Sunday 28 February 2021

Republican Mixed Brigade for FWTDR

I've been busy today so haven't had time to run the Fighting Iron game as planned, but should be able to give it a go tomorrow once the garage spring cleaning and bicycle maintenance is out of the way. To make up for this, I've been working on the forces for the new SCW rules, For Whom The Dice Rolls, which arrived in the post yesterday. I have to say that I am enthused by the rules, which are very well written and have an AK47 feel about them, not so much in the mechanics or focus but very much in the level of game represented. They also seem to make a lot of sense and I haven't had the usual mind bending or head scratching exercise that I tend to experience when reading a set of rules for the first time. 

Anyway, I've picked out a good place to start, with a later war Republican Mixed Brigade, for which I already have at least half of the figures and models required. The core of this consists of four infantry battalions, each of which has six three figure stands, two HMG stands and a command stand. Up to two of these can be militia, so I'm going to have one battalion of CNT / FAI militia figures to add a bit of colour to the brigade with the other three battalions being regulars. The rest of the brigade includes an artillery grupo, which for the moment I am going to limit to a single light battery of two field guns and an observer, as suggested in the rules. This is so that I can include an attached company of three T-26 tanks without overcooking it and have some air support, which will be in 1/144th for scale effect.

I already have an anti tank battery of one 37mm anti-tank gun so this means that all I need to complete the full Mixed Brigade is an armoured car or two stand cavalry reconnaissance squadron, the aforementioned militia battalion and a heavy mortar battery of two mortars or a single infantry gun. These I can add once I've painted and based the rest of the force, which I'm thinking won't be a massive task given the relatively simple uniforms and limited range of colours required. I've also found an excellent painting guide on the Minairons site which references Vallejo paint shades and should take all of the guesswork out of the process.  

It's all slated for some point in the middle of next month, once the Cruel Seas Kriegsmarine coastal forces have been painted, and I'm really looking forward to it!

Saturday 27 February 2021

Kriegsmarine Flotilla Ready for Painting

I finished the last elements of the German coastal forces this morning, with a Vorpostenboot and two Ju-88 torpedo bombers. The planes are from the now discontinued Museum Miniatures range with aerial torpedoes from Scotia Collectair. I mucked up a couple of models when assembling these, which is unusual for me and a real shame, as they can't be replaced. I can now start on the painting, which I'll probably break down into manageable sections, starting with the minesweeper. 

15mm SCW Republicans

I found the 15mm Peter Pig SCW figures yesterday and did a bit of number crunching to work out how far they would stretch. I think I have enough for two battalions plus some field artillery and heavy machine gun support units, based on the outlines given on the For Whom the Dice Rolls designer's blog but I'll need to double check when the rules arrive. It's not a bad start.

Friday 26 February 2021

Fighting Iron First

I've printed and laminated all of the turn templates and tokens for a try out game of Fighting Iron over the weekend. The plan is to set up a simple scenario involving a handful of my mid-Victorian French and British ironclads in order to get a grip on the rules and, in particular, on the firing and damage mechanisms. I have a backlog of games to play at the moment, having limited access to the dining room table, but this one is being pushed forward to the front of the queue to see how they might work with my later ironclads of the 1880's.

Thursday 25 February 2021


This trio of ubiquitous R-boats is the latest addition to the Cruel Seas / Narrow Seas flotilla, with a view to using them as convoy escorts, for minelaying missions and for coastal patrols. They were very easy to put together so I've now started on the much more involved Vorpostenboot. 

15mm Spanish Civil War

Way back in 2013 I played a couple of games of Bayonet and Ideology at the club, which I thoroughly enjoyed despite not warming to the rules,  so decided to build a Republican army using the then, newly expanded Peter Pig range. This hit the buffers after an initial splurge but I still have the figures and vehicles, waiting patiently for a new set if rules to reinvigorate the project. 

