Saturday, January 29, 2022

Not the most useful model

Back in early 2020 my Mum was in hospital and I was spending evenings at her house in Wirral with nothing much to do. I decided to pop into the model shop in Birkenhead and pick up an Airfix starter kit to build. That way I'd get the paints and glue and only have to add a craft knife to give me everything I'd need.

The choice wasn't superb but I ended up going for the De Havilland Vampire T.11 trainer in New Zealand Air Force colours.

For various reasons I didn't get the plane finished until now. I briefly toyed with adding Andreivian roundels and using it in games, hence building it with the landing gear up. 

However in the end I decided just to get it out of the way using the decals provided. I've attached it to an old Matchbox flying stand that's probably been in my bits box for forty years.

Otherwise the only major divergence from starter kit was to use Vallejo silver paint (the Humbrol mini-pot provided had very poor covering power) and PVA to attach the canopy.

It wasn't too difficult to build but I stand by the conclusion I first reached as a teenager - tank kits are easier to build than aircraft.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Battle of Zossen

Phil and Dex came over on Saturday and we had a go at playing Bob Mackenzie's Zossen scenario in 1/300th scale using the old TacWW2 rules. 

This is quite a large battle with with over half-a-dozen battalions on each side. It was possibly a bit too big for the first TacWW2 game we've played in a while but I needed to allow for perhaps as many as four players. It would have been three but Richard P (who's keen to try out the rules) was forced to pull out at the last moment having come down with the current unpleasantness.

Phil, having some experience with the rules (he has his own copy!) took charge of the attacking Soviets while Dex defended Zossen (left side of the table by the canal bridge in the pic above) against the crypto-Mongol hordes.

The scenario is fairly restrictive interns of where units will deploy or enter the table so we were able to get started reasonably quickly. It was just a case of getting short orders written for each battalion.

The game began with the Soviet 53rd Tank Brigade advancing along the road through Kerne.

They soon clashed with dug-in German infantry in and around the town driving off one company thanks to a failed morale test.

A Maus from the Kummersdorf technical research institute advanced to join the fighting around Weinberge.

Early on, the Germans made a lucky roll for air support and saw a flight of Arado Ar-234 jet bombers appear and attempt to bomb the advancing Soviet tank brigade. This was nice in that it meant both of my recently purpose-built models got used as intended. 

It was less nice for Dex as the Arados' aim was off and their bombs ended up falling on German defenders.

At the same time, the Soviets had a Be-2 spotter plane over the battlefield but they lost a flight of Il-2 Schturmoviks, shot down by a battery of 3.7cm AA guns.

The game was a little slow as we were finding our way through the rules. When we ran out of time we'd played about 6 of 14 game turns and the Soviets had captured Kerne and were in a position to drive towards Zossen.

I'm pleased with the progress we made and would like to play some more TacWW2 in future months.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Building a Focke Wulf FW-190

Somewhat accidentally I've lately got into watching some Youtube videos about making model kits. Mostly videos by Matt of Model Minutes. This prompted me to take this off the shelf and have a go at building it.

It's an Airfix starter set that comes with acrylic paints, polystyrene cement, and a paintbrush. I think I got it for about a fiver when Aldi had one of their occasional promotions a few years ago. 

I've decided to treat this as a modelling project rather than bodging the kit together to make something that I'd be happy using in a wargame. That's pretty much something I haven't set out to do since I was about 16! It'll be interesting to see if my skills have improved over the intervening four decades.

So far it seems to go together OK although there's a piece of clear plastic (some kind of head-up display?) that you couldn't possibly position properly if you glued it on in the order suggested by the instruction sheet. 

The decals seem reluctant to come off the backing paper (I've already attached two to the instrument panels in the cockpit) and when they do come off they refuse to stick to the model. I'm afraid this may end up being really frustrating but we'll wait and see!

