Hungarians getting Inky

Hungarian Infantry

After another week of solid wall building I just had time to ink and varnish the Hungarians. I tend to use a 1:2 mix of nut brown ink to water nowadays for pretty much everything. It just gives enough definition to indented detail without me actually having to paint it in. It also dulls the over-saturated and overly light style that I have settled on down to a respectably scruffy finish. The picture was taken before varnishing.

The 6 year old in me still likes the toy soldier look without ink, but hey, I’m a grown-up ….. look at my grown-up wall! The temperatures are now reliably below freezing overnight, so no more cementing until spring, which in the UK is anywhere from late March to early May. If it were not for tarmac, we would have Rasputitsa for half the year. On the plus side, fresh vegetables can be plucked out of the ground year round, so no pickled cabbage. As ever, up-to date pictures are here.

Completely off topic, my retirement present to our Consultant in Diabetes and Endocrinology, (who is Greek), was a bottle with this label …

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Box 003 – Hungary, a Work in Progress

Enough of true scale modelling. I have managed to slap some more paint on my Hungarian troops, not because they have a battle coming up, but because they have been shamefully neglected since their last appearance in 2019 in the southern DNEPR. The following pictures show them before final inking and glossing (I refuse to call the process ‘contrast painting’).

Figures are Peter Pig WW1 and WW2 Germans, some with Zeltbahn.

Officers are a mix of Italian, Spanish civil war and Austrian. The armour is a QRF Nimrod, Toldi, and Butler’s Printed Models Csaba.

The  truck is a Syborg 3d Print and the gun a 1/76 Airfix 6pdr heavily camouflaged, pretending to be a beute 10.5cm gun of indeterminate description.

My sole foray to Hungary was a trip to Budapest with the lovely Mrs K. The Schizophrenic  Museum of Military History reflected Hungary’s troubled past in the  path of successive bigger neighbours’ military steamrollers. It was all there in the museum: The cannon balls half embedded in the walls marking the high tide of Ottoman expansion and recapture of Buda in 1686, The Danube Flotilla, the failed Hungarian war of Independence in 1848-49, The Soviet years and afterwards. But what mostly caught my eye was a series of exuberant oil paintings of the Hungarian Air Force fighting the Soviets during World War Two. No graphic details of Soviet pilots baling out with burning parachutes or exploding ammunition convoys were spared. Alas no pictures emerge online. The English translation read, “Fliers from the ultra far right period of Hungary’s history”, whereas the German translation was simply “Unsere heldenisch Flieger” (our heroic pilots).

To my knowledge Nierhorster’s PhD Thesis is still the gold standard for information on the Hungarian armed forces. See the reference sidebar for the link.

I was expecting to be called out for not mentioning Hadrian’s wall or the Berlin Wall in my last post, but seem to have got away with it. 🙂

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Ten Famous Walls, a Christmas Listicle

