Friday 31 December 2010

New Year Message

As 2010 draws to a close I decided to put finger to keyboard with some thoughts about the year past and the one to come.  The photo shows one of my Christmas presents.

Two funerals and a wedding.
Sadly, and as previously reported here, I lost two good friends this year: Paddy Griffith in June and John G Robertson less than a month later.  I'm sure we all keenly feel their loss - so much so in my case that I've not yet been able to write a proper obituary for John.  I believe that the best tribute we can offer them is to keep on fooling around with wargames and toy soldiers and military history in general.
It looked for a while as if there might be a third funeral after my father hurled himself down the stairs back in February, but happily he has made something of a recovery.
I managed to end the year on a high note when, on 24 December Sara and I were married at Sheffield Registry Office - in the presence of a small congregation of family and wargamers.

The year (in wargaming) ahead
I have a number of things I'd like to achieve in 2011:
Megablitz - I have a large Eastern Front game planned in February - 12 players so far and I'd like to make it 20 if I can.  Hopefully I will arrange another large game later in the year.  As regards smaller games, the Mokra scenario has been a success and I have plans for another Polish game (using 10 Mech Brigade?) and a few using Japs in Manchuria/China/Malaya.  Finish more 20mm toys including a Japanese ID, British ID, 7 Armd Div, probably more Russians and possibly some Chinese... 
NATO Brigade Commander - this has been on the back burner of late, but I have a number of WW3-based games in mind and more 6mm toys awaiting the dangerous end of the paintbrush.  These include more Soviets, together with Greeks and Austrians.
Funny Little Wars - with all 12(!) members of the Forbodian Palace Guard finished, I plan to complete a usable little army, hopefully in time for the summer.
Op14 - I have 3 or 4 scenarios in stock and would like to finish more 6mm toys - including more French and Russians, and the first of the Austrians.
Wargames events - I will be attending the following during 2011 presenting the year's new Wargame Developments participation game - Triples, Partizan, CoW, The Other Partizan.  I may also appear at a couple of other shows but there's nothing else in the diary as yet.
No doubt more distractions will present themselves during the year...

And finally
I feel that the blog has really gathered pace this year and would like to thank all readers - old friends and new, and in particular those who have commented.  It is your comments which provide much of the incentive to write new posts so please keep it up!

It remains only for me to wish you all a happy new year.  I hope to see you (UK residents at least!) during 2011.

Thursday 30 December 2010

Sheffield Games Day -1- The Somme, 1918

This year's post Christmas games day (like a normal meet of Sheffield Wargames Society but starting at 1pm instead of 7pm) saw around 20 gamers gathering, with five games underway at any given time.  Martin Rapier and I had arranged three games and we were joined in the evening by John Armatys. 

We began with a game using my adaptation of Richard Brooks' Op14 rules, but set during the German offensive of 1918.  Martin had planned the game which used his 20mm toys, with 2 bases representing a brigade. 
The initial set up.  This and all other photos taken from behind the German lines.  All orientation from the German point of view.  The two British corps are colour coded blue (left) and red.  The three German green, yellow and white (from left to right). 
The German first day objective was to reach the Somme/Canal Du Nord - represented on the table by the main left to right waterway.
Early in the game - a victorious German brigade has assaulted the Brits and pushed then out of their trenches.
More victorious Germans on the left flank.  1st Cavalry Div stands ready to plug any gaps.
The Germans continue to make progress on the left.  The white crosses are casualty markers.
The Germans had a harder time in the centre.
More gains on the left - the pivot of the British position is in trouble.
Some success on the right - more Brits are pushed back.
The British line facing the German right has fragmented.
On the right - the British guns have been pulled back across the Canal Du Nord.
After the morning fog cleared, the German Air Service was much in evidence.  Here retreating Brits are subjected to a strafing attack.
The RFC (soon to be re-branded as RAF) also put in an appearance.  Aircraft by Wings of War.
More photogenic strafing - this time on a hill occupied by a brigade and artillery...
...which was subsequently stormed by heroic German infantry!  The town of Peronne can be seen in the background.
Blue Corps survivors take to their heels after another air attack.  Is this the future?
The situation as night fell - on the left - German Green Corps has pushed back Blue Corps but itself teeters on the brink of exhaustion.
The centre - British survivors are largely bottled up in Peronne but Yellow Corps is tiring.
And on the right - Red Corps has withdrawn over the canal and is in a bad way.
Overall, the Germans did slightly less well than their historical counterparts but many Iron Crosses were awarded - along with more than a few plastic ones!  Op14 certainly appeared to function smoothly in this later period of the war.

