Monday, 30 April 2018

Tank Men


I'm re-reading this now, given the imminent arrival of What a Tanker! in the post at some point during the week. I read this book in paperback when it was first published but as it was only a couple of quid in digital format, I thought I'd re-visit it for some tank related reading. I am thinking through my options for WAT! and have a couple of directions to trundle off in beyond my three existing US Shermans, either some 1/48th scale resin T34/76 from First Corps or some 1/50th Corgi diecast Panther Ausf G's. I even have a Corgi Tiger I somewhere but that might be a bit too scary!  The tanks will be a quick weekend mini-project but the terrain side of things may take up more time, as a wide open stretch of winter steppe might not make for a very interesting game!

Sunday, 29 April 2018

White Wash and Go!




I grabbed some time this afternoon to add the grey and green camouflage pattern to the Desert Spitfires RAF Spitfire FR18's and the bare metal finish with ink wash to the replacement Mosquito PR34's. I then added a white blocking in basecoat to the canopies, prop bosses, exhausts and ID strips on all of the RAF aircraft, as well as the canopies and nose cones on the Soviet interceptors for Target Locked On!. This about wraps it up for the day, so nothing spectacular but steady progress nonetheless, making the next steps relatively easy to complete. 

What a Tanker!





I had a rubbish week at work but got paid quite a lot extra on Friday due to over time and holiday pay, so decided to cheer myself up and bought a copy of What a Tanker! from Toofatlardies. I wasn't sure about this new set of low key 'fun' skirmish tank combat rules, especially given the hefty price tag, but the reviews and gameplay I've read online have pushed me over the edge. The rules are also on sale at the moment, so the overall cost has come down a fraction...always a dangerous temptation!

The big selling point for me is that I, like many other players, have already got some tanks, mine being a trio of 1/50th scale Corgi diecast US Shermans that I repainted for Bolt Action. I also have plenty of diecast German, British and Russian tanks in 28mm just waiting to be re-painted and weathered, not to mention quite a few 1/48th scale metal, resin and plastic kits in the loft, if I wanted to set up a range of games or even a mini-campaign.

All that I really need to do is knock up some terrain to block line of sight on the table top and off we go!

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Yak-28P Firebar Chop Shop




I had an idea this morning. I reckoned that I could bash together a Yak-28P Firebar interceptor by cutting the nose cone from another 1/600th scale model and gluing it to a Yak-25 Flashlight. This wouldn't be a very accurate result but, it would at the very least look something like a Yak-28, or so I thought? Here's the end result and, as you can see, it's not too bad. This will expand my existing Soviet PVO line up by two additional aircraft, which is handy as I have moved the Tu-16's and Il-28's  over to the PLAAF, where they are more approprately deployed, leaving Soviet Air Defence a little understrength.

Flashpoint Spring Clean


I have been giving some thought to the various Target Locked On! projects that I have started, collectively titled as the 'Flashpoint' projects. These are all focussed on Cold War conflicts, either real or imagined, with one already nearly compete (Flashpoint Taiwan) and a second well on the way (Flashpoint Xinjiang). I've yet to start on the principal project (Flashpoint Baltic) but that's because the other two are more of a feasibility study in basing, painting and learning the rules.

However, I did think that the whole scheme needed a bit of a rationalisation as it was in danger of sprawling in too many directions. So, I have retitled the Flashpoint Xinjiang Sino-Soviet project as Flashpoint PVO, in order to make it more flexible. I have also brought the half completed Alto Cenepa War project into the fold, which was originally designed for Air War:C21, so that I can finish it off too as Flashpoint Alto Cenepa. 

The other projects will stay as they are, although the Flashpoint Fleet Air Arm may eventually evolve into something more confrontational, assuming I can get hold of some 1/600th Indonesian Air Force insignia or think of a different 'alternate history' conflict in which the Royal Navy could take a role. I may fall back on a Flashpoint Hong Kong concept for this, re-cycling my existing Chinese aircraft for just such a scheme?

