Thursday 31 October 2019

Back to the Bench

I've just got back from a few days in North Cornwall, which was wet and windy but very enjoyable, so I'm now making up for lost time. These are the sprues for three Eduard / Smer Fokker Dr.1 triplanes, which I've now undercoated in Halfords primer, ready for assembly to begin tomorrow. The pilots are ex-Matchbox kit WW2 Luftwaffe figures, which are perfect for WW1 pilots as they don't have Mae Wests or other obviously anachronistic features.

The decals are also not from the original kits but pinched from Revell Fokker Dr1's, although I'll be fiddling around with the insignia to make each aircraft distinctly different, albeit with a common and typical streaked green camouflage finish. I just hope they go together with less hassle than the Junkers J.1 but I expect they'll be a lot less fiddly, despite having three wings to align and some very small pieces to ping off into the carpet.

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Lard Day Decision Deadline

It's now about four months, give or take a week or so, until the Lard Day in March, so I have now been forced to decide on the game I'll be running. This was a toss up between What a Tanker! and Bag the Hun 2, but I've now opted firmly for the latter. The main reason for this is that I'm far more clued up on the Bag the Hun rules and also know that there are already several What a Tanker! games slated for the day, making another one a bit superfluous.

I've also decided on a 1942 Channel Front fighter sweep as the scenario of choice, running the same scenario in both sessions unlike last time. I did briefly consider a Battle of Britain game, as I'd only need to base and paint twelve Spitfires for that, but the consensus on the Bag the Hun Facebook group was for the 1942 option, so I'm going with that as about three quarters of the planes are already based and undercoated.

It does mean more painting, basing and some conversion work, with about thirty plus models  in total if I go full throttle, so I'm going to be pretty busy at the workbench over the next couple of months. In fact, once I've built the 1/72nd scale Fokker triplanes for Knights of the Sky, I'll be tied up with 1/300th scale fighters for the foreseeable future, with the Congo project shoved to the back of the queue (again)!

Sunday 27 October 2019

Mount of Aces

I'm reading this now as I'm on holiday for a week, so have some time to sit down and do some extended reading rather than a chapter here or there. It's a bit technical but very interesting and gives a fascinating insight on the inner workings of aircraft design, development and testing during the First World.

The S.E.5a is one of my favorite aircraft and was my first choice of model to build when I started wargaming at the local club way back in 2004. Incidentally, I have just added a new Smer Albatros DVa to the build list for Knights of the Sky, having failed dismally to locate the box of three kits that I know are somewhere in the loft. I really should get up there and have a proper sort out sometime!

Saturday 26 October 2019

Galactic Heroes Star Wars Cards

I've been enjoying the after action reports of Galactic Heroes that have been popping up on Jaye Wiley's highly entertaining Baron's Blog and most recently over on the excellent A Wargames Gallimaufry blog, both of which have inspired me to have a go myself.

I am a big fan of the Fistful of Lead rules but have only used them for the conventional western shootout setting until now. I do have a good selection of the Star Wars Legions plastic figures, however, so I'm now thinking of scheduling a Star Wars skirmish project for next year, involving only a handful of figures for each side. 

To give me a kick start, I've found a really nice set of Star Wars themed playing cards, none of which have any of that new fangled prequel or sequel gibberish, only the original trilogy images. I really like the black and white set which has Star Wars c1977 written all over it, so I have no excuse not to start planning this as a  viable project if I actually want to use them for more than a game of snap.

Thursday 24 October 2019

Knights of the Sky November

I'm organising another club multiplayer game of Knights of the Sky, our house rules for WW1 aerial combat, after the success of the previous game a few weeks ago. This time it will be a late 1917 or early 1918 scenario, featuring my new Junkers J.1 on a low level contact patrol escorted by a top cover of Fokker Dr.1 triplanes. The RFC will attempt to shoot down the 'furniture van' while the triplanes try to stop them. It's effectively a reverse version of a scenario I've played before which put the boot on the other foot, so it will be pay back time for the Camel and Se5a pilots of the RFC. I'm going to be kitting up three Fokker Dr.1's for the game later in November, as I previously planned before the Junkers J.1 ordeal, so that there are plenty to go round. Tally Ho!

