Welcome to my blog. I have upwards of 100 projects in various stages of incompletion or total abandonment, so you may well find something of interest. I try to post about everything I do, not just what goes according to plan, so it's a blog all about stumbling along in a roughly forward direction rather than reaching the destination, with lots of ideas for potential projects that will probably never see the light of day!
We got back home about half six this evening so, after unpacking the car and sorting things out, I had a few minutes to do a quick stock check on the aircraft for the Burma project. A quick rummage in the storage boxes produced the following:
6 x Raiden Brewster Buffalos
6 x Hawker Hurricane I's (non trop filters but possibly of use?)
19 x Museum Miniatures Ki43 Oscars (blimey!)
8 x Museum Miniatures Ki27 Nates
I also have a load of Raiden Curtiss P40C's that I haven't yet located, as well as a few left over bits and bobs that might be useful. This is a really good starting point for the project, although I'll also need some bombers for both sides, together with some additional fighters for the RAAF / RAF or KNIL.
After a hectic few days of packing, travelling and visiting people, we're now back in the UK, although not yet back home having stopped off in Cornwall to visit yet more relatives. This summer has been a complete non-starter as far as wargaming goes, except for the few days at the beginning when I made some progress with the Bolt Action project.
As a result, I'm feeling less than encouraged by the imminent return to work and by the backlog of things that will now hamper my wargame plans even more. At least I have something to aim for in the short term, with the completion of the 28mm US Late War platoon as a priority for September. After that, I'll have to think very carefully about what to do next, as I'm going to be very short of time over the next three months or so.
On the ever diminishing plus side of the equation, I did find a second hand copy of Operation Epsom by Tim Saunders in the Battleground Europe series on a bookstall yesterday. This features a decent account of the role played by the 5th Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry Regiment in the battle, including the epic five Panthers in a day PIAT skirmish in Cheux, which has revived my interest in this old project.
I'm thinking of 15mm or 28mm now, rather than the 20mm Rapid Fire project that has now been re-cycled on Ebay. I have a good selection of figures for both and have plenty of rules options too, with IABSM3, Bolt Action and now Chain of Command as serious contenders. Yet another one to ponder in the aftermath of the Bolt Action Yanks.
I've just finished reading Burma Victory by David Rooney on the Kindle and, although it's overshadowed by Road of Bones in my opinion, it was still well worth it. I'm now embarking on Fighting Through to Kohima by Michael Lowry, which looks pretty good and is endorsed by the late Professor Richard Holmes no less, so should be a very worthwhile read. This is in further preparation for my long delayed 15mm IABSM3 Burma project, in case you were confused, but will cross over to various other things I have in mind at the moment.
I've been adding some books to my existing collection of relevant titles for the planned Bag The Hun 2 Burma / Malaya / Dutch East Indies project. I already have a good selection of relevant reference material but, to quote a certain Mr Rudyard Kipling Esq:
''A man can never have too much red wine, too many books or too much ammunition''
So, this is what I'll be reading in the next couple of months or so, in more than ample preparation for the start of the project, which should kick off sometime before the end of the year, in theory at least. I'm looking forward to expanding my grasp of the subject and to developing some ideas for potential BTH2 games.
With the holidays nearly over, I thought it would be a good to finish off my usual ramblings with the final project that I'm planning for the next twelve months or so. I've been thinking of another Bag the Hun project, having completed Operation Bodenplatte to a workable point, so have been considering the options. There were two real front runners, one being mid-war RAF v. Luftwaffe, based around the after action reports of No 263 Squadron flying Westland Whirlwinds on ground attack rhubarbs over Brittany:
The other was to do the air war over the Dutch East Indies, Burma and Malaya in 1942 and 1943, with a focus on the earlier stages of the campaign, at least to begin with.
I'm still thinking about this but, as a chap at the club has just started his own Midway 1/285th scale project and has painted up some Japanese naval aircraft, the latter option is looking like a real possibility. I already have a collection of 1/285th scale Japanese planes so would focus my efforts on the Imperial Japanese Army, using Museum Miniatures Ki43 Oscars and Ki27 Nates, but having an opponent would mean that I won't have to paint up as much as usual.
