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That is … tanks and armour, of course … a wargames and simulations weekend organised for likeminded enthusiasts at the Defence Academy from time to time.

HM 2019 01

We did several matrix games on modern warfare themes, a Defence Procurement exercise, a ‘Footfall’ rescue mission, a team mission on the computer simulation they use for officer training – and clambering on tanks (there was also another group computer simulation on the starship Artemis but I had to leave before that final session in order to do some heritage guiding back in Northamptonshire).

HM 2019 02(why it’s called ‘Heavy Metal’ …)

Plus piracy in the Renaissance Mediterranean and a Western Gunfight … and I took down the Northamptonshire Battlefields Society‘s Edgcote 1460 game (armoured warfare – just of a different era … ).

HM 2019 03(amongst other things we managed to solve the Iran sanctions crisis – see those smiley faces starting to appear!)

One weekend, 10 games, 6 different game designers, from tabletop figures to computer simulations … from the Medieval World to Outer Space … and tanks …

HM 2019 04(the gunfight had some interesting mechanisms gave a fun game, lovely card buildings and cut-out figures)

But as this is my 20th Century blog, I’ll show you some Heavy Metal (quite a bit of which is post 20th Century, of course, but it’s otherwise fully on message) …

HM 2019 05

Name that tank (or fighting vehicle)!

HM 2019 06

HM 2019 07

Now that’s a mighty big beast …

HM 2019 08

HM 2019 09

There’s a lot of ordnance around …

HM 2019 10

… and examples of what it can do …

HM 2019 11(gratifying to know we retain the ability to blast holes in reinforced concrete)

The piracy game had us all following a decision track but making different decisions along the way.  And picking up consequently different scores.  I didn’t trust the Venetians so did OK.

In the Officer Training rescue mission (First Person Shooter) I didn’t do quite so well.  I was having a lot of issues adapting to the controls (I’m not a computer gamer)  … I did eventually get to the objective, went (literally) nose-to-nose with the last terrorist … only to have no bullets left and all my spare mags used.  Whatever else I did, I needed to have saved the last burst for him.

Edgcote

I will update this blog with a link to the ancient and medieval stuff once it has been written up (for those of you who want more of this one), but, off theme here, here’s a some flavour …

HM 2019 17

Robin of Redesdale faced the earl of Pembroke across the little river that flows through Danesmoor a few miles from Banbury.  It is the decisive battle of the 1469 rebellion.  The Northerners have their showdown with William Herbert’s royalist army from Raglan.

HM 2019 15(Herbert mounts up his retinue and charges across the watercourse into Redesdale’s lines)

It’s a 28mm reconstruction and the play-through uses an adapted version of Hail Caesar.

We played it twice with 2 very different outcomes.  The first game saw both sides’ reinforcements slow to materialise, something of a ‘score-draw’ as the earl of Devon failed to engage for the royalists and Herbert’s attempted flank attack was beaten back with some losses.

HM 2019 19

In the second game the action moved at a brisker pace, both sides’ rearlines were up quickly … Herbert charged the rebel centre and seemed to have them on the ropes – but he failed to follow up.  And, shortly after, John clapham turned up on his flank with the rabble from Northampton under their wild rat banner.  They aren’t history’s finest but they were good enough on the day to swing the balance and Herbert’s army quickly went from ragged to routed in a couple more turns.

Many thanks to my players for a cracking game.

Here’s a link to some more on Edgcote

Here’s a fuller report on the Edgcote games …

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CoW 2019

CoW 2019 00

The 2019 Conference of Wargamers at Knuston Hall, Northamptonshire.

My life has become so busy that it is a long time since I was able to head off to CoW for the entire weekend and just lose myself in the opportunities it presents.  This year was no different.

CoW, of course is a multi-period, multi-genre event, but I will post my photo report here as I have done previously.  I had three major involvements this year plus I sat in on a number of illuminating sessions.

CoW 2019 01(Airstrike available in AK minus 47 … my 20th century contribution to CoW 2019)

I enjoyed sitting in on Trebian’s Va t’en Ecosse, a wargame of the ’45 played with (mostly old Airfix) 20mm soldiers.

