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sci fi

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Air War C21 Projects for March



Well, this month has turned out to be a bit of a crash landing, in terms of the MiG Alley project and my plans to complete it by now. :O(

The workload issue and my week away in Cornwall wiped that one out, although the USAF planes are still on the workbench. In the meantime, I've been thinking ahead and have decided that I'm going to scale things back in March, in an attempt to finish at least one smaller project in the limited time I have available, now that we're in the run up to the final GCSE exams.

So, while I'll be chipping away at MiG Alley, the Chain of Command 5th DCLI project will be bumped along to the Easter holidays, during which I'll base up and undercoat the figures. The project for March will, therefore, be Air War C21 but from two different directions. To start with, I'm going to paint up a small handful of aircraft for the Alto Cenepa War, which is something I've been planning to do for a long time.


This was a short lived conflict between Peru and Ecuador in 1995, over a remote stretch of the Amazonian jungle on the border between the two countries. This involved some intensive air activity but only a couple of actual engagements, although there's plenty of potential for 'what if's? There's also a really interesting mix of aircraft, which I've already got from Tumbling Dice in 1/600th scale. I might even have a look at trying out Hind Commander for this as well.


The second half of the project will be the ultramodern Baltic Air Policing mission, which I've decided to call Flashpoint Baltic. This will kick off once the O8 1/600th aircraft from Fighting 15's arrive in the post, although this looks like it might be a while yet. This might even be turned into a series of linked scenarios or at least a club game, although I'll need to get more experience with the rules before I go that far.  It may also be an opportunity to try out the CY6 Jet Age rules.

Whether or not I actually get round to this before the end of term will have to be seen???

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Air War C21 Flashpoint Baltic [1]


This has been spooling up over the last week or so, with the media reporting on the Norwegians restructuring their air defence deployments and the Baltic Air Policing mission being on high alert for yet more Russian overflights. 

There are some absolutely outstanding photos of recent NATO Italian and Polish joint operations in the Baltic States over at superb The Aviationist weblog, which are well worth a closer look.I don't know how this chap gets hold of such stunning material but I am a very impressed:


In the meantime, I have some 1/600th scale Oddzial Ozmy aircraft in the post from the ever reliable Fighting 15's, which will be more than sufficient to equip the Russians, half a dozen NATO policing flights and the various Scandinavian air force contingents.

...watch this air space.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Tank Tracks to Rangoon


I was surpised but very pleased to find this title available in digital format yesterday. I read this many, many years ago when I was doing some seasonal work in the Isle of Wight, in between university and a proper job. This book has been a complete inspiration over the years and is the basis of my continued  interest in the late war campaign in Burma.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Sherman Tank Support


I have a couple of the old Corgi 1/48th scale diecast Churchill tanks to use as armour support for the 28mm British but they're MkIV's, with the square side doors, so not quite right for NW Europe. I'm not too fussy but the 5th DCLI only had occasional back up with Churchill's of the RTR, so it limits their deployment a bit, assuming I'm going for the historical option.

Here's my previous 20mm effort using Armourfast kits
The other alternative is to model the Sherman III's of the 8th Armoured Brigade, either the 4/7th Royal Dragoon Guards, 13/18th Lancers or the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, all of which had a close connection with the 5th DCLI at various stages right up to the end of the war. The only problem is that, assuming I stick with my usual 28mm plus 1/48th scale formula, no manufacturer has yet produced one for wargaming purposes.

Nice kit..it even has a cast metal lower hull!

Luckily, I have a couple of Tamiya 1/48th scale M4A2's that will do the job nicely, although they'll need to be assembled from kit form. I bought them for half price when Modelzone closed down last year and intended to use them with my 28mm US platoon. They got the Corgi M4A3's instead, so the Tamiya kits went back to the loft for a rainy day.

This is the 1/35th scaledecal set

 I'll need some insignia decals for the 8th Armoured Brigade, which Dom's Decals do in 15mm but not in 1/56th scale, which is a bit of a pain. I may well send Dom an email to ask if he'd scale the relevant sheet up to 28mm. There was a Bronco Decals set available a few years ago, which would have been perfect but it's long out of print and impossible to track down. 

I'm sure I can work something out though, with a bit of ingenuity an a steady paintbrush, or even a sheet of decal transfer paper and a printer?

Monday, 23 February 2015

Anti Tank Support


It was back to work today, so wargaming has been relegated to the waiting list as I struggle to catch up with marking, controlled assessments and all the other paperwork that needs to be tackled at this time of the academic year. I doubt that I'll be getting much done in the next few weeks as a result.

