PIC

PIC

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Back of Beyond Turkish Army [2]


I was searching for some suitable cavalry figures to use with the Turkish army but with no success, when I came across the new Osprey book on the Greek-Turkish War 1919-22, so thought I'd download a copy for some ideas. Although this isn't directly related to anything in the Back of Beyond, it was a conflict fought at or around the timeframe of the campaign supplement, so the uniforms and weaponry of the Turkish nationalist side would be the same as those of any fictional expedition.


The book was actually really useful, containing some very good illustrations and relevant information, including details of the nationalist cavalry forces during the war. A picture of a Circassian cavalryman caught my eye, as it looked remarkably similar to the figures in the Copplestone Caucasian Cossack cavalry pack. A bit more googling and I found this blog entry from 2009, which confirmed my initial impressions:


Even better than that, I actually have a couple of packs of the Copplestone Caucasian Cossacks in my lead pile, where they had been stashed as part of a long forgotten White Russian army for the Russian Civil War. I can now use them as a unit of Turkish regular cavalry in my new army, replacing the Basmachi guard unit which I originally planned to fudge with some Siberian Riflemen, which was a dodgy idea to start with.

A bit of a result all round, assuming I can find where I put them?

QuarterKit Corgi Churchill Conversion Combination


Try repeating that after a few pints (luckily I'm on the wagon but it's still a bit of a tongue twister). Enough of that guff and onto the important bit, which is an order that I've placed with QuarterKit for a Gaso.line Churchill Crocodile resin conversion kit and one for a Churchill AVRE, both designed to be used with the Corgi 1/50 diecast model.

These were both on special offer, so I saved more than half of the full retail price, which made the two resin kits affordable. I already have two Corgi Churchills, so won't have to add them to the overall cost and I also saved half the postage by getting the order delivered to my in-laws in France, ready to be picked up at the weekend. 

The final bill is still €35(£28) so not cheap but I think it'll be worth it, if only to add two interesting and effective bunker busting tanks to the late war Allied arsenal for less than the cost of two 1/56 scale Bolt Action kits. As all my other armour is either 1/50 or 1/48 scale, this is really the only viable option anyway, which means that I'm happy to splash out a little bit more than usual.

I just hope the end result is as good as the photos?

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Back of Beyond Turkish Army [1]


It looks like the Back of Beyond is having a bit of a revival at the club, which is excellent news as it is one of my all time favourites. I started the whole Back of Beyond thing at the club about ten years ago and have run three campaigns over the last few years, so I'm really pleased that some of the newer members of the club are keen to pick it up. I'm also now feeling in the mood to get my third army up and running, after selling off my half completed Japanese last year (which has now been finished by Gary and very nicely done too!)

Anyway, the Turks have been waiting far too long to get the attention they deserve (since 2011 no less), so I've brought them on holiday to get assembled and based up. I'm using the Copplestone Turkish range, so I will have to adapt some spare machine gunner figures to make a crew for my field gun, although this shouldn't be too difficult. I've also made the most of the recent Copplestone discount offer to order a pack of ten Siberian Rifles, which I'm going to use as a 60 point allied Basmachi unit of Khan's Guard, alongside my existing White Russian mercenaries re-deployed as Semembek militia.

The core of the army is three units of ten infantry, backed up by two machine guns, a 7.7cm field gun, an Ehrhardt armoured car and a two seater Albatros aircraft, with a couple of staff officers and the commander to round things off. I've left the plane kit and the armoured car at home but the rest is here, ready to be prepared over the next few days. When I get home, I'll sort out the Basmachis and get started on the painting, with the aim of completing the army by the half term holidays. I'm also going to see if I can find some diecast trucks and cars to use as baggage elements, which are always fun to do.

Off to the Back of Beyond!

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Crocodiles


I'm reading this at the moment with an ulterior motive. I would like to add some specialized bunker busting armoured support to my late war US infantry platoon and had read previously about the attachment of 79th Armoured Division 'funnies' to American units after D-Day.


