Saturday, 31 August 2013
Friday, 30 August 2013
On the right is a Matilda I. This was a two-man 'light' tank with thick armour. The whole light tank concept was discredited in the Spanish Civil War but the BEF was still stuck with some. It was armed with a Vickers MMG. Some were upgraded with Heavy MGs to give them some small armour piercing capability against other light tanks. It was painfully underpowered and slow.
On the left is a real tank, the Matilda II, Queen of the 1940 battlefield. It's pluses included a three man turret, heavy armour and a decent gun, the QF 2 pdr, that could defeat any German armour. On the minus side it was a bit slow - not really a problem in itself.
Its major drawback was that they were not issued with HE shells so were helpless against AT guns. This was not a problem given its thick armour until the Germans started using '88mm Flak cannons. An HE shell existed for the 40mm 2pdr but was never issued, apparently on religious grounds since everybody else issued HE shells for tanks with this calibre gun.
Of course, the T34 was going into production in Russia, sloped armour, 76mm dual purpose gun, wide tracks, high mobility, etc etc, but Russia was just plain ahead of everybody else.
Thursday, 29 August 2013
The British 1st Armoured Division was equipped with Cruiser tanks. These were a strange British concept of lightly armoured fast tanks designed to make deep thrusts along Liddel-Harts 'indirect approach'.
Utter cobblers of course and it led to a series of disasters in North Africa until Montegomery took command, cut the crap, and devised the massed firepower and punch strategy that beat the Panzer Divisions.
The medium tank is an A10 heavy cruiser (Cruiser Mk II). It was supposed to be an infantry support tank but sanity prevailed and it was reclassified as a heavy cruiser beciuase is has light tank armour as opposed to armoured car level armour! Probably the best of the 1940 cruisers. All the cruisers were prototypes with inevitable consequences on reliability.
The small tank beside it is a Light Tank Mk VIC. The Spanish civil war had shown light tanks to be useless but this was the only model in full production model when war broke out so it was employed as a cruiser substitute. As light tanks went, it wasn't bad with a two man turret. The C version had a 15mm automatic cannon. The Mk VI B was aso used as a reconnaisance vehicle by 1940 infantry divisions, one regiment per division.
The models are from Warlord Games Bolt Action 28 ml range.
Wednesday, 28 August 2013
The Morris CS9 armoured car had a riveted armoured hull on a truck chassis. It was armed with a Boys anti-tank rifle and a Bren LMG (or a Vickers MMG). One hundred were made and thirty eight were used by the 12th Royal Lancers in France, 1940.
The Bren Gun Carrier (more properly Universal Carrier) was arguably the most manufactured AFV of WWII. 113,000 were made. The British 1st Armoured Division in France had around 109 in various roles.
Sunday, 25 August 2013
Saturday, 24 August 2013
The model is a plastic Tamiya version of a Marder III SP Anti-Tank Gun. I have added metal Warlord Bolt Action artillery crew figures.
There are a number of features about this composite model that are worth consideration. It demonstrates that one cannot rely on mathematics to convert display model scales (as in 1:72) to wargame height conventions (eg 28ml).
Nominally 28 mm is considered to be 1:56 and you can buy models in scales like 1:60 that are sold as 28mm. However the Tamiya model is 1:48 and looks about right. The die-cast 1:50 model scale also looks 'right'. In my opinion true 1:60 and even true 1:56 scale display models are too small. Wargame models that are nominally1:56 but custom designed for 28 mm ranges are something else.
For Games Workshop 'heroic scale' use 1:35 display model scale.
I didn't paint the vehicle. Modellers often sell off their finished items on eBay to raise funds and space for their next project. These are well worth watching for as these guys are good!
Thursday, 22 August 2013
Popped in to the Headcorn Airfield for the Combined Ops Military Show. As you might expect of a Kent airshow there were Hurricanes and Spitfires on display.
Above a non-flying example of a 1940 Battle of Britain Hurricane.
And here is one in the air, delighting the crowds.
It had a duel with an old enemy, an Me 108 playing the role of a 109.
And a lady in costume on a static model of a Spitfire.
After spending the morning doing my tax returns, I occupied myself more productively in the afternoon by assembling some 28 ml AFVs.
