Sunday, 28 December 2014

Gruntz - Polish air support

Air support has arrived too. I liked the near future vibe, and I think its reasonable to assume in the future we will keep the current trend for stretching the service life of aircraft by refitting avionics etc. With that in mind I did a bit of googling. It seems Poland is currently looking for a new attack helicopter, with the Eurocopter Tigre, Mangusta and Apache all in the running. I ruled out the Apache, too instantly recognisable, that left the Tigre or Mangusta. I have a couple of Mangusta models in 1:100 that I picked up from a partwork a few years ago, and currently there is a partwork magazine on sale in Italy that includes a 1:100 (15mm) Tigre in German colours, so I ordered one on ebay, and some Polish aircraft decals from Pendraken. Not 100% certain which will win out yet, and I'm trying to avoid doing a full repaint but we will have to see. Here's the Tigre - still in German markings but should be pretty easy to swap for Polish. I suppose I could mess about replacing the rotors with some tilt fan engines but I don't know if it would be worth the trouble, and if I leave it as it is I can always use it to double up for a real Tigre should we decide to do some ultra modern games in future.

Vehicles are still an issue. I have some Old Crow models that I really like and will fit the APC and Scout roles, but I'm still short a tank. The Old Crow Sabre looks like an option, but I may be tempted to try and use something different like a wheeled chassis.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Gruntz Campaign - New Vistula Legion

We have been planning a little sci fi campaign using the Gruntz rules for a little while, hopefully to kick start in the New Year. I had originally intended to use GZGs "Crustie" aliens in 15mm , but was also hankering after something a little more mainstream - in fact I was pricing up some GZG Colonial Militia for the Christmas sale, when while browsing through ebay I spotted a lot of about 60 painted Oddzial Osmy (O8) miniatures New Vistula Legion, and made a pretty low bid. Much to my surprise, I won. The figures duly arrived, and I was rather impressed.

Here's the group shot of the platoon

O8 are a Polish manufacturer more well known for their 3mm scale Pico Armour, but they also have a small but comprehensive New Vistula Legion sci fi range, which as the name suggests, are a near future \ sci fi Polish faction. A quick look confirms that they are inspired by the modern 21st Century Polish infantry - they have similar helmets and equipment. The assault rifles could easily be modernised versions of the Radom rifle the Poles are adopting, however the SAW is pure Aliens "Smartgun" . The figures themselves are beautiful; nicely proportioned and posed, with some very nice detail.

Here's one of the fire-teams, which are currently deploying as five men with a SAW attached

The ebay seller said they were painted - and they pretty much were, and whoever did them had a good technique - far better than me nowadays. I wasn't too happy with the armour plates and helmets which had been left black - either by design or because he had got fed up with them (we have all been there) so I quickly painted them with green armour and gave the guns a little grey highlight to brighten them up a bit.

The bases were interesting. They came based, or rather stuck to what I initially assumed were very thin steel disks as they were magnetic (bonus). On closer examination the stuff they are based on is not steel at all but something flexible but magnetic. As the figures were all individual and I needed some doubles for specialists etc I peeled some of them off the bases planning to put them on 2p coins (cheaper than washers and still ferrous!). As soon as I started I realised the 2ps were going to be far to thick in relation to the other infantry and would look odd. I was about to order some 2 cm steel disks when I thought - why not try plain magnetic paper? I had some stiff magnetic paper I had used to hold figures in boxes. I dug some out and cut 2p sized discs of it, based the figures up and they look fine. The sand & pva helps give the magnetic paper rigidity.

In our Gruntz campaign these are going to be my core infantry. I'm going for reasonably mid to low tech, so no energy weapons, just projectile weapons and missiles, but the troops themselves being seasoned. Here's my heavy weapon teams, an anti tank missile. HMG and mortar.

Gruntz has a lot of scope for Specialists that can add some additional capabilities to your troops, and also some sci fi flavour. Here's the NVL Medic, Commander, and ECM Specialist Teams.

