Monday, 23 October 2017

An Old Esci Friend: Pz 35(t) .. Old School Modelling!

By way of comparison and in start contrast to the new "First To Fight" I have pulled out an old friend from circa 1994 and a rare (even in those days) model of the Pz 35(t). I wince now remembering the pain I had putting the running track/wheels together. The track plastic itself was simply awful and broke several times. It needs redoing to say least. Yet still somehow it is an old favourite of mine and I would not part with it (see below):

I promise or rather pledge to redo the track this year!

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Early War Pz 35(t) .. First to fight

In for a penny, in for a pound. While I was in that York model shop I acquired a second First to Fight model. The particularly 'clanky' Pz 35(t) that the German Army acquired via Czechoslovakia in 1938. The 'other' Czech tank is the Pz 38(t) and I have a hoard of them (6) from Fujimi, but the rarer Pz 35(t) is represented by only one old Esci kit. Again the quality is superb, especially since the complicated bogie wheels were a single piece. The Esci kit had literally hundreds of parts by comparison (see below):

I could not resist putting on the Command Variant aerial antenna on the back! My only regret is that I did not buy the second one that was sat next to it on the shelf ;)

Friday, 20 October 2017

Early War Pz IIIE from "First to Fight"

I saw these (Firts to Fight) advertised on the Plastic Soldier Company (PSC) website and thought they looked good but resisted. However the first model shop I visited and picked one up I succumbed By heavens they are good! More pricey (£8 for one model) than ArmourCast but retaining their simplicity with added extra detail worthy of Fujimi and eclipsing Esci. Methinks they would give many a metal manufacturer a good run for their money being plastic injection and a lot cleaner on the "flash" side of things (see below a beautiful Pz IIIE):

The only thing that puzzled me was a minor piece of detail on the left side if the hull. Something ever so small but a curious details. The instructions on the back didn't quite show it in the detail my old eyes needed. However the link below (of one done in Blue Peter fashion by another) showed me where it should go (and Murphy's Law meant that I had done it wrong, not that anyone would notice, bar a rivet counter).

See you in its "full glory" here:

A welcome addition to my early war panzer collection!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Time to undercoat the WW2 French I have been keeping in the loft!

Sometimes one is spurred into action by the "use it or lose it" paradigm. Or put another way when your kids, with one particularly talented "crafty" young lady in mind, discovers your "undercoat spray can collection" and decides to have fun with it. Better had use the rest up quick before is disappears literally into "thick air". Hence the beautifully sculpted FAA WW2 (when they were based in the UK) French from 1998 or thereabouts finally get undercoated (see below):

About time too! More remedial action should follow before my spray paint stash is raided again!

Monday, 16 October 2017

War of Spanish Succession: 28mm Eye Candy

Travelling across to my friends in nearby Redcar I dropped into see the final stages of a board game of the War of the Spanish Succession (Note to self: Must fill in the missing blank of the games actual name when I next get across). Over the summer they have hosted a campaign by which battles from the strategic board game were transferred to the tabletop instead of rolling dice on a Combat Results Table (CRT). At this point Marlborough had gone home (or had been bribed, discuss) and the Dutch and French were frittering about trying to take a few Victory Point (VP) last towns before "winter quarters". This is pure co-incidence for me and my current Marlburian interest, as they are doing it in 28mm myself in 15mm with as of yet no painted figures. I was greeted with the fine sight of infantry brigades manoeuvring into position and the charge of cavalry squadrons in the distance (see below):

I was given a flank command of cavalry which seemed to be there purely to attract the attention of cannon balls away from the pretty infantry brigade in the previous picture. To which I accomplished great feats losing my dragoons in short order (in my defence by the time I got them they were about "gone" from the previous game session). If my memory served me correctly I was French (see below, some finely painted 28mm horse):

As per my dragoons I had to leave early. One observation from the rules (Lilly Banner) was that they must have played about half a dozen fairly large games yet still the basics were being talked about and walked through. True there was a fair rotation in players but the "leaders" had been consistent throughout and this struck me as a curious position to be in. In this session it was the mechanics of working out a basic charge and counter-charge. The side being the more 'pedantic' (in this case French, though I may add nothing to do with me as it was at the other end of the table) got for their efforts being "caught at the standstill" which I thought was a well-deserved ire of their own making. At least everyone will now be more familiar with the cavalry charge process due to this dramatic result.


