Thursday, 14 December 2017

Osprey Military History Hardbacks

I was in Southampton today for a fieldwork trip and, in the lunch break, decided to pop into The Works. As a result, I now have two very glossy Osprey hardback books, the first on trench warfare on the Western Front and the second on the German Army in WW2. Both are compilations of previous books with new text and additional photographs, maps, diagrams and artwork, much of which is very good indeed. Excellent material for wargaming and not bad for a grand total of £17!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

New Dark Sea Naval Wargaming Cloth

The Tinywargames dark sea cloth arrived today and very nice it is too. It's a lightweight material and looks like it will deal with any spills or creases without a problem. The wave pattern is subtle and ideal for moonlit nights somewhere of the East Coast or a winters day in the Baltic or the North Atlantic. The colour is a good match for my 1/600th scale coastal warfare bases and, surprisingly enough, not too far off my 1/3000th scale WW2 French warships. I'm really looking forward to setting up a game of Schnell Rules for Schnellboote to try out!

Monday, 11 December 2017

USAF F-86F Sabres W.I.P.

I didn't get much done for the MiG Alley / Bag the MiG project this weekend but have stripped the masking tape from the Tumbling Dice F-86F Sabres to reveal the yellow ID stripes on the wing upper surfaces. I wasn't sure this was going to look that good but I'm quite pleased with the masking result. I used Tamiya tape which seems to work very well even in tiny scales like 1/600th.

I will add the black outlining soon and finish off the canopies so that they are ready for the decals, which always make the whole shebang look the biscuit, if you know what I mean? There's a tiny bit of bleed on some of the wing stripes, where the yellow paint has channelled down the panel lines, but you can't see it from normal viewing distance and I can easily tidy it up later.

I've also been thinking about marking the Sabres up as aircraft of the 336th Fighter Squadron - The Rocketeers - to match my WW2 1/285th scale P-51D Mustangs. This would mean another yellow ID stripe on the vertical stabilizer, assuming I can get the masking tape cut to size for such a small space! If it works, they will really look the part, even though I haven't got any nose art insignia or buzz codes.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Empire of the Clouds

I found this for £6.99 in the local garden centre of all places, while choosing a Xmas tree today. I read the paperback edition when it was first published but this is the hardback illustrated version, so a very nice volume to add to the bookshelf or even to the coffee table, if I actually had one of those. There are some splendid photos of post war jet aircraft too.

Dremel Drilling

I got absolutely frozen and soaked this morning at the sprog's rugby practice, so didn't fancy sitting in an equally frozen garage at the workbench this afternoon with shaky painting hands. Instead, I whipped out my Dremel and cut off the sharp ends of a shedload of 40, 30, 20 and 13.5mm panel pins, ready to use as flight stand components for  MiG Alley. I've been meaning to do this for a while but hadn't got round to it, so it was a good use of an hour or so and warmed me up a bit, especially when the sparks were flying.

I also drilled loads of holes in a Hotwheels Chevy hot rod, ready to glue in carefully re-bent bits of heavy duty paper clip wire to make roll bars and rams, for use with Gaslands and Axles and Alloys II. The idea is to replicate something along the lines of the old cover art for the Battlecars board game, if you know what I mean?  I'm not sure this will actually look right in the end but its definitely worth a try for the price of a few cheapo wire staples, some judicious drilling and a bit of imagination?

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Launch and Recover

This is great! Just the job as inspiration for my planned Target Locked On! Flashpoint: Fleet Air Arm project next year. There are several similar films on YouTube and plenty of videos of 1960's and 1970's Royal Navy carrier operations, which are very atmospheric and enjoyable to watch, especially if you have a soft spot for Sea Vixens, Scimitars, Buccaneers and Gannets, to mention just a few of the iconic Cold War aircraft included. Brilliant!

