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Archive for December, 2014

TBP AH 05

That’s a Corgi Apache somewhere in my Africa …

I acquired the Apache as a gift some while back … it is a lovely model and apparently 1:100 (I put some Piggies in it for crew) … but my model was finished in a rather anaemic magnolia livery and never looked quite right.

So I have finally grasped the nettle and done that die cast to wargames model treatment: primed with black Humbrol all over then dry brushed with acrylics.  Wow!  All I can say is that it works for me …

TBP AH 00

I think this shifts it from ‘good model but slightly unloved’ to ‘little gem’ …

TBP AH 01

TBP AH 02

OK … There is a bit of knurled shaft sticking up at the moment where I have taken off the Longbow FCR cheese as I suspect this is wrong for any application I am likely to have for an already advanced helicopter (but I’ll tidy that bit up when I decide what model this is to be) …

This is an inexpensive (and, being a die-cast, durable) model which fits in beautifully with AK-47/Post War stuff …

TBP AH 04(Corgi Apache between 2 QRF AMX tanks)

On a related note but not so big, I picked up this fairly convincing Black Hawk at Tesco’s for £2 …

TBP Black Hawk 01

It is probably something like 1:160 scale but still looks good over the AK47 battlefield (and so is going to be worth the same treatment as the Apache got in due course) …

TBP Black Hawk 03

More Trains and Boats and Planes soon – I think we need trains next …

 Djebel Sahariana 09

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TBP 01

So this is just another update on a lot of tinkering and accumulating over recent months … although other projects in other periods have monopolised a lot of the time progress has been made behind the 20th Century scenes …

No trains this time, but I did ‘convert’ the first of those Thomas the Tank Engine (Ertl) barges (Bulstrode*) for use on the Volga (though the presentation is generic enough for anywhere in Europe I think) …

TBP 02

I have a few more in process, now, so more on that project in due course … I’m filing them under ‘Stalingrad river traffic’.

I’ve also done a Soviet ‘speed boat’ (small river launch) using one of those resin boats I got from The Square (which have previously appeared as bridge pontoons).   This was just adding card and scrap box detailing to the resin blank and painting appropriately …

TBP 03a

TBP 03

Simple but effective, there is now more support for riverine and coastal landing forces …

TBP 04(Peter Pig Soviet Naval landing party charge ashore supported by speed boat and armoured cutter)

We have also seen the arrival of Zvezda’s SB-2 Fast Bomber …  a companion to the JU-88: effective in large numbers early in the war, and active over Finland in the Winter War … it is one of those simple 1:200 models (a little small as it is a scale down from the fighters but not a big aeroplane to start with – but it will serve the Red Air Force well enough … ) …

SB-2 02

SB-2 01(Soviet SB-2 Fast Bombers)

SB-2 06(Zvezda’s Soviet SB-2 Fast Bomber)

I opted to paint them ‘silver’ as this seems to have been the livery they flew in the operations over Helsinki (dropping Molotov’s bread baskets?) and because it is a colour scheme I’ve not tackled before – I think it is more problematic than camo finishes but looks OK …

SB-2 04

SB-2 05(SB-2 Fast Bombers photographed in front of my laptop screen as previous mock ups)

SB-2 07

There have also been some helicopters … but not WWII and as this post has been quite long, I’ll split it here …

*apparently discontinued and worth 4x what I paid for them … (no that won’t stop me defacing them …) …

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Lodz 01

The Battle of Lodz, seen here from the Southern aspect, was fought in 1914 on the Eastern Front … or refought in London (just about) on the 100th anniversary using the Op 14 operational level rules by Richard Brooks.

It was fought in ever harsher conditions as the Germans attempted to destroy the Russian 2nd Army and headquarters in Lodz (while the Russians attempted to encircle the Germans and trap them in a freezing vice).

Lodz 02

Here’s the view from my end of the table – I took the Reserve Corps of XXV and III Guards, turfing the defenders out of the Northern villages and completing the encirclement while XX and XVII Corps annihilated the trapped Russians.