CoW 2019 15

CoW 2019 16

Elsewhere

CoW 2019 17

My main contribution on the Saturday was to present and run our model of the battle of Edgcote (not in this blog’s period so I’ll just give a flavour …) …

CoW 2019 02

CoW 2019 08

AK minus 47

Sunday morning: this was a light-hearted attempt to get out some nice toys (including my new carriers) and continue the theme of Operation Coldfeet/Ice Station CF … this time taking up the story with the failed sky-hooking of the agent (and the consequential ‘boots on the ground’ rescue/evaluation mission).  Of course, this never happened and is totally deniable.

CoW 2019 18

The search mission column enters the table and some unseen defenders deployed (making the best use of the minimal landscape to avoid line-of-sight).

CoW 2019 10

In the inevitable fire-fight (and as always seems to happen) the lead vehicle got taken out quite quickly while the foot groups debussed from the carriers.

CoW 2019 12(AK minus 47: Nato-ish column … VBL converted by me, carriers by BPM, troops in parkas by Khurasan)

The going got tough so the rescue mission had to call in further support.   The tactical leader chose to rope his unit out of helicopters right onto the abandoned ice station.  Although they did some good, they got shot to pieces.

CoW 2019 11

At this point I should apologise for the mismatching bases.  Some of my men in parkas got left at home but I had a unit of Peter Pig Russian Scouts in a different box, so they had to make an impromptu appearance.  Needs must.

The session reminded everyone how much potential there still is in Peter Pig’s classic edition of AK 47 and with the little tweaks, it didn’t seem misplaced in Arctic conditions (indeed its randomness sort of worked) and we thought up a few more special effects as we went.

With the botched rescue attempt, however, the mission was going wrong.  I allowed the sub to turn up (shades of Ice Station Zebra, of course – but the players were demanding it) and the so far unobtained airstrike (as photo opportunities) …

CoW 2019 13a

CoW 2019 13(AK minus 47: flogger acquiring target)

I think there is some potential in this.

That was my CoW 2019.  Thanks to everyone who made it a wonderful distraction and an inspiring weekend.  Next year is number 40.  Expect a celebration.

Shiny new things

May stuff 01

This might fashionably be called an ‘unboxing’ these days … actually I’m just saying some new toys arrived – a lot of little bits in a group order (Skytrex have a flat £5 fee for UK postage so it makes sense to club together when somebody wants something) …

My ‘something’ was the last contender in my forthcoming Great Russian Truck Off – a ‘shootout style’ comparison of what you can get these days to shift the Red Army around.

May stuff 02… plus, you will see, an artillery half-track, and in the background some Peter Pig Nebelwerfers and crew (well I decide the the Gaz truck could go into German service as I had, quite unrelated, realised that the German Army had no rocket troops (so if I was doing some shopping, I ought to fix that!) …

Anyway, back to the trucks … expect the full review in due course, but here’s a first impression of the Skytrex Gaz …

I hadn’t realised that the wheels were cast on.  That’s kind of a bonus as nobody likes fiddly wheels … the ‘fixings’, however, are pretty crude and _are noticeable on the finished models …

20190517_153448

I’m not sure I like this, and may have to take a file to them (and probably add a rear axle – and that probably means the Skytrex model isn’t going to win the Truck Off) ..

I kind of knew this from painted ones I have seen – but, in all honesty, I hadn’t realised how grim it was under there.

It’s also a bit wide.

May stuff 05

I may need to slim that beast down.  That’s a lot of truck for what is basically a ‘pick up’.

I will get the dimensions for the review lest it turns out I’m being unfair.  It is quite crisply cast, so will make a nice model (but to measure up to the best of the bunch, it might need some work doing) …

Anyway, look out for the big review … here’s a selection of contenders …

May stuff 03

Some, of course, are Gaz, some ZiS … some are solid metal, some hollow plastic.  The prices range from £2.75 (Butler) to £6.75 (Flames of War) though the QC might work out more than that if you are shipping in from the US.

