Friday, 28 August 2015

GHQ British WW1 Battlecruisers

1/2400 New Ships

Just a quick show off post today, some new recruits for my WW1 project. Some GHQ British Battlecruisers which I managed to get completed whilst on my recent Normandy trip. These models really do scrub up well and I can't wait to get them in action.

The most common request when I put a Naval post up is "How do you do your sea ?", so to cut the Indians off at the pass here is a link to my Sea Tutorial. 

H.M.S. Tiger

The WW1 Naval rules are coming on nicely its just time and other projects preventing further play tests but I am pleased with the one game we have had and some of the new concepts we tried out to differentiate the WW1 rules from the WW2 rules worked nicely.

H.M.S. Lion

I have done these as wargaming models and not put some of the more fiddly pieces on, no matter how hard you try to be careful these models will be handled a fair amount and any small parts will just get knocked off over the years.

H.M.S New Zealand

H.M.S. Indomitable

The recent price increase at GHQ now makes these models about £12 a piece which is fine for a one off model but for a wargame fleet its starting to get a bit silly. I have ordered the last 4 battlecruisers I want but will be looking at WTJ for my next lot of capital ships.


Last up are some M Class destroyers again GHQ, even with these smaller sized ships the detail is superb on these.

I've got some German ships just about to be launched so I will post them soon.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

15mm Blue Moon SYW British Cavalry - Finished Unit

6th Inniskilling Dragoons

This post further covers the figures I bought back in February, made by the American Company; Blue Moon, I wanted some 15mm British for my Minden army and ordered a couple of units of Infantry and a couple of units of cavalry. I did a full review of the figures HERE. In June I finally got round to painting up some of the infantry and did a show off post of that unit, HERE.

Before I begin though I have to doff my cap to Old Glory UK, having finished off this unit the urge to buy the rest of the stuff I wanted for the Army arrived and I placed an order for some more figures with Old Glory two days ago. As if by magic as I was typing this post (at 4pm) the postman brought my order to my front door, result. Personally I can't get used to the postie turning up that late, it were always before breakfast when I was a lad.

I use an old school method of painting horses with oil paints (which I will outline below), the time painting is very small but I leave a long time drying between stages so it can take a month to do a batch of horses, I usually try and do a load at a time maybe three times a year and then store them till I'm ready to do the full unit.

So how do I feel about these now they are painted up, I have to say impressed, they are better than the Infantry figures however most of that is down to the horses. There is a limited number of poses but they really do scrub up well, for me probably the best 15mm horse this side of AB Figures. As for the riders they do lack a bit of detail and the hands of the troopers are a touch large but that's only a small point, the faces by in large are much better defined that the infantry and are much more suited to my painting style (the exception being the mounted drummer).

I have enough horses done for another two units and one of these is already half done, with the new figs that have just arrived I have everything I need to complete my British Contingent, just need to find some decent 15mm Hanoverian Cavalry now, hint hint Blue Moon.

My horse units for SYW by in large are 12 figures and these bad boys will represent the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons.

Horse Painting

The oil method was the main way of painting horses back in the day and I think it was Peter Gilder who started the technique. I have tried with Vallejo but I just cant get horses right so I persevere with this method. I haven't done a full Box to Table post as I have some 28mm AWI British Light Dragoons on the go and will post the extended version of the horse method in that, but here are the basics.

Stage 1. The basic figure, cleaned up and primed with Halford Matt White Car Primer (for none UK residents Halfords is a car spares shop).

Stage 2, cover the horse in oil paint, the colour is up to you, but what you need to know is that this colour will end up being you're highlight. I would suggest that Burnt Sienna would be the darkest shade to use at this point. Now once you have done this you need to leave it to dry and I mean dry. If it isn't completely solid the paint will run in the next phase and you will just end up with a mess. I leave my base coat to dry for a minimum of 10 days, yes that's 10 24 hour periods. Some people will risk shorter but for me having done this method for 30 years, I leave it 10 days.

Stage 3, cover the now dry horse with a darker, shading colour which is compatible with the base colour. I would recommend adding a small amount of thinner to the oil paint for this as you need to make sure you get total coverage (this is why the base coat needs to be bone dry as the thinner will lift off even slightly damp base coat).

Stage 4, immediately after applying this coat you need to wipe it off, sounds daft I know. Its important that this is done relatively quick after the top coat is applied. I do this stage in batches of 4 horses. Make sure you use a high quality toilet roll for your wiping ! Gather the paper up so that you have a flat surface and drag it across the surface of the horse until you get the shaded effect above.

