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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!

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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.

Operational Boxes

Op Boxes 05(NQM Squared: the armoured thrust at El Alamein)

Over the Summer a lot of thinking has gone into the Operational Game and into grids – squares and hexes.   I have long advocated that Chris Kemp’s NQM might gain something from the structure grids are able to offer (who is – or is not – in contact with the enemy … who likewise can contribute or support etc.) …

Meanwhile, Trebian has been exploring the Great War, in part, through recreating campaigns using Op 14 by historian and wargamer Richard Brooks (whom many readers of this blog will know through Wargame Developments and his many contributions to the Nugget).

Then, whilst these options were in our minds, Bob Cordery published Hex Blitz (a variant of Megablitz played on a hexagon grid with a card driven unit activation mechanism).

We ran a couple of playtests … we used offset squares rather than hexes … they have exactly the same effects but they aren’t hexes (and Trebian has cloths already marked up in offset squares) …

Personally I think offset squares look a little less ‘star wars-y’ than hexagons – but that’s mostly a taste/style issue.  Board gamers seem to love the little six-sided thingies.

Op Boxes 01(Offset Squares: Hex Blitz on the Eastern Front)

Op Boxes 02(Offset squares: Hex Blitz Spanish Civil War)

I have to say that, for me, the 20th Century seems the age in which most military operations were planned on maps that had orthogonal grids on them … so my top candidate for a grid system to apply to a ‘modern’ wargame  (with inverted commas as we’ll get to a time when WWII etc. is no longer considered ‘modern’) would be orthogonal squares.

In Burma, of course, they fought in an Admin Box … and I can’t help thinking there’s a way, somehow, of translating the Admin Box into the Operational Square.

Op Boxes 03

But I think that’s a bit of literate candy-floss which would only go over a set of robust mechanisms.   So where have we got to?

So far, in all honesty, I don’t think we’ve quite reboxed the fluidity and simplicity of either NQM or Megablitz into the gridded wargame.

Op Boxes 04(Royal Artillery 25pdrs bombard Italian positions in a night phase of CK’s prototype Alamein game)

Op Boxes 04a(NQM Squared – El Alamein: the ‘crumbling’ attacks grind down Axis positions)

I think we have succumbed to the temptations of too many toys and/or of squares that are too small and try to do too much.

Using a large number of models apparently ups the scale of the game … and smaller squares enables more real ground to be scaled onto the same table area.  Both these seem to be win-win choices … but if the battle area becomes confused – and difficult for players to manage easily … then the primary benefit of shifting to the grid – clarity – is lost.  If the umpire is going to have to arbitrate positional and orientation issues then you may as well revert to NQM’s freewheeling style of active umpiring.

Op Boxes 06

I think the looser, less cluttered style of the first experiments with NQM Squared (above), or the simpler figure numbers of Op 14 (below, in a Russo-Polish battle recreated in Jockey’s Fields a while back) can be played more quickly because the table space can be understood more easily.

Op Boxes 07

Some things are not really working for me though … card activation and the unit by unit activation that goes with it … well these are tools to do a job.   I’d argue that whilst they suit a small game … solo game or similar, they are not solving problems you have if you play with a larger number of players and an umpire.

Further, unit-by-unit activation brings a whole host of other problems along with it – as units may end up sequentially attacked by a number of enemy actions in a temporally inconsistent pattern during a phase of otherwise apparently simultaneous action.

Being more abstract, this methodology can allow the resolution of a lot of complex interactions in a series of simpler small phases … but it can equally lead to near surreal episodes of play that defy the willing suspension of disbelief.

Op Boxes 08

If this post seems to have failed to get to an eloquent conclusion that may be a fair impression.  I did get to a nicely worded and coherent conclusion on my laptop – and then the unresponsive page gremlins failed to save any of it … so I am trying to rebuild the thoughts on my phone (which doesn’t just ‘break’ the way PCs and laptops seem to in the age of Windows 10).

So I was arguing for simultaneous action in big games and umpire resolution.

I was arguing against troop positionings straddling square boundaries and intersections … there are many ways of breaking the apparent limitations of the grid  but in breaking the limitations there is a significant risk of also breaking the gains in clarity and legibilty that were the reasons for turning to the grid in the first place.

I think I’m arguing for embracing the grid’s advantages rather than constantly butting against its limitations.

20180810_111642_resized

Engineers come in all shapes and sizes, militarily.   We often use the term for assault troops armed with specialist weapons such as flame throwers or who are equipped to break through hardened defences or clear mines … or built positions and/or lay mines.

Engineers build bridges, fix things (and break things) manage decontaminations and of course deal with wire … emplacing or removing …

Not all of these are strictly engineering … but are all part of a range of technical support services that expand or enhance what the basic soldiers can do.

For operational games it is useful to have markers or distinctive figure groups that show which troops can employ these extra technical skills and perhaps have access to special equipment.

My ‘go to’ figure for engineer capabilities in 15mm is a stormtrooper carrying wire from Peter Pig’s WWI German range.  With a suitable head swap.

