Wednesday 29 September 2010


The first Panther kit I had was the Matchbox version - built c1977.  I think that this kit still rates as a very good representation - here are a couple (built in 1995) borrowed for the photo from the Panzer Regiments of 5 Panzer Division and Panzer Lehr.  Both are built straight from the box with only a few bits of stowage and (for 5PD) a commander figure added.

Having started with the Matchbox kit, you may well imagine my disappointment with the Airfix Panther!  While I have never built one from the box (or - to reveal my great age - bag) I acquired several wrecks as part of the haul from JR's attic (see previous post) a few years ago.  From bits of half a dozen Panthers I eventually ended up with two 'normal' tanks, a BergePanther recovery tank and (bottom right) a Panzerbeobachtungswagen (artillery OP) version.  They are marked up as the vehicles of 10 Panzer Brigade at Kursk.  Between them, the four models have only three tracks!  By cutting them up and adding side skirts to every tank, I was nearly able to make the three lengths (2 Airfix and 1 Matchbox) go round.

This is where I ran out of tracks - the lack of same on the front right of this Panther is disguised by a bush!

A front view of the Panzerbeobachtungswagen - JR had already converted the turret.

Moving more up to date, here is the Fujimi (I think) kit - currently serving as part of 1 SS Panzer Division 'Leibstandarte'.  This is a very chunky kit with many additional detail parts (side skirts, MG ring on the cupola etc) which the earlier kits lacked.

Finally we have a captured Panther - not the much photographed 'Cuckoo' of Guards Armoured but 213 Tank Brigade of the Red Army.  I think this is an Esci kit as the tracks were made up of hard plastic sections (you're right - I didn't build it!).  It helps to brighten up an otherwise rather bland box of T-34s.

Tuesday 28 September 2010

14 Panzer Division

As mentioned a few weeks ago, following the death of my dear friend John G Robertson ('JR' hereafter) I remembered about some splendid converted 20mm vehicles he gave me some years ago.  After a programme of refurbishment I used many of these to form 14 Panzer Division (mine is also known by the honorific 'JR').  A quick word of explanation is required here for those of you unacquainted with my Megablitz game.  Being the dangerous megalomaniac I am, I use a single toy on a stand to represent the area taken up by a battalion sized unit.  At this level a (1941+) Panzer Division fits in a foolscap box file.  The box file was possibly the greatest leap forward for me as a wargamer (thanks Chris Kemp) and from small beginnings (3 boxes in 1993) I now have, well let's just say lots. 

Anyway, back to 14PD.  All but one of the vehicles in the division came from JR and many were converted by him from Airfix kits in the 1960s.  The dodgy paintwork is all mine.  The photo above shows both battalions (Abteillung) of the Panzer Regiment - represented by a Panzer III and Panzer IV.  The III is built on the hull of the StuG II kit, but can you identify the origins of the IV?  Comments welcome...

The next two pics show the Recce (Aufklarungs) Abt.  This has 4 company sized stands.  Firstly we have the Airfix Sdkfz 231/234 built as standard from the kit with (in the background) a Sdkfz233 with a short 75mm - a straightforward conversion from the same kit.  This and all other photos were shamelessly posed on my wargames table.

The slightly less serious half of the Aufkl Abt - the bAirfix M3 Halftrack with a small turret added - as seen in many a '60s Hollywood war film!  In the foreground is yet another combination of the Sdkfz 234 parts.  Both of these vehicles are liveried in accordance with what Ian Drury calls 'Gow's Third Law' - the less plausible the model then the bigger the black crosses!

The Artillery Regiment is armed with a SiG33 - a Panzer III hull with a 15cm infantry gun in a boxy superstructure.  I know it should have a roof but it wasn't until the 1990s that I saw a photo of the original vehicle from this angle.  Oddly enough, I built one (also open-topped) in the 1970s using a Matchbox Panzer III hull.
The two Panzer Grenadier Regiments ( 2 Btls each) are equipped with an assortment of Airfix and ROCO lorries and halftracks - here we see a lorry converted from the Austin K6 fire tender and an Sdkfz 250 with a short 75mm gun.  The latter uses much of the running gear from the Sdkfz 7 kit.  The infantry I used in 14PD just had to be the Airfix originals - they have a certain period charm!

Finally we have the division's CO with his Dodge (or dodgy) command car (a battered ROCO model).  He is of course the officer from the same Airfix set as his infantry.

