Thursday, 29 January 2015

Armourfast Su85

Following on from the Armourfast T34/76 models I made and painted earlier this year, here is the Su85 tank destroyer.  I'd actually painted another T34/76 this week as well, but you've seen one of those already.
It is rather a spiffing model with nice details such as separate handrails and four fuel tanks.  I put another one of my bespoke hawsers on this one.
Paint scheme was the usual Tamiya XF-13 J.A.Green with a black wash, followed by some light dry-brush highlighting with buff paint.  Decals came from ebay after I decided that my hand wasn't steady enough to paint the numbers.

I didn't make this one as weathered as my T34/76 as they are the 1941 versions so I reckoned that this one hadn't been in the field as long as they had.  I have another Su85 to make and paint (Armourfast kindly put two in a box) and then I can move on to the Pegasus KV-1, or perhaps another project...

Monday, 26 January 2015

One-Hour Wargames 8: Melee

It's been a while but finally I have a wargame to report.  I got a copy of Neil Thomas's "One-Hour Wargames" (published by Pen & Sword) last year and and we had talked about trying out the rules and scenarios it contains.
15mm Hinchcliffe French Curassiers
Basically, the book is meant to be the antidote to (allegedly) 'billiard-table game' rules like Black Powder.  It therefore a) contains very simple rules tailored for each historical period, b) assumes you will play on a table 3' by 3' and c) that you will generally field six units each.  To facilitate this it includes 30 scenarios and associated maps that are meant to be suitable for any period.
One-Hour Wargames Scenario 8: Melee
The one we went with was Scenario 8: Melee, which features a hill, some woods and a road (see my sketchmap).  And as we were trying to do this in an hour, we even dispensed with any fancy frippery, like a basecloth, so it was quickly laid out on the bare kitchen table as you can see.  That's the road marked out with bluetack: Geoff has made a lot of scenery over the years but doesn't seem to have gotten around to roads yet.
Cue rendition of Walton's "March Past of the Kitchen Utensils"
For this scenario the game objective is control of the hill.  Red force (in this case, the French) starts with two units on the hill facing south and reinforcements come on in groups of two thereafter at preordained intervals.  Blue force (in this case, the Austrians) has to capture the hill but can only bring its units on three at a time, again at move numbers defined by the scenario rules.
Austrians deploy
The French (me) started with a "brigade" of line (3 bases) with artillery and light infantry on the hill.  Sensing the importance of the woods in front of the hill the light infantry were moved from their position on the right, across the front of the line brigade, whilst the Austrians advanced dragoons to threaten the objective, as well as pushing grenze up to contest the woods.  Other Austrian troops continued quickly up the main road intent on outflanking the initial French position.
View from behind French lines
Meanwhile (and probably too quickly) the first French reinforcements started to arrive (curassiers and more line, in bicorns), which were already making the Austrian attack look untenable.
French reinforcements arriving already
Still, the Austrians pressed on, the dragoons attacking the hill but being thrown back.  The grenze trying to get through the woods faired no better.
Austrian dragoons get a bloody nose
In quick succession the rest of the Austrians entered the field (all via the road) and the last of the French also came on, this time comprising the Old Guard and some hussars.  Meanwhile the Austrians were still persisting with their weak attack on the hill, as well as advancing curassiers and infantry up the road to try to outflank it and cut off the reinforcements.
View from French lines.  All troops on the table.
However, things did not go well for the Austrians (do they ever?).  The dragoons were pushed back down the hill by fire from the artillery and line infantry and then the curassiers thundered down on them as they stood in a disorganised state.
Austrian dragoons about to cop it.  Old Guard now on the hill as well.
Meanwhile on the French left the advancing Austrians were checked by a sharp and frankly suicidal attack by hussars on the Austrian curassiers.  It did the trick and contained them, whilst the Old Guard was able to invest the hill.
French hussars disordered in front of Austrian curassiers
And at that point after about ten moves, and two and a half hours of play, we had to end it, although it was clear that the Austrians were never going to budge the French.
Austrian dragoons really about to cop it.  Again.
Overall we found the scenario very simple and easy to set up.  Perhaps next time the arrival of French reinforcements should be determined by die throw, because they came on too quickly and too predictably for the Austrians to be able to even be able to develop the attack.

