Sunday 27 April 2014

WW2 Naval 1941 British v Japanese Campaign

WW2 1/3000 Naval 1941 British v Japanese Mini Campaign

HMS Prince of Wales British Flag Ship
HMS Repulse a WW1 Battlecruiser

After a year to date of 28mm gaming it was time to go off piste for a while. WW2 Naval is an old love, when I moved to my current area 25 years ago, I joined the local club and the en vogue game at the time was WW1 Naval, the lad who ran the games, Richard ( haven't seen him for years, hope he's well ) had everything and I mean everything, a model for every ship, so there was no scope to build a fleet, so I moved into WW2. My collection now has every Japanese and Italian ship from the war down to destroyer plus a good selection of Brits, Yanks and Germans.

I put together a set of rules then which remain remarkably intact to this day. Its a great fall back game, quick to set up, easy to grasp and I think fun to play. The rules to many these days will seem old school, with "sharp intake of breath" tables and "horror" record keeping. But these are the sort of rules I grew up with, I just don't understand how you can attempt to deal with all the detail of WW2 with a single roll of a d6.

A data card, each ship has one with all the info to play that ship, damage points and speed on the right. A 10x6 grid representing the ships deck to allocate hits and at the bottom a table with gun data giving number of dice and armour penetration. 
I think rule sets did use to be too complicated but to my mind they have gone too far the other way. I had my first game of Rapid Fire this week at a friends house, fun game, great company, great set of rules ? No not for me, too basic, not enough attention to detail, I'll play them again with that group but wouldn't choose them myself, horses for courses.

The Initial Japanese Fleet
The mini campaign is a "what if" based on an idea from navalwargamessociety a game based around the South China Sea in December 1941. Most of us will be aware of the loss of Prince of Wales and Repulse to air power and the shock waves it sent through the world of Naval Warfare signifying the end of the Battleship as king of the sea. HMS Indomitable an aircraft carrier, ran aground in Jamaica whilst on route to the area and this campaign explores what might have happened if she had arrived to take part. I have used ships available from my collection which is based on a Med Fleet so the names maybe wrong for the theatre ( for the pedants among you).

The joy of Naval Wargaming, sod all terrain cost and zero set up time.
The initial set up is in darkness, a Japanese scouting force is looking for the Brits, 4 heavy cruisers and 3 destroyers, spread out seeking contact. The Brits with a Battleship, a Battle Cruiser, an Aircraft Carrier, 2 Light Cruisers and 8 destroyers are heading to intercept an invasion force north of their location. Prince of Wales is the only ship with radar fire control so the Brits know where the Japanese are, they on the other hand are blind, they do wake up however when on the first turn a 15" shell from PoW lands on the cruiser Suzuya.

Pic showing the general confusion of night actions. The white discs are star shells, if they are behind a target from an observer they can see the ship, if in front they blind the observer. You can see counters for unobserved ships as well as upturned golf tees acting as shell splashes.
Initially this is quite an unbalanced game, but that's the idea, the Japanese stumble into a bigger badder bully boy and need to survive till daylight and (hopefully) some air cover or reinforcements. It got worse very quickly as well, the first hit on Suzuya hit the torpedo tubes causing a fire. Not the best thing to have as it makes you quite visible at night ! Over the next couple of turns, outclassed by bigger better guns the Cruiser quickly sank.

Suzuya learns that having a fire at night is bad
Things weren't going well for the Japanese with the other cruisers starting to suffer, then a shot hit a turret on a British destroyer, someone had left a blast door open and the explosion flashed to the ships magazine causing it to explode. It damaged the two ships next to it setting a fire on HMS Neptune, a light cruiser. It certainly lifted the Japanese players morale who had been getting a hit badly till that point.

HMS Ashanti explodes after a hit on a turret flashes to the magazine, the yellow counters signify a ship either using or illuminated by a searchlight, the card strips in the background are torpedo tracks.
The Japanese lost a destroyer before HMS Neptune learnt the don't be on fire in the dark in a naval battle lesson and was sunk from sheer weight of firepower.

HMS Neptune sinks surrounded by shell splashes.

As the sun came up the British withdrew into a tighter formation for an anticipated air attack, whilst the Japanese withdrew to maximum visibility, the destroyers using smoke to cover the cruisers and any reinforcements which arrive. The players have been given their briefings for the mornings battle and we are ready for the next game in about 3 weeks time.

