Friday, March 30, 2012


I popped down toWargames Emporium today and picked up a couple of paler green paints for use as the light green shade on MERDC camo.  Here are the results:

They are all in Reflective Green for the base colour (colour 1 in the MERDC scheme) and then have various colours for the lighter green.  From left to right that's German Uniform, Light Green, and Olive Green.

I think the first is too grey-looking.  Clearly the middle one is too fluorescent.  I think I'll go with the Olive Green.

In everycase the sand is Vallejo Khaki and the black is black.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A First Shot at MERDC

I have the morning off work (it's that use-it-or-lose-it time in the leave year) so I thought I'd have a go at painting a 1/300th M60A1 in MERDC camouflage.  This was the scientifically designed American camo scheme in use in the 1980s.  It was eventually replaced when the NATO powers that be decided it would make it too easy for Warsaw Pact forces to identify that they were up against Americans rather than one of the other NATO nations.

I've gone with the European temperate variant of the scheme - two tones of green with sand and black.

I think the paler of the greens (Vallejo German Uniform) I've used is too greyish.

I haven't drybrushed this model either.  Experience suggests that if I do so (I normally do with 1/300th scale models) the carefully painted camouflage will disappear from view completely.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Another Battle on the Lippe

This month's Saturday Afternoon Wargame (TM) was by way of practice for next month's Crisis Point, the big Cold War Commander game.

The scenario, such as it was, was about the Warsaw Pact forces trying to extend their bridgehead over the Lippe river before launching the major attack that will, presumably, form one third of next month's game.  The table was arranged like this:

The Warsaw Pact forces started in the northern (furthest from the camera) third of the table, just over the Lippe river.  They had two tank battalions.  On the left was a battalion of T-62s (nine models) accompanied by a Guards tank company with T-80Bs (three models) and with a battery of 2S1 122mm SP guns in support.  On the right was an East German battalion of T-55s accompanied by two infantry companies in BMP-2s.

The NATO forces (commanded by George Ashmore and Jamie Crawley) were all British.  On the right was a squadron (four models) of Chieftains from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.  On the left was a squadron (three models this time) of Challenger 1s from 15/18 Hussars.  Each tank squadron was accompanied by a company on infantry from 1st Bn Cheshire Regt.  Here are the Royal Scots:

We were short of players at the start so I took charge of the Warsaw Pact forces.  Game turn one saw them prepared to march.  Their plan was to seize the ridge lines just south of their bridgehead before the NATO forces could reorganise sufficiently to occupy them.  Unfortunately, I couldn't roll dice for toffee and none of the Warpac forces managed to move at all!

The NATO forces weren't much more active but the RSDG did manage to advance towards the easternmost ridge line.

On the second game turn the East Germans finally got moving and advanced on the right.  They trundled forward quite impressively, tanks in the lead, BMPs following behind.  All looked well until I chose to roll a double six!  The resulting cross-fire (we guessed it was from unseen NATO elements off-table to the west) took out a whole company of BMPs and left the Warsaw Pact force six-sixteenths of the way towards its breakpoint before the real enemy had even been engaged!  Still, at least the T-55s had reached the right-flank ridgeline.

By turn four Chris Justice had arrived and taken over the right flank East German forces in what was to become a vicious close range fight with George's Challengers.

Meanwhile on the NATO right, Jamie's Chieftains (supported by RAF Regiment types serving as stand-in mechanised infantry) had reached their ridgeline and were preparing to engage the on-coming T-62s.  Things looked good for them, although on their left a company of T-80s looked likely to be a threat.

Jamie seemed confident.

By the end of turn six the battle was clearly in the balance but everyone seemed to be enjoying the game.

At this point I rather lost track of what was happening in the confused melee on the Warpac right.  I was too busy wheeling the T-80 company onto the flank of the Royal Sctos' Chieftains.  With NATO one loss away from their breakpoint, I was fairly sure the T-80s could swing it with a few flank shots.

