Friday 30 September 2011

South of Cheux, Normandy 1944 - part 2

This week's game - presented by Martin - saw a return to Normandy with a follow up to the game we played a few months ago.  No doubt some readers will be glad of this deviation from my current interest in the 'pointy stick' era.
Following behind the recce troops of 2nd Northants Yeomanry just South of Cheux, the leading tank battalions of 11th Armoured Div pressed south towards the Odon. The 23rd Hussars were tasked with moving directly south from Cheux but were delayed by rubble and traffic jams, and finally emerged from the town in heavy rain at 1630. The delay had allowed 12th SS Panzer Division to reinforce the thin line of engineer and reconnaissance troops holding the line south of the town.  My thanks to Martin for running the game and allowing me to copy and paste bits of the briefing.
The assembled might of the British forces.  John and I each had command of a Troop of Shermans, a Carrier section and a recce section.  Martin provided most of the toys.  John donated a halftrack (the Sdkfz250), while the sandbagged plastic Sherman was sourced from my own collection.
A panorama of the terrain, seen (as are virtually all photos) from the west.  The burning German armoured cars were set alight during the previous game.
John's Sherman troop boldly trundles south.  What could go wrong?
My brave Honeys bypass a burning enemy AFV.
One of John's Daimler armoured cars looks for Germans...
...and finds them!
More German recce appears and is swiftly dealt with by a mighty Honey!
Meanwhile in the distance, John's troop has come under fire.
To be continued...

Thursday 29 September 2011

Blood, sweat, tears and PVA

I have now managed to re-base most of the already-painted 25mm ancients.  Pictured below are the Assyrian infantry (spearmen, archers with shield bearers and skirmishers) and Sassanid levies, all Hinchliffe.  I  previously owned some similar Sassanids - as I remember the levies were rated in the old WRG lists as 'Irregular D' (the worst class of troops under 5th Edition...) and their performance in my hands always lived down to expectations.
As for the Assyrians, well I always wanted an Assyrian army - why not:
1. they impaled captives on spears
2. they had loads of groovy siege kit
3. the huge 4-horse chariots are very cool (but then I write as a lapsed Volvo driver...)
Cavalry and chariots are on order from HAT...
The now notorious 'Camelphracts' (centre) and friends.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Greek Peltasts

Well Minifigs Peltasts actually.  Relatively new (late 1970s?) figures from the period when Minifigs obligingly stamped the model code (PB10 in this case) onto the figure base.  Having stocked up on paint last weekend (Vallejo from Wargames Emporium), I set about them over the course of a few brief painting sessions last week.  I had the odd total of 19 of these chaps and divided them between three stands.
A basic paint job, but quite effective.  To my eyes anyway.
The early stage of painting.  The newly reinforced ranks of Vallejo paints can be seen massing at the rear of the table.

Monday 26 September 2011

Roman Artillery

Selected for painting at the same time as my Roman General , and of similar vintage to same was this arrow twanger and crew.  It may well be that parts of the weapon are missing, but it still looks dangerous enough to me.  Not least because the 'spear' being wielded by the chap in the foreground is actually the arrow for the beast!
Observing the fall of the previous shot and preparing to reload.

The 'gunners' and eagle bearer during painting.
Nearly done!

Sunday 25 September 2011

Roman Auxiliary Infantry - part 2

These chaps are now finished, and given that they were my first real crack at painting plastic ancients, I'm quite happy with the results. 
A (very tall) barbarian's-eye view of my new Romans.
Just to prove I paint them all round...

Friday 23 September 2011

Roman Auxiliary Infantry - part 1

In a shock development I have been doing more painting!  This time the unlucky victims of my paintbrush are a small batch of HAT Roman Auxiliary Infantry.  Here they are in their half-painted state on temporary bases. 
The figures cleaned up nicely - although now I've started painting it is obvious that I missed a few bits of flash.  The shields slotted into place easily and were each secured with a dab of PVA.  The pilums (pila?) were rather more of a challenge, but happily most of the chaps are brandishing their swords (ooh-er missus...).   More pics when they're finished.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Blood, sweat, tears and superglue

Work continues on the 'classic' 25mm ancient figures which recently came into my possession.  It seemed reasonable to begin with the figures which were already painted, and the initial work consisted of sourcing and attaching wire spears to a number of figures.  While Hinchliffe figures already have hands ready to accept such weapons, some others needed their hands carefully drilling. 
I want to preserve as much of the original paintwork as possible, so a certain amount of touching in chipped paint followed.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Roman General