Thursday, 12 October 2017

Cold War Flash Back 1970-90 (1:300 Micro Tanks) Soviet MR XX Project Tank III (WIP)

I happened in the loft upon an old collection of 1/300 modern micro armour. A project the better part of three quarters the way through making the order of battle for a Soviet, circa 1980's. Motor Rifle Division. The BMP and 2 x BTR regiments were all made, the next step being the organic Tank Regiment for the Division. The current state of affairs of the OrBat of stands to be completed is shown (see below, 21 stands waiting for tanks and odds and sods to fill in):

A little tender loving care (TLC) was applied to the basic brown, along with labelling the units in standard Spearhead fashion at the back of the base (see below): 

The missing stands in the above picture required a basic brown spray undercoat of "brown" to seal them (see below):

Sadly I don't think they match the original batch so I will have to lighten the base with an old fashioned brush (see below):

Next: Time to root out the silver legions of "micro tanks" to populated the bases!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Er, "Psst ... wanna free Space Marine or four?" ... OK

While entering a Comic Book Store I was propositioned with a friendly smile and a "Would you like some FREE Space Marines." Old style, but the only thing it cost me is "dignity and my time" (see below, a quick glue and they are lurking at the back of the painting tray")

How did I get from the WoSS to here?

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Necrons ... Just because they looked GOOD being so BAD!

Sometimes I cannot help myself or should that read most of the time? It is that SHINY feeling. I do not actively play GW 40K but I do like the Necrons, Tau and Tyranids models .. and come to think of it (some of the) Adeptus Mechanicus "robotic men". And somehow I have a large collection (well large to my mind when I didn't expect to have any at all) of those things called "Space Marines"  .. you might of heard of them. So when I saw these particular Necrons I immediately failed my Wisdom check for "scary robots of death" (see below, cash exchanged hands .. same old story):

Killer Death Robot (Style A) #1:

Killer Death Robot (Type B) #2:

Killer Death Robot (Type A again) #3:

Killer Death Robot (Type B again) #4:

Killer Death Robot (Type A again, again .. my favourite style) #5:

As per my usual attitude to GW kits, I just stick things together for aesthetics rather than their corpus or rule sets (limited eBat resell perhaps but that is not what I got it for). Here I broke their pedantic rules with glee mixing weapons from the wrong types of figures .. cast me into the pit of shame, I dare you ;)

They don't care they anymore they got my money. I should really move over to the Kick Starters, bigger bucks but you get the benefit of a bulk buy! 

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

The War of the Spanish Succession: The Battle of Oudenarde July 11th 1708 (Part 7) All Good Things Come to an End

The Hanoverian infantry faced-off against the French rearguard. Pressing the French "too hard" meant that the French artillery would strike with deadly effect so an impasse was in effect (see below):

So gradually the French rearguard trickled away as the Allies marched forward in an orderly fashion, wary of a potential French counter stroke and content in squeezing the French back over the river. Inevitably the disordered French in retreat were faster than the Allies in steady advance, however the detritus of war that was left on the battlefield indicated how many of the French soldiers were shedding their valuable equipment in pure flight (see below):

One final cavalry skirmish was sufficient to remove the remnants of the French cavalry regiments from the field leaving only a gaggle on infantry on the wrong side of the river (see below):

Alas one French Line regiment was caught between desperate fires. Its situation was clearly hopeless. It had formed square because of cavalry threat and was thus immobile, but then saw solid lines of Prussian infantry advancing on it readying their muskets, just outside of range. They felt too that the eyes of the recently unlimbered Allied artillery was on them, it was going to be a brutal end. With Bourbon colours flying they awaited the onslaught, resolute to die as fighting men of France for their King Louis XIV (see below):

However an Allied commander stepped forth and called a halt to proceedings. The game was over and he could not bear to see brave soldiers of his former country be slaughtered for no reason. Prince Eugen sent forth a parley (see below):

An Aide de Camp (ADC) spoke to the French Colonel of Foot:

"Sirs, Prince Eugen has seen your bravery and declares that you are the bravest French regiment on the field of battle today, for when all else were fleeing you stood. Lesser men have escaped. You have given them time to do so. For this he salutes you as you have performed a soldiers job well. Indeed he sees that you were willing to pay with your lives.Your colours are steady and have you conducted yourselves in the proud traditions of the French army. Prince Eugen and his staff salute you."

There was a pause and the ADC continued:

"Price Eugen on behalf of the Allied Command offers you terms. He personally guaranteed your safety if you lower your flag and avoid senseless bloodshed. You are offered honours and your men will be the first in prisoner exchange and parole. Your colours will not be taken from you. What say you?"

The Colonel of Foot bows and the colours were lowered. The men let out a sigh of relief for this unexpected salvation. The men were formed into columns, their muskets are shouldered but upside down, a bullet in the mouth however they walk to captivity (see below):

Night falls on a convincing Allied victory. Marlborough and Eugen consult in yet another 'council of war' for the next day brings yet more trials of strength. The war goes on!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The War of the Spanish Succession: The Battle of Oudenarde July 11th 1708 (Part 6) Cry Havoc!

