Sunday 30 April 2017

Plastic Cactus

I was looking for something manageable for a weekend project when I found a box of plastic resin cacti which I bought at Colours last year then forgot about. They are actually produced by Shell Hole Scenics as 20mm cacti, for use with their Mexican Revolution range of figures, but I thought they would be perfect for the Wild West in 28mm too. I've based them up on laser cut small irregular terrain bases from East Riding Miniatures using some cheap liquid superglue to fix them down securely.

I'll add a mix of Polyfilla and PVA to blend them into the bases tomorrow, then add some sand and small stones for texturing, before I basecoat the whole lot in Halfords Ultra Matt Khaki. I'll then be able to paint and dry brush the bases and cacti to match in with the rest of my terrain for A Fistful of Lead: Reloaded skirmish games, which I'm planning to take to the club again in a couple of weeks time.

Saturday 29 April 2017

Pre-Dreadnought China Seas Campaign Map

I've been thinking about ideas for a simple solo pre-dreadnought naval campaign, based on a counter-factual clash between the colonial powers in the South and East China Seas. This would be very much along the lines of the campaign approach from Victory at Sea: Age of Dreadnoughts, perhaps using the operational campaign variant from the Far Flung Seas supplement, depending on the scope of the campaign. If it was just an Anglo-Japanese clash the latter would work well but, for a wider campaign involving the German, Russians, United States, Chinese and French, the multiplayer system in the core rules would be better.

Anyway, it wouldn't be tied down to Victory at Sea and could be based on a different system or approach. I like the look of Rory Crabb's Rise of the Battleship rules and have also been looking at Naval Thunder as a possible option.  Regardless of the rules, you always need a good campaign map to plot movement and gain a strategic overview, so I was pleased to find this one online. It is a contemporary (c1898) map of the colonial possessions in the region and, although earlier than the time period I'd like to focus on, it does provide a handy map on which to base any campaign planning. This is all a bit hypothetical at the moment but it's a good start.

Friday 28 April 2017

Burma '44

I'm reading this at the moment, having flicked through a paperback copy on the ferry and then downloaded a copy onto the Kindle. I don't tend to buy paperbacks anymore, preferring the digital option especially as I now can read books on my phone, thanks to the Kindle App for Samsung. I do, however, still buy proper hardbacks when I can afford them, as I do like the heft and ease of reading of a proper book.

This is an excellent account of the battle for the Admin Box and fits in well with my existing background book work on the campaign in Burma, which I have long wanted to game and which is a fascinating subject in its own right. It's very similar in style and approach to Feargal Keane's Road of Bones, which is another cracking read but which focuses on the Kohima and Imphal battles. I can definitely recommend both titles if you are a 'Forgotten Army' enthusiast.

Thursday 27 April 2017

TD Japanese Pre-Dreadnoughts: The Cruisers

ABJ8 Tsushima
ABJ9 Suma
ABJ7 Asama
ABJ5 Idzumo

A second instalment of photos of the unassembled, what you see is what you get, Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale pre-dreadnought era Japanese warships. This time I have some pictures of some of the armoured cruisers and light or protected cruisers. I've dropped the central superstructure section into some of these so that the overall profile is more evident. I really like the armoured cruisers, the Idzumo and Asama, both of which are really hefty and outsize many of the pre-dreadnought battleships. I'm sure they will pack a pretty good punch as well.

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Wargames Soldiers and Strategy 90

I have a little bit in the latest edition of Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy, although if you blinked you'd probably miss it. I submitted an article on the De Havilland DH5 which was a bit late and didn't make it into the 1917 theme section, mainly due to the fact that there are two really good articles on aerial warfare already included.

Anyway, the editor did use a couple of hundred words from my blurb in the introductory article and was nice enough to credit me, so I now have something published in the mainstream wargaming press (even if they spelt my name incorrectly). I also got a bit of pocket money and a free copy of the magazine, which was a bonus and much appreciated. Thanks Guy.

I'll get my act together next time and submit something well ahead of the deadline so hope to get a proper article published, if it's good enough, at some point in the not too distant future. This issue is actually really good and you should check out the 2mm Siege of Portsmouth article by Mark Backhouse in particular, as it is well worth it if only for the stonking terrain.

Monday 24 April 2017

Anglo Japanese Naval War 'What If?' c1904

What if this never happened?

Over the holidays I sketched out some ideas for a counter factual clash between the Royal Navy and Imperial Japanese Navy, prior to the outbreak of the Russo Japanese War in 1904. This may seem a bit far fetched but, before the 1902 Anglo-Japanese Alliance, the latter were seen as a significant potential threat to British interests in South East Asia and specifically in China. Although Russia was the bigger problem, the increasing economic and military strength of Japan together with her obvious ambitions for regional expansion, seemed equally worrying to the government.

