Thursday, 31 January 2019
Now that I will have some mid-war Russian tanks I thought I'd add a handful of matching mid-war German ones for What a Tanker! As usual, Armourfast is the cheapest option, so I have now got two Panzer III Aust J's and two Panzer IV Ausf F/G's to glue together. They're fairly basic kits but I'm sure some stowage and detailing will tart them up a bit.
Wednesday, 30 January 2019
It's less than a week until the club game of What a Tanker! so I've been ramping up production at my own workbench version of Tankograd, which is about as comfortable as the real one being located in the sub zero, freezing cold garage. Fresh off the patriotic production line is this beast of an armoured fighting vehicle, a Pegasus fast assembly KV-2, although it was a lot less straightforward to put together than the Italeri T34's that I assembled at the weekend. These were a piece of cake to build but the KV-2 was a bit more of a full on job, taking about an hour to finish in total.
These Pegasus kits are simplified but still have lots of bits that only fit together in one specific way, which is not always obvious from the basic instructions, with some parts being quite fiddly and others quite a tight squeeze. It also needed a bit of filler and some sanding down before I over sprayed it to undercoat the exposed plastic. Having said that, I'm really pleased with the overall end result, which I think looks just like the real thing. I now have an up-armoured KV-1e to build based on the same kit, which I'm hoping will be a lot less time consuming and straightforward, having already assembled the KV-2?
Tuesday, 29 January 2019
I have now filled in all of the aircraft record sheets for 'A' Flight No.185 Squadron, 73 Squadriglia and the No.18 Squadron ferry flight, so that they are ready to be laminated for the playtest game in a few weeks time. I've managed to format the Hurricane sheets using a bit of old fashioned digital cut and paste, so that the players can either have four aircraft on one sheet or two sheets with two aircraft on each, which in my experience is often better if you have difficulty reading small print.
I've also finalised the player scenario briefings and will get them laminated as well, although they may well need fiddling a bit after the playtest. It looks like I'll have four players for the actual event itself, so I will run the bombers and the players will split into two pairs, with one pair sharing the three Italian sections between them. Either that or the RAF player will go it alone, which would be ideal if they've played Bag the Hun before.
|Armourfast (front) Italeri (back)|
|Armourfast (left) Italeri (right)|
|Front and Back View|
I managed to squeeze in some model building last night and now have two Italeri 'Fast Assembly' T34/76 1941 tanks undercoated and ready for painting. These were really easy to assemble although the track units were a pain to remove from the sprue and to clean up due to the very heavy duty injection stubs. They compare well next to the Armourfast T34/76 1943 version, even if they are slightly shorter, and have a lot more detail already moulded onto the hull including tools and tow ropes for example. I haven't attached the turret or hull to the tracks yet, as it makes them easier to paint, but the overall impression is pretty positive. I'm hoping to get the KV's built later today, so that I can paint the whole lot up in one go before the game this time next week.
Monday, 28 January 2019
I have spent the afternoon trimming and spraying plastic trees, then gluing them down to the prepared terrain bases to finish off the woodland terrain for the What a Tanker! game next week. The bases were over sprayed with a basecoat of grey primer, followed by splodges of brown, then over sprayed again with matt white and gloss white, to match the tundra cloth that I'm going to use them with.
I then plugged in all of the trees to make sure they would fit, bending and twisting the armatures into a more tree-like shape. These were then sprayed in brown, followed by an overspray of matt and gloss white, before plugging and gluing them back into the trunk bases. To finish off I blended in the trunks with some white acrylic paste, which I'll clean up a bit later on.
This was a pretty tedious task, which I've been putting off for ages, but the end result will do the job and will also be re-useable for other winter themed wargaming projects. Unfortunately, with all this endless spraying and gluing, I didn't have time to assemble the Russian tanks, so these will have to wait until tomorrow or perhaps later this evening, once the kids are in bed?
I was asked the other day about where I got my 1/72nd scale tank kits from for What a Tanker!, so suggested Armourfast, Italeri and Pegasus, together with Early War Miniatures for the accessories and other detailing bits. I then realised that I'd forgotten entirely about the Ready to Roll resin models, despite actually having used some way back for a Rapid Fire 1944 British project. These have long since been consigned to eBay but it did get me thinking.
