Friday 31 October 2014

Bolt Action: Germany Attacks


I have delivered the 1939/40 Blitzkrieg Supplement for Bolt Action to Alessio for editing so I decided to celebrate by setting up a game for my friend Shaun.

We tend not to bother with points so I just plonked down roughly equivalent forces for a meeting engagement. The vanguard of a Panzer Division advancing south down a French road is intercepted by an element of British 1st Armoured.

This is a straight forward 'kill the enemy' scenario.

The Panzers have a Panzergrenadier Platoon with a command (includes a 37mm Pak) and two transport Hanomags supported by a Pz I, II and a light armoured car

The 1st have an A10 cruiser tank, Vickers light tank (with autocannon), 2pdr AT gun, mortar, Vickers machine gun and a Morris armoured car.

The 1st was well equipped with Boys AT rifles - one in the Morris, one in the universal carrier towing the gun, and one carried by a two man team.

The key difference between 1940 and 1944 is the vulnerability of the AFVs. AT rifles and 40mm guns were a real threat.

The German Attack Starts

The Grenadiers advancing towards the hedge supported by the PzI on the left flank and the cannon armed PzII and armoured car contesting the right flank - but maintaining a healthy respect for the 2pdr dug in dominating the road.

The Firefight Opens

It starts well enough for the German player - me. The Hanomag Pak takes out the thinly armoured cruiser and the Morris goes down in a hail of 20mm cannon shots.

But then disaster. One of the drivers of the Hanomags panics and stalls his engine (i,e, pinned and failed its command roll) so only one Hanomag manages to unload its section at the hedge. The outnumbered grenadiers are promptly met with a fusillade of .303 rounds and the survivors promptly flee despite the threats made by the Lt in the command vehicle alongside.

The British Counterattack

Shaun advances his 2pdr which takes out the stalled Hanomag. A handful of demoralised (pinned) survivors totter out.


The British AT gun takes out the German armoured car but in revenge the Pak knocks out the Vickers light tank. The British infantry on their right flank take appalling casualties from the Pz I's twin MGs but the Panzergrenadiers are wiped out.

On checking, we each had four 'trophys' so I claimed a draw.

However, deep down, I have to acknowledge that the British would be well pleased with this result in real life. 1st armoured met the Panzers head on and gave them a bloody nose. With no infantry left to hold ground, the Germans would have been obliged to withdraw.

Good game, good game!

Thursday 30 October 2014

Bolt Action: Panzer Parade

These are all Warlord Games 28 mm resin and metal models.

From left to right, back to front:

  • Wespe SPG
  • Panzer IV Special with spaced armour
  • Hetzer SPATG
  • Panzer III Special

They are all in mid to late war camo: the Hetzer is in the late war 'ambush' camo which has lots of contrasting coloured dots.

Sunday 26 October 2014

Tower Poppies

My daughter took this photo recently at The Tower of London.

I think it speaks for itself.

Saturday 25 October 2014

Bolt Action: Wespe SPG

The Wespe SPG consisted of a 105mm  howitzer on a Panzer II chassis that could provide artillery support for mobile divisions.

The resin & metal model is from Warlord Games and the kit includes the metal artillerymen. A nice touch is that one of then has a bandage under his helmet.

This is a great kit and I highly recommend it. Just the thing for shelling the pesky Red Army.

Thursday 23 October 2014

Bolt Action: Late War German Armour

Every so often, I put my soldiers on parade on the lounge dining table.

Today it was the turn of my Late WWII German armour in 1/48-50 scale.

From left to right we have:

  1. a quad 20mm flak gun on a half-tracked tractor and a Marder III SP anti-tank gun
  2. two Tiger Is heavy tanks, late model and a STUG III with skirts
  3. three Panther medium-heavy tanks, and
  4. a PUMA armoured car and a Kubelwagon.
Add in some Panzergrenadiers and you have a really hairy force - the Großdeutschland at Kursk, perhaps.

The camo is standard German 'dark yellow' from Tamiya. Green and terracotta patterns were added in the field by the vehicle crews. The paint was issued as a paste, diluted with water, petrol or some such and then slapped on with whatever came to hand - maybe a floor brush. So the camo shouldn't look too regular or neat.