"My" NVL will also be using a fair amount of recce and scout units. This is a pair of recce specialist teams and a Sniper team.

Lastly there is a squad of Long Range Recce Patrol \ Spetznaz types. These have very high skills \ morale but are lightly equipped.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Happy Painting Season!

Merry Paintbrush and an Happy Palette to you all!

Yup now is the time to take a few hours out from the turkey, get your paints out and have a few precious hours catching up on your lead and plastic mountain. Hopefully during a repeat of Zulu

I've decided to aim low this weekend, so if I can get my Muskets & Tomahawks 200pts complete I'll be a happy man.

All the Best

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Plucky Little Belgium (4) Late war fighters

The last of my collection of Belgian fighters are far more "serious" and are more than capable of taking on any opponent.

First up, the Hanriot HD1. Another French "reject" the HD1 was a bit suspect after the Ponnier debacle, but in this case the suspicions proved unfounded. The HD1 had lost out to the SPAD and Nieuport 17 for French orders, but served both in Italian and Belgian service where it was found to be a nice and capable little fighter with good handling. Coppens modified his to take an 11mm Vickers gun for use in Balloon Busting. There is an "official" Wings of Glory HD1, but mine was bought from Shapeways before the WoG one became available, and I'm quite pleased with it.

The last of my Belgian fighters is a Sopwith Camel as flown by Jans Olieslagers. Its straight from the box Wings of War Series 1 model.

I still have a couple of models to collect for my Belgians, SPADs and N17 to name a few, but these will have to wait a bit while I get the backlog of other models painted.

Plucky Little Belgium (3) Early Fighters, some more dangerous than others..................

Belgian Fighters

First up one of the prettiest and fondly remembered fighters of WW1, the Nieuport 11 "Bebe". This was a plane loved by its pilots and respected by the enemy. The Bebe is as close to strapping an engine and wings on a pilot as you are likely to get. It was tiny, and light as a feather, and had a single fixed forward firing Lewis machine gun firing over the propeller from the top wing. It was one of the Entente types that ended the "Fokker Scourge" and won back air superiority for the Entente. It also had a profound effect on aircraft design. In Germany, the novel sesquiplane layout, where the bottom wing was thinner and staggered back to improve pilot view was copied by Albatros for their DIII design, which went on to devastate the Entente in Bloody April 1917. The Albatros also inherited the N11s fragile lower wing, which was not such a problem on the lightweight Bebe but was a critical weakness on the Albatros which was prone to wing failures at high speeds.  The Bebe also influenced the Entente designers who saw the success the lightweight N11 was having, and drew the wrong conclusion that nimble rotary engined lightweight fighters were the way forward. Belgium managed to get hold of some N11s as the design was starting to be replaced in French and British units.

 The model is another Shapeways 3d print, and it is a lovely little model full of character just like the original.

Next up is one of the most dangerous fighters to see service in WW1 - The Ponnier M1.

The Ponnier had been rejected by the French Airforce because it was too dangerous to fly. French Ace Charles Nungesser, a man who by any standards had ice water in his veins, crashed one in testing, was seriously injured and refused to get in one again - this is a man who flew under bridges for fun and had coffins and skulls painted on the side of his planes! The problems were mainly lateral stability - the M1 had short stubby wings which made rolling rather easy, but the tiny one piece rudder meant it was far too easy to lose control, and an engine that tended to overheat thanks to a miss shaped nose cone that restricted airflow over the cylinders. The French then offered them to the Russians, who with foresight declined. Belgium was desperate for fighters and sent some officials to France to buy SPADs. The French were very apologetic but had none spare, but would our allies and fraternal cousins like some of these Ponniers we have available? Belgium ordered 30. Belgian Ace Willi Coppens found out about the deal and went ballistic. He was a friend of Nungesser and lead a concerted campaign to get the Ponnier grounded. Ten were delivered and after some heavy modification which may have sorted out most of the problems a few saw operational service for a couple of months until replacements could be found. Most Ponniers however had their wings removed and were used as training aircraft to teach pilots how to taxi.

