Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Snow Days!

Teachers in full retreat somewhere near Andover

I've just been emailed from work that I have two days off due to the snow! I won't get paid but it does means I can finish off the Korean War aircraft and get started on the Cold War FAC missile boats for the modern coastal warfare project. Unfortunately, the sprogs also have snow days, so they will be hanging about at home too and will need to be entertained. Anyway, I'm back off to bed having got up at 6am as usual!

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Fast Attack Soviet Backed Flotilla

Here's the line up of Skytrex, PT Dockyard and Combrig 1/700th scale models for the Soviet backed flotilla, ready for the weekend when I'm planning to start gluing them together. The big hitter is a Grisha class corvette in resin from Combrig, which is a lovely model that I bought from the now defunct White Ensign Models and stashed away. I also have a couple of pre-built Dragon Tarantul class corvettes but they are a bit ropey, so I'll leave them out for the moment.

This is backed up by a pair of Skytrex Osa FAC(M), a pair of less punchy Komar FAC (M), a Shershen FAC (G) and a single rather light weight P4/5 FAC (T). There's also a Turya FAC (T) hydrofoil from PT Dockyard which I may leave out of the line up, as I think I have enough for a decent force already? I'll be adding some aircraft and helicopters as well but that can wait until I've completed the naval force first. These will be from the Tumbling Dice 1/600th range, with plenty to choose from in the spares and leftovers box.

Monday, 26 February 2018

The Boats of Cherbourg

I'm reading this now, in preparation for the 1/700th modern coastal forces project, which I'm going to start next weekend time permitting. This is a cracking story and written in a very accessible style, so I'm whizzing through it in double quick time. I don't fancy wargaming the Arab-Israeli conflict, at least not the naval side of things, but I do have several variants of the Sa'ar Class FAC(M) and a single Reshef class FAC (M) from Skytrex that I will be using as the core of one of my 'Imaginations' fast attack flotillas.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

MiG Alley USMC / RN Update

I have moved the USMC Corsairs, RN Sea Furies and Fireflies a bit further forward today, completing most of the blocking in, base shading, washing and highlighting, leaving the detailing for later in the week. This will be a challenge as it involves the black and white ID stripes on the RN aircraft, together with the cowling bands on the USMC fighter bombers, not to mention the fiddly decals. I'm quite pleased with the overall look so far, despite a few 'ho hum' moments along the way!

Modern Naval Fast Attack

I'm wrapping up the MiG Alley / Bag the MiG project over the next week or so, leaving me free to do something a little bit different in the three weeks before the Easter break. I like the idea of some Soviet jet fighters in 1/600th scale, so I may well do that too, but it would be nice to have  a bit of a break from air wargaming for a change.

I don't want to start anything big yet, so have been thinking about either finishing off some 1/600th scale merchant ships for WW2 coastal warfare or, perhaps, putting together a couple of small flotillas of modern FAC's in 1/700th scale, ready to use with the Naval Command supplement that is coming out at some point soon?

This is an old idea of mine, first 'thunked up' way back in 2012:

I found my box of Skytrex and PT Dockyard models yesterday which re-kindled the original idea, as well as having some pre-built Dragon Soviet FAC's that just need a quick re-paint and basing to be sorted. The idea would be to create two small forces for an 'Imagi-nations' conflict set either in the Far East or in Central America sometime in the '70's or 80's. I'll have to give it some more thought.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

MiG Alley USMC F4U-5N Corsairs

F4U-4 fighter bomber and a pair of F4U-5N night fighters
Close Up showing the wing mounted radar pod

I have undercoated the Tumbling Dice Vought F4U-4 Corsair fighter bombers this morning, despite the garage being freezing cold and the paint taking extra long to dry. I've also added  wing mounted radar pods to two aircraft, using cut down model torpedoes sanded to shape, to make F4U-5N night fighters.

