Tuesday 31 January 2017

Little bit of a side-project: Modern US CVN Battlegroup 1/3000

This is one I have been thinking about doing for a while (as well as the 1980 RN Falklands Campaign), the advantage being this is less than a dozen ships all told (see Wikipedia detail):


Order of Battle:

  • CVN
  • 1-2 Guided Missile Cruiser
  • 2-3 Guided Missile Destroyers
  • 1-2 Attack (688) Submarines
  • Specialist Ammo Supply and Oiler Support Ship

Possible rules for this are the traditional (pro-US) Harpoon or the more recent ShipWreck. Topical campaigns could include US tension with the Chinese over the Spratly chain of islands in the South China Sea.

Nice to see that I am NOT maintaining focus!

Monday 30 January 2017

US Pacific Fleet in 1/3000 .. steady progress made on basing "BB/CA/CL"

The "sea basing" continues (see below, first batch of US Heavy 8" cruisers, US battleships and odd miscellaneous light cruisers, the WWI era but still in service light cruiser USS Marblehead (Omaha class) to a couple of 6" more modern light cruisers of the Brooklyn class, not forgetting the USS Langley, ex-aircraft carrier now seaplane tender):

Next: Base the remaining US 8" cruisers and start on a few early Pacific War US Aircraft Carriers (i.e. the non-Essex (Fleet), Independence types (Light Fleet) and Escort [made famous by Taffy 3])

The "processing order" for the "ship basing" is now as follows:
  • Clean metal ship
  • Cut-out card base
  • UHU glue metal model to card
  • 1st layer: DIY Flexible Poly Filler - smear wavy sea surface over base up to model ship side
  • 2nd layer: DIY Flexible Poly Filler - smear over any bits missed from first pass
  • Black undercoat metal ship
  • Dark Blue/Green undercoat sea area
  • Paint up ship [multiple layers required here]
  • Gloss Varnish
  • Matte Varnish

Sunday 29 January 2017

Another good Audible Book: "Miracle at Midway"

The WWII Pacific war is still key in my sights and interest. I felt as if I had to take some time out to take in what must have been the most pivotal battle of the campaign, Midway. "Miracle at Midway" gives a really good detailed account (see below):

 It is interesting to note that the American texts on the Pacific Way all give due deference to the "Japanese Destroyer Captain" of Hara.

PS: "Miracle at Midway" has a companion volume called "At Dawn We Slept". A word of warning if you type the title as a search string, I can assure that the books about "Dawn" that came back did not imply any WW2 Pacific naval history or restful sleeping activity ;)


Saturday 28 January 2017

The (Early Imperial) Romans are coming ... in 28mm

For a while now (well it seems to have been about ten years actually) I have continually found myself "humming and 'arring" about moving up to 28mm for certain ranges of figures. My thoughts ...

For ECW and Renaissance is sensible in 25mm/28mm to me (so I have collected some Warlord Games, a pack here and a pack there od Scottish ECW to honour a Scottish connection in the family but .. ahem, sadly without painting them .. er yet - but hang on I did paint up some Wargames Foundry metal Landschneckts, a herd (12) Redoubt Miniatures Mounted Men-At-Arms and some old Games Workshop Warhammer Empire figures to great applause).

Napoleonic's (as in big battles) were traditionally 15mm (but I painted them so, so slowly), but then the likes of Sharp Practice gave an excuse for 28mm and likewise, and I should say recently AWI "skirmish" gave me the excuse to unashamedly buy a box of Perry's AWI British Infantry (of which I have fully painted one out of the thirty odd to date, head hangs in shame) as well as collect a pack here and a pack there of various Napoleonics.

Ancients though were always thought of as safely 15mm for me, particularly because of my painful obsession with collecting DBM armies starting with the Greek City States. Just as that seemed to be going out of fashion Xyston miniatures (perhaps briefly) breathed life back into in and bring it into fashion IMHO. Their hoplites "stole my breath away" Top Gun style but I fear ruined my ageing eyes, I will still paint my Thracian tribes. To be fair this was fun as I did paint a fair few hoplites (and true I still have a fair few still to do). But then the Romans a dilemma ...  but I had time. I had read lots of Greek history and I would naturally have to do the same for Rome. There is a lot to read.

