Sunday, 30 June 2013

Back to Summer, 1940....

The Spanish aircraft being used as a 109E in the film The Battle of Britain - I am planning on painting four of these in the above colour scheme.

I have gone and done it. I have once again executed a very slight change of course in respect of my Axis and Allies 1/100th scale WW2 aerial collection.The Middle Eastern project is most certainly still on the to do  list but I am tweaking the aerial dimension slightly - mainly because I have fallen victim to the dreaded 'revisited project syndrome'.

This came about quite by accident and was caused by a visit to our local boot sale. I picked up a copy of the book Spitfire Ace - the book of the TV series on Channel 4 some time ago which completely passed me by. This is a really interesting book about a very familiar subject - flying a Spitfire during the Battle of Britain. It is full of anecdotes and covers much in the way of pilot training and such like, the evolution on tactics and what it was actually like to fly one in combat. Nothing new then, just very well presented and I am afraid I was bowled over by it.

I shall be revisiting the Battle of Britain in respect of my Axis and Allies WW2 collection simply because it is one of the periods of history that is ingrained in my DNA and so it would be churlish to ignore it. The end result will mean my aircraft collection will be slightly larger than planned - it also means that the Turkish Air Force might have to do without any Hurricanes....Oh well, P40s it is then....;-)

A Turkish P40 - the markings look fairly straightforward although the crescent and star on the tail may be a challenge!

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Armed Forces Day In Rayleigh, Essex

Good days out cost less when its Sainsburys.....

Today is Armed Forces Day and so I took the opportunity to take a look at the field day held in a local park. I was pleasantly surprised by a number of things about the day - especially the turn out as the place already had a large number of the public in attendance when I arrived some fifteen minutes after it opened. I was also very impressed by what was on display and humbled by the number of ex-servicemen, many of whom were of advanced years, that were prepared to talk to inquisitive members of the public with patience, dignity and with what seemed to be an inexhaustible supply of anecdotes and good humour. The day was all about showing your support for our armed forces and the more practical matter of raising funds for various serviceman's charities.

The day featured the band of the Parachute Regiment and although I missed their first performance I saw them marching from the field in very smart and disciplined order. There were displays of weapons of all types  and I managed to get a selection of pictures which will do the talking for the rest of the post.

A Matador Truck....

....and a D-Day veteran Bedford QL that goes by the name of ....


A selection of machine guns - the Lewis, the Vickers and the Bren are obvious but can anybody identify the one in the middle?

A closer view of the Vickers.

Projectile Infantry Anti Tank or PIAT as it is usually called.

A piece of artillery history - the famous 25pdr field gun.

A side view of the Matador....

....and of 'Rosie'. I was staggered at the amount of kit that was crammed into the body - including rolls of barbed wire!

A gunner's eye view of the 25pdr.

The second Vickers on display.

Another 25pdr - and note the young age of the new recruit in training....

An Austin utility car.

The famous Jeep.

Lastly, a rather splendid looking US 'deuce and a half' with the driver in period dress. Note the baseball bat and pitcher's glove!

The picture on the back of his jacket looked so good I had to get a picture of it!

It was a very interesting way to spend a morning and hopefully the day raised plenty of money to go towards those very deserving military charities. It was pleasing to see so many people at the show, enjoying the sunshine, the exhibits, the demonstrations by the representatives of our armed forces and above all, acknowledging in a small way, their professionalism and in many cases, their supreme sacrifice.

Friday, 28 June 2013

A Club Night Entertainment

Wednesday evening saw yours truly at the club enjoying a rather entertaining Portable Naval Wargame - Pre Dreadnoughts using the collection of the redoubtable Mr Fox, who also supplied the rather splendid newly hexed cloth and his usual sagacious and erudite application of the rules in use. Aside from organising the scenario, supplying the models, preparing the rules with some homegrown amendments and acting as all round good guy Mr Fox also took the time out to take some pictures which I have added for posterity. By his own admission these are not of the highest quality although they looked fine to me and certainly capture the essence of the action.

The Austrians, on the left, approach the Italians at the top of the picture who appear to be in some degree of disarray - but is it a cunning plan unfolding?

The Austrians continue to close as the Italians attempt to deploy into a line of battle. The Italians sent their armoured cruisers to the north of the Austrian formation and their protected cruisers to the south. The early exchanges of gunfire saw the Austrian destroyers suffer heavily.

The climax of the action saw the lead Austrian ships engaged by both destroyers and battleships with predictable carnage and mayhem ensuing. It was not entirely one-sided though as the Austrian battleships destroyed one of the Italian armoured cruisers (out of the picture to the left) in a truly punishing salvo. The losses the Austrian suffered were heavy and at this point, being several heavy ships down, they conceded.