Stage 5, leave it to dry again, I leave it 10 days again but this time it will be probably dry in a couple. From there just paint the horse furniture as you normally would. I go back to acrylics for that and they will work perfectly well on dry oil paint.

I would recommend a bit of practice with the oil method if you are going to try it. You don't need to invest a massive amount to have a go, I would start with Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna as your main two colours along with a yellow and a white to help lighten them and off you go, by mixing you can end up with a massive pallet of colours. If you like it crack on and get some different shades of browns and grey.

Hope that's been of use to some.

Friday, 21 August 2015

X Wing - The Campaign - Game 17 - Run Scientist, Run

Run Scientist, Run

This is a continuation of the X Wing Campaign, full explanation and details of Campaign rules are here.

Mission Briefing


After your (reasonably) successful mission last time out on the planet Radix you have been retained in the area to help evacuate the scientists you helped rescue from the planets surface.

Loaded onto an unarmed freighter the scientists are going to be taken into the safety of hyper space, your job is to protect the freighter until it can wind up its jump drive and escape.

Look out for Planetary Defence fire, the battle around you is still ongoing and they will fire at anything which moves.

To your ships, May the Force be with you"

Pilot Upgrades - (from the ongoing Campaign)

Crank Case added a Barrel Roll to his action bar and traded in his old droid for a R5-K7.
Spike Sharpie spent a whole GC on a R2-D4 droid keeping back some money in case he needed to pay his insurance excess again.
Pop Cicle added another Torp slot to his A Wing filling it with some Flechette Torpedoes.
Ensign WK Jnr was in a new basic X Wing after losing his HWK last time out
Rick O'Shea levelled up to a big PS5 and traded in his Pilot ability for Playing Possum.

Set Up

Game should be played on a 5 x 3 table with the Freighter travelling along the 5ft length, entry points should be range 2 from the table edge and 1/3 and 2/3 down the length.

Rebel players set up on the top of the map within range 2 of the table edge, the Scientists set up in the centre of the table as shown.

Empire Set up with 3 ships only, a random Sqn Tie (PS1 for us), a random named Tie (Night Beast) and a Random Empire Ship with a named pilot (again random) we had Lt Lorir in his Interceptor.

Game lasts until the Rebel Scientists exit the Imperial Table edge or are killed.

Special Rules

GR75 Freighter - Do not use normal rules, ship is travelling in a straight line winding up its jump drive. It can move forward any speed each turn, Add 3 extra shield to its base fit. The ship will jump to hyperspace when it reaches the end of the table. We treated the GR75 as a mobile asteroid for collision purposes.

Jump to Hyperspace  - To leave the table you need to declare your attempt and then try and gain 2 critical hits, hits from previous rolls carry forward. You cannot attempt to jump until after turn 4.

Turn 1. Roll 3 attack die
Turn 2. Roll 3 attack die + Pilot Skill / 2 (round up)
Turn 3. Automatically jump

Jump Points - Points A,B,C,D act as entry points for Imperial Re-enforcements.

Imperial Ships - On turns 3,5,7 and 9 3 Imperial Ships will arrive on the table, randomly at one of the 4 entry points, they enter after movement dials have been set but before movement takes place. They can set up within Range 1 of the entry point facing in any direction, they can perform an action for that turn but will not move on their first turn on the table. After their entry turn they will revert to normal movement.

Select one Sqn Tie, one named Tie and one Random Ship with a named pilot (see rules link at the start of the post if you are not familiar with how we choose these).

Planetary Defence Fire - Each even numbered turn pick at random one of the entry points, this will be the focus for the PDF, any ship within range 2 of the point will be subject to 3 attack die. PDF is performed after all firing has taken place.

Victory Conditions

Rebel Victory -  Get the scientists to safety.
Imperial Victory - Destroy the GR75.
Draw - Any other result.

How did we get on

Five rebel scum this evening, in what was always going to be a tough campaign game, the Rebels need a bit of luck to get this one done, they didn't have any.

It all started going wrong very early on, after the initial skirmish with the outnumbered Empire ships the first group of Empire re-enforcements turned up on entry point A (we had a PS4 Tie, Dark Curse and Mareek Steele in his Tie Adv) just on the flank of the Rebels and the GR75.

It was all over on Turn 5 when the second group of Imperial ships entered on the same point (PS4 Tie, Howlrunner and Darth Vader in his Tie Adv !) directly behind the rebels and they easily finished off the Freighter.

