Saturday 31 December 2011

New Year Message

This photo has no great relevance but I get complaints if there is no toy porn in a post...
As 2011 draws to a close this seems a good opportunity to look back...and forward.  Later in this post I will sum up my wargaming activities and plans.

Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my readers and fellow bloggers - especially those of you who leave comments.  Comments are the life blood of the blog and provide my only way of knowing that someone out there actually reads this drivel!  Megablitz and More enters it's fourth year as an integral part of my wargaming life - a fact reflected in the improved regularity of posts in 2011 - more than 5 per week on average.  It is pleasing to feel that as well as a means of keeping in touch with old friends, this blogging lark has led also to new friends.  As always, I hope to see at least some of you during 2012.

Megablitz - While I had to pull the planned 2011 'big game' but hopefully I'll sort something out for 2012.  I did manage to finish more toys and played a few small games.  The 'new' toys include Japanese tanks and a few Russians, as well as newly acquired Germans (3 divisions!) and Russians.  I also added quite a few 1/144 scale aircraft to the collection.  More toys are on the modelling table as I type this and will be the subject of posts soon.

NATO Brigade Commander - this remains on the back burner of late, but I did finish more Soviets and Greeks, and the latter have been used in a game.  I have a small Cold War-era scenario ready to go and a box of undercoated toys waiting to be completed.  WW3 here we come!

Funny Little Wars - I began the year with the intention of completing the Forbidian Army.  Not only did I manage this (although no doubt more bits will be added), but it has actually seen action!  As with everything else, however, a single army is never enough so expect 2012 to see progress on either a 'French' Army or a 'British' Naval Brigade.  Probably.

Op14 - I don't think we played an Op14 game during 2011 - although we came close last Wednesday.  I did complete more 6mm toys - French and Russians.  Hopefully we will get a few games in during 2012.
Command & Colours Napoleonics - This has been a good addition to the games lineup and led to the 15mm toys getting a fair bit of use.  Minor additions to the forces have (thankfully!) come ready-painted.  We're about halfway through the scenario book and at least one supplement is due out in 2012.
Classical Warfare (Command & Colours and Strategos) - The 6mm toys have had an easy year, not least because of the surprise return to my shelves of 25mm as a scale.  Initiated in August by the posthumous gift of a load of figures from my old friend John G Robertson, and boosted by plastics and some online auction 'incidents', these little blighters now fill 10 boxes!  Following some fast talking by Phil Steele I even rejoined the Society of Ancients.
Naval Wargames - 2011 saw a gentle buildup of my 1/1200 fleet and the first outing at the Sheffield Club of the Fletcher Pratt game.  This was successful to the point where I have been asked to run more F-P games.  Well,we do meet in a big room with a parquet floor and there appears to be no shortage of members prepared to crawl around on it pushing toy boats...

Wargames events - I will be attending the following during 2012 presenting the year's new Wargame Developments participation game 'Rollbahn Ost' - Triples, Partizan, CoW, The Other Partizan. I attended these (less first Partizan) in 2011, along with Derby and I was also pleased to get to the  London Toy Soldier Shows in May and December with Len Cooksey.  I may also appear at a couple of other shows but there's nothing else in the diary as yet.  I usually mention upcoming show appearances on the blog, so if you're at a show I attend do come and say hello.

No doubt more distractions will present themselves during the year...

Friday 30 December 2011

Fletcher Pratt Naval Wargame - part 1

The recently published book on the F-P game which includes full rules and instructions on how to play the game.  Link
The Sheffield Wargames Society post-Christmas games day this year provided the setting for a run through of the Fletcher Pratt Naval Wargame.  I had mentioned this to everyone at the club a couple of weeks previously and Mark Hides had been kind enough to mention it on the SWS website
In the event I had 12 players and an umpire team of three - myself, Martin R and Wg Cdr Luddite.
I opened proceedings with a brief history of the Fletcher-Pratt game and mentioned that like many others, I had first encountered it in Don Featherstone's Naval War Games book - in my case sometime in the mid 1970s.
The cherished but battered copy I have owned since 1985.  An expanded reprint is now available.
I had prepared a scenario and managed to finish off the additional ship models required. The WW2 scenario I dreamt up was capable of being downsized depending on the number of players and basically saw Scharnhorst and a destroyer (Z31) setting off from a fjord in northern Norway for the open sea. The Royal Navy had been alerted to this be air recce and had dispatched a task force to prevent this.
An example ship card produced with the aid of  The History of Wargaming website
The RN task force was made up as follows:
Battlecruiser:  Glory-less (flagship) - this was my Hood-based recreation of the Glorious as originally built.
Heavy Cruisers:  Kent, Suffolk
Light Cruisers: Ajax, Leander
Destroyers: Afridi, Ashanti, Bedouin, Cossack, Eskimo

Unknown to the British, the Kriegsmarine had sent Gneisenau and destroyer Z32 north to replace Scharnhorst in the fjord.

