Tuesday 31 December 2013

2013...where did that go?

It's that time again. This year I decided to try painting things rather than figures but didn't really stick to my own game plan, with the inevitable results. It started well in January with the completion of a Neo-Soviet fleet for Full Thrust using the very neat Brigade Models range as a substitute for the proper GZG ships. In February, I followed this up with a small force of GZG New Swabian ships which have since been given to the sprog in a futile attempt to get him interested in sci-fi gaming.

In March and April, I began the long awaited Coastal Forces project with a large flotilla of mid-war British MTB's, MGB's, ML's and a minesweeper or two. This project was prematurely swamped by work and other diversions but I will be returning to complete it in 2014, along with a matching Kriegsmarine force. In the time I did salvage, I completed three objective markers and a bridge for AK47, so it wasn't a total washout.

In May, I added a unit of tribal militia loonies to my AK47 dictatorship army, followed by the completion of the bulk of my 1/285th aircraft for the on-going late war Luftwaffe project. These included a couple of Me262's, a flight of Me109K's and two flights of FW190D's and A8's. To balance out the collection, I also painted up eight P51D's, which took awhile but was worth it in the end as they were used in a couple of games this year.

With the summer holidays interupting play, I started on a 28mm US Late War Reinforced Platoon for Bolt Action, which was eventually completed by the end of October. I cut some corners with this one, using the Army Painter dip approach on the figures with a simple spray and drybrush for the AFV's, but it still took the best part of two months to complete. I still have some figures and vehicles to finish off the force but, in the meantime the platoon has seen some action, with more to come in 2014.

In November I started on my new AK47 Superpower backed army, having sold my old Colonial Settlers and having promised to loan my Dictatorship army to a club player for a future AK47 campaign. I got a fair way through the initial units, with a couple of tanks and some AFV's completed but will be carrying over the army to 2014, as I need to complete it ready for the campaign in February-March. It's almost half way there already, so I'll be tackling the infantry next alongside the remaining vehicles.

In December, I decided to kit up a 1/72nd scale aircraft model for the club WW1 aerial warfare rules, Knights of the Sky. I had a Pfalz DIII kit to hand, so took a few days to stick it together and paint it up, before the Xmas holidays began. I enjoyed this mini-project, so will be adding more of my kit pile to the on-going project next year, with late 1917 German planes as a gap to fill in the existing collection. 

So, on balance, the 'things not figures' strategy seems to have been reasonably successful, with at least some of my vast pile of lead cleared from the overloaded shelving and dusty boxes under the workbench. As always, I have finished only a fraction of what I hoped to achieve but, on the flip side, it's been a great year for gaming with a number of enjoyable games at the club and some memorable not quite victories to celebrate. 

Happy New Year!

Sunday 29 December 2013

Achtung Commando!

I've just finished reading Allies at Dieppe, which I got for the Kindle a few months ago during one of those 99p special offers that frequently pop up. I'm not a big fan of special or elite forces stuff, being far more interested in the Poor Bloody Infantry perspective, but this book was a very well written and an easy read. I had a set of the iconic Airfix 1/72nd scale British commandos when I was a kid, so I'm now seriously contemplating a small mid-war force of cap comforter clad raiders in 28mm, either for Bolt Action or a similar skirmish level set of rules.
A bit of a google and it looks like the old Michael Perry sculpted Foundry range is the front runner, with some extra figures from Dixon Miniatures to bulk out the numbers. They're not the cheapest option and are a little on the small side of 28mm but the Perry commandos are the closest to the Airfix set that I have found, bar the less than great Westwind range, of which I used to have a small contingent. The other option would be to add expensive metal heads to the Warlord Games plastic commando box set but this is too time consuming and costly for me to bother with!
Any other suggestions?

Friday 27 December 2013

Xmas Bonus

I've been looking for a set or rules to use for the Alto Cenepa air war for ages, which involved helicopter v. helicopter actions with fighter, ground attack and COIN aircraft thrown in for good measure. It's easy enough to find modern air warfare rules covering fixed wing aircraft but helicopters are rarely dealt with other than as an adjunct to ground rules.


I'm hoping that Hind Commander might bridge the gap, without being too complex, fiddly or biased toward ground attack NATO v WARPAC type scenarios. I already have lots of 1/600 scale aircraft models for the Alto Cenepa war from Tumbling Dice, so this may be a project for 2014, assuming the rules aren't too complicated?