If the Alliance had not occurred and the British had instead backed the Triple Intervention in 1895, then it wouldn't be entirely off the wall to have some sort of diplomatic 'incident' between the two rival powers. How about an alternative Boxer Rebellion in which Japanese forces stood by while the foreign legation was overrun? Or the Japanese mistakenly torpedoing a British cruiser or battleship in error, thinking it was Russian? This would then open up the possibility of a naval clash of some sort, perhaps even drawing in other countries with competing interests in the region like the USA, Russia and Germany.

...or perhaps not?

If the diplomatic relationship between Japan and Great Britain had nose-dived instead of blossomed, then the Japanese navy could still have acquired it's pre-dreadnought fleet from British yards before things deteriorated into conflict. As most of the shipbuilders concerned were private firms they would meet Japanese orders regardless of the position of the government, while at the same time building warships like the Canopus class pre-dreadnought battleships in response to the rising naval strength of Japan. The Japanese also bought warships from Italy, the USA, France and Germany and were constructing their own battleships by 1905 too 

Anyway, the initial idea now is to build up a force of pre-dreadnought warships for the Royal Navy using the composition of the China Station fleet c1904, as a basis for the project. This is relatively straightforward and, on paper at least, would create a small but powerful naval force with some modern battleships, armoured cruisers, protected cruisers and torpedo boat destroyers. I have worked out that I can cover just about everything from the Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale range as well, except for a couple of light cruisers.

Just an idea but I think it has potential.

Sunday 23 April 2017

For Sale (one careful owner!)

I decided that I'm going to purge the lead pile over the next few weeks, with a load of stuff that I'll never get round to heading off to eBay to find a new home. The first instalment includes a British and French Napoleonic plastic bonanza of Victrix box sets, which I bought a few years ago to use with the original edition of Sharp Practice when that first came out. Although I like the idea of some skirmishing in sunny Spain, this will never happen, so it's all got to go. I'll be keeping my Perry plastic ACW pile for Sharp Practice 2 instead. I'm also selling off a couple of boxes of Wargames Factory Roman legionaries as well, as these have been gathering dust for far too long and I'm more likely to scale down to 10mm or 15mm for any Ancients project.

Saturday 22 April 2017

Dom's Decals Delivered

I arrived home today to find an unexpected parcel containing the 1/600th scale Chinese Nationalist insignia that I ordered from Dom's Decals back in January. This sort of postage time isn't unusual for Dom and, as long as you are aware that the stuff you've ordered will arrive at some point, there's no problem. I know that the decals business is very much a part time side line for him, so I'm happy to wait as the decals are really good and he's the only source in 1/600th scale anyway! At least I can now get on and finish the F-104 Starfighters for the Flashpoint Taiwan mini-project, so that I can then use them against the Chinese Communist MiG's and Beagles that I've already completed for Target Locked On!

Thursday 20 April 2017

Magasin de Presse

Superb cover art by Romain Hugault!

I'm heading home over the weekend, so before I set off I've done the usual trawl of the newsagents for wargaming and military magazines. There are loads to choose from but I've narrowed it down to three of the usual suspects - Vae Victis, Los! and La Fana de l'Aviation, all of which have some interesting articles this month as well as some cracking artwork. On the way, I'm also going to try to grab a copy of Militaria, which has an Indochina uniform article on the 1er BPC, together with the current edition of Aerojournal. Au Revoir!

Tank on Tank: Eastfront

I've been playing a few games of Lock 'n Load's excellent Tank on Tank: Eastfront boardgame over the holidays and there are some after action reports over on the other blog:

This really would make a brilliant miniatures game for a show, using 15mm Zvezda and PSC tanks and Hexon terrain instead of card counters and a hex map. I think I may put this idea forward at the club as a suggestion for the participation game at Warfare this year?

Tuesday 18 April 2017

Atlantic Wall Treguennec

I went for a walk on the beach this morning and took some photos of the bunkers at the northern end of the industrial complex at Treguennec. These bunkers and associated structures were part of the defences of the aggregate extraction works nearby which supplied material for the construction of the Atlantic Wall in Brittany and Normandy. These bunkers were originally located in the dunes but eighty years of erosion have left them at the low tide line, with the inevitable consequences, although they are still quite well preserved. A really interesting site and well worth a visit, especially on a lovely sunny day like today.

Rise of the Battleships Revised

One thing about the holidays is that I have the time to sit down and read through a set of rules properly, rather than just doing a quick skim read in between doing other less interesting things. I've been reading through Rise of the Battleships, the second re-formatted edition of which is now available via Wargame Vault.

The new version has been tidied up a bit, with an improved layout and design in line with Rory Crabb's other rules, which has made them easier to navigate. I thought the original set was well laid out and easy to read already but I guess the devil is in the detail. It certainly looks more professional and has a few tweaks and explanatory bits, which can only be a good thing.

I have also been sketching out a second 1/2400th scale fleet to use against the Japanese pre-dreadnoughts that I have collected from Tumbling Dice. This will be a British squadron rather than the obvious Russian option, which would seem to be counter intuitive but actually makes a lot of sense from a semi-historical, counter factual perspective. I'll explain more about how that works later.