Having made all sorts of grandiose plans for the use of the 25mm figures in my custody, it occurred to me that I'd better make sure I could actually paint them!  To qualify my concern, I should point out that apart from my 6mm Ancients and a few 15mm Brits for the Sudan I haven't actually painted any pre-20th Century toys since the 1980s.  And even back then they were rubbish and few in number.
Anyway, back to the present.  I decided to ease myself in gently and dug out a Roman general and his eagle bearer to be among the first to face the dangerous end of my paintbrush.  I'm not sure of the manufacturer, but these chaps are old 'small' 25s and will fit in nicely with many of the new plastic figures.  The horses were already painted and I had already decided to preserve as much of JR's original paint as possible, so apart from some repair work I left these as they were.
Even if I say it myself - not a bad start.  Two down, a few hundred to go...

Monday 19 September 2011

WW2 Windfall - part 2

This is the second half of the box of dust and models I recently acquired.  Some work is still required on this lot, but my priority was to decide what was staying and stuff it in a drawer.  The Allied models in this batch include another 2 Shermans, another Lee (contains approx 30% Sherman suspension components), a Quad (the lovely Esci one) and another halftrack.  There is also a Matchbox Chaffee missing some roadwheels - some rummaging in the spares box is called for.
The German models include 2 StuGs, 3 Sdkfz 7, 1 Sdkfz 8, 1 Sdkfz 251, 1 Tiger E, 2 Wirbelwind, 1 Mobelwagen and a rather splendid Sturmtiger.  There are also several bigger German AFVs - Tiger B, Jagdtiger, Panther, Elefant - which have been declared surplus.

More news on these when I get round to using them.

Friday 16 September 2011

WW2 windfall

I have now managed to find the time to have an initial sort-out of my latest box of swag.  Many of the models needed some repair work but only a few were beyond help.  The write-offs bravely donated many of their components to rebuild others.  "They gaveth their suspension components that others might trundle on...."
More photos soon of the smaller number of German vehicles.  There is quite a bit of surplus - notably some trackless Shermans and some late war German tanks & SP guns.
The sort-out commences.  Three broken Shermans, a broken Lee and a broken Tiger...
There turned out to be quite a few models!
Gun tractors - Matchbox Morris C8s (rear) and Airfix Quads - including an example of the rare Sports Convertible model.
SP guns - and more broken Shermans.
The 'completed' pile begins to look a bit healthier.
The Allied toys in their temporary home - until I figure out how I'll use them.  6 Shermans, 1 Lee, 3 Priest, 2 M12 SP, 2 M3 scout car, 3 halftracks, 2 C8, 3 Quad, 1 17pdr, 1 25pdr, 4 Dodge .75t trucks, 1 Stuart, 4 Lorries, 2 Jeeps.  Not bad eh?

Thursday 15 September 2011

Photos from Tobruk

I was given these photos some years ago and it recently occurred to me that they should be seen by a wider audience.  All were taken during WW2 by my father's uncle Douglas Gow in the vicinity of Tobruk.  My apologies if they're not very clear, but the originals are each only 60x40mm in size.
Harbour at Tobruk
A.P.S.  Bardia Road, Tobruk
M.D.S.  Derna Road, Tobruk
The original photos are printed on 'Velox' brand photo paper and were scanned using my HP LaserJet M1522n.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

A cunning plan.

Well, a plan anyway.  Now that I have sorted out and (up to a point) identified all of the the figures retrieved from JR's attic, I have come up with a plan to actually use them!
Most of the figures are what we wargamers call 'ancients', so chronologically this seems like a good place to start!  The mostly unpainted figures can be summarised as follows:
Assyrian Infantry
Macedonian/Successor types - enough for a sizable army
Roman cavalry and a load of artillerymen
Sassanid infantry
Cataphract cavalry (& camels!)

My plan is to repair the painted chaps first and then paint some of the others, plugging the gaps between random units and fieldable armies with plastic figures. Martin very kindly brought along some of his plastic (mostly HAT) figures last week to conduct size comparisons and the old 'proper' 25s are a good match for modern plastics.  An order has been placed....
The 'Ancient' period games I play currently are Strategos/Lost Battles and Command & Colours (S and CCA hereafter), the latter on Hexon hexes (which are 10cm across). I am also having a look at Impetus.

