Monday, 30 September 2013

Australians in the Pacific

Managed to acquire two sections worth of Ozzie troops in jungle bush hats. These were preferred in the Pacific over helmets.

Each section is six men with rifles and a Bren Gun LMG.

28 ml models from Brigade. Difficult to get hold of in the UK.

Friday, 27 September 2013

The Giant Rat of Sumatra

"Matilda Briggs was not the name of a young woman, Watson, ... It was a ship which is associated with the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared."
Sherlock Holmes

From: The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire.

Actually, it's not really the giant rat of Sumatra, it's really George the one-toothed hamster, the JTS marketing director, inspecting the jungle terrain.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Jungle Plants

I've been making jungle plants for 28 mm wargaming. They are made from a variety of aquarium plants. You cut 'em up and stick 'em in Milliput epoxy resin clay. The clay is stuck on a plastic base and Citadel textured paint completes the model.

Suitable for SF, Fantasy and, at a pinch, Bolt Action in the far east.

You know you're in Kent when...

Fremlins of Kent: the oldest working brewery in England.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Bolt Action: Panzergrenadiers

Every so often I like to put my armies on parade. I have finished my armoured panzergrenadier platoon so thought I would record the event for posterity.

Bolt Action: Hanomag APC

The new plastic Hanomag kit from Warlord is a great model.The finished miniature is light, robust and looks good. This is a classic German vehicle for almost all theatres of WWII. A must for one's collection.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

In Her Majesty's Name: Thule Society

The Society of Thule is one of the preset combat groups made by North Star for the In Her Majesty's Name steampunk rules. I was fortunate enough to be given a set for my birthday.

There really was a Thule Society. It was one of those barking mad German Aryan racial superiority and New Age Volk & Fatherland groups that were so popular in Germany in the early 20th Century. It morphed into a political party, the DAP which became the NDAP, better known as the Nazi Party. It's membership reads like a who's who of early Nazis. It was shut down by Hitler in 1920ish presumably on the grounds that there was only room for one group of power-crazed insane loonies in Germany.

Pseudoscience is not harmless!

These are the three primary characters in the North Star version. I had to remove some flash but the sculpting is pretty neat, as you can see.

A rear view showing the back packs.

The Society uses Jägers when it needs a bit o'muscle. Note the gadget on their left wrists. Jägers are German elite light infantry.

These are resurrection machines. When a Jäger dies in proximity to the Mad Prof's ARC machine he is revived as a zombie.

The models come in a rather natty video box which has a photo of professionally painted figures on the back. I basically kept the same colour scheme, albeit simplified. In my experience professional painters use way to much detail for Johnny Two-Thumbs to hope to emulate.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Badab War Why The Astral Claws Lost

   A small skirmish in the Badab war where an advancing Blood Angels detachment is ambushed by the Astral Claws. For this game I tried to use the tactics and doctrine of the Astral Claws as described in the Forge World Imperial Armour Vol. 9.

   The Claws use the Tyrant's Legion of humans as an ablative shield to offset their deficiencies in numbers of Space Marines. Accordingly I set up a defensive line with the Legion Auxilia Infantry strung out as bait in a valley between two forested hills [1]. The far hill has an Auxilia Fire Support Unit with armour piercing weapons among the trees [2]. The near hill has an Astral Claw Cohort in the woods [3] and a Hellhound in hiding [4].

   In order to give myself the best possible chance I elected to use my lucky dice.

   On turn two I sprang the rest of the trap. My lucky dice lived up to their name and dumped all my reserves on the battlefield to the rear of the Blood Angels - the Centurion with a bodyguard elite troops bebussed from an Arvus lighter converted into a gunship by the addition of an autocannon escorted by a heavily armed armour busting Vulture Gunship. The Claw Cohort [3] and Hellhound [4] rushed from hiding

   The Blood Anels were surrounded by a ring of steel. Well almost surrounded. The uxilia [2] had taken a hammering but that is what ablative shields are for.

   A perfect plan: pity about the outcome.

   The ablative shield ran away, what was left of it [1]. The heavy weapon Auxia were shredded 2] and the Astral Claws were exterminated to the last man [3&4]. This was not bad luck - I used my lucky dice after all. The Vulture shot poorly but I got all my reserves on where I wanted them on turn two - swings and rounabouts.

   There were better set ups I could have made but only by ignoring Astral Claw doctrine. Does that matter?