The view from the French side of the hill. The panorama is becoming rather disturbing to the French command as their troops are being hemmed in by the geography of the battlefield and their two brigades of infantry are now facing four deployed brigades of the Allies. The question is even if the French want to deploy more troops where can they fit them in? They need to push forwards with all haste to create some breathing space (see below): 

From Marlborough's and Prince Eugene's perspective although the Allies are fully deployed the fight is far from over. The Allies need to press forwards and break the last line of French and Bavarian resistance or the French will have time to fully deploy their reserves (see below):

At this point the Allies face a new moment of crisis as the guns of the French from across the river find the range of the most advanced Prussians forming the final part of the "closed gate". The Prussians panicked and retired, flinching at the fire. If the enemy had been near it would have been a rout. As it was it was an ungainly display of mob rule. As it was the "gap" was serious enough. Thankfully (for the Allies) the last Prussian cavalry arrived in force to plug the gap (see below):

Meanwhile the British infantry started once again on their remorseless advance, John Churchill with them every step of the way, picking his way through the corpse strewn field being an inspiration to his troops. Then with an impressive display of ordered musketry the British infantry disordered the French battalions facing them (see below): 

The French line was shattered and turned tail and fled, causing havoc (disordering) amongst the Bavarian infantry behind who in turn were swept away (umpire's ruling). The crisis was now turned on the French as their infantry flank melted away (see below):

To the north a flood of fresh Prussian cavalry engulfed the last remaining fresh French cavalry regiment. All that remained to stop the Allies now were composite squadrons of tired French horse and a few, although still fresh, compacted battalions of infantry (see below):

Seeing the debacle unfold the French troops still north of the river yet to cross were ordered by their officers to halt. The troops already across were promptly about faced and retired. The French army was in full retreat and needed a stiff rearguard action to avoid complete destruction (see below):

A sight for Queen Anne! The mass of Allied infantry advancing, some four lines deep was an awe inspiring sight, but put the fear of God into the French rearguard troops that had to face them (see below, Hanoverian's and Prussians, the British are out of the picture to the left):

Next: Closing Time

Monday, 25 September 2017

The War of the Spanish Succession: The Battle of Oudenarde July 11th 1708 (Part 5) The Gristle and Grease of Battle

The battle continued into its third phase, the Allies push forward with tired troops to gain critical objectives.

Although mighty events had swung in favour of the Allies to the north the battle still hung in the balance. The French reverses in cavalry fortunes were quickly made good by squadrons of fresh troopers arriving new from line of march. This foretold of a possible French strategic dilemma, their entry points were fast becoming choke points. New troops arriving were finding themselves hurled into combat straight away. The French could not afford to lose any more ground or be "choked". A large body of the French lay across the wrong side of the river. The Allies conversely still had to completely "shut the door" with the swinging wing of infantry or risk the numerous French cavalry squadrons running amok in their backfield.

So the Prussian Cavalry general, already victorious in one major combat, considered another gambit to save the northern flank. Rather than wait, which meant to become outnumbered by the arriving French, he decided to press his minor advantage [1:1 odds with his commanding presence] and fight the battle where he wanted it to be, thus at the very least 'buy time' for the infantry gate to close. Once more he brought his troopers to the charge (see below, far top left the Prussians cavalry charge [brown horses hitting a line of black] while the infantry order their lines with the flourish of a small skirmish at the river):

The combat goes against the brave Prussians, they are fought to a standstill, the presence of the general saving a rout. Disordered they lay at the mercy of a reinforced (and importantly ordered) French attack. With the noteworthy discreteness associated with the careful Dragoons, a Prussian regiment stealthily occupied the windmill to secure the northern flank of the infantry gate (see below, there can only be a bad outcome next for the mounted Prussians now):

The Prussian formation disintegrates being outnumbered 3:1 and heads in total disorder of the river minus a stand, carrying the Prussian general with them. The French gather themselves to exploit whatever openings are left in the approaching Allied infantry formation. The French desperately need to change the momentum of this battle in their favour by a stroke of genius, as expected by Louis XIV (see below):

Meanwhile in the south, John Churchill calls forth the British to press the French (aided by some despicable Bavarian's who have recently changed sides) and advance out of their defensive strongholds. He sees that a sudden reverse would sow complete confusion in the (too) tightly packed battalions of French infantry. Again the British contest with the Swiss a village whose name history will soon forget but forever be a grave for many a brave soldier (see below):

Standing back we now see that the northern infantry gate is closed shut. The victorious French cavalry are denied easy infantry pickings. Instead they see a continuous line of bayonet, behind which fresh Allied cavalry reinforcements can be seen and even limbering cannon. Nought can be gained here with a futile charge. The French army is crammed into a defensive perimeter. History had it that the French commander across the river declined at this point to send troops, however on this fateful day (by roll of an important command dice) he saw fit to support his fellow French. Additional French is the last thing Marlborough wants to see (see below, the French infantry are looking disordered in the south):

Once disordered the French infantry yield before the march of the redcoats. The constant drilling has made them the pride of the whole Allied army. The Swiss are routed, a village taken and the first line French infantry brigade find itself in peril. The redoubt of individual French battalions was not in doubt, rallying and rejoining the fight time after time, but the whole as a line buckled (see below):

Next: Application of pressure with all arms!

