Tuesday, 26 September 2023

Big "Near" - Small "Far Away"

To honour a genius of British TV comedy, the sit-com Father Ted, I present wargaming terrain in perspective (see below, "near" is Big, whereas far away is "small" - but it is really the same thing): 

Or to the more wargame informed 15-20mm and 6-10mm, don't get them mixed up in the boxes or you will have a very funny looking game!

Monday, 25 September 2023

US Artillery and AT Guns WWII (Part 1)

I was recently looking at my old favuorite Command Decision and the WWII US Infantry (1944) OoB, circa the Battle of the Bulge, to see what 1/72 scale hobby "bits and bobs" I was missing. For the infantry and vehicle types I was pleasantly surprised to see I had them rather well covered but for AT and artillery there were a few "gaps". The US Battalion 57mm AT Gun was a simple conversion project from the stalwart Airfix British six pounder (although I did need four of them for the complete RCT). The heavier three inch cousin, converted AA gun to AT gun was another matter though, but an internet search eventually came up with a stockist of an ACE model kit (see below, sadly they are currently out of production so it was a one off tad pricey purchase - but it is all done now): 

The US artillery was a cheeky, cheap by comparison purchase of 105mm standard US Howitzer (also suitable for post WWII conflicts like Indo-China) from Grubby Tanks and their Britannia Miniatures stocked range (see below, I got two but really on reflection want three for the battalion so I know I will have to "go back" to them - and while there also get some more of their nice US Art Crew): 

Coincidently like all good wargames when I had been to a local DIY superstore for a "bathroom project" - I was also on the lookout for "potential wargame materials" (as well as a bathroom sealant remover). I passed an artificial lawn section where they selling off "cheap" small patches. What is not to like?. Could they be of use? (see below, I think there is potential): 

This was Part One of my WWII US RCT OoB scan, more to follow - such as the "cannon company" gun!

Sunday, 24 September 2023

Plastic Soldier Company: 1/300 Plane Pack

Something I could not resist buying (sorry Mum it's in my blood) - a party pack of what I can only think of as "surplus to use for PSC" .. but 100 planes for a tenner (and £3.50 P&P) - there has got to be a great glorious wargaming use for them somewhere! Plenty of Stukas (27) for sure, Gloster Gladiators, Me 110s, Bristol Blenheims and various Luftwaffe Medium Bombers (see below, pass me the spray can, I got this!): 

I am thinking tactical formations of bombers to give a certain "mass" in the tactical element of the (Plastic Soldier Company remake of the original Airfix) Battle of Britain game. More visual that individual, as I am not keen on fiddly moving parts!

Saturday, 23 September 2023

The Korean War - Mig Alley

The Korean War is a war I know relatively little about, other than it was the real setting for the TV series M*A*S*H (not as many thought, Vietnam) and also known for the famous last stand of the British Glouster's on a place now known as Glouster Hill, where it was made on the Imjin River. A British Army last stand like traditional British Army "last stands", being heroic but tragically a battle that in reality should never have been fought in the way it was. I have the Max Hastings' Korean War book on my shelf (both real and Audible) long overdue to be read. However, within the Korean War itself, the Air War was a bit of a mystery to me other than the enigmatic 10:1 kill ratio claimed in favour of the United Nations (aka the United States of America) pilots. It was also the training ground and inspiration for the Mad Major/Colonel (Boyd of the USAF in developing his air war combat theories) producing the OODA loop - which also decades later greatly influence AGILE software development!. Thomas McKelvey Cleaver's "Mig Alley" book came as a revelation to me in many ways (see below, a shot of the enigmatic F-86 Sabre USAF jet - its aerial combat versus the Mig-15 legendary): 

I can highly recommend the book as it came as a shocking myth buster to me - (spoiler alert if you read on) as it revealed recent statistical analysis of Soviet era and USAF era data shows the "10:1 claim" to be far closer to propaganda that proven fact. That is taking nothing from the USAF pilots who attained air supremacy over the North Korean (aka Soviet) pilots and Chinese PLAAF pilots. The revelation is that in the early combat Soviet pilots in 1951 started off on the better end of kill ratio [0.8 - 1.0] because they were filled with combat veterans from  WWII - both sides were learning first hand "jet combat". The USAF was by comparison trained (in jet flying) but unbloodied (in actual combat). The longer term operational mistake the Russians then made was to swap in and out whole Air Regiments at a time, whereas the USAF consciously only replaced individual pilots so there was always a combat capable cadre for new, the younger pilots to learn from. They were slowly bloodied from "wingman" status to "guns" - learning their trade in the skies above Korea. Boyd himself never shot a Mig down but flew 22 missions as "wingman". The seasoned in theatre air crews then returned stateside to teach tactics to the rookies before they went out. The clever American logic was assisted by the fact that there was only two Sabre air groups "spare" so rotating formations out of theatre was far too troublesome whereas the Soviets had plenty of air regiments - all of which were bloodied in turn, so each experiencing there own costly combat learning curve (and allowing an American ascendance). Then towards the 1952/53 period the Chinese pilots took over the bulk of combat were initially poorer in training and so had to relearn the lessons of the Soviets. A statistical ratio of 4:1 (in favour of the UN) was more likely over the whole war, but the early war was very touch and go. Boyd's first gut instinct about the Mig-15 being "theoretically" better than the F-86 may well be true [Boyd came to think better US canopy (observation) and automatic hydraulics (reaction time) were the difference, but in reality there was also combat experience of the man in the plane]. By comparison the Soviet cannon was greatly feared, the Sabres were comparatively under gunned with six fifty calibre machine guns - later Sabres experimented with cannon. The final remark across all eras is that pilots always over estimate their kills, with a lot of damaged planes limping home (although total write-offs on landing). 

For me the software development implications are stark (for Agile), never underestimate the value of experience - aka don't go for cheapest staff available no matter how great your AGILE SCRUM MASTER is or OODA your method is (or what the Accountant says - that is a dangerous false economy)! 

Footnote: I am trying not to "scratch the itch" of an Airfixclassic kit F-80 Shooting Star, some other manufacturer's F-86 or even the F-84 Thunder Streak - plus the Mig 15 (ironical that I had an Airfix Mig 15 in my hand years ago and did not buy it, could not see the reason then!). I think it is the RAAF Boomerang thing all over again!

Friday, 22 September 2023

Another 15mm Sci-Fi Shuttle (Star Trek Federation) Charity Shop III

A third charity shop purchase (and probably the last for the time being) was another Star Trek collector's miniature - something I view as a "classier shuttle", for Travellers more accustomed to representing the Federation on official business (see below, after performing a nifty planet take-off): 

VIPs and Federation Officials get your electronic boarding passes ready.

Wednesday, 20 September 2023

Avalon Hill Games - Raid on St Nazaire Solo Games

I managed to get my hands on this classic little number from Avalon Hill, The Raid on St Nazaire, which will become part of an ongoing WWII Commando project (see below, an evocative piece of cover art - not sure if I agree with the spanking "blanko" webbing though!):  

Review from Board Game Geek: 
Helpful Tutorials: 
Time to push some counters around!

Tuesday, 19 September 2023

Connections UK 2023 Professional Wargames Conference (at RMAS) was Spectacular!

The Connections UK 2023 Professional Wargaming Conference has certainly bounced back post Covid in fine style. Hosted quite appropriately at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) it served up a feast of wargaming talks and more importantly practical wargaming sessions. For more details see the Connections UK web-site: 


Specifically for Connections UK 2023: 


It was a "Who's Who" of the Professional Military and Academic (with hobbyist representation), crammed full of fascinating talks and plenary sessions.