Wednesday 29 February 2012

The 1/300 Panzer IV Hoard Revisited

Take II: Heroics and Ross Panzer IV F2's laid out in a Spearhead/BGC battalion formation (there is an engineering half-track and AA PzIV lurking in there somewhere too). The Panzer IV's are getting an Anita's Acrylic Metallic Black undercoat over which the Tamiya XF-60 Sand Yellow base coat is being laid. 

A GHQ Panzer IVH battalion(+) equivalent formation. Barrels now straight (or as straight as I can make them) with a Tamiya XF-1 Matt Black undercoat applied to the barrels over the original Panzer Grey (yes, wrong period paint chosen by the original owner, but it's all getting redone anyhow).

The whole painting tray (including my 28mm Renaissance Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, again avoiding the paint). The thing about 1/300 or 1/285 scale is that there are lots of them that need to be painted at the same time! The factory style painting operation commences. (Note: The fifth horseman below, is not an additional member the troublesome foursome [Famine, War, Pestilence and Death], but the Holy Roman Emperor himself  Charles V [from Redoubt Enterprises], chosen as a suitable Renaissance commander for my Impetus Army)

Note: I am working from the left hand side of the table over the the right hand side :)

Tuesday 28 February 2012

Painting Tray Update: 1/300 WWII and 28mm Renaissance

A 1/300 Heroics and Ross Panzer IV F2 (see below), donated to me from a very  good friend at the Hartlepool wargames club. This was part of an exchange of 10mm Pendraken ECW miniatures one way and a profuse quantity of assorted 1/300 Heroics & Ross and GHQ 1/285 models the other way. I am just left wondering how to paint these mini little beasts, so here are my first stabs (see below). 

It is a pity that my Blackberry camera does not seem up to taking photographs of things very small, losing the fine focus needed.

I was trying to go for that late war three tone camouflage look using Tamiya paints and left over odds and ends from my drying up Games Workshop pots. I discovered no point trying to micro-manage every brush stroke. Inks and washes may be the way forward.

Overall I m not convinced with my first attempt (even though I have not yet flocked the base which makes a huge difference). I cannot afford to take too long on each model but at the same time want to have a little highlighting and character if possible. I am not convinced that dry-brushing alone is the answer, inks and washes, hmm, successive layers? Model wise I am not far off the OrBat of a 1944 Panzer Division (Spearhead) so that is quite a lot of stands to do (100+) so I do need a mini-factory production process, rather tan an artisan approach.

Behold my painting tray  organised chaos (see above). Two 1/300 Panzer IV battalions, one H&R (Left Hand Side) the other (Right Hand Side) GHQ. Yes I know the 1944 Panzer Division OrBat has one Pz IV battalion and one Panther battalion, so effectively I have a 'spare' Pz IV battalion, which is nice. Lurking in the background are my "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" (28mm Renaissance fro Redoubt Enterprises). These will constitute a much needed Impetus Mounted Crossbow (CL) unit in my renaissance army. However they have been lurking around my painting tray for some time now successfully avoiding any contact with the paint brush. The goal is to get them painted in time for my next game of Impetus!

One slightly negative comment to make about the 1/285 GHQ models is the darned bendy barrels they have. They are finely scales, so fine in fact that the slightest touch of the gun barrel means that it twists and out have to come the tweezers. I sent several hours straightening those sixteen GHQ Panzer IVH's and they are still not quick right. I can see that handling and storing them will be a pain!

Chocks Away! WWI (WoW) Campaign

My first official day out in France, fresh from flying school and I find myself  [(Chipper, the pilot) and Beanie (the observer/gunner)] flying in a "Noon Patrol" over the front to protect our "assets" from the Hun. A strange sort of mission to fly in an RE8, nevertheless the High Command must have a plan in the 'Grand Scheme of Things'. Ours is not to wonder why, or so the padre keeps telling us. My fellow and much more experienced combat pilot (by almost two weeks), the flight commander Tim, was unperturbed at the unorthodoxy of using an RE8 in the fighter role, so why should I worry? Thus following in the wake of three RNAS Pups and savouring his last words of advice "Lets not fly at the same level as each other, that's how we lost Douglas and Callum last week, nasty affair, bits of them all over the place" we take to the air.

