Archive for November, 2010

AK 47 ‘Classic’

Skytrex T55s (Pan AfricaN Treaty Organisation)

I was sorting through a few file boxes because my AK47 stuff has ended up spread about, and not really ever sorted or completed.   They haven’t seen action in over 2 years so deserved a tidy and a refit.

My local group was quite seriously into this bit of wargames fluff, and we played quite a bit.  Sadly, no-one really took to the newer upgrade, and although I’d happily have continued with the classic version of the game, some of the local piggie loyalists kind of felt that might come over as attempting to spike the new version of the game, so the whole ‘warlord Africa’ thing got dropped (aside from the occasional episodes from the life of President Jog-Jog … but that’s another story, and not always an AK one …)..

Last outing for my guys was Brixcon 2008, apparently …

AK 47 – Brixcon 2008

I rather like the Post War vehicles from Skytrex, so my forces are a combination of Peter Pig soldiers with Piggie, Skytrex or ‘Toy Shop’ vehicles.

On an ethical note, for me, ‘classic’ AK47 was always ‘post war semi-historical‘, and I shied away from trying to make it too real or authentic: the wars in Africa have been pretty nasty affairs, and I’ve no wish either to recreate or to sanitize that.  So, as long as the game was a way of giving mythical states ‘cartoon versions’ of modern equipment (tanks that, on an extreme die roll, could be disabled by a rifle shot, that sort of thing), I was happy to play along … and over the years, PANTO (the Pan-AfricaN treaty Organisation) got reinforced by the successor organisation FRAP (Fuerzas Revolucionarias Armadas de Panto) as the collection grew (but never got finished).

AK47 Airstrike marker (… you wish!)

Moves to make AK work more realistically, allow historical forces to be modelled more accurately etc. really weren’t going anywhere I was excited by.  Correct some glitches in the old-fashioned Politcal Phase Flow Charts, tidy up the points table and agree the helicopter rules …  That’s all it seemed to need.  Anyway, here’s some more toys before they get put away again …

AK47 – Objective Marker?

Panto’s air defences were always strong, but these missiles were a bonus.  Within the game, they were mostly for show, and more of an objective marker (AA proper, in the game, of course, was ‘guns anti-personnel and anti-tank for the use of‘ … but, like everyone, I enjoyed all the other stuff that had no real function in the game …)…

AK47 – Militia (RCL) Technical

This Toyota was borrowed from the local Safari Park it appears.

Unimog ‘gunship’

Actually one of my more authentic vehicles (it’s pretty much a copy of a Rhodesian original – in particular the very cool RCL rack mounted on the back …).  Truck with RCL (a professional technical) …

Skytrex Pershings

More tanks … these are the famous ‘three tanks purchased at an arms bazaar’ available on the Political Charts … (hence their camo doesn’t match anyone-else’s … )..

Oops! … is that the time?  This trip down nostalgia lane really isn’t getting the boxes sorted out …  I’ll have to resume this bit of eye candy in another post (you never know, it might be a report of a game …)..

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Return to the River Don (RCW)

An enjoyable evening returning to Graham’s Return to the River Don (should that be RTRD Revisited? … as Graham has made some changes …)

Graham wanted to try a dice-moderated initiation and command system to replace the cards that featured in the version that went to COW (see the latest issue of the Nugget, see the COW report here) – the rest of us just wanted to get his RCW collection out again.

We were drawn into a Reds v Whites ‘meeting engagement’ … by the time I turned up, Ian had driven an armoured car almost right through the soldiers I was then given command of …

so ... pinned and disorganised ...

Everyone panicked, but unexpectedly the driver veered off in front of the adjacent battalion, rather than enfilading us as we cowered hopelessly and helplessly on the road.

Given a second chance, we filled it full of a much lead as our boiling maxim guns could deliver, and, indeed, it started rattling and chuntering before rolling to a halt with bits falling off.

and it veered away up there ... deliverance!

Meanwhile, the gun stationed on the hillock tried to join in – but it was no anti-tank gun, that’s for sure

…  But – why … that’s our cavalry, there … Maybe they should get on and charge that Red infantry swarming across the fields in open order …

The Cossack Cavalry

Well … charge they did (or some of them, anyway …), but the reserved fire took down some, and despite getting in amongst the workers with sabre, the Cossacks did not prevail, and voluntarily got bogged down in the kind of scrap no cavalryman would opt for …

And everywhere the Reds pressed forwards …

You get the picture …

I liked the Black Powder-style initiations less than turning the cards, though we learned a fair bit from this run through.  The ‘coercion’ system is excellent, and it has a good period feel.  The damage/morale cards for the Armoured Cars remains a great twist, though, in this game, even I thought the A/Cs were too mobile too often.   The infantry still advance too slowly, and small arms fire is generally ineffective (I concede, I realise this is to accentuate the impact of the maxim guns).

