Monday 31 October 2016

Back of Beyond Eve of Battle

It's the first battle for the Bolsheviks in the club Back of Beyond campaign tomorrow and they're up against the British Museum Archaeological Expedition under counter-revolutionary imperialist stooge Cholmondely Warner, which is a small but pretty formidable force. I've assembled what I think will be an effective opposing force based around a core of fairly bog standard Red infantry, backed up by some hard core Cheka, a couple of morale boosting commissars and as much materiel as I can lay my hands on to make up 800 points.

This includes my nice new Schneider CA1 tank, which will probably blow up in the first five minutes, a heavy machine gun and a field gun, together with a Nieuport fighter plane for ground strafing attacks. I've even brought a sniper just in case. I was planning to use some off table artillery but I can't as I'm not the attacker. Instead, I have a Special Character, Soviet Agitprop Agent V.I. Proletarski, who will hopefully win over some of Andy's less stiff upper lipped troops to the revolutionary cause at the start of the game?

Whatever happens, it should be a lot of fun!

Sunday 30 October 2016

Red Armoured Train Chuffing Along

I finished the second machine gun turret for the HMG wagon today and then tidied up the roof of the wagon itself, adding the last of the plastic card plating to deck over the top. I decided to use tiddly magnets and washers to fix the turrets in place rather than gluing them down, so that they can be rotated to fire in a sensible direction as required.

I also assembled the field gun turret for the last of the armoured train wagons, using the fridge magnets covered in plastic card approach that I originally employed when I scratch built my previous armoured train. I made the turret taller this time so that it looked as though a crew could actually fit inside, so no suspension of disbelief required.

I'll be pretty busy for the next few days but I hope to get the machine gun wagon finished by the end of the week, so that I can turn my attention to the field gun turret wagon instead. When that's underway I'll also start on the engine and tender so that I actually have a useable train for Turn Two of the Back of Beyond club campaign in January.

Red Armoured Train Update

As I've been away in North Wales all week, I haven't had any time to spend on armoured train construction but I have added the bogies to the troop wagon that I finished building before the holidays. These were drilled and screwed in using a Dremel and some woodscrews. As you can see, this gives a much better impression of what the finished train will eventually look like next to 28mm figures, in this case some very confused White Russian tatty infantry. The side door is supposed to be this big as it's for cavalry to load their horses on board. If I can find the time later today I'll crack on with the machine gun wagon, as the plan is to get the whole train finished by the Xmas holidays.

Saturday 29 October 2016 out!

I have lined up the first game in the Back of Beyond campaign for Tuesday next week, so had to finish off the handful of Cheka figures that I need to round off my unit to a solid twelve including a Lewis gunner and a standard bearer. I also found an unfinished HMG team, so have repainted it in Cheka uniform to use alongside the infantry, although I've had to work out the points value for this as it's not strictly in the army list. I now just have to paint the bases of the two extra infantry figures and add a flag for them to be ready for action.

Friday 28 October 2016

Something for the Road

Before we set off back home from North Wales, I was allowed to have a shopping spree in the Porthmadog Models shop. There was load of stuff to choose from but I settled on three boxes of the Wargames Factory War of Spanish Succession figures which are now hard to come by and so often quite expensive. I now have an extra box of artillery, infantry and cavalry to add to the bargain bucket boxed sets that I originally picked up for peanuts in a North Star sale ages ago. They're not bad sculpts and very good value for what you get in each of the boxes.The long term plan is to use them for a Maurice imaginations project, although I've also thought about using them as the basis of a Bavarian army for the WSS using the same rules. Very happy with that!

Monday 24 October 2016

Brick and Mortar Model Shops

Not many of these around any more but I found an absolute cracker today in Porthmadog of all places. It has an extensive range of model kits, loads of toy soldiers and even a decent selection of wargame figures. I replenished my dwindling supply of Evergreen half round styrene strip and topped up my 1mm sheet plastic card stockpile. Not the most exciting of purchases but very useful nonetheless and I will be popping in again before the end of the week for something more inspirational!

They Shall Not Pass

I'm reading this now and it is one of those books that you can't put down. I've wanted to do something with the new range of 15mm late war French from Peter Pig since they came out, so this book is a potential source of inspiration. I also have a family angle on this too, as my wife's great grandfather was killed in 1914 in the Race to the Sea and many other relatives fought at Verdun in 1916. It's still an emotive issue in Brittany as the Bretons were treated as cannon fodder by the French high command, more so than other units and with the inevitable results.

