Tuesday 23 February 2021

Blowpipe teams

I painted these months ago but for some reason the photos weren't posted.  These are 1980s BAOR AAGW teams armed with 'Blowpipe'.  An expensive* combination of drainpipe and firework, Blowpipe seems not to have been a great operational success
The figures are GHQ, painted last year.  The Series Three Landrovers are Heroics & Ros models, painted c1983, making them real Cold War veterans!
(* in 1994 the unit cost per missile was USD55k, the firing unit USD94k)

Sunday 21 February 2021

Sen Toku part 2 - the horrors of haiku

 (report by Tim Gow, poetry by John B & Simon W)

On Wednesday we were joined by the Admiral who entertained us with a haiku – as it turned out the first of many.  Cultural wargaming eh?

Heroes sail to fate

Seeking honour and glory

Women weep salt tears

Once the Admiral had decided on a plan - to destroy the Pacific lock gate of the Pamama Canal – he recited another inspirational haiku.

Like lotus blossom

On a bright spring mountainside

We shall smite our foes

We then executed the mission.  The plan was to use all four subs, three each with 3 bomb-equipped seaplanes and the fourth packed with explosives and with a hangar full of 10 manned torpedoes.  Each also carried a 10-man Marine party.  I’d originally hoped to have another two players at this point for the ‘walk on’ parts of the captains of I-402 and I-404.  The Admiral asked for volunteers at which point several players remembered urgent appointments elsewhere.  Capt. Yamamoto and Cdr. Fujimori eventually agreed to take the roles.  Cdr Sugai decided to command his Marines in person and sailed aboard I-400.  Major  Takada joined hist manned torpedoes on I-404.  Needless to say the Admiral’s sealed orders included a further haiku.

We shall overwhelm him

The enemy who lurks offshore

Like a wrathful shark

The mission was then resolved by a combination of dice rolls and umpire invention.

When the target area was reached, three subs surfaced and prepared to fly off aircraft and launch the Marines in their little rubber boats.  I-404, known by now as the floating bomb, carried on submerged.  A combination of mechanical failure and navigational errors meant that only five of the nine seaplanes approached the target.  One succeeded in bombing and setting ablaze a ship in the lock.  Two seaplanes were lost to enemy fire while more mechanical and navigation issues meant that only one was hoisted back aboard.  While I-402 was thus engaged it was spotted and sunk by US aircraft.  The Marines were something of a mixed bag.  One party blundered around and got utterly lost.  A second ran into a US patrol and perished in a hail of .30 cal fire.  The third heard this exchange, ambushed the patrol and after causing further mayhem took to the hills.  The last survivor is confidently expected to surrender in about 1974.

And what of I-404?  Having crashed gently into the lock gate, the Marine party secured the immediate area while Capt. Yamamoto came ashore trailing wires behind him, triggered the demolition charges and……nothing happened!  The courageous Captain returned to the sub and detonated the charges in person.  The subsequent bang warped the lock gate but failed to destroy it.  At this point Major Takada remembered the manned torpedoes still aboard I-404 and heroically exploded them, finishing off the lock.

Both I-400 and I-401 made it safely back to Japan where, as well as medals all round there was the inevitable haiku from Adm Osami:

Noble Samurai

Like the dawn on Fuji San

Their honour is great

As with all such games it was made a memorable event by the enthusiasm of the players.  I will leave the last words to Capt. Kuroshima….

While friends shed their blood

I am with my geisha girl

Kuroshima smiles

Saturday 20 February 2021

Sen Toku part 1 - the horror of war

As I write this it’s almost 11 months since I ran the first remote game for our Sheffield based group (& friends).  Since then we’ve managed a game (sometimes two!) each week since and seen a variety of games presented by at least ten different people.  For this week’s game I dug out Tim Price’s ‘Sen Toku’  - a committee game set in 1944 Japan in which the players have to plan and execute a dramatic mission with four of the huge new I-400 class submarines.  This game was first seen at COW some years ago and features in ‘Innovations in Wargaming Vol.1’ as published by the History of Wargaming Project.

