Wednesday 30 June 2021

Five Parsecs from Home

I made one of those 'ooh, shiny!' impulse purchases at the weekend, when Northstar were offering the new, ever so shiny hardback edition of Five Parsecs From Home at a discount. I like Nordic Weasel rules but never really considered this solo, RPG sci-fi campaign focussed system as an option. I sounds really intriguing and I was suckered into ordering a copy by the thought of a narrative 'kitchen table' campaign of my own, using 15mm GZG or Laserburn figures to keep it affordable. Who knows, it might even happen?

Tuesday 29 June 2021

Pacific War Book Bargain

The local charity shop has been re-opened and has a lot of new stuff that they've acquired over the lockdown. Thus includes some really good books, if you're lucky enough to pop in after they've restocked the history section. I was passing yesterday and went in for a browse, finding a pristine hard back copy of The Road to Victory from Osprey Publishing, along with a book on US Destroyers of WWII. As I've been thinking of tackling a 1/3000th scale early war Japanese fleet at some point this year, these are a great additions to my library. 

Monday 28 June 2021

Bag the Hun Khalkhin Gol Ki-27's

I'm moving on to the next phase of the painting plan now, with eighteen 1/600th scale Tumbling Dice Ki-27 Nate fighters ready to be assembled on the workbench. These are simple two piece castings, consisting of the fuselage and two legged undercarriage, so putting them all together shouldn't take too long. They also have a simple light grey-green paint scheme, which is the easy bit, but they will need the Sentai and Chutai insignia painted on as well, which will be far more fiddly. 

24th Sentai, 1st Chutai

11th Sentai, 1st Chutai

11th Sentai, 2nd Chutai

I'm painting half of them as 24th Sentai, 1st Chutai aircraft, with a red and white striped rudder and two horizontal bars on the tail plane, while the other half will be 11th Sentai, 1st or 2nd Chutai aircraft, with red undercarriage legs and either a white or red lightning flash on the tail. This will be pretty fiddly to do but I'm going to try anyway. Unfortunately, I'm really busy with work over the next three weeks so progress will be very slow, although I can probably chip away at the painting in the evenings to get it done?

Sunday 27 June 2021

Modern Chinese Navy Taskforce Finished

I managed to grab some time today to finish the bases and labels for the 1/3000th scale modern PLAN taskforce and the Chinese fishing fleet, both of which having been stalled on the workbench due to work commitments. I mucked up both the bases and the labels at one point, so they took a bit longer than I expected. They came out looking okay but they're not great, although good enough for some games with the new edition of Naval Command, when it is released in the not too distant future. I also finished the modernised version of the Chilean Type 22 flagship, Almirante Williams, so that I can use my Chilean fleet well into the 2000's.

Saturday 26 June 2021

A Tale of Daring Do

I haven't played any naval wargames for quite a while now, so I thought I'd dig out Naval Command and write up another 'What If?' scenario for the Indonesian Confrontation. In my earlier mini-campaign I didn't get to deploy the two RAN Daring class DD's that I had based and painted up, or the Sverdlov class CCG, KRI Irian, that was the flagship of the Indonesian navy at the time. The new scenario that I'm thinking of will feature both, with a night action in rough weather being the probable setting, potentially giving the crack RAN destroyers a bit more of a chance to make a successful strike on the cruiser, which will not be fully operational due to poor maintenance and lack of crew training. I just need to work out the data for the destroyers and sketch out the scenario, then I'm good to go!

Friday 25 June 2021

Bag the Hun Khalkhin Gol I-16's Finished

After a bit of a delay due to work, I've now finished painting the squadron of Polikarpov I-16's for the Khalkhin Gol project, which I can also use for the Winter War at a push. The three bare metal aircaft are for one of the scenarios I'm writing, while the rest are generic 70th IAP machines, with a few variations in prop boss and tail stripes to aid identification during games. I'm quite pleased with these but the other Soviet aircraft will now have to wait until I've painted twelve Ki-27's for the IJAAF, at which point I can start play testing the first two or three scenarios. 

Chain of Command Project AFV's

The Chain of Command summer project will be starting next month so I've been adding some support units for my British infantry platoon. As it's based on the 5th DCLI, 43rd Wessex Division, the tank support will be provided by the 8th Armoured Brigade, 4/7th Dragoon Guards. I have a Warlord Games Sherman Firefly already, so any other tanks would need to be from 'A' Squadron, as this was made up of the Fireflies and Sherman III's. I bought my son a Rubicon Models M4A1 for his birthday present and thought the kit looked very good, so I've now bought an M4A2 / Sherman III from the same range, which I will deck out with stowage, track links, road wheels and so on, as they are often laden down with such stuff in contemporary photos. 

