Thursday 29 November 2012

A Big Tank

This is a HobbyBoss 1:48 KV1. The 45mm antitank is 28ml by Plastic Soldier to give a feel for scale. I have added some Tamiya 'tank decoration'.

The KV was the king of tanks in 1941. A single example held up an entire panzer division for days. Had they been properly fueled and supplied they would have stopped the panzers dead. Most were abandoned by their crews when out of fuel and shells.

HobbyBoss make a number of KV, T34 and Sherman tanks in 1:48. They are cheap, around £10, and stunningly well detailed.

Highly Recomended.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Biggles Prangs His Kite

But it's OK, he landed in a giant meringue which broke his fall.

Bolt Action RAF Pilot

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Wolf In Shadow

This my next novel published by Baen and distributed world-wide by Simon & Schuster in July 2013.

The superb artwork was by Dave Seeley and the layout was by the talented Jennie Faries who also laid out Into The Hinterlands.

The blurb is below:



Contemporary fantasy adventure. An ordinary young woman finds a haunting and dangerous world of demons and shapeshifters on the streets of modern day London.

Urban fantasy in one of the world’s greatest cities.

Rhian, a girl from the Welsh valleys on the run from tragedy and herself, finds a new home in the modern East End of London, where the world’s largest financial center spins a web of money and power from glistening towers of chrome and glass. Beneath the digital fa├žade lurks the old East End where the layers of two thousand years of dramatic and violent history slide over one another like glaciers, spilling out in avalanches that warp the real world.

As bodies begin to litter the East End streets, The Commission dispatches its best enforcers to deal with the situation: Karla is not human, and Jameson left his humanity behind in pieces in Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. Rhian makes new friends, dangerous friends; and where Rhian goes, the wolf is always in her shadow, just a heartbeat away.

Among the bankers and traders of the East End walk demons in human form and who is to say which are the monsters? London is a magical bomb waiting to explode and somewhere a fuse is hissing.

About John Lambhead’s Lucy’s Blade:
“Swashbuckling heroines and romantic subplots.”—Publishers Weekly

About John Lambshead and David Drake’s Into the Hinterlands:
“Drake and Lambshead combine politics, military expeditions, and deep-space exploration into an intriguing tale…Recommended for all SF collections.” –Booklist

Bolt Action: BEF

Just what you need to stop a tank, an overgrown rifle called Boyes.

Saturday 24 November 2012

3D Printing

The Telegraph ran one of their 'all this modern stuff is rubbish' articles by one of their 'angry old white men in ties' about 3D printers that specifically mentions wargaming. You wouldn't think 3D printing was a political issue but apparently in the strange world of the Telegraph, it is:

"handful of Lefty academics thrilled by the idea of abolishing property"

At this point he presumably stopped to swallow some tranquilisers. Not sure what Lefty academics have to do with 3D printers, other than conceiving them but still....

I came across this model offered on eBay UK which apparently comes from the Shapeways printing service.

At the moment, the technology is not quite there: see above. Either the model is grainy or expensive and the cheapest printers are about £2K. Now my first laserprinter cost £2.5K of 1980s money. My latest one cost two hundred quid and is better: wireless for one thing.

3D printers are in their infancy.

The article burbles about piracy and offers the opinion that 3D printer piracy will never be a threat to toy soldier companies because it will always be cheaper to manufacture using traditional methods. Now that may be true but it completely misses the point.

It's not the cost of mass production of models using traditional methods versus 3D printers that is the issue BUT the cost to the private individual of buying a model retail versus knocking it out on their home printer. And that may be a very different kettle of aquatic vertebrates.

When a private individual can run some photos through basic cheap CAD/CAM software and 3D print out his own models to whatever scale is desired then model-makers like GW are in the doggy do and no 'stop the world I want to get off' articles from the foaming at the mouth brigade will stop it.

Decorating a tank

A bit o' cosmetic can improve appearance no end, as any starlet will tell you. I have added a couple of packs to my Stuart from the Tamiya 1/48 accessory pack.

Real tanks were absolutely festooned with junk: very little room in the boot. Combat pictures seem to show them cleaner, presumably because of the fire risk.

Friday 23 November 2012

Bolt Action: Burma Tanks

I have built a couple of Bolt Action 28 mm tanks for my Burmese armies. Above is a Type 97 Chi Ha tank. This piece of junk is what the Imperial Japanese Army seriously considered to be a medium tank suitable for 1944.

