Wednesday 30 December 2015

Happy New Year

Another year older, but none the wiser but all the better for it ;)

Hope life treats you well in 2016

PS: I never knew atoms could be so much fun!

Friday 25 December 2015

Merry Xmas

I hope you are spending this Xmas with the ones you love
Keep them in your heart

Thursday 17 December 2015

Napoleonic Project: The Peninsular War

"Reading the war": 

Following on from reading Simon Scarrow's classic "set of four" Welloington/Napoleon historical fiction based on fact books I have been seduced by the charms and intrigues of the Napoleonic War period, in particular the Peninsular Campaign aka the Spanish Ulcer, which was the start of the unravelling of the Napoleonic Empire (see below):

The interest is the beguiling way the Peninsular War started off so innocuously small but ended up with incredibly big battles of huge consequences for all of Europe, also because  it seems so "peculiarly British in character" but mainly because the outcome of the campaign hung on a knife edge and could so easily have swung either way so many times. Wellington risked ruin if  he lost but a single battle.

The influence of Wellington or conversely the lack of Napoleon's influence seems most acute. My reading continues apace, but I have decided to test my colour palate and painting skills on some Victrix 28mm British fellows. The aim is to have at least enough for a Sharp Practice scenario or two (which means I best bother to get the rules in the first place) before deciding as to whether or not I should go hardcore and get a 15mm  British, Portuguese and Spanish army. As a quick start I have some 2mm "Napoleonic Blocks" (from "Irregular Miniatures") that could be fast-tracked into use.

A project well worthy of time spent on it in 2016 ;)

Wednesday 16 December 2015

PSC Hanomag 251/1 and 251/10 Ausf D

"Hanomag City" here we come courtesy of a PSC boxed set of three and a spare donated to me from a friend who is moving from 20mm to 28mm. The spare came assembled, so I covered it in Airfix undercoat and then Vallejo "Black-Washed" it (see below):

I then made up my "packet of three" with of course the 251/10 37mm "Command Version" (see below):

Plenty of spare tracks, wheels and clutter to go round. The crew ain't too bad either ;)

Sunday 13 December 2015

Waiting for eBob .. er Rather a long time actually

Hmm, I would appreciate any feedback on other people's experiences of eBob Miniatures. The guy looks incredibly talented, his miniature ranges look superb but I placed an order for some Scottish Pike way back in September and I've heard nothing since an email dated early October despite weekly postings asking for an update.

Reading people's forum postings others have experienced the same with the kit eventually turning up. Any thoughts or alternate ways of contacting eBob appreciated from the community

Thursday 3 December 2015

PSC: Loyd Carrier and the 6 pdr Assembly

As I was in the loft I came across some PSC models I had (almost) forgotten about (shame on me), the Loyd Carrier and 6 pdr AT gun + crew. One of which had already been made up as the 57mm US AT gun for my PSC American troops. I decided as it was not a big build to spend the idle time one Saturday afternoon while watching the Davis Cup (good old Any Murray) to put the two (bargain) carries, the remaining gun and crew together (see below, please note the very useful "ammo boxes" that can be used for "ammo low or disruption markers"):

A close up shows how "nice" the crew are. Unlike their venerable Airfix counterparts a small amount of assembly is required, but it is well worth the effort (see below):

The previously constructed US 57mm AT gun (see below):

All-in-all a very tidy collection of artefacts, a nice model box and although I was only 50/50 at the time of purchase (I purchased on the back of the PSC quality) I an very, very glad I did :)

Monday 30 November 2015

Big Cat Pair - Panthers in "Ambush Style"

These go back a while, lurking in a 'loft box', in an almost but not quite finished state. I am sure these were ESCI originals, for I was intent on grabbing a third when Italeri briefly re-released them, but "missed" my window of opportunity. Meanwhile what I had got painted in my classic Tamiya paints based "three-tone camo", but as per the cool 'box art' the next step is to polka-dot it "ambush style" (see below):

The general camouflage scheme maybe too broad a swathe, I must have had a bigger brush in those days compared to now, as seen in the more recent Mk IVs but I still like it (see below):

