Tuesday 31 December 2013

New Year Message, 2014

So it's that time of year again?
The blog continues to feature prominently in my wargaming life, and although post numbers are slightly down on 2012 (278 as against 299), as I was aiming to post four per week I shall continue to do so.  Thank you to all who read the thing, and especially to those of you who leave comments.  They are much appreciated.

Funny Little Wars
A very active year for the 1/32 scale chaps, starting off in February with the game played by David Pinder and Julian Spilsbury which they kindly invited me to umpire.  A classic case of the partially sighted leading the blind!  Several. More tabletop games followed during the year,  but for me the real high points were the lawn games at Sandhurst.  The Little Wars Centenary event in April was a delight, and a great opportunity to meet other devotees.  The Nordic amphibious actions were fun but I really loved the Gettysburg game in July.  There will be more big games, and outline plans are afoot for a Tannenberg inspired extravaganza in 2014.
On the painting front, I completed the large but as yet unblooded Tratvian Army (think Russian) and a few ACW units and odds and ends.  Plenty more still to come.

For the second year running I ran a game at Shrivenham (facilitated as usual by Tom Mouat).  We used loads of toys and the players are still speaking to me, so I think I can consider it a success.  A few new toys were added.  I must give some thought to a game for 2014!
NATO Brigade Commander
A few games, mostly run by Martin using his 2mm (no really!) toys.  I don't think I have added any new (6mm) toys, but I do have some scenario ideas.  Mind you, I said that last year.....
Command & Colours - Ancient
We played a few games and I added some 'new' toys.  We continue to be very keen on this series of games and they provide consistent entertainment.  The additional toys have mostly been sourced from eBay and bring and buys at shows.  They include Egyptians, Assyrians and an assortment of hairy barbarians.  I'm sure 2014 will see regular appearances of this game.
Command & Colours - Napoleonic
A continuing favourite.  2013 saw my Spaniards, Russians and Austrians in action and no doubt we'll see them all again over the course of 2014.

Fletcher Pratt Naval Wargame
Ships from my 1/1200 fleet have seen action several times during the past year, including a rather successful game played on the lawn at Knuston in July.  Several additional ships have joined the fleet, so expect plenty more of this.
President Fred
The latest appearance of President Fred saw his alleged death (and about time too!) but I already have ideas for what may happen next in the unfortunate state of Ph'tang.

Sheffield Wargames Society
I continue in post as Chairman of SWS and am pleased to be able to report that paid up member numbers are up on last year.  New members are always welcome - see the SWS website for location details.  Triples is on 17th and 18th May 2014.

Not strictly wargaming I know, but the toys and I have to get about!
The Saab is gone - long live the er, Saab!
The 9-5 HOT Aero has made way for a 9-3 TTiD Aero. Power down from 250bhp to 180 (though much of the time you'd never know it) but turbochargers up from one to two and fuel consumption down from 35mpg to 48mpg.  And I can fit more toys in it!