Sunday, 17 September 2017

The War of the Spanish Succession: The Battle of Oudenarde July 11th 1708 (Part 4) The Ground was Soaked in Blood

As fire and fury erupted in the infantry conflict for the village a more stately procession of squadron after squadron of horse arrayed themselves to the north of Groenenwald, In fact the French had so many horse they sent away a full two regiments to their left flank where the Dragoons of John Churchill were making so much mischief. A decision they bitterly regretted later (see below):

The French were quite happy to play the defensive and form a front to await the outcome of the infantry assault. The Prussian General in turn deployed his cavalry within charge range of the French ti tempt them forwards. Still the French did not come so a  unit of Prussian Dragoons were sent north of the windmill to outflank the French wing. As it stood the Prussians had a tactical advantage of the "charge" bonus and of the attached leadership of a General. Sensing the hour of need was at hand, with his orders to support the Hanoverian infantry to his right and seeing the intent French on pressing their infantry attack in the centre the Prussian General attached himself to the lead cavalry unit and committed unto a desperate charge (see below, yes the French commander at this moment was regretting sending those "extra" horse away to the other flank):

The cavalry line was engulfed with furious hand to hand fighting. After the charge the results seemed to be swinging towards the Allied side as the French were more disordered. As a means using them rather than losing them, the French committed to a cavalry charge against the Hanoverian line infantry to support the final heave of their infantry against the village of Groenewald. With both flanks secured they Hanoverian landsers held fast (see below):  

Meanwhile after more hand-to-hand combat the French cavalry were bested, either being routed or left in disorder. The battle was not over by a long margin but the immediate danger of a central collapse of the Allied line was averted. Eyes turned back to the French Infantry battling in the town to see that they too had been repulsed in their final attack and were reforming, unlike their cavalry who had been scattered (see below):

The Allied line looked much more ordered than the French who were bunched in a compressed salient, hindering each others effective deployment. The danger being that a simple reverse would ripple disorder through the ranks as retreating troops fell back on fresh. The French commander had a worried air about himself at this point. The Allied infantry were ponderously trying to close the door between the central village (Groenewald) and the "windmill" (which unhelpfully had lost its sails) [middle left in the photo] to twist their disadvantaged dangerous "L" into a battle winning position (see below):

The two French regiments of horse reappear from their futile traverse of the French lines to face off the enthused and victorious Prussians who are screening the advancing Allied infantry. The French infantry (now two brigades) although not disordered and are still "packed together" (see below):

With the "crisis" of defence passed, Marlborough now pondered the point of his attack. Additional French reinforcements can be seen moving up in the background. Now was teh time to press the Allied advantage.

Friday, 15 September 2017

The War of the Spanish Succession: The Battle of Oudenarde July 11th 1708 (Part 3) O' Fortuna

There then came to the matter of a small village. They, the French had it, and we sir wanted it and that was the matter of it. The men in scarlet advanced, there was disorder all round and the smoke of battle made the scene quite intense (see below, the French and British infantry come to grips with one another):

For a moment the French looked to have the better of it as they regained their order and pressed forwards (see below, the British are stalled and the French battalion has regained its initial composure and a fresh new French brigade of infantry can be seen advancing menacingly):

At this moment John Churchill (Allied C-in-C) stepped forwards and commanded a column of mounted Dragoons to come timely at the gallop and charge the French infantry while they disposed in line and vulnerable to such a swift move. The French infantry in local command were entirely focused upon their British infantry they were too late in coming to aware of this new danger. They broke and fled back into the village whence they first came (see below the action of the charge):

Although the local danger had passed and one jaw of death had been averted the fresh French infantry brigade posed a second jaw even more dangerous (see below the French infantry battalion is scattered but the British line is in disarray):

With the dexterity of a great captain of antiquity Marlborough straitened his lines, withdrawing his cavalry to a useful reserve position but despite his best efforts the "L" of the Allies looked very vulnerable. The whole defensive position depended upon a garrisoned village of Groenewald holding its nerve in teh battle to come (see below, if Groenewald falls [in the centre of the battlefield] the flanks of both Allied brigades would be mercilessly exposed )

It is at this very point the French Commander hurls the fresh French infantry newly arrived on the battlefield. The smoke of battle once again engulfs the field of play (see below, without the expedience of time for a softening up barrage with artillery the French go in):

This gentlemen is warfare in "The Age of Reason", mathematical but more the bloody for its application.

Next: The Dark Heart of the Matter