The panzer commander figure is still one of the coolest IMHO and comes from an old ESCI Panzer III.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

1/72 PSC Panzer IVH (Part 2) The Camo

The PSV MkIV H gets the "three tone" hide me treatment courtesy of the traditional Tamiya Dark Brown, Olive Green and Desert Yellow trio. A colour combination that stretches back to my childhood and the start of a deep yearning for ESCI kits that was never quite fulfilled. Each base colour is highlighted to give more depth to the overall pattern (see below, side view facing right):

The long barreled 75mm gets a Vallejo Dark Shade wash with a Vallejo Gun Metal Grey highlight, with the Panzer commander getting the German tank crewman black [basic Airfix black acrylic 33, with a tiny touch of Vallejo Game Color Stone Grey to lighten it] treatment (see below, side facing left):

The tank exhaust is highlighted up from Vallejo Game Color Dark Flesh by adding a touch of Tamiya XF-3 Yellow in a couple of shades. The jerry cans receive  grey highlight also (see below, facing rear):

Finally "Panzer Pete" is touched up with grey/white and red piping/insignia (see below, front facing):

I enjoyed that but hiding away in the loft are another five, all with air filters in the wrong place. For skirmish purposes I am finished but I will have to come back to the rest in the New Year if I want to complete a CD III company.

Next: A Sexy 'Big Cat'

Friday 20 November 2015

1/72 PSC Panzer IVH (Part 1) The Basic Yellow

Working up from the Airfix Grey undercoat the MkIV H is washed with Vallejo Dark Shade Wash to get that harder shadow edge feel (see below):

Tamiya Yellow Sand XF-60 is then used as a base layer, leaving the Dark Wash to pick out the recesses (see below):

There are times when the Internet comes to your rescue. With the best of intentions I had put together the six PSC Pz IV H's well over a year ago. In my haste I had made a dubious choose of "rear engine" arrangement. The more I looked at other people's versions of MkIVs the less and less I became confident that I had done it correctly (see below):

Thanks to the blogosphere there were answers aplenty. My rear engine housing was really an 'air filter' that should really go on the side (see below):

From the other side (see below, with the classic spare rollers on the side):

Once fixed we can put the skirts on (see below):

Many thanks to the following blogs for their help and inspiration (see below):
Next: Three tone camo (again)

Monday 16 November 2015

My 1000th Post is "Pimp my Panzer IVH" (The classic Esci/Italeri 1/72 kit)

In my previous Chain of Command battle AAR I stated that I was slightly embarrassed with the models I put on table for just having the basic paint scheme. Good enough fo the purposes of a tabletop wargame but privately I have always wanted to do justice to the Panzer IVH (an original Esci, but now released by Italeri) as I think of it as the "Normandy Classic", so hot from the tabletop I gave it a basic German late-war "three colour camo" scheme (see below):

Painting Guide Notes: Original base coat Tamiya XF-60 (Desert Yellow), brown patches Anita's Acrylic Earth Brown(11014) and Tamiya XF-61 (Dark Green)

In a parallel build I also primed one of the Plastic Soldier Company Panzer IV H's in my favourite Airfix 01 "Grey Undercoat". I had already assembled some, gulp that is very lazy of me, some year(s!) back. It will be interesting to see them side-by-side for comparison (see below, more of this PSC fun to come in another post):

Meanwhile I toned up the Green, Brown and Sand Yellow patches with lighter hues.
  • The Green went from Tamiya XF-61 (Dark Green) mixed with XF-62 Olive Drab, to pure XF-62 then I added XF-3 Yellow to highlight. 
  • The Brown went to Tamiya XF-52 (Flat Earth) and as I highlight I mixed in Anita's Acrylic Lemon Yellow (11055) [done more as an experiment rather than plan, my other option was to add white]
  • The Sand Yellow XF-60 was repainted to chase away some of the wandering wash errant flood areas then [as it was too hand] Anita's Acrylics Lemon Yellow (11055) to highlight and if memory serves me correct I probably drooped a little White Anita's Acrylic (11001) as a final highlight.
In addition I made plentiful use of Vallejo Wash (73201) Black Shade with a fine brush back into the corners and shadow areas. I used a new trick on the tracks. The tracks got a base coat of Vallejo Game Color [sic] Dark Fleshtone (72044) as the factory 'rust primer'. I then used the Vallejo Black Shade Wash, leaving it to dry before highlighting in Vallejo Model Color Gunmetal Grey (70863). The paint trick in the book was the classic Panzer IV exhaust tube was painted Vallejo Game Color Dark Fleshtone (72044) and highlighted with Tamiya XF-3 Yellow (see end product below):

