Lend Lease Bantam

BPM Bantam Jeep 01

Another post in quick succession!  I’ll park this here as it is part modelling, part review and part new accession.

One of the other new things I got from BPM was a Bantam Blitz jeep … and that has been shipped off to the Red Army (seen above with some other Lend Lease vehicles, somewhere in Ukraine …

First things first … it is a very neat little model, hugely inexpensive and is nicely cast.

BPM Bantam Jeep 02(Butlers Bantam Jeep model stripped of its printing web but otherwise ‘out of the box’)

My only criticism is the solid windscreen.  I wasn’t disappointed, as it were, as the website pictures are clear enough … just it would have been nicer with the frame only, otherwise clear.

So (and here’s the modelling bit) I decided to remove the solid centre.

Technically simple … I drilled (pin vice) a series of holes, joined them up, then smoothed the edges to make it look nice and convincing.  Job done.

BPM Bantam Jeep 03

Actually, it wasn’t quite that straightforward – although the plastic seems hard enough to ‘model’ it is a bit brittle and (although I have done this detailing on the Gaz truck) on this model, it tended to fracture along the printing striations.  I broke it and had to stick it back together (hence you see filler in the picture below).

BPM Bantam Jeep 04

No matter – a sharper knife and a bit of bracing behind the screen would have prevented the problem (but you can file that observation under wise after the event)

I put a driver in from my junk box.  With a Battlefront head.

BPM Bantam Jeep 05(Butler’s Printed Models: Bantam Jeep detailed up and painted by Yesthatphil)

The shape of the grille and bonnet are excellent , and the angles on the mudguard seem to be exactly right.

BPM Bantam Jeep 07

This is an excellent variation on the standard Willys jeep.

Nearly 50,000 jeeps were supplied to the Soviet Union during the Great Patriotic War … the majority were Willys MBs but many of the first shipments were Bantams, and the Bantam had a significant influence on the look of the home built variant, the Gaz-64 and 67.

BPM Bantam Jeep 06

Useful as a recce vehiclw, Staff car or as a tow for light equipment such as the 45mm AT/light gun.

BPM Bantam Jeep 08

Extra Heavy

BAA 01

Apologies for what has been quite a big hiatus on this blog during the long lockdown.  I haven’t disappeared … just there has been a lot going on and that, what projects I have been working on that are relevant to this blog have been longer term rather than quick-hit types.

That said, this is one of those ‘pocket projects’: some bigger guns.  Or ‘a’ bigger gun, anyway (at the scale I’m using, a single model will represent the battery) … I’ve had a go at scratchbuilding e.g. the 21cm before (and had planned to dismantle it for casting) but, although I had tried my best with the elusive issue of scale, in the end it still seemed on the small side.

When Butlers released a Big Bertha for their WWI range, I wondered what it would look like a scale down (i.e. I ordered a 12mm scale BB to test out as a 210mm to 305mm equipment for 15mm scale) … I’m more than happy with the result.  It looks how I expected a siege howitzer/mortar to look in this scale.

BAA 02(the Big Bertha model as pictured in the Butler’s online catalogue)

As I suspected, the gun shield was easy to remove with a model saw.  After some experiment I also removed the front gantry and glued this in position on the ‘deployed gun’ base (it would have been folded away for transit anyway, and positioning it on the base actually works very well).  That’s pretty much it for modelling challenges.  I left the rear gantry in the ‘up’ position, which is a little incongruous in the transit mode – but I think you can almost get away with that (wargame modelling always has to allow a certain level of compromise).

BAA 03(the battery deployed)

So this is a battery of older style 21cm ‘mortars’ or maybe a Skoda 305mm.  The Germans made good use of both, and other captured equipment.  For a Morser 16, I really should fair in the recuperators on top of the barrel (but then I might lose its generic quality – please feel free to comment on that *wink*).

BAA 04(battery in transit)

The vehicle is towed by a repurposed French tractor and the crew have a central European look to them.  They are Axis, for sure.

So, the model is Butler Printed Models, the wheels on the scratch built limber/bogey are Skytrex spares.  The tractor is QRF and the gun crew Peter Piggies with headswaps.

