Friday 31 March 2023

Strength and Honour Roman Legions


I've just finished off the three extra legions for my Parthian Campaign Imperial Roman army, although they were a bit rushed at the end. I now have six legions to deploy, at least one of which will be Veteran status for an additional two points, while two can be added to the Parthian army as allied raw legions. Nice!

Thursday 30 March 2023

Bag the Hun Book Bonanza

I've been splashing out on reading material for the Bag the Hun scenario writing project, with some old Osprey Aircraft of the Aces books that I already had supplemented by some new hardback books specifically aimed at the Solomons air campaign. The 13th Fighter Command book is particularly good and I'll have lots of potential scenario material to work through over the holidays. You can never have enough books after all?

Wednesday 29 March 2023

Battle of Britain Club Game

This was the game at the club yesterday, an introduction to the PSC Battle of Britain boardgame, which includes miniature aircraft so I'm reporting on it here, rather than on the other blog. I really enjoyed this game, which is an abstract but effective representation of RAF strategy and tactics in 1940, with some unusual but effective twists. In the end the RAF won by a narrow margin, so a historical result, albeit at quite a high cost due to my terrible dice rolling!

Tuesday 28 March 2023

Imperial Roman Light Cavalry


One thing I don't have yet for my Imperial Roman army is any cavalry. After a tip off, it seems that this is a bit of a gap, so I have two light cavalry alae to add to my legions and auxiliaries. These will be auxillary quingenaria units of around 500 men, represented by eight of the smaller horse blocks from Antonine Miniatures per base. In the lists, these are rare units so two is an absolute maximum, even if I have enough common units to deploy so that they are permitted. I'm not keen on painting horses in any scale but at least these are small enough that I can get away with cutting a few corners, so no eyeballs this time round!

Monday 27 March 2023

Strength and Honour Legions

I've started on the three extra legions for my Parthian Campaign Imperial Roman army, as a bit of a change, the rather sketchy plan being to finish them over the next few days. I was going to try to paint the last of the pre-dreadnoughts for my South American project, but I can't do that in the time left before the holidays, so this is a better option. The bases and blocks have been bsse coated already, so some washing and dry brushing is up next. If I can, I will also try to get a couple of bases of cavalry under way, although I doubt I'll get anywhere near finishing them by Friday.

Sunday 26 March 2023

Red Actions! AFSR (7)


A few more bits added to the Red Actions! project today, with the artillery assembled and based, except for the limbers which I didn't get round to. I did, however, add a couple of mortar bases, which appear in the support lists, and two resin Austin armoured cars for a bit of variety. These are Syborg 3D prints and very nice they are too, despite both having broken off right-hand side front wheels, which must be a design flaw but easily fixed. I may do the limbers next or move on to a colour infantry company or perhaps make a start on the cavalry.

Saturday 25 March 2023

44th Fighter Squadron Scenario: January 27th 1943


I'm focussing my scenario writing project on the 44th Fighter Squadron, 347th Fighter Group in early to mid 1943 at the outset, as there are several historical dogfights that could be developed into potential games. I've only got one reference source at the moment, the Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 55; P-40 Warhawk Aces of the Pacific, but there are some really good titbits to chew on.

For example, on the 27th January 1943 the Japanese launched a raid on Guadalcanal escorted by a formation of thirty Ki-43 Oscar fighters, which swept ahead of the bombers and were intercepted by a mixed force of P-38's, F4F's and P-40's. Ten P-40F Warhawks of the 44thFS and 68thFS were scrambled late and had to climb to take on the Japanese fighters, which had been intercepted at 20000ft above by the 339thFS P-38's.

The lead flight of the 68thFS was bounced by some of the Ki-43's at 6000ft, which had dived onto the USAAF fighters, but P-38's broke up the Japanese attack. Four P-40F's of the 44th then attacked the scattered Oscars, with each of the experienced pilots claiming a kill. This would make a really good introductory scenario and would be ideal as a starting point for subsequent games, the 44thFS having only arrived on Guadalcanal a week earlier.

Red Actions! AFSR (6)


I've had a really busy day, driving about all over the place on various errands, so my best laid plans to finish basing the White artillery have gone up the spout. As a small consolation, I have based an artillery forward observer, which doesn't feature in Red Actions! but is required for It Rolls For Ivan when shooting indirectly. Hopefully, I'll have some time tomorrow to get a bit more than this single base sorted!

Friday 24 March 2023

B-24D Liberator for Bag the Hun


For one of the scenarios I'm working on I need the ratings for the B-24D Liberator, as the lists in the rulebook only cover the later, up-armed B-24J. Stripping the numbers back, the only significant difference are the fire factors, so the movement, climb rate, robustness, size and so forth, can just be copied over. The fire factors are a bit more complicated, however, so it's a question of working them out then adjusting them by comparison with similar aircraft.

