Tuesday, 31 May 2011

6mm Cold War Commander

After my first introduction to Wargaming (WRG Ancients) I sought out rules and figures to satisfy my real historical interest – WW2.

Leicester Micro Models produced the first rules vehicles & figures I bought back in the early 1970’s. These were little more than lead lumps!

From here I was drawn towards the Cold War “what if” type of battle and I ultimately collected 3 massive 1/300 US NATO, UK NATO & WARPAC armies to play with using firstly the WRG Modern AFV rules and then TTG’s Challenger by Bruce Rea-Taylor.

After a less than enjoyable experience taking part in the UK Championship heats in Bath back in the mid 1980’s (The first time I encountered “Rule Book Lawyers”) my interests moved on to other periods.

My much loved 6mm armies languished in a box almost forgotten until along came Cold War Commander.
 

I’d already got into Blitzkrieg Commander playing late WW2 in 1/200th scale and knowing I had all these 6mm moderns just lying in a box ready to go made me think I should lash out and treat myself to the 1946+ version of these innovative rules

Since then, I’ve never looked back. I based the 6mm moderns on to Warbases mdf and repainted them where necessary and away I went.

Another period I dabbled with in the old WRG Modern AFV days was the Arab-Israeli conflicts of 1967-73. I’d enjoyed this period immensely, so when I saw a box of unloved & unpainted GHQ/H&R Israeli AFVs and figures at the recent Bristol Wargames Tabletop Sale I couldn’t resist.

Here’s the first instalment a 3,000-point Israeli Battle Group for the 1967 war. I've now painted them up to a high standard with Vallejo Acrylics, based them on mdf with fine sand and sealed them with Army Painter Ant-Shine varnish. Sadly I've no room for these little guys so they're going to be sold.
CWC 1967 Israeli Battle Group (3,000-points)

The army consists of; -
•    CO                                                                 (120pts)
•    HQ x 2                                                           (120pts)
•    FAO                                                               (30pts)
•    FAC                                                               (45pts)
•    Infantry Units x 5 (M20 upgrade)                 (225pts)
•    Infantry Unit x 1                                            (30pts)
•    Support Units x 3 (Mortar 120mm)              (210pts)
•    Support Units x 2 (RR, 105mm, 4x4)           (50pts)
•    Tank Units x 5 (M48 Magach 105mm)         (625pts)
•    Tank Units x 6 (Centurion Sho’t)                  (870pts)
•    Air Defence Units x 2 (AA, TCM20, M3)    (90pts)
•    Artillery Units x 2 (152-155mm)                  (120pts)
•    Aircraft Units x 2 (A-4 Skyhawk)                 (130pts)
•    Transport Units x 7 (M3 ½ Track)                (175pts)
                                                                 Total = 2,940pts
Below are some close ups.
M48's (H&R) and Super Sherman HQ base (GHQ)
Two Artillery Bases with FAO base (GHQ)
Two A4 Skyhawks (H&R) with FAC base (GHQ)
Three 120mm Mortar bases with M3 Half Track transport + two M3 mounted AA guns (all GHQ)
Infantry units with their M3 Half-Track transports (GHQ)
Six Centurions (GHQ)

These guys have now been sold......but there's a 1973 Israeli army on the bench that'll be up for sale in a week or so. Keep checking back.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Battlefront's 15mm Sherman Crab

At the same time I ordered my Stan Hollis figures, I ordered the Battlefront Sherman Crab. Together with my Churchill AVRE this will form the core of my "Funnies" unit for beach assaults.
The kit has many parts (for once!) and takes a little longer to assemble that the norm. I think this is one of Battlefront's earlier releases as there was rather a lot of file work needed to get the metal track units to fit the resin hull. The only resin parts were the hull and turret, the hull casting being modified to suit the Crab role with the addition of mounts for the power take off booms and the blast shield across the front of the glacis plate as well as a locker on the left hand side for flares etc.
Everything else is supplied in white metal. There were the two booms to support the rotating flail drum, the two bins (used to dribble powdered chalk to mark mine-free clear paths) and extended light masts. Also there is the optional commander figure, the turret hatch and .50" MG. A particularly nice touch is the inclusion of a length of fine chain from which to cut the flails!
I assembled the model using Gel Type Super Glue as this helps to fill the inevitable gaps. The left and right booms cannot be fitted the wrong way round so this simplified the assembly, which is good given that there are never any instructions provided! The bins fit to the hull sides at the rear, sloping downwards. There is a sculpted hole in each bin, which should face downwards and to the rear (to let the powdered chalk dribble out!) so watch out. The extended lights on their stalks face rearwards (Some pics on the web make them appear to point out sideways). If you look at the sculpting they represent shrouded lights to be followed by other vehicles, so should point directly to the rear (don't forget to pick the lens out in red when you paint!).