Japanese fleet shadowing the British ready for daylight action
The British fleet closes up to prepare for air attack.
Starting Fleets


Suzuya Mogami Class CA                      Arashi Kagero Class DD
Kumano Mogami Class CA                    Akebono Mod Fubuki Class DD
Chokai Atago Class CA                           Akitsuki Akitsuki Class DD
Myoko Nachi Class CA


Indomintable Illustrious Class CV         Kashmir J/K Class DD
Prince of Wales KGV Class BB               Lance L Class DD
Repulse Renown Class BC                      Vanity V & W Class DD
Ajax Leander Class LC                             Eskimo Tribal Class DD
Neptune Leander Class LC                      Vimeria V & W Class DD
Jaguar J Class DD                                    Valentine V & W Class DD
Ashanti Tribal Class DD

Losses to date are British 1 Light Cruiser, 1 Destroyer, Japanese 1 Heavy Cruiser and 1 Destroyer plus one Heavy Cruiser with significant damage.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

New Unit - 28mm AWI 5th Foot

New Unit -28mm AWI 5th Foot

Well that recent AWI game got the creative juices flowing in the late 18th Century again and as a result I have just birthed this lot.

These are the first unit of Perry-miniatures plastic Brits I have done, despite having the figs for ages. I had heard a few putting together horror stories but I did these easily whilst watching an episode of DCI Banks with a swear word per hour rate close to zero.

Black Halfords Matt Primer and acrylic paints, mostly Vallejo with a sprinkling of ink wash on faces and Muskets. Flags are by Gmbdesigns. Love the GMB stuff but I have had a bit of a mare with them of late. Other units with GMB flags were left set up on a table over a few days under a bright artificial light, all the whites dyed pink and all the other colours faded badly. I had to paint over what was left as a template, they came out well, just see the last AWI game write up, but you dont want to have to repaint your flags after every game !

Found some others on t'net who had a similar problem which is solved by a good coat of varnish. That was great until the varnish clouded, arse as Father Jack would say, using Humbrol Enamel Matt Cote if anyone knows what the problems is.

A picture of the rear of a British unit just in case the Americans havent seen one before ;-)

Got to say I am quite happy with these, not sure about their robustness, I have changed by basing size for these, frontage is the same but I have increased the depth to 60mm to protect the muskets a bit. See how they go when they see action. Got an Artillery unit done as well today which is waiting basing, lets see how long the enthusiasm lasts.

Sunday 20 April 2014

New Unit 28mm Western Desert British Armour

New Unit 28mm Western Desert British Armour

Monkey, Hotspur and Fat Badger L to R
These guys have been used for a number of play tests over the last few months, in various states of completeness, this week I finally got round to finishing them.

This is a Marmon Herrington Armoured Car to be used as Recce for my South African Infantry, a Company B model, supplied by the ever superb Wargames Command Post Painted in the caunter scheme with decals from domsdecals. Dom does a limited range but the stuff he does is great and really finishes these models nicely.

One word of note don't use Matt Cote enamel varnish over Doms stuff, the decals melt ! To be fair to Dom if you read his instructions he does tell you this, I did the usual man thing and didn't bother reading the info sheet before varnishing, luckily I was only daft enough to varnish over the vehicle numbers which I had to remove and replace.

Nicknamed "Monkey" during the war I have used that for a vehicle name, I have done a rough sketch of the PG Tips character Monkey (a TV advert for tea for any non UK readers, Tea the taste of Empire not that coffee muck) on each side of the model for a bit of fun. I have two more of these to do. One will be Monkey from the 80s TV series, any suggestions for the third ?


Next up is a Valentine tank from Blitzkrieg Miniatures with Doms Decals painted in the caunter scheme. This model started the current 28mm Desert project, a "wooh that looks pretty" moment, led to impulse sample purchase, led to new period, you all know how it works. Hotspur is a genuine name for this vehicle.

Last up is a Matilda from Blitzkrieg Miniatures finished with Doms Decals and a Perry Miniatures commander. Have to say the light green has come out very dark in these photos, in real life its quite a subtle light shade honest. I do like the detail on this and the other Blitzkrieg stuff, I prefer it to the Warlord stuff which I have had some problems with recently ( I will blog re this when I get that model done ). Company B do some obscure stuff which fills a gap, they are showing their age a bit in terms of quality and are quite expensive compared with other makers. The Monkey was £22.50 where as something similar size from Warlord would be £16-18 but no one else makes them.

Badger is a genuine Matilda tank name, I couldn't resist adding the Fat in front after a local restaurant of the same name. A Matilda does look like a Fat Badger in my eyes.