Essentially the Austrians compact sailing column, screened by destroyers, was headed off by the Italian  battleline but at the point of contact it could have gone either way. Fortunately for the Italians, a combination of very impressive gunnery and the simple expedient of having ships on ether flank of the attacking Austrians served to carry the day.

Despite the shortage of pictures the game itself was vastly entertaining and once again, Bob Cordery's Portable Naval Wargame, in conjunction with the tweaks of Mr. Fox, provided an action that was speedy in execution, tactically challenging, slick from the mechanics point of view, historically viable and above all, fun.

Many thanks to Mr Fox for just about everything and to Mr. Fosker (who was commanding the Austrians) for being a doughty and implacable opponent.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Good News....and the Not So Good News....

The Good News....

I have sourced half a dozen Zis trucks from Zvezda in 15mm. My good friend across many a stricken field, Chris Hardman, has kindly donated the six I needed which is really good news. My order from Stonewall arrived with the additional destroyers and shipping I need to complete the first phase of my WW1 naval set up. The last piece of news was that I managed to get to the club last night and took part in a most excellent Portable Naval Wargame (the pre dreadnought version) by Bob Cordery, organised by the redoubtable Mr Fox - who supplied the toys (more of which later) and using his rather splendid newly hexed blue cloth which will also see service with out games of WW2 aerial combat.

Whilst Mr Fox donned his customary umpires hat it was down to Mr. Fosker and myself to take to the high seas using Austrians and Italians with yours truly driving the latter. It was great action (perhaps with rather more ships than may have been prudent) being fast in execution, challenging and above all - fun. Mr Fox took some pictures of the key points of the affair which I will post in due course. That worryingly fickle mistress, Dame Fortune, seemed to favour the suave and debonair sartorially inspired Italians rather more than the bluff yeoman of the Tyrol and so for the record, the Italians exacted a considerable measure of revenge for Lissa, 1866! Thanks as ever to Mr Fox for laying it on and to Mr Fosker for taking part. The game was gratifying in that it was nice to see that just occasionally somebody could roll dice that were considerably more miserable than mine have been of late!

The Not So Good News....

My Stonewall order was incorrect as a couple of things were missing. A swift email to them followed and the final tranche is now on its way. Frustrating all the same though, but hopefully with a happy ending soon.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Reinventing a set of Naval Wargames Rules....Part 2

The biggest problem I had with the fusion of two existing sets of rules was in respect of the gunnery and damage - and how to reflect a ship' unique characteristics. In other words, pretty much the most important part of any set of naval wargame rules! If you recall from my previous post the areas I had to tackle were as follows:

  • Map moves - J
  • Ships speeds and Movement - J
  • Ship protection - J (but with my own spin on this!)
  • Gun rates - J
  • Gun rates carried - J
  • Gunnery - J/SBiM
  • Damage - J/SBiM
  • Torpedoes - J/SBiM

The first two categories - map moves and Ship speeds and Movement - I have left as per the rules from Jutland. All I have done is to convert the tactical distances into inches rather than using the measuring device included in the game. Formations, turning and so on are all as per the original rules.

Ship protection caused a few headaches but the solution I have in place seems to fairly consistent with the original Jutland system. For the most part I have taken the maximum armour belt thickness as equalling the ship's protection factor. It is simple but due to other factors seems to work well and I will outline why when I describe damage later on.

Gun rates are based not on calibres but on the usual class of ship the gun would be associated with so, for example, a 12" weapon would usually be found on either a battleship (BB or PB) or a battle cruiser (BC) whilst a 6" weapon would usually be found on a light cruiser or as the secondary weapon on a larger vessel. Using this system removed the need for a lot of gun/armour penetration type tables as both guns and ships are classed as being typical examples of their type.

Gun rates carried is a major departure from both the Jutland and Sea Battles in Miniature approach for one simple reason. I wanted a ship to have the full range of weapons available so that a battleship would feature both the main guns and the secondary weapons (even tertiary weapons if applicable). Ships will have one damage box per barrel of the appropriate type and the ship damage chart will have a stylised layout of the ship with the guns depicted in pretty much the right places for the ship being represented.

