A Grand Day Out

Grab the Ball!

The Medieval folk that run around hitting each other with sticks were out again at Delapré Abbey this weekend. We wandered down, because Delapré is one of our regular winter walks, and because Trebian was presenting his battle of Northampton game; a Cracking Game Grommet, in which Lancastrians discover that cheese tastes best when toasted …

Cracking Game Grommet

Suzanne played for the first time. Within seven moves, she had sacked and burned Northampton (move 1),

Scrope Sacks Northampton

rampaged through the Lancastrian camp, capturing the King (move 6),

Rampaging Through the Lancastrian Camp

and executed a pile of Lancastrian Nobs, reminding me why I generally avoid arguing with Yorkshire Folk!

So That Will be No Quarter then!

That’ll be no quarter then!

I've Always Wanted To Sack Northampton!

At lunchtime, a pair of re-enactors of ample girth were tucking into a medieval meal that seemed to comprise of a lot of wine and pork pies.

Lightweight Camping Chair With Peasant Porter

Elsewhere, a blacksmith of much leaner thew was hammering an iron bar into a sickle, and some enthusiastic medieval gunners were creating loud bangs and rolling banks of acrid smoke. By way of light relief, I bought Suzanne a solid oak medieval folding camp chair, then had to carry it a mile or so back to the car, through the woods, fortified by a rather good pie at the new Delapré café. Personally though, we miss the old volunteers cafe, with its quirky service, homemade cakes and 1950s price structure.

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Marking Time

It has been a while since the WHELKS* have all been seen together in public, so it was rather fitting that most of them were at Will Whyler’s 70th birthday party. Rather than show a series of photos of 50-70-year old beardies and baldies, here is the the tank that I presented Will with, so that he has no excuse for not being able to get around the battlefield. I must master manual focus – the table is crystal clear!

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Also present was Graham Fordham (no relation to Cap’n Birdseye), who recently celebrated his 60th. My focus was better on this one. He is a Copplestone Beastly Belgian masquerading as a French Naval Officer …. aww, who cares; the figure looks like Graham!

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… even if the hair on the model is too short at the back!

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*Wellingborough Historical andEverso Loosely Kultural Society. Present were:

Chris Ager, The Dormouse, Graham Fordham, Graham Hockley, Sarge, Trebian, Will Whyler, Chris Willey, YesthatPhil, and Tony Hawkins in his professional capacity as a magician (The Amazing Anthony).

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Let the Summer of Fun Begin!

Exams are over now and a huge pile of fun is staring at me from my work bench. I should finally get around to pruning the Sprue Tree that has been flourishing on the corner of the desk (note the superdetailing brushes hiding in the jar – I do own some!).

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I have been making judicious purchases to round out the orbats of existing divisions, and may even get around to painting some of the models that have lived in not much more than an undercoat for the last five years. But before that, some relaxing is due:

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Having finally got my hands on some of Peter Pig’s new Soviet scouts, I have been impressed by how well-proportioned they are, fitting in nicely with Skytrex and the early PSC stuff. They are much nicer in the round than on the website in a spray undercoat.  Photos to follow … when they have more than a spray undercoat on them!

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51st Highland Division on Parade

51st-infdiv

51st Highland Division

Sometimes, the only way to check that everyone is in Barracks is to put them on Parade. 51st Highland Division looks as if it is ready for a fight … “see Youse Jimmy“*. 40th Light Anti-aircraft Regiment is further back down the line of communications in the photo above.

51st HD infantry Battalions

In Real Life®, my portfolio is in and marked – a pass! My Viva Voce and Ethical paper have both been taken and the final paper is tomorrow. Too soon to celebrate, but I need some playtime!

*A bored colleague of mine, who worked at the Ministry of Defence, used to pick up the phone on  a Friday and announce “War Office … want a fight?

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Infantry, Orbats, Western Desert, WWII

Bank Holiday Revision

My finals for this MSc module are in early June, so the end is in sight, and I am revising hard …. waving, not drowning!

Waving, not drowning

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Don’t Take a Knife to a Gunfight …

8th Army Artillery

… and if you are going to a gunfight, take lots of guns!

