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Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Zvezda 1/100 Ferdinand and Sturmtiger

I bought these two (and a few others besides) early in 2018 with a view to building them up to review and add to my collection. I started this piece of work in May, but then forgot about them until last Sunday when I found them whilst was looking for something else!
 As ever the box art gives you an overview of assembly, which looked to be straight forward enough.
The parts come on two sprues moulded in a hard grey plastic. Parts are easily clipped from the sprues though (as ever) it is hard to do so without leaving tell-tale marks on the track surfaces.
These five parts are required to build up the chassis. Beware there are right and left hand track units....check before you glue!
 The chassis once it was assembled.
Next stage is to assemble the fighting compartment and attach this to the upper hull. There is a separate front armoured plate to fit with locator pins so you get it the correct way up. The fighting compartment has some nice detail including the interlocking armour joints at each corner of the superstructure.
Finally attach the completed upper hull and fighting compartment to the chassis and attach the 88mm gun/mantlet and the model is finished.
Very quick to assemble and a lovely little model of an early (pre-bow machine gun) Ferdinand. I guess this would be best suited to Kursk era battles, though the MG and a STUG III type cuploa would be easy enough to add for later battles (i.e. Italy) turning it into an Elefant!
 The other model was the Sturmtiger Heavy Assault Mortar/Rocket Launcher.
This time the box artwork just showed the finished tank as the assembly instructions were on a printed sheet inside the box.
 They obviously thought it too complex to rely on an exploded diagram on the box!
 Once again all the parts are on two sprues, moulded in light grey polystyrene.
Starting again with the chassis, the kit uses what seems to be one of Zvezda's rather over complex means of attachment. I guess this is to make the model truly snap-fit, but does seem just a little over-engineered.
 Once assembled it looks like this, ready for the track units to be attached.
 Also there is a front armour plate at the bow to be fitted along with the tracks.
 Once again, I have a tendency to mark the tracks when removing them from the sprues, no matter how hard I try not to.
The body of the hull comes in one piece. Nicely detailed with interlocking armour plates engraved. All that needs to be done is to add the main gun etc. and the winch for spare ammo.
 With care the back piece can be held in place whilst the front is glued.
 This then enables the gun to elevate freely.
There is a large gun mount surround to add afterwards, and a mantlet, before the barrel is fixed in place. There is a finely moulded bow MG mount (take care with the barrel!) and the aforementioned winch to attach. The rear plate has the exhausts already moulded in place, but there is a part of the air ducting to add to the engine plates.
 Finally attach the completed hull and rear plate to the chassis to complete the model.
Another really nice little kit. Simple enough to build and gives a nice rendition of a rather rare Panzer. The late type steel rimmed wheels of the track unit, might prove to be suitable to produce a late model Tiger 1 when combined with another kit?
To finish these off I gave them a spray coat of Vallejo Air Desert Yellow over a coat of white primer. Then followed Vallejo Air German Green over spray, and in the case of the Sturmtiger, Vallejo Air German Brown too.

The Sturmtiger was given desert yellow flecks to the green and brown areas to create an "Ambush" finish and then both models were weathered with Vallejo Sepia wash and high-lighted with Vallejo Iraqi Sand. They were both based on sand covered mdf bases (as all my AFVs are) and markings added from my ever diminishing supply of surplus Dragon decals.

Excellent little models, fairly straight forward to assemble and enough detail to lead to a good finish. These are such good value at approximately £3 you cannot go wrong. What's not to like...?

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Perry Travel Battle – First Game (Solo)

Introduction: Whilst on holiday I gave the game a run through, solo of course as there was no way I could persuade my wife to partake!

Below is the turn-by-turn account of what happened. As well as the outcomes, I’ve tried to record my obvious errors & learnings along the way.

Games Set-Up: Firstly, both sides diced to see which board edge would face them. The board edges are numbered 1-4 so you roll 1D6 per board to decide which edged faces you. If you score 5 or 6 it's your choice!
Numbers are moulded on the underside

The armies (named for this article; Red & Blue) were then broken down into three brigades each. For simplicity, I opted to go with those shown in the rule book.

Red diced and won the 1st pick for deployment, which meant that Blue had the first move. Without thinking, I placed Red’s right-hand brigade artillery unit in a position where they couldn’t fire (Doh!).