These will be either painted naval blue or left in a black night fighter scheme, with red insignia rather than the white markings used on the day fighters. Finally, I undercoated the Royal Navy Fairey Fireflies and Hawker Sea Furies of HMS Ocean, which I will paint up in parallel with the USMC planes. I'm hoping to get at least the USMC planes finished over the weekend.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Wills Cigarette First World War Royal Navy Cards

I found this framed collection of reproduction Wills Cigarette cards today in the local charity shop. Thee frame is bit rubbish but the cards have been well mounted and look splendid. Unfortunately, there isn't an Artificer Engineer in the selection, so my Great Grandfather isn't represented, which is a bit of a shame. However, the wife quite likes the whole thing and I've been allowed to hang it in the dining room, which is a rarity for my framed military picture collection!

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

1960's Cold War Soviet 1/600th Jets

I have been thinking of quickly basing and painting a handful of Russian Cold War aircraft in 1/600th scale, just as something to do over a wet weekend. These would be based using the simple wire and mdf hex method that I have used on my Flashpoint:Taiwan and Flashpoint:Baltic models (which reminds me that I should paint the latter up too at some point), so no tiddly magnets to drive me nuts!

Anyway, I have a small selection of Tumbling Dice Su-9/11's and Su-7's left over from a Soviet starter pack, together with the ubiquitous MiG-21's, so I have no need to buy anything just for this and can get cracking as and when the opportunity arises. I really like the Sukhoi's with their bare metal finish, raised canopies and delta wings, which really capture that late '60's Cold War vibe.

I can use them against my PLAAF Chinese fighters and fighter bombers too for a Flashpoint: Xinjiang 1969 Sino-Soviet 'what if?' border cool is that?

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Sally 4th Terraformers Modular Terrain

I spotted an advert for this modular terrain making system on The Wargames Website and thought it looked really interesting. It's based on 1' square mdf frames into which you drop polystyrene blocks then texture and paint over the top, so nothing radical but very simple to do. The best bit is that you have magnets glued into the frames which keep them all together and the sides are a consistent profile to avoid mis-matches.

It's also not that expensive and perfect for skirmish games on a 2' x 2' board, where terrain really needs to look the part as there isn't much of it. I may well give this a try as  there's a starter set of four tiles that would do very nicely for a desert themed wadi and rocky scree slope somewhere in Aden or a jungle clearing in Malaya, French Indochina or other post-colonial corners of empire.

Monday, 19 February 2018

MiG Alley Royal Navy / USMC Aircraft

This is the last lot of 1/600th aircraft for the MiG Alley and Bag the MiG project, at least for the next few weeks leading up to Easter, as I need to do something else for a bit to take the strain off the eyes! Anyway, it's a nice combination of classic Royal Navy Sea Furies and Fireflies, alongside one of my favourite fighter bombers, the Vought F4U-4 Corsair of the USMC. I have twelve of these which I may well paint up as different squadrons, if I can work out how to go about it.

To continue the nautical theme the last three slots are filled by an OY-2, the USMC and USN version of the L-5 Sentinel, and a pair of US Marine night fighters. These will either be a couple of formidable F3D Skynights or a pair of tough, no nonsense F4U-5N Corsairs, to which I'll need to add wing mounted radar pods. I'm looking forward to painting these but not so much to painting the black and white ID stripes on the Sea Furies and Fireflies!

Sunday, 18 February 2018

MiG Alley North Koreans Finished

Il-10 Ground Attack light bombers

La-11 and Yak-9D fighters

Ilyushin Il-10

Ki-51 Sonia Night Raider

Lavochkin La-11

The whole banana

I managed to get the North Korean fighters and ground attack aircraft finished today, which is just as well as it's the last day of the half term holiday. I think they came out okay in the end and I particularly like the two night nuisance raiders, which were a bit of an afterthought but should be good fun to use in a game. I've also decided to make the last instalment of the MiG Alley meets Bag the MiG project another naval effort. with a selection of prop fighter bombers for the US Marines and Royal Navy.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

MiG Alley North Korean Aircraft

I've been working on the NKAF aircraft this afternoon and have completed the highlighting and washing, leaving only the canopies and detailing to do tomorrow. It doesn't look like I've done very much but they are getting there and should be finished by the end of the weekend, minus the decals unless I can squeeze them in as well. The Il-10's are actually Il-2's but I don't think that matters, as there were no Il-10's in the Tumbling Dice range when I started the project.