  1. The Atlantic Wall (Festung Europa) was not a wall at all, but an awful lot of lumps of hollow concrete, stuffed with any old cannon that the Germans could find, and surrounded by prickly string.
  2. The 750 kilometre long Maginot Line was also not a proper wall. It had a big gap in it to let the trees through, and the Germans, who hadn’t been told that you can’t drive an armoured division through a National Park. It had sunbeds and underground railways in it though, so that’s cool!
  3. The Great Wall of China is a proper wall. Who cares if it can’t be seen from space, It’s huge! … and very long at 20,000 kilometres. The Great Wall that Matt Damon had to have a wash to be fed at was more fun. Loved the chrome lacquered armour! Not so keen on the local wildlife though; we have a frog, Nobby the Newt  and a hedgehog. Matt Damon just had lots of bitey lizards with eyes in the wrong places.
  4. The Wall in Game of Thrones is a proper 480 kilometre wall, that even meets UK building regulations, and is 230 metres high. Despite being built in Northern Ireland over a cement works, The Seven Kingdoms is the very opposite of a united kingdom and much stabbier, so what do you expect? I prefer ice in small drinks cubes or long downhill pistes.
  5. Drop Walls. Another fantasy wall, this time from Phil and Kaja Foglio’s Girl Genius. These are designed to topple over and squash besiegers. Nasty.
  6. The lines of Ne Plus Ultra stretched for 256 kilometres. Rather splendid in a Vauban-esque way. It’s a shame that Marlborough walked around the middle of the end of it. The French track record with defensive walls is not entirely stellar. See Chandler for decent maps.
  7. The West Wall is half finished now. It’s Big, it’s beautiful, and nobody asked Mexico to pay for it: See Number 10 on this list. Only 1.48 scale kilometres long in 1:100, but an impressive 1900 hamburgers high, or 190 metres, and a rather fetching shade of orange. The Luftwaffe has got in first with its Flak.
  8. Offa’s Dyke – 285 kilometres long. Pretty impressive in its day. Can still be seen on the ground. Beware nettles and bracken in summer. Wear long trousers and boots.
  9. The Siegfried Line- 630 kilometres long. Built in the 1930s.  Made the Maginot Line look good. Rather like a suit or dress that you bought in summer, then tried to squeeze into in winter, the embrasures were too small for the porkier anti-tank guns that were needed when the Allies assaulted it in 1944. Even so, it held out until 1945 before making a useful clothes line for washing. Remnants of the line live on as biotopes for wildlife
  10. Donald Trump. Ha Ha.

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World War(LL) Zed

Up to creasing tile height

A lot has happened in a month. The wall is now of a suitable height to deter Zombies, shambling or otherwise. De Fence budget (see what I did there?) costed in searchlights to allow work to continue into the night if needed. They kick out a massive 50 watts apiece. I’m still waiting for machine guns though.

No Zombies!

The right hand side last two bays are now finished, with creasing tiles to keep the wall dry, and a cement cap. The pillar is at creasing tile height, and if 1:100 scale, would be a mighty 190 metres tall ( or just under 1,900 hamburgers laid end to end, if you are American). I’m making the most of unseasonably mild weather to crack on with building, so wargaming is still on the back burner for a while. Normal service will be resumed as soon as the bad weather comes.

The creasing tiles are laid and the wall finished on bays 7 and 8 (the two right hand bays).

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Just another Brick in the Wall

For anyone wondering at the lack of posts since November, I have been playing with my new outdoor toy; a concrete mixer! As retirement presents go, it was a bit of a hint 🙂

 Rather than clutter this blog with frankly uninspiring pictures of foundations and bricks, I have put them onto my building blog. Don’t feel that you have to visit it out of politeness. Brickaholics can find it here.

Sensible people can be reassured that the BRYANSK campaign is still underway, but German Pioneers have been throwing all sorts of obstacles in the way of the tabletop – dirty boots and bricklaying tools amongst them. Logistically, it has been quite a challenge stockpiling all the materials onsite prior to starting the operation, especially with the local builder’s merchant delivery driver, Chuckles the Clown doing his usual best to drop loads, or offload them in the wrong order.

In the meantime, there is a glorious site called underwhelming fossil fish of the month. My brickie blog is a bit like that 🙂

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Battle of Brandywine Creek, 11th of September 1777

Jonathan Freitag has hosted a number of American War of Independence games by Zoom, and this was my second. It was also the first in which I took overall command of the Anglo-Hessian forces at the 11 Sep 1777 battle of Brandywine Bridge as General Knyphausen (a Prussian). Despite some of the earliest toy soldiers I remember seeing being Britains AWI 54mm, this period is not one that I have a great deal of experience of, but it didn’t stop me forming a plan that would see the Crown deploy artillery centrally, then assault the two fords after preparing both areas with a bombardment. Steven Churchus, Ian Lowell and Graham Evans took the Rebels.