Panzer IVH "pimped" 360 degree treatment - Facing Left: 



Side View: 

Quite happy with the results on this 'old timer', no immediate rush to put the decals on (no change there then) especially since it now represents a "wreck marker" in Operation Martlet for the first scenario ;)

Next: By way of comparison the PSC Panzer MkIVH

Sunday 15 November 2015

Normandy Mini-Campaign (Operation Martlet Part 4): Chain of Command

Down by his prise panzer (alas "Panzer Pete was no more) the German Commander knew he had to pull something out of the bag. He had but one trick left in the bag his 81mm mortar battery. He needed it to come in quickly and so rather than chancing losing the initiative he brought his barrage without a spotting round. There was a deafening roar of cannon fire and a whoosh of splintering hard rain ... somewhere far, far off table. As per the "wants of the game" his command dice meant hat he kept going and got a flip-flop so could have another go. To the despair of the British Commander (me) and the utter delight of the German Commander (Mr K.) the got it picture perfect. I had concentrated too much into too little a space and hung aroung too long. A cardinal sin against a veteran player (see below, Mr.K is seen rushing in with his tape measure in ungentlemanly haste):

Innocuously looking but it is covering my whole platoon (see below):

Not so innocuous now as the "shock" and "kill" markers mounts up (see below):

There was nothing to do but pull back. I had not enough Chain of Command points to influence the turn and the German Commander (Mr K.) had accumulated more 5's so could counter any end of turn gambit I could play. All I could do was hope for an absurd triple or quadruple roll of 6's to hit the 'strange but true' event table. That wasn't going to happen. In retrospect I endured two rounds (I should have bugged out after one in hindsight) as I took a massive thirteen casualties, four the first turn and a massive nine the next. Too much, even if I get some converted to wounded to return to action later in the campaign (see below):

My Nemesis (see above and try and spot him), was a German Artillery FOO with Martian style telescope, hidden in the "White Barn's" roof. My tank on table was the only thing that could fire on him but needed infantry and an NCO nearby to point out hidden enemy infantry targets. Hence I had to "bug".

Despite this drubbing I am eagerly awaiting the next crack at the "Martlet Campaign" to be continued over teh sam egroung (with the new addition of a wrecked German tank as extra German cover..tune in next time for "Go again Sir?" or more sinisterly "Anymore casualties like that Sir and we will have to 'frag you' mate!"

Saturday 14 November 2015

Normandy Mini-Campaign (Operation Martlet Part 3): Chain of Command

To my horror (as the British Commanding Officer: First Lt Spencer) "Panzer Pete" stirred into action. I was also not chuffed to know I was facing the 12th SS Panzer Division. Things were looking "slightly sticky" as the long barrelled 75mm gun barked out some HE at the occupants of "Grey House" (see below):

Kaboom. The Bren team was a team member down. With no PIAT in play I was in no possition to retaliate, I would have to just sit there and take it like KGL at Waterloo (but hang on that was a different strong point). Meanwhile "Panzer Pete" was grinning like a madman and ramming another of HE into the breach for his next go (see below):

Then, down the end of the road came a most pleasant sight to the beleaguered Tommies, Royal Engineer XXX Churchill Spigot armed tank. One of Hobart's funnies still finding gainful employment off the landing beaches. Despite its unassuming appearance and aging paint job [circa the last century ... at a guess 1995 or thereabouts] it still packed a "Chain of Command" punch throwing a dustbin sized charge of HE about (See below)

