Wednesday 31 October 2018

Sandbox Skirmish Air Support

I'm a big fan of planes and helicopters in AK47, so I'm determined to use some model aircraft in the Sandbox Skirmish project. I already have a couple of 1/144th scale Revell Hawker Hunter kits for ground attack, so that angle is well and truly covered. I don't have any suitable helicopters, however, or at least that's what I thought until I remembered an old 1/100th scale Heller Alouette II kit that I bought in a French supermarket years ago.

I had one of these as a gunship in my old AK47 Colonial Settlers army but sold it to a gamer at the local club. It's a lovely little model and surprisingly robust, so ideal for wargaming purposes. The Army Air Corps used them in the 1960's as a stop gap before the Westland Scout was available, so it's entirely reasonable for my British infantry platoon to have one as a spotter and liaison machine, as well as for casualty evacuation purposes. I'll see if I can find it in the loft?

Tuesday 30 October 2018

Blotz on the Landscape

I've spent a few hours gluing together the Blotz and Red Vectors desert buildings for the Sandbox Skirmish project yesterday and today. I have a few more of the larger compound style buildings to assemble and another one of the Red Vectors market square two storey buildings to add to this lot, but it's definitely going to look like a built up area by the time I'm finished. Of course, the individual buildings can also be used on their own or in a small group for villages in rural locations, which is handy as that's where I plan to do most of the patrol scenarios.

I also have a really nice multi-storey building from Brit Kits but that's made from 3mm mdf and is far more substantial, so I'm thinking of making it into a fortified structure of some sort, perhaps a Forward Operating Base or police station. I need to texture and fill the various lugs and holes that are all over the walls of these buildings, probably using acrylic paste or a PVA and filler mix, then I can paint them up, add the doors and roof hatches, then do a bit of detailing to finish them off. 

Monday 29 October 2018

No End in Sight Rules Pack Alpha

I've decided to go for a platoon rather than a squad level approach to the Sandbox Skirmish project, which means that I can use the Nordic Weasel No End in Sight Rules, which I think look really good and have been wanting to explore for a long time. I have both the old and new versions of the rules but thought I'd take a closer look at some of the add on supplements and battle packs, which I thought might contain some useful bolt on bits. 

I noticed that the Rules Pack Alpha supplement was reduced to only $1.99 today and included guidelines for converting NEiS to squad level skirmish scenarios, so I grabbed a copy as I thought this might be ideal for some of the actions I'd like to run. I also skimmed the contents of the first NWG Battlepack and found a similar set of rules modifications for raid scenarios using only a handful of figures, very much as the SAS might get up to in my campaign. 

There was also a three page system for generating a platoon, which seems a bit superfluous but adds some really deep background to the whole thing, including the impact of previous events on the composition, leadership, motivation and morale of the unit. I really like this idea, so will be running it when I build the British infantry platoon for my patrol campaign. As it says at the end of the platoon generating sequence, 'At this point, your platoon should feel a bit more worn and ready to take the field'


British Infantry Platoon for Sandbox Skirmish

I dug out my big box of stuff for AK47 last night, sifted through the figures and separated out the British forces for the Sandbox Skirmish project. I had based up some 1960's British AFV's and soft skins a few years ago for an AK47 colonial settlers army that is still waiting to be painted, so it was easy to choose a few from that box to re-deploy for the skirmish project. The figures, however, are new and were bought a while back for the specific job, using the newer range of professionals from the AK47 range that were released a couple of years ago. I have loads of the older, smaller figures that I could have used but they are all based for AK47 already.

I've organised the figures into a platoon sized force of three sections of eight men, armed with SLR's and a GPMG or LMG, together with an HQ section of an officer, an NCO, a signaller, a sniper and a sustained fire GPMG team, the latter three figures also included as prone models. This is all a bit speculative but roughly right for a British platoon of the 1960's period, give or take a 2'' mortar, drivers and the like. It's an imaginations project anyway, so I'll just do what I think looks the part. I've also send off for a pack of the newer special forces figures to make an SAS team. These will be a useful scenario element and typical of the sort of 'cloak and dagger' things that went on in places like Aden.