The Allies would initially be equipped with four Raiden Brewster Buffaloes that came with a winter war starter pack that I bought ages ago. I really like the idea of painting these up as Dutch East Indies aircraft, complete with their distinctive orange triangle insignia. Some Scotia Martin B10 bombers would be really cool as well! I also have some Raiden Curtiss P40B Tomahawks that were destined for the Western Desert but could now be used for Chennault's Flying Tigers, although I'd rather stick with the RAF and RAAF.
I'm trying to avoid painting up more Trop Hurricanes after having done twelve of them for No185 Squadron over Malta, but I may well do a few more, this time using the Museum Miniatures models for a change. To finish things off, I can also add some Museum Miniatures Blenheims, which are lovely models if a bit useless for anything other than cannon fodder. I may even squeeze in some cannon armed Hurricane IIc's to even things up a bit for the RAAF and RAF.
This is all a bit theoretical at the moment but I have invested in a shedload of reference material as usual, which should give me a much better idea of the sort of thing that is feasible. It's a great opportunity to do some scenario development for a start, although the mini-campaign in the CY6 rulebook could provide a lot of the scenario options, converted over to a Bag The Hun 2 format. Anyway, loads of reading to be done and lots to think about.
After a slight technical hitch, my pdf copy of the new Chain of Command rules arrived in the in-box yesterday. I've had a quick flick through and, together with the video tutorials that I've watched, I think I have a reasonable grasp of the way things work. The production values are right up where you'd expect them to be, given the recent high quality of presentation that the Toofatlardies have been achieving with their rules, so worth the extra expense in my opinion. I pre-ordered the complete set of rules and markers, so the hard copy of the rulebook will be waiting for me when I get home in a few days time.
This morning I had a look around the local brocante, which is a cross between an antiques fair and a car boot sale. On one of the stalls a chap was selling a selection of Solido diecast military vehicles and I picked out a 1/50th scale M10 and an Sdkfz 161 Mobelwagen for the Bolt Action project.
The Ministry of the Interior flashed her usual attributes and knocked down the price to twenty Euros for the pair, which was a bit of a deal. She also paid for them, in return for an 'interesting' 1960's magazine stand from another seller, which will now take pride of place in a remote corner of the dining room.
The M10 needs a bit of attention, particularly the chain link tracks which I may well replace with some plastic tracks from the kit I didn't finish a couple of weeks ago. The Mobelwagen is, however, rather good as it is, although it needs a wash, drybrush and a bit of weathering to be ready for action.
Another day out with the family, this time to the Pointe de Raz, which is the French equivalent of Lands End. I'd been there several years ago but this time I brought the camera for some clandestine bunker hunting. The weather was fantastic, unlike the last time, so I got some fairly decent pictures without getting soaked.
There was an extensive radar set up on the headland including a Flensberg mast, a couple of Wurzberg radars and a gigantic Mammut long range radar array, all of which were protected by flak positions and controlled from heavy communications bunkers.
The on-site museum did a very good job of explaining everything and included extensive information panels on the whole system, one of which included details of a strike on the radar installations on the 9th July 1944 by fighter bombers flying from Predannack in Cornwall.
A bit of a google and this turned out to be not the expected Mosquito or Beaufighter effort but a divebombing (!) attack by Spitfire Vb's (!!) of No234 Squadron, using ventral 500lb bombs (!!!), cannons and machine gun strafing.
A Bag the Hun scenario in the making perhaps, with a very original twist and a successful outcome, as the big Mammut was effectively put out of action for the rest of the war. I have other Bag the Hun things in the offing, however, so this one will have to wait a little longer.
There are very low tides at the moment so, after a tip off from a local friend, we went to see a wreck that is exposed at low tide near Plozevet. According to our friend the wreck was of a German warship that ran aground after a naval battle in the bay. After some round about web searching I found out that this was a Vorpostenboot or VP, which is what I thought given the size and shape of the wreck, particularly of the boiler.