8th Army 25Pdr Field Regiment

Field Regiment. Flames of war 25pdrs, Morris Quad gun tractors and India pattern carrier. Some Peter Pig crew.

The 8th Army has enough field regiments now to equip five divisions, with two regiments of medium guns, one heavy and one light antiarcraft regiment.

Royal Artillery Field Regiment

Spot the new PSC CMP gun tractor on the left and a QRF Austin truck that is – to my eyes – indistinguishable from the old Denzil Skinner die cast.

Keen viewers will spot the usual out-of -scale substitutions, placeholders and WIP models scattered about.

A mixed bag of Artillery In this  Composite Regiment

More Denzil Skinner castings of the Morris Quad gun tractor by QRF, with a mixed regimentof 18pdrs and 25pdrs. Zvezda Dingo.

If Rommel  comes unexpectedly though, the rounds will still be heading down range en masse.

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The 4.5″ regiment is made from Really Useful Guns with Peter Pig crews, Zvezda Matador gun tractors and a Skytrex Dingo

88th and 94th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery

88th and 94th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery. FoW AA guns, QRF tractors. Skytrex Humber A/C standing in.

Light AA Regiments and 27th (London Electrical Engineers) Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery

27th (London Electrical Engineers) Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery with two light antiaircraft regiments.

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Wide Wheelbase 25pdr

PSC and Zvezda have opened up the 15mm market with excellent, if sometimes baffling choices of models. Zvezda is streets ahead in accuracy, with PSC ocassionally making schoolboy errors, such as the axle length on the new 25pdr and gun tractor kit.

Wide Wheelbase 25pdrs from PSC

However, PSC make the better wargames pieces, with a wide choice of options in their kits, and generous inclusion of crews and stowage. Taken together, the wargamer is spoilt for choice. Where all, manufacturers fall down though, is in the anatomy of their figures, and for that , the customer is to blame, preferring the “heroic” look over accuracy. There is nothing that the average bodger like me can’t fix though. Peter Pig’s older figures are amongst the best along with Skytrex.

PSC started well, their first two sets offering well-proportioned figures that were in line with 20mm figures, but soon descended to the currently popular 28mm fantasy look.

25pdr Gun Line WIP

My 25pdr gun line is coming on nicely now.

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On the Workbench – PSC StugIII Part 2

PSC Stug IIIs with Stowage

With a face that only a mother could love, the StugIII is ugliness personified, yet it extended the use of the PzIII chassis to the end of the war in four ways:

  1. It was cheaper to build (82,500 Reichsmarks (RM) compared to 103,163 RM for a Pz III, and faster too – no turret.
  2. The profile was lower, making it harder to hit – did I mention the turret?
  3. By employing artillery crews, it put more guns and troops under armour at a time when the panzer arm was struggling to keep its strength up.
  4.  By limiting the traverse of the long 75mm gun, it enabled it to be mounted on a lighter, existing chassis without shaking it, or the crew, to bits with the recoil.

So throwing a heap of stowage onto the back of mine only enhanced the brutalist Corbusier look that was going on. PSC is very generous in the amount of stowage that it adds to its sprues*, so a pile has been added to the back decks.

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All the photo tutorials argue that natural lighting is a bad thing, casting shadows. But hang on, isn’t that how we view objects in true-scale?

*Customer feedback – throwing extras into a kit increases sales, it does not diminish them. I get two models out of some of PSC’s sprues, but it does not mean that I buy half as many kits as a result.

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On the Workbench – PSC 15mm Sturmgeschütze

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The Sturmgeschütz sprue gives the option to make up later variants of the gun from G onwards with the earlier box mantlet or the Saukopf. With a bit of creative bodging, two models will come out of this sprue, as long as you are happy to have an early and a late G model respectively.

I’m fairly relaxed about mocking up close approximates of tracks from dowel and card, but it struck me that I had a redundant old RoCoPz IV in 1/87 scale, so the tracks were cut down to make a “close enough” match. Having accused German production of being ramshackle in my last post, in the picture above, I have exceeded anything they could have cobbled together.