The vehicles come in two optional convoys, one for hearts and minds patrols and one for punitive operations in the badlands. The soft option consists of a couple of Bedford lorries, a Landrover and a Ferret scout car for convoy protection. The more resilient option includes a couple of Saracen armoured personnel carriers, the Ferret and when things get really sticky, a Saladin heavy armoured car. These are all QRF models apart from the Landrover which is Peter Pig. I have decided to include more vehicles than I originally planned and have also scaled up to a full platoon of infantry, so that all the options are available including using the No End in Sight rules.

Cork Terrain Boards

I've found a UK based supplier of cork board panels up to about 2' x 3' in size and in three different grades, from fine to course. I've yet to work out the cost but it doesn't look extortionate if you pick the right combination of thickness and grade. I'm thinking of ordering a medium grade board in either 12mm or 15mm thickness, so that it's rigid enough for gaming but also still light enough to transport. I can then paint it to match my prototype board that I boshed together at the weekend:

Sunday 28 October 2018

Out of Nowhere

No, its not another one of my random projects but a second hand hard back book from the Oxfam charity bookshop that I acquired yesterday for £3.99. I bought it for the section on the First World War, which is excellent, but it also covers sniper training, equipment and techniques right up to the present day. It's obviously relevant to my new 15mm terrain project but I'm sure I will dip into it for other periods too. A good addition to my library, even if the other half thinks I have too many books already.

Saturday 27 October 2018

Winter Project

I've chosen, against my better judgement, to begin a new project for the winter, now that the clocks are going back and the weather is getting decidedly chilly. This means that despite my recent musings on all things naval, my 1/2400th scale ironclad project has been temporarily shelved until the temperature is back to  normal, sometime in the Spring. I can't do three projects at a go, so while the 1/600th scale Football War will carry on going, I will now be switching from the ironclads to a terrain based skirmish project in 15mm. The little ironclad ships will be back, I promise, as it's something I've really enjoyed and want to return to in 2019.

I've called the new project Sandbox Skirmish, although I pinched the name from Ivan Sorenson of Nordic Weasel fame, after a supplement that he wrote for the Five Core Skirmish system. The focus of this project is to put together a set of arid, semi-desert themed terrain in 15mm for post colonial squad and platoon level skirmishes. The theme is more 1960's post-colonial than modern, as I'm not a fan of wargaming recent conflicts like Afghanistan or Iraq, so it's more retreat from Empire in tone, the Empires in question being primarily French and British. If you think more Aden that Afghanistan, you can get a handle on what I'm trying to do.

The figure count for this project is going to be very low, the initial idea being to paint up a small number of different eight to ten man sections rather than a whole platoon of infantry. I'm using the Peter Pig 15mm range, so will start with a section of British and French figures. I may also chuck in a squad of US Marines, either using the Vietnam figures or the ones in the Fritz helmets, and possibly some Israelis to stand in as peacekeepers. The bad guys will be from the AK47 Hardened Militia range, which I have leftover, alongside some generic Militia insurgent types to represent freedom fighters or rebels, depending on your point of view.

There will eventually be a handful of vehicles too but, as this is primarily a squad level infantry patrol project, the meanest thing to roll onto the table will be an armoured car or APC. The initial job, however, is to make a whole load of terrain including buildings, rocky outcrops, roads, palm tree groves and fields. This is what has fired me up to start the project and is a result of the experimental skirmish terrain board that I made earlier today. I plan to get hold of a larger version of this type of frameless board to expand the scenario area but this is a good place to start, as the rest of the terrain features can also be made out of cork floor tile and painted to match.

