Welcome to my blog!

News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. I hope you find it helpful and entertaining.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Lanchester 6x4 Armoured Car

Another fill in project to work down my pile of lead has been the 15mm QRF version of the Lanchester armoured car. These served in Malaya in 1942 and will give some much needed firepower for my Brits who had no tanks. Some bright spark in the War Office thought Malaya was unsuitable for tanks - shame no one told the Japanese!

The Lanchester had a six-by-four chassis and was similar in shape to the Rolls-Royce Armoured Car. The unusual rear part of the vehicle was used for the storage of equipment. Above the fighting compartment a two-man turret was mounted, with .5 inch (12.7 mm) and .303 inch (7.7 mm) Vickers machine guns in a dual mount. An additional .303 Vickers was located in front of the fighting compartment.

I usually dread this type of model as they are rarely designed well. However, on this model there is at least a decent lug to support the wheels that otherwise would a be a big problem for a wargame model. The cupola is a poor fit, a fair bit of flash, a couple of missing parts in one pack, but otherwise this is a decent model.

 

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Basing for Blucher

I have been impressed with my first few games of Blucher and I think it will be my rule set of choice for grand tactical games with 15mm figures. I'll stick with Black Powder for 28mm tactical games.

Learning the game with the cards is OK, but I am a figure gamer, so that can only be a stopgap. Now, as the rule book shows, you can just use your current basing. However, the angles and centre point on the card is useful as is the strip at the back to record casualties. My 15mm collection is based for PoW and so most infantry are on 30mm x 15mm, double depth for cavalry and 40mm depth for guns.

The solution is to turn to possibly my favourite wargame company, Warbases. I drew a design for a sabot base that combines the card and allows my figures to be inserted. In no time at all, at a reasonable cost, Martin delivers a very impressive result. There are two sizes, one for infantry and cavalry and other for guns. I allowed a few extra mm for oversized base width, probably should have done same for depth.

First some Ottomans. These regulars are fine, but I may have to hack about with the irregulars who are on much wider PoW bases.

No such problem for the British, including the deeper artillery bases.

And finally some Russian infantry and Austrian Uhlans.

Very pleased with these. Now to find time for some games!

 

Sunday, 15 March 2015

More Open Combat

I have played a few more games with the innovative skirmish rules 'Open Combat', published by Second Thunder Games.

These rules work for any army in a pre-gunpowder setting, including fantasy. You can produce your own warband list using the simple point system. Each ability level; speed, attack, defence etc and special rules all cost a point each. So you can create different ability levels within the same warband. The combat mechanisms are very straightforward and a game can be done and dusted in an hour.

In my trial game I created a Roman command using the characters from Simon Scarrow's novels, fighting Gauls. This time, just to test how open the system is, I dusted down my fantasy figures. So Macro and Cato were tasked with investigating a ruined temple and came up against an Orc warband led by the two handed sword wielding Carguk.

No problem at all for our heroes. Dispatched Carguk and his not so merry men without too much trouble. So, step up a bigger challenge. Carguk returns with his pal Shuzug, a minator lookalike, can't even remember where I picked this model up from.

The plan was to pick off the orcs and isolate the monster. Sadly, not even our heroes were up for this challenge. Shuzug despatched Macro with his two-handed axe, one hand for him, and the Roman's decided he could keep the temple!

The rules stood up to the test. So much so that I have signed up for the Kickstarter hard copy of the rules. It's already subscribed, so I am obviously not alone in enjoying this system.

 

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Orkney Islands

I was up in the Orkney Islands this week, I haven't been up for a few years. One of my favourite Scottish island groups with a rich history. Picts then Vikings, Orkney was part of Norway until 1468 when it was effectively ceded to Scotland as part of Queen Margaret's dowry.

This is unsurprisingly a maritime story that includes the naval base of Scapa Flow, home to the fleet in both world wars. I picked up James Miller's book while up there, an an excellent and well illustrated read on the bumpy flight back.

A famous WW2 incident was the sinking of the battleship Royal Oak by U47 commanded by Gunther Prien. The loss of life is commemorated in the cathedral.

There is a small museum in Kirkwall with a few military items of interest. A new museum focusing on Scapa Flow will open soon at Lyness. Stromness also has a fine maritime museum.

And finally the Bishops and Earls palace.

Well worth a visit.

 

Monday, 9 March 2015

More filling in projects

Not much time for painting at present, but I have managed a couple of filling in projects.

I picked up this Empress Spanish Civil War command group at York. They will be replacement standard bearers for some of my VBCW figures who will be transported to Spain for our demo game at Carronade in May. No Pasaran!

My Bolt Action Germans are mostly Early to Mid War and are a bit under gunned against late war opponents. There must be more paras and fallschirmjagers on the tabletop than there ever where in one to one scale!

I picked up this '28mm' die cast model on eBay and have given it a new paint job. This is the first time I have used the Plastic Soldier dirty brown weathering spray I also picked up at York. Not sure about this, I think I prefer the control a paint brush gives me, but it will do for now.

 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

DBA revisited

I am sucker for a new rule set. My bookshelves creak with rules that at best I have read and played only once or twice. One reason why I think PDF versions are a very good idea!

I played the original version of DBA when it first came out and enjoyed it. Moved on to DBM, which I played for several years before getting fed up with many aspects of the mechanisms. Played a couple of games of DBMM, but largely the same faults as DBM, although I accept they do give a decent 'feel' for an ancients battle.

I blame the Historical Wargames podcast for my purchase of the latest version of DBA. They did a very good interview with an enthusiastic group of USA gamers who helped develop this edition. It's written in the same basic style as the original, although Phil Barker's writing style has been improved by some external input. No eye candy here, just the rules and all the army lists you will ever need.

My first game today reminded me what a good short game this is. Just 12 elements a side, quick set up and easy to remember factors. I played two games, Han Chinese v Later Greek Hoplites and it ended one each. I doubt if I will be a regular player, but when I fancy a quick evening game, I can see me returning to this set of rules again.

In many ways it feels more like a game of chess, which leads me to mention a very nice gift I was given on a trip to the Western Isles this week. A replica of the famous Isle of Harris chess set. The originals were carved from Walrus ivory and whale teeth. Looks great in my study and I will enjoy the odd game of chess with them.

 

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Yeoman Soldier, Prussian Farmer

Something a bit different in terms of World War Two memoirs.

Richard Harvey served in the 1st East Riding Yeomandry, a Yorkshire regiment based in Hull. The regiment was part of the British Expeditionary Force that went to France in 1940. They were equipped with Vickers Mark VI light tanks and armoured scout carriers. Harvey was a Bren gunner and wireless operator in the troop commander's carrier.

His unit was part of the fighting withdrawal to Dunkirk, but he was wounded and captured. He ended up in Prussia near the old Teutonic Knights castle at Marienburg.

They were billeted in a farm workers bothy and worked on a German farm. Getting out of the Bothy wasn't that difficult and they did it many times, but without an escape committee they had no access to the necessary paperwork and other resources needed to escape across Germany. He spent three years at the farm and was then sent to Stalag XXB, before ending up in a sugar factory. As the Russian's advanced they were evacuated with the civilians and nearly got killed by allied ground attack aircraft. Eventually they were liberated by the advancing American units, and sent back to Hull.

A short, but interesting read that inspired me to finish another short paint job. This time a couple of German 105mm howitzers for my early war German FoW army.