Gunnery and Damage are the two main areas of revision. I have worked on the basis that as a rule it is difficult to sink a warship by gunfire alone. This was the principle that James Dunnigan worked to in his original design for Jutland and supported by the modest amount of research I have conducted into the subject - I am certainly not professing to be an expert on the subject though! In a nutshell a ship could receive a battering above the waterline but still be sound in the hull. This means that gun damage should normally be inflicted topside, with the odd chance of going below the waterline. Sea Battles in Miniature uses a combination of critical damage to knock out key systems but the 'death by a thousand cuts' progressive damage system for the hull, secondary weapons and speed reduction. Each system has some merit but I have gone for a compromise and have used elements from both.

Jutland used gunnery factors instead of the number of barrels for gunfire; Sea Battles in Miniature, the number of barrels with the ability to fire in salvoes. The former, especially with ships that were undamaged, had virtually no provision for ships missing the target so two ships could very quickly render each other hors de combat in very short order - ideal for the game in a strategic context (battles are usually brutally quick) but much less satisfying at the tactical level.

The system I have employed for gunnery uses a number of d6 based on the number of barrels firing. This number is varied for range - typically being halved at long range and doubled, in some cases tripled at very close in. Each dice scores a hit on a 4 or 5 or 2 hits on a 6. Each natural 6 rolled gives an extra dice roll. I have a provision in place for a critical hits - these result from rolling two sixes when firing and the firing player  then has the option of inflicting the normal damage called for by the score or rolling once on the critical hit table. The table itself is based on that used by Paul Hague in his book. The dice rolls to damage vary depending on the gun/armour combination and I have allowed ships armed with 15" or larger weapons an additional positive modifier for damage simply because the damage they inflicted when hitting a target was of a different magnitude to that of a 12" weapon.

Damage is simply crossing hit boxes off - entirely at the owning players discretion - and when the ship has all if its protection boxes ticked off the ship is sunk. The effect of this is that ships will usually lose weapons and topside systems (assuming the odd critical hit pops up occasionally) first when engaged with gunnery. The cunning player will no doubt be thinking that they will take all their gunnery hits on secondary guns first but their is a mechanism in place to prevent this. Basically, if the lowest weapon type (by that I mean the lightest calibre carried) has been completely crossed off on the side of the ship receiving fire then any extra hits immediately come off the protection value of the ship. This should ensure that damage will be spread around the ship rather than concentrated in one area.

Torpedoes are handled in virtually the same way as in Jutland - I have always liked the 'launch in one turn, resolve in the second' approach - but the only difference I have employed is that factors have been dispensed with and applicable ships (destroyers for the most part) roll but a single dice to hit. The idea behind this is to ensure that formations attack, thereby increasing the risk of a torpedo hit against an enemy.

It all makes sense in the draft!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Reinventing a set of Naval Wargame Rules....Part 1

Regular readers of this blog will no doubt be familiar with my continuing and protracted attempts to design a set of naval wargames rules for what can essentially be described as the dreadnought era. I have tried many different combinations of ideas and permutations of existing mechanics but have, hopefully at long last, finally settled on what I think is the best way forward for me. It is not startlingly original but represents a combination of two ideas that have been at the the forefront of my naval wargames consciousness for nigh on thirty odd years.

I am of course referring to the old Avalon Hill table top game of Jutland and also Sea Battles in Miniature by Paul Hague.

The former, designed by Jim Dunnigan in the early 1960s, has at its heart an outstanding plotted map system for operational level movement. This I am happy to use as written - it needs absolutely no work from me to improve it. It is simple to use, tense and exciting and has that all-important 'feel'. I have played this game countless times and the experience is hugely rewarding. It may lack the sophistication of more modern systems but works exceedingly well - trying to either find or avoid being found by the enemy in the North Sea was a challenging experience in the days before radar or effective aerial reconnaissance and the system captures this very nicely and in a simple to use fashion. The tactical system however, lacks sufficient weight to appeal to the hardcore naval wargamer. It is not a bad system but as it was obviously designed as a quick resolution to the actions generated by the map moves - I have no problem with this but it does mean that the game will suffer when used as on purely one off tactical action.

Sea Battles in Miniature by Paul Hague on the other hand, has a very good tactical system but, in my opinion, is on less surer footing from the strategic perspective. The tactical rules capture that one thing that is really dear to any naval wargamer - the ability to translate the specifications of their chosen ships into a game format. Using these rules a player will recognise the abilities of his ships - how many and what calibre of guns are carried, the ship's speed and armour levels.

I got to thinking then, that between the two sets there was a very happy medium - a good strategic set and a good tactical set. The only problem I could see was that the tactical rules seemed a little out of step with the level of complexity I wanted for the overall feel. Although Paul Hague used them very successfully in his Battle of the Texel, 1916 (the game demonstrating the rules in action) I felt that they were better suited to a tactical game as they seemed to encourage, by virtue of their detail, that perennial problem of the naval wargamer - am I a captain or an admiral?