I love my Ponnier. The model is another 3d print from Shapeways. In Wings of War \ Glory the M1 performs well enough - quite fast and not too bad in the turn, and all the more fun to see the look on your opponents face when he tries to work out just what he is facing.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Plucky Little Belgium (2) A few steps forward, and a few back

More on my forray into the Belgian Airforce in WW1

As the war wore on it became clear the Belgians needed new aircraft

Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter. Belgium was in dire need of some more modern planes, and received "spare" Strutters from both England and France. This is one of the English sourced ones which were 2 seaters, the French supplied versions (licence built) tended to be single seaters with the weight saved allocated to bombs. The pics of the original show the RFC roundel was hastily overpainted and I have tried for that effect here. Yet another Shapeways model.

Next the RE8. This is an "official" Wings of War model, and the cause of much heartache. The RE8 was supplied to Belgium by Britain as a replacement for the ageing collection of F40s, GIVs etc. The RE8 was at best an obsolete design when it entered British service, by the time it arrived in Belgian hands it had a reputation as an easy kill. The reasons are pretty simple. The British "Higher Ups" thought that an airplane should be stable and easy to fly so that the crew could get on with the important stuff like leaning over the side taking photographs. They built the RE series to do just that, and ended up with slow flying planes that could not evade any enemy that came looking for them. Even worse the RE8 turned out to be flimsy and a bit of a handful to fly, being prone to stalls and badly balanced so that there was a warning on the side that said something like "It is dangerous to try to take off WITHOUT an observer or counterweight in the rear cockpit". The Belgians did try and fix this by replacing the engine with a more powerful Hispano-Suiza. This helped boost speed a bit, and made them far less dangerous to fly. The problem is that Wings of War produced the RE8 in Belgian colours they decided that rather than remodelling the front end with teh Hispano engine they would leave it the same as the RFC version, but remove the prominent exhaust stacks. This leaves the model as a bit of a deadloss - if they had left the stacks you could still use it as an unmodified RE8, but as it is it looks nothing like the Hispano engined Belgian RE8 and also looks wrong as an original. Oh Well.

Luckily Shapeways do an Hispano engined RE8 so I'm hoping to pick one up to show as a comparison.

Next - Fighters!

Monday, 8 December 2014

According to Douglas Adams, its a swear word.

I am of course speaking of Belgium

As alluded to in an earlier post, I quite like the underdog when playing WW1 Dogfights, and there can be no greater underdog then good old "Plucky Little Belgium"

Belgium was definitely the runt of the litter as far as WW1 Entente air-forces went. The problem was that she had almost no aircraft industry of her own, and half the country was overrun by the Germans in short order. Belgium therefore had to scrape and scratch her Aviation Militaire Belge together from what she could obtain from her allies, and as we shall see, this wasn't always top notch. I have a small but growing Belgian contingent for Wings of War.

I'll concentrate on the two seaters first before moving on to the "interesting" subject of fighters

Here's my first Belgian - a Caudron GIV of Escadrille C74. This was an interesting unit in that it was a joint Franco Belgian squadron organised to perform photo recce duties. The model is a 3D print from Shapeways and the decals are from Dom Skelton, crew from Peter Pig. The Caudron GIV was a fairly useful if slow and vulnerable plane. Probably more at home on "Catch the Pigeon" than the Western Front, but lack of suitable replacements meant this obsolete design served a long time in front line service.

Next is another "pusher", this time a Farman F40. This is "Medusa" which served with the Aviation Militaire, again on recce duties. Several Belgian F40s were painted in individual colour schemes similar to the nose art associated with WW2 US bombers including skulls, Chaplain, some nudes and Medusa. Being a bit photogenic there are several pics of these available on line. Another Shapeways 3d print (actually the first I bought and painted). Like the GIV the F40 was overtaken by events and was quickly obsolete, but served on in Belgian service for a long time simply because there was no available replacement.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

If You Go Down To The Woods Today....

