GRUNTZ

GRUNTZ
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Saturday, 31 December 2011

AK47 Winter Quarters [12]


Despite a very busy day I've squeezed in an hour or so to undercoat the bases on the AK47 vehicles and AFV's which is one more step towards the completion of the project by the end of the weekend. I haven't quite made the finishing line for 2011 but it was pretty close.

Tomorrow the kids get their 'English' Christmas, complete with stockings, presents and a full on turkey dinner cooked by yours truly, so if you think you've survived the whole yuletide experience, then spare a thought for me. I'm sure I'll survive but I'm not sure about the sense of humour.

Anyway, I hope you all have a really enjoyable New Years day and an inspirational 2012.

All the best

Jim

Friday, 30 December 2011

AK47 Winter Quarters [11]


After a very unproductive couple of weeks, I've finally got on with the base undercoating on the AK47 units and have soent a couple of very tedious hours painting the infantry and support weapon bases with watered down Vallejo English Uniform.

I'm very pleased to have shifted this lot and now only have the vehicle bases to undercoat before I can start on the drybrushing in Foundry Rawhide. I'm going to try to get this done over the weeked and bank holiday but will probably get sidetracked by family things, so no promises. 

Iron Cow diecast dropships


I went to Poundland today and found that they're selling off a range of Tron diecast toys including this command ship thing. They only had two so I got both of them to use as assault dropships or light transports for my Iron Cow brigade.

They measure 8.5mm x 4mm so look quite impressive next to the 6mm vehicles and figures but not so big as to be overwhelming. I'll think I'll dismantle them and add a bit of detailing such as engine intake louvres and a cockpit window, before repainting them in a less flashy and slightly more military camouflage scheme.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Ju52 Toucan for Indochina


I saw some of these snap together model kits at Warfare back in November but didn't get any then as I had my eye on ether things. However, they're perfect for my French Indochina 10mm project that has been quietly growing at the bottom of the leadpile for a couple of years or so, mainly as a result of the excellent Pendraken range of figures (although I wish they'd do some French in bush hats and some colonial troops as well).

Anyway, I saw a good deal on ebay and have ordered three kits, which work out at about £2.60 each including postage. They were used by the French as general transport planes but mainly for parachute drops over enemy dominated territory, with the aim of tracking down and destroying Vietminh Chu Luc mainforce units. 

When (if) I get round to starting this project remains to be seen but at least I'll have some air lift capability, albeit a little vintage in appearance.

The Death of the Scharnhorst


We travelled back home yesterday which took over fourteen hours due primarily to the long ferry journey between St Malo and Portsmouth. On the journey I read The Death of the Scharnhorst which I found in a cupboard before we left, having forgotten to pack it on a previous trip to the in laws.

It passed the time very well and was well worth the read. I'm not going to shoot off on a WW2 naval project as a result, although I have a few 1/6000 scale ships somewhere and a couple of sets of rules. However, it's a well written and very readable book which would be an excellent basis for a small scale naval scenario.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Le Maquis


We went to the gendarmerie yesterday so that the other half could register for a postal vote. While I was waiting for her to complete the various bereaucratic convolutions required by the French state, I wandered across to the war memorial which is located just outside the police station. As usual for Brittany, there was a memorial to the local FFL resistance fighters and their supporters, many of whom were either killed in action or sent to concentration camps.

As I read down the list of names, however, I spotted one that stood out. This was a Major Ogden Smith, who obviously was not a local and was therefore an SOE agent of some sort. A bit of googling when we got back home and the story began to unfold in some detail:




A tragedy but very interesting nonetheless. I'm going to try to visit the grave in Querrien if I can next time we're here, to pay my respects and follow up the story. In the meantime, I'll be doing some more reading around the subject. I think there's a lot of potential in Operation Jedburgh for a start, especially as Peter Pig do some very nice 15mm French resistance figures.