The game was set up to compel the Crown forces to attempt to take objectives on both sides of the river. Knyphausen’s orders from Howe in 1777 were to “amuse” the Rebels and persuade them that the full army was in front of them, whilst Howe flanked General Washington via Jeffrie’s Ford to the north of the battlefield. In reality, Knyphausen  spent a lot of time demonstrating in front of Generals Wayne and Washington, as Maxwell was driven back on the Rebel left (south) wing. I didn’t think that would go down well with a Zoom wargame audience, but it took time to march forward on the northern (left) flank with the Nottingham Road, which gave the artillery time to clear the Rebel artillery off the east side of Brinton’s Ford (mislabeled as Chadds on the picture).

Two things delayed the roll out. On the Crown’s right flank the Rebels had deployed forward of the river and Brinton’s Ford, and had conducted an aggressive defence. My artillery, that I had placed in the van of the left wing deployed in what I thought was a hex by the side of the road, but proved to count as being on the road. We did not resolve this problem until the middle of the game, by which time my left wing had slogged laboriously across fields north of the Nottingham Road to reach the enemy at Brinton’s Ford.

This gave me plenty of time to sweep away Rebel artillery and infantry covering the ford, and gave the rebels some hard choices regarding defending forward in full view of the artillery, or on rear slope positions. A bold rebel battalion that attacked the guns from overlooking central heights was blown away by the massed firepower of all four batteries, after which, the light guns were detached to support the right flank.

The right wing was having a hard fight, assisted by some positively demonic die-rolling on the Rebel side from Graham Evans as General Maxwell, but Richard Lindley as General Grant managed to swing the battle back into his favour by dogged persistence and the late-arriving light artillery. I could not have told you in any detail how the battle went on Richard’s flank, but he called for, and received artillery to swing the balance in the nick of time.

Back on the left flank, an early attempt to capture the ridge overlooking the ford by dragoons and light infantry was seen off convincingly. The position was not held strongly enough though, so a bombardment reduced the key Rebel battalion down to a third of its original strength, and then a determined bayonet charge swept the southern edge of the hill clear.

At this point, the evening wound to a close, with the game finely balanced in terms of victory points for objectives held, but the Crown forces poised to sweep over the ford against a weakly held position. Full marks go to Jon for successfully wrangling the usual sack of ferrets that we call the Monday Night Wargames Group, and for providing an enjoyable game.

Thoughts that occurred to me after the game are as follow:

  1. The rules should allow for artillery traveling on a road, and deploying in the road hex without blocking the road to following troops. This represents the artillery battery pulling off the road to form up in line
  2. I felt that I and other players had too much control of where units could move and deploy. I’m used to forming a plan then executing it, rather than micro-managing units with the ability to form up on a 360 degree frontage. That may just be a penalty of playing a zoom game where the umpire or his handlers move everything, but the movement track of some battalions would have been familiar to anyone who has studied Brownian motion of smoke particles.
  3. We are learning as a group not to butt in with helpful suggestions during another player’s move. This ensures that the amount of “over there, no, there!”, “where, here?”, “no, there!!” is kept to a minimum. I wonder if giving row and column references for hexes would reduce confusion, as on a board game?
  4. Richard and I were able to discuss our battle plan in chat without it impacting on the other players or the umpire.”Show the Rebels cold steel!” was my favourite order.
  5. The constraints of the Zoom format, with Jon having to do all the moving and wait for individual die rolls and movement faff meant that we got about 7 moves in. That was the length of time that it took me moving at full speed across the board to reach Chadd’s Ford. The rear of my column was still only halfway there. So a slow-ish pace was simply a result of the Zoom format rather than any defect in the rules.

Top two photos copyright Jonathan Freitag, used with permission. Last, uncredited from Ebay

One can get into all sorts of tangles in labeling the two sides. I have gone with Crown forces and Rebels. Others use Loyalists and Patriots. https://www.ushistory.org/March/phila/brandywine_1.htm gives a useful description of the battle. Mel Gibson is not a reliable source! “Freedom!!!

