Saturday, 18 June 2011

Antenocitis Workshop 15mm D-Day Bunkers - Part Two

After spraying matt white primer the first base colours were Vallejo Light Grey on the concrete parts and Desert Yellow on the guns and ammunition locker doors. It was only when I came to paint the concrete roof that I realised this too was pre-drilled to allow camouflage loops to be added. Once again these were made from thin plastic rod (See left of picture). It was also at this point I realised that the gun mount cast into the open pit was in the wrong place. These pits were designed to have 360' traverse. With the gun fixed here its only got about 90' of traverse. It looks the part, but if AW ever re-tool they could do to put this right.
When dry, the grey painted bits were given a coat of Vallejo Black Wash and the guns were dipped in Vallejo Sepia Wash.
Again, once dry, the grey bits were drybrushed white to create the concrete finish. The Guns were drybrushed with a White/desert Yellow mix to highlight it.
The textured base was given a coat of "Anita's" Chocolate acrylic craft paint. The re-inforced steel hoops were painted red brown and when dry, given a wash of Vallejo Smoke Glaze to give a rusty appearance.
Once the base earth colour was dry this was given a coat of Vallejo Sepia wash.
The last painting step, drybrushing with Sand the earth base colour. The models were now left overnight to thoroughly dry, and then given two coats of spray varnish.
Finishing touches - PVA glue and Jarvis flock. My Stan Hollis figure is shown "Storming" the bunkers for scale.
Vk600e Open Pit with 50mm Gun
Enfilade Vk600sk Bunker. Note the rust runs on the concrete from flesh wash. Roof held on with double sided sticky tape until I source suitable artillery crew figures.
Juno Beach D-Day + One
The same view in march 2011 from the Vk600sk Enfilade bunker at St. Aubin-sur-Mer
Vk600e Open Pit on Utah Beach in March 2011. Note central position of gun to allow 360" traverse.

Conclusions:-
Pro's
  • Beautifully cast and well packed.
  • Very prompt Mail order service.
  • Only ones available in this scale!
Con's
  • Shame gun mount wasn't central.
  • The most widely photographed example of the enfilade bunker displays the attempt at camouflage in the cast concrete. This would have looked fantastic in model form (could be embossed into Green Stuff I guess).
Overall I'm really chuffed with these two models. My last two points are being really picky to be honest. Thoroughly recommended.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Antenocitis Workshop 15mm D-Day Bunkers - Part One


Since I returned from my trip to Normandy in March, I’ve wanted to recreate a little bit of what I saw in model form.

Initially I had in mind to recreate an entire strongpoint in 2/3mm scale, but as reality dawned I realized this was not really practical as it would be too large to store even at that scale.

Plan B saw me scouring the net in search of suitable bunker models in 15mm scale that I might be able to use on the wargames table.

Surprisingly there are very few authentic models, many being nothing more than stylized imaginary constructions.

Then I stumbled on the 15mm historical scenery range manufactured by Antenocitis Workshop.
This range included two different 50mm emplacements and a 88mm casemate of the types found in Normandy. They also make a radar post and a Westwall bunker amongst other pieces. Sadly they don’t include (Big Hint here!) my personal favourite bunker – the “Tobruk” which are so common along the D-Day coast you loose count.

Anyhow that was me convinced – I sent off for the two 50mm emplacements on Sunday and they arrived, well packaged, on Wednesday. Excellent service!
The first emplacement is the Vk600e, an open hexagonal concrete pit that was armed with a 50mm Kwk 39 or 40 pedestal mounted gun.