Most of our regulars signed up and I drafted in a couple of ringers for special roles.  Players were emailed the briefings the day before and encouraged to bring silly hats and suitable flags. 

The Boss (Wednesday only)

Fleet Admiral

Nagano Osami

Imperial General Staff

John B

The Operational Strike Committee (in strict order of military seniority)


Kameto Kuroshima

Senior Staff Officer and Chair of the Committee

Simon W


Chikao Yamamoto

Staff Officer (later OC, I-404)

John A


Tanaka Ariizumi

Sen Toku Force Commander, OC I-400

Russell K


Yasuo Fujimori

Submarine Staff Officer of the Naval General Staff, responsible for the I-400 design (later OC, I-402)

Jack W


Teuhisa Komatsu

experienced submarine warfare commander, OC I-401

Martin R


Takeo Sugai

OC, 9th Special Naval Landing Force (Marine special forces)

Mark F


Soemu Toyoda

Nanao Naval Base, Support, Construction and Maintenance

Tim C

Technical Major

Teiji Takada

Number Nine Research Laboratory (Secret Weapon Projects)

Pete S


Nobusuke Kishi

Commerce & Industry (Industrial & Materiel Support)

Jerry E


Subaru Mitsubishi

Dockyard Superintendent, Nanao Naval Base (meeting facilitator and procurer of competitively priced Geishas for the Admiral)

Tim G

 On the Tuesday evening - our normal session times are 1945-2115 – the committee met to discuss their options.  Capt. Kuroshima had devised a scoring spreadsheet which he used to evaluate the several plans.  He did mention later that it had been “hard work….”

Coming next - enter the dragon Admiral

Friday 19 February 2021

Albadross C-type part 3


Here then is the completed Albadross.  I made up what felt like a suitable colour scheme - the decals are a combination of what came with the kit and from the decal box.

I'm particularly pleased with the observer.  He started off life as the dismounted motorcyclist from the Airfix Recovery Set and was obligingly already clad in crash helmet and gauntlets.  His right arm - previously stopping traffic - was angled down to grip the edge of the cockpit while his left was given a bomb (from a 1/144 scale kit) to drop on the wicked enemy.

Monday 15 February 2021

Albadross C-type - part 2

 As you might have suspected from my last post, I soon decided to bodge the Albatros into a two-seater.  This took the form of moving the top wing further forward and mounting it lower. The original cockpit became the observer’s location while a new cockpit for the pilot was created from the aperture for the MG mounts. What could go wrong?  While Albatros two-seaters (C-type = armed two-seaters in German aviation parlance of the time) did exist, mine wasn’t going to conform to a particular type so I really-christened it ‘the Albadross’ which nicely sums up its status in life.  Of course, ideally a C-type would be longer of fuselage and broader of wingspan but you can’t have everything.  Just tell yourself it’s further away....

Sunday 14 February 2021

Albatros D.III - part 1


While building my Roland to double my fleet of German two-seaters, I also dug out this rather venerable Albatros. Not least as I remembered PW’s delightful two-seater bodged from a similar kit.  I decided to crack it open and evaluate it for possible bodging. 

Being an old kit there were relatively few parts. I think this is a re-boxing of the old Revell kit. 

Thursday 11 February 2021

32nd Battle of the Isonzo - Infantry Assault - part 2

 or:   In The Soup?  

The final instalment of this particular game.
As we return to the mountain, the surviving Bersaglieri and Arditi have consolidated on the plateau...
...while the heroic Alpini - though somewhat reduced in numbers - have succeeded in taking the bunker.
But it's not all good news for the Italians - here come the KUK stormtroops in a desperate counterattack!  The Alpini are in possession of the bunker but the Austrians are well tooled up with new-fangled automatic weapons.  Could go either way really.

