More Truescale modelling … and Panic

Another Untidy Work Surface

As everyone in the UK rushes out to look for loo rolls, I finished my Shed Roof. The logistician in me says that if the government announces that everyone should be prepared to self-isolate for two weeks, or twelve if you are over seventy, then a system that holds 4-7 days of stock in the supply chain is going to struggle until the unmet demand is satisfied.

Not Quite Orthogonal

Not Quite Orthogonal

Fortunately, the over-seventies are all on the hunt for rich tea biscuits and canned Fray Bentos steak pies, so it hasn’t impacted on our weekly shop for fresh vegetables yet. Someone has already worked out that eggs keep for a long time out of the fridge, so they are a bit thin on the ground. I did some homework by rewatching Day of the Triffids and the excellent Korean documentary, Kingdom.¹ The American rush to the gun stores suddenly makes sense if MHG’s prediction of Zombies are realised.

Zombie Apocalypse Kingdom

The British obsession with loo rolls makes sense too, for a nation of dog lovers: One Andrex Puppy loose in the airing cupboard, and that’s half of your stash gone, with no hope of replacement.

Of course, the weather was unrelentingly wet, windy and cold for the majority of the build, but it turned fine for the last two days of bitumen painting and felting, so did not hold progress up unduly. I am now the proud owner of a pitched roof, turning Shed du Soleil into something more resembling a beach hut. Roll on summer!

You Can see my Shed from Here

You Can see my Shed from Here. The Fields of Fire are Still Excellent!

  1. Away from the headlines and Twitter storms, the NHS primary care system is clearing the decks of routine appointments and the normal focus on preventative medicine, to be better able to cope with the peak of the epidemic. Inevitably, this means that some conditions not preventatively treated now, will need more intensive reactive treatment later. If you were thinking of having a traffic accident or falling off a wobbly ladder, now would be a bad time to do it. Ignore the mainstream media focus on secondary care, the government has got it broadly right in its approach.

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Filed under Modelling, Off Topic, Shed du Soleil

Blitzkrieg Commander – Salerno Landing 2

For the second stage of this game, we lost Trebian and gained Steven Churchus and Tim Merry. Tim Joined Phil, and Steven drew the short straw, taking over Green and Red Beaches. I continued with Yellow and Blue, having ended the last game on the verge of assaulting the tower.

Having rendered one one Zug (Platoon) ineffective with naval gun and mortar fire, one Battalion against an MG platoon may have seemed like massive overkill, but with only one platoon at a time able to close assault the tower, it proved to be “Just Enough Kill”¹.

Second Wave Lands

Meanwhile, on the south flank, Steve was having a harder time of it, taking heavy casualties as his troops assaulted the central square, gained access to the peripheral buildings, then were flung out with ruthlessly executed counterattacks. As the third move began, reinforcements arrived on the beach, with divisional artillery and the Divisional Commander on the American side, and a Battalion of Panzer Grenadiers on the German side.

Almost unnoticed, The northern regiments’ FOO had slipped through a gap in the defences and burrowed into a hedgerow along the railway line …

… just in time to catch the company of StuG IIIs deploying forward (The same gunners that were enjoying a peaceful cup of good Italian coffee earlier). A naval barrage destroyed one platoon in short order, almost catching the FOO, who had closed in on the target to improve accuracy³.

So in summary, the game works best when everyone knows the rules *duh* and is not running at the pace of the umpire. The battle sequence seems fine – bombarding a position to suppress it works as it should, and attacking with insufficient odds is ineffective. Beyond that, it is difficult to comment further.

Thanks go to Richard Lindlay for an excellent couple of evenings and a sumptuous gaming table.

 

1. Spike, in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (From my increasingly ramshackle memory banks², where the “interesting, but useless” stuff is stored.

2. Just think “Addams Family attic

3. Seems odd, that in order to bring down accurate fire, the best way to do it, is to get within the blast zone.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, WWII

Don’t Panic Captain Mainwaring! …. and suchlike stuff.

In these Apocalyptic times with storms plagues and pestilence sweeping in from the east and west simultaneously, the only thing to do is to go on a panic buying spree. This causes difficulties, as I have boxes full of plastic kits, enough porridge, rice and flour to feed several dinner parties, and we use cleaning products all the time, so feel no need to go out to panic-buy these exotic products.