Even better "Panzer Pete" completely unaware of its existence as he had lined me up with a perfect profile shot (see below):

The small black dot got larger and larger and larger. The Panzer crew stood transfixed in horror as the equivalent of a Barnes Wallis "bouncing bomb" piled into their venerable Panzer IV framework, which despite various upgrades, was no match to something that was the equivalent of naval gunfire in its devastation. The result was inevitable as it was spectacular (see below):

With a sight of relief the British Commander (me) sat back relieved, the German aghast (Mr. K). However the cunning German had another ace up his sleeve.

Next: Hard German 81mm Rain Falls

[Addendum: "Chain of Command" rules review and clarification. After the battle so to speak, when the clamour of the dice and the sweat and perspiration subsides (something that fills every game of Chain of Command and is associated with the indecision of decision) comes the realisation that we must have done something wrong. The Churchill AVRE seems something of a superweapon - only two less AT (10d6 v 12d6) dice than a 17pdr armed Firefly and an incredible 16 (1d6) HE factor. It can hit anything on the table and reload as per a normal tank. Or can it? I had asked in my pre-game support assignment because I knew I had to kill a Panzer IV. So it was a choice of a Sherman and Sherman Firefly combination or a Churchill AVRE and some mortar supports (2" and 3" battery). The latter gave me more AI punch too so that is why I opted for it. But no, the Spigot is externally mounted so reloading is a pain in the bum, it can only be done once per TURN as opposed to activation and its range is limited to 30" tabletop, one of the few range limitations in the charts. So in short an "impossible kill" for the Churchill. Musing afterwards we reinstated the kill (the overall effect did not change the outcome of the game for the Brits, deciding had I know the rules the Sherman/Firefly combination would have been used. Instead of being brewed by a lumbering Royal Engineer's "Funny" the Royal Armoured XXX had chalked up their first Panzer IV kill)]

Thursday 12 November 2015

Normandy Mini-Campaign (Operation Martlet Part 2): Chain of Command

Despite the disadvantage of the British 25 pounders hammering the French farmland, the Germans were directed to the frontline by a [suport purchased] -Adjudent. That was a well spent support point as it allowed three M42 teams, an artillery observer and a Medic to get quickly in place. My newly painted acquisitions were soon facing me across the table (see below):

Not only that but "Panzer Pete" turned up in the form of a Panzer IV. This is an old original ESCI kit given to me (unmade) several years ago by Mr K. himself. Now he was getting to use it against me! It was as if he knew it'd destiny and it was all part of a cunning plan. I am slightly ashamed of it as it is just out of the "primer" stage, with a black wash looking very grimy. I had planned to do it in a "three tone cam" but it will do for now (see below):

"First Blood" goes to the Brits as a SS MG42 gunner team member gets caught by my sustained Bren team fire from my mini-Hougomont in "Grey House". As these German MG teams were seriously under strength I saw (or rather got fixated by) the opportunity to reduce its effectiveness and score a 'quick win' (see below):

Fearing the 'open fields of death' to the left and again wanting to eliminate the damaged MG42 team I deployed my whole platoon along a strong hedge line. Dangerous as it was putting all my eggs in one basket, especially as there was a (grimy) Panzer IVH on the loose. Mr K. also saw the opportunity as denoted by the mortar target spot [aka white circle] placed close to them (see below):

Next: "The Risks You Take" and "The Proce You Pay"

Wednesday 11 November 2015

First Things First


Normandy Mini-Campaign (Operation Martlet Part 1): Chain of Command

With my 20mm German Panzer Grenadier figures now painted and burning hot in my hand, it was time to get them "on table" ASAP and at the same time, rekindle my love affair with the Chain of Command skirmish rule-set. The scenario was a Normandy 1944 infantry probe towards Caen, called Operation Martlet. Before you could say "Jack Robinson Jam" I was in amongst it in the "patrol phase" with markers pushing forwards over what I considered very "open" aka dangerous) ground. I opted to go "Tommy" so my newly painted figures could shoot at me. The alternative was to play SS which left a tangled knot in the consciousness of my stomach. Silly really, but as I had played British before so I should be better able to pick things up from where I left off. I was against a very experienced foe, Mr K, the instigator of the Chain of Command's popularity in my local club. Anyway I rolled well and was pleased that got up table pretty fast. I opted to move three patrol markers instead of the possible four in order to move faster by shortening "the chain" [markers have to maintain a contiguous string, with no marker more than 12" from another ] (see below):