Friday 21 October 2016

After Limbang

I popped into town for a pre-holiday haircut this afternoon, so had a look in the Oxfam bookshop for something to read at my leisure during the rest of the week. Sure enough, I found a copy of this anthology of first hand experiences by former Royal Marines who served in the Indonesian Confrontation. Very interesting and great inspiration for my 15mm post-colonial skirmish plans.

Thursday 20 October 2016

Dakka, Dakka, Dakka

Not a lot done this evening due to work but I have undercoated the machine gun turret to see what it looks like, having stippled the top with plastic putty to create a cast effect and to hide the central hole. I've also added some armour plating skirt sections and a door to the wagon itself.

I'm hoping to get a bit more done to the wagon tomorrow including the buffer beams and the various fittings for the doors, together with the second turret. I'm still debating how to attach the turrets to the wagons, either using magnets and washers so they can be rotated, or by just gluing them in place with superglue? What do you think?

SupeRetro Classic Train Set

I've been posting some progress reports on the armoured train build over on the Lead Adventure Forum. I was asked about the source of the toy train bogies that I'm using for the wagons built out of Lego bricks. These are from a couple of cheap toy train sets which I found in the Robert Dyas Xmas sale a few years ago. I have also used the track from the two train sets which scales out to about 28mm.

Anyway, I've tracked down a toy train set with the same locomotive, tender and tracks but with passenger carriages instead of tanker wagons, so ideal for the Back of Beyond, 1920's gangsters, WW2 or whatever. The locomotive could easily be repainted and with very little effort would look pretty good. I'm not sure about the passenger carriages but there are supposed to be five of them in the set, although there's only one in the picture?

Here's the eBay link if you are interested:

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Armoured Train Machine Gun Turrets

I've been fiddling around with the turrets for the machine gun wagon this evening, using various bricks to form the cupola, a flight stand as the top and plastic card to cover over inconvenient holes and to create the deflectors, which you always see in pictures of this sort of thing. I cheated with the machine gun barrels and used some cut-down Brigade Games metal Vickers HMG's that I bought in a Northstar sale when they were going for £2.50 a pack. I still have some bits to finish off but I think it looks OK so far.

FFOL Horse and Musket

I really like Fistful of Lead: Reloaded so I was very pleased to see that Jaye Wiley has published a Horse and Musket version, with rules adjustments, add-ons and scenarios for the French Indian Wars, Napoleonic Wars, American Civil War and the Maximillian Adventure. I have a plan to dig out my old 28mm pirate figures and use them for some Treasure Island style games, although with only a handful of figures required I could well branch out into other black powder periods. The core rules are very similar to the Old West version, so it should be easy to pick them up too. Very good value for six quid and available now as a handy pdf download from Wargame Vault.

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Red Armoured Train HMG Wagon

I've started on the second armoured wagon, a machine gun twin turret armed carriage, using the same method that I tried out with the first one. The basic substructure has been plated up in the ever useful Renedra plastic bases and some sheets of 1mm plastic card. The turrets will be constructed with machine gun barrels and deflectors, although I have yet to find anything suitable for this in the bits box. I'll then glue the turrets in place and add some buffers, armoured skirts, hatches and hand rails tomorrow, assuming I can find the time.

Monday 17 October 2016

Armoured Troop Wagon Tweaks

I have work to do this evening so won't have much time to spend on the armoured train but I have added a few tweaks to the troop transporting wagon that I assembled yesterday.

I wasn't very happy with the sides of the wagon or the thickness of the main doors, so I added an armoured skirt of Renedra 20mm square plastic bases around the lower section, which I think looks much better as a result. I have loads of these plastic bases spare, as I only use mdf and metal bases.

I also found the little metal star sequins that I used as Soviet stars on the old armoured train that I built a few years ago, so I've added these to the doors as welded on insignia. I still need to attach the toy train bogies and add some sort of coupling gear but otherwise this is a done deal. Oh well, back to work!