WW1 Show Participation Game 2014

I've been thinking about a potential club game for the local wargames shows for quite a while, as we didn't put one together this year for various reasons. We've had some success in the past with our participation games and I've enjoyed being involved with the developmental side of things, with one or two rare exceptions, so it's about time we got our act together for 2014.
After the Knights of the Sky game a couple of weeks ago, I suggested we could run a WW1 aerial game next year using our existing collection of 1/72nd scale models and the club set of Hexon terrain. This went down well and we now have half a dozen volunteers and the author of the original rules onboard, with the objective being to run a game for at least one show next year.
I have some ideas for the format of the game and for the various elements that we'll need to put it all together but, as this is a club effort, I'm sure there will be plenty of constructive input from the team. My plan is to run a series of consecutive games from 1916, through early to late 1917 and on to 1918, covering the course of the war in the air. In each game there will be a simple scenario based on typical engagements of the time over the Western Front.
The players will be able to dip in and out of a game, with each scenario lasting between forty minutes and an hour or so. The games will flexible enough to cater for half a dozen volunteers or just a couple, with the club players filling in the gaps as and when required, or new participants slotting in to the game when others drop out. There would be three or four games over the course of the day, although we'd probably only run the game for a single day rather than two.
I already have enough model planes to run the game but will be putting togther some more to fill in some gaps. This will involve kitting up some Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutters and Pups for early 1917 for the RFC and some Fokker DR1's and Albatros DV's for late 1917 for the Germans. I'll also build a few one-off models for the scenarios if I have the time including, for example, a Junkers J1.
The terrain will be bqsed on the Hexon system with some scratchbuilt No Man's Land tiles running down the middle of the board. These will be converted from the standard hex tiles with trench lines and shell holes etched into the surface using a soldering iron or similar method. I'm going to run some experiments to see how this will work but I think it'll look really good once the tiles are textured and detailed.
The terrain features will be moveable to allow for game play. At the moment, I'm thinking of either a 1/600 ground scale using Tumbling Dice models or 1/1200 using Brigade Models builidngs and vehicles. These will be used to construct gun positions, ammunition dumps, villages, ruins and other ground targets, together with areas of trees using Woodland Scenics foliage.
It's all a bit up for grabs at the moment but I reckon this could eb a bit of a show stopper in 2014.

Thursday 26 December 2013

Le Grand Duc Integrale

As usual I only have a couple of Xmas presents to open each year, as we tend to focus on the kids and fill the car with their presents, rather then cart all our stuff all the way to France. However, I did get a copy of Le Grand Duc in a single bound volume, which was an unexpected and very well recieved gift. I've been meaning to get all three books in the series but somehow never got round to it. It's a great story and superbly illustrated, with plenty of inspiration for my Russian Front Bag the Hun project next year!

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Monday 23 December 2013

Aerojournal 38

I made a brief trip to the local hypermarket today to get the last minute stocking fillers, so a browse of the various military and modelling magazines was essential. There are lots of excellent titles published every month and as quarterlies but I always pick up a copy of Aerojournal first, as it never fails to be of interest.

This months edition features articles on the Glenn Martin in French service, the Malta Gladiators of Faith, Hope and Charity fame and long range P51's in the Pacific. The most rewarding section, however, covers the aircraft of the Chaco War, complete with an overview of the aerial side of the conflict and colour profiles for the numerous types employed by both sides. 
Very interesting, if a little obscure!


We had a nightmare journey over to the relatives in Brittany but have now arrived, ready for the full on family festivities. The journey itself involved a two hour wait in Portsmouth for a delayed ferry, a very choppy six hour crossing with annoying children, a late start on the five hour drive with a breakdown at two in the morning, ending with a final arrival at five o'clock. As you can imagine, we're a bit knackered, so I haven't had the time or the energy to update the blog yet. I will post something later today, however, as I have a few things up my sleeve.

Friday 20 December 2013

Chain of Command Christmas

I'm off to France tomorrow for the duration so will be packing some reading material for the journey. I've been watching the video tutorials for Chain of Command and have also been reading through the after action reports on the Toofatlardies blog, so it's about time I actually gave the rules the attention they deserve. It's an ideal opportunity to get my head around the rules without any distractions.

I'll be packing the Kindle so that I can get a handle on the pre-game set up, the turn sequence and the mechanics, ready for a game in the New Year at some not too distant point? For the moment, this will be with my late war US platoon but, in the longer term, I'm looking forward to building a force with the Xmas Warlord Japanese starter army, with a number of other options open if I get the time.

Thursday 19 December 2013

Knights of the Sky Kitbash [6]

I finished the Roden Pfalz DIII yesterday but the weather knocked out the internet connection, so I couldn't post the pictures. In the end, it's turned out to be pretty robust despite my concerns about the flimsy struts and wobbly undercarriage. I'm happy with the end result and now have something a little different to deploy in the next Knights of the Sky game. I'm also a little less daunted by the Pegasus FK8 and DH5!

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Toofatlardies Xmas Special 2013

This has just been released and I have an article for Bag the Hun 2 in it. It's based on a scenario that I wrote for the club and played tested a couple of months ago. If you like it, I'm thinking of doing some more for the Summer Special, based on the No185 Squadron Malta scenarios that I've written over the last couple of years or so.

Monday 16 December 2013

Knights of the Sky Kitbash [5]

My daughter was sent home from school this morning feeling sick, so I got the job of looking after her all afternoon. This meant I had some time to crack on with the Pflaz DIII while she went to sleep on the sofa.

