I was introduced to naval gaming through Avalon Hill's Bismarck, for which a friend had added every battleship from Dreadnought to the four turreted Montana's that were never built. So somewhere around 1982, I decided to try to provide bits for a modern naval game.
Originally, I think we were going to base it on some of the Bismarck mechanics, but that never happened, as I remember it. I'm not sure what we used originally, probably some half written home-brew stuff, but I tumbled on something called Naval Battle Group (might have come from Superior/Alnavco?), which as I remember it, required us to fill/add in a lot of detail.
Anyway, we didn't have any miniatures when we started, so I made hand drawn counters for most classes of ships in the Soviet and US fleet circa 1978-1982. The counter sheets were then photocopied, glued to matte-board, and hand colored with markers. here is a large portion of the markers:
Our US and Soviet fleets
Better views of the US ships:
Subs, cruisers, amphibious ship, and carriers, including Nimitz,
Carl Vinson (probably our newest flattop at the time), Enterprise,
Kittyhawk, Ranger, Midway and others.
FFGs, DDs, Ashville PGs, and Minesweepers.
The refitted New Jersey was added a couple of years later.
And the Soviets:
Pride of the Soviet Navy; the Kievs, Moskva, a couple of the
Sverdlovs, various cruisers, DDs, FFs, and PGs such as the
Nanuchka and Petya.
Soviet Amphibious ships, Ivan Rogovs, Polnocny class
(which is misspelled n the marker), Alligators, and mine sweepers.
And the Soviet submarine fleet.
I don't specifically remember the scale of the markers, though they were drawn in a constant scale. I was thinking maybe 1/4800, but measured it out based on the length of Nimitz, and they appear to be about 1/5400th.
Front to rear, Superior's C.F. Adams x2, Long Beach, The refitted
New Jersey, and the Soviet Kirov, which I apparently never
made a marker for.
Missing a few masts, but otherwise, not too bad off for 33 year old models. Paint was pretty basic (then again, photos of modern vessels were pretty scarce back then). I think that I had a couple of Kashin class DDGs, but sadly, they were apparently lost in transit over the years (A moment of silence, please). Unfortunately, I think that was as big as my miniature fleets ever got.
I played around with Harpoon a little, but by the late 1980s, both my miniatures and markers fell into dis-use, and they've been making the journey with me in mothball all these years since. I've always wanted to get back to Cold War Naval gaming, and have considered in recent years picking up some ships and aircraft a number of times.
There is a decent selection of US and Soviet stuff out there, though other Navies are more limited. I figure that I could scratch-build (and cast) what I needed, that couldn't be gotten otherwise, when the time arises to do so.