Sunday 16 October 2016

Red Armoured Train Troop Wagon

Here's the end result of a few hours fiddling about with plastic bases, plastic card, laser cut mdf shapes, staples and drawing pins, on top of the Lego substructure that I built yesterday. It's not quite what I had in mind and I'm really not sure about the large side door, but it's not far off. As a result, I will follow a similar approach with the next wagon in the armoured train, the heavy machine gun equipped carriage, which now has two turrets. I'm hoping to get this done over the next few days before I tackle the engine, tender and artillery wagon.

Saturday 15 October 2016

The Red Armoured Train - Comrade Legoripov

I had a bit of a weird day today, setting out this morning to paint the extra figures I have almost finished for the Back of Beyond Bolsheviks but, in the end constructing an entire armoured train out of the kids long forgotten Lego collection. I'm really not sure how that happened. Anyway, having scratch built an armoured train a few years ago using a toy engine and carriages covered with strip wood and plastic card, I thought I'd take a shortcut this time as it was a laborious and somewhat 'ad hoc' process to say the least the first time around.

This is the one I made earlier...

I had used some small Lego components in the old armoured train and realised too late that I could have built the whole thing that way, saving a lot of time and effort. This time I've built the core of the train from Lego bricks and will plate it all over with plastic card afterwards, adding the various extra bits like chains, handrails and gun barrels from whatever I have at hand. I'm using the hexagonal fridge magnets again, for example, as the substructure for the gun turret with the barrel from a plastic flight stand. The bogies are from a toy train and fit the toy tracks that I have already 'weaponised'.

Comrade Legoripov inspects his technicolour train

Fridge magnet gun turret

The armoured troop carriage

I now have an armoured engine and tender, a machine gun carriage with two side firing turrets, an artillery carriage with an end mounted traversable gun turret, a troop carriage for the armoured train crew of twelve naval infantry and a flat wagon on which I could possibly mount yet another maxim machine gun, this time out in the open with a naval crew to operate it. This is the maximum allowed in the Contemptible Little Armies rules and totals up to a very respectable 500 points or so, if I throw in all of the whistles and bells and count the naval train crew as 'volunteers'.

Just don't tell the kids.

Friday 14 October 2016

Thank **** it's Izorski Fiat Friday!

It's Friday. It's been a really long week. I have decided to get another armoured car for my Bolshevik Back of Beyond Army. 'Nuf said. I already have a 1/48th scale Sloppy Jallopy Austin armoured car but I've never really liked it that much as I screwed up the mudguards and had to leave them off.

So, as a substitute and as an occasional back up, I have ordered an HLBS Izorski-Fiat. It's armed with twin machine gun turrets and costs exactly the same in points, so should be quite handy. I'm tempted to get yet another armoured car, as I could stretch to two if I massaged the army composition a bit, but I'm going to resist. Yes I am!

Thursday 13 October 2016

Bolshevik Battlewagon

The laser cut mdf kit of a Mark I tank arrived from Warbases yesterday and I've been busy working out where all the bits go, ready to glue it together at the weekend. I've had to do this without the downloaded instructions, as my laptop hard drive has blown up and I can't print them out. I now have a print off so it all makes a lot more sense than earlier on.

The Bolsheviks had some captured Mark V tanks which look vaguely similar to the Warbases Mark I, so I'm going to paint it up in this rather fetching two tone contemporary camouflage scheme. I'll also replace the gun barrels and possibly add some machine gun mountings to the sponsons. The tail steering rig will also be left off and I'll add some  extra details with thin card.

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Cheka Extras

I've been bumbling along with the extra Cheka figures for my Bolshevik army and have succeeded to a lesser or greater extent in matching the grey shade of their uniforms. This wasn't as easy as it sounds as I had forgotten what I used ten years ago and have since switched paints to Foundry and Vallejo from Citadel. In the end I used a couple of shades of Foundry Charcoal, followed by a wash in GW Nuln Oil and a light dry brush in Foundry Arctic Grey Shade. It will have to do. I also finished renovating the Red General, as I like to call him, so he's now ready for some base dry brushing and decoration.

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Campaign Briefing Number Five

The Bolsheviks

Your force is the Third Peasants and Workers Shock Brigade under the fraternal leadership of People's Commissar Nasti Tchestikov and Military Specialist, Comrade Colonel Igor Tubugerov. You have been dispatched on a vital mission to Urga. Your task is to disseminate Soviet propaganda amongst the downtrodden populace and to undermine the attempts by counter-revolutionary imperialist forces to destabilise Soviet influence in the region.