My weakness of mind was again highlighted last Saturday at the Battlefront Show in Stockton. I was helping out doing demos on the Hawk stand, when I was suddenly taken by a stupid and irrational urge to start a new period.

Typically the seeds had been sown by an old gaming friend Mark Hadman as we talked about gaming trends, and generally bemoaned the state of the gaming world. High on our agenda was the problem of finding opponents and opportunities to play games we wanted. Both of us had come to the same conclusion by different routes - that we had to diversify and play games that are popular, even if we don't particularly have a lot of enthusiasm for them. In passing Mark mentioned he had played Muskets & Tomahawks, and that it was a good, fun and easy to play game.

I never held a lot of enthusiasm for the black powder period. To me, Napoleonics may as well be a funny sort of three coloured ice-cream. the American War of Independance & French Indian Wars also were low on my hit list, although I did enjoy playing Andy Callan's superb "Loose Files & American Scramble" rules. However, Mark's comments also happened to coincide with another club member (John) wanting to play AWI. John has been trying to whip up interest for a year  or so without success. It seemed like maybe I could tie both these threads together, so after some cajoling I also roped my regular opponent Paul in, and we set of to see Dave Thomas to do "a deal". After the usual horse trading cash changed hands and we walked away with a couple of boxes of Perrys AWI ,  some Wargames Factory AWI Militia, and a North Star British Wilderness Starter Force for the FIW. Clearly our planning and coordination were not what they should be as when we finally sat down to assess our haul of plastic and lead we discovered we had forgotten the French!

Part of the plan is to get these painted and on the table fast, so I immediately got to work on some Indians, assisted by loaning a copy of the BBC series "Last of the Mohicans" with Phillip "Dont tell him your name Pike!" Madoc playing Magua, and here they are ! Not the greatest paint jobs but they'll do for me

Six down - still need basing etc bit not a bad start. That leaves me with 16 more British Rangers and an Officer to paint, so watch this space


Thursday, 4 December 2014

Six years old again

I was "working" the Battleground show in Stockton this weekend doing a demo on the Hawk Wargames stand. Just after arriving I took a stroll around and there, looking up at me from a box of plastic kits, was a bit of my childhood.

It was an Airfix 1:72 Scale Series 5 Handley Page 0-400. This always held a special place in my heart. I think the kit was released somewhere in the late 1960s. When I was a young boy my grandfather would walk me to the newsagents on a Sunday morning and buy me an Airfix kit, which we would solemnly assemble that afternoon. I must have gone through hundreds of kits, but two always stick in my mind, the Sunderland and the HP 0-400. The reason for this is that these two were both on the top shelf behind the counter, and importantly in the section of the shop that doubled as a Post Office. Post Offices were shut on Sundays, so even if I got the chance at a Series 5 (not that it happened often, I was usually restricted to Series 1&2) we couldn't buy it because the Post Office was locked up.

I must have spent months staring up at the box, which showed the HP being attacked by a number of red Fokker Triplanes. The box was enormous, and being out of reach made it even more special. I could go to the shop through the week, but only on Sunday with Grandad, so I never managed to get one...sob!

The kit was re-released in the 1980s in a lacklustre red stripe box. Sadly at this time I was doing the sixth form \ university thing and my mind was elsewhere. It was released again in 2012 but the box was wrong, I needed the original or nothing at all. On occasion I have seen them on ebay bit they go for silly prices.

Anyway, a small amount of haggling later and I was the proud owner of my very own HP 0-400!!! The chap said he thought it was complete bit couldn't guarantee it, but at that point I couldn't care less, it was mine.

So I have it in front of me now.

I can say I feel pretty happy when I look at it. Its great to finally get hold of something you dreamed of as a child, and it brings back some lovely warm memories of my halcyon days with my Grandad. I also have to say the box must have shrunk, because it used to look huge to my childs eyes.