In a nutshell, what I set out to achieve was to take the best elements of both sets and fuse them (or batter them into submission!) into a set of rules that could best be described as 'Advanced Jutland' or 'Sea Battles in Miniature Lite'. The result is a strategic system that generates credible tactical battles and that the latter could also be used to fight one off tactical games that have a sufficient level of detail and 'feel' to make the game worthwhile.

It was easy in theory but challenging in practise but I think that I may have just about cracked it.

At a summary level this is what I have taken from which set of rules with J being Jutland and SBiM being Sea Battles in Miniature.

  • Map moves - J
  • Ships speeds and Movement - J
  • Ship protection - J (but with my own spin on this!)
  • Gun rates - J
  • Gun rates carried - SBiM
  • Gunnery - J/SBiM
  • Damage - J/SBiM
  • Torpedoes - J/SBiM
Gunnery, Damage and Torpedoes have had the most 'tweaking' from me.

In the second part of this post I will describe exactly how I got to where I am in respect of the rules and I also hope to be looking at trying out a small test game.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Chaco, Jutland and a flight of US Navy Wildcats....

As usual work has been very busy and so this is the first chance I have had to write a post for a few days. This week has seen the arrival of some bits and pieces for the ongoing project selection including, from our friends at Peter Pig, five packs of 40mm square plastic bases and a special pack of 8 x 81mm WW2 German mortars without the crews - these will replace the Irregular Miniatures versions I have for the Chaco set as they are far less fiddly and are more wargames friendly. The bases will be sued for this set up as the armies will be organised a la Megablitz. I have a cunning plan around using these for Portable or Memoir-type games as well, all will be revealed in due course.

I also took delivery of four Grumman Wildcats from the Axis and Allies aerial wargame. These are 15mm and are currently in US navy colours but I shall be repainting them into Fleet Air Arm plumage in due course. These will be featuring in my planned Middle Eastern project.

My WW1 1/2400th ships are still en route and so this weekend I shall be chopping out bases in advance of the delivery - especially as for the foreseeable future my only hobby time will be the weekends. The rules are virtually ready though and I hope to have written these up over the weekend.

Busy, busy, busy....

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A Father's Day Gift or two

One to savour and for the South American section of the library - needless to say there are some cunning plans afoot for the period....

A late post to be sure, but certainly one worth mentioning. I was spoilt rotten by the offspring for Father's Day with chocolates, jaffa cakes, a CD and some smelly stuff from my daughter and a very welcome Waterstone's gift card from my son.

It is a well known and curious phenomena in that I am incapable of hanging on to a Waterstone's gift card for anything length of time. As soon as I get one I have this lemming-like compulsion to use it as soon as is humanely possible. Yesterday proved to be no exception with the acquisition of the above title.

Bolivar by Marie Arana (ISBN 978 0 297 87026 5) is a new biography of 'The Epic Life Of The Man Who Liberated South America' and certainly the 'Epic' nature of his exploits is a subject of great interest. As mentioned, I have a small library on the subject of the South American wars of liberation but was missing a biography of Simon Bolivar so this gap has now been filled. In my opinion, anybody that has a country named after them must have a tale to tell.

In terms of gaming the wars I would probably look no further than a DBA/HOTT style set up which has already been tackled by the legendary Kaptain Kobold's Free Stuff. I have no idea when I will tackle this particular period or even in what scale but I will get around to it at some point - it is just too entertaining and exotic not to!

Having said that, I have a couple of notions to consider....

Sunday, 16 June 2013

More thoughts on Jutland

S.M.S. Lutzow - she was suttled at Jutland after receiving some 24 heavy calibre shell hits. In the opinion of many this class of warship (her sister was S.M.S. Derflinger and near sister the later S.M.S. Hindenburg) was amongst the finest ever designed.

I received an email from Mark at Stonewall Miniatures to tell me that the final part of my order is now on its way from the wilds of the West Country. I am delighted with this news and in the meantime have been dusting off the work I had undertaken on bringing the old Avalon Hill Jutland rules into something rather more to my curent thoughts on the subject of WW1 naval warfare. It is funny that the passage of time since I made a start on this particular part of my project has not dimmed my enthusiasm to any great degree but it has reminded me of the problems I experienced the first time around - namely attempting, in effect,to reverse engineer the ship specifications and such like.