It was characterised by tin can armour, a low velocity small howitzer as a main weapon and a two man turret. It was a 1938 production tank which made it a contemporary of a PzII and T26.

These Warlord Games tanks are made from a light resin very like the GW material. It cuts easily with a sharp blade has no bubbles but superb detail. I think I prefer them to plastic kit models as they are more robust.

This is a British Army comtemporary vehicle: a Stuart M5 light tank. Considered obsolete in Europe, it was more than a match for the Chi Ha with better armour and a better gun.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Fight for Le Twittierre: Bolt Action

Sitrep: It's Normandy 1944, a few days after D-Day, Oeration Overlord. A small battle-group of the Wessex Division, the Westcountry infantry probes into the French village of Le Twittierre up the main road to Caen. It consists of a two section depleted platoon supported by a Sherman '75 and a PIAT Team in a bren gun carrier. On hearing from the locals that German troops are in the noth end of the village, the infantry debuss from their lorries and the battle-group takes up a combat formation.

Kampfgruppe Murphy takes up position straddling the road using the rubble created by a naval bombardment for cover. They include a depleted infantry platoon supported by a Hanomag for the platoon HQ and a STUG III assault gun.

The Sherman advances up the road covered by fire from a Vickers gun to keep back panzerfaust men. The STUG crests the hill and opens fire. The Sherman halts and a tank duel starts. Neither vehicle can land a killer punch for shot after shot.

To break the deadlock, the British throw forward an infantry section and the PIAT team moves forward to stalk the STUG. The other British section supported by the Carrier and the Vickers pin down the bulk of the German infantry on the German left flank.

Crisis: The British infantry start taking losses. The PIAT team rush the STUG and open fire but miss. The STUG doesn't, its Spandeau cutting down the tommies. Spandeau fire from the German left takes out the Vickers.

Victory: The STUG blows a track of the Sherman but return fire sets the STUG on fire and its crew bail out. The German position is now hopeless as the Sherman dominates the road splitting the German platoon into two groups and the British infantry can roll up the German right flank.

Kampfgruppe Murphy retreats but it has bought time and inflicted irreplacable losses on the British infantry for the loss of a STUG.

Afterthoughts: (i) Spandeaus are bloody vicious and a terrible threat to allied infantry. (ii) In a small game (about 700 pts) the tank duel decides the game.

Monday 12 November 2012

Plastic Soldier 1/72 Carrier

One of the new Plastic Soldier models in 1/72 of the ubiquitious British Army carrier. Used as a tracked jeep, it was found whereever you found British soldiers.

One I made Earlier: Rolls Royce

For the more discerning armoured car owner the Rolls Royce fits the bill. This is a 1:76 model from Frontline. This vehicle could be found policing the Empire or defending the airfields in 1940 from paratroops or just conducting a Very British Civil War.

Scale Comparison

The figure is a Warlord Games 28mm British infantryman. On the right is a 1:50 Corgi diecast Sherman, which is v. close to the 1:48 standard model scale. On the left is a Warlord Games Bolt Action resin Sherman which is 1:56.

Provided you don't mix the scales for the same vehicle then it hardly makes a difference.

Sunday 11 November 2012

For The Fallen

Sgt Percie Mitchel Lambshead MM, DCLI, KSLI

For The Fallen
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Laurence Binyon, British Museum.

Saturday 10 November 2012

The Plot Thickens

 This has just appeared on the Maelstrom web site. Not sure where that leaves Maunsfeld, Penda Strategies or Anglia Games: all companies set up in June of this year by Rob Lane.



Maelstrom Games Ltd. has ceased trading and will enter liquidation at some point over the next few months.

A creditor of Maelstrom Games Ltd., Wayland Games Ltd., issued a Statutory Demand under section 123(1)(a) or 221(1)(a) of the Insolvency Act, 1986 on the 17th of October, 2012 for �99,773.61 plus costs of issuing and serving the demand.

This debt was purchased from Simple Miniature Games by Wayland Games Ltd on the 1st of October, 2012 and payment of this debt was demanded in full by Wayland Games after seven days had elapsed. Unfortunately, Maelstrom Games Ltd. could not pay Wayland Games Ltd. this debt in full within those seven days.