There was a bit of a kill fest for the Rebel pilots though as they were fighting the Imperials in dribs and drabs, 5 Imperial ships were lost in the game quite a tally and two of them went to PS1 Ensign WK Jnr, clearly out to avenge the death of his father.

The planetary defence didn't hit anyone, this is a nice random scenario which could change very quickly, a planetary burst taking out a couple of Empire ships would change the balance as would a re enforcement turning up at the other end of the table. In our game they didn't and the Rebels lost, all pilots did however jump to safety.

Game of Chicken
Rebel Pilot results below,

Pilot Rick O'Shea (5) - B Wing, survived, 3 kills, 9GC - Totals, Missions 17, 9 GC, 21 kills
Pilot Spike Sharpie - E Wing (4), survived, 0 kills, 1 GC - Totals, Missions 17, 6 GC, 13 kills
Pilot Crank Case - Y Wing (3) survived, 0 kills, 4GC - Totals, Missions 12, 8 GC 9 kills
Pilot Pop Cicle - A Wing (3) survived, 0 kills, 1 GC - Totals, Missions 10, 3 GC, 2 kills
Pilot Ensign WK Jnr (1) - X Wing, survived, 2 kills, 10 GC - Totals Missions 3, 11 GC, 3 kills

Not Present
Pilot Captain Tangent - A Wing (3), not present, 2GC  - Totals, Missions 8, 3 GC, 0 kills
Pilot Baby Brian - A Wing (1) not present - Totals Missions 1, 0 GC, 0 kills
Pilot Oi M'Groin - Y Wing (2) not present - Totals, Missions 4, 3 GC 0 kills
Pilot Sir Jeremy Dodger - X Wing (2), Not Present - Totals Missions 3, 7 GC, 2 kills
Pilot Twiki Bond - A Wing (1), Not Present - Totals Missions 1, 6 GC, 0 kills

Roll of Honour
Pilot Brian RIP
Pilot Commander Wayne Kerr veteran of 7 Missions, RIP

Jim head mechanic in the Rebel Garage was still asleep

Result (2 pts for a win, 1 for a draw)

Empire Win

Campaign overall score is, Empire 14 pts, Rebels 20 pts

X Wing madness will return with game 18 on the 2nd September. A battle to save another Rebel Squadron stranded in Empire Space with no power.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Panzers In Normandy : Then and Now : and Now

And Major and Mrs Holts Normandy Guide

Two books maketh a holiday
Two weeks off the blog and the books above are responsible, that and the 14th Century WiFi in the cottage I was in on my holidays in, you guessed it, Normandy.

Now I have to say that I am quite lucky in that Mrs Yarkshire and Baby Yarkshire both don't mind a bit of history and Baby Y (aged 15) likes anything involving either Tanks or Bunkers so a good time was had by all.

Both books should be quite well known in the circles who read this blog and both now quite old. The Panzers in Normandy book was something I longed for as a teenager in the mid 1980s and I remember saving up especially to buy it for the then massive sum of £20. It was a originally written in 1979 but the After the Battle Magazine added some photos in 1983. It gives a good history of the vehicles and units that operated in Normandy but its USP was its use of modern (1979) photographs taken at the same locations as ones taken in WW2, for some reason I found that fascinating and using the book and finding some of the locations in 2015 was very satisfying.

The Danish D Day memorial
The Holts have produced a series of Battlefield Guides over the years and I have used them for the WW1 battlefields and found them excellent. I have had the Normandy book for 15 years or so, written in 1999 it has dated quite well. For those unfamiliar with the Holts work; they split the battlefields into a number of tours and give you driving directions to various locations. Added to that are various individual accounts from the action at that location which really bring things to life. You get all the normal touristy stuff but you also get some out of the way memorials, like the Danish one above, sites which without the books probably wouldn't get a visit. So here some boring holiday pics wrapped up in a book review for some books which are between 25 and 35 years old, topical !

Utah Beach and the US Para Drops

The day starts in St Mere Eglise, lots to see and the US Airborne Museum opposite the church is well worth a visit.

The "Iron Mike" statue at La Fiere, the Holts book has some great stories at this location which really brings the scene to life.

We spent two days to cover the first tour, taking things easy, Utah Beach being away from the other 4 beaches was less of a tourist trap and was the only beach we spent any time at, the museum at the beach is worth a visit even with the M4E8 outside.

Further down the beach near the French memorial is a group of bunkers (cue Baby YG smile) free to access and roam, found thanks to the Holts.