I had already known that Churchill Crocodiles were used in the battle for Brest, for example, which is only forty minute drive from where I'm now typing this. A quick Google and I found several photographs of the assault on Fort Montbarey in September 1944, using the flamethrower equipped tanks to support the US infantry.



I had also read about the Crocodiles being used in the attack on Gielenkirchen in November 1944 during Operation Clipper, which I've been interested in for a long time due to it's connection with the 5th DCLI (which reminds me that I really should revive that project in a different scale). This once again involved the 'funnies' in support of the US infantry.


There's clearly a basis here for me to deploy at least one Churchill Crocodile with my US troops, although I'll have to use the Quarter Kit conversion set to modify a Corgi Churchill, as all my armour is in 1/50th scale. I quite fancy doing an AVRE as well, as I have the diecast tanks already so would only need the resin conversion bits.

I'm not sure if it's 'allowed' to mix allied forces in Bolt Action but I think I can argue it's historically valid? I'm not just focussing on Bolt Action anyway, so I'll just go ahead and do what I like. I will need to check out the rules for flamethrower tanks first, just in case all the effort isn't actually worth it!

Monday, 28 March 2016

Patrols in the Radfan


I've been doing some background reading on the Aden insurgency and operations in Radfan recently, with a view to do something post-colonial in 15mm. It's a complex but very interesting period with lots of potential for skirmish level platoon or company sized games. I haven't decided if this would be a historical or 'imaginations' exercise but with factions like FLOSY and PORF involved, it's already lodged firmly in AK 47 Republic territory.


A further incentive is the proliferation of classic 1960's military kit including Ferrets, Saladins, Saracens and the Stalwart, although what an amphibious 6x6 truck was doing in the middle of a desert is an interesting point. I have already prepared and based a good selection of these for my AK47 colonial army. There's also a good range of helicopters and air support to play around with, assuming I can find them in 15mm.

The terrain is relatively simple and so little effort will be needed to produce a good looking table, especially if I avoid the urban areas and go up country in the Radfan. I've been thinking about using No End in Sight for this with individually based figures, which I have already selected from the Peter Pig professionals range, although I'm still looking for some figures for the rebels. A definite project for the Summer.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

SAGA Age of the Wolf


This campaign supplement for SAGA is coming out in May, which gives me a few weeks to sort out my West Welsh warband before someone at the club bites the bullet and suggests a SAGA campaign might be fun. It looks like this will be really neat addition to the SAGA system, which is already a very enjoyable set of rules, especially as it's an ideal period for skirmish campaigning. I'll need to get some more practice games in first, though, otherwise I'll get slaughtered by the experienced SAGA veterans at the club. 

Siegfried Line


I've been working on some terrain bits and bob's for my late war WW2 project, based around the tundra terrain cloth that I bought cheap before Xmas. The latest addition to the 'to do' list are a couple of boxes of anti-tank obstacles, which I'll base on mdf hedgerow terrain templates from ERM. These will then be deployed as Siegfried Line defences alongside my Snapdragon resin trenches, although I'll also need some bunkers for the Germans to hide in. I did try to scratchbuild some dragons teeth using an ice cube tray and plaster of Paris but it didn't work, so the off the shelf version is very attractive, especially as I got them for a tenner a box.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Easter Plans


I have a couple of things to do over the holidays, which will be spent away as usual, so no painting but plenty of preparation work instead. The first plan is to base up the Artizan Designs figures for my late war German platoon, which can then be painted for use against my late war US infantry. I'd like to break away from Bolt Action and try out some other WW2 skirmish level rules, so this seems like a good way to go.