Blue Move 1: All three brigades began their advance across the board.

Red Move 1: I moved up the Red infantry as they are safe from contact yet (no ranged fire for infantry, just hand-to-hand) and I’ll put them in square formation next move (takes one full move to do so).

The Red left-hand artillery fired at a Blue target 5 squares away. They rolled a 6 (=hit) but followed up with a 3 for effect (= carry on regardless)

Blue Move 2: Their left-hand artillery moved over to put them in a better position to fire next time.

The Cavalry began a charge in the centre. The infantry moved, but this may have been an error – perhaps they should have moved into square?

Red Move 2: The left-hand cavalry charged home (Light cav. Vs. Guards!) forcing the Blue Brigadier to fall back 2 squares. The centre infantry units split themselves between the built-up area and moving into square formation. This left their Red Brigadier separated and would mean they cannot move next turn. The right-hand infantry units spread themselves out ready for action.

The artillery unit in the centre opened fire. Requiring a 3-6 to hit it scored 3. However, a damage effect score of only 2 meant the target could carry on regardless.

The right-hand artillery suffered a similar result.

The left-hand cavalry charge met with more success. 2 Red bases vs.  Blue base resulted in a score of 9 vs.6 – Blue loss and 5 vs. 1 another Blue loss!

Blue Move 3: The left-hand artillery unit needed >1 to hit. They rolled a 3 hitting the target but then rolled a 2 = carry on regardless. The right-hand artillery unit also tried a shot, needing a 5 or 6 to hit. Scoring only 3 this was a miss.

The Blue heavy cavalry charge reached the Red Guard Infantry in square formation. The first Blue unit rolled 1D6 vs. 2D6 for the Red Guards (with a re-roll option). Blue scored 4 whilst Red initially scored 2 (1+1) but on a re-roll scored 5 (+4). This meant a difference of +1 in the Red Guards favour. This pushed the cavalry base back one square.

The next Blue heavy cavalry unit rolled 4 vs. 10 for the Red Infantry (2D6 again, 4+6 rolled). This was a difference of >3. A Red win and the losing base being removed from play.

Finally, the two Blue light cavalry units charged one Red light cavalry unit. This gave Blue 2D6 rolling 7 (5+2) vs. 1D6 for Red who only rolled a 1. This was a Blue win that was >3 so the Red base was removed from play.

Red Move 3: Two cavalry units (1 heavy and 1 light) engaged Blue infantry in square formation. This gave Red and Blue 2D6 each. Red rolled 6 (4+2) and Blue 3 (2+1), a difference of 3 meaning a Red win and the Blue base being removed from play.

Then there was a cavalry vs. artillery hand-to-hand engagement. The Red cavalry having 2D6 and the Blue artillery only 1D6. The Red cavalry scored 6 (4+2) and the Blue artillery only 2, a difference of >3 meaning a Red win and the Blue base being removed from play.

Finally, the right-hand Red artillery tried a shot but missed, only scoring 1.

Blue Move 4: Once again, the Blue heavy cavalry in the centre charged the Red Guard Infantry in square formation. This time the Blue Cavalry used their re-roll ability after an initial score of 1, resulting in a final score of only 2! The Red guards countered with 2D6 rolling 8 (5+3), a difference of 6 meaning a Red win and the Blue base being removed from play.

Next, two Blue light cavalry units engaged a Red infantry unit in square formation. Blue rolled 10 (6+4) vs. Red rolling 6 (5+1). The difference of 4 meaning a rare Blue win and the Red base being removed from play.

A Blue guard vs. Red guard infantry class resulted in Blue scoring 4 and Red scoring 6. The difference of 2 meaning the Blue unit was driven back to the edge of the board. Once their it took a rally test scoring 2 on 1D6 = fail! The Blue unit being removed from play.

Finally, the remaining Blue artillery tried a shot but missed, only scoring 1.

Red Move 4: Two Red heavy cavalry units + one light cavalry unit charged Blue’s infantry in square formation. The resulting score for the Red cavalry was 9 (4+2+3) vs. a score of 5 for the Blue infantry (3+2). The difference of 4 meaning another Red win and the Blue base being removed from play. This destroyed the first Blue Brigade. One down two to go?