French Indochina 15mm Squad Level Skirmish

Yet more reading on the French Indochina skirmish  theme, this time at squad to platoon level for simple patrol actions using No End in Sight, Some Corner of a Foreign Field and the like. As mentioned in previous posts, this would use my second hand Eureka Miniatures figures and a handful of vehicles on a 2' x 2' terrain board. I have played around with this skirmish concept for a while, although with a focus on Malaya, Aden and other post-colonial settings.

The French Indochina variation would involve a couple of squads of infantry, which equates to a platoon strength force after the De Lattre reforms of the early 1950's. These shifted the focus of the basic tactical unit from a squad of twelve men armed with an automatic rifle, a few SMG's and mostly bolt action rifles to a platoon of two twelve man squads, one with an automatic rifle and one with a rifle grenadier. I've also read that these were designated as Shock or Fire squads but exactly which was which is unclear:

The French moved the lowest level of tactical employment from the squad up to the platoon level as each squad was either an automatic rifle or a rifle-grenadier squad, with one of each per platoon. The interesting point about this final reorganization is that it was done to mitigate French losses in cadres, as well as accommodate the incorporation of indigenous personnel directly into all infantry units. By moving tactics from the squad to the platoon level, the number of leaders required was reduced from about six per platoon to two per platoon, or of eighteen per company down to eight.

Interesting stuff and I think it would make for some cracking patrol and ambush firefights, especially if I threw in some AFV's or soft skins to provide a bit more firepower, which otherwise might be thin on the ground. There were single squads of a 60mm mortar, MMG and 57mm RCL in the company support platoon, so these might make an appearance but would otherwise be unlikely to feature in a typical patrol type scenario. The big plus is that I would only need a handful of extra figures to do this sort of thing, so it wouldn't be hard to set up.

Climbing the Lead Mountain

There really is a place called Lead Mountain!

I did a brief stock check of the various nearly completed and almost unfinished projects that I have accumulated over the last couple of years or so this morning. This is an endemic feature of my wargaming pursuits and something I really need to knock on the head. Anyway, the list of things that I've started and got within a percentage range of completion is as follows:

10mm USCM vs Aliens - 85%

15mm Sci Fi Mechanised Company - 75%

28mm US Infantry Platoon - 75%

28mm Japanese Platoon - 35%

28mm SAGA Normans - 80%

1/285th B17's - 70%

1/600th Coastal Warfare - 80%

1/600th Cold War Jets - 85%

1/600th Korean War - 75%

1/2400 1864 Steam and Sail - 30%

...and so on, not including anything that has been based but not seen a lick of paint (that's another story all together!). It's a lead weight hanging around my neck, especially as I would like to complete all of these in equal measure and do new things too.


Friday, 16 February 2018

Armoured Guardsmen

I'm finishing the half term holidays with a change of reading focus to NW Europe from D-Day to the Rhine and beyond. The campaign in NW Europe after the break out from Normandy has been an interest of mine for ages, with best laid plans for wargaming the progress of the 5th Battalion DCLI having been attempted in 20mm before, only to fall by the wayside for various reasons. I'd really like to pick this up again in 15mm at some point this year, probably using Chain of Command instead of Rapid Fire!, so this book is a good source of inspiration even if it isn't directly relevant. It is very well written and full of the sort of little details that make for a fascinating read, so I've really enjoyed it and have whizzed through almost to the end in a couple of evenings.

MiG Alley Countdown

I've decided to give myself until the end of the month to complete the MiG Alley and Bag the MiG project as far as I can, at least to the point of being able to play a basic game or two. I should be able to get the current North Korean aircraft finished and possibly one more instalment, either the B29's, the RAAF Meteors or even the Royal Navy Sea Furies and Fireflies. I should also be able to scratch build enough hex bases for Bag The MiG, leaving the MiG Alley bases for a later date.

