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

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.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Shiprweck! Shapeways PLAN Part One


I received my Shapeways order of 1:3000 PLA(N) ships much faster than expected, but, I have been much busier than expected.  So here they are, sprued together in pairs.


As a reminder, my order was for the following:

1x Type 051B Luhai (Shenzhen)
1x Type 051C Luzhou (likely the Shenyang)
2x Type 052B Luyang (Guangzhou and Wuhan)
4x Type 054A Jiankai II (not sure, but probably 2 for East and 2 for South)

Two more views...

Ok, my overall impression is favorable.  The design is very, very good, and the detail is high, even in this 1:3000 scale.  I actually had to break out some statistics with actual ship lengths as these were all larger than I expected.... but of course, they are supposed to be.  The Type 054A are larger than other PLAN frigates, and the Type 051 B, C, and 052B are larger than the other PLAN destroyers.

On the downside... like everyone that has some of these warned, the texture is grainy.  Really, its a very fine gritty feel, like tough powder.  I get the impression that this is in fact dust of the casting being rubbed off.  I will have to do something to seal the surface before I paint them, as ships hulls shouldn't be pitted.

I prepped these for later painting.  I cut rectangles from assorted miniatures cardboard, glue on strips of magnet...

... then use my very cheap water based caulk from a caulk gun for the water texture.  I always grab a rogue piece of cardboard and practice first.  With my finger, I can create choppy waves, or gentle swells.  Sort of :)

Then the ships are pushed from the back to the front edge carefully, which should result in some wake forming along the hull.  I will say that these Shapeways didn't lie quite as flat as my metal Navwar ships did, but they all turned out fine.

Once this was dry (it dries fast... I would not recommend trying to base up more than 6-10 at a time), I took them out for some black spray coating.

Paint is a little wet in this picture.  I went for gentler waves for most of the bases.

That's it for now.  Once I get these finished, I will post pictures of the completed miniatures.  I have only one more addition to make to my PLAN forces.  I just made a large order to Navwar for my Cold War era Soviet fleet (yes, another project), to which I added a pack of 3 Song subs.  Why not.  Once those subs arrive, and they and all of these nice Shapeways miniatures are painted, the PLAN will be complete.

The dragon waits upon the waves.....

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Disposable Heroes: WWII North Africa Attack


Just this week, I broke out my 15mm Old Glory Italians and had a dust up with a friend's BF British.  Enter.... the Desert of Blood!  The Italians are holed up with stores in an underpopulated town... a rifle section makes camp in the adjoining date grove, while the rest of the infantry and Semovente 75s hunker down in a 360ยบ defensive posture for the night.

The nefarious British approach shortly before dawn, a partially motorized platoon, led by an M3 and 2 Shermans.

The British player uses green tokens to put some of the Italians "to sleep"... they will have to waste a turn waking up, and will wake up in Pinned status.
For the first three turns, it is dark, which greatly affects our firing, especially at range.  The British roar into the attack, trying to gain ground before the Italians are fully functioning...
The Italians get lucky early, pinning 2 British sections.  This Semovente crew never wakes up...

During the game, a British squad engages the Italian rifle section in the date grove, at close range.  The Italians hold out for 5 turns before being eliminated... though they were able to eliminate an entire Brit section before that, stalling the British advance drastically.
With sunrise, the battle turns deadly.  Italian and British infantry go down beneath withering fire.
Both remaining Semoventes are hit and immobilized... one is reduced to a single crewman.  They fight on, watching their repeated hits (like 5 or 6 total) bounce off the thick British armored hides.
The British rush forward in assault, in a last effort to take the town...

But the Italians drive off the attacking infantry.  At the same time, the British armor begins scouring Italian infantry positions away with hosing machinegun fire.  The Italians can not stand, and begin to slink away from their forward positions, looking for good ambush spots for the inevitable armored assault.
At this point, we called the game.  What was left of my Italian infantry was indeed trying to find places out of line of sight of the hideously lethal Lee and Shermans, places where I might attempt improvised close assaults if the tanks tried to claim the stores.  The British infantry had been nearly annihilated, but their armor was nearly impossible to defeat (I did get one penetrating track hit on the Lee, for no damage except 1 PH).  We called it a draw... a race between the tanks searching out my last infantry before reinforcements (hopefully German tanks with decent guns) showed up to save my macaroni.
This was a good game, a lot of fun, and a challenge for both of us... especially during those first three turns of darkness.  We'll try something like this again soon, I hope.  Ciao!