I've opened it, and yes, I think it looks complete, and looking at the number of parts (167!) this is no easy build kit - I shudder to think what me and Grandad would have made of it back then if we ever had managed to get it out of the Post Office.

The thing is, should I try building it, or is it better to leave it as it is as a memento? I'm tempted to do the latter. Sometimes it is good to have unfulfilled dreams, and it wont be the same without Grandad

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

2015 and all that (1)

GZG have announced their Xmas deal, the weather is starting to get really cold, there's only a few contestants left on Strictly Come Dancing, so it must be that special time of the year beloved of all wargamers, when we make plans and wild promises as to what we will be playing next year.

So far I have committed to more Dropzone Commander, a once a month Impetus meet, ditto Formula De,  a Chain of Command campaign in the Desert, and now a 15mm Sci Fi campaign using Gruntz, plus the carried over "Wastelands" \ Fallout skirmish.

In reality maybe one in three of these projects will actually bear fruit, some of the others will make it half way then get put on the "maybe later" pile, while others will be quietly shuffled into the gaming long grass. Part of the fun is finding out what. This time last year we were all tooling up for a 7TV campaign which came to nothing, even though everyone who played enjoyed it. A similar fate befell our VBCW plans. Of course another joy of wargaming is how quickly you can reheat a project, so maybe 2015 will see the Battle of Greatham (1938)?

Meanwhile my current planning is centred around Gruntz & DZC. We have a skeleton Gruntz campaign written, and four cautious expressions of interest, so roll on January !

Thursday, 13 November 2014

More Plastic Goodness - Zvezda A13 Cruiser Tank in 1:100

Mark - aka Geordie in Exile seems to enjoy winding me up.

Earlier this week he forwarded an email from PSC announcing they had the Zvezda Art of Tactic A13s available, along with some comment along the lines of "I may have to start looking at 15mm". This was something of a red rag to a bull as I had been extolling the virtues of the new generation of cheap 15mm to him for years but apparently to no avail. Maybe the emails all got sent to his "spam" folder?

As it happens I was waiting for this particular little model to land here in the UK. Zvezda's release schedule is still dominated by the requirements of their "Art of Tactic" game, rather than the requirements of us wargamers. Art of Tactic is a crossover board game with units represented by plastic models. The problem is that they use 1:72 for infantry and guns, 1:100 for tanks and vehicles, and 1:144 for aircraft (or 1:200 for larger aircraft), all priced at around £3.00 for a unit. This is something of a "curates egg". We get good quality 1:100 (15mm) tanks at a very reasonable price, but for us there is also the disappointment in knowing that the guns will never arrive in the "right" scale. The other interesting point is that Zvezda have been rather random in their releases, because they are concentrating on the Art of Tactic game rather than looking at the wider wargames market, they're producing models the mainstream wargaming companies would not look at in plastic, and the A13 is one of those.

OK the pedants will immediately cry out "thats not a Crusader!" and of course they would be right. However given the confused situation of British Cruiser Tank naming, I can understand how Zvezda  may get the Cruiser Tank Mk IV (A13 MkII) confused with Cruiser Tank MkVI (A15). It is a Mk IV, but you could make it a IVA with a minimum of work (cut the coax Vickers and replace with a slimmer Besa) or at this scale just not bother!

The kit itself is very simple and consists of 2 sprues with a total of 7 parts (plus the flag bit that is only used in Art of Tactic). The plastic is a little bit softer than what you would get from Airfix or PSC - I suspect this is to allow the "snap fit" to work.

Initially with Zvezda I didn't glue them, but last week my cat Otto (Carius) knocked a box of them on the floor and though there was no long term damage there was plenty of bits popping off, so this one got some Liquid Poly to hold it together. The assembly instructions are on the back of the box

It took less than eight minutes to clip the parts from the sprues and assemble them. The sprues were 100% flash free. Detail is very fine - a feature of many of the AoT kits and as a result they lack the overscale features we come to expect from mainstream wargames models. This is most pronounced in the 2Pdr gun barrel, which is very thin and fine, and has about a life expectancy of a few minutes on a wargames table, so I plan to replace it with some plastic rod before it gets painted, and the tracks and running gear which are frankly superb. The down side is like all AoT tanks there is no way to model them with an open hatch, which is a bit of a disappointment, and the smoke dischargers usually seen on the right hand side of the turret on tanks in a combat area are missing - but that last would take about a minute to fix with a bit of plastic rod..

