Saturday, 24 February 2018

Sudan Project part 13 - Nile Gunboat pt1

Hiya Folks

part 12 can be found here

Now that I am nearing the end of my figure painting its time to turn my attention to the bespoke terrain I am going to need for my Sudan project. If you have been following this project you will know that I have started on Khartoum but until I can actually get back into the shed properly that part of the project is on old.

Now if you peruse or visit the Lead Adventure Forum you might be aware that each year they run a terrain building contest called aptly 'Build Something'. A few years back I entered and came fourth with my humongous volcano - remember this - the theme that year was Fire

link here

This year the contest has returned with the theme 'ill advised' - I wanted to take part but was not going to build a folly - the piece had to be useable in my Sudan project. Knowing that I wanted to build a gunboat I searched for some story that might fit with this theme...

Luck was with me when I found this about the Nile Gunboat Abbas-

Background (courtesy of this link

Some days before the city fell, Colonel John Donald Hamill Stewart took all the remaining westerners in Khartoum aboard a fortified paddle steamer called the Abbas. It was a desperate attempt to run the gauntlet of Manasir tribesmen who were on both sides of the Nile. They got past the most heavily fortified part of the blockade, but they were running low on fuel when the steamer struck a rock close to the Island of Kaniett.

The Abbas paddle steamer was in a desperate situation after stubbornly fighting its way past the most dangerous part of the blockade. Their destination was a place called Dongola and they were still some way off. A little further along the river was a smaller island called Um Dewarmat and an Arab named Sulieman – wad – Gamur invited them to land. They were offered hospitality which they accepted. While they refreshed themselves, Sulieman and his tribesmen overpowered the passengers and crew of the Abbas after a brief fight.

There were many civilians among them and all were believed to have been executed including Colonel John Donald Hamill. Not much is known of the fate that befell the unfortunate people of the gunboat Abbas, but their final moments at the hands of Sulieman’s tribesmen must have been very ghastly if their captures were allied or part of Ahmed Al-Mahdi’s Manasir tribesmen.

it was clearly an ill advised action to accept the hospitality of this Arab

So another boat project - I'll be posting details of this build here on the blog and on the LAF

First up I needed some inspiration and came across this Osprey book

The Abbas itself was a twin paddlesteamer and having read through my book most of the gunboats were about 100ft in length with a beam out to the width of the paddle boards of about 25ft. This gives an approximate scale of 50cm long x 12cm wide. My boat is going to be 46cm long (governed by length of foam core) and slighlty wider (16cm)

A base profile was cut from foamcore

and a second footprint cut (including area for paddleboards) - these were stuck together and the engine room added

the next step was to add the wooden lower deck using coffee stirrers

Once these were dry I started on the superstructure. Again this was foamcore given the timber decking treatment.

Once all the decking was dry I clipped the overhanging pieces of stirrer off. It was now starting to look boat shaped.

The 'walls' were made using cereal card which was glued and pinned to the foamcore hull. Small bits of stirrer were used to support the card 

Very happy with how it is looking at the moment

Some extra bits were added - the funnel (old plastic pipe)and a steering house on the top deck

Now it was time to move onto the paddlewheels - A piece of timber was pushed through the boat and where it meats the edge of the boat I cut in a large 8cm 'warbases' base

The paddles themselves are going to be constructed from lollipop sticks and these wooden cogs found on ebay

The first of the wheels are fitted and the second is on its way

More soon....


  1. Bravo! Nice work! PS. Great minds...

  2. That's amazing project. I was going to made a gunboat for myself, but stuck with some construction issues. I will follow your relation and maybe finally build one for myself.

  3. Coming along nicely. Sudan gaming is all the better for a gunboat or two.

  4. Great WIP pictures. Very inspirational stuff.

  5. Lovely bit of scratch building!
    Best Iain

  6. superb , I guess watch out for suspicious looking Dhows ... :-)