The second project is one I intended to do over the last summer holidays but didn't get round to. This is a third army for the Back of Beyond in the shape of a Copplestone Turkish expeditionary force. It looks like there will be at least one Back of Beyond game at the club in the next couple of months, which is great as it will hopefully inspire some renewed interest in a fourth club campaign, in which my small but well balanced Turkish force may even take part.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

AK47 African Town



The mdf buildings I ordered from a seller on eBay arrived yesterday so I glued them together in a bit of a rush last night. The fit of the parts was really bad but, with some simple cutting, sanding and fiddling, I managed to squeeze seven buildings out of the various bits, with some spare parts left over for other things. I've added some old saw cut mdf bases to the roof tops as concrete slabs and also glued on some air conditioning units from The Scene, to cover up some of the dodgy areas and inconvenient doorways. The buildings now need some filler to plug the gaps and some extra detailing with junk, signs and fittings, before I undercoat them ready for painting. They're nothing flash but at about £2.30 each, they're pretty good value for money.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Operation Carthage


This famous low level RAF mosquito raid on the Gestapo HQ in Copenhagen happened on this day in March 1945. There's lots of potential for a Bag the Hun 2 scenario here along with the many other low level precision attacks carried out by RAF Mosquito squadrons in the latter part of the war. The documentary itself has some excellent reviews but might be difficult to track down. I remember watching a similar documentary a few years ago on TV, also narrated by Martin Shaw, about Operation Jericho which was very good. If only there was an affordable, good quality 1/300th or 1/285th scale Mossie available!
http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/bombercommandattackongestapoheadquarterscopenhagen.cfm

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Bolt Action Late War German Grenadiers [7]



I've always had a soft spot for the Sdkfz 250, probably due to the old Airfix 1/32 scale kit of Rommel's desert command version which I built as a kid, so I thought I'd add one to the late war German platoon. This is a Blitzkrieg Miniatures resin model in 1/48th scale, as all my other vehicles are 1/50th scale Corgi diecasts which look enormous next to their 1/56th scale counterparts. I will use this one as a command vehicle for my HQ or as a transport for my forward observer team. A bit expensive for what it is but I like it.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

AK47 Urban Buildings


It's been a while since I posted anything related to AK47 but a recent find on Ebay will soon be filling a gap in my African terrain collection. I've been looking for some suitable urban buildings for AK47 for years but with no luck. There are plenty of North African adobe style models available and no shortage of modern multi-storey ruins to choose from but nothing really suitable for Sub-Saharan Africa.

There's a bloke who sells scratch built shanty towns and apartment blocks but they're really expensive and, to be honest, I could do them myself if I had the time. This is a rare commodity at the moment, so something off the shelf would be a big plus. What I've been looking for is something lo-rise and ad-hoc, like these street front shop buildings in Kumasi (Ghana):


So, to cut a long story short, I was pleased to find these very reasonably priced laser cut 15mm modern buildings on Ebay, with a range of sizes and designs based around simple slot together components. The various walls, floors and ceilings are made from 3mm mdf and, although they look a bit crude, I think they'll be perfect once I add some extra bits and bobs.


I have some air conditioning units from The Scene, for example, which would be great plonked on the roof or hanging off the side, together with some corrugated iron sheets, signage and other gubbins. It looks like I could split the three storey buildings up as well to make a couple of two storey apartment blocks in order to vary the roofline and spread the urban sprawl a bit further?

A quick bit of mental maths and they work out at about two and a bit quid each, so a real bargain and easily enough to populate the mean streets of downtown Mpongoville without any tedious planning permission. If I scratch build some street furniture and a couple of shanty town templates to sprinkle round the edges I think the overall effect will be pretty cool.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

15mm Sci Fi Mechanised Platoon [5]


There's not much progress with this project at the moment due to piles of Year 9 marking but that suits me fine, as it's flipping freezing in the garage anyway! I have washed the APC's in Army Painter Strong Tone and will dry brush over this with Foundry Rawhide and Rawhide Light, once it has fully dried. I'm not sure how far I'll get with the 15mm sci-fi stuff before the holidays in a few days time but, on the plus side, I have some basing plans for my Bolt Action Late War German project over Easter, which will hopefully set me up for some proper painting when I get back.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Copplestone Road Warrior


I had an email from Copplestone Castings today, to announce the switch over of the range to the North Star site and the closing of the Copplestone webshop. This included the news that North Star will be giving away a new sculpt of a Mad Max style road warrior figure by Mr C. in the near future, presumably along side a new set of post-apocalypse rules of some description? It's a superb figure, as you'd expect, so I will definitely be finding an excuse to order something from Nick at North Star as soon as it becomes available. There's a Post-Apocalypse variant of Fistful of Lead:Reloaded on the horizon too, so it looks like a great excuse to add just one more figure to the lead pile!