The chain that's supplied, cuts easily with side cutters and provided 7 pieces each approx. 15mm long. Each of these was secured to the flail drum with a blob of Gel Super Glue - spaced evenly around the drum - arranged to dangle downwards. Whilst hopelessly out of scale for the "rivet counters" out there, I think they look very effective.
The finished model was given the usual coat of Russian Green, followed by Sepia Wash and then an overall dry brush of lightened Russian Green. The chains were simply painted Black and the tracks (which had a nice metal cleated pattern rather than the more usually represented rubber pads) finished in Dark Grey. The decals came from my QRF supply.
I'm very pleased with the end result. If you shop around you can get this model from as little as £7.65 (rrp £8.50) which isn't actually too bad compared to the other 15mm manufacturers for once.

Conclusions.
Pro's
  • Good likeness of finished vehicle
  • Nice details (real chain etc)
  • Fair value for money

Con's
  • Really needed some instructions for the less well informed
  • Not particularly good fit of parts

Now all I need is a Churchill Crocodile and a few DD Shermans.............

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Latest 15mm Armour Additions - King Tiger

Whilst I've been off I've managed to paint up the most recent acquisitions from the Table Sale.
The King Tiger model was one of Battlefront's earliest releases. This was still in the old box packaging and represents a Zimmeritt coated vehicle with Henschel Turret. The detail on the resin parts was softer than I've seen on some more recent releases, but was adequate and recognisable.

The hull and turret are in cream resin and the track units, gun barrel, hatches, spare track and figure are all white metal. The model went together pretty well (the track units needed a good drop of superglue to fill the gaps - I used Gel type super glue). As ever I undercoated the assembled vehicle in white, then sprayed dark yellow followed by tank brown and tank green - all from the Vallejo Air range.
Based on a Warbases mdf base and with some left over Dragon decals, the finished vehicle is quite imposing when placed alongside a Sherman.
It looks right so I guess it is reasonably accurate. You've probably already guessed that I put more sway on whether a models looks right than I do if "it's 2 millimetres too narrow when compared to the manufacturers plans" etc....

I'm quite pleased especially as it only cost me £3 second hand.

Lincombe Barn Table Sale (8th May 2011)

I've been making a pilgrimage for the last couple of years to the Bristol Wargamers annual Reveille event held each November at the Lincombe Barn community centre in Downend, Bristol.

The guys also hold a Table Sale event at the same location each May. This is a well supported event with both traders and individuals hiring out the tables. For those with just one or two items to sell, the club runs a bring-and-buy stall.

This year (for the first time ever!) Colette, my wife, came with me to "help" me choose what to buy.

Neither of us was disappointed!

I came away with;-
  • 6 x 15mm FoW Sherman Tanks
  • 1 x 15mm Fow King Tiger
  • 2 x 15mm FoW Stug IIIs
  • 3 x 15mm Russian Mortar Teams (Peter Pig)
  • 8 x 15mm Pirates (Peter Pig)
  • 50 x 15mm WW2 US Command Figures (Command Decision)
  • a box with enough GHQ 1/285th AFVs & Infantry to form two Israeli Armies for Cold War Commander (One 1967 & One 1973)
  • PBI WW2 Rules (Peter Pig)
  • Festung Europa source book (FoW)
  • Crusader Ancients Rules (Crusader Publishing)
  • Pieces of Eight Pirates rules (Peter Pig)
  • and a book about Pegasus Bridge
All this little lot for less than £55!

Anyone who doesn't attend these types of event you don't know what you're missing. Get down to one near you now!

CSM Stan Hollis VC

During our recent tour of the D-Day landing beaches, my friends and I were introduced to a character who has since become one of my all time heroes - CSM Stan Hollis VC.
This incredible man was a real life Captain Hurricane (for those of you old enough to remember Valiant Comics!) who won the only VC to be awarded for actions on D-Day itself.
 He won the medal for two separate acts of immense bravery -
  • Firstly single handily assaulting an MG Bunker (Part of the Mont Fleury Battery) armed with just his Sten Gun and grenades
  • Then, single handily rescuing several men cut off by enemy fire in the village of Crepon.
CSM Hollis Assaulting the Mont Fleury MG Bunker
You can read this guy's inspiring life story in D-Day Hero: CSM Stan Hollis VC by Mike Morgan - I thoroughly recommend it.