It looks as though the wait may be over, with the publication of For Whom The Dice Rolls, which seems to be exactly what I'm after. From the overview on the blog it sounds like a fairly straightforward but well thought out system, specifically tailored to the conflict and with a reasonable head count of figures, not unlike that required for a typical AK47 army. 

I think it's worth a closer look, as I have a non-specific 15mm project pencilled in for 2021 and this would be a little more interesting than a WW2 or modern option. The Peter Pig figures are great as well, with lots of character but comparatively simple to paint. I think I already have enough for two or three regiments worth plus some armoured support and transport, so it's a good basis for an affordable project.


Wednesday 24 February 2021

HMS Colossus

I  looking for something else when I found this excellent animation explaining the design and operation of the main armament of HMS Colossus, the late ironclad launched in 1882. The focus of the animation and the accompanying detailed notes is on loading and firing procedures including the operation of the turrets, hydraulic rammers and ammunition hoists. I found it all very interesting and well worth a look, especially as I have a 1/2400th scale model waiting to be painted in the next project along.

Tuesday 23 February 2021

Carry On Up The Kriegsmarine

I've started the second phase of the Cruel Seas / Narrow Seas project with the assembly of the rather splendid M1940 minesweeper. This is mostly resin with some white metal fittings, so a quick clean up and glue together job. I quite fancy getting another one as they were often used together for convoy escort, being well armed but still reasonably manoeuvrable. 

Narrow Seas

One of the things that put me off Cruel Seas to start with, aside from the fact that I already have plenty of 1/600th scale coastal forces, was the gamey focus of the rules. I like to run historical or at least historically plausible scenarios, while Cruel Seas has always seemed a bit light in this respect. I've also played Action Stations and the Schnellrules for Schnellboot rules quite a lot, so my first choice for coastal forces games with the 1/300th scale models will be Narrow Seas. These share some similarities with both of David's previous rules and are far more historical in their focus, so I think they will be an excellent option for my own games, if not for club nights.

Monday 22 February 2021

Schnellboot Finished

I added some light weathering and some crew to the boats this afternoon but decided to leave the decals and flags off, so to all intents and purposes they're now finished and ready for action. 

I left the decals off as they looked a bit too big and I quite like the idea of having a generic unit that can also be the 5th Flotilla. I left the flags off because they were a pain to cut out and fold, but I may go back and have another go sometime, if I can get the hang of it. 

It's now onto the VP boats and R boats, together with an M Class minesweeper having decided to paint one up as well. You never know when some extra firepower might come in handy? 

Cruel Seas Anti-Shipping Strike Aircraft

I didn't think the default Ju-87 Stuka was an appropriate support aircraft for my early 1944 S-boat flotilla, so had a look in my 1/300th scale aircraft leadpile for an alternative. The best thing I found was a pair of Museum Miniatures Ju-88 bombers, which I can kit out with air dropped torpedoes from Collectair. These are far more suitable and can use the stats from the rulebook for the torpedo armed Beaufighter. I also have a third Ju-88 converted into a maritime reconnaissance aircraft for a Bag the Hun scenario that didn't happen, so I might add that in too?

Sunday 21 February 2021

Schnellboot Torpedoes

I didn't get much further today but have painted and fitted the torpedoes to the boats, leaving only some crew, the decals and a bit of weathering to finish them off. As a result, I've started to set out the next phase of the Cruel Seas project, the less glamorous but very useful ancillary vessels, in the form of a heavily armed Vorpostenboot and three Raumboote. I'll get started on this lot next week. 


I've had this book knocking about on the Kindle for a while so decided to give it a go, having an ongoing interest in the subject and plans to paint more late Victorian ironclads or early pre-dreadnoughts in the not too distant future. I've read some of the author's other naval history books and so I was expecting a well written, engaging and interesting read. I've not been disappointed and its given me a shove to try out the Fighting Iron rules which, incidentally, look pretty good too.