 

Nonetheless, I've decided to add some anti-tank support to the CoC late war British platoon, with a resin 6pdr AT gun and crew from the Crusader Minatures range. I have the old version of this in white metal but it's pretty flimsy, so the new resin version will be a much better alternative, especially as I can now fill out the five crew figures required by the rules.


Sunday, 22 February 2015

FoG Venta Belgarum


I just thought I'd give you a heads up for this Fields of Glory competition that the FoG enthusiasts at my local club have organised for next weekend. It's on both Saturday and Sunday, with a £15 entry fee, so worth a punt if FoG floats your boat. If not, there will be some club demo and/or participation games to have a look at and maybe even join in.

The Badger Farm Community Centre is easy to find, being located next to the Sainsburys store, which is just up the road from Junction 11 of the M3 which has a very handy Park and Ride bus station next to the turn off for Winchester.

There should be plenty of parking in the Sainsbury's car park either way, so if you are local or on the way past then why not drop in to say hello. For more information bung an email to Alan at the address above and I'm sure he'll be able to answer any questions that you might have about the competition and how to get involved.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Chain of Command Forward Planning



I've spent the afternoon rummaging through the leadpile in an attempt to organise a possible project for next month, which will be a attempt to paint up a platoon sized force for Chain of Command. I already have an entire 28mm Japanese mid-war platoon plus support assembled but, as it's an enormous painting task more suited to the summer holidays, I thought I'd try something a little less daunting in the meantime. 

I began by thinking back to the Rapid Fire! project that I almost completed a few years ago in 20mm, which was eventually sold off via ebay for want of any opponents at the club. It was based around the 5th Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, which went all the way through NW Europe from Normandy to Holland, across the Westwall and into Germany. The figures ended up looking pretty good but it never got beyond the infantry and a squadron of M4A2's of the Sherwood Foresters.


A platoon of the 5th DCLI would be a great option for Chain of Command, so I dug out both the 15mm and 28mm figures to do just that. In 15mm I have loads of Peter Pig figures that I accumulated for IABSM and which will one day be used for a company sized force, again based around the 5th DCLI. As you can, see I have more than enough to equip a platoon plus lashing of support options in 15mm, including engineers, flamethrower teams, HMG teams, 6pdr AT guns and even a couple of roadblocks.


However, I'm still drawn to 28mm as I won't have to paint up the opposition as well, with at least a couple of chaps at the club having late war Germans in 28mm. I also have the figures I need for a platoon from the Crusader Miniatures range, which were originally destined for a long abandoned Rate of Fire project. In painting terms this wouldn't be much more than the 15mm option but I'd still have to add a tank or two, which would add to the overall cost.


Finally, I have the dozen or so extra figures needed to turn my existing Bolt Action US late war platoon into a full strength equivalent for Chain of Command, plus a couple of extra support units. This would be by far the easiest option and I could even stretch to a couple of packs of additional figures in order to add another five man MMG or mortar team. I already have three tanks to back up the platoon and can also add in a couple M3 half tracks, so there are enough support options to make it a decent force.


I still haven't decided which way to go with this but will make up my mind over the next week or so. The 15mm option is attractive but I'm not sure how the rules would need to be ammended in terms of ground scale and measurements. It also means that I'd have to commit to painting up a matching force of late war Volksgrenadiers, which is a bit too much for me to handle at the moment.

It looks like 28mm is the best way to go, so that is what I'll be planning out in the run up to next month....it may not happen but at least I will have ironed out some of the wrinkles.


Friday, 20 February 2015

Zaggy Games


My old home town is pretty obscure and out of the way, apart from the Ginsters pasty factory, which is it's only claim to fame. Ooh arr. However, it does have a games shop believe it or not, located at the bottom of town in a sideroom of the newsagents.

It's called Zaggy Games, being next to Zaggy Lane, which seems as good a reason as any. It's the yellow building on the left hand side of the street in the photo above. There's a decent range of role-playing and board games, some of the ubiquitous 4OK and even some Bolt Action stuff for sale.


I bought some more models for X-Wing including a TiE advanced, an A-Wing and a Y-Wing, to round off my collection. I also had a nice chat with the owner who used to work in the RPG industry for WotC, hence the existence of his shop in the middle of nowhere.

If you're passing through, drop in and have a look.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Air War C21 Flashpoint Baltic?


The news today included a topical article on the potential for a Russian move against Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia at some point in the not too distant future. This set me off on one of the usual 'what if' wanderings, with AirWar C21 in mind.