Proportionally and dimensionally the Zvezda kit looks spot on, and captures the look of the real thing really well.

All in all a great little kit and well worth £3.00. Let me put that into perspective. Flames of War will sell you their multi medium (resin and plastic) version for £8.00. You will get the option to have an open hatch and a commander, but saving £5 a tank is damned attractive. QRF also do an A13 MkIV at £6 each, and Skytrex for £6.50, but still, thats twice the Zvezda price.

Well worth picking up if you want to do either France 1940 or the Early phase of the Western Desert campaign

Tuesday, 11 November 2014


Today is Armistice Day, when we remember the dead of wars and the sacrifice they made.

However it is important we remember the whole story. We can't for a moment allow this to be hijacked by groups seeking to push their own agenda. That's why this is wrong

And this is right

But nor should we allow the glory myth to mask the truth about the sacrifice, or the PR suits to hijack it. The RBL have produced a sanitized version of The Green Fields of France by Eric Bogle. In it's original form it is a beautiful, haunting and thoughtful song that highlights the sacrifice and futility of war, in the new RBL version its a pop ballad featuring some abstract posing by Joss Stone, with the last verse, the one that makes you think, removed.

'Ah young Willie McBride, I can’t help wonder why,
Do those that lie here know why did they die?
And did they believe when they answered the cause,
Did they really believe that this war would end wars?
Well the sorrow, the suffering, the glory, the pain,
The killing and dying, were all done in vain.
For Willie McBride, it all happened again,
And again, and again, and again, and again.'

I believe sometimes there is such a thing as a Just War. There is no such thing as a clean one. If we forget that, we're dooming our children, and insulting our veterans and those who sacrificed their lives on our behalf.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Camera update - Situation Normal - AFU!

I decided to try repairing my old reliable Samsung camera. I got a new LCD unit from "t web" and started to try and open the case. This took a while but in the end I succeeded. Flushed with success I then proceeded to remove the damaged unit, and everything was going rather well. Sadly at that point my usual luck returned and I couldn't get the new LCD screen to fit the old bracket. In trying to do so I managed to dismantle the new screen unit, so I'm back to square 1. Ah Well

Friday, 17 October 2014

American Lard

I just picked up the latest release from The Two Fat Lardies, 29 Lets Go! Link

They call this a "Pint Sized" campaign for Chain of Command, but in the words of the old Trophy Bitter TV Ad, this is a pint that thinks its a quart!

It costs £3.50 as a pdf download, and for that you get 32 pages, not one of them a filler.

29 Let's Go covers the sometimes halting and nervous advance of the US 29th Infantry Division in the immediate days after D-Day, and the dogged defence of the German opponents the 352nd Infantry Division.

You get a 15 page introduction to the historical events and background, including some excellent maps, plus a campaign setting based on the "ladder" system The Lardies published in their supplement to Chain Of Command "The Sharp End".

The campaign itself involves 5 balanced scenarios, linked directly or indirectly to each other, with a fair likelihood of some of them being needed to be run more than once to get to the campaign outcome - I wont say more as it could spoil the campaign for the players, but there is a lot more than 5 games there. Both sides have background showing their organisation, plus the two unique platoon profiles used in the campaign.

Unlike the previous campaign in "The Sharp End" which involved the British attack on Maltot (which if you are interested I played through and reported on in earlier posts) this campaign has a lot more options to include some tanks.

All in all this is a great buy, and while it is part of the CoC system it is easily adaptable to other WW2 infantry rules such as Bolt Action or Rules of Engagement.