Last stop for us on the day was the Battery at Azeville an interesting tour leading you underground through the tunnels to the various bunkers (Baby YG heaven). The Battery entered a gunnery duel with USS Nevada and her 14" guns, the aftermath of which is shown above.


The day started really well with a visit to a tiny church in a village called Brevands, there is a D Day stained glass here but the moving thing for me was the grave of a RAF Spitfire pilot who was killed over the area in 1941, it was really well maintained and contained detailed accounts of the young mans final action.

The famous Pointe du Hoc site is well maintained by the US Government and was very busy but informative and well worth a visit as is the main American Cemetery.

Is this the scariest manikin in the world.
One of the highlights though is the visit to the Overlord Museum which is opposite the Cemetery, only recently opened there are some great exhibits here. I have seen some complaints about entry cost 7.5 euros which is 2.5 euros more than most other museums but I don't think its overpriced. This is the only place in Normandy you will see a Panther Tank and they have an unsurpassed (for the area) collection of German equipment. All the exhibits are set out as dioramas and well presented, lighting is subdued but I would suggest this is to protect the exhibits.

I gave up with Omaha Beach itself, it was absolutely packed with holiday makers on the beach, probably just me but I wouldn't want out of respect to swim there. We drove along the beach and back out. One day I will go back out of season.

Michael Wittmann

Anyone with an interest in WW2 and its battles will know of "The Black Baron" I recall reading the section in the Panzers in Normandy (PIN) book and our day out on the Tiger trail for me was the highlight of the holiday.

My view from the commanders seat.
First up was a long drive to Vimoutiers a small town to the east of Falaise where a lot of German armour was abandoned in the final days of the Normandy Campaign. In a lay by out side the town is a Tiger Tank ! This to me is amazing there are only 6 of these left in the world and here is one I can climb on, left at the side of the road. The PIN book gives a full account of the Tank and its recovery with some great contemporary photos.

2015 view of the photo on page 171 of PIN
Roadside memorial to the losses of 7th Armoured on the day.
A cross country drive brought us to Villers Bocage the scene of Wittmanns most famous action, much changed from 1944 we still managed to follow the action through the streets and using the photos in the PIN book located many of the locations.

A short drive then to Gaumesnil the scene of The Black Barons final action, again described in detail in PIN, we were able to locate the location of his tank and the action that day. There are no markers or monuments. A note if you do visit the area Gaumesnil village is now cut in half by the N158 which is a dual carriageway and not crossable by foot and I wouldn't recommend parking on it either.

If you travel into the village from the south (it is a tiny place) turn right in what looks like a farm yard down a dead end track which will bring you to the now closed junction with the N158, on your left is the location of a now destroyed chateau which was destroyed in a fire caused by drunken British soldiers (no change there then !) the wall to your front right bordering the road (behind the post war house) was there on the day and was used by the British tanks which are likely to have killed Wittmann as cover, look closely you might see some repaired Sherman sized holes.

You will then need to cross the N158 and join the minor road which runs along the eastern side of the main road. Witmanns tank 007 was destroyed in the field to the north of the Farm Machinery Garage as shown above

Final visit of the day was to La Cambe the German War Cemetery and Witmanns final resting place, he was buried with his crew at the side of the road next to his tank for many years until his remains were located in 1983 and moved with his crew to La Cambe.

Unbelievably someone had stolen Wittmans headstone, there are some sick people in this world. The cemetery is well worth a visit very respectful.

The British and Canadian Beaches

Churchill Tank at Bayeux
Hetzer same location
 We spent two days following the tours of Gold, Juno and Sword beaches, the Museum at Bayeux covers the Campaign following the landings as is another worthy of a visit. From there you can leave your car and walk to the British and Commonwealth Cemetery just over the road.

128mm barrel at Bayeux

Port En Bessin
Longues Battery

Arromanche was packed as well on the day we visited, with a live band playing rock music in the harbour and a fairground it was hard to picture the action on the 6th June 1944. The 360 Cinema is worth a visit only 20 minutes long but very well done. The main focus of the Canadian beach is at Courseulles sur Mer with an excellent museum (I forgot my camera that day !). I had visited all the British Airborne sites a few years ago and these are covered by the Holts in great detail.

So a great holiday guided by two great books, if you are interested in WW2 Normandy is a must once in a lifetime. The Holts Arnhem Guide is on the way from Amazon, anyone know any good holiday cottages in Holland ?