A blog about miniatures, wargaming, and the people driven to ruin by them....

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Shipwreck! Shapeways PLAN Part Two


A spell of bad weather here, and I found myself with a couple of hours to work on something.... I chose the Shapeways order of PLA(N) ships I based up not so long ago. 

That is, from Shapeways....

1x Type 051B Luhai (Shenzhen)
1x Type 051C Luzhou (Shenyang)
2x Type 052B Luyang (Guangzhou and Wuhan)
4x Type 054A Jiankai II

plus, I also had ordered 3x Song submarines from Navwar, so I painted them too!

I noticed in some photos that on the Songs you can see part of the red underbelly near the tail when they are surfaced.  It breaks the monotony of all black subs.  I will go back and check more classes of submarines, to see if any others display their underbelly colors at all.

Here are all of the new vessels escorting the Liaoning.  I have not painted on the PRC banners yet (though I have the id pieces affixed)... but that is not a big deal at the moment.

But where could they be headed?  Sadly, an all too familiar grouping of islands....

That wasn't too hard, choosing a dark blue felt sheet, and painting on the "majority" grouping of islands.  Its "about" 1" = 1 nm.  Since its on its own moveable piece of felt, I can arrange it on a table any way I like.

Admittedly.... feels odd to paint up the islands, now that I have done so.  We started gaming the current Pacific prior to things getting this tense, seemed an interesting theater for modern naval wargaming in the beginning.  Unfortunately, it seems to be getting more "interesting" as time goes on.  Here's to hoping that it stays a game.

Might see some of these in action on my table sometime soon.... hope these give the old hated USN a good surprise!

Thanks for viewing.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Disposable Heroes: Pacific Airstrip


Recently conned one of our club members into a game using Red Sun Red Death our Pacific supplement to Disposable Heroes and Coffin for Seven Brothers.  I set up the table as a Japanese airstrip, partially covered by bunkers.  The USMC attackers would be positioned in such a way as to represent their partial penetration of the Japanese defensive works.  Also, the airstrip required a very large, open, area.... something we don't frequently have in our games.  My opponent chose the forces, and went with the Japanese.

The Marines are all 28mm Brigade Games, the Japanese are mostly Battle Honors 25/28mm with a few Brigade Games mixed in.  The M4 Sherman is from Corgi, the Chi-Ha and Ha-Go are from Company B as are the 2 USMC 37mm ATGs, and I don't recall where the 1/48 Zero came from anymore.

Here is the opening scene for this battle....

The Marines began to surge onto the table, while the Japanese redeployed from their initial positions into more flexible defensive positions.  Japanese units in bunkers that had already been bypassed by the Marines left their fortifications to nibble at the flanks of the Americans.

On the American right, the struggle was particularly brutal, and most of the casualties would be caused in this general area.
Oh, I took a quick shot of another game going on that night, a Point Blank game, 1939 Poland, using an experimental double blind system.
Anyway, back to the jungle....

Casualties and failed morale tests kept things interesting on the Marine right.  Typical of the Pacific Theater, this included some melee.

The Japanese brought up their Chi-Ha to support their left (they also had a Ha-Go deployed in the aircrew shacks, which was putting down accurate 37mm and MG fire, whittling down a US HMG team throughout the game).  The Marine 37mm ATG on that side was pushed into position, and scored a hit, which failed to penetrate.
The overconfident Chi-Ha moved too close to the Marine infantry... who promptly initiated a close assault....

... and with the aid of a machete, a P-38 can opener, and some hand grenades, they dispatched the Chi-Ha spectacularly.

Wary of cross fire from a bunker-enclosed 70mm IG and a HMG team, the Marines were reluctant to cross that wide, flat, field.  You can see the Ha-Go blazing away at the advancing Marines.
The Marine M4 Sherman had hit the 70mm IG bunker several times, without a single penetrating hit, until finally...
... it scored a penetrating hit with a "10", resulting in the destruction of the bunker and all of its occupants.
With the failure on the Japanese left, and the way across the middle now open, it was clear that the Marines would be able to take the air strip.  We called the game at this point.