20mm toys by Emhar and Revell, heavy guns by Irregular.

49 (West Riding) Division - work in progress - part 1

Some progress to report on another Megablitz division now.  This has been 'forming' for some time now - in other words, all the kit has been lurking in a box file awaiting completion.  The infantry were bought ready painted as part of a large batch of stuff I picked up at Triples in 2001, and I finally got round to basing them a couple of months ago - photo to follow when the division is complete.

The vehicles are a mixed bunch and include a few rebuilt from the spares box.  The photo below shows some of them in their as yet incomplete state and includes contributions from Airfix, Matchbox and an unknown resin manufacturer.
More to follow soon, when further progress has been made.

Tuesday 28 December 2010

1/72 scale Airfix Bf-110 - part 3

It's finished at last!  As mentioned previously, the colour scheme just happened without a great deal of research.  Still - it doesn't look too bad considering that this is the first 1/72 scale aircraft I have built since 1988.
I might do a spot of weathering later.  The 'runway' in the photos is in fact the top of a box file.  The one containing 2 Panzer Division for what it's worth.
Fired with enthusiasm after this build, I have dug out a part built (but not by me) Dassault Mystere IVA.  More soon.

Big Boys' toys - part 4

In the last of my posts on the collection at Shrivenham I present my photos of some of the APCs kept there for instructional purposes.

MCV-80 Warrior.
FV-432 with Rarden (30mm cannon) turret.  Only a few of these (13 I think) were built, and all served in the Berlin Brigade in the 1980s.  This one still wears it's Berlin camouflage.  During my recent visit this vehicle was parked outside. On a concrete road, next to a red brick building and under a light frost, the camo was extremely effective.
Mowag Piranha.  This Swiss-designed APC is in service in various forms with a number of nations.  It led to the Canadian Grizzly & Cougar, and the US LAV series (in 8x8 format).
View from atop the South African Buffel APC.. Clearly a high silouette is not viewed as a problem in the Veldt!  From left to right - Warrior, FV-432, Marder.  Nearby is a Brazilian EE-11.
Tony Hawkins (left) and Ian Drury form part of the Stosstruppe in the back of the Marder.
BV-206 all-terrain vehicle.
The driver's compartment of the BV-206.
The inside right of the BMP-1's troop compartment.  Compare this cramped horror with the photo of the Marder above.
BMP-1 (left).
BMP-2 - the 73mm low-pressure gun and Sagger missile combination of the BMP-1 has been replaced with a 30mm auto cannon and Spigot missile.
The (even more cramped) troop compartment of BMP-2.
Close up of the RH side.
And LH side.  Note the PK machine gun mounted to fire from under cover, and the AKs ready for use.

Monday 27 December 2010

1/72 scale Airfix Bf-110 - part 2

More progress to report on the Bf 110 build now.  Construction is largely complete, and I have decided on a colour scheme.  The propellers had both lost blades, so I cut off the survivors and will cut circles of clear acetate to use in their place.

I have built it 'wheels down' and with the additional fuel tanks as that's how I finished the 'original'.  I think back then that it was a case of using all of the parts.  Ah, these happy pre-spares box days.
The blue I used turned out rather darker than expected but I decided to stick with it.  The final colour and marking scheme will be rather less than accurate but what the hell - if it looks OK it'll do for me.
Next time (with a fair following wind) the completed model.