MiG Alley USAF Primary Colours

It's the weekend, so I've braved the sub-arctic garage and have been cracking on with the 1/600th scale Tumbling Dice aircraft for MiG Alley and Bag the MiG. This involved adding the base primary colours of blue, yellow, red and green to various areas with the canopies, ID stripes and so on getting a double coating over a white basecoat. It's a bit rough and ready but will look better once I do a bit of highlighting and some black lining out tomorrow.

Taiwan Crisis 1958 Newsreel

This is also worth a look, even if it's jam packed full of 1950's Cold War clich├ęs! I particularly liked the Tawainese frogmen in their little bazooka equipped rowboats dropping plastic propaganda 'messages in a bottle' off the Chinese mainland to demoralize the Reds! I wonder if it worked? There are some really good shots of CNAF F-86 Sabres scrambling to intercept the Chinese MiG's and some ground attack F-84 Thunderjets dropping napalm on some suspicious foliage. Brilliant!

Taiwan Crisis 1958 Declassified

I found this de-classified US Government report on the Taiwan Straits Crisis of 1958 the other day. It has a section on the air warfare aspect of the crisis which is really interesting and includes some very useful details on the tactics and relative strengths of the Taiwanese and Communist Chinese forces. This was the first time the Sidewinder missile was used in combat and it gave the CNAF F-86F Sabres a massive advantage over the PLAAF MiG-17's. All useful stuff for Flashpoint: Taiwan, even if it's an earlier aspect of the conflict than the one I'm really covering.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Ramshackle Conversion Pack

It's pay day so I have splashed out on a pack of 20mm conversion bits for diecast toy cars from Ramshackle Games. I'm not keen on the over sized 40K style guns but the drivers, ram plates, turrets and missile pods should be very useful. 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Gaslands Gangs

I've been rummaging about for various 'stuff' to use as conversion material for diecast toy cars, so that I can put together a second 'gang' for Gaslands and Axles and Alloys. I already have half a dozen Hotwheels and Matchbox conversions, all of which are based on supercar or muscle car models rather than Mad Max style post-apocalyptic off road wrecks. The new 'gang' or team will be much more along those lines, using 50's style pick ups and coupes with loads of added stowage, armour and improvised rams, roll bars and spiky bits, along with some serious offensive weaponry. In the meantime, I'm going to practice dismantling and rebuilding an old Matchbox AMX Pro Stocker racing car into a Mad Max style interceptor.

Dawn Patrol

We had another enjoyable game of Knights of the Sky at the club last night, although the dreaded lurgy meant that numbers were down to only seven players rather than the usual ten or so. I got shot down twice with serious structural failure, also known as having your tailplane shot away and your wings fall off. The Pfalz DIII lived down to its reputation but the Albatros DIII did slightly better, actually shooting at something before it plunged earthwards. In the end the RFC wiped the floor with the Hun, scoring five victories for the loss of two aircraft, so it wasn't just me who came off worse for wear. This is my last club game of the year so it was good to go out with a bit of a bang, even if that was caused by my crate impacting somewhere in No Man's Land.

Monday, 4 December 2017

French Naval History

I spotted this on the digital bookshelf, so have downloaded a copy to read on the ferry over to France at Xmas in a couple of weeks time. It covers the period from 1870 to today, so should have lots of useful and relevant stuff for my various naval projects, from steam and sail ironclads, to pre-dreadnoughts and onwards to the Second World War. I've been meaning to read up on this very subject for a while, so a slow boat to St Malo seems like the perfect time to do some overdue bookwork.  

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Nautical Xmas Present

A bit early I know but the wife has bought me a new sea cloth from Tiny Wargames for use with my 1/600th scale WW2 coastal warfare, 1/3000th scale WW2  and 1/2400th scale Pre-Dreadnoughts, Ironclads and Napoleonics. I've been making do with various bedsheets, curtains, table cloths and upside down hex cloths up until now but have put off buying a proper bit of nautical scenery due to the cost factor. There is a 15% discount offer at the moment which brought the total cost down to a little bit over fifty quid, so still quite pricey but worth it in the long run.