Thursday, 26 April 2018

HMS Eagle




This brings back some memories of a day spent sailing with my granddad in his tiny boat around HMS Eagle, after she was laid up in the Hamoaze, at some point in the late 1970's. It was a cold, grey day and the enormous hulk of the aircraft carrier scared the pants of me, especially when we sailed right under the bows and the stern.


I'm still mildly mentally scarred by the experience and it's something that I haven't forgotten over forty years later. Anyway, enough of my psychological problems, here's some absolutely cracking footage of HMS Eagle in action, which is ironic as they'll have to learn to do this sort of thing all over again now, albeit without the catapults.

Incidentally, after seeing this I've just ordered some 1/600th Tumbling Dice Phantoms as an add on to my 1960's Fleet Air Arm lead pile. I'm not a big fan of the Phantom, preferring the subtle design of the Buccaneer, Sea Vixen and Scimitar, but it isn't half impressive when you see it melting the deck of an aircraft carrier with it's afterburners

(which is why they had to fix a steel plate to the deck and spray water all over the place instead)

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Falklands Diary 1914


I have recently been taking my daughter to ballet lessons on a Wednesday afternoon, giving me about an hour or so to kill with a wander about in town. This has usually ended up in the local Oxfam second hand bookshop, which I used to visit every week on a Friday when I was taking the boys to judo and swimming. Today, I found a hardback copy of this little book, which is a transcript of the diary of a Royal Navy surgeon during the Battle of the Falklands in 1914. I started reading it in the car as I was waiting for the ballet class to finish and it's really fascinating, in an anecdotal and historical way, with lots of period detail and genuine Edwardian understatement. A good find!

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Desert Spitfires Aircraft of the Aces


I have a lot of the Del Prado Osprey Aircraft of the Aces series of books which are a relatively cheap way to get hold of reference material for painting and gaming. One that I overlooked was the first in a series of two books on the Arab Israeli Wars, covering the period from the War of Independence through to the Six Day War. I was lucky enough to track an unused copy down on eBay for only four quid, so I now have another reference source for the IAF and REAF. If I ever do the Wings over Suez version of the Wings of War rules it will also be very useful.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Desert Spitfires RAF Shading




I base coated  the overall metal RAF aircraft yesterday, using Foundry Spearpoint, so followed that this evening with a wash in 50:50 Future / Black Indian Ink and a light dry brush in Spearpoint again to blend in the shading.

I've added a couple more PR Mosquito recce aircraft to the RAF contingent as well, having noticed that they can be quite an asset in the game, winning 2VP's for flying all the way across the table assuming they don't get shot down in the process?

I subsequently realized that they are the wrong ones, being fighter bomber models not the bomber version, so they will be 're-purposed' as Israeli aircraft instead. I'll have to order some replacement models now, so that the RAF can do its job properly!

The next step will be to block in the canopies, prop bosses and exhausts with Vallejo Matt White, so that I can overpaint them with the relevant shades. From bitter experience I've learned that painting over the top of metallic colours tends not to work very well, as the surface is a poor key for the non-metallic colours.

I'm busy tomorrow evening so may not get this bit done until mid-week, when I also hope to start on the Spitfire FR18's. 

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Tumbling Dice Tu-22M-3 Backfire







One of the things that got me fired up to do the 1960's Soviet aircraft this weekend, was the arrival in the post on Friday of a package from Tumbling Dice, which included a Tu-22M 'Backfire' bomber and some very nice English Electric Lightnings. I couldn't resist the temptation to assemble the Tu-22 as it is an impressive multi-part model, complete with separate swing wings and twin engines. The sculpting is very nice and it does look the part, even if there are some minor non-symmetrical bits here and there.

It needed some filler at the fuselage joints and the wings don't actually swing, in fact they have to be deployed in the sub-sonic 'swung out' configuration, but it went together very cleanly and with minimal fuss. It is a big aircraft and, although a bit too late for my other Soviet stuff, it will go very nicely alongside the two MiG-25's that I've already put together and will definitely make a good interception objective for the RAF Lightnings. Tally Ho!