This particular patrol boat, VP721, was involved in a naval action on the night of August 22nd to 23rd 1944 with British warships, probably destoyers or coastal forces I would have thought, and was run aground on fire with the loss of fifty of the crew. The survivors were captured by the local resistance. I reckon there's some scope for a coastal forces scenario in this somewhere, although I'd need to find out the other side of the story, specifically the naval forces involved on the British side of the battle.
A bit more digging and I've found the answer, in the shape of Force 27 which engaged and destroyed several VP's, minesweepers and a sprerrbrecher in the Bay of Audierne on 22/23 August 1944. This was the last action that Force 27, consisting of the cruiser HMS Mauritius and the destroyers HMCS Iroquois and HMS Ursa, took part in as the final stages of Operation KINETIC. The photo below shows HMS Mauritius in action on the night.
So, how VP721 met it's end is now clear.
'Using the radar on Iroquois, the destroyers stalked the convoy at long range until 0405, when the enemy ships were illuminated by starshell. Upon opening fire, Force 27 quickly overwhelmed the enemy, sinking two vessels and forcing two others to collide in the confusion and burst into flames as they raced for shore, with surviving crew members jumping over the side as they went. One of these vessels capsized and sank while the other drove onto the rocks at full speed and exploded'
I've just finished reading this one and thought it was pretty good. I was expecting a quick read but it was very detailed and thorough, with particular emphasis on the technological research and development behind the raid itself. The central thrust of the authors' revisionist argument is that the raid on the dams wasn't the inconsequential event that has been claimed in the past but a significant drain on the resources of the Third Reich at precisely the right time for the allies, so nothing particularly new. A worthwhile read though and definately one of the better books on the subject.
The weather was supposed to be awful today, so we went shopping in Quimper instead of a taking a boat trip to the Ile de Sein. This was a good choice as there are a couple of good games shops to browse, one of which turned up a reduced price copy of the Wings of War WWII deluxe box set, albeit in French. I already have the basic set, without the models, so now have four additional planes and four sets of cards to go with them, as well as the stands, boards and counters. It was a present from the Ministry of the Interior as well!
I'm sorely tempted by the latest offer from Warlord, even though I have planned to do Burma in 15mm for IABSM3 and have an opponent who is interested in building a Chindit force to match my Japanese. The new plastic Japanese look really good and the new 1000 point starter army boxed set is affordable, given the funds that I've raised by the sale of my surplus BKC Italians and AK47 colonial settlers.....but can I justify a 28mm army when I already have the metal in 15mm?
I've been re-reading the In Darkest Africa articles that I downloaded from the Foundry site last week, including the core skirmish rules and campaign system, which are also to be found in the Foundry Compendium. This has given me a potential time and energy saving idea, inspired in part by the tag line on the cover of the latter, from 'Pirates to Darkest Africa'.
I already have a decent collection of painted 28mm pirates together with a scratchbuilt sloop and cutter, enough to provide one side in a small skirmish game. I also have based but yet to be painted, an entire native tribal villager army, consisting of several units of spearmen, archers, musketeers and baggage, together with a witchdoctor, tribal chief and hangers on.
In the ubiquitous plastic box, I also have enough Foundry Zanzibari slavers and Ruga Ruga to equip a small army, all sorted out into the required units for In The Heart of Africa. These are great figures with loads of character and include musketeers, two handed swordsmen, a light cannon and some impressive characters. The accompanying Ruga Ruga are particularly good and would be great as Indian Ocean pirate types.
Which leads me on to the obvious yet cunning plan.
If I painted up even a fraction of the Arab slavers and Ruga Ruga I'd have more than enough to crew a Zanzibari dhow or two, as well as provide some opposition for my more conventional pirates in Flashing Steel terms. I'd also be able to use them as the core of a force for In The Heart of Africa, especially as my Nkonde villagers fought against the slavers as allies of the British in Nyasaland in the 1880's.