Anyway, that’s all for another day.

 

Parades Season 2019

Paris Parades 02aEver since Tamer got this 3D puzzle (and completed it) for Christmas, I have wanted to drive trucks under it … it’s that kind of structure.  I’m sure you will sympathise.

Paris Parades 01

So, given it’s that time of year again, I thought I’d get a parade in before the Red Army drives by …

Anyway, I’ve featured quite a lot of my Soviet collection of late – so here are some of the poor relations.

Of course, although it is nowhere near big enough to fit with 1/100 trucks, it’s massive by wargame standards and difficult to get it all in.  But I drove trucks under it and that’s the point.

Paris Parades 03

Paris Parades 04(Wehrmacht Eiffel parade … 22nd Panzer Division takes the lead … )

Of course the main German parades were down the Champs d’Elysees and under the Arc de Triomphe for obvious reasons so this is the hithertoo unseen record of the units on their way to feature in the better known pictures …

Paris, Wehrmachtsparade

Paris Parades 07

Paris Parades 08a(figures are, of course, 15mm, mostly Peter Pig with PP, Skytrex, BF, QRF and Zvezda vehicles – oh, and some FiB like that Ammunition Schlepper in the picture …)

That done, I know the internet loves carpark scenes, so here are 22nd PD and 5th SS Motorised parked up prior to the parades …

Paris Parades 09

Paris Parades 10a

Obviously, re the pictures, if it’s colour, it’s probably ‘toy soldiers’, if it’s black and white, it’s likely Bundesarchiv material.  Ahem …

 

CWGC 01

Chris at NQM tipped me off about Butlers Printed Models who do a Viking all terrain vehicle that looks quite nice.  I had wanted to add one of these quirky carriers to my modern forces for some time but nobody made one (and the the scratchbuild, though an attractive challenge, would take more time than I have currently got) …

I had also been thinking of reprising some of my winter warfare ideas – particularly the light-hearted AK47 romp (it must be the time of year!).

So I bought a selection of vehicles from Butler (including the BvS 10 and a Russian truck which I will review shortly) …

CWGC 02(Butler’s Printed Models in 1/100)

… and some Khurasan modern troops in parkas …

CWGC 04

I added a couple of Peter Pig in there to make the numbers right … they are a bit smaller but once the heads are shared around and some milliput parkas are added, I reckon it won’t show.

They are armed primarily with AK74s, though my intentions are more generic than that suggests (hence my willingness to bus them up into notionally Nato vehicles!) …

CWGC 05(Khurasan modern soldiers and civilians in parkas with a touch of Peter Pig)

I need to tart up the plastic bases, detail up and add aerials etc. to the carriers (which have just had a basic white undercoat) – but ‘so far, so good’ … I need to get on with some other jobs and these now look good enough that I can think about some of the other more pressing tasks!

CWGC 06

NB the alternative cupolas for the vehicles – BPM offer a choice, so I got the protected MG style, but decided it looked a bit aggressive for the role I had in mind so I have reserved them for a ‘UN peacekeeper’ trim whilst scratchbuilding a simple ‘hatch with parka head sticking out’ for the freezing scenario I currently have in mind.

So this is a little ‘intervention’ patrol …

CWGC 07(the Cold War gets Colder on P.B.Eye-Candy)

I’ll do some proper reviews when time allow but for now … the Khurasan figures are excellent.  Buying them in from the US makes them expensive (so something of a small game option at the moment).  They sort of match with PP if you accept that men in  parkas are bigger anyway than men in ordinary fatigues – plus the weapons are a bit chunkier (actually I trimmed some of them down).  They look great.

Re the BPMs, I’m more ambivalent: they are inexpensive but the striated surfaces that seem to come with this sort of 3D printing are annoying.  Also the clean up takes a while and isn’t really that simple (not all of the waste snaps or cuts off and it is quite difficult to scrape or file) so there is a big penalty to pay for the economies.  Basically, the only reason to go to this sort of model will be availability – if 3D means you can get something which otherwise you would have to build yourself, then it wins easily.  If, however, you are choosing between similar items in traditional metal, resin or kit forms, I think you are better with the traditional models, even if they costs a little more.