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Falklands War Aircraft Counters

I spotted these on Wargame Vault the other day and thought they looked really good, perfect in fact for both air wargaming and naval gaming, especially as they are available in both 1/700th and 1/600th scale as a print and play download. I was thinking of using them for Target Locked On! although that uses hex based miniatures or for a quick play test option for the Wings at War variant, Flames above the Falklands but using counters for altitude instead of flight stands The set only costs $2.50 as well, which is excellent value for money even if they only get used for playtesting a set of rules or as a portable version of a miniatures game.

Congo Campaign Supplement

I've been bogged down with work over the last few days, so the Congo painting project has temporarily stalled despite my best intentions to get it started at the weekend. To give myself a bit of a kick up the bum, I've bought the campaign supplement, Munga Mah Lobeh, which has a specific campaign scenario but also general rules for linking games together in a narrative style. I thought this sounded really interesting so decided it would be worth a closer look. 

Sunday 20 October 2019

The local club is migrating from its long established Yahoo Group to along with many other wargames clubs who have been using the Yahoo platform for communication. It's early days yet but it looks like a viable alternative to the Yahoo Group which will enable us to post files, photos and messages in much the same format as before. I did wonder about the two, now defunct Yahoo Groups that I set up ages ago, one for Saurian Safari and the other for Laserburn, but they are both redundant anyway and I don't think I'll be able to rescue the content, as I'm not sure they're even active anymore? It's a bit of a shame as they were both well subscribed and there was some good stuff in the various files and the photo sections. 

Saturday 19 October 2019

Congo Terrain

One of the things that I like about the Congo project is the opportunity to make some more scratch built terrain. I already have a shedload of plastic aquarium plants and foliage that I've acquired over the years in various places, so have a good starting point for some dense jungle terrain templates.

I've also found a Sarrissa Precision jungle hut kit, left over from a WW2 Far East project, which would be excellent as a colonial outpost or mission station. I plan to add a corrugated iron roof and some internal details like furniture and clutter, so that it really looks the part. It will have to wait until I've actually painted the figures though!

Friday 18 October 2019

Tempests and Doras

I have a new digital book to read over the weekend, the Osprey Duel Series Tempest V vs. Fw190D-9. I've always liked the look of these two fighter aircraft and already have sections of both types in my Bag the Hun 1/285th scale collection. The Tempests are Raiden Miniatures and are fine but the Doras are the lovely Museum Miniatures castings, which are a joy to paint and suitably sleek.

They are really powerful and well armed in Bag the Hun and make for a good match if you want a fast and dirty dogfight, especially in the hands of Veteran or Ace pilots. I'm also interested in potential scenarios for the Come and Have a Go If You Think You're Lard Enough games day in which these two might feature, perhaps alongside some Me262's in a landing pattern. Tally Ho!

Thursday 17 October 2019

Club Yahoo Group RIP

The local club, Wessex Wargamers Winchester, has used a Yahoo group since 2004 to organise games and to share rules, scenarios and after action reports. However, as you are probably aware, Yahoo is shutting down the functionality of the Yahoo Groups system and is effectively killing it off. We are now looking for an alternative, so have been sharing some ideas about the best way forward, either some sort of free bulletin board option or a not Facebook social media style platform. Any suggestions would be gratefully received, especially if you are in the same boat and in the UK.  

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Congo Painting

I've now got back to the Congo project and have singled out the first figures to be painted, two units of warrior spearmen and a couple of masked sacred warriors that could be attached to them for moral support. In the past I've tended to paint a whole army in one go, which more often than not ends up on the shelf about half way through. This time, I'll paint up a couple of units at a go and no more than a dozen figures at once, keeping the momentum going and hopefully banging them out in a weekend each time. 

I'll also be keeping the painting process as simple as possible, with a two stage approach and some ink washing to bring out the details. The only arty farty bit will be the wicker shields and the tribal masks but I'm going to try a cunning plan for the former and a 'keep it simple stupid' option for the latter. There's only so much you can do with a loincloth and a few beads as it is. Who knows, they might even look half decent, as I'll be spending more time and effort on the basing!