Sov Eng 03

(Red Army engineers on a stick for painting … and finished: the men with wire are bottom left and 4th from the right)

The other figures are adapted to be carrying tools … axes, spades etc.

These figures are mostly to make up 4-figure ‘work parties’ …

Additionally, I want some motorised engineer battalions to add into mechanised divisions and I decided to represent these the same as I have represented similar German formations … in a truck with an extra base available if necessary to represent them deployed as fighting troops.

Sov Eng 02(work parties and trucks)

I decided to make the engineer’s trucks distinguishable from other generic trucks by adding the frequently seen A-frame hoist on the back of the vehicles …

Sov Eng 04(hoists made from alloy tubing and brass wire being added to Peter Pig resin Gaz AAA trucks)

This simple bit of modelling was finished by using modelling putty to indicate the brackets and rollers etc.

Sov Eng 05(finishing details and adding figures)

Sov Eng 06(trucks, work parties and combat-deployed bases textured in and ready for the vehicles etc. to be painted)

Prominent amongst the figures are some of Peter Pig‘s new Assault Troops in body armour – a very welcome addition.

LMGs in body armourflame thrower team in body armour(Soviet Assault Troops in body armour)

20180810_111915_resized(Peter Pig Assault Troops in body armour)

I think they look the part.

Anyway, here are some photos of the finished figures and trucks

20180810_110441_resized.jpg

20180810_110155_resized

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The final batch of work parties:

20180810_111350_resized

The guys at the front are a work party for a trains unit (hence carrying a section of rail) and the chaps with blue trousers are to go in the cavalry division.

I either made the added tools or raided them from a pack Donnington do as part of a Medieval camp.  Whether you can get the pack of tools separately I don’t know (maybe try having a nice word with Damien).

 

Refuelling …

Just thought I’d share this picture I just stumbled on … you don’t always see this (and when you do, as often as not it is from drums) …

Capture(Red Army T26s refuelling from a tanker)

NQM Squared (1)

I put (1) after the title as I’m sure there is going to be more to come (however this post ‘is it’ for now) ..

This was a trial game set up by NQM Chris to see how squares (similarly to my ideas in Megablitz Squared) would help simplify the movement and real estate issues of large operational games.

My project was a mix of Megablitz and NQM methodology applied to gridded battle space.  Necessarily Chris’s experiment was significantly closer to NQM.

(over the battleground: a Soviet ground attack mission is driven off by German fighters)

Scales apart (because scales can always be adjusted) the key difference between the two related operational games is in orders/status and combat.  NQM uses die rolls that are varied in value by the weight of attack and defence values.  Megablitz uses strength points (which give you the number of dice in combat and hits that can be taken) varied in effect by the order status of the units.  I like both approaches.

(NQM Squared: a Soviet assault bridge aids a river crossing)

You can have a look at the ideas Chris was resolving here: Novgorod: NQM Squared

How the squares actually work is clearly a key aspect of the approach … how do you treat diagonals?  How do you handle ‘corner to corner’ contacts.  Using orthogonal squares, how do you do ‘2 up/1 back’ deployments (and, then, who supports whom?) …

(NQM Squared: 3 Red Army battalions plus some Brigade HQ assets advance through an area)

Then again, these are questions that come up without squares – just squares make you answer them and give some structured definition.

Squares can make it imperative and advantageous to occupy ground and (for defenders) to hold a coherent line in a way that is sometimes lost in a more free roaming game system.

Whenever we use squares, of course, players will always ask about hexes, and their elegant relation, off-set squares.

This can be a thorny issue for some periods – but I think orthogonal squares are the obvious solution for a period where officers used gridded maps.  They thought, planned, and moved in a squared world so no harm will result if we model it that way.  The same cannot be said for hexes.

(NQM Squared: German Parachute units dug in)

A thought provoking session which I hope will bear fruit.

Some Heavy Lifting

Zis 10 01

This is another level back from the front and a little exercise to add some extra shunting capacity to my Russians.  The Zis-10 articulated truck …

Zis 10 02

I’ve made it from the Zvezda Zis-5 … it isn’t complex enough a ‘conversion’ to add to the modelling page – but I thought it make a nice little post for the front page.  Something different, it is another variation we can add to the list of things you can do with the excellent little truck models.

Zis 10 03(The Zis-10 articulated truck)

Here are a couple of tractors I made previously (for shifting boats) …

Zis 10 04

Zis 10 05(Bronekater being shifted by road – yes, this is how they did it)

Of course the gun crew is still on the deck as this model is generally deployed on a river.  You’ll have to use your imagination.

Here’s a quick assemby of a new Zis-10

Zis 10 06

I used the Katyusha kit because of the extra axles.   I could have have scratch-built the cargo bed but happened to have a spare one from a cheap die-cast toy that looked just about right.

Zis 10 07(P.B.Eye-Candy – a 1:100 Zis-10 model based on the Zvezda ‘Art of Tactic’ kit)

I’ll base it up properly when it gets issued to a unit – but here it is with some green paint on it.

Zis 10 08

I’m quite pleased with it.

The Red Army has a bigger truck.