New Accessions

New Accessions Dec 18 01

What’s been going on on the P.B.Eye-Candy workbench?  Well quite a bit of in-filling and a few new things too.

Above we see a couple of Zvezda fighters … not new, but ones I’ve not made before … from the same manufacturer, a couple of SU76s (absolutely new to everyone – I had these on notification order waiting for their promised release, so my guess is not many people have seen them) … and a couple of useful Skytrex models to round out some Eastern Front units.

But first …

Some French Foot Figures

I did these for the Alamein game to go with the Free French/FFL armour but they needed a bit more tidying up … anyway, here’s some pictures …

foot figs 01(here’s my commander … maybe Horrocks or Lumsden … based on the Peter Pig Andy Gittins figure)

He got some staff too … nice overloaded sedan, again from Piggie-land …

foot figs 05

I made up a couple of double based width units (so CK’s NQM size) for the Marine Infantry and the Greeks …

foot figs 03

The mine clearance markers are normal size, however … how important (albeit slow) these would be in the game …

foot figs 02(the minesweepers are from the 8th Army set – with head swaps as appropriate … the diggers are conversions)

foot figs 04(Yesthatphil’s Peter Pig 8th Army adapted to represent French Marines)

Zvezda new and old

I’ve stuck to my policy of making and painting what I buy so this is what I bought as a result of the end of the show season (I find it hard to spend at shows these days as there’s almost nothing I want available unless I get online … which eventually I did after Recon)

New Accessions Dec 18 02

The two little planes went together very quickly and I had some fun photographing the 109 against the trees through the window …

New Accessions Dec 18 03

New Accessions Dec 18 04

I made a ground base with a short mounting stub for the Polikarpov (which I assembled ‘wheels up’ for primary use on a flight stand).

New Accessions Dec 18 04a

I have replaced the fragile propellers with plastic disks … cutting them out hasn’t been a complete success – so expect a modelling entry when I figure out a cheap and neat way to do this (meanwhile just don’t look too closely!)

Armour

21st Panzer have been short of a self-propelled anti-tank unit and this lovely model comes from Skytrex.  All metal but you will need to find some crew figures.

New Accessions Dec 18 05

New Accessions Dec 18 06(model by Skytrex, added crew from Forged in Battle and PSC)

New Accessions Dec 18 06a(crew figures are a mix of Peter Pig and Battlefront)

I am very pleased with them.

I got the PzJ and the Scout Car as part of a small order that arrived within 3 days of a weekend browse. Well impressed.  Nice models, good price, exemplary service.

Models2U were slower delivering my SU76s … never mind, perhaps – they were worth the wait.  They are a bit fiddly … more like proper kits, these days, and I will add a review shortly – but here are some pictures …

New Accessions Dec 18 08

New Accessions Dec 18 09

These are such an important part of the Red Army it is nice to have an accurate and inexpensive model available.  Like the Skytrex models, however, you do have to find some crew figures.

More notifications as soon as I get the modelling tips and reviews written up.

Happy New Year!

So the big El Alamein game came and went over the Summer …

FFDD 000

It was indeed big, although, in the end, I’m not convinced the squares made as much of a contribution to managing the sprawling engagement as I had hoped they would.

An upside of the venture was that I got to fit out my Vichy French as Free French (or Fighting French, if you prefer) … the stalwarts who joined Montgomery’s army in the desert … heroes of Bir Hakeim and El Alamein.

FFDD 00(some new kit to give a Libyan configuration to my Moroccan French)

The French forces retained some of their original weapons though had much Anglo-American gear too.  They had little bespoke armour, using British tanks and theatre converted vehicles.  Yay … real world conversions – a lot down to the inventive mind of Adrien Conus …

FFDD 10(hard fighting at Alamein: FFL go in, supported by a Tanake unit, carrier conversion and Conus gun)

The Crusader tank is a lovely QRF model … the rest I had to build.  The Tanake had to built from the chassis up.  The carrier and Marmon-Herrington are what I have previously termed ‘pointless conversions’ (you can get them – or the basic vehicle anyway – just I had something nearly suitable so went about it the hard way!)