Saturday, January 8, 2022


The scenario I'm planning on playing next gives the Germans the chance of air support in the form of an Arado Ar-234 Blitz - the world's first jet bomber. As it was raining this morning I decided to stay in and have a go at scratch-building one in 1/300th scale.

I cut and shaped the fuselage from a piece of MDF left over from a building kit. The wings and tailplane are shaped from plasticard.

I then carved the engines from lengths of a thicker-than-usual bamboo skewer.

I discovered that the best way to stick together the various materials was to mix adhesives. Where the bamboo is to be stuck to plasticard, I first sealed the surface of the bamboo with clear adhesive and left it to dry a little. I then slightly softened the plasticard by painting on liquid polystyrene cement before joining the two parts with superglue.

I cut away a chunk of the lower fuselage to make a slot into which I could glue a rare earth magnet so the finished aircraft can use one of my flying stands.

I painted the aircraft in Medium Sea Grey before stippling on Black Green and Reflective Green (all Vallejo) and then hand-painting the detail.

It's far from a perfect model - the fuselage is too narrow and too boxy in cross-section but I'm only ever likely to need an Ar-234 in this one game so I can live with it.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Terrain test - Zossen

Last night I laid out the terrain for a TacWW2 adaptation of Bob Mackenzie's Battle of Zossen scenario - a very late WW2 scenario just south of Berlin.

This gives me the chance to see what terrain items need repair and/or improvement and to see where there are gaps between what I have available and what the scenario needs. I think for forestry repairs are immediately called for and maybe I'll have another go at dealing with the fact that my latex roads are in two slightly different colours.

This is a game I plan on offering later this month. It's a 3'x5' table using 1/300th scale models.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Wounded officer

Building a Sharp Practice unit from the Perry plastic WSS cavalry box leaves you with a load of spare parts. In an effort to make some use of these bits I knocked up this guy:

It's bits from the kit and a little Green Stuff and some plastic rod for the scabbard.

Leaders in Sharp Practice can be temporarily knocked out so a figure like this is potentially useful - I don't like laying figures down.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Christmas Games 2021

As usual we managed to get in a couple of wargames over the Christmas-New Year holiday period.

The first was a six player Hordes of the Things game played using my collection of 6mm scale figures. Here are a few pictures:

The pic above shows five of the six entry points marked by white cards with dice on them. The sixth is out of shot on the bottom right corner.

The aim was to capture the large tower in the middle of the table but this could only be done after certain other tasks had been achieved.

Mostly Irregular Republican Romans with a unit
Rapier cataphracts

The Wolfkin Goblins have captured the native huts

The players

Cave trolls attempt to capture the castle

The army of the Consulateship of Salydia arrives
to disrupt the Cave Trolls' plans

Opposing forces attempt to capture the Stone Circle

The Wolfkin Goblins, having captured the mud
huts, approach the Tower of the Magician Dukes

Three different armies threaten the stone circle

The action ended when the Wolfkin Goblins, commanded by Odette, captured the central stronghold.

For those who are interested, the forces were all 6mm scale models; mostly by Irregular but with one army composed of Baccus Republic Romans.

Our second game was the Battle of the White Meadows; the scenario Jamie had intended to run at Crisis Point 2020 (had it taken place). It was a To The Strongest scenario sent on sixth century Andreivia. John and I commanded a Byzantine army against a Persian force under Richard P and Gus.

The battle was characterised by exceptionally bad luck for the Byzantines. In virtually the first close combat of the game, the Byzantine commander, Justinian, was killed. This made it difficult to keep the Roman army moving forward.

In the end we decided the day was probably lost for the Byzantines but there was just a chance that John's allied General could lead his heavy cavalry in a last minute charge against the flank of the Shah Khosroe's bodyguard. 

At this point the words of the Roman generals were as follows:

Rich:      Of course, the way things have been going, you'll probably draw two ones.

John:    <draws a chit> Well, there's one.

John:    <redraws a chit as the General is present> ...and there's a second one!

At this point the game was clearly up!

Richard P has an excellent write-up of the game here.