Friday, 29 July 2011

Operation Goodwood

I have recently received an email from Jim Wallman of Megagame Makers plugging his forthcoming game:
Early booking is encouraged - see the website for more information.  I expect to be present as part of the umpire team - but don't let that put you off!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

JR's attic revisited

One year (to the day) after the funeral of my old friend John G Robertson (see post about this last year), I have today been to visit his widow, Morina. I should explain that I am in Dundee for a few days sorting out some things for my oldies, including the removal of and eventual disposal of my fathers car as he has decided to stop driving. (if anyone is in the market for a well preserved 2000 Honda Accord do let me know...)
During my visit, Morina mentioned while most of JR's wargames figures had been dealt with (due to sterling efforts by John Munro and Paul Jenkins) that there were "a few magazines and things" which I might like to look through and take away. The few magazines turned out to be a whole cupboard stuffed with mags such as Military Modelling, Airfix Magazine, Arquebusier, Armies & Weapons and Wargamers Newsletter. I filled a small box with a selection and promised to return for more next time I am in town.... Still reeling from this shock, she drew my attention to a drawer containing some unpainted 25mm figures and asked if I would take them too. This turned out to be followed by several more such drawers. Just as well the car was empty!
I look forward to rummaging through the various boxes and unless the lead poisoning takes me I will entertain you with stories of the contents as and when I get round to it. Funny old world.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

14 July Challenge - all is revealed!

I confess to being slightly disappointed - but not very surprised - that the were no entries for my 14 July Challenge (see my post on that date).

On the off-chance that anyone is being driven to distraction trying to count Russian tanks, I can now reveal the the numbers are as follows:
1 IS-3 Airfix with resin turret
4 IS-2. Britannia, Italeri, scratch build
1 KV-85. Scratch build
1 KV-2. Fujimi
10 KV-1. Esci, Fujimi, Frontline, Skytrex
1 M4 Sherman. Frontline
26 T-34. Matchbox, Airfix, Esci, Armourfast, Fujimi
1 M3 Stuart. Matchbox
2 T-60. Skytrex
5 T-70. Skytrex, Red Star, scratch build
1 T-38. Unknown resin kit
8 T-26. Skytrex, Frontline
14 BT-2/5/7. Red Star, Skytrex, scratch build

A total of (according to my arithmetic) 75 tanks!

Not featured in the photo were the whitewashed tanks and more green painted armour - including more T-34, T-60, T-70, T-26, KV, SMK, T-35, T-28, Valentine, Sherman, T-50. Help me.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Talavera, 1809

This was another Command & Colours game.  It was a long time since we had last played CCN, so when, the previous week, we were casting around for something to do last Wednesday night, it was useful to know that a bare hour of sorting out toys and terrain would give me a ready to play game.
Talavera is the largest CCN game we have tackled so far, and the first to require more than a single box file of toys.  Indeed, it did put some pressure on my supplies of French line infantry - hence the unit of Westphalians stumbling around in the Spanish sunshine.  I had adequate stocks of Brits, but John brought his along and substituted some of his toys for mine and decided to command them.  Martin thus ended up in charge of the French, who not unusually, had to attack across a stream and up a hill.
As has been our experience of other CCN games, this one was pretty close.  After an initial cavalry fight on the French right, their main assault went in on the left & centre.  For a while it seemed as if the garlic munchers might prevail, but the Brits managed to pull together a spirited counterattack which nipped off their extremities (ooh, nasty!)
An overview of the initial setup - seen from behind the French lines.
The French left surges forward excitedly.  This an all further photos taken from my vantage point on the French left/British right.  All orientation will be from the French point of view.
A slightly fuzzy (maximum zoom) view of the cavalry scrap on the extreme right.  This swung back and forth but had no real effect on the outcome of the battle.
John's British Guards.  Apparently this was their first outing in 30 years!  Sadly they were soon forced by a sneaky card to withdraw to the baseline to stock up on ammo.
The French attack develops on the left.  The Guards can be seen centre left of this pic.
The French storm the centre.  Note the positions of the Brits towards the top of this frame and compare it with the next photo.
Ah - so that's why they came on in the same old way.  It works!
A desperate British counterattack goes in on the French light infantry.
Endgame.  The Guards (for it is they) have just eliminated a depleted French unit to clinch a British victory!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

COW 2011 - Part 4 - Sunday

Finally - here are a few of my photos from the final day of COW.
Phil Steele runs his Naseby game.  This was very impressive and was accompanied by a display about the battlefield. 
Sadly during the game the King was captured, but on the plus side Cromwell was killed!
Another Civil War game - Chris James (centre) runs his 'We Are All Englishmen' game.
Villers Bocage.  This was a short game run by Jonathan Crowe.  Wittman & chums can be seen centre, trundling into the village.
Although lots of British vehicles were destroyed, Wittman's promising career was cut short by a lucky shot from a Firefly.
Bob Cordery sets up two versions of his Portable Wargame.