Tanake

FFDD 01

This is an armoured car built on a Dodge truck … so my work began with making some cosmetic changes to a QRF (nearly right) Chevrolet … (basically the bonnet/hood) and then painting the inside before assembly …

FFDD 03

The back end is all thin card … (recycling the backing card of the superglue with which it was assembled) … meanwhile fabricate an armoured shield with light gun and MG on a pintle, ready to drop in (this just makes painting and assembly easier) …

FFDD 04(we should end up with something that looks like this)

I’ve then made up wheel arches,  finished and sanded in the surfaces and detailing with Miliiput and made ready to paint.

FFDD 05

I was very pleased … it’s a great vehicle to have to do … (it’s like Indiana Jones meets Lawrence of Arabia – or is that just me?) … and it turned out easier than expected …

FFDD 06(Yesthatphil’s 15mm Dodge Tanake built on the QRF Chevrolet truck)

OK I got the height of the unusual back end wrong: I’ll have to find an example (they were all hand built so do differ) that matches or, at some point, I will need to go back and alter it – but indulge me for now: it was made to a deadline.

FFDD 07(top view and speedy insert)

As with the other vehicles, insignia was added in the less hurried hours after the game.

FFDD 10a

Hotchkiss Carrier and Marmon-Herrington

The ‘pointless’ conversions:  once upon a time I had bought too many Skytrex Humber light armoured cars, and have been grateful for chances to use them.  It’s completely unsuitable for a Marmon-Herrington but with the size and shape changed and bigger wheels … well it’s almost convincing …

FFDD 11(so … reshape, add big wheels, restyle the front, add those tell-tale ribs on the bonnet …) 

Of course the real ‘conversion’ here is adding a French crew, Breda gun mount (rather than a turret) and coal scuttle gun shield.

FFDD 12(again the basics are card, the finishing details are Milliput epoxy … and paint …)

FFDD 12a(Yesthatphil’s French Marmon-Herrington/Breda)

The Hotchkiss Carrier

In this case the unnecessary work was the result of Chris giving me a PSC Loyd Carrier which I didn’t have a particular use for (so it sat on the bench unassembled for a while) … the the French requirements came up and (actually looking for a portee), I found pictures of the carrier SP … Great, I said … I could use that carrier.

Chris agreed, and pointed out that it would almost right (‘good enough’) as there was little difference between the carriers other than the Loyd’s having more wheels.  Well, that’s not good enough then … is it …

FFDD 13

… so in addition to the ‘main job’ of creating a suitable fighting compartment and adding the big (well, relatively speaking, big) gun and shield … I had to shorten the whole thing …  You’d never know, though … right?

FFDD 14(… and just add paint)

Again, I think it turned out fine.  From the contemporary photos it looks like the gun isn’t long enough … I think they mostly used a ‘long’ version.

FFDD 15(French Universal Carrier with Hotchkiss 25mm AT … 15mm conversion from PSC parts)

Both of these pointless exercises have added a lot of value for me … there was going to be work involved in assembling these unusual vehicles anyway … but doing it the hard way has cleared a number of odds and ends from my desk (things have found a home) and the models have already seen action in the big game.

Nevertheless, the Tanake has to be my favourite.  A true ship of the desert.

FFDD 00a

Postscript … I’ve titled this part ‘1’ … the keen-eyed will have spotted the Conus gun in the Alamein pictures.  It was very much a quick stand in … and I need to go back and do the job properly.  And I mentioned portees.  So there will be a part 2.

And there were some soldiers too.

Plus I think the French vs Italian engagement on the Southern flank will make a good PBI game – and that will be a good reason to complete those last details.  It all comes together sometimes.

In due course I will transfer the Tanake build to the modelling section.