Fritz was, through a 'scenario specific rule' was waiting in stasis on the road, straining to be let free to pin my markets. After my 'five free moves' (1d6 worth according to the scenario) Mr K. was free and set about pinning me in place, but I had shifted over half-way up the right hand side although a measly third up the left (see below, Fritz's patrol marker line):

I converted to 'jump off markers' and was reasonably happy to get near some 'hard cover' to my right but was dismayed by the openness of the left that offered great scope for the devastating MG42 fire (see below, Q: Was I creating a rod for my own back thinking in such terms? Am I giving the German player Mr K, an advantage with the equivalent of a "psyche" Tommy own goal? ):

The SS were nicely placed in hard cover, but that was to be expected from the set-up. It was going to be no meant feat of arms to plod through the "open" if the Germans got defensively set, as expected (see below): 

After all the paper chasing in the Payrpl Phase it was a relief to get "Toys on the table!" Huzzah! Gaining the initiative an Infantry Squad, [Support] 2" Mortar Team and a Senior Officer occupy the "Grey House" on the right. It offers a good field of fire the left but is "blind" looking up the table, so not as good as I wanted. Still, I was lucky, as there was another 'scenario specific rule' regarding the Scotch Mist and a chance for troops to get lost and NOT even finding the battlefield. My turn over I settled back to hear the comforting sound of a British Artillery barrage landing behind German lines, another [beneficial for the Brits] 'scenario specific rule' (see below, my mini Hougoumont):   

Next: The German SS Panzer Grenadiers deploy

Tuesday 3 November 2015

October Project: Day 30 "Paint Review"

Project review and wrap-up. First of all these are the paints I used in Project (see below, as much for my memory as for posterity):

Anita's Acrylics:
  • Metallic Black (11211)
  • Earth Brown (11014)
  • Coffee (11044)
  • Lemon Yellow (11055)
  • White (11001)
Vallejo Acrylics:
  • German Field Grey (Model Color: 70830)
  • Green Grey (Flames of War: 886)
  • Gun Metal  Grey (Model Color: 70863)
  • Flat Flesh (Model Color: 70955)
  • German Camo Pale Brown (Model Color: 70825)
  • German Cam Beige WWII (Model Color: 70821)
  • Charred Brown (Game Color: 72045)
  • Beasty Brown (Game Color: 72043)
  • Dark Fleshtone (Game Color: 72044)
  • Stonewall Grey (Game Color: 72049)
Airfix Acrylics:
  • Primer Grey (1)
  • Black (33)
Tamiya Acrylics:
  • Flat Yellow (XF-3)
  • Dark Green (XF-61)
Games Workshop Citadel Foundation Acrylics:
  • Tallarn Flesh
  • Calthan Brown
Games Workshop Citadel Washes: 
  • Ogryn Flesh
As I pronounce the figures are now suitable for tabletop wargaming (aka battle ready) I also hope to put them to immediate good use and effect in a mini-campaign set in Normandy '44 for "Chain of Command" so that they can fulfill their 'wargaming destiny' (not bad as they were originally purchased over twenty years ago). Smiles all round!

However, there are several things NOT done (as of yet):
  • German Insignia Markings
  • Protective Varnish (a practical must)
  • Static Grass(maybe?)
  • Further German "Odds and Sods" for the Chain of Command Support List, painted in the same fashion
Also thinking ahead, I have these possible follow-on "Thirty Day Projects" from my unpainted legions in the loft?