Sunday 29 December 2013

Games Played in 2013

As with last year, this list began life on the sidebar of the blog but with the impending end of the year it seems reasonable to give it a post of it's own.  Once again it is pleasing to see the number and variety of games played.
Some Russians in daft pointy hats.
Date, Game, Scale, Rules, Players
2 January, Red Recce, 15mm, Platoon Commander's War, 3
9 January, Cursus Honorum, 7
16 January, Action at Grid Square 24, Fletcher Pratt, 1/1200, 8
23 January, Akragas 406BC, CCA, 25mm, 3
30 January, RCW Square Bashing, 15mm, 3
2 February, Platea 479BC, CCA, 25mm, 1
6 February, Platea 479BC, CCA, 25mm, 3
19 February, Good Morning Vietnam, 6mm, 2
20 February. DB ACW, 15mm, 3
23 February, 1907 invasion of Norfolk, Funny Little Wars, 54mm, 3
24 February, Turning the Tide, FLW, 54mm, 1
27 February, First Bull Run (twice), Battle Cry, 15mm, 3
6 March, Messana(1) 264BC, CCA, 25mm, 2
13 March, Lobositz, Brown Bess, 15mm, 3
10 April, Invasion of Vulgaria, FLW, 54mm, 3
17 April, Covering Force, NBC, 2mm, 3
24 April, Ten Rounds Rapid, 15mm, 2
27 April, Hook's Farm, Funny Little Wars, 54mm, 11
27 April, Advance to Contact, FLW, 54mm, 11
28 April, Withdrawal in Contact, FLW, 54mm, 10
1 May, 2nd Battle of Gaza 1917, Op14, 6mm, 3
8 May, Nisibis 217AD, CCA, 25mm, 4
18/19 May, Ten Rounds Rapid (many times!)
22 May, Aces High (three games), card game, 6
22 May, Once Upon a Time (three games), card game, 5
22 May, Frank's Zoo (four times), card game, 5
29 May, Bailen 1808, CCN, 15mm, 5
5 June, Aggressive Defence, NBC, 2mm, 5
12 June, Grossenfartz, FLW, 54mm, 3
19 June, Cursus Honorum, 6
26 June, Crimissos River 241BC, CCA, 25mm, 3

3 July, Tibbermore 1644, Command & Colours, 25mm, 5
6 July, COW, Operation Vijay 1961, 10
6 July, COW, Gibraltar Strait, Fletcher Pratt, 1/1200, 12
6 July, COW, TEWT, 6
5-7 July, COW, 6 other sessions!
23-24 July, Gettysburg, FLW, 54mm, 6
23 July, Aces High! card game (twice), 5
23 July, Active Service Unit, 5
31 July, Noah's Ark, terrible card game, 4
7 August, 16 Card Carrier Strike, 4
14 August, Bagradas 253BC, CCA, 3
16 August, Siege of Conway Castle, 8
17 August, A Battle Lost? Megablitz, 20mm, 22
21 August, Operation Vijay, (6mm), 7
4 September, Cilician Gate 39BC, CCA, 25mm, 6
10 September, Nordic but Nice, Boilers & Breechloaders/FLW, 28mm, 2
11 September, Dastardly Danish Defence, FLW, 54mm, 3
18 September, Revenge of the Pointy Heads, FLW, 54mm, 4
25 September, Breaking the Line, Battlegroup, 15mm, 3
2 October, Operation Zarghun Manzohnei, Boots on the Ground, 15mm, 5
9 October, Czarnowo 1806, CCN, 15mm, 6
23 October, Across the canal 1981, NBC, 2mm, 4
30 October, Sepeia 494BC, CCA, 25mm, 5
30 October, Sepeia 494BC, CCA, 25mm, 5 (again!)
6 November, The end of President Fred?, PBOM, 15mm, 5
20 November, Mare Nostrum?, Fletcher Pratt, 1/1200, 6
11 December, Wertingen 1805, CCN, 15mm, 5
18 December, Blockade Runner, 6
27 December, Bold Breakout, Fletcher Pratt, 1/1200
27 December, Shut It! boardgame, 6
27 December, Aces High, card game, 7 (three times!)

Thursday 26 December 2013

A history of Airfix HO/OO AFV kits - part 12 - 1970

Two kits were released this year.  The RAF Refuelling Set contained a two fuel tankers - a Bedford QL and an AEC Matador 6x6.  Both useful in their intended forms, these again offered excellent conversion possibilities.
A standard Bedford QL tanker.
An equally standard Matador tanker.
A generic lorry based on the 6x6 Matador - less an axle!
The second release in this year was a very 'modern' subject - the Leopard tank.  This has the dubious distinction of being one of the few Airfix AFV kits I have never actually built.  That said, from what I've seen it seems a good representation of the real deal.
Once again I don't have one to hand (though there is an unbuilt kit lurking in a box somewhere and another in need of much TLC), so I am grateful to Paul at Plastic Warriors for the photo of the box, and Ion at Archduke Piccolo for the pic of his splendidly battle-weary looking Leo.

Christmas haul

 Three books and two calendars - splendid!