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Junkers J.1 Finished

That was a pain in the bum but it's over now, as I have finally finished the Eduard Junkers J.1, ready for some aerial reconnaissance and ground strafing missions in another Knights of the Sky game at the club. It all went together well until I got to the propeller and spinner, which wouldn't sit tight on the fuselage nose and the machine gun, which had to be squeezed in next to the crew figure with little room to spare. I then had a varnishing disaster with an old can of Humbrol matt varnish, which turned everything frosty. Arrgghhhhh!!!

This was saved by a topcoat of Halfords matt varnish, which is actually more satin that matt, and some brushed on matt varnish in selected places, not to mention another wash in GW Athonian Camoshade ink on the tail plane. It's still not quite right but I have had more than enough of it for the foreseeable future, so the Fokker Dr1 triplanes have been postponed and I'll be painting some 28mm Congo tribesmen instead while my sanity slowly returns. I definitely need a break from fiddly plastic kits and some proper metal figures to paint will do me no end of good!

Turning in Broadside and Ram

Bruce asked how turning works in Broadside and Ram, so here's how I have done it in the games I've played. As I tend to play tactical squadron sized games, I have changed the turning angles to a maximum of 45 degrees for most ships, with gunboats, steamships and smaller vessels being able to turn up to 90 degrees. I have also allowed paddlers to turn up to 180 degrees if stationary. This makes it a bit more realistic for small scale games featuring only half a dozen ships a side, which is what I usually do.

For turning, the rules are pretty clear, with all turns taking place before movement and with the option of manoeuvring as a single group if within 3'' of the flagship or squadron lead ship. The way I do it is to move and turn the lead ship then move the others in line astern, turning at the same point and conforming to the lead ship, maintaining equal spacing as far as ship CS or MS allows. You need to bear CS and MS in mind when forming squadrons, otherwise you could end up with stragglers. If ships haven't got enough speed to get to the turn point, then they just move up to the turn and can follow on afterwards. 

The other option is to turn the lead ship then arrange the others to follow in a gentle curved formation, which looks better but is probably less accurate than the turn on the spot approach outlined before. Finally, you can turn in echelon, again following the lead ship and conforming to its angle of turn, then moving forward as an echelon formation. As I limit turns to 45 degrees for armoured ships and wooden warships, this means that you need to do two consecutive echelon turns to form a line abreast, paying the requisite AP for the formation change when you do so.

I hope that makes sense?

Monday 14 October 2019

Struttin' my Stuff

I steeled myself to assemble the upper wing to the fuselage and lower wing of the Junkers J.1 today, with not a little trepidation to say the least. In the end it turned out okay, although it wouldn't get into any IPMS competitions, as there's a distinct wonky effect it you look too closely at the whole shebang from the business end. The upper wing dips to one side and isn't straight either but it was a right ******* to glue together, so I'm going to have to live with it.

It is surprisingly sturdy, however, which is probably due to lashings of liquid superglue and some colourful language, not to mention the brass wire supports than I sneaked into the gubbins. I now have the wheels, tail skid, machine gun and prop to paint and glue on, then there's only the fiddly decals to apply before I spray varnish the finished model. The plan now is to wrap it up tomorrow so that I can take break and paint some 28mm figures instead!

Sunday 13 October 2019

Slow Progress

It's been a very busy weekend so I've only scratched the surface compared to what I planned to do, although I will have some time tomorrow to make up the difference. I've added the wing and fuselage decals to the Junkers J/1, with the smaller insignia and markings left off for the moment so they don't get damaged by handling. The corrugated surfaces on the wings mean that the decals don't settle well and require a lot of persuasion with Decal Soft to stay put. I'll spray varnish the whole aircraft once I've finished, so that won't be a problem in the long run. 

I've also painted the cockpit surround and touched up the paintwork with a overall wash of GW Athonian Camoshade ink, which is now drying off. The crew figures are also being painted but it's taking ages for the different layers to dry due to the damp weather, so progress has been pretty sluggish. I'm planning to finally assemble the upper wing and struts to the lower wing tomorrow, at which point I'll know if it's actually going to work or if it will all end up in the bin. I have to say that this is dragging a bit now and has taken far longer than I expected, so I hope it will work out in the end!?