My Marines has suffered a fair number of casualties, as had the Japanese.  In retrospect, the Marines were a bit too strong for general play balance in this scenario.... not always a bad thing, but if I played this set up again, I would tone them down a little, or give the Japanese maybe one more squad of infantry.

Still, it was a fun game, and had tough choices for both sides.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Shipwreck! Red Storm Rising...


I had made a large purchase of 1/3000 NavWar Soviets, and then, added some more which hasn't arrived yet.  I may have bought a little too much....

I started basing some of them up, we will have slightly warmer weather soon, hoping to get some spray paint on them.

In the below image, you will see the Kuznetsov, the Admiral Gorshkov, the Moskva (the CVH), the Kirov, the Frunze, a Kara, the Admiral Chabanenko, 3x Slava, 2x Alligator, Boris Chilkin, Ivan Rogov, 3x Typhoons, 3x Sierras, 3x Victors, 4x Alphas, and 4x Kilos... all based except for the Boris and Ivan.

Wow.  Typhoons are big!  I think I will borrow an idea, and have one named Red October :)

The Kirov looks to be slightly miscast, the tops of the masts are not as distinct as on the Frunze, and the modified Kiev seems a little too rounded on the prow.  Still, I am very happy with this... no where else could I get such a fleet for such a price.  If from GHQ in 1/2400 for the same price I'd have 2 capital ships and 2 DDs.... from NavWar for the same price, I have "all" of them.

Still in the bags are 3x Udaloys, 3x Sovremennys, 8x Grishas, 4x Krivak IIs, 3x Pauk, 3x Tarantuls, and the Peter Gutshenko.  I have several items on order, including a Sverdlov, and more subs. 

Also shown in this image is a single pack of 3x Song subs for my PLA(N).  Finally, I bought a supertanker and 2x dry storage merchant ships.  The merchant ships are a must.... we really need some for the PLA(N) vs USN games, and will need them for our Cold War gaming too.

As far as the PLA(N)... I really need to talk to procurement about obtaining a couple of Slavas.  I don't care their real world problems, the Slava looks great on paper!

Almost all of the Soviet ships and subs are usable by the modern Russians, so I have a fleet from the late 70's through today to use against everyone, including my PLA(N) if it comes to that.

Hope to show off some paintjobs soon.  Thanks!


Saturday, November 30, 2013

AWI Lots #2 and WWII 1/48 planes


The following are all Old Glory, from their American War of Independence range except for the mixed frontiersmen & indian lot, which is from the Old Glory French and Indian War range.  The AWI stuff is sized like 28mm, the FIW stuff is slightly smaller, closer to 25mm.

First are 10x mounted Continental Dragoons, brown w/ green facing
Next are 10x Continental infantry in mixed hunting shirts
Next are 10x Continental in regulation blue, with red facing
For the British, there are 10x mounted Dragoons, red with dark blue facing (note that a couple of them had their sabres break off in the pack... I used curved floral wire to replace the missing blades)

There are also 16x British light infantry in mitre, red with yellow facing
Here are 16x Loyalist, in the same British light infantry uniform with mitre

Finally, a mixed lot of 8 frontiersmen (or militia) and 17 Indians.  The Indians come from several different OG packs so there are miniatures firing muskets, carrying muskets, and with war clubs or hatchets.  They could be useful for FIW, AWI, or even early 1800's Western Expansion (ala the Mountain Men).

Almost forgot, I hae 3 diecast/plastic 1/48th WWII planes.... a Zero, a Corsair (I think?), and a P-40.  These are shown with 28mm Brigade Games USMC miniatures for scale only.



Book Review: Reading List

OK, did some cleaning up on the book shelves this weekend.  I am not quite done with Cualaincourt just yet, but I did organize some of the books I hope to read in the next several months.  They include (but are not limited to) those shown here...

