Thursday 30 November 2023

Bastogne Barracks museum

 During the recent trip to the Ardennes, Russell and I visited the Bastogne Barracks AFV collection.  I'd seen this in 2017 (see link here) when it was rather crammed into a single building.  Accommodation and visibility has considerably improved (although the lighting isn't great), with the collection spread between two buildings.  It's well worth a visit!  I'll let the photos tell the story.

Stug III
German 20mm AA
"Forward to the West!"  Russell and 'his' JS-3

Opel 'Funkwagen'.  Not a mobile disco...
Bedford QL
detail of the Sdkfz-7
Berliet recovery truck - still in use around the workshop!
Panzer IV
M-22 Locust
M-4A3E8 Sherman
AMX-VCI and M-75 APCs
The JS-3 again
Belgian 47mm AT gun
M-16 again
M-41 again
Humber Heavy Utility Car
Lloyd Carrier

Daimler Scout Car
Panzer IV

Sdkfz-7 with 37mm AA gun
M-32 ARV
and a Sherman.

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Olympic games? Part 2

With the basic build complete I slapped on a black undercoat.  During this process a surprisingly small number of parts fell off.  Then it was on to the actual paintwork.  I didn't go with the white of the original as I wanted a generic 'big rusty battleship' look.   So far so good then....

Tuesday 28 November 2023

Olympic games? Part 1

If building dodgy old plastic kits is ever recognised as a sport by the International Olympic Committee I think readers of this blog could put up a pretty strong team. Though turning up in a cloud of polystyrene cement fumes might cause issues with the drug testing equipment...

Anyway, on to this dodgy old kit.  Purchased from the COW bring & buy a few years ago with no particular plan in mind, it seemed like a useful thing to have in stock.  Inspiration struck a few months ago, meaning I'd have to build the thing.

The original USS Olympia is perhaps best know as the US flagship at Manilla Bay in 1898.  Decommissioned the following year, she returned to service as a training ship in 1902 and subsequently saw service in the Great War.  Perhaps her most poignant voyage was made in 1921 when she carried the remains of the US's unknown soldier home from France.

So much for history.  I have two game ideas which require this model - in neither of which will it be a US warship...  But rusty old battleships all look similar and that meets my consistently low standards.

The build was not without challenges - forgivable in view of it's price and antiquity.  As you can see, a lot of masking tape was used to hold it together while the (copious amounts of) glue dried.  So now it's starting to look like a ship.

Monday 27 November 2023

More Kriegsmarine troops - part 2

Here are the completed Tamiya adaptations, along with some friends (in the final photo). I’ve tried to convey the impression of movement and action. 
I'm particularly pleased with the guy leaping through the window frame.


Bodging Prussian cuirassiers - part 2

 Behold the completed Leibregiment zu Pferde.  As always with these things it's best to not look too closely but I think they certainly convey the right impression.

Sunday 26 November 2023

Bodging Prussian cuirassiers - part 1

 Having been reading up on the Seven Years War and its predecessor the War of Austrian Succession, it was time to carry out a review my suitable toys.  There was only one possible conclusion - I needed more! 

In particular I needed some Prussian cuirassiers.  I took as my starting point the old Britains plastic lifeguard figures as they were helpfully already wearing breast and back plates.  Suitable heads were sourced from eBay.  

Pistol holsters were made from plastic card and cuts of cocktail sticks. 
Carbines and blanket rolls were adapted from bits in the spares box. 
Starting to look the part!

Saturday 25 November 2023

Gumbinnen yet 54mm!

I'd run this battle - one of the opening encounters in East Prussian in August 1914 - several times previously using Op14 and 6mm toys on a 3x4 foot table.  This time we has rather a lot of 54mm toy soldiers and a 20x20 foot floor!  I used my cut-down version of Funny Little Wars, adapted for the Great War.

A number of more experienced players correctly identified this as a map.  If you're still not sure where Gumbinnen is, look to the extreme right (or East, if you prefer) of the map below.

One of the challenges of recreating battles in this part of the world is that place names and indeed countries have changed several times since 1914.
And here is the town itself, looking suitably prosperous and Prussian.  What could go wrong?
This lot will stir things up!  Just two of the four Russian divisions deployed.
Toys were provided pretty much equally by Lloyd (that's his Russians in the photo) and myself.  We had an excellent turnout of players: John, Martin, Lloyd, Pete, Matt, Jack, Bish, Andrew and FLW author Mr PHW.  My thanks as always to all who participated and provided photos.
The three German divisions provided by Lloyd.  I provided another two.
The German HQ
Russian HQ and Cossacks
The German HQ deployed in Insterburg.  And blocking the railway line with lorries.
German 1st Cavalry Div screening their left flank.  We used a degree of hidden movement, with playing cards representing units.  Or blanks.   Is there anyone out there?

The Umpire (your humble correspondent) completely making up the resolution of a cavalry melee while in the background, Pete, Lloyd and Matt look on despairingly.
By now quite a lot of units were visible.  Both sides had wisely deployed their divisions' cavalry squadrons to scout ahead.  In the distance can be seen some unpleasantness brewing north of Gumbinnen.
Battle lines forming....
...while officers urge their units forward...
...cavalry scouts fall back and machine guns are rushed forward.
In range!  An exchange of small arms fire.
Gaps soon appear in shot-up units.
A lot of angry Russians heading for Gumbinnen!
Field artillery is deployed and opens fire.
While an infantry battle rages to the north (right) of Gumbinnen, the Russian Naval Battalion (centre) has been badly shot up by German fire.

Russians in firm control of Goldapp (left) with the Germans looking too weak to take them on.
Meanwhile, all is calm and serenity at the German HQ.

Gumbinnen is by now looking a bit knocked about....
...but a relief column is on it's way.  Note Russian aeroplane looking out for just this sort of thing.

...and another Russian attack sees them reach the town.  But watch out for those newly-arrived Germans!
The confident Russians advance west from Goldapp.

The view from German HQ.
Grimness in Gumbinnen.  The Russians have broken in to the town and overrun the German artillery positions.  But they're now under attack from more Germans!
In front of Goldapp, both sides are digging in.

The fighting intensifies!
There seem to be enough Germans to give them the upper hand.
At this point we drew a veil over proceedings.   In Conclusion, we decided that the game was an honourable draw with advantage to the Germans.  The Russians had captured Goldap but the Germans, but the Germans had worn out the Russian corps.  Historically, it was news of the German reverse at Gumbinnen which finally broke the nerve of 8th Armee command and led to the appointment of Hindenburg and Ludendorff.  The rest, as they say, is history...

A very enjoyable game to plan and run.  It's always nice to get the toys out and this was the first time that my Great War Russians have been deployed en masse.

More of this sort of thig coming soon!