Models by Corgi (ready painted die-cast), Tamiya and Italieri.

The crews of the Marder and Kubelwagon are Warlord Games 28 mm.

I feel a Tank War coming on. :)

Bolt Action: Charlemagne SS

Finished my first squad for my Defenders of Berlin army, a section of Charlemagne SS.

These are metal 28 mm figures from Warlord Games.

I wanted them to look dark and combat soiled. The Charlemagne SS had been in combat for days at this point and 1945 Berlin was not the sought of place to get a wash and brush up to the old uniform.

The basing is meant to represent urban rubble.

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 Mädel 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.

Monday 6 October 2014

Song of Shadows: Crossroads Collegia

Some of the lads from the Crossroads Collegia in riotous mood. They have been nicking gear from the Urban Cohorts warehouse again - very, very, illegal.

Model from the Foundry Ancient Civilians range.

Sunday 5 October 2014

Bolt Action: Pz IV Special

I've had this Warlord Games resin and metal kit of a Pz IV H mit Schurzen for a bit but I've finally got around to making it. The spaced side armour was a little tricky and I decided to replace the top supports with copper tubing to make a rock solid model. The side skirts are inevitably where the model will be handled so I chose to sacrifice a little accuracy for robustness.

I based the camo on this artwork from Osprey's Vanguard book on the Pz IV. It in turn was inspired by a photo of a IV in 1943 somewhere in the Ukraine. The tank had no unit or nationality markings.

I used Army Painter Dark Tone varnish diluted with white spirit to 'oil' up the tank and Citadel mud paint to add some, er, mud.

Front angle.

The aerial is a hair nicked from my wife's kitchen brush.

Friday 3 October 2014

Bolt Action: Defenders of France, 500pts

Just worked out my 500 pts French 1940 platoon to take on Andy Singleton's Boche.

As I don't know what Andy has, I settled on a general purpose reinforced platoon.

I have a 2nd Lt and two French 8-man sections with grenade launchers, and one with an LMG, a Belgian Police Militia Section, a '75, a machine gun and an R35 light infantry support tank.

All the French are Regular, except for the tank which is inexperienced, as is the Belgian section.

Pour l'honneur de France

Thursday 2 October 2014

Playtest: Song of Shadows and Dust

Meet the Strongarm Crossroads Collegia from Fraudentula, a small town outside Syracuse.Their patron (leader) has been locked up by the the Magistrate for swindling a racing bet - the Magistrate lost.

The patron's girlfriend, the Briton Cruella, has rounded up a few of the lads from the quarry and, accompanied by the witch Melissa, marches on Fraudentula.

The Emperor's peace in Fraudentula is maintained by the Urban Militia under the leadership of the Gaul Shaunus. 'Tis rumoured that Shaunus and Cruella have unsettled issues.

Cruella's crew are distracted by a Priestess of Issus who harangues them for marching on a holy day. This slows them down while the two women exchange insults. At the back you can just see the militia turning out from the Bar By The Fountain. Fortunately for Cruella the Militia are also delayed while they argue with the barmaid over the tip. She expected actual money.

The Militia sort themselves out and take up a defensive formation blocking the street.

Shaunus reads the Acta Riota and Cruella makes an Ancient British sign involving raising two fingers.

A melee breaks out in which Melissa and a couple of the Militia go under.

Shaunus loses his nerve and ran away - that's him disappearing down the street at a rate of knots.

Unfortunately, Cruella stopped to crow and got knocked on the head by a Militia spear butt. Her lads still on their feet decided to make a strategic withdrawal back to the quarry.


The game took about forty minutes and was great fun.

I am keen to try this some more.


We had enough time to play out a rumble between two groups of gladiators on the Via Potholia over who got the contract to put on entertainment at the Emperor's Birthday celebrations.

Romans commemorated their dead with gravestones along the main roads where they could be seen by passer's by. Various farmers and travellers got involved in the disturbance, including a bored Urban Cohort Legionary who was guarding the Tomb of a Patrician,