My plan is to use the Jutland system pretty much as it was written but with my own take on the gunnery and damage. You may recall that I felt that the original system made for a very short game as ships could be rendered impotent in fairly short order by some fortuitous enemy gunnery. This is probably realistic in terms of the effects of a ship being pummelled continuously (or, to be more accurate, being hit repeatedly in a short space of time) but does not make for an entertaining game, especially of you are the recipient of such an exchange! I read somehwhere recently that at Dogger bank the combined fleets fired around a thousand heavy calibre shells with something like fifteen recorded hits - of which two thirds were scored by the Germans. Clearly then, for a GAME we need to have something a little more decisive but not shatteringly catastrophic (unless you happen to be in command of a British battle cruiser of course!).

The Jultand gunnery system uses a d6 and a combat results table. In a nutshell you look at the column equal to the number of firing 'factors' your ship currently has and then roll the die. This will give the number, if any,  of hits scored. These are crossed off the targets gun factors first and when these are all gone they can be taken as flotation or protection hits. Ships ar only sunk when all the flotation or protection hits have been crossed off unless the target has been torpedoed, in which case the damage is taken directly from the flotation or protection value.

The problem with the system as it stands is that capital ships only have main guns and no provision is made for secondary weapons. There is a system available from one of the numerous magazine articles written over the years but this is not really what I was looking for as I wanted to represent carying gun calibres with separate factors. I factored this in but then hit a minor snag in  that it meant that ships in effect gained extra damage boxes so ships with more guns would last longer before having to lose flotation or protection points.

My solution owes a debt to Paul Hague's WW1 era rules featured in his book - Sea Battles in Miniature. In a nutshell, and I have yet to work out the specifics, each hit that is scored against an enemy ship is rolled for. The hit in each case is recorded against the ship dependent on the effect roll. I have yet to determine the table for for this but one could also state that each hit must be assigned on an alternate basis e.g. main, secondary, flotation, main, secondary and so on - in other words hits effect the ship all over rather than just in a single area first. Using the latter as an example then every third hit suffered by a target ship comes off the flotation value. Historically ships under heavy gunfire tended to take most damage above the waterline but the possibility of an underwater hit cannot be ruled out. Using the latter 'one in three goes below' approach will allow for this. As ever, this will need to be tried out and once I have a selection of models ready I fully intend doing so.

Jutland uses formation counters for 'Light Ships' - meaning that light cruisers and destroyers are massed with the former typically representing two or three ships whilst the latter could be anything up to nineteen vessels! Clearly this will not do and so I have settled on a destroyer base representing four such vessels and the cruiser base two. In each case this could be varied depending on the scenario.

So far, so good then.

The biggest stumbling block I came across previously was around the question of protection values. They did not seem to be consistent in that I thought that it was based around the maximum thickness of belt armour. This was fine for (most) of the German ships but without exception the RN vessels seemed underprotected. Now I am not about to start a debate around the relative merits of German as opposed to British shipbuilding and damage control etc - I doubt that I could add little to such a contentious subject - as what I want is a consistent measure of this figure. I have settled on using the maximum thickness of belt armour as the benchmark so the ships of the Royal Navy will be better off than under the original game - usually by a couple points. It may not be the most scientific method available but it works for me and the games I want to fight. The important thing is that the approach will be uniform and that I will know the whys and wherefores of what the numbers actually represent!

It is always a good idea to step away from a particularly thorny problem and to revisit it with a fresh pair of eyes at a later date. Certainly in this case it was a good idea as the issues I was previously grappling with now seem a little less daunting.

Once the models arrive from Stonewall I shall be busy with the painting so getting the rules ready in advance is a sensible course of action.

I am hugely excited by this!

Friday, 14 June 2013

Thoughts on WW1 Naval in 1/2400th and something I shall look forward to.....

"Give them nothing....but take from them everything....!" - OK, I realise that Leonidas did not serve afloat but the quote was worth a spin in any event....

This is very much a naval themed post - and from both ends of the historical spectrum!

At the time of writing the final part of my 1/2400th WW1 naval order from Stonewall Miniatures is en route from deepest Cornwall and so naturally, my thoughts are heading toward the completion of next phase of the project. After some careful thought I have decided that the models will be used solely for the Grand and High Seas Fleets respectively and so both Fezia and Rusland will remain 'Dreadnoughtless' for the time being - or at least until I can get a meaningful order over to Panzerschiffe in the US for the remaining vessels for these two worthies. A lot of the earlier British and German types  - especially battle cruisers - are missing from the Stonewall range, as are anything usable for the Russians and Turks so this will be addressed via the US company in due course. Once the Stonewall order is here though, I will be looking to turn it around painting-wise in short order which, using my new technique, should be fairly straightforward.

