Friday 28 February 2014

Rome Total War (The Original One)the DBA Way

Other things I have been doing:

Although computers are my trade I don't get the spare time amongst my other hobbies to sit down and immerse myself in a game for long periods of time. In fact most of my games will be circa 2005 or earlier. 

However a few of these titles have a long lasting appeal such as Rome Total War, a game which had great potential but did not fill the "wargaming hole" in me (see below):

The game has various features, excellent graphics being the most obvious but it's command and control verges on the "arcade twitchy" approach that could be tweaked rather than a time-delayed "simulation" of frustration. The army composition also allows non-historical mixtures as it is just based on a points based shopping cart which leads to cheesy choices IMHO but I may be wrong there.

However by combining the DBA army lists with its game play  (i.e. choosing twelve element armies based on DBA army lists rather than equal points)I managed to get what I consider "stable battles" I can sit back and watch. A good classic is Republican Rome v Cathage viz Cannae. I managed to win using what I consider viable "historical tactics" (from both sides, admittedly when I was the Romans I assumed my cavalry would be beaten in a straight up fight so my flank legions were angled to protect my flanks) against its 'logical Vulcan' AI, now "sadly" that is what I want from a computer wargame ;)

Fun was had and I could even bear to stand to watch the replay again!

Thursday 27 February 2014

PSC Churchill 95mm (1/72)

The 1/72 AFV plastic kit "assembly rush" continues:

Despite having "a few" Churchills already I felt the irresistible urge for the PSC kit, or should I say kits as you get two to the box :)

You have plenty of variant choice:
  • Churchill IV 6 pounder (already covered by my old Esci kits)
  • Churchill V 75mm (already covered by my old Airfix kits)
  • Churchill III AVRE (already covered by my old Matchbox kit)
  • Churchill V 95mm CS Howitzer (a version I don't have)
The latter version being the preferred choice (in fact I made both kits in this version) to complete my range of combat Churchills (see one of my 95mm versions below):

For interest the PSC kit is shown alongside some Valiant 1/72, 1944 Normandy German infantry (which are known for being on the large side) for a size comparison (see below). Given the size of the tank commander you can see how large the Valiant "Germanic infantry cousins" are but, without the tank commander sticking his head out of the turret I think they would be fine enough to share the same space in a 'table-top battle'.

With respect to my 'other' Churchills Hasagawa have provided me with a troops of three Churchill II's (with pop gun two pounder of Deippe) and also one of the 'interesting' CS Churchill I's with two pounder in the turret and a fixed position three inch howitzer in the hull, a bit like the French Char B's. I have an Airfix and a Britannia Miniatures Crocodile, plus an Esci mine-roller Churchill III (although a friend claims these were never used in combat), this leaves only the Airfix Bridge Layer "missing", to be acquired at a later date.

As per usual no complaints for the PSC assembly and both kits were leisurely done in an evening, two hours max with plenty of breaks :)

Highly recommended .    

Wednesday 26 February 2014

SHQ German "Propaganda" Tank


A multi-turreted early war metal monster, the German equivalent of the T-28. Not quite as mad as the Russian T-35 but clearly sanity prevailed as it never reached production getting halted at the prototype state (five in total), although three vehicles did fight in the Norwegian Campaign. It is a SHQ birthday present that has been a long time waiting for its time in the sun (see below):

It has all kinds of experimental madness, with twin guns (3.7mm AT and low velocity 75mm L24 HE) in its main turret, two Pz I style machine gun sub-turrets (that only have one HMG a piece in them) and a crazy high hull with multi-roller tracks (see below):

It comes together in a sort of mad Indiana Jones style way (see below):

Next stage(s): From silver to black to Panzer Grey, but when?

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Napoleonic Shipbuilding (cont) : Navwar 1/1200 Rigging "How I did it"

"Round two," and I face my nemesis the rigging (dramatic organ music). My Langton miniatures "rigging booklet" is a masterclass and delving into a level of detail beyond what is needed for the 1/1200 Navwar models, but it does provide some useful insights into basic "standard rigging".