Target Locked On Sixties Soviets


The other half has broken the laptop, so I'm having to improvise with my phone, which means there may be some sellpng mistks. Anyway, for no particularly logical reason,  I decided to start painting the 1960's Soviet aircraft for my Target Locked On: Flashpoint Xinjiang project yesterday. I will post some photos once I work out how to do it (which I have, as you can see below)



I didn't get very far but a base coat of Foundry Metal does make a difference, with some blocking in with white over the canopies, intakes and other coloured bits to follow. I'm also painting the RAF aircraft for Desert Spitfires at the same time but haven't started on those just yet, as I'll be using a slightly different approach, using an ink wash rather than lining.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Bag the MiG Multiplayer Game


I've finally got round to setting up a club multiplayer evening of Bag the MiG, which will take place at some point over the next couple of months, the exact date dependent on the weather and cricket. I haven't been able to get to the club for months due to the sprog's rugby training sessions but these have now been replaced with cricket matches instead, so I will have to work around those. It's a bit of a bugger but there you go.

The game will feature some 'off the shelf' scenarios from the 2006 Xmas Special to save some time and effort, together with the first edition rules for which the Bag the MiG variant was designed. This should make things a little less complex, although all the players who have signed up are far from sprogs when it comes to Bag the Hun. I will be using my 1/600th scale planes and hope to include a good variety of aircraft including the USAF, USMC, USN and RN.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Wings at War Scramble for Britain


Just over a year ago I won an eBay bid on a big stash of Tumbling Dice models and loads of extra bits, for the Wings at War Battle of Britain rules, 'Scramble for Britain'. I spotted another auction on eBay this week so made an offer well under the asking price and won it. This time it's just the rules and a limited starter set of 1/600th scale Tumbling Dice planes but it also included three sheets of Dom's Decals Luftwaffe and RAF insignia. This made it a well worth the overall cost as they are currently out of production. I've added the planes to my already bulging box of lead and now have a second (third?) set of rules for an opponent to refer to, when I get round to this as another 1/600th scale project. Tally Ho!

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Target Locked On Evasive Manoeuvres


This is the system for evasive manoeuvres in Target Locked On:

Evasive manoeuvring can also be used to avoid incoming missiles. 

(this is separate from using chaff or flares, as there's a different system for that)

This type of manoeuvre may be carried out once a missile has been fired. A pilot skill check must be passed. If the skill check is failed the aircraft does not carry out any manoeuvre. If the check is passed the aircraft can carry out any manoeuvre type it wishes.


Once the manoeuvre has been carried out roll 1d6. The target score equals 3 plus the weapons EW characteristic. If the roll is successful the missile misses and causes no damage.


Note that this manoeuvre still has a fuel consumption and speed reduction effect; these are applied during the aircraft’s next activation.


This all makes perfect sense to me but I can't help feeling that there's a bit of book keeping to do at the end, with fuel and speed reduction to take into account possibly several phases later. I was wondering if an alternative would be to take the hit for speed and fuel at the point of the manoeuvre, regardless of whether the aircraft has moved already or not?

This would obviously impact on the subsequent movement and could even lead to an involuntary stall, if the numbers were tight. I'm not sure how this would affect the flow of the game but it would avoid having to remember the fuel and speed reductions later in the game. I also thought that an evasive manoeuvre could be made at the expense of the free manoeuvre in the next turn of the game, perhaps even instead of the fuel and speed hit, although that would be a bit unrealistic.

I may try these ideas out and see if they work or are just unnecessary fiddles that aren't really worth bothering with?

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Hands to Flying Stations


This is brilliant! I remember going on board HMS Ark Royal on a navy day in Devonport way back in the mid '70's. This reminds me of the Flashpoint: Fleet Air Arm project for Target Locked On! that I was thinking about a few months ago. I really should do something with that, now that I have a good grasp of the rules. 

Desert Spitfires RAF 'What If?'


