tactics.

(Of course I don't blame them – there is a near-zero chance a large range of weird-era ironclads would sell enough to even make back the investment in time, molds and casting materials. The SAW and RJW are at least periods of unending wargamer fascination.)

- Ix

ScottS28 Dec 2017 2:52 p.m. PST

You make a very good case, YellowAdmiral. I won't say I'm the best modeler in the world, but I can hold my own. I think I could do justice to a ship in a smaller scale. If I could assemble a fleet that looks like that King Edward but is also practical from a gaming standpoint I'd be satisfied.

Perhaps 1/600 scale is better suited for earlier battles, like US Civil War or Austrians v. Italians at Lissa.

I think I'll order a "Test ship" or two in a smaller scale and see how it looks once painted.

Yellow Admiral28 Dec 2017 10:21 p.m. PST

1/600 works very well for the ACW, indeed. And the Thoroughbred 1/600 ACW vessels are some of the nicest naval miniatures I've ever seen. Search TMP for postings by OldBlackWater (like this one) for some truly amazing examples of what can be done with them.

Another site to keep an eye on for earlier 1/1200 ironclads is Pithead Miniatures. The pages for the Lissa ironclads say the models are on the way to production, so sooner or later they're going to cost me a bunch of money. :-)

- Ix

ScottS29 Dec 2017 8:36 a.m. PST

Those Thoroughbred models are gorgeous – wow. Thanks for the tip. I can see already that I'm going to take a hit to my wallet from those…

ACW is popular with my group as it is, so making the jump to naval (river?) war might work well.

I really enjoyed the old Yaquinto game Ironclads back in the day and I still have copies of the game and its expansions. I don't think it would be hard to convert that to a miniatures game.

Any suggestions on scenarios, or what to get? I seem to recall that the classic "Monitor v. Virginia" match is a bit dull, and I don't know if I'm ready to invest in all of Mobile Bay yet…

Yellow Admiral29 Dec 2017 2:52 p.m. PST

For ACW gaming, start small. My suggestion (usually ignored grin) is to paint one Confederate ironclad and a few wooden Union blockaders, and play "dogpile the ironclad" games a few times. Switch that around by adding another Confederate ironclad, then another Union ship or three, and so on.

I've usually found ironclad vs. ironclad to be dull, and for good reason – they BOOM<clank> at each other all day long without result, unless there's something wrong with the rules or one gets a lucky ramming hit. I think big guns on wooden ships firing exploding shell adds a lot of character to the genre.

The old Ironclads game is still the favorite ACW naval game for a lot of gamers, and does adapt to miniatures very easily (with or without hexes), but is well out of print. The prices of the rules and expansion kit in the Board Game Geek Bazaar are pretty high. Too bad I sold off my copies for a song… <grump>

My local gaming region has mostly switched to Sail & Steam Navies by Dave Brandon, and at the moment I prefer David Manley's Iron and Fire. All 3 of these are basically similar in format and style, though S&SN is by far the easiest to play right out of the box – it comes with rosters for more ACW ships than most of us knew existed, including multiple versions of ships that saw changes during the war, and there's also a supplement to play Lissa 1866. Add miniatures and dice and you're ready to play.

Of course, there are zillions of other ACW naval rules to choose from, ranging in complexity from dead simple to simple drudgery.

- Ix

Yellow Admiral02 Jan 2018 11:00 p.m. PST

In case you need something to get you more in the mood for RJW gaming, spend some time browsing the web site of the Russo-Japanese War Research Society. This is one of the most strongly themed web sites I've ever seen (in the manner of a period newspaper), and it's a delightful place to spend time reading about the topic.

- Ix

ScottS03 Jan 2018 7:58 a.m. PST

Thanks very much for that! I'll give it a look.

I ordered a copy of the Arco reprint of the 1905 Janes Fighting Ships over the holidays and it just arrived. It's quite interesting. The articles on the then-ongoing war are great, especially in light of the information we have available now. It's also interesting to see the listing for Russian ships with the word "SUNK" printed at the top of their page…

Captain Gideon03 Jan 2018 8:31 a.m. PST

I also have the Arco reprint and like it a lot in addition I have a good deal of Russian books dealing with the Russo-Japanese War plus I have a few in Japanese as well there's a wealth of information in these books but sadly I can't speak or read Russian and Japanese but it's still good to have the books.

I would say that I have more books dealing with that Russo-Japanese War than any other period.