Wednesday 23 June 2021

Bag the Hun Khalkin Gol Scenario B

I've been busy at work this week, so painting has been postponed until the weekend, but I have continued to work on the next scenario for the Bag the Hun Khalkin Gol project. This is a pure fighter vs fighter dogfight on the 22nd May 1939 over the frontline but the Soviet and Japanese accounts conflict. The Japanese reported that a patrol of three Ki-27's of the 1st Chutai, 24th Sentai, encountered six I-16's and shot three of them down for no loss.

However, the Soviets claim that a patrol of three I-16's and two I-15bis of the 70th IAP, clashed with five Ki-27's, mistakenly identified as A5M Claude naval fighters, losing one I-16 flown by a pilot named Lysenkov. To make sense of this, I'm going to use the Japanese report as a basis for the total of Ki-27's and the Soviet report for the composition of the 70th IAP flight. I still have some work to do to hammer out the scenario set up, pilot experience ratings and card deck, but I think this mix and match approach will work well and result  a balanced game?

Tuesday 22 June 2021

The Burning Sky (1940)

There are some great dogfighting action sequences in this Japanese film, released in September 1940.

Monday 21 June 2021

Chutai Foward!

I was thinking about a way to extend the Bag the Hun Khalkin Gol project beyond the half a dozen or so scenarios that I'm writing, in order to maximise the use of the 1/600th scale aircraft that I'm painting and to bring in some bombers to the games. I have a box full of light and medium bomber models that won't feature in the scenarios but I'd really like to paint some up!

The best way to do this without having to write even more historical scenarios, I thought to myself, would be to customise Joe Legan's popular Squadron Forward campaign system for the Nonomham conflict. As it's designed for WW2, this would require some new tables for encounters and missions, as well as a few tweaks here and there to reflect the numbers of aircraft involved. 

The best option would be to run it as a Japanese campaign, with a fictional Chutai of nine aircraft and a dozen or so pilots, each with his own experience level, characteristics and personality traits. There's no reason why you couldn't run it from a Soviet point of view but I thought it would be more interesting to use the IJAAF as a starting point. They also have greater experience at the start of the conflict, making it easier to run rewarding games that don't end with all of them being prematurely shot down!

I need to give this idea some more thought but it would be a good way to push the project beyond a handful of individual scenarios and towards a more cohesive, narrative campaign.

Sunday 20 June 2021

Send a Gunboat!

There's a new Osprey out later this year by Angus Konstam, focussing on gunboats of the Victorian Royal Navy. It reminded me that I have a number of surplus to requirements 1/2400th scale first and second class gunboat, all based and undercoated in my ironclads project leftovers box. These were originally assembled for the Second Schleswig War Battle of Jasmund project, but that was done using card counters instead.

I've used some for last year's War of the Pacific project, but there are enough remaining to add them to my French and British fleets. It's a good way to recycle an abandoned project and reuse the models, rather than spending money that I haven't got on shiny new lead. They also don't take long to paint so I can get them done on a wet weekend.

Bag the Hun Khalkhin Gol Scenario A

I'm starting to write up the scenarios for the Bag the Hun Khalkhin Gol project, in draft format ready for playtesting once I've painted the necessary aircraft. 

The first scenario is set on 20th May 1939, with a bounce by three Ki-27's of the 24th Sentai, 1st Chutai on two I-16's and an R-5*, south of the river on the Chinese side of the border at 18.10. The R-5 was probably returning from a reconnaissance mission but was shot down by the Japanese fighters, when the I-16's failed to protect it from attack by two of the Ki-27's, opting instead to escape.

This will be a straightforward 'bounce' scenario, with the three Ki-27's deploying as bogeys from the Western short edge of the table at Level 3, while the R-5 starts at the centre of the table heading West at Level 2. The I-16's will deploy no less than ten hexes behind the R-5, heading west at Level 2. The challenge for the Soviet fighters will be to close the gap with the R-5, which will have to evade the Japanese and attempt to exit the Western table edge before it is shot down by the enemy fighters.

The Japanese objective will be to shoot down the R-5 and, for a bonus, either of the I-16's. The sun will be in the West, giving the Japanese an advantage in addition to their higher altitude. As the are flying as a Shotai of three aircraft, the Japanese will probably have to split formation, if they want to both attack the R-5 and intercept the I-16's. The Japanese pilots were Lt Col Matsumura (Veteran), Lt Suzuki (Regular) and Sgt Maj Tatsumi (Regular).