With work being the way it is I will need to plan the painting around weekends so having a plan for this will be a big time saver in order that I make the most efficient use of the hours available.

I have also been thinking about rules and the type of actions I will be looking to game. For the North Sea set up I will be looking at varieties of fleet level actions and so using a set of rules that are both fast in execution and capture the feel of operations at this scale will be obligatory. I have looked at a lot of sets of rules - each very commendable in their own way - but have settled on using the old Avalon Hill Jutland rules as the basis of my North Sea (and further afield) adventures.

These rules have had much extra detail added to them over the years - detail that has stayed true to the original Jim Dunnigan design. The end result is a set of rules that are simple, fast in execution and with sufficient 'feel' to fully capture the experience of commanding squadrons of battleships at sea. They are a very 'old school' set of rules but in my opinion this only adds to the attraction.

The only change I will need to employ is to change the measurements into inches.

That's right....inches - NOT hexes....

This is fairly radical for me but given the number of models I shall be using and the amount of space needed to deploy them in means that the 6ft by 4ft table will need to come out and a cloth used. I am not phased by this as the actual calculations involved are very simple and will equate to roughly 2" to a thousand yards - simply put, 20,000 yards will be 40".

This will be a simple and unfussy solution to a long-standing dilemma I have had in respect of naval rules for the period. Essentially I have settled on the scale of action I want to fight and the rules I want to use - simple really.

The next thing is something that I had not considered but I am hugely excited about. Next year will see the release of 300: Rise of an Empire - by the same team that produced the film 300. Now I know that 300 was a piece of enjoyable hokum but I really liked the concept and imagery and so the news that the naval battle of Artemisium, with possibly a touch of Salamis thrown in for good measure was being made had me a positive whirl of anticipation. Some dubious details (Wikipedia) can be found here - 300: Rise of an Empire

It will certainly give me some impetus to think about the 1/1200th navies for sure....;-)

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The Work Related Project List....Part 2

Right then, what exactly does this list look like? In truth it is not hugely different from previous posts on the subject and to be honest, I find it a useful exercise to sit down and draw up such lists from time to time as it helps to give a degree of clarity to the process. The list looks something like this:

  • 1/2400th WW1 naval. The last part of my order is now en route which will mean two things. Firstly, I can get the RN and High Seas Fleet tackled and secondly, I can add the last elements to the Rusland and Fezian navies.
  • The Chaco War. Aside from some trucks and possibly a couple of Shapeways aircraft I have everything I need for this project. I may look to replace the mortars with a better model and also the mountain gun I am using but other than that it is ready to commence.
  • 1/1200 Ancient naval. I will need to add another dozen Navwar triremes to the collection but again, other than that it is good to go. When ready I shall look to Command and Colours Ancients to supply the associated land actions.
  • ACW. I want to replace the command groups for both the infantry and the cavalry (cast on flags are real pain to paint in my opinion!) and possibly change the guns to something a little more robust looking but again, other than that it is also good to go. The naval side however is at ground zero in terms of models. As mentioned previously though, I shall be using Navwar models as they are both cheap and easy to come by.
  • 1/100th aircraft. The collection is growing rapidly for this although as yet is incomplete. I need a few more models and some decals before the repainting can commence though.
  • WW2 Middle Eastern project. Still a long way down the batting order - Chaco has seen to that - but the aircraft section will be the first part completed. This is now looking lie a project for next year in terms of the land based action.
It is a reasonable list to be sure and now I am back at work will take longer to execute. Still, it is good to have a plan - even if it is subject to the vagaries of chance or the ever-present threat of a whimsical distraction along the way!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Work Related Project List....Part 1

Now that I am back in the land of gainful employment it is pretty fair to say that my hobby time has been impacted on in quite a significant way. I am not usually home until around 7:30 in the evening and so by the time I have eaten, interacted with the family, watched an hour or so of trashy TV, it is then usually time for a bath and then off to bed. Once again, I have been clawing some time back on my train journey to and from the office but this is usually just reading - which is no bad thing in itself.

This has meant that I need to carefully prioritise my various ongoing projects as I no longer have the unlimited time of previously. I have given some careful thought to the order in which I am tackling the half or dozen or so items I have on the go - and the results will feature in the next post.

It might surprise you, then again, maybe not....;-)

Sunday, 9 June 2013

I have been to....Broadside 2013

This was a really good half day out and no mistake although officialdom served to make the ending somewhat, ahem, challenging....more of which later however.