What could possibly go wrong?

Next time - battle is joined - including photos of toy ships, golf tees and large feet!

Thursday 29 December 2011

'County' Class Cruisers - part 2

A pre-Christmas spurt of modelling activity included the completion of this pair of cruisers - not least because I needed them for a game on the 28th!  They were built straight from the box, although as they are to be wargame toys I missed off a few delicate fiddly bits.  The paintwork was a drybrush over black and (not that it's clear in the photos) a rudimentary camo scheme was added.

Pre-Christmas bargains

This lot was a wee present for myself which conveniently arrived on Christmas Eve.  Not a bad result at well under £3 a kit including postage.  I have owned some of these gems before - mostly decades ago!  These include the Airfix He 111, Hs 129 and Mossie, and the MB Fw190.  The StuG III and Minicraft  P-38 currently infest my box files in some quantity.
UPDATE 7 April 2013: 
 I've sold the Havocs, Mossie, Fw190, Stug and one of the Hs129s. 
 I'm currently building the Me163 and Bf109.  

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Funny Little Wars Storage Solutions - the Forbodian Army

Now that I've settled on what may well be a 'permanent' solution, I added my usual labels.
As the Forbodian Army lurched towards what may be regarded as completion, I decided it was time to sort out proper storage and transport arrangements for the toys.  I had initially used an assortment of cardboard boxes but these were never really satisfactory - not least because they were all different sizes, creating issues when it came to shelving and transport. 
Regular readers will know that I maintain a large fleet of box files which accommodates most of my toys including 20mm, 15mm, some 6mm and 1/144 aircraft.  The recent growth of my collection of 'proper' 25mm toys had led me to investigate the more 'Really Useful Boxes' range.  I felt that these stackable lidded plastic boxes were more suitable then box files for heavy metal figures - and I identified two sizes from the extensive range which would suit my purposes.  They are a 4-litre box which closely replicates the internal dimensions of a 'traditional' foolscap box file, and a 9-litre box which is simply a taller version of the 4-litre. 
For 54mm FLW toys, the 4-litre boxes will accommodate most foot figures - although standard bearers and the like will need to lay down.  The taller mounted cavalry figures easily fit in the 9-litre box.  I fitted dividers in the boxes to limit wandering.  Those in the 'foot' boxes are simply old kit boxes I had spare.  Unlike my smaller scale figures, I've not bothered to magnetise the FLW chaps. 
This is what the boxes look like.  The photo shows the taller 9-litre 'cavalry' box.
This box contains the Jager Regt (left) and the Foresters (right) with the Palace Guard nicely filling the gap in the middle.  52 figures in all.
As well as the Militia Regt (right), this box houses gunners (centre) as well as the Medical Detachment, First Brigade HQ and of course King Boris (seen reclining bottom left) and his staff.  The only metal figures are the King and his staff officers - the latter in the bottom layer of the red box.
The cavalry box - Light Regt on the left.  The 2nd Brigade HQ shares the space of the 'Heavy' Regt.

Monday 26 December 2011

Christmas books

While the Campaign series can be of rather variable quality Zaloga is always a good read.  These campaigns include lots of burned out German units, a fair chunk of the 'new' French Army, emplaced Panther turrets and ineffectual bombing raids by Me262s.  What fun!
No toys for Christmas - nor indeed was I expecting any - although I did pick up a few interesting kits recently.  More on that soon.  Happily Mrs Santa responded to some none too subtle hints and presented me with these fine tomes.  Ho ho ho.
The 'original' Gulf War has always interested me but books on the subject are very thin on the ground. 

HMS Prince of Wales

Well done to those of you who managed to identify this ship in my earlier posting on County class cruisers. It is HMS Prince of Wales, a battleship of the King George V class. What was more of a struggle was naming the maker. As can be seen in the photos, this is an Esci kit, although I believe the same moulds appeared more recently in Revell boxes.
The kit went together nice and easily - something else which makes me think this is essentially the Revell model.
PoW has now been undercoated and will be painted soon.

Sunday 25 December 2011

Panhard 178

This is another 15mm lash-up for my Fictional African wars.  The Panhard 178 (a metal model with the German AT gun conversion - no idea of the manufacturer) arrived in a batch of other stuff some time back.  Clearly such a dodgy looking vehicle would fit in well with my other 15mm toys. 
The bag of random spare figures yielded a few suitable to serve as the Panhard's crew.  All are from Peter Pig, including the M113 ACAV style M60 gunner who adds considerably to the vehicle's already imposing height!  I think the chap facing to the rear is another 'Nam era US type while the 'commander' is from the WW2 Italian range.