Anyone interested in the actions this campaign set represents could do a lot worse than look out for a copy of "Beyond the Beachhead" by Joseph Balkoski, a great and balanced read.

ps - I'm told this is called a "Pint Sized" campaign because it is the price of a pint in Richards local. I can safely say if he is ever in Hartlepool I will buy him a pint in The Rat Race as a reward. Hopefully this is the first of many using this format - stunningly good value,  


Monday, 13 October 2014

Crustie Heavy Support

My "Gruntz" Crusties from GZG needed a bit of heavy support. The problem is the heavy mecha from GZG looks a bit weedy to my eye - particularly the bottom half - see pic.

However some time ago I saw a pic posted on an internet board of a conversion using the torso, arms and legs of the GZG Mech with some donated legs from another model. I shamelessly pinched this idea, so without further time wasting here is my new Crusty Heavy Mech

The bottom is a repurposed and reposed plastic Mech from EM-4 Miniatures plastic Mechs - £2.55 for 5!  with the arms and torso from a GZG Crustie Mech. I'm rather pleased with it

The Sheik and his Uninvited Guests

Terry, that nice bloke who has helped keep my car on the road by buying painted figures from me at regular intervals has asked me for one last project. He picked up some rather nice US Special Forces from Khurasan Miniatures and asked me to paint them. I choked a bit and then said "yes -  I can't paint anywhere near as good as the stuff on the site but I don't mind giving it a try".

A little later a packet duly arrived - 8 Seal Types and a pack including a terrorist leader figure, hostage and guards. I was not at first enamoured with any of them (except the hostage figure) as they looked a bit flat and two dimensional. Here was my first mistake - I underestimated the US Special Forces!

I undercoated them, and then my new Dropzone Commander Resistance army arrived through the post. Seal Team Six was put aside while there was a frenzy of DZC. When I returned, disaster - one of the Seals was missing! Clearly one of them had seen Sole Survivor and decided to do a Mark Wahlberg impression. Tearing my hair out I scoured the room, but to no avail. Finally I decided there was no option, so at 5:18pm GMT I placed an order for a replacement with Khurasan back in the Good Ol US of A. At 8:18pm Wahlberg reappeared - he had been hiding behind some Battlefront WW2\Fire & Fury stat cards, but on hearing reinforcements were on the way, he reappeared.

Now the team was reunited I got down to painting the Seals, and was happy to say my initial reaction was miss-placed. Up close these are rather nice figures, with lots of detail and nice posing - with the possible exception of the sniper who I would have preferred either kneeling or prone. I put "Zero Dark 30" on the DVD player and did some research. At the end I was rather pleased with the results - I thought the subtle use of different colours on the khaki background hinted at the digital camo teh Seals were wearing in the film, so I sprayed them down with my standard Army Painter matt varnish and called it a night.

Next day I was tearing my hair out again. All that beautiful (to me anyway) and subtle brush work seemed to have merged overnight into a sort of dull brown fuzz! I was not pleased, but there was not a lot I could do about it. Looking at them now, theyre ok, but not as nice as before the varnish - Damn!


The Terrorist and his guards were however a pleasure to paint, and again once painted they looked rather good.

So there you go - all getting packed up and ready to ship to Terry. I strongly recommend on Khurasan btw, particularly some of their Modern and Sci Fi Stuff, and as I found out, shipping from the US to the UK was not that expensive.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Chain of Command - Last day in Maltot (2)

Deployment followed what was now fairly predictable lines, with the British massing most of their manpower on their right, with one squad on the left to provide fire support. 

The Germans were so thin on the ground they had few options, one depleted squad held the rear of the woods in the hope of preventing a flanking move, while the remaining two squads – in reality just teams, occupied the Church itself and dug in behind the stone wall of the yard.

The British started as they meant to go on, laying down a withering hail of Bren fire on the church tower, rapidly causing the occupiers to start collecting shock, while the first section began to work forward on the right through the ruins. Meanwhile, the Battalion Forward Observation Officer started to range his mortars on the church.