There's a very nice but inexpensive arab dhow from PMC games too, so that would save me a stack of scratchbuilding and provide some suitable transportation for the slavers that could have dual use for In The Heart of Africa. I reckon a couple of dhows being chased by my pirate sloop, or vice versa,would make for a great skirmish naval game for a start.
There's plenty of historical background for a late seventeenth or early eighteenth century pirates v. slavers scenario as well. There are many infamous examples of pirates operating in the Indian Ocean against both African and Indian shipping, as well as being heavily involved in the slave trade to boot. I think this 'two birds for one stone' idea has a lot of potential but it'll have to wait until I've cleared the workbench of existing projects.
As the Bolt Action army lists only allow you to deploy one, or at the most two, tanks per platoon I originally decided just to dust off an old Corgi 1/50 scale diecast M4A3, re-paint it and use it as armour support for the US infantry. I also had a Hobbyboss 1/48 scale plastic kit of an M4A1 76mm in the loft, so glued it together as an alternative up-gunned tank if and when I need some extra firepower.
However, with Chain of Command now a few days away from publication, I really should have a more comprehensive armoured element to back up the footsloggers as they break through the Westwall. A late war US tank platoon had five Sherman M4's at least one of which would normally be the 76mm version, although by 1945 the number of 76mm M4A1's or M4A3's often increased to equip the whole platoon.
I have now added two more M4A3 75mm Corgi diecast tanks to the platoon, after winning a couple on ebay for £15 each, so have almost enough for a full platoon if I finish off the Hobbyboss kit as well. I'd really like to have a diecast M4A3 (76)W, but these are pretty rare and stupidly expensive, so the plastic kit option is the best way to go.
I have my eye on another ebay Corgi M4A3 Sherman at the moment which would make up the numbers to the full five tanks but I'm sure I can manage with four. The Corgi models are perfect for wargaming being virtually indestructable and not too expensive if you are lucky. They're cheaper than the resin equivalent and don't need to be glued together, or even painted if you can't be bothered to fart about, so well worth it.
A few months ago I was fortunate enough to take part in an excellent game of Songs of Drums and Shakos, set somewhere in Spain during the Peninsular Campaign and umpired by one of the chaps at the local club. I really enjoyed the game, even though my patrol of Voltigeurs was soundly thrashed by the superior tactics of the 95th Rifles.
As I was impressed by the rules, I thought it would be a good idea to have another look at the Ganesha Games swashbuckling version, which covers the Three Musketeers and also the whole Pirates of the Spanish Main genre as well. The rules are elegant in their simplicity and have a really intuative turn sequence, which makes for a very good flow during each game.
The pirate rules have a lot of potential and I could easily set up a basic skirmish using my existing 28mm pirate collection, originally painted up for Legends of the High Seas. I could easily add some more figures to make a larger scale game feasible, especially as I have plenty of the ex-Copplestone 1672 figures to choose from as 'government' opposition.
This is another one of those projects for the not too immediate future but, combined with my Peter Pig pirate ships for naval games, I could have a very straightforward but enjoyable mini-project. I need to think more about re-cycling some of my old projects rather than starting new things that struggle to get off the ground, so this one is a great opportunity to do just that.
We were off to see another collective of relatives yesterday, this time meeting up at a beach in the Bay of Audierne near Penhors. As you can see, there were a couple of battered and semi-demolished tobruk stands that had been washed out of the sand bank behind the beach. I guess they'd been pulled apart for the steel some time after the war, but they do give a good view of the interior layout.
I've sold off my 10mm BKC Italian army, as the club Aegean campaign is now in it's final turns and I have no use for them after it winds up. I've had a few good games with the Italians but BKC is not really my cup of tea, so they're now going surplus to requirements. I have quite a lot of unpainted or half painted bits and bobs that I'm throwing in to the package, so it's a pretty good deal but it will release some collateral for my current projects and other alternative pursuits.
We spent the whole day visiting some relatives in Quiberon yesterday. In the carpark of the apartment block where they were staying, I found a very well preserved Willys Jeep which, according to the manufacturer plates, rolled of the production line in May 1942. Anyway, I thought it would be a good reference for 28mm modelling and painting, so snapped a few photos.