Tuesday 25 February 2014

Bolt Action: Puma Heavy Armoured Car

I have just finished a model of the Italieri SD.Kfz. 234/2 Puma.

The Puma was one of the 234 series of 8-rad (wheeled)  German heavy armoured cars. The turret had been designed for a cancelled leopard light tank and incorporated a 50mm antitank gun. This really was overkill for a lightly armoured vehicle that was intended for reconnaissance but it is fun on the wargames table.

This is a great kit in 1:48 scale. It is modestly priced at around £12-13 and is a little less fiddly than Tamiya so excellent as a wargaming model even if less impressive as a display piece. The kit is more or less vanilla except for some added baggage, a pick axe and brush-hair ariels. I replaced the mg with a more evocative one from Warlord.

I used Tamiya desert spray and brush paints for the hull and Revell Anthracite for the wheels.Camo is with Revel red-brown and GW olive-green.

Key to the finish was the dirtying up procedure. I used Citadel orange-brown textured paint to add mud to the underhull. The car was then washed in Citadel dark brown with air intakes in Citadel black wash.

Rust along the side seams and, especially the rear was made from MIG rust powder mixed with Citadel orange rust dry brush paint.

Highlights were then added with Citadel flesh dry brush paint. This is great for hghlighting all sorts of colour schemes.

Finally the Puma with a Warlord infantryman.

Imperial Knight Changes Size

"Imperial Knight
Fealty, Honour and Duty.

At 8 inches tall the Imperial Knight is a towering war engine. Crafted in the Dark Age of Technology and resplendent with gothic details it presents a unique silhouette both in a display cabinet and on the battlefield. Fighting alongside armies of the Imperium, most Imperial Knights are part of a Knightly House. They are affiliated with either the Imperium or the Adeptus Mechanicus. Some Imperial Knights choose to forsake all ties to a noble house. Known as Freeblades, they are masters of their own destiny."

When I ordered my Imperial Knight I am pretty sure it was 8 inches high. Thee copied blurb on the BOLS site appears to confirm my memory. However, if you check the GW site it has apparently shrunk to 6 inches. 25% is not a small difference. Remember the linear/square/cube law: the volume difference is as the cube of the linear difference.

If my memory is correct then this is a poor state of affairs GW. It is sloppy and unprofessional.

I am going to let my order run because it is with a flgs and the cock up (assuming it's not my faulty memory and a BOLS report being coincidentally wrong) is hardly their fault.

Monday 24 February 2014

In Her Majesty's Name: Nautilus Shore Party

Captain Nemo and trusted companions make up a sure party from the Nautilus to find treasure, fight pirates etc.

The models are from West Wind Productions Empire of the Dead range and are 'small' 28mm, i.e. the same as the North Star official models.

We have Nemo himself, four crew members with harpoon pistols, a merman, the Professor and Ned the whaler.

The models are pricey and base inserts are not included despite the pic on the box but they are pretty good. Some of the faces are a bit dramatic but it is a cartoon concept so that's OK.

I intend to use them for IHMN, a game system with which I am much impressed.

Sunday 23 February 2014

A world with a Single Supercontinent

This alien planet is Earth at the end of the Permian. A single super-continent sits in a world ocean. The website IO9 has overlaid the countries and regions of the modern world onto a rough outline of  Pangea.

It is a reminder when creating new worlds for stories and SF games that even Earth hasn't always been much like Earth as we now know it.

Saturday 22 February 2014

40K: Imperial Knights

The Knights are up for preorder on GW's site.

Price is £85, not the £120 I predicted: bloody crystal ball, Halfords.....

Bolt Action: Berlin 1945

It's just about all up for the Third Reich as the Red Army storms Berlin. A vicious urban armoured battle took place on the streets. Over 6,000 Soviet AFVs attacked 1500 German. The Red Army lost about 2,000 AFVs in the battle and the German Panzerwaffe was annihilated.

Shaun and I decided to recreate combat in a single street using Bolt Action rules and only armoured vehicles and guns. It is assumed that the infantry are fighting their own battle alongside.

The Germans hide a 105mm field gun and a Hanomag with a 37mm antitank gun on the left side of the strasse. Bit of a forlorn hope, this defence.

On the right side of the strasse is a dug in 75mm Pak and a Hetzer with a similar gun. This is where the real punch is located.

The Red Army drives boldly straight down the strasse, a JS-2 heavy tank in the centre flanked by a T34/85 medium and an SU122 assault gun.

However the sneaky Commy (me) sent a T34/85 and an SU76 SPG down the side streets to each side in an effort to outflank the Boche.

However the Hetzer performed a perfectly executed ambush on my left flank T34, slamming a high velocity 75 through the side armour. The crew got out before she caught fire. For a little tank the Hetzer packs a huge punch.

The Germans motor their heavy armour, a Tiger I, a Stug III, and a Panther onto the strasse to block the end. The Tiger comes in for particular attention from the Red Army and is soon pinned.