I made a small 15mm DBA army (Early Roman Imperial actually .. that's one of the reasons I still need the Thracians) but stalled, it didn't feel right. I knew it all started with "Foundry" and how their 28mm figures looked so beautiful when well painted. Republican, Caesarian and Early Imperial  .. but the lead was horribly expensive (though Xyston was not cheap for anything beyond DBA into DBM or DBMM territory) .. so I held back for fear of financial ruin and then came the plastic 28mm revolution, so it went back on the list "of wargaming things to do before you die", the Warlord Games Early Roman Imperial starter set became a "must".  I must have passed one by half a dozen times but held back as my attention was on "other matters of import". Then they went "out of stock" ... argh ... then they restocked, but I saw this bargain advertised on eBay and the deed was finally done (see below, 80% percent of the figures already put together [cleanly] but painting not started):  

The "defence" rests its case and I throw myself at the mercy of the court! The Army Painter method (aka dip) will be applied this year methinks. Note: They will also be very useful for my "Roman Fantasy" .. "Lost Legions" from Osprey Wargame Rules and perhaps a run out with "FrostGrave" game nights!

That's my plan or excuse anyway ;)

Footnote: WW2 is 20mm (a huge assortment collected over the past 25 years, lots unpainted) and 1/200 (a sensible early war collection) or 1/300 (a lot of donated and aquired lead in the form suitable for a proto 1944 German Panzer diviusion) anything else is madness .. so don't ask me why I have a large box of unpainted 15mm in the loft and why on earth I have a pack of Perry's 28mm 8th Army and DAK in the "should be a simple Project Box". Naval and Air will have to be dealt with elsewhere dear reader ;)

Friday 27 January 2017

Warlord Games WW2 Painting Guides (FREE)

Well for another reason, ahem Romans enough side, I was travelling through the Warlord Games and found these beauties, WW2 painting guides. Destined for the 28mm market I am trying to use them for my 1/72 or 20mm figures (see below, British, US and German):

And (see below, Blitzkrieg Germans, Soviet Union and Italians):

Finally (see below, Japan and France):

Like I said I had been looking for some Roman Painting guides (for some crazy reason). Tpo get them add them to your card shopping cart and proceed to checkout. Put in your personal details and you will be given a download link is emailed to you. Easier if you sign up, yes they get a little hook in you in that it is far easier to come back and show with them again. No I am not on commission, but in AA style "yes I have some of their product, I am a Warlord Games user" (but I don't think I have finished anything yet .. gulp .. and I have other stuff from other manufacturers as well, again unpainted!).

For those interested:

Happy painting ;)

Thursday 26 January 2017

Naval Stuff on the Painting Tray

A range of naval projects on the go just now. Trying to keep it small scale, cheap and cheerful painting up a backlog of WW2 1/3000 Pacific American ships that have in the "loft space" for some time. The full production cycle is glimpsed below, finished products to the far left (aka USS South Dakota and USS Washington) with their painted sisters (aka USS North Carolina and USS Alabama) and across to some US cruisers undercoated. In the box behind some 1/1200 ancient triremes (see below, plenty more US and Japanese ships to come ):

Working out how best to do the "sea basing" effect on the cardboard, regretting painting some ships 'too well' before starting basing them  :(

DIY spreadable polyfiller being the magic key ingredient. I seem to be relearning all the "old lessons" of how to do it again!

Wednesday 25 January 2017

January "Big Battle" in Seventeenth Century ... somewhere inthe 'LowCountries' (Part 6)

The artillery dual continues. Despite the French cavalry being frozen in place my gunners performance is lamentable, I guess we were shooting at where we thought they were going to go. Our counter battery fire was much more effective as we dispatched a large French piece of ordnance to the heavens (see below):

Meanwhile the Allied right flank was in turmoil as "about face and form a second defensive line" was the order of the day. Word had come from the farmhouse on the far right (unhelpfully out of camera shot) that it was more likely to "rain whiskey" than retain hold of the bastion (see below, as movement with these formations is ponderous best start any convolutions early to stand any chance of getting it right):

The French were also on the move. Seeing that they had far to many troops crammed in such a small place they thought it best to "recycle the troops" so those that were getting worn by the Allied defensive fire make way fro the fresher troops at the back. It was also hinted that the french needed to extend the frontage of their attack to avoid being "condensed" and not so manoeuvrable (see below):

A horrendous second round of melee is fought with a third French infantry brigade fed in as support. The Allied (British) have seen far better days, rolling a paltry 5 combat dice (needing 4,5 or 6 to score a hit) compared to the 18 combat dice of the French (again needing 4, 5 or 6 to hit). Three to one odds in favour of the French, lots of  "Brigade Level" command with (3) Colonels shouting encouragement  and a (1) General "with a fine wig" attached to boot, plus probably an elite here and there, it all added up (a "+1 for pike was dismissed as thankfully we were fighting in a built up area"). We were quite pleased at the 3 hits inflicted on the French until we received a staggering 13 in return ... that was impressive dice throwing. All that remained of the British was a reduced strength stand "containing the colours" (see below, the flag stands aloft waiting to be inscribed with its new battle honours):

The morale rsult was a forgone conclusion as the brave British are force to retire. The Allies are now scrambling to form a second defensive line before the French infantry can make their mass of infantry count.