Sunday 13 April 2014

AWI 1778 End Game

AWI 1778 End Game

A target rich environment, US Artillery gets into action at last

Well we finally got enough people in the same place at the same time to get the game finished, there was no dream rescue of the Hesse Grenadiers, they failed their rally test held over from our previous session and promptly dispersed.

British Infantry line out and join the fray

The main action carried on around the blue farm with the building finally being taken by another brave Hesse charge this time supported by British Infantry. The loss of the melee sent the battalion routing back to the American lines, Durkees brigade failed their subsequent Brigade Morale test and left the field. No shame on them though they held the main attack off long enough to get re enforcements there.

The Blue Farm finally falls

The arrival of the British turned the battle, one brigade marched around the North flank the other around the south, leaving the Americans in the North badly outflanked, this area of the battle had seen a largely ineffective long range musketry duel but with their flank threatened the Americans had to react.

The Northern flank attack by the British put pressure on the North

The flank attacks by the allies had done one thing and that was weaken the centre, seeing the chance of an attack the Americans threw everything across the fenced fields into the Hesse and British lines.

The American attack rolls forward towards some confused livestock

The gamble sadly didn't pay off, only 2 of the 6 charging units got into contact, both those won their melee, but the losses gained in the advance and the threat from the flank meant the attack could not be sustained, with the situation starting to become untenable, the American General ordered the withdraw. Victory to the Hesse / Brit combo but a good hard fought game.

The General sounds the withdrawal.

So general thoughts on the game, a good scenario with enough variation to make it playable more than once. The lack of big super good British units (have you ever tried to stop a 36 fig elite Highland Unit) made the game very playable. The turning point for me was right at the beginning of the game. One American General sat back on their objective while allowing the Brits to get more troops on, with a single entry point getting troops on fast was not possible for the Allies.

An enjoyable game, we haven't used our AWI collection for a while and it was really good to get them back on the table, the owner of the American figs couldn't make the games, sad cause the figs look great at least thanks to the t'interwebnet he can. British Grenadier worked well I think, quite old school but that's what we like, it takes a while to get used to the dp rules but once you get stuck in it all comes back.

We have a WW2 Naval campaign ready to go and the 28mm Western Desert is getting close to being ready for a big game, with everything else it might be a while before the collection is out again, the game has given me enthusiasm to paint up the first of my Perry plastic Brits which is nice.

Monday 7 April 2014

New Unit - 28mm Desert Italian Armour

New Unit - 28mm Western Desert Italian Armour

Things have been quiet on the blog front for a few weeks, I have been painting stuff for the Desert for a friend (something I promised I wouldn't do again after being a professional painter many years ago) lots of 8th Army which I'll feature on here when he has based them, I hate basing.

Here we have an Autoblinda AB41 armoured car from Company B which I ordered from the wonderful Wargames Command Post (Bob at WCP has always provided a good service on WW2 and SCW stuff), 3 CV35 Tankettes from Perry Miniatures And 4 M13/40 tanks from Blitzkrieg Miniatures.

Two close ups of one of the CV35s, a quality model, as you would expect from the Perrys, 8 pieces including the crew with the option included for the mg or the 20mm Anti Tank gun version. All metal and a bargain for £9. The decals are from Warlord Games. Most of the contemporary photos I've found of these vehicles show them uncamoed so I have done them that way. For those interested these are painted with Vallejo paints, base coat of Ochre Brown then a layer of Desert Yellow, highlighted with Dark Sand and White with a very watered down wash of Smoke, all over a Matt Black undercoat. Not much use on the battlefield however hasn't survived a game yet.

The AB41, painted in the same manner with an added Perry Italian commander.

The Blitzkreig tank, Perry Crew and Warlord decals, same paint as before with a Russian Green camo.

There are still some gaps in the market for the Italians, Company B do some obscure stuff but they are quite expensive here in the UK probably 20 percent more than similar models in the Blitzkrieg or Warlord ranges. I'm sure one of the UK manufactures will get round to doing the earlier M11/39 and L6 light tank, there is also a big gap for some soft transport and motorbikes as well. I do begrudge paying the same for a tank as I do for a truck, if someone did a plastic 28mm truck for say a tenner they would fly off the shelf. Warlord have a new deal with Italeri ( a plastic model company ) which I had high hopes for but they are charging £18 for a kit M4 Sherman and £22 for the resin version, I'll pay the extra four quid and not have to put it together thanks.