The SU76 on the left flank exacts some revenge for the brewed up T34 by dropping a a 76mm He shell right on top of the Pak. Note the Hetzer has wisely reversed back into cover after making a kill.

The Tiger was the next victim. A heavy 122mm shell from the SU smashed the left hand suspension immobilising the tank. The German crew courageously stayed inside and carried on the fight.

The SU76 on the right flank hit the Hanomag causing a catastrophic explosion.

Finally, the Su122 dropped a shell on the 105mm field gun, killing all the crew.

And that finally broke the German defence. The Panther, Hetzer and Stug reversed back out of sight and the Tiger crew abandoned their vehicle.

Stars of the game were the Soviet artillerymen who scored all the Red Army's kills.

Great fun and a simple quick game to set up and play in an evening. The models were from my collection and Shaun set up the table.

Thursday 20 February 2014

Woops: Flames Of War Cock Up

The new plastic PzIVG model.

My friend Fred Kiesche pointed out there is something wrong with this model.

I didn't see it thus ruining my credentials as a wargaming anorak.

Can you?

Monday 17 February 2014

Imperial knight

Rumours circulating on the net about Imperial Knights for 40K.

Expected price is around £120.

You need six for an army. :)

JS-2 Tank

The JS-2 (IS-2) was developed from the KV heavy tank. It was classed as a heavy tank but weighed only 46 tonnes: a Panther medium tank weighed 45 tonnes.

Armour was excellent and it mounted a 120mm gun that was intended mainly for bunker busting. The gun was not especially high velocity but the heavy shell would smash up enemy tanks even if it didn't penetrate. The gun was slow to reload, which wasn't a problem as enemy bunkers weren't going anywhere.

The model is in Red Army 1945 Battle of Berlin markings. I slapped the white marker on as if it had been roughly painted by a tanker with a whitewash brush.

A very good tank that soldiered on into the Cold War.

Sunday 16 February 2014

Canadian Wasp Flamethrowers Clearing The Scheldt

Came across this photo of Canadian wasp flamethrowers in action during the heavy fighting to clear the Scheldt Estuary in '44.

I think the 'wasp' may have been the flamethrower rather than the vehicle.

This is a universal carrier with a wasp flamethrower.

I have one of these in my Bolt Action collection, model in 28ml from Warlord.

However there are other photos of wasp flamethrowers on carriers. This looks like a field modification.


And lo it came to pass...

Saturday 15 February 2014

Corporal Jones: Inspired by Hannibal

And this is one that Corporal Jones made earlier.

Don't Panic

Don't Panic but Warlord Games have discovered another way of separating you from your hard earned moolah.

Wednesday 12 February 2014

New Data On Permian Mass Extinction

Around 252 million years ago life on Earth suffered a major crisis: the greatest mass extinction known.

More than 90% of the species that can be tracked through the fossil record became extinct, the worse effects being in the sea. Whole successful groups of clades disappeared, like the giant sea scorpions which are probably the largest arthropods ever evolved,

Full biodiversity recovery took tens of millions of years and life was dominated by new groups, notably dinosaurs on land.

A recent isotope analysis at MIT on material from China has added startling new information.

It was known that the extinction was relatively quick as judged in evolutionary terms but the new data gives a time period of £60k years (+-48K).  Also it was known that the extinction was associated with temperature rise and release of the 'greenhouse gas', CO2, but the new data suggest that the CO2 came as a single spike around 20K years before the start of the extinction and was gone from the atmosphere before it got underway.

The CO2 would have caused runaway global warming and sea surface temperature went up by a colossal 10C, Much of the CO2 would have been absorbed by the oceans acidifying them.

This sort of colossal-fast impact must have had a similarly spectacular trigger and the smoking gun is the Siberian Traps, one of greatest volcanic events ever recorded. This happened at about the same time as the Permian extinction and the next research will concentrate on trying to date the Traps more accurately.

I find this story fascinating, not just because I worked on evolution science but as an SF writer and wargamer.

The dying world lit by volcanic fire of larval flows on a continental scale is a fascinating backdrop.

Barclays Bonus Pool Up 10%!

Barclays Bank profits down, 12000 jobs to go but bonus pool rises by 10%.

Shareholder dividend just £860m but the executive bonus pool is £2400m.

Way to go piggy-wiggies.

Remember, we're all in this together.

Sunday 9 February 2014

Bolt Action: Blitzkrieg Sherman Firefly

This is a 1:48 Blitzkrieg resin model of a Sherman V Firefly that I bought to beef up my British armour in Normandy. I had to buy 1:48 to match my 1:50 Corgi Sherman and 1:48 Tamiya Wolverine.

The model comes fully assembled. One only has to add the gun. It is beautifully detailed and flash free. These are expensive models but very high quality. The only extras I have added are the baggage and the Browning in the AA mounting.