Sunday, 13 March 2016

15mm Sci Fi Mechanised Platoon [4]



A complete change of plan today after I failed miserably in an attempt to make Humbrol Grass Green work as a base for arctic camouflage. I tried various things but it ended up looking a mess, so it was time for a switch to a desert theme, with a re-spray in Halfords Ultra Matt Khaki, which I have used before to a much better effect. This was an overcoat too many for one of the APC's, which will get stripped down at some point and repainted but the rest came out fine.

The next step will be a wash in Army Painter Strong Tone, diluted down a bit so it's not too heavy, then a light drybrush with two stages of Foundry Rawhide. I may even add some camouflage patterns after that if I can work out an effective range of shades but this is very much a get them done fast project, so no mucking about. When this is done I'll be able to start blocking in the hover skirts and detailing the various bits like the gun mounting and hull panels.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

15mm Sci Fi Mechanised Platoon [3]


I've been trying to make up my mind about the basecoat and camouflage for the Hover AFV's that I've assembled for the 15mm Sci Fi mechanised platoon but have finally just gone for the first green spray can on the shelf, with an overall undercoat of Humbrol Grass Green. I did have an abortive attempt at some camouflage pattern masking using blu tack, which actually worked quite well, but decided to re-spray the whole thing and take a less radical approach. I really should get an airbrush to add some camo but, for the moment, a basic wetbrush in some very old Citadel Imperial Strike Green will have to do.

Friday, 11 March 2016

More Matchbox Sci Fi Stuff


I rummaged in a bin in Poundland today and found a couple of these Matchbox 'Rumble Raider' all terrain armoured vehicles, which will be added to the diecast Sci Fi collection as cheap wheeled transport for the 15mm troops. They're a bit big for 15mm but I can get away with it as they're clearly built for very difficult terrain, so obviously need a pretty high clearance and an enormous wheelbase. I now have a bit of a Matchbox habit which I'm going to have to get a grip on, otherwise I'll be swamped in the things! 

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Combat HQ


These new WW2 battalion / brigade level rules seem to be getting a very positive press at the moment, so I thought I'd take a closer look. I really don't like BKC which is the only thing that I've played at this level, so an alternative might get me back into 10mm, although I sold off both of my BKC armies ages ago. I do like the idea of 1/600 as well, with multiple basing to create platoon sized units that actually look like the real thing. I need to see what all the fuss is about first though before I go off on yet another tangent.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Gauntlet Hover APC Stats


I've been playing around with the Gruntz Barracks App again and have come up with this set of stats for the Gauntlet APC's that I assembled yesterday. It looks like a decent spec and there are slots for a squad and a specialist base, so enough space for six grunts and an attached support weapon of some description.  It also has a handy combination of short range AP and AE weaponry, so should be able to provide some decent close fire support. I have yet to decide what name these will be allocated in my mid-tech hard sci-fi army but I'm thinking along cold climate lines as a theme, with an appropriate three tone arctic or tundra camouflage pattern to match.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

15mm Sci-Fi Mechanised Platoon [2]




I scrounged a couple of hours this afternoon to assemble the GZG Gauntlet Hover APC's and the Brigade Models Warlock Hover Tank, although this took longer than I initially thought. The APC's were easy to put together, with only a little sanding and scraping required to clean them up, but the Warlock needed a lot of drilling and pinning before it was completed. The side mounted missile pods were a particular bugger to attach to the turret but the end result is worth it. I still have two Brigade Models Sohei heavy tanks to assemble then I'll be ready to start basing up the infantry, although I quite fancy adding some more vehicles to the platoon, perhaps in the form of some light scout vehicles or some self propelled artillery or some sort?