Monday, 26 December 2011

Plans for 2012


I've been thinking about my wargaming plans for 2012 and have narrowed down the projects to the usual half a dozen, with the completion of at least three as the objective for this time next year. There are some that are returning for a second or third time and others that are new but I've tried to keep all of them down to a feasible size or at least have options that I can turn to if time runs short. I've also tried to include a variety or scales and to cover air, land and naval gaming in the shortlist.


28mm

There's only room for one 28mm project so it's going to be In the Heart of Africa with the Nkonde villagers army as the focus. This will be the first project for 2012, once I've finished the base painting on the AK47 army. I will also have to scratchbuild some terrain for the Nkonde including a village, some pitfalls and possibly some boats. If I get the bit between my teeth a second smaller force might also be added, probably in the form of a British naval landing party or similar.

 
20mm


This will be the 1/72nd scale aircraft for the 1915 Fokker Scouge game using the Knights of the Sky club rules. I have some nice kits lined up for this, including a Morane N, a Bristol Scout D, a Vickers Gunbus and an Avro 504. I'm hoping to get at least two new aircraft assembled for a game sometime in the next six months. I also have the last bits of the Rapid Fire! project to finish off if I can find the time.

 
15mm

In 15mm the Patrols in the Sudan project needs to be completed with an Anglo Egyptian force to be tackled, together with the finishing touches to the three quarters complete dervish army from a couple of years ago. If this proves to be too much then I'd like to have a crack at Vietnam in 15mm using my collection of Peter Pig figures for Men of Company B and/or Delta to DMZ. The terrain from the AK47 project would double up for this and give me the excuse to scratchbuild some more. I also need to finish off the AK47 dictatorship army before I do anything else.

6mm

As I have more than enough to do in other scales in 2012 I've decided to give 10mm a miss this year. Instead, I've decided to get on with the 6mm Iron Cow British brigade which should be a relatively quick job, given a bit of speed painting and some creative basing to make the vehicles look the part. I'm thinking of a desert camouflage scheme to keep the painting simple and make the terrain easy to model.


1/600

As previously mentioned, I really want to do some coastal warfare gaming in the next year, with the emphasis on early to mid war actions in the Channel and North Sea. This is a project I've been stockpiling for several years and it's about time I got on with it. The advantage is that I can make this as large or as small a project as I want, from a handful of boats to full on convoy games, so the scaleability is a real asset.


As you can see, there are several existing things that haven't made it on to the shortlist this year including the 1/1200 Victorian Ironclads, the 1/600 Korean War planes, the 10mm WW2 Norwegians or the 28mm Gladiators. This doesn't mean that they won't get tackled at some point but my focus will be on the six projects that I've outlined above. It really depends on how my time I have to do things and what interest there is at the club for the projects that I'll decide to tackle.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Atlantic Wall à Merrien







I'd read about a tobruk stand with a turret in situ at a little port not far from the in laws, so decided to track it down yesterday while out for a bit of fresh air with the kids. The turret looks like it's from a Renault R35 tank although it's pretty smashed up, missing it's gun mounting and having been used for target practise at some point judging by the holes punched in the side. It's quite impressive nonetheless and quite rare as well.

On the headland along from the turret bunker I also found a concrete gun position for a light weapon of some sort, probably a single or multiple barrelled Flak gun. There was also a very unusual bunker poistioned directly behind the gun with a strange sloping U shaped roof feature. I can only think that it was some sort of roof mounted searchlight position, even though the stovepipe from the bunker underneath pokes through it. Either that or it just saved on concrete?

Very strange.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Atlantic Wall à Erdeven












We went to see a cargo ship that ran aground on a beach between Lorient and Quiberon yesterday. It's stuck fast and will have to be cut up in situ once the fuel oil has been drained from the tanks, hence the pipelines and cables. It's now been sectioned off but when I visited you could get within fifty metres or so, although that was quite far enough away for me, given the diesel fumes and the waves.