I've been looking for an interesting modern or ultra-modern setting for this for ages but haven't had much luck, aside from the Alto Cenepa war and the Israeli -Syrian clash over the Bekaa valley. So, the current tension in the Baltic States ticks lots of boxes.


There is at present a NATO Baltic Air Policing mission which operates from bases in Poland, Estonia and Lithuania, with NATO states providing air cover on a rotational basis. The Italian air force is currently on duty with four Eurofighter Typhoons.


The potential for a small number but a wide variety of fighter types, drawn from a range of NATO participants, is one really cool aspect. There are the expected F16's flown by the Dutch, Polish, Belgians and Portuguese amongst others, but lots of other interesting variations as well.

The Italians and British use the aforementioned Eurofighter Typhoon, while the Czechs deploy the Saab Gripen and the Poles the MiG29 Fulcrum. On top of that, the Canadians have CF-18 Hornets while the French have Rafales and Mirage 2000's. The US have also deployed F15's from the UK, as and when required.


As you can see, there's lots of variety here and an escalation of the current situation could easily draw in several of the NATO contingents against a Russian threat to the region, not to mention the Scandinavians with their Falcons and Gripen.

It wouldn't be difficult to work out a series of linked scenarios for this, perhaps initiated by an interception 'gone wrong', which might make a 'not at all predetermined' Russian response much less questionable, at least from Mr Putin's point of view.

It wouldn't be the first time.


Anyway, as far as wargaming goes, the obvious choice would be 1/600 scale using the Oddzial Osmy range of modern aircraft, which includes all of the above and the Su27 for the Russians. I would use Tumbling Dice planes but there are some important missing types, so the O8 approach would seem to be the better option.

Again, this is all pie in the sky but I think it could be a lot of fun!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Sword and the Sketchbook


I spotted a paperback copy of this in Trago Mills yesterday for £5 so snapped it up. It's fully illustrated with contemporary sketches by the likes of Melton Prior and covers most of the colonial campaigns of the Victorian era, from the first Afghan War to the Boer War. 

The sketches are very atmospheric and full of detail, with a splash of stiff upper lipped derring-do, as you'd expect. I've seen many of them before in other books but it's great to have them all here in one comprehensive volume. It also cost a third of the cover price, so well worth it.


It reminds me that I really should finish the last stages of my Dervish army for PITS and paint up an opposing British patrol for them to ambush, somewhere deep in the Sudan. This project has been mothballed for far too long, so it really should be dusted off and finished this year.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Panzer Campaigns


I've been playing through the free introductory version of this old school turn based game today, after I decided to try it out on the Kindle. It's pretty simple in terms of graphics and gameplay but I've enjoyed it a lot, as it definitely has the feel of a boardgame crossed with an old fashioned PC strategy game. I've had a bad defeat, a narrow draw and a minor victory so far, so I'm going in the right direction! If I get any better I may well buy one of the follow-up games in the series?

A Duel of Aces but Algernon Pulls it Off!


We're down in Cornwall at my dad's for a few days. He's a keen collector of second hand things and found this old hardback in a local charity shop, so bought it for me as he thought it might be interesting. This has indeed been the case and I've set off on yet another 'what if?' train of thought!


It's really well illustrated with photographs and has a text in both German and English. There's loads of photos that I haven't seen before and some fascinating information on the early years of the German operations over the Western, Eastern and Turkish fronts.

It got me thinking of both Duel of Aces and the now defunct Algernon Pulls it off! rules, with the various articles for them that have appeared in TFL Specials over the years. I suppose I could try both of them out in either 1/300 or 1/600, especially as Tumbling Dice have produced some new early war aircraft recently.


Why not 1/44th? I guess it's the obvious choice, given the excellent Wings of Glory and/or Wings of War pre-painted planes that are available, but cost wise it makes less sense than the smaller scales. I like the models and the fact that they're ready to use out of the box but they're not cheap!

The same goes for 1/72nd but for reasons of time consumption in kit construction, even though I already have a decent early war collection of Eindeckers, DH2' s and Nieuport 11's. These have been used several times for early war club games of our house rules Knights of the Sky.

It's all just a thought at the moment but it is the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Fokker Scourge later this year, so a little aerial jousting over the trenches would be very in keeping with the times. I also really fancy the Algenon Flies East option, which includes half a dozen or so scenarios for the Russian Civil War.

http://toofatlardies.co.uk/Algy.html

http://freespace.virgin.net/candc.russell/pageDuelOfAces.htm

Tally ho!


