Monday, May 2, 2022

Shopping trip

I managed to get down to Wargames Emporium on Saturday morning with the aim of picking up some more bits of "set dressing" for Riga.

There wasn't a lot that caught my eye from a terrain point of view but I did get some barrels from Renedra.

I do have some other barrels among my collection of rural clutter but these are interesting in that they appear to be older-style barrels held together with withies rather than metal bands. I've converted one into a floating barrel that may end up in one of the previous post's gullies.

The big win of the trip, though, was a Victrix command sprue. It came from their Bavarian infantry pack and because the officer's horse model was broken at the ankles, it was priced at just £2.

As you can see the horse has gone together nicely with the aid of a little Tamiya Extra Thin cement. 

There were some Bavarian troops among the units in Macdonald's X Corps and although I don't intend to build any Bavarian units as such, the occasional officer here and there may come in useful. I'm thinking, "Rescue the officer who's been observing the enemy lines and is now cut off in the church tower" and suchlike.

The sprue makes two officers (one mounted and one afoot), a standard bearer, an NCO, and a drummer. Even if I don't use the Standard bearer and the drummer, three Leaders for two quid has got to be good value!

Finally I also bought a second box of Perry ACW cavalry. This will give me a second Group for my Confederates and, somewhat frustratingly, leave me one model short of a third Group (because I needed to use one figure from the first box as a Leader).

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Drains for Riga

I decided that I'd have a go at creating some canalised stream sections to add a bit of visual interest to my burned-out-suburbs-of-Riga set-up. 

Old Riga stands on the right bank of the Daugava River within a loop of the Riga River, which today forms a series of attractive lakes in city parkland but which, in the medieval period, formed Riga's defensive moat.

The area burned out by the Russians in 1812 would have had small watercourses draining into the Riga River. I envisaged these as, by 1812, running through stone-lined channels between the buildings.

I started out by cutting out some strips of mounting card (about 28mm wide) and painting the central strip in black before adding a layer of gloss varnish.

I then cut out edging stones from several thicknesses of card and glued them in place with general purpose adhesive.

With the stones painted in several shades of grey to match my cobblestoned city mat, I think the effect (as seen by the prototype piece below) is reasonably attractive.

I'm going to make a few corner pieces so the drain can run between two adjacent edges. I'll also add a couple of wooden culverts made from coffee-stirrers. 

I'm not sure whether these waterways will have any significance in the game but sources of water can often be useful in Sharp Practice given the presence of random events like fouled barrels and the tendency for officers to tread in unpleasant materials at unfortunate moments!

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Tercio de Armada for Cold War Commander

A recent post on the Cold War Commander Facebook group got me thinking. A member was asking where they could get Cold War Soviet organisations. Those of us who have been wargaming the Cold War since it was a near future threat have an instinctive feel these things backed up by a load of, probably now out of print, source material.

So I've decided to start documenting my past efforts at organising my 1/300th scale collection into CWC battlegroups.  To start with here is my 1990s Spanish Marine Brigade - Tercio de Armada.

Tercio de Armada (early 1990s)

Unidad de Cuartel General            CO, Mistral AAGW, FAO, FAC

1st Marine Battalion                      HQ, Mistral AAGW, 9x Infantry, 3x HMG, 2x 81mm mortar

2nd Marine Battalion                     HQ, Mistral AAGW, 9x Infantry, 3x HMG, 2x 81mm mortar

GRUMA                                        2x HQ, 6x LVTP-7, 3x M48A3E, 3x Scorpion

GAD                                              2x FAO, 2x 105mm OTO-Melara M-56, 2x Trucks

UOE                                               HQ, 1x Special Forces, 3x Commandos

Naval support                                 3x AV-8A Matador, 3x UH-1, 2x Super Puma, 

                                                       Naval gunfire support

This force was organised based on an early 90s article in Raids magazine. Since then more information has become available in the internet. I've been able to update the list to the early 2000s but I haven't yet bought the models needed to update my Spanish forces.

Tercio de Armada (early 2000s)

TEAR UCG                         CO, FAO, FAC

1st Marine Bn                                 HQ, 9x Infantry, 2x HMG, 2x 81mm Mortar, 6x Dragon ATGW

2nd Marine Bn                                HQ, 9x Infantry, 2x HMG, 2x 81mm Mortar, 6x Dragon ATGW

3rd Mechanised Bn                 HQ, 6x Infantry, 6x Piranha III, 4x M60A3, 4x Scorpion

GAD                         3x FAO, 4x OTO-Melara M56 105mm, 6x Trucks, 2x M109A2

GAE                         6x Hummer w TOW-2, 4x AAVP-7A1, 3x Engineers

GA                                 FAC, 4x Mistral AAGW, 4x Hummer

3a Escuadrilla                                 3x AB-212 helicopters

9a Escuadrilla                                 3x AV-8A+ Matador

5a Escuadrilla                                 3x SH-3H Sea King

Naval support                                 Naval gunfire support


Artillery “trucks” may be Pegaso or (for the 2000s battlegroup) Hummers

The engineers can land a variety of trucks, bulldozers and entrenching equipment

Monday, April 4, 2022

Riga ruins latest

Yet more progress to report on building the burned-out suburbs of Riga...