Saturday 12 October 2019

"Echo Base, this is Rogue Two. I've found them!"

Last year I was given a set of Star Wars Legion Snowtroopers as a Xmas present, which was a nice surprise. The problem was that I didn't have any rebel troops in polar gear, so couldn't make any use of them, despite having some winter terrain. Now, however, I've acquired some Rebel Veterans on eBay, which I will eventually get round to painting up, not for Star Wars Legion but for Galactic Heroes. Cool!

Thursday 10 October 2019

Something for the Weekend

I've nearly completed the Eduard Junkers J.1, give or take attaching the upper wing, fitting in the crew, adding the undercarriage and applying the decals (!), so I'm planning to start the Fokker Dr.1 triplanes over the weekend. I now have five of the 1/72nd scale Eduard / Smer kits so have one spare in case something goes wrong, which is a sensible approach to bits that ping off into the carpet or snap in half at inopportune moments. The plan is to build four models and paint them in a themed marking scheme, probably the typical streaked green and light grey with some blocked in areas of white, black or red. If they look the part, I'm not too bothered about the historical's a game after all!

Tuesday 8 October 2019

Junkers J.1 Wings and Things

I had an cunning plan today, which is usually not a good thing but in this case seems to have worked out. I replaced the very flimsy vertical struts that fit either side of the pilot cockpit with thin brass rod, along with the feed to the wing mounted radiator, so that there are three points of contact for the upper wing. This means that it will be much more stable and, hopefully, will make the addition of the interplane struts a lot easier, if they actually fit that is? I suspect they'll be a pain in the ****. 

The upper wing now sits quite neatly on top of the fuselage balanced on the three wire supports but I will need to line up it carefully when I add the interplane struts. The model still looks a bit rough and ready but I can tidy it up later. I was thinking of adding some washed in shading and the decals also need to be applied. I need to paint the crew of pilot and rear gunner as well, for which I have a couple of figures too choose from, as they need to be fitted before I add the top wing and the undercarriage. I'm getting there slowly but it's a real slog!

Congo Figure Storage Solutions

I usually use KR Multicase foam trays and cardboard containers for my 28mm stuff but, with all the pointy spears and big shields on the Congo figures  I thought it would, be better to store them upright. As I've based them on 2p coins, the obvious solution is a RUB insert with magnets, so I've been shopping around for the best ones. I think I'm going to go for the Charlie Foxtrot version, as it looks ideal and isn't that expensive, with a tray holding up to seventy seven figures. I have forty eight figures in the Forest Tribes column, so there's plenty of space and room for an other twenty nine figures to spare, which could be enough for an Expedition or Zanzibari force. I'm a bit short of pocket money, however, so I'll have to wait until pay day to splash out on the tray and also some of the nice resin tents and baggage that Charlie Foxtrot has in his webshop thingy.

Monday 7 October 2019

Club Classics

I haven't been to the club much this year due to a clash with family activities on a Tuesday night but I'm hoping to put that right as far as I can this Autumn. The sprog who is now 17 has started to go to play Warhamster with his college friend, so I've been giving him a lift up to the club and dropping him off, before nipping back to pick up my daughter from ballet class. However, I've now been able to re-arrange things so that I can stay on at the club for a game, not every week but at least once or twice a month.

The sprog is keen on trying out What a Tanker!, so that's definitely on the cards but I also would like to set up a game of Fistful of Lead for him, as it's a great game and I haven't played a scenario for ages. I have quite a lot of new terrain and buildings for it as well, which I haven't used before, so there's a real incentive to dig out the figures, dust them off and set up a gunfight or two. In fact, I really could do with another posse to supplement my lawmen and banditos, if I can find the time to squeeze half a dozen figures into the schedule.

Another classic game I really enjoy is AK47 and it would be perfect as an introduction to proper wargaming, if you can call it that, rather than Warhammer 40K. I have enough units to put together two armies as well, although there's always room for more including some natty technicals that I constructed from diecast toy trucks ages ago but didn't get round to painting. In fact, they'd make a really good addition to what I've already got and shouldn't take too long to finish off. It's always a fun game and it really is about time I played another AK47 bash.