The weather came to my rescue. Storms have names now, in a misguided attempt to make them more human, in a sort of get-to-know-you-and-blow-your-house-down fashion. The names given to storms are, frankly uninspiring. We name our own, so after storms Donald, Eggnog and Furioso had stomped through our garden, it was time to inspect Shed du Soleil, which was looking unperturbed.

Closer inspection revealed spongy patches and small tears in the bitumen, so the roof was stripped down to the base. Sure enough, the doors that I had originally used to roof the shed with, had deteriorated over twenty years and needed replacing. A quick trip to the builder’s merchant followed and cowboybuilders.co.uk swung into action on another wobbly ladder job.

Of course, it was still raining, so by the end of the day, the roofline looked like this. My builder’s website has gone dead and he is not answering his mobile phone. Should I be worried?

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Blitzkrieg Commander – SALERNO Landing

I rarely have the chance to play WW2 rules as anything other than the umpire, and when I do it is usually PBI with someone else umpiring, so when Richard Lindley offered to put “Blitzkrieg Commander” on, I was happy to participate. Richard had put a lot of effort into the layout of the table for a refight of the American SALERNO landings. Four American battalions of the 36th (Texas) Division (from the 141st and 142nd Infantry Regiments)  had been laid out ready to go, facing two companies of the von Döring group. As it happened, Trebian had visited PEUSTRA on Holiday, and was able to confirm that the beach in front of the temples did indeed offer a lot of cover. In reality, the Wehrmacht companies were some 5-10 km inland, but Richard had sensibly compressed the scale to fit a wargames table. The overall effect was splendid.

There were three of us on the night, the game being planned for six, so with YesthatPhil  taking the German player, Trebian and I started rolling four battalions of infantry into a defended German position. The aim of the game was to introduce us to the game systems. With hindsight, we should probably have concentrated on half of the board with a battalion each for the Americans. My overall plan was to bypass the central position and concentrate on the two flanking positions that were lightly held. The first stage consisted of a massive naval gunfire bombardment, in which I rolled over the odds, was lucky with the “in which amusing direction does the fire deviate?” dice¹, and suppressed the German defenders in an old tower that I was aiming for with two battalions. The action then switched to Trebian’s flank, and he spent the rest of the evening trying to attack two positions with a battalion each. I never found out what happened on my flank, as I had to cut and run for work the next morning.

This did afford me the opportunity to watch the game sequence. All the right things seem to be in there for a tactical game: if you suppress an objective, then you can attack it, but if you go in prematurely, then you will be bounced out by counterattacks. It would be unfair to comment on the speed of the game with three new players, but Trebian and Phil picked up the game sequence and were soon rattling along in a protracted firefight and close combat that, from the sidelines, seemed to take a long time. This was because tactically, a lot was happening.

Of course, it serves me right for attacking a single objective with two battalions and overwhelming firepower. I’m sure that Richard plans to continue the game, and I plan to be there when he does. My first impression is that the rules handle a battalion per player nicely. I really wanted to spend time sitting under the Campari umbrellas by the restaurant, but the only way to do that was to fight over a railway track and through a battalion of StuGs. With a mortar platoon there, it would be impossible to enjoy a quiet coffee anyway. Another night perhaps? All-in-all, an excellently presented game.

  1. This is why professional armies use ranging shots, to avoid having to use wacky arrow dice :-),which work splendidly with mushroom munching goblin fanatics in Warhammer.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Italy, Wargames, WWII

Review – BPM India Pattern Carrier

 

India Pattern Carrier BPM (L) FoW (R)

The Butler’s Printed Model India Pattern Carrier is an excellent model. Here it is compared to the Flames of War offering, which is also spot on the nail at 1:120. The usual comments about print lines apply. Both models have PSC bren carrier crews added, with Peter Pig turban heads.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Modelling, WWII

Review – BPM Fiat SPA Dovunque 35

BPM  (L+ Centre) and FoW (R) Dovunque 35Butlers Printed Models have had a rather nice Fiat SPA Dovunque 35 in their range for some time now. Previously, the only 15mm offering has been from Flames of War with their haphazard approach to supply, and “true” 15mm, this being a 1:120 resin model. The model itself was not too shabby but only came as a covered body and back. The pictures above and below show the FoW on the right with BPM left and centre

BPM Fiat SPA Dovunque 35 SideButlers offer a choice of covered cab with open or closed back. I have not tried snipping of the cab tilt to put a driver in, but as they also offer an AA version with open cab and back, it is easier to snip out the AA pedestal to fit passengers into the back. I have done this for 101 Trieste and 102 Trento Motorised Divisions.