JR was slightly appalled when I told him that I was using his creations in wargames - he regarded them as rubbish and was about to bin the lot!  Long may they serve.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

The further adventures of 6 Panzer Division in Russia

This game was played at Sheffield Wargames Society on Wednesday 8 September.  It was another outing (the third?)  for 6 Panzer in the 1941 Russian campaign.  The game was put together by Martin Rapier using the WW2 version of my NBC rules.  All toys and terrain (except my Luftwaffe bombers) are from Martin's collection.  Other people have collections - I just have an accumulation of stuff.  I ran 6PD while Martin looked after the (largely static) Soviets.

The scenario involved 6PD making an assault on the Stalin Line and the whole division was available, together with a pre-planned bombing raid by the Luftwaffe.  Above we see a flight of He-111 bombing the Soviet front-line fortifications and below a Do-17 flight bombs the strategically important crossroads.  Both old (early 1980s) Heroics & Ros models which last flew a mission about 20 years ago!

Assault Pioneers to the front!  As artillery rakes the Russian defences, engineers rush forward to begin gapping the anti-tank obstacles.

With the first line of bunkers dealt with, the engineers cross the river.  Apart from the one which failed a morale check...   Panzers get ready to follow up.
The AT obstacles are gapped in two places (the green counters) and all three Panzer Abts are across the river.

The panzers storm the defences on the hill but come under fire from other defenders of the Fortified Region.
The panzers roll up the Soviet defences - the trenches were swarming with infantry.  AT the top of the photo some tanks (actually dug in and static T-18s) are overrun.

Before storming the gun line (just off camera to the left) the panzers overrun more Russians around the crossroads - including the commander of the Fortified Region!
A nice atmospheric shot of the command team of 6PD - on to Leningrad!

Monday 20 September 2010

Graham Evans Games Day 2010

Saturday saw me travel to Graham Evans' house near Northampton for his annual games day.  This has been going now for about 6 years and I think I have attended every one.  Graham and I were joined by Tony Hawkins, Ian Drury and John Bassett.

The first game of the day was a further instalment of the series set in the fictional African state of Zambola.  The game was governed by simple rules and driven by 'matrix' arguments.  The toys used were mostly Peter Pig 15mm.

Zambola was until last year subject to the just and benign rule of President for Life Joga-Joga.  The President went missing following reports of heavy fighting in Zambola's desert area and the resulting power vacuum saw a struggle developing between former presidential henchman Colonel Condimenti and the late President's foreign-educated son Luke Joga-Joga.  The ever troublesome insurgent faction under the notorious 'Fat Boy' was also in on the act. 

The start of this game was delayed slightly until the last player arrived in a car kindly provided by his previous appointment:
Clearly I cannot possible disclose this individual's name.  It is not for us to mock his personal grooming choices.

The game involved the various factions trekking into one of Zambola's remoter regions in search of the late(?) President's loot.  Here, in a scene reminiscent of the 'Wacky Races' the column led by the mysterious 'Mr J' overtakes Col. Condimenti near Africa's only Bhuddist temple.  All toys and terrain from Graham's collection.

As everyone arrives near the Presidential palace, the mysterious 'Mr J' (seen here atop the Unimog next to the two Toyota 'technicals') proclaims himself to be none other than President for Life Joga'Joga himself.  Inspired no doubt by the mysterious 'Mr B' in the first photo, his evidence consists of the President's tattoo on his (waxed) manly chest.

Sadly the loyal Presidential Guards don't believe a word and open fire!
Eventually the guards were convinced and the palace occupied.  The safe was cracked and the codes found for the Swiss bank accounts.  Sadly though, Luke's men threw them on the fire...  I blame his mother.

The game ended in a clear victory (hey, this is my blog after all) for the true President for Life - Joga-Joga himself.  Despite having been shot at by everyone in every game for the last six years.  That's enough evidence of divine powers for me!

After a fine lunch in a local hostelry we gathered around Graham's other (so rich!) wargames table for a refight of the Battle of Magnesia.  The original took place in 190BC in what is now Turkey between a Roman force under Lucius Cornelius Scipio (the brother of the famous one) and the Seleucid Army under Antiochus III The Great (your humble correspondent).  The Seleucid Army consisted of a wide variety of troop types including a large Pike Phalanx (all 20mm plastic figures)

...and gimmicks such as scythed chariots.  Like their historical counterparts these were completely useless!