Friday, 13 February 2015

Silent Death


I put an Ebay offer in on a set of the old Silent Death space fighter combat rules today and ended up with the rules and unpunched counters for a tenner, which isn't too bad. I have a stash of the EM4 plastic space fighters that were originally designed for the Silent Death box set, so I can replace the cardboard counters with proper models for no extra expense.

I've read some good things about the rules and, even thought they're very old I'm hoping that they'll be fun and get the boys back into gaming, especially as they'll be able to paint up their own fighter units using the plastic models. The EM4 fighters were originally bought for the kids at Colours a couple of years ago, so it's a good result all round.

Bag the MiG [7]


It's been very slow progress with the Bag the MiG project this week but I did get the GW Nuln Oil wash done a couple of days ago, which is better than nothing. The planes now need a light drybrush of silver to brighten them up a bit before I undercoat the non-metallic bits in matt white. I'll probably take the USAF planes to Cornwall over half term to get this done along with the yellow, red and blue colours for the canopies, ID stripes and fuselage bands. I may even get the black-lining and decals done too?

F86 Sabre v MiG 15


The holiday reading list continues to grow with this Osprey Duel title added to the digital pile. I thought I already had it in the old-fashioned print version but a check of the bookshelves revealed that I didn't, so I downloaded a copy instead. The Duel series is a bit of a gimmick but actually they're pretty good, this one included, with plenty of factual detail and some excellent artwork.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

CY6 Jet Age


A chap at the club mentioned these rules the other day and I thought I'd take a second look. I've played the WW2 version of CY6 a few times and, although it was impressive in terms of depth and detail, I always thought it lacked the tactical aspect and randomness that you get with BTH2. I also can't stand charts and tables, let alone loads of ratio calculations! It's buckets of dice and card based turn mechanisms for me..mumble, mumble, bah humbug.

Anyway, I've sent off for a copy of the Jet Age rules to see what they're like and to give them a try out once I've got the Korean War planes sorted. I think they'd be good for a couple of planes a side rather than massed dogfights over the Yalu, so will be focussing on just that. I've always fancied doing a Cold War Goes Hot style game or the Falklands War (which is featured as a mini-campaign in the rulebook), so these might just be the rules to go for..

...and if not, I can always fall back on AirWar:C21!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Wargames Bloggers Quarterly Vol 1 Issue 3


The latest edition of Wargame Bloggers Quarterly is now out and very good it is too. I was pleased to see that it doesn't focus solely on 28mm eye candy, although what there is is well worth looking at especially the WW1 Verdun game featured on the front cover. The accompanying article by Sidney Roundwood is also very well written in a fictional narrative style, which really adds to the atmosphere of the pictures. I'm thinking of submitting an article on painting 1/285th scale aircraft, as this would fit well with the remit of the journal and would give me an excuse to do some more painting. Good stuff!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Bag the MiG [6]


A very busy Sunday again with rugby training for both of the younger kids this morning and cleaning the salt-encrusted spray off the new car this afternoon, following a close encounter with a gritting lorry at half past one last night, on the way home from a dinner party. I did, however, get the Foundry Spearpoint drybrushing done on the USAF aircraft this afternoon, which doesn't sound too impressive but will move things a bit closer to the final stretch. The next stage will be an overall wash in GW Nuln Oil, followed by a white basecoat on all the bits that aren't going to be metallic includng the canopies, the fuselage bands and the wingtip tanks

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Bag The MiG [5]

Bag The MiG hex and MiG Alley square

B29..no problem
It's still far too cold to stay for long in the garage, so progress on the USAF fighters and fighter bombers has been held up. However, I have been fiddling about with the basing and have decided to adapt the method that I devised for MiG Alley, using mdf bases and panel pins for stands. I haven't yet perfected the system for MiG Alley but I think it will be ideal for Bag The MiG.

It has the big advantage that it doesn't require any mini-magnets, so keeps the cost down to a minimum and avoids all the hassle of gluing tiny magnets to the truncated tops of lightweight plastic hex stands. It also means that I can make a variety of stands for different scenarios, some overall blue ones with 40mm pins for high altitude games and some shorter ones with textured and painted bases for ground pounding missions.

And, on the plus side...we now have a brand new tumble dryer in the garage, so I can avoid freezing to death in the warm radiant waft of rotating underpants...mmmmm.