Broadside is the wargames show organised by the Milton Hundreds Wargames Club in Kent and was held in the Swallows Centre, Sittingbourne. I would post a link to their website but it has been hacked and closed down as a result so the best I can do is to post the details listed on the following site - Brigade Models MHWC.

For me the best thing about days like this is catching up with old friends and in that respect the blogging fraternity was very well represented. I chatted with Fran, Lee, Postie and Ray of the famous Posties Rejects - I caught up with Clint and his legendary chocolate truffles, Tamsin P the mythical beast (don't forget the Pyrates - it is spelt like that - as it is really funny) and figure painter par excellence and the redoubtable Mr Cordery. The spectrum of blogs covered looks something like this:

Wargaming Miscellany

The Angry Lurker

Wargaming Girl

Anything but a 1

Don't throw a 1

Big Lee's Miniature Adventures

My first order of business was with Dave Lanchester of David Lanchester's Military Books to offload some spare titles from the collection and to take a long and envious look at some of the titles he has on offer. This was swiftly followed by a visit to Brigade Models to pick up a couple of packs of their really good 1/1200th scale Middle Eastern buildings. Brigade Tony is a sterling chap and he has been the source of all my ship flags for a number of years and with this new range of buildings (designed to be used with the Land Ironclads rules) he is really on to a winner in my opinion. I have a number of plans for these which will feature on the blog in due course.

Brigade Tony - before I had spent some money with him - he was smiling afterwards though....;-)

One half of Clint's very nice looking 1/2400th Napoleonic naval game....

....and the half half of the combatants who did not want to be left out....;-) To Clint though - many thanks for the Chocolate!

Those awfully nice Pilum Painting People - Pilum Painting

A beautiful looking Sudan game in 28mm....

....with a very impressive looking gunboat.

The Rejects were in action on the Boyne - once again I managed to miss out on a group shot of the gang in all its glory - sorry chaps! To Ray - once again many thanks for the 'secret project'.

Mr Fox and SEEMS took to the skies with this 1940 furball over France, being the first action of the day. 

A 109 is trailing rather a lot of smoke but the Stuka seems to be unaffected and looking longingly at the target in front of it....

Courtesy of Bob Cordery - a pair of very welcome titles for the collection - especially the one on the right....We also discussed matters Chaco related and much food for thought has come out of this so thanks again Bob.

This was my 'Oooh Shiny' moment - but not in quite the way you would imagine.....

1930s tanks in action - what's not to love? This also has a cunning ulterior motive....

Bargains of the day though - all four of the above titles for the meagre sum of £5 each!

It was great to catch up with a lot of old friends (and new) and my only regret was that I did not allow myself enough time to take part in one of the club aerial dogfights. My parking ticket for the car had run out and I was loathe to part with even more money so basically I ran out of time. There was a warden lurking as well and so I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and headed for home. Still, it was a great day out all the same and I am quite sure that I will be able to revisit the scenarios Mr Fox had devised at a later date.

On the basis of today Broadside is very much a booked date in my calender and I shall look forward to next year with relish.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Left Handed Vickers 6 ton tanks

The QRF Vickers 6 ton tank, Mark A with the left handed machine guns....

I readily admit to being rather embarrassed by this. During the Chaco War Bolivia had the services of three Vickers 6 ton tanks - one of which was the twin-turreted mark A version. As an aside, Turkey also made use of this mark, fielding sixteen of them. I wanted one in 15mm for use with the Bolivian army and so was pointed in the direction of QRF by Bob Cordery as a potential supplier. Lo and behold, I saw one and ordered it, and it arrived yesterday.

The white metal model comprises but 5 pieces - the hull, the track sections and the two turrets and it was the latter that caused my embarrassment. The turrets are built so that the machine gun is offset to the left when viewed from behind. Both turrets were identical and I got into my head that this was in fact wrong - surely there should be both a left and a right handed turret? After carried out a quick check on Google and could not get a clear idea - at least not from the images I could see. I even fired off an email to QRF querying this - it looked plain wrong in my opinion. Imagine my surprise then, when I discovered, via a more intensive search of the net that....

....Both turrets are, in effect, left handed!

I felt rather foolish about my mistake (I had not really checked in sufficient detail) and so offer a public and shamefaced apology to Geoff at QRF for doubting the accuracy of the model (which I should point out is a lovely casting) but, in my defence, opening the package came at the end of a very long day and so my concentration was perhaps not quite as sharp as it should have been....;-)

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

May the Force be with Who....

My daughter Holly sent me this and it made me chuckle.....