   When I play a historical game such as Bolt Action I tend to judge the 'realism' of the game by whether the rules incline you to use the tactics of the time, or what is currently considered to be the tactics of the time, and whether the results seem reasonable.

   The yardstick for judging the realism of a fantasy game must be the fluff. By that standard there is something badly wrong with the Astral Claws as depicted by Forge World.

   Now that irritates me because I am a scenario or narrative gamer. OK, very anal and all that but this is an anal hobby. If it was just about a good game we would all be playing chess.

   Or maybe this just explains why the Astral Claws lost - lousy tactics and  false doctrine.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

East London: Wolf in Shadow Territory

ExCel in East London, looking west, upriver towards The City. I took this back in the summer.

The pylons centre back are the Millennium Dome and the old building on the south bank is a sugar warehouse left over from when this was a dock.

Frankie and Rhian fought a daemonic incursion here during a toy soldier show. :)

Not that the bearded weirdos noticed.

The robot driven elevated light railway. Hasn't joined the union yet.

 New buildings courtesy of Thatcher, Heseltine and the Luftwaffe slum clearance scheme.

Kent: Garden of England

A few photos I took at Sissinghurst Garden last weekend which show why Kent is known as the Garden of England. The mild climate of southern England means that we have flowers outdoors nearly all the year 'round.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Wargaming on a Big Scale

An RC Comet.

Lt Gruber's little tank.

I find it fascinating that German armoured cars had V bottoms to deflect mine blast but we had to reinvent this in the 21st Century after heavy casualties.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013


"You will give generously or you will be exterminated."

Red Arrows At Headcorn

The Red Arrows put in an appearance at the eadcorn model show.

Zooming high.

Low pass.

Things weren't quite what they seem. The two models are award winning display flyers. They cost around £10K each, if I heard correctly, and around £100 per flight in fuel and maintainence. Where does a model plane leave off and a drone begin?

Monday, 16 September 2013

Bolt Action: British Detachment Burma '44

   And here we have a British detachment of 758 points to contest the Imperial Japanese for the jungle.

   It includes:
An HQ unit of a 2nd Lieutenant and two men with Sten guns and an FOO with a similar escort. The FOO bears an astonishing similarity to Terry Thomas.
Two infantry detachments of eight men with a Bren LMG including an NCO with a Sten.
Three support units of a Vickers MMG, a Piat team and a medium mortar.
A 6pdr AT Gun with Bren Gun Carrier.
A Stuart MkV tank.

   The models are Warlord, West Wind, Tamiya and I can't remember who supplied Terry.

   Now I need to make a jungle. :)


Sunday, 15 September 2013

Bolt Action: Japanese Detachment

I had a parade of my Warlord Games Japanese troops. This was inspired because I bought a copy of the Japanese Army Lists from a small model shop I discovered on the front in Margate. I have a policy of supporting small shops even if it costs me a little more.

When I laid out the metal and resin army, I found I had a small but perfectly750 point '44 Burma Regular force - well 740 to be exact.

So we have a an HQ unit consisting of a 2nd Lieutenant, an artillery FOO and four men, one with an LMG.

Two understrength IJA infantry units of nine and ten men with LMGs and anti-tank grenades.

Three support heavy weapon teams of an MMG, light mortar, and 70mm light howitzer.

And finally, a Chi-Ha medium tank. Calling this pile of junk a medium tank is being generous.

I am very tempted by some of the new releases. The plastic infantry box will give me another platoon plus an anti-tank suicide section. A Ha Go light tank and a medium mortar will add some punch.

Hitler's Folly: Reichenberg

   This is one of the last Fieseler Fi103s left in existence on display at Headcorn Airfield in Kent.

   It is essentially a V1 flying bomb with a cockpit added. The idea was that the pilot would fly it nearly into the target and then bail out turning the bomb into a cruise missile. The canopy opened sideways and the jet intake was right behind the pilot's head. Survival chances were reckoned at 1%.

   As far as I know it was never used in combat but it was intended for a special flight of KG200 under the code name Reichenberg.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Bolt Action: German 105mm Howitzer

   I thought my loyal readers, there must be some, might like to see the German 105mm Howitzer that wreaked such havoc at Arras.

   In the early war years it was the 105, with the 88 Flak, that was the only defence against the heavy Allied armour like the Matilda, Char B or KV

   This is the Warlord Games model from their Bolt Action range. This is an awesome metal kit. You get the gun, five crew and two ammunition sets. The detail is quite amazing. Too much for me, if truth be told. A good modeller will find this kit fantastic but if you are Johnny Two-Thumbs like me it is a bit of a challenge. I never did get the shield quite right. Mind you the finished article is well good.