When I returned I wanted to bring some elements of D-Day into my gaming and was pleasantly surprised to find that Battlefront produced a "Hero" Figure of Stan Hollis for their Flames of War gaming system.

I'm no fan of FoW but liked the idea of representing CSM Hollis in miniature so I ordered the set from Firestorm Games for the princely sum of £1.04.
You get two figures + a small plastic base. One figure is just a supporting infantryman armed with a No.4 Rifle and spike bayonet. The other figure represents Stan himself armed with a Mk2 Sten and a 36 grenade.
Both figures are in battle order webbing and appear to have MkIII (Turtle) Helmets. Nicely sculpted, the Hollis figure even has an (over-scaled!) representation of a VC between his legs.

Note VC between right hand figure's legs?
 All in all a nice little distraction from the usual. The finished figures look great - whether I ever use them on a table? Well that's another question.......

Sunday, 22 May 2011

What else have I been up to?

Well having just been in hospital for a few days I now have a new knee joint and plenty of spare time to get on with some painting and blogging!

Another Forged in Battle item I acquired from Firestorm Games in Cardiff, was their Tiger 1.  As with all their range, the hull is cast in one piece from cream resin with integral base.
The detail is exquisite making this a pleasure to paint......and that's all there is to do to the hull as there's no assembly required whatsoever.
The turret is cast in white metal as is the separate 88mm gun, commander's hatch and the optional commander figure with integral MG42. These need a little cleaning up (just trimming mould tags really) and then assembly with superglue. The weight of the completed turret gives the whole vehicle a bit of heft not too dissimilar to a Battlefront effort. The tank markings came from left over decal sheets from Dragon 1/144 German armour kits. These, whilst slightly small, look the part and are far better than my hand painted efforts!
All things considered a fine little model. At just £6.75 (with Firestorm's discount) this presents very good value for money I feel. If you buy a platoon of three together they work out even cheaper.

Also as I move towards collecting sufficient equipment to game D-Day actions I need to start acquiring some "Funnies" for beach clearance.
The first of these is the Battlefront Churchill AVRE complete with Petard mortar. This I guess is one of their earlier efforts that is still in production? The fit of parts needed quite a bit of attention and left some big gaps to fill.
As with many of their vehicles the two track units are cast in white metal while the hull and turret are grey resin. The gun, hatches and optional commander half figure are also in metal. The track to hull fit was particularly poor leaving a noticeable gap between the upper exposed sections of track and the hull.
All this aside, I am more than happy with the finished article. Yes it could have had fascine mountings etc. but it looks the part and will fit in nicely with my other armour. The allied stars were bought from QRF who do packs of two sheets for £2/pack - a bargain! I know that most British vehicles didn't display many if any allied stars, but I think they help lift what can be a rather bland plain green model into something a little more eye catching. I call it artistic licence and the "Rivet Counters" will just have to get used to it!

Now where did I put that Sherman Crab.......

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Forged in Battle (FiB) Kubelwagon

I bought these little fellas from Firestorm Games in Cardiff last month. I intended using one to form the centre piece on an HQ base for BKCII and another as an Artillery OP or FAC base. The other two would just be added to my growing German motor pool!

The models come cast in one piece (as do all FiB models) in cream resin. The casting is crisp but brittle (I only noticed after painting that every model had at least one headlight missing). In addition there are three sprues of 12 white metal figures to populate the vehicles.
The vehicles required no cleaning up and the figures only minimal clipping of sprue runs etc. Then undercoat with Army Painter matt white. The figures have been hot melt glued to a strip of wood to ease handling as they are not based.
Whilst not a fantastic shot, you can see the detail is good!
The models were mounted two to a strip, to ease handling, and sprayed Vallejo Dark Yellow
Once dry, camouflage is sprayed on with Vallejo Panzer Brown and Panzer Green
Next shadow is added by painting the underside, where the vehicle is moulded to the base, with matt black (The paint is still wet in the picture!) 
The tyres were picked out in Vallejo Dark Grey and then the hood and folded windscreen cover were painted mid green
The base was painted earth brown then the whole model sprayed with Vallejo Sepia wash and once dry a dry brush of Vallejo Buff paint. (Wash is still wet in this picture - dries to a matt finish)
While these dried I painted the twelve little crew figures (4 x drivers + 8 x passengers)
The figures are nicely sculpted and cast without feet or bases in the seated position ready to add to your open topped vehicles (they are the same ones that came with the FiB Steyr 1.5 Tonne Field Cars). This was where a problem arose. There just isn't room in the little Kubel for two figures to sit side-by-side without major filing/surgery!