Well we soon lost sight of the flight of fancy Sopwith Pups as they tried to pounce on a lone Boshe coming straight at them from Hunland (see above, left middle). Unexpectedly I also lost sight of my flight leader Tim, but did manage to spot four Huns coming straight for my 'old crate' which was flying like a brick I may add. Two Albatrosses, an evil looking Pink 'two-seater' Thing and an ugly, cumbersome yellow 'two-seater' that looked like nothing out of my aircraft recognition manual brought from England (see above, right middle). Having made it as far as the front line I thought it best to swing back to protect a large observation balloon we had put up on our side of the trench line.

So much for the flight instructor in England telling me that the sky was empty of aircraft, it's like a hornets nest. In fact so crowded that one German model has been replaced with a WoW (Wings of War) card template to avoid a messy model superposition and cracking of plastic. Meanwhile I am in the process of swinging my blessed crate around for my gunner Beanie to get a bearing on them (see above).

To my left the daring German pilot dives underneath the patrol line of Pups by a cunning Hun trick of loosing altitude. I later discovered this tactic is called diving, I wish they had taught us that in flight school. Well it sure fooled the RNAS boys, but then again they were still half-cut from the previous nights celebration in the mess, apparently they were all a bit squiffy. Hate to think what the Castor oil from the engines did to their system after an hour into the patrol. Wouldn't fancy being an artificer tasked with cleaning out one of those Pups when (or rather if) they got back to base.  

I turned my tail in true text book fashion (oh how the instructor would have been overjoyed to know that I can now bank an aircraft, see above) waving at a friendly Sopwith Pup who had come to my assistance. You can always trust the Navy to come to your help in a time of need. Then to spoil it all the Huns appeared (see below) and the Sopwith disappeared in a huge ball of flame. It certainly put the wind up me I can tell you. If that's what happens to a fast scout what was going to happen when they catch up with my RE8? You couldn't miss the blooming thing if you tried. 

I dropped the RE8 like a stone (yes 'diving' I believe it's called) and Beanie rattled off a few rounds at the Pink Devil before his gun jammed (I later found my ammunition pack was full of duds and practice rounds, we weren't going to hurt anything this bar ramming into something). The lumbering yellow German bus (now so close as to be as big as the moon) swung past me and we exchanged shots. My few to his many. Holes appeared everywhere in the RE8, fabric was tearing and black smoke started streaming from the engine. Beanie gave out a yell and clutched his arm, the crate was barely holding together. I waved my fist at the pilots of the Pink Terror and Yellow Bus but all I could see was their skull like faces mocking me. I tried to get one last shot in but that dirty yellow bus had a rear gunner with spider eyes. The German Spandau spluttered back into life (it had previously been jammed) and I hard a fatal crack in my wing struts. Suddenly and all too fast the ground came into view and we smashed into a large water-filled "rear echelon crater" more out luck than good judgement.

With the sound of an express train still ringing in my ears I was pulled out of the water by some friendly Frenchies. My RE8 slipped beneath the scum of the "cess-pool" I had clearly landed in (oh the smell). In the distance I saw our observation balloon falling in flames and it truly felt the most miserable day of my life. The infantry battalion commander (a fellow Tommy) took pity on us, filled us up both with scotch, for Beanie somehow too had survived and sent us back on our ways to the airfield later that night in a lull between the shelling. Thus despite being battered and bruised "Chips and Beans" live on to fight another day.

Sunday 26 February 2012

Jumping with the Poles IV [Hypothetical] End-Game

The Right Flank: 
The new German threat needs to be quickly dealt with before they can get to and reinforce the town. The enemy battalion is just two moves away from effectively sealing off the Allied objective. The flanking Polish Paratrooper battalion swings round to meet this threat as the Germans have entered its Operational Zone. All part of the pre-battle planning, good Polish staff work or just luck, you decide. At the very least there is no danger of friendly fire here and the Poles get a crack at the leading elements in trucks! To assist them in their mayhem the Polish FOO is sitting on the top of the hill lining up the 75mm pack howitzers (see below).