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Poundland Magnetic Tape



I popped into Poundland today in search of diecast vehicles to use as transport for my 15mm hard sci-fi project but also found some rolls of self adhesive magnetic tape. This has obvious potential for magnetic basing and storage, so I picked up a roll to see if it's any good. I'll try it out and report back on the success or failure of the experiment. If it isn't any good at least it only cost a quid! I did also get hold of three Matchbox futuristic six wheeled trucks that I've seen used by other wargamers with 15mm sci-fi figures, so a good haul for five minutes bargain hunting.

15mm Sci Fi Mechanised Platoon [1]



The GZG Gauntlet III Hover APC's arrived in the post a couple of days ago but I've been so busy that I haven't had time until today to open the parcel up and take a look. The model comes as a four part casting which fits together in a simple layered fashion from the hover skirt, to the hull, the top deck and the gun mounting. The command version of the model has a different top deck and comes with a couple of antenna arrays. The platoon will consist of three APC's and one Command APC.


There's minimal flash and hardly any casting lines to speak of so it should be easy to glue them together, adding some stowage to make them look suitably battle worn. They also match up really well with the Brigade Models Warlock Support Tank model that I'll be using as the medium tank in this army, with the much larger Sohei hover tank model as the heavy armour. I'm planning to assemble these lovely APC's tomorrow.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Bolt Action Late War German Grenadiers [6]


A while back I set out my plans for a Bolt Action German platoon to use against my existing late war US platoon. The original idea was to model a Volksgrenadier platoon but, as I already have a load of Artizan figures in greatcoats and winter smocks, I decided that this would be a regular Heer grenadier platoon without the obligatory assault rifles. The Bolt Action game at the weekend has reminded me about this project so I've been fiddling around with a painting schedule and colour schemes.

While I was in Cornwall at half term I picked up a Flames of War paint set for late war German infantry which, together with my existing collection of Vallejo and Foundry paints, will form the basis of my approach to these figures. They'll be in a mixture of Autumn camouflage smocks and greatcoats, which will fit in nicely with my winter equipped Americans. I have also been working out what I will need to fill out the ranks, with the Easter holiday as a good time to base them all up.

One thing which I don't have is a tow for my PaK40, so this has been on my list of things to get hold of over the last few months. I prefer 1/48th scale diecast models for this sort of thing but hadn't been able to locate anything suitable. As a result, I decided to try out a Blitzkrieg Models resin vehicle, in the shape of an SdKfz 251/1 Hanomag half track, which seemed ideal for the purpose. The model arrived today having been ordered late on Monday and I have to say I am suitably impressed.


The casting is nice and clean with no air bubbles or distortions, although there s a little bit of flash around the hull and in a few corners. The model itself is nice and chunky, which means that little bits are unlikely to snap off in action, which is a problem I've had with some other resin models. The internal detail is also really good, with various bits of kit strewn around the crew compartment and hung from appropriate locations around the hull.

A really nice model in my preferred scale and, at only £20 a go, not too expensive as along as you don't want a whole Panzer Grenadier company of the things! I will definitely be looking to the Blitzkrieg range for more 1/48th scale AFV's, especially an M5A1 Stuart or M10 tank destroyer for my late war US infantry, both of which I'd really like to add to the platoon as recce and anti-tank fire support respectively. These aren't available yet but I'm hoping will be scaled up for the 1/48th scale range before long.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Bolt Action Big Game Part Two


Turn 4

The relatively uneventful peace of Turn 3 was shattered by the M8 Greyhound making a surprise Advance past my Hetzer, only to fire a 37mm round seconds later into it's lightly armoured side. The result was an impressive explosion and one very much knocked out self-propelled anti-tank gun. Not good. The Panther commander decided this was not on so retaliated with a long range shot at the British Cromwell, which promptly caught fire and got pinned down.



