SU-57s from Battlefront

More Soviet vehicles rolling off the production line as a result of Battlefront’s last sale: this time it’s the SU-57 self-propelled guns.

More correctly called the T48 Gun Motor Carriage, the Samokhodnaya ustanovka 57 was what the Soviets called the M3 half-track with a 57mm anti-tank gun mounted on top. The Russians received 650 of them, and used the SP AT guns in Operation Bagration et al. in 1943/4.

I usually hate putting Battlefront artillery together, especially those with a gun shield, so was pleasantly surprised at how easily I could build the four SU-57s. The M3 body has a fits-just-right post for the gun, with a lovely little ledge just in front of it for the edge of the gun shield. No swearing required at all!

The crew are good too. I chose to mount them as part of the initial build (as opposed to painting them separately then putting them into the painted vehicles) and this seemed to work quite well. There’s enough room to get a brush right their way down to the feet, if necessary, so my standard block colour-wash-highlight technique worked well.

Almost to my surprise, another highly recommended.

IABSM AAR: Kicking in the Door

Here’s an AAR from Alastair Birch first published onto the I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum Facebook page, so I hope he doesn’t mind me reproducing it here.

This is a cracking little encounter written by the big man himself, Richard Clarke, back in about 2005. I actually have a Word version of the scenario, designed for IABSM v2, although where I got it from I have no idea!

Adolf himself has told his troops that “the Soviet Union is a rotten structure, that we only need to kick in the door, and the whole thing will collapse before us”. Click on he picture below to see if that’s true!

KV-85 Tanks from Battlefront

I’m continuing to work my way through all the tanks I bought last time Battlefront had a significant sale, moving on from the Germans (Jagdpanzer IVs) to the Soviets.

The first batch of Stalin’s toys off the painting table were a company of heavy tanks: KV-85s to be exact. These filled the gap between the KV-1E (and a few lend lease Churchills) until the arrival in 1944 of the JS-III.

I’ve always liked the shape of the KV class of Soviet tank: nice and chunky!

These, the usual Battlefront combination of resin body/turret and metal tracks/gun/hatches, went together really easily (makers of plastic vehicles take note), and were a joy to paint up as well.

I did add a bit of extra stowage to a few of them: somewhat ironically given my previous comment, the canvas rolls on the front two tanks are actually the furled up canvas tops to the PSC Steyrs that I posted about a few days ago. Nothing ever goes to waste!

KV-85s from Battlefront: highly recommended.

IABSM AAR: Operation Sealion #04: Take the Heights

Another great Sealion AAR, but not this time from Karim and friends at the Stipsicz Hussars. No, this time it’s Tim Whitworth and his friends at the “Like a Stonewall” wargames group who are playing out the action.

Click on the pic below to see whether the Hyde Home Guard Platoon, under the watchful eye of their daring commander Major fforbes-Cole MC (retired) can defend Paddlesworth against the Fallschirmjaeger Hun.

Colossal Painting Challenge Update!

What with Salute and work and training and all that, I didn’t get a chance to update the Challenge last week: a minor disaster as everyone suddenly got very active with their brushes!

As a result, we have a colossal update this week, with three-figure scores from lots of people.

So, in no particular order, we have:

  • Matt Slade warms up with some Gnolls and archers, and then moves into overdrive with an entire 8th Army platoon. A huge update from the master!

  • Carole takes a break from the Renaissance to rush a Sharp Practice company into action

  • Mervyn has forgotten the way to his painting table, but manages seven cowboys and some siege equipment

  • There’s a bit of a mix from Travis: WW2 Pioneers, scorpions and a necromancer, and the last of the orcs…and, to quote Boromir himself (assume Sheffield accent) “they have a cave troll”

  • A marvelous collection of WW2 canal terrain from John Emmett

  • Andy Duffell has gone sci-fi

  • Chris Stoesen builds and paints some more 15mm houses

  • More Sugar Island campaign figures from Mr Luther (there are now some pictures in the gallery as well)

  • A huge 10mm DAK entry from Sapper

  • Chris Cornwell has had a good month: Dacians et al.

  • Lots of lovely SP figures from Joe McGinn

  • The first entry of the year from John Haines: Victorians miscreants, lots of them

  • The usual humungus entry from The Hat. Lloyd has sent in a huge 6mm ACW army plus more Cruel Seas boats.

  • And last, but by no means least, Andrew Helliwell has some more 15mm SYW Prussians for us to admire.

The Scorecard is updated (including last update’s update)…and, as usual, clicking on the name of the people above takes you straight to their gallery (opens in a new window). Highly recommended, as there are some great paint jobs to see.

Here’s a selection to whet the whistle:

Keep the entries coming!