The Red guards in square formation engaged the Blue light cavalry unit and with a difference between scores of 5 - 10 (5+5) vs. a score of 5 - destroyed them.

Three Red infantry units (1 guard, 2 standard infantry) make a devastating attack on a lone Blue Infantry unit, scoring 17 (6+6+5) vs. only 2. A difference of 15! As ever, the Blue base being removed from play.

Blue Move 5: Whilst the remaining cavalry in the centre withdrew, but the right-hand infantry units made one more attack. The first Blue infantry unit scored 3 vs. the Red infantry scoring 6! Another Red win and the Blue base being removed from play. The other Blue unit fared little better with a score of 5 vs. a Red guard infantry score of 7 (5+2). The difference this time being 2 resulted in the Blue unit withdrawing to the board edge and taking a rally test. This was passed with a score of 6, but with the remains of the brigade scattered to the four winds, the Blue force capitulated and handed victory to the Reds.

Conclusion: Now I’ve read a great deal on line about TravelBattle – some very good, some quite critical. Personally, I really enjoyed.

I think the rules are easy to learn, thought provoking and quick in use. I think the fundamental point for reviewers of this product is to remember IT IS A GAME – NOT AN HISTORICAL SIMULATION

Once you’ve got that in mind, you can judge it objectively for what it is….a beautifully produced war game that is loosely based in the horse and musket period.

I love it and would recommend it most strongly to anyone else who may be interested.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Bovington Tank Museum

Whilst on holiday, I had the opportunity to visit once again the Tank Museum at Bovington.
The Story of the Tank Hall - viewed from the excellent restaurant
It's probably 5 years since I last went, and a lot had changed in the meantime.
There are a few exhibits outside still - like this Infantry Tank MkI that had seen use as a range target :-(
Whilst the core collection remains the same, the biggest single change was to opening of the restoration centre where all the spare exhibits (together with those runners that routinely entertain the crowds through the summer months) are stored under cover.
The Tank Restoration Centre - viewed from the gallery
You cannot walk around this area due to EH&S considerations, but there is a viewing gallery that allows you to take a look at whet the museum has in its collection, that may appear at a later date.
A Panther Recce vehicle after an IED strike
Another new exhibition covered the UK's involvement in the Afghanistan conflict with some nice exhibits (and very informative videos) of some of the AFVs used. I particularly liked the idea that the viking has a hand throttle fitted so the driver doesn't have to keep his feet on the accelerator (and risk injury) if the vehicle were to be driven over an IED or mine.
A MkV tank that actually fought at Amiens
The WW1 gallery has had a re-vamp for the centenary commemorations and looked very good. There is  great deal in here to educate younger visitors which has to be commended.
Experimental "Plastic" armoured AFV
There was also another new gallery - the Tank Factory. This explained something about the evolution of modern afvs and how they are manufactured.
Beautiful example of the revolutionary Swedish S Tank
Then of course the "Piece de Resistance" the Tiger Collection!
All five beasts together

REME School's Tiger II
Five members of the this AFV family all under one roof. The museums own Tiger II (Porche Turret), Sturmtiger and Tiger I together with the REME School's Tiger II (Henschel turret) and the Elephant/Ferdinand on loan from the Aberdeen Proving Ground Museum in the USA. Marvellous!
The world famous Tiger 131 - captured in Tunisia and now restored to full running condition
Altogether a fantastic day out (I spent 7 hours there and could have stayed longer!). Your ticket (£13) allows unlimited entry for 12 months so if you're living nearby you could go everyday!!!

The best time to go is in the summer months when every day there is a driving exhibition at lunchtime, or better still on one of the special events (i.e. Tankfest)

Below are a few random pictures that may be of interest to modellers or wargamers.
Panther - completed post-war for evaluation by British Army
A very nice example of a Sherman Firefly
T72 with its wading snorkel erected

Close up for the Team Yankee players showing the black rubber side skirts!
The mighty Jagdpanther - also completed post-war for evaluation purposes

The Ram Kangeroo - a vehicle that has always interested me. This example was once a range target!
Very few books seem to show the interior of the vehicle
So I've added these pictures in case they are of interest

Whether it would have had bench seats fitted I am unsure