It looks (and most definitely is) an art form. Although it frightens me, I know I have to have a go. My minimalist approach books down to the following steps (and I apologize for my own inaccurate terminology):
  • A heavy thread from the tip of the bow spit (front of ship) to the top of the first two masts, winding round the mast heads as I go. This gives a certain front strength to the model, otherwise the masts would be all over the place. Dabs of super glue secure the thread into place.
  • From the middle (mizen?) mast to the back one, an extra hole has to be drilled two thirds the way up the big mast to connect a thread the top of the back mast (the hard earned lesson of experience here is to drill the middle mast before you fix it in the hull otherwise you will pay dearly in contributions to the nautical "swear box" as you inadvertently bend things
  • Now we can add some side-to-side strength by drilling holes in the top bit of the hull to run thread  up to the top of the masts. Six holes are required (three pairs), each pair being about a centimeter back from the mast. The ship is becoming surprisingly solid (but still fragile if dropped) at this point 
The results from this stage are shown below, my first 'heart of oak':

What is not shown is the pain associated with 'breaking a good paint-job' by drilling holes and spreading superglue (or "super finger stick" as I ended up calling it).

 Before this point the ship has definitely got to be painted a 'deck out'. Undercoat the model black, then a deep brown base coat and perhaps a mid-tone brown on the outer hull, but paint the deck much lighter "yellow-brown to a bleach-bone" and take it to a higher level of highlight because you won't get your brush back inside the frame of the ship again.

Using superglue and cotton thread is a mercurial combination. Anyway, plenty of touch-up painting followed.

Then comes a touch of necessary aesthetics, as the bow sails needed a bit of rigging, otherwise Harry Potter is required to keep the sails in place. If you look very, very carefully you will see black cotton threads leading out from the hull of the ship connecting to the sails (see below):  

Shown from another angle (see below). I have not attempted rat-lines that would straddle either side of all the masts (Pirates of the Caribbean fashion) for want of having no appropriate material. I need to move onto the "flag" section of the Langton book for a nice ensign to flutter in the breeze. It needs to be done to finish things off properly though.

The production line has started (see below). HMS Thundered [74] (top middle), HMS Canopus [80](middle), having hull and sail/mast holes drilled before undercoating and the raw lead of HMS Impeccable [74] (bottom left). I have to say for some reason HMS Thunderer is a small 74, don't know why so I might have to investigate via Google.

Note: Still in its pack is HMS Victory, I have to save the best till last to honour Nelson.

So far so good but after this sudden spurt (the first in ten years) will my enthusiasm dry up or will I catch the wooden wall bug. Satisfying but hard work ;)

Monday 24 February 2014

Navwar Napoleonic Ships 1/1200 (Another Naval Distraction)

What I love about Wargaming is the stuff that comes out of the blue and rekindles a "stalled" project. A great example of this is an unexpected conversation with my Redcar Wargaming friends, with respect to "what to do next" (after the Thirty Years War) and the subject of Napoleonic ships unexpectedly came up.

This was a project I had dabbled with and then stopped years ago, getting as far as painting a Royal Navy 74 gun ship (HMS Thunderer), but not rigging her [for fear of the threads] (see below):

Also on the stocks, but not so far along, is another Royal Navy ship, a 80 gunner (HMS Canopus, a captured Frenchman if my memory serves me correctly) just waiting for the moment of "inspiration" to take hold (see below):

Then follows the "silver fleet" still in their packets, two more British, three French and a Spanish (see below):

What I am finding ever so daunting is the prospect of the "rigging", I am trying to work out what I can get away with in a minimalistic sense. I am working down from my Langton Miniatures "complete" rigging booklet. Just a few lines to strengthen the sails so that they do not easily "snap off".

Any tips appreciated.