The Center:
Meanwhile the effective German resistance outside the town crumbles. To the north of the table (see below, top of picture) the German Recon battalion is in full retreat, to the south (see below, middle right of picture) the Recon Battalion is organizing a last stand in a wood just outside the town. The Paratroopers and Air-Landing troops have the numbers. Inside the town itself the German Engineer battalion has lined the perimeter but cannot defend it all and somewhere it will be flanked.  

The Relief Effort:  
The German relief effort if thwarted in its rush to the town. The Polish paras get stuck in and wipe out the motorized elements with indirect fire and start a fierce fire-fight in the woods (see top right below). A second German motorized infantry battalion appears (on foot, this time with its supports to the rear of the formation) and is immediately engaged with direct fire. No effect (as per casualties) but an immediate order change to engage the enemy which puts paid to any "rush" to the town. Numbers will eventually tell here but the Polish paratrooper will be a tough nut to get through and will cost precious time for the Germans. That time will be spent attacking the isolated Germans in the town.  

The Final Assault:
As the fun starts on the right the the town is about to be assaulted. The wood manning the last point of resistance outside the town is evacuated and the recon elements stream back to the town, the defenders of which cannot engage the leading elements of the paratroopers for fear of friendly fire (see below, right middle) Explanation: The two elements just about to enter the town are German recon, the elements in the wood are Polish, but the defenders lining the town are from a different German battalion/formation from the recon unit, therefore would not know friend from foe. If they were going to shoot they would shoot the closest, so fire is checked.

At this point the game is called (time gentlemen please): A tactical Allied and a very "probable" strategic victory. Four Allied battalions attacking (two of which are huge) attacking a battered recon battalion (approaching half strength) and a small German engineer battalion. The crux point being the Paratroopers/Air-Landing troops would be able to pin the defenders with direct fire and also flank and enter the town unopposed, setting up rear attacks on the defenders (the Allied troops are also elite).

A nice BGC scenario, despite the long Paratrooper "yomp" was well worth all the effort.

Final Comments: 
No doubt about it, the Airborne Polish Brigade are a very nice little unit, I may get round to forming this one up myself. Re: scenario it would have been nice to play another two turns to settle the matter. If the Allied players had "gone" earlier (grouping time) I think it would have back-fired as the numbers would not have been sufficient to make an immediate impact on the defenders. It was a tough one for the German player as he had to wait for a variable reinforcement and was "damned if he was too aggressive, but also damned if he wasn't aggressive enough".  

Friday 24 February 2012

Jumping with the Poles III [Hypothetical]

Tea-break over and the the battle resumes.

The main force of Polish Paratroopers take on the two remaining German platoons in the wood. Note the attacking Polish formation is one battalion up front supported by the second battalion behind for big morale bonus in BCG rules (see top left below). The flanking Polish Paratrooper battalion uses the hill as cover to push on and threaten the main objective of the depot/town (see bottom right below). Also, note the three suppressed (top right below, units with yellow markers on them) recon platoons getting out of the way of the paratroopers after suffering accurate indirect fire. Good job they were in half-tracks to out-retreat the advancing Poles is all I can say. Footnote: See a Polish mortar platoon (bottom left below) lagging behind the main battalion body, a dangerous position to be in when an attack can come from any direction. 

On the northern half of the table the German Recon battalion is being hard pressed against the Air-Landing Regiment (see below). Another battalion attack on a company strength defense of a wood. Again note another suppressed German platoon lagging to the rear.

The Poles simply overwhelm the German defenders with their elite status and good dice. Scratch one German infantry company for no losses as yet to the Polish Paratroopers (see below, the overturned counters were the German infantry positions). The FOO on the hill (bottom right bekow) sees "a job well done".

Meanwhile a ray of hope appears for the German player as the first(?) of his reinforcements arrive, threatening the flank of the Polish attack. It is a motorized German infantry battalion, which "de-bussed" off-table and walked on (well at least the infantry did, as the leading elements are the PaK and Motar support platoons, see below). 

Can the Paratrooper/Air-Landing attack keep its momentum going before more German reinforcements stem the tide?