Next: A deadly race

Tuesday 24 January 2017

January "Big Battle" in Seventeenth Century ... somewhere in the 'LowCountries' (Part 5)

Two French infantry brigades launch themselves into the maelstrom of close quarter fighting on the Allied right flank. The French are up in starting numbers (2:1) but have suffered casualties but the considerable number of Colonels (2) and General (1) attached seemed to sway the combat via their modifiers. Nevertheless 'good' Allied dice mean that a grinding draw ensues and the forces remain "locked in melee" see below):

The Allied counter to the potential loss of the right flank stronghold is to cause the Allied reserve cavalry formation to turn about and face this developing threat (see below):

Meanwhile over on the Allied left the French Guard's Brigade (solo) attack on a fortified farm-house is an unqualified disaster and the Guards leaved the field in a rout of surrender (see below, "Where have all the Guards gone?"):

Finally a tranquil shot of another piece of quality scenery, a placid stone bridge not yet troubled by the storm clouds of war (see below):

The significance of this is that "the bridge" is now "blooded" in a wargame battle having been painted by my own fair hands (last century). Cause for great celebration methinks! It was original chosen as suitably wide for a WW2 20mm tank to cross it (even an Airfix Tiger could get across it) despite it being 25mm 'block and brickwork'.

Next: The great reckoning begins

Monday 23 January 2017

January "Big Battle" in Seventeenth Century ... somewhere in the 'LowCountries' (Part 4)

The "hel" of the infantry combat finally started in earnest.

On the Allied left flank the Elite Dutch Queen's Dragoons has seen of the French Dragoons and were now facing a combined infantry assault from two regular French infantry brigades. As the Frencg approached they laid down a devastating defensive fire but took casulaties in return (see below):

To the immediate right of the Dutch Queen's Dragoons an advanced Allied strongpoint was being attacked by four brigades of French infantry, including a Royal Guards unit. They had been assailed by hail and shot from two medium Allied artillery batteries as they traversed the open ground suffering badly. The steadfastness of Guards held sway as came within musket range, even though a stand was removed the attack was going to go in come hell or high water (see below):

Meanwhile the Dutch Queeen's favourites were hard pressed but fighting like demons (aka good dice rolling by the Allied side) to win the fierce hand-to-hand fighting. The key for survival was to win the first combat as the likelihood of being "strong enough" to go again could not be counted on. A small force could hold at bay a larger "worn" force (see below):

The Allied forward strong-point caused the French some organisational and command ordering problems. The elan of the French Guards took them in but their more conservative (with a small 'c') French Line failed to generate the morale courage and wavered in the attack. This left the depleted (two out of the original three stands) French Guards attacking a fortified/built-up-area (albeit still smoking from an Allied artillery bombardment), outnumbered by the defenders 3:2 and taking additional casualties on the way in. You could not paint a more 'worse scenario' for the French Guards but "hey ho", that is how they justify the pay they draw from teh French Crown (see below, the initial combat rolls look bad for the French Guards):

Meanwhile ten French Infantry brigades were hoping to smash the Allied right flank. The sound of canon and musket caried acoss the whole batlefield.

Next: The murderous right

Sunday 22 January 2017

January "Big Battle" in Seventeenth Century ... somewhere in the 'LowCountries' (Part 3)

The main concern of the Allied high command was focused on the developing major attack on the Allied right. Three brigades of Allied infantry (one of which were Dragoons) manned the stout defences and fortified buildings, with one infantry brigade in reserve (see below, it has to be noted that the French had reduced the defensive protection of the nearest house through continued bombardment):

The French infantry were massing ominously in front of the valiant Allied defenders (see below):

In total ten French infantry brigades (and two additional Dragon formations off camera) faced the defending four, pretty much the prescribed three-to-one odds (see below):

Meanwhile the French cavalry dance continued (see below):

With a jiggle here and a retire there they were a mass of moving horse slowly picking up casualties (see below):

The "yellow measuring tape of dismay" shows the direction of a retiring French cavalry reigiment (see below):

This dance was interrupted as noises from both flanks indicated the infantry was going in!

