Monday, 20 October 2014

Bolt Action: VBCW: Warlord Games Heavy Soviet Armoured Scout Car

Soviet six-wheeled BA3/6 armoured cars were developed in the interwar years to fulfil the role of a heavy recon vehicle. Many nations went down this road at the time as armoured cars were considerably cheaper to manufacture than tracked vehicles.

Armoured cars were useful in Western Europe where there were massive road networks but they had poor cross country performance and so struggled in the east. Eventually the BAs were replaced by T60/70 tanks in the heavy scout car role.

BA armoured cars fought in the Spanish Civil War, Khalkhyn Gol, The Winter war and Barbarossa. Thousands were made.

The Germans even used a Spanish-made copy on the Eastern Front Spanish, which is a nice unusual modelling subject.

The cars were heavily armed with the same turret and armament as the T26 and BT tanks but had paper thin armour.

This resin and metal model is made by Warlord Games and I heartily recommend it. I left off the side steps because they are just where you inevitably grip the model and keep falling off. The real cars seem to have had the same problem, going by the photographic evidence.


A few demo games at the South East London Wargames Show that caught my eye.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Bolt Action: Belgium 1940

 I recently played another small 500 point skirmish game against Andy Singleton at the Medway Wargames Club.

Strategic Situation: Waffen SS  infantry infiltrate down a road in southern Belgium. A scratch French regular infantry platoon of just two sections, a junior lieutenant, French 75 and MMG are sent to support a squad of Belgian Police Militia attempting to halt the SS. The French also have the support of an R35 heavily armoured light infantry support tank with an inexperienced crew.

The SS consist of small elite sections well equipped with Hitler's Buzz saws. They have a mortar in support and have organised an assault section armed with SMGs.

The forces meet at a French farmhouse surrounded by hedges. The surrounding land is flat, swampy, with clumps of trees and the remains of an old ruined village on one flank with recently shelled and burnt out houses on the other.

The battle opened with the SS firing smoke. Unfortunately it went astray and was more use to the French than the Germans.

I sent the French infantry sections out to the wings in a double envelopment with heavy weapon support.

While the Belgian militia moved to cover the hedge where they could fire into any German move up the centre. I stiffened their morale with the French officer.

The moment of crisis came when the SS assault section moved in on the Belgians and, supported by MG fire, scattered them. The officer took cover behind the tank where he could stiffen the crew's moral.

The German player kept peppering the tank with anti-tank rifle fire, which couldn't penetrate but unnerved the crew. The officer was vital to keep them firing their two MGs.

The French 75 proved to be the star of the show. It wiped out three SS sections in succession, including the assault team, by rolling to hit over open sights and then rolling three sixes in a row for casualties. The remaining SS section was pinned to immobility by streams of MG fire.

A French win but I confess I was lucky. Artillery is truly the God of war in that it is so unpredictable. Often it achieves little or nothing but just occasionally it hits with the power of, well, an Olympic God.

I do like these 500 pt games. Win or lose they are great fun and a great challenge.

Friday, 17 October 2014

IHMN, VBCW, Royal Artillery Armoured Tractor

Based on a steam tractor the Royal Artillery armoured tractor is designed to tow field guns through enemy fire. It is equipped with a turret mounting a light howitzer to protect the artillery crew while unlimbering.

The chassis is reversed to put the vulnerable boiler at the back and the front wheels have been moved further apart for stability given the heavy armour around the cab.

The tractor is shown here in desert camouflage - Martian desert camouflage - although the paintwork has proved surprisingly effective in the Sudan.

The tractor has been issued to batteries of The Honourable Artillery Company who have promptly been nicknamed 'The Raspberry Tarts' by the rest of the Royal Horse Artillery.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Bolt Action: Defenders of Berlin

I attended SELWG's London show at Crystal Palace this weekend and took the opportunity to buy myself a new themed army.

I decided to create a battlegroup based on the doomed defenders of Berlin in April, 1945.

So what to buy?

First up was a King Tiger tank. This is a must have model. The monster is symbolic of the last stand of the Third Reich and will supply a much needed firebase to anchor the defence. I chose the Tamiya 1/48 model because they are just perfect and good value at around £25. The 1/48 scale really conveys the brooding menace of the beast.

Next I popped around to the Warlord Games stand to buy a squad of SS Charelemagne, the French Fascists from Vichy. At £15 these models are great and really look the part right down to the tricolor shield. This is my elite veteran unit to do the biz as necessary.

From the same stand I picked up a box The Last Levy, twenty models for £29.50.  Aren't they wonderful? I love the slightly comic-book look. The box includes a Golden Pheasant (party boss) as leader, a Bund Deutscher M├Ądel Medic, a sniper with a gun that shoots around corners, a two man AA team with shoulder-launched AA missiles, a squad of Hitler Youth and two squads of Volkssturm. Bloody useless the lot of them and so great fun to play.

And finally also from Warlord a Kriegsmarine squad also for £15. Naval ratings were flown into Berlin, some still in U-Boat leathers, to act as last ditch infantry. They were keen but untrained.

The total cost was about £85, not bad for an all metal individual model and Tamiya detailed kit army in 28 mm. I will add the odd model from my collection to fill out the ranks as necessary but this is the core.

Okay, I won't paint them up this nicely but I will do my best. I will put up squads as I finish them.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Games Workshop Rebranding


Well, well, the Evil Empire has blinked.

GW is rebranding its retail outlets in the UK as Warhammer.

Rebranding is one of those panic measures undertaken by management when they don't know what to do. It gives an air of purposeful activity without actually changing anything or attempting to address  underlying problems.

Only an idiot abandons a successful, valuable, brand. But imagining that the problems of a toxic brand can be fixed by changing the name is fatuous. Where is Blackwater now?

Friday, 10 October 2014

Special Offer - Star Wars

Smiths have a sale on with various non-fiction books at knock down prices, including this great Star Wars technical manual for a fiver.