I have several Napoleonics books, one WWII book (73 North, naval convoy into the USSR), four books on the middle east, a trio of books on the Falklands, and, believe it or not, 2 (two!) books unrelated to military history.  One is from Berendt (non-fiction) and the other is from Simmons (fiction).

Despite further recommendations for new Falklands books, I believe that No Picnic, The Fight for the Malvinas, and Storming the Falklands will complete my reading on this conflict.  I will probably read them in that order, as I do know something about Tony Banks' story.... it seems like a reasonable way to end my reading.  I will however still have plenty of books to re-read as needed.

Crusade I have already started reading a bit on... there are some certainly unflattering comments about Norman Swartzkopf there in, but I have head that before.

Charlie Wilson's War and Ghost Wars are the two sides of a missed opportunity.  I hope to get something new from Ghost Wars... on a personal note, that is the FIRST book my wife has ever bought for me at a yard sale, so I better like it... or else!

Anyway, we'll see how quickly I get through these.  I do still read fiction casually, but I have noticed a lack of patience for it.... I have not reviewed three books (military fiction, and science fiction) I have recently read as none of them were noteworthy in any way.



Thursday, November 28, 2013

Napoleonics: Fuentes de Onoro


Our original historical miniatures gaming group, formed about 12 years ago in York, PA, was based on me gaming 15mm Napoleonics with one person, and me gaming 28mm and 20mm WWII with one other person (Keith Stine of Iron Ivan Games one of my two partners).  Over the years the club grew (and shrunk and grew again), incorporating many different gaming genres and periods.  While I stuck with WWII gaming for these many years, developing the Disposable Heroes and Coffin for Seven Brothers system with Keith, at some point as my gaming time dwindled I drifted out of Napoleonics.

Well, recently I have been making some attempt to get back into it.  I love the spectacle of a Napoleonics battlefield (well, the miniatures wargaming version anyway, the reality would have been no more pleasant than a modern battlefield), I like the movement, the colors... the pageantry if you will. 

In July, I gamed the Battle of Wavre with the author of these free Age of Eagles scenarios  (amongst other things), a long time gaming friend and one of the few people left in our group with a serious interest in this era.  Just this week, we decided to meet again to game the battle of Fuentes de Onoro (as described below).  I hope to make gaming Napoleonics a habit again, fitting it in with my Cold War era land war, WWII, and modern naval gaming.  I have a very good start on my late war Prussians (painted by me!), and a decent start (almost entirely bought already painted... some great, some not so great) on a Anglo-Portuguese army for the Peninsula.  Another gamer has a nicely painted batch of Spanish, hope to see them soon too!

Why the long prelude?  One, I like to talk too much :)  Two, you will be seeing more posts about 15mm Napoleonics... consider yourself warned.

Fuentes de Onoro....  this is a nice battle to game.  Its close.  The British and Portuguese (with a very small batch of Spanish) are in a defensive position, and are overall very good troops, but they are faced with a strong French force.  We used a scenario available from the "power is my mistress" on the Age of Eagles yahoo group.

The British positions at the start of the game (Crauford is in the back, along the ridge line).  I do need to improve my British mix, so not everything is what it should be, but the Ports are smoking great!
The French under Massena.... d'Erlon's corps specifically.... starts across from the town of Fuentes de Onoro.  As they move down from their hill position (what would be a flanking attack, not the main attack which will arrive later), and aggressive Crauford goes forward in an attempt to bloody the nose of the French advance.

This he does in spectacular fashion, not only damaging both French brigades, but smashing them and sending them running back up their hill.  On the breakthrough attacks, a French battery still in limber is overrun, but the other British unit is halted by a large French formation.

The French counterattack punishes the British for their aggression, sending Drummond running.
Meanwhile, on the French left (British right), a small band of Spanish arrives to "support" the allied effort.  The French cavalry under Montbrun advances, hoping to bypass the British and Portuguese flank.

Eventually, the main thrust of the French attack begins to arrive... a mighty body of fighting strength...