IABSM AAR: Operation Sealion #03: Capture the Port

Another great AAR from Karim Van Overmeire and friends at the Stipsicz Hussars, again from the Operation Sealion scenario pack for I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum!

This battle report features Scenario #03: Capture the Port, in which elements of the London Irish Rifles defend the small sea side village of Seabrook against the German 21st Infantry Regiment. The Germans had to capture this position on their way to Folkestone: securing the port of Folkestone was necessary to allow German armour to be brought ashore.

Click on the picture below to see if Seabrook will fall under the Nazi jackboot!

15mm Bamboo Houses from MiniWarfare

About a month ago, I saw an ad. or a post or something from miniwarfare.com talking about their new range of 15mm mdf buildings for the Vietnam War.

Now I already have five or six large 15mm far east-type buildings from Sarissa Precision, but one can never have too much of a good thing, so e-mailed ‘Frank’ in China and placed an order, paying by PayPal. This may seem like a somewhat foolish thing to do, but the prices were very good, and I like to encourage new traders even if there’s the possibility that I was going to be conned!

Frank was very easy to deal with, very prompt in his replies, and, about a month after payment, in through the letterbox came my huts…and very nice they are too.

Stilted Bamboo House $9.50

They are also incredibly easy to build: each wall and its stilts come in one piece and slot through the base giving the hut an automatic stability lacking from separate-stilt versions. The detailing is lovely, and although the roofs are perhaps a bit artificial looking, I can always cover them with my patent green fur technique that makes my Sarissa huts stand out from…well, everywhere really!

Large bamboo house $7.50

I particularly like the way that the large and small bamboo houses have windows that you can prop open on a stick. I thought that these would be a nightmare to glue into place, but one end of the stick comes with a little wedge-y bit that hooks it onto the window sill beautifully enough to make a dab of superglue take hold without any problems at all. The shutter then glues to the side of the house and the top of the stick. Much to my surprise, I had no problems whatsoever with doing this.

Small bamboo house $5.00

The matting inside the doors and open windows are just a bit of hemp cut and glued onto the inside of the huts, again something very easy to do.

So miniwarfare.com gets a highly recommended from me, and I wish Frank every success in the future. I wonder if he’s planning to do a 15mm Russian church yet…

PS Do feel free to mention Vis Lardica if you do buy anything from them. Oh, in case you are wondering, I have no connection to Frank at all: this is just a genuine glowing review!

Salute 2019

This Saturday it was off to Salute 2019 at the Excel centre in Docklands.

Salute is one of the cornerstone shows in the UK wargames calendar, and it’s easy to see why.

Firstly, the Excel centre is a great venue: easy access by car, parking right underneath (even if it is £20 for the day), huge amounts of space, and plentiful food and drink outlets. My only complaint would be that sometimes I find the lighting in the hall a bit dim, but that might just be my fading eyesight!

The queue to get in used to be an extreme annoyance - one could wait an hour - but for the last few years its been so under control that, for example, this year I arrived at Excel at 9.50, had a baguette and coffee for breakfast, and then walked straight in to the show without queuing at all. Amazing! The only question is why couldn’t they have organised it like this before!

The show itself was full of traders and demo games. There are loads of blogs carrying loads of reports on the show, so suffice to say that it took me all morning and some of the afternoon to get round everything.

The Lardies were running a stunning game of Chain of Command set in Malaya in 1942, a period near and dear to my heart (Fall of the Liongate and all that). I didn’t play, but enjoyed watching the action.

Also Larding away was Mike Whitaker with his Bloody Omaha game. Now I played this game a few years ago at one of the Evesham games days…and its a cracker. Mike had 486 figures on 144 bases on an 8x6 table on display and managed two complete play-throughs of the scenario. And people say my games are big!

Click on the picture below to see all the photos:

As per usual, I did spend a bit too much money, but it was all on absolute bargains, honest! I bought a bag of fifty brushes for £20, which should keep even an established ‘brushbane’ like me going for a bit; and then I also bought one of the “all you can see for £100” mdf sci-fi industrial set-ups from Troll Trader that I just cannot wait to get built and painted up.

The show was nicely crowded all through the day, except perhaps at lunchtime. I hear a lot of people saying that their mates didn’t go because they couldn’t be bothered, or it wasn’t their thing any more or something rubbish like that. All I can say is that they are wrong: Salute is still a cornerstone show and a must-visit for any wargamer in reach in the UK.

Battlefront Jagdpanzer IV in 15mm

I’m always a sucker for a bargain, so when Battlefront recently had a 25% sale in preparation for withdrawing some models from sale whilst they re-model, I took full advantage and added another peak to the lead mountain.

One gap in my collection that I was happy to fill in were some Jagdpanzer IVs: the infamous very low profile tank hunters.