  I sourced the base from from Renadra plastics.

Sorry for the poor pics. Rotten weather here so had to use a flash.

KV-2 Tank

   Delving into the back of the cupboard I found a half complete Hobby Boss 1:48 model of a KV-2 Soviet heavy artillery tank with a 152mm howitzer in the turret. Some of the bits were missing and I had to kit-bash them but I am quite pleased with the finished result.

   The KV-2 was not a great success. It was unwieldy, had a high profile and was unable to rotate the turret unless the hull was completely flat. Eventually the SU-152 assault gun was developed in time for Kursk and turned out to be a better design all round, albeit on the same hull and with the same weapon.

   Hobby Boss are the cheap and cheerful end of plastic kit makers, which is not necessarily a bad thing for wargaming models. They produce a variety of Russian and American 1:48 WWII tanks.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Bolt Action: Refighting the Battle of Arras

Turn 1
    This is a scenario I devised to play a Bolt Action game based on the final phase of the Battle of Arras where Frankforce, the 4th & 7th Royal Tank Regiment and the 6th & 8th Durham Light infantry, attacked the SS Totenkopf and 7th Panzer. The attack was only halted finally by a gun line of 88m Flak guns and 105mm heavy howitzers.

   The attack shocked the German command who thought they had been attacked by five divisions rather than four understrength battalions.

   The layout above shows a T junction in France in 1940 looking south. Two weak platoons of Durham Light Infantry supported by RTR armour are attacking south across the open fields. The German gun line protected by two weak platoons of panzergrenadiers are strung out along the east-west road. German units are 'Hiding'.

   The Bolt Action Rulebook scenario Point Defense was used to play the game. The three objectives are shown as white blobs. I put the main axis of my attack as the British player in the centre where my slow armour could move up the road protected by flank attacks from infantry sections.

   The game starts with a massive British artillery stonk: the British get to throw each roll twice and take the best result. I didn't kill many troops but I did deal out suppression markers liberally keeping German heads down for the first turn.

Turn 2
   The battle really started on Turn 2. The German 105mm opened up at (1), the German left flank. The first shot of the game hit the Matilda II (2) in the flank, setting it on fire.

   That's right, I lost my best asset to the first German shot of the game. %$£&^*

   A Pak 37mm turned out to be concealed behind the farmhouse (3). It hit my armoured car, immobilising it.

   The infantry section (5) got confused and failed to move.

Turn 3
The German howitzer brewed up a bren-gun carrier (1). The third German heavy weapon, an MMG, turned out to be guarding the third objective. It raked my attacking infantry (3): Hitler's buzz saw, indeed.

Turn 4
   This turn I had disaster on the flanks. At (1) and (2) my infantry suffered horribly. On a better note the recalcitrant infantry section finally got moving (3) and I soaked the German unit guarding the centre objective (4) with suppression markers.

Turn 5
   Captured the central objective (1) and the Matilda I overran the Pak (3), its puny 37mm shells bouncing off the tanks thick armour. Blood on the tracks! Now the plan was to take the objective on my left flank with a pincer attack. Unfortunately my units on the flanks (2) took another clobbering.

Turn 6
   This was possibly the last turn of the game. My Matilda was brewed up by the 105mm howitzer (1) and my infantry assaulted to the left flank (2) but it was all too little too late. My hopes were raised when a seventh turn was rolled.

Turn 7: Centre Objective

I hold this one firmly. The objective is indicated by the red marker.Victory to the BEF!

Turn 7: Objective 2
   So near but yet so far. The Germans retain the objective.

   My forces had been wiped out on my right flank so I never had a sniff at this objective.

   A 7th Panzer victory then by two points to three over the BEF but it was a close thing. If I hadn't lost my Matilda II on the first shot...

   Congrats to Shaun.

I feel a steampunk game coming on...

This is a new lighter-than-air heavy lift transport being developed in the USA.

Downside: it is not particularly fast compared to a jet or even a train.

Upside: incredibly fuel efficient since it doesn't use fuel for lift and it can land and take off vertically on any flattish surface so can move goods more point to point than a jet transport.

It is no more vulnerable than any other aircraft. The outer skin is apparently strong enough to be bullet proof (?) making it a lot tougher than helicopters.

Fascinating to think how these might have been developed if planes had not been invented.