The Firefly was a specialised vehicle and the best allied tank killer of the war because it was fitted with the 17 pdr anti-tank gun, arguably the most dangerous at-gun of any of the WWII combatants.

The Anglo-Canadians and Poles in Normady took on  the bulk of the  panzer divisions and beat them. The Firefly was the key weapon: it was a Firefly that put paid to Wittman's career.

In mid '44 there was one Firefly per three Sherman 75s but this rose to one in two by '45.

Initially the Firefly took the Germans by surprise as they associated Shermans with ineffectual puny 75mm guns and would parade their armour past British armoured formations. They soon learnt and Fireflys were always the first tank taken out in an ambush.

The British response was for the Fireflys to hang back behind the '75s in overwatch. They also countershaded the barrel to disguise it (see model), even eventually fitting fake muzzle breaks half way down.

Thursday 6 February 2014

Bolt Action: British Armour in Normandy

Finished my British armoured detachment, Normandy 1944.

It represents the three armoured divisions that smashed the Panzer Divisions and Waffen SS Armour in a series of gruelling bloody head-on frontal attacks, the most famous of which is Goodwood.

Goodwood was, I believe, the largest tank battle ever fought by the British Army and one of the largest ever.

It is a 1500 point regular army detachment (1456) consisting of an armoured and armoured infantry platoon.

Sherman III 75mm HQ tank, M5 Stuart reconnaissance tank, Sherman V Firefly (fireproofed), and an M10 Wolverine self-propelled gun: 830 pts.

Armoured Infantry
Eight man infantry section with LMG in an M5 half track, 5 man infantry section in a universal carrier, piat team in a universal carrier and a QF 6pdr at gun towed by a universal carrier, commanded by a 2nd lieutenant.

The infantry are all Warlord Games Bolt Action plastics. The armour is from Corgi, Warlord,Tamiya and Blitzkrieg. Which do you think is which? :)

Wednesday 5 February 2014

A Question of Scale II: How Big Is A Sherman Anyway?

Wargame miniatures of 28mm size are 1:56 scale, right? Well, um sort of.

I searched the 'net and found this photo of GIs from the 60th Infantry using a Sherman as cover in Belgium. The photograph was taken on the 9th September 1944 according to the caption and the tank still has the Normandy hedge cutter fitted.

The infantry are standing upright and right by the tank so there is no perspective issue. The lead GI is just shorter than the top of the highest point on the tank hull.

The above photo shows a couple of Warlord Bolt Action plastic British Infantry against a Corgi 1:50 diecast Sherman. In terms of height, the figures are about right - when they are on their stands. Off the stands they would be a couple of mm too short.

In terms of bulk, the 28mm miniatures are too big for the 1:50 tank. Compare the soldier's waists with the Sherman's running wheels in both pics.

The bulk issue really comes out when you place a figure inside a scale vehicle: see two examples below.

Here's a couple of Perry 28mm plastic figures with a 1:50 diecast Jaguar car. In theory they should be dwarfed by the car, except they're not.

Two Warlord Bolt Action 28mm plastic figures with a 1:48 plastic Kubelwagen.

Scale and size in wargaming is not so straightforward as one might think.

Next post I will line up some 28mm models from different manufacturers against each other.

Monday 3 February 2014

A Question Of Scale

1:48 or 28 mm, that is the question.

But of course one is a scale and the other is a size. 28 mm is usually described as 1:56 scale but.....

For reasons that are too trivial to discuss most of my late war models are 1:48 plastic or 1:50 diecast whereas my friend Shaun uses 28 ml.

On the right we have a 1:48 plastic Tamiya STUG III from my collection and a Bolt Action resin STUG from my friend Shaun's collection.

They are not the same size but the difference is small.

On the right a Marder built on a Pz 38(t) chassis and on the left a Pz 38(T) from the same manufacturers as above.

The figures in the 1:48 Marder are 28 mm Bolt Action.

But have a butchers at these three, all 28 mm Bolt Action models and all on the same T34 chassis.

On the left a resin T34/76, then a resin SU 122M, and finally a plastic T34/85.

They are not the same size.

Moral of the story? Don't get hung up on scale. There is almost as much variation between ranges from the same company as between the two scale extremes for 28 mm wargaming. It is a good idea to use the same range for the same vehicle but otherwise it's not much of an issue.

New Garden Bridge for London

Plans for a new pedestrian garden bridge for London.

Could happen, no less than Joanna Lumley is backing it.

Sunday 2 February 2014

Kent Winter's Garden

Took this a few weeks ago on a sunny day in between Atlantic storms. It was around midday so the sun was a good ten degrees over the horizon.

The skies above Kent are full of jet-trails: a glance at the location of major world airports will show why.

Saturday 1 February 2014

The Thames, Yesterday

Took this photo yesterday on the Thames near the Dartford Crossing from the Rainham Marshes on the north bank at about midday when it briefly stopped raining.

The ait temp was about 9C but it felt much colder due to the winds.