The Anglo-Portuguese advance somewhat, taking up a thin defensive position.  Back on the British left, the French cavalry (Fouornier and Walther) have destroyed Drummond, but are being attacked by Salde's cavalry (von Arentschild remains to counter a potential breakthrough by Montbrun).

A critical, truly critical, problem for Massena is that the Old Guard cavalry under Lepic refused to obey orders from anyone other than Bessieres.  Historically, Bessieres was inspecting ditches (or latrines), but really, it was likely more to do with Marshal infighting than sanitation needs.  In the scenario, the French commander (Massena) needed to pass a roll to be able to use those OG cavalry.  He was unable to do so the entire game.
In a spectacular feat of arms, Salde was able to obliterate (killing or capturing them all) the first French cavalry unit that had over run Drummond, withstood an attack from the other French cavalry unit, recover and then smash that one also, sending it running across the board.  The British and Portuguese infantry poured from the town itself to assist the beleaguered Crauford, pushing back the French infantry with telling fire.

This all occurred while the OG cavalry polished their saddle horns and looked on.  The French right was not just mauled, it was almost entirely destroyed, for the loss of one British brigade (Drummond). 

We unfortunately had to call the game at this point (7 turns in, I think) as we ran out of store time (we talked about re-fighting this same battle somewhere with more time... we needed another 2 hours to really complete it).  Our agreement was that if the French had been successful on their right, it would have been very difficult (maybe impossible) for the British and Portuguese to fend off the main French attack.  If the French right had been held, then the game would have continued with some balance... either side being able to win.  However, with the severe damage inflicted on d'Erlon, the British would be able to shift their strength on their left into the center, bolstering their defense.

I had already began to "back up" my forces in the center, seeing that if I could gain a little time, I would be able to in fact redirect my left flank into the center.  I felt VERY good about how the rest of the battle would have proceeded.  My French opponent agreed, this would make if very hard for the French to still win... but, we both agreed, it would not have been impossible.  He could have still won the battle, it just would be harder.

We called it early, with the battle so far a very impressive Anglo-Portuguese victory.

The most valuable British unit:  the Old Guard cavalry.  There was a 3-4 turn window in the game where, if the OG cavalry could have moved off their asses, the British left would have been absolutely desperate.  The French did nothing wrong, the British were a little lucky in places... if those OG cavalry had hit Crauford (or, later, Salde) I suddenly would have had 2-3 French cavalry units running amok behind my defenses.  Not good!

This was a great, tense, exciting game, looking forward to another one soon.


Chalfant "Fuentes" Conley

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Book Review: Green-Eyed Boys (Mount Longdon)


I have been busy, so am a bit late on this review,

Green-Eyed Boys, 3 Para and the Battle for Mount Longdon, by Christian Jennings and Adrian Weale.  This is another book about events during the Falklands War.  It starts by describing the culture of the Paras (which, honestly, seems mighty familiar in some ways to the culture of any "hard core" military organization).  "Green-Eyed Boy" refers to a soldier who really gets into the violent side of elite soldiering... these are soldiers who sometimes are a pain in the ass during peace time, but are absolutely crucial during times of war.

The book is well written, and includes so many personal stories that ring true, I'd say its a good book to have.  But, this is also one of the books broaching the subject of wartime atrocities committed by British troops.  Ear taking, execution of prisoners.  I wasn't there, but it appears to me that enough men who were can say that at least some of this actually happened.  It always seems like an understatement to say "these things happen in war".... the statement is not an excuse, but an observation of what war can bring out of humans (the best and the worst, sometimes in the same person).

Overall, though, the story of the taking of Mount Longdon is a reiteration of every large land battle in the Falklands:  an element of overconfidence in the British commander, a brutal nearly won fight, and ultimate British victory at high cost.