These emplacements are evident on just about every landing beach. The guns were obsolete antitank & tank guns from the 1940-42 period as mounted in Pzkfw III. They have a newly designed, spaced armour shield and 360’ field of fire. “Tobruks” aside, these were the most common weapon station on the beaches and were intended to target landing craft and infantry.
As they were somewhat exposed positions it was common practice to create a supporting frame from steel reinforcing bars and then covering the pit with a large camouflage net. To increase protection, there are documented examples of sandbag walls being placed between the pit and the sea.
Vk600e position at Merville - note the frame supporting cam net
The second emplacement was the Vk600sk as seen on Juno Beach in St. Aubin-sur-Mer. This was a Parapet style mounting, often built into the sea walls and was intended to provide enfilade fire up and down the beach while protected from naval bombardment by the 3.5metre concrete glacis and overhead protection facing the sea.
Note the zig-zag "camouflage"
Many of these bunkers (and others) had an attempt at camouflage built into the concrete by adding random planks to the inside of the shuttering before the liquid concrete was poured. This left a zig-zag pattern along the edge of the overhead protection which supposedly would break up the outline of the bunker. There is no record of how effective this may have been!
Vk = Verstarkfeldmassig = reinforced field position
Sk = Sanderkonstruktion = special design
The 50mm open pit cost £5.59 and consists of resin and white metal parts. The resin casting represents the pit with the pedestal mount cast into the floor. There is fine detail of the concrete shuttering and recessed ammunition lockers in the walls. There are eight holes in the upper wall to allow steel hoops to be represented for the attachment of camouflage netting. The white metal parts are for a four part kit of the 50mm gun and it's mounting. This is very well cast and perfectly captures the look of the real thing. Both resin and white metal parts require some cleaning up as you would expect, but this took only a couple of minutes.
The enclosed enfilade bunker comprises two resin parts and the same four part white metal kit for the 50mm gun and costs £6.50. Once again only minimum cleaning up was required. You'll see from the picture that this bunker does not have a floor - so to mount the gun you're going to have to mount the whole thing on some form of base.
I was lucky enough to have a couple of large Warbases mdf circular bases in my spares box. These were perfect, and the bunkers were fixed on with superglue. I marked the point where the pedestal base would go and drilled a 5mm hole through in anticipation of final assembly.
The two guns went together easily (again with superglue). There were two handwheels provided with each model but I am pretty certain there is only one required which goes in the hole cast into the pedestal base - see the photo reference I used below (taken on Utah Beach)
The vertical adjustment handwheel (on the right of the mount) is cast in place on the model, the handwheel to be added is the horizontal adjustment wheel shown bottom right.
Last job for now was to texture the bases with Vallejo pumice. It would not have been incorrect to mount the pit emplacement flush with ground level, but I thought it was a shame to hide all the wonderful shuttering detail on the sides and opted to just lightly cover the base.
 
The eagle eyed amongst you will spot that I have represented the steel loops for cam nets with very thin plastic rod glued into the provided holes with superglue.
 
These now need to dry overnight before they can be primed prior to painting etc.



Wednesday, 15 June 2011

15mm Forged in Battle SS Infantry

My Son bought me a pack of these figures for Xmas......and I've finally completed them!

The SS Infantry Rifle Platoon retails at £9 (and you can find them on eBay at this price P&P free) and for that you get 40 individual figures.
Based for BKC II
Each pack contains;-
1 x Officer
1 x 50mm Mortar Team
3 x NCO
3 x LMG Teams
28 x Infantrymen
All the figures are well sculpted and cast from pliable white metal which allows barrels to be straightened etc. The figures are all depicted wearing the Camo smock over their Field Grey uniform. The detail of which is very good. Some have the sleeves rolled up to reveal field grey tunic beneath. All have the laces depicted around the wearers neck.
Some have plain steel helmets, some camo covers and some have foliage attached - there are even one or two with side caps. Most figures wear jackboots but there are one or two in ankle boots and putees. All display the correct collection of webbing equipment (Bread bag, Canteen, Respirator case, Mess tin and Entrenching tool.
Weapons are over scale as you'd expect but represent an accurate platoon mix of 3 MGs, 3 SMGs for the NCOs and Rifles for the majority. There is even a two man team with the 50mm mortar. In my pack I think one MP40 was missing it's barrel due to a casting error, but otherwise all were very well cast.
CO Group at the front with Officer anf 50mm Mortar Team
There is a big selection of poses so you will have little trouble making multiple bases look different to one another.
The CO base with highly animated officer and 50mm Mortar!
All the figures were based on Warbases mdf (30x30mm for inf, HQs & MGs and 40x40mm for the CO group) and the bases textured with Vallejo pumice. Once undercoated, the base was painted earth brown and highlighted before the figures were painted with Vallejo acrylics. Finally when complete they figures were washed in Vallejo Sepia before two coats of varnish.
The NCO with missing SMG barrel - doesn't really detract from an excellent pose.
All in all I think these are some of the best 15mm WW2 figures on the market at the moment and they represent excellent value for money at 22.5p per figure. Thoroughly recommended.

