Wednesday 24 June 2020

USN Midway CV Task Forces 16 and 17, plus Cruiser Task Force 8

As seen from a Japanese reconnaissance plane, Task Force 17 - the surviving CV from the Battle of the Coral Sea, the USS Yorktown [CV5] (see below, joined by two cruisers [USS Astoria and USS Portland] and five .. no make that six destroyers [courtesy of the eagle eyed Bankinista]):

The "fighting crunch" of the fleet, Task Force 16 - the USS Enterprise [CV6] and USS Hornet [CV8] in a rather compressed formation to get them all into picture shot (see below, the CVs with six escorting cruisers [USS New Orleans, USS Minneapolis, USS Vincennes, USS Northampton, USS Pensacola and USS Atlanta(AA)] and nine destroyers): 

The final fighting batch is Task Force 8, another force of cruisers (see below, five cruisers [USS Nashville, USS Indianapolis, USS Louisville, USS St Louis and USS Honolulu] and a collection of five destroyers - arguably it could/should have been more, but 1-2-1 with a cruiser seemed a good compromise):

This should a bit of 1/3000 colour to the Pacific War that otherwise would be a counter game.

Sunday 21 June 2020

Quick Side Project: US Infantry Light Mech - Factory Style Processing

I made an impulse purchase (well rather, I downloaded a Demo version - but the family unsympathetically call it a "purchase" as it resides on the computer) alongside getting a new family laptop, the Combat Mission Shock Factor 2 computer game. This is a new direction for me, as although I know of and have played previous versions of Combat Mission, they were all based in East or West front WWII. Not since a brief foray with a modern version of Steel Panthers (nearly twenty years ago now) have I played "moderns" [as in post world war two] on a PC (see below, a screen shot from the initial "Training Mission"): 

Now as it happens I have, don't ask me "how" [as it is totally unplanned] the US forces and terrorist defenders courtesy of various random purchases over the years for the "training" scenario. So yes I have the four Stryker vehicles required and a Humvee (he says, quietly removing a 105mm recoil less rifle from the roof) in the "already" assembled "Forces of Valour" pre-made kit forms (so no gluing required here  - although I ahem, I do have a box of "modern things to make" too). The US infantry force is perfectly matched to the contents of an old packet of Esci (yes that old) US Modern Infantry "modern as in Desert Storm" methinks - but that is close enough for me. The challenge is .. can I do them fast. They were already "based" on washers, and defensively coated in PVA to harden them up .. but the projects had stalled there for over a decade. I decided to quickly undercoat "spray" and then once dry literally dip them in my 'dipping tub'  of Vallejo Sepia Brown Wash (see below - I was go quick I forgot to take a picture of them primed grey):  

I want to "Keep it Simple" and just get this force on tabletop. So I am looking at wargame standard, not the three layer stuff I usually do - so grabbing paints to hand I started dabbling (see below, all lined up for painting inspection): 

Rather than go digging through my Vallejo paints for "specific" colours I was using the Vallejo Game to get a close fit brown and experimenting with some Citadel paints that were lying around (due to a Covid-19 spare time house tidy-up by the wife finding my stuff is quite hard). Initially I was hoping I could dry brush my way through things but alas no. In the end I base coated a tester figure with Citadel Foundation Caltan Brown .. but did not like the results, so I used Valeejo Game Colour to give it a two tome highlight (shame I was hoping for something in one coat). Tallarn Flesh, another Citadel Foundation paint, was good for the flesh parts. Vallejo Game Colour Khaki was a quick fix for the bags (and I could live with that), but I hummed and ahh'ed as the diagram showed green and brown fleck camo. I gave in and used streaks of Vallejo Colour Cano Green and reused tiny dabs of the Calthan Brown Foundation (see below, remember .. I am trying to keep it simple to be done in one big batch): 

The M16 weapon (?) gets a basic (Vallejo Game Colour) black (see below, my tester figure, I think I will call him "Frank"):  

The question is can I spin out another fifty of these as quick or quicker?

Wednesday 17 June 2020

In the "Good Old Days" Spies needed a Good Disguise ... now ...

