Tuesday, 12 March 2019

WMMS 2019 show and SOTCW Vaagso game

We had a fantastic day out at WMMS in Wolverhapton.  Will and I travelled down from Chester to meet Richard P and set up the SOTCW game based on Vaagso, the large scale commando raid on the Norwegian coast in December 1941.  Sadly, Richard C, who was planning on joining us, couldn't get out of his village on the outskirts of Sheffield due to heavy snow, which also closed a lot of the trans-Pennine routes.

We'd been allocated a table fairly central in the room, surrounded by interesting games and a good selection of traders, especially for me, Grubby Tanks, SHQ and Parabellum.

We set up the table on polystyrene blocks covered in a suitably sprayed sheet, with Richard P's purpose built dark blue Norwegian fjord bases.  Beaches, as per the originals, were rocky, using a mixture of grit and chippings strewn along the edge, with some excellent purpose built harbour walls and scratch built buildings designed by Richard P.  Will's polystyrene hills were laid under the sheet at the back edge and covered with trees to indicated the forested hills which confined the Vaagso operation to the village itself.

Richard P's most excellent harbour and buildings.

A mixture of Will's and my jetties, mostly from Blotz, Sgts Mess and, in Wills case what seemed to be the water tanks from a dozen or so Airfix RAF rescue set fire tenders.  All of the wooden buildings are from Will's and my collection, mainly Blotz, with a brick factory from Airfix.  Snow cover is courtesy of will and lots of cotton wool.

Richer P's stunning recreation of the Ulversund Hotel, the key position in Vaagso and the scene of intense historical action as well as some intense game action.

The commandos storm ashore.  British troops are mine, mainly from SHQ, with some Britannia commandos and Kriegsmarine doubling up as an RN landing party.  Will provided the German opponents and these are mainly plastics - I recognised several Caesar packs and there were probably others in the mix too.

And immediately hole up in whatever quay-side buildings they can take cover in.

The German armed trawler heads along the coast to investigate the gunfire, while avoiding drawing any attention from the assorted RN destroyers and cruiser that are looking for targets in the open water.  Armed trawler was scratch built by Will.

The loneliness of the battlefield.

A vicious exchange of gunfire takes place between the garrison of the hotel and the commandos in the village and fish oil factories.  An RN landing section advances to the right along the harbour to occupy more fish oil factories and secure the commandos flank.  Meanwhile, a platoon of Gebirgsjager returning from patrol make for the sound of gunfire from the hills behind the Ulversund.

Recce aircraft capture the first images returned to the UK of commandos stalled in the village while the Ulversund is defended.

The mortar team, firing at beyond maximum elevation due to the short range, makes the difference, whittling the defenders of the Ulversund down until they cannot return fire.  After setting demo charges in the fish oil factory in the foreground, the commandos were poised to advance into the Ulversund and search it, before again setting demo charges.

An altogether historical outcome, reasonably recreating the actual situation on the ground during the main phase of the Vaagso landing, where a lot of commandos had been killed or wounded in attempts to storm the Ulversund, which was only taken after a mortar was set up and chocked to allow it to fire at almost point blank range into the hotel.  The fighting was almost all over once the hotel fell and the defenders surrendered.  With wounded, prisoners, Quislings, Norwegian volunteers and commandos reembarked on the transports, by last light Vaagso was left deserted and strewn with dead, leaving the German relief troops to try and work out what had happened.

Will's show photos and pics of the game can be found here

while Richard P's write up can be found here

As ever, thanks for looking.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

20mm WW2 British recce vehicle progress

Still aiming to reduce some of the clutter of unbuilt and painted kits, I've continued to progress my British recce vehicle collection.

This is the Airfix Cromwell with a HAT British crewman spotting from the turret.  The Airfix kit was an Aldi £5 bargain in stores last summer and sweet to put together.  I particularly liked the flexible plastic tracks, which are so much easier to assemble than the old rubber affairs that needed soldering with a nail in a gas flame!!!

I've managed a bit more detailing on the six vehicles I posted on most recently (on the right below), as well as working on an old Staghound kit I bought from Paul at the club (left front), a Ready to Roll Daimler II AC and a Ready to Roll Staghound.  Crew figures for the Staghounds again from the HAT tank riders box.  These are all at the same stage of detailing now - I just need to get the Cromwell to the same stage and I can finish them all off as a batch.

Then, because I like new and shiny things, here are some German vehicles, all from Early War Miniatures, two Hetzers, on the left, and an Sdkfz 140/1, based on the Panzer 38t chassis with the turret of an Sdkfz 222 mounted on top, forming a recce vehicle.  Again these have been base coloured and washed, but now need detailing.