I had another look this morning to see what they had in the range that I could use for the Russian Front and was pleased to find a Churchill IV, amongst other things, that I could use for the Soviets. I had considered the Plastic Soldier Company kit for this but it's pretty expensive at £20 and I only want one or two of them anyway, with the Ready to Roll models about half the price and also designed specifically for rough handling.
They also have a Matilda, T-26, Jagdpanzer IV and a Hetzer, all of which I'd eventually like to add to the line up. I'll have to wait until the end of the week to order some but, if you can cope with the solid resin base and minimal detailing, I think the Ready to Roll range could be the answer for all of those one off vehicles that are available as model kits but that are probably too fiddly and delicate to use as wargaming models.
Sunday, 27 January 2019
I spent this morning at rugby with the sprog, where he got man of the match and they won 3:0, so haven't had time for any more work on the winter woodland terrain or even to start on the extra Russian tank kits. The terrain bases have been textured with a filler, acrylic paste, PVA and sand mix but it's so cold in the garage that it's taking ages to set, so I've brought them indoors to warm up. I should be able to start painting them either this evening, after I get back from a trip to Chippenham , or tomorrow when I have a day off. I'll definitely be assembling the T34/76's and the KV-2 / KV-1's tomorrow either way, as they've been undercoated and just need to be glued together.
Saturday, 26 January 2019
I've now finished the player briefing sheets for 73 Squadriglia, No.185 Squadron and No.18 Squadron, so I'm ready now to crack on with the deck of cards for the Bag the Blenheims scenario, which I'll be playtesting at the club in a few weeks. In the meantime, I'm working on the aircraft record sheets, which need to be pre-populated with pilot identities and experience levels. They also need the unit identification details and call signs for the section leaders and wingmen, made easier by colour coding the sections in the game using little D6.
I've done the Italians which required a bit more time and effort than the RAF ones, as I had to squeeze three to a sheet for the three aircraft sections, but I managed to do this in the end with some judicious editing of superfluous stuff. The RAF fighters get to have two aircraft to a sheet, with two sheets for each flight so that they can split into pairs if they want to, making it a lot easier to fill in all the relevant factors. I'll try to get all of the aircraft record sheets done by the end of the weekend, if I can grab the laptop from the kids?
I've started on the winter woodland scatter terrain for the What a Tanker! game, although it will also be re-useable for other things in 20mm and 28mm. These are terrain templates from Supreme Littleness Designs and East Riding Miniatures, combined with plastic tree stump bases from Woodlands Scenics. I only have either small trees or big trees left in the bag, so it may look a bit odd without many medium sized trees to mix in, but I think it will be okay once they're all together. I'll texture the bases next to blend in the stumps, then undercoat the whole lot with brown and grey spray paint, before finishing off with some white snow effect over spraying and dry brushing.
Friday, 25 January 2019
I've been pretty busy this week with work and family commitments, so I'm planning to make up for it with some What a Tanker! wargaming this weekend. I have some forest terrain pieces to scratch build so that the armour has something to hide behind, as well as some Red Vectors battle damaged village buildings that I'll have to construct when they arrive in the post at some point, hopefully before the club game a week on Tuesday. As they are burned down ruins they shouldn't be too difficult either to build or to paint up?
I also rummaged in the unmade kit box and have dug out some early war Russian tanks that I meant to build last year but ran out of time to stick together before the summer holidays. These are a pair of Italeri quick build T34/76 m42's, which look really good, and a cracking kit of two Pegasus KV-1 / KV-2 tanks, which can be built as either variant. I think I might make a pair of KV-2 bad boys so that I can scare the pants off the Wehrmacht! These will all be painted in winter camouflage to match my mid/late war models.
I'm also going to get the briefings finished for the Bag the Hun Malta scenario, as they are already almost finished and just need a few minor tweaks to be ready to go. After that, I'll crack on with the card deck for the game, which I'm planning to adapt either from the deck I produced for the Bandits Over Berlin scenario, or from a more 'polished' deck I produced for a similar scenario a couple of years ago.