I've often wondered where the story of "the Args will run after a few rounds" came from.  This book seems to place that with Col Jones (2 Para) at Goose Green.... though I am not certain that he didn't get that opinion elsewhere.  For whatever the cause, in each of the three large land battles I have read about (Goose Green, Mount Longdon, Tumbledown), the British commanders seemed to think the Argentine forces would run away after a few shots.  Of course, despite the incompetence displayed by Argentine commanders, it was proved again and again that the Argentine troops would fight very hard from defensive positions.  At Longdon (as on Tumbledown and elsewhere), positions had to be taken by British bayonets. 

When you have to take ground with bayonets, that is a clear indication that your opponent is not interested in running.

3 Para, with great courage and spirit, did take Longdon... it strikes me again that the men who had to do the taking did so with great courage, but they also deserved to have commanders more willing to be cautious, and conservative with their men's lives (of course, the narrow window of operation was a legitimate concern for the British.... forcing them to push for victory in as short a period of time as possible).

One thing this book does, is provide some negative opinion on some British commanders.  It also suggests that the British troops had trouble transitioning from peace time to war time.  In some cases, they were very lucky that the Argentine forces were unable (unwilling) to capitalize on those instances... those delays.

Another thing that strikes home in this book is just how young some of the British were too.  I have seen many (many) accounts on the Falklands describing how young the Argentine conscripts were.  At Mount Longdon, 3 Para had 17 and 18 year olds fighting and being killed.  Young men on both sides.

In summation, this is a great book.  The assault is detailed enough for any "combat junkie".... but it is also critical enough, and explicit enough in its description of the cost, to remind the reader that this was anything but a "fun time".  Brutal.  Absolutely brutal.

I'd hate to leave the review on a complete depressing note, so here is a charming anecdote from LCpl Lee Fisher and LCpl Trussler.  While "supposedly" forming recce during the long march, they entertained themselves with the fantasy that they were Germans, marching away from Stalingrad

"...our heroes used to be the German Paras in the war and this was like the retreat from Stalingrad we were on; we weren't actually in the Falklands, we were in the Soviet Union as part of the Sixth Panzer Army with guns on our shoulders and we were having a hell of a time.  It was like, 'Shut up and behave, you two!'  Trying to sing German songs as we marched, 'cause a lot of the time we were just tabbing [marching], we weren't soldiering, it was just; 'Go!'  But me and Trus [Trussler], we were having a great time in von Paulus's army with the T-34s on our tail."

While I have no real idea of what kind of soldiers Fisher and Trussler were, I do know that on the long, boring expanses of what most soldiering really is.... sometimes you need some guys with senses of humor, old enough to support you in a fight, but young enough to still laugh, joke, and make the hours go by a little easier.  Even if it means pretending you are retreating from Stalingrad, instead of marching into the assault on Mount Longdon.

Green=Eyed Boys, it won't sit well with every reader, but its another good book to have on your shelf.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

AWI: Continentals and British 25mm 28mm


The following are Old Glory 25mm (which look and bulk as 28mm to me... they are definitely not true 25mm) miniatures for the American War of Independence, or Revolutionary War.  This is one of the better OG ranges in my opinion.  I consider these particular units to be colorful additions to an army of regulars.  All of these are painted well, and based nicely.

Here are 20 miniatures, including command, painted in grey with green facings, inspired by plates from Mollo for the 6th Virginia and 3rd New York (my camera is not so nice, and tends to mute the colors, unfortunately).
Here are 10 Marines in green, and 6 Colonial Light Infantry, in brown with mitre caps, painted along the lines of Congress' Own / 2nd Canadian, also from Mollo.
Here are the 3rd NY together with the Marines in "garrison"....

These units really add some color to a Continental army, some distinction amidst your sea of blue.

Here is a unit of 15 Scots Light Infantry with command, blue facing, wearing bonnets with plumes, suitable for the 42nd light.
To go with them, a unit of 16 Scottish Grenadiers with command, blue facing, in bearskin shakoes.  These are particularly nice miniatures in this OG range.

To finish the lot of "British", here is a unit of 10 Hessian Jagers, with winter trousers.