An attentive Tony ( - playing Seleucus - making this two games in a row where he played my son!) hangs on Graham's every word.  Crawler.
The Romans were in fact led on the field by loyal Greek ally Eumenes (left) and Domitius (right).

The Seleucid right advances under my inspired (as against competent) leadership.  As always (in my experience) the elephants didn't last long!

The Roman left crumbles under a combined arms assault and several matrix arguments.
My brave lads envelop the Roman left wing while the Phalanx does...well, not very much really.  I forget what happened after this photo was taken.  I expect we won.  I mean, the right wouldn't have fled after the phalanx was wiped out by legionaries - would it.
On the plus side, what happened was a pretty historical result and so, as I, Antiochus III 'The Great'  write this in the dustbin of history I console myself with that thought.

Monday 13 September 2010

Operazione C3 / Herkules - The invasion of Malta 1942

I know I've mentioned this before but there are now only 4 weeks to go.  A few places are still available but you are advised to move quickly!

I spent the weekend in a planning session for this game which I feel we have now knocked into shape.  John Drewienkiewicz kindly hosted us for the weekend, which was also attended by Adam Poole, Richard Clarke, Chris Kemp, Jerry Elsmore and Jim Wallman.  My thanks again to John and his wife Christine for accommodating and victualling us in some style!

Having received another two bookings today I believe we now have about 35 players and umpires booked for the day.

For booking details and prices please see the IWM Duxford website at

Thursday 9 September 2010

Ctesiphon, November 1915

This was another game played with Richard Brooks's Op14 rules.  It was played at Sheffield Wargames Society on 25 August 2010.

Ctesiphon is located around 20 miles southeast of Baghdad, and by mid-November 1915 a division-sized British force under Gen. Townsend was approaching the town from the south.  Townsend's main column comprised a small flotilla of river boats and a brigade of infantry with some heavy guns marching along the eastern bank of the Tigris.  On the photo of the table setup below north is to the left.  The other part of the British force (under Hamilton), consisting of 2 brigades and some field guns was to approach from behind the eastern sand hills.  Townsend had decided his objective, or 'Vital Point' was to be the small sand hill in the loop of the river next to Ctesiphon village (near the bottom of the map).  In our game the Brits were led by Martin Rapier (who also provided the toys).

'Johnny Turk' meanwhile was played by Jerry Elsmore, with advice and interference from John Armatys.  The Turks had a corps (4 brigades) and some field guns were deployed in and around the village.  One brigade was on the western side of the Tigris (there was a pontoon bridge near the village) with the rest dug in.  The front row of trenches were well prepared while those on the hill (where most of the Turks deployed) were temporary affairs.  A further corps (3 brigades and guns) was to arrive on the 23rd.

Unfortunately I kept forgetting to take photos and thus the records are a bit scanty. 

The Brits advanced in their two forces and while the main column engaged the tough defences...

...Hamilton was drawn into open battle with the Turkish relief force.  Not even an appearance from the Flying Corps could turn the tide of battle and a shamefaced Townsend ordered a full retreat.

Meanwhile the Turkish brigade on the west bank consistently drew Clubs throughout the game (as a detached unit this meant it was unable to move) and never saw (even from a distance) action.

Both Martin and Jerry were keen to revisit the battle and swapped sides for the re fight which took place last night (8 September 2010).  Happily I remembered to take more photos and this will be the subject of a future posting.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

The Other Partizan - 5 September 2010

I attended Partizan on Sunday in my Wargame Developments capacity.  This is always a pleasant day out, not least because it is only a half hour drive from home.

This was the final scheduled outing of 'The End' - our players included Phil Steele and I refer you to his blog entry at     With his Fuhrer complex in full chat, Phil made short work of the Allies and preserved several acres of the sacred soil of the Reich.

When I arrived at the show, a couple of friends mentioned my appearance in a recent magazine.  Never having met William Hague I was at a loss to think what they meant until Duncan Macfarlane showed me his copy of the current (No 23) issue of Battlegames.  This includes a report by Paddy Griffith of his Operation Weserubung - The invasion of Norway game which took place at IWM Duxford back in May.  A photo on page 13 shows me (I was the Political Umpire) in the company of the Norwegian player team waving a Norwegian flag.