Here are the results of the stone-built tower/storage-building with a partly collapsed roof.

It's built from foam-core with pdf roof beams and cardboard tiles from (I think) Sarissa.

With two more burned-out ruins now complete, I'm beginning to see how the board might look when I'm finished.

And two more ruins are on the way, along with a well, which struck me as the kind of thing that would have survived the fire quite readily.

There's till a long way to go if I'm going to cover a whole 4'x4' board!

Sunday, March 27, 2022

More Riga ruins progress

As the title says, I've made more progress on producing the terrain for a future game set in the ruins of Riga's suburbs in 1812.

As you can see the second building is now complete and I've moved on to numbers three and four.

As before, the materials are PVC board, Firedragon foam sheet, and off-cuts of MDF. Oh and the burned-out shed (bottom right in the pic above) has its remaining walls made from coffee stirrers.

There should probably be more ash and rubble in and around the building footprints but there needs to be a compromise if units are to move within them.

Update: This afternoon I’ve started on a partly burned-out tower to add to the suburb:

This is made with foamcore and off-cuts of MDF on the usual pvc base. 

Friday, March 25, 2022

Folland Gnat

Further inspired by Youtube model-making videos I went out and bought myself the Airfix Folland Gnat in 1/72 scale.

We used to go to Anglesey quite often for summer holidays when I was a kid and we'd see Gnats flying from RAF Valley. On one holiday my Dad and I built a Me262 kit and then bought a Gnat kit from a toyshop, probably in Caernarfon. Unfortunately the kit got left on the rear parcel shelf of the car in direct sunshine and it warped horribly!

Despite this, I have fond memories of the Gnat (I think Airfix sent us a replacement) and I thought it would be nice to build the newer Airfix kit of the type, particularly as it comes with markings for a 4 OTU aircraft based at Valley.

Airfix call this a level one kit (presumably based on the number of parts) but I have to say this is hopelessly unrealistic.

It didn't build too badly, though I found the port-side jet intake didn't fit well and needed some filling as did the nose in front of the cockpit.

After building the FW190 straight out of the box I decided to do a little bit of extra detailing on this model. I added fine wire firing handles and masking tape seatbelts to the ejector seats.

Where the kit did, for me, step way outside the realms of the level one kit was in the paint job and decals. Any beginner would struggle, I feel, with a paint scheme that needs some pretty complicated masking. In places the painting diagram doesn't show the lines of demarkation between red and white areas at all well.

I should probably have got myself a white rattle-can and sprayed the whole aircraft that colour first.

As well as the complex paint job the kit also comes with more than 60 individual decals; some of them only a millimetre or two across. In the end I decided to forget about most of them and just get the model to a reasonably finished condition. 

All in all I've found this kit a rather discouraging one to build. I'm trying hard to regard it as a learning experience. If I see the same kit in the alternative, and simpler, Yellowjacks Display Team colours I'm tempted to have another go and see if I can do a better job next time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

On the workbench - Riga ruins UPDATED 25 March

I'm making a start on building a section of the the burned-out suburbs of Riga for the Sharp Practice games Richard P and I have planned. It's also something I may run at a future Lardy Day.

On 24 July 1812 the French army, in the form of Marshal Macdonald's X Corps, moved to threaten Riga. In line with a plan previously discussed with Minister of War Barclay de Tolly, von Essen, the military governor ordered that the Moscow and St Petersburg suburbs of the city be torched to deny their cover to a besieging army. The fire soon got out of control, however, and destroyed much of Riga-outside-the-walls causing great hardship to the residents.

I envisage a night-time operation involving opposing patrols stalking each other through the ruins. I have a 4'x4' cobbled city mat that should be ideal for this.

This painting gives some idea of the scene before the fire...

And this one of the fire at its height...

Having looked at a few photographs of burned-out villages made of largely wooden buildings, the overwhelming impression is of a forest of chimneys left standing among the ashes.  

UPDATED: Here's yet another picture of the same scene - this time after the fire:

That's the effect I'm going for.

The one on the right was a first test piece. The one on the left is the first of the production run and is work currently in progress. 

As I usual for my buildings these days, I'm using a base of PVC board covered in Tetrion. The chimney is made from Firedragon Games stone-textured foam sheets. The remaining wooden beams are broken pieces of MDF "sprue" left over from various building kits. I'm adding some roof tiles from thin card.

I don't think I'm going to get to the point where I can cover an entire 4'x4' board with such ruins. Looking at the paintings I can certainly justify some animal pens and other open areas. Maybe a stream flowing towards the Riga River (by that time part of the city's protective moat)?