As to base sizes, it would indeed be nice to be able to fight battles with friends' armies, and negotiations have been conducted with fellow classic 25mm enthusiasts Ian D and John B.   While Martin's plastics are on 'WRG' sized bases (6cm frontage), and that seems in many ways the obvious thing to do, I won't. For the following reasons:
1. Most of my 6mm ancients are on WRG types bases (4cm frontage) and actually look pretty good (16 close order infantry, 4-8 cavalry etc), but a couple of ebay 'accidents' last year saw the acquisition of some figures on much larger bases, too nice to be re-based. All have been successfully used in games, helped by the fact that both S & CCA use forms of area movement, so as long as there is a way of recording casualties - either by removing smaller bases or placing hit markers ('Where the plastic crosses grow...') on the larger ones.

My experiments with bases for the 25s have led me in the direction of the 8cm frontage, with depths of 3-4 cm for infantry and 5-6 cm for mounted troops. My rationale is as follows:

2. I don't like removing part units during a game - it is messy, increases wear and tear on the toys and casualties are easily marked (I use tile spacers).

3. The bases will look more like units than small clumps of toy soldiers. Close order infantry can be based on two ranks - 8-10 or so to a base, lights maybe 3-4 to a base and somewhere in between for loose order peltasts and hairy warbands (that's Light Medium Infantry for those of us who came in with WRG 5th Edition....).  Cavalry bases will have two lights or four heavies, leaving those who aren't quite sure with three figures.  Perversely, I will probably mount elephants singly on narrower bases...

4. 8cm fits neatly into the 10cm Hexon hexes in which I have a considerable investment.

5. A decent sized force could be fielded on my 180x90cm wargames table.

6. 8cm is visually compatible with multiples of John B's 4cm bases.

7. 8cm is big enough - looking 'ahead' to the 17thC - to mount combined pike & shot units.

8.  MDF bases in the sizes mentioned will be stable enough for metal toys and give the plastics enough stability.

I commend this base size to the house!
Coming soon - I actually base some figures.

Sunday 11 September 2011

What's on the modelling table today?

I've not made a lot of progress this week due to time constraints, but I did manage to clean up and prepare for painting the first batch of 20/25mm ancient figures.  These are the HAT Roman Auxiliary Infantry and Parthian Light Cavalry sets, together with a few Minifigs Roman Cavalry.  I'm hoping to get them all covered with PVA (the plastics) and primer (the metal figures) later today.  More about the classical warfare project in a future post.
The usual mess on the tabletop. 
The HAT figures after cleaning up,  washing, assembly and fixing to temporary bases for painting.

And finally - a recent deal with Steve T involving some Airsoft gear resulted in the arrival of this box of 20mm toys.  More on this later, when I've had time to assess the contents, but I offer the photo above mainly to generate jealousy - especially among my NZ readers.  Sorry Paul.

Friday 9 September 2011

Armour Supremacy

Wednesday night's game was one from John's archives - a venerable TTG card game dating from 1976!  I don't think I'd heard of this game previously and as it was clearly ancient and had pictures of tanks on the box, it took little persuasion (well OK, none) for Martin and I to join in a game.
The well-preserved box.  Don't bother trying to ID the tanks - all is about to become clear...
The game involves players using their hand of cards (a bit like Rummy) to build tanks.
First tanks must have a Mk1 turret and a correspondingly useless gun.  This tank scored it's owner 10 points.  Completed tanks may then 'shoot' at other players' tanks and are shot at in return.  'Kills' are worth half the target's points. 
Once you have a tank you may build an AT gun - evidently a PAK 40 in this case.
It is possible (subject to having the appropriate cards) to upgrade tanks with better turrets, bigger guns, more armour etc.  Only the hull may never be upgraded.  
A rather better first tank worth 18 points - with loads of armour but still a feeble gun.  A Mk1 Churchill perhaps?
Once you have a tank with a Mk1 turret you may then build (or upgrade) to one with a Mk2 turret, then a Mk3.  The 'ultimate tank' appears to be a Mk3 hull with 3 lots of additional armour, mounting a Mk2 turret with a 75mm gun - and a sponson carrying an '88.  Basically a big M3 Lee.  Hmm. 
We managed two games - each lasting around 40 minutes, but I remain unimpressed.  In the first game I was unable to amass the cards required to build a single tank!  In the second game I eventually built a tank and an AT gun and was about to build a second, heavier vehicle when the game ended.  So an interesting game, but on the strength of the results I have to conclude that it is all down to the fall of the cards and that player skill plays no part....  Put it back in the cupboard for another 30 years John!

