By Rob Morgan
There’s a daily column in The Times called Weather Eye, written by Paul Simons, and it sometimes contains notes of value to the naval wargamer. Recently the column dealt with an ‘armada of icebergs’ some 600 of them threatening shipping in the sea lanes off Newfoundland and to the south, more or less where RMS Titanic was lost in 1912. April, May and June are the months for these icebergs to appear, and they usually cause shipping to ‘take significant detours’ of 400 nautical miles! The International Ice Patrol was set up in 1914 after Titanic’s loss of course, and in a particularly dangerous year, 1984, some 2,200 or more icebergs were encountered! He mentions one iceberg coming fairly close to the shores of Ireland in 1907.
I can remember an article dealing with Operation Habbakuk in one of the wargame ‘glossies’ some years ago, but can’t put my hands on it now, of course. This operation was the Allied plan to create a North Atlantic air base from a huge iceberg and use it for convoy defence and as an offensive base, intended to be unsinkable naturally, in the bitter war against the U-Boats.
That didn’t happen, but is there actually a role for icebergs in naval wargames? Weather factors at sea are important in the Ironclad age, and more important again in the sailing era, but icebergs? The potential of a mass of 600+ rogue lumps of floating and submerged ice in a WWI or WWII convoy campaign seems obvious to me, but I don’t ever remember encountering any ‘iceberg rules’ for wargamers, are there any around?
Of course, a couple of large icebergs in 1/3000th even 1/1200th scale should be easy enough to scratchbuild — impressive on a table top too! I don’t think any manufacturer makes an iceberg, unless it’s part of a Titanic kit, and I do have some sort of vague memory of one somewhere in the distant past.