Having gone to the trouble of painting and varnishing them as individuals, I wasn't going to do this, so my vehicles have at most two crew members.
The finished articles with spare crew figures, finished with some left over Dragon Cross decals and static grass.
So there you have them finished. I personally love them. They are good value for money at only £8.50 for four (£7.65 at Firestorm Games with their 10% off) that' s less than £2.13 each (or £1.91 ea. from Firestorm)!

I base all my vehicles so FiB's "Battle Ready System' of cast on bases is fine with me. Their range is now growing dramatically to include, at last, Allied vehicles as well. Well worth checking out as a high quality, reasonably priced alternative to Battlefront FoW.

Conclusions.

Pro's
  • No assembly required
  • Good detail &  quality of casting
  • Ready based (good if you like bases!)
  • Very good value for money.

Con's
  • Can't utilise all the crew figures
  • Ready based (bad if you don't like bases!)
  • Shame about the damaged headlights* 
 *Andy (FiB's MD) tells me they will be looking into this matter as they take QC very seriously, so hopefully this issue will be eradicated in time.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Zvezda 1/100 T-26 M Soviet Light Tank - Part Two

Well I seem to remember saying how long can this take to make........quite a while it would appear! With one thing and another (Normandy trips etc) I haven't picked a paint brush up in nearly a month. However I'm now back in the groove and to prove it here's the build report on the Zvezda T26 in 15mm scale.
The first job to do was undercoating the five parts on the sprue using Army Painter white primer. Then they were given two coats of Vallejo Russian Green with the G35 Airbrush. I'm just trying out Vallejo's Airbrush cleaning solution for the first time and have found it perfect for the job. I decided to do as much painting as possible whilst the parts were still on the sprue to ease handling.
I think I said there were five parts earlier. Sharp-eyed ones amongst you will have spotted the sixth - a large flag. This is for use in Zvezda's board wargame.
Once dry the sprue was sprayed with Vallejo Sepia wash to form the shadows.
Again, once dry, the whole sprue was dry-brushed with a slightly lightened mix of Russian Green to pick out the highlights. Afterwards the tracks were painted Dark Grey.
The tracks were washed with Vallejo Sepia wash and once that had dried, dry-brushed with light grey to pick out the track teeth etc. As you can see the detail is very fine and crisply moulded with no flash whatsoever.
Finally it was time to separate the parts from the sprue ready for assembly. The sprue attachment points were by-and-large sensibly located and easily cleaned up - with the possible exception of the one attaching the upper hull glacis plate which needs care when cutting (side cutters recommended to avoid cutting into the glacis plate inadvertently). So there we are, just five parts to assemble! This reminds me of the kits you used to get in cereal packets when I was a kid. I cleaned a few of the contact points up before applying polystyrene cement - though the model can be snap-fitted together without glue if desired. I had to open up the holes in the lower hull a little, but this is more likely to be to accommodate the layer or primer on the pins than an error in kit design.
All went together smoothly.I just needed to clamp the front glacis to the lower hull until the glue went off as the right corner was ever so slightly warped.
Once dry, the areas where the model had been separated from the sprue were touched up and the exhaust given a coat of Rust coloured paint followed by Vallejo Smoke translucent paint.
I'm intending to use the T26 as an HQ base for BKC II so I tried it for size on a Warbases mdf 50mmx50mm base with three Plastic Soldier Company figeures. This will be my next project when the tank is finished. (See below)
To finish the model it was lightly dry-brushed with sand paint to pick up the edge highlights and some markings (taken from the box art) painted on the turret. The figures are PSC plastics and the ruined building Mainly Military.
You can see from this shot how critical it is to clip the front glacis from the sprue without damaging the edge. If you were a little over zealous with a knife you'd not get a clean join between the upper and lower hull parts.
Finished as an HQ base for BKC II
 Well that's it finished. A nice little project for a couple of evenings. What's the verdict?
Pro's
  • Simple and very quick to build
  • Well sculpted and moulded flash free
  • Goes together very well

Con's 
  • Whilst good value compared to say a Battlefront product, £2.75 for what you actually end up with might seem a little steep?
  • If you wanted a commander figure you'd need to carry out some major surgery.
  • At the price charged it might have been nice to include some decals.
Overall though, I'm quite pleased with the end product and am looking forward to the promised additions to the range ( I think some are already a reality!).