Purchases at the show included two books.  The operation Starlite book was a no-brainer as I ran a game based on this scenario a few years ago.  I'm not sure if I took any photos at the time but I'll have a look. 

The second book is clearly related and may generate more scenarios for games.  Not bad for £5 each!

The Op Starlite game required the use of some models I didn't at the time own, so I had LVTP-7 models standing in for LVTP-5s and helicopters rather garishly painted instead of in plain drab.  Most challenging though was the need for two Ontos models.  I know that GHQ makes the model now (I have some as yet unassembled) but no 'off the shelf' option was then available.  Mine were made from a cut-down M-114 (I think) hull with the RCL barrels made from lengths of 25mm scale spears.  Here (in a hastily posed photo) we see an Ontos platoon safely ashore in company with a Marine tank platoon and a battalion HQ.  M48A3 and figures are Heroics & Ros, Jeeps are GHQ)

The full horror in close up.  I know it's vastly overscale but it looked the part.

I had looked earlier in the day at the new 20mm WW2 Russians from Plastic Soldier.  While they were very nice I managed to resist - I already own an undisclosed quantity of Soviet Rifle Corps (organised and based for Megablitz).  Indeed, I have just finished painting the infantry for another one. 
Metal figures from various manufacturers.

In the afternoon, however, I succumbed to the temptation.  The blame must lie with Chris Ager and Phil Steele for failing to talk me out of it!  A quick calculation revealed that the 57 figures in the box were about right for another two Rifle Corps. 
Further careful application of wargamer's logic (spend a further £20 to justify the original £10...) led me back to another trade stand I'd looked at earlier.  I had spotted a number of new (to me at least) 20mm plastic kits but resisted on my earlier visit because they were - you guessed it - more bloody Russians!  Still, having bought the figures the floodgates were now open.  Next in the shopping bag was a box of Italeri guns.  I had bought and built (but not yet painted) the Italeri model of the Italian 90mm AA gun last year and been mighty impressed with the gun and even more so with the crew figures.  This new kit was all the more appealing for the gun (there are two in the box) being the widely used 76mm ZIS-3 - liable to appear (in the land of Megablitz) as part of Corps artillery, AT Brigades or Artillery Divisions.   I note that the crews are described on the box as 'servants' - very pre-revolutionary!

To tow the guns I clearly needed some lorries (you can never have too many) and as I have relatively little lend-lease transport in my Soviet 'army' (actually I think It's probably at least one Front) I treated myself to these little beauties.

Finally, I am completely unable to justify the purchase of more Soviet armoured cars.  Maybe it was the outlandish box art which clinched the deal?

I suppose I'd better get painting.

Monday 6 September 2010

Action on the River Gette, 18 August 1914

This game used Richard Brooks' Op14 rules to recreate the action between the German 1 Army under von Kluck....  (Not this one though!)
....and a force consisting of fully half the Belgian Army led by King Albert I.  I had previously played this game - umpired in person by Richard - at COW in July.  On this occasion we used my 6mm toys.  Martin Rapier took the part of Albert while I stood in for von Kluck.  This one:

The table was set up as per the photo below - as usual all photos are taken from my (the German) side for reasons of pure laziness.  The photo shows the situation at the end of turn 1.  The Germans (from left - IX, IV and III Corps) have moved on in a menacing Teutonic manner while aviators are scouting the positions of the Belgian Cavalry Division.  The Belgian 3 and 1 Divs can be seen in the distance.  2 Division is on the way but has not appeared yet.  The sharp eyed among you will no doubt have spotted that the 'Belgians' are in fact Brits and French (cavalry).

A German Taube aircraft overflying cyclists of the Belgian Cavalry Division.

The beginning of turn 3.  The Germans press forward while the plucky Belgians advance to contact.
The situation of the right flank - The Germans are forced to deploy both Corps to put pressure on the cavalry.
Turn 4.  The contact is made on the left while the Germans cross the Gette on the right.

Turn 4 on the right flank.

Turn 5.  On the left flank the Germans pin the Belgians.

The Germans drive back the Belgians on the right.

The left flank solidifies while on the right the Belgians prepare to sell their lives dearly!

Endgame - As the Belgian 2 Div finally arrives (top right), the left flank digs in while on the right the Belgians crumble.  As night fell we agreed that the Belgian 2 Div, together with some survivors of the 1 Div legged it off towards Antwerp.  3 Div meanwhile has fallen into a German trap and is pinned in place.