Sure enough, the T-80s caused one casualty and forced the Chieftains to redeploy to face them:

Game turn seven saw the NATO commander make his command roll so the British fought on.  Somewhere on the western flank, meanwhile, a flurry of Carl Gustav and 120mm rounds took out enough Warsaw Pact armour to bring the Warsaw Pact forces to their breakpoint too!

Sadly, the Warsaw Pact commander...

... chose this moment to roll a 10!

And so the attack faltered.  The Warsaw Pact forces will begin the big game with the shallowest possible  bridgehead over the Lippe next month.

It was a most enjoyable and tense game though with both side one kill away from breakpoint for some time.  Thanks Jamie, George and Chris for the game.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

On the Workbench - end of the motorway pt5

As of this weekend we now have three of the buildings glued in place.  The tower block is surrounded by fancy paving - actually plastic card textured with a French-style cobblestone pattern (the grey areas).

The green areas are sloping roadways made from Green Stuff.  Brown is the beginning of the landscaped areas.  The motorway will join on at the right hand end of this picture.

Next task is to add texture material under the trees to form the wide central reservation between the diverging carriageways. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

On the Workbench - end of the motorway pt4

These are the trees for the motorway junction base.  They were made bottle-brush style; bend apiece of soft iron wire into a hairpin shape, cut green parcel string into two inch lengths and tease it out into individual threads before placing them between the arms of the "hairpin".  The hairpin is then twisted between two pairs of piers to make a brushlike tree.

These pictures are after I tried some further improvement.  Basically I stuck each tree into a ball of bluetac to give me something to hold and a way to stand them up to dry. Then I heavily sprayed each tree with matt varnish (Army Painter "Anti-Shine") to the extent that it started to form beads on each branch.  I then dipped each tree into a container of fine flock and sprinkled on more flock if required.  Finally each tree got a light spray of the varnish that I hope will help fix the flock in place.

Here they are drying on my shelf.

Buildings for Venlo

The motorway terminal junction is going to feature part of the city centre.  These are medieval German / low countries houses from The Baggage Train.

Rather reminiscent of these in Riga:

And then there's a tower black.  Not sure who this is by; it's a resin cast model I've had for years.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Every Battlefield Should Have Some

6mm scale sheep from Irregular Miniatures.

Got Me Some Yanks

I have a few M60s, M113s and assorted other American bits as part of a batch of microtanks I bought last year.  With the Big Game coming up I decided to paint up a small US Army force just in case no one else  brought any.

I didn't have any suitable infantry so I bought a couple of Packs by mail order from Heroics and Ros.  This is pack M11; US Infantry Support Weapons (New Helmets).  

So that's a strip of six command figures, three 81mm mortar teams, three tripod MG teams, three TOW teams (to be honest I already have enough of these), six two-man M47 Dragon ATGW teams, three engineers with mine detectors, and three guys with shoulder-launched AAGWs.  Not a bad mix, thought I do tend to end up with lots of leftover mine detector crews.

Detail is OK, not too much flash.  I particularly like the Dragon crews and the kneeling radio operator on the command strip.

The we have M10, US Infantry (New Helmet). 

This contains five identical strips each with an NCO (pointing so as to attract attention to himself on the battlefield), and SAW gunner and his ammo carrier, seven grunts with assault rifles, an AT gunner with a MAW and his ammo carrier.  The way I base my models that'll make me a whole company for Cold War Commander with a few left over to decorate command bases. 

This is the first time I've ordered on line from H&R and I have to say I'm very impressed.  The process was very straight forward (email order, get back invoice, pay by Paypal) and the goods arrived very promptly.  Excellent customer service from Andy.

With no one carrying 1/300th stuff at conventions any more I'll be buying more stuff from H&R by mail order.