German return fire was sporadic, then a burst of MG42 fire smashed into the crowded building where the British were preparing to advance. There was laughter from the infantry on the ground floor as “Chalky” White showed the rest of the squad the graze in his helmet where the bullet had deflected. Upstairs however there was silence, broken only by a voice calling over the radio for fire control instructions that would go unanswered, as the unlucky FOO was lying dead in his OP, the victim of Chalky’s  “lucky” ricochet.

Pringle was a little shaken. He had clearly hoped he could use the 3” mortars to blast the Krauts out of the church, or to kingdom come. Instead he would have to do this the hard way. He ordered all three of his Brens to hammer the MG42 firing from the church tower, but no matter how often he seemed to see hits, the damned gun kept firing!

In the tower it was like a charnel house as bodies piled up around the gun. As each man fell another bravely stepped up to keep the weapon firing – everyone knew the MG42 was their only hope. A cry from the tower told Platzer his Sergeant was injured, so he ran up the stairs and grabbed the gun himself, having to step over several bodies to get to it. 

Meanwhile in the churchyard, the remaining MG team were fighting a losing battle, as casualties continued to build up. Desperately the remaining members of the team tried to withdraw to the church itself, but were caught in a hail of Bren fire. The last man staggered against the wall, pinned down and bleeding from his wounds but still clutching the precious MG42. He had no chance. 


Platzer played his Chain of Command dice to interrupt the British fusillade. He sprinted from the door and grabbed the wounded man, then oblivious to the danger dragged him into the church for safety. At that point his men would have followed him into the gates of Hell itself.

It was a momentary reprieve. Pringle pushed his assault force forward in the lull caused by Platzer’s heroic rescue. However the Germans were far from finished, and as his lead section advanced cautiously along the edge of the orchard, a vicious burst of MG42 fire from the church ripped through them. Three fell dead, and the remainder became pinned. 

Possibly encouraged by his opposite numbers brave example, Pringle ran forward to rally the men and pulled them back into cover, being lightly wounded in the process. 

He also ordered his last assault squad through the woods to flank the church.

This was the moment the German squad had been waiting for, and they leapt up, intending to catch the British as they advanced. For once however their firing let them down, and the British assaulted forward covered by a burst of Bren fire, killing or overrunning all the Germans holding the flank.

From that point it was clear to Platzer his position was untenable. He could see Tommies moving through the woods towards his rear, and also approaching the front of the church. He had very few men left, mostly wounded. He decided the only option was to abandon the position and withdraw. As he lowered himself out of the rear of the blasted ruin of the church where many of his men gave their lives, he heard the sounds of grenades exploding at the door as the Tommies assaulted.

So the campaign ended with an expensive British victory. It had been a close run thing.

As the smoke clears ................
As a result of his bravery and dash in leading his Platoon in a difficult and dangerous assault on an enemy strongpoint Lt Pringle was recommended for Mention in Despatches (rolled a 5), however on review the CO decided an MM may be a good idea as it would help cheer the lads up (reroll was a 6). Sadly the paper-pushers at Whitehall didn’t agree, so Pringle was Mentioned in Dispatches (award roll was a three). On the plus side he now is sporting a rather dashing moustache and has decided to move into the snack food industry when the war ends. He spent quite a lot of time staring at an empty cardboard tube used to carry 2” mortar ammo, and he thinks he has an idea!

Platzer's outstanding bravery in holding his position against overwhelming odds, and his rescue of his wounded NCO were also noticed. He was recommended for an Iron Cross (2nd Class - both rolls were a 3) but his CO thought 1st Class would better reflect on the unit (rolled a 6). OKW were in need of heroes so decided to make an example, so he was finally awarded a German Cross (rolled a 6 followed by a 5) and had an interview with Signal. Maybe we will see him again in the next campaign?

Thanks to both players for taking part, and for the readers patience. Great fun seems to have been  had, and the appetite for more Chain of Command is clearly there, so more CoC will follow in due course.