I should also add that we didn't actually use the rules in the One-Hour Games book, which we'd looked at and thought were a bit too simple even for us.  In fact we play-tested David Manley's Fast Play Napoleonic Rules (descibed as "DBA-esque via Fire & Fury"), which did the job but which we'd probably tweak if we were going to use them again.
15mm Roundway hussars
Footnote: troops used were Geoff's and a mixture of very old Hinchcliffe, Roundway, Naismith and Warrior miniatures, which all looked fairly compatible to me.

Friday, 16 January 2015

ACW Adventures in Basing No.8

Just a quick post to prove that, contrary to popular opinion, I am capable of multi-tasking.  By way of illustration, last weekend, whilst building, painting and modding a couple of Armourfast T34/76, I also found time to base the last of my 20mm ACW artillery.
Most of the figures and all of the guns come from the Airfix Napoleonic Royal Horse Artillery set.  I had converted and painted the figures (quite) some years ago but the guns were completely overhauled this weekend.  At one point I was considering getting some metal guns to go with the crew as I thought that the Napoleonic guns looked a bit odd, but after a bit of research on The Miniatures Page (TMP) forums I found the solution to using the original guns.
The main bit of advice was that if I cut off the axletree boxes (i.e. the boxes mounted between each cheek and the wheel) then the result would be passable for an ACW artillery piece.  And they were right.  The next thing was colour.  Again the TMP forums came to the rescue as apparently Union and most Confederate artillery were painted an olive colour (technically "liquid olive"), for which most people seemed to think that the standard US "olive drab" would work.
Finally, the guns.  Again the sages on TMP advised that brass guns (like the 12pdr Napoleon) would have been highly polished affairs, whilst the various iron guns would have been painted black.  The guns here should probably by rights be brass Napoleons, but I wanted a bit of contrast from the other pieces I had so I painted them as iron guns.  I also drilled out the bore which is something I've never bothered with before.  I must be maturing.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Pimp my Tank, or, More Armourfast T34/76

Happy New Year guys.  So this is the Wishful Wargamer's "new year, new you" pledge: to do more wargaming this year.  Therefore, to start the year off as I'll probably continue, let's cut straight to this week's displacement activity, i.e. a couple of 1/72 Armourfast T34/76.
The first one is actually a model I completed previously, which I thought was a bit boring at the time so I've now upgraded it with a bit of clutter.  This clutter inlcudes some fuel tanks, basically made from some 5mm plastic tubing sealed up with filler, that this rather simple model didn't even include in the box (this being the older and discontinued T34/76 Armourfast tooling).
"Totally tubular"
I also added one of my patent hawsers I describe making in a previous post.  I took the opportunity to touch up the paint job a bit and slap on even more weathering, particularly around the exhausts area, inspired generally I have to say by the fantastic work on the Plastic Warriors website.
As well as this old T34/76 (actually there were two of them, No.2 not shown here) I also constructed and painted the 'new tooling' T34/76, which is quite a different and in my opinion a far superior model.  The whole thing is lower and far better proportioned than the previous tooling - and the parts fit together better which helps: when you compare the models the earlier one seems really weird and hgh.  The new one also has better detailing, for example on the engine covers and wheels.  Plus it has fuel tanks.  However, I think I will be able to get away with both types on the battlefield when the time comes, as long as they aren't sitting side by side.
For this model I added an extra fuel tank for some real-world randomness, as well as sticking on a roll of tarpaulin (made from some tissue paper rolled up with woodglue and tied off with thread).  And there's another one of my hawsers.  The crewman is an officer from the Revell Soviet infantry pack, with his map and legs cut off.
Finally, a note on how I painted these.  The base colour for my soviet tanks is Tamiya XF-13 J.A.Green, which goes all over.  I then give the tank a black wash to bring out the detail and add rust marks (I use thinned Revell acrylic 37, reddish brown).  For mud, dust and general weathering I employ a combination of 'flicking' thinned Revell 17, Africa brown with a stiff brush to get a mud splash effect on the front of the tank (mind your wallpaper), and then finish off with extensive dry-brushing using the same pale brown colour.

Not sure what's next but I do have another T34/76 to make plus a couple of Su-85s and KV-1s (Pegasus) which I'm looking forward to.  Once they're done I will be going through the wargames box and refurbishing all the old, clapped out and randomly donated tanks in there (must be a couple of dozen at least).  Plus, I found a tangle of brass picture hanging wire in the toolbox yesterday and of course I'm now wondering if I can make even more hawsers out of that...