BAA 05

As for the model itself, I am very pleased.  The barrel has come out very smooth, and the 3D printing striations are not very prominent at all on this one.  The dry brush finish does bring them out just a touch in photos, but just to the eye, they don’t show.  Seriously – that’s picky old me, saying it.  It is a great model, either of the intended super-gun in 12mm, or as an ‘extra-heavy’ piece in 15mm.

City blocks in Stalingrad, Rostov or Sevastopol are right to be alarmed at this addition to the Wehrmacht artillery park.

BAA 06


Some Seasonal Whimsy

attack on spielstadt 01

Happy New Year to you all.

It just so happens that the youngest member of our household got a new play table for Christmas – a layout of a small town with block buildings, railtrack and so forth.

attack on spielstadt 01a

The tranquility hides thr true nature of this heavily contested area of never-never land which locals call Kleiner Spielstadt.  And in the hours before dawn on a surprisingly moonlit night in late December, rapidly moving forces from Eastern Panto tried to take control of the town.

Helicopter landing troops siezed the railway bridge …

attack on spielstadt 02

And tanks arrived in support …

attack on spielstadt 03

The response was instant, and Frap Pershings rolled out of the cover of the viaduct …

attack on spielstadt 03a(an elevated setion of railway had concealed waiting enemy tanks from aerial reconnaissance)

They were immediately engaged by Soviet military advisors …

attack on spielstadt 03b

But the Western backed Frap detachment pressed home their counter-attack …

attack on spielstadt 03c

And a sharp exchange of fire drove the invaders out of the town centre …

attack on spielstadt 04

Rather than take heavy losses, the T55s gave ground and, with daylight approaching, the mission was aborted.

attack on spielstadt 05

The attempt to snatch Kleiner Spielstadt before the children got up had failed.  The forces withdrew and peace settled over little play town almost as if nothing at all had happened.

A Lot More Wargaming

We Also Played 09(What a Tanker: a bullish T34 closes on its prey)

This blog is a picture set entitled ‘we also played’ …

It is getting towards the end of the year and I have blogged mostly about my own projects and about the big games and shows.

There’s a lot more to wargaming in Middle England than the big stuff – I wargame mid-week 3 times a month … a lot of that isn’t modern … and a lot of the modern stuff goes otherwise unreported: so here’s a look at what else we did.

We Also Played 01(Classic AK47: Peter Pig T55s … one already wrecked)

AK47 by RFCM/Peter Pig.  In addition to my ‘Minus 47’ arctic game, we played a ‘straight’ version because it is still immensely entertaining (and because one of our newcomers had never played it – needless to say he ‘got it’)

We Also Played 02(AK47 Classic: Panhards move in … figures and vehicles by Peter Pig from Trebian’s collection)

Richard’s Russian Ripping Yarns …

We also enjoyed another of Richard’s occasional series of ripping yarns set in Revolutionary Russia (with spies, Rolls Royces, damsels in distress and secret missions) … this time climaxing with heroes and villains leaping into moving cars …

We Also Played 03(Ripping Yarns)

We Also Played 04(… this one was notionally about a bridge)

Bayonets and Ideology

We Also Played 05(BAIT … RFCM’s Spanish Civil War variant of the PBI style game – more of Trebian’s toys)

Cod Wars … a first time at this odd post war North Atlantic sideshow.

We Also Played 06(Cod Wars … a group of trawlers peacefully going about their business)

We Also Played 07(HMS Leander to the rescue)

As a youngster I had an Airfix Leander but no game that it fitted into.  No wonder I liked this game.

NQM … a perennial favourite … I often only blog about the big games rather than the stocking fillers.  Inevitably, of course, a lot of the smaller games are test runs ahead of the grand Operational Games …

We Also Played 08(regular Monday Night NQM … a trial run at landing Fallshirmjaeger on Crete)

What a Tanker

It was good to have a go at this currently highly thought-of TFL game.  Individual tamk combat.  I likened it to ‘Saga for tanks’.  It has lots of nice things in it.  It has other things in it that I would have fixed if it was my game idea.

Good game but I had expected to be more impressed than I was.

We Also Played 10(What a Tanker by Two Fat Lardies: driving past the wreck of that bullish T34)

PBI shedq 01

This is the story of a fictitious clash in the desert – a story I shall mostly tell in pictures … a French force operating on the Allied Southern flank running into an Italian Sahariana patrol.