Monday, 18 July 2011

The return of some old friends.

Inspired by the Fletcher Pratt naval wargame at COW recently, I ordered a set of the re-released Airfix 1/1200 Waterline ships. This set, sold as 'Sink The Bismarck', includes the full range of these 35 year old kits - Hood, Suffolk, Ark Royal, two Tribal class destroyers, Bismarck and Prinz Eugen.
I did own a full set of these in the '70s, when the individual boxes each bore the word 'new', and indeed it was around this time that I 'discovered' the Fletcher Pratt game. I gather that the new set is intended to retail for around £20, but it is readily available for the £15 I paid. This makes it something of a bargain, as it contains five Series 2 kits and a Series 1.
I will post photos as and when I get round to building the ships - the timescale will be governed largely by the pressure I come under from my fellow members of the Sheffield club for whom I have offered to run the FP game.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

14th of July Challenge

Some time ago I saw mentioned on Paul's Bods a plan on the Gloranthan Army Blog to post photos of large numbers of toys on 14 July.  As this was a completely pointless exercise it was clearly a good idea.  Needless to say I forgot all about it until I noticed Paul's post today!  Hopefully the photos below will redeem my reputation for excess.  I plundered several (but by no means all) of my Russian Megablitz boxes to gather the toys shown.  All are 20mm scale, from a variety of makers including Airfix, Matchbox, Fujimi, Armourfast, Red Star, Hinchcliffe, Esci, Italeri, Britannia, Frontline and at least one scratchbuild.
Forward to the west!
I am prepared to offer a (very) modest prize to the first reader to provide (in a comment) the correct types and numbers of the various tanks in the photo.  I'll settle for general designations, such as 'T-34, KV-1' and not worry about whether it's a model 41 or whatever.  My decision will be final, and in the event of a tie the prize will go to whoever offers the best bribe.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

COW 2011 - Part 3 - Saturday afternoon/evening

In the afternoon I dropped in on Jim Wallman's Operation Goodwood game, as well as having a look at Mike Elliott's Most Perfect Volley (The siege of Quebec), and Phil Barker's Sharp End (set in the well known and troubled country of Buggerupistan).  In the evening I played Jim's Zeppelinspiel where we had to design, build and 'fly' our war-winning Zeps to targets in England.  The rest of the evening was spent running my new Rollbahn Ost game no fewer than eight times!
The German player team map for Goodwood.  This was a scaled down version of a 50-player Megagame. 
Elements of 21PD and 16LFD await the British onslaught.
The Germans take cover during the initial RAF bombing.
Mike Elliott (2nd from left) runs his game about the assault on Quebec.
A quiet (but not for long) village in Buggerupistan.
My Zeppelin during testing, powered by a Lego clockwork motor. Z.3 was a functional if basic design and was the first to fly! 
The grand finale - a mass raid on England!  Lloyd George began negotiations soon afterwards.
Generals Doel, Huband and Hartley try their luck in Rollbahn Ost.
I didn't get round to building a smarter board!
Generals Young, Thomas and Kleanthous head east.
Generals Cordery, Whyler and Steele roll back the tide of Bolshevism while OKW representative Curry heckles from the sidelines.
Generals Brooks, Ager and Evans search for lebensraum.

COW 2011 - Part 2 - Saturday morning

On Saturday morning I decided that of the several sessions available, I would attend John Curry's presentation about the Fletcher Pratt Naval Wargame.  Pratt, for those of you unfamiliar with the name, was a pioneer US wargamer in the 1930s.  The presentation was followed by a game which featured a Japanese naval and air attack on a British convoy.
John Curry takes us through the history of the FP wargame.
Japanese naval units included three destroyers - alarmingly of the 'Kamakazie' class...
...and a battlecruiser 'Kirishima'.
The paper strips on stands were used to represent squadrons of aircraft.
The first air attack goes in on the convoy.
Kirishima gets a hit on a light cruiser.
A firing arrow is placed for a firther salvo.
Rather unsportingly, the Brits responded with a swarm of torpedo bombers which bore down on Kirishima.  Due to skillful ship handling (and blind luck) they all missed.
Hits are scored on a second light cruiser, thus proving that big guns still have their place in naval warfare!
Readers may like to know that the full Fletcher-Pratt rules are available as part of the History of Wargaming project.