I have the HMG and Mortar teams to match and will be painting these up over the coming weeks to complete my German BKC II Army.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

1/1200 Napoleonic Naval Battles

Time for a change and a chance to prove that my collective efforts don't entirely revolve around tanks!

I have to confess I'm one of those wargamers who tends to sneer when I hear the mention of the words "Games Workshop". Where really, when I take a close look in my workshop at all the GW products I actually own, I'm really just an old hypocrite!

One of my favourite sets of GW Historical rules is TRAFALGAR.
 I bought these on impulse having watched a demo game at the rules' launch at Penarth Crusade a couple of years ago.
French fleet
The book is very well produced (aren't they all) and includes all a novice to this period would require.

The book is broken down into;-
  1. The Rules
  2. Advanced rules
  3. The Fleets - ship nomenclature and descriptions
  4. Complete fleet list for the Battle of Trafalgar
  5. Brief history of Napoleonic Naval warfare - focused mainly on Trafalgar (surprise!)
  6. Six scenarios to play out
  7. Hobby guide on collecting and modelling ships (Painting, rigging etc)
  8. Campaign rules and 5 further scenarios
  9. Brief histories of some of the heroes of Trafalgar and the vessels they sailed
  10. Reference sheets - QRS, counters, templates etc.
British fleet
The rules are suitable for most of the popular scales and include advice on gaming with models from 1/3000 through to 1/100th scale.

Each basic game turn is broken down into ;-
  1. Weather phase (Wind direction etc)
  2. Sailing phase (Movement)
  3. Gunnery phase (yes, you guessed right)
  4. End Phase (anything else not already covered)
Each is explained in copious detail and illustrated with actual examples. It uses correct nautical terms (which is nice) and explains them clearly to the uninitiated like myself.

I've read elsewhere on the interweb that these rules are in many areas (particularly gunnery) oversimplified when compared to "serious" Napoleonic naval warfare rules.  This may be the case, but  as I'm not a serious wargamer, they seem just fine to me!

The QRS, counters and template sheets are available as pdf downloads on the GWH website to avoid having to butcher you lovely rule book. I'd advise you to laminate the counters and templates before you cut them out as they get quite a bit of handling during play.
As this was never going to be my main period of gaming, i.e. just a bit of fun, I purchased seven 1/1200 metal men-o'-war from Warrior Miniatures. Whilst these models will never be up to Rod Langton's standards, they paint up well (after a good deal of cleaning up with a file! Followed by assembly with superglue) They are extremely good value - the dearest comes in at only £2.50 and really look the part.
I haven't gone as far as to rig them with cotton, but the book gives a detailed step-by-step guide on how to do this. I have based them all on Warbases mdf which I textured with a bit of PVA before painting and gloss varnishing. The name plates were created in PowerPoint and printed off the computer before laminating and cutting them out.

You need the usual handfuls of D6 as well as a tape measure to play. The ship stats are recorded on cards (again - downloadable) which if you laminate you can use again and again to record the outcomes of battle with water based OHP pens (about £1 each from Rymans).
 

So far I've only played small actions with the seven vessels I own - how you'd get on with bigger fleets I don't know. But I have to say these are great fun and I'd thoroughly recommend them as a fun diversion from the usual historical periods.

All pictures are of my 1/1200th Vessels by Warrior Miniatures.