These were easy to build (therapy after the Steyrs!) and easy to paint. Spray dunkelgelb, then use the sponge pad that Battlefront use as packaging to protect their models to dab on some dark green then brown. Wash with the ubiquitous Agrax Earthshade, highlight with Screaming Skull, do the tracks, crewman and decals and away you go. Simple.

Can’t wait to get them onto the table.

IABSM AAR: Battle at Parczew

It’s September 29th, 1939, and Independent Operational Group Polesie are marching south towards Koch. Attacked by Soviet cavalry and tanks, the Poles are at first beaten back, but then counter-attack and manage to re-take the village of Milanow. This they then prepare to hold in the face of further attacks from Russian infantry with tank support.

The above is a condensed version of the background given to scenario #31: The Battle at Parczew from the September War scenario pack. I would play the Poles, defending Milanow; with John and Dave commanding the advancing Soviets.

Click on the picture below to see all…

PSC Steyr Heavy Cars in 15mm

I’m quite a fan of plastic vehicles: the price means you can buy by the company rather than by the platoon, the plastic allows for an incredible amount of detail, and they weigh a fraction of their metal or resin equivalents - important when you’re carrying a company of large tanks around!

So when I needed a re-stock of spray paints for undercoating, and had decided to use the ones available on the Plastic Soldier Company website, and noticed that they had released a set of Steyr heavy transport cars, I impulse-purchased a box-full and looked forward to adding them to my collection. I didn’t exactly need them, but they could join the mass of other PSC products that I already had: Cromwells, Churchills, half-tracks etc.

As you might have gathered already, I like PSC kit, and have built many a PSC model, but I’m afraid to say that these were a complete nightmare to put together! They’ve turned out brilliantly, as you’ll hopefully see from the pictures below, but the actual build process was…well, it was traumatic, to say the least!

So what was the problem?

The problem starts right at the beginning of the build: step 2 in the instructions IIRC.

The first step is to attach the bottom of the vehicle to the chassis that will take the wheels. No real problem here, but my advice is to do this on all the vehicles you are building first, then properly leave them to dry until the glue is rock-solid. That assembly is going to take an awful lot of pressure as you try and complete step 2, and will easily un-stick itself as the shear you will have to use takes effect.

Okay: now onto step 2. Sticking the sides of the vehicle onto the bottom/chassis assembly. This is where the fun starts.

The sides of the vehicle are necessarily shaped and curved to represent the body and the bonnet (hood for my US chums) of the Steyr. This curved piece of plastic is not quite shaped correctly to sit on the vehicle bottom. This means that you have to glue the front of it in place, and then bend the plastic into position on the sides. That means gluing plastic under pressure in place i.e. the sides want to flex back into their natural shape rather than sit in position as the glue hardens. As this is a 15mm model, the surfaces to be stuck together are small, which means there’s not much glue available to hold the plastic-wanting-to-flex-back to-its-natural-shape in place.

One simple paragraph, but a couple of hours of extreme frustration!

No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the models to go together without leaving seam-gaps where there shouldn’t have been seam gaps. By the end, I was using plastic cement, Superglue, and, finally, a paste made up of Superglue and PVA mixed together in a desperate attempt to make things work. I had so much glue on my fingers that, even now, four days later, I still look like someone trying to conceal their fingerprints from forensics!

Things got so bad at one stage that I seriously considered taking two of the models outside and using a hammer to smash them into smithereens! I can feel my blood pressure rising even as I type this!

Anyway, I eventually got them built and painted and, I must say, they’ve turned out very well indeed:

The paint job is simple. Spray dunkelgelb from the PSC spray can. Paint canvas light brown. Wash with Agrax Earthshade, highlight with Screaming Skull. Paint in relevant bits: tyres, tools and the windows.

I’m quite pleased with the windows: they are painted a medium-light blue then very gently brushed with a bit of white.

DSCN0374.JPG

So a very lovely looking set of transport vehicles, but achieved with much pain and frustration…to the point where if PSC offered me another box for free, I might actually say “thanks, but no thanks”.

PS Note that the Steyrs come with plenty of options: early or late (my bad: the single Steyr shown above is an early model painted in late colours, the only one I actually made that mistake on: the others are all late models painted in late colours); and with the option to have the canvas top down showing the inside and some crew. I would have done that, but was so hacked off with the basic body build that I just wanted to get them finished, so went with the quick slap-on-the-canvas-roof option instead.

IABSM AAR: Operation Sealion #02: Rearguard at Pevensy

Karim van Overmeire and the Stipsicz Hussars are continuing to play through the Operation Sealion scenario pack, this time they fight scenario #02: Rearguard at Pevensy.

Will the British hold the bridges, or will the fearsome Hun get in amongst them? Click on the picture below to find out all…

TFL Painting Challenge: Not An April Fools Update

Morning all. Here’s this week’s update to the Painting Challenge, and not an April Fools amongst them.