Previous to the debt purchase, Maelstrom Games Ltd. was servicing the debt owed to Simple Miniature Games at the rate of �500 per working day, claimed by the creditor when convenient for him by charging a credit card owned by Maelstrom Games Ltd., which had been occurring since mid-June and continued to late September, the last payment being taken on the 25th. Maelstrom Games Ltd. did not cancel these payments and were not aware that this debt was being transferred.

Maelstrom Games Ltd. offered to pay the debt purchased by Wayland Games Ltd. in the same manner as it had paid Simple Miniature Games, but this was not taken up by Wayland Games Ltd.

Maelstrom Games Ltd. can only apologise to those customers whose orders have not been fulfilled as it is now impossible for Maelstrom Games Ltd. to fulfil them, excepting those for Mierce Miniatures products (fulfilled by Mierce Miniatures in November) and Battlefront Miniatures products (fulfilled by Maelstrom Games in partnership with Battlefront Miniatures and Maunsfeld Gaming in November), all of which will be sent by Maelstrom Games Ltd. Other customer orders for certain ranges may be fulfilled in the future and any customers whose orders can be fulfilled will be contacted by Maelstrom Games in due course.

All creditors will be issued the relevant notices by the assigned Insolvency Practitioner when Maelstrom Games Ltd. enters liquidation.


The following statement has been put up here, this morning. Apparently from Simple Miniatures Graham Clarke: I say apparently simply because I can't find it on the SM website so I can't check whether it truly comes from Graham.

This will be going up on our website soon and has been e-mailed to our trade customers so they know what is going on. However I thought it would also be useful to put it here since I also posted the original comment about cutting Malestrom off a while ago:....... Essentially your continued Malifaux purchases are perfectly safe from all our other retailers here in the UK - numbers of which continue to grow

Statement Regarding Maelstrom Games Ltd
On the 1st October we made the difficult decision to assign the debt owed to Simple Miniature Games to Wayland Games Ltd for a nominal fee.

This debt at the point sold stood at just under £100,000 and has been outstanding at that level and higher for over 12 months. This debt built up during a short space of time during the busiest period in our 10 year history just after significant amounts had been paid for other invoices. Promises were made to clear a large portion of the debt within a short space of time but that payment never materialised. A repayment plan was then agreed which should have seen the debt reduced significantly beyond the point that it actually has been. Unfortunately many of these payments were consistently declined and at the last the payments were continually declined.

It was around this point in conjunction with our reading into the accounts of Maelstrom Games that we contacted debt recovery and debt purchase specialists in order to take further action and begin the recovery of assets to cover some the debt.

Demands for the reimbursement of the failed payments and for payment of stock supplied on the 12th September for Maelstrom Games customer orders were completely ignored. As such on October 1st 2012 the debt was sold to the company which offered the best solution, not immediately for us, but for what I considered the best long term solution for our industry in the UK. We chose Wayland Games as they have a vested interest in the hobby and industry and will offer better protection to potential customers, suppliers and manufacturers, other companies would not.

We have continued to trade as normal during the entire period of this debt and continue to order from our suppliers and pay them on time. Maelstrom Games are only one customer out of several dozen and our whole customer base is far, far greater than any one company.

You should understand that Simple Miniature Games have supported Maelstrom through the last year even though we knew they were struggling but with our support they would continue to trade. However there are only so many broken promises that you can listen to and it became perfectly clear that assets of Maelstrom Games were being moved to other companies that had been funded by monies which should have been paid to suppliers including ourselves. There was no way Maelstrom Games could pay the debt and it would appear that steps were being taken to avoid the debts and protect other assets.

This debt has not adversely affected Simple Miniature Games as a company as we can afford to continue to trade with this debt outstanding due to the reliability of our customer base and strong product lines. It has however affected myself and my wife personally as the reserves we have built over 10 years of hard work have had to cover the debt. It was always our intention to use around half of this profit to expand our warehouse and bring in another two or three new ranges including manufacturing our own. However this will now have to wait whilst we consolidate and build up the reserves for our future once again.


And a release from Wayland Games here.

Friday 9 November 2012

VBCW Canterbury Cathedral Infantry Battalion

The core of the battalion is three companies of infantry one of which is the command unit and one of which is an assault (grenadier) unit.

Support section of bicycle reconnaissance mobile troops.