However, I also had a wander around the adjacent bits of the Atlantic Wall which included a couple of large bunkers on the beach and a whole network of command bunkers, tobruk stands and weapons pits in the dunes behind, including traces of the trenches that connected them together. One peculiar feature was the remains of what looked like black vulcanised rubber tiles on the floor of the beach bunker, which was a bit unexpected to say the least.

I'll have to have a look on Google Earth to, see what the layout is like from a birds eye viewpoint, as it was quite extensive and I couldn't cover all of it on foot. A couple of what looked like mortar bunkers had been blown up with sections of concrete lying all over the place but others were untouched. I suspect that the authorities had tried out a bit of bunker clearance after the war but realised it was a bit pointless, except for cutting away the steel shutters and embrasures for scrap?

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Happy Xmas to Me (3)


We went on a shopping trip to Quimper today which is usually deadly as it's full of clothes shops and not much else. There's only one bookshop for a start. How bad is that? However, as I dragged the boys around various side streets in search of something of interest while the other half browsed in various expensive boutiques, I came across a little board and childrens game shop.

Lo and behold, in the front window display there was a deluxe box set of the Wings of War rules, complete with four planes, for only 50€. This works out at about £40 or thereabouts, which is worth it for the plane models alone. The rules are in French but that's not a problem as I can read them with reasonable accuracy and know them fairly well already, having already collected the first three boxed sets of the original game.


As the other half had already spent the GDP of a small balkan country on her new winter collection, I was able to persuade her to buy the set for me as a Xmas present with very little persuasion. It helped that the boys were keen, having been indoctrinated at an early age to back me up, as they get to play the games too. A result all round, especially as the game is out of print at the moment and not easy to get hold, even if you can find one in the deluxe version.

Jingle Bells!

Go Strong Into The Desert

I bought a copy of this rather splendid book at Colours a couple of years ago but didn't get round to reading it until now. I've brought it along with me for some background research on the Gordon Relief Expedition and the Suakin Field Force, with particular emphasis on the uniforms of the various units involved, at least one of which will feature in my Anglo Egyptian infantry force for PITS. I quite like the idea of some Royal Marine Light Infantry, backed up by a contingent of the naval brigade with Gardner guns, but some further reading is needed before I make up my mind.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

PITS British (1)

I've been planning out the Anglo-Egyptian force for Patrols in the Sudan over the last couple of days, using the rules and my box of figures as a guide. I originally thought of doing Egyptians but, after a head count and some number crunching, I realised that I don't have enough figures and would need another half a dozen packs to make up the numbers. I'm hoping that I might get a Peter Pig voucher in my stocking this year so I'll probably use it to fill the ranks of the Egyptians before the price goes up in January.

The revised plan for PITS is now to do a British infantry force including two or three infantry units of four to five bases plus an officer and sergeant base. One of these will probably be a naval brigade unit, as I like the idea of painting up some sailors and they'll double up as a gunboat landing party as well.

For artillery support, there will be a unit or 2.5" screw guns as a two gun battery with an attached officer base and, as a variation on the same theme, a two gun naval Gardner battery, all with mule transport so they can keep up with the infantry. I'll also do two or three scout bases plus the requisite wounded, dead and scouted markers, which are essential for the game and add to the look of the battles.

I reckon I can get away with about thirty bases all told, which should make it a feasible project over a couple of months, give or take the usual diversions. I'm also thinking of making some more PITS terrain to add to the stuff I already have scratchbuilt but including some modular terrain squares made from cork tiles, which are my latest discovery for scenery construction and will conveniently fit the 5' x 3' PITS table area set up. 

Monday, 19 December 2011

Review of the Year 2011


It's time for the annual review of the year and I'm pretty pleased with the overall result, despite having not completed everything on the 'things to do' list in 2011. The big result has been the completion of my Back of Beyond Oil Prospectors army which took up a quarter of the last twelve months but was actually finished, give or take a  few optional figures. I've even played a couple of games with the army in the club campaign and almost won one of them. Blimey.