(As a result, the Cruel Seas stuff has been temporarily bumped along a bit and will have to wait until I can clear the decks of plastic tanks, trees and other paraphernalia!)
Thursday, 24 January 2019
I've booked in a date in a couple of weeks to run a four player game of What a Tanker! at the club. I've been meaning to do this for ages, having literally assembled a multi storey car park of 1/72nd scale German and Russian model tank kits, but just haven't had the time. I will need to scratch build some extra terrain and cover for the game but that won't be too difficult as I have all of the bits and bobs I need (I think?). I'll also be playing a few solo games to brush up on the rules, as I haven't really play tested them enough yet to be a fully functional umpire, not that I'm even partially functional most of the time anyway! I'll get cracking on this at the weekend.
Tuesday, 22 January 2019
An excellent, fast moving and very enjoyable game of Cruel Seas at the club tonight, smoothly organised by Geoff, who provided all of the bits and bobs including some beautifully painted models; I particularly like the mottle camouflage on the S-Boats...superb!. In the end the wavy navy did itself proud, sinking a coastal tanker and two S-boats for no loss, although one or two of the Vosper MTB's would have struggled to make it back to blighty.
The rules worked really well, especially the movement system using the cardboard wake templates, but there were a few instances where we had to improvise to fill a gap in the mechanics including, for example, what happens after ramming or collisions? The torpedoes also failed to deliver, with four strikes ending in duds and only one causing any significant damage, which failed to sink the tanker even then. I think we'll use David Manley's suggested revisions next time we play.
It was, nonetheless, a lot of fun and I'm keen to have another go, especially if I can paint my S-Boat flotilla to match something approaching Geoff's high standard. I also have a VP boat and an M Class minesweeper to paint and it will be really interesting to see how these larger vessels perform in the Cruel Seas system. I still think 1/600th scale makes a lot more sense but I do like the 1/300th scale models, which do look splendid on a 6' x 4' wargames table.
I've been working away on the set up for the second game of the Lard Day, the Malta based Bag the Blenheims 1941 scenario, so that I have all of the pieces in place before I start to work up the turn cards, briefing sheets and other logistical paraphernalia. This is the first thing I needed to add to my existing game aids, a quick reference sheet for Air Gunnery for whoever takes on the role of No18 Squadron as it wings it's way toward Malta.
It's a basic cut and paste job from p32 of the Bag the Hun 2 rule book but a lot easier for the players to refer to than the book itself. I've also finally decided on the pilots and experience levels for the Italian and British fighter formations, which was a lot less straightforward than I originally thought but is now quite nicely balanced, in order to give both sides an even chance of success. I'm going to write up the scenario next, including all the details that I need to run the game for the club playtest.
Monday, 21 January 2019
I've been working out my initial Kriegsmarine force for Cruel Seas, using the various books that I have on coastal warfare with an emphasis on doing something historical rather than just painting up the models as generic schnellboote. I fancied replicating one of the units assigned to the Western end of the English Channel, based on my previous reading for my 1/600th scale coastal forces project and Bag the Hun, so plonked for the 5th S-Boot Flotilla operating from Cherbourg and the Channel Islands in late 1943 to mid-1944.
This gives me two options (italics = S-38b class / underline = S-100 class):
S65 / S77 / S81 / S82 / S112 / S115 / S116
S84 / S100 / S136 / S138 / S139 / S140 / S142
This is all splendid except for the S-38b boats with the retrofitted 'kalotte' armoured bridge, just like the S-100 class, but with a different armament consisting, in most cases, of a twin 20mm amidships and a 40mm Bofors aft. So, if I'm being historically accurate, I would need to modify or adapt the S-100 models to make the armament and layout correct for the S38b. In some cases the amidships 20mm would not have been fitted either, leaving an empty weapons platform in the middle of the S-100 model.
