A little bit of PBI

Thanks to Will we were back on WWII and back on PBI but this time with his 20mm figures.

Quite an old school look, then, to this brave attempt by the French to hang on to a farmstead in the face of escalating German advances.

Will and Patrick took the Germans, ‘NQM Chris’ and I the French.

The Germans had a lot more automatic firepower than we did and slightly better tank support.  I doubted our 25mm Hotchkiss would stop them and expected to be overrun quite quickly.

(Patrick and Will deploy – withering fire and an assault seems iminent on our weak front)

We got some extra troops on sooner than the Germans and they had to swing left to help protect the Hotchkiss from an infantry attack.  Turret MGs proving sufficient for this as the Germans had already broken cover …

(Ooh la la … What a target mon ami!)

The Germans hastily responded but in doing so presented a perfect taget to the little French pop gun.

Rarely do I do ‘dice shots’ on P.B.Eyecandy but requiring 9 to hit, the French gunners excelled …

The remaining German troops on that flank (coutesy of maximum roll for action points) mounted an immediate grenade assault on the mixed French force.  They managed to strip away the infantry with preparatory shooting then trusted to their Manner gegen Panzer training.   It was messy.

(PBI: infantry assault armour … the red tokens are casualties)

It was heroic but ultimately failed.  As a game mechanism, they did get to roll more dice, but the vehicles get to roll to save (the foot do not): 2 hits a-piece, but the tanks saved one so the infantry are repulsed losing 2 stands.  The surviving stand was lost in the disengagement roll.

This, combined with a failed morale test on the other flank (after a mortar stonk) meant the German plan to wrap around the position had not worked.

They still had the means to mount a frontal attack.   But fresh French troops were now reinforcing the near empty position and the game clock was running down.

Against expectations, this hastily organised French position would hold on just a little longer.


If you follow Chris’s NQM Blog (and you should) you will have seen all the technical details of the Battle of Vyazma.  This grand operational game saw the first action of some of the snow soldiers I have been tinkering with of late* – so here is their photo story.**

In still freezing conditions, the Red Army was heading West …

Minefields took a toll but the Scouts pressed forward

… onwards …

… as resistance stiffened, the Sturmoviks screamed in, following the road …

The first wave of reinforcements pushed North around the Viazma pocket …

… and now an armoured column appears on the road West ..

… and crashes straight into the main defences …

… not without losses …

Although the centre of Vyazma holds til the last man, armour quickly bursts through defences to the South ..

… and more armour streams to the front …

The Battle for Vyazma is fully committed when a German column crshes into the flank of the offensive.

But not early enough to stop the Northern encirclement …

As Vyazma finally fell, way to the rear German stragglers are brought into a Soviet aid post …

For them the war is over.

Kudos to Chris for managing such a mass of material in such a compact space.  It all made sense at the time.

*objective 1: get them painted; objective 2: get them into a game!

** as I suggest, for the narrative details, see Chris’s post.

More tinkering …

OK … a number of things –

I’m still experimenting with decals … how to use them and which ones … I’ve got this winter thing going on (appropriate, you might think, to the Summer of 2017) … and, well, I had to buy something at Partizan

I have a little rule … I try to spend a little at every show (whether I need anything or not): spending helps the world go around – and whatever I buy I have to paint (so as not to let the pile called ‘dormant projects’ get any higher) …

For all its many merits as a show, Partizan doesn’t have much for me but (in addition to books and scenics) I did find a 1:100 Zvezda T60 which I haven’t built or reviewed yet so why not …

Well it turns out I have already done that (here … ) and the appropriate slot in the divisional box is already filled.  I am sure all enthusiasts will occasionally forget they have bought something and get one again …

So, to fufill the second directive (to build and paint) I decided those airborne troops in Winter garb might possible deserve their own, Winter camo, support.  A T60 with whitwash swaths and snow-suited tank riders:

(Zvezda’s 1:100 T60 given a P.B.Eye-Candy makeover)

Brushes up nicely, of course.

I put a little red star on the glacis … occasionally you see them on Soviet armour – but less is definitely more.  The Russian for star is zvezda, as I’m sure you all know.   And that’s what inspired an interlude of tinkering.

The decal sets are the I-94 ones.  I had good results with the aviation symbols and vehicle plates but had also bought a Red Army slogans one which I hadn’t tried.  The lettering looked a little thin to me (not exagerated to the extent that you might need on 15mm/1:100 vehicles).

So I tried to liven up my aerosans …

The ‘guards’ slogan is 15mm … it’s kind of nice but you struggle to see it if you don’t get close up.  Thank heavens for the wonders of modern digital technology.

So I tried a 20mm slogan on a PSC T34

It’s the later, big turret 85, otherwise I’d not have got the decal on – but I do think the 20mm lettering is better for these models …*

But really what these pictures show is where mobile phones are, these days … the pictures are taken with my Samsung Galaxy  … now I did try to set the focus up properly as I wanted you to be able to see the decals – even so, when I reviewed the results I was quite surprised.