CWC Falklands War in 15mm

For a number of years I have had the idea that I would like to put on a demo game of one of the major infantry actions of the Falklands war - perhaps Goose Green or Mt. Longdon.

This was put on hold because I couldn't find suitable rules (I'd even had a go at writing my own) nor were there suitable figures.

About 3-4 years ago I came across the MJ Figures range of Falklands 15mm figures at a WMMS show. Now there was a source of suitable figures all I needed were some rules.

With the introduction of CWC this became a reality, so I quickly got my order into Shieldwall Games who distributed the MJ Figures range.

I eventually got my order after a bit of a wait and set to painting them up.
 To start with I ordered enough Paras/Marines to start making up a Battalion of four companies. Each company has three infantry bases (each representing one platoon) with an HQ base. As you can see I had enough figures for three companies at this figure ratio with a CO base (four figures), an FAO and a Sniper base.
The figures are very well sculpted. Capturing the character of the British Infantry of that time perfectly. Figures are mainly armed with SLRs and equipped with '58 Pattern Webbing. The range has a core number of sculpts, and these are then available with helmets or berets and with/without Bergans. The metal they are cast in is a little brittle so you had to be careful when straightening those rifle barrels.
 There are also a few GPMGs in the light role, Charley G's (Carl Gustav 84mm) and 66's (LAW 66mm).
 As I remember, the range also included the Scimitar Light Tank, 105mm Field gun and some Special Forces figures.

There were also Argentinian Troops to match. Though this range was slightly less structured. Every pack seemed to include at least one 3.5" Rocket launcher and overall the mix of poses/equipment was less useful. they did, however look the part in their parkas with goggles mounted on their helmets etc.
 I just bought myself one pack to be going on with, but I think there were also packs of dug-in troops, 105mm Light Guns and Panhard Armoured Cars available in the range.

Sadly, Shieldwall Games seemed to disappear. At the time, there were a lot of quite irate posts on TMP about undelivered orders etc.. and that seemed to be the end of my dream.

Geoff from QRF has been promising a Falklands range for a couple of years but nothing has appeared just yet and to be honest there weren't any other ranges of figures that fitted the bill.

Imagine my excitement when I stumbled on this website MJFIGURES.CO.UK the other day!

Yes they're back (well almost). I contacted Mark via the site and he hopes to have the range back in production by September 2011.......I can hardly wait.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

6mm Israeli Battle Group for the 1973 war

The remainder of the miniatures I bought in Bristol have made a substantial Battle Group suited to the 1973 war.
The Complete Battle Group
In total there is enough stuff to make a 4,800-point army for CWC.
The army consists of; -
•    CO                                                         (120pts)
•    HQ x 2                                                   (120pts)
•    FAO                                                       (30pts)
•    FAC                                                       (45pts)
•    Infantry Units x 10 (M20 upgrade)       (450pts)
•    Support Units x 3 (M106 107mm)        (300pts)
•    Support Units x 3 (M113 TOW)           (675pts)
•    Tank Units x 14 (M60 105mm)            (2030pts)
•    Air Defence Units x 2 (AA, M163)      (130pts)
•    Artillery Units x 3 (152-155mm)         (180pts)
•    Aircraft Units x 2 (F-4 Phantom)         (330pts)
•    Transport Units x 10 (M113)               (450pts)
                                                       Total = 4860pts

Infantry bases with shoulder launched A/T capability
Air Support from two F4 Phantoms
Infantry Transported in M113 APCs
The CO Base
An HQ Base
Armour in the form of M60's
Artillery support from a battery of three 155mm
AA Cover from two M163 Vulcan 20mm
The vehicles used by the Israeli army during this period have now largely disappeared from service, or at least have been so highly modified as to no longer resemble the original vehicle. However these vehicles are still in use in many Middle Eastern states - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Iran to name but four. They were also still in use with the US Marine Corps in the 1991 Gulf War.

For this reason I have kept markings to a minimum to allow the army to used flexibly .... how about a clash on the Iran/Iraq border?

Oh well.......on with the next project now. These like the other Israeli Army have to go to a new home.