Panthers and Corsairs


Another two reference works for the Bag the MiG / MiG Alley project, both of which really are excellent, with detailed coverage of missions and some superb colour profiles. I think you can see what I'll be tackling next, once the USAF aircraft have cleared the workbench.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Bag the MiG [4]


If you were wondering why....I really need to paint up some F9F Panthers! There are some stunning decals from Scale Specialities in 1/285th but I guess I'll have to compromise for the 1/600th version. This will be the next installment when I've finished the USAF fighters and fighter bombers this weekend.

Deep Space Full Thrust



I ordered a deep space nebula vinyl gaming mat a few days ago and it arrived yesterday, safely rolled up in a sturdy cardboard tube. It's a full 6' x 3' size mat, as I wanted to use it both for X-Wing and for Full Thrust. So, here's a couple of my Brigade Models Neo-Soviet ships that I painted up years ago, to give an overall impression of the quality of the artwork (with apologies for the crappy black plastic stands). I think the mat looks really good and I'm even thinking of getting a 3' x 3' version for 'beer and pretzel' style games.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Bag the MiG [3]




I cleaned up and magnet-based the replacement Tumbling Dice F86E Sabres this evening and, as I was fiddling around with the very powerful and fiddly, tiddly magnets, I thought I might as well base up some Chinese Tu-2 light bombers and a USAF C-47 Dakota transport as well. 

The Tu-2's were used early in the war and didn't last very long, but they look really cool so I thought I'd add some anyway. I have some Yak-9's to base up as well, which would enable me to include some c1950-51 scenarios as a sideline to the later war focus of the project.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Cold War RM Commando


I've been off work the last couple of days with a nasty bug, so have been a bit down in the dumps, although I'm feeling much better now. To cheer myself up I decided to follow up on an idea that I had many years ago for a skirmish game set in Norway at some point in the 1980's, deep in the deep end of the latter part of the Cold War.

This was originally a 20mm squad level project way back when, using Platoon 20 figures for the Soviets and the Royal Marines. I even painted up a handful of figures but then left home to go to university, so the project never really got off the ground. I still have some badly painted dodgy Spetsnatz knocking around somewhere but have no idea what happened to the rest.


At Warfare last year I spotted the very nice 10mm Falklands British range by Pendraken and thought 'why not?', then promptly forgot to pick up an army pack before I left for home. It's been nagging me since then so I decided today to put things right, ordering a selection of the beret clad figures for a Royal Marine platoon, together with a couple of BV206 Snowcats.


I'm not sure what I'll do for the Soviets but was thinking of using the Argentinian figures as Norwegian local defence forces. The figures will all be individually based for skirmish style games, using No End in Sight or Some Corner of a Foreign Field, both of which would be ideal for this sort of thing. It'll probably never happen but I can always turn it into a Cold War Gone Hot project. It's also cheered me up no end!


Monday, 2 February 2015

Hawker Typhoon - The Combat History


I'm thinking of renaming the blog Jim's Wargames Bookshelf, as all I seem to be doing over recent weeks is adding additional weight to the overloaded library. Anyway, I found this in the wonderful local Oxfam bookshop at the weekend, so have piled it onto the book mountain for some Bag the Hun background reading, if and when I get the time. I'd really like to add some mid-war Typhoons to the collection but will have to find a cheaper alternative to the lovely GHQ models to make it affordable, unless I scale down to 1/600th or up to 1/144th!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Bag The MiG [2]


I undercoated the USAF fighters and fighter bombers today with an overall spray of Humbrol Aluminium, having forgotten that I'd run out of Humbrol Silver. This isn't a major problem, as the end result is perfect as a base for drybrushing in Foundry Spearpoint, followed by an ink wash in something yet to be decided.


I did spot a slight problem with the Tumbling Dice F86 Sabre models, however, which have two different fuselage bands scribed into the surface. They should all be diagonal but four of the twelve models have vertical bands. I have some spares in the box, so will replace the vertical band models with diagonal ones as soon as I can find my stockpile of tiddly magnets.

The four spares won't go to waste as I'll paint them up as black and white striped early war F86A's of the 334th FIS/4th FIW, rather than the later war F86E/F's of the 336th FIS/4th FIW, which will form the bulk of the models in the USAF arsenal, complete with the characteristic yellow-orange identification stripes.

Combat Over Korea



As I'm doing a Bag The MiG / MiG Alley project this month, I thought I'd get some more relevant reading underway with a digital copy of Combat Over Korea. I already have plenty of reference material for the Korean Air War, including loads of colour profiles, photos and after action accounts, so a general overview will be a useful source of inspiration and will help to set the context for scenarios. It has had some good reviews too, so it should be an interesting read.