We did not know the Russian plans, and I  had the unenviable task of closing around the position … leaving all that empty space (the whole near, left quarter of the table – around which several unarrived Russian players would deliberately hover) to my rear.

In truth, there was nothing I could do about it: I did not have the resources to police it all, and we did have to crack the enemy position.   Whilst not being naive, I had to run a race against time and hope to get into the position before unseen enemies could trap me against it.  Or so it seemed.

Lodz 11(another depiction of the battle as temperatures drop)

Op 14 is played with 4 stand brigades in 2 Km squares organised around Divisional HQs and artillery support.   If all are in contact then command is a good as whatever is normal for your forces.  For effect, you roll =< than the number of figures in your brigade (so as you lose men your chances of hitting diminish).

Some of your losses are recovered overnight but otherwise accumulate and trigger morale issues at higher levels.

Lodz 03

Anatomy of XXV Res. Corps … 3 4-stand Brigades, a Field Gun support battery (3 figures) and a Divisional HQ with some cavalry attached for liaison duty.   All ‘in command’ (all in adjacent squares).

In the background some outlying Russian units fall back on the main position.

Lodz 04

XXV are gradually sucked into the cauldron … the force is now spread out, using the HQ and cavalry to maintain command integrity.   With just the one battery in support, the chances of these attacks prevailing against men in villages and/or dug in are low – but the actions are necessary to draw troops and support away from the main attacks in other sectors.

The troops activate in card order – so in this sector XXV will go first.  The cards limit what actions are possible.  Hearts are good, but those enemy on clubs would be stalled if they were out of command (and e.g. not dig in) …

I like the simplicity of Op 14 as it lets you get on with the ‘big picture’ … however the squares do allow tactical modifier such as flank and enfilade bonuses which are too often missing from operational level games.  So there is subtlety as well as the grand sweep.

Polen, Lodz nach deutscher Besetzung(Lodz in 1914)

Tape rivers form on the boundary between squares and e.g. affect artillery movement …  and toy town buildings create the convincing illusion of built up areas once you are inside the abstract bubble of the game.

Lodz 06(Traction engines and draught horses bring up the German siege artillery)

As the battle developed the Germans were able to bring up some typically massive siege guns.   They took rather a long time to set up (hence the counting down D8) … the shell holes in that corner square come from the howitzers … they will be resolved when someone assaults the position.

In the example above, the square is likely to be attacked from both directions, giving the attackers extra dice.  Up to 2 of the defenders might be removed when the attack goes in as a card will be turned for each bombardment marker (shell hole) – red is dead – but as the defenders are in permanent trenches (extra dice) the attacker will still probably need the pummelling to have paid off (the defenders still get their extra dice, but, 2 bases left, would need 2 or less for hits, rather than their establishment 4) …

Lodz 07(Spotter aircraft flying over Lodz)

Little by little (square by square) the defenders were squeezed into less and less of the city … Unless spotting is available, artillery is by support only and requires line of sight (so the guns were being pushed through the streets) …

Lodz 08

The game gave one of the better – fluid and dynamic – city battles I have participated in … it felt gritty and brutal but progress was made (though not without reverses and losses) … Meanwhile Russian 5th Army was closing around us …

Lodz 09(the battle for Lodz city centre)

Lodz 10(action to the South of Lodz)

By the end of a day’s wargaming we had pretty much taken Lodz (at least that was what was being said in the German HQ … ) and our flanks had held out … just about (actually a number of divisions were in a mess and my reserves were on the brink of heading home – but don’t tell the Russians that).

We had 8 players in the game running from map moves to table top, including resolving a multi divisional city fight in a single afternoon (whilst allowing a good amount of socialising and a buffet lunch as you go) – yet at no point did the game really feel either rushed or simplistic.  I think that speaks highly of Op 14 for games of this sort.

Op 14 was published in Nugget 236 (June 2010) – the journal of Wargame Developments.

The figures and components were mostly supplied by Ian Drury and include a number of veteran Minifigs plus anything else that suits.

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