From Left to Right, front to back, first up is the Morris Armoured Car. This prewar AFV served with the 12th Royal Lancers in France, 1940, as a reconnaissance car. A nice resin and metal kit, it needs a crew to finish it off as it has an open roof.
Then I have a Pz I. A training light tank that was never intended for combat it was one of the major combat vehicles of the panzer divisions in '39 and '41. round 1,500 were made.
Above the Panzer is a Hanomag with a 37mm AT Gun used as a fire support vehicle. This is new and is a great plastic and metal kit. The crew come with it.
Top left is an A10 Cruiser Tank Mk II. This was basically an A9 with extra armour. It was intended as an infantry support tank but was reclassified as a 'heavy cruiser'. It fought with 1st Armoured Division in France, 1940. The tracks for this are a pain. I didn't check they were straight before fitting them resulting in a need for filler.
And finally a PzIV D support tank with a light howitzer. The D was the first model produced in bulk, about 250. It was used from '39 to '42 but some still turned up at Normandy in '44.
PS You may notice a theme developing.
Monday, 19 August 2013
Designed to cruise over cities of the Imperium gathering intelligence about traitors, the Adeptus Arbites aircar can hear a whispered heresy from twenty klicks.
It is supported on three directional air jets with a rocket booster in the rear and has an abundance of listening devices. The pilot sits in the rear and the intelligence officer in the front.
It is lightly armed with twin linked lasrifles and a grenade launcher and is occasionaly required to support Arbites operations. This pilot has mounted a heavy bolter on the right hand side to give himself an edge.
This model was inspired by the good 'ole Rogue Trader days when we were inspired to knock out our own kitbashes to give unique equipment. Before everything in 40K became monetarised, rigid and standardised. I miss those days.
Saturday, 17 August 2013
Nouvion, 1940: Guderian's panzers are approaching the Channel Coast.
A scratch force of all available British armour is assembled and rushed to capture Nouvion before the Germans reach it. The only tanks available are a Matilda II infantry tank and a Vickers Light Tank with an armour piercing light automatic cannon ( a desperate attempt in the late 30s to make light tanks maginally useful after their disastrous showing in the Spanish Civil War). Astonishingly the British include some infantry which they pile onto carriers eqipped with Boyes anti-tank rifles. Someone has been reading Achtung Panzer.
The British force splits into a fast light group and a heavy group consisting of the single Matilda.
The German unit is a reconnaissance in force battlegroup of armoured cars, Hanomags, a staff car, a single Pz II and two Pz IV support tanks.
They also have an '88 cannon. The German aim is to set the '88 up on the western edge of Nouvion (view in the photos is from the north) to secure the approaches to the town.
Both sides enter Nouvion and battle is joined. The British infantry debusses (detrains) from their carriers at the railway station beside an engine whose crew have sensibly fled at the approach of the armour.
The Mk IVs race down the road to set up blocking positions. They split in an effort to outflank the fearsomely armoured Matilda and get a shot into its vulnerable rear.
The British light armour races around the south of the town to outflank the German force. The German player realises that he has no immediate hope of setting up the '88 in the town so he chooses to debus in the shelter of some woods on the eastern edge.
We decided that the '88 takes a full stationary turn to set up. his was a big, heavy, clumsy weapon.
The British armour launches a hail of LMG fire on the '88. They don't kill any of the crew (the shield confers a 6+ to kill defence) but they do keep it suppressed, stopping the crew from getting it into action.
German automatic cannon fire immobilises two of the British light armour but others work their way through the woods to get behind the '88. From there they can massacre the crew and shoot up the tractor.
First blood to the British: the staff car erupts in flames after a rifle shot ignites its fuel tank. One of the Mk IVs loses a track due to a 2pdr hit from the Matilda and is left in an impotent position out of the battle.
At this point the German commander called it a day as it was getting late and he had an early work start. Work, the curse of the gaming classes.
A fascinating battle from which I noticed the following.
1. Bolt Action gives realistic results.
2. The Matilda is the Tiger tank of 1940. It has a better gun than anything else and thicker armour.
3. The tracks on vehicles are as important as the gun or the armour. This was a battle of manoeuvre.
4. Large powerful towed anti-tank guns may be great in defence but they are a bloody liability when attacking on the move.
A very enjoyable game.
Friday, 16 August 2013
The economic climate has claimed another victim.
Skytrex has gone into administration. The people overseeing the bankruptcy are about to have a final sale. If you need to round off a collection then go to the website and sign up for notification.