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Half-Time: Drinks Served

As the Arnhem [Hypothetical] battle progressed there came a sudden urge for all participants to "whet-one's-whistle', even if it was only a soft-drink (as I was driving). It also gave an opportunity to scout around to see what was happening on other tables. Of interest was a "Wings of War" (WoW) game in progress (see below) as it was a rules tester for an ongoing Club WWI Western Front Air Campaign.

Fritz seemed to be getting the upper hand here. A Sopwith Pup and a venerable RE8 were taking on a mixed bag of Germans from the Imperial Air Service (sounds rather like a posh version of the Royal Mail). The altitude rules and limited ammunition were in play (previously everything had been abstracted flat, yes it is possible as it is a card based game) and consequently the campaign was starting to look quite daunting for a slow coach novice like me. The young-guns were picking things up very fast. Of note n the above photograph was the German two-seater nicknamed the "Pink Terror"

Watch and see n later posts!

Monday 20 February 2012

Does anybody know: Manufactures of Track and Sports Minatures

Has anybody ever found?

I ask on behalf of, ahem, a friend (nay I cannot deny it is a blood relation, an older brother), who despite a brief dally and foray with ACW miniatures several years back, he remains a board gamer rather than historical miniatures wargamer, with a very heavy sporting bias.

His simple request was for manufactures suitable for Athletics games (20mm, 25mm, 40mm or even 54mm size), namely track sprint races (100m, 200m and 400m). I have tried searching but I have failed dismally. Can anyone help? 

Please note: In no way do I accept any responsibility for my readers getting into trouble via internet Google searches of "athletic models" sites.

Sunday 19 February 2012

Jumping with the Poles II [Hypothetical]

First Contact: The German Recon Battalion is forming a protective bubble down the road from the Town/Depot. The Germans are up against it as they are being attacked from both sides by two units as strong as them or stronger. A yellow suppression marker on a German Armoured Car comes from the Polish Paratroopers indirect fire, easily spotting the German recon vehicles out in the open, while themselves being unspotted:

Just to prove the point (see below), the Germans are up against two battalions of the Air-Landing (Glider) Regiment, which translates to a lot of stands (see below). It could have been far worse as there was a third Air-Landing battalion that didn't turn up. Note: Of 'game' interest a different mechanic used for the Air-Landing Regiment, they rolled per battalion rather than per stand. I preferred the stand-by-stand way I had to do for the Polish Paratroopers, though I can see the "logic" in the second way (Gliders come down in clumps [Do they? Discuss]) but I still think all airborne forces would face attrition being spread all over the place.

Meanwhile the Polish paratroopers press the pace, scoring more indirect suppression (see the yellow markers in photograph below) and heading straight to an occupied wood, defended by a German Infantry Coy. The paratroopers brace themselves for the hidden stationary fire (never underestimate the killing potential of German Infantry) but intend to outflank and simultaneously swamp the position . A key Allied element in this plan is the Airborne FOO from the pack howitzers company, stationed bottom left of the hill (see photograph below). Their job is to "prep" the wood ahead of the infantry assault: 

On the other side of the table the leading Air-Landing boys have found another occupied wood to clear (see below). The same speedy attack principle applies for them as per the Poles, again with a Foo "in-situ" to assist suppressing the enemy: 

The Germans are being tested, but are stoically fighting a delaying action to buy time for their reinforcements to assemble to defend the town/depot.

Saturday 18 February 2012

Jumping with the Poles [Hypothetical]

Hell's Highway, Arnhem 1944, what if the had been enough 'lift capacity' to drop all the forces at once. Instead of days later the Polish Brigade lands with an air-landing glider Regiment to grab a vital junction (depot) guarded by a battalion of German Engineers and reinforced with a Recon Battalion who's task is to find where the enemy is and what strength. I commanded the Polish Brigade tasked with the right hand side of the battlefield. Parallel to me was a British Air-Landing (Glider) Regiment. Although only a Regiment the latter had a much bigger OoB.