While this was going on the British infantry began to sneak up on my right flank, so I ordered my mortar to plonk a round on top of them, again with little effect. No problem. All I had to do now was unleash the MG42 cunningly concealed behind the doors of the barn, directly in the line of sight of the advancing Tommies. Ha Ha!

With a burst of fire the MG42 cut down one of the squaddies and pinned down the rest. Unfortunately, they then retaliated with the concentrated firepower of a whole section including a Bren team and several SMG's, causing two kills and effectively wiping out my MG42 team for the rest of the game. Things were looking less than fantastic.


Turn 5

The British infantry now took on the German infantry in the farmyard. This resulted in an exchange of fire which left my landsers much the worse for wear. It also wiped out what was left of my MG42 team, leaving me dangerously exposed on my right flank, especially as the Cromwell now extinguished it's fire, removed the pin and resumed it's forward advance. The British mortar also started to bombard my position, which promised to be a problem as it began to zero in.


I retaliated by opening up with my infantry section from the top floor of the farm building, targeting the Yank infantry which had now approached up to the building in preparation for an imminent assault. The useless 81mm mortar also dropped another ineffectual round on top of them...again. Now, things really began to unravel, largely as a result of the lack of grey order dice in the bucket, all of which seemed to be somewhere near the bottom.


The Yanks now advanced their Shermans on my left flank, taking two consecutive shots at my Panther which was left unable to respond due to an absence of any command dice. As the Shermans were my models, this was particularly irritating, especially when they brewed up one of the Panthers with a very lucky sequence of dice rolls!  The PaK 40 and my other Panther fired back but only the anti-tank gun scored a pin on one of the Shermans, setting it on fire but causing little other damage.


Turn 6

This was it. The German position was looking very wobbly but I was determined to hold on as long as possible, following my orders to hold up the advance of the Allied relief column. The ****** M8 armoured car now zoomed up my left flank, opened up on my PaK 40 with it's co-axial machine gun and wiped it out! The Yank infantry and mortar also began to blaze away at the top floor of the farmhouse heavily pinning down my defenders in  hail of bullets and exploding bombs.


With my order dice nowhere to be seen, the Sherman 76mm  now targeted my other Panther and knocked it out before it could retaliate. With all of my armour up in smoke it was time to do something rash, so I charged my infantry section from the farmyard into the adjacent barn through which the Tommies were trying to infiltrate. This ended in a last ditch close assault, which was a narrow win for the Germans but which convinced me that it was time to lay down my weapons and surrender.


The outnumbered infantry section pinned down on the top floor of the farmhouse decided that discretion was the better part of valour, so followed the example set by their compatriots. There was no point continuing the firefight as I had nowhere to go and a back garden full of Shermans, so for my boys the war was over. The CO meanwhile made his getaway in his trusty Hanomag, which had been hanging round at the back as a tactical reserve. That's how he explained it to his company commander anyway.

I have to say I really enjoyed this game, even it I got thrashed in the end. I did achieve my objective against pretty stiff odds, so I don't feel too bad about the end result. I should have made better tactical use of my Panthers, which in retrospect should have had the first allocation of the command dice with Ambush orders, but the dice draw really was against me in the last two turns. The initial deployment was also sound, with the Allied players both thrown off balance by the hidden threat of my concealed infantry and heavy weapons teams. The PaK40 team also get the coveted 'man of the match' award.

I'm looking forward to another all day game, especially as I had to leave half way through, having been up until 2am the previous evening when I got back from the 6 Nations France v. Wales rugby match in Cardiff. I'll have to retrieve my Shermans and Panthers first though, as I left them in the care of Mike, who had gone to the not inconsiderable trouble of organising the game and supplying the splendid terrain. Thanks Mike. I hope we can have another crack at a big multiplayer weekend bash sometime as I thought it was a great success!