I could, of course, just ignore the difference and use the bog standard S-100 but I'd like to at least try to show the different armament configuration, so the 1944 flotilla would be he obvious choice to go for. I'd need to convert only two models in this case, simply by adding a 40mm Bofors mount on the aft gun position. However, I do have one spare sprue of boats including a slightly damaged S-100, which I could do a cut and shut with using the S-38 hull, to create an S-38b without the midships gun mounting. I quite like the idea of doing this even if it's a bit superfluous, just to see what the end result looks like?
I also thought of ordering one of the Heroics and Ros S-38 / S-100 models, to see if they would be a good proxy for an S-38b. I'd need to replace the torpedoes with spares and possibly switch the gun mountings for Warlord ones, but it's a possible option if I want to replicate the 5th S-Boat Flotilla in it's 1943 configuration. In the end, its all a bit too much faff, so I'll probably just go for the 1944 line up, with some cosmetic changes to the S-100 models so that it's obvious which two are S84 and S138. I doubt I'd ever use all seven boats together anyway!
Sunday, 20 January 2019
I found this hardback in the local charity shop yesterday for three quid. It's actually pretty good despite the silly 'Owner's Workshop Manual' format and obviously written by someone who really knows their stuff. I particularly like the emphasis on drill and training, together with a lot of detail on equipment and tactical aspects relating to trench warfare. If you find a copy and are interested in the subject matter, I can definitely recommend this book as a good all round treatment of soldiering on the Western Front, based on contemporary training manuals, historical records and artefactual evidence.
Saturday, 19 January 2019
Here's what I got for my birthday presents today, some of it stuff that I ordered and other things that I had on my Amazon wish list. I'm fortunate to have a very tolerant other half who is more than happy to get me the things that I ask for, rather then random stuff like tokens or vouchers. I also have kids with some disposable income now, so I even got some bits and bobs from them, along with some presents from my relatives. I'm really looking forward to painting the Cruel Seas Kriegsmarine flotilla of S-Boats but the 15mm German and US things will go on top of my IABSM project pile for the moment. I also got a pack of SD Agent figures for Strontium Dog but it only arrived later in the day. Lucky me!
Friday, 18 January 2019
I've been at work today so the official celebrations will be at the weekend, when I'll also be opening my presents, so what they are exactly is still a bit of a guess. I know there's some Cruel Seas stuff in there, as I was allowed to choose that, and there may well be some Flames of War things too, as they were on my Amazon wish list. I also already have some socks from my daughter, so that's a nice non-wargaming and much more practical present. To give myself a pat on the back for surviving this long, I also decided to give myself a couple of boxes of 28mm Warlord Napoleonic French line infantry in greatcoats, so my resistance has obviously crumbled. I'll just put that down to my age!
Wednesday, 16 January 2019
A game of Napoleonic Sharp Practice is being put on at the club next week and, in an idle moment of lapsed resistance, I suggested that I might be interested in taking part, were it not for the fact that I'm already booked in for a Cruel Seas game.
No sooner had I posted my interest on the club message board, than I was mercilessly prodded from various directions by the club Sharp Practice enthusiasts, with tempting suggestions about a French force in 28mm, despite the fact that I am useless at painting and have a well founded phobia of fiddly uniforms.
The upshot of this is that I'm thinking about getting a couple of boxes of plastic French line infantry in greatcoats, as it was pointed out to me that they are much easier to paint than the bog standard uniform figures. This is probably a really bad idea and chucks my ACW plans out of the nearest window.
I am sorely tempted though!
Tuesday, 15 January 2019
I set up a play test of the Bag the Hun 'Bogeys Over Berlin' game this evening at the club which went well apart from the eponymous bogeys, which didn't really work in the way I intended and just slowed things down at the start of the game. As a result, I'm going to leave bogeys out of the set up, both to simplify the scenario for the players and to speed up the action in the first few turns. In tonight's game, the Luftwaffe pulled off a last minute victory of six points to three, with an impressive performance from the Me262 Top Ace. It was good fun and I think will work even better as an introductory game if the bogeys are removed from play. I just have to think of a new title for the game...how about 'Bandits over Berlin' instead?
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