 

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International Merlot Day – November the Seventh

My Dear Guru Pig,

Thank you for alerting me to International Merlot Day, which I have added to my calendar of Important Events¹. You have saved Suzanne and me from an embarrassing faux-pas, as we were just finishing an agreeable bottle of 2019 Chapel Down Flint Dry blended white. On the face of it this was not the most obvious choice for venison with noodles and stir fried Pak Choi but, well, the bottle was already open and giving good service, being a refreshingly sharp contrast to the malty earth tones of Leffe Brujn and hot lime pickles as an anti pasta².

A quick flurry of rummaging in the ancestral wine cellar produced one of Brian’s Reserve Merlots³. I was reassured by his assertion that the bottle was best enjoyed now or cellared for 3-5 years. As there was no date on the label, and Suzanne could not remember when she bought it, we played safe and opened it at once, to be enjoyed with stewed apples, apricots, wolf berries and custard*.

Good health to you and yours! Arrrrr!

Kind Regards, Chris.

Our allotment can get very lively!
  1. International Speak Like a Pirate Day on the 19th of September being top of said list.
  2. Flint Dry 2019 – 6 bottle case

    A great introduction to quality English wine and an alternative to aromatic white wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. Chapel Down Flint Dry 2020 is a mixed blend, fragrant white wine.

    1. On the Nose – Green apple, galia melon and kiwi.
    2. On the Palate – Apple, pear and lime.
    3. Finish – Well-balanced.
    4. Vineyards – Kent, East Sussex and Essex.
    5. Winemaking – Fruit is whole bunch pressed and vinified in stainless steel at cool temperatures to retain aromatic delicacy. The wine was blended, clarified, and bottled in February 2020.
    6. Food Pairing – Flint Dry 2020 is ideal served as an aperitif or pairs perfectly with white meats, seafood, or salad.

      75cl bottles. £78.00

  3. Brian McGuigan’s Reserve Merlot

    Aroma

    Upfront red fruits, raspberries and cherries. Hints of sweet spice and cedar
    Palate
    A medium bodied, fruit driven wine with spice and hints of mocha on the palate.The wine is well balanced with soft tannins, giving length to the palate.
    £ 7 for 75cl

    *. Custard is not a garnish. It comes in jugs!

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Halloween

 

At this time of year, we are usually to be found in a local pub, with everyday local folk.

Not this year though, with cases of Covid-19 spiking in the UK.

We buried our allotment scarecrow instead, but he didn’t go down easily.

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Russian Civil War interlude – More Cake and Mayhem

Red Northern Thrust advances to the Station

Red Northern Thrust advances to the Station

Red Southern Force advances to cover the Left Flank

Red Southern Force advances to cover the Left Flank. Note the Infantry Commander closest to the Artillery

Back at Shedquarters with Trebian and YesthatPhil, but joined by Tim Merry, with Richards Lockwood and Lindley,  Ian Lowell and Jonathan Freitag apparing online, the Russian Civil War mayhem continued.¹ This time, there was an armoured train. Trebian tells me that of all the questions he gets, “Will the rules handle armoured trains?” is the commonest (so yes, they will). Each side had four infantry units with artillery, three cavalry units, armoured cars and Ford model Ts. The object was to capture the main station, and destroy the enemy.

Part of the Armoured Train, with White Cavalry overrunning the Red Artillery.

Part of the Red Armoured Train “Победа” (Victory), with White Cavalry overrunning the Red Artillery.

The train was the undoubted star of the show in the same way that the Death Star dominates Star Wars. It loomed out of the trees, shot stuff and then was called off to do stuff elsewhere. It is worth mentioning that Trebian only counts the gun car as the real estate that the train occupies. The picture above makes no sense otherwise, although the cavalry base leaping over the engine looks dramatic!

Red Infantry take the Station

Red Infantry take the Station

It is also worth mentioning that a game of this size would normally be played over a larger table, when the extended cavalry moves make more sense. Because of the size of the game and number of players, only two moves were completed, but because each move consists of three actions for each unit, and units activate in a Ugo-Igo sequence, then it felt as if we had played about sixty mini moves. I still had plenty of time to push toys, make armoured train noises and take photos.²

Red Infantry Assault White Armoured Cars

Red Infantry assault White Armoured Cars. “Have you got a flag?”.