Saturday 20 February 2021

Schnellboot Armed

I tackled the various gun mountings this afternoon, which I wasn't looking forward to at all, but they have come out okay in the end. I particularly like the 40mm Bofors mountings that I've used on the two converted S38b boats, which are actually US ones from the crew set. It's on to the torpedoes next then the decals and some light weathering. 

Friday 19 February 2021

Schnellboot Shading and Highlighting

The S-Boote are now shaded and have had some highlights applied, so pretty much done as far as the hulls are concerned, bar a little weathering and the decals. I'm now onto the gun mountings, crew figures and torpedoes. 

Thursday 18 February 2021

Schnellboot Blocking

I spent quite an enjoyable hour or two this afternoon, blocking in the decks of the boats with Vallejo French Mirage Blue. They're now ready for a pin wash rather than my usual slap it all over ink wash, for which I'm thinking of using Army Painter dark tone ink wash, as a bit of an experiment. 

Fighting Iron

These new rules for ironclad and pre-dreadnought naval warfare have just been published by Rory Crabb, so I thought I'd try them out, especially as they may bridge the gap and work for my late ironclads. I'll download a copy and give them a read through, before I set up a game with my mid-Victorian ships.

Wednesday 17 February 2021

Schnellboot Start Up

I sorted out the workbench to make a start on the Cruel Seas S-Boote flotilla yesterday, with an initial block in of Vallejo Pale Grey over the original base coat of Vallejo Sky Grey. The latter was what was advised in the Cruel Seas starter set painting guide, but it looked wrong to me so I went for the lighter shade of off white, pale grey. The next thing to do is the most fiddly bit, involving blocking in the decking, for which I'll use Vallejo French Mirage Blue. 

Tuesday 16 February 2021

Royal Navy Wrap Up

I spent a frustrating hour or two this afternoon finishing the RN ships for the Indonesian Confrontation project. These turned out to be a pain in the **** and I almost chucked them at one point but kept going to the end. They're not as crisp or tidy as I wanted but will do, at least for the moment, while I shift my attention to the Cruel Seas project and put the current one on hold for a while. At least I have given the 'base then paint' approach a try out, with a fairly clear result and a return to my usual 'paint then base' methodology, and I also have enough ships to play some learning curve games of Naval Command.

British Battleships

I'm reading this new Osprey at the moment, with my pre-dreadnoughts in mind, which is another of my projects for 2021. It's the usual format but a very good overview of the subject, if you don't fancy wading through more detailed sources, and the artwork is better than some other titles in the series. Worth a look. 

Monday 15 February 2021

Seizing the Cruel Seas

I'll shortly be ready to play some try out games of Naval Command, with enough warships for both the Indonesians and Royal Navy to make it workable, so I'm going to take a break from 1/3000th scale and get back to what I was supposed to be doing. This was the Cruel Seas project, with the focus being on finishing the 5th S-Boote flotilla, which has been sitting around half painted for ages. 

I don't think this will take too long (how may times have I said that to myself?), so I should be able to add something else to the project this month, perhaps a couple of R Boats or a VP Boat. I've been putting this project off for far too long so should get it sorted, especially now that I have the 40mm Bofors mountings to finish off the S-38b's and some insignia decals to add a splash of authenticity. 

I've also been thinking about the Soviets for Cruel Seas again, as I have several models to assemble and could do with some opposition for the Kriegsmarine.

Wash and Go

I've just spent an hour or so painting the second lot of Navwar RN warships for the IndoCon project, which was a lot less straightforward than I expected. 

I'm experimenting with basing then painting the models, which speeds up the first bit but slows down the second, as it's a pain in the **** trying to get a neat waterline. The castings are a bit rough too, so it's been hard getting a decent, neat finish. 

Oh well, they've now been ink washed and are drying off, so that I can do some tidying up then paint the bases, which I'm hoping will pull them together a bit more? 