The Game:
The Polish Brigade's form up point, an elevated plateau. I elected to take the most time to form up (each stand rolling a d10 and on a 10 (or rather zero) it being "lost". Perhaps not historical (get down and move out quick being the paratroop motto to maximize the element of surprise) but I deemed moving off with half or under strength would be "scenario suicide". As it was I suffered slightly over10% losses, but kept half an eye on the dice rolls to note that if I had tried to move off sooner I really would have suffered! Note: The lagging two stands below (bottom right) are the Polish Brigade's intrinsic artillery, a pair of 75mm Pack Howitzers which came in very, very useful as almost "super mortars".

Meanwhile during my three inactive (mustering) turns Fritz has been active and wondering why it had started to suddenly "snow". Elements of a Panzer Grenadier Recon battalion are coming my way. Note in the photograph below the black strip is a road which is the operational demarcation line of my "zone of operations" (i.e. the right hand side of the battlefield).

Unphased by the sudden appearance of the enemy the paras move out. In fact the leading elements of the recon have tactfully retired after receiving the attention of the paratroopers mortars and 75mm pack howitzers. The paratroopers were dropped some four miles from their objective and cannot "dilly-dally" given the time already used forming up.   

Next: "Contact" the first line of resistance is met.

Thursday 16 February 2012

20mm WWII Cromwell (ArmourFast)

This was a nice little kit (or should I say kits as they come two to a box which helps in the wallet department) that fits together like a dream, detailed enough to stand out of the box plus has plenty of customization potential :)

Literally made in minutes (although I spread it over two consecutive nights) and fits together very well, HaT/ArmourFast have learned their trade well. Once upon a time the only way you could get a Cromwell was either use a Matchbox Comet and pretend, convert said Matchbox Comet or buy a expensive Skytrex metal one or Cromwell Models resin one (that would get knocked out quickly on tabletop). Now you cannot help see them in plastic: Airfix(0), ArmourFast Hat(2), Revell(3) all do nice plastic kits, Frontline(1) do a cheap resin one and I even have another "unknown" resin manufacturer (1) with lovely clean lines (Note: My current totals are in brackets). I do plan to get at least one Airfix one on my way to a Command Decision 1944 British Armoured Regiment Order of Battle.

Pity I didn't have this Cromwell at Hoggerton Moor, it would have seen the Royalist Cavalry off. It was an impulse build, so painting may wait for an "inspirational moment". Like perhaps seeing a Cromwell in an episode of Band of Brothers or the like.  

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Hoggerton Moor 1643 [Hypothetical]: Part VI - The Final Cut

The Parliamentarian Cavalry collide with their Royalist counterparts and the seething mass of man and horseflesh writhe over the now muddy morass of Hoggerton Moor (see below). The first vital round of combat are rolled for and the Gods of War favour the True Blue Bloods over the democracy of the business and small estate owning classes.

I am meanwhile rather busy over on the left of the battlefield trying on "two legs" trying to catch a bunch of "four legs" for some shooting practice (see below):

You line out, you point and then you shoot (see below):

You roll good high dice and your opponent rolls low and you knock a stand off his command, but then the rest of his forces run out of your range, so the fun is over (see below). But casualties are casualties and at least Royalist command is starting to look peaky. If only we could punish those Royalist Blue Jackets in the Hoggerton Moor enclosure, we could then break it.  

Meanwhile Parliament announces the start of the catastrophe as our Right Wing of Horse "breaks" and the center infantry is put in deadly peril (see below). It now becomes imperative to take out those Blue Jackets and avoid a "Major Defeat".

We press them hard (see below) "closing the door" on any chance of escape:

But their metal stands the stress test some four times (pretty cool dice throwing by their commander) which is time enough for the swing Royalist infantry Phalanx to crack the Parliamentarian Center and so an embarrassing 'minor defeat' turns into a 'major rout'. A young serious faced chap in my command called Cromwell mutters that "this will never do", gathers his remnants of horse together and heads off to London with intent and a large Bible. He has good cause to be discontented, not with the DBR rules this time but rather our (Parliamentarian) Generalship as we misused our troops (two legs cannot catch four legs), forgot to use our interior lines (my command should have just shuffled back to the center where it could have been at least used. Even a greater crime is that we as Generals appeared as "not want to fight" our opponents and tried our very best to "hide" behind rather than use terrain! Alas I stand as inept and incompetent as the rest. Perhaps it is time to let this young Cromwell chap have a crack at the whip.