The rules that I'll be using are, as yet, undecided but Five Core Skirmish, Force on Force and Danger Close are all in the mix. I'm hoping to try out different rules until I find one that ticks all the boxes. I may in the long run, scale up to platoon level games in which case Fireteam Modern or No End in Sight would also be suitable. I like No End in Sight and would make that my first choice if I was starting out at platoon level but in the meantime the focus will be on squads level patrols, hearts and minds and the inevitable ambushes. There will also be a strong 'Imaginations' element to this, so that I can just do what I like rather than have to follow the textbook.

Wings at War Bridge Targets Finished

It's freezing in the garage today but I have finished off the two Brigade Models 1/1000th scale bridges to use as ground attack and bombing mission targets for the Football War. They look OK but not as crisp as I'd like, mainly due to the rush job that I did in order to get out of the garage and back into the warmth as soon as possible! I still need to finish off the large targets that I scratch built last week, although the airfield has been ditched due to the base warping, but it's too cold to do any more painting at the workbench today.

DIY Desert Skirmish Board

I was pleased with my DIY gladiatorial arena that I boshed together using an old cork pinboard, some tester pots and some cheap emulsion paint, so I thought I'd have a go at a similar 40cm x 40cm square terrain board with a desert theme for 15mm modern and post colonial skirmish games. This time I used my £4.99 2.5 litre tin of Homebase Cashmere emulsion paint as a basecoat, followed by a random spray pattern of Halfords Ultra Matt Khaki for some variation, with a final light brush splodge from a tester pot of Laura Ashley Old Gold. The board was being thrown out by my daughter so that was a freebie, although it originally cost £7.99 in WHSmiths, making the total cost only a few pence.

The overall effect quite subtle and difficult to see in the photos but looks good enough and is accentuated by the cork board texture, which has a nice baked earth effect. I've plonked some AK47 vehicles on top to see what it looks like but I won't be using these with the board, as they are based in a darker shade. Instead, I'll be painting some 15mm modern infantry, probably French and Insurgents for an imaginations skirmish project, as well as some 15mm post-colonial British troops for an Aden inspired skirmish project, although not until I've cleared the current workbench back log. It's a bit small for 15mm and 10mm might be a better way to go but I'm already set up for 15mm, so that's the obvious choice.

I could, at a push, also use this board for 28mm skirmish gaming as it is not far off the terrain that I've made for A Fistful of Lead: Reloaded and the Back of Beyond. In fact, as you can see in the photos, this terrain is a better match than my AK47 stuff. The board is a bit small for 28mm but would be fine for gunfights and especially for quick pick up games, where I don't need to unpack and set up loads of terrain on a big table. I'm quite pleased with this board and will be making some hills, tracks and gullies out of cork tile to place on top, as well as some of the 15mm laser cut desert buildings that I've been collecting over the last year or so.

I might even get another one from WHSmiths and make a jungle board for Vietnam?

Friday 26 October 2018

Wings at War Bridge Targets WIP

I've been rushed off my feet today so only got down to the workbench this evening, with about an hour or so in which to do something constructive. I added the basecoat to the FAH Trojans, Texans and Cessna light aircraft, then looked around for something that I could do while they were drying. I remembered that I had the 1/1000th scale bridges that I had ordered from Brigade Models a couple of weeks ago, so I decided to make a couple of extra ground targets for the Wings at War Football War project.

These are based on laser cut oval shaped templates as the standard 30mm round bases wouldn't be big enough, although the ends of the oval bases are the same diameter so that they don't look out of place. I added some river banks from 30mm bases cut in half and some road embankments from those little widgets left over from laser cut kits, both shaved down and covered in a layer of acrylic paste to seal them and add ground texture. I've sprayed them with Humbrol Grass Green, added the foliage and then re-sprayed them to seal it all in.