As part of your mission you have been instructed to make contact with a Soviet agent in Outer Mongolia, Vladimir Ilyich Proletarski, who has been dispatched to Urga by Lenin himself to make contact with underground Bolshevik cells in the city. It is vital that you pass on a top secret document to Proletarski, containing the names of revisionist double agents that have infiltrated the Soviet spy network in Urga.

You have been instructed to seek out and destroy any imperialist forces of bourgeois counter revolution that may attempt to stop you in your vital mission. These forces are rumoured to be infiltrating the region via the supposedly untraversible wastes of the Gobi Desert. If you make contact with any of these decadent capitalist elements, you will shoot first and ask any questions later.

Monday 10 October 2016

Target Locked On Extras

There are some new extras available for Target Locked On over on Rory Crabb's rules page, including a supplement with stats for a range of aircraft and another with variants of the F18 Hornet. The latter is particularly useful and will apparently be followed by more aircraft in the same format. 

I'd really like to see something for the JAS39 Gripen and the SU22M Fitter, neither of which are included in the current rules. I really like the approach taken by Rory Crabb in supporting his rules and in providing additional materials for free. I wish all rules writers and publishers did the same.

Sunday 9 October 2016

Bolshevik Tank and Field Gun Finished

I finished the HLBS Schneider CA1 tank today, with some decals and weathering to make it fit in with the other vehicles in the Bolshevik armoured vehicle collection. I'm quite pleased with the overall result, even though it is on the basic side and doesn't have any funky interwar camouflage. I also banged out the Putilov field gun to replace the original one that looked a bit rubbish. It's also a really simple paint job but good enough for me.
I now have a handful of Cheka figures to finish off before I switch back to the Congo forest tribe units, as well as the 1/600 scale stuff for the Iskanderanian project. In the long run, I have my eye on some Bolshevik cavalry as I don't have any in my army which is a bit of an oversight and really should be sorted out. I have the figures, it's just a question of squeezing them in to the schedule at some point once the Back of Beyond campaign is well underway.

Campaign Briefing Number Four

The British Museum

Your force is the British Museum Department of Oriental Antiquities Archaeological Excavation Party under the unflappable leadership of Brigadier (Retd) Henry Winstanley Arbuthnot Cholmoneley-Warner. You have assembled an expert team of archaeologists and antiquarians in order to survey and excavate the ruined lost cities of the ancient Silk Road, escorted by a detachment of Chinese Warlord troops and Mongolian cavalry.

Your task is to recover ancient manuscripts and works of art for inclusion in the British Museum’s Central Asian collections. As these artefacts are extremely valuable you must be prepared to defend yourself from marauding bandits and other unsavoury types, using your small arsenal of high powered rifles. You have improvised a number of armoured vehicles to protect your party and transport the antiquities to Urga. You will shoot first and ask questions later.

You have a potential ally in an old army chum, Colonel Algenon Utterley-Barkinge, famous big game hunter and all round good egg. He has set out for a spot of big game hunting on the Mongolian steppe, zoology not being his strongpoint. He is keen to join your expedition for part of the way and, as he is a crack shot, he will be a valuable asset to the party.

Saturday 8 October 2016

Slogging Along

The plan for today was to crack on with the bits and bobs for the Back of Beyond but instead I spent another four hours in casualty with the lad, who had a suspected broken nose from a game of school rugby. In the end, this turned out to be a false alarm but better safe than sorry. I have made a start on the extra figures, the field gun and the tank but will have to pick it up again tomorrow. I'm hoping to get at least the tank and the field gun finished by end of the weekend.

I also decided to invest in a Warbases laser cut Mark I tank kit as my weekend pocket money purchase, even though it is not quite the right version for my Bolsheviks to deploy. The Reds did have several captured Mark V's, together with Whippets and Medium B's, but I think I can probably get away with this earlier model. I may try to modify the sponsons and top deck to make it look a bit more like a Mark V but I'll definitely replace the square section 6 pounder guns.

I've also dispatched all the paperwork for the club Back of Beyond campaign to the players, so will probably get emailed with questions at some point that will need answering. I have made a few changes to some of the army lists to balance things out and to give the expeditions a fighting chance, so we'll have to see how they go down. I think they make sense but you never know with this sort of thing and I may have to step in to sort it out! 


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