Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category


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 …


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!


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.


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As we entered the main phase of the operation, Chris gave me a fairly open approach to reinforcements – so, concerned by the scale of the task, I called up more artillery, the Red God of War … indeed, I employed all the heavy artillery the front could muster.

(B3 Howitzers on the road up to Leningrad)

(Ski troops, supported by air, move around the frozen Northern flank)

The old front line gradually became a vast artillery park, ready to reduce the city.

(Gotterdammerung: the Red Army’s guns prepare to reduce Leningrad)

(a TB3 provides air support in the frozen North)

The Russians enjoyed almost complete air superiority for this campaign and it’s elderly supply fleet, reconaissance planes, as well as ground attack wings could operate virtually unchallenged.

Had the Germans put much into the air, they would have found daunting concentrations of ground AA …

(rail artillery defended by a light AA battery and searchlights)

Given these conditions it is perhaps unsurprising that the dive bombers were (finally) able to deliver a shattering attack on the Southern flank which had – until then – managed to hold up the advance on Oranienbaum.

(Heavy v Light dice for the dive bombers … n uncharacteristically hammer blow rich in sixes)

From the North East, the Ski troops were able to enter undefended areas evacuated under the heavy artillery bombardments …

… although stiffer resistance was maintained in the leafy Eastern suburbs and broken bridges slowed progress on the main line of advance.

(Leningrad NQM: Peter Pig Soviet Scouts making hard work of the garden suburbs)

Here’s a look at the situation as the Red Army retakes the city …

Despite stubborn success in some sectors, the German commander had recognised that the city had become untennable and began a pull out before getting cut off.  As the Germans raced for the roads, Russians flooded through the city and swept around the Southern flank …

(Motorised troops snake through Leningrad)

(Heavy resistance to the attempt to cut the road)

This was a race against time determined by local firefights.

(Trapped!  Or not?  … the fight for the line of retreat)

Tactically dominant, at the sharp end, the cavalry again proved unable to press their advantage (game note: bad dice, really ...) … and, beaten off by desperate firing, allowed too much to get away towards Oranienbaum and Kronstadt.

A doomed pocket had been left in the docks, and no more Germans were able to escape from Leningrad.

Final situation …

It was time to dismantle the game and put away the toys.

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If you follow Chris’s NQM Blog (and you should) you will have seen all the technical details of the Battle of Vyazma.  This grand operational game saw the first action of some of the snow soldiers I have been tinkering with of late* – so here is their photo story.**

In still freezing conditions, the Red Army was heading West …

Minefields took a toll but the Scouts pressed forward

… onwards …

… as resistance stiffened, the Sturmoviks screamed in, following the road …

The first wave of reinforcements pushed North around the Viazma pocket …

… and now an armoured column appears on the road West ..

… and crashes straight into the main defences …

… not without losses …

Although the centre of Vyazma holds til the last man, armour quickly bursts through defences to the South ..

… and more armour streams to the front …

The Battle for Vyazma is fully committed when a German column crshes into the flank of the offensive.

But not early enough to stop the Northern encirclement …

As Vyazma finally fell, way to the rear German stragglers are brought into a Soviet aid post …

For them the war is over.

Kudos to Chris for managing such a mass of material in such a compact space.  It all made sense at the time.

*objective 1: get them painted; objective 2: get them into a game!

** as I suggest, for the narrative details, see Chris’s post.

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OK … a number of things –

I’m still experimenting with decals … how to use them and which ones … I’ve got this winter thing going on (appropriate, you might think, to the Summer of 2017) … and, well, I had to buy something at Partizan

I have a little rule … I try to spend a little at every show (whether I need anything or not): spending helps the world go around – and whatever I buy I have to paint (so as not to let the pile called ‘dormant projects’ get any higher) …

For all its many merits as a show, Partizan doesn’t have much for me but (in addition to books and scenics) I did find a 1:100 Zvezda T60 which I haven’t built or reviewed yet so why not …

Well it turns out I have already done that (here … ) and the appropriate slot in the divisional box is already filled.  I am sure all enthusiasts will occasionally forget they have bought something and get one again …

So, to fufill the second directive (to build and paint) I decided those airborne troops in Winter garb might possible deserve their own, Winter camo, support.  A T60 with whitwash swaths and snow-suited tank riders:

(Zvezda’s 1:100 T60 given a P.B.Eye-Candy makeover)

Brushes up nicely, of course.

I put a little red star on the glacis … occasionally you see them on Soviet armour – but less is definitely more.  The Russian for star is zvezda, as I’m sure you all know.   And that’s what inspired an interlude of tinkering.

The decal sets are the I-94 ones.  I had good results with the aviation symbols and vehicle plates but had also bought a Red Army slogans one which I hadn’t tried.  The lettering looked a little thin to me (not exagerated to the extent that you might need on 15mm/1:100 vehicles).

So I tried to liven up my aerosans …

The ‘guards’ slogan is 15mm … it’s kind of nice but you struggle to see it if you don’t get close up.  Thank heavens for the wonders of modern digital technology.

So I tried a 20mm slogan on a PSC T34

It’s the later, big turret 85, otherwise I’d not have got the decal on – but I do think the 20mm lettering is better for these models …*

But really what these pictures show is where mobile phones are, these days … the pictures are taken with my Samsung Galaxy  … now I did try to set the focus up properly as I wanted you to be able to see the decals – even so, when I reviewed the results I was quite surprised.