Repurposed RoCo Pz IV tracks on the Stug III on the right

The profile at the back doesn’t look quite right from the side, but the Schurtzen plates will hide most of it.

StuG IIIGs, early and late models

And from the front, I’m not going to notice unless I’m really bored enough to count rivets.

Count the rivets on the front glacis plate

So … two models for the price of one. I shall stick some stowage and camouflage on to hide the odd missing bits, and probably a few tank riders for good measure.

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A Proportionate view of German Armour

 

Produktion von Panzer III

The output of German armour in WWII was, in some ways, rather ramshackle, with designs running on past their sell-by date, frequent upgrades to keep obsolete designs in the war, and newer models pushed into service without proper testing. They shared this approach with the British.

In an attempt to make sense of the ratios of various models in service, I just reduced the numbers by 100, then rounded up or down to the nearest integer. The base figures have been lifted from various uncredited sources, so should be treated with enormous suspicion. These figures are for all fronts, and are vehicles produced, not in frontline service. They take no account of losses. Nonetheless, some interesting comparisons emerge:

  1. 57 Pz IIIs compared to 75 Stug IIIs.
  2. 83 Pz IVs compared to 61 Pz Vs and 13 Tiger Is.
  3. Half of the 38(t) hull production (30) was Hetzers (Jagdpanzer 38s), and these in the last two years of the war.
  4. Armour prodution peaked in 1943.
  5. The rough overall proportion of major hull types is: 4 Pz 38(t): 8 PzIII : 8PzIV: 4PzV: 1 PzVI.
  6. Taken year by year on  a 1: 600 ratio they are roughly:
  • 1942: 1 Pz 38(t): 5 PzIII : 2PzIV
  • 1943: 2 Pz 38(t): 5 PzIII : 10 PzIV: 3 PzV: 1 PzVI.
  • 1944: 4 Pz 38(t): 3 PzIII : 7 PzIV: 6 PzV: 1 PzVI.
  • 1945: 2 JagdPz 38(t): 2 StugIIIG

So this list, unchecked as it is, throws out a few surprises. It also surprised me to discover that the Panther at about 117k Reichsmarks (RM), was not that more expensive than a Pz IV at about 86k RM. As usual, wordpress has destroyed the formatting of the table.

 (2)
Model 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 Total
Pz I 2 2 2 6
PzII 2 3 1 6
Marder II 5 2 7
Wespe 5 1 6
 All PzI/II Chassis 2 4 5 6 7 1 25
Pz 38(t) 1 4 7 2 14
Marder III 139   3 3
Marder III 138 1 8 3 12
Grille 2 3 5
Hetzer 17 13 30
 All 38(t) Chassis 1 4 7 6 10 23 13 64
Pz III A-F 1 4 5
Pz III G-J1 5 17 2 24
Pz III J2-M 20 20
Pz III N 4 3 7
Pz III (f) 1 1
Stug III A-E 2 5 1 8
Stug III F-G 7 30 8 10 55
StuH 42 2 9 1 12
 All PzIII Chassis 1 11 22 34 36 17 11 132
Pz IV A-F1 3 5 1 9
Pz IV F2-J 9 30 31 4 74
Stug IV 10 1 11
Jagd Pz IV 7 7
Jagd Pz IV 70 8 4 12
Sturm Pz IV 1 2 3
Hornisse 3 2 5
Hummel 4 3 7
Mobelwagen 2 2
Wirbelwind 1 1
 All PzIV Chassis
3 5 11 66 42 4 131
Pz V 18 38 2 58 (1)
Jagd Pz V 2 2 4
 All PzV Chassis



20 40 2 62
Tiger I 1 6 6 13
Sturm Tiger 2 2
Jagd Tiger 1 1
 All PzVI Chassis


1 6 9
16
Tiger II 4 1 5
Ferdinand 1 1




1 4 1 6
Total 4 22 39 58 126 96 29 374

The :

  1. Thomas L. Jentz and Hilary Louis Doyle (2011). Panzer Tracts No.23 – Panzer Production from 1933 to 1945. Panzer Tracts. pp. 60–65.
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_armored_fighting_vehicle_production_during_World_War_II

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