Because this was a playtest, there was still a lot of Trebian telling players to roll dice and being asked “What do I have to get?” or being told “It’s changed from last time”,  although the online players are getting the hang of it. The Quick Results Sheet (QRS) is the usual example of the type, with dense tables filling two sides of A4. A nice feature of the rules is that units test for morale but can be coerced into action if they fail. They carry this resentment with them for the whole of the game and reward the coercer by failing morale when it really matters.

Red Cavalry Charge the White Artillery

Red Cavalry charge the White Artillery seen in the Station photo two above.

I looked at the initial layout of the table and thought that the Reds would be kicking the Whites out of the station, but somehow, the Whites became diverted by Red artillery covering the southern side of the table, so the Reds were able to sneak a company of armoured motorised infantry into the station whilst everyone’s attention was fixed on the armoured train. Two cavalry units that charged infantry were shot away, the White armoured cars proved useful as supporting pieces, but were vulnerable to close assaulting infantry and the Red Austin-Putilov armoured cars proved that Ford model Ts are no substitute for a proper pair of armoured dustbins on an under-powered chassis with poor cross country performance.

Red Cavalry do not survive the White Officer Cadet Battalion counterattack

Red Cavalry do not survive the White Officer Cadet Battalion counterattack

In an entertaining example of real-life military problems, Trebian’s Red artillery observer went AWOL, and Treb picked up an infantry commander to command the artillery without realising it. He then spent most of the game searching for the missing infantry commander, who did an excellent covert job directing the artillery, until it was destroyed by marauding White cavalry. The infantryman then went back to his own unit and shot away the White cavalry. The artilleryman reappeared at the end of the night, looking unruffled, as the toys were packed away.

Footnotes:

  1. The Young Ladies Cake and Mayhem Society is a Phil and Kaja Foglio invention in the Web-comic Girl Genius. There is no official Gentleman’s Beer and B*ll*cks Discussion Group, but we are working on it.
  2. When accelerating it goes “DA-da-da-da-DA-da-da-da“, and when slowing down “NYET-nyet-nyet-nyet“.

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Review – Paint and Glue Miniatures 1:100 Scale (15mm) Scammell Pioneer – Part 3

The improved Scammell Pioneer resin print is on the right.

Back here and here, I reviewed the Scammell Pioneer from Paint and Glue Miniatures. I had to do a bit of chopping about to correct the chassis height, but ended up with two models that I was very happy with. So I was even happier to receive a surprise package in the post. Garry has updated the STL to correct the suspension height, and sent an updated model. It was one of the earlier prints, so a couple of details have been further updated since

Improved Scammell Pioneer print is on the right.

In addition to printing the front spring and torsion bar at the correct orientation, with the rear suspension at the correct height, the crane gantry I-beam and basket for add-on tracks under the driver’s door are now printed separately, as more modellers are likely to be using the tractor with the jib retracted rather than extended, and making the model easier to paint prior to assembly.  The front tow hook and bar has been beefed up slightly and the front mudguards are now sitting at the  correct factory angle on the wheels.

Having done a bit more digging, I found this photo, and a couple more, so it is evident that sometimes the angle of the mudguards got knocked about in service. Panzerserra has a useful collection of photos on his blog here. It means that if the angles on the mudguards are not even, then that’s OK too.

The headlights are now part of the radiator moulding and survived transit. Contemporary photographs show two headlights or singles on both sides, and also Pioneers missing the front tow hook assembly, so I’m not too worried about future gaming damage 🙂

Looking at the photos, I noticed that I missed a couple of minor blemishes on the windscreen bars of my original print, and will have to scalpel them off. Blast! I just have to upgrade my own models to the standard of the new one now. Again from photo captions, it may be that some Pioneers captured in France made it out to the Eastern Front.

All of these detail changes highlight the advantage that an STL printer has over an injection moulding firm – errors can be corrected after a model goes to print, so full marks to Garry for reacting to customer feedback. That’s 10/10 for customer service in my book.

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