The photos accentuate the print lines on curved surfaces that almost every printed model suffers from. Fow on the right this time.

BPM Fiat SPA Dovunque 35 BackThe BPM models have better squarer detail in every area except the canopies, which are lifeless, and suffer from the usual print lines on sloping and circular shapes. Prices are roughly even with FoW, but BPM score on prompt service and variety. My money goes to BPM on this one.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Italian Army, Modelling, Reviews, Trucks

Decennial Spring Clean

Really Useful Boxes

The decennial spring clean of my Study is proceeding nicely, with one wall painted a fetching shade of Dulux  “Rainforest Canopy” 87YY 26/456¹. I cannot recommend the Really Useful Box Company frame stack highly enough. It has put an end to games of Jenga or stacking as I moved boxes around to get to the one at the bottom.

Clearing the floor has had one unexpected consequence, as the Lovely Mrs K declared that the room is now tidy enough to sit in. I have lost 50% of my seating space.

It is Mine Now

It is Mine Now

  1. Devotees of Warhammer will be more familiar with this colour under its previous name of  Snot Green. Warpstone glow just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

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Bishop SPG -Just Needs Varnish

 

Bishop SPG Left Front Threequarter View

Two light coats of emulsion were enough to cover the Bishop, after a generous sprinkling of stowage boxes, jerricans and fuel tanks.

Bishop SPG Left Rear Threequarter View

Flashes for 121st Regiment, Royal Artillery were hand painted. The painted rivets look pretty ragged in the photo. I didn’t bother with the troop flashes on the sand shields. There is some debate as to whether Chocolate brown or thinned black paint was used, I have hedged my bets on different models and used both.

Bishop SPG Right Front Threequarter View

 

All in all, I’m happy with how it turned out.

Bishop SPG Right Rear Threequarter View

 

The Bishops were used to support the Valentine Army Tank Regiments at ALAMEIN. Despite the title, as an homage to John JNV, I will give it a spray of Windsor and Newton Matt Varnish once it dries out.

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Pointless Conversion – Bishop SPG

Bishop Turret floor and Roof

I began a pointless conversion¹ of a Bishop Self-propelled Gun. Why? Because I need one for my ALAMEIN Orbat, for 121st Regiment, Royal Artillery, and because I have a surfeit of Valentine Hulls. The first stage was to build the base and top of the gun casemate. Next, the sides were added on. The front and gun were the last to be built, with filing to finish off before the details such as hatches , were added. I went with sand shields, as first issued, rather than the later stripped sides for Sicily and Italy, and didn’t worry too much about roof vents and the like.

Bishop Turret Sides in Place

Of course, being out of practice with this sort of thing, I made the turret too wide (another pointless fat head) and had to cut a fillet out to bring it down to size. I had no excuse this time, having resized a web plan to 1:100; cheating, I know!

Bishop Turret Details and gun in Place

Bishops were the first British attempt to make a self-propelled artillery piece, if  you discount the Birch Gun. They were soon superceded by the M7 Priest 105mm (90 sent to North Africa), then the Sexton 25pdr (of which 2,062 were built), but they soldiered on through Tunisia, Sicily and Italy, with 130 being built eventually.

  1. Coined by Phil Steele. It describes converting something that is readily available as a kit, because you happen to have a kit that will provide the base for the conversion, and you don’t need another model of the kit that you have.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Artillery, Modelling, Western Desert

Winter Quarters – Base Signs

If it has gone quiet for the last week or so, it is because the troops are all in barracks, preparing for inspections and the like. Marking up the bases of units is as old as wargaming itself, and some of my bases are regular palimpsests.

Base Signs

Take the orange base in the back row (2nd from left) with yellow just visible, and with White “50 1 SA” overwriting Black “2 Mech”. The base started off in a 20mm Soviet Mech Division in the early ’90s, before being recycled into the 15mm 1st South African Division, via a long wait in my recycled bases box. The 21st Panzer Base (bottom far right) lives in either box 36 or 19, depending on whether Corps or Pocket Scale Orbats are being used. Sometimes, paper labels become more or less permanent, as in the 25 Bologna label (front row third left). It helps stray units find their way home after a big game.

The New Zealanders are displaying a base rear with muted three position Red Amber Green pin positions to show the strength of the unit. Players seemed to find this helpful at the Crete game.

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