And I am unsure about cavalry vs infantry … if the cavalry are not shot off, shouldn’t the infantry panic?  Is open order better or worse?  I suspect my instincts here are more influenced by Dr Zhivago than by thorough knowledge of the sources, I’m afraid.

Ah well … the personal life is dead in Russia.  History has killed it.

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Hats off to Paddy

Friends from home, academia, wargaming, and the military gathered to celebrate the life, work and impact of Paddy Griffith in a memorial gathering at Sandhurst earlier this month.  Reminiscences were made from school friends and flatmates, wargamers and historians.  Reflections were offered on his key position, both in the establishment of War Studies within the military, and of history within wargaming.  A very influential career.  Paddy Griffith knew everyone.


Hats off to Paddy!


(6th November 2010)

There was a ritual gathering of WDers beforehand … food and drink, a toast to absent friends, and the hats came out … and came off.  In memory of a maverick spirit.

More formally, at the Royal Military Academy, we listened to Duncan Andersen, John Curry, Andy Callan and others celebrating the career and the personality … this was done in segments fitted around the Waterloo episode of the of  Game of War (Angela Rippon, Ian Dickie’s waistcoat, Farrar-Hockley ‘sacking’ Grouchy – it had everything, including the famously matching Harman/Griffith knitwear …)..

The Society of Ancients announced that it had awarded Paddy the 2010 John Westwood Trophy in recognition of his contribution to military history and historical wargaming.

(Paddy Griffith as remembered by the Doormouse)

For more pictures of the event, Tim Price has posted these (Paddy’s memorial), and Graham Evans has some reflections on Wargaming For Grown Ups

The tribute wargame, of course, was Operazione Herkules at Duxford … as well as the report here (Phil Steele), see reports by Tim Gow, Paul Elton (on Tim’s blog) and Bob Cordery.    I hope there will continue to be a relationship with IWM.

Through the games and events, many old acquaintances have been renewed, and many of have had the opportunity to reflect on where we have gone over 30 years (and why and how we got there).

I remember well the TV series Game of War … and how we thought it a missed opportunity.   But it was illuminating to see it again.   I must say it has worn quite well.  We are much more used to news readers talking to generals and pundits over maps and military projections these days.  Yes, of course it would have been better with toy soldiers and proper rules (but most TV producers aren’t wargamers, and will always know best) … then again, Harman and Griffith would not have been best to lead the line on that one.   For a reminder, Bob Cordery posted this towards the end of last year.  Thanks, Bob.

Wargaming the Griffith way always seemed adventurous and unpredictable … it didn’t always work, but you generally felt better informed by giving it a go.  It has taken us forward (albeit somewhat grudgingly at times, and without true recognition in some quarters).  I hope that legacy will last.

Paddy’s Funeral was reported on Ancients on the Move (Manchester, 9th July)


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Remembrance Day

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Northamptonshire 11am

The first poppies are placed.

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German Bridging Unit Project

No invasion of the Soviet Union should be without one.

Having decided that it would be useful to add bridging troops to the German forces, I found sources quite sparse.  Lots of erected bridges being crossed – surprisingly few illustrations of the gear on the back of trucks or similar.

Pontoon Bridge Project: basics

The lightest bridges were built on inflatables, bigger bridges were built on pontoons, typically carried on trailers.  Although the later examples are square-ended, it is clear from pictures of the Poland campaign that the earlier equipment included conventional ‘bow-fronted’ boats.  I had bought a pack of resin boats from The Square on a whim, without a particular project in mind, and these would be suitable.

Making up the trailer

The trailer is a scratch-build inspired by Elite’s 1:35 model, but I have given it 1930s-style steel wheels (from Irregular), and I have opted to attach the boat with strips of magnabase (so that it can be represented both in the column and deployed).  This is all just MDF, balsa and bits of scrap.

Making up the bridge

The bridge itself is a run of 40mm wide pre-cut bases hinged together by fabric tape.  This feature is important, as I want it usable both with superimposed and cut in rivers (so the ramps need to be flexible).

I made the middle of the three boats a gap into which the pontoon from the transit model could be magnabased – really because it is easy enough to do, and is a neat little trick … but it isn’t really necessary.  The top of the roadway is planked-out with strips of plastic (chopped-up blister pack) … a tedious job, but almost guaranteed to give pleasing results.   I have fixed some cocktail stick sides to the middle span, but left them flush at this stage, as I’m not sure what widths I may need to accommodate on the deck (though most of my own gear is 30mm wide …)..

I’ve chosen a three boat span, of course, for reasons of scale (just as one pontoon and tow will represent the bridging train, a few inches roadway will cross major waterways in the groundscale of operational games – of course you can multiply this up to fit other representational scales!).

The great rivers of Russia will now be less of an obstacle.

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