Tuesday 24 December 2013

A history of Airfix HO/OO AFV kits - part 11 - 1969

It's that time of year again, and so back to the next year of Airfix releases.  For those of you who've not seen the earlier posts in this series, scroll down to the label list on the right and click 'History of Airfix'.
Anyway, back to 1969 and the year's two new releases.
First up was the M3 Lee/Grant tank.  I remember building one of these at an early (too early really) age with fairly dismal results.  With a bit more experience and care it can be mad in to a decent enough representation of the Lee, but the Grant turret is a bit of a stinker.  I have several of these models - three Grants for North African service, at least three US Lees and another pair in Soviet markings.  The 'grave for seven comrades' as the Sovs called it, which seems to imply less than total confidence.
 Grant and Lee.  
The Grant has had it's original turret replaced with a rather nicer resin version.

The RAF Emergency Set contained two kits - the Austin K-2 ambulance and the Austin K-6 fire tender. For many years the RAF sets were the only source of lorries in this scale, and as a result these kits infest the wargames tables of the world in vast quantities, not least because of their conversion possibilities.  I have built many versions of this kit but I do not own a K-6 tender built as Airfix intended!
Thanks to Paul at Plastic Warriors for this photo.
The pair of K-2 I completed earlier this year.
A rather higher mileage K-2
A typical conversion of the K-6

Monday 23 December 2013

The Megablitz Archive - A Bridge Too Small part 6

I will conclude the report of this game with the 'war diary for days 3 and 4 and the remaining photos.
Day 3 - 19/09/1944
XXX Corps clears Eindhoven and advances to the Wilhelmina Canal.  As the north bank is defended (by among others the recently arrived 245 ID) , road priority is given to artillery and engineer units.

101 Abn comes under pressure from the south.

82 Abn sends a regt onto the Groesbeek Heights.  This is soon in action against lead elements of the grandly-titled Korps Feldt (actually a weak infantry division) arriving from the east.
A German armoured column (Pz Bde 107 and Stug-Brigade 280 ) appears SE of Nijmegen and probes the US defences.

The battle for Deelen hangs in the balance for several hours and only huge huge air support tips things in favour of the Paras.  A short-lived intervention by the Luftwaffe is soon driven off by Spitfires which were flying top cover for the Typhoons.

Day 4 - 20/09/1944
We wound up the game at midday on the 20th.  Final conclusions were as follows:
XXX Corps.  By the end of the day troops of 50 Div were expected to effect a crossing, shot in by div and corps artillery.

101 - clinging to it's position at Veghel Bridge but still under pressure from the south.

82 - Nijmegen could go either way - the Stug and Panzer bdes are chunky units.

1 Abn - in firm control of Arnhem and Deelen.  Elements of Korps Von Tettau are trickling from the west but the lead units of 15 Scottish Div are soon to be flown in to Deelen.

Part the last of this series of posts now.  Above:  the flood of German reinforcements heading for Nijmegen was such that traffic police were needed!
US AA gunners wondering if the Luftwaffe will ever show up.
Ah yes - here is is now!
A lovely 1/144 Eduard Bf-109G built and painted by Wg Cdr Luddite.  
Predictably it was soon seen off by...
...The brave boys of the RAF, in the shape of a horrible
Spitfire flung together and daubed by me.
USAAF aircraft were present in some quantity too....
...while the Luftwaffe were throwing in everything they had!
An RAF recce P-51 keeping an eye on things.
More Germans heading for Nijmegen....
...with heavy support.

By now the Brits had secured the airfield at Deelen.  
Just as well, as the plan was for 15 (Scottish) Division to be flown in here.  
Just as soon as the holes in the runway are filled in...
Meanwhile back in the south, the mighty Churchill bridgelayer was in action!
The XXX Corps traffic jam.  This  was as far as it got!

Sunday 22 December 2013

Things to Come?