It made me remember when I did a magazine shoot back in the 80s with my (then) 35mm SLR … I got passably professional results but only after quite a bit of setting up.  How things have moved on.  And I guess what we do on our blogs today will look primitive tomorrow.

Here’s a T60 beauty contest.

A Zvezda win in my book … and they win on price, hands down.


*the PSC has Zvezda running gear … something I did for variety and compatibility … I also think, on reflection, that I’ve probably got the front tactical symbol turned through 90°, thus, perhaps, a talking point.

**the aerosans are from QRF … they’ve used one of mine on the website 😉 …

You can find I-94 on the internet or you can get them at UK shows from minibits

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Snow troops 01

Just a quick experiment really … I swapped on a few ushanka heads and painted some of the new Piggie scouts in snow camo …

Now mostly the Red Army’s snow suits were one-piece coveralls with the equipment under the suit (2-piece suits on the Eastern Front seem generally Finnish or German ..) … but these paras show there were variants …

GroundParatroopers(Soviet Paratroops ready for wintry conditions)

So here’s the result of the experiment, ready for Chris’s next NQM retreat from Moscow.

Snow troops 02(Peter Pig 15mm Red Army Scouts with head swaps and white suits)

I think it works quite well and expands upon my ski troops.  Hopefully, in time, Martin will make some new packs in the more familiar voluminous coverall.  I would buy some.

The truck in the background is one of the new Piggie resin models.  Looks good I think.

Snow troops 03

I’m happy with that experiment.  The force expands.


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Salute NtTii 01

In addition to my duties with the Society of Ancients, WD, The Battlefields Trust, the Art Gallery and my local battlefields at Naseby and Northampton, I am an occasional member of the Ad Hoc wargames group.

Mostly I’ve been involved in the ancient and medieval ones, but this year, for Salute, we revived Nick the Tsar … a rescue romp in revolutionary Russia …

Salute NtTii 02

54mm with custom components.  We played to a full house all day (6 games) … so here’s how it goes …

Salute NtTii 03

There are four players … Russians, foreign agents, men of mystery etc. each with a little team and maybe a vehicle entering Yekaterinburg … and you have to get down the road to the Ipatiev House and rescue the Tsar and his family from special captivity … the future of the Romanovs is in your hands.

Salute NtTii 04

The house is defended, and there are a number of other problems you might encounter.

Salute NtTii 05

… and your exit route is the train that will leave the station at the end of the game (you do not have unlimited time) …

Salute NtTii 06

The ‘search’ mechanism involves grabbing and opening up the ‘Faberge’ eggs (each of which contains the name of one of the Romanovs – so is random as you have very little time to effect the rescue) …

And lots of other nuances to entertain (we hope) both players and audience …

… and they’re off …

Salute NtTii 06a

(if you’re really lucky you might get an armoured car)

Salute NtTii 06b

(movement by sickle)

… and you have to fight your way in …

Salute NtTii 07

… Hopefully, if you haven’t already lost your marbles (you’ll have to play the game to get that reference I’m afraid), lots of very important persons will be found …

Salute NtTii 10

By this stage the Reds may well have called up some reinforcements …

Salute NtTii 11

… so you will have to get back to the train pretty quick!

Our game was interrupted by several attempts to rescue the Tsar on another table … but all of them came to a sticky end …

Salute NtTii 12

Tintin and Captain Haddock fail to rescue the Tsar at Salute 2017 …

They failed, you will have to nick the Tsar!

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Moscow 2016 01

So after a short gap whilst NQM Chris has been building his new wargames room (see the NQM blog, various entries), action around Moscow 1942 has resumed (you can imagine there has been desultory fighting since the last episode while the forces regroup …) …

This was very much a leisurely picking up of threads but we got some sharp actions fought through as the snow camo Russians pushed in on the outer zones of their capital …

Moscow 2016 02(15mm Russians … Peter Pig, Battlefront and vehicles by mixed manufacturers … assault the outskirts of Moscow)

Shrewd observers will see my recently acquired and reviewed Zvezda T60 getting its tabletop blooding, middle shot, driving in over the anti-tank defences in the first close assault of the game.  Getting new toys into action is always a pleasing moment for me as a collector/player.

Moscow 2016 05

Of course these winter warriors were fairly light and mobile and against dug in defenders, the fighting was slow and attritional (and by the end of our session, only the outer trench lines had been cleared out) …

We did get some proper NQM mobile warfare, however, as some outlying formations were encircled and overrun …

Moscow 2016 03a(NQM: tank divisional action in open country)

Moscow 2016 04(contact!)

Moscow 2016 04a(encirclement!)

We were also able to pick up the attacks on the city from the previous game so, as befits NQM, got 3 or 4 actions running simultaneously in a fairly fluid treatment of the battlespace.

I will be following the NQM blog as Chris has planned running a few more days of action on the board before boxing the kit back up – so watch this space …

Moscow 2016 07a(NQM Moscow: as the collage shows, Chris gave the chance to sprinkle a few new accessions around the table which all adds to the effect)

So, Divisional artillery and motorised infantry next … and my operational level Russian forces will be nearing completion.  And good to get some motivation from playing the game.

Look forward to a number of new completions featuring here shortly.

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