Indeed the campaign swings towards London as the Royalist armies pursue and in early 1644 (hurray for the turn of the year and better cavalry troops) the Royalist attempt to take London ... is this the fall of the Republic?

Above, see the field of battle as it stands today, Hoggerton Moor. Look closely and you can still see the impact marks made from the dice.

Hoggerton Moor 1643 [Hypothetical]: Part V - Parliamentarian Highs and Woes

Mine was now a remote action (bottom left in the picture below), distanced from the main event (top right in the picture below) where the dim of battle was reaching a mighty climax:

Meanwhile my Shot tried to shoot some four legs, but suffered bizarre consequences (see below). Instead of knocking them off their horses I "skittered" them away behind my flank. An unsavory prospect for the following turn.

Note: DBR rule mechanism, I shot and rolled low (poor), the defender unable to shoot back rolled high (good) which gave the defender follow up/advance movement of the dice difference in bases, hence the gallop away by the horse in the way they were facing (away from my shot, which I guess seems quite reasonable in the circumstances). I must give DBR credit where credit is due.  

There ensued a frightening and confused melee to the flank of my Pike and Shot as the Royalist "hand-to-hand" Pistols suddenly fancied their chances (see below):

Despite being supported by Pike a stand of my shot were ridden down, but with combat success in DBR comes the danger of being enveloped by the mass of infantry. The victorious horse found themselves in deadly peril (see below):

The Royalist horse now had its flank exposed and their comrades were not on hand to counter the infantry "closing the door" by locking them in a 'zone of control'. The outcome was a fatal roll of the dice (see below):

'Piecemeal attacks' inevitably have but one outcome (see below) as my command scored its first Royalist kill of the day:

For all the joy of my solitary success there were bigger fish being fried in the center of the battlefield (see below):

The Royalist Pike were 'bloodied' but had 'got in'. They had pushed back the Parliamentarian Shot protecting our artillery and were about to strip the middle with a deadly wheel, who says the Phalanx has had its day, this one is alive and kicking.

Despite being outnumbered and inferior quality it was now "do-or-die" time for the Parliamentarian Right Wing of Horse to attempt to 'save the day'. All they needed was a good set of dice ...

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Hoggerton Moor 1643 [Hypothetical]: Part IV - My Battle with a Wing of Horse

As George Orwell said, "Four Legs good, Two Legs bad". I would say "Two Legs 100 paces (with Pike), Four Legs 200 paces (250 if charging)". In short "Four Legs wins the foot race", even if they get shot up a little on the way in and disorganised by two Parliamentarian Saker Cannon (see below):

Somehow I managed to form a semblance of a column to expand out from, although how legal some of the moves were is at best dubious. In the spirit of the game, as in "we don't really know how to do it otherwise", the Parliamentarian forces ending up looking like thus (see below):  

Meanwhile the "big boys" were getting to grips with each other  in the center of the table. Parliament was looking to be at a disadvantage and would need some excellent dice throwing as the Royalists were about to lap round an exposed flank (see below):

Oh "Darn", on my flank I found to my annoyance that (not surprisingly given the laws of physics some would say) Cavalry are faster and can out manoeuvre Infantry (see below): 

Even if the Infantry deploy out of column quick as a flash (woof, woof [BlackAdder II]), my flank was always being turned (see below):

Again back in the middle matters were getting "hot" (see below) as the Royalist left Wing of Horse chose it's moment to attack. The Parliamentarian horse braced itself in trepidation, their mettle was about to be tested, just a few loses would take the command away as the Parliamentarian Horse fought in 'supported line'. A case of 'win' or 'lose' big (see below):

In the middle the Parliamentarian Infantry staged a counterattack but the Parliamentarian right was refused awkwardly waiting a hammer blow, just a few loses here (as they fought in supported line) would take the Parliamentarian Right command out of the game (see below):

Two thirds of the Royalist Arm was effectively hitting less than half of the Parliamentarian Army. I could see no good coming of it, even wearing my tightest Puritarian breeches. I saw and felt pain!