I've done some more number crunching, so I know that I will need a LOT of the MiG Alley style bases in order to run even a small size game, although they will be re-usable for other Wings at War variants. In the meantime, I'm going to aim to finish the NKAF fighters and fighter bombers by the end of the weekend, with some good progress today up to the Future and Indian Ink wash stage.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

MiG Alley Mig-15 Fagots

These are all finished now, with the excellent Dom's Decals used for the North Korean roundels. In the end I chickened out of adding buzz numbers, as I didn't have the right sized decals and couldn't be bothered to faff about after having already applied seventy two (!) tiddly roundels. I'm quite pleased with the end result, nonetheless, especially as I now have enough North Korean aircraft to actually run a game, once I've scratch built some bases. Woo hoo!

MiG Alley 'Washing Machines'

I finished magnet basing and undercoating the Il-10's, La-11's and Yak-9's this morning, although I cut back the number of the latter to six as they were a pain to do, having a very inconvenient radiator block right where the magnet had to go. Instead of the last three frustrating Yak's I decided to add a couple of ex-Japanese Ki-51 Sonia light dive bombers to represent 'washing machine' or 'Bed Check Charlie' night time nuisance raiders.

Ex IJAAF Ki-51 Sonia light bombers NKAF

These should really be Polikarpov Po-2's but there aren't any in the Tumbling Dice range, which is a bit inconvenient to say the least. I had the Ki-51's anyway, as I bought a pack for my Wings at War variant of the Nomonhan or Khalkin Gol Incident. The North Koreans did have several of these that were passed on by the Soviets, so it wouldn't be unrealistic to use them for the nocturnal bombing missions over UN airfields and front line positions. I've undercoated them in matt black and will paint them in suitably tatty shades of dark grey, which should fit their mission profile nicely.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

MiG Alley Extras

I completed the fiddly decals on the six NKAF La-5FN's, the USAF L5 Stinson Sentinel, the ROKAF T5 Texan FAC and the USAF H-15 ASR Chicksaw this afternoon, using the trusty Dom's Decals sheets. I am going to decal all of the eighteen (eek!) NKAF MiG-15's tomorrow and also plan to undercoat then basecoat the Yak 9D's, Il-10's and La-11's. The decals really take their toll on my eyesight and I can only manage a few aircraft at a time but at least the NKAF decals are relatively simple to apply. I'm definitely getting there with the MiG Alley and Bag the MiG project but there's still a fair way to go, even if I'm enjoying the journey!

French Indochina Far East Pattern Infantry Company

I have done some more number crunching and a bit of background research to come up with an organisation for a CEFEO Far East Pattern Infantry Company, which I can use as a basis for both 10mm company and 15mm platoon to squad level wargaming. This is the 10mm multiple based organisation for use with Five Core Company Commander:

1 x Company HQ Squad

1 x Support Platoon - 1 x HMG Squad / 1 x 60mm Mortar Squad / 1 x 57mm RCL Squad

4 x Rifle Platoons  - 2 Squads each.


3 x Rifle Platoon - 3 Squads each

(Squads either Fire or Shock)

Total = 12 or 13 bases

(25mm x 50mm for the Fire / Shock Squads, 25mm x 30mm for the Support and HQ Squads)

Each Fire Squad would have an integral FM 24/29 LMG while the Shock Squad would have grenades and some MAT 49 SMG's. The 57mm RCL in the Support Platoon was attached from the Battalion HQ Company.

Great Poster..the Mrs was born in Vannes!

This would break down for 15mm skirmish games into a couple of Rifle Platoons of individually based figures with one or two squads from the Support Platoon available for specific scenarios, as required. This would give a total of around thirty individual figures, so more than enough for a one man per figure skirmish level operation. I'm not planning anything more than patrol type scenarios for 15mm, so even a single Rifle Platoon would do in many cases.