In fact, Lt Suzuki and Sgt Maj Tatsumi had to attack six times to shoot down the R-5, which suggests it was making some effective evasive manoeuvres. As a result, the unnamed R-5 crew will be rated as Veterans, while the ineffective I-16 pilots will be Sprogs, which reflects the inexperience of the Soviet fighters at this point in the conflict. I'll have to invent some names for the Soviet aircrew, as I haven't been able to find out who they actually were. The R-5 pilot, let's call him St Lt Pavlov, will get a character card, as will Lt Col Matsumura.

The Soviets have a tough fight on their hands but can still avoid defeat if they can get the R-5 off the table before the Japanese can hit it hard enough to knock it out of the sky. This will depend very much on how quickly the R-5 crew or the I-16's can spot the Japanese bogeys, as before this they will just have to keep flying straight ahead until they get 'bounced'. For the purposes of bogey allocation, the Japanese will be operating over friendly territory, having worked their way round to cut off the Soviets from their route of escape.

I'll get cracking on a proper write up for this scenario this week and should be able to play test it solo relatively soon.

(* this is usually reported to have been an R-Z but, according to the Air War book which is the most up to date account, there were no Polikarpov R-Z present at the time, so I've used the R-5 instead)

Saturday 19 June 2021

1/600th Soviet I-16 Fighters

I've made a good start on the 1/600th scale Soviet fighters for the Bag the Hun Khalkhin Gol project, with the I-16's base coated, blocked in and washed, then given a bit of a highlight to bring them up to scratch. I added three more in an overall bare metal scheme, as I need them for the second scenario where they make an appearance alongside two I-15bis in camouflage. I completely buggered up the I-153's, by giving them an ink wash before the camouflage pattern had dried, so they've gone in the bin as I couldn't salvage them and will replace them with new models. I'll aim to get the I-16's finished tomorrow if I have the time.

Friday 18 June 2021

Ishaks and Chaikas

I'm waiting for some bases to arrive for my newly painted 1/3000th scale modern PLAN warships, so in the meantime I've been assembling and magnet basing some 1/600th Tumbling Dice Soviet fighters for the Bag the Hun Khalkin Gol project. The first lot ready for painting are twelve I-16 Ishak monoplane fighters and nine I-153 Chaika biplane fighters, which will form the core of most of the scenarios I'm working on. I've left the I-15 bis / I-152 biplanes for the moment as my painting thingamajig is full up. I'm hoping to complete most of the paintwork over the weekend and, if I get the time, I may even finish them?


I have ordered a Warlord Games Sherman Firefly for the Chain of Command summer project, as the first of a handful of AFV support units for the 5th DCLI platoon. The plan is to paint this as a tank of A Squadron 4/7th Dragoon Guards, which supported the 5th DCLI in Normandy and Holland. I will also get a Rubicon Sherman III at some point, as they made up the other tanks in A Squadron, for which I've ordered a spare set of the Bolt Action decals. It's a good start to the AFV's that I'll be adding to the project as support options.

Thursday 17 June 2021

Recycled Flight Stands

I did a recycling job a while ago on some flight stands, that I originally made for 1/600th scale modern aircraft using a wire upright permanently glued to the models. These were made for Bag the MiG but I'll now use them for the Khalkin Gol project instead. I switched over to magnet basing for my 1/600th scale planes, so I removed the wires, re-drilled the bases and inserted 40mm panel pins instead. The whole lot were then resprayed with Halfords grey primer and finally given a couple of coats of Halfords Rover Henley Blue. Anyway, I have twenty six of them ready for some playtesting of the Khalkin Gol scenarios when I finally get round to writing them, using my old blue hex cloth until I can afford a nice new Mongolian steppe themed one.

Wednesday 16 June 2021

The Miraculous Torpedo Squadron


This is my latest book, written by a veteran of the Pacific War including Pearl Harbor, Midway and Guadalcanal, so not really relevant for my Khalkin Gol project but clearly a very interesting story. It is translated from the original Japanese but very readable nonetheless, so I'm cracking along with it at a fair pace. 

Tuesday 15 June 2021

Chain of Command Summer Project

It's looking as though I'll be staying at home this summer, while my wife and daughter go to Brittany, looking after my two teenage sons for my sins. To make the most of this enforced staycation, I've been thinking of setting up a project with my eldest son, having given him a Bolt Action starter set for his recent birthday. He's keen to paint up his late war Germans, so I thought I could paint up my old Crusader Miniatures British infantry platoon that I've had knocking about for at least a decade.