In no particular order, we have:

  • Mark Luther updates his gallery with some pictures of all the Sugar Islands figures he’s been painting

  • Blue Moose Ken sends in his usual eclectic mix of figures

  • There are some Orc archers and BEF supports from Travis

  • Mr Slade has finished off his Belgian Chasseurs for 1940, and reports that (unbelievably) his newly painted troops have won a victory on their first outing

  • More Condotteri ride into Carole’s collection

  • And more of the usual from Mr Helliwell

  • Jon Yuengling has some early war Germans and Dutch in 15mm for us to see

  • And last, but by no means least, Stumpy bases some Zulus and paints some nuns!

As usual, clicking on the name of the person in the list above will take you straight to their gallery (opens in a new window).

Now, before the pictures, a confession: I haven’t had a chance to update the scorecard with all the points generated form the above yet. I could have done it last night, but chose to finish off some Jagdpanzer IV tank hunters instead! I’ll try and get it done tonight.

So, on to today’s piccies:

Searchlights (literally) in 28mm

Those of you who have the The Defence of Calais scenario pack for I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum, and those who have read the Blitzkrieg: The BEF theatre supplement, will know that during the fall of France campaign the British were often forced to use Searchlight Infantry (i.e. line of communication troops whose purpose was to help anti-aircraft units hit enemy ‘planes by shining big searchlights into the sky) in the front line.

Up to now, unfortunately, there’s been no way to differentiate Searchlight Infantry from normal, run-of-the-mill types: after all, they wore the same basic uniform. Now, however, at least in 28mm, Sarissa Precision Ltd has produced a portable searchlight and generator.

Now the model is actually not quite right for the Searchlight Regiments (they used the searchlights either mounted on trucks, or carried on lorries with a slightly different stand) but is the closest thing I have seen so far.

Credit where credit is due: I didn’t see this on the Sarissa site, but on the Bad Squiddo games site, where Annie has created a Home Front female crew for the spotlight, and is selling the Sarissa model for them to, er, man.

Apologies if you’ve seen this before (the model is not marked as a new release on the Sarissa site) but I thought it worth mentioning. You never know, Sarissa might produce a 15mm version as a result or, equally good, Annie might start doing some of her Soviet female infantry in 15mm!

IABSM AAR: Return to San Marco

Tim Whitworth and the Like a Stonewall Wargames Group had a second go at the “Attack on San Marco” scenario from the “Cymru Am Byth” scenario pack.

Rather than start a new AAR, I’ve added the words and pics to the bottom of their first attempt.

Click on the picture below to see all:

TFL Painting Challenge: A Normal Update!

As it’s only been a week since the last update, the number of entries to be processed since week remained with the “normal” bracket, even given a huge first entry of the year from John de Terre Neuve.

So, in no particular order, we have:

  • Andrew Helliwell makes his usual weekly deposit: more SYW figures and a couple of WoR biggies

  • There’s a lovely 28mm garage from John Emmett

  • Travis rocks up with some orcs and some skeletons

  • Massive entry from Matt Slade: the start of a Belgian Chasseurs Ardennais platoon and more AWI

  • Another massive entry, this time in 10mm from Sapper with his Western Desert forces

  • And then it’s time for the truly massive first entry of the year from John de Terre Neuve. A mixture of 28mm fantasy and 1/72nd scale WW2

  • Carole has some more Condotteri

  • The Hat is back with more ships: the rest of the Japanese Fleet box…well worth a look

  • More Star Wars from Chris Kay

  • And last but not least, some Saracens from Steve Burt

Actually that was a pretty big set of entries this week after all!

As usual, clicking on the name of the person above will take you straight to their gallery (opens in a new window).

Here are today’s pictures:

IABSM AAR: Sidi Ahmed

Another great battle report by Carojon and the Devon Wargames Group.

This time they have ventured into the Western Desert, with a version of the battle for Longstop Hill: the encounter that opened the way for the final Allied advance on Tunis.

What’s great about this AAR is that the forces are detailed as well: so it will be easy for you to replay this encounter yourselves should you want to.

Click on the picture below to see all:

It's Another Russian Church

Yes, it’s another Russian church: the eighth in my collection.

This one comes from Mark IV Miniatures’ Fury on the Steppes range, and is quite lovely.

church5.JPG

The church is in three bits. The base, up to the height of the thatch, the smaller roof, and the larger roof with spire. There’s plenty of room for figures in the base: I reckon you could easily fit a platoon of infantry in there.

What I particularly like is the detail:

You can see that the “onion” is thatch held in place by strips of what I’ve painted as metal; and that the roof, tower and ornamental woodwork really enhance its look.

Recommended.