Tuesday 6 September 2011

JR's toy sort-out. Part 4

The sort-our continues, with much slicing off of old bases and dusting some very dusty figures.  There are rather a lot of horses...  At some point I expect I'll need to try and match these up with the cavalry figures lurking elsewhere.
The box labelled 'Horses'.
'More horses' 
The box labelled 'More bloody horses'...

Monday 5 September 2011

Ancient Naval Game

The discovery of a number of (still bagged) 1/1200 scale Navwar ancient galleys recently reminded me that  already had some painted examples.  These were bought already painted and as it turns out are the rather expensive (£2.50 a boat) Langton models.  Not bad to say that I bought the lot (20 painted and 20 part-painted) for £15 about 10 years ago!
Last Wednesday I decided to give them an outing and dug out a copy of a DBA variant which John and I had tried as recently as 1999...  Our rosy memories of the rules didn't correspond with the game we had last week, so I need to find another simple ancient period naval game.  Anyway dear reader, here is some eye candy to keep you amused.
Inept manoeuvring led to a head-on clash between the two fleets (me on the left and John on the right).
My dice rolling was, even by the low standards I normally meet, particularly awful!
My line (with the full sails) is eaten away by Johns (furled sails).
John (for it is his finger) points to his victorious (or plain lucky?) admiral.

Sunday 4 September 2011

The Other Partizan

Sunday was spent in the company of John, Jerry and Martin running our 'Better Red than Dead' game at Partizan near Newark. Despite the show seeming a bit quiet, we were able to run the game several times and it was again well received. This was the last scheduled outing of BRTD, so my thoughts must now turn to sorting out next years game, 'Rollbahn Ost' which will be launched at Triples in May. So I'll probably start work on it in April....

Retail damage today was limited to a couple of books (details later) and some magnetic sheet and steel paper.

Partizan is often a show where in between running games and shopping it is possible to chat at some length with people I rarely see and today was no exception - honourable mentions go to Phil Steele, Duncan Macfarlane, Mark & Kayte Hides and Peter Berry. Thanks to all of them, as well as the WD crowd, the show organisers and all our players for making it such a pleasant outing.

Friday 2 September 2011

Dassault Mystere IV

Fired with enthusiasm following the success of my Bf 110 build during the Christmas break, I dug out a part built Mystere with a view to completing it.  This is the old Matchbox kit (in Revell packaging) and it's arrival in my possession is (appropriately) shrouded in mystery.  The basic components (fuselage, wings, tail) had already been assembled - and not too well - so I swiftly completed the build and then set to with the painting. 
The two sets of markings supplied with the kit (French and Indian) both required a plain metal finish, so it was out with the silver paint - and then the problems began.  Silver is always a tricky colour on a large surface and the paint I used left horrible streaks.  Disheartened by this and distracted by the usual plethora of other projects, the Mystere was then left to gather dust.  Due to my meanness I couldn't abandon it altogether and so I had another go at the weekend.  I tested the various silver paints I have and settled on a long forgotten pot from Games Workshop.  After two coats this gave a tolerable finish and I was then able to press on with the (very limited) detail painting.  I settled on the Indian markings as I have an interest in the wars fought between Indian and her neighbours since independence.
The end result isn't great, but as free models go it'll do.  I wonder if I'll ever use it in a game...
Dramatic front-on view.  The Mystere looks broadly similar to a number of it's contemporaries.
The green centres in the roundels were separate decals and were a bugger to place accurately - as can be plainly seen!
Sadly there was no pilot figure with the kit - and nothing suitable in the spares box.

Chicken First Aid

A slight crisis arose on Saturday when we noticed some drops of blood where the chickens had been.  A thorough examination of the flock revealed that Von Kluck had a broken claw.  We've still no idea how this was inflicted - presumably she caught it in something and suffered the damage while trying to break free.  The diagnosis and treatment process wasn't made any easier by Kluck being the least docile of the chicks - picking her up generally involves a chase round the garden followed by trying to keep hold of a struggling mass of wings claws and beak.  The talon in question was cleaned up and the problem of keeping the wound clean was solved with two sticking plasters - one on the injury and the second to keep the first in place!
Von Kluck briefly poses for the camera - the plaster can be clearly seen.
A close-up of the repair work.
Although the plaster had disappeared by Monday, Von Kluck seems to be on good form and making a good recovery.
And no, I've no idea what this has to do with wargaming either.