The overall aim would be to play both some pick up games of Bolt Action  but also Chain of Command as a two player mini-campaign. I have nearly all of the figures I need for a Chain of Command set up, except for a few optional support units like engineers and a medic, so all I need is a couple of  AFV's. The focus, as always, would be on the 5th Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry for Normandy and beyond. I think this sounds like a plan is finally coming together? 

Monday 14 June 2021

Modern Chinese Navy Update

I've now finished painting the PLAN warships for the South American Naval Command project, together with the modernised Chilean flagship Almirante Williams. I only have to texture and paint the bases, add some labels and the project will be virtually complete, except for the aircraft which will follow on later when I get the time. I've already completed painting the fishing trawlers, which will be based up alongside the warships, so there will be something to fight over when the missiles start to fly!

Sunday 13 June 2021

BTH Khalkin Gol Scenario Balance

One of the tricky things with the Khalkin Gol / Nonomhan conflict is how to balance the scenario so that either side has a decent chance of achieving their objectives, while still having an enjoyable game. 

Although I personally don't mind having a minimal chance of winning or even losing by a fair margin, some people are driven to win and get stroppy when they think they don't have a chance. I always play the underdog in most games, as it's more fun and even better when you do succeed, but it's not always great if you want to come away from an evening playing toy soldiers (or aeroplanes) with a bounce in your step.

The obvious issue with the Khalkin Gol / Nonomhan conflict is that, at the beginning, the Soviets get pasted by the Japanese, while at the end the tables are turned and it's the other way round, with the Soviets hammering the Japanese. In the middle, there's a good balance but at either end, in May and September for example, it is a bit one sided to say the least. Here's a good example from 27th May 1939. 

A squadron of eight I-16's of the 1st Fighter Squadron, 22nd Fighter Air Regiment were scrambled to intercept three Ki-27's that appeared over their forward air strip at 2500'. The squadron leader and another pilot failed to start their engines, leaving only six I-16's to take off, flying east in a ragged line ahead without formating for combat. They climbed to 2000' and were bounced by six more Ki-27's of the 1st Chutai, 11th Sentai led by future ace pilot Captain Kenji Shimada.

The Japanese attacked in tight formation, diving down from 1000' above the Soviet fighters at high speed. The three Ki-27's that had been spotted initially joined in, once they had performed their role as bait for the Soviets, giving a numerical advantage to the Japanese. Despite the efforts of the Soviet deputy squadron leader, Lt Cherenkov, to get the I-16's into some sort of defensive formation, the Soviets lost another two fighters though engine failure, one shot down in flames and a fourth destroyed in a crash landing. The Japanese claimed to have shot down nine I-16's!

As you can see, they didn't stand much of a chance, being very inexperienced and effectively leaderless, especially as Lt Cherenkov was one of the pilots shot down early in the dogfight. In the end, only one battered I-16 made it back to the airstrip, two pilots were killed and a third wounded, with no airworthy fighters left at the end. It's a good basis for a scenario, nonetheless, as it has lots of interesting elements including the varied level of experience on either side, the bounce by the Ki-27s which works well with the use of bogey counters, as well as a manageable numbers for a two to four player game.

I just have to work on the mission objectives and victory conditions to balance it out!

Saturday 12 June 2021

1/600th Polikarpov I-16 Squadron

I enjoyed painting the R-5 so I've decided to fast track the Khalkin Gol Bag the Hun project by painting a  squadron of twelve I-16 monoplane fighters. These are the Tumbling Dice models and come in packs of six for two quid, so for the price of a fancy sandwich you can have a whole squadron of four three plane sections. I don't think they'll take too long either as they are very tiddly!

Polikarpov R-5 Finished

Here's the converted 1/600th model of a Polikarpov R-5 that is the focus of the first Khalkin Gol Bag the Hun scenario, now painted up in a typical camouflage scheme for the conflict. There are no stats for the R-5 in the rule book, so I've made some up based on the guidelines in the 2004 Xmas Special and comparison with similar aircraft:

Polikarpov R-5

SPD 3 / MAN 3 / ALT 5 / ROC 1 / ROB 1 / SIZ 2 / FF Front 1 / FF Rear 1 / AMMO 12

Friday 11 June 2021

1/600th Polikarpov R-5 Conversion

I had a go at converting a Tumbling Dice Mitsubishi B2M into a Polikarpov R-5 this morning and I'm quite pleased with the end result. The upper wing is too short and slightly the wrong shape but, apart from that, it's not too bad. I only need one of these but I may have another go using plastic card to model a more accurate upper wing. This one, however, will be used as a colour test model for the Soviet aircraft I'll be painting up for the Bag the Hun Khalkin Gol project. 


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