The Austrian company dug in on Hill 49 - still strangely inactive.
In yet another feat of heroism the Alpini beat off the counterattack - but from the original battalion only a platoon remains!  At this point we drew the action to a close and agreed on the following:
The Alpini, while clearly victorious were in no position to repel another attack, so they'd sneak back down the mountain after dark.
The Bersaglieri were in no condition to advance further and would also slip away after nightfall.
The A-H reserve Co would continue to hold Hill 49 and might dispatch a platoon towards Hill 171, hoping to hold the line until reinforcements arrive.
The mule train goes forward to retrieve casualties.
And finally - the real reason the attack faltered?  Here we see excited Bersaglieri queueing for the minestrone ration.

Wednesday 10 February 2021

32nd Battle of the Isonzo - the Infantry assault - part 1

Or: Climb Every Mountain....

 Having told Martin (the A-H CO) that the occupants of his command bunker were stunned by gas for 3 turns, this was the sight which greeted me when I fired up Zoom on Wednesday night:

And you though the silly hats were frivolous!
Speaking of silly hats, here are the Bersaglieri (left) and Arditi plodding forward.  Their ranks  - especially the Arditi - had been thinned by the Austrian artillery barrage.
While the others toiled through the snow the mountain-trained Alpini surged up the hill.  The Austrian machine gunners caused a few more casualties but the Alpini were soon out of sight...
...in this fuzzy but atmospheric photo they can be seen preparing for the assault on Hill 171.
They made it up the final slope and the scene was set for an assault.
Meanwhile the Bersaglieri and Arditi engaged the battered KUK company on the plateau...
...and soon prevailed.  
By now the Alpini had endured a further burst from the MG in the bunker....
...but there were still, as an Austrian spokesman commented "hundreds of the bastards!"
We will pause now and return for the thrilling conclusion soon.  At which point these important questions will be answered:

        Will the Alpini capture Hill 171?

                    Will the Austrians counter-attack?

                                    Did Martin suffocate in his gas mask?

                                                        Is the minestrone ready yet?

Monday 8 February 2021

LFG Roland C-II - part 2


Here is the finished Roland in my lazy version of German multi-colour hexagon dazzle camo.

Sunday 7 February 2021

LFG Roland C-II - part 1


Looking out my Hannover to use at last week's Isonzo game reminded me that it was still my only German/Austrian two-seater.  A visit to the kit stash yielded this old Airfix Roland.  It's always been among my favourite Great War aircraft, both for it's rakish looks and the sturdiness - for a biplane - of the kit.  I did build one of these in the '80s when it was already an old kit but that one's long gone.

There are a reassuringly small number of parts and for such an old thing (1965) it goes together very well.

Friday 5 February 2021

32nd Battle of the Isonzo - artillery bombardment

 On Tuesday evening, having fed back to the players the results of the photo recce and received their final plans, we gathered by Zoom for a short session and executed the artillery fire plans.  Having fired off the ammo and had a chat, I ended the call and resolved the fire.  The effects were reported to the targets by email.  But of course there was no time to alter the plans as - in game terms - the assault began the moment the barrage lifted.

The KUK company dug in behind the crest of Hill 49.
Despite my notoriously poor gunnery many of the shells (they look a lot like matchsticks) actually landed on the table!  some of the resulting gunsmoke had a sinister greenish tinge - much coughing resulted - especially among the KUK company on the plateau.
Italian Infantry (the figures are Dulcop Bersaglieri) gather at A.  They seem very keen!
The gas thinned the KUK ranks and the wind carried it North.
The Italians poised to surge forward.
Entertainingly a gas shell hit the bunker on Hill 43.  This was occupied by not only an HMG but also the KUK Battalion CO (Martin).  He was not a happy man - especially after I revealed that both HQ and MG were stunned for D6 turns....
Two companies of Arditi on the Italian centre. All are either chucking grenades or brandishing knives.
The disturbing view from the Italian lines - that's a big hill!
Alpini prepare to assault - more Dulcop figures.