Sunday 16 April 2017

Oh bugger, it's.....

I am conscious that a bad case of mission creep has started to cloud my judgement of late, with too many ideas whizzing about to be healthy. I should really be sticking to naval gaming this year, with a bit of aerial gaming thrown in for variety, not 15mm or 28mm skirmishy stuff, whether it's colonial, post-war or modern. I need a bit of a reality check, as I think I've definitely been over cooking the 'ooh shiny' project pie in the sky.

So, in an effort to come back down to earth and stick with what I've told myself to do, I've decided to postpone anything terrestrial to the Summer holidays and the latter half of the year. Instead, I will be concentrating on my 1/600 scale WW2 coastal warfare project, my long in the tooth 1/2400 scale 1864 Schleswig Holstein naval war project and my latest nautical interest, the Tumbling Dice 1/2400 scale pre-dreadnoughts. I will also be doing some more 1/600 scale modern and Cold War aircraft for Target Locked On!

I think this makes a lot more sense than chasing my tail with unrealistic and over enthusiastic sidelines.

Saturday 15 April 2017

Aden Hawker Hunter Close Air Support

I'm a big fan of model aircraft in wargames, so have been keen to incorporate some close air support in the 15mm Aden and Radfan project. This was an easy thing to do, as the RAF provided a very effective air to ground attack capability in the form of two squadrons of Hawker Hunter FGA.9 ground attack aircraft. These were tasked with strafing, bombing and rocket attacks on rebel targets especially hill forts, towers and sangars. These were particularly effective and often mentioned in accounts of the campaigns as being instrumental in breaking the enemies ability to fight on.

I also happen to have two Revell 1/144th scale kits of the Hawker Hunter FGA.9, a model which is hard to find and now out of production, despite being released only a few years ago. I would normally use 1/100th scale aircraft for this sort of thing but, as I'm trying to do this for minimal outlay, it makes a lot of sense to use what I've already got in the plastic kit pile. The smaller scale also gives a very effective forced perspective, which makes sense when you consider the relative height and speed of the jets in relation to the ground.

There are no rules for close air support in No End in Sight but I'm sure I can work something out using a mash up of the rules for Supporting Fire and Air Assault. In the Fireteam rules, fixed wing aircraft are included and there is a straightforward mechanism for calling in air strikes on ground targets, which is ideal for the situation I'm focussing on. You can even determine the type of ordnance that each aircraft is using against the target, so I can feature the use of 3'' rocket rails or SNEB pods and ADEN cannon in the strafing role.

Tally Ho!

Thursday 13 April 2017

Fire and Steel in the Sudan?

I've been wondering what to do with the box of Perry Miniatures plastic Beja warriors that I've taken on holiday to glue together over the Easter break. I don't want to use them for The Men Who Would Be Kings or similar rules, as that would require many more figures than the box set provides, for which my 15mm lead pile is more than sufficient. 

Instead, I have been looking for the colonial equivalent of a Western gunfight rule system much like A Fistful of Lead: Reloaded. In fact, this was my first port of call, with the Horse and Musket variant being an obvious option for colonial skirmishes in far flung corners of the British Empire. I really like these rules and reckon they would be great for small scale skirmish actions in the Sudan.

However, I remembered that I also have a copy of the old WRG skirmish rules, Fire and Steel, which I acquired many years ago for just this sort of thing. These would be perfect for colonial skirmish games with perhaps ten to twenty figures a side, exactly the right size for a box of plastic figures to cover. I'll have to dig them out and sketch out some ideas but, in the meantime, here's an excellent overview of the rules, albeit from.a now dormant webpage:

Wednesday 12 April 2017

Reaping the Whirlwind

I picked up the latest copy of Flypast in the airport today, only to find a feature article on my favourite WW2 fighter aircraft, the Westland Whirlwind. This includes a range of photographs and a detailed coverage of Whirlwind ops for both No137 and No263 Squadron, the two units which flew this iconic but much maligned aircraft. 

I have written several scenarios for Bag the Hun based on the ORB of No263 Squadron, a couple of which have even been published in a Toofatlardies Summer Special. I have several more scenarios up my sleeve so may well have a go at writing at least one more over the holidays, now that I've been inspired by this excellent article.

Easter Holiday

I'm of holiday for a few days so will be packing some stuff to keep me occupied on rainy afternoons. I vaguely remembered buying a box of Perry 28mm plastic mahdist figures ages ago on a whim, so had a rummaged in the loft and found them. These were originally destined for PITS in 28mm but I shelved that idea. I hate assembling plastic figures but thought this would be a relatively painless diversion over the Easter break, with a view to some low level colonial skirmish gaming of some sort, perhaps using a variant of Fistful of Lead: Reloaded, which is a splendid set of rules. 


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