I can't make it to the club this week but I've pencilled in next week for a possible game, so I'll have to make up my mind which of the club classics to do!

Junkers J.1 Struts

I'm almost ready to assemble the fuselage to the upper wing on the Junkers J.1, although I'll need to add a few more parts, add the decals and fit the crew beforehand. This should take me awhile but I'm also putting off the final assembly as the strut arrangement is quite complicated and I'm not sure how secure the whole thing will be in the end, if I even get that far. It reminds me of when I assembled the Airfix Re8, which is a similar machine in many respects and also a similar kit, even though that was easier as it had interplane struts to secure the end result. As you can see in the picture, the Junker J.1 only had a criss cross of struts linking the fuselage, lower wing and upper wing, with nothing at the outer edge of the lower or upper wing at all, so a much more fiddly prospect with lots of opportunities for a FUBAR!

Sunday 6 October 2019

Junkers J.1 Next Steps

I've spent the morning learning all over again how to assemble WW1 aircraft model kits, with one or two things having to be dragged up from the bottom of my fairly sketchy memory. The basic fuselage and upper wing have been built and I've added a basecoat of Vallejo Luftwaffe Camo Green, which isn't the correct colour but it looks good, so I'll keep it. If I get some tie this afternoon, I'll add a second coat and also paint the under surfaces in GW Electric Blue. I'm definitely not looking forward to assembling the upper wing and fuselage together....arrggh!

Junkers J.1 Basic Bits

I've made a good start on the Junker J.1 kit, assembling the fiddly cockpit area and engine block, ready for painting and fitting within the fuselage sections. I've also assembled the lower wing and cleaned up the tail parts, so that I can add them to the completed fuselage. When that is done I will be able to add some more of the smaller details like the gun mount, control surface parts and lower wing struts. I'm worried about the upper wing struts, which are quite flimsy and have a complex mounting arrangement but I'm hoping that a dry run and then some careful superglue application will do the trick. I'll have to paint the upper wing first, however, as it will be a difficult job once it's attached.

Saturday 5 October 2019

Saga Reading

I'm reading this at the moment, as a bit of background for my Saga revival project, which is scheduled for the new year. I live in Winchester so the subject of this book is very close to home. It's written in a slightly unusual style but it is still readable and has some very interesting angles on the period which I hadn't been aware of before. 

Friday 4 October 2019

Eduard Junkers J.1

I was up in the loft again this evening, this time to check it wasn't leaking, so had another rummage in the kit box and turned up this lovely 1/172nd scale Eduard Junkers J.1 reconnaissance machine. It's a cracking kit and will go alongside the four Fokker Dr 1's that I'm going to build for Knights of the Sky. I've decided to postpone the Congo project for a month or so, giving me time to construct the WW1 aircraft kits for another game at some point in November. I haven't built any biplanes for ages but I'm raring to go so it's definitely 'chocks away!' this weekend.

Thursday 3 October 2019

Von Jim's Flying Circus

I've decided to go for the Fokker Dr.1 option, using the Smer / Eduard kits as they are less fiddly than the old Revell ones. I have four of these but I'm sure I've got a couple more somewhere, although I could also use the new Revell kit of which I have a few, in order to build enough for a really packed multiplayer game. These will be painted as late 1917 machines with the proper Iron Cross insignia, rather than the later rather boring Balkan Cross of 1918. I may also paint them in variety of colourful designs, but with a common palette for that real Flying Circus vibe. If I get the time I'll start on them this weekend.

Wednesday 2 October 2019

Bloody April 1917 Knights of the Sky Game


We had a very enjoyable game of Knights of the Sky at the club last night, with twelve players spilt into two groups of six, half RFC, RNAS and Aviation Militaire and half German Imperial Air Service. At the start of the game the Allies weren't confident about their chances, faced by the combined firepower of five Alabtros DIII's and a Roland CII, but by the end of the game, they were the victors having shot down five of the Hun for the loss of only three aircraft. There were the usual funny moments and we all had a great time, which means another game will be on the cards before Xmas, assuming I get my act together and build some more biplanes. Tally Ho!


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