Saturday 24 December 2011

Forbodian Militia Regiment

The Militia Regiment deployed for action.
This regiment pretty well completes the Forbodian Army - a further post will include a full army list. (Defence Ministry permitting). 
The 20-figure Militia Regiment has been populated largely from an old box of Timpo ACW infantry I picked up cheaply on a certain interwebnet auction site.  Two were converted to make the bugler and standard bearer and the numbers were made up by four figures from an Italeri set.  The fairly simple paint scheme utilised the 'traditional' Forbodian colours of green and purple with shiny black boots and tan webbing.  The 'new' colour in the mix give these chaps the nickname by which they are known by other Forbodian units - 'The Brown Trousers'.  Well they are reservists...
The command group - bugler (badly converted), officer (his private income clearly allows more flamboyant nether garments), NCO and standard bearer. 
March column.  The four Italeri figures form the third rank.

Forbodian Brigade HQ

As part of my plan to complete the Forbodian Army I needed a second Brigade HQ.  The First Brigade HQ is intended primarily to command the infantry and has been provided with a motor car.  Bearing in mind that there are now two cavalry regiments to control, it seemed sensible to have the additional HQ on horseback too.  Happily I had some of the rather imposing Italeri Mameluke figures left over from building 1st Cavalry Regt so I selected three of them for elevation to the brigade staff.
The three figures are the Brigadier (centre), staff officer/galloper (left) and standard bearer.  Learning from experience I fixed them to 4cm wide MDF bases for added stability.  The chaps were treated to a fairly random and garish paint scheme which includes liberal doses of the traditional Forbodian colours of blue, green and purple.

Friday 23 December 2011

Seasons Greetings from Forbodia

But whatever is King Boris up to?
"No - the one to the left..."
Shopping for a Christmas tree of course!
"...yes, I'll take that one.  It'll fit nicely in the corner of the command post"
Best wishes to one and all - plenty more posts to come over the festive holiday!

Spares box Sultan - or is it?

A few years ago I picked up a small batch of mangled bits of various metal models from a certain internet auction site.  These included several bits of 20mm GAZ66 trucks which after a certain amount of work did a bit of time travelling and now serve in my WW2 Red Army.  The other parts all belong to various members of the Brirish Alvis CVR(T) family and seem to be about 1/87 scale.  There are parts enough to knock together a Spartan APC and a Sultan ACV (which I still haven't done!) and a spare Sultan hull.  This was too nice a casting to waste, so clearly a rummage in the spares box was required!
It's a regular Sultan - right?
Well no actually. 
The tracks I found came from a Roco SP gun and fit quite well but are far from correct!   Still, as the vehicle is to be used in games set in fictional African countries I think I'll get away with it.  Various bits of stowage were added, together with a couple of crewmen from Peter Pig.  I think the chap in the commander's hatch is an Israeli.

Thursday 22 December 2011

More Hexon bits

The completed hex tiles.
I recently needed a few single 'desert' hexes to add to my existing Hexon collection.  As I had 'flocked' my own desert set (the original pre-flocked desert Hexon was a bit too orange to my eyes...) I used a few of the blank (bare brown plastic) hexes I bought at a show earlier this year.  It occured to me while engaged in this process that it might make a useful post for others considering a similar course of action.
First I washed the plain hexes in soapy water and rinsed them thoroughly before leaving them to dry overnight.  Next I 'painted' one hex at a time with a liberal coating of PVA and doused them with fine sand - as per the photo below.
When dry, I dabbed on further blobs of PVA and piled on clumps of 'grass' flock.  This is a good way of covering up any 'bald' patches in the sand.  Finally the tiles were treated to a blast of spray varnish.
The completed hex tiles playing host to some 6mm South Africans.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

'County' Class Cruisers - and a game announcement!

The 'Counties' on the slipway.
Having secured a fair bit of interest in a game I'll be running on the 28th using the Fletcher Pratt rules, I decided it was time to review the fleet and perhaps do a spot of shipbuilding.  The glaring shortage was of cruisers, so it was out with the Airfix 'Sink the Bismarck' sets from which I dug out the sprues for a pair of the HMS Suffolk models.  Despite the age of the moulds, there wasn't too much flash to remove and both kits were easy enough to assemble.  They have now been undercoated ready for further daubing.
The game on the 28th can accommodate pretty well any number of players, so if you can make it check out the Sheffield Wargames Society website for location details.
After undercoating.  A further post will deal with the larger vessel in the foreground - 10 points for naming the ship and a further 10 for identifying the kit manufacturer.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

3 RTR at Calais

Light tanks of 3RTR go train spotting.
This game was run by Martin a couple of weeks ago and used his (and some of John's) 15mm toys.  Leaving aside the fact that this is a scale which will clearly never catch on for WW2 it was a very enjoyable game.  The rules used were John's home-grown 'Battlegroup' and individual toys generally represented platoon-sized units.  John commanded 3RTR and Steve led the German recce forces while our man in the sinister black panzer overalls was none other than your humble correspondent...