Any transport vehicles, armour or specialist units would be added on top of the basic line up, with trucks or half tracks for the infantry platoon at a squad per vehicle. These could be swapped for LVT's or LCVP landing craft if I wanted to run a Dinassaut riverine scenario, for example. I would only need a handful of any vehicles for 15mm games anyway, with more for the 10mm option especially for convoy and patrol scenarios.

Thinking outside the Box?

I have been playing around with the KR Multicase storage box that I was given for my birthday, trying to work out a useful way to make the most of the two hundred 25mm x 50mm foam slots it contains. These are designed for 28mm figures, so I did think of saving the whole thing for my 'not yet anywhere near started' Lion Rampant War of the Rose retinues. This would involve at least one hundred 28mm Perry Miniatures foot figures all of which are on the slim side of 28mm, so ideally suited to the purpose. When, or even if, I get around to this project is a moot point however!

The other thing I thought of was to use the slots for 25mm x 50mm based figures, which neatly matches the sizes used for Blitzkrieg Commander and Cold War Commander. I am not a fan of either systems, having been both frustrated and disappointed by both, but the basing does look really good with 10mm figures and is quick to do. I have loads of figures and vehicles for French Indochina, both CEFEO and Vietminh from the excellent Pendraken range, so I dug them out to see how they would fit in the foam trays. As you can see, I think this would work really well, even though the LVT Alligators are a bit of a tight squeeze.

I also now have a better set of rules for 10mm WW2 and Post War gaming in the shape of Fivecore Company Command, which ticks all of the relevant boxes and is much more my sort of thing. I don't know where or when I might get round to this, having already committed myself to both 15mm Post Colonial skirmish and 15mm WW2 I Ain't Been Shot Mum for later in the year, but I might be able to squeeze it in somewhere. I have plenty of lead in the pile for 10mm French Indochina, so it could even take the place of the 15mm platoon level project that I've been planning for, as it makes little sense to do both?

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

On the Workbench this Week

I got back from Cornwall this afternoon and straight away got down to the MiG Alley project, having suffered from a severe dose of workbench withdrawal symptoms over the weekend. A double check of the CY6! and Bag the MiG scenarios has revealed that I only need eight Il-10's but ten La-11's, so I've readjusted the numbers accordingly. I couldn't fit the Tu-2's on to the painting rig so they have been swapped for nine Yak-9D's, which are probably more useful anyway. I also sorted out the decals for the last lot of 1/600th scale aircraft that I finished painting, so these will be completed alongside the new aircraft for the North Koreans and their Chinese allies. Tally Ho! (or whatever the North Korean equivalent is?)

Flashpoint Taiwan: Low Level Intruders

I was interested to read about the ultra low level night overflights of South West China by Taiwanese P2V-7 Neptune aircraft during the early 60's. These reconnaissance and intelligence gathering flights were flown so low that the pursuing MiG-17's couldn't use their radars due to ground clutter. Even so quite a lot if them were shot down by AAA. Unfortunately, there isn't a Neptune in the Tumbling Dice post war range and the Shapeways option is stupidly expensive.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Chasing the Intruders

I'm away this weekend so have been catching up on some background reading for the MiG Alley and Bag the MiG project. This includes Catching the Intruders, a brief but really interesting biography of a PLAAF fighter ace, who flew in the Korean War and also against Taiwanese night intruders in the late 50's and early '60's. Here's the blurb:

People's Liberation Army Air Force pilot Han Decai was 17 years old when he started flight training. Six months later, with 60 hours of total flying time and 30 hours in the MiG-15, he was sent to the Korean border - to fly against the Americans, the hottest fighter pilots in the world. At age 19, Han became the youngest jet ace in history, and one of the best know airmen in China. After the war, he was assigned to fly MiG-17s, first to chase high-flying U-2s, and later the low-flying intruders from Taiwan. 

It's a quick read but we'll worth it!


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