PS: The rules we intend to use are: Sails of Glory .. watch this space

Saturday 22 February 2014

The USS Marblehead Story (1941) : Pacific War

Going back to my epic naval battle refight of The Battle of the Java Sea (epic in the sense it took four sessions spread over months) and my continued interest in "the start of the Pacific War hostilities", I came across an interesting "prequel" history. The story of an obsolete (by the standards of he day) US WWI's cruiser caught up in the "next generation" of war, one to which it was not very well suited (see link below):

It has got me started thinking again ;)

Friday 21 February 2014

Airfix Bedford Trucks ... WIP

Less sexy perhaps than a AFV but a new Airfix kit that is a welcome addition to the Airfix catalogue, particularly as you get two kits in the box, a troop carrier and a support truck. The fiddly thing is the construction of the chassis (see below):

It is a nicely tooled kit though :)

My progress has been a little stop start as the kit requires painting inside-out and I am looking quite perplexedly at the clear, see through plastic windows, a new feature I am not so sure about from Airfix!

Watch this space (there will be a pause as I go back and put together some more straight forward armour)!

Chain of Command Campaign (Normandy)

Who knows I may have an opportunity to step into this one:

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Airfix Matilda II

I remember this kit fondly from my childhood, despite the fiddly wheel arrangement that my tiny little hands had so much trouble with.

The Matilda II "Queen of the Desert" with turret hatches cut open ready for a tank commander to hop in (see below):

It is still a nice little kit that holds its own despite its age (see below):

So much so I made two using the excuse Airfix drop their kits in and out of production "so get them while you can" (see below)

Note: The tank commanders are from PSC via their Bren Carrier pack of three.

The crazy ambition is to work up to a CD II/III Western Desert RTR (ten in total required). I already have five at the moment so ten by the end of year (one of which has to be converted to a CS tank) does not seem too big an ask.

Why ... er I will get back to you later, as my DAK is minimal, but that could change. Mind you the ANZACs and Russians had Matilda's too.

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Plastic Soldier Company Pz III (50mm short)

The Panzer III was designed to be the prime German MBT (although I acknowledge I use this post-war modern term in a historical sense, perhaps "cruiser" would have been better) of the Second World War, but the Pz III found itself compromised right from the outset. Slow to get into production and hence only playing a minor part in the Polish 1939 campaign (A-D versions), it was found lacking in the France 1940 campaign (E) against the better French tanks. Up gunned to the short 50mm (F/G) it optimistically went into the Russian 1941 campaign only to met the shock of the KV I and T34 monsters.

The PSC models (along with the 4 x HaT models I have) nicely finishes off my Panzer Battalion for the early-mid Russian campaign (1041-42) now with a max of seven Pz III F's to field (see below):

As the Pz III tanks were improved via workshop upgrades as well as new factory additions the Panzer battalion was always a mixture of types up until the end of 1942.

The F/G model was the Barbarrossa workhorse as well as being the DAK chariot in the desert (see below):

The PSC models are perfect for company command tanks given their nice commander poses (see below):

Nice to get my hands on so many short Pz III 50mm tanks, as a kid they were nowhere to be seen, bar a broken barrel Matchbox conversion. 

To understand German tank development in WWII IMHO I think you need to know the Pz III story.

The story does not end here as the Pz III gets a final upgrade to the long 50mm gun (L-M)1941(late)-42-43(mid) that takes it to its Kursk swansong on the Eastern Front. Not forgetting the final (N) version as it was demoted from MBT to an anti-infantry "support" tank (notably seen in Tunesia supporting Tigers) with a short 75mm.

My Esci/Italeri/Matchbox/Revell/Fujimi long 50mm models will nicely fill into the final chapter of the Pz III tank battalions (a future post methinks). 

Note: The PSC Pz III's are not their simplest models but still damn good for ease of construction. 

Sunday 16 February 2014

Plastic Soldier Company StuG III

The German workhorse StuG III with the long barreled 75mm, a defensive cheap version of a "tank" in eyes of Albert Speer (aka an accountant/economist say no more). The PSC company version is a lovely snap together, highly detailed but simple model which easily goes together in a single modelling session (see below):

No fuss to build and a mean looking tank killer (see below):

It has plenty of scope to add additional campaign clutter over all those flat surfaces (see below):

The best bit is you get three in one box giving you an instant CD II/III company (see below):

There are enough subtle variations (MG mount variants and main gun types, even a 105mm StuH 42 - which I declined to use because I already have one model) to the basic kit model to add that "element of variety" that keeps the interest level up (see below): 

An other section of tanks now waiting for the spray can!