The closest match in terms of armament is the B-17E, which had a similar layout of .50 cal machine guns in the frontal arc but an additional ventral ball turret. This has a fire factor distribution of 4/6/6/8, while the ball turret equipped B-24J has fire factors of 5/6/6/8. I think something like a 4/6/6/6 would be about right, factoring out the ball turret of the B-24J but building in the two cheek guns of the B-24D.

This raises the thorny issue of the top turret being able to fire in more than one arc in a turn, as the rules abstract the turret fire as an addition to each firing arc. In reality, the dorsal gunner might be able to sweep through two arcs, as he traversed his mounting, but not all four directions in one go. There are two possible ways to fix this, if you are bothered by it.

The first is two reduce the fire factors to the base numbers, then have the top turret as a once per turn addition of bonus to the front, side or rear. The second, more radical solution, is to have a separate turret fire factor, which covers all four arcs but can only fire into one per turn. However, both of these methods would mean changing the rules and potentially unbalancing the ratings, so it's probably best to just stick with the system as it is, even though it's not that realistic.

Thursday 23 March 2023

Warhawks, Lightnings and Liberators

I've located what I think could be an interesting and challenging historical mission as the basis for a Bag the Hun scenario. This would involve four P-40F Warhawks, four P-38G Lightnings and six B-24D Liberators against a superior force of up to thirty (!) A6M3 Zeros and fifteen A6M2-N Rufe floatplanes, so a really tough battle for the USAAF although the number of Zeros would be scaled back to balance the game. 

Here's an outline from the excellent Pacific Wrecks website: Pacific Wrecks - February 13, 1943

February 13th 1943

Six B-24 Liberators from the 307th Bombardment Group (307th BG), 424th Bombardment Squadron (424th BS) took off Henderson Field on their first combat mission against Japanese shipping in the Shortland-Buin area escorted by six P-38 Lightnings from 339th Fighter Squadron (339th FS) plus seven P-40F Warhawks from 44th Fighter Squadron (44th FS). 

On the way to the target, 3 P-40s and 2 P-38s aborted the mission due to engine trouble, leaving the B-24s with an escort of 4 P-38s and 4 P-40s: P-40F 41-14102 (MIA), P-40F 41-14110 (MIA), P-40F piloted by Captain Jack A. Bade and P-40F pilot 1st Lt. Robert B. Westbrook. 

Just after noon, the B-24s bombed a cargo ship from 14,000' just claiming one hit. Over the target, the formation was intercepted by 39 enemy fighters including A6M Zeros and floatplane fighters. 

Lost are B-24D 41-23597 pilot Captain Harold G. McNeese (4 MIA, 5 rescued), B-24D 41-23980 pilot 1st Lt. George K. Trager (9 MIA), B-24D 41-23975 pilot 1st Lt. Russell W. Rowe (9 MIA), P-38G pilot Rist (MIA), P-38G pilot Morton (rescued), P-38G pilot Cramer (rescued) and P-38G pilot Lockridge (rescued).

This will need some serious fine-tuning to turn it into a playable (if not winnable?) scenario, but it has all the ingredients for something a bit different and exciting for both the Japanese and American players. I have at least one more P-40F themed scenario idea up my sleeve but this one looks like a good place to make a start.

Off The Shelf Scenarios


One of the problems when working up a series of scenarios for Bag the Hun in the Pacific, is that it's all been done to death for other rule systems, specifically for Check Your Six. A good example is Guadalcanal, which is covered in part by the supplement on the Cactus Airforce, although this in itself is just a snap shot over a couple of months in 1942. To avoid covering the same ground but also to give me the option of converting a scenario or two from CY6 to Bag the Hun as a quick fix, I've ordered a copy of the scenario book to dip into. I'll definitely be devising my own scenarios, however, with a view to submission for the 2023 Lard Magazine.

Wednesday 22 March 2023

Red Actions! ASFR (5)


It's on to the artillery next, with two of the guns built and based to see how they go together. The field gun is the Peter Pig Putilov 76.2mm model, which is very straightforward to assemble, while the rather hefty 122mm M10 Schneider heavy howitzer is the from the  Irregular Miniatures Really Useful Guns range. I have another one of each of these models to base up then I'll get cracking on the limbers.

Fistful of Lead Last Man Standing Shootout


I had a good game of Fistful of Lead: Reloaded at the club yesterday, although it ended up dragging out at the end as the lawmen hunted down the last of the bandits and finished them off. This was a simple last man standing scenario, with five figures for each posse, the lawmen aiming to stop the bandits escaping on the waiting railroad train at the far end of the town's main street. The game swung too and fro with both sides well matched until the last few turns of the game. The highpoints included a lawman using his shotgun to shoot upwards through the roof of a saloon at the bandit on top, another lawman smashing through a window, doing a forward roll and attempting to shoot a bandit, who promptly shot him stone cold dead with his pistol, and a long range rifle shot which picked off another lawman as the attempted, very badly, to shoot a prone and defenceless bandit, yet again fluffing his shooting roll not once but three times at point blank range. It was good fun as always but next time I'll have a time limit!