Sunday 26 December 2010

1/72 scale Airfix Bf-110 - part 1


As part of  'Aircraft Month' I decided that I'd better build a proper kit!  In the box of old kits I picked up at Warboot recently was an old Airfix Bf-110C/D, and it is this which now joins the random selection of 1/32 Napoleonics, 1/76 Japanese tanks and a 1/144 P-40 on the modelling table. 
Why, you ask am I building in a scale I don't use for wargaming?  Well, aside from the thrill of the inter-continental arms race that is Aircraft Month, the kit is unboxed - exposing it to damage amid my boxes of unbuilt kits.  The clincher though, is that the '110 has the dubious distinction of being the first model I ever painted.  I received it as a present on my 11th birthday (in 1976), together with my first three tins of Airfix-branded enamel paint - a dark green (upper surfaces), pale blue (undersides) and brown (exhausts, wheels, gun barrels).  It was built straight from the box and with the markings applied looked pretty good.  I remember using bits of it to build (well, bodge) a Ba-349 'Natter', probably in the late '70s.
Airfix originally released the '110 in 1959(!).  Clearly the kit has retained a following, as they have recently released a new tooling - nice to see they still believe in dramatic box art.

My '110 build is progressing at a sedate pace, and I have yet to decide on a colour scheme.  Further progress will be reported as it happens.

Saturday 25 December 2010

A history of Airfix HO/OO AFV kits - part 5 - 1963

I confess - I actually typed much of this post some days ago, and I am adding this introduction with the accompaniment of a glass of champagne after being shooed out of the kitchen while Herself cooks another fine Christmas dinner.  I will take this opportunity to wish you all the best for the holiday and the coming year - your blogs and comments have helped to sustain my enthusiasm throughout the year, particularly during the gaps in 'face-to face' wargaming.  A very merry Christmas to old friends and new.

On to business - 1963 saw only a single new release, but possibly one of the most useful.  This splendid little kit contained not only a 25pdr gun, but also it's limber, Quad tractor and a number of crew figures. 
Here is the kit in it's most recent style of packaging.
Originally the 25pdr kit, being a Series 1 offering,  was supplied in a bag.
The kit has stood the test of time quite well, particularly as a wargames model.  Esci (see my earlier post at joined the fray in the mid-1970s, and while their 25pdr is more detailed and their Quad much nicer, Esci made us pay for two kits, each more expensive than the old favourite from Airfix.  Hardly surprising then, that the Arifix 25pdr is a much more common sight on the world's wargames tables.
I never much cared for the Airfix crew figures, and many of mine have been replaced by metal crewmen from Dixon Miniatures - as is the case with this regiment from my North African version of 7 Armoured Division.
 A few weeks ago, Paul on Plastic Warriors  ( offered us a splendid photo of four 25pdrs (either a battery or four regiments depending on your point of view!).  Never one to be upstaged, I plundered all my British & Commonwealth boxes and offer you the following spectacle as a Christmas treat:

To save your eyes, there are fourteen of them - all Airfix, and all but one with limbers.  And more still to build!
Next time - 1964 with four new kits - any guesses as to what they are?

Thursday 23 December 2010

Big Boys' toys - part 3

Following on from my two posts about my recent visit to the Defence Academy at Shrivenham, I have posted below some photos from my earlier visit.  This post will deal with tanks, and the next - rather more extensively - with APCs.
T-72 with some dodgy looking tank riders.  This tank did have a previous owner before the British Army acquired it...
Chieftain and Centurion - 'proper' tanks!
Challenger 2.
Tom demonstrates the Challenger 2 control panel (the thing that looks like a X-Box controller) while Jim Wallman looks on.
Leopard 1 cut neatly in half by Bundeswehr technicians.  It must have taken a lot of hacksaw blades!
AT ammunition.
The effect of a HEAT round (I think) on spaced armour.
Flaking paint on the T-62 showing the original Russian green under the Iraqi sand colour.
'Wittman' Wallman enjoys the view from the King Tiger.