Thursday 13 February 2014

Plastic Soldier Company Panther

The "killer cat with zimmerat!" Note: The brown bits are pieces of wood jammed in to hold the tracks down while the glue sets (see below):

It is a very, very nice model to make indeed (see below):

It goes together like a dream (see below):

I think the PSC Fireflys would have to get the first shot in from ambush position to stand a chance (see below):

All in all a nice addition to the Panther collection I have amassed (see below):

Note: It's getting a little crowded in the CD II Panther Battalion box, just two off the 1944 regimental requisite of fifteen tanks, amassed it has to be said over twenty years of on and off collecting (see below):

Their time on the painting tray will come!

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Plastic Soldier Company Sherman Firefly and Airfix Sherman

Blow me the boys at PSC make a mean Sherman Firefly. I mean I would think twice even if I were in a Tiger from taking these boys on, with obligatory cup of char in the background "though decaffeinated" (see below):

Nice looker with spare parts to adorn the hull front to add a little extra armour, and we all know "every little extra helps" (see below):

Compare this against the old Airfix veteran, with a PSC tank commander to nominate it as a command tank (see below):

I don't think I can mix these boys in the same regiment though (see below):

One RTR with Airfix Sherman and Matchbox/Revell Firefly. The PSC Firefly boys are intended to support the Cromwell RTR I am forming.

Model on as a fellow blogger would say

Saturday 8 February 2014

Matchbox/Revell Comet (Commander's Tank)

I am working up to a full RTR of Cromwell's and Sherman's (as per Command Decision OoB) but the Comet I will still to a squadron worth, circa 1945 so four tanks are needed and this is the "command tank" with hatches open waiting for its commander (see below): 

Another delightful quick, clean build with throw back memories to my early teenage days. Yes Matchbox had it spot on with the mini diorama included (see below):

The box with Western Allies unmade kits is getting lighter with respect to tanks now ;)

Friday 7 February 2014

Matchbox/Revell Sherman Firefly

It may be old but it is still a classic and a perfect match for my Airfix Shermans in my 1944/45 British RTR viz Command Decision orbat (see below):

That makes a total of four so I can up gun my formation with an extra Firefly troop as happened with teh Guards Armoured I believe.

It is gratifying that it still slips together like a dream despite its age :)

PS Matchbox had the tracks dilemma sorted back in the 1970's

Thursday 6 February 2014

Plastic Soldier Company Bren Carriers

A nice little "recon pack" or useful miscellaneous mover to any 1942-45 British formation. Two variants available, the early desert war and late war (no BEF). The only point on confusion to me was how to fix up the rear which was not well shown on the diagrams. My answer was to do any which way I like! Here are my pack zooming off (see below):

And racing back (see below):

One nice part was the head swaps included that had berets instead of tin hats. An example above is shown in the Bren carrier with four infantryman. Nice because they are perfect for British tank commanders. Watch out for them in a later post.

So nice I am looking for an excuse to buy another pack ;)

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Italeri/Esci Auto Blinda (It's bigger than you think)

I always viewed this model as a bit of a curio. I am caught between the German 1943 to 1944 version but more than likely will go with the Italian Western Desert version. Again it is another Esci viz Italeri rebrand, but still many thanks for bringing it back (see below):

She's a lot bigger than you think! Very reminiscent of the German monster armoured cars but with only half the number of wheels ;)

Still it's one less unmade plastic model kit

Saturday 1 February 2014

Found it! A vehicle for my WWII Naval Games - Tokyo Express (Victory Game)

Eureka, got it! A tactical WWII Pacific theater board game with strategic map moves that is solitaire (so I can practice before I roll it out to my fellow wargamers at the club). Yet again it is quality production from Victory Games (see below):

My source was an electronic version, which is a pain in that you have to source a decent printer for the map ans "print" what you need to make the charts and counters up. Makes it all worth while in teh end, no pain no gain ;)