PBI shedq 02(the terrain as I planned it at home … the white squares are impassable. In PBI terms, the black squares are ‘closed’ any other scenery makes the square ‘partial’)

PBI shedq 03(… and as it turned out to be, with troops deploying onto it)

The Italians should have radio’d-in the contact, maybe set some booby-traps and then disappeared into the sands, according to their doctrine.

But it wasn’t to be.  They were there for a purpose – this was where they had requested a supply drop and that turned up randomly at the beginning of the game.

PBI shedq 04(PBI desert action: the Italian supply drop)

Thanks to Megablitz Tim for kindly donating a splendid Italian Sparviero to my collection – it made it’s combat debut by dropping the Italian supplies to the French (a random die roll that looked anything but!)!  The scenario assumed the Italians would try a sharp action against the French in the hope of recovering them or getting there first.

PBI shedq 04a(Italian Saharianas contact the advancing French – models by Battlefront)

The decision to fight was greeted by a Hawk fighter-bomber over flying the French advance

PBI shedq 05

Seemingly following the same script, its strafing run completely missed the Italian vehicles.

PBI shedq 06(French Tirailleurs occupy the buildings – figures by Peter Pig)

PBI shedq 07(a Mk III Crusader dominated the early phases of the engagement – model by QRF)

PBI shedq 08(the French gain the cactus grove)

PBI shedq 09(supported by the tank, Chasseurs disguised in Arab clothing capture the centre)

PBI shedq 09a(on the French right, FFL advance past burning Italian carriers – knocked out by a captured Italian A/T rifle)

The game seems to swing momentarily to the Italians as their gunners find their mark …

PBI shedq 10(A Semovente and Breda MMG range in on the advancing French)

PBI shedq 12(The Crusader dominated the centre but just took too many hits – one was bound to get lucky!)

PBI shedq 11a(the second Sahariana platoon pepper the French with hits)

PBI shedq 11(that Conus Hotchkiss/Bren carrier takes a big hit)

But by now more of the French force arrives …

PBI shedq 13(PBI desert action: more Conus specials roll onto the battlefield)

… and the Italians are beaten.

PBI shedq 14(on the left, supported by AMDs, the Tirailleurs race forward as the Italians melt away)

PBI shedq 15(the French now also dominate the right flank)

This action also saw a first PBI action for the Conus ‘Jock Column’ vehicles that fought so bravely in NQM mode at Alamein.

Vehicle losses were very high on both sides – partially due to the flimsy or negligible armour of most of the vehicles … and partially due to the very aggressive handing of them.

PBI gives you the chance to take plenty of hits – but not indefinitely.

We are now using an adapted version of PBI 2006 that is looking more and more like PBI2.




truck up 04

I have finally completed the long-heralded review of 15mm Russian trucks.

Of course, mid-war onwards, the most common Red Army truck might well have been the Studebaker (over 70,000 of these) … but I still enjoy that wargamer conceit of liking Russian trucks, Gaz, Zis, Yag and so forth for the Soviets, German for the Wehrmacht (although they used thousands of captured vehicles) and Italian for Italians etc.

studebaker(Studebaker … fully loaded, Soviet style)

That said, some 200,000 Gaz trucks were produced, and the Zis factory alone added over 80,000 of the Zis-5 model (which was also built in other locations).  You can also argue that neither of these is really a Russian truck (the Gaz being a Ford copy, the Zis an Autocar design) .  I digress.

Gaz MM(wartime Gaz truck … designated MM – note the wooden cab and simple bent metal mudguards)

So what is available and which is the best?    See the top of the page article on the Reviews page.

truck up 05

truck up 06

truck up 08



FT dozer 01

I planned to do this for Chris’s NQM Alamein game but when I got the orbat for the French it was evident that I needed to focus on some core armour rather than worry about bulldozing sand.  So the parts (basically a Piggie FT17 hull) have sat around waiting for me to finish the job.

It’s a wonderfully quirky little beast and I have no idea whether any found their way to North Africa but I’ve ‘what-if’ed it there so it can up the Free French or Vichy engineering capability.

FT 17 dozer 001

FT dozer 06(Renault FT17 bulldozer)

There are a few pictures of the construction on the Modelling Page

FT dozer 05

(a 1:100/15mm build based around a Peter Pig model)

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.


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 …

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


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 …


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.