Sunday 14 February 2021

Blue Swastika Rampant Revisited

With the scuppering of my plans for 1/144th scale Russian Front air wargaming, I've been left with an itch to do something similar in 1/285th, with the Bag the Hun Winter War project being the obvious way to scratch it. This is all ready to go, except for the hex cloth that I have been searching for with little or no success for a couple of years now. I want to have a winter forest and lake themed cloth but, after some enquiries about having one custom designed, I've had to accept that it's way beyond the stretch of my pocket money. 

This means either making one myself, which will look terrible, or using one off the shelf which isn't quite right but will do. A good example is the snow cloth from Tinywargames, which would be a reasonable compromise, but even that is sixty quid plus postage for a 6' x 4 sheet. One possibility would be to go for a smaller 4' x 4' cloth, which might work given the lower speeds of the aircraft involved, typically around 5 or 6 hexes per turn and the smaller number of aircraft in scenarios. I'd be using 35mm hexes, so that would allow for five turns or so of movement in a straight line, before the aircraft would fly off the edge of the world. 

I think I need to think about this idea some might solve a sticky problem?

MiG Alley

I completed my Wings at War MiG Alley project, give or take some minor extra bits, about a year ago. It originally started way back in the mists of 2009 (!), before I wandered off in other directions, then got hammered to semi-competion in 2018 and polished off in 2020, so it only took a little over a decade to do.

I didn't get round to actually playing a game this time last year, however, for some inexplicable reason, so I'm planning to run a few over the next week or so with my son, so that all that effort isn't wasted. The dining room table should be available as it's half term so not needed for school work, which means I can set up the terrain and get cracking.

Saturday 13 February 2021

1/144th Lagg 3 Soviet Decals

I found these decals on eBay for the Zvezda Lagg 3 model, so have bought a set of the summer ones to use when I eventually get round to making them. I'd prefer to paint them up in winter camouflage but, as my Hexon terrain is all flocked with static grass it wouldn't make much sense. There's been some interest from the club in this project but not that much, so I will be putting it to one side for a rainy day, leaving me free to get on with other things. I'm still keen to give it a go but I've got plenty to do in the meantime!

Naval Command: Exclusion Zone

Now that I have the RN subs painted for the 'What If?' Indonesian Confrontation project, I have the chance to run a try out scenario using the Naval Command rules and a simplified version of the Exclusion Zone scenario from the rule book. This will have the Indonesians as the surface force and the British submarines as the blockading force, although the former will be slimmed down a bit and I'll also reduce the number of dummy contact markers to speed things up. I'm going to use a Don class submarine tender as the principal target for the submarines, escorted by a couple of Riga class frigates and a Skory class destroyer, with an Il-28 Beagle standing in as a patrol aircraft. I suspect I'll get a bit bogged down in the rules mechanics to begin with but, hopefully, I'll get a good grasp of the rules in the process!

Friday 12 February 2021

The Silent Service

I'm taking a bitesized approach to painting the Royal Navy warships for my Indonesian Confrontation project, starting with the most digestible portions first. The hors d'oeuvre consists of two Oberon class subs, HMS Oberon and HMS Olympus, the former of which was on patrol during the conflict. Ideally, I'd have liked to deploy some Amphion class boats, but I haven't been able to find a model. Next up will be a tasty starter of five frigates. 

Thursday 11 February 2021

Iron Annie

I thought I could do with some larger aircraft for my  1/144th scale Heroes of the Sky scenario hooks, so what better than a Ju-52 'Iron Annie'. Those of you who, like me, grew up reading Warlord when I was at junior school, will remember the eponymous cartoon strip along with Kampfgruppe Falken, Killer Kane and so on, which heavily influenced my interest in wargaming. I have now got hold of an Altaya 1/144th scale Ju-52 for a good price, so will repaint it in an Eastern Front camouflage scheme and add it to the line up. Excellent!

Wednesday 10 February 2021

Blocking In

I've braved the freezing cold garage today to undercoat and base coat two thirds of the Royal Navy Task Force, together with a super tanker. I'm going to be taking these one step at a time, the next stage being to block in the hulls, superstructure and decks, if I can stop my teeth chattering and my fingers turning blue? 


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