There have been signs that Skytrex were in trouble. They recently tried to sell off their wargame ranges.
Thursday, 15 August 2013
Walking along the Medway dyke up river from Rochester I came across Burham Old Church. Norman, it was abandoned when the village moved inland to higher ground in the early 19th Century. It is still consecrated ground and is now looked after by the Church Trust although it is not used for services.
Wednesday, 14 August 2013
Tuesday, 13 August 2013
IHMN is the Osprey published Steampunk rules by Cartmell & Murton.
I bought the e-version which is not well structured. Fortunately the designers have a website with downloadable reference sheets,
You never know what you are going to get with Osprey. They seem to have no quality control. Their rules sets include the full range from the superb Bolt Action to the awful Tomorrow's War.
IHMN reads very well when you go through it. Like Bolt Action you grasp immediately what the writers are getting at and can visualise how a game is played. There is a very Warlord-like lightness of touch. These rules are for people who have steampunk models and want to have a reasonable game with them. There are no innovatory systems, exciting new concepts blah, blah, just a well chosen set of mechanisms that do the biz with the minimum of fuss.
Movement is alternate, one figure at a time and shooting much the same. This presents interesting tactical choices. Preprogrammed armies are available from North Star with stats listed in the rules but there are comprehensive tables to allow a player to design his own team. Quite a wide range of 'talents' are available and some Victorian steampunk geekiness.
I and my long suffering regular opponent, Shaun, designed a couple of simple armies and got to it. We just used the core rules but had no difficulty playing immediately using the reference sheets with only an occasional check against the main rules.
Professor Fuzzlewit and his assistant have discovered a fascinating article on a Tibetan archaeological site. Being gibbering academics, they immediately announce their find in the Oxford Historical Review, attracting the attention of the Divine Sons of Heaven. That's them in a skirmish line just beyond the tents.
But feareth not, Captain Flashheart and a crack team of British Army regulars race to the rescue, having got wind of the devious foreign plot.
Battle was joined amongst the tents and temple and, as you will observe, our plucky British lads started to take a hammering from the wily orientals. Actually we both dashed around hitting nothing until we worked out how to exploit the shooting rules, well until Shaun worked out how to exploit the shooting rules.
Our brave lad's got a few blows back in return but alas, as so often happens in tactical skirmish games, a dodgy situation soon became a disastrous situation and Flashheart was forced to make a tactical withdrawal with the few British survivors.
But never fear, he shall return!
IHMN is what I fondly like to call a Ronseal game. It does what it says on the box, no more but no less. I enjoyed the game immensely and went out and bought the dead tree version. Something I should have done from day one. Note to Osprey: erules are not the same as an ebook. More navigation aids are needed.
Monday, 12 August 2013
The artist Turner loved Margate and chose to live there. He memorably claimed that “…the skies over Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe”.
Here are some pictures that I took a few days ago from Margate Harbour.
The Tate is the modern building behind the old clock tower.
Looking towards London.
Saturday, 3 August 2013
Gail Goodnight, 1950s Space Opera heroine complete with shiny suit, scarlet lipstick and pointy bra.
I used Vallejo Gold for the costume.
Another model from Hydra's excellent retro raygun range.
Does my bum look big in this?
Posing with the brave brawny lads of the Galacteer range.
Friday, 2 August 2013
This is a Warlord Games Bolt Action '88 Flak Gun.
I built the main gun a while back but, as part of my summer drive to finish things off, I have added the carriages. The gun could be fired from the carriage with the side bars down to stabilise the base. This is the most likely format that one would find in a Bolt Action type encounter as it conferred higher mobility on the gun. It couldn't exactly be dug in in any format but then it hardly needed to be given its effective range.
In the anti-tank role this weapon was only matched by the British 17 pdr.
Thursday, 1 August 2013
These Space Opera Robots are from Hydra Miniatures Retro Rayguns range, available in the UK from Wargames Emporium.
They were sprayed with white undercoat, then silver and finally brass. Oil leaks around the joints are Citadel dark brown wash..
The bases are Tamiya grey textured paint, Citadel snow, and little chips of chalk stone to look like the China Clay pits at St Austel, or the Moon as you prefer.
The blue ray gun projectors are Cote d'Armes metallic blue (ex-Citadel).