It made me remember when I did a magazine shoot back in the 80s with my (then) 35mm SLR … I got passably professional results but only after quite a bit of setting up.  How things have moved on.  And I guess what we do on our blogs today will look primitive tomorrow.

Here’s a T60 beauty contest.

A Zvezda win in my book … and they win on price, hands down.


*the PSC has Zvezda running gear … something I did for variety and compatibility … I also think, on reflection, that I’ve probably got the front tactical symbol turned through 90°, thus, perhaps, a talking point.

**the aerosans are from QRF … they’ve used one of mine on the website 😉 …

You can find I-94 on the internet or you can get them at UK shows from minibits

Snow troops 01

Just a quick experiment really … I swapped on a few ushanka heads and painted some of the new Piggie scouts in snow camo …

Now mostly the Red Army’s snow suits were one-piece coveralls with the equipment under the suit (2-piece suits on the Eastern Front seem generally Finnish or German ..) … but these paras show there were variants …

GroundParatroopers(Soviet Paratroops ready for wintry conditions)

So here’s the result of the experiment, ready for Chris’s next NQM retreat from Moscow.

Snow troops 02(Peter Pig 15mm Red Army Scouts with head swaps and white suits)

I think it works quite well and expands upon my ski troops.  Hopefully, in time, Martin will make some new packs in the more familiar voluminous coverall.  I would buy some.

The truck in the background is one of the new Piggie resin models.  Looks good I think.

Snow troops 03

I’m happy with that experiment.  The force expands.


VV 04

More lovely 1:1200 naval … I recently came across Revell’s reissued Littorio Class model (boxed as Roma) and could not resist.  Splendid and simple little model.

There’s more on the Reviews page

VV 03

VV 05


A page full of reviews has been added as I get round to photographing some of the recent additions to the P.B.Eye-Candy collection.

Scroll down the reviews page for …

Martin’s new Scouts range


Some thoughts on PSC vehicles …

PSC rev 06

And my recent trials of decals and markings.

decals 05

Tiger 01

This game mirrored some real events that took place in the Winter War … but for our purposes, the mission takes place in North Africa, just after the Vichy French forces joined the Allied cause.

Tiger 02

Some isolated German paratroops have taken possession of a broken down Tiger tank.  A French armoured car patrol has run into them and called up support.

The game is PBI and support for the Germans will come in the form of 2 ‘platoons’ of Saharianas … for the French, infantry is arriving and there will be an airstrike.

As you can see on the picture, the French player has been allowed to place a small platoon in ambush.


Tiger 03

The main objective is the broken down Tiger in the middle of the table.  It is not manned and has no function other than as a marker.

There are two secondary objectives …

Tiger 04

The Paras transport assets …

Tiger 05

… and the field kitchen and its essential victualing resources.  Because you just have to have one.

The Game:

At the start of the mission, some Laffly armoured cars are in a firefight around the gates to the old Casbah …

Tiger 06

The German AA truck was actually taken out by an anti-tank rifle from some of the Legionaires approaching from the East.

Tiger 07

But there was also a MG42 crew on the roof.

Tiger 08

… which effectivel pinned the Laffly’s down … and ultimately took them out.

Tiger 09

(one of these is destroyed, the little dice means the other is immoblised but might be recovered – unfortunately it got hit again … )

Meanwhile, the Arabs burst out in the buildings and close assaulted the Paras.

Tiger 10

Actually the placing player forgot they were in the square and machinegunned it.  So the first action was resolution of those hits … one of which went on the old jaloppy … and, on a saving roll of 1, turned out to be the group leader (PC equivalent and a Regular French Officer as it happens) …

If only you could plan these things.

In a bloody melee, the Arabs were thrown out …

Tiger 11

(PBI-style … the French airstrike lands in 3 empty squares)

Equally frustrating, the Hawk fighter missed its target (the required die roll allowing the defender to define the ‘off target’ drift).


We diced for these in traditional PBI style (which caused some predictable consternation as not everyone likes the mechanism) … I usually build arrivals into the scenario, but for this gathering I wanted to retain some flavour of the basic game.

Tiger 12

The Axis did rather well, getting their Company Commander and his jeep on early …

A fresh patrol …

Tiger 14

… and my newly painted Semovente – bought at Campaign, painted during the week – and straight onto the wargame table.  It had to be done.

Tiger 13

Amongst the French arrivals were these truck mounted Hotchkiss AA guns … quite vulnerable but about the best support weapons available to the French commander.

Tiger 15

But by this time the game (and real) clock was running it – and the intitial ‘coup de main’ had failed.

Although a bigger engagement could go either way, at this stage the French held none of the objectives and had lost a number of key vehicles (indeed all of the Lafflys … ) …

Fortune had allowed the Axis build to be more immediate and, as the picture shows, a strong grip was closing around the French footholds.

Tiger 16

Many thanks to the players for entertaining me for a coupe of hours – I really enjoyed seeing it play out.

This game still works for me.