I'm very big into the Russo-Japanese War for many years now and will continue to do so for many more years to come.

Yellow Admiral03 Jan 2018 4:24 p.m. PST

This thread has prompted me to revisit my own RJW and related pre-dreadnought fantasies, and generating shopping lists has knocked loose some more thoughts about scale:

Destroyers in the RJW period were small, and torpedo boats were even smaller. In 1/2400 scale even the larger DDs are toothpick-thin slivers of material about 1" long, very difficult to deal with on the table; I've had more than one DD slip into a seam between sea-surface panels and literally "sink" into the table during maneuvers. huh? Most TBs are tiny specks which have to be cast permanently onto a base to even be visible.

In 1/1200 scale the models of these boats will be more manageable (2" DDs, 0.75"-1.25" TBs). They were fast (25-35 kts) but had short range guns and torpedoes. I've played plenty of Action Stations games in 1/1200 scale, set in WWII with even faster boats (40+ kts) and much longer range torpedoes, and those games work just fine on 5'x9' to 6'x12' tables. If the scrimmaging of the light craft is an important part of the game or even a whole game unto itself, 1/1200 might be a really fun scale to use.

Once the cruisers and battleships are zig-zagging around the table in lines and blazing away at 4000-12000 yds, 1/1200 scale is probably a bit large for real-life tables. WTJ offers its entire line in 1/1800 scale, and this might be a reasonable compromise to get larger DDs (1.5" avg.) and still-small-enough BBs and ACs (3" avg.), but I haven't tried playing in this scale, so I have no intuitive feel for it.

For practical reasons, a few years ago I committed to reducing my naval gaming collection to only two scales: 1/2400 and 1/1200. Since 1/1200 is too large for sprawling, maneuver-intensive fleet battles, I'm pretty much set on 1/2400 for the pre-dreadnought period. That said, there really is a "right" scale to choose for any particular period and style of gaming. About 2 years ago I started a large collection of 1/1200 scale ACW-era vessels (many European, not just ACW), but after acquiring quite a few, I noticed that too many riverine ACW naval vessels are unbearably small and fiddly in 1/1200 scale, so my opinion is that 1/600 really is the best ACW naval scale. Between that, my fawning admiration for Thoroughbred 1/600 ACW naval models, and my totally irrational love affair with my 1/600 galleon collection, there is a hidden tumor of 1/600 scale naval miniatures growing in my "only 2 scale" gaming collection. Once in a while I do some window-shopping of WW2 coastal miniatures too, but so far I've resisted buying any. grin

- Ix

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP03 Jan 2018 7:49 p.m. PST

Some 30 years ago I read
The fleet that had to Die


It was the book that got me really enthused about Military History when I read it at aged 12.

ScottS04 Jan 2018 7:42 a.m. PST

In 1/1200 scale the models of these boats will be more manageable (2" DDs, 0.75"-1.25" TBs). They were fast (25-35 kts) but had short range guns and torpedoes. I've played plenty of Action Stations games in 1/1200 scale, set in WWII with even faster boats (40+ kts) and much longer range torpedoes, and those games work just fine on 5'x9' to 6'x12' tables. If the scrimmaging of the light craft is an important part of the game or even a whole game unto itself, 1/1200 might be a really fun scale to use.

That's a very intriguing idea!

I remember having a lot of fun with the game "Schnell Boote" back in the day; it covered small craft in WWII. I wonder how well that, or something like that, could make the shift to old torpedo boats and destroyers. Small craft warfare in 1/600 scale could work.

And, of course, there's always this 1/55 scale Russian torpedo boat:

TMP link

I have no idea what I could possibly DO with it, but it looks like a beautiful beast of a model.

Yellow Admiral04 Jan 2018 8:12 a.m. PST

My thoughts about that torpedo boat, in order:

  • That's gorgeous! I wish my ships looked that nice.
  • Wire and thread everywhere… too fragile to game with.
  • Somebody did all that rigging without painting the model first?

ScottS04 Jan 2018 8:58 a.m. PST

I wouldn't know what to DO with it?

Naval gunfire support from it's 37mm Hotchkiss for a force of Russian sailors?

Yellow Admiral04 Jan 2018 11:18 a.m. PST

In 28mm scale, a flotilla action would take a space the size of a gymnasium. Maybe a Zamboni with a green-gray tint added to the reservoir would make a hockey rink into a nice smooth sea-like surface to play on. grin

I think I'll just have to stick to smaller scales. <sigh>

- Ix

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