In recent months there has been much talk in Funny Little Wars circles of taking the game into the 'Big War' period and beyond.  I have a few ideas about this which will be revealed as I build and paint stuff.  So pretty slowly then.  Availability of toys is pretty good, not least from the Armies in Plastic figure range.  Other suitable bits include the recently re-released Airfix B-type bus and the A7V and 'Tadpole' tanks from Steve Weston.  The sorry saga of my bus build has already been revealed on these pages, and last month I finally applied some paint to the first of the tanks.  The base colour is Humbrol Grass Green spray, topped off with a coat of matt spray varnish.  I have included figures (useful chaps from the bus kit) in the photos so you can appreciate the size of the thing!
The Weston tanks are ready assembled plastic models.  

Saturday 21 December 2013


I've been meaning to make some more wreck markers for at least the last two years.  In a shock development I finally got round to it last week.  Most of these were actually made by chopping up a pair of ships I built - quickly and badly - from balsa a number of years ago.  A quick bit of sawing, chopping and painting later and we have the array of floating wreckage in the photos!

Wednesday 18 December 2013

The Megablitz Archive - A Bridge Too Small part 5

I hope you've been enjoying the photos of this game - there are more still to come.  I have now found the plans and 'war diary' I kept during the game.

The Allied Plan
US 101st to capture bridges at Son (N of Eindhoven) and Veghel.
US 82nd to capture bridges at Nijmegen (2 of) and Grave.
Brit 1st Abn (to be reinforced by 1 Pol Bde) to capture Arnhem bridge and secure Deelen Airfield for the subsequent landing of 15 (Scottish) Div.

Brit XXX Corps, headed by Guards Armoured to push up the single road, over the 'carpet' of paras, reaching Arnhem within 3 days.

Day 1 - 17/09/44
XXX Corps advances beyond Valkenswaard, opposed by German infantry and sporadic artillery fire.

2 rgts of 101 land east of Eindhoven, suffering significant (c20%) losses in the drop.  Soon engaged by elements of 361 ID

2 rgts of 82 land - one N of Nijmegen, the other between there and Grave.  All 3 bridges secured by nightfall.

1st Abn lands 2 bdes - gliders S of Arnhem and Paras E of town.  Both reach Arnhem and secure both ends of the bridge, just prior to the arrival of lead elements (the Recce Btl of course!) of II SS PzK.  A single para btl is detached to Deelen Aerodrome.  Most of the division's radios don't work.

Day 2 - 18/09/44
XXX Corps reaches Eindhoven by late afternoon, but not before German engineers blow the bridge at Son.  A nasty attack by KG Walther near Valkenswaard seriously weakens the RE detachment of Guards Armoured and the bridging column of XXX Corps.

Poor weather delays drops until the afternoon.

101 consolidates it's 2 rgts.  Having failed to secure Son bridge, it crosses the canal and by the end of the day is in possession of the bridge at Veghel having fought off an attack by 2 battalions of SS Panzergrenadiers (part of II SS PzK, detached to LXXXVI Korps).
The third rgt lands E of St.Oesterrode, suffering serious losses.

82 lands a third rgt N of the Maas.  The division's staff land in the river!  One of the btls at Grave counterattacks a probe by an SS KG (the same one mentioned above) resulting in heavy losses on both sides.  The CO becomes increasingly worried about the possibility of a German attack from the Grossbeek Heights.

1st Abn manages (at considerable cost) to drive off the attack by II SS PzK, helped by RAF Typhoons which appear in response to the division's many requests for air cover.
1st's final bde is dropped on Deelen Aerodrome - just as a bde-sized KG arrives from II SS PzK arrives.  A bitter and costly battle for the airfield ensues.

Days 3 & 4  and the remaining photos still to come.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

The Megablitz Archive - A Bridge Too Small - part 4

Truckloads of angry Germans trying to repossess Grave Bridge.
Elements of 82 Abn in apparently secure possession of Nijmegen.
The 82's Div HQ, complete with field kitchen!
The blood was still flowing freely at Deelen.
Model, now accompanied by elements of II SS PzK was still unflustered.
Things were not going well for the Germans at Deelen...
...and the Brits were secure in Arnhem.
XXX Corps on the move again.
German reinforcements heading for Nijmegen.