Friday 28 September 2012

Going for Broke

Another naval interlude now.  HMS Broke was one of four destroyer leaders being buult for Chile before the Great War.  Purchased for service with the Royal Navy (as the Faulknor class) on the outbreak of war, three survived to be re-sold to Chile in 1920.  Both of these are MY models - that above being a much older casting.

Thursday 27 September 2012

President Fred clings on! Part 1

This was a game set in the well-known fictional African country of Ph'tang.  The newly elected President Fred was inroduced in a previous post, and this game covered his efforts to cling to power in the face of hostile factions and (most dangerous of all?) his own bodyguard.
Roles, (with those who played them and why) were as folows:
President Fred (Steve T - he likes to wear a big hat)
You are the democratically elected and benign ruler of the small African state of Ph’tang, your party P.O.N.G. (the Ph’tangi Organisation for National Glorification) having swept to victory at the last election. Under your direct command is your devoted (and well remunerated) bodyguard, The Purple Helmets. You also have at your service a loyal unit of the Ph’tangi Army, namely F.R.O.L.I.C. under the command of your loyal but sinister subordinate Captain De'ath.
  1. Survive and cling to power.
  2. Obtain the approval of the international community, especially the UN.
  3. Display the exaggerated mannerisms of a comedy dictator.
Captain De'ath (Wg Cdr Luddite - he is rather sinister)
You are the loyal and trusted sidekick to the recently re-elected President Fred of Ph’tang. You command F.R.O.L.I.C. (Fanatic Regiment Of Light Infantry Cowards).
  1. Ensure that President Fred stays in power – if he goes so do you!
  2. Advance your career…
  3. Avoid heavy casualties in your own force.
  4. Act the part of a shadowy henchman.
Colonel Incognito (Dave S - he has the beard for it)
You are the Cuban ‘adviser’ to and thus de facto commander of L.A.D.A. (the Leftist Army of Darkest Africa). Having assembled your forces in nearby Zoone, the time is now right to invade Ph’tang in the interests of peace and stability. You have instructed the local revolutionaries to take action, and it is better that they sustain the casualties, rather than losing your expensively trained regulars…
  1. Depose the fascist President Fred.
  2. Obtain UN approval for your actions.
  3. Avoid heavy casualties in your own force.
  4. Act the part of the glassy-eyed Communist fanatic.
Dave (or 'Fidel') shows his concern for civillian casualties.
The Limp Wrist (Martin R - he was once seen reading the Guardian)
You are the shadowy and mysterious leader of a popular uprising against the evil and repressive dictatorship of President Fred.  Your organisation, The Peoples Organisation For Socialism is covertly backed by the Cuban sponsored Leftist Army of Darkest Africa (L.A.D.A.) which is massing on the border prior to invading Ph’tang. Now is the time for action!
  1. Overthrow the president.
  2. Obtain UN assisstance.
  3. Acquire legitimacy in the eyes of the world.
  4. Act in a rather camp fashion. 
Martin closes his eyes to the excesses of the revolution.
The table (6x4 feet) was set up with a small town, woods, hills, the presidential compound, barracks and a river marking the border with neighbouring Zoone. 
 As well as very basic 'rules' governing movement and firing, the main mechanism of the game was the Matrix Argument.  For those of you unfamiliar with such things, have a look at the appropriate page of the WD website.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Tratvian Guard Battalion

The latest addition to the army of Tratvia is this Guard Infantry Battalion.  These elite chaps are Charbens plastic figures.  Though clearly intended as Russians - the fur hats have big star moulded on the front - their rifles are a bit of a mystery, looking more like short FN FALs than anything Soviet. 
Conversion work was limited to cutting down all the rifle magazines and carving the rifle from the standard bearer before drilling his hands to accept the florist wire flagpole.
The standard bearer - the flag is printed on an HP CP1515n and held together with PVA.
The Adjutant is a splendid figure - clearly raring to have a go at the enemy.  Or anyone really.
The dashing young aristocrat who leads the battalion has already been awarded a medal!

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Grown men and little 'planes

Further to my earlier report on the PVO Strany game which Martin and I ran at COW in July, Jim Roche has kindly given me permission to use the photos he took of the game.  I present three of them here for your further entertainment.  

Your humble correspondent shows off 'Red 66' (a 1/100 scale MiG 21) during the briefing for the Soviet team.

Alex, John and Russell posing proudly with the toy inflatable Vulcan.  Some people just have no shame.  Which is handy if you need players for a silly game.
More shamelessness in the form of smug Soviets Nick D, John B and Chris P.  Sadly the provision of authentic headwear did nothing to increase competence levels...

Friday 21 September 2012

Big Phil down!

Last week I re-ran the Crocus Plains scenario with C&C and my 25mm toys.  John took the role of Phillip II of Macedonia while Steve T was the Greek not bearing gifts.  The Macedonian cavalry got stuck in quite early and tore into the Greek left.  Above we see some Greek skirmishers suffering 75% casualties.  Theirs chums (below) were soon in a similar position leaving Steve rather despondent.