I managed to get the Cromwell kit primed and after this picture was taken, I base coated it, so it is now sitting on the table resplendent in Vallejo Russian Uniform.

My wife bought me a copy of the Farnsworth guide to WW2 German uniforms as an early Xmas present, although it didn't arrive until well into the New Year.  Using the step by step paint recipies, I saw a nice rendition of the 41 splinter pattern, which I thought would fit the bill for a box of Caeser plastic infantry in Zeltbahn that I got from Will at the club (cheers Will).  So, I trialled the technique on a couple of batches of six figures and really like the finished product.  Once the box is done, I'll probably have a go at some paratroopers in a similar camo pattern, which is suitable to mix with my early war versions in grey-green for Crete.

Then I picked up a beat up mis-cast Jeep from EWM at a show last year.  All the bubbles were filled and I've crewed it with a couple of seated figures from EWM and a couple of tank riders from the HAT box.  This vehicle will make a nice FHQ for a British force.

Quite pleased with how this one turned out, again still needs some detailing.

I also drilled out turrets and hulls for the Ready to Roll vehicles and added rare earth magnets so the turrets firmly fitted the models.  This worked out well, thanks to the inexpensive Dremmel clone tool that I bought in Maplins a couple of years back.

So, once the Cromwell is at the same stage, I'll be decaling and dry-brushing with Iraqi Sand, before gloss and matt varnishing and basing (I'll add bases to keep the models safe in transit when I'm going to the club, etc.).

As ever, thanks for looking.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

20mm WW2 British recce vehicles

I'm finally getting back to putting some paint on things.  These are British recce vehicles from Early War Miniatures and Ready to Roll vehicles.  Almost complete, just need tidying up and basing.

First up are three Humber A/Cs.  I picked these up for £1 each in the bargain bin from EWM at a show.  They had some big bubble casting flaws, mainly underneath and around the wheels.  I repaired these with some Milliput for the larger holes and an acrylic smooth artists modelling paste for the smaller bubbles.  The vehicle on the right is painted in Humbrol enamel paint for the base colour, while the other two are in Vallejo acrylics (Russian Uniform).  The crew are tankers from the Hat British tank riders set.  On the right hand vehicle, the pair of K guns are from an Airfix Willy's Jeep kit, mounted on a Sgts Mess mount.  Other K guns and Bren are from Sgts Mess, as are the stowage boxes.  The camo net on the right hand model was sculpted in Milliput left over from filling in the holes.

From the back, the various stowage items make each vehicle individual, so I can identify them on the tabletop.

A Ready to Roll Humber Light Recce Car (LRC).  Not a particularly potent vehicle, armed with a single bren, and it was mainly used, so I understand, by the RAF Regiment for airfield defence.

Another Ready to Roll vehicle, the Humber MkIV AC.  Widely used in NW Europe in the recce role and for many years post-war in a variety of countries.

Another EWM bargain bin rescue, a Dingo A/C.  This chap will also add to my NW Europe recce force and I may use this one as a recce command vehicle.  This model came with added stowage on the resin casting.

All six vehicles.  They need a light wash on the crewmen's flesh, a couple of leather goggles picked out, and maybe a 'tash or two, decaling and varnishing.  I think also a dry brush of Iraqi sand to help the details pop.  I think I will probably add bases to the EWM vehicles, to make them easier to stow for travelling and keep them in line with the Ready to Roll vehicles.  I'm also not sure about beret colours as to whether recce vehicle crew would wear the black tankers beret or the khaki beret, or might it depend on whether they are from armoured or infantry divisions?

Nice little castings to work with.  I do need to work out how to fix the turret to the body of the Humber MkIV as I don't want to just glue it down and it doesn't come with locating pins or lugs, so will have to drill out recesses for rare earth magnets to sit inside.

As ever, thanks for looking.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Battlegroup Fall of the Reich club night

Last evening we played the Hard Road scenario from BFotR.  1050 points of Russians taking on a similar points value of Germans.  The German battlegroup was divided into 3 groups of 350 point forces, one of a Volksturm platoon fully loaded with Panzerfausts, supported by a PAK38 in AT emplacement, an MG34 nest, an MG34 and loader team and an artillery spotter with off table 80mm mortar battery.  The other battlegroups were again Volksturm platoons, but not dug in, one supported by a Stug IIIG battery and the other by 3 Pz IVs.

We drew the hard road scenario and the Russian players drew the table edge with the bigger built up area.  Germans placed the road block as far forward as possible and I deployed my trenches across the table with the PAK 38 facing towards the upper right table edge.  I also deployed an MG emplacement in the woods to the right of the road block.  Will deployed a PAK 38 in the town to the right of the road and I placed an MG34 team with loaders in the building to the left of the road.  Ian had three Stugs deployed in the village and in woods on both flanks.  Steve and Mike had T-34s, ISU-152 and what looked like SU-85s or similar, plus loads of infantry and some timed artillery.  1050 points per side.