Sunday, 2 June 2013

A Perfect Piece of Timing....

Back in the boot sale groove....

The weather today has been glorious and so as is our invariable custom during the summer months, SWMBO and I attended a local boot sale this morning.

I was very glad we did!

I mentioned in my previous post that I was going to base my Chaco War collection on Megablitz style bases which have a small magnetic square on the base for use with the strength markers. I had some of the strip but it had been used up on various ship bases over the years. I was delighted therefore, to find a chap that sold me the two packs you see in the picture (total length being 152 cm) for the princely sum of a pound. That was a good start to the day and no mistake.

I then followed this up with the paperback you see above at a cost of a mere 50p. The Winter War is something that I know very little about other than the fact that the Russians were comprehensively outfought and prevailed eventually due to sheer weight of numbers - at least that has been the thrust of the comments I have read in some of the popular histories. What has piqued my interest in this war is the fact that the Finns managed to get a number of 'aces' flying both MS 406s and Brewster Buffaloes - which in terms of the Axis and Allies aerial game is quite a feat as they are not the greatest examples of single fighters ever built.

I have absolutely no intention of gaming this war - there is far too much snow for my taste - but I am interested in the effect it had of the Russians prior to the German invasion.

In closing I have managed to source the trucks I need for the Chaco War and I have ordered another couple of artillery pieces from Irregular just to finish off the collection.

Meanwhile, back to the marathon Borgias series 2 watching.....;-)

The Chaco War 1932 - 1935

A political cartoon of the Chaco War

This may come as a complete surprise to some but is more likely as seen as being yet another example of my taste for the unusual when it comes to wargames. My present to myself for being back in the land of the employed was a pair of 15mm Irregular Miniatures armies for the Chaco War in South America between Paraguay and Bolivia from 1932 to 1935. I have all the figures I need and all that is missing is some trucks (I shall use Zveda Zis 5 trucks for both sides - not entirely accurate but close enough to the American Ford that was in use as to make no difference) and perhaps a coupe of aircraft from Shapeways.

The radical step I shall be taking with this collection is that I intend basing the models for use with Tim Gow's Megablitz rules - which means for infantry a pair of figures on a 40mm square base with a magnetic strip for recording losses. This will also mean that they will be usable for either the Memoir or Portable series of rules by Bob Cordery. It also means the number of figures needed is relatively small.

The collection consists of around 50 infantry, a dozen cavalry with dismounts, an assortment of artillery - field guns, mountain guns and the odd heavy howitzer - and the inevitable HMGs and mortars. Bolivia also has the use of a Vickers 6 ton tank, courtesy of QRF.

As it stands at the moment the only book I own on the subject is the Osprey title (and very good it is as well)  but this lack will be rectified fairly soon - and a post will follow as a result.

This is 100% an 'Oooh Shiny' project and I must confess that up until the end of last year this war had never even featured on my project radar - in fact to my shame and embarrassment I had not even heard of it! 

The conflict is a very self contained one and so what I currently have will suffice entirely for my gaming needs in this theatre.

Of the Irregular Miniatures figures I will say only this - the Paraguayans are very nice indeed in a simple way and so are the Bolivians but the latter are quite 'flashy' and so will need some attention prior to painting. The paint jobs will be simple enough, even for me, and at the moment the only difficulty I can foresee concerns suitable terrain. I am looking long and hard at the 'desert transition' Hexon tiles as being suitable to represent the semi-arid terrain of the Chaco but that will something to finance at a later date.

In closing I should extend my thanks to Bob Cordery - simply because it wasn't for his interst in this war I would probably have still not heard of it....;-)

Saturday, 1 June 2013

New and Shiny

Soviet Yak 1 fighter of WW2

Firstly, I must apologise for the paucity of posts in recent weeks - this has been solely down to work and so going forward I shall (probably) be posting mainly at the weekends. For the record my hours are 8:30 to 6:00 but by the time I get home it is around 7:30 so allowing for the usual domestic necessities of life - speaking to the family and eating it is normally quite late and so matters gaming related tend to take a back seat. I wouldn't have it any other way though!

This week has seen a number of items dropping through the letter box - the first of which is a batch of four 15mm scale Yak 1  fighters for the Axis and Allies aerial game. These are currently in an overall white winter scheme but will be repainted to look something more like the picture you see above. They complete the fighter strength for the Russian air force for my Middle Eastern project along with the four Polikarpov I-16s I already have.

The second part of deliveries for the week is something very new and shiny - and will form a more detailed post over the course of this weekend.

Once I have sorted it out, that is....;-)