I've chosen a Dark Sea cloth as it will be ideal for nocturnal operations with my 1/600th scale coastal flotillas which are based in a very similar shade of North Sea grey-blue. I may also rebase my 1/3000th scale French WW2 fleet to match this as I've never really been happy with the green-blue shade and base texturing that I applied when I painted them. If all goes according to plan, I'll also base the rest of my projects accordingly so that I can squeeze maximum mileage out of the one terrain cloth, even using it for aerial games that don't need a hex overlay. Splendid!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

MiG Alley USAF Blocking In

It's freezing in the garage at the moment so there's been a limit on the amount of time I can stay in there without the risk of frostbite. I have now blocked in the matt white basecoat on the 1/600th scale Sabres, Shooting Stars and Thunderjets, with a couple of Twin Mustang night fighters and a Texan FAC also getting done at the same time. This will give a good base for the yellow ID stripes on the Sabres and for the canopies and anti-flash strips on the rest. I will probably add some stripes of red and blue colour on the tails and wingtips as well. They look a bit rough and ready at the moment but will tidy up fine in the end.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Blotz Gas Station and Diner

I thought I'd invest in a small number of 20mm scale scenic features to tart up my desert terrain for use with Gaslands and other post-apocalyptic car combat games like Axles and Alloys II. There's not a lot out there in 20mm but this petrol station and diner looked like it would be suitable, once I bash it about a bit and paint it up as a derelict road side stop. I also bought some road block barriers to use by what's left of local law enforcement, so I've made a good start already.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Knights of the Sky WW1 Dawn Patrol

I've organised another game of the club WW1 dogfighting house rules Knights of the Sky for next week, setting the scenario in early December 1917, with a dawn patrol over the frontline in search of the occasional Hun (or Tommy) to bag before breakfast. This will be a simple last man standing scenario with everyone flying whatever crate they bring along, although I'll be supplying plenty of planes for the guest players. I'll be flying for the German side for a change in my trusty if slightly monotone Pfalz DIII, which came off much the worse for wear at the hands of the RFC last time I took it for a spin.Tally Ho!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Gaslands Bundle

I have now received the bundle of Gaslands rules, dice and templates that I ordered a while back, so will be flicking through the book over the next couple of days. The first impression is that a simple idea, driving around shooting things and crashing, seems to have been made quite complicated, although I'm sure a playtest will make more sense of the system.

It's definitely not as 'nuts and bolts' as Axles and Alloys II, which is what I've used before for post-apocalyptic car combat. I don't like the background blurb either but as that's entirely optional, I'll just ignore it. I need to give the rules a go at some point with my existing die cast conversions but now plan to make some more, if only to have a second 'gang' of road warriors to use as the opposition.

I even bought a new Hotwheels pick up in the local newsagent on the way to work this morning!

Monday, 27 November 2017

Thunder and Lightnings

I was doing some reading for the as yet theoretical but dangerously compelling Flashpoint:Fleet Air Arm project, when I stumbled across this excellent online reference website, covering numerous types of 1950's and 1960's British military aircraft. I was looking for information on the deployment of FAA Sea Vixens, Buccaneers, Scimitars and RAF Javelins in the Indonesian Confrontation but that's another story, although I quite like the sound of Flashpoint:Sarawak? Anyway, there's absolutely loads of useful stuff here and lots of cracking photos, so why not take a closer look:

MiG Alley Painting Rig

One of the things that put me off using mini-magnets for 1/600th scale planes was how to go about painting them. They tend to move around even when attached to a metal surface and holding them in your hand is a recipe for painty fingers. So, to partially solve the problem, I've literally banged together some 40mm panel pins and blocks of wood to make a painting rig (or jig if you prefer, although that sounds a bit too much like Morris dancing). I think it will do the job and can take a full squadron of twelve planes in one go, which should speed things up and help shift the USAAF through the production line to begin with.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Flashpoint Taiwan Finished