The cavalry soon scuttled off leaving the Greek left devoid of troops.
The main Greek battle line.
The Macedonian main battle line - Phil II can be seen capering around behind the phalanx.
Phil's days were numbered though - here John points in true wargamerly fashion to the spot where he perished.  By this time honours were pretty even - the Greek hoplite units having ripped into the Macedonian centre.
The momentum of the Greek assault carried it through the Macedonian line to the point where Steve only needed to inflict a single casualty to win the game in his next turn....
However, John managed to get rid of a Greek unit in his turn thus securing the narrowest of victories.  And losing his King.  I wonder if Phillip's son will turn out to be any good....

Thursday 20 September 2012

Tratvian Militia Battalion

Hot off the modelling table is this addition to the Tratvian Army.  This Militia Battalion was recruited from Armies in Plastic Napoleonic Prussian Landwehr and Russian Militia figures, while the pistol toting CO is from the WW1 Russian set.

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Mangling a Morane - or 'Here comes another Fokker'*

Having decided that the Tratvian Army required some air support I began a search for a Morane monoplane.  Sadly none was to be found (at least not for a reasonable price) so a spot of kitbashing and bodging was clearly required.
I had earlier picked up the old Revell kit (1/72 scale) of the Fokker E.1 for under £3, so even if it all went horribly wrong it would make only a modest dent in the defence estimates.
The Fokker was about the right size and had the correct wing quantity, so after that it was a case of determining the more distinctive characteristics of the Morane.  These seemed to consist of a fully cowled engine, a pronounced fairing behind the pilot, a pointy rudder and much simpler undercart struts than the Fokker.  A new rudder was made from plastic card and the fairing carved from balsa.  The engine cowling was made from a piece of metal foil and the kit parts adapted to produce the undercarriage and the bracing strut arrangement in front of the pilot.
All this made it look, if not exactly like a Morane, at least a bit less like a Fokker!  Painting it green helped too.  A generous coat of gloss varnish was applied to fit in with the 'toy soldier' look of Tratvia's ground forces.
Incidentally, I am told that Tratvian markings are easily confused with those of a (clearly fictional) country called 'Russia'.  You've been warned.

Monday 17 September 2012

The ultimate bird-scarer?

While out for a walk recently I spotted this Bloodhound AA missile in a (large) garden.  As it was behind a high wall one can only speculate about what else might lurk therein.
Interestingly, when I showed this to some of the chaps at the Sheffield Club they were rather less concerned with "why have an air defence system in your garden" and the conversation moved quickly on to what the most suitable system would be!  Leading the field so far is a Bren on an AA tripod.  Worrying really, isn't it?

Friday 14 September 2012

Lone Star State of Mind*

Further to my recent post on a delivery of matchstick firing cannon to the tradesmens' entrance of King Boris's palace, I am pleased to report that Mr Crook has supplied yet more guns!
As well as a pair of healthy Britains 25-pounders, DC sent the rather striking silver field gun seen in the photo being delivered.  This is a Lone Star model - and one which I've not seen before - with a similar firing mechanism to the 25-pdr. 

It is likely that King Boris will send the gun as a present to his chum the Tsar of all the Tratvians.  Once the latter has acquired a name.  And paint.

*I know, but it's a good excuse to hear this again.

Website of the Week

One of the commentators on my recent TMP post provided a link to his own website.  Horse and Musket features some beautifully painted 54mm toys so regular readers of my blog can see what they're meant to look like!  Have a look: Horse & Musket

Thursday 13 September 2012

Heugh Battery

 My trip to North East England last month included a visit to the Heugh Battery.  A coastal defence fort (with a slight look of the old Airfix gun emplacement), this was the battery to first engage German warships during the Great War.  If you are in the area the Battery is definitely worth a look - highly recommended!
One of the Battery's two 6in guns.
The Battery viewed from the shore
I made a point of carefully scanning the horizon - but no enemy ships were in sight.
The yard behind the gun emplacements is filled almost to bursting point with more 'big toys' - including a Ferret and Chieftain.
Rapier launcher.  One of the few not deployed in London during the Olympics....
25 Pounder - more Esci than Airfix given all that detail!
The enormous 3.7in AA gun.  People who drivel on that "it should have been used against tanks like an 88" have clearly never seen one in the flesh.  It really is a big cumbersome beast (even compared to an 88).
Late model 40mm Bofors with extra shielding for the crew.
The 'static' version of the Bofors - clearly not intended for bouncing across fields in support of a division.
Not enough Bofors?  OK, here's another - the shipboard version.
A curiosity I'd never heard of - the Burney 3.7in RCL.
Another view of the Burney.
Little and Large again.  One can never tire of looking at Chieftains.
Above and below - on loan from the Firepower museum in London was this splendid WOMBAT.

Monday 10 September 2012

North East Land Sea and Air Museum 2 - other exhibits

I posted the first part of this museum visit a couple of weeeks ago featuring the aircraft collection.  Now for the other (land) exhibits.  Above is a good old Ferret.  I'm sure I could fit one on my drive.
This may look like a toy DUKW.  In fact that's essentially what it is!  Built by the Morris company I don't think it got past the experimental stage.
The museum has a number of these German WW2 handcarts - which were essential to the mobility of infantry divisions. 
Rather less handy is this German 20mm Flak gun - a delightful little thing.
Another German handcart - just the thing for carrying the shopping at a wargames show!
A german towed field kitchen - essential!

British 120mm MOBAT

This late model Bofors AA gun stands guard outside

The 'Home Front' exhibit included this display of toy soldiers