I'll finish these tomorrow morning, which shouldn't take very long once I've decided what shade to paint the large girder bridge (?) and the river flowing underneath. I'm also going to add a couple of 1/600th scale Oddzial Ozmy trucks for visual effect, as they make good targets and scale well with the Bailey Bridge in particular. I have two more of the Brigade Models bridges left over but I'm saving them for MiG Alley, where they will used as ground targets for bombing raids by the UN forces. I may get another set of these as they are neat little models and not that expensive either.

Flight Deck Decals Egyptian Insignia

Dan Arute of Flight Deck Decals has done a brilliant job on the 1/600 scale Israeli War of Independence Egyptian decals for me, which arrived in the post yesterday. I asked if Dan could design a sheet including roundels and fin flashes for fighter sized aircraft, which he has managed to do perfectly, despite the fiddly details. 

He has done an absolutely splendid job but I won't post a photo here, as it could be copied and it's Dan's copyright. As soon as I can, however, I'll paint up some REAF Spitfires and post some pictures. I can't recommend Dan's design work and customer service highly enough, so why not find out for yourself by visiting the website and placing an order or two:

He has just about everything you could need for aircraft decals in both 1/600 and 1/300, including some really unusual insignia from South American, Asian and Middle Eastern air forces, not to mention the naval decals in 1/2400 and 1/3000. A great range and a great bloke to do business with. Thanks Dan!

Thursday 25 October 2018

Gladiator Gallery


I've dug out my old gladiator figures and have found the scratch built arena obstacles that I made way back, so thought I'd put them together with my new arena terrain board for some gratuitous photos* to keep the plebs happy!  I'm also going to have a rummage in the loft for some of the unpainted Crusader and Foundry gladiator figures that I didn't get round to painting for the original gladiator project back in 2012. I'm not planning to add loads of new figures but there are a few significant gladiator types missing from my line up that I'd like to bring to the show.

(*apologies for the poor focus due to the camera being rubbish, not to mention the photographer)

DIY Gladiatorial Ludus

I got home this afternoon from Cornwall and have had a quick flick through of the Sons of Mars rules that had arrived in my absence from Firestorm Games in Cardiff. The first thing I looked for was the size of arena that I'd need to use, which turned out to be a 18" to 24" area for most of the arena matches. I had thought of scratch building one of these ages ago, using some Warbases laser cut Roman walls and gateways, but didn't get round to it, although the various mdf bits are still knocking about somewhere in the garage.

Anyway, I needed something to stand in for an arena or ludus training ground, so had a rummage and found a couple of 16" square cork fronted pin boards. These were being chucked out by my daughter a while back and I had salvaged them for just this sort of thing. I've given one a basecoat of Homebase Dusky Yellow emulsion paint, a pot of which I grabbed in a sale last year, with a stippled and dry brushed top coat of Laura Ashley Old Gold from a used tester pot. I have a stash of these old tester pots and rarely throw them away, as you never know when they might come in handy.

It's all drying at the moment but I will add a few light dry brush patches of Foundry Base Sand later on, which is the shade that I used on my gladiator bases. It looks like a good match for these already but I can only see for sure once it's fully dried out. If it has worked, I may well paint up the second board so that I can use them together and have a look for those Roman wall sections to add some features to my rather spartan provincial ludus. I have some obstacles, pillars and trap doors somewhere too but I have no idea where I've put them!?

Wednesday 24 October 2018

Second Hand Colonial Books

I spent the princely sum of £3.98 today on some rather good, second hand hardback books from the Oxfam charity shop in Tavistock. They're both in excellent condition and will be great reading material for colonial skirmish wargaming, which is something I've been interested in for years but have never quite got round to actually doing, mainly due to not being able to make up my mind from the numerous possibilities to choose from!

The Savage Wars is particularly well illustrated and organised in thematic sections, each of which covers a different aspect of colonial warfare including campaigning, battles, communications and technology, for example. It's all very interesting and a mine of useful detail on Victorian and Edwardian colonial warfare, right up to the end of the First World War. 