The second success story was the AK47 dictatorship army which is 95% complete and only needs the bases painted to be done and dusted. In the end I just couldn't find the time to wrap it over the last couple of weeks, which is partly my fault as I got side tracked into the amphibious units and terrain rather than cracking on with the bases. This will have to be tackled when I get back from France and hopefully completed by New Years Day.



The third project big project that I grappled with this year was the 20mm Rapid Fire battlion for the DCLI. I'm disappointed with myself for running out of steam with this as I only have some carriers and a few support weapons to finish off for the force to be complete. I really should try to get it done at some point in 2012, as I've always wanted to try Rapid Fire and have a potential opponent lined up too.



A few projects were also started but didn't really get off the ground, including the 28mm armoured train for the Back of Beyond Bolsheviks, although I did finish the train for the club participation game. I re-based my old 15mm Essex Picts for Impetus but didn't get on to painting the new bases. This is something that I can squeeze in to a spare weekend as good practise for basing other figures in the future.



I also started building some terrain bits and pieces for AK47, which I'm going to add to in 2012 with more railway and road sections at the top of the list. I've enjoyed the terrain construction that I've tried out and have lots of ideas for scenery that I can scratchbuild in 2012, most of which will be for AK47 but with some bits for Darkest Africa on the 'to do' as well.



Finally, I managed to prepare and base a good selection of 28mm gladiators and half of my 28mm Nkonde villager army for In the Heart of Africa, the last of which I'm planning to continue into 2012 as the 'big project'. As quite a lot of my holiday time is spent away from home, I reckon that cleaning up and basing figures is time well spent and a good way to move the leadpile in the right direction, even if half of these projects end up stockpiled for subsequent painting.

Overall, it's been a pretty productive year and much better than the previous one in terms of actually getting things done!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Happy Xmas to Me [2]


We got to the in laws in record time yesterday, only twelve and a half hours door to door including an hour visiting friends on the way. As a result, we're taking it easy today thus allowing me some time to get the holiday plans sorted out in my head. To help me along, I've splashed out on a second Xmas present for myself in the shape of a Fuzzy Wuzzy army for PITS from Peter Pig.

I have a handful of Fuzzy Wuzzys that I picked up in a bundle of PITS figures on ebay ages ago, so I'll now have enough to build a decent sized force to take on the Anglo Egyptians. You can't really do the Sudan without them really, can you? They weren't very expensive either, so I think it's entirely justifiable in the interests of reviving one of my more complete 15mm unfinished projects.

Jingle Bells!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Bon Voyage!



As usual.we're off to the in-laws in Brittany for the holidays, so I've packed up some lead for the duration in the hope that I'll get some cleaned up and based over the next few days. The box contains the remainder of the 28mm Nkonde native villagers army for In the Heart of Africa, together with the glue and tools I'll need to get them sorted.

In a change of plan, I've also included a couple of boxes of 15mm Peter Pig figures for Patrols in the Sudan. Although my original idea was to pack some 1/600 scale coastal warfare models I've decided to tackle the second half of my long standing PITS project, with either an Egyptian or a British force as the objective.

This is something I should have done a  long time ago, as I already have an almost complete Dervish army and have used it for a very enjoyable game or two of PITS in the not too distant past. If I can base up the PITS stuff it should give me the incentive to finish off the Dervish and get the opposition painted up too, so that I can run some games at the club with everything ready to go.

A bit ambitious but who knows?

AK47 Terrain [6]


Things have been a bit quiet on the AK47 terrain construction front recently, as I've had far too much to do at work to spare the time. However, I have added a neat little resin pontoon bridge to the collection which I bought from a company called PMC via ebay.

It's obviously been sculpted using match sticks and balsa wood, which means I could have scratchbuilt it myself, but I think it's quite cool nonetheless. It saves me the bother either way. I'll crack on with the terrain project, including more road and rail sections plus some river, when I get back from the holidays.