It's a bit early to start mucking about with the Desert Spitfires rules but, in a moment of reckless abandon, I thought I'd get some Bristol Brigands to add to the RAF ranks. These were just being introduced into service in 1948 and could, theoretically, have made an appearance over the front lines during the war. In fact, from early 1949 onward No.84 Squadron operated the type from RAF Habbiniya in Iraq, where PR Mosquito reconnaissance aircraft often re-fuelled for flights over Israel.

Tumbling Dice Bristol Brigand (ISA609)

However, for most of the first half of 1949 only a handful of aircraft were serviceable and there were numerous problems with spare parts, ammunition and even cannon being in short supply, not to mention enough trained aircrew. The aircraft also had a reputation for serious mechanical  issues and going u/s due to 'wrinkling' of the wings! Even so, despite it's terrible reputation, I quite like the stubby look of this light attack bomber and so will paint some up for the game, even if I can't think of a good reason for them to be directly involved or even operational by the end of the war?


Monday, 16 April 2018

Desert Spitfires Web Research


I've been reading all about the air campaign in the 1948-49 War of Independence and have uncovered a number of really fascinating websites, each of which adds something more to the story. I've taught the causes and consequences of the Arab Israeli conflict many times but haven't really looked into the aerial side of things before. I started out with a focus in the RAF involvement but this soon expanded to take in the Israelis and Egyptians, with even the Syrians getting involved despite having no air force to speak of. The involvement of numerous foreign and often non-Jewish 'volunteers' is particularly interesting, the collective title of Machal being given to the foreign pilots who flew for the IAF. 

Anyway, here's the links to some of the most useful and interesting pages:




All well worth a look!

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Desert Spitfires: The RAF


I have magnet based and undercoated the RAF aircraft for Desert Spitfires today.

These include four Spitfire FR18's, six Hawker Tempest MkVI, two PR.34 DH Mosquitos and a single C-47 Dakota. The latter doesn't actually play a role in the game but I had one spare so thought, why not? The Mossies are unarmed photo recce aircraft and have to make it across the length of the table to win VP's in the game, whilst the fighters are there to protect them and to shoot down the Israelis and Egyptians if they try to get in the way.

I don't know what I'll do with the Dakota but I'm sure I can fit it in somehow, perhaps with a similar mission objective to the Mossies? This is about the maximum size for each of the forces in the game, much less than I've done for each side in MiG Alley, which means I should be able to get the Israelis, Egyptians and British sorted out sharpish. I'll start painting the RAF planes over the next week or so, although I'm back at work tomorrow so will have less time to spare. 

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Desert Spitfires Project Planning



I've dug out the books that I have on the 1948 War of Independence air campaign and have sorted out what I have in the 1/600th scale lead pile that can be used for the three sides. I have some spare Seafires that can stand in as Spitfire FR18's plus some Hawker Tempests and Mosquitoes for the RAF. The Israelis have three B-17's, a couple of C-47's, some Spitfire IX's, P-51 Mustangs and a couple of Beaufighters. I also have some leftover Stinson Sentinels and T-6 Texans for light aircraft, but will order some Dragon Rapides from Tumbling Dice as well.

The Egyptians also get some Spitfire IX's and C-47's but I'll need to get some Macchi Mc202's to fill in the blanks. I have nearly all I need already but one thing I don't have are any Egyptian decals in 1/600th scale, which is a bit of a problem as Dom's Decals is still out of action as far as I know? Never mind, as I can crack on with the Israelis and RAF in the meantime, while I try to find some roundels that are small enough for the Egyptian fighters. I think this project will be taking up most of my time instead of the naval things I had planned to do after Easter but those can wait until later in the year.

Bag the MiG Bases in the Blue


I got home from Brittany late yesterday, so this morning I thought I'd waste no time and finish off the home made bases for Bag the MiG, Bag the Hun and other similar hex based rules like Air War:C21 or CY6. This was an easy matter of spray painting them with an appropriate sky themed shade, in this case Halfords Rover Henley Blue over a basecoat of Halfords Matt Grey primer. To take off  a bit of the shine I then over sprayed the whole lot in Army Painter matt varnish. There's no reason why you couldn't spray them in any other suitable colour or even paint them in a terrain themed shade of sand, grass green, snow or whatever, which is what I will definitely do for my Wings at War scratch built bases, when I get round to actually scratch building them of course!