Monday, March 12, 2012

On the Workbench - end of the motorway pt3

Oh, the frustration!  I came home from work today to find that the card layers had delaminated from the top of the table-mat.  Turns out I didn't remove the thin plastic layer from the top of the mat.  I've now removed some of the plastic and scored the top of the mat prior to re-gluing with Uhu.

In the meantime, I've managed to complete this medium-sized bridge from The Baggage Train.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

On the Workbench - end of the motorway pt2

So, with two layers of card in place I decided to try out some building layouts.  

The trees are made in bottle-brush style.  The trunks are soft iron wire from the garden centre and the foliage is teased out strands of green parcel string.

In the picture below I've chamfered the edges of the mat using a Stanley knife.  In a couple of places the bottom layer of card hasn't stuck to the surface of the mat.  I've since introduced some more PVA and weighted down the card with a bottle of whisky and a cast iron casserole dish.  Middle class wargaming at its best!

The numbers are to show the position of the buildings.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

On the Workbench - end of the motorway

One of the main terrain features for Crisis Point is the A73 motorway which runs along the western-most table to the town of Venlo.

We already have a terrific Autobahn (well, Autosnelweg in Dutch, I believe) that Stuart Adams built a couple of years ago for the Krefeld Salient game.  You can see it in use here. The problem is, though, how do I connect the motorway to the town?  I've decided to build an end-of-motorway terrain unit to connect to Stuart's road sections.

The base for the town section is an old table-mat but this is a little thinner than the 8mm MDF Stuart used for the Autobahn sections.  I'm therefore adding two layers of shaped card to the top of the mat.

By chamfering the edges of the card, I'll be able to have the roads gradually slope down to match the height of my magnet foam roads.

At this stage I'm waiting for the glue to dry on the first layer of card.  The books are to weight down the card and keep the whole flat whilst the glue dries.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Defacing My Bases?

I photographed these WW2 Americans after I'd experimented with a new base texturing mix.  The mix uses Woodland Scenics coarse turf, tea leaves and static grass.  I'm not happy with it and I don't think I'll be pursuing this approach.

However, looking at the figures did remind me of something I've always meant to check up on.  Am I committing a crime by basing my figures on currently circulating British coinage?

More than once I've heard wargamers insist that either it's illegal to use coins in this way or that's illegal if you glue the figure to the side bearing the Queen's head!  An offence of "defacing the coinage" is quoted (though some of the more traditionalist types speak darkly of treason).

Personally I'm no royalist (I've a lot of sympathy for the American idea of separating Church and State) but it's always pleased me to follow what I see as a wargamers' tradition and glue my figures to the tails side of the coin.  My friend Sebastian, on the other hand, positively revels in his Irish republican roots and actively ensures that his soldiers stand directly on the face of "Smiling Eileen".

Anyway, I decided to do a bit of research*.    It looks like Sebastian and I may be in the clear.    

Apparently there was a modern prohibition on defacing the coinage under the Coinage Offences Act, 1936 (penalty, imprisonment not exceeding one year!).  Prior to that the 1861 Coinage Act imposed the same term of imprisonment but with hard labour!  However the 1936 Act was repealed by the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act of 1981.  

However, in earlier times defacing the coinage was a serious economic problem.  Coins were "clipped" by unscrupulous people who melted down the trimmings to make new coins thus increasing the money supply and generating inflation.  Medieval laws against this practice many not have been formally repealed.  Maybe I should find a source of 0.02 Euro coins?  

* OK, I searched for defacing UK coinage on Google.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Wild Weasel

Family issues have meant that I've not got near my workbench for the past few weeks but this morning I managed to spend an hour or so painting this USAF Phantom.

It's not a great paint job - just enough to resurrect a rather tatty model I picked up as part of an eBay purchase.

Very roughly it represents a Wild Weasel Phantom II based at Spangdahlem AFB in West Germany in the mid-1980s.  In April's Big Game it will carry HARM or Shrike missiles (treated as PGMs in Cold War Commander).  I'm going to restrict it to attacks on SAM or AAA targets to reflect its doctrinal role.