Well, almost. I have spent most of the afternoon finishing off the four F-86 Sabres and MiG-17's for the Target Locked On! Flashpoint:Taiwan project, which means that I have everything sorted for a game. I do have some more ROCAF planes to paint but I can more than make do with what I've got, both for 1958 and 1967. The decals are a bit out of scale but they look quite respectable from arms length. I don't have time now for a proper Target Locked On! playtest, however, so I'll have to leave that until next weekend when I can clear the decks and get it set up.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Flashpoint Taiwan Bases

I spent an hour or so this morning re-painting the hex bases of the Chinese PLAAF aircraft for the Target Locked On! Flashpoint:Taiwan project, so that they match with the ROCAF F-104 Starfighters. I like the shade that I've used, Vallejo Pale Grey Blue, as it is fairly neutral and will do for both sky and sea backgrounds, assuming most scenarios will be at relatively high altitude over the Straits of Taiwan. I've also started painting up four MiG-17's for the PLAAF to fly against the F-86 Sabres that I need to finish off for the ROCAF. I'm hoping to run a game tomorrow using the first edition of the rules, as I have yet to print out the updated version, with a pair of F-104 Starfighters on CAP intercepting a pair of MiG-19's. I'll post a report once the dust has settled!

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Flashpoint: Target Locked On!

I was having a chat with one of the players at the club who is interested in 1/600th scale modern air gaming, so I mentioned the Target Locked On! rules by Rory Crabb when asked what I was using. I then realised that I haven't actually play tested them yet, despite setting out on my Flashpoint:Baltic and Flashpoint:Taiwan TLO! projects nearly a year ago.

Now that I have some painted 1/600th PLAAF and  ROCAF fighters it's about time I gave the rules a proper test drive, so this weekend I'll be heading for the Straits of Taiwan c1967 to see what happens when two F-104 Starfighters clash with two MiG-19's. If I get the time, I'll also dig out the Oddzial Ozmy 1/600th scale modern fighters for the Flashpoint: Baltic project, if I can find where I stashed them?

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Heller HMS Theseus for Korea

The kit bits and bobs including decal sheet

TD Sea Fury for scale effect

Nice box art too!

I managed to track down a Heller kit of HMS Colossus in 1/1600th scale via eBay, to use as HMS Theseus alongside 1/600th scale Tumbling Dice aircraft, for MiG Alley, Bag the MiG and possibly even Wings over Suez. The idea is to assemble it as a waterline model on a textured sea base, then use it as a visual prop to represent a Royal Navy light fleet carrier lying way off shore. The kit comes with a decal sheet for the deck markings, so all I would need to do is glue it together, paint it up and add the decals together with two big 'T' identification letters on the flight deck. I'm really quite pleased with this find and think it will look brilliant!

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Rocketeers over the Reich Report

The Bag the Hun 2 game this evening was a qualified success, ending in a narrow victory for the Luftwaffe, overturning the historical outcome completely. The rules for cloud cover and visibility worked well, although I had forgotten to think about auto spotting which caused some frustration when I decided to not allow it. This slowed down things to start with but didn't adversely affect the game in the long run.

A big surprise was the early shooting down of the USAAF Junior Ace and Squadron CO, Captain Fred Glover, who parachuted his way into captivity in Stalag Luft IV. The decision to limit the USAAF to a single unit Move / Fire card thus meant that the USAAF players were restricted in their options, so I added in a special 'Rocketeers' card from a previous scenario, giving them a bonus Move / Fire option for one formation.

The Luftwaffe also had to deal with some painful losses including an exploding Bf-109K and a couple of others badly shot up and forced down, thus adding to the Victory Points for the 336th Fighter Squadron. In the end there was only half a dozen points difference between the two sides, so I think it was really a draw. I'm sure that I can fiddle with the scenario set up to produce a more accurate historical outcome but I think everyone enjoyed it anyway.