The Russians pushed forward into the town and sent T-34s down both flanks, those on the right deploying tank riders to get into the woods in the foreground.  These guys killed one of my snipers, for the loss of 2 men.

Taking the woods on the German left meant the Stug had to bug out or face close assault with AT grenades.

Russian tank riders move into the woods.

More Russian infantry push past the town while T-34s and animal killers carry on a long range duel with Stugs and AT guns.

On the right, the MG dug out, sniper and Stug await the coming storm.

Turn 3 and German reserves arrive - three Pz IVs to contest the right wing with two T-34s in the far distance.

At the end of the game - we ran out of time - Mike decided to recon in force with a T-34, which ran into Faust fire from infantry in trenches on the left - scratch one T-34.  The Stug, relocated from the woods on the German left has been brewed up in the centre, as has the Sdkfz 222 recce.  The PAK 38 in the village has been swept away, although the dug in PAK 38 is still in the game.

The red horde advancing into Germany.

So far so good on the German left.

When we had to call a halt, the Germans were over half their break point while the Russians were significantly less than half.  Both sides could have done with more artillery support.  The Russians played the waiting game, keeping at extreme range, so both sides shooting was spectacularly unsuccessful, although the Russians were getting the best of it.  It was only when the Russian commander had a rush of blood and charged unpinned infantry with a T-34 that they suffered any serious armour casualties.

All in all, too big a game for an evening, but fun and some interesting lessons about tactics and troop selection.  Next time …..!

Thanks for looking.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Vapnartak 2019 - additions to the stash.

Will and I headed out for Manchester extra early in the morning, expecting a clear run, only to find the motorway blocked with quite a bad RTC.  Added 20 minutes to our journey, so not too bad for us, but a bit of a disaster for those caught up in it.  We transferred to Steve motor and, along with Dave, headed off to the show in York.

Dave, Steve and Will, along with Dave of Dave Lanchester books, make up the acceptable faces of the Lance & Longbow Society.  In no time, we had set up the L&L stand, selling an assortment of books and pamphlets concentrating on the medieval period, chiefly the Wars of the Roses, and a participation game "The Battle of Stamford Bridge?", a fictional engagement between Neville and Percy during the Wars of the Roses (pictured below).  Steve and Dave ran this game at least three times during the show, which was great to see as there were quite a few eager participants, including some youngsters.  Will was kept busy running the stall with my willing, but largely ineffective assistance.

We did manage to do some shopping, which for me included picking up a pre-order from Peter Pig and another from Early War Miniatures.  I also managed to get in to the Rapid-Fire stall early on and snaffled some nice Ready-to-Roll vehicles and also visited Grubby for some Britannia vehicles and figures.

The 20mm haul includes 3 Pz IVF2s for Torch, a pair of CV-35s and a pair of Semovente-75s, plus 2 MkVIs for an Operation Hercules scenario.  There are two Sherman dozers to provide some engineering support to a US boat team for a D-day game, plus assorted US and British recce, including 2 Daimler ACs, a Humber AC, 2 Staghound ACs, a Humber light recce car, an M20 and an M, a Dodge command car and a comms jeep.  Then for late war, there are 2 Hetzers and an Sdkfz 140/1, plus some assorted guns including 2 MG tobruks and 2 tank turret tobruks, a redestal Pak 38, a 120mm mortar and a 37mm Flak, as well as a couple of crews for Airfix 75mm Pack Howitzers.  There are also some repaired vehicles from the £1 miscast EWM stand, including 3 Fiat trucks and 2 Fiat Breda AA portees, 2 Humber SCs and 2 Kubelwagens, plus a Dingo SC.  These weren't all from Vapa, but I've worked on them as a batch to get them ready for painting.  In the bags are some assorted Britannia British paratroopers and EWM British drivers and their new and most excellent Germans in winter smocks.  I only bought a couple of packs of the new Germans, but they are lovely and I can see me getting more as well as their new US infantry figures if they are anything like as good.  Crews are all Hat plastics from the US and British tank riders sets that I bought in Sheffield back in October.  Will very kindly gave me some US tank crewmen, and I need to find the last pair of these to crew the M20 and M8.  The Semoventes will need some crew too as they are modelled open hatched.

All in all, a good haul.  I'd missed getting to Warfare and Recon this year, so had saved up a bit of goodwill with the boss and so put that to good use by rounding out a few projects that I've had on the go for a while now.

Not sure when I'll get to paint these, as I've not picked up a brush since before Christmas.  Hopefully soon.  As ever, thanks for looking.