Next: Unleash hell!

Another WWII Pacific Book ... The Rising Sun by John Toland

Another book completed by the Audible audio-book odyssey is "The Rising Sun" by John Toland. An epic standing over 40 hours long but covering the pre-hostility decline in Sino-US relationships, the tumultuous war years and the power struggles within the Japanese Military in the final months of the war versus the civilians and Hirohito to finally "stop the war" (see below):

Fascinating in detail and illuminating in describing the scope of the war. Again bring out the 1/3000 US/Japanese naval ships (plus some Dutch, Australian and Royal Navy).

Saturday 21 January 2017

More Audible Books .. Pacific WWII

There is a theme developing here, I am currently listening to Ship of Ghosts about the USS Houston by James D. Hornsfischer. Interesting as a few years ago I wargamed The Battle of the Java Sea (1942) in which she took part. A third of the book is about her battles and "back history", two thirds about the subsequent fate of her survivors and those of the HMAS Perth lost in the same action (following the Java Sea) against the backdrop of the unfolding war (see below):

In addition, already listen to is The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors again by Hornsfischer, regarding the heroic actions of the destroyer captains in saving Taffy Three in (1944) The Battle of Leyte Gulf (see below):

If truth but told this book was the more gripping, perhaps because of the scale of the action and the wide variety of interest as non-destroyer participation is explored, particularly that of the airman of Taffy Three.

Lined up in my Aiudible library up are two other Hornsfischer titles covering the Marianas (1944) Island Campaign and the earlier Guadalcanal Campaign (1941-43). Already I have been rooting around in the loft for my WWII Navwar 1/3000 unfinished Pacific Theatre toys.

Friday 20 January 2017

January "Big Battle" in Seventeenth Century ... somewhere in the 'LowCountries' (Part 2)

In front of me the French were fine looking fellows mounted on handsome beasts, so I promptly opened fire. The first round was a sighting shot, unlikely to hit, but as the the French Central Command was bereft of orders I managed to get a second shot at a lovely stationary target (see below):

The gunners aim was true, I needed 8 or over on a d10 and three of my shots landed home (see below, ow):

That made the French horse rather "skitterish" after that and where possible they were in a constant state of motion to try and put my gunners off their aim (see below):

Meanwhile the Allied Army positioned elite Dutch dragoons to earnestly defend the Allied strong-point on the Allied left flank against dubious looking French lights, whose purpose in turn was to shield two regular brigades of French infantry that were readying themselves for an assault (see below):

On the Allied right a similar Dragoon skirmish was underway, but also (we in the Allied command group) noted it was evident from very early on that pour right flank was the intended target of the French main assault as no fewer than ten French infantry brigades were seen "on their way" (see below):

The French commander was in no hurry however, quite prepared to spend time to ensure his French line infantry brigades were correctly set-up for the main assault. His deliberate, measured  slow movement was an exhibition of stagecraft of the highest order, despite the irksome protestations of the French cavalry commander currently "under the guns".

Next: The infantry get stuck in!

Thursday 19 January 2017

January "Big Battle" in Seventeenth Century ... somewhere in the 'Low Countries' (Part 1)

The 2016 great Xmas game from my Redcar wargaming friends was delayed to an alternative mid-January start because of conflicting diaries and social engagements, but if truth be told I think it was an all the better game for it. It was one of those spectacular double digit player games that leaves you chilled and happy. Glorious scenery, figures and a very chilled gaming experience. All I know was that I was in command of part of an Allied army somewhere in modern day Holland (the correct historical term was hotly disputed all day by the two opposing sides) facing a large body of angry French troops who thought we had no business being there (see below, a large body of annoyed French Infantry .. there was also rather a lot of annoyed French cavalry lurking just in top-left camera shot too):

The good guys (aka the Allied army) promptly hid behind defensive earthworks and buildings. In fact take a look at those scratch built 25mm scale buildings they are absolutely fantastic (see below):

In fact the Allied army lay behind good defensive positions and it was not going to come out and play with the naughty French boys despite all that taunting (see below, again note those beautiful scratch built buildings):

The full extent of the French Army, superior in foot and horse at about a 3:2 ratio, running ten foot along the table edge (see below):