Support Battery of a Royal Mounted Artillery WWI Field Gun from storage towed by a commercial van.

VBCW: Canterbury Cathedral Cavalry Battalion

The core of the battalion is three companies of rifle-armed cavalry, one of which is the command unit. I use eight models per company. Sorry about the poor flash-photos but we are in the North European winter light, i.e. not much.

A support company of lancers.

A support company of mechanised dragoons in an improvised protected lorry.

Sunday 4 November 2012

The Liberators: Must try harder

Fifteen centuries ago the Roman tyrant Vortigern invited Hengist to bring a few of his Saxon mercenaries over to Kent to defend Roman civilisation. They arrived in just three ships. Hengist's descendents have been defending civilisation all over the world ever since - see parts of the world coloured pink.

However this vital civilising mission is still not complete. Of the 200 or so countries of the world at least 22 have never been invaded, er civilised, by the English and their British allies (we civilised them first).

This lamentable state of affairs has occured because (i) we have wasted our energies by civilising some nations more than once (see France, Belgium), (ii) some of the places were too small to find before satellite navigation (see Lichenstein, Marshall Islands) and (iii) some were a long way inland (see Mongolia, Bolivia) which prevents issues for a seafaring people: our civilising missions tend to turn up in warships.

However, this does not explain our failure to invade Sweden. It even has a coast.

Mind you, when I hear the boasts of the American Neo-Cons about their 'aggressive overseas policy'. Ha: bloody amateurs!

This is now up on the Maelstrom Site. I guess this is it guys. Real shame.

"This site is currently offline due to maintenance. Check back soon!"

Slapton Sands: The Forgotten Dead

This is the Torcross memorial at Slapton Sands. This photo was taken some years ago when We were on our last family holiday to South Devon. The Lambshead family come from Ilsington in S Devon, on the edge of Dartmoor.

Slapton Sands was where the Operation Tiger disaster happened. Something like 1000 American troops died in a training exercise for D-Day.

Local man, Ken Small, located the tank on the sea bed and bought if from the American Government. Local Devonians helped him drag the tank to the shore and erect the memorial despite indifference from either the US or British authorities.

One of the E-Boats  partly responsible for the carnage is now in Plymouth.

I met Ken Small just after taking this picture and bought his book. He died of cancer in 2004.

Saturday 3 November 2012

Warlord 28mil Plastic Vehicles: Imperial Guard

Now this is an important development. We have had wargame-friendly plastic models in 1/72 for a while by people like Armourfast and Plastic Soldier but now the first of a 28mil plastic kit from warlord.

First model up is the Hanomag which will go on sale as individual models or as a value pack of three with 30 Warlord German infantry. I want, drool.

This will be a great way of making an instant Imperial Guard platoon that's a bit different.

Friday 2 November 2012


We have a great deal of problems with exotic and invasive species in Kent. The grey squirrels and rabbits are the least of it.

Tin Cans

Italian 'tanks' used on the Eastern front. British Morris Beaverette included for scale.

Puts the Italian collapse at Stalingrad into perspective.

Early British Armoured Battalion

Early British WWII armour from the late 30s and early 40s in 1/76.

The small tank in front (Airfix) is aVickers Mk VI. This was a superb light tank designed for the traditional light cavalry roles of colonial policing and reconnaissance. However, it was the only British tank design suitable for mass production at the outbreak WWII. A thousand were manfactured and it ended up being used as a battle tank, a role for which it was absurdly unsuited.

The larger tank is an A13 Cruiser Tank from Frontline, and was the first British tank to use Christie suspension. The  idea of a cruiser tank reveals the flawed British concept of what a tank was for. The idea was that cruisers would operate like fleets without the support of other arms. Emphasis on speed meant that it had the armour of a light tank.

The gun was a 2pdr anti-tank weapon which was fine against enemy tanks of the period but useless against anything else. So the tanks had no defense against enemy anti-tank guns or artillery, which could pick them off at leisure as they tried to close to MG range. The mad British armoured cavalry charges have to be seen in this context. The lack of HE would not have mattered if the weapon was employed as part of a combined arms battlegroup, as in German practice, but they weren't. The Anglo-American armies never mastered this.

Only about 65 were made.

Autumn Colours

The plants are turning in Kent

The season of mellow fruitfulness, and multicoloured birdshit on your car.