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Codename Snake's Eye


I found this 1960's Royal Navy public information documentary film yesterday, while looking for info on the Royal Marines in Aden. It's very cheesy but there are some useful details in there including commando assault tactics, uniforms and equipment. I particularly like the bit with the ground attack rocket strike on an 'enemy' airstrip by Sea Venoms. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Desert Sand Spray Paint


We went to get new tyres fitted yesterday, as it is cheaper to do this in France than back on the UK. I spotted a rack of spray paints in the tyre fitting shop and so took a closer look. I use the Halfords aerosol paints a lot, especially the ultra Matt camouflage ones, so I was chuffed to find a whole range of similar shades from a Dutch manufacturer called Motip. 


The one that stood out for me was a desert sand colour, which is a match for RAL 1001, whatever that means. I bought a couple of cans to use for some new desert terrain and possibly as an undercoat for AFV's, if it is any good. I want to make some modular terrain tiles for 15mm skirmish games but I'm a bit bored of Halfords khaki. They weren't' very expensive either, so I may well get some more when I'm back over here in a couple of months.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Target Locked On Mission Three Debrief


I set up another Patrol scenario this morning, with an experienced Soviet MiG-21 pilot against an experienced RAF Lightning F-2 pilot, which is an unlikely encounter but offered a roughly equal set up to try out the modified pilot skill check base chance of (3+). I rolled for altitude and the Lightning began ALT 3 with the MiG on ALT 4, both at speed 30 to give some room for manoeuvre. The MiG rolled a 1/2 and the Lighning a 1/1 for initiative in the opening moves.

In Turn 1 the MiG-21 moved forward 30cm and rolled for a successful partial Lock On to the Lightning. The Lightning pilot barrel rolled for his free manoeuvre but failed to throw off the missile lock, then moved forward 26cm and finished the activation with an unsuccessful Lock On attempt on the Soviet fighter. Not to be put off, he then attempted to fire a Firestreak AAM but failed the pilot skill check, rolling a useless 1 when he needed a 4+, having already barrel rolled and having a -1 modifier to his 3+ base chance as a result.


In Turn 2 the MiG-21 pilot won the initiative again and immediately barrel rolled left to line up on the Lightning. He then attempted to decelerate with a successful pilot skill check roll of 4, requiring a 4+ to slow down by 8cm to a new lower speed of 18cm. He could have made a gun attack at this point but I have decided that aircraft have to be at the same altitude to do this, so there was no other option but to attempt a Lock On, which duly failed. The two aircraft were now going past each other at arms length but in opposite directions.

The initiative now passed to the Lightning pilot who moved forward 15cm, pulled an Immelmann using his free manoeuvre and climbed up to ALT 4 in the process. This placed the RAF fighter right behind the MiG-21 and, with a final 3cm forward move, inside cannon range but just too close for missiles. An attempt at a Lock On failed, so he followed on to make a gun attack but failed the pilot skill check as well, rolling a 2 when he needed a 4+ having already manoeuvred once in the activation.


In Turn 3 the Lightning pilot won the initiative, rolling a 5/6 against the MiG-21 pilot's 3/3 on 2D6. The Lightning achieved a Partial Lock On for the first action of the turn, rolling 4-1 = 3 and needing a 3+ to be successful. He was still too close to launch an Firestreak AAM, so chose to attack with guns instead. He passed the pilot skill check (3+) with a high roll of 6, so opened fire with both ADEN cannons.

He rolled To Hit twice as the Lightning has two ADEN cannons. The first To Hit roll was 5 on 1D6 with +3 modifiers for close range (+1), rear target aspect (+1) and slow speed (+1), for a total score of 8. The other To Hit roll for the second gun resulted in a 3 on 1D6 and +3 modifiers, for a second successful hit of 6. I had added these positive modifiers to the gun 'To Hit' factors to see if they would make it easier to make a successful guns only attack. They clearly worked!