My particular command was of two brigades of infantry and a field piece behind sturdy defensive fortifications facing off against "thirteen cavalry" (yes I said "thirteen") regiments. However despite their daunting numbers the cavalry had no real prospect of "charging the defences" while manned by my stout infantry. The cavalry were there in fact to "pin" the infantry in place while the French infantry threatened another vital sector. If the Allied infantry moved the way would be clear, if they stayed the door was firmly closed on the French. In the meantime my artillery had some fine target practise (see below):

My last "Ace" was three regiments of my own cavalry, fine looking fellows. The sheer mass of the French cavalry can be seen at the top of the photograph (see below):

These three cavalry regiments were my "shock" troops that could (should or is that would) react to unforeseen events to my left or right. The whole battlefield was certainly one spectacular sight! I also look a fine sight in my resplendent finery a top of my white steed in the middle of my front two cavalry units (Note: The generals did not seem to be true generals unless they wore large foppish wigs, maybe it kept them warm!).

Next: Let battle commence!

Wednesday 18 January 2017

The "White Fleet" of Corinth

Keeping forward momentum going on this project, a fresh order of Navwar triremes are being fitted out. Nomiated as the "White Fleet" what better Greek City State than Corinth to select (see below, filed, washed and cleaned up, UHU affixed to their bases and "gap filler" as a textured wave base):

I won't keep such a meticulous posting trail but I plan to try and do "a little bit per night". I was hoping to put down some Phoneticians but I had a slight issue with my order Navwar are currently sorting out.

Tuesday 17 January 2017

Audio Book: Japanese Destroyer Captain

I can highly recommend this for anyone interested in the naval side of the Pacific War in WW2 (see below):

It has certainly opened my eyes to the capability and skill of the Japanese navy, but ultimately also shows the reasons that propelled them along the path to defeat once the US economic might had been harnessed.

I listened while driving courtesy of Amazon Audible :)

Monday 16 January 2017

USN WWII Battle-wagons: USS South Dakota and USS Washington

Continuing on a nautical theme, but this time some 2400 years later after the age of the "Salamis trireme", I pulled out some old Navwar 1/3000 ships models from the attic. I had been working on (one of my many stalled projects, ahem) the Guadalcanal Campaign and long ago had made an initial start on the USN order of battle starting with the battleships (see below, USS South Dakota [top], USS Washington [bottom]):

Being impressed with the effects of the "gloss" followed by "mate" varnish, particularly for a certain satin, subtle shiny sea effect, I upgraded my previous paint jobs. The USS South Dakota and the bigger USS Washington fought a particularly interesting battleship v battleship night action at Guadalcanal in 1942 against the IJN Kirishima (and some heavy cruisers). A replay of this action is on the cards using the "Tokyo Express" board game.

Looks like my house will have a permanent "varnish" smell this year as I work around my existing painted ships improving the sea bases and tackling the "naval lead mountain".

Sunday 15 January 2017

Trireme XI ... Varnish .. and finished (or am I?)

Protection, Protection, Protection! A shiny Humbrol "Gloss Cote" is applied (see below):

Protected but I would clearly say too shiny, time to dull it down with a (Humbrol) matte varnish (see below, aerial fleet versus fleet view [before they start closing]):

A close-up, Greek trireme coming out of the sun (see below, an individual ship view - comes up rather nice I think):

I am foreseeing one small problem, namely that of Greek Admiral's identification of "friend versus foe" without looking at the bottom of the bases (see below as the Red fleet extends around the more condensed Blue fleet, this would have been a historical issue too, as soon as the flanks are turned or the melee gets intermingled):

I shall leave you with image of a "sultry trireme" sailing on "the sea of wine" which was the cradle of civilisation the merry Mediterranean (see below):

Note: Yes, the next batch of triremes has been already ordered from Navwar ()including some Phoneticians and who knows by the time you are reading this, they may well be even in my sweaty, clammy hands! '

You know, I think I have caught the ancient trireme bug! How many do I need for Salamis?

Saturday 14 January 2017

Trireme X ... WIP ... Oar and Bow/Stern white-tips

All ship, boats and even rafts make wave crests or white-tops, a touch of Vallejo Game Colour Off-White serves to so the trick (see below):

Close-up. Nothing wild and exciting, just some dabs of white along the oar banks and bow/stern (see below):

Overall I like the effect, however I need to think pragmatically with respect to "wargaming handling" these pieces will get shuffled around quite a lot, so I need to pay a bit of protection money to keep my hard one paint job together, aka a two coat varnish (gloss followed by a matte/satin).

Next: Varnish