Normandy 1944
  • US Infantry Platoon (1944)
  • German "Green Devils" Paratroop Platoon (1944)
  • British "Red Devils" Paratroop Platoon (1944)
  • US Paratroop Platoon "Screaming Eagles" (1944)
 BlitzKrieg 1940: 
  • French (1940) Infantry Platoon
  • BEF (1940) Infantry Platoon
  • Belgian (1940) Infantry Platoon
  • Dutch (1940) Infantry Platoon
  • Polish (1939) Infantry Platoon
Decisions, decisions, decisions! Whatever I do methinks I may concentrate on doing it in only twenty steps rather than the thirty I took for these figures, as looking back the 'cleverness and detail' of one layer of paint was often submerged in the next.

Monday 2 November 2015

October Project: Day 29 "Panzer Grenadier Parade Ground with 251 Transport"

The final force composition for a Chain of Command German Panzer Grenadier Platoon (Normandy):

Four Hanomag 251 Half-Tracks:
  • Hanomag 251/10 (37mm AT) x 1: Platoon Commander Half Track
    • Platoon Commander and PzShreck Team (2 Men) 
  • Hanomag 251/1 x 3: Squad 
    • Team 1: Squad Leader + MG Team (2 Men) + Two Rifles
    • Team 2: MG Team (2 Men) + Three Rifles
Parade Ground Formation (see below):

The one comment I would make is that the Order of Battle is for Normandy 1944 (which means for 1943 and earlier scenarios you'll end up dropping the PzSchrek team and maybe replace it with something as interesting as an AT rifle tean or the like). Also the Hanomag paint scheme is 1939-42 (early war), so I will (eventually) paint another platoon in 1944-45 three-tone "ambush" camouflage colours. Also yes, only one out of four vehicles has been decalled, but there's nothing new there for me ;)

I now pronounce this formation "battle ready" for a Chain of Command outing ... watch this space :)

Next: The Paints Used Recap and Review

Sunday 1 November 2015

October Project: Day 28 "The Joy of Flocking"

Once again the watered down PVA comes out. This time the figures are dropped into the "flock box" which still after five years of sporadic activity is half full of the original 2009 railway scenic "spring-time grass" covering, I think "buy in bulk" is the morale of the story here. Aiming for between 60-70% flat area coverage a lot of my previous good highlight work gets covered over, never mind (see below):

The group photograph (see below):

For the moment I am not bothering to "static grass" ... as I type I find myself caught in too minds as I technically still have a spare night! As all the figures are now to the same "wargame combat tabletop ready" state so ends my reference to the 2009 Painting Guide.

Next: Panzer Grenadier Parade Ground

Saturday 31 October 2015

October Project: Day 27 "Basing (III) Shade to Highlighting the Earth"

Painting the base proper!

Note to self: Now you do have to let this bit dry thoroughly out or you court disaster if you press too hard on the brush and to be fair it is hard mot to.

Anita's Acrylics yet again come to my rescue, starting with a plain lick of Earth Brown (11014) covering the base using a wet-brush rather than a dry brush technique. You can judge for yourself if you think the extra 'watery base coat of brown-black" was worth it from the previous stage (see below):

Next mix Earth Brown with Anita Acrylics Coffee (11044) in a 1:2 ratio. Again a rough and ready wet-brush application but less searching out the nooks and crannies than the first brown layer (see below):

Then despite it sounding slightly crazy, add Anita's Acrylic (11055) Lemon Yellow on a 1:1 ratio with the left over mix from the previous stage. This time I adopted a very lazy "let and let live" approach to painting, dabbing here and there as a lot of this will be covered in a layer of flock. Why bother at all then? Well, over time the flock will drop off or go bald, so if/when this happens the base still does not look too bad (see below):

Finally to the remaining residue add Anita Acrylic White (11001) to add that final 'rim' highlight on prominent raised places on the base. Less is definitely more here and subtlety is the watch word, so I pretty much reverted to more of a drier-brush than the previous stages (see below):

Here's one I may slightly of over done (see below):

With that it is the end of the painting! Moving onto the final phase of where I got to the in the original 2009 Painting Guide.

Next: For the "FLOCK" of it