I've added the undercarriage, which is less flimsy than I thought it would be, added the engine exhaust stack and machine gun barrels, stuck on the tailskid and spray painted the tail to make it look less boring. I've also added the decals, which were a pain as they disintegrated and had to be replaced with spares from the bits box.

I now need to add the upper wing, interplane and cabane struts, which I'm not looking forward to at all. I also need to paint the pilot figure and squeeze him into the cockpit, which is always a tricky job to get right. It's a bit of a rush bodge job but it's good practice and will add an unusual fighter to the collection.

Sunday 15 December 2013

Knights of the Sky Kitbash [4]

A manic day but I have had some time to spend on the Pfalz DIII, although it's still looking pretty crude. I've struggled a bit with with the joint between the engine cowling and the fuselage, not to mention the Silver Grey finish to the surfaces. I think it's not too far off and I doubt anyone will notice. I now need to paint the upper wing undersides and the various fiddly bits such as exhaust stacks, tailskids, wheels and struts.

Stocking Fillers

After the WW1 aerial game sparked a lot of interest the other day, I thought it would be a good idea to give some of the new players a bit of encouragement to produce their own model planes. I have a massive stash of kits in the loft, many of which are duplicates or even quadruplicates, so I'm more than happy to donate a selection to the club as an early Xmas present.

I've sorted out a pile of kits that will be useful for 1917 into 1918, with an emphasis upon ease of construction and a limited number of bits. There are a couple of more complex or fiddly kits as well, just to add some challenge. I'm going to take this lot up the club on Tuesday so that the chaps can pick two or three to take home as stocking fillers.

Saturday 14 December 2013

Knights of the Sky Kitbash [3]

I made some progress with the Pfalz DIII this evening but it's looking pretty rough at the moment, so will need a lot of sanding and scraping to shape up. This is one of those kits where the instructions have been written by someone who hasn't actually put the thing together, so some bits don't fit and other parts fit badly. I'm a bit worried about the very flimsy struts and undercarriage but I'm hoping they'll go together without too many nightmares. I really should stick to good, old fashioned Airfix, Revell and Esci kits!

Knights of the Sky Kitbash [2]

I've chickened out of starting the Pegasus FK8 'Big Ack' kit, at least for the moment, as all that white metal and bendy strut sprue has given me the fear. Instead, I'll be building a more 'user friendly' Roden Pfalz DIII kit which I'd already undercoated ready for construction. I've made a good start on the wings and fuselage and hope to get some more done later this evening.

Friday 13 December 2013

Black Powder Zulu!

This arrived in the post a few days ago but, due to work, I haven't had time to sit down and read it through yet. It's supposed to be a Xmas present but I'll have a sneaky flip through this weekend before it gets wrapped up and put under the tree. It looks stunning and is full of historical detail with a minimum of rules specific content, so it'll be useful for other rules as well as for Black Powder, which is handy as I also like the look of Chris Peers' Death in the Dark Continent' rules for this too. 

Thursday 12 December 2013

Knights of the Sky Kitbash [1]

As the WW1 aerial game went so well on Tuesday, I've set up another one for January 2014. This will be a late 1917 scenario and will, hopefully, feature one or two new aircraft from the kit pile. I'm thinking of starting on one this weekend, although I doubt I'll get anywhere near finishing it by the end of next week. I've finally finished the marking, sort of, so the next three or four days are relatively free. 

To make my life even more complicated, this will probably be a Pegasus limited run injection moulded kit, either an Armstrong Whitworth FK8 or a DH5. This will involve a lot of effing and blinding, as I try to cut various flimsy plastic strut lengths to size then attempt to get the whole thing to glue together without collapsing under it's own weight. 

...if it all goes pear shaped, I'll dig out a simple plastic kit and bash something together instead!

Tuesday 10 December 2013

WW1 Aerial Multiplayer Game

We had a cracking game of Knights of the Sky this evening, with ten players contesting the skies over the Western Front in the Spring of 1917. The game made use of the club Hexon terrain for the first time and it worked really well, especially with the large number of players and planes involved. There were several new players as well, which injected some new enthusiasm into the game and helped to make it fun for everyone.

In the end it was a bit of a stalemate. I flew a Nieuport 17 whose French pilot, Capitane Crapaud, succeeded in shooting down one enemy Albatros before being forced to return to his airfield with some nasty structural damage. I subsequently returned with an RFC 'Harry Tate' which made a brief but hair raising flight over the frontlines.

Although at one point on fire and suffering some fuselage, wing and tail hits, Lt Twistleton-Twinkle and his rear gunner, Corporal Scrote, did give the Hun a good thrashing in true 'stiff upper lip' fashion. The twin Lewis gun mount and forward firing Vickers on the RE8 gave the Boche a nasty surprise, despite a few inconvenient jams at inopportune moments.

Good stuff!


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