Apparently they now need AI tools ...

Eric the Spy: Reunited

Does everybody remember the infamous "Eric the Spy" from the Airfix Lysander 1/72 model aircraft kit? I did my version of the Lysander as a 1940 BEF AASF-Army Ground liaison version so Eric was superfluous to their needs as it were so he remained in the bucket (see below, suitcase in hand ready to go up the ladder and head off into the night air to France):   

Well he came back, as all spies do, "in from the cold" during the great Covid-19 lock-down clear out! Watch this space for future developments. 

Monday 15 June 2020

Coral Sea US Navy Task Force 17

Task Force 17.5 Carrier Group: USS Lexington (Lady Lex - CV 2) and the USS Yorktown (CV5) surrounded by a bevy of four escorting destroyers (see below, all 1/3000 Navwar models): 

The same group seen in single file (see below, the backdrop canvas is perhaps more suited for the North Atlantic): 

Task Force 17.3 (Cruiser) Attack Group, five destroyers plus:

Heavy Cruisers: 
  • USS Minneapolis
  • USS New Orleans
  • USS Astoria
  • USS Chester
  • USS Portland 

This I hope becomes an introductory game for Carrier (solitaire) from Victory Games. The IJN for is quite small too. 

Note: There is also a small "Oiler Group" (called Task Force 17.9) I have as a WIP project on the Painting Tray.

Sunday 7 June 2020

The Art of Python (3) and the Art of the Wargamers Hobby

Where have I been? Well the lock-down for all its curses also gives opportunities to do things that otherwise you would not simply get the chance or time to do. As for this old programmer who has moved on to do seemingly fancier things with grander job titles in far off places (er, I am joking in regard to the latter), it allowed me to take a part-time, remote learning, university based, computer programming course in Python 3 over the last seven weeks.

It was a breathe of fresh air for this old programmer who had lost the love of doing it, as actual commercial software development spends more time and energy on getting the vendor's view of  the world fitting your own. This inevitably meant swallowing a bible of commercial product truth (or untruth) that did not focus on "getting the job done better" but rather adding to the profit column of a tech giant. The commercial frameworks were heavy (are heavy), hard to learn (with a multitude of courses to attend that only give part truths to the bigger picture), inevitably flaky as they were always changing - and worse IMHO wedded to your [rote-learned] knowledge of how a particular Integrated Development Environment (IDE) works. My head hurts just thinking about it and I will pause to take a sip of tea and relax, take a deep breath.

However, Python is a lightweight (and I say that as a very, very positive thing) but extremely powerful programming language used in education (to teach kids the art of programming), some commercial applications [please note it is extremely powerful in Network Programming and Data Science) but more importantly allows you to start on the real guts of programming quickly and helps you focus on generating results rather than wading through HTML(the graphical web-interface stuff that is a bugger to get working for all users) based UX (user experience). If you are inclined in any way to get into programming then I would highly recommend this as a "first principle first" programming language. I feel invigorated for doing so. You don't need a PhD in Computer Science to use it, but even if you have one you will be impressed at its beautiful simplicity and power. 

But what has this got to do with wargaming? Well another feature of the lock-down has been mt interest in the stack of "barely played" wargames I brought down from the loft. These are the Avalon Hill, SPI and Victory Games classics that are the folk-lore of the wargaming world (from Midway, Tokyo Express, Carrier, B-17 Queen of Skies to Squad Leader [I still have not made the full transition to ASL]). The combination of my newly acquired or resurrected programming skills in Python with these classics should get me through the rest of lock-down. No "first person shooter" but more your classic "Computer Assisted Instruction" in helping you actually play a wargame (through the sequence of play) - and save one to resume later in a preserved state. It may feel 1970-80's wargamimg, retro in the art of programming and one man's folly; because it is and I am more than happy with it ;)

I may even make public a GitHib repository or two available. Watch this space.


Addendum: I should write of my brief fling with JavaScript and HTML5, the product of which was satisfying but I still felt hindered by the weight and responsibility of learning how other people did things (out of rote learning rather than understanding).