Ironclad Excuses

I've had some time this holiday to think about my projects and reflect on the progress that I've made, more or less, over the last six months. I set out way back in March with a firm plan to get more naval wargaming stuff done, as I felt that my air wargaming had been taking up most of my time and effort.

I then got sidetracked by What a Tanker!, which appeared out of nowhere and pushed a brief 1/700th scale modern fast attack project into the long grass. I really enjoyed the What a Tanker! modelling but it's not very nautical and meant that I had yet again lost the plot. To put myself back on track, I spent most of the summer holidays playing around with 1/2400 scale ironclads, which I thoroughly enjoyed especially as I actually played a few games of Broadside and Ram, which was great fun.

Since then, I haven't really done anything more with the French ironclads apart from some base coating of the sails and sea bases. To tell the truth, I'm a bit wary of the fiddly painting that I'll need to do on the rigging, masts, decks and details, which has meant that the ship's have been sitting on top of the workbench shelving instead of being finished. I've also been sidetracked (again) by the Alto Cenepa and Football War projects, which are far less daunting!

So, to cut a long story short, I'm determined to get back on course with the French and British ironclads when I get back from the holidays. This will mean biting the bullet and tackling the next stage of base coating before picking out and highlighting the details. I'm working on the French at the moment but need to shift them so that the Royal Navy get painted up by the end of the year too.

I think that I will just have to sit down and plough through it in one session over a long weekend, as I'm determined to get them finished rather than have another 'put it back in the box' result. I also want to clear the decks for more naval wargaming things in 2019, so I don't want this project hanging about into next year.

Tuesday 23 October 2018

The Football War

I've found another book that looks useful for my Wings At War Football War project, if only to add some contextual historical detail to the information that I've already gathered together. This one is published by Partisan Press so has a military history and wargaming pedigree, whilst the author has also written several other books on South American conflicts, so presumably knows his stuff. 

It's a bit pricey but I may well order a copy at the end of the month, when I should have slightly more funds to stretch the distance. I'll be back home in a couple of days when I hope to be able to get some decent time at the workbench on the 1/600th scale aircraft for this project, perhaps even completing the Honduran Air Force by the end of the holidays if I get a move on. This will move me one step closer to playtesting the rules that I've adapted specifically for the Football War.

Malayan Emergency Inspiration

There's a really good article by Steve Blease in this month's Wargames Illustrated on the Malayan Emergency. I'd thought about skirmish wargaming this way back in 2010 but then switched focus to the Indonesian Confrontation and Aden. I originally planned to use the Commando Miniatures 28mm range for both of these but, having ordered a few sample figures, I was disappointed by the chunky sculpting so moved on to Peter Pig in 15mm. This 15mm platoon level post colonial project is still definitely in the pipeline, once I've finally decided between the desert and the jungle!

However, the WI article got me thinking again about Malaya in 28mm as another 'pre-baked' project, in other words a scheme that I could pull off without a massive investment of time or treasure.  This time, it is the terrain that I have already assembled that would make this relatively quick and cheap to wrap up. I made a jungle outpost for my now abandoned WW2 28mm Japanese army, which has been sitting in a plastic box doing nothing for years. This would be the focus for some jungle terrain scratchbuilding using the stash of plastic aquarium plants that I've stockpiled for Darkest Africa and other jungle themed project.

All I'd need to do then is get two section sized units of the Brittania Miniatures 28mm British and CT figures, perhaps twenty or so figures in total at a cost of less than thirty quid. These look like simple figures to paint and wouldn't take long to complete, ready for some squad level skirmish gaming. I already have a 28mm Saracen APC kit, which  I bought to use with the Commando Miniatures figures, so that's an added bonus. The only thing I'd need to decide upon is a suitable set of rules, perhaps Danger Close, Force on Force or Fivecore?

Again, just another random train of thought but worth exploring nonetheless and definitely better than starting something new, shiny or expensive!


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