This week’s game at the SESWC was something different as it was a playtest of my draft rules for Ironclad warfare 1860-79 but the game actually did not involve any ironclad ships. It was a refight of the Battle of Heligoland 9th May 1864 from the 2nd Schleswig-Holstein War fought between a Danish squadron and a combined Austrian Prussian force. It was the last significant naval battle fought by squadrons of wooden ships and also the last one involving Denmark.
|The big ships in action - Danes doing well - as Radetzky steams on in confusion...|
The idea for the game was Angus Konstam’s who wanted to test the rules with unarmoured ships and it let him get his collection of new ships for the battle provided into action. The 1/600 scale models are all by Thoroughbred Models of Portsmouth Virginia. In the battle 3 Danish ships faced two Austrian ships and three pretty but very puny Prussian gunboats. Here are the forces:
DenmarkNiels Juel 42-gun screw frigate
Jylland, 44-gun screw frigate
Hejmdal 16-gun screw corvette
AustriaSchwarzenberg, 51-gun screw frigate
Radetzky 37-gun screw frigate
PrussiaPreussischer Adler, 4-gun paddle steamer
Blitz, 3-gun 350-ton gunboat
Basilisk, 3-gun 350-ton gunboat
Here are some more photos of the action.
|Prussian gunboats - the Blitz fires opening shot in the engagement|
|The brave Blitz has struck after being smashed by fire of the Danish frigates.|
We had 5 players and they all agreed that the rules worked. I initially thought the action would be over 5 minutes after the first gun was fired we actually played for 2 and a half hours. At the end the only ship fully in action was the Austrian Schwarzenberg in action even though her captain the renowned Tegetthoff had been struck down. On its side the 2 small Prussian gunboats Blitz and Basilisk had struck while the other two Austro-Prussian ships had broken off from the action. On the Danish side the valiant fighting Niels Juel had struck whilst her 2 consorts were breaking off.The game showed me that a few more changes to the rules are needed to further clarify what a ship can do once it has decided to break of the action and to slightly amend the damage control tests. Angus will be producing a more full account of the game on his Edinbugh Wargames blog at
Bart Zynda has put up a report of the game on his blog at