Monday, 11 July 2011

COW 2011 - Part 1 - Friday

Despite heavier than usual traffic on the A1 and rain which varied from heavy to torrential, I managed to arrive at Knuston Hall in good time.  After ensuring that everything was set up as required (it always is - I don't know why I bother) I spent the remainder of the afternoon and early evening meeting and greeting other arrivals.
Immediately after dinner, the first event of the weekend was the Plenary Game.  Such games are designed to include all 40+ attendees and to last no more than 90 minutes.  Perhaps predictably, many Plenary Games over the years have been somewhat silly.  This year's was no exception...  All In The Best Possible Taste was the result of an offhand remark from my stepson Louis, which was taken seriously when I mentioned it to the other Yorkshire-based members of WD - John, Jerry and Martin.  The game involved each team (of 5-7 players) being given two (three if they bribed the umpires with drink) cards, each bearing the name of a battle.  Teams were then given 15 minutes to prepare their chosen battle to the others - using the medium of interpretive dance!  Actually, the game went rather well - not least due to the creativity and enthusiasm of the players.
The Battle of Taranto.  Some team members act the part of Italian AA gunners...
...and here come the, er, Swordfish.
The remainder of the evening was spent running Better Red Than Dead, for which Martin and I had brought our WW2 Soviet uniforms. 
A group of unwilling conscripts - sorry I mean patriotic volunteers - plays Better Red...
More conscripts.
Richard Brooks ran his Broken Square game several times.
Some squares broke - this one hasn't.  Yet.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Hello Sailor!

During my recent visit to Len Cooksey of Ivanhoe Figures I mentioned that, inspired by the Padre's Naval Brigade I was thinking of assembling one of my own.  At this, Len showed me the latest of his own range of resin figures which just happens to be a Victorian sailor!

The painted sample figure.
He is rather a purposeful looking chap.  In size he is completely compatible with the plastic figures I have (HAT, A Call to Arms, Armies in Plastic)
The 'raw' resin figures.  The chap on the left has had most of the (small amount of) flash removed.  The figure on the right was removed from the mould by your humble correspondent - the resin was still slightly warm when I got him home!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Northern Greece, 1989 - post mortem

Following the Northern Greece encounter, the Soviet CO, a Colonel Nekrassov was 'invited' by the KGB to offer his recollections of the battle.  A blood and tear-stained copy of the manuscript has found it's way to me via Martin Rapier, and I have reproduced it below. 

Combat Report by 371st MRR

The Regiment was ordered to penetrate the Greek defences, destroy the border defences and secure the road and river crossings south. To this end the Regiment was reinforced with divisional engineers, a tank battalion and an air assault battalion.
Analysis of the defences and terrain indicated that an enveloping attack by our main force was called for, combined with a deep attack conducted by a Forward Detachment, bypassing the defences altogether an aided in its advance by deep air, artillery and airborne operations.

The FD axis of advance was the north side of the river, which appeared to be undefended, main force would envelop the border guard from the south and exploit, whilst leaving the village to be mopped up by MR troops. Airborne detachment would clear the road south and seize the intermediate river crossing, supported by long range artillery strikes, and clear the way for the FD and main exploitation forces.

The regiment advanced 8km into the depth of the enemy position, gapped the border minefields, secured the northern river crossing and completely destroyed all enemy forces encountered. Nightfall and the rugged terrain prevented our forces from assaulting the enemy artillery positions in the rear.
Enemy losses were a complete motorised infantry battalion, which was encircled and over-run. All equipment and personnel were destroyed or captured.
Our own losses were negligible. Half a dozen tanks were disabled by mines, light casualties were sustained by the air assault battalion capturing the bridge and one of the motor rifle battalions clearing the village. Regimental HQ suffered some vehicle and personnel losses from artillery fire.
A special commendation for the air assault commander in conducting a perfect attack synchronised with artillery fire and airstrikes.

The attack was conducted in a textbook manner, although obstacle clearance and the rugged terrain proved a greater hindrance to movement than operational norms indicated.
Mine roller equipped tank units proved highly capable in both obstacle penetration and cross country exploitation. Wheeled infantry carriers are not suitable for cross country operations in this terrain.
The KGB blocking detachment was highly effective in accelerating the pace of the assault.
The Greeks were clearly forewarned of our attack as they had positioned elite infantry units on the frontier who resisted far longer than could be reasonably expected given the weight of firepower deployed against them.

A search for spies should be conducted. The same spies who warned the Greeks may also have indicated the position of RHQ to enemy artillery.
In future operations of this nature, an air assault brigade would provide a far greater deep attack capability to sustain a rapid advance than a single battalion.


Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Forbodian 'Vonder Veapon' spotted

Reports are just in that King Boris III has been personally overseeing the testing of a new weapon.  This delightful model (only the wheels are plastic - the rest is wood & metal) actually fires a small plastic pellet - and makes a rather impressive 'bang!' as it does so.  Indeed so impressed was a visiting emissary from Freedonia that he was heard to say "Bloody hell - I must get one of those!"  The new gun is sufficiently powerful, however, that it's use in warfare (well Funny Little Warfare at any rate) has been banned.  The risk to paintwork is too great!
My source within the Forbodian War Ministry suggests that further testing will take place at the Knuston Proving Grounds this weekend.

The device in question was obtained from Len Cooksey at  Ivanhoe Figures who tells me that while he has no more available, he can order them from his contact in Argentina(!).  Those attending COW this weekend may place orders through me.