Tuesday 21 March 2023

Red Actions! AFSR (4)

I bundled in some WW1 Russian infantry in greatcoats with my last Peter Pig order, so will now add a fifth infantry company to the line up. The new range doesn't include an HMG pack but I have that covered with a pack from the WW2 range, with which I can do a surgical head swap transplant, using some surplus figures as donors. I'm not sure what this unit will represent but I may deploy it as a veteran, officer or elite unit, although I need to check the rules to see if this would be a feasible idea.

Monday 20 March 2023

Fistful of Lead Club Game


I have a couple of games of a Fistful of Lead: Reloaded at the club tomorrow, with a player who hasn't tried the rules before, so I've rolled up two new gangs and filled out the rosters. While doing this I thought it would be a good idea to actually produce a set of character cards including all the relevant details and traits for my usual posses, so I'm going to have a go when I get some free time over the holidays.

Sunday 19 March 2023

Red Actions! AFSR (3)


I have now based the infantry battalion of four companies with six bases and an attached machine gun, for the Volunteer Army Infantry Division. This will also give me three battalions of seven bases plus a machine gun each for It Rolls For Ivan, leaving two bases spare. Up next will be the artillery, for which I have four Putilov field guns and two Schneider heavy howitzers, together with four limbers, so quite a lot to get sorted. I will also make up a couple of artillery observer bases for IRFI, which will be attached to each battery as needed. 

Saturday 18 March 2023

South Pacific Scenarios for Bag the Hun

I've been thinking about writing a set of scenarios for Bag the Hun for months but couldn't decide whether to pick up an old set of notes for the  Whirlwind anti-shipping strike missions, or try something completely new. In the end, I've picked a really mainstream topic, the air battles for Guadalcanal and the Solomons, which has been done many times before but is perhaps of greater appeal than my usual obscure subjects. 

The thing that I like about this option is that I can base the scenarios on one of my favourite books, Edward Sim's Greatest Fighter Missions, of which I have an original first edition hardback copy. This is a fantastic source of scenario information and includes several specific sorties, breaking them down into blow by blow tactical steps. The diagrams are especially useful and the text resonates with the first hand experience of the author as a WW2 fighter pilot.

I'm planning to get started on the scenario development over Easter, when I'll have time to sit down and work my way through the book and the other sources that I will use to pull it all together. After that, I'll paint the required planes in 1/600th scale, which shouldn't take too long as they have very simple camouflage schemes and insignia, ready for some playtesting in the Summer.

Ancient British Army for Strength and Honour


I spent some time yesterday evening playing around with the Antonine Miniatures figures and bases to work out an army for Strength and Honour. This is what I came up with, minus the skirmish line bases, and I think it's not a bad start. As you can see, there are four open order warbands, two light cavalry units, a chariot unit, a skirmish unit and a general in his chariot. I might reduce the cavalry to one base and add another warband but I think it's pretty much there, aside from a camp or baggage?

Friday 17 March 2023

Strength and Honour Sagittari Skirmishers


I have a couple of packs of the Antonine Miniatures skirmish castings that I originally bought for the Parthian army but didn't get round to painting. I'm now thinking of using them for a skirmish unit to protect and scout ahead of my Imperial Roman Legions, so have been doing a bit of reading around the subject. It seems that an auxiliary unit of Cretan archers took part in Trajan's Parthian campaigns, so there's clearly an historical justification for a distinct skirmish formation, as opposed to just another bog standard auxiliary base. There's an interesting article here explaining how they would have been deployed:

Thursday 16 March 2023

Strength and Honour Ancient British Inspiration


I've been watching the videos on Strength and Honour lately, which are very good and really helpful, so was particularly interested in Mark's set up for a Boudiccan Revolt British army. This is the next thing on my list of forces to build, so it was really handy to see the break down of units for a medium sized, typical army set out and explained in one go. 

It's given me some ideas for my army and some further guidelines about how to represent open order warbands and skirmishing chariots. The option to deploy chariots in skirmish lines or en masse has really changed my concept of what to do, so plenty of food for thought. In the meantime, I will soon have three more Imperial Roman Legions and some cavalry to base up for the Parthian campaigns, so plenty to be getting on with.

Pre-dreadnought Additions


USS Oregon

USS Cincinnati 

HMS Grafton

I've tweaked the last group of models that I'm painting for the Easter holiday wargaming project, swapping some out and adding some new ones. The US Navy has lost both the USS Charleston and USS Baltimore, as they are a little too old, but have gained the far more potent battleship, USS Oregon, alongside the protected cruiser USS Cincinnati. These two ships were both stationed on the West Coast in the timeframe I'm using and will, therefore, fit in very well to any potential scenarios. 

The Royal Navy has lost the impressively enormous armoured cruiser HMS Ariadne, as she by contrast is really too late for the campaign, but have gained the Edgar class protected cruiser, HMS Grafton, once again on the basis that she was deployed to the Pacific at the time, or thereabouts, so is more appropriate. I have also added the four Argentinian torpedo boats, as previously mentioned, so have some interesting and varied things to paint up over the next couple of weeks!


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