Martin very kindly sent me the briefings used - here are the essential points:
After crossing the Meuse on 13th May, three entire Panzer Corps drove westwards 100 miles towards the coast at Boulogne and Calais, threatening to encircle all the Allied armies in Belgium and Holland. Whatever slender Allied reserves were available were rushed to defend the Channel Ports, as the Panzer Divisions came ever closer.

Allied Briefing
3RTR arrived in France on the 22nd May equipped with a mix of familiar Vickers light tanks and brand new A13 cruisers, expecting to work up to combat readiness at a nearby French tank training ground. On arrival the Germans were discovered to be  closer than expected and the regiment was hastily formed up and dispatched with conflicting orders heading first south west from Calais then south responding to reports of German forces on the St. Omer Road.
Engage and destroy the enemy forces on the St Omer Road. If substantial German armoured forces are encountered, assume a delay/defensive posture and prevent German forces from advancing on Calais from the south and south west
3rd RTR (around 50 runners available)
Regimental HQ – one Vickers Light platoon, liaison troop in Dingos.
2 x Light squadrons with 2 x Vickers each (one troop with 15mm BESA)
2 x Cruiser squadrons with 2 x A13 each.
Axis Briefing
1st Panzer Div is approaching the coast, enemy forces are reported to occupy Calais to the north. Corps command is reluctant to assault the town with panzer formations although it seems likely that the town will at least be invested. Earlier in the day before the mist descended there were reports of an enemy tank column manoeuvring to the south of the town directly across your axis of advance.
Continue to advance northwards. In the event of encountering enemy armour, destroy as many tanks as possible.
KG Kruger (1st Panzer Div),
1st Recce Abt
2 x Amd Car companies each: 2 x AC (one with auto cannon)
1 x M/cycle inf company: 3 x platoons plus CHQ
1 x Hvy Co: 1 x mot engineer platoon, 1 x mot 37mm AT gun
Deploy on the high ground to the south, one company must be in column on the road a maximum of 2 feet in.
Available reinforcements
2 x Light Tank C: 1 x Pz IIIe, 1 x Pz II, 1 x Pz I ea
1 x Med Tank Co: 2 x Pz IVd, 1 x Pz II
3 x Mot rifle Co: 3 x Inf, 1 x HQ, 1 x lorry each
3 x 105mm arty bty: 1 x 105mm howitzer plus tow ea
One coy/bty per turn may arrive on the southern road edge, roll 3+ for it to enter.
The Brits also had 'proper' tanks!
The first Panzer Kp arrives to beef up the recce troops.
Panzers (heavy ones by 1940 standards!) trundle forwards.
The two armoured car squadrons probe the right.  The dodgy looking things which clearly aren't Sdkfz222s are in fact Spanish Civil War toys standing in for '221s.
Panzers pass the recce troops on the road.
Panzers swarm forward in true Blitzkrieg style!  The DPM-clad British commander can be seen lurking at the far end of the table.
Bugger (in German).  More British tanks.
Not to worry - we've got more of them - and all in a rather fetching shade of grey.
The second cruiser squadron as viewed from the Brit commander's very own windmill.
Lots of panzers - as viewed from the same vantage point!
Some British tanks try the devious ploy of sneaking round the flank.  What could go wrong?
By now most of the German artillery battalion has arrived and is being offered plenty of work.
The panzers continue to swarm forward.  They like swarming.
The cards represent the possible locations of yet more Brits.
The British flanking move (on the German right) is spotted!
Soon the German gunners join in!
It seems that the big tanks burn just as nicely as the little ones.
Meanwhile the panzers push on.
The sneaky British flanking force in in real bother now.
Overview - the panzers can be seen swarming forward while on the right the recce and the flanking squadron trade long range fire.
I seem to have taken several shots of the tommy cookers...
The panzers all nicely lined up for an assault on the British positions.
More swarming.
The nasty Brits blow up a Panzer III troop....
...but are soon made to suffer.  More.
The Brits withdraw towards the illusory safety of Calais.
Martin says of the game:  I was rather pleased with how it went. As I mentioned, historically the engagement lasted around two hours (1500 to 1700), 3RTR inflicted heavy casualties on the leading elements of KG Kruger but as more Germans rolled up it became a general firefight and eventually the British withdrew when Brigadier Nicolson recalled them to Calais Which is pretty much what happened on the night!