The modifiers pushed the chances a bit high but, given the RAF pilot's relative position and the advantages it gave him, the end result was not a surprise or unrealistic. In both cases the target roll was the MiG-21's TARGET factor of 5+, so the RAF pilot only just scraped the second To Hit roll. Each gun now rolled 2D6 for damage effect. The first roll of 2/2 did no damage at all but the second of 1/5 inflicted a single point of damage on the MiG-21. The Lightning pilot now made his free manoeuvre, curving away to the left to get out of the MiG-21's way.

The MiG-21 pilot now used his free manoeuvre to pull a wide turn to the left, failing to break the missile lock. This was followed up by an attempt to Lock On to the Lighting but this also failed. In desperation, the MiG pilot decided to fire an AA-8 Aphid AAM without any lock and, much to his surprise pulled off a successful pilot skill check roll of 5, requiring at least a 4+ having already gained a -1 modifier for his prior manoeuvre. If I had not lifted the pilot skill factor to 3+ from 4+ he would only just have scraped this roll.


He now rolled to hit with a single missile against the Lightning's ECM of 3+ but with a +1 EW factor for the AA-8 missile guidance system. The base roll of 5 (+1 for EW) was modified down for having no lock (-1) and having made one prior manoeuvre (-1) to give a final To Hit result of 4. A hit! The AA-8 has 4 damage dice, which were rolled to give 4/6/6/2 which meant three points of damage including two potential critical hits.

In the end, only one of these converted into a critical effect, knocking out one cannon. However, the Lightning was now within one point of being shot down, suffering Major Damage which meant no high G manoeuvres, MAN reduced to 3 per activation, no radar, no ECM and no weapons in operable condition, so a damaged cannon ammunition feed was the last thing on the RAF pilot's mind in the circumstances! I had also forgotten that he could have tried an evasive manoeuvre at this point but I doubt it would have worked anyway?


To cut a long story short, in Turn 4 the MiG-21 won the initiative, pulled round in a wide turn to try to get guns on the Lightning but just couldn't quite get there, then moved forward for the remainder of the activation and flew off the edge of the airspace. The very relieved Lightning pilot decided to follow the MiG-21's example and limped back to RAF Gutersloh at close to stall speed, having failed his morale roll. I decided to see if he made it, by rolling a D6 for a successful crash landing, using the eject roll of 4+ as a base chance. Luckily he rolled a 6 so made a perfect wheels down landing with no need to eject.

The MiG-21 pilot won a second VP and probably some sort of medal!

Feedback

I really enjoyed this game, which zipped along at a fair pace and was finished in about 45 minutes, playing solo. If two players with some rules experience were playing this would have been no more than half an hour or so of game time. The result was fair although the cumulative +1 modifiers for gunfire at close range, rear target aspect and slow target speed made it a bit too easy to hit. I may well ditch the slow target speed modifier as a result. However, the damage dice rolls evened this out and gave a sensible result in the end. The rules tweak to only allow gun attacks at the same altitude was also effective, as it resulted in more realistic 'dogfighting' tactics.

I was much happier with the revised pilot skill factors which I think gave an overall better game with more action but still a level of difficulty that challenged manoeuvres  and attacks. I will be keeping this modified base chances for future games, at least one of which will feature pilots of different skill levels i.e. conscript or rookie* = (4+) / Experienced = (3+) / Ace = (2+). I think this works much better than the original system and prevents repeated failed pilot skill checks which kill the action and end up being frustrating. It still needs more playtesting to make sure it doesn't make it too easy for Aces.

A good game and a solid, fast play set of rules!

(* I have re-named this skill level as 'Trained' because rookie sounded too cheesy)

Monday, 9 April 2018

Atlantic Wall Treguennec Part Three








We went back to Treguennec yesterday as it was lovely weather. There's been quite a lot of dune erosion over the winter and this has exposed some more of the tetrahedral beach obstacles that were cleared after the war and dumped at the back of the beach. Some of these are in really good condition, having been covered in sand for eighty years or so, while others have suffered quite a lot of damage from the weather, corrosion and vandalism.

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